'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, September 2nd, 2011
ShowPlug1: What the HELL is going on in the White House? President overrules own EPA to roll back improved Smog regulations.
ShowPlug2: Shows power of convictions by announcing it on the least-covered news day of year. w/ @BrianBeutler and Joe Romm @ClimateProgres
ShowPlug3: Leaked UN cables show '06 "action at Ishaqi" was a massacre; threatens US-Iraq relations but might get our troops home sooner
ShowPlug4: Cheney, Fox News polls, tell Palin to get lost, stay lost. She heads for World Knowledge Forum (she's the "before" picture)
ShowPlug5: @WayneSlater joins me on Palin's self-destruction, Perry's deflation, and the million punchlines to Palin at a Knowledge Forum
ShowPlug6: Three Thurber fables, one done in Dick Cheney's voice. Worsts: PIMA County GOP chief doubles down on Glock raffle...
ShowPlugLast: Hides behind 2nd Amendment gun excuse, which I will eviscerate, for once and for all, tonight on Countdown, 8PM EDT
ShowPlugPS: Oh yeah: video of Bruce Springsteen playing with a street performer's guitar in Boston. Might have a future in this.
ShowPlugPPS: To not terrify the younguns, just one of the VOICES in one of the Thurber fables will be in Cheney's voice.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Obama Caves Again', Brian Beutler
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Obama Caves Again', Joe Romm
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Ishaqi Massacre', Matthew Schofield
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Palin' in Comparison', Wayne Slater
#2 Worst Persons: Lucien Chenier, Rep. Nan Hayworth, Mike Shaw (R-AZ)
#1 Fridays with Thurber: Two Dogs; Ivory, Apes And People; Oliver And The Other Ostriches
printable PDF transcript
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The clean-air president? Don't hold your breath. Saying the smog laws are going to be re-evaluated in 2013 anyway, the president scuttles new tighter pollution regulations. He'll stick with the ones that his own EPA director called "legally indefensible" just last month. The infamous U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls this "an enormous victory for America's job creators." Mr. President, when the chamber of commerce pats you on the back, you are doing something desperately wrong. When Boehner's spokesman compliments you with the Freudian slip, "it's the tip of the iceberg," you have made a terrible mistake. What the hell is going on in the White House?
Ishaqi, the Pentagon still insists nothing has changed with its story of the 2006 attack on an alleged bomb-maker in Iraq. But a leaked cable from the U.N. representative says, "our soldiers handcuffed 11 people, shot them in the head, one was a 70-year-old women, five were children under the age of 5."
Going to the world knowledge forum, are you? Why Sarah Palin's unlikely trip may mean she's not running, which is just fine according to a Fox News poll, which concludes she should stay out, which is just fine according to Dick Cheney.
(EXCERPT FROM AUDIO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY: Well, I've never gotten around the question of her having left the governorship of Alaska midterm. I don't -- I've never heard that adequately explained.
OLBERMANN: Listen for that voice in Thurber's "Oliver and the Other Ostriches."
And "Worsts" -- the Tucson Republican double-down on raffling off a Glock in the city in which Gabby Giffords was shot by a Glock. The latest rationalization -- a gun didn't shoot all of these people, a guy did.
And, meet Lucien. Lucien decided the Grand Canyon was so wonderful, he had to spray paint his name onto it.
All of that and more now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, September 2nd. 431 days until the 2012 presidential election.
It is, in short, hard to believe. It seems, in short, to reduce his re-election campaign logic to, "What are you going to do-- vote for Rick Perry?" President Obama announcing today, traditionally one of the quietest news days of the year, that he has withdrawn planned tough new EPA standards to regulate ground-level ozone, which is better known to you and me as smog.
The fifth story in the "Countdown," the president hands a victory to corporate polluters and their enablers in the GOP, and uses some of their own job creation nonsense lingo in the process, giving his own supporters another whack across the back of the knees for having had the audacity to support him. "Smog," old-fashioned term, you know, the brown stuff in the air that comes from power plant emissions and industrial smokestacks and car exhausts and landfills -- what we've been working against since the '60s. The EPA had planned to set its new standards significantly higher than those set by the Bush Administration, which EPA Administer Lisa Jackson had just told the Senate, "We're not legally defensible given the scientific evidence."
But the president, seen here leaving Washington for the weekend at Camp David, said the new standards would be obsolete soon anyway. He wrote in a statement that "work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered." So, if you're having trouble breathing, or if you just occasionally do breathe, kindly help the president out and hold your breath until the year 2013 or later. Big business and big energy hated the new standards, now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is thrilled, "This is an enormous victory for America's job creators and a big first step in what needs to be a broader regulatory reform."
When the Chamber of Commerce applauds you, they are not applauding a liberal or a Democrat or even a people president. Environmentalists are angry or in mourning. Bill Snape, from the Center for Biological Diversity -- "Obama," he said, "utterly caved." Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters -- "This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health." And Daniel Weiss, from the Center for American Progress -- "It's unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors and the infirm." You can say that again. Smog effects can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma; inflame and scar lung tissue, which makes you why -- wonder why House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had called the now canceled standards "possibly the most harmful of all the currently anticipated Obama Administration regulations." Harmful to whom? Sorry, corporations are people.
Meanwhile, the economy is in the financial equivalent of a coma that a person might have. Job numbers released by the labor department today put the August unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, unchanged from July. Private sector jobs rose by 17,000. Public sector jobs fell by 17,000. The first absolute zero since February, 1945. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney played indignant.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY: No new jobs. No new jobs created in the last month. From my first day in the office, my number one job will be to see that America, once again, is number one in job creation.
OLBERMANN: He'll announce his jobs plan on Tuesday. Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who has already put out his corporate-friendly job plan, complained that, "In a country with 307 million people, zero job growth is unfathomable." The president, of course, is on much firmer ground here. The crocodile tears of the Republicans fool nobody. They have tanked the economy, they are tanking the economy, they will tank the economy. Elements of the jobs plan the president will announce next Thursday, unless it's been rescheduled to overnight or something, are said to include the following -- tax cuts, innovative infrastructure ideas, measures to help the long-term unemployed and like a blender or something. They had better be good.
Bernard Baumohl, the chief global economist with the economic outlook group, told The Huffington Post, "Many companies have simply come to the conclusion that labor is just too expensive. We're moving increasingly into a labor-less society." But take heart, if the GOP is right, tax cuts will solve that. And five Republican presidential contenders -- given their polls, that's contenders with a very, very, very small "c" -- are offering a really big tax cut. Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich all want to eliminate capital gains taxes, a move that would benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans who pay about 63 percent of the taxes each year -- and re-institute serfdom.
For more on the politics of the EPA decision and the numbers of jobs, I'm joined by Brian Beutler, reporter for Talking Points Memo. Thanks for your time tonight, Brian.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good to be back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What does the president's decision to overrule his own EPA administrator suggest about where he thinks he stands with his own supporters? I mean, who on Earth in the White House thinks this is a positive for them, and in which delusional parallel universe do they live?
BEUTLER: I would say two things about this: One, it's the sort of, like, clear slap in the face to his constituents and to the interest groups that sort of make up the Democratic party that we've seen yet. You know, this is something that didn't require any action by Congress. This is something that he told these interest groups that he was going to do. He said, "Don't sue the EPA. We're in office now. We got this."
It turned out, well, he didn't got this. And it's not going to happen because he chose not to do it, not because Congress stopped him, not because anything procedural was standing in his way. It was just a decision to do it. The other thing I'd say about it is it's, you know -- I think real evidence that either the White House isn't aware of President Obama's political mortality, or that they just don't care that much about the outcomes. If this doesn't happen in his first term, and then he loses, it just isn't going to happen for years and years and years. And they made the decision, for whatever reason, to take that risk. You know, maybe he loses, and maybe President Perry just doesn't do it for four or eight years.
OLBERMANN: I won't speak for you. I know that in the last three years, there have been occasions in which I have been convinced of something, and convinced this president was totally mistaken, and it turned out we were opposites. The truth was exactly opposite to what I believed -- that he was absolutely right, and I was absolutely wrong. But here's a question that I think is an indicator on this -- the president really believed this was the right thing to do, that just postpone everything to 2013, 'cause why change now, 'cause we'll be in a stronger position? Well, then, why don't you just postpone it to 2023? But why wouldn't he have the guts to announce this on something other than the least paid attention to news day of the year?
BEUTLER: You know, I think that that just adds a little bit of sting to it for environmentalists and for public health people -- public health advocates. But, you know, he ordered this review of all costly regulations, you know, sort of as a chip to Republicans, and this is one of the ones that they've been coming at the hardest.
And, you know, he didn't get anything for it, but I think that there's a lot of people in the White House and in the Democratic party, frankly, who think that if they just say, "All right, well, you know, businesses and Republicans are demanding 'x,' and if we give them 'x,' then maybe they'll give us some running room a week from now, a month from now, for the next year on some of the stuff we want to do." And it really doesn't work that way. So I got to imagine the decision to do it now is both a sign that they're sort of embarrassed of doing it, but also that they kind of hope that they're going to get things from doing it that I'm pretty certain they're not going to get.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, they should be embarrassed because they're still playing the plaintive victim of the bully who keeps thinking if he turns the other way around, the bully's going to stop bugging him rather than asking for more. Clarify one thing -- for people who are saying, "No, don't criticize President Obama. He's forced into this because there's something else connected with this. There's something bad in the bill. The House went Republican." This has nothing to do with the House, does it? This is just him, correct?
BEUTLER: This is all within the executive branch. The EPA is a cabinet-level agency. This is something that is, basically, required by law. The Bush Administration's standards do not meet the standards that science advisors at the EPA recommended. And Clear Air Act says that he -- that the White House, whoever is in the White House has to match those standards. This is all written out for him to able to do on his own. Congress can make a stink about it, and they can try to pass these -- basically symbolic measures of disapproval that he can veto. But, there's no filibuster here. There's no direct legislative action they can take to stop him that he doesn't have immediate ability to veto. It's just up to him. And this is what he chose.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. The mind reels. Brian Beutler with Talking Points Memo, great thanks for coming in on a Friday night and good reporting on this today, sir. Thank you.
BEUTLER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the reaction within the environmental community, which is also known as the "Earth." I'm joined by Joe Romm, senior fellow at the Center for American progress and editor of climateprogress.org. Joe, good evening.
JOE ROMM: Hi, thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: l hate to call it a good evening. This decision -- did you have any advance notice this was going to happen? And what do you make of them doing it today?
ROMM: Well, it's certainly a big shock and obviously they're embarrassed by it. Otherwise, why would they drop this on us as you say on a Friday before a Labor Day weekend. The thing to remember about this is this is actually doing something worse than what George Bush wanted to do. Remember what happened was there's a standard -- air pollution standard back in '97. New science came in that said ozone smog was much more dangerous than we thought. You need to strengthen it. Bush proposed a half-assed improvement in the standard. But, not where the science says. So environmental groups sued him. Obama came in and said, "Hey, you know, you environmental groups, you're right. We will strengthen it.
You can drop the suits, trust us." So what they've done now is say, " We're not going to do anything until 2013." They could have -- the American Lung Association said this, they could just institute the Bush standard, which would have reduced air pollution, not as much as the science says, but better than doing nothing. So, for those of you out there, I know, trying to say for the first time, yeah, this is worse than what the Bush Administration wanted to do on air pollution.
OLBERMANN: The point of delaying till 2013 -- I'm suddenly reminded of the famous or infamous story about when the British government in the '30s finally put somebody in charge of these sort of really tentative steps towards defense as the Nazis were rearming. I don't mean to make the analogy to it, but this is just the historical fact. And they had a minister of coordination of defense supply or some ridiculous title like that. And he explained it, yes, they were very far behind the Germans in terms of aircraft, but it was a good thing they had not pushed for more aircraft two years earlier, because then all of the new aircraft that would just be arriving now would be out of date. And the whole house of parliament roared with laughter. And somebody said, "Well, why don't you wait another four years. They're will be even less of a chance of it being out of date in four years." Is that what's going on here? I mean, as I said sort of jokingly to Brian Beutler, we're going to delay on this until 2013. Why don't we delay until 2023? There will be much more science from those of us who are still left alive.
ROMM: Yeah, the delay excuse is just B.S. I mean, what can you say? The Bush Administration, their science people reviewed it. The Obama advisors also reviewed it, and came up with the exact same answer. The fact is that this is a decision that is going to affect the public health of -- you know, as my colleague at the center said, old people, children in particular, and you know this is such a straight political win. I mean, if you can't explain why you want cleaner air and less asthma attacks for kids, then you really suck at messaging.
OLBERMANN: The president, of course, campaigned, it wasn't his foremost campaign promise, but it was in there, an environmental agenda. In your opinion, is there anything left of it now?
ROMM: Well, you know, the president I just think right now the president is winging it or making it up as he goes along. I have no idea, honestly, what he stands for. He's done some great stuff. There was a lot of clean energy stuff in the stimulus. He's doing great on fuel economy standards, but they've made some dreadful decisions on off-shore drilling, on coal leases. It looks like they're going to approve this Tar Sands pipeline. So, you know -- and the worst of it is they use the Republican language -- I mean, the president used this excuse, "You know, well, we want to end regulatory uncertainty." You know, that is just another B.S. -- environmental regulations spur investment and innovation, that's point one. Point two, when people get sick, when they get asthma attacks, when they get cardiopulmonary disease, they're less productive, they miss work. It's not just obviously tragic that they get sick, but it's bad for the economy. So that's why -- let's remember, strong environmental regulations during the Clinton administration, 20 million jobs created. Bush, Cheney come in roll back environmental regulations, the worst job record of any presidency in history. So, environmental regulations do not hurt jobs in the economy. They spur innovation, they make workers more productive.
OLBERMANN: Joe Romm of climateprogress.com, on a sad day, and that's the least of the adjectives that could be used. Thank you, kindly, Joe, have a good weekend.
ROMM: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, there are two questions now. If you could have anybody as the president on January 20th, 2013, who would you pick? Take the weekend to think about it. Then the second one. If you had your choice of Barack Obama or the field of Perry, Bachmann, Romney, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin. Who would you pick? Today, Dick Cheney and Republicans surveyed by Fox both told Palin to get out and stay out. Ahead on "Countdown".
OLBERMANN: This is the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions. And his now leaked cable suggests something awful happened at Ishagi, Iraq, in 2006. And our troops did it.
She's part of the U.S. Contingent at the World Knowledge Forum in South Korea. What? She's the before picture?
Still with the idea that it's okay for local Republicans to raffle off a handgun in the same city in which Gabby Giffords was shot. Now he explains it's okay because of the Second Amendment. For once and for all, I will eviscerate the Second Amendment argument B.S.
And "Ivory, Apes and People" -- a modern fable suited to 2011's Business Conditions, from James Thurber.
All, ahead, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Iraqi government announcing today, it will reopen an investigation into the so-called Ishaqi Massacre. A horrific 2006 raid by U.S. forces that allegedly left 11 civilians dead, including four women, five young children. Some Iraqi officials now saying that new revelations about the incident could be reason enough to force the U.S. military to leave Iraq by the end of the year.
In our fourth story tonight, Wikileaks releases a diplomatic cable bolstering claims that U.S. military personnel executed Iraqi civilians, then called in an air strike to cover up evidence of that. The Pentagon today, again denying those claims, as it has since they first surfaced five years ago. March 2006, Philip Alston, a U.N. human rights official at the time, sent U.S. military officials a disturbing report that American troops had raided a house in the town of Ishaqi in search of a bomb maker allegedly living there, but that when they got inside the house, they handcuffed and then executed 11 civilians, including five children under the age of 5. They then called in an air strike. His cable, which Wikileaks made public last week, reads, "Troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. The U.S. air raid ensued that destroyed the house. Autopsies carried out at the Tikrit hospital's morgue revealed that all corpses where shot in the head and handcuffed."
Alston told McClatchy newspapers that Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene of the raid, and showed the victims bodies at the morgue, among them a 5-month-old infant and a woman in her 70s. Three months after he sent the cable, the U.S. military announced that its own investigation had determined that Alston's claims had been absolutely false. Even with the public release of his cable last week, the Pentagon is still standing by its version of events, that troops used force until the threat was eliminated. Spokesman said, "Basically, there's nothing new we haven't looked into already. Our position remains the same." From Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki's, point of view though, the newly released cables do merit a further investigation, and they come just as the two governments begun to negotiate the withdrawal date for U.S. troops. Some Iraqi officials now saying the new revelations are a reason not to sign a deal that would allow any U.S. troops to stay past the year-end departure deadline. An advisor to the prime minister saying today, "We will not become complacent with respect to the rights of our citizens."
Joining me now is Matthew Schofield of McClatchy newspapers, who was on assignment in Iraq at the time of the Ishaqi incident and has been covering it since then. Thanks for some of your time tonight, sir.
MATTHEW SCHOFIELD: Thanks, Keith, for having me on.
OLBERMANN: Yes, how did you uncover this story?
SCHOFIELD: It began quite simply. It was a period of a lot violence in Iraq.
SCHOFIELD: And we were just trying dig down deep into what was going on in one day. We picked one day, and we're going to take a deeper look at exactly what happened in each one of these little -- there's a long roll of violence that was going, rolling by us, and we weren't really able to capture any one bit of it.
So, we picked this day, and this was one of the items that came across our table.
OLBERMANN: What was the U.S. military response when you first went to them for comment, and having seen this thing play out for more than five years, is it fair to say that it -- to one degree or another, this has the makings of a cover up?
SCHOFIELD: Cover up is -- you know, something I don't know yet. What we don't have is any information from them. I -- I'm afraid -- I stop short of saying cover up, because I'm not quite sure that's fair. But, when we first went to them, the original military release on this said there were five dead. We weren't able to get to Ishaqi at that time. It was a very violent time, and we were in Baghdad. So we sent an Iraqi fixer of ours up to town to do the story, and we used the satellite phone. We did interviews this way. He called back and says, "Listen, there's a lot more dead than five in this." We got back in touch with the U.S. military. They said, "No. You're right. There are more. There are more than ten." At this point, though -- yeah, it just kind of died at that point. There really was no further elaboration of what exactly happened in this, and to this date, the United States military has never really gone into great detail on what happened in Ishaqi in March, 2006.
OLBERMANN: That was a particularly violent year for the U.S. troops there, and Ishaqi, as you suggested, was particularly a violent part of the region. Is there any evidence to suggest that this was a case of our troops responding very badly, but still within, sort of, the extreme levels of the enormous stress of war?
SCHOFIELD: Keith, there's no case to say that they were, there's no case to say that they weren't.
The United States military really hasn't made much of a case at all. They've issued a statement saying that they didn't do anything wrong, that they looked into the incident, and they're fine with what happened. They thought that it fell under the rules of engagement, fell under the rules of war. That may be the case, but they have never fully explained that to the American people. They've never fully explained that to the Iraqi people. That's what the Iraqis are now demanding. They've been demanding that since 2006.
OLBERMANN: And, particularly this now extends in terms of demands or at least negotiations, do you think that this now will play? Ishaqi will now play into, particularly with the leaked cable, the argument or the debate or the negotiation about when the U.S. will actually withdraw those last troops from Iraq? Is that -- is that how big this is viewed in Iraq?
SCHOFIELD: I think it's viewed as one case of many. I mean, you have a lot of -- you have many similar cases, you have Haditha. You have a lot of similar cases, but this case is particularly frustrating to a number of people in the Iraqi parliament. In 2009, I was still hearing frustration when I was in Baghdad, talking to people, talking about -- you know, they just want to know what happened. They want to know what the -- a full explanation from the United States on what happened. On the face of it, it looks horrible. It just really looks horrible. If there is a legitimate explanation, it really should be forthcoming. It should be forthcoming in detail.
OLBERMANN: Did --
SCHOFIELD: And it could very well play. You're right. It could very well play big as we go forward.
OLBERMANN: Did you see anything in that Wikileaks leaked cable that was of value to you in terms of understanding what happened?
SCHOFIELD: What that did was, it reinforced what I came to view as the worst-case scenario from what happened in Ishaqi. And what I saw value -- and it did have -- it appeared that Alston had some sources of information that were separate from mine, and he had done his own -- he had done his own investigation. He wasn't responding to my news reports at the time. I found that valuable. I also found it valuable that officialdom was interested in this story. Officialdom was pursuing this story. The sense we got from the U.S. military, was that they weren't taking this story particularly seriously. They did an investigation. They were on the ground, but the neighbors we talked to at the time said they were on the ground for perhaps half an hour, perhaps 45 minutes, and then they left. Now, I don't know if we can necessarily say that that's a fact. There might have been more going on. There may have been a very large investigation into this, but it's never been made public. It's never been made public in the United States. It's never been made public to the Iraqi officials, as you see when Nouri al-Maliki is complaining that they don't know what happened.
They're talking about reopening this investigation, specifically because they don't have this information, which is their right to have.
OLBERMANN: Matthew Schofield of McClatchy newspapers, it's a terrible story, a great effort, obviously, in trying to bring it to people's attention and to telling it. Thank you kindly for that and for your time.
SCHOFIELD: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: It's the World Knowledge Forum in South Korea where one member of the American delegation, Sarah Palin, will offer insight into how to solve the latest crisis. Well, one solution to our crisis would be to ship Palin somewhere like South Korea.
Plus, who's that guy trying to play Springsteen in the Boston Public Gardens? What do you mean it is Springsteen? Video next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The poll from Fox News with a message to Sarah Palin, get out and stay out.
First, the "Sanity Break" and a brief farewell to Leonard Harris. His was the rare story of the critic who became the artist. The movie and arts reviewer at WCBS television in New York City. He was cast by Martin Scorsese to play the blank slate of a character that was Senator Charles Palantine, in Scorsese's eternally disturbing film "Taxi Driver." As the senator, Harris seems to be humoring Robert De Niro's, Travis Bickle. Bickle seems to take it as instructions to unleash his wrath on New York. Although Harris's role was small, he is ubiquitous in the film. Scorsese's New York is plastered with his photo in the Palantine campaign ads. It was Leonard Harris' first film. He made only one other. He died earlier this week at the age of 81.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin in San Francisco. What the -- I mean, a car -- another one? Didn't we just see this a few weeks ago here? Look, here it is, I have it in my files. August 17th, garbage truck dangling from building. I hope this isn't the start of a new fad. Apparently the manager and associate tried to push the car to allow another to get by. I guess the manager didn't realize he had Hercules working for him. No one being hurt, the car was eventually pulled back into the garage. Figure next time they should wait for the driver to come back, or somebody should learn how to steer.
To the Internets, apparently we're traveling to E Street, really, I mean it's Boston. Who do this sidewalk musician think he is, Bruce Springsteen? Well, yeah, actually. Look what Napster has reduced him to. Apparently, "The Boss" was dropping his son off at college, and spotted a street performer nearby, watched for a while then borrowed his guitar and started up. When the crowd formed he left. And the guy who uploaded the video to YouTube got exactly 27 seconds of it. Come on!
We continue on the music beat. This happens to a high school jazz band, they're jumping, jiving, wailing their way into music history, and then they go for the big finish. That was not a drum beat at the end, that was a trumpet player, we zoom and enhance -- the player just couldn't hold the C note, and goes for the dramatic exit stage down. On the plus side, he did time it perfectly with the conductor's hand motions and you get out here. Buh-bye. Maybe the next time, this little too Dizzy Gillespie should stick with the recorder.
"Time Marches On!"
The poll that says Republicans want Sarah Palin to stay out of the presidential race. A poll conducted by Fox News. Oops, 15 minutes finally over.
OLBERMANN: For your planning purposes, a special Labor Day edition of "Countdown" will come your way Monday at all of the usual hours, 8 p.m., 11 p.m., 2 a.m., then Tuesday at 7 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.
Labor Day. So, our special guest, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "Countdown" comes to you from near the beautiful Sky Rink in trendy Manhattan, not in it, just near it. A special Labor Day edition, Monday.
It's the World Knowledge Forum in South Korea, and one of the three American representatives will be the half governor of Alaska. In our third story tonight on the "Countdown," I used the joke before, but I like it so much, here it is again. She's clearly going to be at the Knowledge Forum, so she can be the before picture. Who's also the punch line in two other venues today, the Dick Cheney interview and the Fox poll about the 2012 Republican field. First to next month's Forum of Knowledge. Among the 250 people from 40 nations in Seoul, will be former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former White House Economic Advisor Larry Summers. Not planning to attend former Vice President Cheney, who was too busy pushing his book, and today also pushing Palin off a cliff.
On the Laura Ingraham Radio Show, Cheney answered a question about Palin's suitability to be even vice president.
(EXCERPT FROM AUDIO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY: Well, I've never gotten around the question of her having left the governorship of Alaska midterm. I've never heard that adequately explained so that I could understand how only part way through that first term she decided to step down and still be, I'd like to know more about that.
OLBERMANN: And Lord, today I agreed with Dick Cheney about something, and disagreed with Barack Obama on a fundamental issue. I'm sorry. Although, not officially a candidate, Palin plans to give in Iowa Saturday -- give Iowa Saturday, "A full-throated defense of the tea party." Palin will meet tonight with the Conservatives for Palin group, that had been started coincidentally by her speech writer. Too bad the speech writer can't also summon up his own poll. The one produced by Fox News, which employs Palin, shows Rick Perry first among Republican primary voters, Palin in a week third place. When asked whether -- here it is, yes. Asked whether or not Palin should run, 74 percent of Republicans said -- No! When asked if any potential candidates are too extreme, Palin finished third behind Bachmann and Perry, and they still like Perry. Even Dick Morris of Fox offered this toe-sucking endorsement of a possible Palin entry into the campaign. "I hope she doesn't. She'll get clobbered."
Let's turn to Wayne Slater, senior political writer for the Dallas Morning News, co-author of "Bush's Brain." Good to talk to you, Wayne. Thanks for your time.
WAYNE SLATER: Great to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin at the World Knowledge Forum. I've already had like six, seven swings and this piñata, would you like to take one?
SLATER: Well, The problem is you wonder logically what this means.
OLBERMANN: I know.
SLATER: You know, some people say, well, this means absolutely since it's on the same day as an October Republican debate, this means she's clearly not in the Republican primary, but that applies logic in a way that I think we can't do in the case of Sarah Palin. Reminds me of that scene in Monty Python's movie where they're trying to prove that somebody's a witch by saying she's the same weight as a duck. A duck floats on water. If you float on water, you're wood. If you're wood, you're a witch. That's the kind of logic applied here. The truth is, we don't know what she's doing, but I'm guessing that there's money involved, and that she's burnishing the brand in the process.
OLBERMANN: By the way, you've mixed it. You've mixed Republicans there, that test was used on Christine O'Donnell. Three-quarters of Republicans in a Fox News poll don't want her to run. Cheney, kind of, politely ripped her. Dick Morris, less politely ripped her. Were her chances ever serious? Did she miss some sort of window? Or is this just the end of a very bad joke?
SLATER: Her chances were never really serious. One the one hand, what Cheney's doing really reflects, kind of, the establishment versus some element of the Tea Party, but also the fight within the tea party.
I was talking to a very important, or at least influential social conservative today, who said the social conservatives, many of them, are rallying around the Buckley Doctrine. That's the one that says that we want the most conservative candidate who can win. They want to win this year. They know she can't win.
And that's a real, real problem for them. The thing is, I was with Sarah Palin in Pella, Iowa, and she drew an enormous crowd. But, you know, Christine O' Donnell can draw -- I mean, Christine -- no, what's her name? Casey Anthony can draw a big crowd, and that doesn't mean anybody wants her to be president.
OLBERMANN: On the point of electing the most conservative one who can be elected, or nominating the one that can be elected. Romney's bounced back a little in some polling this week, but he's still behind Rick Perry. Is there any indication that the Perry honeymoon might be nearing an end, or that Republicans were just getting the proverbial good look at him now after the make-up was taken off? That kind of thing.
SLATER: Well, people are learning more and more about him every day. There are some really damaging things, from the perspective of both Tea Party voters, certainly from general election voters, in his book "Fed up," which raises questions, as you know, about Social Security and other issues that are controversial. I really still think that Paley -- that Rick Perry's going to do okay. I think that once they see the option that so long as Sarah Palin does not get in and sap some votes, that it ultimately becomes -- and it's quickly becoming -- a Perry versus Romney race. And it's the early primaries where Perry will do okay, not in New Hampshire, but in Iowa and South Carolina, that I think will help define that he seriously is going to be in consideration for the nomination. The more people find out about Perry, the less people in general will like about him. But the more -- the very strong right wing of the tea party finds out about Perry, I think they're going to be satisfied.
OLBERMANN: The senior political writer of the Dallas Morning News and co-author, as we mentioned, of "Bush's Brain," Wayne Slater. It's been too long. Thanks, Wayne. Have a good weekend.
SLATER: You, too.
OLBERMANN: He not only spray painted his name on a tough spot on the side of the Grand Canyon in red, but you won't believe what he then did with the can of spray paint. You will suggest they should have done it to him. "Worst Person" is next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: This will be the first time I've ever felt compelled to use my Dick Cheney Nurse Diesel voice in a James Thurber story. First, "The Worst." And, oh, look, we have our own Eric Cantor here in metropolitan New York. No disaster funds for her own congressional district unless there are budget cuts, says the rich lady. That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "Oliver and The Other Ostriches." More of James Thurber's fables, starring the voice of Dick Cheney, next.
First, because these Cheney-like buffoons are not fables but all too real, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Person in the World."
The bronze to Lucien Chenier of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. As many of his countrymen do, he visited the Grand Canyon this week and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the duck on a rock outcropping on the south rim. He felt that sense that he would always be leaving a part of himself there, so he tried to spray-paint his name on the rock. He got as far as L-u-c-i before the yelling by other visitors scared him off. He explained to park rangers that it was so special, he wanted to leave his name on it so his kids could read it 20 years from now. He also explained that he threw the spray can into the Grand Canyon. He was arrested in lieu of, say, the rangers asking him to lean over as far as he could and point out exactly where he threw the can, followed by the word, "oops."
The runner-up, Representative Nan Hayworth, or as we of Westchester call her, our embarrassment. The ophthalmologist married to the owner of a medical group is another one of these Marie Antoinette-style freshman Congressmen. Even though the non-rich parts of her district were hit hard by Hurricane Irene, she has joined the Eric Cantor tone deaf chorus. Per The Times Herald-Record newspaper, Hayworth, "would only vote to replenish the federal disaster funds if new spending was offset by budget cuts. She said those cuts should come from non-defense discretionary spending. Hayworth likened her position to a family skipping vacation if it was overwhelmed by bills. 'We have to control spending,' she said. 'There's no question about it.'"
Again, I could go all sorts of places on this, but let me, instead, quote the supervisor of the town of New Windsor, New York. "People have to come first. Don't tell me that you have to take money from another part of the budget to balance out FEMA money when you're talking about people who've lost sewer and water and people who've lost their goddamn houses."
The speaker vivisecting Republican Congresswoman Hayworth there was Supervisor George Green, a conservative Republican.
But our winner, Pima, Arizona, county Republican acting chairman Mike Shaw, two days in a row, who still does not get it. A fellow Arizona Republican in his district ripped Shaw and the Pima county gang for "bad messaging." For being "insensitive." For something, "ill-advised" and concluded, "I won't stand with them on this." But that hasn't slowed down Shaw. He still insists that the Republicans' plan to raffle off a Glock pistol eight months after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in Pima County with a pistol -- because it wasn't the Glock that shot her and 19 others, it was the guy.
"It was the actions of Jared Loughner that happened during the Tucson shooting, so Jared was the one who was responsible."
Right, because he picked up the bullets and threw them very hard at the victims. Mr. Shaw's brainless sophistry does not end there. "The founding fathers thought it was important that we would have rights in this country, and a very important one is the right to keep and bear arms, one that Gabrielle Giffords believes in strongly herself."
You want to dance that dance, buster? The Second Amendment refers specifically to personal ownership of guns for use in a state militia, not to just go around and blow other people's heads off when you feel like it. And the founding fathers viewed the Constitution as a set of rules to be amended and adjusted frequently, not locked forever in 1787. And if you don't believe that, may I remind you that the gun rights to which you cling are not in the Constitution as originally written. They are in one of the freaking amendments. Just as flexible and not as original to the document as that Fourteenth Amendment you all want to repeal.
But just in case you think we have plumbed the depths of Mr. Shaw's amazing stupidity, wait, there's more. "We have millions of gun owners in this country, law-abiding citizens. It was gun owners that kept Jared Loughner from reloading his weapon during the Tucson shooting." And it was a gun owner who admitted he came within a second or two of mistaking one of the survivors of the slaughter for the perpetrator. The man said he had reached for his gun in order to shoot him. We have gun violence in this country because we have guns. Republicans don't even stop to think that to argue otherwise is the same as if they said that the Republican Party believes America has more crazy people than other countries. And I don't give a good goddamn if the gun you're raffling off, partner, is a Glock or Jeremy Glick. Just keep your violence fetish to yourself until we get past the one-year anniversary of the day somebody in your town and your gun-crazed state and climate walked up to your Congressman and put a hole in her head.
Acting Pima, Arizona, county Republican chairman Mike Shaw. The title might be "acting," but the craziness, sadly, is not. Today's, second day in a row, "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Most of the 25 collections James Thurber published during his lifetime are dedicated to loved ones. There is an exception, though. Thurber's 1956 offering "Further Fables for Our Time" was dedicated to the great, now sadly nearly forgotten news broadcaster, Elmer Davis, whose comprehension of people and persons has lighted our time, so that we can see where we are going. These fables are dedicated with admiration, affection and thankfulness. I'd like to read three of the fables from a 1956 original copy of the book. Each displays enough comprehension of people and persons to light our time.
The first is called "Two Dogs," by James Thurber.
"One sultry, moonless night, a leopard escaped from a circus, and slunk away into the shadows of a city. The chief of police dogs assigned to the case a German Sheppard named Plunger, and a plainclothes Bloodhound named Plod. Plod was a slow, methodical sleuth, but his uniformed partner was restless and impatient. Plod set the place until Plunger snapped 'We couldn't catch a turtle this way.' And he bounded along the trail like a whippet. And then, he got lost.
When Plod found him a half an hour later, the Bloodhound said 'It's better to get somewhere slowly than nowhere fast.' 'Repose is for the buried,' said the police dog. 'I even chase cats in my dreams.' 'I don't,' said the Bloodhound. 'Out of scent, out of mind.' As they went along, each in his own way through the moonlessness, they exchanged further observations on life. 'He who hunts and turns away may live to hunt another day,' commented Plod. 'Runs away, you mean,' sneered Plunger. 'I never run,' said the bloodhound. 'It's no good trailing a cat when you're out of breath, especially if the cat isn't. I figured that out myself. They call it instinct.' 'I was taught to do what I do, and not to do what I don't,' the police dog said. 'They call it discipline. When I catch cats, cats stay caught,' he added. 'I don't catch them, I merely find out where they are,' the Bloodhound said quietly. The two dogs suddenly made out a great, dark house looming in front of them at the end of the lane. 'The trail ends right here, 20 feet from that window,' the Bloodhound said, sniffing a certain spot. 'Leopard must have leaped into the house from here.' The two dogs stared into the open window of the dark and silent house. 'I was taught to jump through the open windows of dark houses,' said Plunger. 'I taught myself not to,' said Plod. 'I wouldn't grab that cat if I were you. I never grab a leopard unless it's a coat.' But Plunger wasn't listening. 'Here goes,' he said jauntily, and he jumped through the window of the dark and silent house. Instantly, there was a racket that sounded to the keen ears of the bloodhound like a police dog being forcibly dressed in women's clothes by a leopard. And, that is precisely what it was. All of a moment, Plunger, dressed in women's clothes from hat to shoes, with a pink parasol thrust under his collar came hurdling out the window.
'I had my knee on his chest, too,' said the bewildered police dog plaintively.
The old sleuth sighed, 'He lastest longeth and liveth best, who gets not his knee on his quarry's chest,' murmured Plod in cloudy English, but fluent bloodhound. A moral, who would avoid life's riotous laughter, should not attain the thing he's after."
"Ivory Apes and People," by James Thurber.
"A band of ambitious apes in Africa once called upon a herd of elephants with a business proposition. 'We can sell your tusks to people for a fortune in peanuts and oranges,' said the leader of the apes. 'Tusks are tusks to you and us. But, to people they're merchandise -- billiard balls and piano keys and the other things that people buy and sell.' The elephants said they would think it over.
'Be here tomorrow at this time, and we will swing the deal,' said the leader of the apes. And the apes went away to call on some people who were hunting for merchandise in the region.
'It's the very best ivory,' the leader of the apes told the leader of the people. '100 elephants, 200 tusks, all yours for oranges and peanuts.' 'That's enough ivory for a small ivory tower,' said the leader of the power -- of the people. 'Or 400 billiard balls, and 1,000 piano keys -- and I will keep on my agent to ship your nuts and oranges, and to sell the billiard balls and piano keys. The business of business is business, and the heart of the matter is speed.' 'We will close the deal,' said the leader of the apes. 'Where is the merchandise now?' inquired the leader of the people. 'It's mating, or eating, but it will be at the appointed place at the appointed hour,' replied the chief ape. But, it wasn't. The elephants had thought it over and reconsidered. Then, they forgot to show up the following day. For elephants are good at forgetting when forgetting is good. There was a great to do in the marts of the world trade when the deal fell through. And everybody except the elephants got into the litigation that followed. The Better Business Bureau, the Monkey Business Bureau, the Interspecies Commerce Commission, the Federal Courts, The National Association of Merchandisers, the African Bureau of Investigation, the International Association for the Advancement of Animals, and the American Legion. Opinions were handed down, rules were promulgated, subpoenas were issued, injunctions were granted and denied, and objections were sustained and overruled. The patriotic League of American Women Against Subversion took an active part until it was denounced as subversive by a man who later withdrew his accusation and made a fortune on the sale of two books. I made my bed, and I lie in my teeth. The elephants kept their ivory, and nobody got any billiard balls or piano keys, or a single nut, or an orange. Moral? Men of all degrees should form this prudent habit -- never serve a rabbit stew before you catch the rabbit."
"Ivory Apes and People."
And "Oliver and the Other Ostriches."
"An austere ostrich of awesome authority was lecturing younger ostriches one day on the superiority of their species to all other species. 'We were known to the Romans -- or rather, the Romans were known to us,' he said. 'They called us Avis Struthio, and we called them Romans. The Greeks called us Struthion, which means truthful one or if it doesn't, it should. We are the biggest birds, and therefore, the best.' All his listeners cried 'Hear, hear,' except a thoughtful one named Oliver. 'We can't fly backward like the hummingbird,' he said aloud.
'The hummingbird is losing ground,' said the old ostrich. 'We're going places, we're moving forward.' 'Hear, hear,' cried all the ostriches except Oliver. 'We lay the biggest eggs, and therefore, the best eggs,' continued the old lecturer. 'The robin's eggs are prettier,' said Oliver. 'Robins' eggs produce nothing but robins,' said the old ostrich. 'Robins are lawn-bound worm addicts.' 'Hear, hear,' cried all the other ostriches except Oliver. 'We get along on four toes, whereas man needs ten,' the elderly instructor reminded his class. 'But, man can fly sitting down. We can't fly at all,' commented Oliver. The old ostrich glared at him severely, first with one eye, then the other. 'Man is flying too fast for a world that is round,' he said. 'Soon, he will catch up with himself in a great rear-end collision, and man will never know that what hit man from behind was man.' 'Hear, hear,' cried all the other ostriches except Oliver. 'We can make ourselves invisible in times of peril by sticking our heads in the sand,' ranted the lecturer. 'Nobody else can do that.' 'How do we know we can't be seen if we can't see,' demanded Oliver. 'Sophistry,' cried the old ostrich. And all the other ostriches except Oliver cried sophistry without knowing what it meant.
Just then, the master in the class heard a strange, alarming sound. It sounded like thunder growing close, and growing closer. It was not the thunder of weather, though, but the thunder of a vast herd of rogue elephants in full stampede. Frightened by nothing, fleeing nowhere, the old ostrich and all the other ostriches except Oliver quickly stuck their heads in the sand. Oliver took refuge behind a large nearby rock until the storm of beasts had passed. And when he came out, he beheld a sea of sand and bones and feathers, all that was left of the old teacher and his disciples. Just to be sure, however, Oliver called the roll. There was no answer till he came to his own name 'Oliver,' he said. 'Hear, hear,' said Oliver. And that was the only sound there was on the desert except for a faint final rumble of thunder on the horizon. Moral -- thou shalt not build thy house nor thy fate upon the sand."
That's "Countdown," I'm Keith Olbermann.
Good night and good luck.