'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
ShowPlug1: GOP's Blackmail Letter to Bernanke: Stop us from tanking the economy + we'll screw you in '12. W/ @NiaWaPo Nia-Malika Henderson
ShowPlug2: The political implications of the unprecedented Boehner-Cantor-Kyl-McConnell letter, with Xavier @RepBecerra D-CA
ShowPlug3: New Perry Apocalypse Campaign video also includes dogwhistle to birthers while Rollins warns of Perry skeletons. w/ @SamSteinHP
ShowPlug4: #OccupyWallStreet and why it is NOT occupying your newspaper or tv with my high school bud @Will_Bunch
ShowPlug5: Scott Walker pushes jobs site - 20% of jobs not in his state. Jobs, Unions, Class Warfare, w/ex-Mich Gvr @JenGranholm
ShowPlugLast: Worsts: Billo threatens to quit; Louisville cancels his speech + right goes nuts over new Ben & Jerry flavor: Schweddy Balls
ShowPlugPS: By the way, I will offer a suggestion of a new Ben & Jerry's flavor whose name will please the Right Wing Lunatic Fringe
watch whole playlist
#5 'Fighting the Fed', Nia-Malika Henderson
#5 'Fighting the Fed', Rep. Xavier Becerra
#4 '"Real" Americans', Sam Stein
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Silent Protest', Will Bunch
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Kinde Durkee, Bill O'Reilly, American Family Association
#1 'Rust Belt Bust', Jennifer Granholm
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Economy, Election 2012, Federal Reserve, GOP, GOP Primary, Jobs, Michele Bachmann, Occupy Wall Street, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Taxes, Unemployment, Unions, Wall Street protests
Guests: Jennifer Granholm, Nia-Malika Henderson, Sam Stein, Will Bunch, Xavier Becerra
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Blackmail letter - Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Kyl write to Fed chair Bernanke demanding he stop any stimulus or intervention in the economy. The Republicans threatening the Federal Reserve chairman with political punishment if he tries to restore the economy, which the Republicans are trying to tank. The GOP's unprecedented interference, with Nia-Malika Henderson. The GOP's naked attempt to ruin the country just to win the election, with Congressman Javier Becerra. Perry's symphony of dog whistles.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: A great country requires a better direction. A renewed nation needs a new President.
OLBERMANN: But it's not just about hysterical, end-times, screwball rapture imagery. There is also hysterical, screwball birtherism imagery. But then, there is also Perry's future shock, a GOP mogul's warning.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Anybody who has been governor for a long time in a state with a lot of cronyism, you find a lot of deals that have been made.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You are talking about real, public dialogue right here in the middle of a public space, or what should be a public space, provided that the police don't actually barricade us.
OLBERMANN: So, five days of clogging downtown Manhattan, protesting corporate control of the economy, and you haven't heard a word about it on the news? I mean, not even in the traffic report? Scott Walker's latest - a website for Wisconsin's unemployed, where one out of the five jobs listed isn't in Wisconsin. The reaction of our special guest, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. And "Worsts," Bill O.'s threat to quit his show. How is that a threat? And the right wing goes crazy over Ben & Jerry's latest special ice cream flavor.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALEC BALDWIN: No one can resist my Schweddy Balls.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) MOLLY SHANNON: Ooh, balls.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, September 21st, 412 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Hours after it was revealed this morning, it was being compared to politicians lobbying the Supreme Court to rule one way or the other on a case, or a president is saying a criminal defendant was clearly guilty or mobsters demanding protection money. But the prizes at its conclusion - including a Republican presidency, the rich keeping more of their money, and businesses able to continue to suppress wages - GOP leadership decided to take the unprecedented risk.
Fifth story on the "Countdown" - Politicians have tried to pressure the Federal Reserve before. They generally got slapped down or ignored when they did. But today, the pressure came from the Republican leadership with an implicit threat - 'Do as we say, or face the consequences if we take the White House and the Senate next year.'
So while Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke worked on ways to boost the economy with other members of the bank's Open Market Committee, they had a letter from the GOP to think about. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Arizona senator Jon Kyl, House Speaker Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging Bernanke not to try to stimulate the lagging economy.
They wrote: "We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy." Bernanke and the other Fed governors did their job - they ignored the letter - voting instead to try to push down long-term interest rates with a $400 billion Treasury bonds buyback.
Democrats assailed the GOP leaders before that vote was taken. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said this:
(Excerpt from video clip) DICK DURBIN: So what is the message of the Republican leaders to the Federal Reserve Board? The message is clear and simple - Do nothing. Stand by the sidelines and watch this economy languish.
OLBERMANN: They are really good at that, and their efforts seem to be gaining some traction with the voting bloc most analysts say is key to winning the White House next year, professed independents - Fifty-three percent of whom now tell McClatchy-Marist pollsters they definitely plan to vote against Mr. Obama, while 28% said they'd stick with the president. Twenty percent said they didn't know what they'd do.
This Gallup multiple-answers poll might give some insight into their choices: While 69% of voters still blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy, for the first time more than half - 53% - said they blamed, or also blamed, President Obama. Among independents polled by Gallup, 67% said that Mr. Bush was blamable for the economy. Sixty percent said President Obama. Nobody blamed Social Security, though the GOP now continuing to demonize that, as if it were a leftover from the War of 1812. Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan - the party's purported economic expert - telling radio host Laura Ingraham that he does not have a problem with Rick Perry's comparison of it to a Ponzi scheme:
(Excerpt from audio clip) PAUL RYAN: It's a pay-as-you-go system, where earlier investors or, say, taxpayers, get a positive rate of return -
(Excerpt from audio clip) LAURA INGRAHAM: It's a Ponzi scheme.
RYAN: - and the most recent investors, or taxpayers, get a negative rate of return. That is how those schemes work.
OLBERMANN: Republicans would know about Ponzi schemes.
While work continues to clean up after Hurricane Irene and the summer's other natural disasters, Republicans had hoped to cut $1.5 billion in clean energy loans to somehow offset disaster relief increases as part of a stop-gap spending bill. Right now, that's going nowhere, the House voting 230 to 295 tonight against the bill. Tea Party Republicans turned it down because it would have boosted cabinet agency budgets, about 2% more than they wanted, and Democrats, including Steny Hoyer, voted against it because they rejected cutting clean energy in return for the increased disaster aid.
(Excerpt from video clip) STENY HOYER: It's unfortunate that the Republicans have chosen, once again, to put in a poison pill that they knew we would not agree to in a piece of legislation they know has to pass. I would hope Mr. Boehner and the leadership on the Republican side would reconsider.
OLBERMANN: The GOP leadership has a lot more to reconsider tonight if that stop-gap bill is not passed. Disaster relief funds will run out in a few days and - oh, by the way - the government could be forced to shut down by the end of next week. Let's start first tonight by calling in "Washington Post" national political reporter and "Countdown" contributor Nia-Malika Henderson. Good evening, Nia.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Hey there, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The GOP letter to the Fed - given the risk that seems associated with doing something that stark, what exactly did they think they might accomplish with it?
HENDERSON: Well, you know, I am going to paraphrase coach Dennis Green here and say that I think the Republicans proved that they are who we think they are, and that is a party that is really comfortable speaking the language of the far-right wing of their party. You know, you obviously had Rick Perry threatening - basically saying that Bernanke was treasonous if he would print more money and do something to stimulate the economy - and he'd be treated pretty roughly down in Texas. This letter, in some ways, was a version of that.
It was very much, I think, you know, them circling the wagons, if you will, around that rhetoric that you have heard from Ron Paul from his book "End the Fed." I think that's what it was.
It was also, I think, signaling to the party that, you know - they are in lockstep with where the Republican presidential candidates are. I mean, it's going to be their duty - Republicans - to really, you know, block and tackle as the Republican presidential candidates really get going out on the stump there. I think, in some ways, they were signaling that they are in lockstep with these guys running at the top of the party.
OLBERMANN: And clearly, liberals aren't going to rally to defend the Fed chairman or the board. It's not a particularly progressive issue one way or the other. But to have a party try to influence its decision, particularly to attack, in a very short letter, the idea of stimulus - it does set something of a battleground to this. Is there a chance we might hear more of this story other than just this one pop here tonight?
HENDERSON: Well, It could be. And I think what the Republicans are playing into is a couple of things, one of which is that I don't - I don't necessarily think that liberals across the board - or just Americans in general - really understand what the Fed does. I they think do recognize that stimulus has become a dirty word. Even if you look at what Democrats are saying when they go out and talk about the jobs bill, they are not saying the word "stimulus." So they know that in the minds of a lot of voters, stimulus is a dirty word, that T.A.R.P, that the stimulus package - the $800 billion stimulus package - that the auto bailouts really didn't set so well with a lot of people who - who'll be going to the polls, and that they didn't necessarily feel those effects.
I think it's a little - you know, they are hoping that, you know, to Americans that the economic stimulus package and this whole intervention by Bernanke is one big thing that they can sort of run against come 2012.
OLBERMANN: The polling - independents turning against the president - we can talk forever about, you know, how many independents are there at this point in the country - a million, or 425 or seven or eight guys somewhere?
OLBERMANN: But - But, however many there are, there is something in there here about the Republican propaganda machine, I mean - or if you want to call it by the polite term, because the Democrats try one as well - the messaging. That - is it that much more powerful than the facts, that it can get these ideas across that this is this president's problem as much as - or nearly as much as - it was President Bush's problem - the economy, that is?
HENDERSON: Well, I mean, some of those polls show that Americans still blame Bush to a certain extent, but they are starting to blame President Obama, as well. Republicans were very happy to, for instance, hear Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that this administration owns this economy.
But the - the Republicans have always been very effective at messaging. And I think, again, this letter really speaks to that. It really speaks to this whole - this top-down discipline about what their message is going to be going into 2012, that it's going to be against any sort of government intervention, even though - if you look at what the private sector, their reaction is to the Fed getting involved in this way and lowering interest rates and really encouraging borrowing and spending - the private sector actually welcomes this, 'cause it means that people will be buying and consumers will get back out there again.
But, you know, they have been very disciplined - I will say, though, that in talking to Democrats and being on the Hill, I was up on the Hill earlier today - there is a renewed strength and spine, if you will, among Democrats. They're feeling powerful, they're feeling like they've got a message, too, around this jobs bill.
OLBERMANN: "Washington Post" national political reporter, "Countdown" contributor Nia-Malika Henderson. Always a pleasure, Nia. Great thanks.
HENDERSON: Great. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And now from the Hill, Representative Xavier Becerra, the Democrat of California, a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known to you and I as the Super Committee. Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
XAVIER BECERRA: Keith, good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Let me start with something I didn't touch on with Nia - the House rejection of that stopgap spending bill today. I mean, what's next? Do you think the GOP is going to compromise on this whackjob notion that you have to cut an appropriate amount of money out of something else that's vital in order to take care of our commitment to our citizens during our catastrophes?
BECERRA: Well Keith, if you think about it, it's pretty crazy. Not only did Republicans say that we should not try to help Americans who've lost everything at a time when they need it most, but they've also said in order to get any kind of resources to those folks in need, you have to cut jobs to do it. And so it's a double whammy. Good thing, bipartisanly, the bill was rejected. Now we should just bring a clean bill to keep the government running. Otherwise, once again, Republicans are threatening on to shut the government down.
OLBERMANN: What would you - what would you think would happen if that was some sort of - and Lord help us and - and - and we hope we don't have to face anything like that again - but if that was some sort of funding for something terror-related or some sort of other catastrophe that was, that was man-made as opposed to weather- or earthquake-related or other natural disasters, and it was the Democrats who were saying, 'We're not going to - it's nice that all of this devastation is on the ground, but we're not going to pay for it unless you cut $3 billion from the military,' for example?
BECERRA: Yeah, there but for the grace of God go I. And so, one of these days, it'll rebound and it'll affect them. And the worst part about this is that never in the history of the United States have we treated disasters the way Republicans are trying to treat them now. It's always been a bipartisan policy to try to help.
I remember during the Northridge earthquake in California, Los Angeles, in the 1990s, bipartisan support. We rebuilt those parts of Los Angeles that were hurt very badly. We did it on a bipartisan basis. This is very different, dangerous.
OLBERMANN: Frightening to think of those days as the good ol' days, but in terms of bipartisanship, perhaps they were. Let me get back to this extraordinary letter to the Fed from the, from the GOP leadership pressuring the chairman of the Fed to avoid stimulus or, in fact, intervention in the economy. I mean, that sure sounds like a sort of written admission, 'We're hellbent on tanking the economy, or at least the economic recovery. If you stand if our way, we'll come get you next year.'
BECERRA: Simply because Republicans, for 260 days as the majority, have not put forward and passed one jobs bill doesn't mean that the Fed should stand by and watch Americans lose their jobs. 'Do nothing' is not good policy when it comes to creating jobs or getting the economy moving. And I believe the Fed is trying to do everything it can from keeping this economy from going back into recession. That Republicans seem very determined to have one goal - and that comes in November, to try to beat this president - comes at the expense of Americans who are trying to stay at work.
OLBERMANN: Why would you put that, though, in writing? It's - it's fairly easily translatable even to - to somebody like me. It must be translatable to some degree to the - to the voters.
BECERRA: Keith, that's the question you have to ask the four Republican leaders - why they would put in writing something that comes close to political extortion.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you about - we just heard Paul Ryan basically back up governor Rick Perry's comment that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. It seems like this has burned not just the fingers of Republican leaders, but it's taken off their fingerprints and it's now moving down towards the bone. Why - how on earth is this a necessity, and what can Democrats do to - to attack this point of view that Republicans keep expressing, especially since it seems like it's such the low-hanging fruit or a curveball that doesn't curve?
BECERRA: I think in this case, Republicans can't help themselves. They are showing their true colors. They've never really been supportive of Social Security. They've always wanted to privatize Medicare and let it die on the vine, as Newt Gingrich was fond of saying. And what we're finding now is that Republicans believe they have a moment where they can actually talk the truth about how they feel about these programs. Seniors are beginning to realize that - when the Republicans passed a budget that would essentially end Medicare - that they meant it, because they'd rather have it in the hands of private individuals, private insurance companies, they'd rather have people's Social Security money in the hands of Wall Street bankers. And so, it's becoming very clear where they are heading. In a way, it's good that finally they're speaking the truth to how they really feel about some of these policies.
OLBERMANN: Yep, the We Love The Year 1936 Party. Representative Xavier Becerra of the California 31st, great thanks for your time tonight, Congressman.
BECERRA: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How do you beat the president next year? I mean, apart from deliberately tanking the economy and threatening anybody - like Boehner, Cantor and Kyl and McConnell just did - who tries to intervene. Well, pandering to the religious extremes, the end-of-the-worlders and the apocalyptic visionists would help. And, as one Republican has just done, mixing in an obvious suck-up to the birthers might help even more. The candidate who claims, "I'm an American," next.
OLBERMANN: If the apocalyptic and end times shout-outs in the new Rick Perry video weren't enough, there's also the dog whistle to the birthers and the GOP veteran predicts there's a lot of crap to come out about the new front-runner. We'll cover day five of the anti-corporate protest to occupy Wall Street, and why it hasn't been covered anywhere else.
As the right takes a swipe at job creation and unions, I'll be joined by a governor who watched the unions, big business and the government work in concert to avoid catastrophe. And it's being described as a threat.
He'll quit his show if President Obama raises his taxes. This is a threat how, exactly? "Worst Persons," ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Rick Perry releases a new ad that looks more like a Captain America ripoff in which he plays Captain America vanquishing the un-American, urban thug. That would be the president.
In our fourth story tonight, Perry also dog whistles to birthers. Meanwhile, the mother of them all birthers, Sarah Palin, surges in the polls by just sitting back and watching Michele Bachmann self destruct. Perry campaign, rereleasing this ad today, casting Obama as the destructive interloper and Perry as the good ol' cowboy, riding in on his steed, to save the nation, with dyed hair. Watch carefully for the visual dog whistle.
(EXCERPT FROM VIDEO CLIP)
BARAK OBAMA: Despite all of the naysayers who are predicting failure, our economy's growing again. No more manufactured crises. No more games. We are headed in the right direction. I love these folks who say, "Well, this is Obama's economy." That's fine. Give it to me.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: A great country requires a better direction. A renewed nation needs a new president. The United States of America really is the last great hope of mankind. It's time to get America working again. We don't need a president who apologizes for America. I believe in America.
OLBERMANN: Subtler for president. "V for Vendetta" joke. Did you catch the imagery? Look at this. An American - as opposed to a president who wasn't born in America? The birthers may have finally found their cretin. I'm sorry, that wasn't supposed to be "cretin," iIt was supposed to be "candidate." But Perry might still have some skeletons in his closet. Republican strategist Ed Rollins, previously Michele Bachmann's campaign manager, who said the race was now just Romney versus Perry, thinks the closets may be opening soon.
(Excerpt from video clip) ED ROLLINS: Find anybody who's been governor for a long time in a state with a lot of cronyism, you find a lot of deals that have been made, and that will be exposed in the course of the campaign, either by us, or certainly by the Obama team, if he gets that far.
OLBERMANN: Right now, President Obama leading Governor Perry in the polls. Still, voters are expressing growing discontent with the president, according to that new McClatchy poll. Thirty-six percent say they'd vote for him. Forty-nine percent said they would vote against him. That's a kind of nuanced question.
The good news for the president, though, is that voters seem less impressed by the GOP field. Faced with the prospect of having to vote for one of the actual Republican candidates, they consistently choose President Obama. What about undeclared Republican candidates? Sarah Palin now surging in those polls. She trailed the president by more than 20 all year but is now down by just five. Palin is doing, perhaps, the best thing she could possibly do - saying absolutely nothing and letting acolyte Michele Bachmann make gaffe after extraordinary gaffe. As Bachmann's numbers fall off of the cliff, the half governor seems to be reaping the benefit.
Joining me now, Sam Stein, White House correspondent for "The Huffington Post." Sam, good evening.
SAM STEIN: Hey, Keith, thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure. So, so this is where we now are - end times, apocalyptic imagery is not enough, you gotta have a little birther dog whistle in there, too?
STEIN: It was quite a dog whistle. I don't think anyone was actually questioning whether Rick Perry was an American, so I don't see the need for him to point that out in this video. And it's ironic, I guess, because Governor Perry - of course - famously talked about actually having his state leave America, secede. And so, there is an irony to that, of course. More than that, it is - it is a dog whistle to the birthers, and it plays into this notion which has been played for four years now that Obama simply isn't one of us.
OLBERMANN: Great catch, Sam Stein.
STEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The secessionist hit.
OLBERMANN: You just mentioned it, the president has battled that outsider label even since well before he came into office. Is there any indication that that's a spent force by now? It seems to have, just, a lot less - I don't know, a lot less of a gale force wind to it now than it did even a year ago.
STEIN: Well, there was an indication in 2008 that it was a spent force. I don't think many people actually considered it when they went to vote, and I think it's gotten even more tired and worn out since then. And, you know, it's obviously in the context of a presidential - a Republican presidential primary, I'm assuming it has some sort of role to play. I do believe there is a faction of the country that still - despite all the countervailing evidence - believes that the president wasn't born in this country. And if that sort of lowest-common-denominator politics that can win you a nomination, far be it from me to step in the way of Governor Perry to try to do it.
OLBERMANN: Can you run - can anybody run - all-cowboy, all-American against the president who could, if he wanted to, just run this 30-second ad that reads, 'Who got Bin Laden, again'?
STEIN: Yeah, and then that's sort of the ultimate backdrop to this is that, you know, when you look at the scorecard as a - you know, if you're playing sports, you point at the scoreboard. Obama has that trump, and I don't see how - at some point in time - he doesn't use it. If they're going to question his - his foreign policy - as Governor Perry did before this video, calling him, sort of, an appeaser of sorts - the Obama Administration is fully within its rights to say, 'Look, we did what George W. Bush couldn't do. We got Bin Laden.'
OLBERMANN: Is there any indication, by the way, the president's willing to campaign on that, or even have it referenced in a campaign?
STEIN: I picked up no indication myself, but that's primarily because the president hasn't begun campaigning yet. And I would guess - if I were sitting in the Chicago offices of Obama for America - my guess would be, don't use that until you're questioned directly on foreign policy and bring it out as a trump card. What can beat it?
OLBERMANN: The numbers, the polling numbers, that suggest that there is a Palin resurgence in the GOP field - is there in fact one, or is this more about the volatility of the GOP field, do you think?
STEIN: I think, first of all, the GOP field is the actual voters, Republican voters, still, according to most polls, don't seem utterly comfortable. They're growing more comfortable. They're not utterly comfortable with the field as is. But at the same time, there is not as much appetite as you would expect for Sarah Palin to jump in.
We do what are called outsider polls at "The Huffington Post," which is basically taking people who are not opinion makers in D.C. but in respective, critical primary states, and they don't really have any particular appetite to see Sarah Palin jump in. So I think what we're seeing here is primarily response to Michele Bachmann's candidacy flaming out, sort of falling in the polls, post-Ames straw poll, and the notion that there is still some discomfort with Perry and Romney.
OLBERMANN: Bachmann is done, though? Correct?
STEIN: 'Done' might be too strong a word. Even Ed Rollins, who seems to be going rogue with each and every interview, suggests that she still has a chance to actually win in Iowa, but her path beyond that is really narrow, and I don't see how she does anything - especially if she continues to basically undermine her own candidacy with these outrageous claims about HPV vaccine causing mental retardation. That does her no - that does her no help because her real problem is to actually come off presidential and serious.
OLBERMANN: There'll be talk about space aliens at any point in the game. Sam Stein from "The Huffington Post" in Washington for us tonight. Once again, Sam, great thanks.
STEIN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Heard about Occupy Wall Street? No? You should have, and you should know why it has not been covered. Both coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street, and why it hasn't occupied any mainstream media news time, next.
First, the "Sanity Break."
And on this date in 1827, 22-year-old folk magician Joseph Smith of Palmyra, New York, said he'd finally found the right person that God wanted to have him join with in finding and digging up some golden plates that had given to him by the angel Moroni, who detailed Jesus' visit to America and his conversation with a guy named Mormon, and the person was the woman with whom he'd run off eight months earlier, and - okay, I can't read this. Suffice to say, they got a great musical out of it.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin on the internet. Actually, on the printer. This little sleepy kitty has found a great spot to take a nap while his owner does some work on the computer. That is, until he learns that his bed doubles as some sort of communications device. What is this? A secret message? Don't back up?
Down goes Felix! Down goes Felix!
Here's hoping he'll have more success later with that weird metal thing in the kitchen with the two slots on top and the bread in it.
Staying in the animal kingdom, the penguin who does not want to be disturbed. Knocked the guy right off his happy feet. We haven't seen a penguin bring somebody down that hard since Darius Kasparaitis. Down goes Lindros! Always be prepared for the march of the penguin. He's wearing the right orange pants. It's the Flyers all right.
Finally, we travel to Chicago, and here come the brides. Run for your lives! It's the Filene's Basement annual Running of the Brides sale, where hundreds of frenzied fianceés fight their way through the crowds trying to get the best bargain on a wedding dress. And really, what better time than before your wedding to divorce your dignity? Ma'am, how many weddings are you planning on having? This is Larry King.
The big winners were able to get dresses worth thousands of dollars for just a few hundred bucks. But the real brave champions of the day? The men or women who are marrying these people.
"Time Marches On!"
Protesting corporate control of the economy of this country. Huge crowds, no coverage, next.
OLBERMANN: Coming to you live from the World News Headquarters of the DuMont Television Network, it's "Countdown." We bring it to you live, there are no re-creations. At 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 P.M. Pacific each weeknight.
Tomorrow night, my special guest - in his first appearance since our first show - official "Countdown" provocateur, Michael Moore.
This rhetorical question is, perhaps, self-answering. A protest called Occupy Wall Street, trying to underscore and gum up the financial industries' influence on who's rich and who's not - why wouldn't that get extensive news coverage?
In our third story - after five straight days of sit-ins, marches and shouting and some arrests, actual North American newspaper coverage of this - even by those who have thought it farce or failure - has been limited to one blurb in a free newspaper in Manhattan and a column in "The Toronto Star."
It started Saturday when about a thousand people marched into New York's financial district to express their anger over how the financial system treats the majority of Americans - what they call the 99 percenters - and to draw attention to the misdeeds of Wall Street. They have been confronted with an ever-increasing police presence which is blocking certain streets and attempting to keep protestors away from the stock exchange itself.
While the protesters are peaceful, tensions are beginning to rise. According to the group's own website, seven protestors were arrested yesterday, with four more being arrested today. The police have resorted to using a 166-year-old law which bans "the wearing masks in a gathering of two or more people except at masquerade parties." Simple solution to that crap? Call those protests outdoor masquerade parties.
While the majority of the media is ignoring the public uprising, it is not going completely unnoticed. Take, for instance, Yahoo which blocked any e-mail containing the group's website with the message, "Suspicious activity has been detected on your account." Yahoo later acknowledged the error, tweeting, "We apologize for blocking occupywallstreet.org, it was not intentional and caught by our spam filters. It is resolved. It may be a residual delay."
Joining me now is a veteran of many residual delays, Will Bunch, senior writer for "The Philadelphia Daily News" and author of "The Backlash: The Right Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama." Good evening, my friend.
WILL BUNCH: Hey, Keith, it's great to see you again.
OLBERMANN: My - my pleasure. Before the blackout questions, who are these protestors? Are they the unemployed new graduates or disenthralled Wall Streeters? Who do we got out there?
BUNCH: Well, there was a great line in "The Guardian," which, of course, is a British publication, so they're actually covering it there.They called - they quoted one of the people calling themselves 'the underemployed and the overeducated.' And I thought that was a pretty good line. Many of them are young, but not all of them. Some of them are in their 50s or older.
They were run by a couple of groups. One is a magazine that I was not familiar with before, but it's very popular in Canada, called "Adbusters." It's a liberal magazine that I think came up with the idea for this event, and then the group Anonymous - which is very controversial for its hacking activities - promoted it, too. But mainly, it's been promoted on Twitter and Facebook, but especially Twitter, not unlike the protests we saw in the Arab Spring overseas. It's very similar in that regard.
OLBERMANN: Short-term goal is what? Obviously, they are not going for the same thing as they were going for in Tahrir Square.
BUNCH: I think the short-term goal - well, I think, like in Tahrir Square, I think people showed up there because they were just unhappy with the regime, and I think that's what's happening here, too. I think when you talk to people, mainly they are frustrated, they're angry, many of them are unemployed or that they, you know, can't make it in this economy.They're the - part of the 99 percenters, but they are the part that are dealing with unemployment and things like that.
I think that's been a problem. I think they can and should refine their goals, and perhaps they will over time if they can keep it going. But right now, I think it's a sign of the deep unrest and anxiety that a lot of people are feeling in this country.
OLBERMANN: Well, apparently, they're not going to be able to refine their goals based on reading bad reviews in, you know, of the - of the - of the movie or - or protest critics of "The New York Times".
I'm going to ask our director Chris Valente to show those still pictures again and give you an alternate meme as what they came from. So, the crowd shots especially, Chris.
Why isn't - why isn't any major news outlet covering this? Do we have the crowd - the crowd shots by any chance? Just to give it that dimension - that one, that's the one. If that's a tea party protest in front of Wall Street about Ben Bernanke putting stimulus funds into it, it's the lead story on every network newscast. How is that - that disconnect possible in this country today with so many different outlets and so many different ways of transmitting news?
BUNCH: It is a real disconnect. And "The New York Times," I mean, this is the hometown newspaper of Wall Street and there have been no print articles in "The New York Times" to date - with these people camping out down there for four or five days now. It's crazy.
I think three things are going on. I think one - I think the word "disconnect" that you used is a very good word because a lot of people in news rooms still are not in touch with the real pain and the real suffering of 25 million Americans who are unemployed and underemployed in the struggle to make ends meet there. So, I think there is that.
I think there's something else - and the media critic Jay Rosen from NYU writes about this all the time, which is what he calls "savvy" - which is that it's just kind of uncool for journalists to take these people who want to change the world seriously, you know?
That - I've seen a lot of coverage, like in "The New York Observer"'s coverage is basically to make fun of these people. You know, 'Oh, these are the guys with the masks we saw a couple of years ago, weren't they?' And to kind of put it down and not really trying to get to the bottom of what's going on here. And there's that. And, as far as the tea party, you know, Keith, you and I both know the newsrooms overreact to conservative carping.
BUNCH: They've been doing it since the days of Spiro Agnew .
OLBERMANN: By the way, "New York Observer" - piece of crap. But, all right. But, moving on to the last - just an observation.
OLBERMANN: They don't really fit into this - this explanation. But is it possible that because those people don't look like mainstream newspapers' or - or television networks' viewers or readers - that they aren't old ladies with purple wigs or purple-dyed hair, and they aren't seemingly, you know, typical middle-American Americans, that they're in New York - that's that - is that what the suspicion is? Because you're not going to be able to sell that videotape or story about that protest to your audience?
BUNCH: Well, I thought it was funny that the biggest story in "The New York Times" during the five days of the protest - the biggest local story - has been the demise of "Ray's Pizza." And so - so it is kind of like the Grey Lady selling nostalgia to its grey - grey-haired readers. And I think there is an element of that, in maybe the fact that the tea party protesters were people who - like a lot of us survivors in newsrooms are in our 50s - you know, maybe the fact they look like them, I think maybe that had something to do with it. I mean, I think there is also kind of a man-bites-dog thing about the tea party, is that -
BUNCH: - conservative are protesting whereas, you know, they write off protests on the left that they should not.
OLBERMANN: You'd think, at least, it would have made it into the traffic reports. Will Bunch of "The Philadelphia Daily News" and the vast "Hackley Dial Alumni Association News Page," principally - always a pleasure, my friend. Great thanks.
BUNCH: Always a pleasure, Keith. It was great.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. Gave him his first job - 1974. We're old guys.
As the lunatic right continues to blame the unions for everything, we'll talk to the former governor of Michigan who helped unions and corporations and government to work together to save an entire business - the American auto industry. Governor Jennifer Granholm, coming up.
OLBERMANN: The governor who oversaw cooperation between Detroit and the unions on the governor whose outreach to the unemployed of Wisconsin includes a jobs website on which 20 percent of the available jobs are not in Wisconsin - Jennifer Granholm ahead. First, the "Worst," and the new Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor, saluting his silliest, most infantile "Saturday Night Live" gag, and the protests against it - that's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm on class warfare and blaming the unions when the unions and the workers helped to save Detroit.
First - because there's no saving ourselves from these maroons without the kind of constant vigilance that this segment provides - here are "Countdown"'s nominees for today's top three "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Kindee Durkee, the head of Durkee and Associates, the alleged campaign finance expert accused of doing a Madoff on key California political groups and politicians like Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Sanchez. Worse still, she has now violated the first rule of evading the media. Her getaway car - you got to make sure it works.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #1: Durkee, along with her husband John, tries to get away. But their Chevy Blazer isn't cooperating.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #2: Miss Durkee, there are so many questions. People want to know what happened to the money. Can you please tell us?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #1: She turned her face away from our camera and refuses to answer any questions.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #2: Kindee, we just want to get your side of the story. Will you please just talk to us?
OLBERMANN: And apparently, Kindee Durkee and that reporter are still there 48 hours later.
Our runner up - Bill O., the clown. It's been a festival over there lately.
First, he failed the megalomaniac's oath by revealing just how nuts he is, telling a magazine interviewer quote, "I have more power than anybody other than the president, in the sense that I can get things changed quickly." Of course you do.
Consider O'Reilly's boycott of France, during which the nation's business activity with France increased. Consider O'Reilly's pursuit of one of his own female producers, which got her an eight figure settlement and lead to O'Reilly's life leaving him to take up with a police detective.
Second, I was told this week that O'Reilly met a prominent sports figure recently. We'll leave his name out of it. And told the man he wanted to meet him because quote, "I'm number one in my field, and I only meet people who are number one in their field, and you are number one in your field." The sports figure said he agreed O'Reilly was number one, the number one most pompous person he had ever met.
And newest among the Bill O. highlights, he has threatened to quit his program if his taxes get too high. Although the number percentagewise he quotes here suggests he's too high already:
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barak Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent, which is very possible, I don't know how much longer I am going to do this. I like my job, but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person's income?
OLBERMANN: You mean like it was under President Reagan? But quit the show? Quit teasing us like that. Jump! Jump! At least we finally understand the president's tax strategy - get Bill O. to quit.
Lastly - sadly perhaps - it may not matter if he quits or not. O'Reilly was booked for a speaking engagement - the Kentucky Center in Louisville - a week from Saturday. It will not happen. His P.R. firm says O'Reilly had a scheduling conflict, but the spokesman for the Kentucky Center has a different story. The truth? Ticket sales were quote, "sluggish," so the Kentucky Center canceled O'Reilly's show.
But our winner is the American Family Association. That's an ironic name, by the way.
The right-wing reactionary group has just struck out against the newest threat to American motherhood, or something. "Ben and Jerry's" newest ice cream flavor - Schweddy Balls - named, of course, for the incomparably juvenile series of sketches starring Alec Baldwin on "Saturday Night Live."
The American Family Association's breathless press release foretells the end of civilization:
"'Ben and Jerry's' announced their newest ice cream flavor, which sounds anything but appealing - Schweddy Balls is the best they could come up with. The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive - not exactly what you want a child asking for at the supermarket. Please send "Ben and Jerry's" public relations manager Sean Greenwood an e-mail letter, requesting that no additional Schweddy Balls ice cream be distributed. Also, highly recommend they refrain from producing another batch with this name or with any other offensive names, or you will no longer be able to purchase their products."
First off, you guys in the American Family Association let your kids buy the ice cream at the supermarket? What kind of parents are you? Secondly - as Wonkette points out - for reasons best left to the imagination, the press release the American Family Association issued quoted one word ten times. The word is "balls." And to be fair, we think "Ben and Jerry's" should play fair and give the American Family Association and the other close-minded, hysterical nut jobs their own special ice cream flavor - Rick Perry's Nuts.
The American Family Association - today's "Worst Persons in the World."
OLBERMANN: Union-busting Governor Scott Walker says jobs for the people of Wisconsin are one of his priorities, just not necessarily jobs for them in Wisconsin. Walker's touted a website - Job Center of Wisconsin - that features thousands of jobs in other states.
In a moment, I'll talk with a former Midwestern governor with a firmer grip on this issue - Jennifer Granholm, the two-term former governor of Michigan.
Our number one story on the "Countdown" - according to the Associated Press, nearly a fifth of the jobs on the Walker site are outside Wisconsin. Thirty-two thousand jobs posted yesterday - more than 3,000 in Illinois, more than 2,000 in Minnesota. When Walker ran for governor in 2010, he touted himself as a job creator with 'big plans.'
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT WALKER: Two-hundred fifty thousand new jobs - that's my goal. Two-hundred fifty thousand new jobs by the end of our first term in office. . . I know we can put more people back to work here in this state by getting government out of the way . . .If you elect me as governor, I'll never forget that people create jobs, not government. We'll get government out of the way so we can get more people working again here in the state of Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN: More people back to work in the state. Well, he never said which state. According to the Associated Press, Wisconsin's unemployment rate has jumped from 7.4 - when he took office in January - to 7.9 percent in August.
Now, as promised, Jennifer Granholm, the two-term former governor of Michigan and the author of "A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future," co-authored with her husband, Dan Mulhern. Good evening, Governor.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM: Okay, that is a really cool trick - being able to claim the vacancies in other states.
GRANHOLM: I mean, I'm taking Texas' vacancies as governor.
OLBERMANN: Right, you too can apply for a job.
OLBERMANN: Say, Halifax, in Canada - that'd be a good place if you're in Michigan, or anywhere else. Is it - but there's something there par for the course for Republicans when it comes to this topic of jobs? We just heard this, I think was it yesterday - the freshman congressman who thinks that all we have to do is move a million undocumented workers out of the country and then we'd have a million jobs for unemployed citizens to take, and there'll be plenty of jobs for everybody - including the jobs, of course, of forcing these people out of the country. There's - there's something abstract about this is what I guess - what I'm getting at.
GRANHOLM: I think there's something completely unreal, and this is the challenge is that everybody's scratching their heads over why this is sort of a jobless period of time.
GRANHOLM: And I think it's very obvious why it's a jobless period of time. Everything that's happening to the country, frankly, happened to Michigan first.
GRANHOLM: We never came out of the 2002 recession. Why? Because the structure of our economy has changed - in Michigan, but around the country - because of globalization. And the Republicans are operating as though the old theories of 20th century - which may have worked fine if - when we were in a closed - a more-closed system - but with globalization, knowing our economic competitors are out there gunning for us every single day. Hu Jintao tells Bush in his primary - in his primary - uh, in his - in his biography, that he wakes up every morning trying to figure out how to create 25 million jobs a year for his people. Well, when we've got competitors like that -
OLBERMANN: Right, right.
GRANHOLM: They're gonna be pulling jobs away. So the structure of our nation's economy has changed. And the issue is what are we gonna do to be able to create jobs in America, in a global economy? How do you crack the code to be able to do that? And the Republicans' solution is just to cut taxes and shrink government. And that's not the solution that's gonna work.
OLBERMANN: Whichever -
GRANHOLM: If you use it alone.
OLBERMANN: But whichever one works - and there are probably two or three different routes to it - do they not require some end to the demonization of the unions? In other words, your - the success in your state, and your contribution to that success, was three groups - the three groups that make up the economy, essentially - coming together and saying "We got to do something about this or we're all gonna go underwater."
GRANHOLM: Yeah, I mean, honestly, you had to have an intervention by government -
GRANHOLM: To be able to save the auto industry, and you had to have that restructuring. But the unions were absolutely a partner in it. The head of the UAW, Bob King, really deserves a huge amount of praise for his willingness and cooperation. When he first came in, he said, "This is the new UAW." And he really was candid.
He said, "We're gonna work with management to compete against the globe, 'cause our competitors are not management. The competitors are really outside. How do we keep these jobs in America?" And yesterday, you know, GM announced that it was gonna invest $900 million in America - to create jobs here - thanks to the cooperation with the UAW.
OLBERMANN: And yet, you get from the Republicans a fixation on calling any tax on anybody who has money "class warfare." That's the newest phrase. When taxes are, in fact, in their lowest rates in half a century. If there is class warfare, it's against the middle class and the poor. How do Republicans keep selling the idea that making the rich pay their fair share is a class-warfare act?
GRANHOLM: They may be selling, but I just don't know that the public are buying it. You saw the poll today. Sixty-five percent of Americans think that the upper class should be taxed fairly, and I think that resonates with people 'cause - ultimately, really - it's the folks in the middle class that may be subsidizing, a bit, the folks at the top who benefit from a lower tax rate. And that's not fair either.
And I would just say, too, when they keep talking about - for example - keeping the capital gains tax low and not raising it to the rate of all of the other taxation - when you think about that - what's the extra money going to? It's going to invest, right? The investments are happening in a global economy.
GRANHOLM: Global markets. Those investments are being made by multinational corporations who are deciding to go where they can maximize their shareholder return, and it's not in the United States. So, unless you tie your tax benefits to job creation in the U.S., then you're not gonna get the jobs here that you - you know, that you say that you were.
OLBERMANN: So, could you conceivably go on an - on an idea of reducing or eliminating capital gains tax for companies that exclusively or - or add jobs in the U.S.? Could you actually tie those two things together?
GRANHOLM: I mean, why - why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you? I mean, in a sense, it's partially what the president's job proposal does - the tax credits for job creation. So that's one component of what you do.
But if you tie those tax benefits to creating American jobs - and one of the nice things about the - the jobs act is that he's creating public-sector jobs, but this tax credit for job creation in America also creates private-sector jobs - I think you gotta do more than that, in addition to what he's doing. You have to add sectors. You gotta compete globally. We gotta get energy jobs here. We don't even have a national energy policy. But the longer we delay, every single day, these companies are making decisions about where to locate, and believe me, those countries over there are - have their hand open and they're saying, "Come over here. Provide jobs for our people." If we don't get in the game, we are going to continue to lose.
OLBERMANN: Right, I've got, like, 30 seconds. Give me a read on how the economy fits into 2012 and the president's chances of re-election, from your expertise.
GRANHOLM: My expertise is that I ran for re-election in the toughest economy in the country. I had the highest unemployment rate in the country. I was upside down in my approval ratings when I ran for re-election. This was 2006. Wrong track numbers were off the chart and I still won. Ran against a billionaire. Still won, by the largest amount of votes ever cast. If I could do it in Michigan, the president can do it, too.
OLBERMANN: Jennifer Granholm. The new book is called "A Governor's Story." It's always a pleasure to talk with you.
GRANHOLM: Great to talk to you.
OLBERMANN: See, you already have a - hold it up again. Keep the shot up. Hold it up again,
GRANHOLM: I was - I was there, promoting it. I wrote it with my husband. There's a lot of good stuff.
GRANHOLM: All right, thanks.
OLBERMANN: All right.
That's "Countdown" for this, the 52nd day since the Republicans' debt-ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? Where's our credit rating?
Buy the governor's book.
Tomorrow night, even more on New York City's private version of the CIA, we'll break and my special guest will be Michael Moore.
I am Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.