'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
ShowPlug1: @MMFlint Michael Moore on GOP tanking economy, on #OccupyWallStreet + media blackout, on execution of Troy Davis
ShowPlug2: Boehner vs Tea Party over Budget Resolution, with or without increased disaster relief. TPM's @BrianBeutler joins me
ShowPlug3: Incredibly, NYPD's Mini-CIA story gets worse. It targeted ALL residents of one descent. AP's @Mattapuzzo broke story, joins me
ShowPlug4: In wake of Davis execution is the real question being asked? Are ANY executions justified? W/ Nation's @LilianaSegura
ShowPlug5: Worsts: Rick Perry's Florida co-chair believes God punishes gay marriage w/ hurricanes, fires. Also thinks she can raise dead.
ShowPlugLast: and, again, forgive the lamppost but what a wacky sky at sunset: http://twitpic.com/6oxbkl
watch whole playlist
#5 'Bridging the GOP', Brian Beutler
#5 'Bridging the GOP', Michael Moore
#4 'Street Fighters', Michael Moore
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'N.Y.C.I.A.', Matt Apuzzo
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Charlie Webster (R-ME), Rep. Joe Walsh, Pam Olsen
#1 '"Justice" in Georgia', Liliana Segura
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Charlie Webster, CIA, death penalty, Economy, GOP Primary, Jobs, Joe Walsh, John Boehner, Moroccan Initiative, Moroccan-Americans, NYPD, Occupy Wall Street, Pam Olson, Rick Perry, Stop-Gap Budget Resolution, Troy Davis
Guests: Brian Beutler, Liliana Segura, Matt Apuzzo
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? GOP meltdown. The far right won't vote the way Boehner tells it to on the stop-gap budget resolution. Boehner so angry he's "spitting nails." The bridge to everywhere.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: The bridge behind us just happens to connect the state that's home to the speaker of the House with the home state of the Republican leader in the Senate.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN BOEHNER: Now is not the time for the president to go into campaign mode.
OLBERMANN: He says this the day of a Republican presidential debate. At the other end of that bridge, he says -
(Excerpt from video clip) MITCH MCCONNELL: Don't tell the people of Kentucky they need to finance every turtle tunnel and solar-panel company on some bureaucrat's wish list in order to get their bridges fixed.
OLBERMANN: Are you going to tell Mitch McConnell about that turtle reference or am I?
Occupy Wall Street, day six.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: This is becoming a corporate-ocracy in America. They're influencing democracy in a horrible way.
OLBERMANN: The protests in New York and the fight over jobs in Washington. The perspective on both from my special guest, Michael Moore. Did we execute an innocent man in Georgia last night? And more importantly, are we asking the wrong question? Should we be executing any man in Georgia or elsewhere?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: As long as the death penalty is applied in a racially-bigoted fashion and a class-bigoted fashion, this sort of cheating, this sort of legalized lynching, this sort of heartless application of punishment will continue.
OLBERMANN: And "Worsts," Rick Perry's Florida co-chair believes she gets to decide who will be raised from the dead. All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) GENE WILDER: It's alive!
OLBERMANN: Good even from New York. This is Thursday, September 22nd, 411 days until the 2012 presidential election.
And now we know why John Boehner was crying the night he became speaker of the House. He was contemplating what his life would be like the day he finally lost control of the far right. In our fifth story in the "Countdown," John of Orange taken by surprise by a small group of tea party lawmakers when they helped kill a stop-gap budget resolution.
Michael Moore on Boehner being hoisted with his own petard and much more. Presently, this leaves the beleaguered speaker with few options for keeping the federal government running. He can side with the Democrats, side with the far right, or pressure the intransigent members of his party to fall in line and pass legislation they voted down last night. At a news conference today, he chose that strategy, challenging tea party members to keep voting against this resolution in the name of fiscal responsibility.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOEHNER: They can vote no, but what they are in essence doing is sort of voting to spend more money, because that's exactly what will happen.
OLBERMANN: The government will shut down by the end of the month if the resolution is not passed. Boehner today maintaining his cool, downplaying that threat.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOEHNER: Listen, there's no threat of government shutdown. Let's just get this out there.
OLBERMANN: Behind closed doors, though, the speaker is reportedly more emotive, "National Journal" reporting he was "spitting nails" during a closed door meeting yesterday with those other Republicans. And "reaching something close to a breaking pointed with his internally divided conference."
He might be reaching his breaking point, but Democratic fund raisers see a selling point in the tea party's latest snit. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee using it in a new fund raising campaign that reads, "extremist tea party Republicans are bringing our government to the brink of shutdown again in a brazen ploy to advance their extremist agenda."
Another Democrat using this Republican meltdown to his advantage - the president. He was in Cincinnati today standing in front of a bridge that connects Ohio and Kentucky - indeed, the home states of Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He claimed the location was purely coincidental before he laid into the two of them.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, those are the two most powerful Republicans in government. They can either kill this jobs bill or they can help pass this jobs bill. . . I can't imagine that the speaker wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges are classified as substandard . . . Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill.
OLBERMANN: Even with the president literally on the road, highlighting specific elements of his jobs bill, Senator Minority Leader McConnell still accusing the president of not making enough substantive proposals.
(Excerpt from video clip) MCCONNELL: I would suggest, Mr. President, that you think about ways to help the people of Kentucky and Ohio instead of how you can use their roads and bridges as a backdrop for making a political point.
OLBERMANN: You mean the way every Republican House and Senate candidate used the bridges and stuff last year? How every Republican presidential candidate has used them this year? One of the president's substantive proposals is to reform the tax code. He's introduced the so called "Buffett Rule" designed to prevent millionaires from taking advantage of lower taxes on investment earnings. So, how have Republicans responded to that proposal? By pulling a "birther," ignoring the substance of the argument and calling on Warren Buffett to publically release his IRS filings.
(Excerpt from video clip) JIM DEMINT: I would love to see Buffett's tax returns so we can see what he is really doing, because he is kind of operating in the dark here, making some claims.
OLBERMANN: Senator DeMint, there is something you probably should have been aware of - Warren Buffett already disclosed his tax returns last month on national television. Here he is on "Charlie Rose" discussing them.
(Excerpt from video clip) WARREN BUFFETT: I've got my tax return here if you want to take a look at them in a moment. I get taxed up to $100,000. And my super-rich friends get taxed up to $100,000. And that tax hits the people in my office very, very hard.
OLBERMANN: Now that the president has provided his birth certificate to prove he is, in fact, an American and the second richest man in the country shows has disclosed his tax return to show he is, in fact, taxed at a lower rate than his secretary, perhaps it's time to move on to things like passing the resolution, avoiding the massive government shutdown, or at least getting a look at the receipt for wherever Jim DeMint gets his hair colored.
Let's start tonight with Brian Beutler, senior congressional reporter for "Talking Points Memo." Good evening, Brian.
BRIAN BEUTLER: Good to be back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And we're glad to have you. I suppose it's not so much how did Boehner get skunked by the tea party, but more - how did he get surprised by the fact that they might skunk him?
BEUTLER: It's - it's a little bit baffling. This is maybe the second or third time that - with big legislation on the House floor - he's found himself shy of enough Republican votes to pass it on his own and in need of Democrats.
But what's happened since the first government-shutdown fight and the debt-limit fight is that Democrats are kind of tired of this. They know that voters are watching more closely. They know that voters are aware of how this dynamic is playing out. And so they're withholding votes, they're not letting John Boehner pass legislation with their help.
And why he was surprised by this is - is sort of anybody's guess, because they basically said 'Enough's enough' right after the debt-limit fiasco went down. So, he put it on the floor. Most reporters in the Capitol knew it was going to go down, or at least had a very strong hunch that it would. And then it did - much to the surprise, it seemed - of Boehner and his whip team.
OLBERMANN: He was probably out in the back telling the story about when he used to sweep the floors and how emotional he would get when he did that. So, what is next? Is shut down next, or is Boehner actually right here, and there will be a more Democratic-friendly version of this bill and it's gonna pass the House anyway?
BEUTLER: There's - there's some time. You know the House - everything seems super-urgent because they want to leave town and take next week off tonight. But they have a week and a day to figure something out. And it looks like they'll at least be here tomorrow.
So what happens tonight is that John Boehner is going to try to pass it again with more Republican votes. He's - he's put a Solyndra-related amendment into the CR to try to scare Democrats into voting for it, and to maybe entice some Republicans to vote for it. Maybe that will work and it'll go to the Senate - where Democrats say they'll kill it - and maybe it won't.
If it doesn't work, it really looks like he is going to have to deal with Democrats. And if it does, he'll still have to deal with Democrats - because over in the Senate, Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic caucus say, 'No, we're not gonna offset disaster aid, we're not gonna mess around with these gimmicks on Solyndra, we're not gonna cut manufacturing in order to provide relief to hurricane victims. So, it's either deal with us or we are going to get into next week and then we're really going to be in a shutdown fight situation.'
So, we're not there yet, but they are really playing footsie with it.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, the president - using the bridge that they had to shut down last month due to bad infrastructure as backdrop. And McConnell and Boehner both accusing him of politicking on the day of a Republican presidential debate. That sort of boggles the mind, doesn't it?
BEUTLER: Yeah, well, you know, it is campaign season. And it's - and it's - you know - everybody in the Republican Party has been, you know, willingly part of campaign season for their candidates for months now. Moreover, after opposing the stimulus, just about every Republican in Congress, you know, went to ribbon-cutting ceremonies at bridges, you know, months and months and month away from the election. Everyone knows that this is part politics, but also, everyone does it in their own districts and states and, you know, criticizes their opponents when they do it.
So, I mean, it's all sort in the politics game. But it's also a little bit, you know, really silly, because the policy and the politics are very tied together right now. And on the policy table is legislation to pay for infrastructure. And on the - on the politics table is whether we are going to pay for infrastructure or tax wealthy people. So these are all very related things. And it would probably be better for voters if it was clear in their minds that this was sort of a little bit of both.
OLBERMANN: Brian Beutler, senior congressional reporter for "Talking Points Memo." Always a pleasure, Brian. Great thanks.
BEUTLER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Now, as promised, joining me from Los Angeles where he is experiencing the joys of a book tour for his new offering "Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life," activist, filmmaker and author Michael Moore. Good evening, my friend.
MICHAEL MOORE: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I want to talk Occupy Wall Street with you, I want to talk about the Troy Davis execution with you firstm but, before that, let me - a little of the news of the day and of the week from Washington, relative to jobs and the Republicans and the economy.
Yesterday, it was the Republican leadership that wrote this four-person letter to Ben Bernanke, the Fed chair, basically threatened - 'If you intervene in the economy, if you try another stimulus, we'll get you.' Apart from the, sort of, naked threat in there, translate what that means in terms of where the Republicans stand on the economy and jobs creation and all of the rest.
MOORE: You know, I think my question to them would be - I've always started with the assumption that Republicans love this country -
MOORE: I don't take the approach they take with us, where they call us a whole bunch of names and assume that - that - that we're not proud to be Americans. But when they behave like this, when they say things like this - and this is a continuation of the threatening remarks that they made a month or so ago - it's - at what point do people start to question whether or not they really are for what we're all about?
I mean, it's - it seems like a strange approach to take when so many people are out of work. How can they be against this? I mean, it just - I loved - I loved watching Obama today doing his version of 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' Standing there - standing there saying, 'Mr. Boehner, rebuild this bridge.'
OLBERMANN: Don't tear down this bridge. Exactly.
MOORE: It's - I think it's - again, the last few days, President Obama has finally come out swinging. And it - I, listen, historians later on will figure out why he decided to play the first three-quarters of the game and not try to score any real touchdowns. If he has decided, though, in the fourth quarter to win the game, I think we're all for that.
We've seen - we saw what he said last week where he wasn't going to take any guff about taxing the rich. The rich are going to get taxed, and that's it. Two weeks - three weeks ago, his Justice Department decided to try to stop the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. When was the last time you saw the Justice Department try to stop a corporate merger? He was going to go after 17 banks and their mortgage fraud. I mean, suddenly, he's coming alive, and I want to see more of that, he needs more of that, and the people who are going to vote for him need to see that.
OLBERMANN: Do you think - with a little reflection and a little time - have you come to the same conclusion I have, about why that disconnect existed for the president for the first three quarters? He thought he was the referee.
MOORE: Yeah. I think - either he thought he was the referee or he was the new kid in town and wanted everybody to like him, or maybe he was just trying to be a good Christian and holding out the olive branch. But after they whacked it out of his hands, like, 30 times or 40 times, maybe he finally kind of decided - you know, you don't get anywhere by giving the bully what he wants. You have to stand up to the bully. Now we are seeing him stand up to the bully. I think this is a good thing.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned the Brent Spence Bridge and the optics today from Ohio and Kentucky. Speaker Boehner pushed back against stimulus money for infrastructure in Ohio. Minority Leader McConnell of Kentucky pushed back against infrastructure money in Kentucky and around the country. And they - and they spent today accusing Obama of playing politics with that bridge. That was delightful, wasn't it?
MOORE: Yeah, that's all they've done for the first three years of his term - is to block everything he has tried to do, even when he writes or proposes bills that has their language in the bill.
MOORE: They just decided - well, they've admitted the first night - the night of his inauguration - they all went out to dinner and they just said 'You know, we're going to pretend he doesn't exist. And we're just are not going to do anything for four years, we'll wait him out and we'll get rid of him. I hope they have a huge surprise coming here in the next year or so.
OLBERMANN: Not that Warren Buffett can't look out for himself, but seriously - demand he release his tax returns as Jim DeMint did when he had already released them on national TV? I mean - assuming it wasn't designed simply to make Jim DeMint to look like a dork - what were they trying to achieve in that? Just to ruin anybody who stands up against them in any way?
MOORE: Keith, you're wasting valuable air time trying to figure out how the brain of the current, the modern-day Republican works.
OLBERMANN: I know.
MOORE: These are people who - who - when asked: 'Do you believe in science?' - only one of the nine raised his hand. I was worried the next question was going to be, 'Do you believe in math? Anybody here for mathematics?' And the Republicans are like - 'Maybe?' No, these are - these are people that just, you know, they believe Adam and Eve rode on dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. How do have a logical conversation about that?
OLBERMANN: That's what Bill Maher said on the show last week, on his show last week. He said - he said that 50 percent of the country doesn't believe in reality. What are you going to do about that? Look, let me cheat -
MOORE: Yeah, less than 50 percent, though. Less than 50 percent. I believe the majority do believe in reality, and that's why they don't understand - as crazy as they make things - that the American people are not as crazy as they are - at least the majority aren't. And so I remain hopeful.
OLBERMANN: All right, before the other two topics, I gotta cheat and ask you a book question. Is there any part of the story about the role that part of the Bush family had in the making of "Roger & Me" that you can tell now without hurting book sales?
MOORE: Yes, well, I don't - the book sales, you know, people are going to read this book. And frankly - Go to the library. Books are overpriced anyway. You can get it for free at the library. No, seriously, I mean that.
OLBERMANN: I know. I know you do. I know. Eight publishers just jumped.
MOORE: I know, I know. I think they're giving smelling salts to the person from the - they're okay. God bless the publishers.
But no - in this, yes - there's two dozen short stories in this book, and one of the short stories from my life, stories I have not told for the most part ever before - is how a member of the Bush family gave me my start some 20-plus years ago. And long before there was a George W. Bush or whatever. And - and so without giving away -
MOORE: - the story, I think people will be surprised to learn that there would be no filmmaker sitting here, there would have been no "Roger & Me" had it not been for somebody who was very much a part of - of the Bush dynasty, so to speak.
OLBERMANN: To quote one of Mel Brooks' lines - "Where did I go right?" would be what they would be saying.
MOORE: Right, it turned out to be very bizarre.
OLBERMANN: Stay with me over the break, 'cause I said I want to show you the latest - the video we got today from Occupy Wall Street, ask you about that and the coverage gap between that and, say, one tea party guy having a meeting with himself in, you know, Drop-Dead, Texas. And I also - more seriously - want to ask about the execution of Troy Davis, which I know has really gotten to you.
MOORE: Yes. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: We went to Occupy Wall Street today. The new video, Michael's reaction - that's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: More with Michael. The Occupy Wall Street protest and why 20 tea partiers can get on the evening news, but six days of rallies against control of the Nation by the financial industry won't get covered unless I send a crew, which I did. Maybe it's the lack of party hats. Once again, amazing revelations about this commissioner's New York City police department now caught spying on everybody in the city from one African nation. And after the execution of Troy Davis, are we asking the wrong question? Not was he innocent, but why are we killing anybody? Rick Perry's new Florida co-chair believes hurricanes and fires are God's punishment for gay marriage. She also believes she gets to decide who gets raised from the dead and who doesn't. Well, I'm out of luck. Back with Michael Moore on Occupy Wall Street and the Troy Davis execution in a moment.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with "Countdown."
Michael Moore's still with me, and I have much to ask him about two more topics - the execution of Troy Davis last night in Georgia and our fourth story, Occupy Wall Street, Day Six. There are still several hundred on the streets of New York's financial district. They are still ignored by those who presumably support them, by those who oppose them, by those who should seemingly just be reporting on them. Why? Back with Michael after "Countdown's" brief visit to Occupy Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: We aren't going to put up with corporate corruption anymore. We aren't going to put up with corporate money in our politics, corporate money around the world controlling everything, controlling all of our natural resources, controlling all of our lives.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: #2: There's a lot of people here that realize something is wrong, but they don't know what.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #3: These big businesses like Bank of America and Exxon have so much influence over our government, they will never be held accountable until the people stand up and beg for justice.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: We can televise, you know, the - all of the protests in the Middle East but we can't - this is happening in our own backyard, you know. Why isn't this on TV? Why?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #4: There are a bunch of people basically gambling with all of our futures, and I don't agree with that. I don't consent to that.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #5: Our politicians no longer represent us, the people. The voice of the people has not been heard.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #6: These people are out here talking about things that affect everybody - problems with the banking system, problems with politics, my 401(k) plan, your 401(k) plan - the problems with how it all works.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #7: I lost my job, and I lost my health insurance. I sort of have a social safety net from the unemployment insurance, which citizens pay for. This is a difficult story to tell, and that it's still an unfolding story. I think - until there's a compelling narrative of why people have decided to peacefully occupy Zuccotti Park - I think it's very hard to communicate that story to everyone else.
OLBERMANN: Erica Ferrari got that for us. Thank you, Erica.
Continuing now with Michael Moore. I asked Will Bunch this question last night, let me ask a version of it to you tonight: that's 2,000 or 500 or 50 tea partiers there - protesting taxes or protesting stimulus or protesting anything else they don't like on Wall Street - it's on the evening news. Isn't it?
MOORE: Oh, absolutely. You wouldn't need that many tea partiers there. It would be the top story. And the same thing a couple of weeks ago, when a thousand environmentalists were arrested at the White House. Imagine a thousand tea partiers arrested. This - I don't - I can't speak for why the networks have not covered this.
This is really the very first, down on Wall Street, in the finical district - the very first attempt since the crash of '08 to take a real stand, and it's been powerful. And I gotta - I gotta believe that - even though it may only number in the hundreds right now, this is going to grow - not only on Wall Street, but in communities all over America.
And I would encourage people watching this show to think about - okay, you can't make it to New York City. But there is a branch of Chase Bank in your town. There is a branch of Bank of America, and there's nothing preventing you from organizing a demonstration outside that branch with signs, with possibly even civil disobedience to make your voices heard.
They think they're going to get away with this. These people stole the pension funds of the American public, who stole their money, who stole the future of our kids and grandkids. They think - they're kleptomaniacs, and they think they're going to get away with it. They have taken our democracy and formed it into a kleptocracy. And if we don't stand up - if we don't have our voices heard - they, believe me, they're not done yet.
There's a reason why corporate America - and I think you've pointed this out before - they're holding $2 trillion of cash in their bank accounts. They've never done this before, never held onto that much. They've taken - they've taken that money out of circulation, and they're waiting. They know the other shoe's going to drop, and as mayor Bloomberg said last week - he said there's going to be riots in the street. If we don't provide jobs right away, there are going to be riots.
This is Mayor Bloomberg, the billionaire talking - this isn't Michael Moore saying this. This is Mayor Bloomberg saying this. They know - and the smart rich know they can only build the gate so high - and sooner or later, history proves that people, when they've had enough, aren't going to take it anymore. And much better to deal with it non-violently now, through the political system, than what could possibly happen in the future, which nobody wants to see.
OLBERMANN: The premise of - the pretext of - 'The left wing media exists to mask the kind of right-wing media belligerence' - I won't use the term bias, but it's belligerently right wing. Assuming that's not going to change, what do the protestors in this group and other groups as the ones you just suggested - what do they need to change, if anything - modify, improve - to make the system bend to their will?
MOORE: I think there needs to be a many-pronged approach. Civil disobedience on Wall Street is one approach. People doing things locally their communities is another approach. People who are being foreclosed upon need to know that they can't find the original mortgage - the bank can't find it, I can tell you that right now because they split it up and they bundled it and put it into derivatives and nobody really owns your mortgage - so you should never leave your house. You should resist this as long as you non-violently can. I think, Keith, here's the thing - there is so much rebellion that is percolating right now just under the surface.
MOORE: All it's going to take - all it's going to take - and you and I probably - we can't predict when this is going to happen, how it's going to happen, but there's going to be a couple of holes that are going to go into that surface. And that is going to just - just come up like a geyser.
And you're going to see massive public reaction against what's been done to their middle class life. The working poor of this country have suffered long enough, and they're not going to take it. And I think you know that. I know that. Mayor Bloomberg knows that. Warren Buffett knows that. And, so they can keep talking about this all they want, but if there isn't serious action right away - what you see on Wall Street, that'll be known as - 'That's where it began.'
You know, I went down there when I made my last movie. It was just me with some police crime tape, and I wrapped it around the stock exchange as my form of protest. And I was very nervous doing that because I saw the cops coming, and I'm thinking - I saw one officer starts toward me. I said "Sir, I'm just really just making a movie, just a little comedy."
MOORE: And he said - and he said to me, "That's okay, Mike." He said, "These guys in here, they've lost so much money out of our police pension fund as a result of what they've done."
MOORE: He said to me - New York cop - he says, "You just take all the time you want."
OLBERMANN: Oh, my.
MOORE: I said, "Oh, okay. Wow, the police are on our side."
OLBERMANN: There's your first hole in the ground. The second one was the hit from Wisconsin, and we'll see what the third one is.
All right, look, I am devoting the last segment of this show to the big issue of the death penalty, but I wanted to give you time to react to this execution last night, the death of Troy Davis. Let me start by reading what you wrote on your website today, and then you can take it from there:
"I encourage everyone I know to never to travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask my publisher to pull my book from every Georgia bookstore, and if they won't do that, I will donate every dime of every royalty my book makes in Georgia to help defeat the racists and killers who run that state. I ask all Americans which a conscience to shun anything and everything to do with the murderous state of Georgia."
To say that's strong is to understate it. Why does this case engender that reaction from you?
MOORE: A man was murdered last night in our name. You know, I'm part of this country. I may not be a resident of the state of Georgia, but last time I looked, Georgia was in the United States of America, and they murdered a man that they did not know committed - there is so much evidence - so many people have recanted their testimony. No DNA. No gun. I mean, it's just so - I'm just so outraged by this.
I just got word before we came on the air. I asked my publisher this morning, "I want you to stop shipping books - my book to Georgia. I want you to pull the books out of there. I don't want a dime being made. I don't want to make a dime off of that state until that state acts to change things." And they just told me that they can't. They can't recall the books.
So I am going to go to the next step then. I'm going to write a big check to the Innocence Project, who have gotten hundreds of people exonerated who were sitting in prisons. And - and since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, well over 100 people - who were on death row, who we were going to execute, we have then discovered they were falsely convicted, and they were set free. Well, they almost died - this Innocence Project is a great organization.
I'm also going to fund whatever voter drives in Georgia - there's 600,000 African-Americans in the last election that were not registered to vote. I will get behind whatever drive there is in Georgia to register our fellow Americans who are African-Americans, so that they have a chance to have their voice heard. This has got to be stopped. We are a civilized nation, and yet we do not join the other civilized nations of this planet when we do things like this.
OLBERMANN: They didn't just almost die. We almost killed them. That's the point, right? Michael Moore.
MOORE: That's right.
OLBERMANN: The new book is "Here Comes Trouble: Stories of my Life." You've heard about the charitable donation Michael has just set up. And Michael just coincidently is a delight, and is speaking tonight in Beverly Hills, exactly four and a half blocks from where I used to live. It's not really relevant, but what the hell? Always a pleasure, sir. Thanks for your time. Take care.
MOORE: Thank you for having me on, Keith. Thanks for the great job you are doing.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. Do the recanted witnesses and the protests over Troy Davis mask a larger issue? Is the death penalty ever applied evenly in this country? Is evenly enough? Is it ever applied appropriately in this country? Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Another week, another stunning revelation about the New York City Police Department's private version of the CIA. This time it's called the Moroccan Initiative.
First, the "Sanity Break." And for more than 90 years, they have treated the place like a shrine or a temple and charged you accordingly to get inside. But on this date in 1915, as they raced towards playing in the World Series, the Boston Red Sox looked at the Boston Braves newer, larger, ballpark across town and asked them if they would loan them Braves Field so they didn't have to play the series in Fenway Park.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin with tonight's GOP debate. I'm sorry, I'm being told this is actually two cats fighting over a ladder. And down goes Felix! You rarely see it used by cats, but the classic rope-a-dope never fails. Wait for it - bye. Unfortunately the losing cat later came down with a bad case of cat scratch fever.
Staying in the animal kingdom, moving from ladders to chutes, tired of life in the slow lane - this turtle is trying to build up the courage to go for a ride down the slide. Wait for it, wait for it. Think he's gonna - come on, come on. And he's thinking about it, and down goes McConnell! He even stuck the landing. The turtle later told friends that he had a shell of a time at the playground, but maybe now those cool ninjas in the sewer will finally hang out with him.
"Time Marches On!"
Even what we already know of the New York police department's demographics unit did not prepare us for this. Documentation that the department collected info on everybody in the city of Moroccan dissent. The latest on institutionalized racial and ethnic profiling in the name of counterterrorism, next.
OLBERMANN: For more than a month now, we have known that the New York Police Department has been secretly spying on American citizens - not because they committed any crime, or even that they were suspected of having done so - but because of their ethnicity.
In our third story tonight, Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press - who uncovered New York's miniature version of the CIA - has now found a trove of New York police department, showing that - under guidance from the real CIA - the NYPD was tracking where Moroccan Americans shopped, prayed and even got their hair cut. Those records show police tracking an entire community, keeping the information in the department's computer system, undercutting the NYPD's previous contention that it was only following leads.
The documents show, according to the AP, "How New York's rich heritage as a place where immigrants traditionally have blended in... now clashes with today's New York where police see blending in as one of the first priorities for would-be terrorists."
The police documents go into extraordinary detail about individual businesses, like one owned and operated by a person of Lebanese descent: "The store is located within walking distance of the Islamic Society."
Another, "The restaurant serves only Halal meat, the majority of customers are religious Muslims. The restaurant closes for approximately one hour during the Friday prayer."
"This cafe owned and operated by two men of Egyptian descent. The restaurant is in close proximity to the Al-Iman mosque. The cafe has a backyard which is usually occupied by underage smokers."
The program started with help from the CIA under President Bush in response to a 2003 terrorist bombing in Morocco and continued with the tacit support of the current president. Some in Congress who have seen the documents, now expressing outrage.
Congressman Rush Holt, the Democrat of New Jersey, telling the AP, "In America you don't put people under suspicion without good reason. The idea that people in a group are suspect because of being members of a group is profiling, plain and simple."
Leo Santini, a cafe owner and U.S. citizen who changed his name from Mohammed Hussein to avoid being profiled, telling the Associated Press, "We have been harassed for so long, it doesn't make sense to complain."
Joining me now - Matt Apuzzo, the "Associated Press" investigative reporter who has been leading this story. Matt, thanks again for your time tonight.
MATT APUZZO: Good to be back, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So this does what to the NYPD's answer to you previously that it was only following leads?
APUZZO: Well, you know, we haven't been able to - we haven't been able to hear back from NYPD. We asked them a couple days ago about - about the Moroccan Initiative and hadn't heard back.
You know, the stance had always been that they were always following leads. These documents, you know, clearly show the demographics unit is being told to go out and canvas the city. There was a reference in there - they were instructed to go re-canvas the city, and they came back and found a new hotel Moroccan hotel - a new hotel that caters that caters to Moroccan tourists - and 14 restaurants and a travel agency, "a known Moroccan barber shop."
OLBERMANN: Is there a premise to this, because, I mean - the Moroccans that you spoke with seemed resigned to accept it after 9/11 - certainly the rest of the public was very apathetic, has been apathetic for ten years now - but was there some - even some plausible excuse for why they do this? Was this a database for some sort of doomsday scenario in which they expected mass terrorist attempts from Morocco and they would need to get a hold of Moroccans quickly? Was there some excuse for it provided?
APUZZO: Yeah, I mean, the thinking behind it was if a Moroccan terrorist - if there was a specific tip about a Moroccan terrorist, and again, you know, we're following the Casablanca bombing and they had links to the Madrid bombing to Moroccan terrorists - if a Moroccan terrorist were to come into New York City, and they got a tip about that, if they could know everything there was to know about the Moroccan community - if they were to know where they arrived, where they eat, where they get their hair cut, what gym they go to, what taxi companies they work for - then they'd know right where to look.
And so the idea was if they could have all of this information right at their fingertips, then if a tip came in, then they'd know immediately where to respond. One of the real interesting things, you know, we found - and we spent a good deal of time in the neighborhoods that were, you know, that were featured in these documents - and they all said, 'Look, we'd be happy to talk to, you know, the NYPD about, you know, who our customers are and what we do if they just came here and asked us.'
So on the other hand, it's sort of - you know, it's old 'beat cop on steroids' kind of - kind of idea.
OLBERMANN: Any indication - I mean, the fascination with Moroccans - was there any indication that there was any other group that they were interested in? Because if you take this to its logical extreme - if there was a tip about a homegrown terrorist operating from New York who might do something, wouldn't they have to do this for the 8 million people who live in New York City?
APUZZO: Well, we know the NYPD maintained a list - at least at one point - of 28 countries and American Black Muslim that it considered 'ancestries of interest.' We know from the documents that the idea was that it would start with Moroccans, and that they would build on that and they would try to do it for other nationalities or ethnicities. Our reporting hasn't been able to determine definitively what other nationalities, if any, you know, got similar focus and scrutiny.
OLBERMANN: From the deafening silence, the administration and Mayor Bloomberg sound kind of eager to sidestep questions about this. What's your assessment? Is that for security reasons? Is it for political reasons? Do you know?
APUZZO: Yeah, it's really interesting. You know, when we set out to do this, you know, our goal was never to say, 'Oh, well, this is right. This is wrong.' It was just to say, 'Here's what 9/11 did to policing in our nation's largest city.'
The Obama administration, the White House, recently - very recently - put out a very broad strategy for municipalities to combat violent extremism and - at least on the face of it - the NYPD, you know, what we've learned about the demographics unit, really seems to be at odds with that.
The White House really has been, you know, ducking questions for about a month on this now. You know, Bloomberg won't answer questions about exactly what he knew. You know, it's not totally clear why they won't - why they won't weigh in on this. And part of that is really just this - this murky area the NYPD is able to live in.
They get, you know, almost $2 billion - since 9/11 - in federal money, but there's not a ton of oversight - at least at the federal level - about what that money is being used for, and I think there's a real question about, you know, who - whose job is it to weigh in and take a look at these programs?
OLBERMANN: Once again, great thanks to Matt Apuzzo of "The Associated Press," both for the work, Matt, and - again - for some more of your time tonight.
APUZZO: Keith, any time. Thanks a lot.
OLBERMANN: The execution of Troy Davis - the question of whether we executed an innocent man, and the larger question - especially with the far right so keen to build new prisons - why are we even executing guilty men? Coming up on "Countdown."
KEITH OLBERMANN: The execution of Troy Davis and the pertinent quotation, "The state in which I live is not kinder, more humane and more considerate than the mad act of these two boys. I am sorry I have lived so long." If there's a death penalty, does innocence or guilt really matter? First, the "Worsts." Illinois' own deadbeat dad congressman has a new slice of paranoia to serve up - "the coming media campaign to re-elect the president 'cause he's black." That's next. This is "Countdown."
KEITH OLBERMANN: Did we execute an innocent man last night in Georgia, and is his innocence or guilt really the primary issue? The uneven application of capital punishment and if we should have it at all, next.
First, because they keep bringing the punishment, and satire is often our last line of defense, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Person in the World."
The bronze to Charlie Webster, the reactionary chairman to the Republican party of Maine. He accused more than 200 college students there of committing voter fraud.
His hysterical excuse to try to cut down on students' access to the polls in Maine was that some were registered in Main and another state, and that voter fraud was all ACORN's fault, or something.
Webster, of the state GOP, got the new Republican screwball governor of Maine, Paul LaPage, to investigate each of the 200 cases at taxpayer expense for two months. Number of cases of voter fraud found? Zero. Number of cases of students voting in two different places in one year? Five. But none of them voted twice in the same election. Number of cases of a non-citizen voting? One. In 2002. Total waste of time and taxpayer money, courtesy of the Maine GOP, which damn well better reimburse the state now for underwriting this paranoia.
Speaking of which - our runner-up, Congressman Joe Walsh, Republican representing the city of Deadbeat Dad, Illinois. All right, that's what he is, not where he's from. Sorry. Walsh has now expanded his clown-college act to include pre-accusing the media of reverse racism if it does not attack President Obama and states he is not worthy of re-election.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE WALSH: This guy pushed every one of the media's buttons. He was liberal. He was different. He was new. He was black. Oh, my God. It was the potpourri of everything. They are so vested in our first black president not being a failure that it's going to be amazing to watch the lengths they go to to protect him. They, I believe, will spout this racist line, if - if some of their colleagues up here aren't doing it aggressively enough. There's going to be a real desperation.
OLBERMANN: Sounds like Rush Limbaugh talking about Donovan McNabb - only Rush Limbaugh got fired.
But our winner, Pam Olson, new co-chair of Rick Perry's Florida Presidency 5 campaign leadership team. She's founder of the Tallahassee House of Prayer, right down the interstate from the Tallahassee House of Flapjacks. If Ms. Olsen's resume does not tell you what's coming - this from July, courtesy of "Right Wing Watch," should -
(Excerpt from video clip) PAM OLSEN: Oh, okay. 'We think it's okay now to have gay marriage. We think it's okay to have gay preachers. We think it's okay.' Hold the nominations. God is shaking. He - if anybody looks at the news and has just seen what's been happening recently with the floods, the fires, the tornados - God is shaking.
OLBERMANN: Let's review Ms. Olsen's belief system and combine it with facts back here on Earth.
One, floods, fires, tornados are God's punishments for bad cultural policy.
Two, the majority of the floods, fires and tornados seem to happen in states like Florida and Texas where crackpots like Ms. Pam Olsen preach against things like gay marriage.
Three, right after Rick Perry led that prayer service at the football stadium in Houston, wildfires broke out all over his state.
The conclusion? God is in favor of gay marriage and is trying to stop Governor Perry and this Olsen clown. And I haven't even mentioned four - the tape of Ms. Olsen explaining that - during the rapture - she will be one of these people deciding who gets raised from the dead. Maybe I'll play that tomorrow. And you better start thinking about using that with Perry's campaign.
Rick Perry's campaign co-chair in Florida, Pam Olsen, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: On August 22nd, 1924, Clarence Darrow began his summation in the defense of the unforgivable child murderers, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. He never defended their act, nor them. He merely claimed life imprisonment was penalty enough for two boys, the oldest of which was 19.
And then he made an unanswerable argument - when the murderer takes the victim's life, he acts out of rage or inhumanity or impulse or madness. When we, as a society, take the murderer's life, what are we acting out of?
In our number one story, the execution of Troy Davis - and what Darrow told Judge Caverly in that Chicago courtroom 87 years ago - which was, "If the state in which I live is not kinder, more humane and more considerate than the mad act of these two boys, I am sorry I have lived so long."
Despite the recanting of evidence by seven of the witnesses against him, Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection at 11:08 P.M. Eastern time in Jackson, Georgia, last night. He was convicted in 1991 for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer. Mr. Davis was the 1,269th person executed in the U.S. since 1976, when the Supreme Court lifted its ban on the practice. According to statistics compiled by the British newspaper "The Guardian," with the help of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, more than 60 black people per million are executed in this country, compared to fewer than 20 whites per million, something noted last night by Davis' attorney.
(Excerpt from video clip) THOMAS RUFFIN: As long as the death penalty is applied in a racially bigoted fashion, in a class bigoted fashion, this sort of cheating, this sort of legalized lynching, this sort of heartless application of punishment will continue.
OLBERMANN: Coincidentally, a white supremacist gang member - Lawrence Russell Brewer - was also executed last night in Texas for the hate crime of killing a black man named James Byrd, Jr. He dragged him behind a pickup truck.
We talked about this execution, specifically, with Michael Moore. Let's talk about executions in general with the Liliana Segura, the associate editor of "The Nation." Thanks for your time. Thanks for coming in.
LILIANA SEGURA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Darrow quote about executing Leopold and Loeb - that the state needs to be kinder and more humane than the murderers - that - I mean, that really is it. They have - however ridiculous it might be - a murderer has an excuse for what he did, and it may mean nothing to anybody but him, but he has an excuse. What - our excuse has to necessarily be worse, doesn't it? 'Cause we have time to think about the moral implications of it.
SEGURA: Right, absolutely. I think that that quote really cuts to the heart of what the death penalty is, all of these years later. In 2011, it still is just revenge. It still is just this truly debased human instinct that - by now - one would've hoped we would've evolved beyond it. You know, and that - that sort of instinct towards revenge and the fact that we haven't gotten beyond it was on - on full display, for example, at the - the night of the GOP debate, when that crowd just lustily cheered in support of Governor Rick Perry's staggering execution record.
I mean, I think that gave a lot of people pause in this country, like, 'Are we really a country that cheers executions?' However you feel about the death penalty, if you have some ambivalence, the idea of cheering it on really recalls the lynch mobs -
SEGURA: - that you saw at a different point in history.
OLBERMANN: Right, and we're not even that further removed from 200 years ago with open public executions, where it was - you went to attend. Or 150 years ago - in fact, Darrow told the story of going to public executions in Ohio when he was child, which is the 1850s, 1860s, I'm guessing. So we're not that far removed.
But the other point, of course, of this is Leopold and Loeb did not get the death penalty. His speech worked because their families paid Darrow a fortune. The death penalty was applied then - applied now - inequitably based on legal representation and the relative income of the defendant, apart from any racial issues, correct?
SEGURA: Absolutely. That's such an important point, too. Yes, it's - the death penalty is - it is applied in an absolutely racist manner in many - many instances, but when it comes to the question of finances - the question of who gets the death penalty in this country - by and large, it's poor people.
You know, my activist friends like to say, you know, 'Capital punishment - the person who doesn't have the capital gets the punishment,' and that - that pretty much sums it up. You have those lawyers who are court-appointed, who are tasked with the unenviable mission of having to save their clients' lives, often are the ones with the least resources. And often, unfortunately, the least equipped to carry out that task.
OLBERMANN: In a perverse way - and obviously, the last thing I'm doing is blaming the late Troy Davis for this - but do single executions obscure the bigger problems with the premise? I mean, that this is unjustly applied - state by state, income by income, color by color - or even shouldn't happen at all?
SEGURA: Well, actually, I would argue that a case like Troy Davis', for example, actually embodies - and puts a human face on - all of the problems that we see play out in states across the country. And puts a human face on the fact that there is racial discrimination. That innocence, when it really comes down to it, doesn't matter, according to the judicial system. That poor people get this punishment. And that's the power of the Troy Davis case in this instance. That's really what inspired this global mobilization to save his life.
OLBERMANN: Last point. I've wrestled with this for my entire life. Are there any circumstances in which you support the death penalty? Is there any murderer who is so dangerous that there is no other choice?
SEGURA: I, personally, always say no to that - to that question. And there are many reasons to oppose the death penalty, and I oppose it on many levels, but I suppose the moral - the moral answer, you know, for me, is that - I was noticing on Twitter people responding to your tweet with the obvious answer, Osama bin Laden. 'What about . . . Oh - oh bin Laden?'
And I used to call that the kind of Hitler exception. 'What about Hitler? Wouldn't you support it in the case of Hitler?' But the reality is that the system we have is not a system that actually executes the worst of the worst, or people so monstrous - as we saw on full display last night. That's just not the system we have. And so I always say no.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, we didn't - we didn't execute Rudolf Hess - just popping into my head, that name, of all of them.
Liliana Segura, the associate editor for "The Nation." Again, great thanks for coming in.
SEGURA: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 53rd day since the Republicans' debt ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs, where is our credit rating?
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.