'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Occupy Day 25: #OWS marches up NYC's 5th Avenue; 100 arrested in Boston; Six related protestors cuffed at Senate.
ShowPlug2: Our participant guests: from the NYC march, Michael @MKink; + Stephen Squibb of @Occupy_Boston who ran live feed last night
ShowPlug3: Past and present meet in Zuccotti Park as 1968 Olympian/Protestor John Carlos goes there to rally #OWS - he joins us live
ShowPlug4: Romney flip-flops: "Boy, I understand how those (#OWS) people feel." Right's splintered reaction w/ @Markos Moulitsas
ShowPlug5: ...including polling about the REAL "53 Percenters" - 53% of Republicans want taxes raised on those making more than 250k!
ShowPlugLast: And Scott Walker, you're on the clock: Wis. Dems announce Recall schedule, raise $$ fast, w/St. Sen @JonErpenbach
watch whole playlist
#5 'On the March', Michael Kink, Stephen Squibb
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'The Frightened Right', Markos Moulitsas
#3 'Power From The Past', John Carlos
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#2 Worst Persons: Benjamin 'Phoenix Jones' Fodor, Sen. John McCain & Sen. Kay Hagan, Jimmy Starline
#1 'Recall to Action', Jon Erpenbach (D-WI)
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Occupy Together, Occupy Wall Street, Scott Walker, Wisconsin Recall
Contributors: Markos Moulitsas
Guests: John Carlos, Jon Erpenbach, Michael Kink, Stephen Squibb
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The Occupy Wall Street Millionaire's March.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: This is what democracy looks like!
OLBERMANN: Up Fifth Avenue to Rupert Murdoch's house - it ain't the Easter parade.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Hey! Murdoch! Pay your fair share!
OLBERMANN: But Occupy Boston was like the real tea party. Police squad in the middle of the night.
(Excerpt from video clip) PHILIP ANDERSON: At 1:30, 200 police in riot gear moved in, it got kind of brutal. Veterans, union workers, students were thrown to the ground, put in headlocks, dragged across the ground. Some people injured themselves. A hundred-plus people got arrested.
OLBERMANN: What next for Occupy Boston with Stephen Squibb, the man who was running the Internet live stream. Next for Occupy Wall Street, one of America's all-time protesters.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN CARLOS: We wanted to do something that would be shocking and revealing enough to wake everyone up from their conscience and realize that we are all in this bowl of soup together.
OLBERMANN: From the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics and the Black Power raised fist, to Occupy Wall Street - John Carlos joins them, and us. Arrests in Washington - no arrests at Occupy Seattle, though that might happen tonight - the full roundup. And the right wing speaks as one voice in opposition. Well, one schizophrenic voice.
(Excerpt from video clip) GLENN BECK: They will come for you and drag you into the streets and kill you.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I worry about the 99 percent in America. I look at what's happening on Wall Street. And my own view is "Boy, I understand how those people feel."
OLBERMANN: On Wisconsin, a recall process is set. When Governor Scott Walker's 15 minutes will be up. And the problem for any self-styled real-life superhero - it's imperative when you pepper spray two guys who are attacking two women, that they are in fact attacking them, and not, say, dancing with them. All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) MR. INCREDIBLE: Show time.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, October 11th - 392 days until the 2012 presidential election.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street bringing the mockery - a march up Fifth Avenue towards Rupert Murdoch's home, culminating with fake checks made out to him, David Koch and other one percenters for $5 billion each - the amount New York state will lose if a "Millionaires' Tax" expires at the end of the year. In Boston, the city bringing out the cries of police brutality - in an overnight raid that ended in more than 100 arrests. And in Washington, protesters from another affiliated group bringing aggressiveness - six more arrested at the Senate's Hart Office Building in Washington.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - the credibility and the tension the movement is not creating for itself is being inadvertently given to it by its critics.
And the most clichéd metric of the establishment, in fact, did the same thing - a political poll. The Washington Post/Bloomberg news poll showing huge majorities supporting raising taxes on households earning over a quarter of a million dollars, including approval by 53 percent of Republicans. Sixty-eight percent of all adults, including 81 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents, and the real 53 percenters - those aforementioned Republicans. Bad news perhaps for the ultra rich - Murdoch and Koch, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, hedge fund manager John Paulson among them - who saw their home turf visited by protesters from community groups Strong Economy for All, United For New York and The Working Families Party.
Sadly, for the moguls, the checks the protesters left behind can't be cashed - not that they need the money. Plus, taking it is so much more fun than just receiving it.
In Washington, six from the October 2011 group arrested today at the Hart Office Building for protesting militarism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in Boston, more than 100 Occupy protesters arrested very early this morning. Mayor Thomas Menino said he agreed with the marchers on issues like foreclosure and corporate greed, but he also said the marchers could not tie up a city, and blamed them for tying up bridge traffic and camping on a stretch of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which they had been asked to keep clear.
Occupy protesters on the Greenway say they were brutally handled by the police this morning, saying they've been subjected to a reprehensible attack that represented "a disturbing shift from dialogue toward violent repression," with veterans supporting the movement pushed to the ground. A police spokeswoman said the officers were merely respectful and proportional. Police Commissioner Edward Davis was succinct.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARD DAVIS: They were asked to leave, they refused to do it. We brought in police officers to engage them, and to move them out of the park.
OLBERMANN: Protesters Nadeem Mazen and Philip Anderson insisted the police's response was in fact disproportionate.
(Excerpt from video clip) NADEEM MAZEN: We were exercising our public right to assemble, and we were engaging in a very straightforward, very low-key, passive, peaceful discussion.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDERSON: A hundred-plus people got arrested. That included medics, that included legal observers, that included ranking members of the National Lawyers Guild.
OLBERMANN: Prosecutors later asked that charges for at least 19 protesters be reduced from criminal offenses to civil infractions, and a Cambridge resident - who said her husband had been arrested last night - asked that the police not be demonized for their actions.
(Excerpt from video clip) INANNA UNDERHILL: Brutality of any kind is wrong. But, one of my main concerns is making the police the enemy in this situation, because they're working people, too.
OLBERMANN: Other protests continuing around the country - Occupy Philadelphia, now in its sixth day. Occupy Oklahoma City, in its fourth day. And Occupy Missoula is getting underway. That's Occupy Missoula, Montana, if your geographical knowledge is not what it should be. That lends credence to the Occupy estimate - that there are protests under way in 250 American communities of all sizes.
We'll start here in New York with Michael Kink, the executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, which helped to organize the Millionaires March today. Thanks for coming in.
MICHAEL KINK: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: You marched through some of the priciest blocks in Manhattan today. How were you received? Were there any issues with the police? Did anybody volunteer to support you financially or otherwise on way - en route?
KINK: We did have a couple of millionaires for the "Millionaires' Tax." At the very beginning, Linda Gottlieb - who's been one of the Patriotic Millionaires - spoke out very clearly in favor of fair-share taxation. Regular working people on the route - doormen, building-services workers - were strongly supportive. And we had great relationships with the police the whole time.
OLBERMANN: The fake checks - was this the first Occupy Wall Street - apart from the clever quality to it, was it also the first - official, sort of, photo-op? And if it was, is that - is that a genius thing, or is it sort of cynicism creeping in - awareness of the process, sort of investing in the standard political events and such, as would involve checks or other props?
KINK: Well, I think it's been easy to make common cause with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Everyone understands what's gone wrong with the country.
KINK: The fact that the government is about to cut a $5 billion check to millionaires and billionaires in New York while we're cutting poor kids in schools, while we're cutting services for homeless kids - it's outrageous. So, I think we're all in it together. I think there needs to be creativity and energy. I think it's a good thing, and I think it sends the message to the broader public that what government is doing is wrong, and we need to turn it around.
OLBERMANN: Your coalition, Strong Economy for All, and all the countless other groups that have been trying to get financial fairness enacted - or even a slight tilting back of the financial unfairness, is probably a better description of it - for years, in some cases for decades. What's different about this?
It's hard to gauge how much different this is and how successful it is yet, but certainly against the background of it having a 25-day history operationally, it's pretty damn successful. Why is it different this time with this - this particular movement?
KINK: Well, I think there's a certain courage to taking the space, and to speaking out with your bodies. The Occupy Wall Street protesters have had a tremendous leadership role in this effort. And, I think it provides a broad microphone - for them and for everyone else who's fighting for economic justice in the country. Public opinion polls show - as you said earlier in the show - a vast majority of New Yorkers want to continue the "Millionaires' Tax." They don't want the harsh cuts that we've imposed. But the politicians, you know - they cut their deals, they're under the influence of Wall Street and corporate greed. Here now, public opinion is galvanized and it's changing. And, I think politicians have to pay attention to that.
OLBERMANN: What's the next strategic goal in terms of keeping the thing rolling? Is it more marches, bigger marches, sit-ins - where does the whole thing go from here?
KINK: Well, I think we're trying to work, day-by-day and week-by-week, with Occupy and with all the groups that are in our coalitions. I think you see a pattern starting, where we're doing creative actions during the week, and then big things on the weekends - when folks are off work and students are off school. I think that's going to continue. When you've got the frame of policies of the government that help the one percent and hurt the 99 percent, we can talk all day. There's going to be a lot of protests to do.
OLBERMANN: All year, in fact. Last point - I keep hearing that you guys are all hippies. What's with the tie, man? Seriously.
KINK: I'm a lawyer, and an advocate and a public-policy professional. I've been doing this for a long time. There were every walk of life on this today - there were unemployed folks from Wall Street, there were union activists, there were students, there were regular people that saw the march and joined in. I think everyone in the country understands we've gone seriously wrong, and that movement like this is a way to get us in the right direction.
OLBERMANN: No, and extraordinary from my own experience. Diversity was the key element down at Zuccotti Park. So - it was meant jokingly, of course. Although, no tie being the rule here. Michael Kink, the executive director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition, great thanks for coming in.
KINK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Next to Boston, where Occupy Boston volunteer Stephen Squibb was helping to run the live stream video from the location when all hell broke loose there at about half past one this morning. Mr. Squibb, thanks for your time tonight.
SQUIBB: Thank you, Keith. Happy to be here.
OLBERMANN: There's some very divergent accounts of what happened. You were there, and you also had - in front of you - that bigger picture of the feed, of the whole thing. Was there police violence per se, or would a better term be just sort of traditional police use of force?
SQUIBB: Well, I am happy to say I don't have too much experience with this sort of thing.
SQUIBB: So, I can just only tell you what I saw and what I experienced. Certainly from where we were - we were observing from on high, to make sure the live stream stayed up - and what we saw was several dozen riot police come into the park, push down the Veterans For Peace, who had been defending us. We were arm-locked around our tents. And then, proceed to physically assault and arrest several of the protesters. All 139 protesters were arrested, and destroy the camp and all the equipment that was inside of it.
One of the people arrested was the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, she called the use of force "completely unnecessary and just brutal." And I assume that she has a little more experience at this sort of thing than I do.
I do want to emphasize that we are not against the police and that our relationships with them, up until last night, have been nothing but positive and understanding, and that we understand that they were simply following orders. But the fact remands that the use of force, from where I was sitting, certainly seemed violent.
OLBERMANN: In the context of what you just described prior to last night, was it a surprise then - on top of everything else - that that was the first conflict was as certainly as physical as it was?
SQUIBB: It was disappointing. And it was disturbing. I can't say it was necessarily surprising. Certainly, we here in New England know a thing or two about civil disobedience - and we were raised with a sort of understanding and appreciation of what change actually requires. And, so, I think we would be naive to imagine that this sort of thing doesn't happen, that the reason why non-violence is such an effective and powerful tool is precisely because it is so often met with violence. And that is only the reason why we redouble our commitment to non-violence, because it works and it's the right thing to do.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, the fact that there is videotape would suggest this isn't true. But there were stories last night about attempts to try to suppress videotaping or photography of the arrests as the police came in. Are the true? Are they exaggerated? What happened with that?
SQUIBB: The media was told that they should vacate the presence - premises - because the police could no longer guarantee their safety. Many members of the media did, in fact, did leave and - but many members of the media, including the Boston Phoenix, stayed and recorded some of the video you're seeing. We also tweeted a call for any photographers and videographers in the area to come down and support us - which was a resounding success. So, many people took a great personal risk in trying to document what happened last night.
OLBERMANN: My understanding is that you've had some help from the hacker group, from Anonymous. Can you go into any detail what that is and what they might be - how they might be involved in other Occupy events?
SQUIBB: You know, Anonymous is a really truly remarkable group of people, and the support that they've given us from the beginning has been really amazing. I will say that they were instrumental in getting a live feed set up and getting it distributed throughout the world. There was a time last night - around 2:30 - where we had probably 9,000 people watching our own stream, but then that stream was then fed off throughout the rest of the world and we possibly had as many as 50,000 or 60,000 people watching the Boston police department take down our second site.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, being narrated - I think I caught somewhere on the web - being narrated in a language I actually couldn't identify and I'm pretty good at that. So, I think the message certainly got out.
But, if the location on the Greenway is gone and the possessions are gone and there were a hundred arrests - even though some of the charges were brought down to non-criminal ones - what's next for the group? What's next for Occupy Boston?
SQUIBB: Well, I should emphasize that what was attacked last night was actually our second site. And we still have our main site intact. We still have all of our infrastructure intact. We still have a remarkable group of people down there working all the time - both occupiers and people who have other jobs and other places to live who come down and do whatever they can.
So, Occupy Boston continues, we are still in Dewey Square, and that we would encourage everyone who is sympathetic to our message of bringing economic justice and opportunity back to America to come down and help and hang out. It really is an amazing, amazing thing.
OLBERMANN: Stephen Squibb, who watched in shock as last night's Occupy Boston protest was attacked by police at about 1:30 in the morning. Great, thanks for coming on the program and good luck.
SQUIBB: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Meantime, the far right is continuing to struggle to understand what's going on here. Certainly, they're still in the "throw anything at the wall and see what sticks" phase. To link the range of their comments, "Occupy Wall Street is going to kill you. It's class warfare, but it's nowhere near as influential as the tea party, in fact it's 'milquetoast.'" But one Republican presidential candidate says, "I understand how these people feel." All of this is hilariously true. Next with Markos Moulitsas on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck announces that "Occupy Wall Street is going to drag you into the streets and kill you." Karl Rove says it's nothing as authentic as the tea party. And David Brooks dismisses it as "milquetoast." That's David Brooks, the East coast distributor of milk toast.
But one of the great protest figures of the 1960s has a different opinion, "We must never stop, for this day is not for us, it's for our children," he tells them. He is the Olympian John Carlos. And he joins us.
After months of anticipation, there's now a schedule. Democrats in Wisconsin roll out the plans for the recall of Governor Scott Walker. And have all ready raised more than $100,000 to do it.
And - guess who just proposed another cooperate-tax repatriation day to increase jobs, even as we find out that the last one cost 20,000 jobs and the only thing it increased was executive salaries? "Worst Person" is coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Four weeks into Occupy Wall Street, and conservatives still can't decide whether to call it a "Communist rally," a "fake movement orchestrated by unions," an "impotent assemblage" or "group of disaffected voters worth courting." Just don't call it the new tea party.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - Republican leaders responded to the Wall Street protest looking almost like parodies of themselves, more so even than usual. Mitt Romney flip-flopping. Karl Rove fuming at the comparison between tea party and Occupy Wall Street. And Glenn Beck screaming wildly, "Run for your life, the Marxist radicals are coming."
(Excerpt from video clip) BECK: Capitalists, if you think that you can play footsies with these people, you're wrong. They will come for you, and drag you into the streets and kill you. They're Marxist radicals who had the CEO Blankfein's head - the CEO of Bank of America - they had his head on a pike.
OLBERMANN: Actually, Glenn, Lloyd Blankfein is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, not Bank of America. But why bother getting the name of a crowded theater correct when your only worry is when to shout "Fire."
Meanwhile, the light bulb seems to be flickering over the head over GOP presidential would-be Mitt Romney - that bashing teachers and bus drivers and students looking for a little relief might not be the best message for a presidential hopeful. Especially one worth an estimated $250 million.
Yesterday, he abruptly changed his tune going from calling the protesters "dangerous" and looking for scapegoats to saying he now sympathizes with the protesters.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I don't worry about the top one percent. I don't sit up nights worrying about - "Gee, we need to help them." I don't think about that. I'm not worried about that. They're doing just fine by themselves. I worry about the 99 percent in America. I look at what's happening on Wall Street, and my own view is - boy, I understand how those people feel.
OLBERMANN: I'm sure those people will be happy to hear that Mitt is no longer worried about fellow one percenters. He's not the only one flip-flopping - even House Majority Leader Cantor today refused to either repeat or renounce his prior claim that the peaceful protesters were "mobs," but he's still claiming the Occupy movement is completely different from the tea party, whose antics Cantor has been criticized in the past for having supported.
Mr. Cantor telling reporters today, "You didn't hear most us encouraging any type of violent behavior or whatever, when that was occurring." No, the guns were all symbolic.
Not all Republicans endorsed that tea partiers spitting on Representative Emanuel Cleaver when he walked into the capital last year either. But as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi points out, Cantor did not denounce that incident either.
Meantime, Karl Rove is also trying to distance the tea party from Occupy Wall Street. Explaining to Sean Hannity - good luck - yesterday, the difference between "civilized" tea partiers and them Wall Street rabble rousers.
(Excerpt from audio clip) KARL ROVE: One is a Constitution-loving, law-abiding group of people. And this is a group of left-wing lunatics and nuts whose first thing is to violate the law.
OLBERMANN: Did he just call the tea party left-wing nuts? But perhaps it was Laura Ingraham, fire breathing right-wing radio host, who summed it up best, holding a sign at the Values Voters Summit over the weekend that captured the true Republican sentiment - never mind the 99 percent - "Hug the rich."
And leaving the obvious joke to you at home, I'm joined now by "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of "Daily Kos." Good evening, Markos.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Skipping Ms. Ingraham for the moment - I'm fascinated by Mr. Romney. I mean, I know he's hardly the most relevant part of the equation here - and I know he said something new every day in his campaign, even if it contradicted something he said last week. But is there some sort of glimmer, in fact, that he at least gets the popularity of the ideas behind the movement?
MOULITSAS: Yeah. I don't think there's any doubt that his pollsters took a look at the numbers and went screaming back to him, telling him to back off. Same with Eric Cantor.
I mean, these are two politicians - one who wants to be the president, the other who wants to see his caucus and the House retain its majority in 2012 - realizing that they can either be on the side of Wall Street, or try to tone down their support for the protesters - or try to at least pretend that they don't have a position in the matter - because really, if you criticize the protesters, you are standing up for Wall Street. I don't think that's a good place to be right now.
OLBERMANN: Particularly with that one poll that - The Washington Post/Bloomberg one, which was extraordinary - that 68 percent of everybody believed that the best solution economically is to raise taxes on people making $250,000 or more. That includes 67 percent of independents, 81 percent of Democrats and - most fascinatingly - the 53 percent of the Republicans. Really, it does - as red meat as it is - it does pose an awful problem for the Republicans and the conservatives, doesn't it?
MOULITSAS: This is a true bipartisan movement. I mean, you might not see that kind of bipartisanship in D.C., but that's often the case - on issues like immigration as well - where you have solid Republican majorities in favor of doing the right thing. The party in D.C. is actually out of touch with rank-and-file Republicans.
So, I mean I like - you know, just like the rest - I like to make fun of Republicans a lot of times, but on a lot of issues, actually, they are with us - with the progressive side - on a lot of these issues. It's just a question of really realizing that it's D.C. - it's lobbies, it's that nefarious, corporate Wall Street money that runs the show in D.C. - that is actually in direct contradiction to the best interests of the 99 percent of the rest of Americans - Republicans, Independent and Democrats.
OLBERMANN: So, in that context, clearly, whatever fear the right has about this - there is a Republican ready to take that fear and say, "You're damn right. In fact, it's worse than what you are afraid of, it's 10 billion times worse." Are they truly afraid or are they just seeing another chance to sell fear and hit that sort of real - the basest part of the base, if you will?
MOULITSAS: Well, the Republican presidential primary really is dominated by sort of the extreme fringe. I mean, if you look at the Iowa caucuses, only about 3 percent of Iowans participate in those caucuses. So you're looking at really kind of a fringy, highly active - I mean, usually, the crowds are going to love Michele Bachmann, they're going to love Herman Cain - and so those candidates are going to have to play to those fears. And that's why you have a primary season that is really dominated by social issues - abortion and HPV vaccines and things like that - as opposed to what the rest of America really is concerned about right now, and that is jobs.
OLBERMANN: We should not forget the conservative David Brooks, writing in The New York Times, calling Occupy Wall Street "milquetoast." I mean, it's funny in his own right since he would seem to define the word. What slice of the conservative pie does he represent, and what is he expecting? Human sacrifice?
MOULITSAS: David Brooks is kind of a funny guy. I think they're really conflicted right now. They don't know what to make of this. They want to demonize this movement, but they realize that doing so too overtly means that they are on the side of Wall Street. So they want to demonize the individuals, say they're a bunch of communists.
But then, people see those pictures on the screen and they see they are regular Americans, they're not that scary looking. Sure, they are not wearing uniforms or costumes that they bought at the Halloween store to try to make a point, but they're - which, actually, to Karl Rove, I guess that's what makes those people serious - but these are regular Americans and I think everybody empathizes with this. I mean, truly, if you had gone the last few years and you are not angry at the system, then you have to, by definition, be part of the problem.
OLBERMANN: So, 25 days into Occupy Wall Street and the other occupy groups, are we any - ultimately - any closer to understanding where this going to fit? Where it fits now in - in the sort of mainstream political landscape, or is it still just that we know it is beginning to fit somewhere in that landscape?
MOULITSAS: Well, the fact is that Republicans are starting to have to respond to this. For a while, they tried to ignore it. The media tried to ignore it. And - but, it persisted. And that's, I think, the biggest, sort of, accomplishment that we've seen out of Occupy Wall Street - that it wasn't a one-time march. Those are easy to ignore, nobody cares. But they persisted week after week, and I think part of the long-term success of this movement is going to be predicated on that ability to persevere as the weather turns nasty, as it gets colder and rainier, if they can stick with it, get the message out. Because people are responsive to it.
And you have a ruling class in D.C. that wants to ignore this - they want to listen to their lobbyist friends. They don't want to listen to a bunch of people who - you know, they just talk to every two or four years when they need their votes - they want to listen to the lobbyists. So, now they are forced to pay attention. And the longer Occupy Wall Street makes an impact, the more and more they're going to have to be taken into account as legislation gets dealt with in Washington.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. If everybody could go inside in February in Wisconsin, I think the New Yorkers could probably handle this winter here. So, we'll see how that goes.
"Countdown" contributor, and of course, Daily Kos founder and publisher, Markos Moulitsas - as we leave Laura Ingraham hugging the rich. Great thanks my friend.
MOULITSAS: Thanks very much.
OLBERMANN: And then there is the endorsement of movement by one of the singular figures of American protest history - the Olympian and civil rights advocate John Carlos, who joins Occupy Wall Street and joins us next.
OLBERMANN: It is overly simplistic to equate the current Occupy Wall Street demonstrations to the convulsion of political chaos that rocked the year 1968, but once in a while, there are meaningful echoes, and they are more often - happening more often than ever before. Last week, Peter Yarrow visited to sing, and last night, another significant historical figure arrived to lift his clenched fist in support.
Our third story on the "Countdown" - the visitor was John Carlos, the former sprinter in the Mexico City Olympics of 1968 - on the medal stand that October, he and his American teammate, Tommy Smith, raised international consciousness and controversy when they raised their fists to protest racism.
Last night in lower Manhattan, Carlos told the O.W.S. gathering, "I am here for you. Why? Because I am you. We are here 43 years later because there is still fight to be won."
Joining me now - Olympian, track and field hall of famer, ex-NFL player, activist, and now author of the new book, "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed The World." John Carlos, pleasure to have you here, sir.
CARLOS: Well, Keith, I am really honored to be here with you this evening.
OLBERMANN: When I went there, the most repeated questions that I got were about historical context. "Where could we fit in, compared to the great movements of all time? What does history have to teach us?" You've been through this for a long time - what does history have to teach the Occupy Wall Street group?
CARLOS: Well, I think the most important thing is for them to define what their concerns are, put their concerns down, don't deviate from their concerns, and make sure that all of the grassroot satellites around the nation come to understand that we have this one desire, these points that we're trying to get across relative to how we can make this a better situation, as far as employment go, as far as racial equality go, as far as better education - all of these things.
OLBERMANN: What was it like for you there last night? And - I ask this with complete respect because sometimes, as I said, they seemed to be very plugged in to history, but that's a spotty thing as you know - did they know your story when you were there?
CARLOS: Well, I think quite a bit of them knew because once they introduced me they gave a rousing applause based on - if they didn't remember the name, they remembered the demonstration. If they didn't remember the demonstration, they remembered the name.
However, I feel that, in time, when you sit back and think - 43 years ago, where else could we have made the statement to the world that we had a problem and we needed to try and get up off of our fannies and try and resolve the issues? Where else can they do, relative to the economic situation in this nation, can they go other than to the economic capital of the world, which would be Wall Street? - this will become a beacon as the 1968 demonstration was 43 years ago.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, literally and figuratively, you had quite a platform in Mexico City, but it came at a cost. Did you talk to these guys at Occupy Wall Street about what this could mean for their personal lives? In other words, the long-term implications - because, in many respects, this country put you through hell after that. No matter how we might revere you now, it certainly didn't - it certainly wasn't like that everywhere in 1968.
CARLOS: Well, Keith, you know, it was hell for you when you made a transition from one studio to the next, but it didn't have a divide in terms of who you are and what your direction was. And the same thing applies to these young individuals. I think the majority of them are aware that they realize that they're in the midst of a storm, and they're willing to weather the storm to make change.
OLBERMANN: When you - when you look back at that starting point of 1968 - or at least that platform point of 1968 - was your assessment then that this country was at an abyss, or that there was a great opportunity to change things for the better?
CARLOS: Well, you know, there was always the opportunity if you found those that were strong enough to stand against the forces and be defiant and say, "We cannot no longer wait, to continuously wait. We need change now. We need progression now. And this, this is exactly what these young individuals are saying right now. Enough is enough. We need something today.
OLBERMANN: So what is it? What is it you think they can get done and how - compare it to all of the other things that you've seen in the intervening 43 years. There've been a lot of protest movements that have come and gone pretty quickly. This one seems to have made an impact - if not every part of the country, certainly large swaths of the country understand what's going on there. What's different about this one? Where do you see this one going?
CARLOS: Well, the biggest thing about this one is provoking thought. Many individuals have walked by Occupation Wall Street. Many individuals that's not involved in the program, but they walk by and they stop for 20 minutes or 30 minutes to look, and the look in the eyes, indicates to me that they feel what these young individuals are feeling. They feel that they're in the midst of losing their houses. They're in the midst of not being able to pay student loans for their kids to go to school. They have a concern that their kids are still living in the house and don't have employment coming in. They're concerned about whether they're gonna lose their jobs.
So, many individuals would like to get involved, but they have fear for - fear of their oppressor. You know, that their oppressor might come on them. But, I see also that the swell is growing. Many more people are starting to eat the soup so to speak.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. How - what could you tell them about overcoming the fear that the oppressor's going to come down on you? Something along the lines of "He's gonna come down on you anyway, whether you stand up for yourself or you don't?" Is that the lesson?
CARLOS: Well, you know, the question is - "If you have me on the ground, you stepping on my throat, the question is whether I should ask you to move off my throat, or attempt to make you move off my throat, or should I just lie there and allow you to step on my throat?"
OLBERMANN: Yep. And - and hope you're gonna stop. Obviously, the last one doesn't work. John Carlos, Olympian, activist - and now author of "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed The World." Great, thanks for your time tonight, sir. We'll look forward to seeing it, seeing the new book.
CARLOS: Great book, Keith.
CARLOS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I'm looking forward to it.
CARLOS: Thank you for the time.
OLBERMANN: Thank you and - belatedly from me - great thanks for 1968 as well.
CARLOS: Thank you, thank you very much, and keep up the great work you're doing as well.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. And now to 2012, and the man who may have tipped all this off with his overreaching, union-busting, middle-class-squeezing work on behalf of the Koch brothers in Wisconsin. The details are now ready, and the money is now rolling in for the recall of Governor Scott Walker. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: DuMont's coverage of boxing from Eastern Parkway with Ted Husing will not be seen tonight, so that we can instead bring you "Countdown." Whenever you are watching us, we are live at 8 P.M. Eastern time. And as good as we think the show is at any time - in any context - live gives it a certain "What's going to fall off the top shelf tonight?" excitement that cannot be replicated.
Another brilliant idea from Georgia: replace firefighters with prison inmates. What could go wrong there? Details ahead.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1975, NBC premiered a weekly music and comedy program called "Saturday Night Live."
The first performer seen on the air - the first to speak - was the late Michael O'Donoghue, and the host was the immortal George Carlin, who opened with his famous baseball vs. football riff, which ended with his perfect conclusion: "In football, the object is for the quarterback - otherwise known as the field general - to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun with short bullet passes and long bombs. He marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line. In baseball, the object is to go home."
"Time Marches On!"
Somewhere, George is telling me I didn't do that well.
We begin in Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez - speaking of not doing it well - is appearing on a talk show alongside urban singer Robex MC. As she raps about Venezuela's greatness, Chavez stands by her side doing what can generously be described as dancing. He may be trying to land aircraft. The only way this could get any stranger if Chavez would stand near a break dancer while making odd gestures - and there you have it. You know what? Don't quit your day job. Actually, quit your day job, just don't become a dancer.
In local news, Sacramento News 10 producer Duffy Kelly is following up a tip about wild turkeys chasing people through their neighborhood. Looks like there might be some truth to this story. After being assisted by a mail truck, Ms. Kelly finally makes it to her car, but the turkey lurks nearby, trapping her inside. He said he plans to release her after Thanksgiving. All that aggression is for the birds.
These laid-back bears are just looking to take it easy. Nice hammock. Probably got it down in the Hammock District. Oh no, it looks like they are barely hanging on. Ha-ha - whoops. And down goes Yogi and Boo-Boo! If only there had been a trampoline to break their fall. Don't worry. He was just tranquilized.
You know, that's like - we ran this tape first in 2003. The bear's, like, a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather by now. He was fine. Humiliated but fine.
"Time Marches On."
The recall of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin - it's coming up. So the latest on it is coming up, too.
OLBERMANN: The process of recalling the Koch brothers' puppet in Wisconsin - Governor Scott Walker - there is now plan and a time frame and a lot money donated already.
First, the "Worsts."
He claims to be a real-life crime-stopping super hero in Seattle. Apparently, all he stopped the other night was some dancing - with pepper spray. That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Wisconsin gets the recall process rolling for disgraced governor Scott Walker. The latest, next.
First - because we can't recall these bozos - here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze tonight to Benjamin John Francis Fodor of Seattle, who calls himself Phoenix Jones. He also calls himself "The Guardian of Seattle." He thinks he is a superhero, and he'll tell you that he is the leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement. And - he is out on bail.
Last Saturday, our hero saw two men attacking two women outside a Seattle nightclub. That's when Phoenix Jones, the guardian of Seattle, sprang into action. He pepper sprayed them. That's when it turned out the two men were not attacking the two women. They were two couples, and they were dancing. Our hero - Phoenix Jones, the guardian of Seattle - was arrested for assault.
Runners up? Senators John McCain of Arizona and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who last week introduced a bipartisan measure for final corporate-tax holiday. This would allow any American corporation sheltering money in tax loophole havens offshore to repatriate it back to the U.S. at reduced tax rate of eight and three-quarters percent - maybe five and a quarter when the company added jobs - which is the goal of the holiday.
Sounds nice, except that a report released by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan revealed that during the last final corporate tax holiday - the one in 2004 - the 15 companies that repatriated the most funds - $155 billion - wound up cutting 20,000 jobs, and spending the tax savings on stock buybacks and increased pay for executives. That's why they call it a corporate holiday.
But our winner? Jimmy Starline. Jimmy Starline, commissioner of the county board of Camden County, Georgia. He has a new plan to save more than half a million dollars a year on firefighting for the residents and businesses of the area near the Florida border - replace some firefighters with prison inmates. That's right - unpaid prisoners. With the cost of training and being guarded and stuff, you can get three of them for every real firefighter you fire.
Because when my house is on fire, I know exactly the best way to get it put out safely - slave labor!
County Board Commissioner Jimmy Starline of Camden County, Georgia - if that's your real name - Wonder if that job could be filled by a state prison inmate? - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: There have been only two successful gubernatorial recall elections. North Dakota had the first in 1921, and California had the other in 2003. In our number-one story, Wisconsin Democrats hope to make it three - after announcing November 15th as the official beginning of the effort to recall Scott Walker, an outcome that was all but assured after Walker stripped public employees of their right to bargain collectively, and the resulting protests that consumed his capital.
According to Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board, the governor is liable to recall one year after his inauguration. Once the paperwork to start the recall is filed, his opponents have 60 days to collect signatures - a quarter of the total votes cast in the governor's general election in 2010. That would be exactly 540,208. With a start date of November 15th, all signatures would need to be presented before January 17th. And, after the signatures are submitted, the board has 31 more days to verify the signatures. So - without delays or extensions - the soonest the recall vote could take place would be April, 2012. Governor Walker does not seem to be paying attention.
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT WALKER: Yeah, from our standpoint, our only campaign we're really focused on is helping the private sector of the state create 250,000 jobs. What others are working about - whether the cynics might be involved in - really is not as much of a factor as what we're doing to help people - here in La Crosse and all across the state - create more jobs.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Are you at all concerned about it?
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT WALKER: Well, we take everything seriously, without a doubt. But again, it's not gonna take away from the focus we have as the governor.
OLBERMANN: Look me in the eye when you say that. But - that does not mean that the Wisconsin Democrats, nor Scott Walker are waiting till November 15th to begin preparation.
Last month, Walker's Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes resigned in order to prepare for a possible recall election. And likewise, the Wisconsin Democrats posted a statement last night - asking for volunteers to collect signatures and donations to help with the recall efforts. In 24 hours, people had already donated nearly $100,000. The nine Wisconsin Senate recall elections over the summer attracted $44 million in spending, and Wisconsin Democrats predict that Scott Walker will raise $70 million to defend his seat - meant in both senses of the word.
Joining me now, Wisconsin state senator - a member of the Wisconsin 14 - Jon Erpenbach. Thanks for your time tonight, Senator.
JON ERPENBACH: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Based on your trips around Wisconsin and your meetings with voters, what do you think the effort level is going to be to get that required percentage of signatures? Is it easy? Difficult? No chance? Where does it stand?
ERPENBACH: I actually think it's going to be easy. I don't think it's going to be that difficult at all - simply because, Keith, the passion is still there, and it's not just on the collective bargaining issue.
It's all sorts of reasons, a voter I.D. issue and making sure that certain segments of Wisconsin society won't be able to vote or make it very difficult to vote. There's been all sorts of things since what happened with the budget repair bill that the governor has supported that has really made a lot of people angry, so really - no matter when where you go in the state - no doubt about it, the state's divided. There is no question about that. But at the same time, the passion to recall Governor Scott Walker is still very strong and very real.
OLBERMANN: Do you anticipate that April 2012 time for the recall vote is likely? Because, with the senate votes, the Republicans did everything they could to delay the process. Do you think obstructionism might push that more into the spring?
ERPENBACH: You're bringing up a really good point. I would tend to think that Governor Walker's campaign will do every single thing under the sun and it maybe even a couple of things over the sun to try and drag this out as long as they possibly can, simply so he can raise the $70 million that he thinks he needs for this. But as we saw during the senate recalls - the Republicans ran phony Democrats against the Democratic Senators - so I would expect them to do - use just about any trick they can possibly think of to try and stall this.
OLBERMANN: So, you mentioned one of them and it's not a trick - it is now, unfortunately, all too legal in all too many different ways - but to - actually to garner $70 million to not even run for office, but to maintain it. How do you compete with that kind of money, especially when it's coming in from spigots like the Koch brothers and others who are closely tied - businesswise - into them and to Walker?
ERPENBACH: Well, with the Koch brothers - whether it's Alec, or whatever the case may be - money is absolutely no issue to them, as far as they're concerned. But I'm not certain, Keith, that if it's $70 million or $170 million, that Scott Walker can buy himself out of this situation. The state is divided. He is the - he is the governor.
He has been more dictatorial than he has been gubernatorial in his approach to his job and you don't divide a state and then try and govern. You try and govern by consensus and move a state forward. He hasn't done that. So, I'm not certain $70 million is gonna be enough money for him to buy himself out of this situation.
OLBERMANN: Procedurally, if the signatures are verified, that - that vote next year is not just a recall, it's an election? The Democrats have to have a candidate on the ballot, correct?
ERPENBACH: Right. Yes.
OLBERMANN: Your name was mentioned as a possible candidate to oppose Mr. Walker. Would you run?
ERPENBACH: Well, it's something I'm thinking about and taking a look at. There is no doubt we'd need to - we need somebody to bring the state of Wisconsin back together and work on the issues that will actually create jobs, like health insurance reform. That's what's really killing businesses. It's not the tax climate in Wisconsin. It's the fact that their health care premiums are going up 30 percent every year and they have to cover less people, or it's costing their employees more money. We need to work on that - but we're not talking about that right now. We're just talking about tax breaks for businesses but, in the end, it's something that I'll take a close look at and, you know, myself, - along with Kathleen Falk, Peter Barca, who's in the state assembly, and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett - are the names that have been mentioned so far. We'll all take a close look at it and we'll talk about it and we'll figure something out.
OLBERMANN: The last part about this, is there - is there any sense in - do you think - in the state house, particularly in Governor Walker's office, about the - the kind of rebound, the sort of echo effect that has gone on here, that these protests that started in Madison and throughout Wisconsin in February are essentially - if not the trigger point for the Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupy movements, they certainly are the template for them. It's as if, you know - recall Scott Walker, but he's the inspiration for Occupy Wall Street.
Is there any sense that that thing has sort of blown up back on Governor Walker and the Koch brothers in a way they could not have possibly foreseen and - and that the liberal voice of this country could not possibly have purchased if they'd wanted to?
ERPENBACH: Mm hm. I'm not certain the governor's figured that one out yet but that's why the recall effort is so strong in Wisconsin. And it's not so much the Democrats against Scott Walker. The recall effort against Scott Walker is strong simply because of what you pointed out. This is grassroots, this started in Madison, it started in Wisconsin and we saw it - early - late last winter, early last spring, spread all over the country with rallies, supporting what we were doing when we were down in Illinois, and now you see what's going on in Wall Street.
There's no doubt that this did start in Wisconsin, so the people, United Wisconsin and others who are working on the recall effort - this is very strong grassroots stuff. This is people who aren't - haven't necessarily been involved in politics before, one side or the other - coming out very strongly against what the governor has stood for so far in his agenda, so far. So I'm not certain the governor's figured that out but those of us who pay attention certainly can see it.
OLBERMANN: State senator Jon Erpenbach, of the great state of Wisconsin. Our great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
ERPENBACH: All right, thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for Tuesday, 392 days until the 2012 presidential election.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Give yourself a round of applause for getting through another day of this crap. Good night and good luck.