'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, October 13th, 2011
ShowPlug1: Cleaning Up or Cleaning Out? Bloomberg's boondoggle to end Occupy Wall Street. OWS attorney + Matt @MTaibbi w/latest
ShowPlug2: Startling #OWS polling: 80% of us know about it; 54% of those approve, twice as much as Tea Party. W/John Nichols of @TheNation
ShowPlug3: Cain + 999: it would DOUBLE federal taxes on middle class. His braindead answer: no it wouldn't. W/Robert Kuttner of @TheProspect
ShowPlug4: 43 days since his last appearance, when there was seemingly no hope, I'm joined by special guest Tom @TMorello
ShowPlugLast: Moron who wants to bring back electric chair + firing squads in FLA now tries movie trivia:"Frankly Ilsa, Play It Again"
ShowPlugPS: Simmons offers to pay for Zuccotti Park cleanup, #OWS lawyer reveals contact w/park owners; OWS petitions Mayor, live at 8.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Cleaning Confrontation', Gideon Oliver
#5 'Cleaning Confrontation', Matt Taibbi
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Occupied Minds', John Nichols
# Time Marches On!
#3 'GOP vs the Middle Class', Robert Kuttner
#2 Worst Persons: Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw, Rep. Joe Walsh, Brad Drake (R-FL)
#1 'A Page from "Rage"', Tom Morello
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Occupy Together, Occupy Wall Street
Contributors: Matt Taibbi
Guests: Gideon Oliver, John Nichols, Robert Kuttner, Tom Morello
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Cleaning up or cleaning out? Mayor Bloomberg's three-card Monte game at Zuccotti Park. Close the place for cleaning, then let Occupy Wall Street back in, but without their sleeping bags.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: They might as well have just said, "You're done."
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street's struggle to stay, while Occupy Portland compromises to stay.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Keep the street! Keep the street!
OLBERMANN: Giving up the streets, keeping the park. Portland's mayor:
(Excerpt from video clip) SAM ADAMS: Today is about opening the road. The Occupy camp portions, they'll remain intact.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street, Day 27.
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL CLINTON: Essentially what they're saying is that America, A) has become too unequal, and B) that some of the people that caused the problem are in good shape today, and a lot of them aren't.
OLBERMANN: Where it stands legally, as a cleaning confrontation looms tomorrow night. How it can hit the bankers where it hurts, with Matt Taibbi and the overview from musician and activist Tom Morello. The assault on the middle class - better try the $5 foot-long, because the $9.99 plan is poisonous.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: "9-9-9″ will pass, and it's not the price of the pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed.
OLBERMANN: And it will double federal taxes on a middle-class family. And when asked how it would work for American products with international components, Herman Cain says, "I don't really know."
Speaking of which, the cretin who wants to reintroduce the electric chair in Florida and throw in firing squads - he has responded to the blowback. "As Humphrey Bogart said, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.'" Holy BLEEP, is this guy stupid? All of that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) ANTOINE DODSON: You're so dumb!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, October 13th, 390 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The confrontation between Occupy Wall Street and New York City officials is building around Zuccotti Park. Mayor Mike Bloomberg saying the park must be closed starting at 7:00 A.M. tomorrow morning so it can be cleaned. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly saying protesters can then return to the park, but without their tents, without their sleeping bags, without other camping gear. This, after a letter to Kelly from Richard Clark, the CEO of Brookfield Properties - the park's owners - saying the occupation violates the law and park rules.
Our fifth story on the "Countdown" tonight - a rally underway tonight at Zuccotti Park. Members of New York's City Council and other officials reportedly present, while some members of the protest were reportedly heading to the restaurant they believe Mayor Bloomberg was dining at, and others hope to deliver a petition to him.
And activist and music mogul Russell Simmons has now offered to pay to clean the park "in order to avoid any problems." Occupy Wall Street is hard at work cleaning up debris, scrubbing the sidewalks and preparing for the worst. Some protesters say the mayor's clean-up notice is a pretext for ending the occupation. Some are preparing for nonviolent resistance tomorrow morning. A call is out for supporters to gather at 6:00 A.M., one hour before the park is supposed to be cleared. Lauren DiGioia is with Occupy Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) LAUREN DiGIOIA: What we are doing right now, and will continue to do all night, is what they think they're coming to do tomorrow, and we hope to meet them with a pristine park with our arms linked together, arm-in-arm along this entire occupation and say, "Go home. We don't need you here."
OLBERMANN: Brookfield Properties contending Occupy Wall Street protesters may be damaging the park's infrastructures, saying they have received complaints of "lewdness, groping, drinking and drug use." It's downtown, what do you expect?
Insisting the protesters follow park rules - which prohibit camping, tents, or other structures, lying down on the ground, benches, sitting areas or walkways, tarps, sleeping bags or other coverings, storing personal property and any activities prohibited by law or statute.
Attorneys for the protesters have replied to Brookfield's letter, writing in turn - "The enforcement action you are requesting raises serious First Amendment and other legal concerns. You are threatening fundamental constitutional rights. Our clients are willing to sit down with you and want to negotiate in good faith."
Attorney Gideon Oliver, part of the Liberty Park Legal Working Group, supporting Occupy Wall Street. He'll join me here in a few moments.
In Portland, Oregon this morning, some Occupy protesters were forced to move. There - at least eight arrested for blocking part of Main Street. But Portland mayor Sam Adams said the main body of protesters could stay right where they were indefinitely in two public squares.
(Excerpt from audio clip) ADAMS: Today is about opening the road. The Occupy camp portions, they'll remain intact.
OLBERMANN: Back in New York, CNBC reporting Goldman Sachs employees have been informally warned to stay away from Zuccotti Park. Goldman executives may be afraid their employees will experience performances like this, from the activist and Grammy award-winning musician Tom Morello.
(Excerpt from video clip) TOM MORELLO: Save the hammer for the man/Save the hammer for the man/You're never too far down the wrong road/To turn back and change your plan/Save the hammer for the man.
OLBERMANN: Tom Morello, my guest a little later in this news hour.
Occupy Wall Street also getting support today from former vice president, Current TV cofounder Al Gore, who said, "With democracy in crisis, a true grassroots movement pointing out the flaws in our system is the first step in the right direction. Count me among those supporting and cheering on the Occupy Wall Street movement."
In an interview with me on August 2nd, Mr. Gore had called for a movement like Occupy to form, responding to my special comment the previous night, denouncing the hypocrisies surrounding the debt deal, which in turn called on people to act. He said:
(Excerpt from video clip) AL GORE: We need to have an American Spring. You know, the Arab Spring, the non-violent part of it, isn't finished yet. But we need to have an American Spring, a kind of an American Tahrir Square. Non-violent change, where people from the grassroots get involved again.
OLBERMANN: And former President Clinton got involved again with Occupy Wall Street on David Letterman's program last night.
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL CLINTON: I think that, on balance, this can be a positive thing, but they're going to have to - kind of transfer their energies at some point to making some specific suggestions, or bringing in people who know more to try to put the country back to work.
OLBERMANN: Well, he's wrong about that. There was also support from currently-serving political leaders today. A tweet from New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler - "There should be no need for the police to execute a mass eviction if the parties can work together to clean and maintain the park."
And Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Grijalva and Ellison writing, "We are hopeful that public authorities will not stand in the way of these Americans' constitutionally-guaranteed right to have their voices heard at this critical time in our nation's history."
In Boston, the Occupy movement got back to work today with the help of $11,000 in donations and support from the state's AFL-CIO and firefighters' unions.
(Excerpt from video clip) STEVEN TOLMAN: People in this country have been devastated over losses, and it doesn't seem like the people who have made the mistakes have been held accountable.
(Excerpt from video clip) ED KELLY: There's something drastically wrong when the Kelly family paid more in taxes than General Electric.
OLBERMANN: And in San Francisco, activists plan to protest outside an education conference featuring Rupert Murdoch and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. We're not sure if they were speaking or if it was remedial for them.
As I mentioned, Gideon Oliver is an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild and a member of the Liberty Park Legal Working Group, counsel to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, and he's here now. Thanks for coming in.
GIDEON OLIVER: Thanks so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: What contacts has your group had, if any, with the NYPD or the mayor's office, and are there discussions going on now?
OLIVER: We have reached out to both the NYPD and the mayor's office, as well as Brookfield Properties and the corporation counsel's office, and we hope to hear back from them soon, but we have not heard anything.
OLBERMANN: You wrote a letter to the park's owners. Did they reply?
OLIVER: We have not yet heard from them either.
OLBERMANN: You wrote that "fundamental constitutional rights are at stake under the guise of cleaning the park," the excerpt from the letter that I read earlier. Are there any legal means to stop what might be a confrontation before it starts?
OLIVER: There may well be. What we're hoping, at this point, is that negotiation - is that discretion will be the better part of valor on behalf of both Brookfield Property and the city. And that, you know, given that our clients have come to the table - the sanitation working group has come to the table and is willing - and has been working very hard to clean and keep the park clean - is willing to invite Brookfield into their process along those lines. We hope the city and Brookfield will decide discretion is the better part of valor and come to the table.
OLBERMANN: On the other hand, that's 11 hours from now.
OLIVER: That's right.
OLBERMANN: It certainly would seem like this is the 11th hour.
OLIVER: It's literally the 11th hour. So there is not much time left, and the phone hasn't rung yet.
OLBERMANN: So, do you proceed to - is there an injunction path to take? Or is that worth it? Or is the likeliest outcome of this - if there's no resolution to it, pre-deadline - is the likeliest outcome some sort of civil disobedience?
OLIVER: I can't comment on whether or not civil disobedience will take place. I certainly think that an injunction, a possible injunction action, isn't totally impossible at this point. Although, you know, certainly, what we're trying to do on behalf of our clients is negotiate rather than litigate. We think that's - it's in everybody's best interest to de-escalate what could be a confrontational situation tomorrow, based on the posture that the city and Brookfield are taking.
OLBERMANN: There is another legal element here, which is how private is Zuccotti Park, given that it was built under this mandate that it was for public use, 24 hours a day, and has been such since I was 23 years old and working in that neighborhood?
OLIVER: You know, I mean - that's a very good question. There's also a related question which I think is, you know - what business does the New York City police department and municipal police force have enforcing the rules that Brookfield has essentially, on an ad hoc basis, made up?
You know, if I said there's a "no shoes in my apartment" rule, and I - you know, and somebody came in with shoes in my apartment and I called the police and said "you have to arrest them because they're, you know, violating my no-shoes rule," - you know, obviously, they wouldn't do that. And, so, it's unclear, you know, why they're - the police commissioner is even considering doing that here. We think it would be beyond the scope of his authority.
OLBERMANN: One would assume, if there were campfires on a windy night with a lot of blankets and rolls around, that would make a lot of sense. This is something a little bit less than that, no matter what degree it actually is a problem.
OLIVER: Right. Absolutely, and I think that the truth is the people in the park have been doing a very good job self-policing and dealing with these issues on their own. So, it's surprising to us that Brookfield is coming in, you know, without trying to talk to people on the ground and work with them to simply keep it clean and safe, as it has been.
OLBERMANN: Do you think this is a ruse? Do you think this is, as what others are interpreting it, is merely an excuse to get the protesters to go home, or at least deny them the opportunity to stay overnight in comfort?
OLIVER: It may well be. I mean, there are certainly enough red flags that this is, you know - it could be a trap, or that it's certainly pretextual. Because the concerns that have been raised by Brookfield in its letter to the police commissioner are all things that they can address through negotiation.
There's no need for police action, and it would be unlawful. What they need to do, if they want to take police action, is go to court and have a judge decide that they have the right to do that or they don't. And certainly, we don't think that they do.
OLBERMANN: Gideon Oliver, Attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, member of the Liberty Park Legal Working Group and Counsel for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, great thanks for coming in.
OLIVER: Thanks so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: The Occupy movement is sometimes criticized for not having made any specific demands. You heard President Clinton refer to that, in fact. My next guest has some that he thinks they should try. After covering Wall Street corruption for years, he says the time is fast approaching for the movement to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street.
They include, "breaking up the monopolies, pay for your own bailouts, no money for private lobbying, tax the hedge-fund gamblers, and change the way bankers get paid." These proposals come from the fevered pen of Rolling Stone contributing editor and "Countdown" contributor, Matt Taibbi, who's with us now. Hi, Matt.
MATT TAIBBI: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: First, Zuccotti Park. Every time the NYPD has moved against the protesters, whether it was the four women who got pepper sprayed - which was really sort of the explosion point for the whole thing - to Brooklyn Bridge and the 700 arrests, to the sort of the hits and Bloomberg going through last night. Every time the NYPD has acted, or the city of New York has acted, it has grown the entire Occupy Wall Street movement exponentially.
OLBERMANN: Is Mike Bloomberg their best friend right now? And unless this somehow turns violent at the protesters' hands tomorrow, is there any outcome that doesn't work in the favor of this group?
TAIBBI: Yeah, I actually had the same thought earlier today that this is - it's almost like Bloomberg is working for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It's - you know, it's the one way - with a national media that's largely trying to be indifferent to this story - the one way you can guarantee that there is going to be lot of press coverage of this, is if there's some kind of disorder on the streets that's caused by, you know, a too-hasty police action. And so he's playing right into the hands of the protesters, I think.
OLBERMANN: And, by the way, rush hour Friday morning.
TAIBBI: Right, exactly.
OLBERMANN: Friday's a nice, slow news day if you act at 5:00 in the afternoon or 6:00 in the evening. 7:00 in the morning is exactly the worst time all week you can probably predict to do this.
TAIBBI: It doesn't take an awful lot to get New Yorkers really, really upset and acting crazy under normal circumstances, and these aren't normal circumstances.
OLBERMANN: All right. To the growth of this movement, are you surprised? I mean, could anyone have anticipated, and not just Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco, but Occupy Missoula, Occupy - by the example I keep using - Goldsboro, Pennsylvania?
TAIBBI: I'm not surprised at all. Look, Wall Street itself put millions of people out on the streets already to protest. I mean, there were three or four million people in foreclosure since 2008. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have credit card judgments against them, who have other financial problems, who have lost, you know, massive percentages of their pension funds because of the crisis in 2008. There's a natural constituency of millions of people who are ready to protest. So, if anything - to me - it's surprising that there aren't more people on the streets. I mean, there's a lot of room left for this to grow, and this is really, to me, just the beginning.
OLBERMANN: All right, to the practical, five-point proposal that you have written up, let's start with a couple points. Which monopolies have to be broken, and how would banks pay for their own bailouts?
TAIBBI: Well, first of all, nobody asked for my advice about any of this, and they're doing great without the advice of people like me, but -
OLBERMANN: It's a democracy. Everybody has a voice, take your platform.
TAIBBI: Everybody has a voice, but, you know, the one thing - there are a lot of people who have been following this whole issue of Wall Street corruption for years, you know, activists, journalists like me, and, you know, there is a small community of those people - and we've kind of been talking amongst each other for the last few weeks or so, trying to think about what would the demands be.What would a good demand be when it came time to make one?
And, the one thing everybody can agree on is you have to break up the too-big-to-fail companies. You got to go and get rid of those companies, because they are above the law and above the market. They have the implicit support of the United States government, which is a disastrous, deadly situation for everybody. So that's thing one, and that's something they could actually get, too. That's something that I think a lot of these protesters don't realize, you know.
TAIBBI: A movement -
OLBERMANN: What Congress in our America of 2011 would ever approve that? They would be kidnapped and you'd never find the bodies. They'd be kidnapped by their corporate owners.
TAIBBI: I know that's true. It does sound outlandish.
OLBERMANN: These are the people that would be appointed to replace them would pass this?
TAIBBI: But, you know, there was an amendment during the Dodd-Frank Bill - you know, the Brown-Kaufman Amendment - to break up these companies that got 33 votes in the Senate. I mean, 33 isn't 50. Thirty-three isn't 55. But there's - everybody in Washington understands that these companies are a problem. You know, obviously they have an enormous amount of political power, so actually breaking them up is a huge practical problem, but there's support there. If there was a enough - big enough show of force on the streets, you know, commensurate, for instance, with the tea party, I think they would have a chance of starting it back in the other direction.
OLBERMANN: Well, given how - how the American political system essentially folded in the sight of - you know, a few hundred people at a time wearing funny hats - you may have an actual point. The one advantage of a weak-limbed, jelly-spined political system is that you can scare it from either direction. It doesn't have to just be from a conservative or pro-corporate one.
TAIBBI: Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, it has the additional advantage of being the right thing to do. I mean, I think - you know, obviously that's not usually a motivating factor for our Congress - but when the chips are down, that does tend to be a slight, you know, motivating factor in one direction or another.
OLBERMANN: But don't the banks have to decide how the bankers get paid?
TAIBBI: Yes, they do. And obviously, that's something that's going to be more of an industry-wide reform. It's not something you can really do from the outside.
OLBERMANN: That's to say, okay, do this or we're nationalizing the banks.
TAIBBI: Right, exactly. I mean, all of these companies are essentially wards of the state right now. I mean, if we really wanted to we could dictate to them almost anything. We could have them all fired or, you know, all their executives removed - "If you want all of this bailout money, if you want all this public support, if you want to keep borrowing from the discount window at zero percent, here are the things that you have to do." If their was the political will, we could do that. We could tell them, "You can't collect bonuses up front for investments that might blow up later that we have to bailout," and I think that's a logical step that Wall Street has to take.
OLBERMANN: The next step after the power cleaning in the morning. "Countdown" contributor and Rolling Stone contributing editor, Matt Taibbi. Thanks as always, Matt.
TAIBBI: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Twenty-seven days old and twice as popular as it is unpopular. Twenty-seven days old and twice as popular as the tea party, polling on Occupy Wall Street, and then Tom Morello, coming up.
OLBERMANN: They may not be getting through the media yet, or through to it, but the Occupy movement is resonating among ordinary Americans. More than twice as many view it favorably as unfavorably, and that's twice as popular as the tea party. And all that, from Day One to today, happening since activist and musician Tom Morello last joined us. He'll be here tonight.
You better get a lot of cheese with that. Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan would wind up doubling taxes on the middle class. No wonder he's the new Republican front-runner. By the way, the plan may have come from a simulation game.
And a new excuse from Congress's leading deadbeat dad about why he's 117k in arrears on the child support - he says his wife said it was okay "off the record." "Worst Persons," coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: At the end of September, the narrative about Occupy Wall Street was focused on the question - "Why are people not paying attention to the protests?"
In our fourth story - people are now definitely paying attention to the protests. Over the past week three different national polls have been taken, and in each approximately 80 percent of respondents were aware of the Occupy movement, with the majority expressing a favorable opinion of the protesters, which is a lot more than anybody can say of their opinion for the tea party.
The polls first asked if respondents were aware of the protests that began at Wall Street and have spread across the globe, with those responding they did then being asked their opinion of them. According to the Reuters poll - 82 percent of respondents were aware of the protest, 38 percent of those having a favorable opinion. Similar results to the NBC News poll - 80 percent of the respondents aware, 37 percent support it. Time magazine's poll with the smallest percentage of awareness - 77, but 54 percent of those hold a favorable opinion of the protesters. In that same Time poll, just 27 percent of respondents held a favorable opinion of the tea party.
Joining me now is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine. John, good evening.
JOHN NICHOLS: Good evening, Keith. It's good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: It's good to have you here. Thank you. Do those poll numbers, the last ones especially, surprise you - awareness and approval in less than four weeks?
NICHOLS: Not in the least, Keith. I think this is one of the first movements that has really operated on all of the levels of communication. It may not need old media to connect with people. This is a movement that is reaching people via the Internet, obviously, via cable, via YouTube - and I think there's something really important about the way it is reaching people. It's speaking to precisely the issue they're worried about, and that is that we have a government that seems to be in hock to Wall Street. It doesn't seem to be willing to challenge Wall Street. And so across the country people are saying, "Okay, let's try this thing."
OLBERMANN: The - do you have any sense of the reaction to the reaction to this? In other words, as we have been talking about what Mayor Bloomberg might do, and how he might deserve, I don't know - a percentage of the money saved as a result of the Occupy movement when it's all said and done, if he goes in there and tries to force them out tomorrow morning in the middle of all of the morning news shows nationwide? Is there a sense of how people are reacting to that part of it?
Is there a sense of how much this was accelerated by the pepper spraying of the four women, the arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, all of the other things nationally? All of the harassment in Boston, no matter who started or what the actual - how many people had a scraped knee as opposed to how much was originally reported. Does - is that part of the fuel here, too?
NICHOLS: Absolutely. Keith, if you look back across the history of protest movements in this country, what you're going to find is that there was usually a moment when what everyone recognized as a necessary - first off necessary - and peaceful movement, was assaulted by undue force. That goes to the civil rights movement, that goes to the anti-war movement. In Seattle in 1999 - when there was a great protest against the WTO - the city of Seattle wasn't necessarily on the side of the protesters initially, but when they saw a massive police overreaction, that's when tens of thousands of ordinary folks, in Seattle, came out on the streets to stand with the protesters.
So, we have a lot of history of this in this country. It's one of the best things about the American people. We like it when people assemble to petition for the redress of grievances - that's in our Constitution - and if somebody messes with that we have, I think, a instinctual reaction, that we probably should be with the side that's assembling.
OLBERMANN: Having said that, something just occurred to me - how soon do you think it will be before there will be some event in which someone will respond - possibly somebody from the far right in office, maybe locally as opposed to nationally - and accuse these people of being something akin to, but we'll use the word, terrorists?
NICHOLS: Oh, you know, look - such language has already been toyed with by many of the national right wingers, and you'll hear that and you'll also see the old game of saying "Well, there is somebody who violated a law in the crowd, or there's somebody who was found with a kitchen utensil and that could be dangerous." You always see these games. But the people are pretty good at seeing through that. And understand - those folks that are on the street around the country, it's not just kids - although kids have been in the forefront, as is so often the case historically.
In Iowa - in Des Moines - one of the first people arrested was a former candidate for governor of Iowa. A got who got the better part of 30 percent of the vote in the 2006 Democratic Primary. State representatives arrested. These are - it's not just protesters who you can write off. There's people who know how to talk to the media, and who know how to connect with people in their states and their communities.
OLBERMANN: Which brings us to a point we touched on yesterday - 1,100 communities, again Occupy Gouldsboro, PA - you have been in fact touring these things. What else did you come away with?
NICHOLS: Well, when you've got Occupy Pocatello going on, in Idaho, you know something is happening. And this is - Idaho, and it's tough. You're a brave protester in Idaho. But the fact is this is happening all over the country. Occupy Des Moines is very big and very, very significant. There are people camping out on courthouse steps in small towns. They are not even sure exactly what their message is per se - but it's this brood sense of - connected to a national movement.
And what I see here is something very similar to what we had in 1969 with the great Vietnam moratorium that was on October 15th, 1969, where people in every town across America came out in opposition to the war. In April 1970, when you had the Earth Day teach-ins in every community across the country. This movement has - in a matter of weeks - begun to re-create some of that kind of energy. And I'll remind you that those moratorium protests, those Earth Day teach-ins, those didn't just influence the Democratic Party and liberals - they ultimately had a profound influence on Republicans and even conservatives who recognized there was a movement out there that was bigger than what they were able to turn back. And I think that's the strength of this right now.
OLBERMANN: And I'll remind you that between October, 1969 when there were protest movements that were completely outside the mainstream - and April and May of 1970, by the time, April and May, 1970, I remember this personally - those were events organized in colleges and high schools and for me, 7th grade. So that's how quickly it can turn, and I think we may see that.
John Nichols of The Nation in Madison, Wisconsin for us tonight. Thank you, John.
NICHOLS: Thanks, Keith. I'm glad you're on this story.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir, and you, too. Tom Morello on the Occupies - big-city and small - ahead. And the data is in - a quarter of all millionaires pay a lower percentage on their taxes than many middle-class families do on theirs. Coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain admits he really does not know how his "9-9-9″ tax plan would work. One economist has figured out, though, that it would nearly double the taxes on a middle-class family. Next.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1963 - although there is an argument about the precise date - an unnamed spectator watching a hot new rock-and-roll quartet perform at the Palladium in London supposedly coined a new word - "Beatlemania." Other claims of the etymology have the word being used a week earlier, by a Scottish music promoter. Regardless, it would wind up in print for the first time in The London Daily Mirror on the 15th of October, 1963. The subsequent term, "Beatlemania mania," would await "Saturday Night Live" in the '70s.
"Time Marches On!"
And we begin with the TMO Most Adorable Clip of the Day. It's Oscar, the blind kitty. His lack of sight has not hindered him in his battle against his arch nemesis, the hairdryer. The thing is blowing so much hot air it's just gotten seven percent in the latest Gallup Republican-primary poll. Ultimately, the fight ends in a draw. Hopefully Oscar will have more success in his next battle against a curling iron.
We stay in the animal kingdom, traveling to Japan, where heavy metal is finally catching on with wildlife. Ever since Ozzy bit the head off a bat in '82, things have not been great between animals and the heavy-metal community. But this bear at a Japanese zoo is trying to change all that. He even has some young converts there, as you see. Zoo administrators said they just don't have the heart to tell him that Sabbath broke up years ago.
Finally, we end with the death-defying. This is retired U.S. Air Force parachutist Miles Daisher, and he's jumping from the roof of the Hotel Riu Plaza, the tallest building in Guadalajara. He stands 180 meters off the ground and - whee! - throwing in a back flip there for a little extra flair. It's a bird, it's a plane - it's a guy jumping off a Mexican hotel for no reason. He lands safely and is met by his adoring fan - s.
Daisher says he does it for the thrill, for the excitement, for the rush, but really - it's for the groupies. Chigs dig - dig base jumpers. Chicks dig base - whatever. Some language I didn't recognize there.
"Time Marches On!"
Tom Morello and Occupy Wall Street and the Florida Republican who wants firing squads for death row prisoners also harkens back to his favorite movie, "Casablanca," starring Clark Gable and Cyndi Lauper, ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: DuMont's coverage of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's "Life Is Worth Living," will not be seen tonight so that we can instead bring you "Countdown." Whenever you are watching us, we are live at 8:00 P.M. Eastern time. And as good as we think the show is at any time, in any venue, live gives it a certain "count the light bulbs" drama that cannot be replicated.
Republicans, the new "No Taxes" party, now calling for tax increases, at least on the poor and the middle class. On our third story tonight - even as new data showing this country's middle-class citizens are paying a greater percentage than is its wealthiest, GOP candidates - including Rick Perry - expressing outrage that tax rates on the poor and middle class are not higher.
(Audio from video clip) RICKY PERRY: We're dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don't even pay any income tax.
OLBERMANN: Look, we know you're functionally stupid. so let me explain this to you, sir. The Americans he's talking about are mostly low-income earners who are below the minimum income level at which you get assessed income tax. But they still, in fact - still do pay payroll taxes and gas taxes, as well as state and local taxes.
Who's really not paying their share of tax? A new Congressional analysis finds a quarter of this country's millionaires pay a smaller share than do many middle-class families. And a plan from GOP front-runner Herman Cain would makes things even worse. His so-called "9-9-9 Plan" - or "Nein! Nein! Nein!" - would create a flat-rate system with a nine-percent tax on business income, personal income and all sales. It's getting a lot of buzz because it's easy to remember for stupid media people. In fact, the number nine was mentioned only 85 times during the GOP debate this week.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: Remember "9-9-9 Plan" -
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHELE BACHMANN: "9-9-9 Plan" -
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I don't need "9-9-9″ -
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: His "9-9-9 Plan" -
(Excerpt from video clip) CHARLIE ROSE: You keep mentioning "9-9-9″ and Herman Cain, I'm going to have to go back to him every other question.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Well, the reason -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: "9-9-9″ - the plan they could not stop talking about - would nearly double taxes on middle-class families, that according to a calculation by ABC News. But not only that, according to Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman it would also increase the deficit.
(Excerpt from video clip) JULIANNA GOLDMAN: Bloomberg Government has run the numbers, and your plan would have raised no more than $2 trillion, and - even with that shortfall - you'd still be slapping a nine-percent sales tax on food and medicine.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: The problem with that analysis is that it is incorrect.
OLBERMANN: I'm waiting for him to show his math. Keep waiting. Good answer, Herman.
He was also stumped when asked how his plan would apply to things like American products that had international components, saying he "doesn't know."
The plan has earned scorn from economists on both sides of the aisle. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative who worked in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, writing in The New York Times, that "The Cain plan is a distributional monstrosity. The poor would pay more while the rich would have their taxes cut." That's the idea. Even the Cain campaign's own economists say the "9-9-9 Plan" "wouldn't be the one I picked."
So, who came up with such - crap? In fact, it was not crafted by an economist at all, but supposedly by a Koch brothers-affiliated financial advisor from a Wells Fargo branch in Ohio. And I say supposedly, because - as widely noted on the internet today - a "9-9-9″ tax plan - flat nine-percent taxes on three types of income - has existed since 2003 in the online game Sim City. We got a guy running for president with a total revision to the tax code that may be based on something somebody cribbed from a gamer.
Joining me now, to bring us back to reality, economist Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect and Senior Fellow at Demos. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it's going to take a lot to get back to reality.
OLBERMANN: Seriously. After all those mentions of "9-9-9."
OLBERMANN: What - right now, what would an increase on the tax rate of the middle class - doubling in the Cain case - what would that do to the economic foundation of the country?
KUTTNER: Well, let's look at where the middle class has been. I mean, for 30 years, middle-class incomes have been flat or declining. The things that allow you to be middle class - the cost of buying a home, the cost of sending your kids to college, or going to college, the cost of health insurance - all of these have been going up faster than incomes. Since the collapse, the value of your house has gone down the drain, so you can't play the game of borrowing against your house, and then - to frost the cake - they are gonna sock you with a nine-percent sales tax on top of the sales taxes you're already paying to your state government. It's really loopy.
KUTTNER: And it would just knock the stuffings out of the recovery, which isn't very robust anyway.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, the ABC calculation was those middle-class families pay about 14 percent in federal income tax and it would go to 27 percent, so it would virtually double what they were doing.
Is the trick here - that this has any kind of support, particularly among anybody making less than $4 million a year - us the trick here like the one that Ken Burns documented in "Prohibition" - that when it passed, everybody thought their own favorite alcoholic beverage would still be legal - and now, everybody who looks at something like this says, "My taxes are gonna go down. My neighbors'll go up, not mine."
KUTTNER: Well, it really is just astonishing that something that is so crackpot gets taken at all seriously and that this guy - in the latest Wall Street Journal poll - is actually at the top of the field. I think the one good thing about this is it's forcing people to take a close look at the details. And the more they look at the details, the more no serious person supports this thing. It's distributionally bad. It's bad for the recovery and it whacks the middle class, which has been whacked for three decades.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans talk about "half the country not paying income taxes," which was their - their "Ah-ha, gotcha!" thing of the month. How accurate is it, and how effective a political argument has it become and isn't it something like saying, "You know, a quarter of us are not paying car insurance," and you leave out the fact that that's the quarter that doesn't drive?
KUTTNER: Well, I think the 99 versus the one is a lot more effective.
KUTTNER: I mean, as you pointed out a moment ago. The people who don't pay income taxes, don't pay income taxes 'cause their incomes are so low. And income taxes on lower-income people were phased down and then phased out, as payroll taxes went up. But you take a typical lower-income family, or even a working-class family - you know, they're paying 6.2 percent payroll tax. On top of that, they're paying six or seven percent in property tax. On top of that, even if they rent, they're paying a landlord's share of the property tax. They're paying sales tax.
So, there are very few people in this country who are paying less than - than 15 percent taxes. And, so now you're gonna whack them with nine-percent income tax on everything and nine-percent sales tax on everything, including groceries and medicine. No exemptions, no deductions. They're first-dollar taxes. So, it's a big tax increase and it's just astonishing when you think about it, that the Republican front-runner - at least this week - is a guy who's advocating a tax increase on most Americans.
OLBERMANN: Bob Kuttner, the Senior Fellow at Demos, co-founder of The American Prospect, did bring us back to reality and we thank you kindly for doing so.
KUTTNER: Happy to be here. Thank you for bringing us back.
OLBERMANN: Try when I can.
Remember the Florida Republican who wants to switch back to the electric chair 'cause he thinks lethal injection is too humane? Turns out he also doesn't know crap about movies. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Activist and musician, Tom Morello, on the first 26 days of Occupy and the next 26,000. Then, the community-college student who objected to having his student ID doubling as a bank debit card that he had to activate. He complained to the college - suspended him. "Worst Persons," next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Tom Morello, literally taking a break from a performance to join us to talk Occupy Wall Street, next.
First - because the only break we're gonna get to achieve from these helots is the one we make for ourselves via sarcasm - here are "Countdown's" top-three nominees for today's "Worst Person in the World."
The bronze to Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw - that's his name - president of Catawba Valley Community College in North Carolina. A student there named Marc Bechtol complained online about that fact that school student IDs are, in fact, bank debit cards and if he wanted his grant money for school, he had to activate the Higher One debit card.
He then said he started getting emails, spam and phone solicitations from credit-card companies. Dr. Hinshaw's colleagues at Catawba Valley Community Crap Shack read Bechtol's post and suspended him and banned him from campus for two semesters for malicious action. They apparently do not have any history or constitution classes at Catawba Valley Community College, but they do sell their student's emails and phone numbers to marketers and banks.
The runner-up? Republican Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, who may be on the board there. More famously, Deadbeat Dad Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois. He's apparently taken a new tack to explain why he has not paid his wife the $117,000 he owes her in back payments for child support. Namely, it's her fault.
He has told a court that the missus had verbally agreed he didn't have to pay anymore because she was making more money then he was, and he was spending more time with the kids and sure - they could've gone to court and gotten the thing on the record and altered by the judge - but she was tired of all those court appearances. Mrs. Walsh's attorney says Walsh made all that up.
Member of the United States House of Representatives! What the hell were you people thinking?
But our winner, for the second consecutive night - Florida state Republican Representative Brad Drake. You remember Mr. Drake. He's the man who submitted a bill to the Florida state house calling for the re-introduction of the electric chair in Florida because he's "so tired of being humane to inhumane people," he said. Which, parenthetically, is how real Americans feel about him. Mr. Drake would give the prisoner an alternative to the chair, though - a firing squad. But that's only because his preferred method of execution - throwing the guilty over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge - is against the law. Mr. Drake is a sociopath.
He also picks up his ideas, he admits, from the wisdom of the common people. This one came to him after he overheard complaints that the state just was not executing people fast enough, from a constituent at the Waffle House in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The Waffle House!
But with all this as preamble - tonight, there's more. State Representative Drake has responded to criticism of his, you know, death fetish, by saying, "In the words of Humphrey Bogart, 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.'" Clark Gable - it was Clark Gable.
State Representative Brad Drake of Florida. Last night, I called him an asshole. Tonight, let me add - he's a moron. And today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: My next guest was last here on August 31st, concluding a month in which the White House had made a cheesy deal on cuts, the Republicans staved off the recall of state senators dedicated to gutting the safety net in Wisconsin, and generally hope seemed to be gone.
In our number-one story - here it is, 43 days later, and the streets of 1,100 or more American communities are boiling over with hope - thanks to a little movement that both of us dreamt of, but neither of us could have predicted. The activist and musician Tom Morello, in fact, went to see it at its birthplace and did a little activism and a little music for Occupy Wall Street.
(Excerpt from video clip) MORELLO: In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple/Near the Relief Office, I see my people/Some are grumbling, and all are wondering/If this land's still made for you and me. . . Tell 'em! . . . This land is your land/This land is my land/From California to the New York islands/From the redwood forest/To the Gulf Stream waters/This land was made for you and me. . . Thank you very much!
OLBERMANN: And as promised, here is Tom Morello who sings, authors serious comic books and stands up for what's right. It's good to see you.
TOM MORELLO: It's nice to see you as well.
OLBERMANN: Good listing on the resume. Anytime you can invoke Woody Guthrie in front of a crowd of activists, is a good day to begin with.
OLBERMANN: Is that your update?
MORELLO: Yeah. Well, Woody would be 99 years old if he were alive today and he would have been headlining the event.
OLBERMANN: I have no doubt.
MORELLO: Yeah. And 99 is an important number these days.
OLBERMANN: Seriously, how about that for timing. Is it amazing to consider that 43 days we were sitting here going, sort of basically putting a brave face on everything that was going on in this country?
MORELLO: Yeah. I mean, you never know. I mean, the struggle for justice starts when someone starts it, and you never know where that spark is going to come from, you never know where that match is going to be lit. And now, you know, Occupy Wall Street, you know - first it was completely ignored, then they got pepper sprayed and New York City found out about it.
MORELLO: Then 700 of them got arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge and the country found out about it. Now there's over 1,000 Occupies around the country and around the world. It's pretty encouraging.
OLBERMANN: And tomorrow morning at 7:00 A.M., the mayor of the City of New York who is a business genius and has managed to circumvent the rules of the city to get himself elected for a third time.
OLBERMANN: He's actually going to be stupid enough to evict them during the middle of the morning news programs.
MORELLO: Yeah. Well, if the pepper-spray incidents and the arrests were any indication, it should be popular throughout the solar system by the time he's done with that.
OLBERMANN: It really is remarkable. I want to ask you about something. Tom Hayden was on the show last night and gave - no offense to anybody else, yourself included - the best answers to questions about this subject that I've asked yet, and - big surprise. I mean, he's only been doing this for 50 years.
MORELLO: Exactly, that guy knows what he's talking about.
OLBERMANN: He predicted basically four channels for this to go down from where it is now. And one of them was that he saw some sort of massive civil disobedience act in which, say, 15,000 people or more were arrested at one point, but no violence. Just simple - "We're not moving, you'll have to arrest us," clogging the intake system of the police and each of them demanding a jury trial - clogging the courts until this thing became Gandhi-like in its importance and its infection, if you will, of an already-infected system. That's not going to happen tomorrow morning.
OLBERMANN: I don't think that's going to happen this year. Look, do you have any idea what the near future is for this?
MORELLO: Well, I mean it's hard to say - we couldn't have predicted what's happened till now.
MORELLO: And - just, I played at Occupy LA on last Saturday, and it's just - it's so inspiring. Like, this is - there are some important differences between this and what happened in Wisconsin. While in Wisconsin there were 100,000 people in the streets, to an extent, the direction of it was top down. And there were certainly elements in the Democratic Party that were steering it in a electoral direction. This is from the bottom up. There's no arguing that. Like everyone's - you know, I'm getting emails and tweets from friends who are in little hamlets around the county. They're occupying Libertyville, Illinois. You know? They're occupying Vernon Hills now. And it is something that is very, very encouraging.
OLBERMANN: You were there at - at LA.
OLBERMANN: And you were at Occupy Wall Street today.
OLBERMANN: Give me your read on the sense, obviously, that they already had an idea about what's going to happen tomorrow, or what might happen tomorrow.
MORELLO: Yeah, I mean it's - the people there are serious about what they're doing. You know - there was a jubilant atmosphere as you could see from the performance - but there's steel in the spines of the people down there. And the thing that - for me, this is different, this and Madison are very different from the other protests that have happened during my lifetime, 'cause there's an explicit class basis to it. You know, and that's something that we really haven't seen. And, the numbers that I saw in The New York Times today was that this - the Occupy Wall Street movement is popular among 34 percent of Americans. That's one hundred million people.
MORELLO: And considering what it's about, that's very - also very encouraging.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and 80 percent, roughly - these other national polls at 80 percent - 80 percent of the country knows about it.
MORELLO: That's right.
OLBERMANN: And the Time poll says 54 percent approve.
MORELLO: Great. I mean, that's incredible.
OLBERMANN: And the same group - 27 percent approve the tea party, just for frame of reference - in 26 days.
MORELLO: So, give us 26 more days, and who knows?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, you give us 26 minutes, and we'll give you the world. What - what do - when you're there, what do the protesters ask you the most? 'Cause I found a theme to the questions I got asked. I want to know what you're -
MORELLO: You know, I had just finished performing - like, "When are you coming back?"
MORELLO: Dude, I just played.
OLBERMANN: I'm here now.
MORELLO: Exactly. I mean, one thing that is key, any - every successful progressive, radical or revolutionary movement this country has ever seen has had a great soundtrack.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, sure.
MORELLO: And so, it's very important, I think that music and culture be a part of it.
OLBERMANN: And they're asking you for that?
MORELLO: That's right, they want me to come back, they want my - former iterations to come and play as well.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and if you can get Pete Seeger to come in and all that stuff, come on down, and anybody else. It seems like - is it soundtrack, or is it, in fact, a very important part of continuity? I don't want to say uniformity of opinion, because that's not -
OLBERMANN: A liberal movement has no uniformity of opinion. But continuity of what we're doing here and what in the past has worked. It really - when you sang that song, I imagine chills went up and down your spine and the listeners - everybody listening to you, correct?
MORELLO: Yeah, I mean, culture is an important part of this struggle, like it is a part of every struggle. And there's something in music in particular that speaks to the reptilian brain of people - that when it's the right combination of rhythm and harmony and the right lyrical couplet really feels like the truth in a way that, like, a written screed can't.
OLBERMANN: All right - so this isn't about your reaction to how people are reacting to you, and it's not about my reaction, or how people are reacting to me - but there's a human element to it, which often fuels people's interest in this thing. And so - I need to know what's it like when you go there and you feel like, "All right, I'm not performing, I'm part of a serious effort at change that has a really good chance of affecting something."
MORELLO: Yeah, yeah. I mean, to me the vibe there at Occupy LA was like - I'm not sure what's going to happen, but that's good, 'cause it feels like anything could happen. It doesn't feel like this thing has a roof. This thing doesn't have a ceiling, like anything is possible. And I love the - I mean, it's so democratically run. Like, there was - you know, before me, there were two opening acts today to just - people with acoustic guitars were playing their songs. And I came up and played mine, and there was someone after me. I really liked that.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, no promoters.
MORELLO: That's right, there's no promoters.
OLBERMANN: No T-shirts.
MORELLO: No promoters.
OLBERMANN: No hot-dog stands.
MORELLO: Exactly, yeah, the vendor didn't take a portion of the T-shirt sales.
OLBERMANN: Hey, get your Tom Morello candy apples. Tom Morello, the activist, and the musician on Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA. Thanks once again, sir, and we'll see what happens 43 days from now.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for Thursday, 390 days until the 2012 presidential election.
I'm Keith Olbermann. As usual, give yourself a round of applause for getting through another day of this crap. Good night and good luck.