'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Thursday, November 17th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: You shoulda let them stay in the park, Mikey; At least 5,000 #Occupy Foley Square, Brooklyn Bridge; NYPD over-overreacts
#ShowPlug 2: Police Commish Kelly's son makes up story of #Occupy attempt to "Shut Down" NYC subway, broadcasts it on his Fox show
#ShowPlug 3: NYC Council Members Williams, Viverito, SEIU President Henry arrested. w/Guardian's @AdamGabbett, protestor Michael @MKink
#ShowPlug 4: Hundreds "snarl freeways" in SoCal; @Elise_Whitaker of @OccupyLA joins us; also Oakland, Dallas, Berkeley latest
#ShowPlug 5: #Occupy vs...The Super Committee? OccupyDC produces job creation/debt cut plan our guest Jeff Madrick of @RooseveltInst likes
#ShowPlug 6: Of course, #Occupy is dead. Bill O'Reilly says so. How does he know? He read it in NY Post. Seriously. He joins Perry in Worsts
#ShowPlug Last: Congress approval rating at 9%. Converting US to Communism? 11% @MaysoonZayid joins me for a makeover plan
watch whole playlist
#5 Breaking news on Occupy protests, Adam Gabbatt
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 Breaking news on Occupy protests, Michael Kink
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 Breaking news and apology from Mayor of Seattle, Elise Whitaker
#3 'Super Occupied Committee', Jeff Madrick
# Time Marches On!
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly, Gov. Rick Perry, Roger Ailes
#1 'Dislike', Maysoon Zayid
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Adam Gabbatt, Michael Kink, Jeff Madrick, Elise Whitaker
KEITH OLBERMANN: The New York end of the Brooklyn Bridge, the dark figures in the center of the bridge - you can just barely see them going out of frame now - are people, protesters. The numbers vary wildly. The most conservative ones are extraordinary still. Between Foley Square, in Manhattan - to the left of where the camera is on the helicopter now - across the Brooklyn Bridge you just saw to the Cadman Plaza on the Brooklyn side - anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 to, by one estimate, 35,000 protesters have taken to the streets of New York City tonight, on the 61st day of Occupy Wall Street.
Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: He's bleeding! He's bleeding!
OLBERMANN: A thousand or more protesters mass in Union Square, New York.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Corporate greed has got to go!
OLBERMANN: Hundreds in and around City Hall, Los Angeles.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Wall Street greed has got to go!
OLBERMANN: Police seal off New York's Zuccotti Park.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame!
OLBERMANN: A woman arrested, though she is in a wheelchair. Another man arrested, a former Philadelphia police captain.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Get off of her!
OLBERMANN: And the son of the New York police commissioner goes on the local Fox News show he hosts and makes up a story about Occupy trying to shut down the New York subway system.
Day 62 of Occupy. As many have said, "You probably should have let them stay in the park, Mikey."
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Even in the face of this antagonism, the police maintained incredible restraint.
OLBERMANN: From Seattle, an apology to Dorli Rainey. "To those engaged in peaceful protest," writes Mayor Mike McGinn, "I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed." The mayor calls her. We will have Dorli Rainey's response.
Lazy is as lazy does.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: We have been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Can you believe that? That's what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That's pathetic.
OLBERMANN: Yeah - actually, he clearly called American presidential administrations lazy about seeking new business. And you, Rick, are either a hillbilly moron or liar. Or both.
And - nice ratings!
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BENNET: BP had a 16-percent approval rating at the height of the oil spill. And we are at nine percent.
OLBERMANN: Worse than that - 9 percent approval for Congress, 11 percent approval for having this country go communist! All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Comrades!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, November 17th, 355 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Tonight, on the two-month anniversary of its birth, Occupy Wall Street is truly Occupy New York City. Its plan - to shut down Wall Street and stage a major march and rally as part of Occupy's International Day of Action.
Unconfirmed reports from a local TV news chopper tonight that police think as many as 10,000 Occupy protesters are marching on the Brooklyn Bridge alone, or marched across it in the last hour, while other unconfirmed reports claiming that including those already off of the bridge, the total crowd might have reached anywhere from 20,000 to 35,000.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Wall Street was not shut down, but Occupy has been marching all day and is still marching tonight - from Wall Street to Zuccotti Park to Union Square to the courthouse district of Foley Square and onto the Brooklyn Bridge, in a day of rallies and clashes with police that saw, now, more than 200 arrests.
On Wall Street this morning, mounted police guarded the New York Stock Exchange. Perhaps they were waiting for Paul Revere. And police checked work IDs as early arrivals made their ways to banks and brokerage houses, while at Zuccotti Park protesters gathered, watched there by the NYPD and park security guards.
(Excerpt from video clip) COLE HOPKINS: The institutions that, sort of, set the tone of the country don't represent the people of the country.
(Excerpt from video clip) VICTORIA HALLIKAAR: There are so many corporations who have gotten - who have the ability to not pay a lot of taxes because of a lot of loopholes in the system, and I think we need to fix that.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERTA SCHINE: I am here to support Occupy Wallet Street.
OLBERMANN: More than a thousand protesters marched to "Wallet Street" hoping to close the exchange, or at least force it to delay opening. They were met there by the NYPD. Some protesters tried to Occupy the asphalt. Many arrested. The stock exchange opening bell rang on time. Among the arrestees, a woman in a wheelchair - this picture tweeted by Michael Moore, who wrote that "when police couldn't figure out how to take her to jail, they just gave her a ticket instead."
Also arrested this morning? Former Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis, an Occupy supporter who said, "As soon as I'm let of jail, I'll be right back here and they'll have to arrest me again."
As for those two counter-protesters there, there's a sign shown right next to them - not in the picture - which asked, "So my 401(k)is safe?"
There were more name arrests - the president of the SEIU Union Mary Kay Henry and two New York City councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Melissa Mark-Viverito were arrested at Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Civil Liberties Union also reported three Homeland Security vans on the Brooklyn side of that bridge.
Earlier, protesters had gathered at Zuccotti Park, and a serious clash broke out with police. Some protesters began grabbing and dismantling barricades set up to keep them restoring their camp. And the NYPD fought back.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Peaceful! Peaceful! Peaceful!
OLBERMANN: This protester reportedly beaten after he knocked a police officer's cap off of his head. He paid with blood as well as his arrest. At least five officers were also sent to hospitals for minor injuries. One needed 20 stitches after he was hit with a shard of glass. Others had a stinging liquid, possibly vinegar, thrown in their faces. Despite scenes like that, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - no friend to Occupy Wall Street - was all but benign as he described the first part of this day.
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: There have been, I think it's fair to say, minimal disruptions to people and most protesters have, in all fairness, acted responsibly. But those that break the law, those that try to assault other people - particularly our first responders - are going to be arrested.
OLBERMANN: From Zuccotti Park, thousands of Occupy protesters marched north to Union Square for a rally in that venerable location of rallies. Actress Anne Hathaway joining the 99 percent, somewhat incognito. And a night march followed downtown from Union Square back to the courthouse district and Foley Square. The crowd there growing to perhaps as many as 10,000 - 15,000 perhaps - as union members joined the protesters who had been working throughout the day.
Occupy Wall Street then occupying Brooklyn Bridge. Organizers calling it a "festival of lights to celebrate two months of the new movement to reclaim our democracy." About 60 protesters arrested on the bridge, including the New York City councilman referenced earlier, Mr. Williams.
Occupy Wall Street also staged an event called Occupy the Subway to "take our own stories to the trains." A goal profoundly distorted on local Fox's - New York Fox station. The anchor - Greg Kelly - suggesting at least four times that Occupy had indicated it wanted to shut down the subway system at mid-afternoon. Greg Kelly is NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's son - coincidence, no doubt. Despite the family connection, New York Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway would have none of it.
(Excerpt from video clip) GREG KELLY: The crowd is growing. And there are indications that they want to shut down the New York Stock Exchange and also, perhaps, New York City mass transit. Are you advising New Yorkers to avoid the subway at 3:00 this afternoon?
(Excerpt from video clip) CAS HOLLOWAY: No.
OLBERMANN: Deputy Mayor Holloway suggested instead that New Yorkers simply stay informed. Those who did ride the "shutdown subways" around 3:00 pm today may have seen scenes like this - Occupy protesters handing out leaflets and taking their stories to the trains.
Let's start our coverage today with more on today's Occupy New York march. Adam Gabbatt, the reporter for The Guardian newspaper, it's good to have you, sir.
ADAM GABBATT: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Give me your read on what we know, at this hour, of events at Brooklyn Bridge. Is there any reliable reporting on what size that crowd was?
GABBATT: Some colleagues of mine - who I have been reporting with for the last couple of weeks - have said that people are still continuing over the bridge. Last I was there, it was about ten to seven, and the crowd, then, was backed up all the way from bridge back to Foley Square.
GABBATT: That is about - It must be getting towards a kilometer or - as I should say - two-thirds of a mile.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
GABBATT: And thousands of people, literally thousands.
OLBERMANN: Is there any sense that anybody had an idea that the crowd would grow to these proportions tonight - whether the protesters or the police? Because it certainly seems like the police reaction, in the last hour, has been more like, "Whoa! We are going to stand over to the side and get out of everybody's way."
GABBATT: I think the police had a huge presence. But I think they were surprised. And I am sure organizers were surprised as well. Occupy Wall Street - in its preparation for today, in its press releases - they did say they expected tens of thousands at Foley Square. But as a reporter, you sort of take these things at a pinch of salt. I was expecting maybe up to 10,000, but nothing like this. And the numbers this morning were, kind of, fairly small, what we have seen before. So, not small but - you know, in the low thousands. But certainly, the numbers this afternoon were incredible. I think everyone involved was surprised.
OLBERMANN: You were at Zuccotti Park today for the violence there. Do you have an inkling as to - actually - what started that? We heard everything from batteries being thrown at police to, possibly, vinegar being thrown in the faces of police - and you say, "How serious is that?" You don't know it's vinegar when it's thrown in your eyes. You have no idea what that - It could be a caustic chemical, it could be something dreadfully serious. Other stories - that this all began when that man knocked a police cap off a policeman's head. Any idea where the mayhem began?
GABBATT: It's always difficult to tell where the mayhem began. And sometimes, of course, it's better the next day - as footage from so many citizen journalists, who are very helpful to reporters, and, of course, anyone who is wanting to read these riots - these protests, sorry. But, in terms of how it started - it's very difficult to get a sense.
I was close to it, but I was just around the corner. So, the first I saw was when I came back to Zuccotti Park. And of course, there's people walking around with blood over their faces, very dramatic scenes. As a police officer, if something is thrown in your eyes that stings, you are obviously not going it take that lightly and are going to be quite scared, I imagine. The knocking of the cap, if that proves to have been the cause, then - clearly, that is not something that would provoke such a reaction, you would hope.
OLBERMANN: One would think not. Give me your assessment, from talking to people throughout the day. The size of the crowd - and again, no one could have forecast what this was going to be tonight - but does this originate solely from the idea of the raid the other night? Was that a tipping point in a way that, perhaps, certainly Mayor Bloomberg didn't understand - as we're seeing the projection of the 99 percent logo on the side of one of the big bank buildings downtown this evening, an extraordinary thing that's being commented on by everybody who marches past that. That's the live helicopter shot. We don't have control over what it is. Was there - did they - were they multiplied by the fact that the camp was raided overnight the other night?
GABBATT: I think they absolutely were. We have seen this with camps before. I was in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, and their size for the general strike was buoyed by the fact that, kind of, they had action taken against them by police previously. And from speaking to people, some had traveled really quite a long way. I spoke to a couple of girls who had come from Virginia, where they had set up an Occupy camp in Norfolk, only 100 people. They'd caught a six-hour bus ride to be here at 6:00 am this morning and were leaving at 5:30 pm to go back to Norfolk to reoccupy their camp there.
GABBATT: I mean - obviously, not everyone came as far as that - but it brought people out who might have been aware of the protest, might have been down once or twice, but really wanted to show their support. And, I think, what it shows is that - while people might not necessarily have been involved at Zuccotti Park, involved in the actions - there was, I think, a kind of underlying message of support from people - from a lot of people - in New York. And I think this has brought out, you know, a lot of new protesters to it.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and as we are saying that - look at the shot that we are seeing on our screen now, a series of the different locations being projected in that bright light against the wall of the building in downtown Manhattan, which I think says it all. I guess Mayor Bloomberg and the people he represents got what they wanted. They closed it down. It's not going to be an issue anymore. Occupy is done, isn't it?
Adam Gabbatt, the reporter for The Guardian newspaper, all over the place today. Great to have you on the program. And now, I guess, get back to work.
GABBATT: Thank you very much. I will.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
Our next guest actually managed to get inside the New York Stock Exchange today, though it wasn't part of an Occupy raid. He had been invited, and took advantage of his time inside to leave this Occupy poster to bemuse the brokers and the specialists: "Mass, non-violent, direct action is not a stock-exchange specialty." Though on a day the markets closed down, Occupy clearly beat the trend. Michael Kink left that poster. He's the executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition and he's joined us, once again, for more on what happened today. Good to see you, sir.
MICHAEL KINK: Thanks.
OLBERMANN: All right, let's talk about the exchange first, and then we'll talk more about what's happening tonight. How did you happen - how did they let you in?
KINK: Well, I think I was there because so many courageous people at Occupies all over the country put their bodies on the line. It's not every day you get a chance to talk on a financial news network about economic justice, income inequality, jobs. You know, I was there because Occupy Wall Street exists.
They invited me, I went, I was happy to talk, we had a good exchange. And they were talking about the disruption on Wall Street. They were talking about the disruption of business as usual. The traders - the folks working on the floor - they clearly felt Occupy's shutdown this morning. And, you know, we left a little sign. I think it was a reasonable thing to do.
OLBERMANN: So, that was the start of today's, sort of, buildup. If that would have been all that happened, we would have thought, "Well, that's a moderate success. You had some impact on that." Then the scenes at Zuccotti Park and then the march to Foley Square and then the march to Union Square. And now - this extraordinary event going on at Brooklyn Bridge. You got as far as - what? As far as Union Square this afternoon?
KINK: I was at Zuccotti during the day and I was at Foley Square in the evening. I marched halfway up the Brooklyn Bridge and came back down to be with you. It was a remarkable day. It was really Occupy Wall Street's - one of the best days yet. Bigger, stronger than ever. There's no question, Mayor Bloomberg was not able to shut down Occupy Wall Street or the movement.
OLBERMANN: How in - with the retrospect, now, of 48 hours - to consider that overnight raid and the impact that it had on everybody - not just the ones who were thrown out, but people who witnessed it or, perhaps, two days ago thought, "Well, I support the protests and these guys have it well and clearly in control and I am glad they are down there. But I don't have to get involved." How many people - how many people were inspired to get involved by the attempt to shut this thing down?
KINK: Clearly thousands.
KINK: You know, this is the biggest march we've had yet. I helped run the big labor march on October 5th, the march on the billionaires on October 11th. This is the biggest one yet, with broad support from a huge cross-section of New Yorkers - every race, every color, every background. The mayor was not able to shut it down.
And the infrastructure behind the movement - churches, unions - stronger than ever, hundreds of people sleeping at churches around New York City. The occupation continues. The fact that Zuccotti Park has to be clear for a couple of hours a day is not going to stop Occupy Wall Street. They are going to continue to go back. And it's like blowing a dandelion seed all over the city, all over the country.
OLBERMANN: The one question becomes - and I don't mean to, sort of, harsh the buzz on this - but what happens next? If this, in two days, can go from - frankly, it was not - there was nothing stale about the message, but, okay, they are at Zuccotti Park, and - what happens now? In two days, you go from that stage - where maybe a kick start was needed somewhere, it was provided by the mayor of New York, who may be a secret paid agent or, if he isn't, somebody should send him an FTD bouquet of thank-you bouquets - what happens now, after this, sort of, explosion in terms of numbers? Even if those conservative numbers are there and there are only 10,000 to 20,000 people out there tonight? What happens next?
KINK: Well, I think the occupations continue everywhere.
KINK: I think Occupy Wall Street will spread throughout the city - the subway hubs today - or everywhere - community groups, unions, Occupy Wall Street representatives. Things are integrating, I think, a little bit more broadly throughout New York and I think you will see that around the country, too.
There were more people of color. There was more of an age range. Foley Square was wildly diverse. And I think folks are going to take that back to their neighborhoods. There are bridges being built here that I think are going to last. And there is no way this movement is going to stop. It's going to continue until real change comes to the country.
OLBERMANN: Executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition - Michael Kink, who has been working with Occupy Wall Street. Great thanks, once again, for coming in, especially reversing course in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. That must have be an extraordinary feeling to be going the other way while they were all going this way. Great thanks.
A huge protest action in LA, as well. Occupy D.C. produces the movement's first comprehensive jobs and debt-reduction policy paper. Jeff Madrick says it's actually pretty conservative. And the hero of Seattle, 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, responds to the mayor of that city apologizing to her after cops there pepper sprayed her.
That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The protests in Los Angeles hit the community where it lives. Headlines about Occupy LA, protesters snarl streets and freeways.
In Seattle, the mayor calls our new hero Dorli Rainey to apologize that his police pepper sprayed her. The 84-year-old activist's response will blow you away. Of course, this is all academic, because last night, he declared that Occupy was dead. Honestly, the people who put together the "Titanic" made better predictions.
And he has solved his on-camera bloopers and vapor lock interview problem. At his interviews? No more cameras. Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The headlines show that Occupy LA hit southern California in the only way it viscerally understands. It impacted drivers' morning commute, especially in the financial district.
In our fourth story tonight - two months to the day that Occupy began, and police raids are also continuing with evictions in Dallas and Berkeley. But starting in L.A., hundreds of protesters early this morning indicating their solidarity with east coast counterparts - marching through the city, then setting up tents at a busy intersection. Nearly 100 officers in riot gear moving in to arrest 23 protesters there who would not stop the greatest crime known to the community - blocking traffic.
Then, late this afternoon, protesters setting up a second encampment in addition to their main camp outside City Hall, that one at Bank of American Plaza. This, following last night's march in San Francisco at which 95 protesters were arrested after entering a Bank of America building there, chanting, "Money for schools and education! Not for banks and corporations!"
Late last night, across the Bay, police raiding the Occupy site at the U.C. Berkeley campus - more than 100 officers surrounding 40 or so campers, removing 20 tents and arresting two protesters. That would be a 50-to-one ratio. Ten minutes later, the now-traditional bulldozer appearance, clearing out the rest of the camp.
In Portland, Oregon - hundreds of protesters assembling this morning on the Steel Bridge to call attention to problems with the aging infrastructure, like protesters in several other cities across the country have. Police arresting 25 there. The group then moving to the financial district, vowing to shut down the banks of Portland. Seven more arrests after protesters entered a Wells Fargo branch there. There are late reports on Twitter of Occupy Portland protesters being pepper sprayed.
The list elsewhere goes on. We now have reports of 21 arrests in Las Vegas, eight in Atlanta, at least a dozen in St. Louis today. In Dallas, 17 arrested this morning, when police in riot gear and on horseback evicted protesters from a park there.
Meantime, Seattle protesters marched again today. The city actually so embarrassed at the pepper spraying of 84-year-old activist Dorli Rainey, and a priest and a pregnant woman on Tuesday night, that the city apologized. Mayor Mike McGinn issuing a formal apology for the events of Tuesday, writing, "To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed." They were sprayed the way a fountain sprays. He said he is particularly sorry his police force sprayed Ms. Rainey, who I hope you got to meet on this program last night, even having called her personally to apologize.
(Excerpt from video clip) MIKE McGINN: I did apologize to Dorli, because I don't think anybody wants to have this happen to somebody who is peacefully protesting.
OLBERMANN: Ms. Rainey will be a speaker at the Occupy Seattle rally on Saturday, giving "Countdown" exactly the kind of response you might expect from this singular individual:
"The mayor is a human being," she told us. "He is alone. He does not have anyone behind him and he is really trying to do something locally. But it will not happen as long as the other mayors and police get together on conference calls and figure out how they are going to handle protesters in the future."
Joining me now - Elise Whitaker, member of Occupy LA who took part in the march in Los Angeles this morning and this afternoon. Thanks for your time.
ELISE WHITAKER: Yeah, no problem.
OLBERMANN: Describe what you saw and what you were involved with today.
WHITAKER: This morning, we took a march in conjunction with SEIU union and we took to the streets. We set up some tents. There were some planned arrests, there were also unplanned arrests. Two of our Occupiers ended up crossing a police line of police bikes and they were arrested for it promptly. And then this afternoon I took part - with a number of other Occupiers from Occupy LA and other Occupations - in creating a new occupation, Occupy Bank of America Plaza. I actually was planning on being arrested there with the rest of the 23, I believe it is you were reporting. And I was dragged away kicking and screaming to join you here. I plan to go back there tonight and see if anybody else would like to join me.
OLBERMANN: The significance of the second camp and that's - we are showing here a live shot of what's going on Los Angeles. It's a huge police presence. Can you give us an idea of how many protesters there would be? Because it seems like, just in the shot we are looking at - all I see basically is cops and some people, but the cops seem to outnumber the people.
WHITAKER: When we first got there this afternoon, I would say there were probably 600 or 700 protesters. The crowds began to dissipate a little bit over time. You know, initially, when we first went in - there was a march to the plaza and then a handful of us, sort of, snuck in with tents and picked them up as quickly as we could while the police moved in on us. We were able to get the police to move back originally. And then there was sort of a stand-off for probably two hours -
WHITAKER: Where - yeah, apparently, there were some people, you know, entering into some negotiations of some kind. I don't really know what they were. I think it was just, sort of, buying us time. And eventually, during that time, I think a lot of people perceived, "Oh, everything is okay." So, a lot of people left, despite a number of us encouraging them to stay, that we really needed the numbers and that ultimately ended up with these arrests.
OLBERMANN: What impact are the clearing out of the various camps around the country having, specifically in Los Angeles. Not just what happened in New York the other night but Oakland, in particular, Boston - now more than a month ago - what is that doing in terms of recruiting for you?
WHITAKER: Not as much recruiting for us as it is for those cities. In fact, we are actually losing some of our people every once in a while to go join Wall Street and Oakland, in particular, have been the two that people have been flocking to, which is great. You know, we want to be able to show our support and solidarity with those Occupations. I think that our expanding and opening other occupations in Los Angeles will probably help us grow. But it's interesting. It's an interesting phenomenon, because we definitely react very strongly to each time another camp is raided or, you know, that there is an attempt made to close it down. But we haven't really faced police action until today.
WHITAKER: And, I mean, even still - it's not Occupy Los Angeles. It's Occupy Bank of America Plaza. But there was finally, sort of, this mass-arrest situation today and likely to be more, you know, in the coming days and the coming weeks. We may, sort of, see the geography of the Los Angeles Occupation changing.
OLBERMANN: Elise Whitaker, of Occupy LA, great thanks for your time. And good luck with it.
WHITAKER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: On the two-month anniversary, you can also forget the charge that Occupy is not specific enough. D.C. producers - produces, rather - a plan to create jobs and cut deficits. Economist Jeff Madrick has evaluated it and says it's very wonky and kind of conservative. Plus Rick Perry's new "lazy ad" - the laziest bit of taking a comment out of context in recent political history.
OLBERMANN: The Congressional Super Committee may not be able to produce a viable plan to save our economy. But that's okay. Occupy D.C. may have just done it for them.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - while the committee founders on the rocks of Republican partisanship, the movement proposes cuts of $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit. Less than a week before the Super Committee's deadline to vote on debt reduction, Democrats still can't dislodge the GOP from suicidal cuts to the safety net in order to protect the rich.
But Occupy D.C., which held its own hearings last week, today sent the 12-member congressional committee some other ideas. The plan - titled "The 99 Percent's Deficit Proposal: How to create jobs, reduce the wealth divide and control spending" - includes proposals aimed at "creating a fair tax system that shrinks the wealth divide," "cutting spending for economic security," "creating jobs and restarting the economy," "protecting and improving Social Security," "Improving Medicare and expanding it to provide health care to all in the United States" and "Democratizing the economy, shifting economic power, wealth and ownership to all citizens in the United States."
We sent the Occupy D.C. proposal to noted economic journalist Jeff Madrick, who joins me now to discuss its ramifications and dimensions. Good to see you, Jeff.
JEFF MADRICK: Nice to see you.
OLBERMANN: What's impressed you, if anything, about this proposal?
MADRICK: Well, the comprehensiveness, the seriousness, the sincerity, the intelligence. They documented it well. They researched it well. I have only a couple of issues, here and there, that I thought were mistaken in it. So, I applaud them. They have to be given credit. They have come forward. They've answered some of the critics who say, "You guys don't stand for anything."
And probably, this plan will bring some attention to some of these issues and to a new audience, but it is not novel in any particular way. It's probably too comprehensive to have any sticking power, any glue. I would like to have seen them narrow in on a couple of issues and put all of their power behind those.
OLBERMANN: What, in particular - that we would understand - do you like?
MADRICK: Here is what I like - I more than like this, I love this - Medicare for all. People love Medicare, those who are over 65. It is not the most generous plan in America. In fact, it's slightly less generous than a typical private employer plan, but it works. Administrative costs are low. You can buy a medi-gap to cover the gaps in payments - the 20-percent deductibles and so forth. It should be applicable to all Americans. And then, the government should be able to negotiate on drug prices and start to establish better medical practices.
If I were Occupy Wall Street, or Occupy in general, and wanted to talk about one reform in America, it would be that, because - for all of the talk about the budget deficit in the future - health-care costs will drive the budget deficit. It is our biggest fiscal problem, and - in a real sense, except for defense spending - it is our only very big fiscal problem.
OLBERMANN: I think this is a softball question, how come Occupy -
MADRICK: I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: You're welcome. How come Occupy did this and the committee can't?
MADRICK: Well, the committee is talking about a narrower issue, but - obviously, Washington is paralyzed.
MADRICK: Republicans on the committee, basically, don't want a plan. They don't want to give in, give any tax increases in a compromise. It's extraordinary. Why don't they want to give any tax increases? One reason is obvious - they want Obama to fail.
Maybe they are also ideological. They signed this sophomoric agreement with Grover Norquist, a pledge - on a little piece of paper - that they would never raise taxes, as if it were some kind of religious statement. Which, maybe for some of them it is.
MADRICK: It's hurting America badly. They are simply not - it's political paralysis, pure and simple. The other issue is, of course, Obama joined this argument too early in his own administration. He started talking about deficits and government spending much too early.
MADRICK: When we needed fiscal stimulus, when we needed infrastructure investment, industrial investment. That's what will get us jobs back and he gave in. So there really weren't two sides to this debate.
MADRICK: There were one-and-a-half sides.
OLBERMANN: Just degrees of it. After Bloomberg kicked Occupy Wall Street out of Zuccotti the other night, he said, "Protesters have had two months to occupy the park with tents and sleeping bags, now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments."
Is that not - is this not exactly what this is and, once again, shouldn't Mikey have just let them stay in the park? Because you've got 30 - maybe 35,000 - on the streets of New York tonight and a comprehensive plan to settle the issues of the national debt and job creation.
MADRICK: I don't think I would make the Hall of Fame with my batting-average predictions, but the one prediction I made was - a bad day for Bloomberg, a good day for OWS. He shouldn't have made them the enemy. And that idea - about living on the power of their arguments - what got Bloomberg elected, the power of his arguments? Or - I double-checked this - $250 million in personal campaign spending.
OLBERMANN: Yes, to say nothing of an illegal election for a third term that was prohibited by law - until he cut a back room deal with Christine Quinn, the head of the City Council. The economist Jeff Madrick, the author of "Age of Greed," thank you for analyzing it and bringing it into - into non-economist terms for us as always.
MADRICK: Always good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
Of course, as we know - Occupy is dead, because Bill O'Reilly says it is. How did he know? Because he read it in The New York Post. I wish I was making this up, but I'm not! "Worst Persons" - and details on that - ahead.
OLBERMANN: Russ Hodge's "Dumont Scoreboard" will not be seen tonight so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the first news hour to seriously cover Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement, the longest continuously-running 8:00 pm news hour on cable unless you consider Fox - "news." We're live each night at 8:00 pm. We call it "our little b roll festival."
Congress's approval rating drops below that of Hugo Chavez and just above Fidel Castro in this country, coming up.
First, a quick bit of breaking news from Arizona, where we are told Governor Jan Brewer has suffered a major political defeat. The State Supreme Court there has ordered that the chairperson of the independent redistricting committee - which Brewer fired when the redistricting maps were too fair for her tastes - must be reinstated.
The head of the redistricting committee in Arizona - thrown out by Governor Jan Brewer in a huge and perhaps unconstitutional power play there - reinstated by the State Supreme Court of Arizona. A major victory for progressives and even the moderates of that state. Okay.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: A dog does its own version of "calisthenics."
We begin with the dog's life. And if you've ever wondered what your best friend does when you're not home, it's weirder than you think. He begins his routine with a bizarre counter-clockwise spin move then moves on to some other calisthenics. This one is called "Upside-Down Turtle." And, for the finale - a blanket fort. A blanket fort! That's right, when they're alone they do exactly what we do. That's what you do do when you are alone, right?
VIDEO: (NO CLIP AVAILABLE)
Kansas City, Missouri - in our romantic story of the day, after knowing each other for only a year, these crazy kids are tying the knot. They began by sharing meals together. Now Paul Tredo, 83, and Fern Schurr, age 96, are ready to take it to the next level. The wedding was a simple ceremony followed by the honeymoon. The couple says they are not thinking about kids yet.
VIDEO: (NO CLIP AVAILABLE)
Finally, the chick flick of the year - baby penguin chicks, that is. These little guys born over the summer being raised in Central Park Zoo, born the size of tennis balls, but without the little "Penn 1" written on them. Their early lives are being documented online, from the food they eat - eh, check please - to where they sleep, which is apparently a pasta strainer with a towel inside it. When they get old enough, they will get fitted for their tuxedo. Wait, that can't be right.
"Time Marches On!"
It is, perhaps, a new low even for Fox News to try to question the impartiality of a liberal Supreme Court Justice. The channel says an email she sent is prohibited by the 28th article of the U.S. Constitution, which only has 7 articles. There's not even a 28th Amendment. They made it up!
OLBERMANN: John Boehner's Congress drops to nine percent approval in the newest polling. The approval poll number for turning this country from Democracy to communism is 11 percent!
First, the "Worsts." And there are dumb political commercials and dishonest political commercials and lazy political commercials and context-free political commercials, but only this charlatan could produce a dumb, dishonest, context-free political commercial about the word "lazy." Next.
OLBERMANN: How unpopular is Congress? So unpopular that it's approval poll numbers have dropped below BP, Paris Hilton, Hugo Chavez and converting this country to communism. That's next.
First - because this is where those more unpopular still go to get spanked - here are "Countdown's" top-three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Bill-o the clown. Guess what Brainiac has done now? Declared the end of Occupy Wall Street, declared it the night before 35,000 people showed up in downtown Manhattan.
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: The failure - the failure of the Occupy Wall Street movement -
OLBERMANN: Well, first of all, he is drunk. "I love scotch. I love scotch. Scotchy, Scotchy, Scotch."
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: This picture taken by The New York Post shows hypodermic needles that were taken out of the New York City site. Isn't that nice?
OLBERMANN: Bill, Occupy Wall Street had a medical tent with doctors and nurses when police came and seized it, so you'd probably find some hypodermic needles there.
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: I don't believe we saw any hypodermic needles at the tea party protests. Or am I wrong?
OLBERMANN: No, just guns and portrayals of the president as a Nazi. Besides, if the tea partiers were into recreational drugs, they probably topped off their tanks at home. "Scotchy, scotch, scotch."
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: So, the Occupy Wall Street movement is dead, finished.
OLBERMANN: Another Bill O'Reilly prediction, and - as with most of them - disproved less than 24 hours after it was aired. Congrats, Occupy. You are here to stay!
The runner up? Governor Rick Perry. Trying to pull his campaign out of the toilet, Perry has launched a new ad against President Obama which is a classic example of taking a word out of context to utterly change the meaning of what was said. The word is "lazy."
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: We have been a little bit lazy, I think over the last couple of decades.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: Can you believe that? That's what our president think is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy? That's pathetic.
OLBERMANN: Whoa! You are right - well, except the president wasn't calling Americans lazy. It turns out he was calling the American government lazy. This was the whole context of the quote which came at the just-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I think one related question, looking at the world from the Chinese side, is what they would characterize as impediments to investment in the United States. And so, that discussion - I am sure - will be part of whatever dialogue you have. And so, how are you thinking about that?
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Well, this is an issue generally. I think it's important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Yeah.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity - our stability, our openness, our innovative, free-market culture. But, you know, we have been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We've, kind of, taken for granted - "Well, people will want to come here," and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.
OLBERMANN: He called the last few decades of presidents lazy, including himself. Rick Perry followed up the ad - in which he lies about what the president said - by saying that his lie about what the president indicates that the president "grew up in a privileged way. He never really had to really work for" - I forgot - "really work for anything." Yeah, that one-parent-home, mixed-race-kid thing - lap of luxury!
Rick Perry is a very, very, very, very stupid man!
But our winner? Roger Ailes, the head of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. Whatever else is going on over there, Ailes' minions are beginning to get sloppy. In the typical Republican mirror trick - you know, anything Republicans are guilty of, you have to contend Democrats must also be guilty of, to neutralize the real Republican guilt - Fox is really selling the idea that, because Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan sent an email to a friend about the passage of the Affordable Care Act - "I hear they have the votes, Larry, simply amazing" - she needs to recuse herself from any Supreme Court vote on health-care reform.
You know, like Justice Thomas needs to recuse himself, because his family takes money from right-wing boosters and his wife is a political activist.
Well, clearly it's thin-enough gruel to begin with without this, which Fox ran all day yesterday: "Kagan Email Controversy." The Constitution says a judge is supposed to recuse if he or she has, "expressed an opinion concerning the merits of a particular case in controversy," citing U.S. Constitution - at the bottom there - Article 28, Sec. 144.
U.S. Constitution does not have an Article 28, nor does it have anything called "Section 144," nor does that language appear anywhere in the Constitution. They just made that part up about the Constitution and called it "news."
Roger Ailes of "Fixed" News - nice try, Voldemort! - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: In public life, popularity is king. Popular celebrities make the most money. Popular TV hosts stay on the air. Thank you, thank you.
But in our number-one story - nothing is more public nor more dependent on popularity than politics. It dictates what bills are passed and, most of all, wins elections. And what happens when the popularity of all of Congress sinks behind that of the radical and very-seldom-held belief that we should change this country Democracy to Communism?
To illustrate how poorly Congress is doing in popularity, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado decided to create some charts to show far - show how far popularity of Congress has fallen, an all-time-low, nine-percent approval rating. But it was his next chart that really showed the historical context of this unpopularity.
(Excerpt from video clip) BENNET: We did some research, Mr. President, to find out what else is at nine percent. We couldn't find virtually anything. The Internal Revenue Service has a 40-percent approval rating! BP had a 16-percent approval rating at the height of the oil spill. There is an actress who is at 15 percent. More people support the United States becoming communist ... I guess we could take some comfort Fidel Castro is at five percent.
OLBERMANN: As poorly as Congress is doing, nobody is dropping as quickly in the approval polls as Herman Cain. It seems the more people see him speak, the more they realize how much of a joke he is. Which may explain why he canceled a meeting with The Union Leader, New Hampshire's leading newspaper. It's a conservative force there.
He started, first, by saying he didn't want the meeting videotaped. "Videos are typically used for television and it's a newspaper. We decided we didn't want to do the video." You know, newspapers have been posting videos since the '90s. No, no, you are right, the less people who see your message, the better for you, candidate.
In order to make sure it was not on tape, Cain never showed up. That's not how the Godfather says it, he claims it was the paper that canceled the meeting. Of course, I believe that. Cain's last editorial-board meeting went so well in Milwaukee, I am sure he was chomping at the bit to do another. He needed a quick nap.
But the best reaction came from The Union Leader's editorial-page editor Drew Cline, "If Cain is more than 30 minutes late for our interview, is our next one free?"
Joining me - on that note - comedienne, activist, and "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid. It's good to see you again.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: As if you could top this guy from The Union Leader. I mean, that's a hell of a line.
ZAYID: It is.
OLBERMANN: I would be proud of that line.
ZAYID: I don't think you guys understand what Herman Cain is trying to do.
ZAYID: This is a publicity strategy. It's called "The Kardashian."
OLBERMANN: Nice, nice.
ZAYID: When you have negative backlash, you have to hide out until people demand you come back. But what Herman Cain doesn't understand is - you don't get to hide out when you are running for president.
OLBERMANN: And why, of all people, would you want to piss off The Union Leader in Manchester, New Hampshire, which really is - I mean, it was the first conservative newspaper that stood up on its back legs and said, "We're going to do it our way and if you're not conservative enough, we're not gonna give you an endorsement."
ZAYID: Well, Herman Cain's conservative and he feels like they're betraying print by using video. He is standing for something.
OLBERMANN: I see, standing for the year -
ZAYID: Nine, nine, nine.
OLBERMANN: 1999, that's what it means! Finally, figured it out.
ZAYID: We figured it out.
OLBERMANN: Have you ever seen - from your point of view, from your comedienne's experience - such a bewildering variety of caricatures, of fodder for you, than this current crop of GOP candidates like Cain and the rest of them?
ZAYID: No, I haven't, and always say, "it's like they are 'SNL' characters of themselves." And when you think they can't top it, they do. Between Newt with Freddie Mac and Herman Cain not knowing that, like, Gadhafi was paraded around on a stick. Rick Perry calling Barack Obama - privileged? Yes, because a mixed child growing up in a single home in the '70s is privileged.
Like, we can say that POTUS is out of touch. We can say that. He's in Australia right now - as, you know, the Wizard of New York City lets his thugs beat the stuffing out of people as if this is Tahrir Square - but he wasn't a privileged child.
OLBERMANN: That's right. No one who has any idea of his background could ever make that claim and not burst into flames the moment they said it.
All right, about this, sort of, headline here - the Congress popularity numbers. Let's take a look at the Bennett chart again, and we'll see what else is more popular than Congress: lawyers are at 29 percent, Nixon during Watergate was at 24 percent, Paris Hilton, Hugo Chavez and - again - people who want this country to turn to a Communist state. Is there anything - other than that last, little, lonesome picture of Fidel Castro in the corner - is there anything that could less popular than Congress at the moment?
ZAYID: At this point, the only thing that could less popular than Congress are pedophiles and the dude who pepper-sprayed Dorli Rainey in the face. Those are the only things. Because - they're like - I mean, first of all - BP? BP oil spill - not BP, the company - the spill was more popular than Congress. Killing birds and dolphins - more popular than Congress. Turning to communism, standing on bread lines and giving your child to be raised to be Drago from "Rocky IV" is more popular than - Paris Hilton, who shouldn't even be in the single digits - more popular than Congress!
OLBERMANN: So, is there any hope? What is the - do they need a celebrity makeover? Do we need to make it "American Congressional Idol"? "Dancing with Congress"? "Toddlers and Congress and Tiaras"? What do we need to do?
ZAYID: Well, I think the first that they need to do is they need to stop selling themselves to the highest bidder because - according to my mom - that's not governing, that's prostitution. But if that doesn't work, I think that those poor, exploited girls from "Toddlers and Tiaras" could do a much better job than the current Congress.
OLBERMANN: Is there any holdout - any hope - for Congress, or are we going to have a Constitutional convention and come up with something else between the Supreme Court and the president and fill up all those empty buildings in Washington that would happen if we got rid of all of them at once?
ZAYID: No, I think there is hope. I think that they simply need an intervention. We need to, you know, take them and sequester them and put them in a room and have them watch every single thing they've done for the past 16 years until they repent and reform.
OLBERMANN: So, you just recycle the same tape every 20 minutes? 'Cause there's not a lot they've done for the last 16 years.
ZAYID: Either that, or you just flush them out and start all over.
OLBERMANN: Or send Occupy - New York, I guess we will have to call it as of tonight, 35,000 people - to occupy Congress and see what happens there.
ZAYID: See what happens there.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming in.
ZAYID: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Before we go - again, the last report from downtown Manhattan - perhaps 35,000, at least somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 on the streets at Manhattan - at Foley Square, at Zuccotti Park crossing the Brooklyn Bridge - on the two-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street.
That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Congratulations on surviving another night of this crap. Good night and good luck.