'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, November 21st, 2011
#ShowPlug 1:Now UC Davis Police Commissioner suspended along w/ two cops after pepper-spray is used as if it were Raid. Is Chancellor next?
#ShowPlug 2: Guests: #Occupy protestor @AmesIntern Dominic Gutierrez and UCD Prof. Bob Ostertag on militarization of campus police
#ShowPlug 3: RW blowback: Boehner pals offered Bankers $850k oppo research, infiltration, on #OWS - reaction from @Markos Moulitsas
#ShowPlug 4 Newt Gingrich, who stinks and is unemployed, demands #Occupy protestors take a bath and get a job
#ShowPlug 5: Super Committee Fails. Also just in: Lindbergh Lands In Paris. Who wins stalemate w/Rep. Barney Frank
#ShowPlug 6: Anti-fracking victory in Delaware Water Basin; approval vote postponed. Debra Winger, Josh Fox of @GaslandMovie join me
#ShowPlug Last: Worsts: Bloomberg hypes "plot" to save own skin after NYPD Spying-on-Muslims scandal. FBI says "terrorist" was no threat
watch whole playlist
#5 'Pepper Spray Attack' (guests temporarily unavailable)
#4 'Occupy The Nation', Markos Moulitsas
# 'Pepper Spray Attack', Dominic Gutierrez, Bob Ostertag
#3 'Super Failure', Rep. Barney Frank
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#2 Worst Persons: Rep. Joe Walsh, Newt Gingrich, Mike Bloomberg & Ray Kelly
#1 'Frack Off', Debra Winger & Josh Fox
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Barney Frank, Debra Winger, Josh Fox, Markos Moulitsas, Bob Ostertag, Dominic Gutierrez
KEITH OLBERMANN: Now, on "Countdown" - aftermath. Two UC Davis policemen, now the campus police chief, suspended, after Occupy protesters are pepper sprayed like so many insects. Is the university chancellor, next?
(Excerpt from video clip) STUDENTS: Resignation! Resignation!
OLBERMANN: The latest on the latest police atrocity against Occupy, with one of the UC Davis protesters, a University professor studying the militarization of campus police. And the most eloquent silence in a generation, as the school chancellor leaves.
The backlash from the lunatic right. Political associates of Speaker Boehner propose to the American Bankers Association an $850,000 project of opposition research, infiltration and undermining of Occupy Wall Street. The Association turns them down. And then there's Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich on the Occupiers.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Go get a job, right after you take a bath.
OLBERMANN: Gingrich, unemployed, also suggests putting poor 13-year old kids to work as janitors.
The Super-Committee. It's a brand name. Nothing super about it. Complete failure.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN KERRY: My pledge is to the constitution of the United States. To defend it. My pledge is to well and faithfully execute my duties. And that does not include living up to a pledge to a lobbyist.
OLBERMANN: Our guest, Congressman Barney Frank.
The nexus of politics and terror again. Caught spying on Muslims in their city and in New Jersey, the mayor and police chief of New York arrest a Muslim, accuse him of plotting against targets in their city and in New Jersey. And the FBI today says the suspect was no threat and there was no plot.
And the victory against fracking. The vote permitting it in the Delaware Water Basin is tabled.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAYA VAN ROSSUM: How did this happen? How did you get that vote canceled? How did it happen? You made it happen. We made it happen!
OLBERMANN: The good news with actress and activist Debra Winger and "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox. All that and more, now, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Monday, November 21st, 351 days until the 2012 presidential election. The Occupy movement has a signature act. It is the peaceful temporary seizure of an open space - public property - for the purpose of constitutionally-protected political protest. Seems the police who seek to repress those protests have a signature act as well - the indiscriminate use of pepper spray.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - what happened in New York in September to four women now seems almost quaint in retrospect. What happened to 84-year-old Dorli Rainey in Seattle, a week ago tomorrow night, now seems almost controlled. For it was as if the police thought they were the exterminators and the students at their campus - UC Davis - were the cockroaches. Two campus police officers used pepper spray on Occupy demonstrators protesting tuition hikes. Two demonstrators were hospitalized after the spraying and 10 were arrested. UC Davis insists the protesters had been warned - verbally and in writing - to remove their tents and leave, saying the tents put students' health and safety at risk. Perhaps the pepper spray was more of a risk.
(Excerpt from video clip) STUDENT #1: It felt like my face was peeling off.
(Excerpt from video clip) STUDENT #2: I received a direct shot of pepper spray down my throat. I spent the next hour dry heaving and vomiting.
OLBERMANN: Thousands at an assembly at Davis made their feelings about this heard.
(Excerpt from video clip) STUDENT #3: Whose University?
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Our University!
(Excerpt from video clip) STUDENT #3: Whose University?
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Our University!
OLBERMANN: Also hearing this from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
(Excerpt from video clip) LINDA KATEHI: I'm here to apologize. I really feel horrible for what happened on Friday.
OLBERMANN: Apparently, she does now. It took the chancellor a few days to get to this point. On Friday - after the pepper spray attack - she issued a statement claiming, in part, that by refusing to leave, the protesters had left the university, "no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal. We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protesters were arrested and pepper spray was used."
By Saturday, Chancellor Katehi was calling the use of pepper spray "chilling to all of us." The chancellor also asked for a task force to prepare a report on the incident, due in 90 days. She told a news conference that - while she understood that very bad situation the students had faced on Friday -
(Excerpt from video clip) KATEHI: I don't believe that that, by itself, is - would lead me to a resignation.
OLBERMANN: Shortly after that, students interrupted that news conference, surrounded that building. Chancellor Katehi stayed inside it for some three hours. Eventually, she got the protesters' message.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: The world is watching. We are non-violent. The world is watching. We are non-violent.
OLBERMANN: When the Chancellor emerged, the students staged one of the more elegant Occupy protests - or protests of any kind - in years. They watched her go in silence.
By yesterday, Katehi's position had evolved again. She put the officers who pepper sprayed the students on paid administrative leave and released another statement. "I spoke with students this weekend and I feel their outrage. I take full responsibility for the incident. I feel very sorry for the harm our students were subjected to and I vow to work tirelessly to make the campus a more welcoming and safe place." The campus police chief Annette Spicuzza however, still defended the officers:
(Excerpt from video clip) ANNETTE SPICUZZA: You have to understand situations - it is a very fluid, dynamic situation. These are split-seconds' decisions. There are decisions that officers make that you just can't review.
OLBERMANN: The chief also defended the use of pepper spray, at least in theory.
(Excerpt from video clip) SPICUZZA: It is a tool that allows officers to control, as well as to stay safe and protect others besides themselves. I think it's a necessary tool, and like any other tool that we carry and we utilize, you hope and pray that it's used correctly and within policy.
OLBERMANN: You know what the word for that is? It starts with bull. The idea that it can be used within policy and still be wrong apparently never occurring to the chief. The only tool here was the chief. She was put on administrative leave, pending review, today. While the task force on the pepper spray assault is now supposed to turn its report, not in 90 days but in 30 days. We have a victim of the pepper spraying incident and a UC Davis professor whose students were among the victims and has been studying the militarization of campus police.
There's been a transportation snafu and they are still en route to our interview location. They will join us when those logistics are sorted out.
Meantime, the far-right solutions to Occupy and the conditions it protests. One, John Boehner's friends try to pitch Wall Street on a $850,000 infiltration and oppo-research project. Two, Newt Gingrich suggests a bath and a job. That would be Newt Gingrich, whose soul stinks to heaven and who is still unemployed. Next.
OLBERMANN: Barney Frank joins me on the Anything-But-Super Committee. "It will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement." I know. You're shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
Faking a terror threat for political gain is low, even for this man. The FBI says the suspect he breathlessly identified last night was no threat.
First, the Keystone XL Pipeline is delayed. Now a vote key to permitting fracking in the Delaware Water Basin has been tabled. "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox and actress and activist Debra Winger join me.
And the far right gets more frantic still in the effort to discredit Occupy. The $850,000 proposal for oppo-research against it. And Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich tells its members to get a job and take a bath. Irony, Mr. Gingrich is unemployed, and - at least metaphorically - stinks.
OLBERMANN: A leaked memo reveals banking lobbyists making plans to dig up dirt on Occupy leaders. Meanwhile, Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich, a man with no lack of dirt himself, telling Occupiers to take a bath.
In our fourth story tonight - the Occupy movement now in the crosshairs of lobbyists and GOP candidates alike. First, the secret memo that shows a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm with past ties to John Boehner wrote to the American Bankers Association offering to do a recognizance on Occupy leaders for the bargain low, low price of $850,000.
The memo, written by two former members of Speaker Boehner's staff, says that Occupy Wall Street threatens to "have a very long-lasting political policy and financial impact on the companies in the center of the bullseye." The memo notes that Wall Street companies likely will not be the best spokespeople for their own cause, so instead the firm would go on the offensive, looking through Occupy leaders' litigation history, tax liens, even IRS filings. The American Bankers Association, which has worked with the group in the past, declined their services this time.
Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, did not need any lobbyists help in attacking the Occupy movement on Saturday.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: All of the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything. Go get a job, right after you take a bath.
OLBERMANN: And help Newt pay down his Tiffany's bill. Some Portland residents - albeit a very small number of them, you're seeing all of them in one picture - seeming to agree. A group calling itself Un-occupy Portland, with about a dozen members, marching Sunday to protest the protesters. A block away, several hundred members of Occupy Portland - undeterred in its march - also putting out a call on Twitter for permanent, indoor space.
Meantime, police raid a San Francisco encampment in front of the Federal Reserve Bank there. Removing about a dozen tents and reportedly arresting six protesters. The raids not seeming to slow momentum though, members of the city's Board of Advisers pledging their support to the protesters yesterday.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID CAMPOS: Tonight we ask Mayor Ed Lee -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Tonight we ask Mayor Ed Lee -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: That before there is a crackdown by the police -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: That before there is a crackdown by the police -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: That he come out here and see for himself -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: That he come out here and see for himself -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: What's happening here.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: What's happening here.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: Because the reality is -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Because the reality is -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: That this plaza -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: That this plaza -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: Is safer -
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Is safer -
(Excerpt from video clip) CAMPOS: Than many places in the city.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Than many places in the city.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of which, on the opposite coast, calls for another mayor to show his face - New York's Michael Bloomberg. Protesters had been planning a 24-hour drum circle outside his townhouse on East 79th Street. They were stopped by police, who closed the block to all non-residents, creating what one civil-liberties lawyer describes as a "no First Amendment zone." Bloomberg then redirected most reporters to City Hall, for what proves to have been a phony terror-scare announcement. More on that coming up. His neighbors none to pleased with the new arrivals from downtown.
(Excerpt from video clip) RESIDENT: It's very annoying, my poor dog, she was like very scared of the drums. And she wasn't sure what was going on.
OLBERMANN: To hell with your dog, lady. From Central Park to Zuccotti Park, which was festooned with Christmas lights this weekend. That's not the only holiday cheer in store for protesters. New York chef Eric Smith announcing he is going to make an organic Thanksgiving dinner for 1,000 at Zuccotti Park. How much food does it take to feed that many people? Smith says he'll be cooking 150 turkeys, 300 pounds of stuffing and 400 pounds of potatoes.
And on that tantalizing thought, joining me now - "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos. Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The secret memo about the willingness to do $850,000 worth of oppo-research, how - what does that say about how nervous Wall Street, and particularly the bankers, might be about Occupy?
MOULITSAS: Well the bank have to be worried about Occupy. Just in the last month and a half, over a million people have left the too-big-to-fail banks and have opened up accounts at credit unions and local non-profit banks.
Further more, now you have a movement amongst cities. San Jose last year divested a billion dollars - that's billion with a "B" dollars - from Bank of America. And now Portland and Seattle are talking about following suit. There's going to be a lot of people pushing mayors to divest from the big banks.
So, this is not a question of a few un-profitable, poor customers. The fact that this movement is growing, and the more it spreads, the more impact it's going to have on its bottom line. A consulting firm that serves the industry today released a report - 185 billion dollars is what they expect to lose in deposits over the next year.
OLBERMANN: What does it say, though, about this movement, that the ABA - The American Bankers Association - rejected this offer? Is that some glimmer that they need to polish their image and not get associated with underhanded tactics, or do they have something worse planned for Occupy?
MOULITSAS: You know, they may be greedy bastards, I don't think they're stupid. They didn't get to where they are by being stupid. And they're realizing that they are waging war against their own customers and they can't win if they do that. So, they have to maintain at least some common, you know - higher ground. Which is why, mostly, they have stayed out of the fray. Now, allies and unnamed sources will make snide remarks but - in general - they've shied away from making public comments, because I don't think it's in their interest for them to inflame the situation and they know that. So, that's why they are not doing that.
OLBERMANN: The new Gallup poll, showing Americans have grown either more critical of Occupy's methods over the last month but they are also still just as supportive of the goals, in that context - I know this is kind of a soft ball coming at you - is it a smart move, politically, for Newt Gingrich to attack Occupy in that cliched, moronic manner that he did?
MOULITSAS: Well, he is running for the Republican nomination for president, so it's fantastic politics. I mean, you never lose by hating on people if you are a Republican. He'd be in trouble if he showed any empathy for the 99 percent. That would be the death of his campaign. But the fact that he has, basically, punching them in the face, fantastic politics. In the primary. In the general election, I don't think being pro-Wall Street is going to be that positive - that good of a place to be next year.
OLBERMANN: Bloomberg and shutting down the street on which he lives, is that legal? Do you think he even cares about looking like an out-of-touch despot, or is that, sort of, what he's going for?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I don't know if it's legal or not. I mean, obviously, they are time/place/manner restrictions on the First Amendment that the Supreme Court has decided upon in the past. So, they may decide that a quiet, residential neighborhood may not be the right place. I don't know. That's for the lawyers to decide. As for Bloomberg himself though - he realizes this is his last term. He is done being mayor after he's done. So, I don't think he cares anymore. That this point, he has got to grease the skids for when he goes back into the Wall Street sector after he's mayor and he is going to have to make sure that his friends in that world are still his friends when he's done being mayor.
OLBERMANN: And what does it say - all we've heard, so far, from everybody on the right have been these - either ideas that involve pepper spray or insults - never engagement, or at least not after a few initial comments to that effect. They are still - the right wing has had two months and they still do not have an organized pushback against Occupy - what does that say?
MOULITSAS: Well, it's difficult, and I think this memo that we talked about at the beginning of the segment is a reason why. It talked about targeting the leaders. There are no leaders. And any time you go after a movement, it's really difficult to knock a movement if it has no easy leaders to go after. So, that's part of the process.
And fact is, people are hurting. Ninety-nine percent truly are hurting in this country. And it's such a clear, concise message. It's such a clear encapsulation of what's wrong with this country that it's very difficult for Republicans - as skilled as they are in rewriting history and as skilled as they are in reshaping reality - this one is too deeply engrained in people for them to manipulate.
OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas, the publisher and founder of Daily Kos, "Countdown" contributor, of course. As always, many thanks, sir.
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Super Committee fails - yeah, I know, that's my breaking news? Question mark? - and we'll go out to Cal. Davis, where our two guests have now reached our location and will be able to give us a firsthand account, both of the events of the pepper-spray weekend at that university and, also, one professor's study of the militarization of campus police. Next, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: That, again, the extraordinary video from University of California at Davis - Cal Davis. The campus police chief placed on leave. Two officers suspended after the officers acted like terrified children seeing an ant on the kitchen floor and emptied cans of repellent - in this case, pepper spray - on students who were posing no threat. As promised, more on this story with Dominic Gutierrez, a UC Davis student and protester who was pepper sprayed last Friday as he tried to shield other students from the police. Thanks for your time tonight.
DOMINIC GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: When the police approached you on Friday, had you been warned that they might use force? Did you have any indication that any of that was coming?
GUTIERREZ: No, I was surprised. We had been warned that some people would be arrested, but pepper spray came as a shock.
OLBERMANN: What happened when they - when they so nonchalantly opened, as I suggested, those - those cans of pepper spray as if they were, you know, going after insects?
GUTIERREZ: It was chaos. Everyone was screaming. I was actually on the other side of the circle. And that's when I ran over and tried to cover the people with my sweatshirt. A lot of them are good friends, so it was really scary to see. I could just hear screams and I could see pepper spray mist coming. And you could smell it, it's really pungent. It's very strong.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, you could see some of, just, photographers who lined up in another line that - sort of at that right angle in the back of the screen there. Some of the photographers are retching, just from the smell, as they try to get an image of this horrific event.
GUTIERREZ: Yeah, exactly. It wasn't just the people directly in the line. It was people all around, because it, you know, dispersed and got into people's lungs. I got it in my eyes, it got into a lot of people's - directly into their throats. It was pretty horrific.
OLBERMANN: Dominic, the chancellor said student's health and safety was at risk because of the encampment. Does that make any sense to you?
GUTIERREZ: None whatsoever. We had been there for less than 24 hours, I believe - or actually just over. And it was a bunch of tents. There was no kitchen, no stoves, no bathrooms - people were using campus bathrooms and bringing food from off campus. It was completely sanitary. We weren't blocking any walkways. We wanted to make sure others could use the quad as well. I just don't buy that argument at all.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street went from a footnote to a headline when the pepper spray was used on four women protesters, who had been already been hemmed in behind some plastic netting, and the video went viral. The pictures from the pepper spraying in Seattle, the 84-year-old protester and the woman in Portland square in the face with the pepper spray last week - that went worldwide. What's the effect on Occupy at UC Davis been since this event took place?
GUTIERREZ: Well, when we started, there was group of maybe 400 students, and then - whenever we would occupy overnight, because we occupied a administration building prior to this - it would be, maybe, anywhere from 100 to 20 students, depending upon the time of night. Now, there were thousands of people on the quad today. It was really incredible. They are all very excited to work with us, as fellow students and university faculty.
OLBERMANN: What - what is the outcome at this point, in terms of what the university is doing? It appears the chancellor has held six or seven different positions on this, since the event. Should she resign? Is the campus police chief viable at this point?
GUTIERREZ: Right, I think it's all the way up the line. You know, if something happens and you are culpable for it, you should - I mean, she should really step down. The campus police chief should step down. They all knew it was going to happen. They ordered it to happen. It wasn't one decision made up high. It was made by every single one of them, starting with Katehi when she told the officers to remove the tents, then the police chief called in riot police and then Lieutenant Pike decided to use pepper spray. So, I mean, I think all of them need to go.
OLBERMANN: Dominic Gutierrez, a student at UC Davis, part of the group that was pepper sprayed on Friday. Great thanks for coming on the program and bearing with us tonight.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: There is an over arching issue here, of course - not just at UC Davis, not just on college campuses, but perhaps especially there. These are campus police. Why do they have riot gear? Who told them to treat the students as if they were dangerous, violent individuals who needed to be pepper sprayed? When did we decide to militarize campus police?
My next guest is a UC Davis professor with some insight into the protesters who took that vicious attack peacefully. Some of them are his students. In fact, he describes them as "top students," adding that "among the students he knows, the higher the grade point average, the more likely they are centrally involved in the protests."
Bob Ostertag, professor of technocultural studies and music at Davis, who wrote about the incident today on a post at the Huffington Post that looks at militarization of campus police. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
BOB OSTERTAG: I am delighted to be here to discuss such an important issue.
OLBERMANN: Indeed, you wrote that the way police are handling the Occupy protests constitutes a radical departure from the past. I mean, how is it different? Because as fortunate, obviously, as it was - and unfortunate as it is to have to say it - I mean, we've seen peaceful protesters abused by police before, whether it was water hoses or dogs or bringing in the National Guard. Why - what's so radically different about this?
OSTERTAG: Well, we saw police dogs and water hoses in the 1950s and '60s during the civil rights movement and during the anti-Vietnam War movement. But from the 1970s on, you know, after Kent State - and after some of the most dramatic police abuses of that era - things de-escalated, and we saw the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s, we saw the movements around the Central America, non-intervention in the 1980s, the movement against apartheid in the late Eighties, the early Nineties, all kinds of movements have taken place in our country since that time that have not seen police dogs and this kind of violence.
In fact - just over the last couple of weeks in Washington, D.C. - over one thousand people were arrested protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, over one thousand, and not a single police baton was raised. No one was pepper sprayed. No assault rifles were brandished. And, you know, the Washington police actually have to worry about things like terrorism, and they managed to make a distinction between people exercising their First Amendment right to speak in public and something that actually requires a SWAT team response.
OLBERMANN: All right, with the proviso we are going to stop showing the video because I think people have seen enough by now - has something changed, also, in terms of what the police are taught - are they taught now to assume that there is violence, or even some lethal threat, facing them at all times even when it's people sitting down on a sidewalk in a campus?
OSTERTAG: Well, you know, I am probably not the one to speak to what police are taught. But I can say that I strongly believe - you know, Davis is not a hot bed of student radicalism. Davis is a suburban campus.
(TRANSMISSION CUTS OFF)
OLBERMANN: Well, we will be right back.
OLBERMANN: Breaking news, the Super Committee failed to produce a compromise on debt reduction. Also, Lindbergh has landed safely in Paris.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - the failure will trigger 1.2 trillion dollars in automatic spending cuts over the decade set to begin in 2013, and be divided equally between military and domestic programs, unless the Republicans renege. The president was listening, especially to the renege part.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts, domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure.
OLBERMANN: So, why? Per Nancy Pelosi, "American's demanded, and Democrats repeatedly supported, a big, bold and balanced plan to reduce our deficit and grow our economy. The plan could not be balanced because the Republicans insisted on extending the Bush tax cuts for people making more than a million dollars a year and repealing the Medicare guarantee, while refusing to accept a jobs proposal."
Or, per Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "In the end an agreement proved impossible not because Republicans were unwilling to compromise, but because Democrats did would not accept any proposal that did not expand the size and scope of government or punish job creators."
Joining me now, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee - Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. As always, sir, our thanks for your time tonight.
BARNEY FRANK: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Who benefits from this failure? For whom is stalemate victory?
FRANK: Liberals. Inertia has switched sides in the battle. For those of us trying to get the government to play an active role in staving off a recession and helping improve the quality of life, this is good news. Inertia has been our problem. You needed 60 votes in the Senate, we couldn't get anything done. But here's where we are. Now, I don't think anybody has planned this, Keith, but it's worked out very well as far as I am concerned.
If nothing happens next year, if we continue the pattern of gridlock - because we have very right-wing people elected in 2010 and others who would, like the president, elected in 2008 - we can't come to an agreement, here's what happens: first of all, all of the Bush tax cuts expire. All of them. Secondly, there are significant cuts across the board but the programs for the poorest people in this country are protected and the Defense Department takes a big share of the cuts.
Now, here's what I think this means. We say to the Republicans, "Look, if you are prepared to allow some of the Bush tax cuts to expire, namely to those making say more than $300,000 of income, then we will agree to adjust and sequester." But again, I want to stress, if nothing happens, if they don't agree to anything - and I was glad to hear the president say that, I was, frankly, a little worried about where he was on this - but if he says, "I am going to veto any attempt to amend the sequester," and we say to them, "Look, he is not going to sign a bill to extend all of the Bush tax cuts," we could put forward a bill that would extend 98 percent of the Bush tax cuts. That is for 98 percent of the people - not the dollars - and I think that's the deal.
We say to them, "Look, if you want to continue to do nothing, then here's what will happen. There will be no increase - there will be tax increase for everybody." Now, I don't think that's a good idea. I think we should continue the tax cuts for people who are making, say, less than $300,000. But I am - I am very happy with the way it's played out, and - even if the defense cuts are equal to the domestic cuts - historically, defense has paid much less of a price than anything else.
So, I think we are in a good position. As I said, inertia has changed sides and it's up to them now to come to us to make a deal.
OLBERMANN: But, of course - as you suggest - the Republicans have been the international distributors of inertia for the last 20 or so years. Did they not know that inertia was changing sides? How did they let this happen from their vantage point?
FRANK: They are so locked into their ideology. They had to understand this. They had to understand that - look, what this is going to do is force them to choose between defense cuts that they think are impossible to sustain, although they greatly exaggerate that, and the tax increase on the rich. They can't have both. Yes, I think they understood this, but they are so locked-in ideologically and so rigid - so afraid of Mr. Norquist, afraid of losing in primaries. Look, the Republicans of the House consist half of people who agree with Michelle Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing the primary to someone who agrees with Michele Bachmann. That's not a formula for action.
OLBERMANN: So, what do you expect them to try to do? Do you think they are going to try to renege on the premise of the Super Committee that established it in the first place?
FRANK: Well, they are going to hold their breath and kick their feet and scream and yell and tell us America will be in dire peril if we can't continue to protect Germany against an invasion from Stalin, which is essentially what we've been doing for 61 years.
And one of my favorites, Keith, is we have to keep open the sea lanes for trade from Asia. You know what happens along those sea lanes? As you know, the Chinese make about a trillion dollars. So, why in the world would the Chinese want to close down the sea lanes over which they make so much money?
So - but what we say to them is, "Look, we should prepare a bill now that extends the Bush tax cuts for people making less that $300,000, less than $25,000," - whatever we can get agreement on - and say that we will take the revenue from that and use much of it to reduce the debt, but some of it to ease the sequester.
Now, I don't want to see a two percent cut in Medicare providers. I think that's going to hurt people. You know, when you talk about Medicare providers those are the hospitals - some of the poorest, hardest-working people in America work in those hospitals, emptying bed pans at 2:00 in the morning. I don't want to hurt them. But that's the deal.
We say to the Republicans, "Here it is. We are prepared to support an extension of the tax cuts. Here's our bill." Now, they'll have a bill that will pass the House that will extend the tax cuts for everybody and will undo the sequester for the military. It won't pass the Senate, neither one - the president would threaten to veto if they did - and once that's failed, I think that will be their first effort , we say, "Okay, now do you want to get serious? Here is the deal. Here is our bill to extend the tax cuts for 98 percent of the people, but we will save a lot of revenue and, secondly, here is our bill that adjusts the sequester and puts some money back in the military but puts some money back into Medicare." And I think the burden is overwhelmingly on them to take it.
OLBERMANN: Well, they've boxed themselves in. Certainly sounds like it. Congressman Barney Frank of the Massachusetts Fourth. As ever, great thanks. And good news is that it's all quiet in Gallipoli, from what I have been told here.
FRANK: Well I don't know - they might come up with a threat. After all, we just sent Marines to Australia to do God knows what.
OLBERMANN: They are worried about that - the dingoes or something. Congressman, always a pleasure. Thanks for your time.
Caught illegally spying on Muslims in their city and in another's adjoining state, the New York Police Department suddenly arrests an alleged Muslim terrorist with targets in their city and in the other state. Except the FBI today announced that it had twice told New York officials that their suspect was no threat. The nexus of politics and terror unfortunately returns in "Worst Persons."
OLBERMANN: Debra Winger and Josh Fox, on the bid to keep fracking out of the Delaware Water Basin. The key vote delayed. They'll join us.
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Newt Gingrich's solution? Let poor, 13-year-old children become janitors. "Worst Persons," next on "Countdown."
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1942, Warner Brothers released its latest cartoon - an opus called "Tale Of Two Kitties," in which a pair of cats called Babbitt and Cat-Stello take on an obnoxious yellow creature called Tweety Bird. So, a happy 69th birthday to Tweety Bird. I tawt I taw a puddy tat.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Cat massages dog's back.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. Putting to rest all of the nonsense about cats and dogs not getting along, there's nothing at the end of a long day like a nice back rub. It's Massage Cat. What's better than a best friend with magic paws? "Really work the hind legs, I carry a lot of tension around in the hind legs. A lot of stress lately - hid this bone, don't know where it is."
Things got a little weird later when the cat brought out the incense and the candles.
VIDEO: Man stacks thousands of coin atop a single dime.
From the "too much time on your hands" department, this young man is attempting to stack more than three thousand coins on top of one single dime. Why, you ask? Certainly, this is not a question the young man had asked himself.
Through a combination of skill, patience, and complete lack of a social life, he is successful in tacking - or stacking - all of the coins atop the single dime. And we're hoping nobody turns on the air conditioner, or the whole thing will be over.
VIDEO: Two toddlers cover a house with a five-pound bag of flour.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with a house covered in flour. While Mom was in the bathroom, her one-year-old and her three-year-old found a five-pound bag of flour in the kitchen. The result? Well, if you can't see it by now, check your eyesight. There's "flour" power. The next generation of "Flour" Children.
You know, you probably shouldn't even bother cleaning it up. At this point - and a feeling I know all too well - you might just have to move. Could I suggest a house with a white interior for these kids next time?
"Time Marches On!"
"Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox and the great Debra Winger, coming up. And first, "Worst Persons." Stand by.
OLBERMANN: "Gasland" film-maker Josh Fox, and actor and activist Debra Winger, on the delay of the vital vote on fracking and why that's good news, next.
First, because these - these are the people what ought to get fracked, here are "Countdown's" nominees for today's top-three "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To now self-destructing Illinois Congressman Joe "Deadbeat Dad" Walsh. He strikes again. About the Occupy Movement he say, "I don't know how many veterans are part of the Occupy protest. I can't imagine it's many. But anyone who would advocate socialist solutions to certain problems in this country, they don't understand this country." You know what "socialist solutions" are to Joe Walsh? That's a judge telling him he has to pay his good, hard-earned money to his ex-wife for child support for their kids.
And you know what socialism is to Joe Walsh? That's when he stops paying it and the amount he owes her balloons to $117,000, and a judge tells him he has to pay it anyway. Damned government overreach!
The runner-up? The latest GOP presidential front-runner, Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich. It's hard to believe that the short shelf life of GOP front-runners could go to your head, but Newt has let it do so.
Speaking at Harvard, not many miles from the infamous 19th century Massachusetts textile mills that were staffed by kids as young as eight, he proposed eliminating the 120-year-old laws against manual labor by children.
"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're, what - 14, 16 years of age - fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing, with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
Gingrich then asked the crowd "Are there no prisons?" "Plenty of prisons," said the gentlemen. "And the union workhouses?" demanded Gingrich. "Are they still in operation?" They are. Still," returned the gentlemen. "I wish I could say they were not." "The treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor, then?," said Gingrich. "Both very busy, Sir." "Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Gingrich. "I'm very glad to hear it."
But our winner? Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of New York City. Last night they summoned, on short notice, a rare Sunday night news conference. Among other things, they managed to distract and re-locate most of the reporters covering the Occupy protest at Bloomberg's home.
Then they breathlessly revealed an almost-laughable supposed terror plot. They even released video of a car blowing up, which they pretended was what would have happened if 27-year old Jose Pimentel had succeeded. The morons on local TV news here played the video as if it had something to do with Mr. Pimentel.
Today, FBI sources told the Associated Press that they had twice warned New York that there was no threat. That Pimentel had neither "the pre-disposition nor the ability to do anything on his own."
Last night's arrest of a Muslim convert on charges of "hoping to blow things up in New York and New Jersey" comes just months after Bloomberg and Kelly were caught spying illegally on - and trying to infiltrate - Muslim groups in New York and New Jersey. And then, suddenly, they arrested a half-wit whom the grown-ups knew was no threat, and then dramatically announced it on a Sunday night when there was no other local news to cover.
It's the same old manipulation for political purposes - of phony or exaggerated terror threats - that stopped working for the Bush Administration in 2006. Yet Bloomberg and Kelly still think we're all stupid enough to fall for it again. They are under attack, and justifiably so, for their recent fascist touches in the handling of Occupy, and the persecution of minorities in New York City, and they are throwing anything they can think of at any wall they can see.
Gentlemen, it won't stick. We're all on to you now. Just resign. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of New York City - today's "Worst Persons in the World."
OLBERMANN: When you think about it, usually when someone wants to pollute the drinking water for over 15 million people, the plot you're thinking about involves a terrorist, maybe in a film. In our number-one story, a vote that would open the Delaware River to fracking was postponed today, due in large part to the over 800 people who stood outside the Trenton War Memorial and said "No fracking way!"
In 1961 New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware came together with the federal government to form the Delaware River Basin Commission or DRBC. The DRBC consists of the governors of each of the four states as well as a representative from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Ordinarily, the commission focuses on monitoring water quality. It operates with little interest from the ordinary public. But the Marcellus Shale and its vast natural-gas supply changed that.
About a third of the Delaware River Basin in New York and Pennsylvania lies on top of the Marcellus Shale. By utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing - the polite name for fracking - natural-gas companies estimated they could recover 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which would be enough to supply natural gas for the United States for two full years. Run a lot of hospitals to treat all the sick people that got sick that way from fracking as well.
In May 2009, DRBC executive director Carol Collier ordered that all drilling in the basin required the commission's approval. A hearing scheduled for today planned to vote on whether or not to allow twenty thousand gas wells in the Delaware River Basin. But last week the commission decided to delay the vote, apparently due to a lack of agreement on the issue. Gov. Markell of Delaware and Gov. Cuomo of New York had both publicly stated their intent to vote against the plan. Governor Corbett of Pennsylvania had shown support. Governor Christie and the Obama administration had not made any indication of which way they would vote.
While this was seen as a victory for those who have opposed the drilling, it did not stop more than 800 people from protesting outside where the hearing was supposed to have taken place. In light of all this, joining me now, actress and activist Deborah Winger and fellow activist - and director of a great film, "Gasland" - Josh Fox. Thank you both for coming in.
DEBORAH WINGER: Thanks for having us.
OLBERMANN: Deborah, is this a victory or is this just a delay?
WINGER: Well, I'm sort of Eeyore on the victory thing. I'm like, "It's a nice little victory, but ... We're in it for the long run." Three years ago, we started to catch wind of this - no pun intended - as Josh was out across the country, sending footage back that was terrifying all of this, we thought "This can't come east. This can't come to New York." And in fact, it has. It's run over Pennsylvania and, you know - we talk about the watershed because that's what we've been - the argument has been framed, and the fact is that it's the food shed for New York.
WINGER: And what goes into the water goes into the earth, and we have great new farmers that are trying to move back into a very depressed farm area. We want that to happen. We want our specialty cheeses. We want our wine. We want - I speak to New Yorkers now. I speak to New Yorkers, because these things are being grown in a place where the water will be tainted. It's not - it's no doubt in our mind that if things go the way they've gone in these other states, we'll be in trouble.
OLBERMANN: So Josh, why did it go the way it did and what do you think is going to happen next?
JOSH FOX: Well, I think what happened was an enormous outpouring of citizen pressure. Not just today. Today was actually a huge victory in my estimation and a very, very unlikely victory.
WINGER: He is winning.
FOX: Well, it came from an enormous outpouring of people - calling, emailing and the threat of taking over that meeting, which was stated as very, very clear - that this was a moment where we had about a thousand people there today, and we anticipated 10 times more than that, to go and swarm a 2,000-seat hall.
When the Delaware River Basin Commission put out their regulations, they got 69,800 public comments overwhelmingly against the drilling. So, if you translate that - all of New York State got 14,000 public comments. New York State took two years to absorb them. The Delaware River Basin Commission took seven months. And it doesn't seem like anybody actually read them. Going around making the rounds with the governors, talking to them and petitioning, it didn't seem like this crisis had really sunk in.
FOX: And now, it's 2-2, and it's squarely in the hands of the Obama administration. They have the swing vote. They have the deciding vote. So, we don't know what's actually going to happen. It's very rare that the DRBC actually cancels a vote. So, it's a big victory.But we don't know for how long ...
WINGER: But they also have - what? They only have to declare 24 hours before...
FOX: Ten days.
WINGER: Ten days.
FOX: Ten days.
WINGER: Ten days. Eeyore.
FOX: So, they can decide to vote again in 10 days and it would be time to call all of those people back into the street.
WINGER: But I think people are poised, and I think that we understand we are in it for the long run, but the level of education for all of the tri-state area has to be raised.
OLBERMANN: To that end, is it your conviction, based on what you did for "Gasland," and in terms of the preparation of it and as you put the movie together, and then the subsequent - where it resonated and where it did not - that the reason people have gotten away with fracking is because they've been able it operate in this vacuum of publicity and this is literally one of these situations that really needs sunshine and pressure?
FOX: Absolutely. We are in a paradigm shift about energy. We've been in it for quite awhile. We're in a phase called "extreme fossil-fuel development." Fracking fits in with Keystone XL - the tar sands - mountaintop removal, deep-water drilling. We haven't noticed the fact that we are running out of easily-attainable oil. We should have noticed that. We should have starting moving toward renewable energy.
But what - instead - the fossil-fuel companies have done is expose us to ever-more-contaminating and risky and dangerous and polluting forms of energy development - fracking, tar sands - and we see what happens in the Gulf. You see results of fracking all across the nation. The other thing that's happened is that that area - where it's okay for people to be expendable - you know, like West Virginia was for 100 years -
FOX: Has now expanded across the country and we are in 34 states and the largest domestic national-gas drilling campaign in natural history.
WINGER: And Western Pennsylvania's, you know, probably the best example.
FOX: It wasn't right, obviously, for people to be expendable anywhere. But now, what you are seeing is this encroach - more and more - on places where there's a lot of media attention.
WINGER: And I would say to that as well - because, Josh, you know - there's nobody better to talk about policy and numbers and facts. But when you start talking to people who have been affected by this and we can't - you can't even manage the amount of stories that come in to be vetted.
WINGER: But, you know, I think that's for me. I have been telling stories about people my whole life. But there is none more compelling than the real stories that are coming in now and some of them are abject, some of them cannot be fixed already. And I think that that's what I would like to get out there is - are some more of these tales. I know the New York Times magazine did an article that gave us one of those stories. They are heart breaking. And it's happening here, it sounds like another country.
OLBERMANN: In the very limited time left, I guess I'll just poll you - since you're Eeyore and Winnie in this situation. Between this and the XL pipeline delay, this has been a good year for America?
WINGER: Oh no, I don't think it's been a good year, Keith.
FOX: This has been an amazing week. To get two wins and we are talking about a coalition of people - from the climate-justice movement, the fracking movement, the local groups, the big greens - all coming together, so I think we are just getting started. This is like the orchestra tuning itself up.
WINGER: Okay, well, that's your metaphor. And mine is a funnel. We are going to jump in at different edges of the funnel.
OLBERMANN: Because delay means more attention and more knowledge, necessarily. So I get the final vote.
WINGER: Well, yeah. Not Tom DeLay.
OLBERMANN: Josh Fox, Deborah Winger and not Tom DeLay. Thank you. That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck!