'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, November 28th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: Breaking news: LAPD does NOT shut down @OccupyLA; Jim Lafferty on group's court attempt to regain access to its space
#ShowPlug 2: OWS Effect? Judge overturns SEC ruling against Citigroup for Derivatives scandal - $285m fine not enough. w/ Matt @MTaibbi
#ShowPlug 3: @AlanGrayson joins me after smoking gun in Bank Bailout he revealed in '09 is confirmed in documents: secret $13B giveaway
#ShowPlug 4: Rep. Barney Frank says he will retire after redistricting; More to it? What's next for him? W/ @ShiraToeplitz of Roll Call
#ShowPlug 5: New Herman Cain accuser, new Mitt Romney flip-flop, new Newt admission (he's not Christ) @TheRichardLewis joins me in studio
#ShowPlug Last: Testimony: Rupert blackmailed 13-year old; Gov. Brownback tried to bully 18-year old @emmakate988 for critical tweet
watch whole playlist
#5 'Peaceful Protest', Jim Lafferty
#5 'Banks' Day In Court?', Matt Taibbi
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Money For (Almost) Nothing', Alan Grayson
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Drawing The Line', Shira Toeplitz
#2 Worst Persons: Rupert Murdoch, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gov. Sam Brownback and his cronies
#1 'No Mitts Allowed', Richard Lewis
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Alan Grayson, Matt Taibbi, Richard Lewis, Shira Toeplitz, Jim Lafferty
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Peace for our time? Occupy LA - not shut down by the LA police department.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: The LAPD had been so lovely about this so far, I don't anticipate them being anything different tonight.
OLBERMANN: Four arrests but no eviction. And Occupy LA seeks a court order to regain full access to its site.
(Excerpt from video clip) SPEAKER: Occupy!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Wall Street!
(Excerpt from video clip) SPEAKER: Occupy!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Los Angeles!
(Excerpt from video clip) SPEAKER: Occupy!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Everything and never give it back!
OLBERMANN: The banks - and the government that protects them - lose in court. A settlement between Citigroup and the Securities and Exchange Commission, over a $285 million fine against Citi for a derivatives swindle, is thrown out by a federal judge. Matt Taibbi on the stunner from the bench.
Alan Grayson was right. During the bailout, we also secretly gave the banks $13 billion in pure profit.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALAN GRAYSON: Don't Americans have the right to know how you spent that money?
OLBERMANN: My guest, Alan Grayson.
The end of one of the greatest congressmen - Barney Frank to retire. Blame Congressional redistricting. Fortunately, he is not going quietly.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARNEY FRANK: I did not think I had lived a good-enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee. It still is unlikely, but I have hopes.
OLBERMANN: British testimony. Rupert Murdoch blackmailed a 13-year-old into singing at his wedding. And the staff of the governor of Kansas tried to punish an 18-year-old for criticizing him in a tweet. And Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich finally admits it - he is not Jesus Christ.
(Excerpt from audio clip) NEWT GINGRICH: Look, anybody who is honest about it knows that no person except Christ has even been perfect.
OLBERMANN: The softballs are coming in slow and juicy for my special guest - the Prince of Pain, Richard Lewis. All that and more now, on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) HOMER SIMPSON: Save me, Jebus!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Monday, November 28th, 344 days until the 2012 presidential election and - after two months of violence and conflict, fomented by authorities - it is breaking news when neither happens.
In our fifth story on the "Countdown" - Occupy Los Angeles. With a crowd of thousands watching, police do not evict protesters at midnight, as the mayor had threatened. Now, protesters seeking a court order that would allow them to stay where they are. As many as 4,000 flooding into Los Angeles' Occupy camp ahead of the midnight deadline for eviction at 5:00 AM, local prevailing time. Police announcing they would arrest protesters blocking the streets, who might disrupt traffic, but that those in the park could stay.
(Excerpt from video clip) POLICEMAN: It is not our intent to clear the park at this time. Once again, it is only our intent to clear the streets.
OLBERMANN: Police Chief Charlie Beck today saying that the midnight deadline was only the point at which the camp became illegal. It was not, in fact, a deadline for police to kick out the protesters.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHARLIE BECK: Last night we had absolutely no - I wouldn't be in - in this - I wouldn't be in my street clothes if I had planned on - on removing people from the park last night. Our intent last night was to continue the informational campaign to get people into shelter that - that would take it.
OLBERMANN: Protesters declaring victory, but Police Commander Andrew Smith saying, "Not so fast."
(Excerpt from video clip) ANDREW SMITH: We'll pick the right time and we'll make sure that, you know, we can do it in as safe a manner as possible. We want to give everybody that wants to leave the opportunity to do that.
OLBERMANN: With just four arrests, those threats only emboldening the protesters.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I expect to be evicted this week. I expect to go to jail this week. And the movement will go on and be strengthened by that experience.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa saying the camp is now, at least officially, closed.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: Since Friday, we've been passing out flyers to make sure that people know that - at 12:01 - the park would be closed. It is now officially closed.
OLBERMANN: Late this afternoon, though, a legal team for the National Lawyers Guild filing a temporary restraining order to prevent authorities from removing protesters. Executive Director Jim Lafferty saying the City Council passed a resolution "welcoming the Occupation, applauding the Occupation, inviting them to say and created a design" - or designated area - "that is an exception to the prohibition on overnight camping. And only the City Council, by resolution, can rescind that. They have not done so." Mr. Lafferty joins me in a moment.
Meantime - in Philadelphia, the deadline for protesters there to leave their encampment also passing, more or less without incident. Police presence heavier than usual, leading up to that midnight deadline, as about 50 protesters linked arms to protect their camp. Their effort ultimately unnecessary, though, as police never ordered them to leave. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's spokesman still insisting, "People are under orders to move."
One indication of what the mayor, himself, might be thinking coming from a Twitter exchange with the businessman and activist Russell Simmons, who wrote, "I am asking Occupy Philly's Mayor Michael Nutter to remember this is a non-violent movement. Please show restraint tonight. Thank you."
Nutter responding, "I agree."
Let's look again at Los Angeles. Joining me now, Jim Lafferty, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild of LA. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
JIM LAFFERTY: Well, good evening, Keith, and I apologize for my voice.
OLBERMANN: I understand. There's been a lot of talking recently, which is actually an - a rare thing, in terms of Occupy and the - and cities that it's been present in. What would a temporary restraining order do, and would protesters be allowed to stay indefinitely or what would happen?
LAFFERTY: It would prevent - it would, of course, prevent the police from coming in and evicting the occupiers. We made it very clear that - as you reported at the top of the show - the action of the City Council - the action of the City Council governs in this case. So, if the temporary restraining order is granted - as we believe it should be because of those reasons - they could not be evicted either temporarily or, if it becomes permanent, at any time in the future.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Lafferty, why didn't Los Angeles follow the playbook, as best you can understand it? I mean, we know that there was this conference call among the 17 or 18 mayors. Mayor Quan, of Oakland, identified that. There were several reports that Mayor Villaraigosa was on at least one of a - a couple of conference calls to try to, sort of, map out a strategy that's been used in several different cities. Nearly everybody has wound up raiding and having a huge police force and presence. Why not LA - or do you still think that's a possibility?
LAFFERTY: Well, I think - I think the mayor did follow the script in the - in the sense that the mayor indicated it was safety issues, it was health issues, it was sanitation - when, in fact I - when, in fact, I believe that, in fact, the mayor was simply giving in to the banks and the mortgage companies and the developers who elect him in the first place. He's thrown his lot in, if you will, with the one percent and not with the 99 percent, and he's used the issue of sanitation as an excuse for what he is planning to do, and I think he ought to be ashamed of himself, frankly, for doing that.
OLBERMANN: Jim Lafferty, the executive director of the National Lawyer's Guild of Los Angeles. Great thanks for coming on and - and feel better.
LAFFERTY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Another potential answer to the question -what has Occupy actually done? A federal judge today throwing out a cozy $285 million slap on the wrist against Citgroup by the Securities and Exchange Commission, because the bank was not forced to admit to any wrongdoing, nor even to divulge exactly what it did.
Judge Jed Rakoff writing that SEC policy - that of allowing banks to settle, rather than disclose details - "Asks the court to employ its power and assert its authority when it does not know the facts." And that "an application of judicial power that does not rest on facts is worse than mindless. It is inherently dangerous."
In the case, Citigroup was charged with negligence and selling investments to customers in a billion dollar mortgage-securities fund, which it later bet against. Investors reportedly lost $700 million, while Citigroup made about $160 million in profits.
Joining me now, "Countdown" contributor, Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for Rolling Stone who, of course, has been following this stuff since before the rest of us had any idea what was really going on. Good to see you, Matt.
MATT TAIBBI: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is this coincidental that this follows Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement or is it - is there some connection, even if it's only in the ether?
TAIBBI: Yeah, I think there's a vague connection here, maybe even a little bit more than vague. I mean, Judge Rakoff has a history of very tough settlements. In fact, he dealt Bank of America a pretty brutal settlement, very similar to this one, a couple of years ago. But this ruling that he gave today was really an unusual document.
It's an incredible judicial butt-kicking, what he delivered to the SEC today. And it reads like a political document, almost like a manifesto, and I think it's - you know, part of that is because of the political climate that we're seeing with Occupy Wall Street. Maybe, on some level, he felt emboldened to go a little bit extra with this ruling because of this movement or maybe he just felt that - you know, that this was in the air right now and the country was ready for this.
OLBERMANN: Is it too simplistic to say that he gave a legal version of, "Listen, SEC, we know you're in bed with all these firms that you're supposed to regulate and all these industries you're supposed regulate. You should at least do a better job of making it look like you're not in bed with them when the lights go on."
TAIBBI: No, that's not too simplistic. That's exactly what he did in this ruling. He came out, basically, and said that the SEC and Wall Street have been in a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" arrangement for years, whereby the SEC gives these people slap-on-the-wrist fines and protects these companies from civil liability, you know, and in exchange - these companies get to walk free and they don't have to admit to any wrongdoing, which means they can't be sued in the future. It's really - it's an under-the-table, kind of, subterranean arrangement, which - he just blew a hole into that.
OLBERMANN: What would the reaction be at the SEC? Would they be, sort of like, "Well, yeah, great, we'll show you on appeal," or would this knock some sense into them or - is it another - could they, in fact, draw something about what's in the wind, based on the judge's ruling?
TAIBBI: I think - yeah, I think there's going to be a little bit of that. I think there's going to be a little bit of panic because - again, this is - they've been going along for years, giving these phony, crappy settlements, dealing them out without any kind of resistance from judges anywhere. Judges have been part of this picture for years. They've been signing off on these deals. And for Judge Rakoff not only to reject the settlement, but to reject it in such an aggressive fashion - with this very strong rebuke and this ruling - is very sobering for the SEC, I'm sure.
OLBERMANN: As to Judge Rakoff and his, sort of, being out there on an island - you wrote also that he's "fast becoming a sort of legal hero of our time. It's great that Rakoff is having - behaving as any decent human being would and rejecting these disgusting settlements, but equally disturbing is the fact that more judges haven't done the same thing." Is there any more momentum toward there being more judges who might do the same thing?
TAIBBI: You know, I think that's kind of remains to be seen. It also - it remains to be seen whether the SEC and other regulators are going to engage in judge shopping, you know? Which is typically what happens when you have strong judge. He somehow gets avoided in the future. And we'll just have to wait and see with that.
OLBERMANN: Well, is there any momentum, that you sense, toward more - or more meaningful - prosecutions by - by the SEC or it - is there any other means by which these banks can be regulated, if the SEC is not doing its job, as the judge suggested?
TAIBBI: Well, this is the - this is just the implicit instruction of this ruling, which is - "Do not come back into my courtroom unless you have a real prosecution next time."
In other words, "Where I am not gonna sign off on a settlement that does not establish the facts of the case," which is what they've been doing. They've been covering up these crimes by agreeing to these settlements without full disclosure, and they -at least - can't come into his court room anymore without - without doing that, the next time around. So, we'll hopefully - we'll see a real prosecution next time.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any idea of the percentages - how many times the SEC cuts a deal, rather than - than even - it cuts a deal that exposes what the company did?
TAIBBI: Oh, I've looked in - just in the last three years, I mean, just looking at the settlements that the SEC has engaged in, that they - 100 percent of the cases, they come with that provision that says that these companies do not have to disclose, you know, the full facts and they don't have to admit to wrongdoing. I mean, that's - that's not occasional, that's every single time. So, this is -- this is, you know, it's a landmark ruling, in some ways.
OLBERMANN: So, once again - I don't want to put too fine a legal point on it, 'cause I took one law course 30 years ago in college and it was about communications, didn't have a damned thing to do with this - but it seems to me that, essentially, that's - that's saying, "You can bribe us into not prosecuting you," and you never are actually assigned guilt for anything.
TAIBBI: Exactly, exactly. I mean, it's totally illogical on the face of it. "We - we'll take $285 million from you, but we won't say exactly what for." And that's, essentially, what these rulings are. "You do not have to admit to anything. You'll give us a little bit of money. Everything goes away and we all keep going about our business."
And - it's crazy way of doing things and they've been doing it for decades and now, I think, you know, finally, somebody's standing up to it.
OLBERMANN: So, it just gets - gets factored in the cost of business, from these companies' viewpoint?
TAIBBI: Absolutely, it's like - it's a cost of doing business for these companies. They recognize that - every now and then - they're gonna get dragged into court, they're gonna have to give a little bit of money to somebody and then they get to walk away and keep doing it.
OLBERMANN: Nice budget, if you can work it out that way.
OLBERMANN: Rolling Stone contributing editor, and, of course, "Countdown" contributor - Matt Taibbi. As always, thank you, Matt.
TAIBBI: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Beyond TARP, beyond bailouts - there were also the secret loans by the government to the banks in 2008. Then-Congressman Alan Grayson blew the whistle on them, including $13 billion that was essentially given by the taxpayers to the companies as pure profit. He was criticized for doing that. Today, we learned he was right. He joins us next.
OLBERMANN: In the day, we secretly gave the top banks $13 billion. Not bailouts, not loans, not TARP - free profits. Tonight, the man who first blew the whistle - former Congressman Alan Grayson reacts to the confirmation of what he warned us about.
Redistricting that would have made his re-election not really worth it to him. And thus, we lose one of the greatest of current congressmen - Barney Frank - to retirement.
The crypt keeper of Fox News goes onward still, sadly. How his company blackmailed a 13-year-old girl and then went ahead and reneged on his end of the blackmail anyway.
And right here, live on our stage, the great Richard Lewis gets his first shot at the 2012 Republican presidential field. We'll see if any of them survive, especially after the latest allegation against Herman Cain, new this afternoon.
OLBERMANN: Three years after the big bank bailout, secrets are emerging - including the one about the $13 billion in profits the banks made, thanks to below-market loan rates from the Federal Reserve. Our fourth story on the "Countdown" - a kind of smoking gun, proving your worst fears about the 2008 public welfare checks from taxpayers to banks who describe themselves as "too big to fail." And it was called "income redistribution."
In its new issue, Bloomberg Markets magazine reporting how the banks used secrecy and opportunism to get bigger, richer and more powerful, while citizens lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. No wonder the Fed and banks kept the details secret, until Bloomberg reporters and editors pried loose 29,000 pages of documents via a Freedom of Information request.
Let's flashback to this exchange from January 2009, when then-Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida grilled Donald Kohn, then the vice chairman of the Fed. Grayson, who will join us in a moment, wanted to know what banks got what loans and from how much and Kohn ducked the question and implied it was none of Grayson's business, nor the public's.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALAN GRAYSON: And you're saying that that entitles you to keep secret the expenditure of $1.2 trillion - $4,000 for every man, woman and child in this country?
(Excerpt from video clip) DONALD KOHN: I don't think we're keeping it secret. I think we're releasing a lot of information about it, but I would, personally - I have no - I don't, you know, the - I would personally be very, very reluctant to release the individual names of the borrowers.
(Excerpt from video clip) GRAYSON: What do you think might happen if people knew how their $1.2 trillion had been spent? Do you think they might be angry?
(Excerpt from video clip) KOHN: No. I don't know, obviously. I think that they can judge how the money is spent from what -- or how the money is lent from what we're telling them.
OLBERMANN: And what if the public was told more?
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio suggesting Congress would have been less generous. He told that Bloomberg magazine, "This is an issue that can unite the tea party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now."
Joining me now -- former United States representative, current congressional candidate, Alan Grayson. Good to talk to you, sir.
ALAN GRAYSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Did this news just prove you correct from that hearing in 2009?
GRAYSON: Yes, I'm often proved correct, Keith, but usually faster than this. It usually doesn't take this long. But I am pleased that we were able to go - join with Ron Paul, who introduced legislation to accomplish just this, 26 years earlier - and get a full and complete audit of the Federal Reserve, which has now shown $16 trillion in money lent out directly from the Federal Reserve to institutions - various institutions, including many foreign institutions. About a third of the money, it turns out, went to foreign institutions.
And then, on top of that, another $10 trillion in currency swaps between the Federal Reserve and foreign central banks, which they had no way to recover if the foreign central banks weren't able to get the money back themselves. So, all together, $26 trillion of bailouts, just in those two categories - not including TARP, not including FDIC financing of U.S. institutions - $26 trillion. That's almost $100,000 for every man, woman and child in America, all done by the Federal Reserve without any act of Congress authorizing it.
OLBERMANN: All right, there is a lot of numbers thrown around here and sometimes - when you just hear abstractly - 13 billion sounds like it's larger than seven trillion. Which - of all of these numbers - which outrages you the most and which should outrage the public the most?
GRAYSON: I think that the - we can all agree the trillions of dollars - the trillions of dollars that were extended by the Federal Reserve to the banks in the form of corporate welfare. What they did is they took our money, the U.S. dollar - the fact that they control the currency, the fact that they have the control of the money supply - and, for the first time in history - and I'm talking about in the 100-year history of the Federal Reserve - they played favorites.
They said, "We'll give $100 trillion to this institution, 100" - sorry, $100 billion - "to this institution, another $100 billion to this institution," and so on, down the line, when you and I couldn't even come close to accessing that kind of money on those terms. They lent out this money at 0.01 percent interest. Zero point zero one percent interest. Go try to get a loan like that from your bank.
It was corporate welfare, pure and simple, and what they were doing is they were playing around with the value of the money in your pocket and the money in my pocket. They were taking the U.S. dollar and playing Russian roulette with it - giving it out in enormous, staggering sums, in the hope that they might get it back. Well, they did get most of it back, but what about next time?
OLBERMANN: In this time - when any time grandma gets a Social Security check, some liberal or Democrat is accused of favoring socialism - this sort of strikes me as kind of not just a corporate socialism, but - as you suggest - a corporate socialism that picked out individual favorites among those who were going to get the money redistributed to them. Is that a - a fair analogy?
GRAYSON: That's absolutely true, and what the GAO audit shows is that the Fed cannot explain why they chose one institution over another institution. All that anybody had to do was make noises about liquidity - liquidity or stress - and somehow that would justify the transfer of billions of dollars of what amounts to your money and my money.
You know, again, to give you a sense of what this is like, $16 trillion, $10 trillion - that's much more than the U.S. entire federal budget for the course of a year. In fact, that's more than all of the goods and services that we produce in the United States in the course of a year.
So, the Fed was handing out - to these select, favorite institutions - more money than it takes you and I to produce - and everyone in America, all 300 million of us - to produce in the course of an entire year, without any authorization. This was not voted on by Congress. This is just handouts from the Fed.
OLBERMANN: The mind reels. Bloomberg - the Bloomberg trade paper - says it's going to release another report tomorrow, and it's going to be about Treasury Secretary Paulson meeting secretly with hedge fund managers - and this is in December of 2008 - to discuss his plans for Fannie Mae. What are you expecting from that?
GRAYSON: Well, there were massive conflicts of interest. The regional banks of the Fed are actually populated and controlled by the local banks. And all of these bailouts were actually administered by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which has on its board many Wall Street executives. I'm talking about current Wall Street executives, not the Tim Geithners of the world - the people who used to be or in the future might work for Wall Street - but the current Wall Street executives actually on the board, making decisions about who would get what for themselves. It's - it's rife with conflicts of interest.
Barney Frank, to his credit, has introduced legislation to end that and the Republicans, I'm sure, will stop that.
OLBERMANN: Lastly --
GRAYSON: Prevent his legislation.
OLBERMANN: Of course. Lastly, personally, where are you campaign-wise?
GRAYSON: Oh, I -- you know, we've gotten tremendous support from people. We've had tens of thousands of people - literally, tens of thousands of people - go to our website, Congressmanwithguts.com. We - in the last quarter, we actually raised more than all but one sitting member of Congress, who's a Democrat, because of the enormous support we've gotten, with an average contribution from people of $38 at Congressmanwithguts.com. All those $38 contributions turn into hundreds of thousands of dollars when people work together and understand what this is all about, which is a fight for the future of America.
OLBERMANN: Alan Grayson, who will be running again to regain a seat representing Florida in the House of Representatives. As always, thank you for your time tonight, sir.
GRAYSON: Thank you very much, Keith. Great show.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. Maybe we get Congressman Grayson back a year from now, but we're going to lose Barney Frank. Details ahead.
OLBERMANN: Congress will lose one of its greatest and its most honest members. Barney Frank retiring, coming up.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1582, the poet and playwright William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. Of course, we now know Shakespeare was barely literate and was actually the business manager at the Globe Theatre and the only thing he had to do with the plays was publishing them under his own name, so that the spy-riddled British state didn't prosecute the five or six real authors for sedition and stuff and maybe occasionally, he was like a play doctor, who fixed up some stage business and - wait, I'm not supposed to mention any of that yet? Sorry. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...
"Time Marches On!"
... In this petty pace from day to day.
VIDEO: Baby makes a cell-phone call.
We begin with some rare footage of a Rush Limbaugh listener, calling into the show. You know, I take everything I ever said about his fans back. They appear a lot smarter and more mature than I used to think. I'm sorry, I stand corrected again - that's Newt Gingrich calling into Limbaugh's show.
VIDEO: Retirees fight at a Canadian Football League luncheon.
Let's go to Canada. The Canadian Football League alumni luncheon. Old rivals Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca are set to appear together on stage. The two have been adversaries, dating back to the 1963 game, when Mosca - who's the one with the scarf and the cane, on the right - put a hit on Kapp's teammate - Willie Fleming -that many felt was dirty. That was 1963, ancient history by now - or was it?
Kapp approaches Mosca with a flower. Mosca's not quite ready to make nice. Out comes the cane. Boom. It's not a routine. And then comes Joe Kapp's fist. You just beat up a guy with a cane, Mr. Quarterback. He's still got a good arm though.
You know what they say about Canadian football. They say, "Wait, there's something called Canadian football?" It's the best highlight out of that league in 20 years.
VIDEO: Grandmother tries Pop Rocks for the first time.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with an 82-year-old grandmother, trying Pop Rocks for the first time. She had a fight with Angelo Mosca, too. Throwing caution to the wind, she tosses back the whole bag.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Oh, my gosh! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
OLBERMANN: 36 hours later, she's still laughing.
Remember, don't drink any soda. It's not a myth. I mean, I know this one guy who knows a guy who ate Pop Rocks and then he drank a Coke and then he was declared a terrorist by Mayor Bloomberg of New York.
"Time Marches On!"
It's "Beat Up on Teenagers" Day, as the governor of Kansas proves he can't take criticism from an 18-year-old and the British Parliament is told that Rupert Murdoch used his newspapers to blackmail a 13-year-old. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's coverage of "The Army-McCarthy Hearings" will not be seen tonight so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the first news hour on cable to seriously cover Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement. The longest continuously-running 8:00 P.M. news hour on cable, unless you consider Fox - "news." We're live each night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern. We call it "our little social-media platform."
A loss, today, for political sanity in Washington. In our third story on the "Countdown" - longtime Congressman Barney Frank announced he will be ending his 32-year career in the House, due to redrawn Congressional districts in his home state of Massachusetts.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARNEY FRANK: I was planning to run again and then the Congressional redistricting came.
OLBERMANN: The U.S. Constitution requires new voting maps every ten years, based on the latest census. Congressman Frank faced his toughest challenge two years ago when he received his lowest percentage of votes since he took office. He beat his Republican opponent by 10 points.
In 2008, he had won his seat by more than 40 percent. Still, Barney Frank's new district would have been heavily Democratic. President Obama won it there, 63 percent of the vote in the Frank district of 2008. Under the new lines of 2012, he would have taken 61 percent. Few believe the redistricting would have cost Barney Frank the seat.
But unlike many in Congress, Frank is more concerned about his constituents than himself in this case, saying he would not be able to represent this new district properly.
(Excerpt from video clip) FRANK: The district is very substantially changed. There are 325,000 or 326,000 new people, many of whom I've never represented, some of whom I haven't represented for 20 years, which is an eternity in - in our politics today, in terms of the issues.
OLBERMANN: Frank's most enduring legacy will likely be the years he spent as the top Democrat on the House Financial Services committee, during which time he - along with then-Senator Chris Dodd - re-wrote the rules for Wall Street, after the 2008 manufactured financial crisis.
Today, President Obama put it best: "This country has never had a Congressman like Barney Frank and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him. For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice."
Joining me now - to assess what happens now - Roll Call's political campaign reporter, Shira Toeplitz, who's been covering redistricting across the nation. Thanks for your time tonight.
SHIRA TOEPLITZ: Thanks for having me back on the show again, Keith.
OLBERMANN: History suggests if Barney Frank says it, we can take it on face value, so redistricting is - was sort of the last straw in what this is all about, or is there more to it?
TOEPLITZ: That's what he's saying, at least that's what he told reporters earlier today.
I think you made an interesting point - that the partisanship of his district didn't change a lot. It went from what we considered about a D18 district - a heavily Democratic district - to a solidly Democratic district, a D+10. So, it wasn't partisanship, but it was the redrawing of the lines, that he'd have to get to know all these new constituents and serve them - you know, the people he hadn't represented for two decades, or at all, in his Congressional career. I think that it was a lot of work, and what Frank also said is he was thinking about retiring in 2014 anyway, so at this point - with all these new constituents - why get to know them for just two years?
OLBERMANN: He implies that he may do something new. Do we have any idea what that is?
TOEPLITZ: Well, he said he doesn't want to be a lobbyist or a historian. That was kind of a - a bit of a knock at - at something a presidential candidate said recently about him. You know, but some members in the past - Chris Dodd, for example, have said that they don't want to become lobbyists and then they go and they become lobbyists sometimes. He might not say he's a lobbyist, but he's the head of the Motion Picture Administration. I think that's a pretty big lobby down here, in Washington.
So, we'll see what Barney Frank does. I do think he's a very unique member of Congress. I don't think he'd enjoy the typical life of a lobbyist, but maybe there is some kind of lobby out there - perhaps the Human Rights Campaign - that would like to have them as his - their spokesperson.
OLBERMANN: Shira, let's turn to redistricting. Are there other key Congressman who are at risk - either in the election, ahead in 2012, or for contemplations like that of Mr. Frank - because of redistricting?
TOEPLITZ: Oh, absolutely. Definitely. Across the country, every ten years, we go through this process after the census. And states lose seats, they gain seats. And this year is a very unique year, especially because we had California - which is known for gerrymandered districts for decades. A congressman who drew the lines back in the early '80s once called the California map his "contribution to modern art." Well, it definitely looks like a piece of modern art if you see those districts.
This time, an independent commission took control of that process and really changed up the districts there. But not just in California - we have district changes in Texas; explosive population growth in the Southwest and in Florida have caused those districts to pick up new seats. A lot of changes to the congressional map in 2012 because of redistricting.
OLBERMANN: Since Tom Delay gerrymandered Texas a decade and more ago, redistricting has gone into, sort of, overdrive and we had just - just in the past week, Jan Brewer, the governor in Arizona, lost a fight over it, removed the head of the redistricting commission, was sued, lost in court - in the State Supreme Court. Now, it turns out she's going to the Federal Supreme Court to try to get her way. Is - is that momentum about redistricting becoming more decisive about who runs what, where - is that increasing? Has it leveled off? Give us your assessment.
TOEPLITZ: I think, more and more this cycle, we've seen politicians step in and do kind of outrageous things, in terms of redistricting. They used - this used to be a little bit more of a straightforward process a couple decades ago, but each decade - as they've redrawn the lines - it's become a little crazier, if you will.
And politicians either get a little more greedy than they should and then the courts have to take over - that's what happened in Texas. Or we see things like what happened with Jan Brewer, which is really unheard of. We were all very shocked when we saw her go for that and try to impeach the redistricting chair there. That's something we've never heard of.
And independent commissions, interestingly enough, was supposed to be the most non-controversial way you can redraw these lines, and are very successful in other states, but apparently Governor Brewer had a problem with it.
OLBERMANN: As with many things.
Shira Toeplitz, of Roll Call. Thanks for your time tonight and your insight into redistricting.
TOEPLITZ: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Another accuser in the Herman Cain serial sexual-harassment case. I know people put "breaking news" on this story all day. It just really isn't anymore, is it?
And Newt Gingrich says, "Christ, I'm not Jesus!" Richard Lewis on all of the above and more, coming up.
OLBERMANN: Newt Gingrich admits he's not Jesus Christ. The Prince, Richard Lewis, will punish him and several other GOP wannabes, severely. First the "Worst" and the Governor of Kansas tries to save his backside after his staffers try to crush a resident of his state for a tweet critical of the Governor. The resident is an 18-year-old schoolgirl.
OLBERMANN: The one and only Prince of Pain, Richard Lewis, takes on the Republican candidates - next.
First - because that leaves me free to hit everybody else - here are "Countdown's" top-three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze to Rupert Murdoch, the calcifying buffoon who runs the political whorehouse that is Fox News. He also runs a series of newspapers, as you may know. They are being investigated in three countries for widespread corruption, spying and lawbreaking. It turns out that - even when Murdoch's people make a crooked deal with somebody on his behalf - he is still not necessarily a man of his crooked word.
The British singer Charlotte Church has testified to the British Parliament that she made a deal with the devil in 1999. "When I was 13," she writes, "I was asked to perform at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in New York. When it came to the payment for my work, my management at the time informed me that either there would be a £100,000 fee, which was the biggest fee I'd ever been offered, or - if the fee for my performance was waived - I would be looked upon favorably by Mr. Murdoch's papers.
Despite my teenage business head screaming, 'Think how many Tamogotchis you could buy," I was pressured into taking the latter option. This strategy failed ... for me. In fact, Mr. Murdoch's newspapers have been - since been - some of the worst offenders, so much so that I have sometimes felt that there has actually been a deliberate agenda."
Even though Church sang at Murdoch's wedding, Murdoch's Sun ran a countdown - excuse me - to her 16th birthday, emphasizing that it was the day she reached the age of consent.
When Church became pregnant, the paper somehow got the details before she could tell her own family - gee, I wonder how they got the details - and that's how her mother found out.
When her father cheated on her mother and the mother, and the scandal became suicidal - and the mother became suicidal - Church says The Sun demanded that she give it - again, this is from her testimony - "an exclusive story of her breakdown, self-harming" - meaning her mother's - "and attempted suicide, in exchange for not printing a follow-up story about my father's infidelity." The infidelity was reported elsewhere.
So that's what you get when you agree to blackmail by a CEO like Rupert Murdoch, who couldn't even live up to his word to a 13-year old girl.
The runner-up? Joe Lieberman, still - inexplicably - the senior senator from Connecticut. You may have already figured out that the bullcrap, phony terrorism threat that was announced breathlessly by Mayor Bloomberg of New York a week ago Sunday was, indeed, bull crap.
Your hint might have been that the alleged suspect, Jose Pimentel, was twice declared by the FBI to be too stupid to actually get anything done. Or maybe it was when it was revealed that the informant the NYPD had on the tail of this loser sat around smoking pot with him. Or maybe you understood what we were dealing with when you learned that Mr. Pimentel had tried to save a little money and perform a circumcision on himself.
You got it, but Senator Lieberman is still so wonderfully stupid that he has not gotten it. Because the super-genius Pimentel was running his pretend jihad website on a Google Blogger platform, Lieberman has now sent a letter to the CEO of Google, demanding it institute a policy allowing other users to flag stuff that they read on Google Blogs as terrorist material.
Lieberman is the same idiot who demanded that they install a kill switch on the Internet for the next time he and his paranoid pals saw anything on it that "sounded Muslim."
But our winner is Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, his spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag and Principal Karl R. Krawitz of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas.
Governor Brownback gave a speech at a Kansas Youth in Government event in Topeka a week ago. During it, an 18-year-old senior at Shawnee Mission East named Emma Sullivan jokingly tweeted, "Just made mean comments at Gov Brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot." It never actually happened.
She was tweeting a joke to 85 friends. Still, Governor Brownback's social-media unit promptly contacted the Youth in Government staff and - in turn - they contacted Emma Sullivan's high school principal, Krawitz.
The Governor's spokesperson, Ms. Jones-Sontag, says "We monitor social media so we can see what Kansans are thinking and saying about the governor and his policies." She added that Emma's tweet was not "respectful" and "didn't contribute to good public dialogue."
The principal - Krawitz - then called Ms. Sullivan into his office, declared the tweet was unacceptable and an embarrassment and he now had to do damage control. He demanded she write a letter of apology to Brownback and a letter of apology to the Youth in Government group and a letter of apology the school's district's Social Studies coordinator and to others. He even gave her talking points of what should be in her apology and insisted she present it to him by today.
Today, Governor Brownback said some of his staff had gotten carried away and he apologized - a week after his peoples attempted to punish an 18-year-old girl for free speech. Literally, get her in trouble at school for using her First Amendment Rights. But nobody, including that holier-than-thou spokesman - or spokeswoman - has been suspended or removed. The principal, who should be fired, has not yet been.
Ms. Sullivan - who is the only one in the group with any guts, maturity or any awareness that we live in the United States of America - is refusing to apologize for the tweet.
So, spokesperson Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Principal Karl R. Krawitz and Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas - whose administration can't survive the criticism of an 18-year-old girl - today's "Worst Persons in The World."
OLBERMANN: Another day, another accuser for Herman Cain, as he inches closer to actual "9-9-9."
RICHARD LEWIS: Number nine, number nine, he'll go --
OLBERMANN: Nine sexual-harassment charges, nine sexual-assault allegations, nine people left supporting him.
In our number-one story - the latest to come forward, an Atlanta woman named Ginger, who says Cain had a 13-year affair with her and she knew he was married. But Cain is not the only headliner serving themselves up to the analysis of the Prince, Richard Lewis, who's already joined us over there - in that sort of direction. Manchester's Union Leader formally endorsed Newt Gingrich for the New Hampshire January 10th primary. A move gleefully received by Democrats.
(Excerpt from video clip) FRANK: I did not think I had lived a good-enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee. He would be the best thing that happened to the Democratic party since Barry Goldwater.
OLBERMANN: But the paper in New Hampshire wrote "Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate." A fact that did not seem to faze Newt Gingrich.
GINGRICH: Anybody who is honest about it knows that no person, except Christ, has even been perfect.
OLBERMANN: Thanks - thanks for admitting you're not Jesus. "We would rather back someone with whom we may disagree - sometimes disagree - than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear." That's a reference to Mitt Romney. Evidence came from the most recent GOP debate.
(Excerpt from audio clip) MITT ROMNEY: Look, amnesty is a magnet. When we have had, in the past, programs that have said that a people who've come here illegally are gonna get to stay illegally for the rest of their life -that's gonna only encourage more people to come here illegally.
OLBERMANN: Of course, one Republican presidential wannabe who might disagree with Mr. Romney's stance on amnesty is another former governor - Mitt Romney, circa 2007.
(Excerpt from audio clip) ROMNEY: But those people who have come here illegally and are in this country - the 12 million or so that are here illegally - should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship.
OLBERMANN: I now welcome one and only Richard Lewis, in town to perform -
LEWIS: No, no, the @TheRichardLewis.
OLBERMANN: @TheRichardLewis -
LEWIS: I'm so - you're Mr. Twitter, aren't you?
OLBERMANN: Now - really into the Twitter thing, as we all fall madly in love with Twitter.
LEWIS: You know, in three more days, if you let it grow - the white Cornel West.
OLBERMANN: That's -
LEWIS: Can I say this? I love him. What an activist. He knows what he's talking about.
OLBERMANN: Yes. I don't, but I'm trying to get the beard to get a little -
LEWIS: So good to see you, good to be here. Let's go, let's rock. We got four minutes!
OLBERMANN: Do the plug first, you're at Caroline -
LEWIS: Oh, yeah, I love - I started that club 30 years ago.
OLBERMANN: Right, I know.
LEWIS: Caroline's, this Thursday to Sunday. Yeah.
OLBERMANN: And you're starring in the new cover story in Time magazine, "The Two Faces of Anxiety." Right?
LEWIS: And a sex addiction essay in the - Lindsay Lohan Playboy issue in three weeks -
OLBERMANN: Okay, I didn't need to -
LEWIS: Listen, I am - I'm a nutcase!
OLBERMANN: I didn't need to know the last part, but -
LEWIS: Yes, you did. I've told you.
OLBERMANN: You and Lindsay Lohan, oh, my -
LEWIS: No, I'm not in the -
OLBERMANN: I know.
LEWIS: I'm not naked. I'm dressing up as Joe DiMaggio with a mask, then I take my clothes off. All right, so we've got to talk politics.
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain. I - it's - Thanksgiving was last week. I am so grateful for Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, I can't tell you how much.
LEWIS: Oh, it's Thanksgiving - look, as an American -
LEWIS: I'm depressed. As a comedian and everyone - anyone who does humor and - it's hard to split the difference. I'm a patriot, man. I want, you know - this is disgusting. This is like The New Christy Minstrels are - you know, it's like - it's like a silly "Muppet Show."
OLBERMANN: That's right.
LEWIS: That's going on.
OLBERMANN: Or a parade going by.
LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, look - this whole thing that's been going on, I mean, with - Cain, you know, the big deal he had was the Godfather thing, but there're all these things that are going on. I mean, he's lucky to be - I don't know, the doorman at - I don't know - at the Bada Bing! That's it! He's out. He's gone.
OLBERMANN: Well, I think he may have - that may be the next job, right? I mean -
LEWIS: No, you have to think so.
OLBERMANN: He has some experience in this area, apparently.
LEWIS: Oh, you have to think so and Romney - you know, I was thinking, driving over here - watch - you know, he's so - you just can't trust a word he says. You know, if he - if it's Christmas and he's talking to a couple of Hasidic Jews, he would go, "Ah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah!" The whole thing's ridiculous.
You know, but the base will - will let it - will like it but you gotta think - do you really want this cat to be president? It's - when he - I mean, he should have been on that - oh, that "Undercover Boss" show. That would've been great. Like, at Denny's maybe. Or, no, the pancake house - at IHOP.
LEWIS: You know, "Is it really that bad here? But look at the - " he would flip his ass off. That's what he does. It's really humiliating. It's humiliating and what's his - and Newt. How many decades of B.S. do - I mean, he - and he's a historian.
LEWIS: His own historian!
LEWIS: He should have a book in - you know, in hotel rooms, you know? Next to the Gideon Bible, then have, you know, "My Life," you know, "According to Newt." It's such crap. I mean, look - everyone knows and - look, I'm not judging him on the women thing and the adultery and - you can.
OLBERMANN: And the chemo.
LEWIS: And the wife - yeah, I'm not judging him on all this horrific stuff as a human being.
OLBERMANN: No, of course, no, no, no.
LEWIS: But, politically - and he was the Speaker. "Good-bye," you know? I mean - and the bill - and the - and all this stuff. He is not - he is not right for the people who are in need. You know - you know, the Republicans, the Democrats, the Independents, the poor. This cat is not the right guy. Let him be a king in his own island, you know? And let Romney, you know, make him pancakes in the morning and that's cool.
OLBERMANN: But we know - we know at least he's not Christ. It's nice that he brought Christ into this, too.
LEWIS: He said that, didn't he?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, he said nobody's has been perfect since Christ.
LEWIS: I think he quietly might - let me tell you something.
OLBERMANN: Have a little thing going where he thinks he's -
LEWIS: You know, he'll - you know, he's going to get the base and he'll do this whole - and I don't - I am not a deeply religious person. I just want proof. You know?
I mean, I was in - I was in Dallas months ago and I said, "Any right-wing evangelicals?" It was a big auditorium. They were a great audience. I didn't expect a - a wave, rather. It broke out. I went, "Okay, I'm a Jew. Come get me. There's ten left. I'm gonna kill half of ya!" They laughed. "I don't have a tail on my behind." You know, they believe this.
LEWIS: Some of them. But the - you know, but, with this Christ thing, it's not fair. I mean, if Christ did any of the great stuff that you read about - he was a beautiful man.
LEWIS: But, you know, I'm sure, you know, when he was committing adultery, he says, "You know, he rose --" Didn't he rise in --
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that's the story.
LEWIS: But he probably said to the chick, you know, he rose for the right reasons. "I'm rising. Want a martini?" You know. This guy is not - none of the - I don't know who's suited to be president on that end. I - you know, I'm not one of these - you know, I'm gonna get - I'm gonna - They're gonna tweet me all they know. I'm gonna get all these right-wing people thinking that I'm just bashing, but look - just look at the record.
OLBERMANN: I know.
LEWIS: They're not great people to run the country.
OLBERMANN: And at this stage, when Michele Bachmann looks plausible against the backdrop of the other ones, we know we're in trouble.
LEWIS: "Well, my hair looks better."
OLBERMANN: That's -
LEWIS: Hair looks better. She's a very attractive woman, but some of the things she says have been just - it's just -
OLBERMANN: Wait, how many times have you - I mean, we've all done this, right?
OLBERMANN: Mistaken John Wayne for John Wayne Gacy. Doesn't everybody do that?
OLBERMANN: Doesn't everybody mistake - the hometown of John Wayne.
LEWIS: Didn't I call you Babe Ruth a minute ago?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that's right. Exactly.
LEWIS: You know, the whole thing is ridiculous. It's ridiculous for - the group they have there and I - and I think that - I think - the thing that bothers me, more than anything, is that - no matter what they do, no matter how stupid they might say things - and they're so wrong and so not knowing the facts and so off. I mean, the thing - it was - I mean, it's almost - felt bad for Cain. "My head's twirling."
OLBERMANN: That's right. "I got all this stuff twirling inside my head."
LEWIS: Well, he was twirling listening to Romney.
LEWIS: He go, "What did he just say? Four and 4 is 8 and 10 or 9?" It's crazy. It's a bad group.
OLBERMANN: It's a bad group.
LEWIS: It's a bad group to run the country. They could be - have some decency. I'm not knocking them as human beings, but as political people, to maybe run America - forget about it.
OLBERMANN: Is this your fear, as it is mine, as a commentator and you, as an entertainer who analyzes this stuff -
LEWIS: Oh, all of a sudden I'm Eddie Cantor and -
OLBERMANN: That's right - this gentleman, right here on - yeah, sorry. The entertainer. Is it - it's my fear that, okay, we mock these people and we - we love them because they're so outrageous and then, it turns out that one of them is nominated and could - and comes relatively close to being president. That scares the crap out of me.
LEWIS: Yeah, well that's why I came on, you know, when I - and I talk about - that's why I despised McCain for having - well, she was governor for half a - so she's the gov - Gov. Palin. To think - just to get votes.
Know what bugs me, man? The thousand people - and on both sides of the aisle, there's always people that are gonna - historically. But to think that this small group of people that - I'd say 95 percent have a great life and money - are holding up this entire country, man, is just sickening. It's so sickening. So, I mean, sure - I mean, I've been a Democrat most of my life 'cause I think they're more humane. I think they care more about the middle class and the people who have nothing and, you know, rather than just -- and people who are impoverished. It's true. It's - historically, it's true. So sue me.
What am I - I'm not a socialist and I'm not bashing them - I mean, some of them are bad - are, you know, historically, both sides of the - both - the point I'm trying to say here - and spitting out - is that I don't knock them as human beings as much as like - I'm just wondering, who are we gonna vote for? Who are we gonna - it's like Lieberman.
LEWIS: This guy wouldn't shake my hand. I worked 15 years, night and day for the DNC and I did a speech and I said - and he did a speech and I - I put my hand and he says, "I won't shake it." I went, "You won't sake my hand?" He says, "I know your material." Give me a break. And then he spoke at the - but these guys - this is sleazy. That was the - maybe one of the sleaziest Democrats that ever lived.
OLBERMANN: He's not that bright.
OLBERMANN: Joe's not that bright.
LEWIS: I don't know. He won't shake my hand. I'm not gonna give him an SAT.
OLBERMANN: The one and only Richard Lewis, @ --
LEWIS: Am I done?
OLBERMANN: @TheRichard - It's past 9:00 already.
LEWIS: Oh, I'm sorry.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we're all done. We're done.
LEWIS: I love you, buddy.
OLBERMANN: See you, my friend. That's "Countdown." That's Richard Lewis. I'm Keith Olbermann. See ya.