'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: 1400 cops to chase 400 protestors: #OccupyLA raided #OccupyPhilly chased #Occupy pepper-sprayed protesting Koch Bros' ALEC
#ShowPlug 2: The Seattle teacher who got arrested at the State Capitol protesting school cuts, Jesse Hagopian, joins us
#ShowPlug 3: Cain re-reassesses, re-insists he won't drop in. Fox attacks Mitt. Bachmann vows to close nonexistent embassy. w/ @kenvogel
#ShowPlug 4: 15 Dem Senators support indefinite detention of US citizens? POTUS comes up big with veto threat. We'll have the latest.
#ShowPlug 5: Meth-fighting, teenaged-boy rescuing Colorado sheriff arrested for trying to trade meth for sex with young men
#ShowPlug Last: Strippers sneaked into Florida Federal Pen - disguised as para-legals. Oooh! Busted! Countdown live at 8 ET
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy Camps Closed', P.J. Davenport
#5 'Occupy Budget Cuts', Jesse Hagopian
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Running Pains', Ken Vogel
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Indefinite Detention?', Raha Wala
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly, Patrick J. Sullivan Jr., Paul McMullan
#1 'Stripped Down Justice', Christian Finnegan
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Jesse Hagopian, Raha Wala, PJ Davenport, Ken Vogel, Christian Finnegan
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Fourteen hundred cops evict 400 protesters from Occupy LA.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: The people, united, will never be defeated!
OLBERMANN: The city's mayor smugly congratulates himself.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: In my life, I've never seen a more professional, restrained police force - under very, very trying circumstances - as I witnessed today.
OLBERMANN: Other than beating the protesters who were running away. And sending a guy to the pavement for taking a photo. And keeping the media at bay.
Philadelphia also raided overnight.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: I got trampled by the horse. He f---ing knocked me over.
OLBERMANN: And also featuring a smug, self-congratulating mayor.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL NUTTER: This morning's action, as I mentioned earlier, was based on weeks of planning, a plan that was flawlessly executed by a combination of a variety of forces.
OLBERMANN: Plus, pepper spray as Occupy Phoenix tries to break up the conservative legislation writers at the ALEC meeting there.
And branding protesters with invisible ink in Montreal.
At least one mayor is admitting what's going on - Michael Bloomberg, speaking at MIT: "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh-biggest army in the world."
Indefinite detention of American citizens. The Senate is hellbent for it, as are 16 Democratic senators. The White House intends to veto.
(Excerpt from video clip) DIANE FEINSTEIN: Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charge or trial.
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain, approaching his "Thelma and Louise" moment.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGER WHITE: Just up until last week, that was my last contact with Mr. Cain.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: We are reassessing as we speak. Reassessment means re-evaluation.
OLBERMANN: If Cain's jumping off the cliff, Romney's being pushed - pushed around by Fox News.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: This is an unusual interview.
OLBERMANN: So Gingrich goes after Fox News.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: One of the real changes that comes when you start running for president, as opposed to being an analyst on Fox, is I - you know, I have to actually know what I'm talking about.
OLBERMANN: And just because it's a maximum-security federal detention facility, that doesn't mean the drug kingpin inmates shouldn't have access to - strippers! Strippers dressed as paralegals. Paralegals? I thought you said - never mind.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, November 30th, 342 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Two major Occupy camps closed overnight - Occupy Los Angeles and Occupy Philadelphia - while Boston's mayor moves to have a temporary restraining order removed to allow police to close the camp there at Dewey Square. And Phoenix police use pepper spray against the Occupy protesters marching against one of the Koch brothers' favorite "charities."
KEITH OLBERMANN: The fifth story on the "Countdown" - unrelenting official pressure continuing on the Occupy movement, but mass arrests have not stopped the mass movement that seems to draw strength from each setback.
We start tonight in Los Angeles, where some 1,400 police came swarming into City Hall Park after midnight. This, after mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had ordered the park officially closed on Monday.
LA officials say around half the protesters had already left, leaving perhaps 250 tents still occupied. Police officers with guns equipped with rubber bullets, among the forces assigned to clear them out. As many as 300 out of the remaining 400 protesters were arrested. While most of the charges were minor - failure to disburse - at least four protesters and a dog were taken down from a tree house after officers fired rounds from a bean-bag gun. And at least one photographer found himself wrestled to the ground and in handcuffs after he failed to move quickly enough for police.
Mayor Villaraigosa had nothing but praise for the LAPD:
(Excerpt from video clip) VILLARAIGOSA: In my life, I've never seen a more professional, restrained police force - under very, very trying circumstances - as I witnessed today.
OLBERMANN: Evidently, the mayor doesn't get out much. He later added to the praise, saying the LAPD was able to avoid violent confrontations and this may be "the finest moment in LAPD history." What? Out of all six good ones? Adding that it was necessary to do this to protect the children living at Occupy LA. Los Angeles, he failed to mention, has an estimated 13,000 homeless children.
Some Occupy L.A. protesters venture to disagree with Mr. mayor's self-congratulation.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: It was a military action. It was anything but peaceful. They swept us out like cattle.
OLBERMANN: Protesters also complained they had been told police would allow them to collect their tents. Many of the tents went into Dumpsters instead. And while some protesters found a temporary home in Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, they have been asked to pack up and leave there tonight.
In Philadelphia - police striking out at about 1:00 AM to clear the camp at Dilworth Plaza, next to City Hall, there. Police there making at least 50 arrests. Mayor Michael Nutter, who once showed up overnight to commiserate with the protesters, insisting the area needed to be cleared so a construction project could get underway, putting as many as a thousand people to work. And - like his counterpart in Los Angeles - he praised his police.
(Excerpt from video clip) NUTTER: The city of Philadelphia has acted with restraint, with patience and respect for the First Amendment rights of those who wish to protest and any others.
OLBERMANN: First Amendment rights perhaps not the first thing on the minds of the police in Phoenix today, using pepper spray - twice - on half a dozen protesters marching against the American Legislative Exchange Council - ALEC - the group that helps shape conservative legislation and has reportedly received more than $1 million from the Koch brothers.
Despite their use of massive police force, Mayors Villaraigosa of LA and Nutter of Philadelphia insist their administrations' performance was different than what we've seen in other cities facing Occupy protests. Certainly fewer casualties than we saw in Oakland or New York.
New York, the city whose mayor - Michael Bloomberg - boasted to an audience at MIT last night, "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh-biggest army in the world. I have my own State Department." He could have added, "I also have a serious case of megalomania."
Elsewhere in the Occupy movement, Occupy Boston facing legal pressure from its mayor there, Tom Menino, who fired - filed - papers today to have a restraining order removed that would allow Boston to remove the camp at Dewey Square, at a time of they mayor's choosing.
In London, England, tens of thousands marched while as many as two million public-sector workers struck over pension cuts, triggering this sympathy March by some 200 U.S. nurses at the British embassy in Washington.
And in Canada, an Occupy Montreal protester - at least one, many, in fact - say they were branded by police with an ultraviolet dye after arrests last Friday. Protester Nina Hayes claiming that she was told the mark was meant to identify her - you see it there, the number two on each hand - in case she tried to return to the protest at Victoria Square. And complaining the ink won't wash off despite police claims to the contrary and that it is, "a very terrible feeling that they put a substance in my body without my consent and then later lied about it." The scarlet number.
Let's start with Los Angeles and what happened with Occupy there last night. I'm joined now by PJ Davenport, a protester with Occupy Los Angeles. Thanks for you time tonight.
PJ DAVENPORT: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: Where were you when it started? What did you see?
DAVENPORT: I was standing on the West side of the park, on the south lawn, and all of the sudden I saw fellow protesters running towards me and - and I looked back on - behind me and the same thing was happening from other directions. I looked beyond the fellow protesters and there were probably about 150 to 200 officers with - with their rifles - tear-gas rifles - up, running towards them. And so everybody was on the move, and those of us who remained in the park just sort of sat down and took a place and those of us who were going to go behind media lines chose to do so at that time.
OLBERMANN: The mayor insists the raid might have been the finest hour in the - in the history of the LAPD. I've already made the joke thta there's not much to compare it to, but in practical terms, he said the violence was minimal and everybody's rights were respected. What do you think of that? What do you think of his assessment of that?
DAVENPORT: It was certainly relatively peaceful. I mean, we - we were - we were very peaceful in our actions. It was an overwhelming show of police might, is what it was. We literally - without warning - were descended upon from all directions. They poured out of buildings. They came from side streets and - within 15 seconds - there was a sea of black surrounding all the protesters. Was it - was it peaceful? Yes. Only the most wild person would have resisted something like that. It was absolute might that descended upon us. I - I think that LAPD has been peaceful compared to - certainly to the other protesters across the - the police across the nation. But was this about respecting First Amendment rights? I think - I think not.
OLBERMANN: Was it about problems that required hazmat suits - workers wearing hazmat suits, who came in and cleaned things up and talked about risks of staph and other infections? I mean, was there - was there some sort of bubonic plague we haven't been told about at Occupy LA?
DAVENPORT: No, there was no - there was no plague. They did - you know, we talked a lot about the grass at - at Occupy LA over the last several weeks. When you are down at the Occupation, you look up and you see City Hall on one side of you. You see the LAPD across the street and then you see The LA Times. We call it the trifecta. You know, I think that they're - they're very well situated down there, together, to work in tandem and say whatever it is that, you know, they want to say and what they want the mainstream press to know.
But we question why there were DNA swabs made last night. We'd like to know very much and we still really haven't gotten an answer on that, nor do we have an answer on why we have 92 people sitting in jail right now with $5,000 bonds set.
So there's a lot of things that we - we're really in question about and we look forward to having our people released and getting some really sincere answers - from City Hall.
OLBERMANN: Well, at least there's this. A year - a century ago - the publisher of The LA Times used to drive around Los Angeles - about circa 1910 - with a machine gun on the roof of his car, looking for members of the union. So, at least The LA Times has improved slightly in the last hundred years.
Last question - what happens with Occupy LA from here on in? Is there another physical location or what happens if there's not another physical location?
DAVENPORT: Well, what's happening at 7:30 tonight is we're holding our GA on the West Side stairs. So, right - we're - we have a 4:00 P.M. march starting at Pershing Square, candlelight vigil. We have people coming down tonight. The Occupation - the Occupation goes on. You know what happens when they do this, when they shake us down like this, our - our numbers multiply. So we're - we're still in effect. And we - we've got a lot of work to do. We're dedicated to doing it and we're not going anywhere until that work's done.
OLBERMANN: PJ Davenport of Occupy Los Angeles. A great thanks for your time.
DAVENPORT: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Many Occupy protests are focused on stopping rising tuition costs at universities and drastic cuts to funding for public schools, even if it means a citizens' arrest or two. In Washington state on Monday, thousands of protesters filled the hall at the State Capitol and held a mock citizens' arrest of legislators looking to cut school funds, despite a superior court ruling to the contrary - one that would prohibit those cuts.
When no legislators were arrested - while no legislators were arrested - a Seattle high school teacher named Jesse Hagopian, who helped lead that protest, was arrested.
(Excerpt from video clip) JESSE HAGOPIAN: We, the educators of Washington state!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: We, the educators of Washington state!
(Excerpt from video clip) HAGOPIAN: Will not remain silent!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Will not remain silent!
(Excerpt from video clip) HAGOPIAN: While the state legislature stops the funding to our schools!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: While the state legislature stops the funding to our schools!
(Excerpt from video clip) HAGOPIAN: It is immoral!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: It is immoral!
(Excerpt from video clip) HAGOPIAN: And it is illegal!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: And it is illegal!
OLBERMANN: Afterwards, Mr. Hagopian released a statement that read, in part, "I was arrested today at the Capitol for protesting against the budget cuts. It is the Washington state legislature that is breaking the law by failing their constitutional duty to fully fund education." Joining us now - Garfield High teacher Jesse Hagopian. Thank you for your time, sir.
HAGOPIAN: Hey, thank you so much for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How did you get involved in this protest to begin with?
HAGOPIAN: Well, I'm part of an organization called the Social Equality Educators and we've been agitating around social-justice issues and education funding for some time and trying to close the gap in education and - and many different issues.
And when there was a court ruling that was handed down by a Washington court against the state of Washington in February for failing to fulfill their constitutional duty to fund education, we were really encouraged. We thought, "Finally, our schools are going to be funded" and -- and we thought, "Wow, this is a turning point. We can have the class sizes we need. We can see schools reopened. We can see programs for black kids in our high schools reopened" and we thought, "This is going to be a moment to improve education."
And then we heard Governor Gregoire opening the special legislative session in Olympia to cut $2 billion from the current budget. And that's $2 billion from health care and - and education and we thought, "Well, someone's got to enforce this law and if no one is gonna do it, then I guess the teachers of - of Seattle and Washington State will have to stand up and do it."
OLBERMANN: As a history teacher, you will probably hate me for doing this, but I want to go out of chronology and jump directly to what happened today, in response - in the schools - in response to what happened Monday, specifically to what you were involved with. Just tell us what happened today.
HAGOPIAN: Well, I should -- I should say that, today, a whole lot of students walked out of my high school and it was one of the most amazing things and probably, I should say, my proudest day ever - to see students who are inspired by the action that teachers took and they took it upon themselves to organize. They created a flyer - a leaflet, bullet points - about how the budget cuts have affected them and hundreds of my students, and students from around the Seattle schools, marched out - marched down to City Hall to make their demand to fund the programs they deserve, talking about how the science programs have been cut, so that seniors don't have four years of science and language anymore in our high schools because of these budget cuts. And so, they were very articulate and passionate and - and I'm - I'm really excited that there's a new phase in - in the movement here, in Seattle.
OLBERMANN: How plugged in are your kids? I mean, we saw this when - when Europe made these draconian cuts on all of its school systems, particular in - just doubled, in some cases, tripled tuition rates for colleges across the continent. The place exploded. That was the real - the real turning point in Europe. Is - is there a sense that - that high school kids and college kids are fully aware - in a way that maybe their parents aren't or the - or people who are not connected in any way - are not? Are they - are they plugged into everything that's going on with their futures, because of these draconian cuts?
HAGOPIAN: I think so. I think what you saw at Garfield High School today, walking out of - of school is part of a worldwide wave of protests. You see it in Britain today and you're seeing it around the world, as the recessions and the Great Recession has impacted young people everywhere - and young people in Egypt were a spark to that revolution.
And I think young people today know that the - even if they do graduate with - with high marks from high school, the tuition makes college out of reach and so, when I saw their action today, I - I can't tell you how inspired I was. I mean, one of my - one of my former students, when he found out I was arrested with - for taking on the legislature and pointing out the fact that they were failing their constitutional duty - he set up a Facebook page called "Free Mr. Hagopian" and - and 200 students, right away, jumped on it. And then, when they found out I was released, they changed it to "Walk Out of School Against the Budget Cuts" and, you know - I had nothing to do with the walkout, in terms of organizing it or promoting it, but - but just to see students taking their own initiatives to fight for their own futures was - was really inspiring.
OLBERMANN: How extraordinary. Good work. I think they've been listening. History teacher, Jesse Hagopian of Garfield High, in Seattle. Great thanks for your time and - and great thanks for creating a little history out there, too.
HAGOPIAN: Thanks so much.
OLBERMANN: Yesterday morning, he told supporters he was reassessing his campaign, then he said, "No, no, everything's okay." He was not reassessing his campaign. This morning, he told reporters he was reassessing his campaign. This afternoon, he said he's in it to win it. Later this afternoon, he went on TV and said, "Yep," he was reassessing his campaign. Herman Cain. Great.
OLBERMANN: Fox News has decided, clearly, that it wants one of these candidates to lose. The other one managed to take a shot at Fox News.
Why on earth is Democratic Senate stalwart Carl Levin leading a cabal of Dems, supporting the indefinite detention of American citizens? Even the White House is willing to veto the bill in question.
Ten years ago, he was National Sheriff of the Year, saving wounded 17-year-old boys and leading the state task force against meth. Now he's under arrest for trying to trade meth to young men for sex.
And the smuggling of strippers disguised as paralegals for the entertainment of prisoners in a maximum-security prison in Florida. It's now been - busted.
OLBERMANN: When your own party's broadcast division makes it clear they hate you, it's going to be a long haul to the nomination, Governor Romney.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - Cain responds to those latest troublesome allegations, four different ways, Romney tries to respond to troublesome questions from his own party, Gingrich finally admits what we've known all along and Bachmann's hallucinations now extend to closing American embassies that don't exist. Today, Herman Cain's new accuser gave further details about her alleged affair with the former pizza executive:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGER WHITE: I've received gifts and money for the last 2 1/2 years consistently.
OLBERMANN: Free pepperoni. She also said she had been in contact with Cain up till last week. She produced the phone records to prove it. Mr. Cain's response, late this afternoon, was this:
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: All it says was 61 calls. I - I talk to a lot of people 61 times. Maybe the Democrats want Newt Gingrich to win the nomination so they can then go after his personal life, but they need to knock me out now. That's just a hypothesis.
OLBERMANN: As - sorry - as for the reports Cain's close to ending his campaign, campaign manager "Smokey the Block" told ABC News last night there is "no way Cain's dropping out." But today, Cain was a little less sure, telling reporters he was reassessing. After that, he told an Ohio crowd he was definitely not dropping out. Then, he told Fox News:
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: I'm reassessing and that's the same as the terminology re-evaluating. A week from now, I will have made a decision.
OLBERMANN: Once the missus talks to him again. For the record, his voters are reassessing. That's evident. According to Gallup's Positive Intensity Score, Cain's has dropped from a high of 34, less than two months ago, to a low of nine. Now, he shares that net-favorable rating with Mitt Romney. Only Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich is breaking double digits with a score of 20. As the Gallup rating shows, Romney's troubles within his own party are rampant.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: This is an unusual interview. Ha-ha-ha-ha. All right, let's do it again.
OLBERMANN: The unusual part of the interview? Tough questioning for a GOP-er from Fox. Here was some of the other highlights.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Uh - the - I - that - that leads to -
(Excerpt from video clip) BRET BAIER: What was the last book you read or are reading?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'm reading sort of a fun one right now so I'll skip that. Ah - ah - or - if you will -
OLBERMANN: Unlike his display on Fox, Romney is now trying to convince voters he has "The Right Answer." Or at least, that's what he's titled this TV ad, which he spent $85,000 to air in New Hampshire, starting today. But let's turn now to Mr. Gingrich for some insight on all of this.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: One - one of the real changes that comes when you start running for president, as opposed to being an analyst on Fox, is I - you know, I have to actually know what I'm talking about.
OLBERMANN: When does that start? And then - as if to remind us she's still out there - there is Michele Bachmann, responding to the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran. This afternoon, she told a crowd in Waverly, Iowa, that were she president, "We wouldn't have an American Embassy in Iran. Well, that's true - largely because we don't have an American Embassy in Iran right now. And we haven't had one there since just after the hostage crisis of 1979.
On that note, let's bring in somebody a little bit more up to date - Ken Vogel, chief investigative reporter for Politico. Ken, good evening.
KEN VOGEL: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We'll skip Representative Bachmann, just for the time being. Let me ask you about Mr. Cain. Reassessing yesterday, then he was "All fine, nine-nine-nine," then he was reassessing today. Then, this afternoon, he told the Ohio audience he's staying and then he went on TV again and said he's reassessing. Do we know which answer is closest to being accurate?
VOGEL: Well, I mean, we've gotten so many that it's hard to - it's hard to keep track, but he is really stuck between a rock and a hard place, and perhaps his equivocation on the answers - and his parsing on the answers - reflects that. If he drops out now, he really looks like he's caving to this pressure and he's potentially hurting his prospects for after the presidential nominating process is over and - presumably - he's not the nominee.
It's going to be hard for him to transition to a talk show at Fox or a - a kingmaker role within the Republican party if he looks like he's caved to the hated mainstream media in this storyline, that he said that they've been pushing against.
However, if he continues on and these stories continue to swirl - and there's no evidence that they will let up - he is only going to further his downward trajectory and make it even harder for him to maintain his place in the, sort of, national GOP firmament afterwards. So, unless he's miraculously able to come up with a cogent way to respond to this, I think that we're gonna continue to see a lot of this - flailing about over the next 34 days, as he continues to the Iowa Caucuses.
OLBERMANN: About Governor Romney - that was a very bizarre interview that he had with Fox. Is there any indication that - if he gets harsh treatment from the driving force of the Republican Party and Fox - that - does he have any shot at winning the primary? Is there still this game of attrition and inevitability still in play, or was that essentially Bret Baier saying, "On behalf of everybody over here at Fox News, get lost"?
VOGEL: Well, give Bret Baier and Fox some credit. They've had some tough interviews with some of the GOP candidates. The clips you played from Herman Cain stumbling through his latest explanation to the Ginger White 13-year affair story was from an interview with Neil Cavuto.
Now, that said - in both of these cases, they're kind of obvious questions. Mitt Romney is going to continue to face these questions - from the GOP electorate, from the media - about his perceived flip-flops, his changes of positions on these issues.
And the fact that he became so flustered and, frankly, testy in answering these questions is not a good sign for him because - again, this is really going to be the crux of the questions for the next 34 days and then, into the general election, since we've already seen the DNC and President Obama's allies show that they - that they intend to seize on these things and really make Mitt Romney look like a serial flip-flopper, if he is the nominee.
OLBERMANN: Is this little clip that we played from Gingrich - was that just a jibe - just a jest or is there some meaning when he - when he comes out and - and says "One of the real changes that comes when you start running for president - as opposed to being an analyst on Fox - is I have to actually know what I'm talking about." It seems - if it's a joke, I don't get what was particularly funny about it and if it's not a joke, isn't he really biting the hand that is really feeding him at the moment?
VOGEL: Well, one thing that we've seen with Newt Gingrich is that he tends to fair better the less attention is on him. He sort of managed to resurrect his campaign from the ashes after everyone shifted their focus away from him and largely wrote him off. And the more scrutiny that he's attracted - as he has climbed in the polls - the more he's had these, sort of, foot-in-mouth instances.
And not just foot-in-mouth instances, where he has, sort of, spoken - perhaps off-the-cuff - in a way that reflected poorly on him but also - he's had more chance to articulate positions that, in some ways, are anathema with the GOP orthodoxy, like we saw on immigration, where he said that he would - that he would not seek to deport 12 million immigrants who are here in the country illegally. That's a - that's a position that is going to cause him some grief with the Republican electorate and yet, we are going to see - I think - more instances of Newt Gingrich, sort of, being Newt as the attention continues to be on him, with him as a front-runner in the polls.
OLBERMANN: And then, perhaps, we get the next front-runner ready for his appearance later on in this extraordinary parade we've been watching.
Ken Vogel of Politico. Always a pleasure, Ken. Thanks.
VOGEL: It's my pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Fifteen Democratic senators, supporting a bill that would expand indefinite detention at places like Gitmo, including the detention of U.S. citizens. Fortunately, President Obama's on the right side of the thing, threatening a veto. But why is Carl Levin on the wrong side? Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Indefinite detention of American citizens and the 15 Democratic senators who voted for it - next.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1954, a fireball was seen across three states and before you knew it, a twelve-pound hunk of space rock called the Sylacauga Meteorite landed just outside the town of the same name in Alabama. Actually, it's better known as the Hodges Meteorite because it was the first known space object to actually strike a person. Ann Elizabeth Hodges was taking a nap in her living room when the damn thing finished its trip of about 90 million miles from the asteroid 1685 Toro. It crashed through her roof, hit her large wooden console radio, and then bounced off her.
The 31-year-old woman suffered bruises to one side of her body, but for the rest of her life she was not only able to pick up distant radio signals on the fillings of her teeth, but those distant radio signals came from the planet Skyron in the Galaxy of Andromeda.
"Time Marches On!"
I may have made some of the last story up.
VIDEO: Dog tries to play catch with infant.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. All the dog wants to do is play fetch with his new little brother. And all his little brother wants is not to have a slobber-covered disc dropped onto his face. Mom helps by throwing the disc, but that's just not doing it for Fido. This is worse than when he tried to play fetch with Tim Tebow - guy refused to throw it as well.
VIDEO: (NO CLIP AVAILABLE)
From dogs to - dogs. An impatient pup, ready to go. The stupid humans are holding him up. Oh, give him a credit card and we are all dead. The kind of incessant honking - he's already applied and has become a New York City cab driver and just needs one of the bumper stickers that says "Honk if you love Snausages."
VIDEO: Leafblower-powered desk chair.
Finally, from the "Too Much Time On Your Hands" Department - two guys, a leaf blower, a chair that spins is a recipe for idiocy. I hope all that spinning doesn't kill his last remaining brain cell. Can't guess how this ends, can ya? Oh, right, the only way it can end. Down for the count. And their leaf blower chair idea - blows.
"Time Marches On!"
Strippers, smuggled in to a federal prison in Florida dressed as paralegals. Strippers behind bars - coming up.
OLBERMANN: Dumont presents "Jacqueline Susann's Open Door" 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 Eastern. We call it "our little leadership team."
If 60 United States senators get their way, the Senate will pass, tomorrow, a bill allowing the American military to imprison American citizens indefinitely - without charge or trial.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - the provision is so onerous that the president says he is willing to veto the bill that contains it, the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment was written as a measure against terrorism by Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. It is opposed by both the ACLU and Republican and tea party Senator Rand Paul. And by Democratic senators, such as Al Franken of Minnesota and Dianne Feinstein of California.
(Excerpt from video clip) DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charge or trial.
(Excerpt from video clip) AL FRANKEN: I think that it denigrates the very foundation of this country. It denigrates the Bill of Rights. It denigrates what our founders intended.
OLBERMANN: An amendment to eliminate the provision was proposed by Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. The alteration was defeated 60-38 on Tuesday despite backing from the White House, which said "Applying this military-custody requirement to individuals inside the United States would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets." But Senator Levin remained adamant, even though most of his fellow Democrats voted against him. He quoted the Supreme Court:
(Excerpt from video clip) CARL LEVIN: One line - "There is no bar to this nation's holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant." Okay?
OLBERMANN: Okay, what happens if you're the guy they decide is the enemy combatant, Senator? Should the bill pass the Senate, it would go to a conference committee with the House and then, onto the president.
Joining us now is Raha Wala of the Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First. We appreciate your time. Thank you tonight, sir.
RAHA WALA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: How bad is this?
WALA: It's quite frankly absurd, Keith. I mean, here we are - ten years after 9/11, in the wake of the demise of Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al-Qaida has ever known - and we're passing a provision that would codify the indefinite detention - without trial - of suspected enemies of the state. And that includes, as you mentioned, American citizens apprehended here on U.S. soil.
We have not codified indefinite detention without trial since the McCarthy era. That's how extreme this is. And the most amazing thing is that it's not necessary. There are some very bad people out there that want to harm us, but the way we deal with these folks is - we haul them into court, we convict them and we put them away for a very long time. And we've done a very good job of this since 9/11.
In fact, since 9/11, we've convicted over 400 individuals of terrorism-related offenses. So, the system that we have works. The big question is "Why are we going in this new - in this new direction?"
OLBERMANN: The way it's phrased, is this bad - bad writing? Is this loose - loose definition of terms or is it specifically an idea that says "We should be able to declare our own citizens - somehow incarcerated or picked up on our own soil, in this country, not in some part of the nation that is - the nation has influence on in - somewhere else in the world"? It - does it specifically state that?
WALA: Well, it - it's just - it's just broad, broad drafting, Keith, and that's the problem here and that's why it includes these citizenship problem, but it's much broader than - broader than that. Here's what the legislation says - it says that if you are suspected of being a member of al-Qaida, the Taliban or an "associated force," whatever that means, then you can be held indefinitely, without trial - whether you're an American citizen or not, whether you're captured within United States or not. And it goes further than that. What it says is that if you're suspected of supporting al-Qaida or the Taliban, you can also be held.
And if you didn't think the legislation could get worse, it actually does. What it says is that if you're actually accused of being an al-Qaida member and plotting an attack against the United States, you must be held in military custody. It's not an option anymore. The FBI and local law enforcement need to transfer these subjects to the military. So, this is the legislation - piece of legislation that's so broad, so ill-defined, so prone to abuse, the Senate should take up, as its first order of business tomorrow morning, striking it in its entirety.
OLBERMANN: If - if the - if the policy of this presidential administration has been to work almost exclusively through the court system for non-citizens who are - who are suspected of terrorism or - indeed - apprehended in the act of - of terrorism, why would 15 Democrats be supporting this measure? Surely they know that the - that the president can't politically totally overturn what he's been doing for the first two-plus years of his administration.
WALA: Well, it's a good question, Keith, and I - and I'm not gonna presume to know what - what the senators were thinking, but here's what I will say. You know, we're in an election cycle. Senators, members of Congress wants to appear tough on national security. I think there's a ideology out there that says "We're at war with every terrorist organization aligned with al-Qaida and every individual that's suspected of terrorism all around the world." So, I think there's an - there's an element of ideology over common sense here.
But here's the funny thing. This is a provision that's not opposed only by civil liberties and human rights organizations. It's opposed, almost uniformly, by the national security establishment. We have the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI director, the director of the CIA, all opposing this provisions. Now, I don't know about you, but if I have to put my chips with someone, I'm putting my chips with the professionals, rather than the politicians in Washington.
OLBERMANN: Last point, quickly, are you trusting the president's veto threat?
WALA: I am. I think the president is very serious about the veto threat and, frankly, if the Senate wants to deal with these provisions, it needs to remove them from the bill or avoid having the defense - the Defense Authorization Bill vetoed. And one point that needs to be made is that we have, you know - we have plenty of opportunities to fund our troops. The troop funding goes through the Defense Appropriations Measure, which is a separate bill. So, the president can veto this measure and still fund the troops and I believe he will if these provisions are not removed.
OLBERMANN: From the Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First, Raha Wala. Great thanks for your time.
WALA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The bats out of Rupert Murdoch's hell have generally been remorseful, or at least creative, as they have lied about the immorality of their organization. But now, one Murdoch editor has not only not denied he broke the law on Rupert's behalf - he's saying he did the right thing and the real crime is, his bosses are denying it. "Worst Persons," coming up.
OLBERMANN: You've heard of strippers dressed up as cops and nurses and French maids, but dressed up as paralegals? Well, see, that makes it easier to smuggle them into the maximum-security federal prison in Miami.
First, the "Worsts."
And he insults a public figure. "If you point out his figure - his failures, he denies them. If you disagree with him on anything, you're a moron." He was nominally talking about somebody else - was he really talking about himself? Next.
OLBERMANN: Some prisons are infested with rats and others with stool pigeons, but a federal lock-up in Miami has an unusual plague - the place is full of strippers. Strippers posing as paralegals. Next.
First - because here we get to strip these folks of their cheesy facades - here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze goes to good ol' Billo the Clown. This was a brilliant observation made by Todd Gregory of Media Matters. O'Reilly condescendingly bade farewell to Barney Frank last night, but it did not take a psychology degree to recognize that his snotty insults towards the retiring Massachusetts congressman reeked of projection. That is, confessing to all of your own sins and faults and self - self-hatred, by projecting them onto somebody else. Taking Mr. Gregory's idea, here is O'Reilly on Frank, with Frank's name out and his own name in.
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL O'REILLY: An indignant man who believes he has a copyright on compassion. If you challenge -
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: O'Reilly!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - he's in your face. If you point out his failures, he denies them. If you disagree with him on anything, you're a moron. So, I decided to take -
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: O'Reilly!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - on. He clearly he did not tell the truth about -
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: - just about everything he ever said!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - and I called him on it. You can see the exchange on the 'Net. If you missed it, it is intense. But I had to call Mr. -
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: O'Reilly!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - out. It had to be done. He loves power. He believes he is good for the nation. Giving people stuff is a recipe for failure. We've seen it over and over. But if you tell -
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: Bill O'Reilly!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - that, you're a bad person. America does not owe anyone a living.
(Excerpt from audio clip) OLBERMANN: Billo!
(Excerpt from video clip) O'REILLY: - never got that. But we wish him well anyway.
OLBERMANN: Well, that last part isn't really fair 'cause it isn't really isn't projection. Bill O'Reilly does not wish Bill O'Reilly well. Bill O'Reilly has never had a worse enemy than Bill O'Reilly. Not even me.
The runner-up? The former national Sheriff of the Year, Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr. of Araphoe County, Colorado, who is now being held on bail at the Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr., Detention Facility. That's a coincidence. No, not really.
The sheriff - who once drove a Jeep through a fence to rescue a 17-year-old, wounded boy who'd been taken hostage; who led a state-wide task force against meth; who retired to become the head of security for a local school district - was arrested for trying to trade some of the meth he's been distributing for sex with young men. Turned out, he'd been bailing boys out of jail in the greater Denver area for quite awhile and having sex with them.
A former County District Attorney said he was shocked because Sullivan "just oozed honesty." Yeah - not really.
But our winner? Ex-Rupert Murdoch minion Paul McMullan. He was the deputy features editor at Murdoch's notorious "News Of The World." He has now testified to that British Parliamentary Committee and - instead of doing the smart thing, which is admitting that his law-breaking set journalism back a century, to say nothing of setting back British society - he tried an utterly new tack. He defended phone hacking and blackmailing.
In fact, he boasted about bribing cops for tips. He joyously told of stealing documents. He was proud of pretending to be a teenage boy, propositioning a pedophile priest. And he happily threw his ex-bosses under the bus - his ex-bosses who had denied all of that.
"Phone hacking is a perfectly acceptable tool, given the sacrifices we make, if all we're trying to do is get to the truth. We did all these things for our editors, for Rebekah Brooks and for Andy Coulson. They should have had the strength of conviction to say, 'Yes, sometimes you have to stray into black or gray illegal areas.' They should have been the heroes of journalism."
And then he hung Rupert Murdoch up by Murdoch's phone-hackers, telling the Committee that his department had an annual budget of a $4.5 million to bribe sources and pay for stories and have outsiders hack into and otherwise obtain confidential records, medical and otherwise. "That was the joy of working for Murdoch," McMullan concluded. "They had that big pot of money."
Paul McMullan, amoral hack, no more of a journalist than, well, than Rupert Murdoch - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Prison can be a harsh, unforgiving place. Thousands of hardened criminals locked in small cells, surrounded by guards or - in Miami - alcohol, Playboy magazines and strippers.
In our number-one story - "Lockup: Stripper Edition." According to lawyers who spoke with the Miami New Times, strippers are being brought into Miami's maximum security Federal Detention Center posing as paralegals. The strippers are smuggled in - these are generic shots of strippers, these are not the actual strippers, we don't have video of them. Posing as paralegals, the strippers are smuggled in by lawyers for their wealthy - drug lord clients. Besides the normal stripper activities, these phony paralegals have also allegedly brought in Playboy magazines, money and alcohol.
There appears to be little oversight when it comes to who escorts a lawyer to see his client. According to one attorney, "Any lawyer can sign a form and designate a legal assistant. There is no way of verifying it."
A spokesperson for the prison declined to comment. He was too busy watching the strippers!
There is no further indication here - there are indications, rather - that there is an ongoing problem. According to the Miami New Times, "One 'discovery room,' normally used to discuss trial strategy, was recently closed," they say, "after guards caught an inmate and a paralegal 'discovering' more than legal documents." Of course, after the guards caught him, the inmate was looking at some serious hard time. For more on this revealing story, let's bring in comedian and actor Christian Finnegan. Hi.
CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN: You're bringing the heavy hitters for such a - big news story.
OLBERMANN: Do - is this oversight by a prison, or have they just found a new way of controlling the prisoners so they're - they like being there?
FINNEGAN: It doesn't seem like a bad idea. I - I don't know that you can really blame the prisoner administrators. I mean, what paralegals don't show up with translucent platform heels and a cued-up Guns N' Roses CD. Although, they probably should have guessed something was amiss when the paralegals started spraying the prison bars with disinfectant and wiping them down with a rag.
OLBERMANN: That's - we didn't - we didn't consider the possibility that there would be - those bars would be used as stripper poles.
FINNEGAN: Yes, very skinny strippers, I imagine.
OLBERMANN: The - the lawyers who spoke out against this - do we assume that they're actually outraged in some way about it or are they just outraged that they didn't think of this first?
FINNEGAN: Yeah, jealousy is an ugly, ugly thing, Keith. I mean, you can't cry foul when you're a lawyer. You're entire life is a foul. I mean, just because you didn't have the entrepreneurial spirit to stay up and rip off the plotline of a Cinemax After Dark movie doesn't mean that you should whip out the "Hate-orade."
OLBERMANN: Now -- is there not one which this - the paralegal strippers go in and - and they somehow get arrested while they're in the jail and they have to serve time in the jail, too? Or did I just dream that?
FINNEGAN: Yes, I think you've been reading my dream journal, is what it is. You've been reading my morning pages.
OLBERMANN: Do we think this gonna stop somewhere or is - is this - is this it or, now that the cover is blown, is it going to be all over the place? Are we gonna see this at every, you know, every - every village that can afford a paralegal stripper?
FINNEGAN: Well, it does make you wonder how Matlock won all those cases. He was - you - what I wonder is - what was the lawyer doing while his client was being, you know, debriefed, as it were?
OLBERMANN: Very nice!
FINNEGAN: You bring - you bring the stripper into the prison and you go back into the holding cells. It's not like you can go get a smoke, like - so, you're just, like, there, hanging out? Checking in on Foursquare - your honor, I object. It seems very uncomfortable.
OLBERMANN: Well, if the - if the prisoners can just hang out, I don't see why the lawyers can't, too. So, if Matlock - Matlock does this then, would - that would - then his stripper would be Aunt Bea? I know I'm -- I'm merging Andy Griffith --
FINNEGAN: Yes, you're - yes, you're - you're mixing up - your - your doddering, beloved elderly people.
OLBERMANN: Who's - who comes out looking the worst here? I mean - you've got the prison for not catching this, you got the lawyers for bringing in strippers or you've got strippers who are associated with lawyers.
FINNEGAN: It's funny you bring that up because every time I meet a paralegal, she tells me that's she's only doing it until she can get a job at Flashdancers.
OLBERMANN: Oh, I -
FINNEGAN: This just this joke I'm working in.
OLBERMANN: I think they need to turn this into - like a take - put a positive spin on it, like a prisoners-rights kind of thing, like, "Who really is to say what is meant by the term 'three hots and a cot'? You can read into that what you will.
OLBERMANN: Two, three, four - all right, you already suggested this a Cinemax movie.
OLBERMANN: We know that there's - I mean, they probably have done much worse than that, which is where the attorneys are also strippers -
FINNEGAN: Yeah, sure.
OLBERMANN: - from Mars and - and they don't - they forgot their clothes in the car. But, one thing - one place where something like this is being eagerly transcribed and Googled throughout the - the entirety of the Internet - "Law and Order." There's 57 different "Law and Order" episodes or - series. They've gotta have one of these planned already, right? How long until the "Law and Order" episode comes out?
FINNEGAN: I can already hear the keyboard keys banging - can you imagine a cushier gig on TV then writing for "Law and Order"? Like -- all you do is you wake up in the morning and you flip through The New York Post and you come up with a few corny puns and then you look for an ebbing celebrity who is looking to, sort of - play against type. My - here's my prediction for who would play the paralegal strippers.
OLBERMANN: Okay, yeah, I was gonna say, if you had a - do you have a cast?
FINNEGAN: Yes, yes. It's either gonna be Eva Longoria, the girl from the Progressive Auto Insurance ads -
FINNEGAN: Flo. or, here's my dark horse - Jason Alexander.
OLBERMANN: Jason Alexander as the paralegal --
FINNEGAN: He can do anything. He's very talented.
OLBERMANN: No, I - you know what - I think I might - and I'm not gonna admit - I'm not gonna go and insult the poor woman who played Flo and also who did a nice job in "Mad Men."
FINNEGAN: She is - she's very funny and I'm sure she's a wonderful woman, but it would be a great casting coup.
OLBERMANN: Maybe she could go in as an insurance person and continue the - the character -
FINNEGAN: That same peppy spirit.
OLBERMANN: Comedian and paralegal stripper correspondent, Christian Finnegan. Always good to see you. Thanks for your time.
FINNEGAN: Good to see you, sir.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 326th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House, thus 326 days in which the Republicans haven't passed a jobs bill of any kind, not even for paralegal strippers.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Congrats on getting through another day of this crap. Good night, and good luck.