'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, December 2nd, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: Cain, as in Circling The Drain. Meets The Missus amid indications he drops out tomorrow, and own campaign didn't know
#ShowPlug 2: Salon's @SteveKornacki on Cain; Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson @7im on Trump Debate; as tweeter wrote: Clown To Host Circus
#ShowPlug 3: Wisconsin Gov. Walker to charge protestors for the cops who'll arrest, spray, harass them. Shades of movie "Brazil?"
#ShowPlug 4: Recovery continues, so does his status as #Occupy role model. @SOlsen230 Scott Olsen joins me live
#ShowPlug 5: Grover Bathtub Boy Norquist explains to House GOP how voting to raise taxes doesn't violate his anti-tax-raise pledge
#ShowPlug Last: And Fridays with Thurber returns with one of his greatest essays: Memorial. Countdown live at 8 ET
watch whole playlist
#5 'Bang The Drum Slowly', Steve Kornacki
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Bang The Drum Slowly', Tim Dickinson
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Bonus: promo
#4 'Pay to Protest', Graeme Zielinski
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Undeterred', Scott Olsen
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Dan Gaynor, Roger Ailes, Grover Norquist
#1 Fridays with Thurber: Memorial
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Tim Dickinson, Steve Kornacki, Scott Olsen, Graeme Zielinski
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
I'll just ask the wife. Herman Cain's first meeting with the missus since she found out he's been giving good old Ginger White money because - he's a good guy.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: My wife did not know about it and that was the revelation and the surprise that my wife found - found out about it when she went public with it.
OLBERMANN: He also hasn't been telling his campaign staff everything.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Tomorrow in Atlanta, I will be making an announcement. But nobody is going to get me to make that prematurely.
OLBERMANN: First they had heard of that. They said the announcement was Monday. Then they said tomorrow's announcement is not about the future of the campaign. If any.
Fortunately Cain's put up a website, "Women for Cain." Those women? They're from a generic stock photo. But one comment isn't. It reads "Dear Mrs. Cain, don't pay attention to these pathetic, husbandless women who are jealous of women like you in happy, long-term marriages" And Cain has put up another website. Which has misspelled his first name.
Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich's answer to all this?
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I'm will be the nominee.
OLBERMANN: Well, guess who's going to be the moderator at the GOP debate on the 27th?
(Excerpt from video clip) DONALD TRUMP: You're fired.
OLBERMANN: As somebody tweeted, "Clown to lead Circus."
Already true in Wisconsin. Now, Governor Walker wants to charge protesters for any police required to attend their protests. Plus, cleanup costs. So if you get pepper sprayed, you have to pay for the cop, you have to pay for the pepper spray, you have to pay for the soap with which to clean up the pepper spray. All of which brings us back to Occupy and our special live guest tonight, Scott Olsen.
(Excerpt from video clip) SCOTT OLSEN: To all of them, I would have to say "stay peaceful."
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, December 2nd, 340 days until the 2012 presidential election. The first person quoted using this phrase was a World War II hero and former Dartmouth football star named Meryll Frost, getting the award for the most courageous athlete of 1945, after 18 months spent recovering from burns. He said, "They say behind every great man there's a woman. While I'm not a great man, there's a great woman behind me."
In our fifth story on the "Countdown" - as Staff Sergeant Frost said, you don't have to be a great man. Ask Herman Cain. Many indications tonight that the great woman behind him may have just kicked his sorry backside out of the presidential race. Cain, surprising even his own staff at an event in Rock Hill, South Carolina today, when he talked about tomorrow.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: I am reassessing, because of all of this media firestorm stuff. Why? Because my wife and family comes first. I gotta take that into consideration, so tomorrow, we gonna be opening our - our headquarters in Northwest Georgia, where we will also clarify - there's that word again - clarify exactly what the next steps are.
OLBERMANN: Several reports and several thousand observers suggesting Cain's next step will be out of the race and back to his book tour and career as a motivational speaker. His bizarre run ended by multiple allegations of sexual harassment when he ran the National Restaurant Association and an alleged 13 affair - 13-year affair with sometime-fitness instructor and single mother named Ginger White.
Cain insisting the affair never happened and, while he sometimes gave White money, that was purely out of the goodness of his heart and he never told Mrs. Cain about the money until Ms. White mentioned it.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: If she had been just another man that I had helped, it probably wouldn't have raised as much suspicion, but my wife is comfortable with the explanation that I told her - regarding, you know, having to help her.
OLBERMANN: We haven't heard what - that from Gloria Cain, however. She was supposed to meet her husband sometime today. Perhaps she'll clarify her next steps, too. And you know where the footprints will be.
While Fox News asked an expert on how adultery can end political careers. Not Newt Gingrich. Rather, former Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
(Excerpt from video clip) MARK SANFORD: I would expect to see he's probably gonna call it quits on the campaign. I think, as a candidate - and a campaign - you have to assess "Is staying in going to help the very ideas that this campaign has been based on and that I believe in? Or is it gonna hurt?
OLBERMANN: That's a great picture from the Appalachian Trail. Well, this hurt. The Cain campaign has established a "Women for Cain" section on its website, featuring attacks on Cain's accusers. The picture of the women there, giving Mr. Cain their thumbs up - that's a stock photo. Real women for Cain may have been too hard to find and so is that photo now. It's now been pulled down from the Cain site.
Cain's Super PAC also having problems with its website, like misspelling the - the candidate's first name. Somebody needed to tell that that there was no "I" in "Herman."
There is an "I" in Newt Gingrich, however. "I" is, in fact, his favorite word. The former house speaker giving himself some love via Jake Tapper of ABC News.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: It's very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that - the odds are very high I'm gonna be the nominee.
OLBERMANN: At least the numbers are working for him, for now. A November 21st Gallup poll of Republicans and Republican leaders who've registered to vote putting Gingrich at 22 percent, edging Romney at 21 percent, Cain at 16 percent. The Gallup Poll from November 27th, measuring Positive Intensity - you don't even want to know what that is - showing Gingrich at 20 percent, compared to 9 percent for Cain and Romney. And an American Research Group Poll of likely Florida Republican voters that came out yesterday, scoring Gingrich with 50 percent, Romney at 19 percent, Cain 10 percent.
But there are hazards ahead. The GOP debates have done in several candidates already. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry come readily to mind and now - a new debate has been announced for December 27th, sponsored by the ultraconservative magazine Newsmax and hosted by GOP favorite Donald Trump.
(Excerpt from video clip) TRUMP: I thought it would certainly be a little change of pace for Donald Trump. I'll do something that I've never done before and we'll give it a shot. We'll see how it is. I think I have a lot of good questions to ask.
OLBERMANN: I doubt that. I doubt that very much. First debate ever in which the moderator may not let anybody talk except himself. Former Senator John Danforth probably agrees with me, telling a Missouri talk show host he is embarrassed by the GOP debates. Not so much the candidates as what the audiences have applauded.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN DANFORTH: A statement that - that the governor of Texas is responsible for killing 234 people on death row. Or that we favor torture. Or that we're for creating a fence on the Mexican border that electrocutes people when they try to cross it. It doesn't have anything to do with the Republican Party that I was a part of.
OLBERMANN: And you'll notice he's a Republican. For more on the bizarre rise and precipitous fall, perhaps, of the Cain candidacy, I'm joined here by Salon's news editor, Steve Kornacki. It's nice to meet you, sir.
STEVE KORNACKI: Happy to be here.
OLBERMANN: Is the Cain candidacy over? Is there reporting to this effect tonight, besides what we just, sort of, assume?
KORNACKI: Right, well, I mean, there's - there's two issues here, sort of. You know, he's saying he's gonna take - you know, he's been taking the last few days, maybe he'll tale the weekend - whatever it is - to decide, you know, the fate of his candidacy, but I think the reality is the fate of his candidacy has been decided for him already and it's really sort of a formality at this point. Is his name on the ballot in January or not? Either way, he's not gonna be a factor.
OLBERMANN: Is there anything that would have changed over the last 24 hours, that adjusted this because - clearly, when he said he was gonna say something tomorrow, his campaign then came out with, "No, no, we don't an announcement till Monday." And then, they said, "Oh, no, no, we do have an announcement tomorrow but it won't have anything to do with the future of his campaign." Some crossed wires. Is there a reason for that or just, is it a standard crossed wires in this campaign?
KORNACKI: There's not - yeah, standard for this campaign. There's no - there's no reason in normal politics to do anything the Cain campaign has done but that's - that's the reason there's so much suspense over this, because this is the guy who, you know, decides he's not gonna meet with an editorial board, watched them endorse another candidate and then says, "You know what? I'm gonna go meet with that editorial board." That's the kind of logic that's prevailed in the Cain campaign, so - yeah, there's some genuine suspense for the first time in - in this campaign.
OLBERMANN: Do you have the feeling sometimes you're dealing with a presidential campaign trainee? That there's some sort of internship program and that he's - maybe he'll do it for real in 2016 or something?
KORNACKI: I think it's program he pioneered at Godfathers and now he's applying it to the presidential race.
OLBERMANN: All right, the polls clearly have - have preceded whatever decision he's going to make - the people have bailed out on him on the Republican campaign but there's still - he appears to be in third place. If he goes tomorrow, or any other time by Monday - do those voters automatically go towards Gingrich? Is that the assumption?
KORNACKI: I mean - at this point - yes, and for a couple of reasons. I mean, one is the pattern that's sort of prevailed in the Republican side this year. The reason this race has had this kind of comical volatility to it is because - Mitt Romney can't get past 25 percent and what happens it every time you see, you know - a few months ago, Rick Perry was the main alternative. If you took a poll then, you know, who were the second choice for Rick Perry voters? Well, it was Herman Cain.
Who were the second choice for Herman Cain voters? If you look at those polls now, it's Newt Gingrich. You know, the favorable - there's a gap of about 40 points, when you at Herman Cain supporters. There's a gap of 40 points in their favorable opinion of Gingrich versus Romney, so it's logical at this point that's where they do go.
OLBERMANN: Is there another way - and it's always - it's fascinating to look at these things in hindsight - I mean, it - it's sort of assumed now, that in 1972, even after he, sort of - surreptitiously padded his win in the presidential election - even at that point, if Richard Nixon had come out before the inauguration and said, "Yeah, about this Watergate thing, let me tell you what actually happened. We're very sorry. The following people are going to - to be fired and the following people are going to prison and I'm turning over these tapes that I happen to have." He would've served out his term. Almost no question that he would not have - had to resign and any impeachment attempt against him would have probably been futile.
Is there something Herman Cain could've done? Because, frankly, if he's turning over leadership here in the GOP race to Newt Gingrich, over a - issue of sexual conduct and behavior towards women -
OLBERMANN: He must've screwed something up, because Gingrich is still standing and Cain is not.
KORNACKI: Well, I think what Herman Cain screwed up - it's probably a ten-year process. If you- if he had said all of this year ago - "Oh, by the way, I had an affair on my - with - on my wife," if that's true, "And there were these various allegations and maybe I crossed a line but I apologize. I've changed, I've repented," and as Gingrich has done, "I've found religion." You know, Gingrich has constructed a redemption story.
KORNACKI: If you talk to these - you know, Christian conservative activists out in Iowa, who are now giving life to his campaign, that's what they say. "Ours is a faith of forgiveness. Newt Gingrich has come to us, saying 'I'm a changed man. I have a wife. I take my family seriously.'" And they're that desperate to turn on Romney. They'll go with that.
OLBERMANN: But then, doesn't that argue that - that perhaps what Cain's last play might be? Since he's tried everything else and he's - he has - to his credit, he hasn't listened to anybody who have told him "You're gone. You gotta get out of here." He hasn't done it - all along, through all the missteps, through Ubeki-beki-beki-stan and all the rest of it - is his best play tomorrow to get on live TV, whenever this announcement is and drop to his knees and repent in front of everybody and start crying and "I have" - and doing - doing a full Jimmy Swaggart?
KORNACKI: The Jimmy Swaggart move. Yeah, well, I mean, I think the problem is there's - and I think you probably know this, in politics. You know, nothing hasten a demise in the polls like the perception of a demise in the polls.
KORNACKI: And tomorrow there's going to be a poll that comes out in Iowa by, sort of, the - the authoritative poll in Iowa by the Des Moines Register - that's gonna show Herman Cain at 8 percent in the Republican side. It was 23 percent just a couple weeks ago. So the guy's lost two-thirds of his support, even before the full weight of this thing hit and I think when you start getting news reports like that, it sends a message to Republican voters. You know, this train has lost its steam. Gingrich is the ascendant one. If you don't want Romney, that's where you gotta line up.
OLBERMANN: What happens if he drops to his knees and just says, "You've got to forgive me," - do they - don't they, perhaps have any - it might - if he wants to extend this and keep selling those books - it's good for another week.
KORNACKI: Right, no, I think you're outlining, actually, what might be a good strategy there, which is why I'm pretty sure Cain will not employ it.
OLBERMANN: That's right. I'll just send him an email. I have his home - home number.
Salon news editor, Steve Kornacki. Great thanks for coming in.
OLBERMANN: Have a good weekend.
For more, now, on this Newsmax GOP debate - the one that Donald Trump, for God sakes, is going to host - I'm joined by Tim Dickinson, national political correspondent for Rolling Stone. Tim, thanks for your time tonight.
TIM DICKINSON: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: All I've been reading, all day, is something like this. This is National Fritters Day, December 2nd. We always celebrate National Fritters Day with a practical joke. It's like April Fool's Day. It hasn't happened. This is not a practical joke?
DICKINSON: It's hard to believe and it really defies satire. You have a - a billionaire, who makes money firing people on national television, getting to grill the GOP candidates about how much they're gonna cut his taxes and how much is gonna be left over for little Ivanka, once the Donald kicks it and the - the socialite becomes an heiress. So, this is, sort of, like the singularity of all that's going on with GOP policymaking right now. It's just - it's just too hard to understand, frankly.
OLBERMANN: But, let's say he was a - a brilliant man or, at least half as brilliant as he thinks he is or even - has some credibility on most of his major areas and didn't just stumble into a lot of cash and get saved from bankruptcy a couple of time. Let's say he - he had some legitimacy. Isn't it this - the persona a little difficult to be a - having done this once myself and having to bite my tongue throughout a Democratic debate, where I wanted to jump in and follow and the - and the procedure didn't allow it or even interrupt, and the procedure didn't allow it - how does Donald Trump, who makes his living not listening to other people, moderate a debate in which he has to ask questions and then - and then give them a chance to answer?
DICKINSON: I have no idea. I think this is gonna be like - I think of the egos of all of the parties involved kind of like balloons the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and so I think we're going to be watching collisions of that all night. It's going to be must-see TV.
OLBERMANN: Yes, in a 40-mile-an-hour windstorm -
OLBERMANN: Knocking over light poles and passersby. Is there any reaction from those other balloons? Any reaction from the candidates? Are they going to show for this? Is this - we know there's 50 of these debates left. Is December 27th a key one? Is it because of the date? Is it the Christmas debate? What are they saying?
DICKINSON: Well, I man, it's - it's right before the Iowa Caucuses, essentially, and so, this is going to be a last chance to communicate to voters. Jon Huntsman - to his credit, and to his electoral schedule, which doesn't depend on Iowa - has said he's gonna sit this one out and - and get a big bowl of popcorn and watch Mitt and - and Newt suck up to the Donald, as - I think that was the exact quote.
OLBERMANN: "Hello, I'm Donald Trump and my guests tonight are Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty." Bachmann, Perry, Romney - they've all had these meeting with Trump with a lot of cameras, publicity and orange hair there. And Trump, of course - when he was staging his own, sort of mock candidacy - he briefly was atop the polls. Have you been able to define what his appeal is to the GOP? Is it purely braggadocio and bravado? Is that - is that what they're looking for?
DICKINSON: You know, I think that he says something about, you know, he's the everyman's billionaire. He's the guy that - that Joe the Plumber thinks he might be some day, if his plumbing were real and then took off. You know, plus this - I mean, you know, the size of his ego and - and just the way that he speaks - it gets into this - you know, he's just very much of - of a piece with the rest of this crew.
OLBERMANN: I just don't - he inherited most of that money. I've got - I know one of his buildings very well and it's very well run and it's a nice staff and there's not too much gold on it and they're good people and it's not a bad product but, my goodness, he inherited most of his riches. He's not a - he's not a self-made, or a Republican kind of story.
DICKINSON: But - but he's the guy who gets out there and does motivational talks in front of crowds. I mean, he - he's the guy who was out there on TV and you watched him, you know, in your underwear, so he - he's the accessible billionaire, I think is kind of the - the way to understand it.
OLBERMANN: I wouldn't watch him in his underwear. A - a very politically astute friend of mine heard of this today and responded, "We are living in an Onion story, I swear." In light of this - in light of the Cain thing - do you get that feeling about the whole GOP race, like we're just sitting here, waiting for the real candidate to show up and announce that the parody part of it is over?
DICKINSON: Well, you know, I half expect - at this event - they're gonna draw open the curtain and Jeb Bush is gonna come out and - and you know, take on the challengers. Or maybe, you know, Bob Dole will come out as a - a veteran of past seasons and - and will get all of the - get all of the TV reality show crew together, here but - I mean, this is just a joke and it - and it - and it builds on the joke of the Herman Cain campaign and his map of foreign policy and adversary regimes. I mean, just when you though it couldn't get any weirder, the Donald comes in.
OLBERMANN: Harold Stassen's dead so he can't pop in at the last minute either. Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone. Just 25 days 'til Trump proves there's another thing on TV he can't do well. Thank you, Tim. Have a good weekend.
DICKINSON: I appreciate it. Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Did you know there's a 24-hour-a-day police detail outside Fox News headquarters? A detail paid for by New York City taxpayers. But now, in Wisconsin, if you want to protest Governor Scott Walker's brand of Cheesehead fascism, you have to pay for the police that he will send to try to break up your protest. Next, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The tone deaf usually tone it down. Not Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who is now going to charge protesters for the cost of the cops who will harass them. And look at me when I'm talking to you.
Nearly six weeks after his injury at Occupy Oakland, five days after his first interview at Occupy Oakland, Scott Olsen joins me, live.
What does he do when his worldview requires that unemployment cannot improve, but unemployment drops by nearly half a point? He lies about it on his TV channel.
And the return of Fridays with Thurber and his haunting story, "Memorial."
OLBERMANN: In Terry Gilliam's 1984-like comedy, "Brazil," futuristic totalitarian state he depicts not only breaks down your door and tortures you but it then also sends you a bill.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the movie did not claim to depict Wisconsin in the year 2011, but it could have. Governor Scott Walker now wants to charge protesters for the time of the police who will monitor them and presumably pepper spray them. The new policy also holds demonstrators at the Capitol responsible for the costs of cleanup and repair.
Groups of protesters inside state buildings - and four people constitute a group - need permits and must apply 72 hours in advance. If you want to protest outside and you have a group of 100 or more, you'll also need a permit. The rules took effect Thursday and will be phased in by December 16th.
Waves of protests have engulfed the state Capitol ever since Walker and the state's other Republican legislators passed a law last February effectively ending collective-bargaining rights for most public workers. That led to the successful recall of two GOP state senators and now there's an effort to recall the governor as well. Anti-Walker activists have so far gathered more than 300,000 of the necessary 540,000 more signatures needed by January 17th to force the special election.
And that's not Walker's only problem at the moment. The annual tree lighting this morning didn't go so smoothly either. In fact, the tree lighting has turned into a political football. Only in Wisconsin!
Protesters turned their backs as the Governor lit the tree. Afterwards, a small group of protesters hung a massive "recall" sign over the second-floor railing in the rotunda. One Democratic state senator complained about the timing of the ceremony, saying Walker purposely held the event in the morning, rather than a traditional noontime ceremony schedule, in order to avoid protests. Can't imagine why he'd wanna do that. The governor's office said the earlier time was, in fact, just due to scheduling conflicts.
Roughly 200 people attended the ceremony, which also honored military members for their service. Normally five times that number would have been in attendance. Walker also broke tradition by declaring the thing a Christmas tree. It had been called a holiday tree since 1985.
Joining me now is Graeme Zielinski, communications director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
GRAEME ZIELINSKI: Yeah, thanks for having me. Howdy.
OLBERMANN: We may be related. I have a great grandfather named Zielinski, but we'll talk about that later on. Is - is this essentially - you can have your First Amendment rights, as long as you pay? I mean, only the rich could exercise their rights in Wisconsin? How on Earth could this be legal?
ZIELINSKI: Well - I don't know that it is. It's nuts. This guy's running the place like a banana republic but this is - this is more of the same from this guy. He's shut down the Capitol, turned it into sort of a police state. Any kind of dissent he wants to quash, any kind of speech he doesn't like, he tries to - to get rid of. It's not somebody who has a history of honoring democratic principals or debate. You see it in the recall right now - they're trying all these late-game changes to screw up the process. So, it's the banana republic of Scott Walker here in Wisconsin right now.
OLBERMANN: The office of the governor is saying this is simply a policy clarification. That there are existing rules that say public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities and applicants - and here's the quote - "shall be liable to the state for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use." Is that - is that just a convenient excuse or did somebody find this and say, "Oh by the way, we can charge protesters for their police?"
ZIELINSKI: I think that - that sounds like it's out of the Kremlin, I mean, the protesters that are protesting - let's talk about it - these are kids with autism, these are poor people who can't afford this, these are some of the people he's kicked off of Medicaid - which here is called BadgerCare - just in time for Christmas. These aren't folks who have a lot of money, and this is state that's been turned into a rent-to-own province of the Koch Brothers' Industries and this is very clearly meant to quash dissent.
OLBERMANN: One Republican state senator has said that the law will be administered with common sense - and we can debate whether or not that's plausible in Wisconsin at the moment - but is that - does that just, essentially, allow the police of the jurisdiction to keep the - the - the opposing groups out and let the friendly groups in?
ZIELINSKI: Well, I - I think the tea party rage muffins - who, by the way, had the run of the Capitol-
ZIELINSKI: Before, when - when we had a Democratic governor, the Capitol was wide open. They came in and made their little tantrums, had their little tantrums in all the Democratic offices. The Capitol was wide open when they wanted to do their little displays. But the idea that you want to cede all power to the state to decide when dissent can be allowed - isn't that totally against the rage muffin principle of limited government?
OLBERMANN: It's a funny thing on - there's a story up at The Daily Beast right now. City of New York has a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week police presence in one business location in this city, because it's highly political. The cost is estimated to be at least half a million a year to the taxpayers and there hasn't been anybody calling for the people in the place - which is a for-profit business, not a bunch, as you suggested, of autistic kids or Occupy protesters - where it's a for-profit business. Nobody said, "You gotta reimburse the city." The place is the headquarters of Fox News. Is - does this - is this not a lesson that - that the costs of this are just part of what government pays in a democratic society?
ZIELINSKI: Well, it's - it seems pretty un-American that you gotta have a - a price tag on dissent, especially when you have a governor, here - by the way, Fox News gave a million bucks to the Republican Governors Association, which supported Scott Walker, so, maybe they can help pick up the tab. Maybe Fox News can come here and help us have protests.
OLBERMANN: How do you get - by the way - how do you decide that a - that a group of protesters is a group of protesters when they reach four or more people? That's - is that - a family tour of the Capitol?
ZIELINSKI: Does not the Bible say whenever three or more are gathered in my name? I mean, it's ridiculous. It's absurd and it's on-its-face absurd.
OLBERMANN: And this tree lighting today, that - is there any - anything the governor has gotten right? I mean, how could he turn the tree lighting into a political disaster?
ZIELINSKI: Well - well, I mean, he - he talks - he wants to make it a Christmas tree, which is another divisive act. I mean, that's fine, but I - if Christ - if our Lord was born in Wisconsin today, he'd be kicked off of BadgerCare, which is our Medicaid program. That's how - that's how Christmas-y this guy is.
OLBERMANN: Oh, goodness. Wisconsin Democratic Communications Director Graeme Zielinski. My Zielinskis are from - are from Krakow. Where were yours from?
ZIELINSKI: Krakow, Krakow (speaks Polish) -
OLBERMANN: Okay, so it's very possibly. All right. Have a good - have a good weekend, cousin.
ZIELINSKI: I'll still hit up you - I'll still hit you up for a loan.
OLBERMANN: You got it. Thanks.
Scott Olsen coming up.
OLBERMANN: Injured Occupy Oakland protester Scott Olsen joins me next.
First the "Sanity Break," and on this date - twenty years ago today - the New York Mets signed free agent outfielder Bobby Bonilla to a then-record five-year, 29-million-dollar contract. After three and a half controversial seasons in New York, the Mets off-loaded Bonilla, only to bring him back in 1999. A year later - still owing him nearly six million on his next contract - the Mets bought him out of the deal, by agreeing to defer the remaining payments - with interest - until July 1st of this year. So now, Bonilla gets $1,193,000 a year from the Mets, through the year 2036, when he will be 73. He might be able to hit still.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Boy drinks from dog bowl.
We begin with a trip to grandma's house. It's Thanksgiving and, while all the adults are watching football, little Patrick gets thirsty. Oh, here's some fresh water.
Okay, it's cute, but at some point, shouldn't someone maybe get the kid a ladle? Or just a straw. It was a lot more impressive later on, when the dog sat in a high chair and drank out of a sippy cup.
VIDEO: Pig travels on two legs.
We travel to China, where this little pig went to the market on two legs. Born earlier this year, this pig that the locals call "Piggy the Strong" doesn't let his challenge stop him from getting where he wants to go. Sure, sometimes they help him out. "What are you doing?" "I'm driving a pig. What does it look like I'm doing?" But, of course, he does a good job on his own. All right, that's enough hogging of the camera time. Ha-ha-ha.
VIDEO: Dog blisses out in bath.
Finally, it's the T.M.O. Adorable Clip of the Day. Nothing at the end of a long day like a nice soak in the bathtub. And if, like Casper here, you're able to find somebody to shampoo your belly at the same time, even better. "Turn the guys off - the camera off, guys - I'm trying to relax, here."
Little known fact - this is also the same way they clean Rush Limbaugh.
"Time Marches On!"
By the way, that's half of the greatest obscene joke the late Bill Hicks ever told. Look it up on the Internet, if you dare. Scott Olsen, next.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's thrilling new game show "Down You Go" will not be seen tonight so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8:00 PM 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."
Police forces across the country continuing to crackdown on Occupy protesters, though none acting as violently as Oakland's police did five weeks ago, in its brutal treatment of our next guest, Scott Olsen.
In our third story tonight - even as police continue to raid camps and make arrests - protesters persevere. Some now even directly confronting high-ranking politicians and banks.
In Tampa, 29 protesters arrested last night, after refusing to leave a park there.
Meantime, in Boston, three arrested after Occupy member brought a large sink to the encampment. Police saying they were not allowing new construction material and, quote, "took custody of the property." A sink. It is now everything, including the kitchen sink.
Despite the ongoing crackdowns, Occupiers now taking their movement to politicians themselves. Protesters interrupting Herman Cain's speech at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro last night.
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: I want to be president of something for somebody, somewhere, doing anything, as long as it's legal. I had achieved my dream to be become a -
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #1: Mic check!
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #2: Mic check!
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #3: Mic check!
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #4: We are the 99 percent!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Sit down!
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #5: We are the 99 percent!
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Are y'all done yet?
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #6: Sexual abuse is not acceptable!
OLBERMANN: Given how it's been going, Cain was probably happy to be interrupted there, but he was not the only politician being occupied. Protesters in Washington marching on a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Fundraiser lat night to call attention to the influence of big money in politics, at the event where tickets reportedly went for as much at $75,000.
Representative Donna Edwards, the Democrat of Maryland, who attended the event, expressing her support for the movement, saying she wants public financing of elections to eliminate the need for high-priced fund-raisers:
(Excerpt from video clip) DONNA EDWARDS: I stand by the 99 percent.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: I stand by the 99 percent.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: And my district.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: And my district.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: Are the 99 percent.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Are the 99 percent.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: People who lost their homes.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: People who lost their homes,
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: People who've lost their jobs.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: People who've lost their jobs.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: It's - it's not fair.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: It's not fair!
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: It's not right.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: It's not right.
(Excerpt from video clip) EDWARDS: And it's time for us to occupy America.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: And it's time for us to occupy America!
OLBERMANN: The movement now spreading from the streets to foreclosed homes.
Occupy Rochester - that's in New York State - has been holding protests outside each - one such home and also the local Wells Fargo branch, demanding the bank negotiate with its owners. Earlier this week, following public outcry, that family there was given an additional 30 days to work out an agreement. Occupy Oakland now trying to do the same for 75-year-old Josephine Tolbert, who fell behind on her mortgage payments after she was diagnosed with cancer. Police there blocking the entrance to her home.
Speaking of Occupy Oakland, joining me now - as promised - Scott Olsen, the Iraq War vet whose skull was fractured at an Occupy Oakland rally in late October. Scott, it's a pleasure to talk to you. I'm glad we can do this. Thanks for your time tonight.
SCOTT OLSEN: How do - Keith, glad to be here.
OLBERMANN: How are you feeling and how - people who saw that interview that you did over the weekend, at Occupy Oakland - how fast are you getting better? Let me put it that way.
OLSEN: It's difficult to - to say. Every time I run into somebody new, who I haven't seen for quite awhile, they're - surprised how much I am doing better. Every time I check in with my doctors, every time I check in with anybody - any friends, they see the change faster than I - I do.
OLBERMANN: I would imagine that, so you must be - is it - do you find it frustrating or has the - the support that you've gotten nationwide actually contributed to this process? Not to have everybody pat themselves on their back but, I mean, has it been with any practical value to you?
OLSEN: Well, it's frustrating at times but the support has been such - such a great help to me, just going home and reading a new card. I've still got a whole stack to get through and - support from vet groups and, like, VFP or IVAW has been outstanding and it's been helping me get way, way better.
OLBERMANN: How - how clear a picture do you have of how much support there is and how much you've come to represent - not just to Occupy Oakland but Occupy in general?
OLSEN: Well, I mean, I've got this idea of a - it's - it's a bit hard to get my head around. I - I was - on the streets of San Francisco today and three or four people who you - you wouldn't expect to be involved with politics, you know, they recognized me, and they stopped me and it's - it's always a - surprise to me.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I would think so. What - what does that mean to you, when - when people think of you as part of, maybe, the essence of Occupy?
OLSEN: I mean it - it's - it's important to me because, you know, I - I am a part of it. We're - we all are and it's important for us all to be a part of it and - and embody those values that we hold - hold true.
OLBERMANN: Tell me what - what was it particularly that - that drew you to Occupy Oakland in the first place?
OLSEN: Just the - just, really, the - the community involved, and the diversity of opinions. You know, everybody you talk to there is going to have a different opinion, and - and you can always learn something new from talking to somebody else.
OLBERMANN: I don't know if you know this name - Sergeant Shamar Thomas.
OLBERMANN: Good. Well then, you what he did here in New York, and he became famous for it, because he stood up to the cops and he said, with - with real vigor, but real politeness towards them - that, you know, "There's no excuse for you to behave like this. This is not a battlefield."
He knew battlefields, you know battlefields. Does the degree of militarization of the police at Occupy protests - obviously, that had an impact on you, personally, but in a broader sense - does it shock you that you're seeing this on the streets of this country?
OLSEN: I don't know, it's - on one hand, it shocks me a lot. On the other hand, it doesn't - because our nation's peace officers have been militarized over the past ten years to combat terrorism, but they're combating anybody with an opinion.
OLBERMANN: Relative to your opinion and these protests, do you have plans? Do you have hopes about resuming participating in some - some regular way? Or what do you want to do with this as it goes forward?
OLSEN: I'm - I'm excited to get back involved and I'm trying to plan on how - how I can get back involved and be an asset to - the Occupy movement but, you know, I have to make sure I - stay safe.
OLBERMANN: Well, you're already an asset. You don't have to worry about - about achieving that. You make sort of, like a practical, in-the-field kind of thing. Let me sum it up this way. What do you want - having been through all that you've been through, involved in this - what do you want to see Occupy achieve: long-term, short-term, however you want to put it?
OLSEN: I mean, really, I just want to see more people at - get involved with real democracy, to build a democratic nation. With that, I think we need to end our wars - all of them - and that'll do our country a great service.
OLBERMANN: Scott Olsen, we wish you - all of us here, everybody who's watching - we wish you the best as your recovery continues and, obviously, we thank you for your bravery - getting involved in this and - and for doing these interviews and of course, thank you for - for your original service, as well.
OLSEN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Okay, thank you, sir. All right.
The man behind the Republicans' pledge not to raise taxes explains why it's okay for Republicans to raise taxes anyway. "Worst Persons," ahead.
OLBERMANN: Bathtub Boy tells Republican Congressmen that just because they want to raise taxes on the middle class, that does not mean they are violating their pledge to him to not raise taxes.
And it's Fridays with Thurber and his eloquent tribute to a dog, "Memorial." Ahead.
OLBERMANN: One of the loveliest pieces of writing James Thurber ever did, "Memorial" - next.
First - because these next miscreants have never had any connection at all to the word "loveliest" - here are "Countdown's" top-three nominees for today's "Worst Persons In The World."
The bronze? To right-wing nut job Dan Gainor of the laughably-titled "Media Research Center." This is a little old but - given what he's implying - it's still valid. This is the man who once offered a hundred dollars on Twitter to whoever punched then-Congressman Alan Grayson, then claimed he was joking.
Obviously, this tweet reinforces the idea that Gainor has a serious anger management issue: "Occupy Wall Street seems determined to learn just how much right supports 2nd Amendment #OccupyDC #NRA."
The implied call to violence, I understand. Gainor's got a violence fantasy. Although you'll notice, he always wants somebody else to actually do the violence - he just likes to watch. What I never get about these psychos, though, is why they think the people they're trying to talk into shooting somebody would not be charged with a crime.
The runner-up? Roger Ailes, proprietor of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. If the propaganda arm of the Republican party is to defeat President Obama next year, it is essential that the unemployment numbers do not improve. So, what did Ailes do today when unemployment numbers did improve? When they dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent in November? He rounded up.
Look at this - courtesy of Media Matters, right off Fox News. Eight point six rounded up is 9 percent! Seriously, the voiceover for this - by the Stepford wife, Gretchen Carlson - was correct. But this is what you saw if you were watching their TV station:
(GRAPHIC OF A MISLABELED CHART)
When people compare Fox News to the Ministry of Truth from the book,"1984," they're insulting Fox News. Orwell's Ministry of Truth wasn't nearly as effective as Ailes' Fox News is.
Speaking of effective - our winner? Right wing anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, the man who helped to kill the Republican Party.
Norquist met with Republican congressmen to tell them that - yes, they've signed his pledge saying you can't raise taxes, but that the raising of taxes that would occur if they let the payroll tax-cut expire, wouldn't really be a raising of taxes.
National Journal's Billy House tweeted "Norquist advises a room full of Republican Members Thursday that a failure to extend the payroll tax should not be viewed as raising taxes." This is like a 16th-century pope trying to clarify when the - why the sun does too revolve around the Earth, despite, you know, the reality.
Mr. Norquist is, of course, Bathtub Boy - the buffoon who once said "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Shall we start with those Republican anti-tax-increase members who you just told to support a tax increase?
Grover Norquist - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: So much of James Thurber's writing was so original, so inventive, so much a standard-setter - for even the humorists who write today - that we can forget just how good it is. And nothing focused his pen like dogs. And perhaps nowhere in his volumes of work is that focus clearer than in tonight's selection.
This is from "My World And Welcome To It," first published in 1937 and I'm reading it from a 1979 paperback version of the book. Listen carefully as Thurber goes from humor to sarcasm to nostalgia to a deft, remarkable analysis of the universal dilemma that is mortality in - "Memorial," by James Thurber.
"She came all the way from Illinois by train in a big, wooden crate 13 years ago, a frightened black poodle, not yet a year old. She felt terrible in body and worse in mind. These contraptions that men put on wheels, in contraventions of that law of nature which holds that the feet must come in contact with the ground in travelling, dismayed her. She was never able to ride 1,000 yards in an automobile without getting sick at her stomach but she was always apologetic about this frailty, never, as she might well have been, reproachful.
She tried patiently at all time to understand Man's way of life: the rolling of his wheels, the raising of his voice, the ringing of his bells; his way of searching out with lights the dark, protecting corners of the night; his habit of building his beds inside walls, high above the nurturing earth. She refused, with all courtesy, to accept his silly notion that it is better to bear puppies in a place made of machined wood and clean blue cloth than in the dark and warm dirt beneath the oak flooring of the barn.
The poodle was hand in glove with natural phenomena. She raised two litters of puppies, 11 each time, taking them in her stride, the way she took the lightning and the snow. One of these litters, which arrived ahead of schedule, was discovered under the barn floor by a little girl of four. The child gaily displayed on her right forearm the almost invisible and entirely painless marks of teeth which had gently induced her to put down the live black toys she had found and wanted to play with.
The poodle had no vices that I can think of, unless you could count her incurable appetite for the tender tips of the young asparagus in the garden and for the black raspberries when they ripened on the bushes in the orchard. Sometimes, as punishment for her depredations, she walked into bees' nests or got her long, shaggy ears tangled in fence wire. She never snarled about the penalties of existence or whimpered about the trials and grotesqueries of life with Man.
She accepted gracefully the indignities of the clipping machine which, in her maiden days, periodically made a clown of her for the dog shows, in accordance with the stupid and unimaginative notion, inherited from the drunken Romans, that this most sensitive and dignified of animals is at heart a fool. The poodle, which can look as husky as a Briard when left shaggy, is an outdoors dog and can hold its own in the field with the best of the retrievers, including the Labrador.
The poodle won a great many ribbons in her bench days, and once went Best of Breed at Madison Square Garden, but she would have traded all her medals for a dish of asparagus. She knew it was show time when a red rubber bib was tied around her neck. That meant a ride in a car. I used to ride with her in the rumble seat and once, on our way to Newport, when the rain came down suddenly, there was I with one hand on the poodle's shoulder and the other holding over her a bright green parasol. The highways of New England have, I am sure, seldom beheld a more remarkable sight.
Like the great Gammeyer of Tarkington's "Gentle Julia," the poodle I knew sometimes seemed about to bridge the mysterious and conceivably narrow gap that separated instinct from reason. She could take part in your gaiety and your sorrow; she trembled to your uncertainties and lifted her head at your assurances. There were times when she seemed to come close to a pitying comprehension of the whole troubled scene and what lies ticking behind it. If poodles, who walk so easily upon their hind legs, ever do learn the little tricks of speech and reason, I should not be surprised if they made a better job of it than Man, who would seem to be slowly slipping back to all fours, in spite of Van Wyck Brooks and Lewis Mumford and Robert Frost.
The poodle kept her sight, her hearing, and her figure up to her quiet and dignified end. She knew that the Hand was upon her and she accepted it with a grave and unapprehensive resignation. This, her dark intelligent eyes seemed to be trying to tell me, is simply the closing of full circle, this is the flower that grows out of Beginning; this - not to make it too hard for you, friend - is as natural as eating the raspberries and raising the puppies and riding into the rain.
"Memorial," by James Thurber.
In New York, I'm Keith Olbermann. Please have a great weekend. Good night, and good luck.