'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, December 9th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: Occupy Vs DNC - Charlotte NC's bid to make Occupy illegal during next year's Democratic convention; plus rallying at Koch HQ
#ShowPlug 2: Romney's not-so-stealth attack on Gingrich; Perry thinks SCOTUS is just 8 judges. GOP tops for your laugh $; w/ @Markos
#ShowPlug 3: To overturn Citizens United - a Constitutional Amendment. Its author @SenatorSanders joins me live tonight on Countdown
#ShowPlug 4: Thurber turns a simple French-English translation handbook into high, crazed, humor in "There's No Place Like Home"
#ShowPlug Last: Worsts: architects insist they just didn't see it - no clue their twin towers looked like...well, you'll see.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy DNC', Luis Rodriguez
#5 'Stand For Freedom', Hilary Shelton
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'When GOPs Attack', Markos Moulitsas
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Corporate Citizens?', Sen. Bernie Sanders
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, MVRDV
#1 Fridays with Thurber: There's No Place Like Home
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Branden Lane, Andy Kroll, Ari Berman, Ryan Cahill, Paul F. Tompkins
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The law that would make Occupy illegal in Charlotte, North Carolina, during next year's Democratic convention. The Democrats and democracy collide.
Occupy the Koch Brothers - the plan to protest the puppeteers behind the laws dismantling freedom and enthroning the corporations. Occupy Boston still standing - no raid, not yet. But the human face of raiding is still delusional about it and still boastful about it.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If you go back and think about it, I think everybody said - in retrospect - it was the right thing to do.
OLBERMANN: Undoing all of this by constitutional amendment, overturning Citizens United.
(Excerpt from video clip) BERNIE SANDERS: We have got to send a constitutional amendment to the states that says - simply and straightforwardly - what everyone except five members of the United States Supreme Court seem to understand. And that is - corporations are not people.
OLBERMANN: My guest tonight - Senator Bernie Sanders.
Rick Perry, again. Election date - got it wrong. Voting age - got it wrong. Inauguration month - got it wrong. Number of members on the Supreme Court - eight. And he missed the bonus question, too.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICKY PERRY: You see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges, whether it was - uh, Nata - Matamayor.
OLBERMANN: Two, no Trump. With just Gingrich and Santorum confirmed, he is now pretending he wasn't really that committed to moderating that next GOP debate, anyway.
And, no, you're not seeing things and yes, the architects of this are tonight's "Worst Persons in the World." (Picture of the proposed Yongsan Dreamhub project in Seoul, South Korea by MVRDV Architects shown) All that and more, now, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, December 9th, 333 days until the 2012 presidential election. It is the potential public-relations nightmare the Democratic Party can't afford - to be seen as the cause, or the excuse, for an undisguised suppression of the Occupy movement.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - Charlotte, North Carolina city council considering an ordinance ban to camping on public property, to call it a "public nuisance." Charlotte, where the 2012 Democratic Presidential Convention will be held.
Occupy Charlotte has had mostly good relations with city officials and police but the threat of major demonstrations during next September's Democratic convention has the city manager drafting a law that would keep tents and other camping gear out of the parks of Charlotte.
Some on the city council say that law could conflict with the First Amendment and Occupy lawyers agree. Much more on that when we speak with Luis Rodriguez, Occupy Charlotte organizer, in a few moments.
In New York, meantime, Mayor Michael Bloomberg taking a few moments on his weekly radio self-congratulation program to log the city's performance the morning of November 15th. Police, at that time, making more than 200 arrests as they raided and closed down and beat up the original Occupy camp at Zuccotti Park. Some protesters complained of rough treatment by the NYPD. Bloomberg brushing that off, then and now.
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: I think everybody said in retrospect, it was the right thing to do. We did it as respectfully as you can when you handle a big crowd. Police show amazing restraint and they do that all the time.
OLBERMANN: Not everybody said that. New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler has called for a Justice Department investigation of NYPD tactics and performance at Occupy protests, including documented abuse of reporters and photographers by the police. Bloomberg pushing back on that, too, today.
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: The press made a big deal that they, you know, were denied their rights. We didn't keep anybody from reporting. They just had to stand to the side while the police did their job.
OLBERMANN: Or lie to the side, as police in riot gear cuffed their hands behind their back while they were lying on the ground. The irony here, of course, is Mr. Bloomberg made much of the money with which he bought his position as mayor running a journalism factory - without ever once being contaminated with any actual understanding of freedom of the press.
Occupy Wall Street also making a cameo appearance last night, not far from Zuccotti Park at Foley Square. They're shutting down the shooting of a "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" episode with an Occupy theme. Protesters rejecting what they called a "corporate exploitation of Occupy."
In Boston last night, a street party instead of confrontation with police, after a midnight deadline to exit the Occupy camp at Dewey Square expired. Boston's mayor wants the camp cleared anyway. Police can move in at any time. Right now, they are still holding back.
Not holding back though, Aaron Spagnolo and Nanore Barsoumian. When the riot police failed to show, Spagnolo used "the people's mike" to propose and the couple got married on the spot. And that's one goal that's been accomplished.
Back to Charlotte and the attempt to hush Occupy. I'm joined, as promised, by Luis Rodriguez, an organizer with Occupy Charlotte. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
LUIS RODRIGUEZ: All right, thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Were you surprised by news about this ordinance against camping and do you have a read on whether or not it's going to pass the city council?
RODRIGUEZ: No, we weren't surprised at all. We've known for a time that certain members of the city council wanted to see us disbanded. We are planning on fighting it, every step of the way.
OLBERMANN: Well, you were quoted today in The Huffington Post, saying, "The Democratic National Convention is ground zero for everything. We're estimating several thousands of people coming, especially for Occupy." Do you plan to have that go through, even if the - the city tries to - to box you out by passing this ordinance?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think that - no matter what we do - many thousands of people will be coming, so it's imperative that we keep that space. If we don't control it, then someone will and they might not have the same relationship that we do with our city and with our police department.
OLBERMANN: Tell me about that relationship, because there have been at least a dozen arrests since Occupy Charlotte got underway. But you - you believe you have a good working relationship with - with the authorities?
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Our police department has been - has been very helpful. They've come to us whenever there was a problem - whenever - they've always given us heads-up before anything was going to be done. Nine of those 12 arrests were not our group. They were a different group, the Rainforest Action Network, not affiliated with Occupy Charlotte.
OLBERMANN: So, what do you - is there some other dimension to this - to this proposal? Is there some attempt to divide the - the sense of cooperation between Occupy Charlotte and the city by creating this - this situation that - that would presumably just amp up the - the confrontation quality during the Democratic convention next year?
RODRIGUEZ: I think it's not intentional. That it's not - they're not intentionally trying to be divisive. I think that they're just being a little shortsighted. They want everything to be nice and clean and beautiful for when all those nice lobbyists come to our city but the protests will be there, regardless of whether or not we're able to camp, there will be major protests. The people are fired up and we're ready to have our voices be heard.
OLBERMANN: Here's a practical question about that - I'm not implying or suggesting that Occupy should be applauding Democrats or even trusting them all the time - but is it not a practical reality that the Democrats are closer to the goals of Occupy than the Republicans are, and thus, do you not need to treat that party differently than you would the Republicans, if it was a choice of which convention was gonna be there?
RODRIGUEZ: We recognize that the Democratic stance might be closer to what we ideologically feel are our goals - and that they maybe easier - it maybe easier for a Democrat to come to us - to our side then, maybe, a Republican, but we're looking at each individual candidate and we are going to focus on their campaign contributors and the lobbying dollars that have gone into - that have gone into their coffers.
OLBERMANN: So what - what would - without giving it away and obviously, there's some - some strategy involved in not giving it away - but what - what, broadly, would an Occupy Charlotte protest of the Democratic Convention next September look like, do you think?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, we haven't spoken, specifically about what we would like to do at the DNC. We do know that we will be protesting. The Occupy movement is simply to draw attention to the plight of the 99 percent, the vast swathe of people who are disenfranchised from their government. So, we know that with the 24-hour news cycle, there's going to be a lot of coverage and we'll be able to get our - our message out to a lot of people that way.
OLBERMANN: Luis Rodriguez, one of the organizers of Occupy Charlotte. Thanks for your time tonight. Have a good weekend.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, sir. You, too.
OLBERMANN: That's next September.
There is a major protest march and rally planned for New York City tomorrow on an issue that plays an insidious role in the inequality that is central to the Occupy movement - the legal denial of voting rights to minorities, to young people, to the elderly, to other groups, financed, in part, by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and driven by legislation developed by one of the Koch brothers' favorite charities, the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC.
The Kochs and their fellow travelers paying for ALEC to write template laws, which conservative legislators have used to end election-day registration, to end early and weekend voting, to restrict voting by students and to enact other measures that dampen turnout by voters more likely to support progressive causes, and to do so from state to state.
Standing against the Kochs and ALEC, Stand for Freedom, a campaign organized by groups which include the NAACP, SEIU, AFL-CIO, American Civil Liberties Union and the National Council of La Raza, dedicated to fighting back against conservative laws that restrict voting rights.
Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, the President of the Hispanic Federation saying, "Any attempt to undermine the right to vote must be treated as an attack on the very ideals that created our country - democracy and equality."
Tomorrow's march is scheduled to start outside the Koch brothers' New York office and to end across from the United Nations.
For more on this, I'm joined by Hilary Shelton, the Senior Vice President with the NAACP. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
HILARY SHELTON: It's great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Give me the premise behind singling out the Koch brothers, sort of identifying them as the vote - the face of voter suppression in this country.
SHELTON: They've done more to underwrite the cause of disenfranchisement than anything else. They not only support ALEC itself - the network which provides the - the templates for the extreme right-wing, extremist legislation that disenfranchises millions of Americans across the country - but they actually put resources into moving their - the initiatives forward in each of the individual states. They support legislators that support the legislation to, again, undercut voting rights and protections in our country.
It's them that we're looking at. There are others that have helped support it but they have singlehandedly put up the - the lion's share of resources to make sure the disenfranchising process moves forward.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Shelton, looking at your resume - you've worked for civil rights with the United Methodist Churches, with the United Negro College Fund now and - and throughout that, with the NAACP. With all of your background, all of your experience, have you ever seen anything like this - this concerted effort in the last decade that drives down minority voting and economically-challenged voting and youth voting and aged voting and - and, generally, progressive voting?
SHELTON: No, I have not. As a matter of fact, this is one of the well-coordinated and organized approaches to hit things at the state level. Keith, these are issues that we fought and - and successfully fought back in the state - in the legislature, here in Washington, D.C. But the co-ordination they are doing now across the country - hitting multiple states at the same time, utilizing the new technologies and so well re - financing these processes, as a matter of fact - is - is - is unprecedented.
OLBERMANN: As strategies go, it is - it's not just a good one, but it really is the only good one they have available to them, isn't it? I mean, if you're not the majority, you have to become the majority by disenfranchising what is actually the majority, don't you?
SHELTON: Oh, this is the game they're playing. It's sad to see that - rather than get people to support their agenda, rather than working with the American people under our democratic process - they would undercut the entire process by suppressing votes. And votes of African-Americans, young Americans, women, the elderly and others. It is outrageous and it is undemocratic and quite frankly, it's un-American.
OLBERMANN: Do we find - is there any early indication of what one would hope would happen in this - that when - when the premise comes about that you're trying to keep people from voting that that raises voter awareness? And, particularly in the groups that are being suppressed, do you find more people - whether or not they actually wind up voting - do you find an increase in numbers of people in these groups who want to vote?
SHELTON: Absolutely. What we experienced from the 2000 election, going back to that debacle that we called George Bush being elected to president, is that we've had millions of Americans that felt really disappointed that the process didn't work for them. They came out and participated, they came out and registered, they studied the issues. They came out to the polls to vote and then, to have the election taken from them from the other side by the Supreme Court stepping in the way that it did - we were fearful people would say, "Look, we told you they would never let our votes go forward."
But we continued to work with them. Four years later, the turnout was higher than 2000, and in 2008 it was historically even higher than 2004. We're convinced as we move towards 2012, we can do the same thing again, as long as we can eliminate these obstacles so that Americans can actually come out to the polls and vote.
OLBERMANN: All right. The march tomorrow, starting with the Koch brothers' headquarters and into the UN Plaza. What, after that, is - is on the docket for Stand for Freedom? What else - what else are you going to do?
SHELTON: Then we continue to move out in two tracks. The first track is to make sure we educate people on the issues in those states that we won't be able to repeal the legislation before the 2012 election.
We want to make sure they have everything they need to go out to register, to be educated on the issues, to vote on Election Day and, indeed, have that vote counted.
But we're also running a second track. That track is where we're going to move as fast and as hard as we can to repeal these repressive measures to make sure these unnecessary obstacles to our democracy are removed once and for all.
OLBERMANN: NAACP Senior Vice President Hilary Shelton on tomorrow's rally that begins outside Koch brothers' headquarters in New York. Great thanks and good luck with it.
SHELTON: Oh, thanks for having us.
OLBERMANN: Republicans and numbers. With only two candidates willing to show up at a debate he is to emcee, Donald Trump may now bailout on it.
And Ricky Perry, who screwed up the voting age, the date of the election and the month of the - presidential inauguration has now also whiffed on how many justices there are, including the Chief Justice on the Supreme Court.
You do know the world looks at us and trembles, right?
That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Is this Supreme Court justice named "Natta," "Mat," "Matamayor," or D, "Sotomayor"? Rick Perry answered A, B and C, but not D.
Senator Bernie Sanders trying to repeal Citizens United in the only way that United States citizens can still do - a constitutional amendment. He joins us.
They want to build this in Seoul, South Korea. The architects say they didn't notice, really.
And Fridays with Thurber. Taking an ordinary French-English trans - translation book and turning it into hysterical high comedy. "There's No Place Like Home," Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann could have told him - not that Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich would have listened - but they all saw, firsthand, the danger of being out in front.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - as Gingrich knows tonight, out in front there, it's easier for them to see you, easier to attack and - if you don't move well - it's easier to knock you over.
Mitt Romney appears to be shifting focus from his potential general election fight against President Obama to his actual primary fight against Gingrich. The super PAC which supports Romney accidentally posted the following ad yesterday on the web:
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Newt has a ton of baggage, like the fact that Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations or that he took at least $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, just before it helped cause the economic meltdown. Gingrich even teamed up with Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore on global warming. And Newt was a longtime supporter of a national health-insurance mandate, the centerpiece of Obamacare. Maybe that's why George Will called Gingrich "the least conservative candidate."
OLBERMANN: Just as quickly as that ad appeared, it disappeared. No one's really saying why. A spokeswoman for the super PAC said, "It was an unfinished ad, so we are not commenting on its status." Romney, himself, had no comment on the matter either.
Gingrich, meanwhile, was not focusing on any of his opponents. Instead, he focused on the Middle East. In an interview with the television operation The Jewish Channel, Gingrich called the Mideast peace process "delusional" and seemed - and that's a mild word - to put himself at odds with the U.S. push for a two-state solution.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact, Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to - to go many places and, for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this - this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it's tragic.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of tragic, Rick Perry put himself at odds with the facts again:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and, frankly, unaccountable judges.
OLBERMANN: Context tells us Perry was talking about the Supreme Court. So that would be - nine - judges not - not eight. The Chief Justice, the seven associates and - and the ninth - the one whose name he couldn't remember:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: You see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges, whether it was - uh, Nata - Matamayor.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Sonia Sotomayor?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: Sotomayor - Sotomayor.
OLBERMANN: Finally, Donald Trump didn't shy away from criticizing most of the GOP field, admitting today his Newsmax debate might not happen, since few of the candidates actually want to do it. His reasoning was this:
(Excerpt from video clip) DONALD TRUMP: Some of them don't have the courage to do it. A couple of them that called me and told me, "I just - Donald, I'm just too nervous to do it."
OLBERMANN: Sounds like Regis Philbin. Trump, though, says he's not too nervous to run as an independent if the "right GOP candidate doesn't get the nomination."
Joining me now, for some insight on all of this - it's like commenting on a kindergarten class - Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor, Markos Moulitsas. Good evening, Markos.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening. Happy Friday.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Boy, oh boy, we need it. We need, like, five Fridays a week, with these people.
I'm reminded, suddenly, of this James - this bizarre James Spader film from 15 years ago, called "Crash" - where they start deliberately - he starts deliberately having car crashes because there's some sort of - erotic excitement about this, in a small community - a sub-community of the - this is - this is the Ricky Perry campaign, is it not?
It's just car crash after car crash after car - does he not know? I mean, he's gotten everything wrong, factually. Does he not know how bad this is?
MOULITSAS: He is quite the - the masochist, but I'm actually - I'm not sure if he's even running for president any - anymore. I mean, looking at his ads, he seems to be running for Jesus. And, even then, I don't think he's getting any traction because the real Jesus actually knew what he was talking about. This guy clearly does not.
OLBERMANN: Is there something encouraging, though, in the Perry story? At least the Republicans' reaction to him in the - in the - in the early polling, that he sank like a stone and - and continues to drop? Some encouragement that at least, for the presidential candidate, Republicans seemed alarmed by extreme stupidity?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, no, that's giving them too much credit. I think the reason he - he fell and - the polling correlates timewise - is because he said they were heartless on immigration and they've never forgiven him because, basically, he accused them of being bigoted. It was right, but they don't like to be told that they're bigoted so they've held that against him. And I don't think there's anything he could have done - from that moment on - to win back that support.
OLBERMANN: All right. To Donald Trump. Are we - are we really going to be denied this spectacular debate? I mean, might - might they hold it anyway, even if none of the candidates show up, so it could just be Trump talking to himself and we could watch?
MOULITSAS: I wish. I mean, this - this is great. Republicans are in such a bind right now. Every facet of it is a circus. I mean, when you have Karl Rove and - and, basically, entire Republican establishments shaking their heads and - and just - basically screaming to their candidates to stay away from Donald Trump - and yet, Donald Trump keeps getting attention and keeps going on the air and keeps talking about how weak the field is. I mean, there - there's just nothing good about it for Republicans. There's no silver lining whatsoever.
OLBERMANN: CNN had an interview with Trump this afternoon - and I think it was marked exclusive, which is hilarious. It meant it was the only one he gave that hour. The - turning to the Romney anti-Newt Gingrich ad - posted, then pulled down. Is it the oldest publicity trick in the book or - given what's gone on with the Republican campaign so far - is it possible that it actually was accidental?
MOULITSAS: I mean, if it was accidental, it turned out into a great PR coup. I mean, it's got more airing than - then it might have otherwise. But it's a great ad, if it was a Democratic Party - playing it. I mean, this is fantastic. These guys are doing such a great job of making the case for Obama's re-election that I wish this thing went on for months and months and months.
OLBERMANN: I - well, obviously, we will get that for months and months and months. And Newt Gingrich - the comments on the Mideast. If I'm reading this correctly, he didn't just say the that - that two-state solution is a bad idea now. He essentially said we have been behind a false construction - this country has been - for 65 or so years behind a false construction that has kept Israel at war since 1948.
That's pretty extreme, even for an extreme right candidate. Have we ever seen anything quite like that before?
MOULITSAS: Not on the issue. I mean, he seems to be, clearly, to the right of even Israeli hardliners.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that's -
MOULITSAS: And which is quite the accomplishment. I mean this is a pretty fantastic place to be, for him. And, I mean - even just basic understanding of what he's talking about is lacking and he - talks - he says Palestinians don't exist, they're just Arabs. And he acts Arabs are a - you know, a monolithic group of people.
I mean, it's like saying people from Latin America are all the same, right? As opposed to being from Puerto Rico or Mexico, Argentina. Obviously, there are differences between different groups and sects and - and the Arab world is no different - and for him to lump them all together as though they're one shows that he doesn't even know what he's talking about to begin with. His base assumptions are wrong.
OLBERMANN: Right, because if - if you then extended it to Latin America, then all the people in Latin America would be, naturally, Americans.
The founder and - let's see if we can - see if Newt can - can wriggle out of that one - the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas. "Countdown" contributor, as well. Great thanks and have a great weekend.
MOULITSAS: Have a great weekend.
OLBERMANN: Senator Bernie Sanders and his bid for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Senator Bernie Sanders on his constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end corporate citizenhood. Next.
First, the "Sanity Break" - and if you want to pick one date on which the far right began to publicly recede from reality and just pretend it isn't there - it was December 9th, 1983. This is the anniversary. That's when it was reported that Reagan White House counselor Edwin Meese had denied the existence of homelessness and hunger in the country - that it was all "anecdotal."
People went to soup kitchens, Meese explained on this date in 1983, "because food is free and that's easier than paying for it." Not only was Meese not forced out of public service but Reagan made him Attorney General and Reagan was re-elected.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Determined parallel parker plays "bumper cars."
We begin on the Inter-Webby-nets. Anyone who's ever tried to park in a city has encountered the spot that's just a bit too small for your car. You sigh, you move on, but our hero does not give up so easy. He slowly squeezes his way into the spot - success.
"Time marches on" 'til he returns to escape from the spot. Utilizing the same bump-and-grind technique, he makes it out.
So, if you're scoring at home - or even if you're alone - it's a win for the parallel parker and an insurance claim for the two cars around it.
VIDEO: Chorus riser fails at a crucial moment.
We stay on them Internets, diving into the holiday spirit.
This chorus is here to spread some cheer with music. And, unfortunately for them, a few dance moves. Boom! Goes the dynamite. Best holiday concert ever!
No one was injured. Deck the halls with chorus members - fa, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la.
VIDEO: Will Ferrell makes local beer commercials for Pabst Brewing company - for free.
Lastly, to Davenport, Iowa, where this is not an "SNL" parody commercial. Apparently - for no reason - Will Ferrell called the Pabst Brewing company, saying he wanted to write and appear in a few beer ads for free. So far, the ads have only played locally but they have recently found their way to the YouTubes.
(Excerpt from video clip) WILL FERRELL: I'm here in Davenport, Iowa because Davenport is an Old Milwaukee kind of town. "D" for Drinkability! "A," Amber, color of the beer! "V," Very amberous. "E," pass! Pass! "N" - Not - no, "E," "E!" I've got "E!" "E" - it's an Everyman's beer! Nah, that's not good! "N," it's Nice! "P," it - I can't - I can't do this! I told everyone I couldn't do this!
OLBERMANN: It's not clear why Will wanted to do these ads. Nor why, for a beer named Old Milwaukee, he shot commercials in Iowa. Or why beer, when we know in "Anchorman," he drank scotch - "Scotchy scotch scotch."
"Time Marches On!"
So, if you're designing twin-tower apartment buildings somewhere on planet Earth, what's the one image you want to avoid invoking? Uh huh. "Worst Persons," ahead. First - Senator Sanders.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's "Small Fry Club" 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, "the falafel hour."
Would that Citizens United was some sort of patriotic soccer franchise and not the name of the infamous 2010 Supreme Court ruling that corporations are guaranteed free speech, as if they were people - giant, immortal, indemnified-from-any-responsibility people - who can spend unlimited amounts of cash on virtually unregulated political advertising.
In our third story tonight - Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont, joins me to talk about the constitutional amendment he proposed yesterday to overturn Citizens United.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANDERS: Make no mistake, the Citizens United ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy, further tilting the balance of the power toward the rich and the powerful. In my view, history will record that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision is one of the worst decisions ever made by a Supreme Court in the history of our country.
OLBERMANN: And since the decision, groups that funnel money from corporate donors - so-called super PACs - have poured more than $65 million just into congressional elections. And that was just the warm-up. In the 2012 vote, super PACs are expected to spend between $600 million and a billion. The conservative Koch brothers will reportedly spend at least $200 million, just by themselves.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANDERS: Do we think American democracy is about a couple of wealthy billionaires, putting hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns without disclosure? Is that really the democracy that Americans fought and died for in war after war? I think not.
OLBERMANN: Several Democratic senators have introduced legislation to soften the impact of the decision. Sanders going a step further, proposing the constitutional amendment to explicitly exclude corporations from First Amendment rights by saying that "Corporations are not people with equal constitutional rights. Corporations are subject to regulation. Corporations may not make campaign contributions." And that "Congress and states will have the power to regulate campaign finance."
As promised, here is Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont. As always, sir, thank you, kindly, for your time tonight.
SANDERS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: How much of an uphill battle is this?
SANDERS: Well, it is going to be an uphill battle but on the other hand, Keith, what I can tell you is that all across this country - whether one is a Democrat, Republican or an independent - there is massive opposition to this absurd proposal from a five to four Supreme Court decision that a corporation is a person and that corporations can go into their treasuries and spend unlimited sums of money without disclosure in - in campaigns.
So, it's gonna be an uphill fight in Congress, no question about it. But I think the vast majority of the American people understand that Citizens United has struck a horrendous blow against the democracy that many of us understand and believe America should be.
OLBERMANN: Is the problem that - the immediate problem we face, though - that, because of the decision, corporations could spend endless amounts of money advertising against the constitutional amendment designed to keep them from spending endless amounts of money?
SANDERS: I think that that's part of it. What goes on in the real world of the United States Senate, Keith, and why this decision is so terribly dangerous, is that a member walks up to the desk to cast a vote and - if this vote is dealing with Wall Street, if it's dealing with drug companies, if it's dealing with the military-industrial complex - that senator has got to say, "If I vote against the big-money interest, will I go home next week and find millions of dollars in campaign ads coming from these very same entities against me?"
So, to answer your question, I think what Citizens United has done is struck fear in the hearts of every elected official, that - if they stand up and fight for the working class, for the middle class, for justice - they're gonna get punished in an unlimited way. The idea that a handful of people - billionaires, corporate leaders - can sit around a room and decide to spend $50 million in California or $20 million in Ohio - man, what a blow to democracy that is.
OLBERMANN: Isn't it - would - again, to be the devil's advocate on this - isn't going through the states, if you get it to that point, with a constitutional amendment, isn't that just - it's - it's more work for the corporations to buy that many politicians but - but they cost less?
SANDERS: Look, if you're asking me, "Is this going to be a tough fight?" It surely will be. But I think we've got to plant the stake at some point and I - I just did it yesterday. Ted Deutch did it in the House. Congressman Deutch - in a similar amendment. We've got to start the fight to stand up and tell the American people that we've got to come together to defeat the Citizens United or we are going to really see the undermining of American democracy as we know it.
So, you gotta start someplace. And I will not deny for a second getting this past the House, getting it past the Senate, getting it past the states - It is gonna be a difficult - very difficult process. But, no question in my mind that the overwhelming majority of the American people are behind us.
OLBERMANN: All right, so - what is there to do in the interim, 'cause obviously, this is not - a constitutional amendment does not occur overnight.
OLBERMANN: Legislation, protests, what - what do you think is first - ahead of that long-term decision?
SANDERS: Well, I think - what is first is that the American people have got to make it clear to their elected officials that Citizens United has got to go and a constitutional amendment is the way to do that. We have put up a petition on my website, Sanders.senate.gov and I gotta tell you, Keith, in one day - one day - we have 45,000 signatures.
SANDERS: All right. And what we have got to do is get people on the phone, get on the - on their emails and alert their members of Congress that Citizens United is - is not what America is about.
OLBERMANN: Who needs to speak up publicly about this who has not? Is there anybody that you can point to and say, "We need your voice"?
SANDERS: Well, we need everybody's voice, from the president of the United States on down. I have, so far, Mark Begich as a co-sponsor of mine. We are looking forward to having more senators. In the House, we need more and more people. We need some brave Republicans.
There are a lot of conservatives out there who certainly will disagree with virtually everything that I stand for, but they understand that - in a Democratic society - a handful of corporations cannot be allowed to spend, as you've just indicated, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to elect the candidates they want or to defeat other candidates.
So, there is widespread opposition to this concept of Citizens United. We need Republicans to come forward, independents, progressives, Democrats. We need people to begin to stand up and say, "Enough is enough."
OLBERMANN: Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent of Vermont. Always an honor, sir. Have a great weekend.
SANDERS: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The War on Christmas is real. I know because I've seen the invitation to the "Holiday Party," from the Republican National Committee. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: No, say the architects, the similarity never occurred to them. Not in the concept stage, not in the design stage and not even after they released the sketches. They see it now. "Worst Persons," coming up.
And it was just a French-to-English translation phrasebook, but in it, James Thurber saw comedy gold. "There's No Place Like Home," ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Thurber turns an ordinary English-to-French phrasebook into a masterpiece of panic and the angst of travel. Next, in "There's No Place Like Home."
First, because these are the masters of inducing panic, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Billo the Clown. This isn't about assault with an umbrella - the Bill "Mary Poppins" O'Reilly story. This is about the annual farce that is his coverage of something happening only in his own mind, "The War on Christmas." Please, sir, clean up your own house before you waste everybody else's time.
The invitation to the Republican National Committee "GOP Holiday Party." Not Christmas party. Holiday party. Held at the U.S. freakin' Chamber of Commerce, no less.
The War on Christmas? The one conducted by the Republican Party, hmm?
The runner-up? Sean Hannity of the political whorehouse that is Fox News.
If you are not sufficiently prepared for this next clip, you will either A) go insane, or B) conclude you are having an acid flashback, even if the strongest drug you've ever taken is NyQuil. Just prepare yourself. It doesn't have to make sense. It doesn't have to maintain any thread of logic. It is said by Republicans for Republicans.
This is Hannity and a couple of generic right wingers, plus Joe Trippi, complaining that the killing of Osama bin Laden has been left off the list of the top ten stories of 2011. Because, as we all know, bin Laden was killed by President George W. Bush. Roll 'em:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE TRIPPI: Where is Osama bin Laden? Barack Obama and - getting Osama bin Laden?
(Excerpt from video clip) SEAN HANNITY: Thanks to George Bush.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Well - exactly and intelligence that George Bush built up, busting that porn king -
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE TRIPPI: I can't - "Time" magazine -
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Osama bin Laden was huge.
(Excerpt from video clip) HANNITY: Yeah, he was.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: That's the story of the year.
(Excerpt from video clip) HANNITY: You'd give credit to Bush because, if Obama had his way, we wouldn't have gotten bin Laden. You know that.
OLBERMANN: It doesn't have to make sense. It's being said to Republicans.
But our winner - in the largest margin ever in "Worst Persons" - the architectural firm MVRDV of Rotterdam, in Holland. It has designed two adjoining apartment buildings for a project called Yongsan Dreamhub in Seoul.
MVRDV has a history of unique designs, especially connected buildings. One of these buildings is about 70 stories, the other is about 80. And at the 27th floor, they're connected by what the Dutch architects call a "pixilated cloud" that will contain an atrium, a fitness center, swimming pools, restaurants, conference centers - and one horrific reminder of 9/11.
Yep. That's what they want to build. The "pixilated cloud." Needless to say, MVRDV has gotten a little blowback on this and they're still kind of lost in their own cloud.
For while a statement reads "We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this." It also claims "the cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRD ... experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often-solitary technology... "
Shut up! As the son of an architect, I say, "Change it - you look like ghouls."
As to the South Korean developers and whether or not they're actually going to build this thing, MVRDV spokesperson Isabel Pagel says "The client has not made a decision yet." Yeah, I think they have.
But the dumbest remark yet is to be found inside that statement from MVRDV: "It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process."
I dunno, maybe that is a silver lining inside this cloud. Maybe the world has so moved on that you could really be old enough to be an architect right now without having a clear mental picture of the towers belching black smoke. But even if that's true, two words for those fortunate souls - too soon.
Architects MVRDV of Rotterdam - today's "Worst Persons in the World."
OLBERMANN: James Thurber, born 117 years ago yesterday, traveled a long way from Columbus, Ohio. Before he was 30, he was a writer and editor for several newspapers on the French Riviera and he thereafter wrote often of his experiences in Europe, particularly in his 1937 classic "My World and Welcome To It," which concludes with this amazing, frantic story.
James Thurber may have invented repurposing. Only he could take a simple French-to-English translation handbook and turn it into hysterical farce. I bring you - edited for time, please read it in full - "There's No Place Like Home," by James Thurber:
"Idling through a London bookstore in the summer of 1937, I came upon a little book called 'Collins' Pocket Interpreters: France.' Written especially to instruct the English how to speak French in the train, the hotel, the quandary, the dilemma, etcetera, it is, of course, equally useful - I might also say equally depressing - to Americans.
Each page has a list of English expressions, one under the other, which gives them the form of verse. Trouble really starts in the canto called 'In the Customs Shed.' Here, we have 'I cannot open my case.' 'I have lost my keys.' 'Help me to close this case.' 'I did not know that I had to pay.' 'I don't want to pay so much.' 'I cannot find my porter.' 'Have you seen Porter 153?'
That last query is a little masterstroke of writing, I think, for in those few words, we have a graphic picture of a tourist, lost in a jumble of thousands of bags and scores of customs men, looking frantically for one of at least 153 porters. We feel that the tourist will not find Porter 153 and the note of frustration has been struck.
We now come to a section called, 'At the Hotel, in which things go from worse to awful. 'Did you not get my letter?' 'I wrote to you three weeks ago.' 'I asked for a first - floor room.' 'If you can't give me something better, I shall go away.' 'The chambermaid never comes when I ring.' 'I cannot sleep at night, there is so much noise.' 'I have just had a wire. I must leave at once.'
Panic has begun to set in, and it is not appeased any by the advent of 'The Chambermaid.' 'Are you the chambermaid?' 'There are no towels here.' 'The sheets on this bed are damp.' 'The room is not clean.' 'I have seen a mouse in the room.' 'You'll have to set a mousetrap here.'
The bells of Hell, at this point, begin to ring in earnest. 'These shoes are not mine.' 'I put my shoes here! Where are they now?' 'The light is not good.' 'The bulb is broken.' 'The radiator's too warm.' 'The radiator doesn't work!' 'It is cold in this room!' 'This is not clean, bring me another!' 'I don't like this!' 'I can't eat this! Take it away!'
I somehow now see the tourist wife's stalking angrily out of the hotel to get away from it all without any shoes on and, properly enough, the booklet seems to follow her course. First, under 'Guides and Interpreters' - 'You are asking too much.' 'I will not give you anymore.' 'I shall call a policeman. He can settle this affair.' Then, under 'Inquiring the Way' - 'I am lost.' 'I was looking for -' 'Someone robbed me.' 'That man robbed me.' 'That man is following me everywhere.' Then she goes shopping but there is no surcease. 'You have got given me the right change.' 'I bought this two days ago. It doesn't work.' 'It is broken.' 'It is torn.' 'It doesn't fit me.'
Then to a restaurant for a snack and a reviving cup of tea. 'This is not fresh.' 'This piece is too fat.' 'This doesn't smell very nice.' 'There is a mistake in the bill.' 'While I was dining, someone has taken my purse.' 'I have left my glasses, my watch, a ring in the lavatory.'
Madness has now come upon her and she rushes, wildly out into the street. Her husband, I think, has, at the same time, plunged blindly out of the hotel to find her.
We come, then, quite naturally to 'Accident,' which is calculated to keep the faint of heart, nay, the heart of oak safely at home by his own fireside. 'There has been an accident.' 'Go and fetch a policeman quickly.' 'Is there a doctor near here?' 'Send for the ambulance!' 'He is seriously injured.' 'She has been run over.' 'He has been knocked down.' 'Someone has fallen in the water!' 'The ankle,' 'the arm,' 'the back,' 'a bone,' 'the face,' 'the finger,' 'the foot,' 'the head,' 'the knee,' 'the leg,' 'the neck,' 'the nose,' 'the wrist,' 'the shoulder.' 'He has broken his arm!' 'He has broken his leg!' 'He has a sprained ankle!' 'He has a sprained wrist!' 'He is losing blood!' 'He has fainted!' 'He has lost consciousness.' 'He has burnt his face.' 'It is swollen.' 'It is bleeding.' 'Bring some cold water!' 'Help me to carry him!' Apparently, you just let her just lie there while you attend to him. But, of course she was merely run over, whereas he has taken a terrific tossing around.
We next see the husband and wife back in their room at the dreary hotel, both in bed and both obviously hysterical. This scene is entitled 'Illness.' 'I am feeling very ill, send for the doctor.' 'I have pains in-' 'I have pains all over.' 'The back,' 'the chest,' 'the ear,' 'the head,' 'the eyes,' 'the heart,' 'the joints,' 'the kidneys,' 'the lungs,' 'the stomach,' 'the throat,' 'the tongue.' 'Put out your tongue.' 'The heart is affected.' 'I feel a pain here.' 'He is not sleeping well.' 'He cannot eat!' 'My stomach is out of order!' 'She is feverish!' 'I have caught a cold!' 'I have caught a chill!' 'He has a temperature!' 'I have a cough!' 'Will you give me a prescription?' 'What must I do?' 'Must I stay in bed?' 'I feel better.' 'When will you come and see me again?' 'Biliousness,' 'rheumatism,' 'insomnia,' 'sunstroke,' 'fainting,' 'a fit,' 'hoarseness,' 'sore throat,' 'the medicine,' 'the remedy.' 'A poultice,' 'a draught.' 'A tablespoonful,' 'a teaspoonful.' 'A sticking plaster,' 'senna,' 'iodine!'
That last suicidal bleat for iodine is, to me, a masterful touch.
Our couple finally get on their feet again, for travelers are tough - they've got to be. But we see under the next heading, 'Common Words and Phrases,' that they are left forever punch-drunk and shattered. 'Can I help you?' 'Excuse me?' 'Carry on.' 'Look here.' 'Look down there.' 'Look up there!' 'Why?' 'How?' 'When?' 'Where?' 'Because!' 'That's it.' 'It is too much.' 'It is too dear.' 'It is very cheap.' 'Who?' 'What?' 'Which?' 'Look out!'
Those are Valkyries, one feels, riding around and above and under our unhappy husband and wife.
The book sweeps on to a mad, operatic ending of the tragedy, with all strings and brasses and woodwinds going full blast. 'Where are we going?' 'Where are you going?' 'Come quickly and see!' 'I shall call a policeman.' 'Bring a policeman, I shall stay here!' 'Will you help me?' 'Help!' 'Fire!' 'Who are you?' 'I don't know you!' 'I don't want to speak to you!' 'Leave me alone!' 'That will do !' 'You are mistaken, it was not I!' 'I didn't do it!' 'I will give you nothing!' 'Go away now!' 'It has nothing to do with me!' 'Where should one apply?' 'What must I do?' 'What have I done?' 'I have done nothing!' 'I have already paid you!' 'I have paid you enough!' 'Let me pass!' 'Where is the British Consulate?'
The oboes take that last despairing wail and the curtain comes down."
"There's No Place Like Home," by James Thurber.
That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.