'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Monday, December 12th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: #OccupyPorts: The logic, + mayhem as the movement hits key west coast ports. Also the morphing from Occupations to Events
#ShowPlug 2: The $10,000 Pyramid. Another weekend of GOP inanity, bad optics as Romney "raises" bet to $1M, Perry calls Solyndra a "country"
#ShowPlug 3: Gingrich signs pledge to "uphold institution of marriage" - THIS time. Huffpo's @SamSteinhp joins me
#ShowPlug 4: Kagan recuses as SCOTUS confirms it will hear AZ Papers-Please Law. Implications w/ Elizabeth Wydra of @MyConstitution
#ShowPlug 5: Lowe's joins hateful RW Islamophobic boycott of TLC show; Now LOWE's being boycotted - w/contributor @MaysoonZayid
#ShowPlugLast: Lonesome Rhodes Beck sinks so low he's trashed by Breitbart, plus what Dickensian idea GOP debate crowd is cheering for now
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy The Ports', Kari Koch
#5 'Occupy The Ports', Logan Price
#4 'Grand Old Parody', Sam Stein
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Justices On Injustice', Elizabeth Wydra
#2 Worst Persons: Gregg Jarrett, Glenn Beck, GOP debate audience
#1 'Low Lowe's Morals', Maysoon Zayid
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Maysoon Zayid, Sam Stein, Elizabeth Wydra, Logan Price, Kari Koch
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Port of Call. Occupy at the harbors at Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, Seattle and Portland.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Show me what a police state looks like!
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: This is what a police state looks like!
OLBERMANN: In New York, a march to Goldman Sachs, part owners of the largest port cargo operator.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Shame, shame, shame!
OLBERMANN: The message from protesting at the ports and the continuing message that Occupy is morphing from occupations to events.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the $10,000 pyramid!
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Rick, I'll tell you what - 10,00 bucks? $10,000 bet?
OLBERMANN: Romney tries to escape the awful optics of betting $10,000 and makes it worse.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: It's like saying, "Hey, I'll bet you a million bucks X, Y or Z."
OLBERMANN: So now he's betting a million.
The new pledge from Newt "Breakfast At Tiffany's" Gingrich To "uphold the institution of marriage" - this time.
And another day, another Rick Perry disaster:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda.
OLBERMANN: Company. Not country, company.
Arizona's "Papers, Please" Law. It will go to the Supreme Court.
Boycott blowback. Lowe's bails out on the TV series "All American Muslim" because right-wing nut-jobs think it doe not have enough terrorism in it. But today's boycotter can be tomorrow's boycottee.
(Excerpt from video clip) TED LIEU: I've never seen a U.S. corporation engage in the kind of religious discrimination that Lowe's has just done.
OLBERMANN: The reaction from "Countdown"'s Maysoon Zayid.
And - what'll the Republican debate crowd cheer next?
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: We should give the poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness, finally, on -
OLBERMANN: All that and more now, on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: Young people ought to learn how to work.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Monday, December 12th, 330 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Occupy the ports.
Occupy protesters today marching in force to block shipping operations at major West Coast container ports and also the port of Houston. It's from Houston one of the most disturbing pieces of video yet emerges tonight.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - a day of action, targeting what some Occupiers call "Wall Street on the waterfront," seaports that help move cargo worth more than $700 million a day, along with Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, a part-owner of the Carrix Corporation, the country's largest port operator.
Starting in Oakland, where some 600 protesters blocked at least two port entrances this morning. Port operators reporting only sporadic disruptions. Other Occupy marches also planned in Oakland today, including one from the now-closed Occupy camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
At the nation's second-biggest container port at Long Beach, some 200 protesters there confronting police. There was at least one arrest and complaints from some union workers and the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union - the ILWU - that the protest would cost the rank and file a day's pay. One protester responded:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: While they - we respect the ILWU's right to work, we also think that they're being very narrow-sighted, especially the president. A lot of the rank and file support us. We think this is about labor across the board, about outsourcing the jobs, about dignified jobs the world over.
OLBERMANN: At least five protesters arrested at San Diego, after as many as 200 blocked two terminal entrances there. Port officials there saying they were forced to shut operations down for about an hour and 15 minutes. An Occupy organizer insisting the protest was a success for having raised awareness about workers not being treated fairly.
In Portland, Oregon, with hundreds of protesters shutting down two port terminals there, the ILWU saying the union supported the Occupy movement's goal, though not closing down the port. At least one trucker agreeing with the protest:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Pretty much means the loss of a day's pay. I may get paid some for sitting here but if I don't make any deliveries, I don't get paid that much.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, that disturbing video I mentioned - Houston police trying some unusual tactics, to say the least, in their confrontation with Occupy protesters off Interstate 610, at that city's port.
After meeting some 70 demonstrators head-on with mounted troops, Houston police were confounded, briefly, by the protesters having blocked the highway and linked themselves together with lengths of PVC pipe.
With protesters occupying I-610, the police moved in with their latest weapon - a large red tent. However disturbing it might have been to have that tent dropped over their heads, the Houston PD insists it was used only to keep sparks from flying as they went and cut the pipe that was linking the protesters together. At least eight of those protesters were arrested.
Back in New York, a hundred Occupy protesters staged a "people's trial" of Goldman Sachs at Zuccotti Park. They found the bank guilty of felony fraud, perjury and $78 billion in theft of taxpayers' funds.
Some 300 marchers then marching to Goldman's headquarters to demand the arrest of Goldman C.E.O., Lloyd Blankfein. Police there arresting at least 17 Occupy protesters, Blankfein not included, for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. An NYPD spokesman saying they were asked to move and they failed to do so. Consequently, arrests had to be made.
And, in another protest that may strike corporate America even closer to home, Occupy demonstrators in Loveland, Colorado showing support for the port protests by targeting a Walmart distribution center. At least 13 arrested there.
Elsewhere, about 100 marchers with Occupy Denver on Sunday targeting a Verizon store to show solidarity with the workers there, while police made at least 55 arrests for illegal lodging in San Francisco, closing an Occupy camp that has been closed and reopened several times before.
And in Boston, on Saturday, another 46 arrests as the Occupy camp at Dewey Square was shut down. The police action having been expected since Thursday at midnight, when a judge had lifted a restraining order that had forestalled eviction. Also expected, the amount of force:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: They came here with overwhelming force. There were probably about five cops to every one protester.
OLBERMANN: Let's go back to Occupy the ports. I am joined by Kari Koch, an organizer with Occupy Portland. Thanks for your time tonight.
KARI KOCH: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: The Portland Business Journal reported today's protest closed two of the busier terminals, kept several hundred workers from showing up and forced about 100 trucks to turn it away. Would - didd you guys assess this as a success? And if so, why?
KOCH: Yeah, we see today as a huge success. We ended up shutting down at least two port terminals at the Port of Portland and actually, there's marchers gathering and marching towards a third port terminal right now, as we speak, in anticipation of shutting that down with a community picket.
We feel that our message got across very strongly today, that this is not just about labor struggle but this is about Wall Street on the waterfront and this is about the bigger issues of economic inequality and, yeah - we see today as a huge success.
OLBERMANN: The - the union issue - the ILWU - the Longshore and Warehouse Union leaders, or at least some of them, objected to the protest. Do you worry, given the - the sort of genuinely sympathetic interrelationship between the unions and Occupy throughout this process, since September, that this might - might lead to some kind of rift between the movements?
KOCH: No, I think that what we saw, here in Portland was yes, the ILWU leadership was not able to come out in support this action. We knew that going into it. We knew that they had legal restrictions on them. But we also have been reaching out - really intentionally to the rank-and-file members here in town for all of the port workers and having conversations with them daily, bringing them into the organizing of this event, asking them to participate in that way.
And we've gotten extremely, extremely good responses from them. Folks have been extremely sympathetic and excited about the cause from the rank and file. We had the vast majority of workers today, on our picket lines, respect the community pickets and I think that - we - this was a movement forward in building our relationship with the rank-and-file union members in Portland.
OLBERMANN: The - the other interrelationship that was of note throughout the - the Occupy the Ports throughout the West Coast and Houston - the idea that this, directly or indirectly, also targeted a business that directly benefited Goldman Sachs - was that part of an overall plan or did you get kind of lucky with that one?
KOCH: Well - well, I think that, you know, Goldman Sachs makes it easy. They tend to have a lot of bad business practices that we can choose from, and it happened to be the case that they are the majority shareholder of Stevedore Services of America, which is - operates out of the Port of Portland, in two terminals, but also operates out of the Port of Los Angeles.
And they're currently in a labor struggle with the 17,000 truck - port truckers, down in Los Angeles and so, those truck drivers are facing health and safety violations on the job. They're being challenged at their right to organize. And so, we are standing in solidarity with those truck workers - and we see it as a really clear example of the ways that working people are suffering, trying to make a living wage, while Goldman Sachs sits on the other end and profits.
OLBERMANN: The police reported three arrests in Portland and two people on weapons charges. And this can always take - be taken with a grain of salt But they - they said they had a - a loaded automatic pistol, a sword, gas masks and two-way radios. I don't know what's particularly odious about a gas mask, given what's been done by police throughout the country against Occupy, or two-way radios, for that matter. But the police spokesmen said these three people appeared to be part of the of the advance team for the protest. Do you know whether or not that's true and - if so - why would somebody be bringing a sword?
KOCH: So, I can't speak to their motivations, or even who necessarily those folks were, but I can say that none of those things are - were illegal in this particular instance. And they were arrested for, I believe, not having their driver's license on them - is my understanding of why they were actually arrested. And we have made it clear at Occupy Portland again and again and again - and have made it clear today as well - that we are a nonviolent movement and we are committed to nonviolence and we expressed that today and will continue to express it into the future. So, I can't really speak to why they might have had a sword but they definitely didn't use it today at the ports.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, Lord only knows. Kari Koch, organizer with Occupy Oakland and a participant in the Occupy the Ports protests, great thanks for some of your time tonight.
KOCH: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: I wanted to show you something that just came to our attention from Occupy - from Occupy Oakland. That's right. The gentleman in the bandana is Scott Olsen, the wounded Marine veteran from Iraq, wounded when he was hit by a police gas canister many weeks ago, suffering some brain injuries and having recovered to a great degree, sufficiently to have appeared on this program in an interview a week before last. Scott Olsen, at the Occupy Oakland event - I believe at the port - in a still photograph taken late this afternoon and just made available to us, here in "Countdown."
Today's protests, the latest example of Occupy moving away from actually, physical occupations and maintenance of those Occupations in public space and towards sort of episodic, large-scale public protests, and for more on that - as an overview - I'm joined by Logan Price, a member of the Occupy Wall Street Direct Action Committee and a participant himself in the Occupy Goldman Sachs event today. Thanks for your time, tonight.
LOGAN PRICE: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask first about - before the big picture - the today picture, the protest at Goldman Sachs. As always, with anything in New York, any difficulties with the NYPD, apart from the actual arrest?
PRICE: Well, there's always - there always seems to be some difficulties. Definitely one of the things that we saw again today was the - was the NYPD sort of harassing and then, sometimes, detaining journalists, even if they carry the, sort of, what we're told are the legitimate - these yellow press badges, given to them by the city. But, so we definitely saw some of that today and we also saw them targeting people who were - who were live streaming from our own media teams or just taking video or camera with their cellphones and that's - that's definitely becoming a pattern, too.
OLBERMANN: It's an odd thing. You would think if they're behaving the way they're supposed to be, why would they care whether or not something was being live streamed? It would seem to be to their benefit, but we can just - we can discuss that rhetorically in some other concept and other time.
OLBERMANN: Let me ask you about Occupy the - the ports and this - this march to Goldman Sachs and a lot of the - the events of the last several weeks, in particular. Is - is it your assessment that Occupy is, indeed, morphing from mostly stationary to mostly mobile?
PRICE: Well, we've never been totally stationary, here in New York. The - the occupation of Zuccotti Park at Liberty Square was definitely very important to us and definitely what sort of kicked off this movement. But it's important to remember that we've been doing large mobilizations in the street since the beginning.
What happened today, hopefully, will be an - also a new pattern of going after some of these big banks that we - that we know are responsible for the financial crisis and really not letting them off the hook and doing that nonviolently and creatively. And not just Goldman Sachs, hopefully, but many other banks - like Bank of America, et cetera - and even trying to pair that with - with other tactics, like people moving their money and closing bank accounts and stuff like that.
OLBERMANN: The - the name of your - the committee to which you belong, the Occupy Wall Street Direct Action Committee - people hear "direct action" in a context of American protest, particularly from the '60s and they - assume that means more confrontations with police. Is that indeed - whether they're violent, nonviolent, symbolic, non-symbolic - Is that a valid assumption to make and - and if it is, or even if it's not, is there a fear that if there's more interaction with the police, rather than passive occupations to some sort of regular showdowns, if you will, with the police, that you might lose public support?
PRICE: Well, I think it is important, like you mentioned, that these are - this is, you know, nonviolent direct action or - or civil disobedience, as we also often call it - is, you know, one of the most important of American traditions - and a lot of things that we take for granted now are because the social movements have - have taken on non-violent direct action as a way to have their voices heard when they realize that - that voting or whatever other methods are sort of handed to them by the government - are not really sufficient.
And I think that's what - why - part of the reason why the Occupy movement has struck such a chord recently, in the last few months, is because people are really realizing that, you know, we can'treally vote with our - our votes don't count as much because the corporations and the banks are voting with dollars, right? So, I think it's important that we - that we continue to use direct action - that we use it as nonviolently as possible.
And we're in a situation right here, in New York, where the winter is coming and it's getting cold and so we're having to decide, "Okay, what are the things we're gonna do through the winter that are really gonna set us up to be able to come back in force in the spring?" The Occupy movement is really - is definitely not over, as the West Coast showed us today. It's also not over here in New York, either.
OLBERMANN: And to that point, this may sound like the dumbest question you've ever asked. It may be one of the dumbest ones I've ever - dumbest ones you've ever answered or been addressed and it certainly is one of the dumbest ones I've ever asked -
PRICE: Try me.
OLBERMANN: Is there some plan to take a holiday break or - where does Occupy go in the remaining weeks of the year?
PRICE: Well, I think a lot of us would definitely love to go home for the holidays. We don't all have that option. A lot of folks gave up everything they had to come here and to be part of this movement and they'll be organizing through the winter. We have immediate needs to - like, to make sure that people have places to stay and stuff like that - that they are warm and safe.
But I think some people will take the holidays off but the movement, itself, is definitely not taking the holidays off. It may appear that - it may appear that way, that things are slowing down but a lot of that is because we are at a very - a very important impasse right now, where we're having to sort of re-adjust and figure out what - what are the best strategies and tactics to move us forward in the next year.
OLBERMANN: Logan Price, of Occupy Wall Street's Direct Action Committee, great thanks for your time tonight.
PRICE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Republican three-ring circus continues tonight. Gingrich pledges not to speak ill of another candidate, so he says something mean about Romney but insists the reporter has to attribute it to a senior official with the Gingrich campaign. And, for his part, Mr. Romney gets schooled by a gay veteran.
That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The $10,000 pyramid scheme. How Mitt Romney disconnected, even from Republicans. And now, today, he's made it worse.
Well, Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich signs a pledge to "uphold the institution of marriage." Notice, please, it doesn't say his marriage.
A justice recuses herself as the Arizona "Papers, Please" law hits the Supreme Court, giving the conservatives a five-to-three advantage to make racial profiling legal in Arizona after all.
And how have the mighty fallen - "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck attacked, cut to ribbons by Breitbart. "Worst Persons," ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: With the "I'm going to win the lottery next week" mentality of many lower-income Republican supporters, it's hard to guess what could be ostentatious enough to piss them off, but in our fourth story on the "Countdown" - Mitt Romney just found out.
You can boast about money you have but they don't - not now, anyway. But don't boast about throwing away your money.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: I read your first book and it said in there that your mandate in Massachusetts, which should be the model for the country - and I know it came out of - of the reprint of the book but, you know, I'm just saying - you were for individual mandates, my friend.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: You know what? You've raised that before, Rick and - you're simply wrong.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: It was true then.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: No, no.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: And it's true now.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Rick, I'll tell you what - 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet.
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: I'm not in the betting business.
OLBERMANN: Factcheck.org says Perry was, in fact, mis-characterizing what was revised in Romney's book but it was Romney's bet itself which quickly drew the backlash from all sides.
The Democratic National Committee created the Twitter hashtag "What10kbuys," which soon started trending worldwide. The DNC followed up with a web ad called, "Mitt Romney: Simply Out of Touch - Ten Thousand Times Over." Rick Perry's campaign attacked in a web ad as well, entitled "The Truth Cannot be Bought."
Jon Huntsman, who was not invited to Saturday's debate due to low polling numbers, set up the website 10Kbet.com, highlighting negative coverage of both Romney's health-care plan and the debate bet. And as for Mr. Romney's defense:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: This was a - an outrageous number to - to answer an outrageous charge from him and it's been proven wrong time and time again. He keeps raising it and I say, "Okay, let's - let's put something outrageous out there." It's like saying, "Hey, I'll bet you a million bucks, X, Y or Z."
OLBERMANN: Good work, now you just made it a million dollar bet. Here's hoping Romney didn't have a bet down on who would win a confrontation today in New Hampshire - him or a gay service veteran.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOB GARON: Do you support -
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I support the repealing. I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my view.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Governor, we gotta get on with Fox News right now.
(Excerpt from video clip) GARON: Oh, I guess the question was too hot.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: No, I gave you the answer.
(Excerpt from video clip) GARON: Y'all have a good day, Governor.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: You said you had - you said you had a yes or no answer. I gave you the answer.
(Excerpt from video clip) GARON: You did. And I appreciate your answer.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Thank you.
(Excerpt from video clip) GARON: And, you know, I also learned something. And New Hampshire is right. You have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer and you know what, Governor? Good luck.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Thank you, appreciate it. Have a good day to you, sir.
(Excerpt from video clip) GARON: You're gonna need it.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Yeah.
OLBERMANN: Also, we learned today of an attack on Romney from Gingrich - he who had pledged publicly not to criticize his fellow GOP candidates. A New Hampshire newspaper recently included a quote from an unnamed "senior aide" in the Gingrich campaign in response to criticism from the Romney camp. Gingrich's spokesman now tells The New York Times the aide was actually Gingrich.
And since everybody's attacking Romney, Romney is attacking Gingrich. Today, Romney said Gingrich should return more than a million six that he was paid by government-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac. In response, here's Gingrich:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: I would just say that, if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to then listen to him. And I'll bet you ten dollars, not then thousand, that he won't take the offer.
OLBERMANN: Oh, somebody got spanked. And so the betting game continues, but which of the two candidates is winning among the voters? It is Gingrich - according to Romney.
(Excerpt from video clip) MIKE ALLEN: Governor, is Newt Gingrich the front-runner in this race?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: He is right now.
OLBERMANN: In other Gingrich news, the candidate has now become the latest in the GOP field to endorse the controversial "marriage pledge" from an influential evangelical group in Iowa that opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
Gingrich did not actually sign the document, but he did send a letter affirming his strong support for the group's mission. In it, he writes, "I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others." Well, to do that one time out of the last three would be pretty good, presuming he is still good on number three.
Finally, Rick Perry. He doesn't voting age in the U.S. or how many justices there are in the Supreme Court or their names, and now we've discovered another thing he does not know on a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday. Perry criticized President Obama's handling of government spending:
(Excerpt from video clip) PERRY: No greater example of it than this administration sending millions of dollars into the solar - industry and we lost that money. I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda.
OLBERMANN: Joining us now from the capitol of the country Solyndra, Sun City, let's bring in Sam Stein, political editor and reporter of The Huffington Post. Good evening, Sam.
SAM STEIN: It's beautiful here, in "Solynda," thank you.
OLBERMANN: My goodness. The point I made at the start - I thought GOP voters were predisposed, no matter their own financial - conditions, to like rich candidates. Why was this Romney bet ad lib - why - why did that hit such a sour note?
STEIN: I don't know. I mean, it - it's funny because, obviously, the context here is his background in Bain but you also have Newt Gingrich, who took out a - you know, 500 - what was it, $500,000 line at Tiffany's, who boasted about getting six - $60,000 a pop for speeches. So, it's not like Newt's not throwing around outrageous figures, himself.
But for Romney, it fit this preconceived notion of him as this man born with a silver spoon, handed everything, who could casually offer up a $10,000 dollar bet without even blinking an eye. And I know he said - "it was just like - if I had offered a million dollar bet," in that sound clip you played. Well, he didn't offer a million dollar bet, that was the problem was that - had he offered a million dollar bet, it would have been more unbelievable, but it was almost like he believed that this was a - an honest wager that got everyone riled up.
OLBERMANN: Small piece of change.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Gingrich and the signing or the - at least the affirming - of this marital pledge. You have to give him credit, certainly, for chutzpah on the thing. Is he succeeding in putting these really, sort of, tawdry instances from his past off-limits in some way?
I mean, this idea that he had been "pre-disastered" coming into the position of being the latest front- runner - are we now seeing it in action or is, at some point, his marital history going to become a major issue in this campaign?
STEIN: I - it's a good - it's a great question, because there's gonna be a point where either his story of personal redemption - which he's told through the lens of him converting to Catholicism and becoming a more honest individual in his own personal life - is going to meet the friction of people attacking him - whether directly or through mailers or surrogates - on his own, very sordid, personal history and I'm curious to see which one wins.
Obviously people are, you know, prone to believe a story of redemption. They want to know - or they want to believe - in someone who admits that he grew up and I think he - he will be given the benefit of the doubt and certainly pledging - or making pledges like he did today doesn't hurt. But, you know, we never know how much those attack mailers can move the dial, here, and I - I'm gathering in the next couple weeks, if not even sooner, we're gonna start - you know, Iowans are gonna stat being flooded with that stuff.
OLBERMANN: About Governor Perry and the nation of Solyndra - I'm just playing a national anthem in my head of various options.
OLBERMANN: Do - are - are we talking about it being time for an intervention with Governor Perry? Or where - where does this campaign stand? Are you in touch with anybody in this campaign and - or -
OLBERMANN: Does anybody admit to being in this campaign at this point?
STEIN: There are people - there are people in the campaign - I am in touch with some of them and, you know, it's - it is embarrassing. I mean, I - I think they, privately, think it's embarrassing.
If you're running for president, you should probably know, at the very minimum, the voting age, maybe the date of the election, maybe how many Supreme Court justices there are. We can go through the whole thing.
You know, obviously, in some respects, ignorance isn't a big problem with the people he's try to appeal to but it does reinforce two things. One is that he's a dumber version of George W. Bush and the second, more important thing is that he would have a really tough time handling a general election - especially general-election debates - against Barack Obama. And I think that's where this gets really debilitating, is that the more often he has a brain fart and he freezes up, the more often Republican primary voters are going to be like, "God, we cannot trot him out there against Barack Obama."
OLBERMANN: Part of that was very gracefully put. I have to compliment you on the way you phrase -
STEIN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Last question -
STEIN: Was it the brain fart part?
OLBERMANN: No, earlier than that. The - the debate ratings, not that this decides the being and - and purpose of an entire primary system, but the 16th - the 16th! - of these debates in the - the middle of December was the most highly-rated yet. There's - is there any way to get rid of these people? Are we just gonna see these - is the number gonna increase between - are they gonna have the debates after the nomination has been settled because this is one of the most successful television series of this season.
STEIN: Oh, yeah. And, you know, it's - it's a huge drama. People love it. And this was without Herman Cain. And I thought Herman Cain was the big draw.
But this - you know, the thing is - if you look at - this is - if you look at the primary schedule and the way that delegates are apportioned in this primary schedule. You know, Mitt Romney hinted at this. This thing could drag on for awhile. And as this thing gets dwindled down to three, two candidates, there's just gonna be more debates and it's just gonna get even more - to be must-watch TV, so, you know, keep scheduling them. I'll keep writing about 'em.
OLBERMANN: Simon Cowell as the moderator for one of the later ones.
OLBERMANN: What a - see? I had to open my mouth. Sam Stein of The Huffington Post. Great thanks, and give my regards to the guy who was favored by 49 points and won by one point. He knows who he is and so do you.
STEIN: All right, I'll -I'll do that.
OLBERMANN: That's all I'm saying. Thank you, Sam.
STEIN: Take care.
OLBERMANN: Lowe's thought it was avoiding controversy when succumbed to right-wing pressure and joined a boycott against a series depicting American Muslims as, you know, Americans. Now Lowe's is being boycotted and there are late-breaking developments on this story, as a popular entertainer and activist has stepped in to buy up all the commercial time that Lowe's and the other terrified corporations have dropped. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court takes on the Arizona "Papers, Please" law, next.
First, the "Sanity Break." Well, that's the wrong term for it today, but it's an anniversary anyway. And eleven years ago, the Supreme Court issued a hurried little ruling in a modest case with no long-term judicial implications.
It was called Bush v Gore, and it ended the second-longest undecided presidential election in American history and it led to the deaths of 4,400 American service personnel in Iraq, plus at least 100,000 Iraqis. You can add in many other groups of dead, depending on how far you want to stretch your definition. Sleep well, Supreme Court.
"Time Marches On."
VIDEO: Bird whistles the theme to "Super Mario Bros."
We begin - as we always do - with a bird that can whistle the "Super Mario Bros." theme song. There's not really much more to say.
It's a bird that can whistle the "Super Mario Bros." theme song! This is on your television right now.
VIDEO: Girls play hallway volleyball.
To the Internets for a little hallway volleyball. Mom always said not to play ball in the house. This is why.
Bump, set, ouch! Misty May, that's gotta hurt!
One point ceiling, zero points girls who thought it was a good idea to play volleyball in the hallway.
That's a header.
VIDEO: (NO CLIP AVAILABLE)
Finally, not quite Christmas season until the occasion of the Tulsa, Oklahoma annual Weiner Dogs on Ice foot race - or paw race. As always, it's B-Y-O- Weiner Dog - or Dachshund, if you want to be technical.
The dogs are lined off - and they're off. They're running. Well, some of them are running. Some of them are just sort of wandering, but a few actually made it to the finish line at the other side of the ice rink.
Unfortunately, the winner was later disqualified when it was discovered that it was half slinky.
"Time Marches On!"
"Worst Persons," and Fox gets caught faking another graphic to try to make unemployment look worse than it is. Ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Dumont's "The Rumpus Room with Johnny Olson" 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 "happy hour."
KEITH OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court jumping today into the question of Arizona's so-called "Papers, Please" law. This, after a federal court blocked some of the most extreme stipulations of that law, including the requirements that immigrants in Arizona carry ID papers and the ability of police to check the status of anyone they even suspect of being here illegally.
In our third story - the Arizona case is the third politically charged dispute the court will hear in the coming election year. The others - the President's health-care law and a Texas redistricting case. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed this law in April 2010, defending it again with the same memorized statement with which she's defended it for 18 months, as well as defending the various copycat laws it's spawned in other states.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAN BREWER: It's stunning that the Obama administration would file suit against an - individual state seeking to safeguard its own citizens. It's outrageous that the federal government would file suit against three more states - South Carolina, Alabama and now, Utah - that followed Arizona's lead.
OLBERMANN: Jan Brewer, proving there are headless torsos in Arizona. The Administration arguing that regulating immigration is the job of the federal government, not the states.
White House Spokesman Carney telling reporters today, simply, "We are look - look forward to arguing our point of view." The President's most recent Supreme Court appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, announcing today she'll recuse herself from the decision, presumably because she was Solicitor General when the government filed the original lawsuit.
As for the GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich recently endorsing that South Carolina law that allows police to demand a person's immigration status. Michele Bachmann, along with other congressional Republicans, filing a brief backing the law. Joining us now, Elizabeth Wydra, Chief Counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center. Thanks for your time tonight.
WYDRA: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Looking at this externally, the layman would probably think that the issue that the court's going to look at is - is probable cause or invasion of privacy or racial profiling. Is that how the court will look at this or, to them, is this a "who gets to enforce a law" thing, state versus federal?
WYDRA: Well, it's definitely a federalism issue and it - while, underneath, there are questions of civil rights, civil liberties, criminal due-process issues - it's about the balance of power between federal and state governments. And, you know, Jan Brewer can say it as many times as she likes but it doesn't make it true.
While politicians like Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state senator Russell Pearce have tried to pitch this as a battle between them and the Obama administration, you know, the truth is that they are really picking a fight with our nation's founders, such as James Madison and Andrew - Alexander Hamilton, who made clear that the federal government - and not the states - has the power to regulate immigration and naturalization.
OLBERMANN: Is there any indication - have there been any cases this court has - has reviewed and do they give any - any indication of where they might go? Because obviously, if this is now a 5-3 without Kagan, conservative versus - versus liberal appointees, it would seem like there'd be something of a stretch here to get this to go in - against the Arizona law.
WYDRA: Well, you know, I'm - I'm not so sure about that. I mean, while obviously, I think those of us who believe that the injunction against the most egregious provisions of SB 1070 is correct, while we would probably prefer to have Justice Kagan on the bench, we are nonetheless happy that she, of course, is taking seriously her ethical obligations to recuse in cases where appropriate, you know, despite some grumbling by conservatives in the health-care litigation.
But I don't think it will necessarily break down on political lines, you know? This isn't Bush v. Gore, as you mentioned earlier. As - as I said just a moment ago, you know - this is really not a new idea. The Obama administration didn't come up with the idea that states don't have the power to direct immigration policy. You know, you can read Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper Number 32. He makes that crystal clear and - whether or not you're a conservative or liberal - the Constitution is the Constitution, and we all have to follow it, even Arizona.
OLBERMANN: All right, so let's say one of the five conservative justices votes along with Alexander Hamilton and it's a 4-4 tie. What happens?
WYDRA: In the case of a 4-4 tie, then the 9th Circuit ruling - affirming the preliminary injunction that blocks certain provisions of SB 1070 from going into effect - that will stand. So, that ruling will remain good law.
So, in order to reverse that ruling and strike it down, thus letting SB 1070 go into effect, the challenge - Arizona would have to get 5 votes. So if - if it's a 4-4 split, then the preliminary injunction against SBA 1070 stays in place.
OLBERMANN: Elizabeth Wydra, Chief Counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center. Thanks for some of your insight and for the - for the mechanics of the process, as well.
WYDRA: It's my pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Something else tonight, from the racism file. The right goes berserk because a TV series about American Muslims does not depict all of them as terrorists and sharia-law zealots. The right then demands an advertisers' boycott. Lowe's falls for it. Now Lowe's is being boycotted for boycotting. And somebody has stepped up to buy all the ad time. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: A show about American Muslims that the scum who hate based solely on religion claim is biased because it doesn't show enough terrorists. Lowe's hardware joins a right-wing boycott and now it's getting boycotted.
And how far has he sunk? Pretty damn far when he's being slammed by a prominent Conservative screamer. "Worsts," next.
OLBERMANN: The Lowe's hardware chain leads a bunch of weasely, corporate slimeballs, caving in to a right-wing, Islamophobic boycott pushed by people who think a TV show about American Muslims doesn't show enough terrorists. That's next.
First, because - remembering that the definition of terrorism is not violence but the exploitation of fear - here are some real terrorists, "Countdown"'s top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Gregg Jarrett, "America's Newsroom" host on the political whorehouse that is Fox News. Remember ten days ago, when unemployment dropped from 9 percent in October to 8.6 percent in November and the morning show, "Fox & Morons," solved that problem by showing this? The dip in unemployment did not fit their worldview, so they rounded it up, back to 9 percent? Now Fox has done it again.
This morning, supposedly straight newsreader Jarrett showed the following graphic about the month-by-month unemployment rate. Now, this'll be tough to see if I just say "notice anything wrong here?"
But look at the three numbers on the left - 9.0 in January, 8.9 in February, 8.8 in March. Now, look at the number on the far right - 8.6 in November. The numbers on the left - 9, 8.9, and 8.8 - they're lower than the 8.6 on the right.
The baseline should be plummeting between October and November on the far right, there but that doesn't fit Fox's worldview either, so they just didn't show it. This is called journalistic dishonesty. Or propaganda.
Once again, comparisons between Fox News and the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's "1984" are insulting. They're insulting to Fox News because they're so much better at it than Oceania was!
The runner-up? "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck. You will recall that after Fox fired him, he opened this Internet version of his show, which still boasts only 230,000 subscribers - meaning he lost about 9/10s of his audience. Among the departed, Andrew Breitbart, who has just caused a great moral dilemma among us rational types by vivisecting Beck on the air.
"Beck is a coward and won't defend himself when he makes a mistake." Go on. "He lied to his audience on television. He jumped the gun, and - in essence - jumped the shark. He's creating a hysteria that there's going to be food shortages because of a crisis that's coming. He's profiting off this. This guy is a huckster."
Before you say, "Andrew Breitbart, you have unsuspected depth," just remember that it was - Breitbart's hissy fit was prompted by Beck suggesting that Newt Gingrich is actually a secret progressive and that, if the Tea Party supported Gingrich instead of President Obama, it could only be because Gingrich is white and Obama isn't.
Still, Beck just got schooled by Andrew Breitbart. Time to offer refunds on those subscriptions, Glendale.
But our winners? The crowd at the latest GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. I know, I know. If you're like me, you thought that - with Gingrich lying and Perry counting wrong and Bachmann hating - it was just a rerun. It was a new one.
Bad news for those of you hoping to make it to the spring without going insane - it was the highest rated of the 16 debates thus far. Meaning, the networks will keep showing them to you.
Anyway, one theme continues - the debate crowds cheering every weakness this nation has strived to correct about itself. Cheering everything short of human sacrifice. They've cheered executions, cheered letting an uninsured man die inside a hospital and booed a US soldier because he was gay. Saturday? Gingrich's proposal that the 120-year-old child-labor laws should be repealed, so union school janitors could be fired and be replaced by 13-year-old poor students.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: An entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half those janitors, you could give - you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the front office, in a lot of different things. I'll stand by the idea young people ought to learn how to work - middle-class kids do it routinely. We should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness. Finally, on -
OLBERMANN: Pursue happiness, by cleaning the toilets their richer classmates get to use. And a mighty roar goes up from the GOP crowd. "Yay! We love the elitist candidates who want to enslave our middle- and lower-class asses! Yay!"
The crowd at the eleventy billionth Republican debate at Drake University in Des Moines - today's "Worst Persons in the World."
OLBERMANN: In 2009 a successful effort - I'll quiet down till you're done over there - in 2009, a successful effort began to have companies stop advertising on the Glenn Beck's show because of the hatred and bigotry contained therein. Now a right-wing group has asked companies not to advertise on a show because it doesn't contain enough of that.
In our number-one story, hardware giant Lowe's and several other companies have removed their ads from the TLC program "All-American Muslim." Not because it portrays all Muslims as violent terrorists but because it doesn't.
The show follows five families who live in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose is to offer "an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts these families face outside and within their own community."
But the right-wing Florida Family Association saw this for what it was - actually was - if you're a paranoid with delusions of being persecuted - an attempt to make Americans sympathize with terrorists.
In an email members sent to advertisers, pre-written for them, they describe the show as "propaganda, clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and sharia law." And adding "The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks."
You know, like those other shows that show those conservatives who aren't homophobes or racists or sadists or totalitarians. The letter was enough for several companies to fold up and pull their advertising.
One of the companies, the hardware giant Lowe's, which said in a Facebook post, "Lowe's has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting rod for many of those views. As a result, we did pull our advertising on this program. We strongly support and respect the right of our customers, the community at large and our employees to have different views. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize."
In response to the likes of Lowe's dropping their ads, media mogul Russell Simons stepped up and has bought the remaining ad time. He tweeted earlier today, "Just purchased remaining spots for 'All-American Muslim' for next week. The show is now sold out. Keep your money, Lowe's, and we will keep ours."
I never ask Maysoon Zayid to comment on Muslim stuff, 'cause she's a contributor to the show and not a Muslim contributor, but I know this really bothers you, so - welcome.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Lowe's comes out with the standard, "We're sorry if we offended anyone" apology. Do you think they're understand why - why people might be offended by this?
ZAYID: I know Lowe's has no idea why we're offended because I actually took the time to call Lowe's.
OLBERMANN: Oh, my.
ZAYID: And it was even more disturbing than my calling the cable company. It was really frustrating, because - when I called and complained - the first person who answered the phone was like, some poor Midwestern girl named Tammy, who was just trying to make her Christmas money.
ZAYID: You know what I mean? And I felt so bad for her because she didn't even really know what a Muslim was and she was like, "I don't know if we sell it" and I'm like, "No, it's not - you selling it." And then they read me the statement.
ZAYID: And the statement is like incredibly vile. It's the type of thing that, like, only Newt Gingrich would say. Like, it makes no sense in America, what they're saying. They said they pulled the ads because it's a lightening-rod issue.
And when I pressed them and said, "Well, what's so offensive?" Like, "What makes this show, say, more offensive then the pedophile's dream, 'Toddlers & Tiara'? Or the polygamist's dream 'Sister Wives'? Why this show?" And they said, "Well, they told us it was offensive." So, they won't explain why.
OLBERMANN: And - and they won't say who the "they" is? It's just - somebody in management decided today pull on this?
ZAYID: I mean, I know who the "they" is.
ZAYID: The "they" is the people who are living in Mom's basement with enough time to sit and write Lowe's. Like, in all my life, I've never been, like, "Oh my God, I have to get Lowe's to stop." Who are these people?
OLBERMANN: Well, Pamela Geller. This is a deeply disturbed individual and - and if you - and the other - and the people at the WorldNetDaily website, which, for a long time, I thought was a spoof site. I thought it was a really good parody site and then, it turns out, they're serious about this crap. Because they're nuts. They're nuts and they - and they subscribe to the idea that somebody has to be hated and — you're it.
ZAYID: I am it.
OLBERMANN: That's what it boils down to?
ZAYID: Yeah. It boils down to the fact that I'm it, and I have to say that, like - in everything that we talk about, we kid a lot - but I find Pam Geller to be really, really, truly terrifying. I think the stuff that she does is dangerous.
ZAYID: I made the mistake of responding to a tweet. She tweeted me saying that the title of a documentary that I'm in with partner, Dean Obeidallah, is insulting and hateful. She is telling me?
ZAYID: What's hateful?
ZAYID: And then - you are the most hateful human being I've ever met, and - ever since I tweeted her - I have crazy people stalking me.
OLBERMANN: Do you think she left off the word hateful enough? 'Cause that's this - this is what this is about. This is a show that's meant to show that American Muslims can be part of a stupid reality show just like anybody else and they can live boring and meaningless lives in Dearborn, Michigan, like anybody can live anywhere. They are almost Kardashians, they're that uninteresting television-wise. And - and yet - and yet people are - it's - it's insufficient. People - people are still - are actually - have actually bought into these crazy notions.
ZAYID: I - I've have a lot of people actually point out to me the fact that - "Well, it's not balanced. It's not balanced because it doesn't show hate." And I'm, like, "Did Jeff Foxworthy show lynchings on his show? Did the Cosbys have, like, that great gang episode? When I come here, do I flip over the table because I'm from New Jersey?" We don't always have to show the worst of us.
OLBERMANN: Well, now, if you're gonna bring up New Jersey, we're gonna have a different argument altogether. But, lastly, Russell Simmons steps up and buys the ads. What about that?
ZAYID: I always say, "Who needs Lowe's when you have Uncle Rush?"
OLBERMANN: That's it.
ZAYID: And I also want to say just one last thing before I go.
ZAYID: Even though Newt Gingrich said I don't exist - I do, and you're not talking to no one. I'm here.
OLBERMANN: Excellent. "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid, as ever, great thanks for coming in.
ZAYID: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right, that's "Countdown" for this, the 338th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House, thus 338 days in which the Republicans have not passed a jobs bill of any kind.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. Don't forget, don't shop at Lowe's. Good night, and good luck.