'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: First Occupy/Political conference: Congressional Progressive Caucus to meet with #Occupy on legislation
#ShowPlug 2: Plus more pepper-spray at #OccupySeattle and the NYC story: 'No press pass means you're resisting arrest" w/ @MollyKnefel
#ShowPlug 3: Best comparison yet in Decision 2012: Gingrich is a Monkey's Butt. Also Trump fired from debate. w/ @NiaWaPo Henderson
#ShowPlug 4: With Justice Dept hamstrung, ACLU steps in to sue Gov. Walker on his Wisconsin Voter Suppression attempts
#ShowPlug 5: Lowe's gets slammed by Multi-faith pastor AND by Anti-Defamation League for toadying to anti-Muslim hate group
#ShowPlug Last: Bill modified, POTUS pleased: so why does Defense measure still include indefinite detention of Americans on American soil?
watch whole playlist
#5 'Police vs. Occupy', Molly Knefel
#5 'Restore The Dream', Isaiah Poole
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt, Molly Knefel)
#4 'Grand Old Parody', Nia-Malika Henderson
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Right To Vote?', Jon Sherman
#2 Worst Persons: Glenn Beck, Joe Amendola, Robert A. Niblock
#1 'Indefensible', Raha Wala
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Nia-Malika Henderson, Molly Knefel, Raha Wala, Jon Sherman, Isaiah Poole
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
How Lowe's can you go? The home-improvement giant battered anew for pulling its ad from "All-American Muslim," 'cause it doesn't show enough terrorists to satisfy the lunatic right wing. Now it's the Anti-Defamation League and the head of a multi-faith seminary demanding apologies or threatening boycotts.
Occupy Wall Street. "No press pass," a New York City cop tells a woman with a cellphone camera, "means you're resisting arrest."
And not just arrest, but heavy materiel at Occupy Seattle. Flash grenades and pepper spray.
(Excerpt from video clip) KAWAN BAXTER: Oh, it burns. Oh - it made my mouth, right here - it just burns, all right here. Haven't been able to open my eyes for ten minutes.
OLBERMANN: Trump, debate moderator? "Ya fired." He's out. He claims because he might yet run as an independent. That only two candidates were willing to attend has nothing to do with it.
Gingrich, blown kisses of near-endorsement by Dick Cheney, by Rudy Giuliani, by - Gary Busey?
But not by David Axelrod. "Just remember, the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt. So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we'll see how people like the view."
I thought that view was the monkey-butt view!
And Jerry Sandusky's lawyer says if you believe one of the witnesses' stories, you should -
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE AMENDOLA: I suggest you dial 1-800-REALITY because that makes absolutely - that makes absolutely no sense.
Guess what happens when you dial 1-800-REALITY?
(Excerpt from audio clip) MAN: Hey guys, welcome to the hottest place for triple-X action.
OLBERMANN: Oh, boy. All that and more, now, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, December 13th, 329 days until the 2012 presidential election.
It was to be the first formal interaction between parts of the Occupy movement and a political group. Ten Occupy Wall Street members were to meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus in connection with its Restore the American Dream Act for the 99 percent.
The meeting, though, was cancelled when other Occupy protesters objected that the group was presenting itself as being a delegation from Occupy.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - sadly not being canceled, the threats of police on both coasts.
New York police again threatening Occupy Wall Street.
Seattle police taking their turn, introducing the signature scent of the protest. Police there using pepper spray and flash grenades to disperse protesters building a rough barricade to block entrance to port facilities. The protest part of the Occupy the Port demonstrations against what Occupy protesters called "Wall Street on the Waterfront." At least three people arrested in Seattle.
One Occupy protester describing the scene once the pepper spray had been washed from his eyes:
(Excerpt from video clip) BAXTER: We were standing on the line, linking arms. The cops came with the horses. They tried to break the line and push us back and they got bikes and they were pushing, pushing, pushing and then, one of them got frustrated 'cause we were standing still and he put the pepper spray up to us and sprayed us.
OLBERMANN: No pepper spray used in New York, at a protest against Goldman Sachs in support of Occupy the Ports, but at least 17 arrests and some pushing and shoving by the NYPD - and some of it focused on media photographers.
New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik complaining, after one officer pushed him with a club and another maneuvered to block his lens.
That happening while police pushed photographer and protester John Knefel to the ground and arrested him. An officer telling his sister, Molly, "he didn't produce an official press pass, so that means he was resisting arrest." She will join us presently.
Also, Occupy Baltimore's camp at McKeldin Square closed down by troopers in riot gear last night. Some 40 protesters leaving with whatever they would carry.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake saying this morning, "This is not about the Occupy message. The message resonates with me. It resonates with people across the country."
Occupy Baltimore meeting today to decide their next move, and one protester spoke thusly:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I hope we stay organized and vigilant and keep our minds focused on the things we're trying to do here.
OLBERMANN: As we mentioned - Molly Knefel, co-host of Radio Dispatch with her brother, John. She's live-tweeted many of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Also a comedienne, a protester and she wrote about John's arrest for the online magazine, Salon. Molly, thanks for your time tonight.
MOLLY KNEFEL: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Your story in Salon about your brother's arrest is headlined, "Busted for Tweeting." Is that literally the case?
KNEFEL: Well, he was - he had his phone out. He was videotaping, and he had been tweeting photographs and video all day - as many people were - and the reason I headlined it "Busted for Tweeting" was because, as the people being arrested were taken into the paddy wagon, they started chanting "Whose tweets? Our tweets!" Many of them - eight out of ten of the people who were in the paddy wagon with John - had their phones out or cameras or were live streaming and were taking pictures and videos.
OLBERMANN: All right, so this is yesterday afternoon, judging by - by the - the light in the video. It's now more than 24 hours later. Where is your brother now?
KNEFEL: He is still at Central Booking, as well as - I am not sure if it's 17 or 18 people. All of them are still there. As I left Central Booking, their paper to be arraigned had just come out. They - none of them had been arraigned as of the time that I Left.
OLBERMANN: Is there any suspicion that the - that this is being done deliberately slowly?
KNEFEL: I mean - among the jail support? Yeah. It seems like an exceptionally long time to hold people.
I know that - I know of people - who have been held - say that they were held for about 40 hours. But they were arrested - I mean, the action took place about 11:30ish, yesterday morning. And they were held at the precinct all day yesterday and they weren't - we were waiting at the precinct for them - they weren't taken to Central Booking until about 2:45 in the morning.
OLBERMANN: You wrote, also, here, that one officer told you, when you complained about the arrests - the quote you attributed to him was, "Get out of my face. I have a gun and I don't need people up in my face like this." You read it aloud or off a page, it reads as a threat. Did it seem like a threat at the time?
KNEFEL: It did feel like a threat at the time. There is video of it and you can see the officer telling it to me. And it was - he actually was - saying that in reference to a different protester who was standing next to me, who had been kind of up in the guy's face. He was being a little bit aggressive as he was talking to the police officer.
I was just standing there saying, "Why was my brother arrested? Why was he arrested?" The other protester walked away. And, as I said, "He was just taking pictures. I don't know why you arrested him," the cop looked at me and said, "I have a gun. I don't need people in my face like that" and - I kind of had a -almost cartoon look of disbelief on my face.
KNEFEL: I almost did a double take 'cause I couldn't believe that he said that and in - you know, now that I'm removed from it, I understand that he wasn't necessarily threatening me, that he was saying, you know - for his own safety and the safety of his gun not being taken by other people - but at the time, it just felt like a strange thing for him to say and very inappropriate thing to say.
OLBERMANN: And there's something else that - that may even be larger than that, as dramatic as that must have felt. I'm sure you were correct in your - in your visceral reaction to that.
But what you wrote about the arrests - "It felt like a blatant crackdown on individuals documenting the behavior of the police" - is there some sense that - that the NYPD thinks it has won the major battle of this and now it is moving on to - to try to shut down coverage of what's happened at the Occupy events - as they have moved out of Zuccotti Park?
KNEFEL: It seems like it. Yesterday definitely felt different. I mean, I think from the beginning, police have known that cellphone cameras are going to be a problem for them.
And I have had, you know, people - reports of cops swinging their batons at people's legs, right where their pockets are and - and I - you know, the idea being to smash their cellphones and so, I think that it's always been part of the movement, but yesterday it really felt like an incredible focus towards the independent journalists and also - I mean, The New York Times person. There was rumor that one of those arrested was a Daily News photographer, but I'm not positive about that.
And, like I said, it was live streamers and tweeters and independent journalists who seemed to be - who were many of those who were arrested yesterday.
OLBERMANN: Last point. You may not know anything about this. If you don't, just tell me you don't. The Congressional Progressive Caucus was going to have this meeting about the Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act, with a - what appeared to be a delegation from Occupy Wall Street and the meeting was canceled, supposedly over protests by Occupy Wall Street that - that there is no such thing as a delegation. Do you know anything about what happened in this meeting?
KNEFEL: I don't know anything about the meeting - that particular meeting. No, I know the general philosophy of Occupy Wall Street, being that it is leaderless and that it exists outside of the framework of, you know, mainstream progressive organizing, but I don't know anything about that particular meeting.
OLBERMANN: All right, great. Molly Knefel, Occupy Wall Street protester, co-host of Radio Dispatch with her brother, John, whom she saw arrested by the NYPD at the Occupy protest yesterday. Thanks for coming on the program. Give your brother our regards if he ever gets out of stir.
KNEFEL: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Of course.
As we reported earlier, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announcing this Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act today - not exactly facilely described there.
After some kind of interaction with some Occupy protesters - and the cancellation of a more-formal meeting, after objections by still other members of the Occupy movement - the Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, telling reporters the bill would give the American people what they want from the federal government:
(Excerpt from video clip) KEITH ELLISON: What they want is five million jobs, which this act calls for. They want to see us have deficit reduction to the tune of about two trillion dollars, saving more than the super committee's trigger cuts and the Republican budget plan.
(Excerpt from video clip) RAÚL GRIJALVA: And then, the other thing the American people have said - it's about investment. Protecting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and investing in the critical necessities of the American people - education and vital domestic programs.
OLBERMANN: For more on the bill, I'm joined by Isaiah Poole, editor of OurFuture.org, the website for the Campaign for America's Future, the self-described strategy center for the progressive movement. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
ISAIAH POOLE: Pleasure to be here.
OLBERMANN: The co-chairs - Representatives Grijalva and Ellison - made some big claims about this bill today and, assuming it were to be enacted - how would it, indeed, achieve goals that - that seem rather ambitious? Two trillion dollars in deficit reduction plus five million new jobs?
POOLE: Well, what it does is put direct federal money into direct hiring for teachers, firefighters, first responders. Also, it creates cores for hiring youth. It creates a core for rehabilitating schools and it pays for a lot of those jobs by a - through a transactions tax on stocks and bonds sales - getting Wall Street to step up to the plate - eliminates various tax benefits for the one percent. And it zeroes out funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are already funding down.
OLBERMANN: So, there's - essentially, there is a super stimulus in here. It requires Wall Street to step up. Obviously, there would be - the Republicans would sooner light Washington on fire than let it pass. Why would the caucus be offering this now?
POOLE: Well, it - it draws to contrast, between the kind of debate that we're having in Washington right now - I mean, we're having this huge fight over what is, at the end of the day, a Band-Aid that will get people - tide people over while we're waiting for the private sector economy to recover.
What we really ought to be doing, rather than Band-Aids, is major surgery on the economy, where we're really injecting - we're injecting stimulus, we're injecting reforms into the - economy that will actually rebuild the economy and build a more sustainable economy over the long run.
OLBERMANN: We are hearing of this - this disconnect, after apparent involvement between the Caucus and the Occupy movement, and that's one point, but - but, inspirationally, would this bill have been presented now, without pressure from or - at least the - the existence of - the Occupy movement and, particularly, that catchphrase, "the 99 percent?"
POOLE: Well, Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Jan Schakowsky, the other members of the Progressive Caucus have been at this for months, actually but they're been laboring under not a lot of attention, other than a few of us who are progressive allies. But I think, what has happened with the Occupy movement, is that they have been emboldened. They have been encouraged to sort of keep pushing and keep this debate going.
OLBERMANN: Is there not some suggestion - and I know you don't know anything about the particulars of how this meeting collapsed or it didn't occur - but is there not some suggestion that - that the Occupy members are gonna be very strict about staying out of contact with politicians and does - does that not suggest a - a lack of linkage going forward that that - that energy created by Occupy cannot be catalyzed, politically?
POOLE: Well, there is a justified suspicion that a lot of people in the Occupy movement have toward the political process, and I totally understand it.
I think what elected officials have to do, progressive elected officials, and progressive leaders have to do is sort of work through that suspicion, earn the trust of the people who are involved in this movement. We have an agenda that will address the concerns that are being articulated in the street and we need to continue to press that agenda and earn their support.
OLBERMANN: Isaiah Poole, from Campaign for America's Future, thank you for some of your time tonight, sir.
POOLE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Newt Gingrich gets the all important endorsement for president of Gary Busey.
And the perfect description of himself - he's a monkey's butt as it heads up a tree.
Plus, Lowe's - "Let's hate something together."
And indefinite detentions is inexplicably still alive in the National Defense Authorization Act.
OLBERMANN: The president gets changes made on the Defense Authorization Act, yet it still permits indefinite detention of American citizens on American soil.
Best explanation of Newt "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Gingrich and his ascension in the polls from David Axelrod: "We are now seeing the monkey's butt."
The ACLU now steps into voter-suppression attempts in Wisconsin by suing the governor.
And the national chain that caved to anti-Muslim extremist hate is now being attacked by an interfaith minister and by the Anti-Defamation League. Lowe's is bailing water. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The words were inscribed on the wall of the temple of the Greek Oracle at Delphi, 28 centuries ago: "The higher a monkey climbs, the more you can see his butt."
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - okay, those words weren't inscribed on the wall of the temple of the Greek Oracle at Delphi 28 centuries ago. Presidential adviser David Axelrod said them today about Newt Gingrich. Close enough.
First, those who today did not compare Gingrich to a monkey's ass:
(Excerpt from video clip) DICK CHENEY: When I look at Newt, I see somebody who's got a wealth of experience. Newt was the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years, so there - there's a lot of -
OLBERMANN: I'm supposed to listen to you? You have no pulse.
Next up, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani:
(Excerpt from video clip) RUDY GIULIANI: My gut tells me - right now, as I look at it - that Gingrich might actually be the stronger candidate because I think he can make a broader connection than Mitt Romney, as I said, to the - to the - to the - to those Reagan Democrats.
OLBERMANN: I'm supposed to listen to you? You have no gut. Four years ago, your gut told you you might actually be the stronger candidate.
And now, the one full endorsement of the day - Gary Busey. Maybe you remember him from his 1978 Oscar-nominated performance in "The Buddy Holly Story," or his more recent work on "Celebrity Rehab" and "Celebrity Apprentice."
This weekend, Busey told The Hill newspaper in D.C. that he's supporting Gingrich, saying, "I've never met Newt but I know what he stands for."
Last spring, Busey endorsed Donald Trump for president. Now, he may be faced with a tough decision as Trump is threatening to re-enter the race. He announced today he will not host the Newsmax GOP debate, which used to be the Trump Debate, scheduled for December 27th in Iowa.
His reasoning, if any: "The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of 'The Apprentice,'" - which is apparently a TV show - "I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an independent and that - unless I conclusively agree not to run as an independent - they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate. I am not willing to give up my right to run as an independent candidate."
Only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum had agreed to the debate.
Too bad it won't happen. Trump would have gotten some good news about his taxes if he had been able to stop talking long enough to ask Gingrich about his tax plan. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, an analysis of the former speaker's plan shows he would lower tax bills for most U.S. households, but increase the deficit by about $1 trillion in a single year.
The biggest tax breaks in the plan would go to the very, very wealthy. Everyone in the top 0.1 percent would be better off than under current rates. On average, those richest of the rich would get a tax cut of one million, nine hundred thousand dollars a year.
And now back to the walls of the temple of the Oracle at Delphi.
President Obama's top campaign strategist David Axelrod, speaking to reporters about Gingrich's new position at the front of the GOP pack, and he reminded us all: "Just remember, the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt. So, you know - the speaker is very high on the pole right now and we'll see how people like the view."
Wise words stand the test of time, sir.
Others just come back to bite you in the monkey butt. Mitt Romney, from video unearthed today, dating to his 2002 run for Governor of Massachusetts:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I think people recognize that I'm not a partisan Republican, that I'm someone who is moderate, and that my - my views are progressive.
OLBERMANN: Romney, however, may have just gotten a break. A key adviser to Newt Gingrich in his Iowa campaign has resigned - Craig Berman, who last Wednesday said, "A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon. There's a thousand pastors ready to do that."
After that quote came to light, the Iowa director of the Gingrich campaign has resigned from the Gingrich campaign this evening.
Let's bring in Washington Post national political reporter, "Countdown" contributor Nia-Malika Henderson. Good evening, Nia.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Apart from the unfortunate imagery of the Gingrich anatomy that we're - we're stuck with - or even of the picture of Gingrich trying to shimmy up a tree - Mr. Axelrod really sort of nailed GOP 2011 Front-Runner Syndrome. Didn't he?
HENDERSON: In some ways, yes - and I have to admit that is a schoolyard taunt that I am familiar with, so it takes me back to the old days, growing up in South Carolina.
But, you know, there obviously is - you know - is a problem with this field and there is a problem that Newt Gingrich is going to have with exposure, with his very long record of being to the far right on many, many issues and saying - making explosive comments. I mean, we had a glimpse of that more recently - with him talking about kids' janitors, him talking about the Palestinians being an invented people.
So, I think Democrats - I mean, you do see them training their fire now on Newt Gingrich. They would love to see this guy in the general. You have them talking about him as - as the "Godfather of Gridlock" - I think that was another phrase that David Axelrod used to describe him.
I think the general feeling is - and I'm - I'm, in some ways quoting Haley Barbour here - that Republicans feel like they have a good message against this president, a message centered all around the economy - and around unemployment. But so far, you see a lot of restlessness in this field, a restlessness among Republicans who, essentially, say they still don't have the right messenger.
OLBERMANN: What is the Democratic strategy at this point? Is there some theory that - that Romney is the right choice for - for nominee, not because he would be - from the Democratic point of view - not because he would be an abhorrent candidate in the general election, but that he could be so relatively moderate against the rest of the Republican field that there would almost, by necessity, spring up a third-party candidate to serve those ultra-ultra-right wingers?
HENDERSON: Well, I think there probably is going to be some sort of a third-party candidate here. They have the group out, Americans Elect, so there probably will, by this summer, be some sort of third-party candidate and we've seen, historically, what that means - Roosevelt running against Taft, and Wilson coming out ahead on that and it usually spells bad news for the incumbent, as it did with - with George Bush and Ross Perot and - and Bill Clinton.
But I think you do see the Democrats - All along, they've been planning on a Mitt Romney run but they also wanted to damage him, and have damaged him quite a bit in this general, and you can almost imagine a lot of what they've been saying and a lot of framing that they've used to - to discuss Romney - which is him as a flip-flopper, which is him as an unreliable conservative - has really depressed numbers - 20 percent, 22 percent, 23 percent. So I think their - their logic has been that, in the general, he would be something of a dangerous candidate because he is - I mean, let's face it - he can talk about himself being a conservative but, in truth, if you look at his past, he is more like - more like a moderate.
OLBERMANN: Well, and since so much of his past is on tape, that video clip -
OLBERMANN: Is that a nail in - in the coffin? I mean, how many - "I think people recognize that I'm not a partisan Republican, that I'm someone who's moderate and that my views are progressive" - the tape's only nine years old. How many mistakes has he made in this campaign and how many things - how many - sort of, what the percentage of theoretical mistakes - how many more, in theory, could he make before this thing just - the bottom just drops out for him?
HENDERSON: Yeah, I mean - I think you're exactly right. I mean, I think obviously this is one of the reasons he's only been able to, you know, get as much as 25 percent in these polls.
And I think one of the underlying problems, too, for Mitt Romney is that he doesn't have a narrative about why he has evolved. If, for instance now, he is a conservative - then his people need to come up with some narrative about what this evolution is all about. He's talked about this in terms of abortion, saying that he sort of followed the same path Ronald Reagan did around abortion, but he hasn't really copped to anything else in terms of flip-flopping.
He'll say, you know, "People are taking me out of context," and all those sorts of things but now, he obviously is up against Newt Gingrich, who people believe is a true warrior in this conservative movement. His people say that Newt Gingrich has been a part of all the conservative victories over their last 20 or 30 years and here is Mitt Romney - with a more mixed record, a more moderate record - so they haven't really come up with anything, and I think that's gonna be the test for them.
You see them, now, trying to humanize Mitt Romney, to have him even talk about his Mormonism - and we see this, sort of, whisper campaign going out in Iowa with this former supporter or aide to Newt Gingrich talking about Mormonism as a cult. But you do see Mitt Romney going out there, trying to, you know, make a joke of this $10,000 bet line, trying to talk about his faith.
But I think, still, they've gotta come up with - Why did this guy change? Why was he a progressive? I mean, I don't know if it was - in the mold of Roosevelt or Wilson. Why did he say he was a progressive nine, 10 years ago? What did - what did he mean and what is he now and - and what is that evolution all about?
OLBERMANN: Yeah, something. Even, "The monkey butt scared me into becoming a conservative." Something.
OLBERMANN: Washington Post national political reporter, "Countdown" contributor, Nia-Malika Henderson. Great thanks, Nia.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: With a key defense bill still including a provision permitting the indefinite detention of American citizens, how much longer, meantime, can Lowe's hold out against a country demanding an apology for its spinelessness in the face of ethnic hatred. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Fighting voter suppression and the cowardice of the Lowe's stores won't mean as much if the president signs a bill that will permit the indefinite detention of anybody, including Americans picked up on American soil. Ahead.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1913, unexpected good news came from the Louvre Art Museum in Paris.
There, a valuable painting thought stolen and lost forever - possibly stolen by Pablo Picasso or by a French poet who'd once called for the Louvre to be burned down - was put back on display. It had disappeared more than two years earlier - stolen, as it proved, by a Louvre employee who had hidden in a broom closet, waited until the museum closed, grabbed it and walked out with it hidden under his coat.
His motive? He believed the painting should have hung - not in Paris - but where it was painted, in Italy. Instead, he kept it in his Paris apartment for nearly two years before getting caught trying to sell it.
The painting was, of course, the "Mona Lisa."
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Small children make taekwondo the latest dance craze.
We begin by checking in once again with this past weekend's GOP debate. I'm sorry, I'm being told this is actually two small children taking part in a taekwondo match. Tell me taekwondo, kwondo, kwondo, kwondo. The trick is to keep bouncing. Look out for that flying heel kick.
And so far, the score is nothing to nothing and it ended in a draw. But it looks pretty good if there's music playing.
VIDEO: Boy sets world record for juggling while hula hooping.
Hillsboro, Illinois, hello! We check in with the world of record breaking and what a world it is.
Young Pete Moyer here, is attempting to break the world record for the longest time juggling three balls while hula hooping.
Seems like a silly skill, but if he can do that while promising tax cuts for the rich, he could jump to the head of the GOP field.
Ultimately, Pete broke the record by juggling and hula hooping for three minutes, 16 seconds. And check it out, ladies - he's single.
VIDEO: Bill Romanowski wants boar hunters, not bacon hunters, in the NFL.
Finally, from the "Taking the Metaphor Too Far" department, here's NFL-linebacker-turned-football-analyst Bill Romanowski talking about - I don't know what he's talking about - maybe hunting?
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL ROMANOWSKI: The Oakland Raiders, Hue Jackson, he needs - he's got a bunch of guys that like bacon and you know what they do? They go to the grocery store and they buy their bacon. But I need wild boar hunters. I need them to go out there and hunt their -
(Excerpt from video clip) JIM KOZIMOR: With a knife.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMANOWSKI: Hunt their pig with a knife.
(Excerpt from video clip) KOZIMOR: Get it themselves.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMANOWSKI: Hey, rip their throat open and dig down in and get some bacon and eat it!
OLBERMANN: See, that's the problem with the NFL today. The players are not focused enough on their bacon hunting.
"Time Marches On!"
Steroids are a hell of a drug.
The ACLU sues the governor of Wisconsin over his voter-suppression efforts. That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Dumont's "Better Living TV Theater" 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 "Glenn." Just "Glenn."
The ACLU filing suit against Wisconsin today, asserting that the state's voter ID law could disenfranchise many of its citizens, but the Justice Department might be limited in how much it could actually do to ensure voters' rights there.
In our third story tonight - Wisconsin among a dozen states introducing legislation this year, requiring that voters have photo ID and effectively disenfranchising those who do not, often elderly, poor or minority voters.
ACLU lawyers arguing that Wisconsin's law, "imposes a severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote" and amounts to "an unconstitutional poll tax." The Department of Justice now involved in similar cases in South Carolina and Texas. But unlike those states, Wisconsin is not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires some states to get federal approval for any changes to voting procedures.
The suit names embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as defendant. It was filed on behalf of 17 Wisconsin residents - including 84-year-old Ruthelle Frank, who has voted in every election since 1948, but who does not have a birth certificate because she was born at home. And it could cost her $200 to get the necessary documentation just to get the ID.
This year, at least 12 states tightening ID rules and others - like Pennsylvania - considering similar legislation.
The Obama administration now trying to get involved. Attorney General Eric Holder pushing back against claims that there is widespread voter fraud, the justification used to pass these laws. He told The Washington Post, "You constantly hear about voter fraud but you don't see huge amounts of voter fraud out there."
By contrast, a study by NYU's Brennan Center finding that more than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year, a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.
I'm joined now by Jon Sherman of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. He is the attorney on its Wisconsin case. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
JON SHERMAN: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Explain, first, that technicality here - Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act - why Wisconsin is not covered and why it's variable, depending on state.
SHERMAN: So, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act only covers certain jurisdictions and - under the original 1965 Voting Rights Act - the coverage formula basically had two parts.
One of them was that you - the state - had to have used literacy tests or device - a test or device that restricted the right to vote, and the registration rate had - for the adult population had to be below 50 percent.
Wisconsin - and the successive amendments to the Voting Rights Act have added additional coverage formulas pegged to different elections, the original was pegged to 1964 - Wisconsin has never fallen inside the coverage zone. However, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act covers every state and every jurisdiction in the country.
OLBERMANN: Is - is Section 5 why those who seek to suppress general turnout under this crazy pretext of, you know, imaginary people voting - which is literally in the dozens, nationwide, every year as opposed to the possibility of 5 million disenfranchisements - is that the reason why these attempts are being made in - in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, that traditionally had very open and very small "l" liberal - voting requirements?
SHERMAN: Section 5 is not the reason these laws are being passed. There are both coverage - covered jurisdictions - covered states and non-covered states that have passed these laws.
For instance, Wisconsin is a non-covered state that passed it. But Alabama is a covered state that passed the photo ID law. South Carolina and Texas have both passed photo ID law this year. Both Texas and South Carolina - those laws are pending before the Justice Department. The ACLU has filed comment letters urging the Justice Department to object to those laws and, if they object, those laws will never go into effect.
OLBERMANN: Explain to me the ACLU's action in Wisconsin, in particular. What are you going for?
SHERMAN: The ACLU is trying to challenge one of the most restrictive photo ID laws in the country, and I say that because it has an extremely limited list of photo IDs that are accepted at the polls. Moreover, it's one of only three states in the entire country that requires photo ID of both in-person voters and absentee voters. That means that - take an elderly person who votes absentee in every election, they will now have to mail in a photocopy of their photo ID with their absentee ballot application.
We're trying to defend the right to vote for the likes of Ruthelle Frank who, you mentioned, has been voting in every election since 1948 and now won't be able to vote and will have to spend upwards of $200 in order to get a certified and accurate copy of her birth certificate.
Carl Ellis is another one of our plaintiffs. He is a veteran of the United States Army. He's living at a homeless shelter for veterans, has no income, no savings and he cannot afford a copy of his Illinois birth certificate.
Additionally, we have plaintiffs in this suit who have sought a Social Security card at the Social Security Administration Office but have been turned away because they have been told that they need a photo ID in order to get their Social Security card.
So, the Wisconsin state legislators who passed this law clearly didn't think this through and they've left people facing an obstacle course on the way to the ballot box. And it's left a lot of folks discouraged and disenfranchised in Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN: See, I'm going to disagree with you, here, Mr. Sherman. I think they thought that part through. I think they meant this to be a circular attempt to keep people from - saying, "You need to get the experience before you can get the job," that kind of logic to it.
Last point, is there going to be anything done that could impact the 2012 election, or have we lost 2012 to those who've suppressed voting rights around the country?
SHERMAN: Well, we are moving as fast as we can with this case. Obviously, it takes time to find plaintiffs. We're deeply concerned that the February primary election is only a little over three months away, so we're gonna be moving quickly to get relief for each of the six classes of eligible Wisconsin voters in our lawsuit.
And that includes technical college students, I would add. There are 400,000, roughly, technical college students in Wisconsin. That's almost 9 percent of the Wisconsin electorate. And they've been told that their ID cards at those schools are no good at the polls.
OLBERMANN: Jon Sherman, the ACLU attorney on the Wisconsin voter suppression case, great thanks. Good luck with it.
SHERMAN: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Lowe's on the ropes, attacked by a multi-faith organization and the Anti-Definition League. "Worst Persons," next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The president gets his changes to the Defense Authorization Act, yet still in it, the provision allowing the indefinite detention of Americans on American soil.
First, the "Worst." What's the last image Jerry Sandusky would have wanted his lawyer to invoke today? If this wasn't the last, it was damn close. Next.
OLBERMANN: We are still on pace to - to get a new law permitting the indefinite detention of American citizens. Next.
First - because this space is where we merely indict, we do not condemn - here are "Countdown"'s top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To former television pundit "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck. His online subscription service, GBTV, will next month be offering to its microscopic 230,000 participants a new entertainment program called "Independence, USA."
The press release describes it as a reality show, even though it's supposedly the story of one of these survivalist nut-jobs - a guy named Frank, from Nazareth, PA - who is preparing for the post-apocalypse. The series will show Frank "building a car that runs on wood, in case gasoline supplies are interrupted, becoming expert hunters when grocery stores are no longer in existence and making his own alcohol for barter when the dollar collapses."
Why is Beck running a post-apocalyptic reality series? Because for him it is already the post-apocalypse, when his audience are no longer in existence and he has to make his own TV for barter when his career collapses. But wait, there's more.
This is the logo for Beck's new series, "Independence, USA." If this looks at all familiar, that's because last year, The History Channel ran a series called "Apocalypse, PA." Same Frank, same cars powered by wood.
Glenn Beck's first new show is a rerun of something that bombed on The History Channel last year.
Runner-up? Joe Amendola, the attorney of the accused ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. This is not about Sandusky's guilt or innocence - or why on earth judges in Western Pennsylvania continue to grant him bail, as the number of charges leaps past 50. This is about the fact that he has exactly the wrong lawyer you would want if the rest of your life hung by a thread. Mr. Amendola, speaking today after a very brief hearing:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOE AMENDOLA: If anyone is naive enough to think, for a minute, that Tim Curley, Joe Paterno and Gary Schultz and - for that matter, Graham Spanier, the university president - were told by Mike McQueary that he observed Jerry Sandusky having anal sex with a ten-year-old-looking kid in a shower room at Penn State on Penn State property and their response was simply to tell Jerry Sandusky that "Don't go in the shower room anymore with kids," I suggest you dial 1-800-REALITY because that makes absolutely - that makes absolutely no sense.
OLBERMANN: So, the folks at one of America's finest websites, Deadspin, did exactly what Mr. Amendola suggested. They dialed 1-800-REALITY.
(Excerpt from audio clip) MAN: Hey guys, welcome to the hottest place for triple-X action. Get ready for bulge-bursting pleasure with horny gay, bi, and bi-curious studs. Just 99 cents per minute.
OLBERMANN: Not to equate pedophilia with homosexuality, but - if you're Jerry Sandusky - absolutely the last thing you need right now is an attorney who encourages the media to call a gay-sex phone line! Get a public defender!
But our winner? Robert A. Niblock, chairman of the board and chief executive of Lowe's. He and the hardware monolith he runs are getting further and further out onto the limb, after their cowardly decision to pull their advertising from a rather boring TLC reality show called "All-American Muslim."
As we told you last night, Lowe's caved to the pressure from some really out-there fascists like Pamela Geller and a group called the Florida Family Association, who complained that the show was unfair because it didn't depict all those Muslim terrorists they see running around in their own heads.
First, a California state senator began a petition to boycott Lowe's and today, Lowe's got it from all sides.
The Anti-Defamation League's National Director, Abe Foxman slammed the company: "They took this action in response to an appeal that was rooted in anti-Muslim prejudice. It is profoundly unfair and misguided to tarnish all Muslims in the United States with that brush. Most American Muslims are peace-loving, law-abiding citizens who cherish their life in America just as much as Christians, Jews, and followers of countless other faith traditions."
And then there's the reaction from the President of Auburn Seminy - Seminary - a multi-faith operation. The Reverend Doctor Katharine Henderson writes, "We are disappointed to see religion used as a tool to create division and foster fear. Efforts by hard-line religious organizations to scare American national companies from advertising on 'All-American Muslim' are fueled by fear and bigotry. American companies that are rumored to have pulled their ads from 'All-American Muslim' should immediately tell their consumers whether they, like Lowe's, have also caved into these bigoted demands or if they are standing up for an America where people of all faiths and identities can flourish."
So, Lowe's, who are you gonna stand with - the Protestants, the Jews, the Muslims, the Catholics, the agnostics, the atheists and the people who like to buy a nice, new belt sander every six to eight weeks - or these psychos like Geller and her insane hatred of people she blames for the failure of her own meaningless life? Your call.
We give out the award every night and it's yours till you do something about this. You - Robert A. Niblock, chairman of the board and chief executive of Lowe's - today's "Worst Person in the World."
Remember! Don't buy anything at Lowe's.
OLBERMANN: Despite the best efforts of the Bush Administration, the courts upheld the rights of habeas corpus for American Citizens - even for those accused of being terrorists.
In our number-one story - the National Defense Authorization Act once again seeks to revoke this right. And even though it is now an Obama administration, it seems likely that the bill will be signed.
Two weeks ago, we told you about the National Defense Authorization Act and the provisions that allowed for an indefinite detention of an American citizen without charges or trial, a bill that the president threatened to veto at that time. Monday, the House and Senate Armed - House and Senate Armed Services Committees came to agreement on a final version of the bill and confidence was high that they'd made the changes necessary to get the president's signature.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARL LEVIN: I just can't imagine that the president would veto this bill.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN McCAIN: Any rational observance of this legislation, clearly is not anything that could damage America's national security.
OLBERMANN: While it doesn't damage America's national security, it does all but destroy habeas corpus as the provisions for indefinite detention of American citizens still exists.
In a statement, Senate Chairman Carl Levin explained the changes in the bill: "We've changed the waiver provision so that waiver authority now rests with the president, rather than the secretary of defense and we have changed language that protects interrogations to make clear that it is civilian interrogation, generally, that is protected from interruption and not just a single interrogation session."
So, the military can still indefinitely detain someone, but the president can issue a waiver stopping them if he wishes. And it is civilian force, like the FBI, which has the authority to investigate and interrogate suspects being indefinitely detained. Both stipulations said to have been added at the request of the president.
Joining me, once again, on this is Raha Wala, the Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First. Thanks again for your time on this.
RAHA WALA: Thanks for having me again.
OLBERMANN: Am I reading this right - the only change of note is the president can overrule indefinite detention, not the secretary of defense?
WALA: Well, here's the thing - there's some tinkering with language, here, some wordsmithing there, but really, the only change is that the bill has become more confusing and more likely to undermine national security.
At the end of the day, the bill still has the same problem as it had before. It allows the codification of the authority for the military to hold individuals indefinitely, without trial, and it requires the military to hold a large category of foreign terrorism suspects without - without any due process, really. So I - I appreciate what Senators Levin and McCain are saying about this bill but, at the end of the day, it's essentially the same bill and the president's - is going to have to veto it.
OLBERMANN: Right. Is he likely to? He threatened to veto the earlier version. Do we have any read yet, on whether or not - supposedly this was the change he wanted and - and he might sign this one?
WALA: Well, I - I think that's a little bit of wishful thinking on the part of Senator Levin that you - you played that clip at the top, there. Certainly, the president is discussing this bill right now with his advisers. They're taking a hard look at the language in the bill. But as early as this - I'm sorry - as late as this past weekend, you had the president's top counter-terrorism adviser blasting this bill for being - for being overly-burdensome on the executive branch and really over-militarizing our law enforcement functions.
So - so, at the end of the day, a decision will be made and it will be made soon. But we're calling on everyone to - to contact the president and tell him that he needs to stands up for his promise and veto this bill.
OLBERMANN: Where - where is the support coming from? We know who the - the individuals are but the Democratic support for this - Levin, in particular, who seemed to have always been a strong advocate for - for the rights of individuals - even accused individuals in this country - where - where - why is he standing in this position and being so bloody obstinate about it?
WALA: Obstinate's really a good word for that. I mean, I think that Senator Levin has - has really dug his heels in here. And he's - he's struck what he sees as a bipartisan compromise. He's brought along a few members of his party, as well, and he's sticking to his deal.
And right now, it's - it's essentially the president's prerogative to - to stand up against Senator Levin, a chairman of a very powerful committee, and say that he's not gonna stand for this. And the president would be standing with the FBI director, with the director of the CIA, with the director of National Intelligence, with the secretary of defense, who have all expressed a lot of concerns about this bill and it's not just, you know - the human rights and civil liberties communities - though those concerns are very serious. So, the president has solid footing to veto this bill.
OLBERMANN: Are these overlapping concerns? I mean, we've seen Mr. Panetta turn into, virtually, a right-wing hawk since he became Secretary of Defense. Is there - is there some indication that - that they're - they're just as concerned with the - the status of habeas corpus as - as we might be?
WALA: Well, I think so. At the end of the day, you know, counter-terrorism officials, folks in the military understand very well that security and liberty are not mutually-exclusive concepts and that we need to promote both as complementary - complementary ideals. So, I think that the secretary of defense has - has realized that in order for our - our troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq - to deal with terrorism suspects, they need solid footing here and they can't be undermined by political meddling, which is, quite frankly, what is going on with - with this bill.
OLBERMANN: If the president, God forbid, signs the thing as it stands now, is there recourse at that point? Would there be a court case? Would the ACLU come riding in, or - what happens then?
WALA: I mean, I - I think that there will be, you know, one case after another, really litigating this stuff - and that's all the more reason why the president should veto this bill.
There is no need, ten years after 9/11, to be re-litigating these issues. We've decided that we're a nation built on the rule of law and we can't move forward with a piece of legislation that essentially guts the Constitution. So, the president's going to have to - to veto this bill.
OLBERMANN: To say nothing of the fact that the president and - and his Justice Department have done magnificently well prosecuting terrorists under civilian law. It's not as if there was some sort of hole in the net that had developed in the last few years, to our - to our eyes, in any event.
Raha Wala, the Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First. Once again, thanks for your insight on this.
WALA: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this, the 339th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House, thus 339 days in which the Republicans have not passed a jobs bill of any kind.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Congrats on getting through another day of this crap. Good night and good luck.