'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: POTUS spokesman: he will not veto Defense Act that permits indefinite detention of Americans. @RepJerryNadler joins me
#ShowPlug 2: 32 House Members spank Lowe's for continuing toadying to Islamophobes. Rep. @ChrisMurphyCT joins me + new details...
#ShowPlug 3: Head of "Florida Family Assoc." turns out to be self-confessed 17-year porn addict who "cured" himself + wrote book
#ShowPlug 4: When Has-Beens Endorse: Christine O'Donnell says Romney's "been consistent since he changed his mind"; John Rocker likes Newt
#ShowPlug 5: Obama's path to reelection in 2012 goes straight through the premises of #Occupy. Guest @RBReich on his powerful video
#ShowPlug Last: How Birthers wasted thousands on a "flying billboard" at an NFL game - they went at the wrong time. See you at 8 ET.
watch whole playlist
#5 'GOP Split', Tim Dickinson
#5 'Dueling Endorsements', Craig Crawford
#4 'All-American Response', Rep. Chris Murphy
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Indefinite Detention Definite?', Rep. Jerrold Nadler
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Stephen Conroy, Roger Ailes, Joseph Farah
#1 'Otherwise Occupied', Robert Reich
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Chris Murphy, Jerrold Nadler, Robert Reich, Craig Crawford, Tim Dickinson
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you are talking about tomorrow? Lowe's - let's destroy something together. The company that caved to extremist Islamophobic hate gets fricasseed on the floor of the House.
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRIS MURPHY: This is a major American company rubber-stamping basic, foundational bigotry against a major American religious group.
OLBERMANN: Our guest, Congressman Chris Murphy.
Gingrich stretches his poll lead, except amid the groups about which the President is most vulnerable. But, here come the has-beens.
Christine O'Donnell endorses Mitt Romney:
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: That's one of the things that I like about him, because he's been consistent since he changed his mind.
OLBERMANN: That'll help.
Notorious baseball bigot and homophobe John Rocker endorses Newt Gingrich:
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN ROCKER: He's a absolute genius - just a - a marksman in - in, you know, historical value of, you know, pretty much anything you wanna - you know, you want to discuss.
OLBERMANN: But one has-been endorsement is withdrawn.
"It is not time," says Gary Busey, "for me to be endorsing anyone at this time."
Sometimes the candidates can hurt themselves worse than any has-been's endorsement:
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Bonjour, je m'appelle Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: And the reminder from 1995 that Newt Gingrich once suggested we should actually try to bring back the dinosaurs.
The President's path to re-election - the no-nonsense strategy of Robert Reich.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERT REICH: We'll re-elect you. We'll give you a mandate for real change, as long as you're behind us.
OLBERMANN: He joins us.
But can the President get re-elected, after his spokesman today says he will not veto the bill that would permit the indefinite detention - without charge or trial - of Americans, on American soil, on the mere suspicion that they have a connection to a terrorist group.
And the birthers splurge for a flying billboard over the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. So what's wrong with this picture? Well, to start with, it was a night game.
All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) JERRY JONES: Dumb mistakes.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, December 14th, 328 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Romney spitting at Gingrich. Gingrich spitting at Romney.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - more impressive still, a super PAC hitting Romney where it will hurt him most with Republican voters - an ad at once attacking his inconsistency on issues that shows him speaking French.
While Occupy protesters heckle Mr. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in Iowa City, polls put Gingrich on top - but both candidates receive endorsements that could wind up costing them votes.
We start in New York.
Former Governor Romney in town today for series of fundraisers, featuring the deep pockets of it JPMorgan Chase Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee, Blackstone equity founder Steve Schwarzman and hedge-fund manager John Paulson, among others. The Democratic National Committee heckling Romney from with the air, with a plane flying a banner invoking the punch line from the last debate - "Bet you 10k Romney's out of touch."
Romney also taking time to zing Gingrich, telling The Washington Post that, despite Gingrich's conservative record as Speaker of the House, "He has been an extraordinarily unreliable leader in the conservative world in the last two to three years." Then Romney piling on with The New York Times, saying that where Gingrich is concerned, "'Zany' is not what we need in a president."
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Zany is great in a campaign. It's great on - on talk radio. It's great in the - in the - in the print. It - it makes for fun reading.
But, in terms of a president, we need a leader and a leader needs to be someone who can bring Americans together.
OLBERMANN: That's a man named Mitt calling people - "zany."
A reference, perhaps, to Gingrich's fantasy of recreating this film fantasy, telling The L.A. Times in 1995, "Why not aspire to build a real 'Jurassic Park'? Wouldn't that be one of the most spectacular accomplishments of human history? What if we can bring back extinct species?"
Sure, if you want to see everybody eaten like French fries by dinosaurs. What the hell, man? It's bad enough that the GOP is trying to bring you back.
Though Occupy hecklers are doing their part to send Gingrich back wherever he came from, trying to shout him down at a campaign event at the University of Iowa today, for his alleged callous altitude towards poor people.
Imagine if he spoke French, like Mitt Romney.
Super PAC American LP releasing this ad today, highlighting Romney's one-time moderate positions, along with the French that he picked up as a Mormon missionary.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: D'organisation des jeux olympiques d'hiver de 2002 à Salt Lake City. La organisation des jeux olympiques d'hiver de 2002 -
OLBERMANN: I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri, eh.
Given that the majority of GOP primary voters disagree with all those last points - in any language - perhaps we should not be surprised by this Wall Street Journal poll. It names Gingrich as GOP voters' first choice in the primaries, 40 percent. Romney coming in second at 23. Ron Paul, third at nine. And when asked if they viewed these leaders as conservative, 57 percent saw Gingrich thus, compared to less than 30 percent who find Romney conservative.
Still, Gingrich should not take too much comfort from that. His other poll numbers are slipping. Gallup reporting that - at the start of the month - Gingrich scored 37 percent to 22 percent for Romney, eight percent for Paul. Gingrich's numbers last week had fallen to 31 percent while Romney and Paul were holding steady. And the least-steady GOP debater, the Texas governor Rick Perry, has an explanation now for his performance. He should have postponed his back surgery.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: I didn't realize it was going to have as - big an impact and, frankly, I didn't even know it was having the impact it was having on me, from the standpoint of - of just being fatigued. And it showed up in the first few debates.
OLBERMANN: And the last few debates. And the speech in New Hampshire. And the other appearances. Meanwhile, endorsements are rolling in for Gingrich and Romney.
Former GOP Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell suddenly appearing out of nowhere, as if she had magical powers, to tell CNN she backs Romney:
(Excerpt from video clip) CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: He's been consistent since he changed his mind.
OLBERMANN: Exactly what Romney needed right now. But the impact of the endorsement of a has-been on your rival is somewhat mitigated when two has-beens endorse Gingrich and a third retracted his endorsement of Gingrich.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher and serial racist and homophobe John Rocker, once suspended for those qualities, backing him, along with former GOP Congressman Fred Grandy. Looking a little ornery there, for the man once known as "Gopher" on "The Love Boat." Eh!
But Gingrich has lost, at least temporarily, the nod from actor Gary Busey. His spokesman reporting this from Busey: "It is not time for me to be endorsing anyone at this time. When there are two final candidates, then I will endorse."
Yes, we are living in the middle of an Onion story.
For more on the Romney/Gingrich divine - divide - or divine, I'm joined by Tim Dickinson, contributing editor with Rolling Stone. Tim, thanks for your time tonight.
TIM DICKINSON: Great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Are - are Romney's attacks on Gingrich - "Too zany to be president, too unreliable to be a real conservative" - A) Don't GOP voters know this already? And B) Isn't, you know - unsustainable braggadocio and delusions of grandeur - aren't those exactly what Republican voters are looking for?
DICKINSON: Well, I think Gingrich certainly thinks so. He's, sort of, going down the checklist, trying to appeal to every possible constituency. Today signing a - a pledge that he believed that life begins - and full right Constitutional rights accrue - the minute a sperm hits an egg.
You know, and so, they're - we're granting full Constitutional rights to zygotes and I don't know what the minutemen are gonna think about that - this sort of anchor-zygote problem but - so, you know, I just - I don't know how all this fits together but, you know, this is - this is what Newt Gingrich's strategy is, is to outflank Romney in every possible way on the right, so that he appears out of touch with the GOP base and he'll try and, you know, jump off of the - the cliff that that creates with him with the general electorate later.
OLBERMANN: But nevertheless, there are - there are slipping pole numbers right now and - what do we attribute that to? Is it - is - it doesn't - Romney's had no impact on anything. His number has held steady and he's not been able to - as - as every other candidate in this field, except Gingrich and Ron Paul have fallen past him - he still hasn't gained anything. So, it's doubtful that it's him doing this.
Why have Gingrich's number softened? Is it just that - you know, that monkey-butt disease, as David Axelrod coined it yesterday?
DICKINSON: Well, you know, I think he - I think he peaked too early, frankly. I mean - we've seen this with everybody's 15 minutes of fame and, you know, all of Newt Gingrich's weird past statements about "Jurassic Park" revivals and - and lunar colonies are - are catching up to him and people, I think, do - I think the zaniness is - is something that - that wears thin on people.
OLBERMANN: Romney, meanwhile, also went, again, after Obama, called the president a member of the one percent, and, again, it's one of those things that - that makes you wonder to use that great quote that was said about the Murdoch self-investigation. "Is he aware that we can see him?"
Romney's own net worth, self-reported - $207 million. How can somebody with $207 million actually point at anybody else and say, "Oh, he's a member of the one percent. You shouldn't trust him."
DICKINSON: Yeah, no. And especially with - with Romney calling for a repeal of the estate tax - it would benefit his family to the tune of something like $90 million, you know, helping his poor children who are surviving on the margins of society - Tagg at the - at the helm of Solamere Capital, you know, with their one or two estates in San Diego and New Hampshire and their private boats.
I mean, I - you know, I just - it's absurd and you have, today, you know, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, both sort of sniping at each other over who's the Richier Rich of the richest and - and I - I don't think that's gonna wear well - and I don't think we're gonna see much of that going forward.
OLBERMANN: What are we seeing going forward, as we approach the next GOP semi-weekly, "if you miss this one, don't worry, there'll be another one" debate, which is tomorrow night in Sioux City?
I mean - is this Romney's latest set of attack lines being previewed here, or is there any previewing still in the process because -as this has moved along, it seemed like Romney is - is throwing anything he can get ahold of off the train onto whoever is running alongside, in this case, Gingrich.
DICKINSON: Right - and I think there's a danger for the two men of sniping at each other and letting Ron Paul shoot up the side. I mean, Paul seems to be surging in Iowa, as - as Gingrich's hot-air balloon is deflating.
OLBERMANN: And the last point here. About 30 percent - or less, actually - of the - the GOP primary voters do not see Romney as conservative. Is there any - anything to do to change that? Is there any - I mean, does - can he - can he argue for if - if it's the zygote rule for Gingrich, can he suggest that the first date is the moment of - of personhood for an offspring that occurs from a first date or something?
DICKINSON: It's a very good question. You know, he's trying to show off his credentials by having folks like Ann Coulter endorse him and - this Christine O'Donnell craziness, you know. But, of course, Ann Coulter also said she'd vote for Jeffrey Dahmer over President Obama, so I think that -
OLBERMANN: Twice she's said that.
DICKINSON: The bar is fairly low with Ann.
DICKINSON: You know, but I - Romney's case is that he's electable, right? But I think we're seeing - in states like Virginia, there's a poll out today where both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney look positively unelectable, sort of turning off independents and suburbanites and - and women and - you know, the president looks like that a really blue state for him and that's - that's a bellwether, so I - I don't think this is looking - the electability argument is - is not wearing well for Romney.
OLBERMANN: Tim Dickinson, contributing editor of Rolling Stone. Once again, thanks for your time tonight, Tim.
DICKINSON: Always a pleasure.
OLBERMANN: For more on that latest wave of endorsements, I'm joined by Craig Crawford, politics blogger at CraigCrawford.com and, of course, the author of "The Politics of Life." Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Gary Busey, I think he - his last starring role was "Celebrity Rehab" with Dr. Drew.
OLBERMANN: It was.
CRAWFORD: Hardly Hollywood elite, I think.
OLBERMANN: Well - and that's the whole point of this. Christine O'Donnell. I mean, firstly, I - I thought she was in the Witless Relocation Program. But secondly, you know - "He's been consistent since he changed his mind."
Gee, thanks. That's exactly what Mitt Romney needed, wasn't it?
CRAWFORD: Perfect, perfect. That's - that's better than, "I voted for it before I voted against it." One thing they have in common, Keith - Romney and O'Donnell - is they both lost Senate races.
CRAWFORD: And I guess he couldn't get Sarah Palin so he went with Sarah Palin Lite. But Romney's sort of shopping at the endorsement outlet malls, though. He couldn't get the Bushes, so he went with Dan Quayle.
OLBERMANN: Anything and anybody, like I suggested to Tim Dickinson. It just seems like there is no - there's no strategy. It just - it's - it's - it's Buster Keaton in "The General," trying to remove weight from the train as he's trying to catch up - he's throwing everything overboard, including the fuel and the wood and parts of the train and - I mean, it - it's just this sense of - of this epic panic on - on - on Romney's part that you don't - I mean, Gingrich may be off in his own world, but - but he doesn't seem to be in a panic.
CRAWFORD: Right, and I think Romney is, you know, reaching out to O'Donnell, obviously, to try and get the tea party vote, but she embarrassed herself so much in that senate race, I can't imagine they're really that excited about her.
OLBERMANN: And the - the comeback, here, for Gingrich - the endorsements of John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves. And - and Fred Grandy, who I - how long has it been since he was a congressman from Iowa? It's at least, what, 15 years? It's -
CRAWFORD: Yeah, he was a conservative radio host in - in Washington for a long time until he got in trouble with some - with some remarks about Islam. And last year, lost that radio show.
OLBERMANN: So -
CRAWFORD: And Rocker, I mean, my God. I mean, Rocker endorsing Gingrich - I mean, let's hope he doesn't give him steroids. That's the last thing we need is Newt on steroids.
OLBERMANN: That's it. John Rocker of the Long Island Ducks has just - I mean, it really is, now, almost like you're reading the telephone book. It's like, "All right, who is - this guy, over here - I don't know who he is but let's see if he'll come out and endorse somebody."
Are we at - why are we at this stage so early in terms of endorsements? Who would want - do you - do you, first off, do you have any evidence or any - or just a good surmise - that there actually was some sort of advanced knowledge by the Romney people that Christine O'Donnell's endorsement was coming? 'Cause it would seem to me that anybody would say, "Thanks just the same. Please leave the country."
CRAWFORD: Right. They - the most amazing thing about her endorsement is - they're proud of it. And the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, cracked me up. They just sent out a press release with the headline, "O'Donnell Endorses Romney." They just figured, "Enough said." They didn't even bother to comment on it. It spoke for itself.
OLBERMANN: So - all right - is it - is it just silly and desperate-looking, or can it actually have a deleterious effect on a campaign - an endorsement like that?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think, among those tea party folks, if she is indeed still popular with them - this is the - the scariest thing about Romney, I think, is how hard and desperate - desperately he is trying to - to shore up that right wing and what I would be concerned about, if he could elected, is, you know, if he would follow through with that appoint some cabinet members. I mean, let's hope he didn't offer O'Donnell a cabinet post. I can't imagine that.
OLBERMANN: All right, tell the truth - when you heard of this, had you forgotten about Christine O'Donnell? Because I will confess to having - I had forgotten about Christine O'Donnell.
CRAWFORD: Keith, I was blissfully, blissfully ignorant in - in my - in forgetting Christine O'Donnell.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, it's like -
CRAWFORD: I didn't need to see that.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, it's like insomnia coming back after a year of good sleep.
Craig Crawford, the author of "Politics of Life," on these wacky endorsements today. Thank you, Craig.
CRAWFORD: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: The Lowe's controversy. Not only is it addressed on the House floor, but proves that the nut job behind it used to be a self-proclaimed porn addict.
And much grimmer news out of the White House about the National Defense Authorization Act and the provisions that could see Americans detained without charge or trial on American soil.
That's next. This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The Lowe's Islamophobic boycott controversy reaches the floors of the House of Representatives, courtesy Congressman Chris Murphy, who joins us.
As the White House says it will not veto Carl Levin's bill that would permit indefinite detention of Americans in America. Welcome to Occupy Carl Levin.
How the president can get reelected by the 99 percent, as laid out by our guest, Robert Reich.
And, hoist with their own petard, the birthers try to sell their Shinola at an NFL game. They show up at the wrong time.
OLBERMANN: It was the company itself that invoked the imagery "lightening rod," after a fringe, small, far-right outfit called the Florida Family Association wrote a letter pressuring the hardware chain to pull its advertising off a cable reality show called "All-American Muslim." Lowe's said the show had become a lightening rod.
In our fourth story - got that right. You know what happens when you have a lot of lumber around and everything gets hit by lightning? Lowe's has now received another letter. This time, it's from members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Thirty-two members of the House - including the first Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison - sent a collective letter to the CEO of Lowe's, calling on the company to reverse its decision to pull ads from "All-American Muslim." Representative Chris Murphy, the lead signer of the letter, took to the floor to put the ad removal into historical context.
(Excerpt from video clip) MURPHY: Now, Lowe's defends itself saying that they're pulling these ads because some of the - their customers had, "strong political and social views on this topic."
Well, congratulations to Lowe's for acknowledging that there are some really bigoted people in the world. That doesn't mean Lowe's or any other company should acquiesce to this kind of behavior.
You're better than this. You know that the history of this country and of this world never, ever looks kindly on this kind of marginalization that you've endorsed with your actions. This is America, and while we have never been perfect at living up to our founding ideals, we've gotten pretty good at calling out bigotry when we see it and stamping it out before its mark becomes indelible. This can be one of those moments."
OLBERMANN: While Lowe's is the largest business to pull its ads, it is not alone.
Travel website Kayak also gave into the bigotry of the Florida Family Association, removed its ads. In a letter - appropriately titled, "We Handled This Poorly" - Kayak's chief marketing officer followed the tone set by Lowe's, but apologized if its rolling over offended anyone, saying, "We would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by how we handled our decision not to continue advertising on 'All-American Muslim' when it returns in January."
Kayak then tried to shift attention to the TLC network that carries the show, and the show itself, saying that they were misled on the topic of the show and that the show itself was poorly done, "Lastly, I watched the first two episodes. Mostly, I just thought the show sucked."
Speaking of which - the head of the Florida Family Association, David Caton, was identified today as a self-described "17-year pornography addict," who claims he cured himself and he even wrote a book about curing himself. And he also is on record saying it is "immoral" to build a light-rail system in and around Tampa, Florida.
Joining me now, as promised, Representative Chris Murphy of the 5th district of Connecticut. Congressman, thanks for your time tonight.
MURPHY: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Any answer from Lowe's yet or - or any indication that they're going to address this or are they just gonna try to stick it out?
MURPHY: No, I think they're gonna try to stick it out. I mean, they've used the same apology that Kayak did. They sort of said, "Listen, I'm sorry if anyone was offended by what we did," without actually apologizing for their actions.
And they told us privately what they said publicly - that, you know, "They just didn't mean to step into this controversy." Well, what controversy are they talking about? Yeah, I mean, we have threats to this country from radical Islamists, but there's absolutely no controversy as to whether 99.9 percent of Muslim Americans love this country and are just like the rest of us.
What is the controversy is when a major American company, a Fortune 100 company, essentially endorses the radical views of a severe minority that have a belief that, frankly, is just the bulletin-board material for a lot of people around the world who are looking for evidence that America hates Islam.
OLBERMANN: This is, of course, a very, very fine line. I mean it - it's - the premise behind it is, I think, pretty black and white - but the actual mechanics of this do involve this one question. People are responding with "It's Lowe's right as a business to advertise where they want, isn't it?"
MURPHY: Well, of course it's Lowe's' right to advertise where they want, but it's my right as an American citizen - and as a member of Congress - to tell them that they're wrong and to tell them that they're compromising American national security when they give this kind of endorsement to fringe, anti-Muslim bias.
And so, I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that I'm going to pass a law telling them that they have to put their ads back on "All-American Muslim." I'm just going to organize some pretty severe political pressure, as we have countless times throughout this country's history, to - as that clip said - stamp out this kind of bias through moral peer pressure.
OLBERMANN: But compromising national security is a - is a - is a fairly strong term. Is that part of this letter? Was that made clear to these - to the people at Lowe's? And did they have any reaction, even to that phrasing - phrasing?
MURPHY: Listen, they - they are a major face of this nation and - while they are not part of our national-security strategy - we need them to understand that what we are facing is an enemy that isn't rational but certainly uses things we do to organize people against them.
It is not true that this country thinks that every Muslim family is trying to destroy America. It's just this really small group in Florida and a handful of others like them around the globe. We can't have Lowe's giving the impression that the rest of this country - major corporate interests - endorse that view.
So, listen - we're going to keep the pressure up on these guys and we do hope that they are going to change their mind. They don't have a lot of people at their back right now. It's just them and Kayak and maybe a handful of others, as far as we can tell. I don't know that they want to continue to stand out on this limb.
OLBERMANN: On the other part of the limb, how importantly is this seemingly side issue to the issue of freedom of religion - religious expression, lack of religious expression - in this country?
MURPHY: Well, listen, I mean, there's nothing more basic to the founding of America than the fact that you can come here and practice whatever religion you choose. And the fact is that this latest action is part of a really troubling pattern - of running mosques out of town, of stopping people from teaching the history of Islamic nations in schools.
You know, we used to celebrate the fact that you could practice any religion that you wanted in this country. It is a complete rewrite of the strongest parts of American history to allow this kind of garbage to continue.
Lowe's - listen, Lowe's is a good, American company. This is way out of step with their commitment to the communities they live in. And that's why I still have, maybe, this - this unrepentant optimism that they're going to change their mind.
OLBERMANN: They don't have to do much to change their mind, either. I mean, a statement of some sort, saying "We screwed up and - and we're either - we - maybe we will resume advertising. Maybe we won't, but we're not gonna participate in a boycott."
Even just a face-saving statement that - lets them - gives them a little wiggle room to get out of it would probably suffice at this point, wouldn't it?
MURPHY: No, their statement made it worse. Their statement, in fact, said that, "Oh, we stepped in a big issue here." No, you didn't. You made it a big issue by doing this.
And - and Kayak's statement was even worse. They said, "Well, we made a mistake but we're actually not going to admit to anything having done wrong on our behalf - on our part."
So, you know - they can make this better. There is plenty of time for them to do this. We just need a little bit more honesty about the mistake they made in the coming days.
OLBERMANN: Good - good luck getting that out of corporate PR.
Congressman Chris Murphy of Connecticut, great thanks for your time and great thanks for bringing this up where it counts.
MURPHY: All right, thanks for showing it on TV, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We do what we can, sir. Thank you.
The White House says it will not veto the bill that could lead to the indefinite detention of Americans on American soil. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: The birthers waste a fortune with an aerial billboard nobody saw. Coming up.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date three years ago, in his last visit to Iraq, President George W. Bush adeptly ducked two shoes thrown at him by a local journalist during a news conference.
More impressively, later that week, Joel McHale of "The Soup" came on this program to discuss it and he had no fewer than 35 shoes thrown at him while he continued to answer my questions and duck the shoes.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Woman does yoga with her cat.
We begin on the Internets, and - if you're a constant viewer - you know that one thing we stress above all others is the importance of doing yoga with a cat.
This woman from Russia, a perfect example. The key to good cat yoga is normal yoga, but with a cat climbing on you, even - yep, there it is. It gets hinky during downward dog. I don't know.
VIDEO: Kazakhstan youth hockey fight breaks out.
Next, we travel to Kazakhstan. Put in your own "Borat" joke here.
The under-10 youth hockey league has just completed a match. They put the biscuit in the basket. Appears to be the handshake cere - mo - oh -
Or, the winning team, Astana, talking trash to the opposing team, Burubay and all hell breaks loose. Craig Berube of the Philadelphia Flyers? That's gonna be a crowded penalty box.
The fight is eventually broken up and the kids gather up their equipment and go home. And everybody heads out for pizza, or - vodka.
VIDEO: Colorado sports reporter has a slip of the tongue on air.
Finally, let's check in with Ashton Altieri of Colorado News 9, who is just finishing up his report, decided to congratulate Indiana University alum Aaron Matas on a recent Indiana win.
(Excerpt from video clip) ASHTON ALTIERI: Aaron, again, congratulations on your big hooters - uh, the - Hoosiers win.
(Excerpt from video clip) MATT FLENER: You said -
(Excerpt from video clip) ALTIERI: Wow, that was a slip of the tongue.
(Excerpt from video clip) FLENER: What was that again?
(Excerpt from video clip) ALTIERI: The Hoosiers, who won.
(Excerpt from video clip) AARON MATAS: YouTube!
(Excerpt from video clip) ALTIERI: Anyways, yeah, that'll be on YouTube in no time.
(Excerpt from video clip) FLENER: I was gonna say -
(Excerpt from video clip) ALTIERI: Anyways, back to you before I say anything else. I'll just close my mouth.
OLBERMANN: The good news is he was not speaking to female anchor at the left, Corey Rose. The better news is that he's also not a University of South Carolina fan. Look it up.
"Time Marches On!"
The National Defensive Authorization Act, and why the President has switched from a threat to veto it to the announcement that he will not veto it, even though it seems to overrule habeas corpus. Next.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's live coverage of the opening of the coaxial cable 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. Every night is a "Best of Countdown."
As feared, the administration announcing today the president will not veto a bill that allows American citizens to be indefinitely detained, without trial, on American soil if there is even a suspicion they might have ties to terrorists.
In our third story tonight - the Defense Authorization Bill passing the House early in the evening, after the White House abandoned its threat to veto the legislation over provisions on terror suspects. The six hundred sixty-two billion dollar bill, which authorizes money for military personnel, weapons systems, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and follow-ups. The president had previously vowed to veto it if it included the indefinite detention clause.
Today, however, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announcing that, "with the last-minute changes, after intensive engagement by the administration and the president himself," the president would not veto it.
Mr. Carey saying in a statement today, "We have concluded that the language does not challenge, nor - or constrain the president's ability to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the American people and the president's senior advisors will not recommend a veto."
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who will join us presently, taking to the House floor today to express outrage, at what he says is the latest example of a decade-long assault on civil liberties:
(Excerpt from video clip) JERROLD NADLER: In the last 10 years, we have begun to let go of freedoms, bit by bit. With each new executive order, court decision and, yes, act of Congress.
The changes in this bill to the laws of detention have major implications for our fundamental rights. Whoever it reaches, the government would have the authority to lock them up - without trial - until, "the end of hostilities," which, given how broadly the AUMF has been used to justify actions far from Afghanistan, might mean forever."
OLBERMANN: Civil liberties groups also condemning the administration today.
Human Rights First president and CEO Elisa Massimino saying in a statement, "The American people need a leader whose commitment to smart national-security policies will not wane in the face of opposition from Capitol Hill. This legislation will be a loaded gun in the hands of the any future administration."
The ACLU's Laura Murphy saying Mr. Obama, "should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law."
Occupy Washington DC protesters also staging a sit-in in the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin's office today to protest this bill.
Joining me now, as promised - Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the Democrat of New York. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
JERROLD NADLER: It's a pleasure.
OLBERMANN: What on Earth is the president doing on this?
NADLER: Well, the president was talking about vetoing the bill, but only because he thought it limited his power. He was not talking about vetoing the bill because it gave the president the power to order the indefinite detention, without trial, of - of anybody, basically. And it - it quite - I think, quite clearly, does that.
Now, some people on the floor said today that all it does is codify existing law but that's not correct. What it does is to codify, in law, the claimed power - claimed by Presidents Bush and Obama - to put anybody - including American citizens - in jail forever, indefinitely, without any trial or due process whatsoever. That's quite a - quite a - a terrible blow to American liberty.
OLBERMANN: Is there a reason the House seemed to have reacted more strongly towards this which President Bush made overtures about it, as opposed to now, as President Obama has at least - in a passive-aggressive way - gotten involved in the same thing, or perhaps a worse version of the same thing?
NADLER: Well, I don't know that we reacted more strongly and - this came up very rapidly in the House, frankly. It came up in a - an overall military authorization bill instead of in a bill by itself, which is - again, should not have happened and it was part of what I said on the floor.
We should have had hearings and - and debate on the bill itself, and not simply as part of a massive bill that many people voted for for other reasons. And, as it was, the Democrats voted 93 in favor, 93 against, on the basis of a very short campaign against the bill that lasted about two days, so I think that was quite impressive. And there were 40-odd Republican "no" votes.
OLBERMANN: And - and the - the leadership in the Senate comes from - from - from people who have a firm grip on - on civil liberties in this country, at least previously did - Senator Levin being foremost of them - do you have any clue as to why - why this action is being taken with Democratic support? Especially in - in this context?
NADLER: There is really no good reason why we have to be doing this now, especially if the - the leadership of the Armed Services - the Democratic leadership of the Armed Services Committee, which led the debate for the bill - said that all they were doing is codifying existing law. They weren't making any changes. If you didn't like the existing law, well that was a different question. But that's the existing law and this wasn't changing it.
If that is true, why was it necessary to put this in this bill now? The bill should have been separated out. Let the defense bill pass - on its own merits and give this bill proper consideration. There was no particular reason to do it.
OLBERMANN: Well, all right, if the - if -
NADLER: Except to confirm the powers that - that some of us don't think any president should have.
OLBERMANN: Indeed. The House and the Senate going along with it, and the president obviously not vetoing it - barring some miracle in the interim. Is there - what is - is there a next step? Is there - is there - do you expect a pack of lawsuits? Or what - what happens after this?
NADLER: Well, there will be lawsuits only when they try to exercise this power.
NADLER: Now, there have been two major cases in which the president - President Bush, in those cases - claimed the power to arrest an American citizen, on American soil, and - put them in - in a military proceeding and put them in jail indefinitely without any due process.
The - the cases were going to the Supreme Court when the administration backed down and made the cases moot by putting them into a - into a civilian prosecution because they thought they might lose in court - although a - a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the wrong way in one of those cases - but the administration claims this power, as did the prior administration, and there have been no Supreme Court rulings on it, which makes it very, very dangerous.
OLBERMANN: All right, so it's the oldest and - and of all - all the ironies, one of the key people in one of those key cases, the Hamdan case - Neal Katyal - wound up - one of the attorneys for Hamdan - wound up in -
NADLER: Well, the Hamdan case said you have the right to habeas corpus, but the cases that were on the question of "Can you arrest an American, on American soil for that matter, and - and keep them in - in custody indefinitely, simply because you say he's a terrorist?" were the al-Marri and the Padilla cases. And those were never decided by - they never went to the Supreme Court.
OLBERMANN: All right, well thank you for correcting me on that. Last point is - and it's - it's the cliché of all questions - somebody sitting at home, dropping their food, hearing about this restriction of civil liberties, or this rollback of civil liberties, does - what, at this point?
NADLER: Well, I would protest to the president and, for that matter, to the leadership of the Congress. This is - frankly, these are powers that - that, during the campaign three years ago that President Obama - candidate Obama - said we shouldn't have and, on these questions, they have essentially taken the same positions as the Bush administration and we Democrats should - should oppose this by our own party.
OLBERMANN: It's funny how presidents tend to think alike after awhile.
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. Thanks for your time, Congressman and thanks for your work on this.
NADLER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: So, the president just made his own re-election a little more difficult, if enough people are paying attention. One would think the economy would make it more difficult still.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggests, however, it could - in fact - be an asset to him. That ahead, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: President Obama's route to re-election via support of Occupy and the middle class. Robert Reich's powerful argument. He'll join us.
And here we go again, another Fox News "mistake," that just happens to trash somebody they do not like. "Worst Persons," next.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich's no-nonsense pitch to the President on how to get the - the support of the 99 percent, next.
First - because these people don't have support, and this is where we remind them of that - here are "Countdown"'s top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, in the Australian government.
He's an advocate of severe Internet censorship. While advocating for blocking pedophilia sites, he's also tried to close sites dealing with fringe religions, Christianity, euthanasia and online gambling.
He's also, in essence, the FCC of Australia, charged with keeping Australian TV clean, except when Australia's ABC Network was covering, live from its National Press Club, the remarks of a member of the Australian government - him.
(Excerpt from video clip) STEPHEN CONROY: I have seen a new definition of - sovereign risk. It's asymmetrical. If a tax goes up, God, that is sovereign risk. But if a tax goes down, that's f---ing fantastic. Excuse me. That is fantastic.
OLBERMANN: Live, on TV. For Senator Conroy the story is, as it always is for self-appointed protectors of the public morals, censorship for everybody - else.
Speaking of which - the runner-up? Roger Ailes, of the political whorehouse that is Fox News. No wonder he's rumored to be penning an autobiography and contemplating retirement - they have given up even pretending to be honest over there.
Once again, the graphics department tries to slip one past you, during today's "America Live" propaganda show.
Wait, I don't see what's wrong here - poll numbers - Gingrich 29.3 percent, 17.2 percent Romney, Paul 16 - something - it's like an eye chart - Perry 10, Bachmann nine, Santorum six - what's the issue?
Oh, now I see it. Just another typo. Mitt Romney has changed his look! Jesus! So, Fox takes the guy they like the least and they swap his photo for Obama's. Amazing.
It would be laughable if it wasn't part of a years-long pattern of deliberate mistakes in which Republicans guilty of, say, sexual misconduct are labeled "D" and the unemployment rate is rounded up to make President Obama look bad.
If there were laws against this kind of thing, Ailes and his employees would be in prison for life.
Our winner? Joseph Farah, the proprietor of WND.com. That's "We're Nuts Daily."
More than three years after a since-scrubbed article on its own website concluded that the president was, indeed, born in Hawaii, Farah and his birthers are still beating the now long-dead horse.
But they've topped themselves now, with one of the greatest wastes of stunt money in American political history. They flew a plane over Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Texas on Sunday. "Where's The Real Birth Certificate? WND.com"
Ordinarily, as stunts go, flying billboards are pretty useful, except - it was a night game. Cowboys and Giants. "Sunday Night Football."
Take another look at the stadium. The parking lots have barely anybody in them - very few cars. Look at the promenades around the entrances to the stadium. Very little foot traffic. Flying billboard, mid-afternoon for a night game. Genius.
But wait - there's one more gaffe.
WND has a piece on its website congratulating itself because, "Nationally televised football game features surprise for Obama." Here's your surprise - Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof, which, as the photo quite clearly shows, was closed.
So, they flew over a night game during the day and they flew over an 80,000 seat stadium with a retractable roof, except the roof was closed so nobody inside could see it, including the television cameras.
Genius, I tells ya! Genius!
Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily - nice work, Sparky - today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: The election of 2012 is certainly not a lock for President Obama. Certainly not after the Defense Authorization Act. In fact, the latest Gallup poll shows both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have slight edges over the incumbent in a dozen key swing states.
In our number-one story on the "Countdown" - a strategy - strategy for the president to secure at least some of those needed votes comes from President Clinton's Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
In a new web video distributed by MoveOn.org, Reich breaks down the President Obama's Occupy-invoking economic speech last Tuesday in Kansas.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: This kind of inequality - a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression - hurts us all.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERT REICH: You're right, Mr. President, and it's exactly what the Occupiers and others have been saying. With so much income and wealth now at the top, the rest of us no longer have the purchasing power to keep the economy going.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: For most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded.
(Excerpt from video clip) REICH: That bargain used to be a job at a decent wage. But now, too often, the game is rigged in favor of those at the top.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Inequality also distorts our democracy.
(Excerpt from video clip) REICH: Because that money at the top is being used on campaign contributions, lobbyists and advertisements to keep their taxes low, to block regulations in the public interest, and to get subsidies, and handouts and bailouts that we pay for.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Reich will tell us in a moment just how the president can best handle those issues - and the reward, should President Obama follow his advice?
(Excerpt from video clip) REICH: We know, Mr. President, that nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington are mobilized and organized and energized to make sure it happens. So, we are behind you. We'll re-elect you. We'll give you a mandate for real change, as long as you're behind us.
OLBERMANN: And, joining me now with that advice - Robert Reich, Professor at UC Berkeley, author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." Once again, thank you for your time tonight, sir.
REICH: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We spoke of the president's speech the day he gave it. You described it then as a turning point. You used that term again in the video. With the reflection of ten days - or whatever it is - what makes it such?
REICH: Well, it is the first time that a modern president has talked openly and clearly about inequality, the grotesque concentration of income and wealth and the political power that comes with income and wealth at the very top of our society. That trend has been building for 30 years.
No Democratic president - certainly no - no Republican president - would ever mention it, but no Democratic president has mentioned it and finally - finally - Barack Obama, belatedly, has actually drawn our attention to it. And he's laid it out and he's also given a narrative form so that the public can understand what's going on, why the economy continues to be so bad.
OLBERMANN: All right, so we asked - I asked you at that point - we discussed what would be next - how he could actually apply this and, in the video, you - you go into specifics, specifically about the resurrection of Glass-Steagall, which was repealed in 1999. What would happen if the president said, "We need Glass-Steagall re - reintroduced and enacted?" What would happen, not only politically, but how would it actually, materially, improve the economy?
REICH: Well, it would improve the economy because, remember - Glass-Steagall separates commercial from investment banking, and one of the reasons we got into so much trouble and Wall Street went bananas is because, basically, you had a lot of investment bankers making bets with other people's money. With your money and my money and the depositors' money. That should have been stopped.
Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank Bill was riddled with so many loopholes, created by Wall Street, that there's still - there's still not a clear line between commercial and investment banking.
Banks are too big to fail. The biggest banks are bigger than ever, so we need Dodd-Frank - we need - kind of what Dodd-Frank didn't get to - and that is that Glass-Steagall Act. And if the president said it - and said it clearly and forcefully - I think a lot of people out there who, maybe five years ago, did not know what Glass-Steagall was - but do today - would be very impressed and a lot of the base would say, "Absolutely Mr. President."
OLBERMANN: In the video, you also hit the subject of investing in public schools and in infrastructure. Is that just an economic point or is it optics as well?
REICH: Well, I - it's - it's certainly a critical economic point. If we want to overcome inequality over the long term, we've got to have a tax structure that is fair - the rich have to pay far more; after all, they've never had - an almost unprecedented portion of the nation's income and wealth - but we also to build up our education system, use those tax proceeds from the rich to invest in good schools and access to college and universities and good infrastructure, so all Americans have the opportunity to do better and better and be more protective.
OLBERMANN: The - the economic elements - do they exist, in your opinion, in a vacuum - particularly in this economy, in the election coming up a year from now? I mean, is - is the president, for instance - you may have heard the previous subject - the conversation I had with Jerrold Nadler about the National Defense Authorization Act and - and what appears to be a significant intrusion on - habeas corpus for American citizens - is - is something like that even a factor looking towards 2012, or is this election going to boil down to the economy and - and the disparity of - of the relative income bases of the - of the rich and everybody else?
REICH: Well, the big issue in this 2012 election is going to be jobs, the economy, wages. People sense that the game is rigged.
But I don't think we can completely avoid or should - we certainly should not avoid - the issues of civil liberties. I mean, look it, if - if any American could be named an enemy combatant, well, what is - what's the - you know, what's the limit of - I mean, there're no civil liberties left, potentially, and I think most Americans, though, Keith, have not focused on this.
I mean, people are so worried about their jobs and their wages, they're not really paying attention to most - most - much of the rest of it.
OLBERMANN: So, what happens if the president doesn't take your advice?
REICH: Well, let's put it this way - I want to be more positive about it. If he takes my advice, I believe - now there are no guaranties in this business - but I believe an awful lot of people - progressives, the Democratic base - a lot of other people - independents, many people who are worried about the economy and feel like everything is rigged for the rich - will get behind him.
I mean, this will be a - a mandate and give him a mandate for the second term to do the kinds of things that - if he is specific about what he will do, if he takes that speech that he gave in Kansas and actually gives it form, perhaps the kinds of specifics that I'm mentioning, maybe others - then people will rally and that rally will give him a mandate to do this in the second term.
If he doesn't do this - these are all very good and important sentiments - but it just may not be enough to ignite the enthusiasm of the people who, otherwise, will vote for him but maybe without the - the kind of ardor, the kind of organizing, mobilizing and - and energizing that needs to be done in order to get him elected president.
OLBERMANN: Robert Reich, the author of "Aftershock." Great thanks for the video and for your time tonight, sir.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.