'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, January 20th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Gingrich 35 Romney 29 as SC flips and GOP internal war escalates. @7im Tim Dickinson, @Craig_Crawford with latest
#ShowPlug 2: Down goes SOPA! Down goes PIPA! Both votes postponed. Internet 2 Politicians 0. @Markos Moulitsas with what's next
#ShowPlug 3: #OccupyTheCourts on the eve of 2nd Anniversary of Citizens United; While Occupy groups take on the California Regents
#ShowPlug 4: #Worsts Gingrich rips Reagan again. Slams Presidents who speak at DisneyWorld. Forgot a few, including St. Ronnie
#ShowPlug Last: Story of bad Congressmen, bad banks & big boat captains. Today's headlines? No -Thurber's "Thoughts From Mr Tierney"
watch whole playlist
#5 'Tightening Up', Tim Dickinson
#5 'Tightening Up', Craig Crawford
#4 'No SOPA For You', Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#3 'United Citizens', Josh Harkinson
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Gov. Steve Beshear, Newt Gingrich, Keith Ablow
#1 Fridays with Thurber: Thoughts From Mr Tierney
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Markos Moulitsas, Josh Harkinson, Tim Dickinson, Craig Crawford
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
South Carolina - Gingrich 35, Romney 29, and the polls open in 11 hours. And suddenly the governor is lowering expectations.
(Excerpt from audio clip) MITT ROMNEY: My job is to make sure I get the most delegates by the time we're finished, hopefully 1,150 or so. And, you know, I have a path to do that, but I'm not expecting to win them all.
OLBERMANN: Romney's tax returns move back into the headlines.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I don't want to give the Democrats a nice a little present of having multiple releases.
OLBERMANN: Romney's supporters in straight-up panic.
(Excerpt from video clip) NIKKI HALEY: The people of South Carolina are not talking about tax returns. They're not. They're talking about jobs, spending, and the economy. And, in all honesty, I've heard more people wondering why you guys aren't asking about ethics reports and ethics problems with the Gingrich campaign.
OLBERMANN: No, no, nobody said a word about that.
(Excerpt from video clip) JOHN KING: She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?
NEWT GINGRICH: I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.
RICK SANTORUM: Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich, he handles it very, very well.
OLBERMANN: Down goes SOPA! Down goes SOPA!
"In light of recent events," writes Senate majority leader Reed, "I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote." The House postpones as well.
The day before the second anniversary, it's Occupy versus Citizens United.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Chief Justice Roberts.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: Chief Justice Roberts!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: We are here to tell you.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: We are here to tell you!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: That corporations are not people.
OLBERMANN: It's also Occupy versus the University of California Regents, and the Berkeley police versus Occupy.
OLBERMANN: Fridays with Thurber, ripped from today's headlines on Congress, big banks and boat captains.
Worsts - the amazing claim from a pop psychologist that Gingrich's infidelity would make him a greater President.
My Lord, isn't anybody around here both happy and sane?
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: (singing) I'm so in love with you.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from audio clip) OBAMA: (singing) In love with you.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This is Friday, January 20th, 292 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The race for tomorrow's South Carolina primary tightening by the hour, with Mitt Romney - who began the week on the verge of clinching the nomination tomorrow - now saying he's preparing for a long campaign.
Our fifth story on the "Countdown" - Romney finding roadblocks in what once seemed an unimpeded road to the Republican nomination for president. Newt, and taxes, and - tonight - yet another of his own gaffes, this time one about an ethics report about Gingrich.
The latest public policy poll showing for Speaker Gingrich leading with 35 percent in South Carolina. Romney, six points back, Santorum tied at 15 with Ron Paul.
(Excerpt from video clip) RON PAUL: The campaign has certainly heated up. The debates last night were very interesting.
OLBERMANN: Especially so for the front runner. Speaker Gingrich facing an opening question from CNN moderator, John King, on the fresh accusations from Gingrich's divorced second wife, Marianne, that gave him a chance to unleash some well-practiced umbrage.
(Excerpt from video clip) KING: She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?
GINGRICH: No, but I will.
I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.
OLBERMANN: Because, of course, that's much worse than infidelity.
While hammering the media brought that rapturous applause from the crowd at the GOP debate, no indications yet that the open-marriage charge has at all impacted the Gingrich campaign. And while that charge is new, Gingrich's marital issues certainly are not. And, as we suggested last night - evidently, they are no big deal.
A national Washington Post/ABC News poll in December showed that his marriage woes were a major reason to support Gingrich for four percent, a major reason to oppose him for 19 percent and not a major factor for the overwhelming majority.
As for the former Massachusetts Governor Romney, he continues to struggle with calls for him to release his tax returns, including last night's suggestion that Mitt Romney emulate his father, George, in his presidential campaign of 1968. He became the first would-be candidate to release multiple years of returns. In George Romney's case, 12 of them.
(Excerpt from video clip) KING: When you release yours, will you follow your father's example?
ROMNEY: Maybe. You know, I don't know how many years I'll release. I'll take a look at what our documents are. (Crowd jeers). And I'll release multiple years, I don't know how many years, but I'll be happy to do that.
OLBERMANN: However many years he finally puts out, we do know this - it will not add up to 12.
(Excerpt from audio clip) ROMNEY: What he did in 1967 is very different than what's going to happen today. So, I admire my dad, but we don't do exactly things in the same way.
OLBERMANN: So, what will we see of Mitt Romney's taxes? He's not telling.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I don't want to give the Democrats a nice little present of having multiple releases. We're gonna have one release, have our tax returns put out.
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, Romney and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, want the media to push Gingrich to release the 1997 House Ethics report that saw him chastised and fined $300,000.
(Excerpt from video clip) HALEY: I've heard more people wondering why you guys aren't asking about ethics reports and ethics problems with the Gingrich campaign.
ROMNEY: Nancy Pelosi has the full record of that ethics investigation. You know it's gonna get out before the general election, so he ought to get it out now.
OLBERMANN: Oops. This is the other Romney gaffe I mentioned at the start.
That full report, more than a thousand pages of it - In the Matter of Representative Newt Gingrich House Report 105-1 - is available, right now online. Though the investigative files have never been released.
I did speak, also, with Minority Leader Pelosi on this news hour last night, and she dispelled Romney's notion that she has a copy of the Gingrich ethics investigation, the internal one, or would ever release it even if she did.
(Excerpt from video clip) NANCY PELOSI: Nothing that I would ever say about Newt Gingrich is anything that isn't in the public record. He made it sound like I was telling, you know, breaking the secrecy and the confidentiality.
It's all in the public record, where he says "I am the definer of civilization, I am the teacher of civilization, I am the defender of civilization globally, with force if necessary." I mean, I think people should know those kinds of things.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, yeah.
PELOSI: That's kind of strange, don't you think?
PELOSI: But, you know what? The record speaks for itself.
OLBERMANN: Well, Governor Romney speaking for himself shows how much this has changed in this campaign in so short a time:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'm still hoping and planning to win here. And I'm sure the Speaker feels the same way I do. But we're gonna go on for a long race.
OLBERMANN: Let's look at Romney and Gingrich on the eve.
Gingrich first, and for that I'm joined by Tim Dickinson, contributing editor with Rolling Stone. Tim, good evening.
TIM DICKINSON: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A carcass got up off the canvas. What's happening in South Carolina this week?
DICKINSON: Well, it's a combination of things. I mean, Gingrich's support never collapsed in South Carolina the way it did in places like Iowa, so he was always pretty well positioned here.
Romney finished fourth here four years ago, so this isn't exactly his, like, home base, but he's taking it from every different angle. He's getting hit as the Massachusetts moderate on the air. The tax issue which he seems to be completely unable to come up with a satisfactory answer to is hurting him. This idea that $300,000 - $375,000 - in speaking fees is not a lot of money. I think he's appearing out of touch. A lot of unforced errors.
And Gingrich has been on TV in these debates performing well. And that's sort of where Republican-based voters get to see him and get energized about him, so this sort of a confluence events that it's working in Gingrich's favor and certainly against Romney.
OLBERMANN: And he was handed the - perhaps the biggest gift of the campaign so far - by John King last night, this explosion that Gingrich had. Mr. King, of the deer-in-the-headlights look. You know, he should have run over John King and kissed him on the mouth.
I mean, I'm assuming that if King had asked that same question at the end of the debate, we would have had the same sound bite, only from Gingrich it wouldn't have had the word "begin" in it. And if it he had not asked the question at all, would we be hearing Gingrich either bitch at the end of the debate or today about how John King and the media denied him this chance to respond to his ex-wife's interview?
DICKINSON: I - I - probably so. I mean, it's interesting. This is straight out of the Roger Ailles handbook of - "If you've got nothing on the facts, go after the interrogator." I mean, this is shades of Bush going - the first President Bush - going after Dan Rather. You just come out full guns blazing against the questioner.
And, in John King's case he didn't - he just looked rather sheepish about the question, like he had done something sleazy rather than standing up for what was a perfectly reasonable question.
OLBERMANN: The "release the ethics report" thing. Obviously, from Romney, that's a problem if the thing is, as you pointed out, online, But from - from the Gingrich end of it, does it have any traction to it? Or was it simply a rubber-and-glue attempt after his "release the tax returns" thing that Gingrich can ignore safely?
DICKINSON: You know, I think - I think if Gingrich wins in South Carolina, he'll start to get vetted a lot more seriously. But I think, in the short duration of time - week and a half before the votes start - no one's gonna start really clawing through that and trying to wrap their head around all those ethics investigations. It's not sort of enough time in a news cycle to raise those issues.
And so, I think Romney's looking a little desperate, you know, in the fact that he never even Googled it to see if it was available. It speaks volumes to - he's sort of grasping at straws right now.
OLBERMANN: All right. Tomorrow, obviously, for Gingrich, if he wins the primary, it's a win. But is there anything else besides a win that is a win? Is losing by two or three points to Romney a win, but not four or five points?
DICKINSON: I mean, I think the experience in Iowa - where Romney was declared the winner on the basis of eight votes and sort of took that and ran with it - of course, he wasn't the winner - but I think the media narrative - if Romney wins, even by the skin of his teeth, it's going to be sort of clear sailing for him.
I think this really is the place where Gingrich has to make his mark and really trip up Romney. And if he does, Romney will have lost, you know - not swept the first three contests like he wanted to - but lost two of the first three and only one in his, you know, backyard state. So, he could be in trouble.
OLBERMANN: Tim Dickinson, contributing editor of Rolling Stone, we'll see you tomorrow night on "Countdown: South Carolina," so thanks for this and for that.
DICKINSON: Looking forward to it.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. We are, too.
Now, as promised, the Romney side. Craig Crawford, author of "The Politics of Life," joins me now. Good evening, Craig.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Hello!
OLBERMANN: All right, Monday, I mean, it was conceded that it would be over if Romney won South Carolina, and South Carolina was over. It was a ten-point margin. It wasn't. What happened?
CRAWFORD: Romney had one of the worst weeks I've seen in politics, maybe in the last 24 hours or right up there. I mean, he couldn't have had a worse week if he'd gone hunting with Dick Cheney, I think.
I mean, the best thing that happened to Romney was Huntsman getting out of the race and endorsing him this week, and that had no impact. I've just never seen anything - and so much of it self-created.
I mean, one of the things that he could not have controlled - I mean, he - this tax thing, for example - he's brought on himself.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned a name there that I don't - Hunt - Hunts - Huntsman?
CRAWFORD: Yeah, remember him?
OLBERMANN: Okay. From the Dead End Kids, Huntsman Hall? No, that's somebody else.
Is the - is the - is the Romney team panicking? Is that a fair word, because that sound bite from Nikki Haley - complaining that the media was not paying attention to the Gingrich ethics issues - suggested that she was either panicking or she had been in some sort of underwater sensory deprivation tank for the last 48 hours when it was the only topic. I mean, what - who heard that bite and didn't go, "Huh?"
CRAWFORD: Well, I really did, Keith, because I've seen press releases over the past weeks from the Romney campaign quoting that report that they're calling on him to release. And, you know, they're panicking and they've done it before. The only time I've ever seen the Romney campaign - this Fortune 500 organization that is so smooth and so quiet and so plodding - really kind of lose it is when Gingrich gets in their way.
I mean, you know, when Herman Cain showed up or Bachmann or all the others, they just kind of quietly let it happen. Back into the last year, when Gingrich surfaced in the polls, that's when they went big time into the millions of dollars of ads in Iowa, and now, they're - I think this is what they always feared - is that this race could come down to them versus Gingrich. And they know there are just so many voters out there who aren't enthused about him, and Gingrich fires them up.
I mean, Romney's sort of, like, Ward Cleaver and Gingrich is Archie Bunker. I mean, you might be safe leaving your kids with Romney, but Gingrich gets the standing ovations.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I think - I think you were a little tough on the Beaver last night, Mitt.
This Romney effort, clearly, to lower expectations. Obviously - as a reverse of the question that I asked Tim about what's a win for Gingrich - a loss is a loss tomorrow. But are there degrees of loss for Romney? Can anything outright end his chances? Are there losses he can survive tomorrow?
CRAWFORD: I think that the media - and a lot of this is going to be media interpretation and momentum and all that stuff - I think there's going to be, even if Gingrich only loses by, you know, just a few points, there's going to be a tendency to say Romney's not invincible.
I mean, because the trouble with running an invincibility, an inevitability campaign like Romney's done is you've got to stay invincible and inevitable the whole time. I mean, just ask Hillary Clinton from 2008.
So, I think there is a tendency now for the media to look for ways to interpret what happens by saying, "Romney is not invincible anymore. This thing could go on for a long time." And there are a lot of conservatives in Washington, establishment and others, who do want this to go on for a long time, because they're getting concerned that neither one of them are a good choice.
OLBERMANN: And the solace about tomorrow for Romney is what? That Gingrich is not on the ballot in Virginia? That, you know, evangelicals will be forced to choose between a guy from a religion they don't believe in and a philanderer that they can't be seen in public with? And what does Romney think he's still got in his back pocket?
CRAWFORD: Probably -
OLBERMANN: His wallet?
CRAWFORD: $100 million to put in super PACs. I mean, that might be all he's got left.
I think he's got a real problem on his hands here, Keith, because, going forward, a lot of these voters on the Republican side just are - they want to beat Obama so badly that, if it came down to a choice between someone who might lose to Obama, but would go down screaming like Gingrich, they'll go that route. They'd rather go off the cliff, you know, screaming and yelling than just let it all fizzle out with somebody like Romney.
OLBERMANN: So, what? Are they terrified of a Bob Dole 2012? Is that we're talking about?
CRAWFORD: Yeah. Yeah, I mean - the conservative movement is very worried that without someone to reel - a Goldwater-type figure, even if they lose - to somebody like that, to keep the movement fired up so that they can get through the next four years of Obama without having this sort of "the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse" campaign like McCain last time. And that's what they fear with Romney.
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford of craigcrawford.com. I'll see you on the special coverage tomorrow night, and thank you for that, sir.
CRAWFORD: Look forward to that.
OLBERMANN: Me too.
"Countdown: South Carolina" starts at 6:30 Eastern, half an hour before the polls close and goes as needed. Salon's Steve Kornacki joins me here in New York. David Shuster, Matt Taibbi, Nia-Malika Henderson in South Carolina. Craig Crawford, Tim Dickinson and Bill Press among our analysts. We'll join you live at 6:30 Eastern, 3:30 Pacific. "Countdown: South Carolina" tomorrow night.
SOPA and PIPA aren't dead yet, but the imminent votes the House and the Senate are. As the politicians realize, the Internet knows more ways to eff with you than you know how to eff with it. Next.
OLBERMANN: The majority leader heard the avalanche. He's postponed Tuesday's vote on the Senate version of SOPA. Now, the House bill itself has been delayed.
Two years ago tomorrow, the case handled by supposed First Amendment defender Floyd Abrams unraveled what was left of fairness in fundraising. Today, Occupy protested Citizens United.
Newt Gingrich attacks presidents who speak at Disney World. Presumably, he had forgotten Ronald Reagan did it twice.
And his story ripping Congress, congressmen, big bankers and boat captains, which he wrote - not this week - but 80 years ago. "Fridays with Thurber," ahead.
OLBERMANN: Like the mythical fish who pulls the fisherman into the water, the anti-piracy bills that were to censor the Internet have instead, today, been censored by the Internet.
In our fourth story on "The Countdown" - the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA, in the House and its companion in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, have been shelved indefinitely.
In the wake of massive protests, Senator Majority Leader Reid announced this morning he would be postponing the vote on PIPA in the Senate. It had been scheduled for Tuesday.
Representative Lamar Smith, the Republican of Texas, the architect of SOPA, then canceled the hearing in that House set for next month, halting all consideration of the act. This, after Speaker Boehner suggested he should shelve the bill in hopes of building more consensus - for some, anyway.
On Wednesday, 70,000 websites went dark in protest of SOPA and PIPA, including heavy hitters Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, and Craigslist. The surge in public opposition swiftly shifted many lawmakers' positions. Translation - it scared the crap out of them.
At least six co-sponsors had withdrawn support, and at least 70 additional members had opposed SOPA or PIPA by the evening of the protest day. Opponents argue the two bills would have led to Internet censorship, because the U.S. attorney general could have then sought court orders to take down websites accused of piracy.
During last night's debate in South Carolina, all of the Republican presidential hopefuls stood in line behind the party leadership, now echoing complete disdain for the bills in their current form.
Senator Ron Wyden considers the postponement of both bills a huge triumph over special interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "What we've seen over the last few weeks from the grassroots is a time for the history books."
Joining me now, Markos Moulitsas, "Countdown" contributor, founder and publisher of Daily Kos. Markos, good evening.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith. Great Friday.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, this has happened. You can confess now, 'cause I am - you didn't think the politicians would run this fast, did you?
MOULITSAS: No, you know when this first came up at the end of November, we were in close contact with Ron Wyden's office. I mean, they sounded the alarm. They reached out to us, and they said, "This is going to be a terrible bill that's coming down the pike. It's - they're trying to sneak it through. You've got to pay attention."
But when we did that, all expectations were were that thing was going to pass quickly. It had a gazillion co-sponsors. There was no opposition outside of Ron Wyden, and, really, what we were scrambling to do at that time is just to at least build some awareness of the bill, and maybe try to gum up the works, slow it down, and - if we were unable to pass it - then there is a court case, right?
But the fact that we actually were able to kill this thing outright, at least for the moment, is a fantastic and shocking victory, to be honest.
OLBERMANN: All right, so it is killed for the moment, as you suggested. It can't be dead, can it? I mean, they're not - it's not like they've run and left the country, the proponents of this. Is their next play evident yet?
MOULITSAS: There's a couple of things. Obviously, the supporters of this - the Hollywood studios - they want another crack at it. I mean, that's just obvious. I mean, Lamar Smith in the House was furious that this thing got pulled. He's not done yet.
Now, opponents of these bills, including Ron Wyden, have an alternate bill that they say will address the concerns from Hollywood. I haven't seen the details of that bill yet, but apparently, Google and Reddit and these guys are aboard. So, there is an alternative that opponents are gonna put forth. Whether the studios jump aboard or not remains to be seen.
But, the fact is - you know, no matter what you do, if you try to target these pirates, they're going to get around it. The only people that always get hurt when they try to do these ham-fisted attempts to censor the Internet, are pretty much law-abiding Americans, and not just Americans - people all around the world who use the Internet.
OLBERMANN: It was pretty telling that Representative Smith and several other of the sponsors and supporters of the bill were found by the magazine Vice to have, in fact, illegally pirated photographs that they were using as backgrounds on their own websites. I mean, that is just sort of representative of the ignorance with - it was more ignorance than culpability, that most of these congressmen and senators got on board these two expresses, right?
MOULITSAS: Yeah. No, these guys aren't the most sophisticated connoisseurs of the Internet. If they have email, they have AOL accounts, right? These guys are living in the digital dark ages.
I mean, bottom line is - the studios - the best way to get around piracy is to make it easy for consumers to buy their content. That's why services like iTunes and Hulu and so on are doing so well, because people actually want to pay for the content, but when you don't make it available, or you make it difficult, that's when piracy flourishes.
Now, there are people who are gonna pirate no matter what. And there's no amount of legislation that's gonna get around that fact. These people are way too smart. They're gonna definitely outsmart the Lamar Smiths of the Congress.
But the average person who doesn't do so maliciously - doesn't steal content maliciously - make it easy for them to buy it. Provide a fair price for them to buy it. They will do so. And I think the recent history has shown that's really the case.
OLBERMANN: Is there a template in what we saw this week, by any chance? Could this sort of instant action, this sort of lightning strike in defense of what we used to call "freedom" be used against anything else, like, I don't know - Citizens United, just to pick a name out of a hat?
MOULITSAS: There's a bit of a template there, but it's not always so easy. The thing that made this protest so effective is that it really transcended any kind of partisan lines. I mean, this wasn't a Democrat or Republican issue. I mean, it had people who were from both parties and greens, and libertarians, people who didn't care about politics.
Everybody who was affected by this rose up in unison. And it's very rare that that happens in this very polarized country of ours, so when it did happen, it had serious shockwaves, serious reverberations. I don't know if we could get that kind of widespread consensus on some other issues, but I sure as heck would like to try.
OLBERMANN: Lastly - Megaupload.com, that file-sharing site, was indicted yesterday. Copyright violations. In doing that, didn't the Justice Department kind of undercut any rationale for these bills? If they have the powers to do that already, what do they need this stuff for?
MOULITSAS: Well, absolutely. There are plenty of powers available for Justice. And, obviously, that case - specifically - is the kind of case that the Hollywood studios have been trying to claim are the rationale for this legislation. It was an offshore site, et cetera, et cetera.
The tools are there. The mechanisms are there. Again, people will work around those mechanisms. They'll find other ways to pirate. They'll find other ways to get around that legislation or any roadblocks, and that's why I think it's so imperative that the studios and the content producers come up with ways to make it easier for people to purchase their content, not try to put roadblocks in the way of them becoming consumers of that material.
OLBERMANN: Ah, yes. The instructions that came with the VCR 30 years ago.
Markos Moulitsas, "Countdown" contributor, founder, publisher of Daily Kos. Great thanks for your time. Have a great weekend.
MOULITSAS: You have a great weekend, too.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow is the second anniversary of Citizens United, and - lest anybody forget - "Occupy" reminded us today. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Occupy fights back against Citizens United and the police at Berkeley.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date a year ago - a year ago tomorrow - a guy left some show on a cable network, and it was a big deal, and Anderson Cooper did, like, 22 minutes leading off his show on his cable network, and I got to grow a beard.
"Time Marches On."
VIDEO: A herd of cows sniffs out a boxer puppy.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day: a group of cows meeting a boxer for the first time.
It's even cuter if you pretend the cows are a group of cow doctors examining a specimen.
"Doctor, I have never seen a cow like this in my life. Shall we commence the smell test, Doctor? Let's sniff out a diagnosis."
Or - I guess it's still cute if it's just a dog and some cows. Five of 'em.
VIDEO: Limber dog perches on parking-lot chain.
We remain in the animal kingdom and check in with - my God, that's the biggest - world's biggest bird on a wire.
Wait a minute. I'm being told now that that's actually a dog on a wire. That's impressive for an entirely different reason.
Sure this is how he invented the swing? Up on one - no. Okay.
Talented canine showing off great balance. Next up, Cirque du Soleil's production of "Air Bud."
VIDEO: The Blessing of the Animals outside a Catholic Church in Mexico.
And lastly, we travel to Mexico City, and - for those animals who are not naturally blessed with the talent to balance on a wire - the Catholic Church is there to bless them.
Dating back hundreds of years, the animals at this ceremony are blessed by a priest to celebrate the feast day of St. Anthony, known as the protector of animals. I thought Betty White was the protector of animals.
Holy cow, it's a holy chicken. Holy cow, it's a holy dog. Here's the holy chicken. And the holy dog.
Everybody agreed that it got a little too weird, though, at the end, when a cardinal blessed a cardinal.
"Time Marches On."
Occupy and Citizens United, next.
OLBERMANN: Two years ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court confirmed a 19th-century court clerk's overreaching addition to a decision that corporations are, in fact, people. Its ruling drastically changed the face of elections by paving the way for the creation of super PACs and unlimited political donations by corporations.
In our third story - to commemorate the two-year anniversary of Citizens United, protesters in more than 100 cities today occupied the court house, and the largest protest took place in D.C. beginning with a rally on the lawn near the Supreme Court, then to the court steps, where 12 protesters were arrested.
The goal was not merely to draw attention. Protesters circulated petitions asking for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Not every protest today, though, focused on the court houses. In San Francisco, occupy protesters marched through the financial district. Some chained themselves to the doors of big banks, while others linked their arms to block doorways. Overall, at least a dozen protesters were arrested there. Despite those arrests, authorities in D.C. and San Francisco treated protesters peacefully and respectfully.
Apparently, security at University of California, Riverside did not get the memo.
Continuing a policy throughout that chain of schools last night, nearly a thousand students gathered outside a meeting of the UC Regents to protest proposed tuition increases and funding cutbacks. The meeting delayed for over an hour. It eventually closed to the public after 16 students staged a sit-in.
Outside, less peaceful - as more than 200 police officers shoved students, and used metal barricades to force the students back. There are also reports of rubber bullets being fired, leaving some students bloodied. After all that violence, in the end, only two students were arrested.
Joined now by Josh Harkinson, reporter for Mother Jones magazine, who's covering all of this. Thanks for your time tonight, Josh.
JOSH HARKINSON: Great to be here.
OLBERMANN: On Occupy the Courts - Occupy's done targeted, one-day events before but is there an indication that they can have an impact, due to their brevity? I mean, especially with an issue that has been as nation-changing as Citizens United?
HARKINSON: Well, I don't think that one day is enough by any means. I think what it's going to take is a lot more stuff like this.
And, you know, this is already happening. There's this group Move to Amend that is helping to put on these events, and they want to bring these resolutions forward in cities around the country trying to get Citizens United overturned and corporations redefined so as not to be - quote unquote - "people." And so, I think they're going to be at it for quite a while and this is just one of the first steps.
OLBERMANN: What, do you suppose, are the additional steps, because - if you suggest that it needs more than one day - what else is there to do, and what else is there to keep this subject in the forefront, rather than simply on the anniversaries?
HARKINSON: Well, you know, I think a lot of it has to do with, you know, trying to make this local. I mean, because really - to overturn Citizens United, you're going to need a constitutional amendment. And that's something that has to happen through Congress, but it also has to happen through 2/3 of the state legislature, and that's a really high hurdle to overcome.
So, I think what needs to happen is, you know - folks need to build a grassroots movement around this. And so, that's the idea of taking this to cities like Boulder, Colorado or Madison, Wisconsin, which have already passed these resolutions saying that, "We disagree with Citizens United. We think it should be overturned."
And so, the idea is to get cities around the country to do that, and these "Occupy the Courts" actions are through the first step of making that happen.
OLBERMANN: You were at the Occupy San Francisco marches today. Give me a sense of the reaction from those who saw that?
HARKINSON: Yeah, I think the reaction was very positive from San Francisco residents. There weren't a lot of numbers - it was a horrible day weather-wise, it was just soaking wet - but protesters there were very committed.
And they were distributed all over the city. I mean, there were dozens of actions going on, multiple bank branches were shut down, and some very creative protests. Like stringing green thread from Wells Fargo's corporate headquarters - they're based in San Francisco - to ICE, the immigration group, to sort of weave together this idea that Wells Fargo supports - they actually invest in privatized prisons.
So, it's just - you know, like there was this "Food Bank of America" protest. Somebody set up a food bank in front of Bank of America, and they're basically feeding all the people who were forced out of their homes and disenfranchised by predatory lending. And so, some really creative stuff going on, and I think the reception, locally, was very positive.
OLBERMANN: And you tweeted to that effect, about the police reaction in San Francisco - "accommodating" was one of the words you used - towards the Occupiers. Why does this disparity continue? Why are some police forces so good and even streamlined at dealing with the protests now while things like the one at Riverside, at UC Riverside last night, just turned into chaos largely, again, because the police there seemed to have no idea what they could do and could not do?
HARKINSON: I mean, it's really hard to say. I think a lot of this kind of goes to the culture of these different police forces and this is sort of a decades-long phenomenon. I mean, you know, in Oakland there's this long history of, you know - the Black Panthers were born in Oakland and there's a lot of hostility between the police and people who live there.
I mean, Riverside is a conservative - fairly conservative town compared to say, San Francisco, you know, where the police are very used to kind of this long kind of countercultural movement that is a part of the state's history. And so, you know, it's just - things are different everywhere and you just kind of have to deal with it on the street on a case-by-case basis.
OLBERMANN: Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones magazine, in San Francisco following Occupy for us. Great thanks as always, Josh. Have a good weekend.
HARKINSON: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A Democratic governor slices his state's education funding to ribbons, but keeps in place the 43 million dollar tax break for a Bible-themed amusement park. Worst Persons, ahead on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The mind-numbing claim that Newt Gingrich's serial infidelity means he'd be a great president. We'll tell you which numb mind it sprang from.
And then, James Thurber's thoughts from Mr. Tierney. A story of lousy Congressman, bad banks, bad bankers, and bad boat captains, written as if he knew it was coming this week - in 1932.
OLBERMANN: That rarest of James Thurber stories - one about Congress and big banks, from 1932. Next.
First - because I wish these guys were just figments of Thurber's imagination, or sombody's - your "Countdown" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons" in the world.
The bronze? Steve Beshear, the Democratic governor of Kentucky. He submitted his 2012-13 proposed state budget this week, and it includes $286 million in cuts. Higher education is cut by just under 6.5 percent. K-12 education will drop by about $50 million.
Fortunately, a $43 million tax break will not be affected. That tax break goes to the builders of a proposed Kentucky Bible-themed amusement park. The park will include a 500-foot-long, 75-foot-high version of Noah's ark. And it will require the state to spend 11 million dollars to upgrade a highway interchange to make it easier to get to the place. Which, unfortunately, will not be called "Fantasy Land."
Cut $50 million from schools. Keep $43 million for Bible amusement parks.
The runner up? Republican nomination hopeful Newt Gingrich. It's one thing when washed up ex-Laura Bush press secretaries write screeds condemning President Obama for holding an event inside Disney World. It's another when the same lunk-headedness comes out of the mouths of a would-be presidential nominee.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: They are apparently closing half of the Magic Kingdom, for which I apologize to all of the people who, for months, have planned to take their children and go to the Magic Kingdom. But, after all, who are they compared to Obama?
OLBERMANN: Or Ronald Reagan. That's right. How does this keeps happening? Republicans try to insult Obama, they wind up instead insulting Reagan. Reagan made a speech at Epcot Center in 1983. And then he held his second-term inaugural celebration there.
Remember George H. W. Bush and the "points of light" nonsense? The firsts Points of Light ceremony was at America Gardens Theatre at Disney World. Oh, and Richard Nixon. He held a news conference at one of the Disney World hotels in 1973. Just happened to be the news conference in which he declared he was not a crook. Erroneously declared.
So, presidents can't never do anything at Disney World - except Bush, Nixon, and Reagan.
But the winner? On the Gingrichian theme. Dr. Keith Ablow - he used to have a talk show on TV, but recently has been reduced to co-authoring a book with "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck and being the psychology pundit on the political whorehouse that is Fox News.
And, he may have admitted the single dumbest thing yet said in this campaign. I mean, Rick Perry is embarrassed for this guy.
Ablow writes that - if you are coldly analytical about Gingrich being a serial marrier and philanderer - you will realize it would make him a great president. Quoting:
One, "three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of theirs lives with him."
Two, he writes, "Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich is already married."
Three, he writes, "One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible."
You left out four - he betrayed the first two, one of them while she was fighting cancer.
But wait, this gets worse.
Albow writes, "So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history. If Newt Gingrich were to become president, we would need to worry that another nation - perhaps a little younger than ours - would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president.
So what you are saying, Dr. Ablow, is that voters need to worry about whether or not Newt Gingrich is loyal to the United States of America?
Dr. Keith Ablow - I think you may be mispronouncing that last name, buddy - today's "Worst Person" in the World.
OLBERMANN: James Thurber rarely wrote about politics, per se, yet - amazingly - he published something 80 years ago next month that could have been pulled from this week's headlines. It not only shows that the House of Representatives was pretty much the same then as it is now. But also, that big banking was pretty much the same then as it is now. And, unbelievably, that ship captains were pretty much the same then as they are now.
Tonight, I'm reading from "People Have More Fun Than Anybody," a collection of Thuber's magazine pieces, and this originally appeared in the New Yorker in 1932 - the February 13th issue, to be precise.
"Thoughts from Mr. Tierney," by James Thurber.
"Last Monday, when I was just sitting around without a constructive or helpful thought in my head, up popped a communication from my Representative in Congress, the honorable William L. Tierney. Like myself an old Connecticutian of a fine family. If it hadn't been for his speech - it was a speech he sent me - I should have spent the day flipping over the pages of a Photoplay magazine and leering at the pictures of the lady stars.
Mr. Tierney's speech, however, gave me something to think about. It also stirred up an idea or two of my own, which maybe be of help to Mr. Tierney and to Congress and indirectly to the millions of Americans whose happiness, the gentlemen from Connecticut points out, is handicapped by paralysis.
Mr. Tierney's speech is the first speech I have read in a long time. Ordinarily, I pay no attention to what goes on in Congress, until one of the representatives calls another one a cockeyed so-and-so and the two go for each other right on the floor. That, it seems to me, is something. Speeches, as a rule, are nothing.
Mr. Tierney's, however, has a number of interesting points. It takes only about 15 minutes to read and he gets immediately into what he has to say without any preamble. He starts right off: 'Mr. Chairman, I desire to make a few observations in support of the Reconstruction Finance Co-operation Bill, now reported out of my Committee on Banking and Currency under the new title of "A Bill to Provide Financial Facilities for Financial Institutions to Aid in Financing Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry and for Other Purposes."'
Here was something which I saw, at a glance, it was my duty as a citizen to grasp. It gave me the guilty realization that - for months - I have been letting finance bills go along without even knowing that their titles had been changed. That kind of laxity is bound to let a citizen in for trouble.
Imagine at a dinner party, saying something to the lovely lady on your right about the Reconstruction Finance Corporation Bill, only to have her come back - after a peal of cold and silvery laughter - with the withering question, 'Are you perhaps trying to say the "Bill to Provide Financial Facilities for Financial Institutions To Aid in Financing Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry and for Other Purposes"?'
You might weather such a withering, but I couldn't. For when I'm embarrassed at dinner parties, the front of my shirt begins to rise. And when I push it down, it goes 'plop,' then comes right up again, with the result that I have to hold it down with both hands, and thus get nothing to eat.
The body of Mr. Tierney's speech was rather depressing for Monday reading. But, as a citizen, I felt I ought to go ahead with it. It was mostly about the bad shape everything was in, particularly the banks.
Mr. Tierney pointed out that the banks are under stress and peril owing to 'war conditions.' 'While not at war,' he said, 'our financial institutions are under a like pressure and peril. In fact, we are at war.'
This reasoning, while colorful, is - it seems to me - misleading. And likely to cause people to enlist, to kiss each other goodbye, to compose march songs and to go around bragging that 'they won the Depression.'
I don't see that any good can come from twisting things around so that it appears that banks have got us into war. It would have been simpler and more convincing to get up a swell simile about banks and ships, because - after all - they both go down in much the same way, with treasure on board, and are not heard of again. Except possibly as derelicts drifting around a lonely sea or standing empty and forlorn at the corner of 5th Avenue and some cross street.
Had my Representative taken this slant, he could have touched on another idea which the bank-ship simile calls up. That is, why doesn't the president of a bank go down with his bank? The way the skipper goes down with his ship.
Certainly, there is nothing one can think of that a bank president could do if he didn't have a bank. He could ride a horse in Central Park for a while, but not forever. He could sit around his club forever, of course, but that would be mortifying, with nobody to order around but waiters. It would be much better for him simply to go down with his bank.
Of course, it would be harder, in a way, for a banker to go down with his bank than for a captain to go down with his ship. For when a bank closes, the bank building itself is at the disadvantage of still being where it was. In this connection, I would offer the suggestion that - when a bank closes and all of the clerks and tellers and vice presidents leave and the light and the heat is turned off, and the charwomen come no more to fill the water coolers - the president just stay in the old, abandoned building alone.
This would give the city something of the fascination and mystery of the sea. It would build up legends. And we need legends. For years, it would be rumored, say, that President Hotchkiss Gay Zegafeld of the 31st National, who went down with his bank in 1929, was still to be seen on moonlit nights prowling around the inside of the old building. He would become known as 'The Prowling Dutchman,' and mothers would hush their children to sleep with tales of his eerie flitting about in the tellers' cages.
This, however, is getting away from Mr. Tierney's speech, in which - on Page Three - he says what seems to me another unfortunate thing. Namely, that about a billion dollars in currency is now out of circulation and 'between the mattresses.'
A billion dollars tucked way under the bedclothes of the nation? What kind of tip is that to give to the desperately hard-up citizens of this country?
It is one thing to spend years and years becoming a fake butler in order to get at the drawing-room safe. Only your inveterate criminal does that. But it is another to pop into a bedroom, pull up a mattress and get away with a roll of bills. Anybody could do that. And thousands of people probably will.
Mark my words, Tierney. That tip of yours is going to lead to a wave of second-story work, the sending of mysterious theater tickets to get people away from home, catcalling and cries for help in the backyard to get people out of bed, fake fires, bedroom farces and pernicious harlequinade generally.
One thing in Mr. Tierney's speech, toward the end, is calculated to give me hope in case I ever want to run for Congress. I can never remember names or faces, a misfortune which is intensified by the fact that I am always sure I have met everybody I see. Mr. Tierney shows that weakness of memory about names is negligible in Congress, in referring to an eminent gentlemen who testified at a Senate hearing. He says he thinks it was either Mr. Ecker, the president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company or a Mr. Morgan Brainard, president of the Aetna Insurance Company in Hartford.
If that's as close as you have to come, we could be a congressmen right now. Of course, this uncertainty of Mr. Tierney's - while comforting to a would-be congressmen - is rather disconcerting to an earnest-minded constituent, trying to find out what conditions really are. Maybe, for example, the billion dollars isn't under the mattress but behind the print of the Rosa Bonheur's 'The Horse Fair' in the front hall. I mean, I can't be ransacking the whole house."
"Thoughts from Mr. Tierney," by James Thurber.
Editor's note: nine months after that article was written in 1932, Congressman Tierney was not re-elected.
I'm Keith Olbermann. See you tomorrow night at 6:30 Eastern for our live coverage of the South Carolina Republican Primary. Good night and good luck.