'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, February 10th, 2012
Guest host: Sam Seder
#5 'CPACking Them In', Ryan Lizza
#5 'CPACking Them In', Craig Crawford
#4 'Playing Politics', Markos Moulitsas
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Badger Bait And Switch', Judd Legum
#2 'Equality For All', Constance Johnson (D-OK)
#1 'oPod', Tim Dickinson
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Markos Moulitsas, Sam Seder, Tim Dickinson, Constance Johnson, Judd Legum, Craig Crawford, Ryan Lizza
SAM SEDER: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
CPAC, day two, and it's comedy day.
(Excerpt from video clip) FOSTER FRIESS: There's a little bar a couple doors down and recently a conservative, a liberal, and a moderate walked into the bar. The bartender says, "Hi, Mitt."
SEDER: And the jokes just kept on coming.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Today, we really are poised for victory in November. Of course we can defeat Barack Obama, that's the easy part.
SEDER: All the highlights from CPAC, with first hand accounts from Ryan Lizza and Craig Crawford.
President Obama faces the contraception debate head-on.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.
SEDER: Obama continues playing chess while the GOP plays checkers. "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas on Obama's handling of the contraception controversy.
Scott Walker's latest affront to Wisconsin residents - using the state's mortgage-settlement money to help the state budget. "Just like communities and individuals have been affected, the foreclosure crisis has had an effect on the state of Wisconsin." Walker turns his back on the hardest hit Wisconsinites.
And the Obama campaign releases its official Spotify playlist. And yes, there's some Al Green on there.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA : I'm so in love with you.
SEDER: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
SEDER: Good evening, this is Friday, February 10th, 271 days until the 2012 presidential election. I'm Sam Seder, sitting in for Keith Olbermann.
Three of the four Republican candidates for president addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, in Washington D.C. today, each trying to convince the crowd that he was the most conservative of all. The fifth story on the "Countdown" - rhetorical red meat flew at the CPAC convention like feeding time at a badly-managed zoo.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum assured the CPACers that this time they didn't need to settle:
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: We will no longer abandon and apologize for the policies and principles that made this country great for a hollow victory in November. The other thing we should recognize, as conservatives and tea party folks, that we are not just wings of the Republican party, we are the Republican party.
SEDER: And when it comes to who's the real conservative?
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: We've worked together in the vineyards. We've taken on the tough battles that confront this country. I know you and you know me. And that's important.
SEDER: As for erstwhile front-runner Mitt Romney?
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: We're not going to win this election, ladies and gentlemen, because the Republican candidate has the most money to beat up their opponent. Why would an undecided voter vote for the candidate of a party who the party is not excited about?
SEDER: So Romney tried to create a little excitement for himself.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism. I was raised in a home that was shaped by and rooted in conservative values. I was a severely conservative Republican governor.
SEDER: The former Massachusetts governor then listed his campaigns.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I understand that the battles we, as conservatives, must fight because I have been on the front lines. We fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage. I vetoed the bill that would have opened the door to cloning and embryo farming.
SEDER: Now, there's a threat that should keep us up at night. Though Romney seemed more concerned with lashing out at his GOP rivals, even if he didn't mention them by name.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I served in government, but I didn't inhale. I don't have old scores to settle or decades of cloakroom deals that I have to defend.
SEDER: Romney may have been more comfortable earlier today when he told a business crowd in Virginia, "I know it seems like government doesn't like you. I love you."
And the CPAC crowd loved Newt Gingrich when he hammered some of their fellow Republicans:
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: The GOP establishment has a single word they use, with contempt, for conservative ideas - they say they're "unrealistic." The Republican establishment, whether it's in 1996 or in 2008, can't win a presidential campaign because they don't have the toughness, they don't have the commitment and they don't have the philosophy.
SEDER: Newt says he's got all that and more. Not to mention actions he wants Congress to take before he settles in the Oval Office:
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: It will have repealed Obamacare. It will have repealed Dodd-Frank. It will have appealed Sarbanes-Oxley.
SEDER: Newt plans to get a lot done, Day One, by signing -
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: An executive order which, as of that moment, approves of the Canadian pipeline to Houston. Move the State Department to put the embassy in Jerusalem as of that day. Reinstate Ronald Reagan's Mexico City policy, no money for abortion overseas.
SEDER: And when it comes to national security, not only is Barack Obama weakening our defense system, our intelligence and failing to tell the truth about the threat from radical Islam -
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: If he wins re-election he will wage war on the Catholic Church the morning after he's re-elected. We cannot trust him, we should - we know who he really is and we should make sure the country knows who he really is.
SEDER: And if you're wondering what the fourth Republican candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, had to add to this, The Boston Globe reports Paul skipped the convention because of, "unspecified travel constraints."
Meanwhile, some Republican leaders quietly yearning behind the scenes for a brokered convention that would feature former Florida governor Jeb Bush as their next candidate for president. They might want to consider a Fox News poll shows President Obama beating Mitt Romney by five points, Obama crushing Rick Santorum by 12 points, cruising away from Gingrich by 13 points and leaving Jeb Bush in the dust with a 14-point margin.
For more on the CPAC convention, I'm joined by Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent with The New Yorker. Thanks for coming on the program tonight, Ryan.
RYAN LIZZA: Hey, my pleasure.
SEDER: All right, let's start with Rick Santorum. What did he need from this crowd today?
LIZZA: Well, he - Santorum - this crowd likes him. He got a very good reaction. I think he needs to - the straw poll with be somewhat significant tomorrow, that will be the thing we all take away. We'll have some numerical value placed on how the three of these guys did.
But, I think the bar was pretty low for Santorum. He's sort of the favorite here. It was mostly about the repair work that Romney needed to do.
I will say one thing about Santorum - in conversations with people at CPAC - what comes up is their heart is with a candidate like Santorum or Gingrich. Obviously, someone who is more conservative than they believe Romney is. But you know, in back of a lot of the minds of conservatives there is this idea of whether Santorum will implode the same way that Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Perry and this entire parade of challengers to Romney has imploded.
And they're giving - they were given a little inkling that that could happen with Santorum saying that women shouldn't be in combat positions because of their emotions, right? So, you know, I couldn't find a single conservative today that wanted to defend Rick Santorum talking about women's emotions in the Army. And so I think there is this fear that, "Yeah, we like this guy, we don't really like Romney, but we don't want to be burned again."
SEDER: That's interesting. I got to ask, too, he said at one point, "We've worked together. I know you and you know me. We've been in the vineyards together." What does that mean?
LIZZA: I think it means, you know, Santorum has been around awhile. He was in a leadership position in the United States Senate - when the Republicans controlled the Senate - and he was known as a cultural warrior, as a champion of conservative causes. I think that's what he was saying.
SEDER: It sounds like you're saying that, to a certain extent, that they know him and that's why they're a little bit nervous about him.
But let's move over to Mitt Romney for a second. I've got to say, his applause seemed a little bit tepid overall. Do you think he helped himself? Did he cross that bar with conservatives? Is it enough to say that he's severe?
LIZZA: The interesting thing about Romney is, four years ago when he was at this conference, he was ending his race against John McCain - and remember, he ran to the right of McCain, he was the conservative alternative to the dreaded moderate John McCain in that election - and he gave this sort of swan-song speech at CPAC.
I wasn't there but people were reminded of this today, and someone said, "Yeah, there were people in the audience four years ago saying, 'Don't go, don't get out of the race,' because he was the last great hope for conservatives in 2008."
So, you could see the sort of shift in the Republican Party by these two bookends, Romney 2008 and Romney 2012. In those four years - one, the Republican Party has moved way to the right, and two, Barack Obama has obviously become President and passed a health-care law modeled on Mitt Romney's, thus making Romney - that's sort of the beginning of all Romney's problems with conservatives. And then, finally, when Romney was sort of lining - looking at this race, he decided he was not going to run on the right, he was going to be the McCain candidate. He was going to be this sort of - a few clicks to the left of the fringier right-wing candidates.
And so, a lot's changed for him and, frankly, if he can't convince conservatives, after all of these years, I don't see how one speech today at CPAC was going to help him. You know what I mean? I think - you know, he has another issue he has to worry about - people don't know what he believes. And it's not just conservatives, it's voters of all political persuasions. So, yes, he has to do well with the right, but on the other hand, he needs to let voters know that he has a core, he doesn't pander to every crowd.
And I don't think he helped himself in that way today, you know what I mean? I don't think he let other voters, other people who are watching this race say, "You know what - he doesn't pander to everyone, he doesn't care what these people think about him. He goes in there and tells them what he believes."
SEDER: Yeah, it sounds -
LIZZA: It was a pandering speech. It was a laundry list of "I'm one of you, here are the 10 reasons why."
SEDER: Yeah, it sounds like he failed in that attempt to be the McCain in this version of the CPAC.
Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker, thanks so much for your time.
LIZZA: Thanks for having me.
SEDER: For more on CPAC and the Jeb Bush boomlet, I'm joined by Craig Crawford, politics blogger at craigcrawford.com and author of "The Politics of Life." Craig, welcome.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Hey, have you got a tinfoil hat? We might need that for this segment.
SEDER: Well, I mean, let's talk about this - because, you know, nothing in this campaign has gone the way that people anticipated. Now, you blogged today about the possibility of a brokered convention, a brokered GOP for Jeb. Is this - is there still, like, sort of elements of the GOP that's sort of holding out for this?
CRAWFORD: Well, I was really struck at this thing, Sam, how many people are, like, cruising the buffet and deciding none of it looks very appetizing and looking for another restaurant. There's a lot of dissatisfaction. They look at Romney and they're worried that he - maybe he's not so electable after all, but most importantly, these conservatives don't trust him.
There was a lot of griping about - not griping, but sort of backing away - from him using the phrase "I was a severe conservative." It's like one person said, "That's what liberals say about us, we don't say that about ourselves." And that's certainly a long way from compassionate conservative.
And then, Santorum, they like - their hearts are with him and they want to go with him but they fear the liberals will tear him up. And then they just don't know what to make of Gingrich. And so, as a result, there's a lot of talk about more reasonable and pragmatic people, like Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, openly talking about, "Maybe this thing goes all the way to the convention and we don't have a nominee by then."
SEDER: Let's - let's for a moment, indulge me - this thing does go all the way to the convention. What are the factors - what elements are the Republican party going to rip apart here? Because it seems to me that the tea party, if they can get to the convention, they could be pretty angry at that point.
CRAWFORD: If they had settled on someone. For example, if they settle on Santorum - and I think that he's going to do well in the straw poll tomorrow, I would bet money that he's going to win it - if they decide, "He's our man," and the establishment takes that away from him, that's a scenario that would just be ballistic inside the Republican party.
But if they just go to the convention divided and there is some other person that comes out of the mix - I mean, what we're looking at mathematically, Sam, is the real possibility - I'd say we're beyond possible and moving towards probable, if I'm not going too far - to say that we could see no one get an actual majority, 1,144 delegates, to win this nomination.
SEDER: All right. Well, let's talk about this. We had Newt there today, accusing the president of waging a war against Catholicism. Mitt talked about his religion, of course, without mentioning it by name. Santorum made much of his self-professed piety. I imagine that plays very well with this crowd. But how much does a potential nominee want to be crowing about that, at this point in the campaign?
CRAWFORD: Some of these folks, even among evangelicals, they're - some of them are pragmatic and they realize that a candidate that goes too far can - can just frighten the independents and their dogs, and they run for their lives, you know, and they're aware of that. There are some concerns that Santorum maybe wears it on his sleeve. He certainly played the God card today better than any of them. And, as he did it, I kept thinking, "Why don't you just come out and say what you're saying? 'I'm not Mormon and I'm not an adulterer.'" Because that's basically what he was trying to get across.
SEDER: Were there any - where there any surprises? I mean, anything that happened that was not to be expected?
CRAWFORD: I really thought that line of Romney's, which - I didn't find it in his text, I think he ad-libbed again. Oops, he did it again - that phrase, "I was a severe conservative." The man is so awkward with the English language, maybe he just ought to go ahead and speak French.
SEDER: Yeah, exactly. Well, I guess severe is better than just a horrible, horrible conservative. Craig Crawford, thank you so much for joining us.
CRAWFORD: Good to be here.
SEDER: Just ahead, the irony of President Obama's contraception policy as a wedge issue. Check and mate, GOP.
SEDER: President Obama takes control of the contraception debate. All part his master plan?
The state of Wisconsin receives $140 million from the national mortgage settlement. Scott Walker takes most of it from homeowners and puts it towards the state budget shortfall.
A Democratic lawmaker suggests an amendment to point out the hypocrisy of Oklahoma's so-called "Personhood" bill. And it may impact what men do with their alone time.
And the Obama campaign releases its official Spotify list. Some James Taylor. Some Wilco. Some Ricky Martin?
SEDER: The sudden resurgence of the culture war may be playing right into the hands of the president. In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - President Obama unveiled a compromise today on the mandate requiring health insurance plans offered by religious organizations to include contraceptive services.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services, no matter where they work. So that core principle remains. But, if a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company - not the hospital, not the charity - will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.
SEDER: Casting himself as a citizen and a Christian, the president acknowledged religious leaders "genuine concerns." While Catholic bishops may remain unsatisfied, all the rage on the right this week has been Obama's assault on religious liberty.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: I understand some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue, but it shouldn't be. Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.
SEDER: The economy-intensive campaign season has left little room for the GOP presidential hopefuls to sink their teeth into social issues. Republicans have been crowing about Obama's "war on faith" for some time, but their attacks weren't as convincing without a policy to cite. And then, the White House announced its decision last month.
Rick Santorum pounced on the opportunity to paint himself as the anti-abortion, pro-family candidate of social conservatives dreams. The president may not have planned it this way, but the uproar over contraception coverage handed Mitt Romney's Republican rivals another chance to question his conservative values. And, of course, all the GOP candidates will double down on denouncing Obama's new policy, isolating themselves even further from the majority of Americans who support the measure.
Let's bring in Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos and "Countdown" contributor. Appreciate your time tonight, Markos.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: I'm so thrilled to see you on Current, Sam.
SEDER: It's great to see you, too, Markos. So all right, is the White House caving in on this or are they smarter than we all think?
MOULITSAS: Look, we've been so conditioned the last couple of years to expect cave-in after cave-in from the Obama administration, so it's actually quite refreshing to see an actual compromise, that is - a real compromise.
I mean, he did not surrender on any core principles. Women can get the care and the contraceptive services that they deserve, and the religious - you know, the concerns of the religious community were completely managed and dealt with. So, this is actually the perfect resolution to this issue. Now, Republicans, they don't like it because they have lost a talking point. But actually, Obama rocked it this time. I mean, this was a real home run.
SEDER: I agree with you on that. Now, let's - let's take it a step further, because the solution that they came out this today - this compromise - was sort of floated back in October. I mean, it's sort of based on what's happening in Hawaii. Do you think the administration sort of courted this controversy? Because it could have been - perhaps, could have been avoided, but they seemed to, maybe, get some benefit out of it.
MOULITSAS: Well, they're going to definitely get some benefit out of it. I mean, polls show that the policy is wildly popular. I mean, 65 percent of Americans in a Fox News poll - they couldn't even pretend - a Fox News poll showed that this was wildly popular. And, the numbers are no different amongst Catholics. So, this is not even a wedge issue with Catholic voters. So, absolutely, this is going to be a positive.
Did the Obama administration plan this? I actually - maybe. Maybe they're that smart. I suspect that they are too risk-averse to really plan something like this. But, once it was handed on a platter, they decided to take a swing at it and they really did hit it hard.
SEDER: All right, so even though this has basically been settled, the Republicans have sort have lost this talking part - point. Do you think we're going to continue to see them highlight this rule as an attack on religion?
I mean, Representative Fred Upton said in a statement today - let me read this to you - "The Constitution does not compromise. Those rights are inalienable and cannot be bartered away for political expediency and convenience. The administration has simply reaffirmed that congressional action to permanently reverse this mandate is necessary."
Are they going to go forward with this? Are they going to basically just attempt to strip this rule that is forcing insurance companies - not religious organizations - for providing this prescription medicine to women who need it?
MOULITSAS: Well, their base is screaming for it, so they're absolutely going to keep pushing this thing. I mean, if they really think it's unconstitutional, let the courts decided. They'll get laughed out of the courts.
But, you know, I think what we are seeing right now is that Republicans know that they've lost the battle on the economy. I mean, just a few weeks ago all they could talk about was jobs, jobs, jobs, and jumping at every jobs report. Suddenly, you have several job reports in a row that are looking really pretty good. The NASDAQ hit an 11-year high. The Dow hit a four-year high. Consumer confidence is up, Obama's numbers on the economy are up. All across the board people are - they're not happy, but they're content and they're confident in Obama's stewardship of the economy. So, Republicans really need something else and they'll always fall back on social issues when they've got nothing else.
But, I have got to say, if Republicans want to outsource their policy to the Catholic church to avoid a "war on religion," then I can't wait to see Republicans join Democrats in opposing the death penalty and supporting an extension of unemployment benefits, of supporting comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act, and opposing useless wars, like the war in Iraq. Because those are all things that the Catholic church has been vehemently pushing, as far as its agenda.
SEDER: Yeah, I'm not going to hold my breath on that one. But, I want to you to - finally, I want you to take a listen to what else the president said today.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.
SEDER: Is he - is he taking the Republicans into the deep end here? Essentially, he is now sort of forcing the Republicans, if they want to continue to argue this, that they're against contraception. I mean, this is - we're in sort of, like, territory that was hashed out 50, 60 years ago.
MOULITSAS: Yeah, conservatives have always been against contraception because they just feel icky about sex. I mean, that's really the bottom line. They've used abortion as sort of a stand-in. But the true motivation - or true agenda, really - is sex. And this is what this is all about. Great.
But, you know, this is a party, of course, that's really fixated on freedom, right? And they're really going to argue that a woman shouldn't have the freedom to make those decisions without interference from an insurance company, without interference from their employer, without interference from the government? And they want to talk about freedom? This is what freedom actually looks like.
SEDER: Markos Moulitsas, it was great talking to you.
SEDER: Before we go to break, a quick update on former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords. The Democratic congresswoman left the House to concentrate on a recovery from a shooting incident in January 2011, and she's been spending most of her time back home.
But Giffords was in the Oval Office today as President Obama signed legislation she co-sponsored to allow law enforcement to target pilots who use ultralight planes to fly drugs across the border from Mexico. The bill closes a loophole in existing law that imposed lesser penalties on ultralight pilots.
Gabby Giffords says she'll return to politics once she's fully recovered. And President Obama said he expected her to, "see more of her in the months and years to come."
The U.S. Navy also announced today that a new ship will be named for Gabby Giffords.
The governor of a certain state decides to take the money intended to help homeowners, illegally foreclosed upon, and use it to fix his budget mess. I'll give you a hint - it may the least of the reasons he's being recalled.
Ahead, on "Countdown."
SEDER: Coming up, Scott Walker finds a new way to screw the people of his state. Take the money intended for people who lost their home and use it to help close a budget shortfall.
But first, the "Sanity Break," and it was on this day in 1964 the comedy gods got together and gave the world Glenn Beck. Born in Everett, Washington, Beck went on to become one of the greatest parodies of a political commentator the world has ever seen.
So happy birthday, Glenn. Thanks for the laughs, the tears, and the laughs that came from your tears.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Baby hates baths, but loves a lot of money.
We begin with the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. It would appear that baby Bob is in the "no" phase, declining everything that's offered to him. Although there is one thing he likes.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Do you want to take a bath?
(Excerpt from video clip) BABY: No.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Do you love daddy?
(Excerpt from video clip) BABY: No.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: No? Let the kitty go. Do you want a million dollars? (Baby nods vigorously)You do?
SEDER: Adorable. Just like a little Mitt Romney.
VIDEO: Backdrop at speech attacks NJ Governor Chris Christie.
Finally, we travel to New Jersey, probably after sitting in a lot of traffic.
And here we find Governor Chris Christie holding an event as part of his "Jersey Comeback" tour. And it seems like the tour's not going too well. A few minutes into his speech, the entire backdrop starts to come down.
Christie handles it well, joking that he always tries to keep things interesting. The backdrop later said that it had simply had enough of Christie's BS and had to get out of there.
"Time Marches On!"
Wisconsin receives $140 million as part of the mortgage settlement. So of course, Scott Walker sees that as a chance not to help homeowners in Wisconsin, but to help curb the budget deficit that he created. Next.
SEDER: We bring you "Countdown" live each night at 8 p.m. Eastern. Primary replay is at 11 p.m.
Yesterday, in an historic agreement, President Obama announced that a settlement had been reached between banks in 49 states. The president said he hoped the settlement would, "deliver some measure of justice for families."
In our third story - apparently Scott Walker thinks the best way to provide justice for families is to use the settlement funds to cover a budget shortfall he created.
The settlement between the states and the banks totaled 26 billion dollars. Of that 26 billion, Wisconsin is slated to receive 140 million. Sixty million will be distributed in the form of loan modifications for current homeowners, 17.2 million will be a part of these payments for Wisconsinites who lost their homes through servicing abuses, 31.3 million will be used for refinancing benefits for eligible borrowers who are still making payments but are underwater on their mortgages and 31.6 million should go to the state to be used to protect this from happening again and compensate the state for any loses from the mortgage crisis.
Or, if you ask Governor Scott Walker, to help cover Wisconsin's budget deficit. Of the 31.6 million dollars going to the state, 25.6 million that will go to closing a budget shortfall.
Now, you may be asking yourself, "What budget shortfall?"
In October, Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau had projected the state would reach the end of the end of the two-year budget in July 2013 with a $73 million surplus. But on the same day the mortgage agreement was announced, the Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau announced they had re-evaluated the state's financial standing. They now project the state will end the two-year budget term with $143 million shortfall. They credit a projected $272.8 million decrease in estimated tax collections. But that couldn't have anything to do with the $117 million in tax breaks Walker gave away at the beginning of last year as he was in the process of stripping collective-bargaining rights, could it?
Joining me now is Judd Legum, vice president for communications and new media at American Progress. Thanks for your time tonight.
JUDD LEGUM: Thanks for having me, Sam.
SEDER: All right, so now, Judd - now, we should start off by saying that there's no document for this deal yet. Everything that we're talking about is projected and is reported to be in the deal. We haven't seen the document yet. So, with that granted up front, is Scott Walker legally allowed to use this money for budgetary purposes, based upon what the deal says?
LEGUM: Well, I think there's certainly some Democratic legislators, if you look at the news reports in Wisconsin, who say they're not sure whether the attorney general, who right now says he's in charge of this pot of $30 million is - has all the authority of how it's spent or not. I think they might like a say in how it's spent.
But I think, ultimately, it is given to the state, and - as you kind of laid out - this is the portion that they're supposed to have some discretion over. And the question is, maybe they weren't expecting somebody like Scott Walker to say, "Well, you know what? We're not going to worry about the foreclosure crisis that's been devastating our state for the last few years. We're going to use it to kind of fix up some of the other problems that I've created with some unrelated policies that really started this time last year."
SEDER: And let me ask you this - I mean, based upon the fact that there is no document yet, right, and that we don't really - I mean, all the details we know are just basically coming out of what is reportedly in the deal, but if we don't see a document yet, we don't - is Scott Walker - I mean, is he jumping the gun here a little bit? I mean, is it - why is he announcing this now? I mean, if the deal is not - if the ink's not even dry here, why is he announcing this now?
LEGUM: Well, I think what he's trying to do is avoid some really difficult choices that he would have to make if this - if he didn't have this pot of money. Obviously, it's against his constitution to ever consider raising taxes, as you mentioned. He did a big corporate-tax cut to start things off. And he's got - he's really already cut a lot of the budget to the bone. So, it's going to be very problematic for him to institute more cuts, especially with his recall election coming. So, I think he sort of saw this as kind of manna from heaven, to help salve some of his problems.
But I think, politically, it's looking like it's going to backfire on him. If you look at the reporting in the Wisconsin papers - I mean, this is already becoming another albatross. And Scott Walker, I think, has really demonstrated, it's really almost amazing that in 12 months he has become - from the hero of the Republican party, you used to always hear him mentioned, "Scott Walker, he is the future," - to now, if you watch someplace like CPAC, you don't hear a lot of the other speakers mentioning Scott Walker as somebody to be a model for the Republican party and that's because, I think, his policies have been so overwhelmingly unsuccessful.
SEDER: Yeah, it sort of seems like he's going all in on the "Can I be a pariah?" thing. But, I mean, let's assume for a second that he does use this money to fill the hole in the budget. Is there any recourse for affected homeowners to retrieve any of that money or no?
LEGUM: Well I think, certainly, this recall election is going to take - have an impact. It's unlikely they're going to be able to really spend this money and get it into the budget before the election, depending on how quickly they move.
And I can see the candidate who is running against Scott Walker say, "Elect me, and I'll make sure this $30 million goes to help homeowners and that we find other ways to close this budget gap." And I think that that could play into it.
I mean, really, one of the main reasons why we see this budget gap in Wisconsin - Scott Walker ran on a very straightforward pledge, he's going to create 250,000 jobs in five years. The first year he has created just over 10 - it's 13,000 jobs. And, for the last six months, Wisconsin has lost jobs. So, that's why they've had to make these revenue - these changes - these massive changes in their revenue predictions because, as the rest of the economy recovers, Scott Walker's prescription - bust the unions, cut the corporate-tax rates - is just not paying off for the state.
SEDER: Well, yeah, as predicted. Judd Legum of American Progress, thanks so much for your time tonight.
LEGUM: Thanks for having me, Sam.
SEDER: Coming up, a Democratic lawmaker from Oklahoma proposes an amendment that both mocks the "Personhood" bill and might also hurt the adult-film industry.
SEDER: An Oklahoma lawmaker proposes a satirical amendment that would make it illegal for a man to pleasure himself. Fortunately, just in Oklahoma.
And what do Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, and REO Speedwagon have in common? They're all on the Obama campaign's official Spotify playlist.
SEDER: It's been quite a week for conservative attacks on the rights of women. Yesterday, The New York Times noted that not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for a bipartisan-crafted reauthorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. This is an act formulated to combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
And the week has been dominated by conservative demands - under the fig leaf of religious liberty - that women be denied access to contraceptive health insurance coverage. Both attacks on women's rights were fronted, unsurprisingly, by conservative men waving a banner of so-called moral values. So it should come as little surprise that it was a man, state senator Brian Crain of Tulsa, who introduced a bill in the Oklahoma Senate to define a fertilized egg as a person and a citizen, essentially launching a frontal attack on a woman's right to have autonomy over her own body.
What is surprising is the tact our next guest took in highlighting the absurdity of the proposed law.
Let's welcome to the program State Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City, representing Oklahoma's 48th Senate district. Welcome, Senator.
CONSTANCE JOHNSON: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here.
SEDER: Now, you offered an Amendment to SB-1433, the so-called "Personhood" bill. Tell us what that amendment was - tell us what it was called and why you offered it.
JOHNSON: The amendment I offered stated that any action in which a man ejaculates into any other vessel other than a woman would be deemed illegal under the "Personhood" bill as it was proposed in committee. And, as you stated, it was to draw attention to the absurdity of the trends in Oklahoma towards continuing to place restrictions on women's rights to safe and affordable reproductive healthcare.
SEDER: All right. So, obviously - and speaking for no man in particular - you offered this amendment as satire. Tell me how your constituents in Oklahoma responded to this?
JOHNSON: The - the - the response has been overwhelmingly positive. People are amused. They are celebrating. They are sending me thanks. I'm getting thanks from all over the country, from overseas, for standing up and being willing to speak out against, again, a trend in Oklahoma that would limit women's rights when it comes to reproductive health choices.
SEDER: Yeah, I have to congratulate you on this. It really is a - it really does sort of lift the veil on just how ridiculous, and how this amendment - and this "Personhood" amendment is just the latest in a long line of attacks on women's reproductive rights in Oklahoma, isn't it?
SEDER: Tell me how else your state is infringing on those rights?
JOHNSON: We've, in the past six years since I've been serving in the Senate - and I've been in the legislature for 31 years - we've passed at least eight anti-abortion bills in Oklahoma. And now, given the Republican majority, which is a first for our state, we are seeing more and more.
And this "Personhood" bill, to me, represented the absolute - absolute most absurd proposal that I've seen to date. And, it's an outrage. I'm outraged. And so, when we have desperate measures we have to take desperate steps. And it was humorous, but at the same time, it was as serious as a heart attack. Oklahoma has bigger eggs to fry.
SEDER: You're good. So, let me ask you this, all right? So, based upon the conservative rhetoric about limited government, how do you square this attempt - when they seem so hell-bent on having government legislate control over women's bodies?
JOHNSON: And that's what I found equally amusing, is that here we have a party that is known for promoting less government intrusion - and this is the deepest intrusion into a family, not only a woman, but a family's person life. This particular bill could affect families who are trying to get pregnant via intro vitro - in vitro fertilization. It could affect a woman who has a miscarriage. It could affect someone who is on birth control.
So, instead of just totally looking at the woman's perspective and aspects of this, we wanted to also let people know that it takes two, and that men have a role in it as well. That sperm is just as sacred as an egg is. When those two come together and form an embryo, we're saying that's not necessarily when life begins. So, this is - this is an attempt to balance the scales in Oklahoma.
SEDER: And, just quickly - what happens next? Do you think this is actually going to get passed in your state?
JOHNSON: Hopefully, because of the focuses being placed on this - not only in our state, but worldwide - we will get advocates. We will get men, women - our state medical association has come out against it. We will get folks calling their legislators, because I believe that is the way to defeat it.
As I said, the Republicans are in the majority, and this is on their agenda, as it has been for the last few years, they can pass anything they want. It's only when the people call and let them know that this is enough, we will not tolerate this level of intrusion into our private lives.
SEDER: State Senator Constance Johnson, thank you so much for your time tonight.
JOHNSON: Thank you very much.
SEDER: The president releases the song list for his campaign. Two songs from the former frontman from Hootie and the Blowfish, but no hip-hop? What is he thinking? Next.
SEDER: In the same way you used to create a mixtape for a potential girlfriend or boyfriend, presidential candidates use the music at campaign rallies in an attempt to woo their supporters.
In our number-one story - President Obama has released his song list for the upcoming campaign. Using Spotify, which is an online music-streaming service where users can share songs as well as playlists, the president gave supporters a peek into what songs they can look forward to hearing at the rallies.
The 104-minute, 28-song playlist displays an eclectic array of musical acts. Ranging from country to rock, and of course, some classic R&B. Only two acts are on the list more then once - the country band Sugarland and Darius Rucker, best known for his years as the frontman to Hootie and the Blowfish, who abandoned his Blowfish for a more country sound.
Suspiciously absent from the list is any hip-hop music, which President Obama has, in the past, indicated resides on his iPod. But the campaign made it clear that the music was a collection of picks by staffers and not the president himself. But there is one song the president had some input in:
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: I'm so in love with you.
SEDER: Yes, Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" made the list. Let's bring in national political correspondent for Rolling Stone Tim Dickinson. Thanks for your time tonight, Tim.
TIM DICKINSON: Absolutely, Sam. Good to see you.
SEDER: Good to see you. Now, I don't want to read too much into this, but does this song list tell us anything about the - the type of campaign President Obama is going to run?
DICKINSON: You know, I think less the music than the fact that it's on Spotify, and the fact that they're using sort of new tools and new social media to reach out to voters, and it's sort of - the 2008 campaign was very innovative in its use of technology and this, I think, is a signal that the 2012 campaign is seeking to push the envelope. Even though they're the incumbent, they're not being sort of safe and cozy about it.
So, they're reaching out to - their former supports, hopefully current supporters, with a mixtape from a guy they used to have a fling with and he wants to let them know that he's still thinking about them.
SEDER: It's interesting. So, it's more almost the medium than it is the message?
DICKINSON: Well, each of the songs - it's kind of like getting a mixtape from a girlfriend or boyfriend. There are certain messages that come through, a lot of talk about standing up and using your voice and certain campaign themes come through. There is a country song that says, "I know you're with another guy right now but keep me in mind." I don't know if that's for Ron Paul supporters, or what. But each of these things is kind of a little puzzle to think about, you know, "Why is this on the mix?"
And then there are just some song that are good music. Some Booker T - I don't think there's a secret political message behind "Green Onions." But - it's nice music, it's easy to listen to. I do think it is - it is a combination, but I think it's mostly interesting, in terms of meeting supporters where they are, where they reside on Facebook, listening to music.
SEDER: So, let me ask you this - if there are some songs in there that are sort of delivering some subliminal messages - there's a lot of country songs on the list, but no hip-hop. Now, I know the list was made by staffers, but the president has said he listens to hip-hop. There are plenty of clean hip-hop artists out there, of course. Why not include one them?
DICKINSON: Yeah, no, it's a bit curious. There's certainly - there's nothing on this play list that would get Tipper Gore angry. There is nothing that requires a parental label.
You know, in his interviews with my magazine, the president has suggested his own musical taste is a good deal more interesting, leaning towards Nas and Jay-Z and even Lil Wayne. So, it's a bit curious, but I think that, you know, that in pushing the envelope with the medium, I think they are being very careful, at least in this initial mix, to be kind of vanilla with the choosings of the songs. But there's - a fake conspiracy theory circulating that the president has a separate Spotify list for his African American supporters, but I think that's just a joke.
SEDER: That's - that's quite - all right, so, let me ask you this, are we going to see any, like, GOPers now release - any of the candidates release their lists on Spotify? Are they going to be playing catch-up here?
DICKINSON: I think it's going to be hard for the GOP candidates to make use of the same tools here. I don't think anybody's really interested in what Newt Gingrich's musical tastes are, and most of these folks are getting in trouble for using "Eye of the Tiger" without authorization. So, I think they're likely to end up in more hot water for trying something like this than the President.
SEDER: I got to tell you, Tim, I would love to know what music Newt Gingrich listens to.
DICKINSON: Well, his cellphone ringtone is Abba so - go figure.
SEDER: All right, I think I know enough. Well, Tim, I guess we'll wait and see if any of those Republicans follow suit. I appreciate your coming by and breaking it down for us and now, I guess, I've got to go listen.
DICKINSON: Yeah, no, it's great to be with you. Thanks, Sam.
SEDER: National political correspondent for Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson. Thanks again.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that is our show for tonight. I'm Sam Seder, on behalf of all of us at "Countdown," thanks for watching and make sure that you have a very, very great weekend.