'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: Who is Santorum running against? 2008 speech about "Satan" & his victories over USA (including the NBA) clarify his POTUS slam
#ShowPlug 2: Some polling tightens to Romney (primaries) GOP (election). @JDub321 Joe Williams, @AndrewKroll join me
#ShowPlug 3: Gingrich's $ man would spend $100M to buy his boy the WH, but he'd feel bad about it. Super-PACs gone wild w/ @DaveLevinthal
#ShowPlug 4: WSJ's call to "break up big banks;" Dimon's push for higher taxes on rich - did Occupy win? W/HuffPo's @PAbrams2001
#ShowPlug 5: SCOTUS goes after more settled law; to hear Texas college admissions Affirmative Action case. @JonathanTurley joins me
#ShowPlug Last: AZ sheriff has a 2ND problem tonight; @AndrewBreitbart laughed out of court in Sherrod suit + new Breitbart Mashup Video
#5 'Santorum's Holy War', Joe Williams
#5 'Santorum's Holy War', Andy Kroll
#4 'Sugar Daddy PAC', Dave Levinthal
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Flirting With Occupy', Paul Abrams
#2 Worst Persons: Paul Babeu, Frank Luntz, Andrew Breitbart
#1 'Race Revisited', Jonathan Turley
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Jonathan Turley, Paul Abrams, Joe Williams, Andy Kroll, Dave Levinthal
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Check please. The new tape of Rick Santorum, August 2008.
(Excerpt from audio clip) RICK SANTORUM: The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on - a good, decent, powerful, influential country. The United States of America.
OLBERMANN: Santorum already believes Satan defeated academia, mainline Protestantism, culture and pro basketball.
(Excerpt from audio clip) SANTORUM: Whether it's the NBA, or whether it's a rock concert, or whether it's on a movie set.
OLBERMANN: And of course he said, "politics and government was the next to fall." All of which puts his assessment of President Obama in an entirely different light.
(Excerpt from audio clip) SANTORUM: It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology, oh, not a theology based on the Bible.
OLBERMANN: To say nothing about the supposed slip by his press secretary.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALICE STEWART: He was referring to the president's policies in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president has.
OLBERMANN: So who is Rick Santorum running against?
(Excerpt from video clip) DANA CARVEY: Could it be - Satan?
Gingrich's financier Sheldon Adelson says, "I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections, but as long as it's doable, I'm going to do it."
Did Occupy Wall Street just win?
The CEO of JPMorgan Chase calls for increased taxes for people making more than a million, and even more increased taxes for people making more than ten million, and The Wall Street Journal suggests Congress break up the big banks.
Affirmative action, to be re-litigated in the Supreme Court over student admissions at the University of Texas.
And Breitbart's huge legal defeat. Plus, tonight's guest star in the latest edition of "Breitbart Video Rage Mash-up Theater."
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Stop raping people!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Leave Britney alone!
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening, this is Tuesday, February 21st, 268 days until the 2012 presidential election.
OLBERMANN: Rick Santorum, rising in one national poll, slipping in another in Michigan, and hoping to ascend to the White House - or perhaps the heavens - by attacking President Obama for his quote, "phony theology." This, as a Santorum speech from more than four years ago surfaces and chips away at the former senator's attempt to walk back the implication that the president is the wrong religion.
In our fifth story on the "Countdown" - Santorum insisted to Ava Maria College in Florida, in August 2008, that Satan had attacked the United States and had already defeated such areas as education, culture and politics.
(Excerpt from audio clip) SANTORUM: The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies, Satan, would have his sights on - a good, decent, powerful, influential country. The United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age?
OLBERMANN: Karl Rove?
If you're a Matt Drudge and People for the American Way, together for perhaps the first time, it's Rick Santorum. The liberal group posting Santorum's speech on its Right Wing Watch site. And conservative aggregater Drudge doing the same on his eponymous sludge fest.
Perhaps Matt Drudge does not want Rick Santorum to get the GOP nomination. Neither does Ron Paul. The Texas congressman doing Mitt Romney favor with a Michigan attack ad:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Santorum voted to send billions of our tax dollars to dictators in North Korea and Egypt. It even hooked Planned Parenthood up with a few million bucks.
OLBERMANN: Romney, piling on with something similar:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: America is drowning in national debt, yet Rick Santorum supported billions in earmarks.
(Excerpt from audio clip) SANTORUM: I have had a lot of earmarks, In fact, I'm very proud of all of the earmarks I put in those, because I think I'm allowed earmarks.
OLBERMANN: Santorum, firing back at President Obama:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #3: Obama's reckless agenda must be stopped, and there's only one principle candidate with the courage to do it - Rick Santorum, father, husband, a champion for life.
OLBERMANN: And a champion to right-wing voters, at least some of them.
Santorum leading Romney among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents by 10 in the latest Gallup poll, but trouble for him. Those same groups finding Romney more electable against the president by no less than 26 points. This, while Santorum slips to just four points ahead of Romney in the Public Policy Michigan poll, one week ahead of the state's GOP primary.
While another pair of polls may have progressives reaching for their own prayer books. After weeks of improving numbers, the president now trailing Romney by four percent in a USA Today/Gallup poll of registered voters - not likely voters - leading Santorum by just one percent, same caveat.
Santorum maintaining his focus on the president with a Bible-based attack on his environmental policies last Saturday:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible.
OLBERMANN: Santorum tried to clear that theological mess up on "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I was talking about the radical environmentalists. This idea that man is not - is here to serve the Earth, as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth, and I think that is a phony ideal.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps an ideal that could be linked to the Quran, as suggested by no less a figure than Santorum's press secretary, Alice Stewart.
STEWART: There is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmists in this country. That's what he was referring to. He was referring to the president's policies in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president has.
OLBERMANN: Ms. Stewart later apologized, "misspeaking there." Saying she really meant to refer to the president's radical environmental policies because, obviously, most people think of "Islamic" and "environmental" as synonyms.
Santorum having previously assured the nation he didn't doubt Mr. Obama's faith:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I've repeatedly said I don't question the president's faith. I've repeatedly said that I believe the president's a Christian. He says he is a Christian.
OLBERMANN: Good enough, perhaps, for Rick Santorum, though apparently not for the Reverend Billy Graham's son and heir, the Reverend Franklin Graham. The evangelist passing on a chance to affirm the president's chosen religion, tying him instead to Islam.
(Excerpt from video clip) REVEREND FRANKLIN GRAHAM: You would have to ask him. I cannot answer that question for anybody. President Obama - the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them, than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries.
OLBERMANN: Why a man who, more than a year ago, insisted Obama was quote "born Muslim," is still given national airtime is as much as a shock as is that man's own prejudice.
If Republicans are, excuse me, secretly smiling at Graham's remarks, Mitt Romney should not take too much comfort from that, because Graham isn't too sure about his religion either.
(Excerpt from video clip) GRAHAM: Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism, no. Of course, they believe in Jesus Christ, but they have a lot of other things that they believe in, too, that we don't accept.
OLBERMANN: Hope it's nice up there on that high horse.
We'll look at the poll numbers in depth in a moment.
First, for more on the increasingly theology-tinged GOP race for president, I'm joined now by Joe Williams, the White House reporter for Politico. Joe, good evening.
JOE WILLIAMS: Hi, good evening, Brother - Brother Olbermann. Nice to meet you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you very much.
WILLIAMS: Nice to see you.
OLBERMANN: And let's keep saying, "Satan behind thee," or something.
This speech - this Santorum speech from four and a half years ago - a lot of candidates get close to that kind of rhetoric. I mean, Pat Robertson ran on it. But is there a sense of how something that fiery and brimstone-y plays when it's interjected into a race like this right now?
WILLIAMS: Well, certainly, the polls tell part of the story. You have Santorum leading Romney by 10 percentage points, nationally 36 to 24. Romney's still stuck at that 20 percent ceiling, more or less. And you have Santorum making these remarks openly, and that gives some heart to conservatives, who see that sort of language coming from him as authentic. I mean, he's got the authenticity and the passion that Romney lacks.
And the more they're talking about this, the less they're talking about economic recovery, the less they're talking about the environment, unemployment, globalization and wage inequality. I mean, these are basically things that they're not talking about because the religion is taking all the air out of the room.
At the same time, you have the GOP elder states people pulling their hair out, because this is a conversation they don't necessarily want to have at this time because it raises, as you mentioned, all sorts of other issues - not only about Santorum, but also about their preferred candidate Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: Santorum's attacking the president's environmental theology obviously preceded the release of that tape, and also preceded the release of his press secretary's slight error, in which she meant to say "radical environmentalist" and instead said "radical Islamic."
WILLIAMS: Simple slip of the tongue.
OLBERMANN: Sure, everybody - I mean, everybody says that. It's, you know - very often you'll point at an elephant and go "mouse." Is - is - speaking of animals, is that the proverbial dog whistle for conservatives? It can't just be people spouting off at the mouth in the middle of a race. Santorum had to have been saying that and using term "theology" regarding scientific practice intentionally, didn't he?
WILLIAMS: Well, in recent weeks, the two descriptors for Rick Santorum on the campaign trail were "disciplined" and "irrelevant," almost in the same sentence. That he's been a very disciplined campaigner, yet he's fallen way behind in the polls for just these sorts of reasons, because he doesn't have any kind of an economic plan that anyone can quote from memory.
But, certainly, this kind of language is not just a dog whistle, it's an air-raid siren. He's certainly a candidate as disciplined as everyone says Rick Santorum is, is no accident spouting this kind of rhetoric. But certainly, other people are saying, "This is who this guy is. He has talked about this - he has talked this way for years in the Senate. He talks this way in his personal life. These are things he actually believes," which, again, lends itself to a sort of authenticity argument, courting those conservatives that don't really believe in Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: The Ron Paul campaign, airing this attack ad that was aimed right between Santorum's eyes, why is it aimed at Santorum and not Mitt Romney?
WILLIAMS: Well, because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," and in this case, it really happens to be true.
In Romney's case, he and Ron Paul have this relationship, or a "bromance," it has been described, where they believe in, you know, even past politics of one another. They can attack one another, and they don't necessarily do it all that much in the debates, but they're still very good friends. They like each other personally. Their world views are somewhat similar, so it's all good as far as that's concerned. That's why you see this ad coming from Ron Paul and not Mitt Romney.
And also because Mitt Romney doesn't have the authenticity to speak on these issues. There are all kinds of questions about his moderation, about his faith, about his past as governor, so he really can't be calling out Rick Santorum as a fake conservative when many people feel the same thing about Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: And just to close it off, not to leave Gingrich out of this equation. He called President Obama a threat to national security. Have we reached some sort of ceiling on this kind of rhetoric, or is the national campaign likely to actually get worse?
And how can it get worse, unless the Republicans actually accuse the president of, you know, having a past in which he held up liquor stores?
WILLIAMS: You know, I think it's probably going to get - I mean, you ain't seen nothing yet, because this is only the primary, and we have the dog whistles being rolled out. We have a lot of mud being slung interparty, as well as against the president.
This is the influence of money. Money allows these sorts of things to be said without the candidates really claiming ownership of them. Money produces the ads. Money produces the opinions and gives license for these opinions to be swayed, because anything goes. And if money is going to continue to be an issue - we had some donors write some really huge checks on the right today, and not necessarily on the left side. You'll see more of this going out towards the president, than coming in from him, if you're on the Republican side.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, I don't know. I think it might be a little early, though, to play the satanic card. It's sort of peaking when you get Satan into this.
WILLIAMS: Never too early for that sort of thing. I mean, it's always good to go.
OLBERMANN: I guess you can come back to it.
Joe Williams of Politico. Thank you again, Joe.
WILLIAMS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Let's look at the poll numbers, as I suggested, and for that let's talk to Andy Kroll, a reporter with Mother Jones. Andy, good evening.
ANDY KROLL: Good evening. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure. There are two caveats, I think, that really weren't mentioned and haven't got a lot of mention on this, particularly the Gallup poll. Romney beating Obama. Obama leading Santorum by just a point. This is registered voters and the margin of error is four either way. So, it's a total of eight points margin of error, which is pretty high margin of error for any kind of polling. Is there - are there other explanations to it? Is there some Romney surge, or Republican surge, indicated by that poll?
KROLL: No, I don't think there is any kind of underlying reason why this poll seems like sort of an aberration. Like you said, it is pretty squishy. We have a four percent leeway going either way.
You know, when you also look at the general trend from the beginning of this year, through the present, President Obama's approval numbers - and his numbers stacking up against all the Republican candidates are on a slight uptick. You know, he's had good jobless claims. Jobless claims are at a four-year low. You know, the economy is beginning to improve, albeit tepidly. Things are turning up for him in the most important places, so I don't really think we should read too much into this latest poll suggesting that Obama is, you know, getting weaker in this month somehow.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, there was additional hand-wringing across the 'Net today about - the president trails every GOP candidate among likely voters - the likely ones - in Iowa and in Texas, and he trails Romney and Santorum in Virginia. Are those things the White House would actually act upon or worry about or were they expecting very little out of Iowa and Texas and Virginia to begin with?
KROLL: The White House absorbs every piece of data out there, and no doubt this is getting brought into the fold as well, but we're so early right now in the race. You know, Obama has barely campaigned in any of these states. Texas - he didn't even win in 2008, so I'm sure they're not too worried about Texas, a Republican stronghold.
When you look at Iowa and Virginia, the president did win those in '08, and Virginia, obviously, is a very key swing state that's going to be fiercely competitive, but we really haven't seen much money. We haven't seen much time spent in either of those two states, and really these numbers don't mean all that much at this point. It's the president's - essentially his approval rating without any kind of campaigning, stacked up against candidates that these voters have seen, you know, for months and months on television and in newspapers.
OLBERMANN: Is there any indication - you were talking about the White House absorbing data. Do they have data on whether or not conservative Christian attacks on the president, like that sort of opaque one by Santorum and the anything-but-opaque one by Franklin Graham, whether they help the White House more than, in fact, they hurt them because of the energizing effect they might have on the president's supporters?
KROLL: It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the White House hates it when these sort of bogus controversies get played out once again in the media for the umpteenth time, and they distract from, you know, the White House's message about an economy on the mend, about winning the payroll-tax-cut fight, about President Obama getting some momentum at exactly the time he needs it. So, you know, David Plouffe and all of the other - you know, Jack Lew, the chief of staff, they don't like this.
On the other hand, this is something that you can put in an email and send it out to your millions of supporters, and say, "Hey, look. The right is going after us again. They're resorting to baseless attacks about the president's religion," which, you know, the White House is bold enough - they've put his birth certificate and they put all of these responses on coffee mugs and on T-shirts. So, clearly, they're not worried about responding, and I think it is a motivating tool. It's also a distracting kind of issue as well. So, it goes both ways.
OLBERMANN: Andy Kroll of Mother Jones. Thanks for your time tonight, Andy.
KROLL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Of course, all this may be academic because the presidential election is rapidly devolving into a pure auction. Newt Gingrich's virtual sole financial backer says he's willing to put in $100 million of his own money to buy his man the White House. But, by golly, you know what? He thinks it's wrong to have rich people decide who's the next president. Next.
OLBERMANN: Newt Gingrich's money bag says he hates the idea that really rich guys can buy elections, like him. But if that's the law, he's going to do it.
If it happens, it means Occupy Wall Street won. The chairman of JPMorgan calling for higher taxes on the rich, and much higher taxes on the really rich. The Wall Street Journal wants Congress to break up the big banks.
Ever get the feeling that if the present Supreme Court heard Miranda v. Arizona it'd rule against the man who was never read his rights? How do you think they'll rule on a case that could erase affirmative action?
And the Arizona anti-immigrant sheriff has another new problem tonight, not just his Mexican boyfriend that he threatened to deport, but scrubbing that boyfriend's comments from newspaper websites. "Worst Persons," coming up.
OLBERMANN: "I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections, but as long as it's doable, I'm going to do it." Those the words of the man who is almost singlehandedly keeping Newt Gingrich in the Republican presidential primary, Sheldon Adelson.
In our fourth story - according to financial disclosures that campaigns and super PACs submitted to the FEC yesterday, it appears the Gingrich campaign is not the only one, not by any means, whose super PAC is relying on just the one sugar daddy to keep it afloat. Five people contributing about 25 percent of all super PAC money.
Mitt Romney still leading the way when it comes to cash. His campaign brought in $6.5 million in January. Fortunately for him, his super PAC, "Restore Our Future," brought in another 6.6. With Romney's Wall Street connections, the bulk of the money came from 23 donors who gave $100,000 or more. Three of them gave half a million or more.
Despite his recent absence from the trail, the Gingrich campaign pulled in $5.6 million. Just like Romney, the super PAC for Gingrich out-raised him. It pulled in nearly 11. Ninety-one percent of which was donated by the aforementioned Adelson and his wife Miriam, who donated $5 million apiece. Take the money and get a haircut.
Ron Paul's campaign brought in an impressive $4.5 million, his super PAC about 4.2. For all the talk about Paul's army of supporters, though, his super PAC appears to be no different than the others. With $1.7 million of the Paul super PAC's January collection coming from this man, PayPal founder Peter Thiel.
Rounding out the Republican field? Rick Santorum, whose campaign also brought in 4.5. An impressive feat, since his actual campaign did not raise a million dollars in any quarter last year. His super PAC brought in an additional $2.1 million, including $699,000 from Mr. "Aspirin-Between-the-Knees" himself, Foster Friess. But the largest contributor to Santorum's super PAC was the Louisiana energy executive William J. Doré who contributed $1 million.
Joining me now on this, Politico's reporter, Dave Levinthal. Thanks for your time tonight, Dave.
DAVE LEVINTHAL: My pleasure. Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The Adelson quote, it sounds like the old Alfred Hitchcock observation that what terrified him was not a murderer like in his movie "Psycho," but the guy who stands there and very politely says to you, "I'm terribly sorry. I hate to do this, but a man's family has got to eat so I have to rob you and kill you now. Sorry."
I mean, what - this - this - I - I - "if it's doable I'm going to do it" remark, it's almost more outlandish than the whole process. Isn't it?
LEVINTHAL: You have people on the right. You have people on the left, who are all saying, "Eh, you know, we don't really like the rules."
You have Barack Obama on one side, who has been against this entire situation ever since the Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission came down. What's he doing? A couple of weeks ago says, "Hey, you know, big-dollar donors, get behind my super PAC."
On the other side, Mitt Romney's saying, "I hate super PACs. They're horrible." But his prescription is - "Well, let's funnel all this unlimited money to the campaigns directly."
The real situation here is that we've looked at the numbers that came out just last night, new financial filings from all the candidates in the super PACs. What's remarkable is that the super PACs, in many cases, are either raising or spending more money than the candidates themselves. It's a situation that would have been utterly inconceivable just four years ago during the presidential election.
OLBERMANN: Let me correct this statistical - in a cascade of stats that we gave you, one statistical one. The Ron Paul super PAC pulled in $2.4 million. I think I had it at 4.2.
Let me get back to the questions with you, Dave. The Republicans have made the argument that money going to these super PACs would still wind up in the campaigns, even if there weren't super PACs, even if there hadn't been Citizens United. Only we'd have less transparency. Is that sophistry or is there some truth in there?
LEVINTHAL: Well, it's not true, insofar as the current laws are concerned. If you are an individual and you want to write a check to a presidential campaign, you can give 2,500 bucks per election. So, 25 in the primary, 25 in the general. But if you have a million dollars or $10 million, if the case is, to donate to a political entity, now - because of the Citizens United decision that's come forth - you can go ahead and you can write as big a check as you possibly want. So, it's a real disconnect in terms of the amount of money that campaigns can raise and the amount of money that political super PACs and these types of political action committees can raise.
It's a situation that, when the Citizens United decision came down a couple of years ago, probably the Supreme Court justices themselves were not entirely sure how it was going to play out in reality, and the reality that we see now is very profound, and you have what's surely going to be the most expensive presidential election in the history of the United States right here and now.
OLBERMANN: Funny how the Supreme Court justices didn't see how it played out, when laymen idiots like myself were able to see how it played out, and we may have been underestimating that - if a Sheldon Adelson could come out and, say, donate up to $100 million to put Newt Gingrich in the White House. Is there any extrapolation from that? Is there any - my God, maybe mathematical formula at this point - to guess how much Republican backers would in fact put in, whoever the candidate was, to the general election?
LEVINTHAL: It's impossible to say precisely, just because there are so much presidential election left before the November elections - but you're looking at a Republican versus Republican fight here, and you're already having tens upon tens of millions of dollars being spent just to kind of shoot at each other.
Wait until you have a Democrat versus a Republican shooting at each other, and you can expect the people who feel very passionately about Republican politics and, conversely, very passionately about Democratic politics and have the money to put behind their personal philosophies - they're going to spend it, because they can spend it, even if they have to swallow hard and do it when they don't like to, such as President Obama, in making a clarion call to his supporters to say, "Get behind my super PAC that's supporting me and start donating because, hey, if we don't do this - if we don't play by the rules that have been given to us - then we're kind of going to get our butts kicked."
OLBERMANN: So, what are the predictions? Are there any indications where that, in fact, is going to go, that super PAC, "Priorities USA Action," because - before he reversed course and said, "Yeah, okay, let's work with it" - it collected in January $59,000, which would be the money that would fall out of Adelson's pocket as he wrote the checks to Newt Gingrich's super PAC.
LEVINTHAL: Well, that super PAC is in a world of hurt, or at least, was in a world of hurt prior to the president actually coming out and saying, "It's okay to donate to the super PAC that's supporting me." And it's a super PAC that's run by two of his former White House staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, but they have absolutely had no traction whatsoever up until now to fundraising.
So you better believe, though, that when some guys on the Democratic side - who can write big-dollar checks, now that they feel liberated to do so - that they are going to do so and that the gap that exists right now between Democratic super PACs and Republican-backing super PACs, that is slowly going to come - maybe even quickly - come shorter and shorter, and narrower and narrower.
OLBERMANN: Dave Levinthal, Politico. Great thanks for your time tonight. We appreciate it.
LEVINTHAL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Seeing your money corrupting the country and saying, "Gosh, I wasn't - I wish it wasn't like this," is one thing. Seeing your money corrupting the country and saying, "I am in favor of changing the law to prevent me doing this," is quite another. That startling statement from a banking high-roller coming up.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1988, Jimmy Swaggart, for-profit Bible-thumper and crusader against sin, suddenly stopped denying the media reports that he'd hired a prostitute. And then, here come the waterworks.
JIMMY SWAGGART: I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain.
OLBERMANN: Stains? I don't wish to know this!
What's Jimmy Swaggart doing these days? What else? Railing against gay marriage, the way he used to rail against, you know, hookers.
SWAGGART: I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died.
OLBERMANN: So, you know what that means.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Baby goat back massage goes awry.
We begin, as we always do, with a man getting a back massage from baby goats. It's Jimmy Swaggart.
Uh, sir, that doesn't seem to be massage oil they're using.
Things eventually get a bit strange, as they always do in these situations. The man tries to get up, but apparently, now he's being held captive.
I don't know what's stranger, the man who has goats climbing on him or the person who's filming it. Buddy Ryan?
VIDEO: Tremont, Illinois high schoolers build a robot that can play basketball.
Tremont, Illinois, hello! Part of an international robotics competition, these kids from Tremont High School have created a robot that can play basketball.
From way downtown - bang!
The robot is a great shooter, clean-cut, great intelligence. Hmm. So, exactly where did this Jeremy Lin come from again?
VIDEO: Golfer Phil Mickelson sends a shot up the shorts of a onlooker at California tournament.
And golf shots, nothing but golf shots.
Phil Mickelson here, the 15th hole of the Northern Trust Open in California this weekend. Big swing, but the ball seems to be heading into the crowd. Lefty goes to retrieve the ball and finds a man on the ground.
He's fine, except the ball has gone up the leg of his trousers. The shot went off a tree and into the shorts of a man who'd been sitting down in the gallery.
Fortunately, Mickelson didn't try to hit the ball from inside the shorts - he'd end up with a wrong ball situation.
Lefty gives the fan a signed glove and a story to tell his grandchildren.
"Time Marches On!"
That's the way it is.
If a titan of Wall Street is suddenly calling for higher taxes on the rich, it would seem Occupy Wall Street might have had greater influence than anybody was willing to acknowledge. Next.
OLBERMANN: No matter what time you're watching this, "Countdown" is live each night at 8:00 Eastern with the primary replay at 8:00 Pacific, the longest continuously-running 8:00 p.m. news hour on cable, unless you consider Fox - "news."
Your chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot? One in 135 million. Your chances of Wall Street changing its tune, shirking the Republican regulation-free mantra, and embracing higher taxes for the super-wealthy? The odds sound equally absurd.
But, in our third story on the "Countdown" - following the occupation of Zuccotti Park this past fall and winter, The Wall Street Journal and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon appear to be echoing some of Occupiers' battle cries.
Just last month, the JPMorgan Chase CEO was whining that blaming big banks for the financial collapse is "just a form of discrimination," that, in his words, "should be stopped." But, in an interview with New York Magazine, Dimon now says, "Have a higher tax rate. If you said there'd be a certain percentage rate for people making over a million dollars and a higher percentage rate for people making over $10 million, no problem with me. I don't think people should be able to pass unlimited amounts on to their kids."
Many on the right equate regulating Wall Street to suffocating the nation's big banks. But the editorial board of Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has now joined the likes of those who say the Volcker Rule, mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, does not do enough financial oversight. The board, in an editorial last Friday, wrote, "However it is written, the Volcker Rule is a diversion from the real solutions that would protect taxpayers from a repeat. These include more careful monetary policy, which we are still not getting, less politically-directed credit creation, which is still not occurring, and a congressional plan either for allowing large banks to fail or for breaking them up, which we still don't have."
Let's bring in Paul Abrams, contributing writer who wrote this all up for the Huffington Post yesterday. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
PAUL ABRAMS: Thank you very much for having me, Keith, and thanks to your staff. They've been excellent.
OLBERMANN: Great. I'm glad to hear that. Thank you. When I read your piece, I thought maybe I missed something and now April Fool's Day had been merged with President's Day. Were Dimon's comments as surprising to you as they would have been to me?
ABRAMS: They were surprising when they came out but I looked at it, as you said. I think Occupy Wall Street changed the dialogue in the country, number one.
Number two, I think that they see that there's an increasing chance that President Obama's going to be re-elected and - very much like the Mafia of old - they always bet on both sides. So I think this is - I believe that, of the things that they care about, this probably is the least important to them, taxes on the wealthy. Regulation is more important. Breaking up the banks is more important. The tax on financial transactions would be more important. So, in essence, if you think of this as one big negotiation, they're signaling that this is what's least important to them.
OLBERMANN: Well, all right. Then, this leads me in two directions. The first one being, is there any chance that Jamie Dimon or this socialist newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, actually might get some of what they want? Will anybody grab this, either of these footballs, and run with them?
ABRAMS: Well, it certainly gives a lot more cover to people in Congress, but I think that the tax issue for congressional Republicans is their brand, and so when I wrote they abandoned the Republicans, basically Jamie Dimon et al has abandoned the Republican brand because it's not the most important thing to them. As far as The Wall Street Journal is concerned, it just reminds me of John F. Kennedy's quote about Richard Nixon when he was criticized by The Wall Street Journal, when he said "It's like the Vatican City newspaper criticizing the pope."
OLBERMANN: Yeah. The other direction, did Occupy actually win something or is this just going to wind up being lip service and kind of a feel-good moment?
ABRAMS: Well, I think that there's - it's a step in the direction. I think they won something with the rhetoric. I don't suspect that inside - I don't suspect that their lobbyists will - are going to change very much, but it certainly gives, on the political front, a lot more backing to the notion that everybody basically agrees that we need to raise revenues, and the best place to do that is, number one, raising taxes on the - those who can most afford it.
OLBERMANN: The other part of this - and I read the quote from Dimon, the second part of it - in addition to the idea of a certain surcharge or some kind of growth of taxes at a million and then again at 10 million, was the other part of this, which is: "I don't think people should be able to pass unlimited amounts on to their kids." Is he going to - is the next protest group that charges Jamie Dimon's home going to be his fellow CEOs? Isn't this the essence of big money, that you should be able to give nearly all of it to your descendents?
ABRAMS: I think so, Keith, and I just think that he was recognizing a certain reality in the dialogue, and if the Occupy movement continues, if the political momentum continues to move in the direction of raising taxes and doing the things that are necessary for the government to do, such as building roads and bridges, et cetera, I think that they will have, again, indicated what their least important concern is, and they're more concerned with issues such as keeping the banks big, keeping their power and prestige, and also avoiding a tax on financial transactions.
By the way, Keith, do you know what the average time that a share is now held in the United States, a share of stock?
OLBERMANN: With the computerized -
ABRAMS: 20 -
OLBERMANN: I was going to say, must be microscopic.
ABRAMS: Twenty-four seconds.
OLBERMANN: When in doubt, get rid of it. Last thing, about -
OLBERMANN: Relative to the Occupy message, is there anything that those people involved in that protest can take from this and say, "This is precedent? This is an M.O. for us to proceed in the future," or is this just a one-off thing?
ABRAMS: No, I think they can absolutely do it. Basically, the bully pulpit that the president has - but hasn't used that much until recently - wasn't really competitive with the right-wing media ability to get things out in many different directions. Occupy, by their actions, brought a lot of attention to what they were doing, and so everybody was talking about what they were doing, and then people started talking about what they were for. So I think they absolutely should continue what they were doing. I take my hats off to them.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and the idea of a point of view rather than an agenda was perhaps integral to that as well. Paul Abrams, contributing writer of the Huffington Post.
OLBERMANN: Great thanks for your time. Great thanks for your assessment.
ABRAMS: Thank you very much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of Occupy - another bad weekend for its slanderer, followed by a worse day in court today. Breitbart loses to Sherrod. Plus, episode five of "Breitbart Video Rage Mash-up Theater." Leave Andy alone!
OLBERMANN: Even in the days of hyper-partisanship, could a Supreme Court really undo affirmative action? It's decided to give itself a chance.
First, the "Worsts."
Shirley Sherrod's damage suit against Andy Breitbart lives to see another day as does "Breitbart Video Rage Mash-up Theater." Next.
OLBERMANN: The Supreme Court challenge to affirmative action, because they haven't gotten around yet to challenging "Brown v. Board of Education."
First - because this is the way we fight people who have nothing affirmative to offer, nor any education - here are Countdown's top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Paul Babeu, the rapidly - rabidly - anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff and congressional candidate. You've probably already heard that a Mexican gentleman named "Jose" not only alleged a long-standing gay relationship with Babeu, but insisted that Babeu and his attorney repeatedly threatened to deport him if he told anybody. Babeu has now acknowledged that he's gay but denied everything else.
Turns out there's something else to deny now.
The Phoenix New Times also wrote, "Jose admits that he lashed out on news websites featuring stories about Babeu. He says he commented anonymously that the sheriff was not who people thought he was. He says he once wrote a comment on Chino Valley eNews that Babeu had an account on adam4adam.com, where gay men arrange sexual liaisons."
Turns out that was last month, and we know this because the newspaper had deleted Jose's comment, and Babeu's campaign had what turns out to have been a fictitious explanation. We asked Chris DeRose, Babeu's campaign manager, about the comment, and he responded that Babeu "had a sister with a mental illness who was posting comments like this on various websites. We had already deleted the comment, so we pursued it no further."
So Babeu's boyfriend posted a comment about him on a website, and his campaign manager blamed it on Babeu's mentally-ill sister.
Our runner-up? GOP wordsmith and spinmeister, Frank Luntz. Speaking at a Republican event over the weekend in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he did the usual tired, distasteful, anti-Obama humor then went over the line.
"I actually have a 'Run, Barack, Run' bumper sticker but I put it on the front of my car."
Lovely. You want to have people visualizing chasing the president of the United States in a car, when he's on foot, in hopes of running him down. But Republicans never invoke violence fantasies against the president.
But our winner, once again? Right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart, whose descent into madness, courtesy of Occupy Wall Street, accelerated over the weekend, this time not with a wine-fueled episode in front of Occupy protesters but with a simple tweet, which indicated that the universal rejection - outside the right-wing bubble - of his attempt to smear Occupiers as rapists and murderers, was only further confounding his limited capacities.
"Way more people over way longer time in tea party but no rapes. Short period of time, less people in Occupy equals rapeapalooza."
But Breitbart is, tonight, in more than just Twitter trouble. A district judge in D.C. refused his motion to dismiss the lawsuit against him by Shirley Sherrod, the former Agriculture Department official whom he hounded out of her job by selectively editing a videotape of a speech she had given.
Hilariously, the judge noted that the law Breitbart cited as "cause to dismiss," did not take effect until a month after Sherrod had sued him and added that Breitbart had missed the deadline for filing his motion to dismiss by two more weeks.
All of which brings us to the fifth episode in our 40-part series, "Andy Breitbart Rage Video Mash-Up Theater."
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: You are freaks and animals! You're freaks and animals!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: And how [ bleep ] dare you make fun of Britney after all she's been through. All you people want is more, more, more, more, more!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Learn to behave!
(Excerpt from video clip) POLICE OFFICER: Sir!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: You're lucky she even performed for you bastards!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Stop raping people!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Leave Britney alone!
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: Stop raping people!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Right now! I mean it.
(Excerpt from video clip) BREITBART: You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
OLBERMANN: With my apologies to Chris Crocker and, of course, Britney.
Andy Breitbart, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: What is settled law in this country, and what might be reversed at any time, even 50 years after its introduction by President Kennedy and after countless affirmations in the courts?
In our number-one story - the Supreme Court announcing it will revisit the role affirmative action plays in higher education. This time around, a much more conservative court threatening the survival of affirmative action.
The high court said it will hear Fisher v. Texas, to determine if one Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas because she is white. In 1996, a federal appeals court banned the use of affirmative action in Texas public universities.
In 2003, that was reversed, Justice Sandra O'Connor writing the five-to-four decision Grutter v. Bollinger, ruling the University of Michigan Law School could consider race when evaluating applicants: "The Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the University of Michigan Law School's narrowly-tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."
But Justice O'Conner has been succeeded by the doctrinaire Justice Samuel Alito. In 2007 he wrote, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."
Right now, students in the top 10 percent of Texas high schools are automatically admitted into that state's public university system. Ms. Fisher missed the cutoff. She was put into a group where race is considered among other factors, like community service and work experience.
Let's try to hash this out with constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, the George Washington University law professor and, we're proud to say, a "Countdown" contributor. Good to talk to you, Jon.
JONATHAN TURLEY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The last time the Supreme Court ruled on affirmative action was nine years ago. Any indication why it's taking this up now?
TURLEY: Well, probably a simple head count. The court is much more conservative. Also, it's an opportunistic moment because Kagan has recused herself, and she was a very strong vote likely in favor of Texas. So this is now an eight-person court, and the swing justice, Justice Kennedy, voted previously against the position of Sandra Day O'Connor in the case that you just mentioned, Grutter.
But also, the odd thing is really timing. You know, one of the most controversial parts of the O'Connor decision in Grutter is that she sort of arbitrarily said we're going to allow this to happen for 25 more years, and a lot of people viewed that as sort of - were taken aback a bit. Why 25 years? Even Justice Ginsburg and Breyer would not sign on to that statement, but that's the statement of the majority opinion. So even under that analysis, we would have only - you know, the difference of maybe 15 more years for Grutter to be good law.
So there's been a lot of controversy about how O'Connor wrote that opinion.
But, you're right, the question here is often one of what's called "stare decisis," or the respect of previous decisions. The court has always maintained that it's not just a head count, it tries to have some continuity, consistency. This would seem to shatter decisis.
The lower courts ruled that this plan of Texas's fell squarely within the guidelines of Grutter, so in order to come out the other way, you really have to shatter Grutter and say, "We now have five justices going the other way."
OLBERMANN: So, what happened to the court taking cases like this and saying, "Look, we decided it this way, Congress. If you want to change it, you change it." What happened to that line, and did we ever have a definition of where that line was?
TURLEY: Well, you know, the problem with Grutter is it was really fractured. I mentioned that the two justices would not sign on to O'Connor's 25-year statement. You had even a fracture among the dissents. Although, they generally agreed that there should be no race consideration.
There's also an added issue here, Keith, where it has an out for justices. There's a question of standing and whether Miss Fisher still has a legitimate reason to ask for relief. The irony is that she's just asking for her $100 back, which is what you paid for the allocation and the housing deposit, but clearly four justices wanted to see this case on the merits. There's no question that they have the presumed five votes that could send Grutter into the ashbin of history, and with it could go affirmative action, at least in consideration of race.
OLBERMANN: All right, how much would it go? I mean, is this overturning everything we know as affirmative action or is it limited to educational applications or what?
TURLEY: Well, it depends how they write it. As you just quoted, Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement, Alito, takes a very clear position on this, that you can't fight race discrimination by considering race, and they could very well adopt that. That would have sweeping impact across the board.
You do have five strong justices here when it comes to not liking affirmative action, considering race issues. You know, Kennedy has been more nuanced. He hasn't been quite as strong, but Chief Justice Roberts has been very outspoken against the use of race. So my guess is that when the four justices that accepted this case, they have Grutter in the cross hairs. They want to see it overturned.
OLBERMANN: Jonathan Turley of George Washington and, we're proud to say, "Countdown." Always a pleasure. Thank you for your insight, sir.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Take care. That's "Countdown" for this, the 412th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House. That's 412 days in which the Republicans have failed to pass a jobs bill of any kind of sort.
Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.