'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: POTUS plans lower corporate taxes; GOP says not enough; Santorum's new old problem: said Dems were party of "Woodstock" & sex
#ShowPlug 2: @NiaWaPo (Nia-Malika Henderson) and @Markos Moulitsas join me
#ShowPlug 3: Yes, Virginia, there are still Transvaginal Probes. GOP tries shell game on new abortion law. Latest w/ @IrinCarmon
#ShowPlug 4: NYPD vs Muslims, Round 4. Now, city insists it can run undercover profiling at Yale, other colleges. W/ AP's Adam @Goldmandc
#ShowPlug 5: Your @AndrewBreitbart Rage Video Mashup Theater No. 6 hint: "You're Horrible."
#ShowPlug Last: RW identifies America's real enemies: The Lorax (w/ @MaysoonZayid ) & The Girl Scouts: State Rep now cites his bad research
#5 'Taxes & Tumbles', Nia-Malika Henderson
#5 'Taxes & Tumbles', Markos Moulitsas
#4 'Probing Questions', Irin Carmon
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Studying While Muslim', Adam Goldman
#2 Worst Persons: Andrew Breitbart, Mormon temple performing posthumous baptisms, Bob Morris (R-IN)
#1 'Dobbs Fury', Maysoon Zayid
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Markos Moulitsas, Nia-Malika Henderson, Irin Carmon, Adam Goldman
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The president's plan to cut corporate tax rates to 28 percent, not enough for the Republicans.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: He's proposing, today, a corporate tax plan which I understand sounds like he's lowering taxes, but in fact, he's raising taxes.
OLBERMANN: Romney then vows to cap all taxes at 28 percent. Your bid.
Now tied with Romney in Michigan, trailing him in Arizona, Santorum bets everything on the Bible card, defends his Satan comments, gets slammed by an old-line Republican stalwart.
(Excerpt from video clip) ALAN SIMPSON: He is rigid and a homophobic.
OLBERMANN: And he tries to go on offense.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: Our president refuses to call evil "evil," refuses to even name it.
OLBERMANN: But tonight, he's got a new problem. More comments from 2008: "The Democratic party has become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that's sex. And the whole abortion culture, it's not about life. It's about sexual freedom. That's what it's about, homosexuality. It's about sexual freedom."
Virginia's Trans-Vaginal Penetration Abortion Bill.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Ayes, 65. Nos, 32. The bill is passed.
OLBERMANN: Proponents say they've removed the part about forced probing of women. In fact, it may still be there under a different guise.
Another New York City police scandal, in which they are illegally operating in other states, targeting Muslims - this time at Yale University - and New York's mayor is blithely unaware that he is not president of the United States nor head of the FBI.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I don't know why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale.
OLBERMANN: And - paranoia-a-go-go.
(Excerpt from video clip) LOU DOBBS: Hollywood is once again trying to indoctrinate our children.
OLBERMANN: The weapon he and only he can see? A Dr. Seuss movie.
And then there's Indiana. This Republican state representative again insists the nation is under attack by the radical, left-wing, tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOB MORRIS: The Girl Scouts of America.
(Excerpt from video clip) GIRL SCOUTS: They're back.
(Excerpt from video clip) GIRL: It's Girl Scout cookie time.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) GIRL SCOUTS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Good evening, this is Wednesday, February 22nd, 259 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The president offered to slash the corporate tax rate today while raising revenues at the same time, with Rick Santorum calling for voters to scrutinize candidates' records while struggling with even more of his own records surfacing today.
Our fifth story on the "Countdown" - the president not singing the blues over taxes, after vocalizing with B.B. King last night, while the Republican presidential field prepared for a debate tonight in Arizona, with some recent and not-so-recent statements hanging over their individual heads.
Starting with the president. Mr. Obama appearing today at the groundbreaking for the Washington National Museum of African-American History and Culture and releasing a new corporate tax plan calling for cutting the top rate to advance from 28 to - cutting the top rate to 28 from 35 percent, reducing the maximum effective rate for manufacturers to 25 percent, cutting corporate deductions and loopholes, imposing a minimum tax on multinational firms, foreign earnings, raising taxes for oil and gas firms, ending tax breaks for companies outsourcing jobs, adding tax breaks for manufacturers who move jobs back here. Much of what was stated in the State of Union address.
Treasury Secretary Geithner telling Congress last week the new plan "will help level the playing field for businesses and allow the government to collect needed revenue while promoting economic growth.
The 2012 presidential race looking a bit more like a level playing field to the White House, with a slight lean to the president. Mr. Obama barely edging Romney nationally in the latest Quinnipiac poll, with the caveat that this is registered voters, not any form of likely voters. The margin of error totals to four. He's doing a little bit better against Santorum.
Mr. Romney making news today with a tax plan of his own:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'm going to lower rates across the board for all Americans by 20 percent.
OLBERMANN: Or so he says. Romney also promising to cap all taxes at 28 percent while lowering the corporate tax rate to 25. And if that sounds like a nod to the one percent, Romney also saying that while he would let middle-class families keep their deductions.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: We're going to cut back on that so that we make sure that the top one percent keeps paying the current share they're paying or more.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Mitt Romney. Now underway.
Romney also uttering this spending-cuts heresy on Tuesday:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, why as you cut spending, you'll slow down the economy.
OLBERMANN: I thought he'd be hit by lightening for saying that. Club for Growth Vice President Andy Roth sputtering in response. "It's hogwash. It confirms, yet again that Romney is not a limited-government conservative. The idea that balancing the budget would not help the economy is crazy."
So, who is Mitt Romney? Rick Santorum, suggesting Arizona voters would like to know:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I encourage you to actually look at the records of the candidates. Look at what the candidates are saying they're for.
OLBERMANN: Looking at what Santorum says he's for brought us his 2008 comments - reported on this news hour yesterday - that America was under attack by Satan.
Santorum, not exactly backing down from that today:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I believe in good and evil. If they want to dig up old speeches of, you know, talking to a religious group, they can go right ahead and do so.
OLBERMANN: All right, good enough. More digging providing this golden oldie from a 2008 forum, sponsored by the Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life, in which Santorum said of the Democratic party, "They have become the party of Woodstock. They prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that's sex. And the whole abortion culture, it's not about life. It's about sexual freedom. That's what it's about, homosexuality. It's about sexual freedom."
The Huffington Post also reporting on a December 1995 Philadelphia Magazine article on Santorum. The pro-life senator from Pennsylvania quoted as saying, "I was basically pro-choice all my life until I ran for Congress."
The Huffington Post also digging out a Santorum campaign 1990 issue statement which read, in part, "While having no abortions would be ideal, it is very difficult to criminalize any activity once a large portion of the society comes to see it as a right. Abortion in the hard cases - rape, incest and danger to the mother's health - cannot be prohibited by legislation.
But, Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley insisting in response, "Rick Santorum has always been pro-life, he ran as a pro-life candidate and got elected as a pro-life candidate."
Former Republican senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, had his own view on Santorum:
(Excerpt from video clip) SIMPSON: He is rigid and a homophobic. He believes that gays and lesbians - he mentioned in an interview in 2003, bestiality and gays and lesbians - I think that's disgusting.
OLBERMANN: GOP primary voters may not agree. Romney and Santorum still essentially tied in Michigan, before the debate at least. Though Romney also leads Santorum by 16 percent in Arizona, leaving the president to sing a blues - all right, a happy blues number - at a White House performance last night along side the legends Mick Jagger and B.B. King.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Come on/Baby, don't you want to go?
(Excerpt from video clip) BB KING: Same old place.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: Sweet home, Chicago.
OLBERMANN: Having previously heard a little of him pretending he was Al Green - Al Green. Reporters wanting to know when we might hear from that president again, and getting a oracular comment from press secretary Jay Carney.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: I can't predict the next time. Maybe at the inauguration next year.
OLBERMANN: To go into depth on dueling tax plans in the GOP race, and for that I'm joined by Nia-Malika Henderson, national political reporter with The Washington Post and "Countdown" contributor. Nia, good evening.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Hey, it's good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. We feel the same way.
The president's tax plan, presumably dead on arrival in the GOP House, so what was the point of it?
HENDERSON: That's right. I think in - it was really a way for him to get a new talking point. As you said, a lot of this was mentioned in his State of the Union speech. A lot of this he had been mentioning all along - raising taxes on oil and gas, lowering the corporate tax rate, lowering the tax rate on manufacturers. And I think, in that way, that also plays into something that Rick Santorum has been trying to do - focusing on manufacturers, in terms of lowering their tax rating, jump-starting a job creation here.
So, I think you've seen a president that's been feeling good over these last days. You seen a president where the economic numbers - the job numbers, the unemployment rate - has declined. And so this, I think, is just furthering his message that he's on top of looking at job creation, on top of this economy, and he really, I think, takes away some of the momentum from some of the Republican candidates who now have to find a new talking point, in terms of what they would do for the economy.
OLBERMANN: And to that end, Romney's tax plan. This analysis, from a nonpartisan group called Citizens for Tax Justice, says the plan that he proposed today "would allow the wealthy to pay far less in taxes than they do. It appears to be paid for by unspecified cuts to Social Security and Medicare." Does that suggest that Romney also doesn't think that this is going anywhere, it's just thrown out there to get the red meat going?
HENDERSON: Yeah, I think in some ways yes, because you have seen a Romney campaign that has been struggling to get its footing. Here is a campaign that's all about the economy, and so he's likely to face a president - or whoever the nominee out of the Republican side is - will likely face a president with numbers that look decent. That the trend numbers all show that the economy is improving, so they have to sort of change their game.
So that's what we see Mitt Romney doing here. Very interesting, that - as you pointed out - that he's adopting some of the language of Occupy Wall Street and also looking a bit like a moderate by saying, "Hey, we can't just cut our way to job creation." That's something the tea party folks certainly won't want to hear. He'll unveil a bit more of this on Friday in Michigan - it's, of course, in a tight race there - his old home state - but locked in a dead-heat race there with Rick Santorum.
OLBERMANN: Nia, do we have any idea why he said that about - about cuts and their possible effect on the economy? Because it would seem to me the only way any Republican could ever possibly say that before the nomination was sewn up would be if he was convinced that the path was clear for him to have the nomination sewn up. Either that, or it's as big a mistake as you could make in the primaries.
HENDERSON: Yeah, it is interesting. You know, I mean - we've seen Mitt Romney over these last many months, and he does seem, in some ways, to be all over the place in a lot of ways and a lot of issues.
You know, on the one hand, he seems to be running to the right of Newt Gingrich and Santorum and Perry all over the place, over these last many months. But this was an odd comment, I think, for him to make - this whole idea of cuts not being the way to growth. Of course, we know that that's the entire Republican - on the far right - that that's very much their mantra. That's the tea party's mantra that - really, we need to shrink the size of the government to jump-start the economy.
But I do think you have a Romney campaign, as much as he's locked in a tight race in Michigan, it looks like he's doing pretty well in Arizona.
I do think they're seeing Santorum implode, in the way that they did with Newt Gingrich. It was almost like they could sort of stand back. Certainly, they helped with all those negative ads, but in some ways, Newt Gingrich didn't help his case for being the candidate because of all the things he was saying about a food-stamp president and all those sorts of things.
And, in the same way, they see Santorum doing the same thing - going into these social issues, talking about contraception, talking about the devil. I don't know how many presidential hopefuls in the last 25, 30, 50 years talk about the devil. And, I have to say, you know, I grew up in the south, and I've been to many a Baptist church on Sunday morning - lots of talk about the devil and Satan then, but not necessarily on the presidential stump.
But this is something that he feels like will certainly gin up his base, this far right, but again, you feel like Santorum was somebody who had that base anyway, so why he feels like he needs to go there is just - I don't understand why he feels like he needs to go there.
OLBERMANN: I would guess terrible fear that Satan is running as a third-party candidate.
Nia-Malika Henderson, of The Washington Post and of "Countdown." Great thanks for some of your time tonight.
HENDERSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let's look now at the questions that must be troubling some Republicans tonight - who are Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and why does it look like fewer people care now than they did two months ago? For that, I'm joined by Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas. Good evening, my friend.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, all right. Let's split Santorum's past into two categories: internal and external.
The internal first. "I was basically pro-choice all my life until I ran for Congress." And the 1990 issue statement - "Hard cases, abortion hard cases, can't be criminalized." The spokesman said, "Oh, he ran always as a pro-life candidate," a non-denial denial. This is the sort of thing that could really deflate that balloon, couldn't it?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, well, I'm willing to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt that they get crazier as they get older. I mean, Rick Santorum absolutely seems to get nuttier by the day, but what I thought was interesting was the denial, however, because I mean, as we know, if Rick Santorum is as religious as he says he is, that there is actually a commandment that addresses that sort of thing.
OLBERMANN: Mmm-hmmmm. The external problem. Fulminating that the Democrats were the party of Woodstock - and that's only four years ago - primal lust, homosexuality, sexual freedom, which he seems to be totally against in all forms. Is that what, in another sense, the GOP elders fear when they worry about Santorum actually winning the nomination? There'll be something so off-putting that there'd be no chance of a Democrat or independent voting for a Republican candidate, and you literally - you'd have to have Satan running as a third party to bring anybody over to your side?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Rick Santorum really - bottom line - is unelectable. I mean, the guy lost by 17 points in Pennsylvania, which is a battleground state, by the way, the last time he ran for re-election - so the guy isn't exactly the strongest, you know, election candidate. He seems like he was running for Dana Carvey's Church Lady.
MOULITSAS: Which, actually, is hilarious if you're doing an "SNL" skit, not so funny if you're running for president of the United States.
OLBERMANN: The Romney slip, which we discussed with Nia for a while - saying that spending cuts would slow down the economy. Club for Growth aside - is he going to have to spend the rest of the primaries trying to live that down, and is there anything that if he gets - if and when he gets the nomination, the Democrats could use with that quote?
MOULITSAS: I guess it depends on what Mitt Romney shows up that day. If it's the Mitt Romney who's forgotten he's running in a Republican primary, and is talking about no spending cuts and a progressive tax structure, and talking about the one percent and the 99 percent - well, maybe not so much. But, he still has to run a Republican primary.
In fact, half the time he's talking about all the spending cuts he needs to make, non-defense spending cuts. So his - what this incident does - I don't know if it really affects him moving forward. What it does is it really reinforces the fact that he has no core, no ideological grounding, no principles, and no mooring, nothing that moors him in any way on any issue or any ideological or even moral ethical concern.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, poll numbers, and they're all over the place. The Quinnipiac ones that we quote had him up by - the president up by a couple, but that's registered voters, which is just - just essentially a popularity contest at that point, but in the Associated Press, it has the president over Santorum and Romney by eight and ten, and I can't remember which was which.
But there's a far more interesting number in the AP poll which - they've been tracking GOP Republican interests in the presidential race. First off, 40 percent of Republicans are still dissatisfied with all the candidates. In other words, the choice. And in December, 48 percent said they had a great interest in following this race, and now it's down to 40 percent.
So, as much as it's grown more and more entertaining for people who have been standing on the sidelines - especially people with a left-of-center point of view - apparently there has been something of an attrition rate almost equivalent to the number of Republican candidates who have fallen to the attrition rate.
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I don't think the polls are that off. I mean, the exact number may be off by a point or two, but the trend lines are very consistent. The fact is, Mitt Romney was competitive two months ago, is becoming less and less competitive - particularly in battleground states - and what we found is, absolutely, the longer this primary process drags out, the less people like Rick Santorum, the less they like Mitt Romney, and the better Obama looks in comparison.
Not to mention the money that is being spent. I mean, the Romney campaign spent, what? Thirty-eight million in January alone. The longer this keeps up, the more he's spending that money trying to bash another Republican as opposed to Obama - which is why we're actually encouraging Democrats to vote in open-primary states like Michigan, North Dakota, Tennessee and Vermont because the longer this goes on, the longer - or the better it's going to be for Democrats this fall.
OLBERMANN: You know when you have a sitting president who is willing to start singing repeatedly that -
MOULITSAS: He's feeling pretty cocky, isn't he?
OLBERMANN: Exactly. It's like - he's not a depressed man, relative to his future job possibilities.
The Daily Kos founder and publisher, "Countdown" contributor Markos Moulitsas. It's always a pleasure, sir.
MOULITSAS: Pleasure, thanks so much.
OLBERMANN: A confused situation tonight in Virginia, where the state may have removed the odious trans-vaginal-probe provision that we told you about, in its new law restricting abortion, or it may just be a sham show. The latest, next.
OLBERMANN: Is there a partial victory over Virginia's governor and the new restrictive abortion laws that would mandate trans-vaginal exams or did they just keep, and rename, the same exam?
New York City's amazing response to news it has again been using its police in other states to hound Muslims. The mayor says it's his job to protect, not his city, but the country.
To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, "Who has served his country better, the Lorax or I?" Lou Dobbs loses it over a Dr. Seuss character.
And the Indiana Republican's outburst against the Girl Scouts, the one that got him mocked by his own party leader. Today, he doubles down on his claim that the Scouts are radical, and he explains how and where he researched this.
OLBERMANN: As the Republican war on women's rights marches on, all eyes have turned to Virginia, where that new bill mandated that - for a woman to be able receive an abortion - she would first have to undergo a procedure that some equated to "state-sanctioned rape."
In our fourth story - Governor McDonnell today announced a deal to remove the mandated procedure, called a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Although the law doesn't mandate the procedure now, it does require information about the gestational age, which can only be obtained early on via a trans-vaginal ultrasound.
Amid silent protesters standing outside the Capitol, the petition against the bill had more than 33,000 signatures on it.
Late yesterday, a vote on the bill in the House was delayed as the governor called the legislatures together to amend the language. This afternoon, McDonnell released a statement announcing triumphantly that a deal had been reached:
"I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a trans-abdominal or external ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that any other form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information, that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision."
The bill - with the new amendment - quickly introduced on the House floor, passed 65-32.
While the amendment removed the wording "mandating the trans-vaginal ultrasound," the need for the procedure remains, because - in the early stages of pregnancy - external, or trans-abdominal, ultrasound usually is not able to retrieve accurate images of the fetus. Since images and information about a fetus are still required to receive an abortion, women would still need to find a way to pursue - produce the necessary images or, in other words, undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound or wait until the fetus is large enough to be seen by the external ultrasound.
So, the bill does not exactly mandate the procedure but the woman is still compelled to undergo it.
This crazy-ass bill with the new amendment will come up for a vote in this crazy-ass Senate on Friday.
Joining me now, staff writer for Salon.com, Irin Carmon. Great thanks for coming in.
IRIN CARMON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: From what you can tell, is this, in fact - this whole dance, about allowing Governor McDonnell to say, "I took the mean 'tv' word out of this equation, but there's still - the process is still necessitated by what they're setting up there?
CARMON: Honestly, I mean, to begin with, this is a procedure that is not medically necessary.
CARMON: Even if you're doing it through the abdominal wall, even if you're not doing a trans-vaginal ultrasound. The total intention of this is just to humiliate women who are seeking an abortion and try to get them to change their minds.
OLBERMANN: Intimidate them.
CARMON: Intimate them, bully them. But the thing is, this word "trans-vaginal" really caused a lot of trouble for Republicans. I mean, a lot of similar bills have been passed in other states and yet, that word never caught on.
Now, this doesn't really make sense, as you pointed out. If they do, in fact, have to produce the images then it's hard to fulfill it. The bottom line is that it's already trying to get the doctor to do something that is beyond what the doctor would normally have as their discretion. Some clinics do have, already, elective ultrasounds.
CARMON: The point is, it's trying to shove their way between the doctor and the woman and make this as difficult as possible.
OLBERMANN: Well, but it's worse than that because, in the new language, the governor is saying, "We're not going to mandate this, but the doctor will have to mandate this." So, the complete responsibility is shunted away from the state, even though the state is demanding it. I mean, it's a perfect - it is a definition of Catch-22. "You don't need to have this exam. We can't make the doctor do it, but you have to have the results of the exam."
CARMON: Right. Well, I think this is - currently, it doesn't really make sense. It's not clear what's going to happen once the version in the Senate gets debated over.
The point is that McDonnell has had to be on defense. This is a man who already passed legislation in Virginia - already signed legislation - that was intended to shut down abortion clinics that performed abortions in the first trimester. I mean - and nobody noticed. All of the sudden, now, he has to back down on this, and that alone is a victory. We'll see what happens in the Senate.
OLBERMANN: You can't - I mean, I was going to ask you, if there was a victory contained in all this, or at least a positive, because - for years, obviously - Republican legislatures have been doing things like this.
OLBERMANN: Is it all because of a word or is it because there was a tipping point reached here, where people just sat back and went, "This is crazy."
CARMON: Look at the last few weeks. We've had this - we had the Susan G. Koman debacle. We have had the contraceptive mandate, the all-male panel, legislating - or trying to legislate - whether they can take away birth control access to women.
All of this is adding up and people are starting to realize, "You know, the original language of these kinds of ultrasound bills, this informed consent - as if it a woman doesn't understand that what's growing inside of her is a fetus that could turn into a child." So the idea is, people are suddenly realizing, this is not about informed consent. This is not about babies. This is about controlling women, and that's really what ties together the past few weeks.
OLBERMANN: Is there a sense, particularly starting with Koman, and as that - at that the hearing - the Issa hearing that you referenced, is there a sense that, up until this point, women who were in favor of women's rights believed that there were compromises and nuances and that the right was going for restrictions or complications or things that any woman with her mind made up wouldn't - it wouldn't matter to them anyway, to a realization suddenly, in the last month, that it is an attempt to push things back to zero, push things back to 1925?
CARMON: I mean, I think when you're going for - against cancer screenings for low-income women, when you're going against birth control access, suddenly you start to realize this is a concerted plan and that these incremental things that they're doing - they're trying to turn back the clock for women, and also that when - that finally, Republicans are being really honest about how they feel about women.
I mean, just in the debate about this bill, the kinds of things that Republican legislatures and Republican commentators, like Dana Loesch, said about the rationale behind this bill was - you know, "You've already been penetrated once, what's your problem?"
CARMON: The point is, all of these moments are moments of truth, where you realize what their actual intentions are, which are not about saving babies. They're really about punishing women.
OLBERMANN: Right, and particularly the idea "if you've already been penetrated once, what's your problem?" is one step away from saying - is one step away from defending rape.
CARMON: Absolutely, and you had John Stewart yesterday just showing that these are the exact same people that found TSA searches to be rape. These are the exact same people who like to say that taxes are rape. They like to use rape all the time, except when evolves actual vaginal penetration.
OLBERMANN: When it's actual rape.
OLBERMANN: Irin Carmon of Salon.com. Thanks for coming in. Nice to have you here.
CARMON: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: But, for the really deep thinkers of the far right, the enemy isn't abortions. It's Dr. Seuss and Girl Scouts! Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Yet another layer to the New York City Police Department's conviction that it has a right to target Muslims, not only in New York, but adjoining states.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1918 was born the NBC staff announcer Don Pardo, on the job since 1944, and still live announcing "Saturday Night Live" last Saturday, just before he turned 94 years old.
His most famous announcement perhaps? The 1976 fake sponsorship for "SNL's" satirical newscast, in which he actually said, "'Weekend Update' is brought to you by Pussy Whip, the dessert topping for cats."
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: The implosion of the Fort Steuben bridge in Ohio.
We begin, as we always do, with bridges blowing up. And - "boom" goes the dynamite.
What's that, boss? The other suspension bridge?
The Fort Steuben Bridge - named, of course, for Gavin MacLeod's character from "Love Boat" - connects - should say "connected" - Steubenville, Ohio and Weirton, West Virginia. For 84 years the bridge was widely used by locals, but lately it had fallen into a state of disrepair. That's a real state of disrepair, right there.
So now, if you need to travel from Steubenville to Weirton, the cities have provided residents with water wings and aqualungs.
VIDEO: Adele flips off BRIT Awards after being cut off.
We travel to England where, fresh off of her big six Grammy award night, Adele has now won the MasterCard British Album of the Year. Unfortunately, they didn't exactly allow her enough time to make a speech.
(Excerpt from video clip) ADELE: I'm so, so proud to be British and to be flying our flag, and I'm so proud to be in the room with all of you.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANNOUNCER: I'm so sorry, and I can't believe I'm about to cut off -
(Excerpt from video clip) ADELE: You're going to cut me off?
(Excerpt from video clip) ANNOUNCER: I'm so sorry.
(Excerpt from video clip) ADELE: Can I just say then, good bye and I'll see you next time around?
OLBERMANN: Hey! It's M.I.A.!
Albums sold? Seven point three million. Career earnings? Over $12 million. Flipping off the people who gave you the MasterCard Album of the Year award, but didn't allow you to make a speech? Priceless.
VIDEO: Sports announcer James Bates falls off stool, carries on.
Finally, in sports, commentator James Bates here, doing the intro to the big Dayton-Xavier rivalry game, when he decides maybe they should do the intro from the ground.
Down goes Frazier!
Despite the stool collapsing underneath him, Mr. Bates maintains his composure and carries on with the intro. Like anyone on "Downton Abbey" would.
It was later revealed that a demolition crew from Steubenville had accidentally blown up the stool.
"Time Marches On!"
A lot of paranoia tonight. Lou Dobbs attacks Dr. Seuss, and an Indiana state rep is attacked by his own party leadership, but he again attacks the Girl Scouts.
OLBERMANN: For once, we have known that the New York Police Department thinks that studying while Muslim is now probable cause to covertly monitor American citizens. Turns out though, the NYPD has not been racial profiling just in New York or New Jersey.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - the continuing Associated Press investigation into this religious and jurisdictional mess reveals the NYPD authorized convert surveillance of American Muslim students at 16 universities throughout the northeast, and New York's mayor is branding those who disagree with his idea of regional policing as somehow being opposed to protecting this country.
On campuses - including Yale, Rutgers, University of Pennsylvania, others - plainclothes police officers monitored school websites, blogs, even joined a whitewater rafting trip with City College students.
Yale's president, Richard Levin, rebuked the NYPD Muslim monitoring sideshow in a message on Monday which read, "I am writing to state, in the strongest possible terms, that police surveillance based on religion, nationality or peacefully-expressed political opinions is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community and the United States."
Outraged that Yale's president would dare criticize New York's finest, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took an unrepentant I-am-right tone yesterday:
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I don't know why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale. We have to keep this country safe. This is a dangerous place, make no mistake about it. It's very cute to go and to blame everybody and say we should stay away from anything that smacks of intelligence gathering.
OLBERMANN: How about just sticking to your own damn city? The ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union are now calling on Mayor Bloomberg to investigate.
Joining me now - Adam Goldman, one of the four Associated Press investigative reporters who received the Polk Award this week for uncovering the tactics used by NYPD to investigate possible terrorists and anybody else in the Muslim community. Thanks for your time, and congratulations on the award.
ADAM GOLDMAN: All right, thanks. Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We'll get to the profiling part of this in a moment, but I'm still concerned about the meta question. I'm not clear on this. How does the NYPD rationalize any covert work outside of New York state?
GOLDMAN: Well, I don't think they have to justify it to anybody. They just do it, and they go where they see fit. I mean, we've been reporting on this since August, and they haven't just been working covertly in New Jersey. They've gone as far as Boston and, in fact, got caught.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Does the NYPD seem to draw, either literally or figuratively, a line anywhere? I mean, who it can investigate or where they can investigate them?
GOLDMAN: No. We found in our reporting, in the documents we have, that the NYPD, essentially, feels they can investigate anybody.
OLBERMANN: Is the premise - I mean, are the 16 - the students at these 16 universities somehow connected to the city of New York directly, or is that not even a requirement?
GOLDMAN: I don't think that's a requirement. I mean, clearly, from the documents that we've seen and the people we've interviewed - who took part in these programs - a requirement was that they were Muslim.
OLBERMANN: I'm going to guess that the ACLU request for self-investigation is just going to be ignored by a mayor who can say what he said. Does any other law enforcement agency feel enough like its own toes have been stepped on in this that it would encourage investigating the NYPD?
GOLDMAN: Well, I mean, this has been brought to the attention of the Justice Department. Congressman Holt wrote a letter to the Justice Department and, I believe, approximately 34 members of Congress have asked the Justice Department to investigate.
We're not clear if the Justice Department is, in fact, doing anything about this. There doesn't appear to be any oversight in New York City. I mean, the mayor is essentially accountable to no one. You know, there had been a few city council members who have said, "You know, we need to do something," and one even floated the idea of having an inspector general, but, you know, that doesn't seem like it's going to go anywhere.
OLBERMANN: Well, the New York City council is too filled with council members who are vying to succeed the mayor, so they're not going to rock the boat unless it's their own hides on the line.
Each time, though, that you and your colleagues seem to have plumbed the depths of this story, turns out there's another - another sub-basement involved in it. Do you think this is it or is there even more to go?
GOLDMAN: We've got - we're still investigating. We're still talking to people. We're still looking at documents. I mean, just as the Newark story demonstrated today, I mean, the NYPD did that and the mayor, Cory Booker, had no idea that, and he was - he was outraged, and even Governor Christie, governor of New Jersey, didn't know about it, when he was the U.S. attorney - the top law enforcement officer in New Jersey.
OLBERMANN: Summarize that for those who aren't - who aren't familiar with the Newark story.
GOLDMAN: Well, the NYPD, their demographics unit - that Paul Brown, the deputy police commissioner, denied existed - went out and mapped Newark. The documents released today, they mapped Newark, Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island, and they cataloged Muslim businesses, mosques, and they mapped them as well.
OLBERMANN: Huh, goodness, and we're all paying for it in New York.
Adam Goldman, investigative reporter of the Associated Press. Again, congratulations on the award and the series and great thanks for both.
GOLDMAN: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps the most disturbing fact about paranoia, though, is that is does have degrees. There will be people tonight who hear about that NYPD program and will feel good about it, and who will then join the rest of us in dropping our jaws at the news that one commentator thinks a Dr. Seuss movie is harming this country, and an Indiana legislator has doubled down on his insistence that the real threat comes, not from "The Lorax," but from the Girl Scouts. Next.
OLBERMANN: Which is the greatest threat, a Dr. Seuss character or the Girl Scouts of America? That depends on which right winger you ask. What about the friggin' Visiting Nurses Association?
And we go to an unusual place to find tonight's sixth edition of "Breitbart Video Mash-up Theater." Your hint is - you're horrible.
OLBERMANN: The lunatic fringe has found its newest opponent in the War on America that only it can see - Dr. Seuss. Lou Dobbs fears Dr. Seuss. Next.
First - because, sadly, paranoia, hardening of the arteries and bad breath are hardly exclusive to Mr. Dobbs - here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
Let's start with the bronze and right-wing blogger Andy Breitbart.
Today's sadness? He lost a Twitter war to our own David Shuster, repeatedly denying the truth that he and his attorneys missed a deadline to file for dismissal in Shirley Sherrod's suit against him for having railroaded her out of her job at the Department of Agriculture.
It's in the court ruling, along with the fact that the attorneys are citing a law that had not yet gone into effect when Sherrod filed that suit.
All of which brings us to our 6th, slightly faster-paced edition of "Andy Breitbart Video Rage Mash-Up Theater."
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: You are freaks and animals!
(Excerpt from video clip) MOLLY SHANNON: You're horrible!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: Behave yourself!
(Excerpt from video clip) SHANNON: You're horrible!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: Learn to behave yourself.
(Excerpt from video clip) SHANNON: You're horrible!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: You freaks! You filthy freaks!
(Excerpt from video clip) SHANNON: You're horrible!
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: You filthy, filthy, filthy, raping, murdering freaks!
OLBERMANN: With my apologies to Molly Shannon for dragging her and the movie "Superstar" into this.
The runner-up? The Temple of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Oh, here we go.
The Mormon whistleblower Helen Radkey says, last Saturday, the local chapter there did another one of those posthumous Mormon baptisms. You'll recall the LDS church apologized to the family of the late Nazi-hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal for baptizing his parents.
Now, Ms. Radkey says that - despite their assurances that they would stop this - somebody has baptized Anne Frank. Yes, the 15-year old Dutch girl killed by the Nazis at Bergen-Belsen in 1945.
Radkey says this is at least the 9th time Mormons have baptized Anne Frank since 1989. If any of this religious stuff is true, one hopes at least that this leaves her spirit, you know, as the head Mormon.
But our winner? Indiana State Representative Bob Morris. Bob is the latest proof that we do not pay our elected officials enough money to outbid the fast food industry.
The Fort Wayne representative wrote his fellow Indiana Republicans Saturday that he had carefully investigated one "radicalized organization and found that it promotes abortions and homosexuality," and it was, "the tactical arm of Planned Parenthood." The Girl Scouts.
He believes The Girl Scouts are a threat to the United States of America. And he's not even talking about the well-known fact that if you would unscrew a Girl Scout Samoa cookie, the two pieces you're left with can be used as weapons, much like shurikens, ninja throwing stars.
Despite the fact the leader of the Republicans in the Indiana House, Speaker Brian Bosma, immediately ridiculed Morris by handing out Girl Scout cookies to lawmakers, then asking all the former Girl Scouts in the House chamber to stand up to be applauded, Morris will not only run unopposed for re-nomination in House District 84 among the Republicans, he's doubled down on his claim, saying, "My family and I took a view, and we're sticking by it," saying he had removed his daughters from the Girl Scouts, and that his critics should do more research, where and how he did it.
(Excerpt from video clip) BRIAN BOSMA: I challenge each of you to get on the Internet and do your research yourself, in regards to the Girl Scouts of America, and you'll find many of the same findings that I found and my wife.
OLBERMANN: So you found out about the radicalized Girl Scouts and their role as the tactical arm of Planned Parenthood by carefully researching it on that infallible font of information, the Internet? Huh, Bob?
May I make another research suggestion? Google "Santorum."
Indiana State Representative Bob Morris, today's Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Well, it's happening again. The Hollywood liberals are trying to indoctrinate your kids. This time, they're using Japanese animation and Doctor Seuss.
In our number-one story - Hollywood liberals better watch their backs, because Lou Dobbs knows what they're up to. On his Fox "Out of Business" program last night, Mr. Dobbs took a few minutes to discuss one of the biggest threats facing our children - cartoons.
(Excerpt from video clip) LOU DOBBS: Hollywood is, once again, trying to indoctrinate our children. Two new films out this year - plainly with an agenda, plainly demonizing the so-called one percent and espousing the virtue of green-energy policies, come what may. The president's liberal friends in Hollywood targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children.
OLBERMANN: Look out for that demonizing.
What has Dobbs so upset? I mean, beside the gas. Disney's "The Secret World of Arrietty," an animated Japanese film about a family of four people - four-inch tall people, maybe there are four of them, I don't know - who live beneath the floors and borrow small items from full-size humans in order to survive, and Universal's new adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, "The Lorax," about a creature who protects nature by speaking on behalf of the trees. Fighting, as Dobbs quoted, "rampant industrialism."
Where have we all heard this before? "Occupy Wall Street forever trying to pit the makers against the takers. President Obama repeating that everyone should pay their fair share in dozens of speeches - since his State of the Union address last month."
After showing clips from both of the films, Dobbs then played a series of sound bites from the president, arguing that every American should pay their fair share, suggesting, I suppose, there's a link between the two.
I'm sure advancing the president's agenda is exactly what was on Mary Norton's mind when she wrote "The Borrowers," the book on which "Arrietty" is based, in 1952. And surely what was on Dr. Seuss's mind when he first penned "The Lorax" in 1971. But Dobbs's guest, radio host Mr. Some-Guy-You-Never-Heard-Of, has a plan to fight back against this attempt to create what he refers to as "occu-toddlers."
(Excerpt from video clip) MATT PATRICK: Here's what I would recommend, if you want to go see the movie - and we all know what the agenda is - buy, like, huge tubs of popcorn, ram 'em in your face. They're all made of paper, then you know - you crinkle it all up. You throw it on the floor. You walk out. Go into the movie theaters and you actually fight back against this message.
OLBERMANN: That ought to teach a lesson to that movie theatre employee who has to clean up your mess. Although, there might be a far simpler explanation for Dobbs's fury. He was upset that he hadn't been cast as the Lorax, because I think he's got the look down.
Joining me now, "Countdown" contributor and comedienne Maysoon Zayid. It's good to see you.
MAYSOON ZAYID: Good to see you, too.
OLBERMANN: Clearly, conservatives are not fans of "The Lorax." Do we think that there are any Dr. Seuss books that they do like?
ZAYID: I've heard that they find the books so pervasive that they have their own version of Dr. Seuss books, which they prefer. One is called "Oh, the Places You'll Go After We Disappear You Under NDAA." There is "Are You My Mother? And If So, Please, Don't Abort Me." And then, my favorite one, "One Fish, Two Fish, Trans-Vaginal Wand Fish, Blue Fish."
But, Romney likes "The Grinch." Apparently, that's his favorite book, but he skips over the end because it depresses him and instead, he imagines the Grinch on the Cayman Islands, sipping a virgin piña colada, surrounded by all the Whos' gifts.
OLBERMANN: And, don't forget, "Horton Hears a Stock Tip."
ZAYID: And "Horton Hears an Insider Trading Tip."
OLBERMANN: That's right. So, the list this year from conservatives is, "The Lorax," "The Muppets," and the Girl Scouts, and we laugh, but during the McCarthy era the baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, proactively changed their names to Cincinnati Red Legs so that nobody would think they were Communists.
So, where this could go from - I mean, have they left subversives out that we should be worried about - Dickens, Bugs Bunny? Who's next?
ZAYID: Well, I think Elmer Fudd is safe because that's Newt Gingrich's alter ego. It's like a Clark Kent/Superman thing.
ZAYID: Dora the Explorer.
OLBERMANN: Without that Superman - yeah.
ZAYID: Without anything super, more deli than super. But, Dora the Explorer is in big trouble because she was born and raised in America, but Lou Dobbs believes she's a Mexican alien because she insists on speaking Spanish in public. She's asking to get deported.
Fat Albert's safe. They don't see black people.
OLBERMANN: Did you know, by the way - it's a good time to mention this - did you know the name of Lou Dobbs' wife, her maiden name?
ZAYID: Oh, God, no.
OLBERMANN: Because I used to work with her at CNN.
ZAYID: What's her name?
OLBERMANN: If anybody at home doesn't understand this, this will explain everything to you. She's Debi Segura Dobbs.
ZAYID: Oh, my God.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, exactly. It's a very deep, deep waters we're entering into here.
Some of the comments are not necessarily questioning climate change but they are more like a real hostile environment about the environment. It's - it's one step further, don't you think, than it usually is? Don't they usually stop at some point? Now, they're basically saying "real science" - as Santorum said the other day - allows us to flatten the Earth, and pave everything over and utilize all this stuff we've been given.
ZAYID: I said this months ago when Herman Cain was still pretending to be relevant: the 2012 GOP slogan is, "Yes, we hate." These are people who are taking tips from Franklin Graham, the hateful cracker. They've taken hate to a new level.
Who hates Dr. Seuss? "Green Eggs and Ham" - not my favorite book, but the hate towards Dr. Seuss is ridiculous, and I think it's insane that Lou Dobbs is blaming "The Lorax" and its mission on President Obama. How is President Obama responsible when, at the time that book was written, he was a 10-year-old kid swinging off some monkey bars at a madrasah in Kenya? He had nothing to do with that book.
OLBERMANN: Keep one story together, and just - if it doesn't fit the timeline - do not come and tell me he wasn't born in this country, yet he influenced both a book that was written nine years before his birth and this "Lorax" story from 1971.
OLBERMANN: And this reference to "occu-toddlers" - this is the giveaway to it. It's this desperate attempt to stand at the ocean and not just push the tide back but make sure nobody ever sees the tide again, right? It's the future they're worried about.
ZAYID: It also makes it clear that they have no idea what Occupy stands for. First of all, I think, he's confusing it with "Toddlers and Tiaras," and they don't understand - what Occupy is trying to do is actually ensure a future for these kids that you're trying to disenfranchise, and if they Occupy anything, it should be a corner, because Rick Santorum's right. Satan is in America, and he's wearing a sweater vest.
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" contributor Maysoon Zayid, as always, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
ZAYID: So nice to be back. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown" for this 413th day since John Boehner and the Republicans took the House. Thus, 413 days in which the Republicans have failed to pass a jobs bill of any kind.
Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.