updated 3/31/2010 10:13:11 AM ET 2010-03-31T14:13:11

Guest: Josh Green, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Michael Musto

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)              

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you

be talking about tomorrow?

The momentum at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—



student loan system has worked for banks and financial institutions. 

Today, we‘re finally making our student loan system work for students and

our families.


OLBERMANN:  And the other momentum the president still seeks—


OBAMA:  I will continually reach out to Republicans.  I will continue

to incorporate their ideas even when they don‘t vote for the ideas that I



OLBERMANN:  The president on the bipartisan unicorn in the White House

Rose Garden and on the Tea Party.


OBAMA:  There‘s still going be a group at their core that question my

legitimacy.  That group we‘re probably not going to convince.


OLBERMANN:  The Cornyn memo on health care reform.  The “party of no”

becomes the “party of no, we thought of it.”

Another Hutaree domestic terrorism arrest—as the right wingers

insist they are the real victims here, and we ask: Whatever did happen to

all those left wing militias?

She‘s back.  More correctly, baaack!  The candidate who brought you



ANNOUNCER:  FCINO, fiscal conservative in name only.


OLBERMANN:  California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina‘s special message

for Passover.  Oh, boy!

And brand new umbrage, Michael Musto on the brand spanking new

umbrage.  The Republican National Committee fires a flunky over the 2,000

bucks spent at a Hollywood bondage-themed simulated less -- 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  California strip club.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  Sort of racy club—a strip club, I guess

you could call it.


OLBERMANN:  I guess you couldn‘t call it that.  The latest outrages

from the club.  “We are most certainly not a strip club,” says its director

of special events.  “We cater to a high-end, A-list clientele with live art

installations with a voyeuristic theme.”  High-end, did you say?

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.





OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Just as sweeping and just as fiercely lobbied against as the health

care reform bill in which it was included, the revamping of the student

loan program signed into law today by President Obama, representing perhaps

the biggest achievement in making college in this country affordable since

the passage of the G.I. Bill and the president giving his first sit-down

interview since health care reform became a law, and insisting in that

interview that those reforms were centrist and middle-of-the-road and that

he was still seeking bipartisanship.  Much of that interview in a moment.

More history today made out of a community college in Virginia,

today‘s signing of the health care reconciliation bill, also doing away

with a 45-year-old program that guaranteed federal subsidies to private

banks to get them to lend money to students while the government still

assumed all of the risk.


OBAMA:  For almost two decades, we‘ve been trying to fix a sweetheart

deal in federal law that essentially gave billions of dollars to banks to

act as unnecessary middlemen in administering student loans.  So, these—

those are—those are billions of dollars that could have been spent

helping more of our students attend and complete college.  By cutting out

the middleman, we‘ll save American taxpayers $68 billion in the coming



OLBERMANN:  Starting this summer, those guaranteed loans will be

offered directly by the Department of Education—leading Republicans to

call that another government takeover.  Never mind that those federal

subsidies have been government money all along.  The kind of logic that has

led some of opponents of health care reform to declare, keep your

government hands off my health care—a steady diet of such rhetoric

having been fed to the right wing base by Republican lawmakers in Congress.

In his first interview since health care‘s passage with the “Today

Show‘s” Matt Lauer, it was pointed out to the president that last year at

this time, he was promising bipartisan leadership and to change the tone in

Washington.  Instead, it was premised, he signed into law health care

reform that did not receive a single Republican vote.


OBAMA:  I think that the Republican Party made a calculated decision,

a political decision that they would not support whatever we did.  All

right?  There was a quote by a well-known Republican senator who said this

is going to be Obama‘s Waterloo.  This is—we‘re going to bring him down

just—the same way that we brought down Bill Clinton, by making sure that

health care fails.

And I think that‘s unfortunate because when you actually look at the

bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas.  I mean, a lot

of commentators have said, you know, this is sort of similar to the bill

that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now presidential candidate,

passed in Massachusetts.  A lot of the ideas in terms of the exchange, just

being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the

insurance market, that originated from the Heritage Foundation.

MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW:  So, you‘re saying it‘s all politics.  It‘s

not about the inner workings of the bill; it‘s all politics.

OBAMA:  I will say that any objective observer looking at this bill

would say that this is a middle-of-the road, centrist approach to providing

coverage to people and making sure that we‘re also reducing costs.  And so

I—I am frustrated that Republicans who I think had an opportunity to

help shape this bill declined that opportunity.  That‘s not to say that on

specific provisions, there might be legitimate concerns that they had,

philosophical concerns that they had.  Some of them, I think, sincerely

believed that we should do more on this aspect of the bill or that aspect. 

But the overall architecture of it was actually something that was right

down the middle.

LAUER:  Let‘s talk about where we are politically right now.  And I

don‘t have to tell you that this passage of this bill and turning it into

law has left this country as politically divided as I think it has been in

a long time.  You might be able to cite some other examples, but the

vitriol, the rhetoric, the sniping, the threats—how are you possibly

going to continue with any kind of legislative agenda when your opponents

have said to you, “I‘m not going to cooperate with this president, with

these Democrats, unless it‘s a matter of national security”?  How do you

move on?

OBAMA:  Yes.  Well, first of all, I think that a lot of the rhetoric

has been overheated and overblown.  And this is what happens in Washington

when you have a big debate.  Suddenly, the passage of this bill is

Armageddon.  And as I pointed out, the next day after I signed it, I looked

around and no asteroids have hit the planet and no cracks appeared in the


This is a bill that is going to help a lot of people and help to lower

costs of health care.  But it‘s not a radical departure from what we‘ve

done in the past.


OLBERMANN:  The president carefully dividing the members of the Tea

Party movement into those who have legitimate concerns about his

administration or reform or both, and the birthers who are still

questioning his American citizenship.


OBAMA:  We saw some of it leading up to my election where there are

some folks who just, you know, weren‘t sure whether I was born in the

United States, whether I was a socialist.  Right?  So there‘s that segment

of it, which I think is just dug in ideologically, and that strain has

existed in American politics for a long time.

Then I think there‘s a broader circle around that core group of people

who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately

concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much.  And last

year, a bunch of the emergency measures we had to take in terms of dealing

with the bank crisis, bailing out the auto industry, fed that sense that

things were out of control.

My hope is that as we move forward and we‘re tackling things like the

deficit and posing a freeze on domestic spending and taking steps that show

we are sincere about dealing with our long-term problems that some of that

group will dissipate.

There‘s still going to be a group at their core that question my

legitimacy or question the Democratic Party generally or question people

who they consider to be against them in some way.  And that group we‘re

probably not going to convince.


OLBERMANN:  It is remarkable to hear anyone speak with some detachment

about the kind of insults and innuendo and outright lies that the president

has faced.  Some of it from that faction of the Tea Party he mentioned,

some of it, sadly, from sitting members of Congress.

As if one were really needed, a reminder now of just some what has

been said.


REPORTER:  We‘re asking Republicans if they believe Barack Obama was

born in the United States.


REPORTER:  It doesn‘t matter to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘re all going to find out.

REPORTER:  What do you believe personally?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘d like to see the documents.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  We should not have a government

program that determines you are going to pull the plug on grandma.

REPORTER:  Do you think he‘s a terrorist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he is a one man terror cell.

SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  If we‘re able to stop Obama on

this, it will be his Waterloo.  It will break him.

REP. JEFF FORTENBERRY ®, NEBRASKA:  Do you have some evidence that

he is or is not?

REPORTER:  Chris Matthews held up his birth certificate on “HARDBALL”

the other night.

REP. GREG HARPER ®, MISSISSIPPI:  Well, obviously, the Constitution

speaks for itself that those requirements need to be met.  It will be up to

others to look into that.

REPORTER:  So, you won‘t say whether or not you believe he was born in

the United States?

HARPER:  I‘ll say we have requirements for that and that‘s up for

others to determine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was a process that was going through and I

think that process—




REPORTER:  You refuse to say what you believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just told you what I believe.

REPORTER:  He‘s a terrorist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE).  It‘s just the bloodline.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER:  We are about 24 hours from



OLBERMANN:  Isn‘t it Armageddon with a “G”?

Finally, on a lighter note, the health care reform debate claiming one

victim inside the White House.  Last year, the president correctly

predicted the winner of the men‘s NCAA basketball tournament.  This year,

he will have done nothing of the sort.


LAUER:  How does your bracket look first of all?

OBAMA:  It is completely blown up.  It is a sign that I was paying

singular focus on health care.


OLBERMANN:  And it all started when he picked Wisconsin to beat


Time now to call in our own Jonathan Alter, national affairs columnist

for “Newsweek” magazine.

Good evening.


OLBERMANN:  The president says he‘s still going to reach out to

Republicans, still going to incorporate their ideas, whether or not they

give him support on the measures that contain those ideas.

Is this stoicism or is this actually a credo?  And if it‘s a credo,

what is the credo?

ALTER:  The credo is, as his hero Abraham Lincoln said, look for the

better angels of our nature.  You try to reach out.  You get credit for

reaching out.

You know, a lot of liberals want him to deck somebody.  They want the

satisfaction of seeing him put somebody on the canvass, you know?  But

that‘s not really a good way to govern.  You want to stay above the fray if

you can.

Now, there are times that you do need to—you do need to come down

and throw some punches.  And you saw him in the last six, eight months

throw a lot of punches at the insurance industry.  But it doesn‘t do him

any good to attack Republicans or respond in kind to Republicans that he

may need on other votes.

OLBERMANN:  I mean—I‘m sorry.  Go ahead.

ALTER:  No.  That‘s it.

OLBERMANN:  Let me read something from the—from the Lauer

interview, another quote that pertains to this.  “If you look,” the

president said, “at historically what happens is that a party that‘s out of

power often times in those first few years of being out of power end up

reacting very negatively.  Their base ends up being very agitated and it

may take the next election or the next presidential election before things

settle down.”

Have we been misunderstanding his bipartisan message, his—you know,

looking for that unicorn in the garden—in the Rose Garden, that it‘s not

bipartisanship now, it‘s hoping that things can calm down in the next two

to four years so that you get bipartisanship at some later sanguine moment

in American history?

ALTER:  I mean, I just think he‘s wrong and he underestimated the

amount of venom.

OLBERMANN:  But is that what he thinks he‘s doing now?

ALTER:  He thinks—yes.  He‘s still hoping since he ran on this

bridging the red/blue divide.  That is how he got into national politics

with that famous speech in 2004 at the Democratic convention where, you

know, he said, “We‘re not a red and blue nation.  We‘re one nation.” 

That‘s how we got Barack Obama.

So, since that‘s what brought him to the dance, he doesn‘t want to

give up on that idea yet.  But what—everything we‘ve seen from this

Republican Party suggests that it‘s become an extraordinarily reactionary

party, an extreme party.  You know, the members of Congress that you just

showed who don‘t believe he was born in the country, nobody has heard of

those guys.  But it was actually the leadership, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay,

who—this year, they are retired now, but they‘ve been out peddling this. 

So, it‘s the leadership of that party that—with very, very few

exceptions—hold these very extreme views.

And I think it‘s the greatest disappointment in his presidency.  When

I interviewed him not too long ago, he said that he really expected,

perhaps naively—that‘s my word, not his—


ALTER:  -- that when he got to Washington, the other party would have

some interest in governance.  And it turned out they had—they really did

not have a shred of responsibility when it came to governing this country.

OLBERMANN:  Does he think—and was it reflected in recent

development, the end game of the health care reform thing, the recess

appointments over the weekend—has it been reflected that he has gone

from this idea that politics are still, at some degree, results-driven. 

OK, you didn‘t like the health care reform bill, wait until you see what

happens in reality.  Some of you will come around and support us, from the

Republican Party.  Well, that‘s probably gone.  We‘re probably post-

bipartisan era at the moment.

But, does he still this as something if you go over the heads of the

opposing party and go right to their supporters and say, look, this is what

it just did for you, we just put this much in your pocket, he can still get

X amount of support no matter what the leadership does and how abstinent

and obstructionalist they might be?

ALTER:  Absolutely.  And if he can go over the heads of the—

remember, a lot of these leaders of the Republican Party have been selected

in super low turnout Republican primaries.  So, they don‘t even really

represent the people of their districts.

There‘s a lot of moderate Republicans out there.  Some of them may

even be watching tonight.  You know, people of goodwill in the Republican

Party who feel like the Republican Party has left them, has taken the sharp

veer right and he can appeal to them.

And as far as some others who have been very concerned about this

bill, seniors for instance, they don‘t know it yet, but later this year,

seniors are going to get a $250 check in the mail as a drug rebate to help

pay for their prescription drug costs.  That‘s going to change some of

their views about this.  They‘re going to find out that this donut hole,

which they understand what it is—


ALTER:  -- that they start paying a lot more for prescription drug

over a certain threshold, that‘s now has been closed by law, which is going

to save them thousands of dollars.  When that starts to kind of sink in,

then I think you‘re going to see a lot of independents and Republicans who

change their mind about this bill.

OLBERMANN:  How did the banks and the Republicans let the student loan

thing sweep by?  Because that just cut, he just put a hole in the banks.

ALTER:  Yes.  This was maybe the most inspired move of the last six

weeks.  Congressman George Miller deserves a lot of the credit for it. 

Basically, there was this indefensible system where the government was

backing these loans but the banks were taking a big chunk.  You had

Republicans and some Democrats who are defending that ridiculous status

quo, even though $68 billion has been saved by the taxpayers, and it was

central to the deal for reconciliation for health care, because it brought

down the cost of the health care bill and that‘s one of the only reasons it

scored properly at the Congressional Budget Office was because of the

student loan deal.

So, not only does it greatly expand student loans, helps students,

great for education and the future of the country, but without it, we

probably wouldn‘t have had the health care deal.

OLBERMANN:  And it also turns up quickly in practical realities of day

to day life in this country.

Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—great thanks.

ALTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  I reference this just now, the Republicans are changing

tact on health care reform—the internal memo from Senator Cornyn of

Texas directing the “party of no” to respond to it by claiming partial

credit for it.

Also, the woman who brought you the worst campaign commercial in

political history is back with a special message for Passover, and only one

word correctly applies—oy.


OLBERMANN:  The Republicans will simultaneously campaign this fall in

a promise to repeal health care reform and to take credit for health care


The right says it‘s victimized just as much by threats of violence

from the left.  So, as another arrest is made in the Hutaree Christian

militia case, whatever happened to all those left wing militias?

Two months removed from her red-eyed, devil wolf in sheep‘s clothing

ad, Carly Fiorina is back with a special message for Passover.

And more complains about the 2 grand the Republican Party spent at a

simulated lesbian bondage-themed strip club.  It is not, say the outraged

proprietors, a strip club.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  A memo from the senator who used to lead GOP campaign

efforts for the Senate in which he urges Republican candidates to take

credit for key parts of health care reform.  This while other Republicans

will run this summer and fall on a promise to repeal health care reform

over a presidential veto merely by gaining a record 113 seats in the House

and 26 more in the Senate.

Also tonight, the latest polling on repeal misses the point entirely

and the insurance industry has just blinked in a standoff over covering

children with pre-existing conditions.

First, since he did so well for them on the stimulus, they were

against it before they were for it, the National Republican Senatorial

Committee chairman, Senator John Cornyn, a memo to GOP candidates urging

them to take credit for the popular things in the bill and decry the other

stuff, like the means to pay for it.

Quoting, “On the trail, it‘s critical that we remind people of the

fact that it was Republicans who fought to force insurance companies to

compete with one another over state lines for Americans‘ business.  It was

Republicans who fought for policies that protected Americans with pre-

existing conditions and it was Republicans who proposed health care reforms

that didn‘t cut Medicare by $500 million and raised Americans‘ taxes by

$400 million.  It‘s Republicans who continue to believe that we should

focus on reforms which actually lower health care costs for Americans,

first and foremost.”  Even though all of them did vote against every part

of that.

This tactic echoes the shtick from Senator Grassley last week, taking

credit for certain elements of the bill even though he voted against the

bill.  And last summer, he was one of those propagating “the death panels

are in the bill” lie.

Meantime, a day after the health insurance industry attorney insisted

it did not have to start offering coverage for children with pre-existing

medical conditions for four years, the industry backed down.  Karen

Ignagni, president of America‘s Health Insurance Plans, AHIP, saying that

the industry intends to fully comply—this in a letter to Health and

Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Ms. Sebelius has stated her intention to create new regulations that

would remove any doubt about coverage for kids with preexisting conditions. 

As for that new poll, the trumpeted headline, 47 percent of respondents

favoring repeal, ignored, 50 percent do not.  That would be more.  Of that

50 percent more than half want more reform and more government involvement

in health care.

Let‘s get back to Mr. Cornyn‘s memo and turn to the senior editor of

“The Atlantic” magazine, Josh Green.

Josh, thanks for your time tonight.

JOSH GREEN, THE ATLANTIC:  Good to be with you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  So, the Republican line will be: give us credit for the

good stuff in the bill even though we all, each and every one of us, voted

against it?

GREEN:  That looks like what the strategy is going to be.  But

actually, the dilemma is broader than that, because if you look at the new

law, it‘s based on a central set of principles that were first introduced

by Republicans in the early 1990s to compete with Hillary Care.  So, the

problem Republicans are facing with Cornyn‘s new memo is that they were for

a lot of these reforms before they were against it before they are for them

again now.  So, it‘s sort of difficult to follow, you know, where the

strategy is going to come from.

OLBERMANN:  How well will, whatever that strategy turns out to be,

work when the Republican down the street meanwhile is promising to repeal

the whole thing?

GREEN:  Well, it‘s going to be a problem.  And we‘re already seeing

this with Mark Kirk, who is a Republican Illinois—Republican Senate

candidate from Illinois, who ran on an issue of repeal in the Republican

primary, you know, in order to, I think, appeal to tea partiers and to the

hard right.  As recently as two weeks ago, he was—he was talking about

repealing it if he made it to the Senate.  Now, he stopped saying that.  He

won‘t answer questions about repeal.

And so, I think that sort of points out the difficulty of, you know,

if you pander to kind of a hard right constituency, it leaves you in a

really difficult place in the general election because a lot of people,

older folks, who hear repeal, you know, aren‘t going to parse your talking

points and think about, will you repeal this, you won‘t repeal that,

they‘re just going to hear the word repeal and be worried that you‘re going

to take away their health care.

OLBERMANN:  This, I think, goes back to the point that David Frum was

making last week before he got himself fired by conservatives everywhere,

that there was no backup plan.  There was no strategy in case they didn‘t

succeed in tying up health care forever or defeating it.  Clearly, there

was none because they came up with these two totally self-contradictory,

mutually exclusive ideas.  There was no backup plan for the Republicans?

GREEN:  No.  I don‘t think there was.  And I mean, seeing Cornyn try

and parse it the way he is in this memo, I think exposes the weakness or

downside of the kind of, you know, “always say no” strategy that

Republicans had used all the way up until health care.  If it had fallen

apart, if it hadn‘t passed, you know, then you can sort of say the

president and the Democrats have no accomplishments, they can‘t govern, and

maybe that‘s a winning strategy at the polls.

But now this monumental new law has passed, the only argument that

follows consistently from the Republican strategy is one of outright

appeal.  But, you know, as you can see, if you look at the polls—that‘s

probably not going to be a winning strategy at the polls in November if

you‘re a Republican.

OLBERMANN:  Speaking of opinion polls as opposed to the voting polls,

is the trend based on that last one from CNN, the 50/47 don‘t repeal, in

fact, 25 percent saying, the whole group, expand—is that suggesting that

the longer the interval becomes since the bill was passed, the more support

the bill gets?

GREEN:  I think you can make a good case for that being the

likelihood.  I think it‘s too early now for anybody to know for sure how

most voters are going to feel about health care in November.  But, you

know, the problem with the strategy of calling at Armageddon, of worrying

about death panels and such, is that, you know, seven, eight, nine months

are going to lapse between now and November.  I mean, we are a week into

this new law and the total number of old people killed by death panels is

zero and it‘s still going to be zero in November.

And meanwhile, you know, a lot of, you know, benefits from this bill

are going to become apparent to the public -- $250 checks for seniors to

buy prescription drug, the fact that insurers cannot discriminate based on

pre-existing conditions, the fact that you can stay on your parents health

care until you‘re 26.  So, a lot of the benefits are going to expose. 

Whereas, a lot of the kind of hyperbole is going to be shown and be found

empty I think.

OLBERMANN:  And just remember, as Mr. Boehner said, it‘s Armededdon

(ph), not Armageddon.

Josh Green, senior editor of “The Atlantic”—thank you, Josh.

GREEN:  Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN:  Then there is another set of canards, the false

equivalency propagated by the right that they are not only not instigating

violence or the threat of it against the left, ore more importantly,

against the government, but that they, the right, are the true victims here

which does not explain the Hutaree and the latest arrest in that case of

domestic terrorism and which does not explain how the country is seemingly

devoid today of left wing militias.


Melissa Harris-Lacewell—ahead on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Is it perception or politics or just reality?  Is nearly

all the violent rhetoric and are all the militias coming from the right,


First, wow, that was some plug.  Last night, I mentioned the

publication today of Dirk Hayhurst‘s “The Bullpen Gospel,” probably the

best baseball book in 40 years, but far more a story of coming to terms

with life‘s reality.  Today, it hit number 12 on the Amazon best sellers

list, number one among all biographies, number one among all sports books. 

ESPN‘s Jayson Stark today writes something telling.  This, he said,

“friends, is real life inside a baseball dugout laid out for you with

honest, laugh out loud eloquence by a man who has lived that life, has no

problem making relentless fun of himself, and has not just a Rambo-esque

internal thesaurus, but a brilliant way with words.” 

Number one sports book.  Who is this Oprah Winfrey book woman again? 

Let‘s play Oddball.

Houston, hello.  The domestic instance of what is a global struggle

between news anchors and gravity.  This is the ABC station in Houston,

Texas.  Your anchor is Melanie Lawson.  You will see her attempt to reach

across the anchor desk to a reporter and then things go horribly wrong. 


MELANIE LAWSON, NEWS ANCHOR:  Lean over here just a second.  Further. 

It is time to get your opinion.  Oh, well.  So much for that.  Go on with

the weather.  Go on. 


OLBERMANN:  And so long until tomorrow.  This just in, these chairs

have wheels.  She was fine and the weather looked good, too. 

As I mentioned, this is a global phenomenon.  To Helsinki, Finland,

where the anchor chairs also have Finish wheels. 




OLBERMANN:  And so long until tomorrow.  That is Finnish news anchor

Keirstie Alm (ph) putting the sink in Helsinki.  The show‘s director, of

course, just lingers and lingers on her and her co-host.  Note to my

director, if that happens to me, go to commercial and get a new job. 

Finally, to Mexico City, now presenting Mexican prison theater, 11

convicted criminals having the time of their lives.  What do you mean he

left the control room?  That one might just be—I don‘t know who he is

supposed to be.  Anyway, this theater troop is fittingly called the Panic

Cabaret.  The inmates are supposed to be liberating themselves by acting

out their own lives.  The group will hit the road to obviously rave

reviews, as you saw. 

No change gang for this bunch.  Don‘t give them razors.  What are you

thinking?  They will tour other prison facilities.  We open at Levinworth

Saturday night.  Upon their return, they will begin rehearsing for the next

theater presentation Shakespeare‘s “Richard III.”  I‘m not making that up. 

The latest arrest in the Hutaree Christian militia terrorism case

begging the question, whatever happened to all those left wing militias?


OLBERMANN:  As the final wanted member of the right wing so called

Christian militia group Hutaree was arraigned on charges of seditious

conspiracy, not even an alleged plan to murder policemen and topple the

government was enough to get the bloggers of the far right to fully

repudiate such homegrown terrorism.  Twenty one-year-old Joshua Matthew

Stone taken into custody last night following a day long standoff, joining

eight other group members arrested by the FBI over the weekend. 

The purported plan, as you know, kill policemen, then bomb the

memorial service, somehow triggering an uprising against the federal

government, and then the Hutaree group would be able to defeat the anti-

Christ.  Doesn‘t sound too good when you say it aloud.

On the right wing blogs, mitigation bordering on defense, from “the

timing appears convenient,” to “last time I looked, wanting to start a

civil war, insane as it is, was not a crime,” to “is the administration

taking after Christian militias to get in good with the CAIR and the neo-

Communist left?” 

Eugene Robinson offering a voice of reason in his “Washington Post”

column, “left wing radicals caused mayhem and took innocent lives.  But for

the most part, far left violence in this country has gone the way of the

leisure suit and the AMC Gremlin.  By contrast, there has been explosive

growth among the far right militia type groups that identify themselves as

white supremacists, constitutionalists, tax protesters and religious

soldiers determined to kill people to uphold, quote, Christian values.  The

danger of political violence in this country comes overwhelmingly from one

direction, the right, not the left.” 

Joining me here in New York, the associate professor of politics and

African American studies at Princeton University, columnist for “The

Nation” magazine and MSNBC contributor, Melissa Harris-Lacewell.  Good

evening, professor.

MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, “THE NATION”:  Nice to have you back. 

Everyone is thrilled to see you back.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m thrilled to be here.  Are the militias really as

starkly slanted to the right as Gene suggests in his piece today? 

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  Certainly, there is extremism on both sides. 

There‘s simply no doubt about that.  If we want a long view of history,

there is certainly extremisms on both sides.  On the other hand, there was

an instructive moment with this citizen attempt to arrest Dick Cheney,

which you might call a sort of extremist position on the left.  And this

citizen, Canadian citizen, came with a pink fury hat on.  There‘s a way in

which when the left comes for you, they come throwing flowers. 

And that what happened in this case is not so much the extremism of

views; what we‘re worried about here is the extremism is that is also armed

or that is prepared to come with guns and with bombs. 

OLBERMANN:  To correct you, Karl Rove, the attempt on Karl Rove. 

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  I‘m sorry, Karl Rove.  They mush. 

OLBERMANN:  I have never seen them in the same place together.  So it

is very possible.  That would explain an awful lot, wouldn‘t it.  But back

to this point here that certainly in our lives—nobody who lived through

the ‘60s or ‘70s, or has read about them, could not know about the SDS or

the Simbionese Liberation Army, which had these just scatter-brained, ultra

leftist ideas, that basically were excuses to kidnap people and terrorize

them and make money off of it somehow.  What did happen to all of the, you

know, armed left wing militias in this country? 

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  The left got behind gun control is part of it.  Part

of what happened is overwhelmingly the ideology became one that—again,

if we think about what happened in the civil rights movement, and the ways

in which it gave way to the Black Power Movement, a movement that talked

about armed self-defense, or a movement that talked about not simply sort

of taking the abuse of the state, but willingly standing up. 

And yet what you saw overwhelmingly was the ways in which the right

responds to that.  When people on the left speak in that kind of language,

take for example the language of hip-hop, that sometimes talks about

violence against the police, it was immediately overwhelmingly denounced by

people on the left and on the right.  You can‘t talk about, even in a

musical form, killing the police.  But here we had an actual plot and we

did not see the right come out and be appalled by it. 

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.  Where were they?  It is one thing to read

bloggers on right-wing sites saying, you know, the convenience of timing

and wanting a civil war is not necessarily against the law, which I think

you can dispute in many ways.  But where were the Republican counter-

terrorists, the people who make their bones off this from leadership

positions?  I haven‘t heard a word from Pete King.  Hoekstra in Michigan,

who was supposedly being able to run—running for governor was enhanced

by the fact that the underwear bomber was corralled in his state, silent on

this.  This is supposed to be their forte.  Where is their denunciation or

even comment on this? 

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  Part of it is that the language of terrorism has

gotten wrapped up with a kind of ethnic and racial concept of who a

terrorist can be.  Even as long ago as 9/11, 2001, I was saying,  wait a

minute, this is not the first act of domestic terrorism.  We can look at

the entire history of the Klan in the U.S. South. 

OLBERMANN:  Absolutely. 

HARRIS-LACEWELL:  People who were committing acts of terrorism against

American citizens.  But we have never used that language to talk about

terrorism.  So we have, instead, said that terrorism are these ethnic

others, these people from these other places, who come in and do bad things

to American citizens, rather than being willing to label this sort of

activity as potentially terrorist in its purposes.

OLBERMANN:  In previous decades and centuries, it was anarchists,

communists, leftist.  We have always found a different word for it, but it

always implies someone external as opposed to someone in the mainstream, as

these people would appear to have been.  At least they thought they were. 

Melissa Harris-Lacewell from Princeton University and MSNBC, great

thanks.  Good to see you.

So, now you know who‘s angry that the Republicans spent two grand at

the lesbian strip club story, the owners of the club.  We are not, they

insist, a strip club.

She may have not brought back the FCINO with her, but the woman behind

this ad is back, with a special tone deaf Passover message.

When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, new problems for the C

Street gang, the good old Family.  Rachel will talk to a minister now

accusing that group of conservatives of tax and ethics violations.


OLBERMANN:  Worsts and the state that just accidentally authorized

hate crimes against homophobes.  You heard me. 

First, tonight‘s quick comment.  Here we go again, Carly Fiorina.  The

fired Hewlett Packard CEO still running for the Republican Senate

nomination in California has put another foot in another mouth.  She has

sent this mass e-mail to voters, subject line: “best wishes for a safe and

happy Passover.” 

Paragraph two, “this week, as we break bread and spend time with our

families and friends, I hope we also take a moment to say a word of thanks

for our freedom and those who have given up freedom in our names.” 

I‘m not even Jewish and even I know it‘s the feast of the unleavened

bread.  Celebrants are not breaking bread.  And that the primary symbolism

of the holiday is the ritual in which every piece of bread, broken or

otherwise, is purged from the home.  Remember Matzoh fleeing from Egypt

before the bread could rise?  Passover?  China?

A Fiorina spokes woman now explains to the “Los Angeles Times,” quote,

we meant all bread, leavened and unleavened.  Matzoh is just unleavened

bread.  That is what we meant by that.”  Yeah. 

The only question is, is that e-mail worse than Carly Fiorina‘s web

ad?  You‘ve forgotten it?  Oh, no.  The web ad?  The attack on her

Republican rival? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tom Campbell, is he what he tells us or is he what

he‘s become over the years, a FCINO, fiscal conservative in name only, a

wolf in sheep‘s clothing, a man who literally helped put the state of

California on the path to bankruptcy and higher taxes.  Fiscal conservative

or just another same old tale of tax and spend, authored by a career

politician who helped guide us into this fiscal mess in the first place. 


OLBERMANN:  Wait, the sheep in wolf‘s clothing from outer space with

the red eyes.  Didn‘t I just see that sheep breaking bread?


OLBERMANN:  Hackles continue to be raised about the Republican

National Committee reimbursing two grand in expense at that lesbian bondage

themed club in West Hollywood.  The latest to be offended, the executive of

the night club, who says her place has been defamed, that it caters to a

high end A-list clientele, with live art installations, with a voyeuristic

theme.  Michael Musto next on the Republican party‘s new role as patron of

the arts, the installation arts. 

That‘s next, but first tonight‘s worst persons in the world. 

The bronze to Bud Day, Medal of Honor recipient and retired colonel. 

He has now endorsed Charlie Crist for the Republican Senate nomination in

Florida, instead of Tea Partier Marco Rubio, saying, quote, “you know, we

just got through electing a politician who can run his mouth at Mach One, a

black one.  Now we have an Hispanic who can run his mouth at Mach One.” 

He expanded upon Mr. Obama, calling him “the black one with the

reading thing.  He can go as fast as the speed of light and has no idea

what he‘s saying.  I put Rubio in that same category, except I don‘t know

if he is using one of those readers.” 

Colonel Day, of course, appeared in the Swift Boat ads against John

Kerry in 2004.  You‘ll remember him.  He was the white one with the racism


Runner-up, Ricky Flowers, address not given, who led police in Ohio on

a high-speed chase where he was wanted for failing to signal.  It ended at

Garfield Heights, Ohio, with Mr. Flowers ditching the car and scaling a

fence.  Unfortunately for Mr. Flowers, the fence was outside the Ohio

Northeast Pre-Release Center for Women.  When he landed back on the ground,

he was inside a prison yard surrounded by corrections officers.

But our winner, Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell.  Two weeks ago,

that body passed his horrific bigoted bill designed to reduce protections

for gays by enabling Oklahoma law enforcement agencies to ignore the

broader definition of hate crimes passed by the US Congress a few years ago

in the Matthew Shepherd Act on the grounds that it denied Oklahoma churches

the right to preach against homosexuality. 

The Oklahoma bill permits prosecutors to ignore Title 18, U.S. Code

Section 245, except the protections for gays are not in Title 18 U.S. Code

Section 245.  They are in Title 18, U.S. Code Section 249.  So what did

Oklahoma nullify when it‘s Senate attacked Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245? 

Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245 protects people against hate crimes based

on, quote, “race, color, religion or national origin.” 

So the religious nuts in Oklahoma who tried to strip the rights from

gays wound up stripping the rights from the religious nuts in Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma State Senator Steve, “I wonder what hoist on his own petard

means,” Russell, today‘s worst person in the world.


OLBERMANN:  Finally tonight, a correction.  Yesterday, we told you

about an embarrassing Republican National Committee funded visit to a

simulated lesbian bondage themed strip club in West Hollywood.  Well, it

turns out it wasn‘t a simulated lesbian bondage themed strip club at all. 

It was a simulated lesbian bondage theme art club, according to the lesbian

bondage themed art club‘s management, which is really upset the place was

not recognized for its artistic greatness. 

To correct the record, the GOP blew two ground of its donor‘s money on


Yesterday, FEC documents revealed that in February, the Republican

National Committee reimbursed 2,000 dollars to one Erik Brown, California

based political consultant, after Brown took some young Republicans to a

high end LA bar called Voyeur.  Today “National Journal‘s” hotline on call

blog reports that Allison Myers, the director of the RNC‘s Young Eagles

Program, approved the pay out to Brown, and has since been terminated. 


Today, in an articled titled “A Club With a Hollywood Tint”—that‘s

tint—Sarah Waldman (ph), director of special events at Voyeur,

complained about media depictions of her establishment to the Times. 

Quoting Ms. Waldman, “we are most certainly not a strip club.  We cater to

a high-end, A-list clientele, with live art installations with a

voyeuristic theme.” 

That live art, according to one viewer, includes the installation of a

half naked girl hanging from a net across the ceiling.  According to this

image from the Voyeur website, there is also a half naked bartender who

will artfully ignore your requests for extra limes. 

Time to now call in our own spoken word artist, Michael Musto of the

“Village Voice,” and his new blog, DailyMusto.com.  Good evening, Michael.

MICHAEL MUSTO, “VILLAGE VOICE”:  Hi, Keith.  I feel sorry for Annette,

the girl she is hanging from.  It‘s got to hurt. 

OLBERMANN:  That is enough for tonight.  Don‘t you think?  We can‘t

get better than that.  Does this place match your definition of an art

club, and therefore, is the GOP supporting the arts? 

MUSTO:  Yeah.  But, then again, I think Planet Hollywood is a museum. 

It think this is fantastic.  This is a great new direction for the

Republicans.  Next, they‘re going to be buying up Maplethorps as if they

were Keen paintings.  They‘re going to making Biblical tableau with their

bodily functions.  It redefines GOP


MUSTO:  Yeah.  Go back to the Annette joke. 

OLBERMANN:  Michael Steele is jeopardy, as usual, as the chairman of

the RNC after that, and he has sort of run away from this story.  Would a

better strategy be to embrace this, embrace the arts, or if you are in this

place, let the arts embrace you? 

MUSTO:  Absolutely, it is great press.  Even Jesse James, I hear, is

embracing this.  He is saying he was simply embracing the female nude,

every female nude.  You know, if high art is up to Jesse‘s level, then I

think it‘s worth pursing.  Nazis have nothing to do with this.  I‘m talking

about the RNC. 

OLBERMANN:  Goodness.  The Voyeur website claims—let‘s see if I can

say this without just bursting into laughter, “they take their guests to

the edge of corruption with elegance and eroticism.”  Have you ever been to

the edge of corruption with elegance and eroticism? 

MUSTO:  It is fantastic.  It‘s in Secaucus.  Two drink minimum.  No,

Keith.  Yes, I have been to the edge of corruption.  But it‘s never been

elegant or erotic.  Believe me, I‘ve been in squalid, compromising

positions, really filthy stuff.  It‘s about as sexy and elegant as a Dustin

Diamond sex tape.  In fact, it was a Dustin Diamond sex tape. 

OLBERMANN:  The location intrigues me, West Hollywood.  Wouldn‘t there

be other places in West Hollywood that would have been much more offensive

to Republican donors than this one?  Isn‘t this one of the tepid ones? 

MUSTO:  West Hollywood makes Hell‘s Kitchen look like an enclave of

straight men.  There is a bar called the Avi where Liz Taylor wheels in

once a month, and she‘s the only biological female for miles.  All the gays

are like, look, papi, it‘s Britney Spears‘ grandmother.  There‘s another

bar caller Rage. 

Let me not pursue this because you might wrongly think I know all the

bars in West Hollywood. 

OLBERMANN:  Good.  Lastly, at this place, what do you suppose

Republicans spent 2,000 dollars on? 

MUSTO:  In any art place, you pay for bottle service.  You pay for

maybe a lap dance from the Mona Lisa, some—from the Venus de Milo,

though she‘s not big on fingering.  Basically, you‘re just paying for an

artistic elevated experience.  These people were framed.  Get it, they were

framed.  Let‘s go back to the Annette joke. 

OLBERMANN:  I‘m just trying to figure out which direction to go.  The

Venus de Milo joke, I‘m not sure if it is more offensive anatomically or -- 

MUSTO:  It is offensive to everybody. 

OLBERMANN:  Good.  Congratulations again on doing that.  The one and

only Michael Musto.  And the new blog is DailyMusto.com.  Thanks, Michael.

That is COUNTDOWN for this the 2,525th day since the previous

president declared mission accomplished in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann, good

night and good luck. 




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