Guests: Clarence Dupnik, Jonathan Turley, Richard Trumka, Richard Wolffe.
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
Rebellion in Arizon-astan. The sheriff of Pima County, from Tucson, a
Mexican border, says he has no intention of enforcing the new “show me your
papers” law. Clarence Dupnik calls it “unnecessary, racist, disgusting.”
The Sheriff Dupnik joins us.
Yet others demand more. “We want the National Guard on the border,”
says Republican Congressman Poe of Texas.
Republican Congressman Hunter, the younger, of California, wants
deportation of children born here to undocumented immigrants because the
kids‘ souls are not American enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER ®, CALIFORNIA: It takes more than walking across
the border to become an American citizen. It‘s what‘s in our souls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It sure is.
And the half-governor as usual sees a plot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think that President Obama
is playing to his base on this one, and I think that‘s quite unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That woman is an idiot.
Who‘s playing to the base, Sister Sarah? While Jan Brewer says God
made her governor of Arizona, Jeb Bush and Karl Rove speak out against the
law. The GOP in crisis—with Howard Fineman.
Big banking reform, Democrats call for all-night sessions requiring
actual GOP filibusters. Faced with working late, Republicans cave on
“Worsts”: The would-be Iowa congressman and his solution to illegal
immigrants: put microchips in them.
And “Bushed!” her version: Laura Bush chastises her husband‘s critics
for, quote, “calling him names.” Names that seem like love letters
compared to jargon of the tea party. She wonders if the whole family was
poisoned at the G8 in Germany. And the car crash when she was 17, and she
ran a stop sign and she collided with the car of her friend and he was
killed, what was to blame? The small size of the stop sign.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
Significant developments from Pima County in embattled Arizona. The
sheriff of that jurisdiction bordering Mexico, including the city of
Tucson, is saying—in our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN—that he was no
intention of enforcing a law that he considers racist, disgusting,
As at least three Arizona cities, plus the federal government
contemplate lawsuits to block the so-called “breathing while Latino” law,
Pima County sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, joins us in a moment.
On the defensive, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer taking a page out of the
Palin playbook, turning to her Facebook page to lash out at critics and
rationalize the immigration law. Quoting the governor, “On Friday, I
signed into law Senate bill 1070. Since then I have come under fire from
President Obama, Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix, the liberal east coast
media, Al Sharpton and others who want us to back down from securing our
borders. Rest assured we will not back down until our borders are secure”
even though nobody told her not to.
President Bush‘s Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who may know
something about securing borders, telling the “Associated Press” he‘s
uncomfortable with Arizona‘s new law, saying, it allows police to question
people without probable cause.
And the son of former Congressman Duncan L. Hunter, who succeeded his
father representing the California 52nd, is now saying he would support the
deportation of natural born American citizens if they were born to
undocumented citizens, on the grounds that they cost too much and because
their souls are insufficiently American.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTER: It‘s between $10 billion and $20 billion in the state that
we‘ve spent on illegal immigration, like he said, that‘s health services,
that‘s education and jails. We just can‘t afford it anymore. That‘s it.
And we‘re not—we‘re not being mean. We‘re just saying it takes more
than walking across the border to become an American citizen. It‘s what‘s
in our souls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Congressman Hunter, whose father once pointed to the
glazed chicken as proof of the good treatment at Gitmo, is proposing
overturning the part of the United States Constitution that conservatives
are so fond of citing as defense against liberal tyranny. The 14th
Amendment, Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United
States and of the state where in they reside. No state shall make or
enforce any law which shall bridge the privileges or in immunities of
citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of
life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In Washington, Senators Menendez, Schumer and Reid are saying today
they will keep drafting an immigration overhaul bill despite the fact that
Republican Lindsey Graham has pulled out of negotiations. Congresswoman
Sheila Jackson-Lee is saying today that Graham‘s defection and promise to
block immigration reform reminded her of the southern Dixiecrats who
attempted to block civil rights legislation during the 1960s.
Ms. Jackson-Lee and other House Democrats taking to the capitol steps
today to condemn the Arizona law, calling for steps to fix it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. NYDIA VELASQUEZ (D-NY), CHAIR, CONG. HISPANIC CAUCUS: This bill
would not make our borders more secure, but it will open the door to
discrimination and racial profiling. It panders to the worst elements of
our national dialogue.
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA), CHAIR, CONG. BLACK CAUCUS: It is really a
national disgrace—a national disgrace that will result in people being
harassed simply because of how they look. And as an African-American, I
can tell you that this opens the floodgates to racial profiling and to
many, many, many of the issues that we had to deal with during the civil
rights struggle. Allowing law enforcement officials to arbitrarily stop
anyone—anyone—and challenge their citizenship is not only wrong, it‘s
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: On Air Force One tonight, President Obama telling
reporters that he wants immigration reform because the federal government
has been abdicating its responsibilities on the issue for a very long time,
but also that his administration is examining Arizona‘s new law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I think is a
mistake is when we start having local law enforcement officials in power to
stop people on the suspicion that they may be undocumented workers because,
you know, that carries a great amount of risk that core values that we all
care about are breached. We have to do more, though, in the context of a
comprehensive plan that maintains our status as a nation of laws and a
nation of immigrants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As promised, we‘re joined now by the sheriff of Pima
County, Arizona, Clarence Dupnik.
Sheriff Dupnik, thank you for your time tonight.
SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Thanks for inviting
OLBERMANN: I summarized what you told a local Arizona station about
this law today, but would you kindly say in your own words what you intend
to do about its enforcement?
DUPNIK: Well, let me first point out something that I think the vast
majority of people nationally and in our state as well don‘t understand.
First of all, law enforcement people—state and local law enforcement
people—now have the authority to stop and detain people who they believe
are illegal immigrants and turn them over to the border patrol.
We have been doing that for—I‘ve been a police officer here for 52
years, 30 years as sheriff—and we‘ve been doing that for as long as I‘ve
been a cop here. And the Pima County sheriff‘s department does that in
greater numbers than any other state and local law enforcement agency in
our state. We don‘t brag about that.
One of the reasons we do it is because we‘re situated directly in the
corridor from Mexico to the United States where the vast majority of
smuggling of contraband and illegals is taking place. And that‘s one of
the reasons that we do that.
But my objection to the state law that was enacted by the governor and
the legislature is twofold. One: I believe it‘s unconstitutional. I don‘t
think, as you pointed out earlier in this show, that the states have the
authority to preempt federal government when it comes to immigration
And second of all, I think it‘s going to be held unconstitutional on
the basis of the key phrase in the bill that says we can stop them and ask
them for papers and so forth on reasonable suspicion. Now, I‘ve been a cop
for 52 years. I‘m not sure what reasonable suspicion means, and I suspect
that‘s going to be constitutionally vague.
The third thing is, why would I take the hundreds of people that we
arrest regularly and put them in the local jail and subject them to the
local criminal justice system and then send the local taxpayers a huge bill
for doing this when I—all we have to do is what we‘ve been doing all
along and turn them over to the border patrol?
Why was this bill enacted in Arizona? I think it was enacted in
Arizona to make the legislature feel good, possibly to deflect some of the
attention they get on the poor management, especially of financial issues
in this state. They‘ve done a horrible job. And, second of all, I think
it‘s just racist.
OLBERMANN: To that point, the governor and State Senator Pearce who
sponsor this law, originally, both said the law is written specifically to
prevent racial profiling and will not lead to racism. I gather from your
last statement that you have reasons to believe that‘s not true. What are
DUPNIK: Well, let me tell you, they say that the law that they
crafted mirrors the federal law, and in a lot of respects it does—with
the couple of exceptions. One is this reasonable suspicion business, and
the other, they have set up the police in an impossible situation. On one
hand, we get sued by people whom we stop who we would stop—this happens
a great deal in another county north of here—for racial profiling. They
have put a clause in this bill that I don‘t think anybody has looked at
that says any citizen in this state can file a lawsuit against any law
enforcement official that doesn‘t enforce this law.
So, now, we‘re damned if we do and we‘re damned if we don‘t.
OLBERMANN: So, what—speaking of that point, what—are you
putting yourself or your position at risk by saying what you have been
saying the last 48 hours?
DUPNIK: Well, first of all, let me say this—this law will not go
into effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns, which will
probably be soon. My guess is there‘s going to be several lawsuits filed
on some of the points that I raised and other points as well. My guess is,
when the courts take a look at this, that they‘re going to issue an
injunction from its enforcement and, eventually, it‘s going to be declared
OLBERMANN: Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Arizona—very
illuminating and great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
DUPNIK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Many Republicans have doubted the constitutionality of the
law. Few on either side have actually sat down and analyzed it. So, let‘s
do so now with constitutional law expert, Jonathan Turley, professor of law
at George Washington University.
Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. There‘s something that Sheriff Dupnik just
said that I want to get to. But give me the big picture first. What is
the constitutional challenge to the whole thing?
TURLEY: Well, there‘s probably two grounds for challenge. One,
probably the most important early challenge could come from the Justice
Department. There are various reports that the Justice Department is
preparing to challenge this law. If that‘s the case, the most likely
grounds would be on preemption, to say that the state is acting in an area
that is occupied by federal law and that they can‘t do that. They can‘t
have their own immigration scheme.
Now, that‘s not going to be as easy as it sounds. There‘s a case
called Decannes (ph). It was a case in 1976 where the Supreme Court ruled
that California could have this type of what‘s called concurrent
So, what the Obama administration would have to be able to show,
because the law itself does not rule out that type of concurrent
jurisdiction, what they‘d have to argue is that it is implied. That the
scheme does not allow for this type of state law.
And that‘s going to be an interesting fight. It‘s not as easy as
people seem to suggest. There‘s going to be a close question in my view.
The second grounds—which is the one that I‘ve been focusing on—
is in fact reasonable suspicion. In my view, that is a perfectly horrible
provision, and I consider it to be perfectly un-American. It is correctly
condemned as a, sort of, “your papers please” provision.
But the greatest challenge of reasonable suspicion provisions would be
as applied, to wait for it to be enforced and then to show there‘s no way
to do this except using improper racial criteria—you can‘t look at two
people and say, I have reasonable suspicion of what you have or do not have
in your wallet.
But these lawsuits are likely to move before that. They‘re going to
go, I think, very, very early. And so, there will be facial challenges.
I happen to believe this is an unconstitutional law, but it is going
to be more difficult than people are suggesting in showing the
OLBERMANN: Where does the term “reasonable suspicion” currently fit
into our laws and punitive actions against lawbreakers? Isn‘t that a stage
before you go and ask a judge for a warrant?
TURLEY: Well, reasonable suspicion can be traced back to a case
called Terry v. Ohio where the Supreme Court allowed officers to do a pat
down of suspects if they had reasonable suspicion they were carrying a
weapon for their own protection. And that obviously has some objective
elements to it.
What you‘re doing in this case is to say you‘re looking at someone and
saying these two people might be different in terms of whether they have
correct papers on them. It‘s very hard to imagine how you could have an
objective and constitutional basis for doing that type of thing.
OLBERMANN: Any citizen can sue any officer who does not enforce this
law, I‘m paraphrasing the sheriff there. Is that constitutional?
TURLEY: Well, it is probably constitutional for the state to say it.
In my view, it‘s a perfectly ridiculous provision. It is so subjective.
I can‘t imagine how a court is going to deal with it. It talks about
suing people for, quote, “policy” that‘s don‘t allow, quote, “the full
enforcement,” closed quote, of these laws. That is so riddled with
subjectivity it‘s perfectly maddening.
But yes, this sheriff is correct. He is—when he says he‘s damned
if he does and damned if he doesn‘t, that pretty much means you‘re damned.
Last one and speaking of the damned, Duncan D. Hunter, the
congressman, Hunter the younger, in California, that is what he wants—
throwing children out who were born in this country. That is as ridiculous
as it sounds, right? The 14th Amendment sort of covers that?
TURLEY: Well, first you need to get over the 14th Amendment which
talks about all persons born or naturalized in the United States. You also
have to get by the Wong Kim Ark decision which is about 1998 when the
Supreme Court said that being born in this country makes you a citizen.
That‘s a lot of water to haul, but I wouldn‘t bet on them. And this
may make for good press. It may for good rhetoric but it doesn‘t make for
OLBERMANN: Nice to see Congressman Hunter living up to the family
tradition on that.
Jonathan Turley of George Washington University—thank you, Jon.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Two of those now doubting the constitutionality of the law
will shock you. Two with no doubt whatsoever that it‘s good will not.
What Palin and Rove and Hannity and Ridge represent in the way of an
internal Republican rift—next.
OLBERMANN: He thought lying the nation into war was constitutional,
suppressing opposition, wiretapping everybody constitutional. Torture,
rendition, vote rigging, gerrymandering—constitutional. The Arizona
law? Unconstitutional. Presumably now, the tea party will have to
What this union leader doubtlessly finds ironic, Republicans faced
with working late, completely fold on a threat to block debate of financial
reform. The president of the AFL-CIO joins us.
A little Lonesomer Rhodes than usual. His ratings close down 29
percent in the first four months of this year.
And honestly, you expected her to write a book in which she called her
ex-president husband a schmuck? It‘s how much of a non-schmuck she thinks
he is that is proving startling.
You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: And another improbable and telling name to the list of
Republicans voicing opposition to the Arizona “show me your papers” law:
Karl Rove. George W. Bush‘s former political guru thinks the Arizona
effort to crackdown on illegal immigration has, quote, “constitutional
In our fourth story, he, obviously, did not run that comment past the
tea parties constitutional experts, his fellow FOX Newsers, Sarah Palin and
Also, the governor of Arizona thinks she‘s on a mission from God.
So far, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, tea party darling Marco
Rubio and Senator Lindsey Graham are all on record as criticizing the
Arizona immigration law. In fact, Graham, a former JAG attorney, is flatly
calling it unconstitutional.
Karl Rove has joined these Republicans in dissent, telling a book tour
crowd in Florida, quote, “I think there‘s going to be some constitutional
problems with the bill.” Adding, “I wish they hadn‘t passed it in a way.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Lonesome Rhodes Beck sees Nazis in
his breakfast cereal but he does not like the “show me your papers” tag on
the new Arizona law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: This guy wants you to believe he can ask for
your papers on health insurance and you can be punished if you don‘t have
them, but he wants you to believe that same government cannot ask you for
your legal information. I don‘t understand. I—explain that to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I know, I know you don‘t—jail terms and deportation
over health insurance in Beck dreamland.
Then there is the half-governor of Alaska on the right—on Sunday,
Sarah Palin at that baseball game in Phoenix with Arizona‘s governor, Jan
Brewer. That‘s Governor Jan Brewer who turns out in a speech to a pastor‘s
conference last year told the audience that, quote, “God has placed me in
this powerful position of Arizona‘s governor to help the state get through
Last night, Sarah Palin visited the sycophant hour, telling Sean
Hannity that she loves the new Arizona law and that the racial profile
thingy is a mythy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: There is no ability or opportunity in there for the racial
profiling. I think it‘s shameful, too, that the Obama administration has
allowed this to become more of a racial issue by perpetuating this myth
that racial profiling is a part of this law.
This law in Arizona that has recently been signed, it essentially
replicates, duplicates, the federal law any way. So, I don‘t know why
Obama has a problem with that. And as we‘ve said, Sean, it is telling the
federal government that they better wake up, buck up, and do their job in
securing our borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You know what? It just dawned on me. I‘m going to call
the Arizona law a death panel. And don‘t call me Sean.
Howard Fineman is “Newsweek” magazine‘s senior Washington
correspondent and political columnist, also an MSNBC political analyst, and
the author of “The Thirteen American Arguments” which is now out in
Good evening, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Since this death panel passed, it worked for her, what the
heck—each day, we‘ve had a couple more Republicans who‘ve endorsed it, a
couple more—perhaps bigger ones—who have disavowed it. Is there a
policy on that side of it? Is there a divide? Or is the majority on this
keeping silent so as not to touch this third rail?
FINEMAN: Well, I think there‘s a growing divide and I think the
people who are silent in the Republican Party leadership are silent because
they‘re scared. And I think Karl Rove is a good indicator of where that
silent majority probably is—and not because Karl Rove has suddenly
become a constitutional philosopher, it‘s because—in talking to some top
people in the Republican leadership yesterday about this, they‘re scared.
They‘re scared about the long-term prospects of a Republican Party that
becomes branded and identified by Arizona—by what‘s going on in Arizona.
George W. Bush spent years building up some credibility in the Latino
community, got over 40 percent of the Latino vote in the last presidential
election. Karl Rove and George Bush were very proud of that.
But if Arizona becomes the emblem of the Republican Party and people,
like Brewer and Palin, are trying to make it so, then the Republicans can
forget the allegiance of the fastest growing and largest minority group in
this country for a generation or more.
OLBERMANN: What about Rove specifically? Because we had that number,
that 57 percent of tea partiers believe George Bush was a fine president,
exactly the opposite of the rest of the electorate. How do they wind up
disagreeing with Bush‘s brain but not Bush?
FINEMAN: Well, I‘m not sure they all do, frankly. You said Sarah
Palin, favorite of the tea party. I looked on the Arizona tea party Web
site. Interestingly, there‘s nothing on there about immigration. They‘re
focused on taxes and smaller government, et cetera.
And I‘m fascinated by the libertarian streak of this, because a lot of
real small government libertarians have expressed concerns about it. I
think that is part of the reason why some people are—on the conservative
side are concerned.
And Barry Goldwater certainly would have been. You know, I can‘t
speak to him, but I did talk to one of his main biographers, Lee Edwards,
who‘s here at the Heritage Foundation. And he said that Barry Goldwater in
Arizona would have been very, very uncomfortable with this, would have been
very upset about it because of what it says about government.
And Glenn Beck was right. It is big government. It‘s much more big
government than the health care bill that he was complaining about.
OLBERMANN: On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democrats
were not slating summer 2010 as immigration reform time. This is financial
reform time. Will it nevertheless become immigration reform time whether
they like it or not?
FINEMAN: Well, I keep saying and keep reporting based on what they‘re
telling me that they really don‘t want to go to the immigration bill. We
used to have a saying down in the Kentucky legislature that I covered that,
you know, so-and-so wanted the issue, not the bill.
Well, this is a case where most of the Democrats would rather have the
issue and not the bill. Right now, the Republicans are maneuvering
themselves into a corner here because of Arizona. The Democrats would
rather let them be divided on it and not bring it up themselves—because
if the Democrats bring it up, they‘re going to have to deal with the
question of path to citizenship, they‘re going to have to, of course, being
responsible. But they don‘t necessarily want to.
The president would like them to. He says. We‘ll see.
I‘m very skeptical of the Democrats bringing the major reform
legislation up before the election in the fall. They might possibly do it
in a lame duck session after. Who knows?
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek” and MSNBC—great thanks as
always in joining us here to discuss these new Arizona death panels.
FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
As promised, the president of the AFL-CIO and the news off the
financial reform menu, the Republicans do not want to stay late in the
First, tweets of the day—next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The president of the AFL/CIO and tomorrow‘s protest march
on Wall Street. First, the Tweets of the day. A variety of topics, from
the chickens for clunker doctors program, to Arizona, to Glenn Beck‘s
assessment of George W. Bush.
The second runner up, from @JazzGuyAl—have to say this carefully—
“the cluster cluck that is Sue Lowden, insert your recording of the chicken
The runner up, from @FrankConnoff, TV‘s Frank, of “Cinematic Titanic”
and “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fame, “expect that new law will result
in huge influx of folks immigrating from Arizona to America.” Push the
button, Frank, the button of revenge against the outsiders.
And tonight‘s winner, from @bishopAP, “Beck says Bush was a
progressive? I thought Beck wanted us to think progressives were Nazis.
Does that mean—“
Wait, I‘ll get a chalk board and spend 60 minutes pretending to figure
it out. That‘s Glenn Beck now featuring 29 percent off, off his ratings
Let‘s play Oddball.
We‘ll try it again. Another cluster cluck in Brighten, Massachusetts.
I didn‘t know Sue Lowden had fans this side of the Mississippi. I didn‘t
know I could say it twice. After last night‘s show, you never know. These
folks are hoping to make history with the world‘s largest rubber chicken
toss; 265 people tossing hundreds of them, which means they either broke a
world record or they have just been bartering for a group health care plan.
In Shanghai, the brand-new Obama nightclub, no memorabilia, nor photos
of the president inside, but the club‘s owner, Dragon Chang, says the
club‘s name was inspired by Mr. Obama‘s change platform. “We also hope
that this nightclub, a pinnacle of culture and entertainment, can be an
instrument of change.” Changing your clothes, obviously. And by pinnacle
of culture, I‘m referring—I believe Mr. Chang is referring to the
dancing ladies and big screen TVs. Does the RNC‘s Young Eagles program
know about this place?
Not to be outdone, the McCain Diner in Phoenix hopes to earn change
with a new early bird special, get you out by 4:00 pm, before the Gendarmes
come hunting for your Green Cards.
Did you know President Bush and his First Lady might have been
poisoned at the G-8 Summit three years ago? No? Neither did the Secret
Service. They called it a virus. COUNTDOWN continues.
OLBERMANN: The Republicans may have revealed the way Democrats can
beat them on any piece of legislation: insist they work late. In our third
story tonight, the GOP wall of opposition has now cracked in the face of
Democratic plans to force them to defend their intransigence during an all-
night session on the subject of financial reform. After three test votes
in which the Republicans staved off the start of the debate, the Senate,
less than two hours ago, moved to open discussion of finance reform by
Now the bill can actually be debated in the open. A few hours prior,
the senior Republican on the Banking Committee, Senator Shelby, had
announced an impasse on negotiations with the Democratic chairman, Senator
Dodd. But Shelby also noted that progress had been made on one issue, how
to deal with banks too big to fail when they fail.
It was just this morning that Republicans had unified for the third
time in as many days to block the debate. And for the third time,
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson had voted along with the Republicans. A
company based in Nelson‘s home state has billions of dollars worth of those
so-called derivatives that might be affected by the bill, and Senator
Nelson owns between 1.5 and six million dollars worth of stock in that
company, Berkshire Hathaway, according to his own financial disclosure
Is it a coincidence that the GOP‘s implosion came after a decision by
Senate Democrats to turn the Republican opposition into an all-nighter.
Ezra Klein of the “Washington Post” even posits that “Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell might want to forestall the Democrats‘ strategy to
force the Republicans to filibuster endlessly, since the Kentucky Derby is
this weekend, and the senator from Kentucky might want to attend.”
Priorities, your tax dollars in action.
In a different kind of debate, the AFL/CIO is organizing a march on
Wall Street tomorrow to protest the lack of financial reform. The
president of the AFL/CIO, Richard Trumka, joins me here now. It‘s a
pleasure to meet you, sir. Thanks for coming in.
RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Keith, thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: This turned out to be something of a loser for the GOP.
Are they finally figuring that out?
TRUMKA: I think so. More than 70 percent of the American public want
Wall Street reform. They‘ve been standing there defending the banks, not
having anything to offer in its place, and the American public started
pushing back. Now, we‘ve conducted over 200 demonstrations around the
country at Wall Street banks, these Wall Street banks. And tomorrow, we‘re
going to have a big one.
We‘re asking for three things. One, that they stop fighting financial
reform, or Wall Street reform. Two, that they start paying their fair
share for the 11 million jobs that they destroyed by their fiasco. And,
three, that they start lending to small and mid-size business again, so
they can actually start creating some jobs, we can get an economy going,
and put America back to work.
OLBERMANN: What else is the point of this march tomorrow? Is there
also some effort going to be made by your members to say—to underscore
the point that you‘re not opposed to people making money just because they
happen to own the place? This has been painted in a very black and white
sense. It‘s the rising tide lifts all boats, correct?
OLBERMANN: And so, is there some sort of olive branch to the bankers
and to those defending them to say, go along with the reform, play by
rules, and that will be good enough for us?
TRUMKA: Well, absolutely. Not just play by the rules, because while
we do want financial reform, the Wall Street reform, that‘s what these
rules will do, we want them to play by the rules, same resumes that
everybody else does.
TRUMKA: And then we want them to pay for the 11 million jobs that
they destroyed. We‘re talking about several different ways for paying for
it. We want a financial transaction tax. That‘s one way they can do it.
A quarter of a penny tax on each one of those derivatives that you talked
about will raise about 150 billion dollars a year to create jobs.
And then the big hedge fund operators and private equity operators—
one guy made four billion dollars this year, in a recession year, I might
add. And he pays half the tax that every other American pays out there.
Let him start paying the same amount of taxes that we do, so they can start
paying for jobs, the 11 million that they destroyed.
OLBERMANN: Republicans tried to sell the public that big business are
their protector and unions are their enemies. As illogical as it sounds,
if you analyze it for more than 30 seconds, it has often worked in American
history, sometimes to the country‘s great detriment, and other times just
to its regular detriment. Why do you think it has just failed so roundly?
And did this Goldman Sachs hearing this week really sort of put the final
nail in the idea?
TRUMKA: I think it did. I think the American public got to see that
they haven‘t learned anything. You know, people are mad, not because they
made money, but because of the way they made money, and the vast obscene
amount of money they made, and the fact that they put the whole system at
risk, and the fact that they destroyed 11 million jobs. And they haven‘t
learned anything from it.
So we have to have financial reform to get them back into it. Why it
didn‘t work this time? Because everybody could see that their excesses
caused the system to almost collapse. And they‘re not willing to do that
again. They destroyed 11 million jobs, and they want those jobs back.
OLBERMANN: The president kept plugging away at this. It‘s been a
fairly simple and constant message from him on this point. What he said in
Illinois today, “this crisis was not part of the normal economic cycle.
They were making bets.” Are you confident that what we see in terms of
reform is not going to wind up being watered down past some acceptable
TRUMKA: No, our job is to make sure it isn‘t watered down. During
the debate we‘re going to try to strengthen it. One of the amendments that
will come out is Sherrod Brown. Sherrod Brown will put an amendment in
saying banks that are too big to fail should really be busted up so they‘re
not too big to fail.
And the Republicans will get a chance. They said they didn‘t like the
last bill. They filibustered it because it allowed banks to continue, and
we would have to bail them out again. Well, here‘s their chance to show
how much they mean it. They can vote for that amendment, bust those banks
up, keep them at a size where they can make money and compete in the world,
but not be too big to fail and jeopardize us and the system.
OLBERMANN: And honor a great Republican in the process, Theodore
Roosevelt, go out and bust some trusts, at the very least. Richard Trumka,
the president of the AFL/CIO, good luck with the event tomorrow. Good luck
with the demonstration. And great thanks for coming in.
TRUMKA: Keith, thanks for having me. Keep up the good work.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. You too.
In our literature segment tonight, you expected to roll your eyes over
President Bush‘s autobiography, but Mrs. Bush‘s book too?
Great idea, would-be Iowa congressman, catch all undocumented
immigrants and implant them with micro chips. And the candidate is a
doctor. Worst persons imminently.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest,
the DNC chairman, Tim Kaine, on the twisted logic from the right that
President Obama‘s 2010 campaign video was racist.
OLBERMANN: Worst persons in a moment. So, can I use a chicken to pay
a doctor to implant a tracking device inside an undocumented immigrant?
First, no, that isn‘t your water boiling now, it‘s time for our nightly
checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It is Tea Time.
Meet Christy Kavare (ph). Hello, Ms. Kavare. She is seeking the
Republican nomination from the 19th congressional district in New York, and
she promises to be a great deal of fun. First, a local paper, “The Times
Herald Record,” reported that her spokesperson claimed she raised a record,
a national record 300,000 dollars for her campaign in just six weeks, and
she‘d be adding another 100,000 after a busy weekend. But the paper then
discovered there was no way to verify that because she hadn‘t filed her
financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Committee on time.
Then Ms. Kavare‘s people claimed she had gotten a filing extension
because the money was here, quote, opening balance. Then the paper called
the FEC and they said they had no idea what she was talking about, what an
opening balance was.
Then she put out campaign literature advising that she has experience
at the Pentagon and, quote, “secret security clearance.” Then the paper
revealed what she was talking about was an unpaid internship during her
final semester at graduate school.
Then she announced that Democrats had taken credit for all the good
things Republicans had done throughout history. “Republicans were the ones
in favor of women‘s suffrage. The Republicans were the one who liberated
Europe in World War II. And the Republicans are the ones who brought
freedom to millions of people in the Middle East now.”
Yeah, 19th Amendment, the votes for women thing, that was Woodrow
Wilson‘s project. World War II, Democratic president. The top General
Eisenhower was apolitical. America fought that war, not Democrats or
We can debate how much freedom was brought to the Middle East. But
guess what? Democrats have fought there too.
Anyway, all of these bizarre things had already happened to Kristy
Kavare when another paper really ticked her off. The “Record Review”
identified her as the Tea Party Candidate. And that‘s when her people
complained to the newspaper. She‘s not the Tea Party candidate. And there
we are. When the intern with the secret security clearance who just raised
more money than anybody else ever, only you‘ll have to take her word for
it, who think the Republicans won World War II by themselves, when she
doesn‘t want to be identified with the Tea Party, the shark may have been
OLBERMANN: Laura Bush claims she‘s still not sure she and the
president and some staff were not poisoned at the G-8 summit in Germany in
2007. The Secret Service‘s conclusion? It was a virus. Richard Wolffe
was there. We‘ll ask him if he was poisoned.
That‘s next, but first tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Roger Ailes of Fixed News. When only you feel one way
and everybody feels the opposite, there is the slight chance they are
right. Highlights of his speech at Naples, Florida, “I don‘t believe it‘s
a partisan comment for me to say that last year the media went into the
tank for Barack Obama.” That was last year during the Tea Parties. “I‘m
not in politics anymore. I don‘t do politics. I do the news.”
Best of all, according to the “Naples Daily News,” Ailes compared
perceived media complicity with government politics to the atmosphere in
Hitler Germany or Stalinist Russia. Well, that explains 2001 through 2008.
The runner up, the Commonwealth Foundation, a Tea Party Republican
group. It will stage an event a week from Saturday in Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania, in which people can fire weapons into junked cars with words
painted on them like “card check,” “cap-and-trade” and “Obama-care.” The
price is 65 dollars. Crowds are not expected to be large, because to shoot
the correct cars, the Tea Party protesters would have to know how to read.
But our winner, Dr. Pat Bertroch (ph). He is seeking the Republican
nomination for Congress from the Iowa Third. Dr. Bertroch says
undocumented immigrants don‘t pay taxes so he‘s got an idea. As an aside,
he‘s wrong. A nonpartisan group in Iowa found that the average
undocumented family in that state pays an average of 1,671 bucks in taxes
every year, about 80 percent of what the average documented family pays.
Never mind the facts, Dr. Bertroch has a plan for illegal immigrants,
quote, “I think we should catch them. We should document them, make sure
we know where they are and where they‘re going. I actually support micro-
chipping them. I can micro-chip my dog so I can find it. Why can‘t I
micro-chip an illegal?”
Are you going to pay for it with chickens? When you can‘t do it,
doctor, can you imagine the reaction from your nut job supporters, the
anger, the sense of insult by the ones who believed they have already had
micro-chips implanted by the, by the government, or the world government,
or from the galaxy government from the planet of Skyron? Dr. Pat “medical
experimentation on societal scapegoats, never heard of that before”
Bertroch, today‘s worst person in the world. Call it a death panel.
OLBERMANN: Former First Lady Laura Bush‘s new book includes several
revelatory passages, but her reaction and name calling is notable perhaps
because of the truth contained there. Mrs. Bush complains that House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called her husband an incompetent leader, and that
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called President Bush a loser and a liar.
Was there anything in there about him being called a foreigner or a
communist or having a secret religion?
In our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, the Laura Bush biography
leaked ahead of its publication date because—see if this sounds familiar
somebody from a newspaper walked into a bookstore and got a copy. “The
New York Times” was the somebody. While she addressed the Time that she at
age 17 ran a stop sign and killed a friend in a second car, first she tries
to settle scores on her husband‘s behalf.
Mrs. Bush takes great umbrage about the criticism the president
received for flying over New Orleans, on Wednesday, August 31st, 2005, two
days after Hurricane Katrina hit. Quoting the book, “he did not want one
single life to be lost because someone was catering to the logistical
requirements of the president. He did not want his convoy of vehicles to
block trucks delivering water or food or medical supplies, or to impede
national guardsmen from around the nation who were arriving to help.”
But several Bush aides told “Newsweek” that the severity of the
storm‘s damage did not sink in until Thursday night, the day after the fly-
over. And White House Counselor Dan Bartlett even had made a DVD of
newscasts on the disaster for the president to watch. He did go there
later with all his trucks and his impositions.
But for sheer intrigue, no passage tops Mrs. Bush‘s suggestion that
the president, herself and several members of their staff may have been
poisoned during a visit to Hildengdam (ph), Germany for the G-8 summit in
June 2007. After they all became ill, the president bed-ridden, the Secret
Service investigated the possibility of poisoning, but doctors concluded
they had all contracted a virus.
The former president‘s own become “Decision Points” will be released
in November, and will include, according to its publisher, Bush‘s flaws and
mistakes, as well as his historic achievements.
Let‘s bring in MSNBC political analyst and author his own self,
Richard Wolffe. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, poison. In the book, Mrs. Bush noted several
high profile poisonings around the world and, quote, wrote, “we never
learned of any other delegations became ill or if ours mysteriously was the
only one.” You were at this in Germany. Were you aware of these
WOLFFE: I did go to a bar and have some bratwurst and beer and felt
queasy the next morning. But no, the illnesses themselves—it was a
strange moment when we found out about it. Let me paint the scene for you.
We‘re at this—the leaders are at this spa hotel on the banks—on the
shore of the Baltic Sea. Huge police presence there—I believe it was
the biggest security presence since World War II, just troops and para-
military police everywhere.
There was this clown army, thousands of protestors, anarchists and
environmentalists, who were trying to break in through the barricades and
everything else. So the idea of a security breach there was kind of
unthinkable. What happened was we were waiting outside for the first
meeting of the newly elected French president, Sarkozy, meeting Bush,
weirdly, in the hotel room. Sarkozy comes out and says, in French, not
surprisingly—but he says the president is not feeling so well.
And that was the first we heard. Later on, his aide said that he
didn‘t want to come out in public in case he made a repeat performance of
what his father had done vomiting in Japan. So that was it. As far as we
knew, he got a stomach bug. Weirdly, the French president was the one who
told us about it. But a security breach at something like that was just
kind of unthinkable.
OLBERMANN: On the subject of the infamous flyover during Katrina, the
former First Lady defended that, of course, as did Bush advisor, Karl Rove,
in his book. The problem is the flyover was only the symbolic issue. The
administration‘s response or non-response was at issue for days at least.
So how does this—does it successfully, this memoir, recast something
like that, to make that into noble self-sacrifice by not landing?
WOLFFE: You know, the disappointing piece of this account—and I
understand from the people who read this book that the early years that
Laura Bush describes are actually quite insightful and vividly portrayed.
But the disappointing thing about her defense of her husband, especially
when it comes to Katrina, is this is exactly what they said at the time.
And if you‘re going to write a book in hindsight, which she obviously is
doing, then you can engage in some what-ifs.
Had her husband set foot in New Orleans or in that area at that time,
would they have managed to get help to the people who needed it earlier?
Would he have had to have the DVD from Dan Bartlett to figure out what was
really going on the ground?
I think that‘s the kind of missed opportunity with this book. The
flyover itself, as you point out, wasn‘t the thing. It was the delay in
understanding how desperate it was on the ground. Clearly this book, from
what we can tell so far, doesn‘t really get to that.
OLBERMANN: And, briefly, the story of the fatal car crash when she
was 17, ran through a stop sign, caused the death of a boy in the other
car. It‘s obviously very painful stuff. But she‘s seeming to blame
herself only equally to the darkness, the dangerous of the intersection,
and the small size of the stop sign. Was that event, in your opinion,
pertinent to either presidential election? If so, why wasn‘t it addressed?
And what about her explanation?
WOLFFE: It came up in the first campaign in 2000. We asked all sorts
of questions about it. They stone-walled. Very hard to establish the
facts. It does sound like it was very painful. And these accidents, if
anyone has been in one, you know it happens very quickly. I think it‘s
hard to ascribe blame, at the time or afterwards, frankly.
OLBERMANN: Now we move on to the next one, President Bush‘s book,
“Decision Pants”—I‘m sorry, “Decision Points.” 14 key decisions which—
the volume of that—we are looking forward to the volume. I thought
there might have been three or four.
Richard Wolffe, his book is called “Renegade,” and it‘s not written
from any of those perspectives. Great thanks, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for this the 2,554th day since the
previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I wonder if
that‘s in the book. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
Now with her special guest, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, ladies and
gentlemen, here with Citizen Kaine is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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