Guests: Howard Fineman, Mike Hatchell, Sara Hatchell, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Melissa Harris-
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The GOP‘s class war of the day? Republicans versus the unemployed. Now, Gingrich insists they are choosing benefits over work—too lazy to work.
But Gingrich has again stepped on his own newt. The example he cites, the unnamed mechanic who turned down a dozen good jobs to stay unemployed and on the dole. And the jobs he turned down paid $7.75 an hour. He‘s now got a real job.
Our guest: Michael Hatchell—Mike, the mechanic.
Crisis in the Gulf, day 115. The latest nightmare: the psychological damage to children.
And the free health clinic in New Orleans—we need your help.
Anchor babies—the far right‘s latest evil plot. New research proves undocumented immigrants having babies is the least effective and slowest way to get permission to stay here or to become a citizen.
Not that the ethnic hatred abates nor the fear. Meet Marg. Marg is running for the state legislature in Florida. We can do what she remembers they did when she was a little girl in the ‘40s.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They built camps for the people that snuck into the country because they were illegal. They put them in the camps and they shipped them back.
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OLBERMANN: Well, no, that didn‘t happen, but she wants to do it now -
And the real story of Aqua Buddha.
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NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: They blindfolded me and made me bow down to Aqua Buddha in the creek. That might have been just a college prank, but you don‘t even remember that, right?
RAND PAUL ®, KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I‘m not going to really try to go back 27 years and remember everything I did in college.
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OLBERMANN: Tonight, in a world exclusive, the true story from Aqua Buddha—because there‘s something about an Aqua Buddha man.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, save me (INAUDIBLE)
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
When it came time to invade, Republicans used cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq. Now, they‘re using cherry-picked intelligence to wage war on the middle class.
In our fifth story tonight: without the cloak of national security to hide behind, Republicans are about to meet one member of the middle class who is fighting back.
We asked him to come on tonight because it is the first time in this “blame the unemployed” strategy from the right that we can recall Republicans targeting an individual American.
For months, Republican politicians have argued that extending unemployment benefits will slow job growth, because Americans would rather take a handout.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re clearly going to dampen the capacity of that growth if you basically keep an economy which encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment.
OLBERMANN: Two Republican—
SEN. JON KYL ®, ARIZONA: Continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.
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OLBERMANN: Two Republican candidates for Senate have gone further and said that Americans should start accepting lower salaries.
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RON JOHNSON ®, WISCONSIN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don‘t have the incentive to go take other jobs. You know, they‘ll just wait the system out until their benefits run out, then they‘ll go out and take, probably not as high-paying jobs as they would like to take, but that‘s how you have to get back to work.
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesn‘t pay as much. And so, that‘s what‘s happened to us, is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.
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OLBERMANN: It is the continuation of President Bush‘s economic philosophy that American workers should keep working into their old age, that working, you know, three jobs just to make ends meet is fantastic.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m a divorced single mother with three grown adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Fantastic.
I mean, we are living longer and people are working longer, and the truth of the matter is, elderly baby boomers have got a lot to offer to our society. And we shouldn‘t think about giving up our responsibilities in society. Isn‘t that right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s right.
BUSH: You don‘t have to worry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute—
BUSH: You work three jobs?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three jobs, yes.
BUSH: Uniquely American, isn‘t it? I mean, that is fantastic, that you‘re doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Thank you.
BUSH: Get any sleep?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not much. Not much.
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OLBERMANN: But now, as we mentioned, Republicans have targeted one individual American who‘s struggling to make ends meet and held him up as part of the problem. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich writing yesterday, quote, “The extension of unemployment benefits has given people a perverse incentive to stay on unemployment rather than accept a job.”
He continued “‘The Wall Street Journal‘ quotes an engineer who admits he turned down more than a dozen offers because the salary would have been less than he made on welfare. This story encapsulates the problem of the long-term unemployed, the depth and length of this recession is at risk of creating a permanent pool of unemployed Americans who get so used to being unproductive that they are willing to accept welfare indefinitely instead of taking a job.”
The man who turned down those offers will tell his own side of the story in just a minute and the reasons for turning down a job are not always as simple as Mr. Gingrich is.
“The Journal” interviewed Rick Helliwell about his company‘s difficulty finding people, quote, “The jobs require a little more than a high school diploma and fluency in English. They include free accommodation of medical care and starting pay of about $30,000 a year. Mr. Helliwell speculates that Americans might be hesitant to move to Dubai where the jobs are based.”
Speculates—you might add other possible reasons for giving up a job, such as—saving the country, or because Republicans thought you unfit to work.
This as “The New York Times” reports that yet another Republican politician, South Carolina‘s Governor Mark Sanford, has been approved by the Department of Labor to accept stimulus money targeted to expanding that state‘s unemployment benefits—an expansion Governor Sanford once predicted would cause tax increases, but which now appears to have embraced wholeheartedly—he now appears to have done so—signing the bill two months ago, expanding those unemployment benefits for his state to the tune of $98 million.
Governor Sanford joining the ranks of other Republican governors who once denounced such stimulus spending before they embraced it, such as Dave Heineman of Nebraska and Georgia‘s Sonny Perdue.
But despite the rush of Republicans to embrace the stimulus, most of America seems to have forgotten that it was their party, not President Obama‘s, that bailed out Wall Street banks. A new poll finding that more Americans, 47 percent, think President Obama signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, into law, only 34 percent know it was actually, shh, President Bush who did it.
And now, as promised, COUNTDOWN exclusive, the man singled out by former Speaker Gingrich, because he in Gingrich‘s words, admits he turned down more than a dozen offers because the salary would have been less than he made on welfare, Mike Hatchell joining us from his home in Lumberton, North Carolina, along with his wife, Sara.
Eleven-year-old Wyatt unfortunately visiting family in California, although thrilled, I‘m sure, that we‘re showing his Science Achievement Award photo on national TV tonight.
Mike and Sarah, thanks for joining us tonight.
MIKE HATCHELL, MECHANIC: Thank you, Keith.
SARA HATCHELL, WIFE OF GOP TARGET: Thank you.
M. HATCHELL: How are you?
OLBERMANN: Let me start with your bio, Mike. You‘re at 52 years old now, former law enforcement officer, used to have your own business as a mechanic. You were unemployed for 59 weeks, collected $450 a week in benefits and Mr. Gingrich suggests you got used to being unproductive.
If that‘s not true, why did you turn down so many job offers?
M. HATCHELL: Keith, it‘s really hard for someone like Mr. Gingrich to understand the fact that when you have a mortgage, off family to support, you have car payments, insurance, everything else, that when you‘re going out and looking for a job, you know, and, obviously, it was a job, different jobs that I was looking at that were going to pay probably half of what I‘m used to making. So, that was the situation.
I mean, when they‘re offering me these jobs, they‘re saying, well, this is—this is going to be a situation where we‘re going to start you out at the entry level wage. And I—obviously, I‘ve got some 32 years of experience in the automotive business and it‘s kind of hard for me to do that, and then looking also the fact that even at 40 hours at $7.75 an hour or whatever it might, you know, it‘s going to total $310, $320 a week. After you pay taxes, everything that comes out, Social Security and everything else, you might be $275, $265 or something like that.
I mean, with the mortgage and everything else, I mean, yes, I was drawing unemployment of $450 a week, which I actually paid into since I was a young man.
HATCHELL: You know, probably at least 35 years. And I felt like that, well, it‘s unemployment insurance, it‘s not welfare, that Mr. Gingrich has spoken about. And I felt like, well, until such time as I can actually get a gainful job that‘s going to help me keep my house, keep my family fed, not necessarily anything other—you know, expensive, nothing, just doing those basic things, I was not going to take any other job.
OLBERMANN: They seemed to leave out the idea that it is insurance and you did pay into it. That‘s sort of—pay now and don‘t get it later.
M. HATCHELL: Yes, sir.
OLBERMANN: If you had—if you had taken those lower-paying jobs, your family would be considerably worse off now than it actually is, correct?
M. HATCHELL: Yes, sir. I would hate to even think. You know, I mean, with a mortgage payment, if you don‘t make the mortgage, I mean, they‘re going to come and take the house. And, unfortunately, we‘d be out on the streets, you know, God knows doing what, you know?
But, you know—I mean, it‘s just unreal. I mean, that‘s all you can do, is try to do the best you can, you know? And when I found a situation where I did have a better offer, of course, I took it. You know, something I knew that would work for me. So—
OLBERMANN: Sarah, let me ask you something, can you weigh in on how you reacted when we brought Mr. Gingrich‘s remarks to your attention today?
S. HATCHELL: I was appalled, frankly, that he would even consider welfare being a part of unemployment insurance. I saw my husband beat the streets of Robeson County, a very poor county, to try to find work, to save our home. It‘s been a really bad couple of years.
OLBERMANN: Whichever one—whichever one of you wants to take this, can you give us some idea of your life financially? Meaning, you seem like a typical American family. How is the classic American Dream looking for you right now in terms of your retirement? Your son‘s college is coming up in the not-too-distant future—how‘s that looking?
M. HATCHELL: Obviously, I mean, with the unemployment, after 59 weeks without a job, you know, I mean, the IRA accounts, you know, that got drained. We basically have no retirement other than, hopefully, the government will have Social Security. We all know how big that might be in the future.
We‘re still struggling. I mean, you know, for not making enough wage and actually keeping everything up, insurance, you know, the mortgage, food on the table, you know. We actually struggle to the point where we lost one car. Not able to make the two car payments, you know, so she had a vehicle and I had a vehicle.
And quite honestly, I mean, we‘re still behind on our mortgage. I mean, we‘re still trying to make that up, you know, make sure we keep the house. Just haven‘t been able to get to the point where we can actually catch up with the back payments that we got behind on. So, it‘s really tough, you know?
And we just continue to fight. I mean, I go to work. I feel like as long as I‘m working, you know, and I go to work every day, you know, then things are going to get better. And I hope my wife will get a job here soon. You know, she‘s been out of work even longer than I have, some 25 or 26 weeks.
So, it‘s tough. It‘s tough in the South, as we would say. So—
OLBERMANN: Last question, Mike. Is there anything else you‘d like to say to Mr. Gingrich or the other Republicans who say that, you know, the unemployed stay that way for the benefits, so that they‘re, you know, spoiled or lazy and should take those lower-paying jobs and get off the public dime?
M. HATCHELL: Keith, I think it‘s no surprise to us that, as it has been for quite some time, that our politicians are going to use that word, are not in touch with the American people, especially the middle class or the lower class people, because—I mean, that‘s the only thing that‘s keeping us going. I mean, when I was on unemployment, I would sit there in front of the television, reading newspaper, look online, to make sure, you know, whether they were going to extend my benefits or not, so I could tell whether or not I need to make other arrangements, maybe find some place to live, you know, or move some place that I could afford to live.
And it was just, it was always tough, you know? I mean, when that‘s all you have to depend on, I mean, what are you going to do? Your life is in their hands, pretty much, you know?
And I don‘t think there‘s anyone out there just drawing unemployment just to be drawing it.
M. HATCHELL: I mean, obviously, they didn‘t ask to be laid off, you know? And as far as I know, it‘s still unemployment insurance, and we all pay into that. It should be a situation where anyone who calls it welfare, I don‘t understand how he even calls it welfare. While we‘re on the term, I don‘t mean to speak out of turn, Keith, he was talking about this company that was trying to hire 40 engineers.
M. HATCHELL: That particular story they read, OK, they were actually machinists that the company was trying to hire, and most of the machinists I know—I have been in the automotive field all my life—machinists make considerably more than $13 an hour, that‘s what this company was actually offering for a machinist. And I can understand why they wouldn‘t accept that. If they‘ve been working as machinists, I‘m sure their unemployment was either at that level or more, and they were in the same situation that I was where had they taken a lesser paying job, they would have lost everything, you know, even more so than we have, you know?
So, I just think that—you know, Washington is not in touch with the actual people, I‘m afraid. And that‘s nothing new. I think it‘s always been that way since I was a young child. So, I wish it was different, but it‘s not. So—
OLBERMANN: Mike and Sara Hatchell—I think we‘ll take the common sense wisdom of Mike the mechanic over Joe the plumber any day. We thank you for your time and for your willingness to come forward and, obviously, our best wishes to you and the family. Thank you much.
S. HATCHELL: Thank you, Keith.
M. HATCHELL: Thank you, Keith, very much. Thank you for having us on.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure.
Let‘s turn now to MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman, also senior Washington correspondent and political columnist for “Newsweek” magazine.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When Mr. Gingrich drags real Americans, like those two fine people, into this abstract argument that they‘ve been making—what would they say now when those real Americans respond back with that direct and almost inarguable eloquence that we just heard from the Hatchells?
FINEMAN: Well, Keith, let me say first of all, that was a sadly remarkable segment in the sense that people like that don‘t get a lot of airtime, either.
FINEMAN: So, I thought it was fascinating to listen to and very important. I checked with the office of John Boehner, who‘s the Republican leader in the house to get a read on what they thought of Newt Gingrich‘s statement about lazy—and other Republican politicians talking about lazy unemployment benefit recipients.
And maybe it‘s because John Boehner‘s from Ohio, and we make a lot of fun of him here, about him here, but he said, his people said, that‘s an argument that he would not make. You know, he‘s got fiscal concerns, but Boehner‘s not going to say these people are lazy, because Boehner‘s from Ohio, and I think he probably knows a little bit what the reality of the economic situation is there.
OLBERMANN: Do the Hatchells, though, sort of represent a living portrait of what the Republicans have been trying to do since at least the Reagan area? I mean, husband and wife are working, retirement age is coming up, they‘re still behind an eight ball and it‘s hard to see the next generation doing better—but the Republicans are working to extend tax cuts for the richest 2 percent while these people‘s lives are going to hell?
FINEMAN: Well, Keith, there‘s still a lot of power in the idea that everybody can make it, and that everybody can make it big—in other words, one version of the American Dream. There are many, that‘s one of them.
But the sad fact is that if you look at the statistics, and I‘ve been looking at them, basically for the last generation, the middle class in America has basically been stagnant in terms of climbing a ladder and it‘s also true that the United States—which used to be the ultimate land of opportunity—now has less economic upward mobility than a lot of other countries, even old countries in Europe. You know, we think of Europe as a static, medieval archaic society. In some instances, in some places, they have more upward mobility than we do now.
So, that dream is hollow to a lot of people and we just heard a couple of them.
OLBERMANN: Briefly on the Pew Poll, a third know that it was President Bush who signed the bank bailout, not President Obama or president imaginary. Meanwhile, we have Governor Sanford pumping almost $100 million in stimulus money into his state that he had decried last year.
Are Democrats dropping the ball on the messaging here? And if not, how did we get through the proverbial looking glass on public understanding of all this stuff?
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s the phony—it‘s a phony argument about small government versus big government. George W. Bush is one of the biggest big government presidents ever, in terms of everything from Child Left Behind, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the prescription drug benefit—you name it—spent trillions. That was big government, Republican style.
I think the argument that the Democrats have to make, and that I thought Obama was going to make, was about smart government. Instead, he‘s got himself into this argument about government versus no government. That‘s a completely phony argument. Most Americans are beyond that, or never considered that ideological divide.
The case being the people you just had on—they know that government has a role in American society. They want it to be administered fairly. They want to get what‘s due to them. They want nothing more than that.
That‘s what the Democrats should stand for.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman of “Newsweek”—as ever, thank you, Howard.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If you were under the impression meanwhile that the crisis in the Gulf is more or less over, you‘re falling victim to yet another ploy from BP and parts of the government. A new and bitter truth emerging now on this day 115 -- the latest group of victims, physically and psychologically traumatized now and for years to come, the children of the Gulf Coast. Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The latest wave from the BP disaster in the Gulf: the emotional and physical impacts severely felt by children.
Today, as we heard, it‘s him and the GOP versus the unemployed.
Yesterday, it was him and the GOP versus immigrants.
Now, new statistics that blow the whole anchor baby conspiracy theory out of the water.
Meet Marg. Marg knows what to do about the illegals. We need to do what she thinks we did in the ‘40s, which is to round them up and put them in internment camps. Marg is running for state legislature.
And Rand Paul apprised us of him, now we will meet him in the flesh, so to speak. Our special guest tonight: Aqua Buddha. Aqua Buddha! I said Aqua Buddha, live from Keene, New Hampshire. Yes.
OLBERMANN: Day 115 of the crisis in the Gulf. And if you wonder why we might still count the days, one reason would be that the crisis has hardly ended, just because that gusher has been plugged.
In our fourth story tonight: the physical and mental effects on Gulf Coast residents, including, especially, children.
And this related note, the National Association of Free Clinics is staging a two-day free clinic in New Orleans and needs your help.
First, the nexus of the Gulf disaster and health care. Children of the Gulf region are twice as likely to experience mental and physical problems than are other children, according to a study from Columbia University.
More than one third of families participating in the study said that their children had developed new rashes and breathing problems since the beginning of the oil spill; 43 percent of the adult respondents said they had been directly exposed to oil, either at the beaches or on their own property, or by participating in the cleanup.
Many residents still expressed an interest in moving away from the area. And there was broad anxiety among all residents, even though the gushing oil had been stopped.
Meantime, the urgent need for a free clinic in New Orleans from the National Association of Free Clinics. You will recall that your remarkably generous donations of nearly $2.5 million have thus far funded five free clinics across the country. Through those, one or two-day clinics, more than 9,000 patients have been served, 8,500 volunteers have been activated, seven suicides have been prevented, and three open heart surgery have been conducted.
And one man, who had been previously told, diagnosed with HIV, got more specific testing at a clinic and discovered he was not HIV positive.
The immediate goal now is to sponsor a two-day free clinic in New Orleans on August 31st and September 1st, but at this moment, the National Association of Free Clinics is far short of the necessary funds. If you can help, please do.
To discuss the ongoing crises in the Gulf region, let‘s turn to the president and cofounder of the Children‘s Health Fund and the director of Columbia University‘s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Dr. Irwin Redlener.
Thank you for your time tonight, Doctor.
DR. IRWIN REDLENER, CHILDREN‘S HEALTH FUND: My pleasure, Keith.
Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Without getting bogged down in direct causality, there‘d be years‘ worth of studies to determine that. Can we really expect that these kinds of health problems that we‘re dealing with these children particularly are going to continue to occur?
REDLENER: There‘s no question about it. And, in fact, we‘re just looking at kids who are still suffering from Katrina‘s effects and the disaster‘s recovery there. Still, thousands of children affected.
I expect that the oil capping is not going to make a difference to thousands of people down in Plaquemines and the other counties near the spill, because we‘re seeing so much evidence now of a tremendous amount of distress and anxiety among the kids, as well as their parents.
OLBERMANN: Is that exacerbated by the concern that the crisis is being sort of figuratively wiped away now that some of it has been wiped away by the stopping of the gusher?
REDLENER: Well, people are tripping all over themselves to declare the crisis over, the disaster over. That‘s very, very far from the case. That mere fact is very disturbing to parents, because they know what they‘re dealing with. They‘re dealing with kids with serious psychological problems, medical problems and so forth.
Furthermore, these are the same people who were traumatized by Katrina and a failing recovery from Katrina. And in the back of their minds, they‘re worried about the possibility of a hurricane this season. So, these are very, very concerned people that will need help for a long time.
OLBERMANN: So, you‘ve got like five separate psychological components in play here. You got the original disaster of Katrina, the post-traumatic disorder that would follow that, the bad recovery from that, this disaster, and now, the sudden sense that we‘re now being abandoned again and the media coverage has been shut off, and the urgency of it has been shut off.
REDLENER: Exactly. And this is—this is incredibly worrisome to families who live down there, and from those of us who are providing care there. We‘ve been there since Katrina in that region. We‘ve provided 100,000 free visits to children, medical and mental health. And now, we‘re seeing this secondarily traumatized population.
But like you‘re saying, with those five factors, this is unchartered territory. In many ways, we have no idea really what‘s going to the happen with these kids. But we do know they need assessment and interventions and they‘re going to need support.
This is an area, don‘t forget, that‘s also highly, medically underserved before the oil spill. So, now, people are driving an hour and a half, maybe to get to a pediatrician, but it‘s really tough getting the help that they need.
OLBERMANN: The notion that the crisis there is over. You and I spoke about this before the show started. We would be expecting BP to be invested in getting this over as quickly as possible, but BP is getting some help in your opinion?
REDLENER: Well, you know, the federal government would like this to be over as quickly as possible also. And then there‘s a whole series of political nuances, maybe not nuances, but political realities that everyone‘s facing.
In some ways, you know, you sort of get the sense that the governor of Louisiana wouldn‘t mind for it to sort of continue a while. He‘s been making quite a show of himself, participating in whatever they‘re going to be doing down there.
But the fact of the matter is, there‘s a general sense that everybody wants this over, which, of course, the parents do as well—except their dealing with real-life problems. It‘s their children, it‘s their families, it‘s the instability of their communities that‘s really troublesome.
OLBERMANN: Triangulating the problems now down there for the kids, you said this is uncharted territory. If they‘re facing some physical problems and they‘re facing these psychological problems, plus a sense that the environment that they understand has been—has been changed in some real way that has scared the adults, this is—what happens when all three of those things come together in a group of children in an area?
REDLENER: Well, it‘s really—it‘s really difficult for children to absorb all that. And for the—you know, 20 percent of the families have seriously talked about leaving the region permanently. This is a place where, you know, three, four, five generations have lived.
So, once it reaches the kitchen table, so to speak, and the families, and not only the kids worried and experiencing the anxiety of loss of livelihood and everything else that‘s unstable, but now to here mom and dad say, maybe we have to leave here, maybe we‘ll never come back—that‘s really kind of a capper for them, that‘s just this really difficult for a lot of children to deal with.
OLBERMANN: On the—in the area roughly of war refugees, people clearing out in advance of an attack, is that—is that what we‘re talking about?
REDLENER: Well, this is a different kind of—this is a very special kind of, you know, displacement that people are feeling now. And when you become disconnected from the place that you‘re used to or it‘s become destroyed, and in many places, you know, you go down there and it looks OK until you get up close. Then there‘s oil everywhere, it‘s in the marshes, it‘s under the service of the water, and it‘s completely destroyed a lot of the economic possibilities for families, this becomes a major crisis that is going to trouble children and families for the foreseeable future.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Irwin Redlener of the Children‘s Health Fund—great thanks for coming.
REDLENER: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And, once again, the goal: a two-day free health clinic in New Orleans, August 31st and September 1st, go to www.freeclinics.us to contribute. Many people will thank you kindly—me, included.
A virtual war against the residents of the Gulf and the unemployed should not overshadow the continuing one against immigrants. A remarkable new study that disproves the anchor baby conspiracy theory. That‘s ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: The research is in on anchor babies, and it confirms the slowest way to become a citizen here is to have your child born here first.
First, the sanity break. Twitter report; followers, 91,000, last photograph Tweeted of himself, 9:00 pm last night with Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch. Dave looks strange in that picture. Tweet of the day from Marnus3, re-Tweeted to me by Lady Kayaker. “Stop issuing building permits for mosques? Instead, let‘s stop issuing marriage licenses to Newt Gingrich.” The right wing religious nut who doesn‘t realize that in proposing that, he issued the equivalent of a Fatwa, doubled down today, telling TPM, quote, “every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for Jihad,” which I guess is true in the same sense that Catholic churches in upstate New York were potential terror training centers for Timothy McVeigh. It‘s both nuts. Let‘s play oddball.
Beginning in Pittsburgh. Here‘s Gary Matthews. Boy, the days from the Phillies, he just doesn‘t look quite as good. Mr. Matthews is one sad puppy after having his request to change his name denied. Why was it denied? Quoting the judge, the petitioner is not a dog. Mr. Matthews had asked a judge to legally change his name to Boomer the Dog. Neither the ears nor the dog tag were enough to convince the judge. Even the dog suit that he walks around—uh oh—did not sway the court. You know what that looks like? That looks like the old “Outer Limits” sci-fi budget, the entire budget for the three dollar suit for the monster coming in from outer space.
So anyway, for now, Gary Matthews is just Gary Matthews, at least until he files an appeal to roll over the decision. Ha-ha!
Welcome to England, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Over 500,000 people expected to attend. It‘s been held every year since 1979. Not to be blown away, pilots from the Ukraine decided to hold their own. This fiesta is named Montgolfier (ph), who as anybody who saw Python‘s golden age of ballooning, is the name of the brothers who invented the hot air balloon. There‘s also a book called “The Golden Age of Ballooning,” published by the BBC to coincide with that series. It‘s in an attractive hand tooled binding. It‘s priced five pounds. And failure to buy it will make you liable to a 50 pound fine or three months imprisonment. There‘s also a record of someone reading the book of “The Golden Age of Ballooning.” a crochet work bedspread with the works “The Golden Age of Ballooning” on it, available from the BBC, priced 15 pounds or five months imprisonment.
Finally to Austria, Vienna, in fact, the debut of a newborn baby elephant. Just 246 pounds and cute and healthy. No name yet. Choices are Shambi, Redi and Toba (ph). There‘s not much more to the story, but it gives us an excuse to do this.
Yeah. We sort of get it. >
Anchor babies; the latest scourge of the racist right. Turns out only 4,000 illegal immigrants are allowed to stay here each year because they‘ve had children here. And they have to have been here for at least a decade. Why the hysteria? Because it‘s what they want to believe. Next.
OLBERMANN: Stunning numbers recently released about the children of illegal immigrants. And in our third story, stunning mostly in the way they will be misused for anti-immigrant hysteria. Even though the data proved that the so-called anchor baby is the slowest and least efficient means for an undocumented alien to stay in this country. Approximately eight percent of children born in the U.S. in 2008 had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant. That according to a study published by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
The study was based on Census figures dating to March 2009. And it found that seven percent of all people in the country younger than 18 years old were children of one or more illegal immigrants. The study immediately prompted this from the director of a research group that advocates reduced immigration, quote, “what the Pew estimate underlines is that this is a big problem. It really is a subversion of national independence for people who break into your country, then to demand that their kids become U.S. citizens.”
Except that the study does not reseal any such thing. It found that more than 80 percent of the illegal immigrants who gave birth in this country had been here for at least one year. More than half, more than 50 percent had been here five years or more. And yet you will recall Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently saying, quote, “people come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. We can‘t just have people swimming across the river having children here. That‘s chaos.”
The chaos is between your ears, sir. Senator Graham and others prominent Republicans have, of course, expressed interest in amending the 14th Amendment to the Constitution so that children born here do not automatically become U.S. citizens. And those lawmakers call those children anchor babies, because they supposedly pave the way for their undocumented parents.
But under U.S. law, those children must be 21 years old before seeking permanent legal residency for their own parents. That is an incredibly slow path to citizenship. A far more efficient one would be simply to marry an American citizen. So perhaps Republicans should be calling for the revocation of Green Card citizenship.
Let‘s turn to the professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Lacewell. Professor, good evening.
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Hi. Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Another batch of information that will be readily abused?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, I mean, data can always be readily abused. As someone who does the empirical work, it‘s true that data tells us things. It rarely proves things one we or another. And we can read it with a jaundiced eye or we can read it with one that has sort of one ideological perspective or another.
But I do think it‘s clear from these data that it looks like women who come to the United States as immigrants, whether illegally or without documentation, are making similar choices as other women about when to have children. In other words, it‘s a generally pretty sobering decision. It‘s a tough choice.
And by the way, all babies are anchor babies. We certainly hope that children will anchor families and communities and individuals. I certainly know my eight-year-old has anchored the heck out of my life. So babies are anchors in many important ways.. So I think the data, you know, is likely to be misread or misused.
OLBERMANN: And yet, Melissa, this lie may be gaining some traction. There‘s a new poll out that shows 49 percent of Americans support changing the 14th Amendment in some way and 51 percent oppose. Is this more complex than just classic American sort of cyclical xenophobia?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: It certainly is xenophobia, but it‘s got a little eugenics mixed in with it. Part of what I see going on here is, first, a deep misunderstanding about the 14th Amendment, and for whom the 14th Amendment provided citizenship. And although certainly part of it was about newly freed persons after the Civil War, it was also about all Americans.
In other words, I want Americans to pause for a moment and ask themselves, on what basis would you determine citizenship, if not based on where a child is born? So are we willing to go to a kind of genetic grandfather clause for American citizenship? Do you have to have two parents who are citizens? How about grandparents? How about great-grandparents? The notion becomes very quickly a racialized one, where the idea of who will count as American becomes genetic rather than location.
And I think all of us, white Americans, black Americans, Latinos who are in the country as citizens, and people who are here illegally and without documentation, should all be worried about such a notion.
OLBERMANN: Well, if we take it back to its natural extension and its historical extension, it‘s everybody but Native Americans are here illegally, one way or another.
HARRIS-LACEWELL: Well, hello. You know, again, this question of how far back would one need to be before we start saying, it‘s OK to be here as an American.
OLBERMANN: But when lawmakers like Senator Graham and House Minority Leader Boehner talk about revoking birthright citizenship, they are, actually, at this moment, at least, targeting Mexicans and people of Hispanic heritage. Do their constituents get that or they don‘t get that?
HARRIS-LACEWELL: You know, I think part of it is a question about whether or not the Democratic party and progressives get who the constituents of this party is. Look, there are real issues with the problem of being an undocumented worker. Those who are undocumented are less likely to feel free to call the police when they are victimized by crime. Women who are in domestic violence situations are less likely to turn to community support or to the police. They‘re less likely to take their children to the doctor.
The more that we create a kind of policed state, the more difficult we create life here in the United States for people who are undocumented. I think part of what we need to do is change the discussion around this 14th Amendment anchor baby question. I mean, you want to change the 14th Amendment, you got that to do. In the meantime, how are we going to create a community here in the United States for citizens and for those who are living here but not yet citizens, where everyone is safe, can work, will pay into the tax structure. I mean, these are real questions and we need to stop chasing the red herrings around anchor baby drama, provided by the GOP.
OLBERMANN: Melissa Harris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, thank you. Stay where you are for a second, because I want to show you one of the answers to this.
This Florida candidate says treat illegal immigrants the way we treated them in the ‘40s, by putting them in internment camps because they snuck in. Oh, boy.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, why Birther Orly Taitz got a referral to the Supreme Court, courtesy of Justice Samuel Alito.
OLBERMANN: A state legislature candidate in Florida cuts to the chase: just put all 12 million undocumented workers in internment camps.
First, no, that is not your water coming to a boil. It‘s our nightly checkup on that something for nothing crowd. It‘s Tea Time. There seems to be trouble in Tea Party heaven, and the trouble might provide a—sorry, tea leaf as to where the wildest of the wild will be tacking as the midterm approaches.
A man named Tim Selaty is one of the organizers of the United We Stand Border Coalition Party on the Mexican border this Sunday in Hereford, Arizona. He said a week ago he had firmed up an appearance with the brightest star of the TP in the west, and so billed her as one of the marquee attractions.
Yep, Sharron Angle. Guess what, she‘s not going. Her people insisted simply logistics and they never confirmed. Mr. Selaty disagrees. “We had Sharon solidly confirmed. Something changed between then and now. We worked out the flight. We worked out that they were going to stay here at this time.”
Logistics? Tea Party schism? A merciful cooling of the Medieval rhetoric? Whichever way, don‘t cry for the United We Stand Border Coalition. John McCain‘s challenger, J.D. Hayworth, is still going. So too the sheriff voted most likely to wind up in one of his own jails some day, Joe Arpaio.
Thus rest assured, the crazy is still in nearly full bloom.
OLBERMANN: The actual Aqua Buddha from the Rand Paul story joins us, probably. And not from his hometown of Aqua Buddhapest, either. That‘s next.
First, get out your pitchforks and torches—I‘m regretting it already—time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to Boss Limbaugh. Another part of the demonization of intelligence and the right‘s reliance on praising willful stupidity, and a little bonus too. It, says the government, will never address the high cost of college tuition because, quoting it, “the universities are the factories that teach you how to be a ruling class member. And it‘s the most expensive universities who most effectively put the ruling class in touch with each other, a Harvard grad , a Yale grad. The top colleges are the functional equivalents of leadership schools from totalitarian nations. They‘re factories.”
Rush, it‘s a long way to go to rationalize why you flunked out of Southeast Missouri State.
Our runner-up, whatever is left of Senator John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to ask Senator McCain if he will make a promise on the air now that if we re-elect him, he will not reach across the aisle, especially with Lindsey Graham, for comprehensive immigration reform. Will you not do that for the time you‘re in office?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: Yes, ma‘am. I am promising that I will try to address the issue of immigration in a way that is best for the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Right! That‘s the way. Don‘t compromise with the Democrats, especially if the Democrats are the majority. That‘s how low Senator McCain has sunk.
But our winner, Marge Baker. Marge is seeking a seat in the state legislature from the 48th district of Florida. Marge knows just what to do about them illegal varmints.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGE BAKER, CANDIDATE FOR FLORIDA STATE LEGISLATURE: We can follow what happened back in the ‘40s or ‘50s. I was just a little girl in Miami. And they filled camps for the people that snuck into the country, because they were illegal. They put them in the camps and then they shipped them back. We can do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yeah, that didn‘t happen. No mass camps for peoples what snuck in, unless Marge is kind of misremembering the Japanese internment camps, in which we put naturalized and native-born U.S. citizens in camps. This one, she just plum dreamt this one, or she saw it in a movie or something. Miss Baker later admitted that since she has not been elected yet, she doesn‘t really know what she can do in the legislature, but she‘s planning internment camps for undocumented workers across America. Marge “internment camps” Baker, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: The Dalai Lama has given interviews to Larry King and Oprah. Pope Benedict prefers speaking to Vatican Radio. But tonight the religious leader interview to end all religious leader interviews. We‘ve only known of his existence for four days, yet the universe and Rand Paul have brought us together.
Our number one story, a COUNTDOWN world exclusive, live from an indoor pool at a Courtyard Marriott, the Aqua Buddha. Umm.
First, we have to thank Republican Senatorial candidate Rand Paul for lighting us up on this—oh, sorry, enlightening us on this. A female college acquaintance of Dr. Paul‘s telling “GQ Magazine” that the future Tea Party favorite and a friend “told me their God was Aqua Buddha and that I needed to bow down and worship him. They blindfolded me and made me bow down to Aqua Buddha in the creak. I had to say, I worship you, Aqua Buddha. I worship you.”
The woman has since back-tracked on some of the other details of her story, mainly the kidnapped part, but reaffirmed her strange introduction to Aqua Buddhism. Dr. Paul has not denied his practice of Aqua Buddhism, but blames past worship on youthful indiscretion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: That might have just been a college prank, but you don‘t even remember that, right?
DR. RAND PAUL, CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: Well, I‘m not going to really try to go back 27 years and remember everything I did in college.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, via Skype, in a COUNTDOWN world exclusive, the Aqua Buddha. Good evening, your dampness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes! Yes! Refer to me as your dampness, Keith.
That‘s exactly the way you need to talk to me.
OLBERMANN: How—how does Aqua Buddhism differ from regular Buddhism, if you don‘t mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Aqua Buddha needed to drink some aqua. Here‘s the deal, Aqua Buddhism—Buddhism is a religion of great contemplation. Aqua Buddhism is the exact opposite. We face the horrors of life head on and we sort of accept them. You know, we‘re sort of an accepting lot.
OLBERMANN: Can—can you explain the origins of Aqua Buddhism, specifically when was the great schism with Aqua Velva?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, to be quite honest, we don‘t have a problem with Aqua Velva. It‘s actually Aqua Lung, but we really can‘t talk about that, because there‘s litigation.
OLBERMANN: Can you explain, perhaps, the ritual that Rand Paul had carried out? Was that proselytizing? Was it chlorinating? What was he trying to get the young woman to do and why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Keith, you hit the nail on the head. It was proselytizing. You can‘t have a religion without people. We need as many people as possible. We‘ll take them from Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Les Paul. You just come on by and bring a gift, if you like.
OLBERMANN: Sounds like the Tea Party as it is. Are you happy with Rand Paul as the public face of your religion or do you seek another representative here on Earth?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we‘re happy with Rand Paul. We wish he‘d wear some better suits, maybe something made after 1962. But we realize he‘s running for office some place and he‘s probably spending a lot of money on bumper stickers and buttons. So we‘re giving him a pass on that one.
OLBERMANN: Dr. Paul has distanced himself a little bit from Aqua Buddhism. Aqua Buddha, are you willing to offer him forgiveness? Is that part of the faith?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a saying in Aqua Buddhism, you give us 100 dollars, we‘ll forgive you for anything. But it‘s got to be cash, no check. OK, Keith?
OLBERMANN: Lastly, in the time that I have left here, do you have a message for your followers, particularly to Dr. Paul?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, to everyone, come on board. You know, we love people. And to Rand Paul, we have four words for him: don‘t tread on Aqua Buddha. I know that‘s five words, but you‘ll give us a bye. Heck, we love the guy. Come on any time you want, Rand.
OLBERMANN: Aqua Buddha, just one more question, can you check and see if there‘s a message? I think I‘m in room 302. There might be a message in the cubby hole behind you. Aqua Buddha, also known as Angry Bob, appearing to us via Skype.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pleasure, Keith. You take care.
OLBERMANN: Well, that‘s COUNTDOWN for august 12th, the 2,660th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, the 2,249th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 115th day of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf, and the first day of the Aqua Buddha disaster on COUNTDOWN. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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