Guests: Eugene Robinson, Richard Wolffe, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Shannyn Moore, Justin Elliott
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The president‘s speech tonight—combat operations are still over in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Meanwhile, the right mysteriously equates leaving Iraq with winning in Iraq. “For once,” writes Congressman Mike Pence, “let‘s hope the president gives credit to a predecessor who refused to accept defeat.” You mean in 2000?
Democratic enthusiasm poll ax (ph). The generic congressional vote poll swing wildly again. Now, it‘s GOP plus 10.
Claws unveil (ph) in Alaska. The Murkowski-Miller recount and the Miller retract after he said this about Murkowski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We know that there have been some attempts to do things outside of the books. And we‘re filling complaints where that happens. But we‘re keeping a close eye on the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: A fundamentalist religion which condemns other faiths, demonizes gays, wants to build a prayer center two blocks from Ground Zero. Oddly, the far-right is not protesting because it is a far-right church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don‘t need another protest. What we need is a bold, visible response—that response is the 9/11 Christian center at Ground Zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “Worst”: Get out your pitch forks and torches. They literally arrested Frankenstein.
And the right Reverend Billy Sol Beck makes a factual boo-boo about the so-called “scar” on the Washington Monument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: How did the scar get there? They stopped building it in the civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Correct, Aimee Semple Mc-Beck-son, if the civil war started in 1858, then ended in 1879.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: You know that it didn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
In his second speech to the nation from the Oval Office of the White House, President Obama, today, did not declare “mission accomplished,” he did not declare victory in Iraq.
What he said—on our fifth story tonight—is that the official combat mission in Iraq, more than seven years after the U.S. invaded, is over.
Forty-nine thousand seven hundred troops remained. Advisers, trainers, guards—and when Iraq‘s military calls for help, combat troop perhaps in harm‘s way yet again. They, too, will come home, Mr. Obama said, by the end of next year.
To date, more than 1 million Americans have served in Iraq in uniform, 4,427 came home in uniform in flag-draped coffins, 34,000 were wounded—physically wounded anyway.
The nation of Iraq: 28 million people liberated from the rule of Saddam Hussein; 100,000, the minimum anyone can agree on, that they‘ll never know for sure, dead in the invasion in the war, in the religious violence that exploded with Hussein‘s removal; 2.7 million, 1/10 of the population still displaced within their own country.
Prior to President Obama‘s speech, Republican congressional leaders, including Senator John McCain, called on Mr. Obama to give, quote, “credit,” unquote, to former President Bush, who authorized the surge strategy—even though the surge failed in its stated objectives, including the creation of an Iraqi government. Even though Republicans blasted Mr. Obama for announcing a time line for withdrawal—a time line to which he was committed regardless of whether the surge worked militarily, politically, or otherwise—even though the same Republicans demanding credit for today‘s benchmark in Mr. Obama‘s time line are opposing any talk of time line in Afghanistan.
As the president said tonight, he is not declaring victory. If only it would seem because this war in which we were not attacked, in which we were responding to no declaration of war, lack from the onset any real metric for victory. The goals for protecting America from Iraqi WMD or an alliance with al Qaeda were lies. We fought them over there so we would not fight them over here, or have to. But we still may have to fight them over here.
The White House today declined to say whether Iraq is better off today, but the president made clear tonight, future choices about the nation‘s future belongs to Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Earlier this month, Saddam Hussein‘s former right hand man, Tariq Aziz, once the foreign minister, now in an Iraqi prison for crimes against humanity, told the newspaper, “The Guardian,” that his feelings about President Obama‘s decision to end combat missions, a drawdown U.S. forces, to bring them all home by the end of next year, he said, “He cannot leave us like this. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves.”
Let‘s turn to Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now the Pamela Harriman visiting professor at the College of William and Mary.
Colonel, thanks, as always, for your time tonight.
COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: In military terms, in diplomatic terms, how accurate would you say the president was in describing where we stand in Iraq and Afghanistan? Were there any glaring omissions, perhaps?
WILKERSON: I don‘t think his intent was to describe the situation so much as it was to do what is probably the most difficult thing for a president to do: which is to close down a theater of war, to end a war—particularly when it‘s not one that has a conspicuous victory. And it‘s just as hard for a president, who inherits as war. Witness Eisenhower who had, in the case of Korea, a iconic military figure, who to really let it be known that he‘d use nuclear weapons if negotiations didn‘t proceed. Or look at Richard Nixon trying to shut down Vietnam with Henry Kissinger.
It‘s very difficult to shut down a war, very difficult, especially when you‘re not winning. And I thought it was a very sound, sober, and strength forward speech with regard to that very difficult decision, very difficult process.
OLBERMANN: Republicans made no secret of wanting the president to spend—perhaps all of the speech—crediting President Bush for the supposed success of the surge. I have a question for you about it. Let me first ask you to listen to what he did say about President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It‘s well-known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one can doubt President Bush‘s support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I‘ve said it, there were patriots who supported this war and patriots who opposed it, and all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women and our hopes for Iraqi‘s future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Colonel, the Republican leader, Mr. Boehner, said today that he supports the Obama troop withdrawal. So, if the Republicans want to say that the surge succeeded enough to merit the withdrawal, don‘t they also have to admit that the same thing could be true elsewhere, that time lines at a minimum do not automatically preclude success?
WILKERSON: Well, certainly. Time lines at times can be a strategic instrument to compel whomever you‘re trying to compel to do what you needed them to do. In this case, Karzai in Kabul, and the government in Iraq in Baghdad.
I think the more important comments here, though, are—towards the people in my party—are that the escalation in Iraq really had absolutely nothing to do with what we‘re seeing. The conditions that escalation and the surge, so-called, was able to exploit are already there. They were there because of a blood and the treasurer expended by most Americans and their coalition partners and the Iraqis, because the ethic cleansing had been largely completed, because Muqtada al-Sadr, the most powerful man in Iraq as an Iraqi with the militia had decided to go to ground. All of those conditions were exploited by the escalation and the escalation made it look as if that was the decision that brought about success.
It was quite the opposite. The escalation did give General Petraeus and others an opportunity to expand and deepen what had happened. But it was all to a political purpose which all war has to be to or it‘s absurd and that political purpose still has not been achieved. We did not have a revenue-sharing agreement. We do not have a status for Kirkuk. We do not have a content Kurdish population. We do not have a situation in Baghdad that shows us an effective, tolerant and reasonably democratic government that‘s ready to go forward and meet these challenges.
So, I‘m still saying the verdict is out on whether or not even this so-called escalation and conditions that exploited it is going to work.
OLBERMANN: And the bigger picture, Iraq on that entire globe diplomatically and otherwise, U.S. used to use Saddam Hussein as the counter-weight against Iran. That‘s gone. We were told, if we fought them there, we wouldn‘t have to fight them here. How has, at this stage anyway, Iraq and the war affected American national security here at home?
WILKERSON: I think it‘s made our security more tenuous. As you pointed, we essentially took the balancer away. Iran is now in the strategic cat-bird speak so to—seat so to speak and we‘re the balancer. We‘re on both flanks of Iran, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And we‘re also, on our southern plank, in the northern Indian Ocean, with our carrier battle groups and marine amphibious groups.
So, we‘re balancing now. When we begin to withdraw, which we will, as we are doing in Iraq right now, and we will do in Afghanistan, then that balance is going to be gone and we‘re going to have to deal with Iran and that‘s a very scary thing for me right now as a strategist because I don‘t see us affecting the kind of cooperative agreement with Iran that we need to do or our interests are coincidental.
Despite the nuclear program and all that, we need to have an agreement with Iran so that when we do leave and go back over the horizon, the real power in the Persian Gulf, Iran, is operating at least at times on major issues, the same way we‘re operating. That is to say to keep it peaceful and stable.
OLBERMANN: Colonel Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Powell, now at the College of William and Mary—as always, sir, great thanks for your insight and your time.
WILKERSON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For the politics, let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst, Eugene Robinson, also, of course, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist at “The Washington Post.”
Gene, good evening.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Wasn‘t this speech all about Iraq and Afghanistan? Or about putting a button on those issues for the remainder of the campaign season? He began by saying—using a very strong word—that this country needed—this country needed to be rebuilt.
Was this really a speech that was saying, a very big reason we haven‘t solved the economy yet is the cost of Iraq, Iraq now over, the economy can now be fixed?
ROBINSON: Well, he made that point, Keith. He made that direct connection. He didn‘t develop it beyond a paragraph or so.
So, if the intent of the speech were to turn that corner in, you know, kind of fulsome way, I‘m not sure he entirely succeeded at that, but he did make the connection.
OLBERMANN: Let me, in fact, review that tape with you. He paid tribute to President Bush by name, but the chronology that he gave seemed to make more of a case for getting voters to remember the President Bush‘s role via Iraq into the economic situation.
Here‘s the tape first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our nation‘s strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class. Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what‘s necessary to shore up the foundations of our own prosperity.
We spent $1 trillion at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This in turn has shortchanged investments in our own people and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation‘s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Not, Gene, that there‘s anything factually mistaken in there or disproportionate, but how much of a power does an argument like that have when it‘s nearly two years after the voters said, you know, we were ahead of you on that curve, we know what Bush did, you guys have been elected to fix it?
ROBINSON: Yes. I think the power in that argument or potential power in that argument, Keith, is taking it the next step and saying—so we called on Americans to sacrifice in these wars, right or wrong. Now, we call on Americans to come together and to sacrifice to—in order to get this country back on a prosperous economic footing, headed again in the right way, and then perhaps develop that theme a bit more.
I have to say, though, overall, I thought it was a pretty effective speech in that the iconography of the speech was, you know, presidential and it was very good. He wore the presidency very well tonight with the—with the kind of gravitas that I think Americans expect and I think people will react positively in general to the speech. Although, politicos won‘t, because for liberals, he was too nice to George W. Bush, and for conservatives, he wasn‘t nice enough.
I think a lot of people out there would look at the speech and say, well, there‘s our president addressing the country at an important moment.
OLBERMANN: Granted. But what about the Republicans in the sort of prequel to this? I mean, I don‘t—we don‘t have to sit here and talk about how many times we‘ve seen them made jackasses of themselves, in no political pun intended, but a previous generation of Republicans would rally around the flag on anything—with touching the military, what would they have made the carping before the speech, from the Republicans, the guy who caused the mess should get some credit for his attempts to clean it up when they were really token and they were left to his successor to clean it up.
ROBINSON: Right. I mean, that has been the kind of prebuttal to the speech and I‘m sure it‘s echoing in the conservative echo chamber as we speak. You know, this is a different era—an era in which that side will attack the president no matter what he says, no matter what he does.
It had to have been difficult for him, a man who opposes this war from the very beginning. I‘m sure the speech he would have liked to give was, you know, I told you not to do this in the first place. You made a huge mess and I managed to clean it up.
But, of course, when a president invests the United States in a war, again, right or wrong, it‘s not just on behalf of his party. It‘s on behalf of all of us and certainly, on behalf of the next president. The next president has to kind of pick up that mantel and could have given the speech that perhaps in his heart of hearts he would have liked to have delivered.
OLBERMANN: Yes. But he should probably send six or eight guys out to give that speech somewhere else in the next couple of weeks.
ROBINSON: That might be a good idea. Somebody could write that column.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll do it on television.
Gene Robinson of “The Washington Post”—it‘s always a pleasure, Gene. Thank you.
ROBINSON: Great to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The generic congressional vote poll, no names, just parties, it‘s changed again for the sixth time since this spring. Richard Wolffe joins us next.
OLBERMANN: The good news for John of Orange, the generic congressional vote poll shows Republicans ahead by 10 points. The bad news: this is the sixth lead in the poll that has changed since spring.
Conservative on conservative metaphorical violence in Alaska, Tea Party versus GOP.
He has a new Ground Zero prayer center for fundamentalist religion full of hate for other religions. Why isn‘t he getting any grief?
And the right Reverend Billy Sol Beck, or if you refer Mary Becker Eddie of the first church of gold, makes a serious historical mistake in the first episode tonight of “St. Beck as in Wreck.” Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Whether it‘s an accurate measure of doom for Democrats is debatable. But in our fourth story: the latest Gallup poll does underscore problems for the party in trying to hold onto the House with the midterms elections now just 63 days away. And you can‘t help but wonder to borrow a GOP cliche: just how many times minority leader, John Boehner, has measured the drapes for his possible elevation to Speaker Boehner of Orange?
To the Gallup poll on registered voters, party preference in the midterms often referred to as the generic polls since it doesn‘t ask respondents about their own actual congressman, but Republicans have a 10-point lead, 51-41 -- the largest GOP advantage in the 68-year history of Gallup asking this question.
There are caveats. As you can see, the party advantage has changed hands six times since May of this year. Rather a lot, really, and as recently as mid-July, Democrats held a six-point advantage. Of course, that also means that since mid-July, Democrats have suffered a 16-point swing in voter party preference and in the wrong direction from their viewpoint.
In the other regular Gallup poll on voter enthusiasm, is even worse for Democrats. Republicans twice as likely as Dems say they are very enthusiastic by voting on November 2, and that so-called enthusiasm gap has held pretty steady for months.
Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis telling “Politico,” quote, “Our message needs to be more positive, more hopeful, more focused, and we need to talk to the economic reality of every day Americans and their family. There is time to pivot, but we‘re just not there yet.”
Let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst, the author of “Renegade: The Making of a President,” Richard Wolffe.
Good evening, Richard.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The voter preference part of that survey first, the biggest GOP advantage in Gallup‘s history on polling on that question—obviously not until November 2nd, but to what degree is that poll is a harbinger or it‘s not—right now, it must be certainly a harbinger of what they‘re going to be looking at for the next two months?
WOLFFE: Well, these are bad numbers. Of course, they are. And as you point out, this poll has been extremely volatile. It is an outlier. But none of the polls have been very good, and some of the constants that we‘ve been seeing in other polls are reflected in this Gallup poll, are actually extremely troubling for Democrats in general.
Now, the enthusiasm, there‘s just nothing you can do. Republicans are fired up and they‘re going to be fired up all the way through. This is their moment. They believe that they are headed for ultimate triumph.
And Democrats, the administration, members of Congress, can‘t really do a whole lot about it. What they can do is, A, as Chris points out, be more positive to try and win some of those independent voters back, but there‘s a balancing act because this is a choice. There has to be an effort as we‘ve seen in Nevada, for instance, in the Senate race, to portray the other side, to portray Republicans as being out of the mainstream. Independent voters do not want to see candidates who are out of the mainstream or highly partisan.
So, there‘s a balancing act for both sides. Remember, Republicans want to fire up their base, keep them fired up. They also want to keep those independents who don‘t like this Obama hatred syndrome that we‘ve been seeing.
So, there is scope for maneuver, but the time is running out very quickly.
OLBERMANN: Whether it‘s an outlier or it‘s not, are the Democrats responding to it and in some degree, was the—was the heavy economic component and Iraq as economic component of the president‘s speech tonight part of the answer to that?
WOLFFE: Well, yes. If the polls weren‘t so bad, if the economy wasn‘t so important, this would have just been a pure Iraq plus a little bit of Afghanistan in terms of the president‘s address tonight. He had to relate it back to the economy. He had to voice the concerns that people really care about because, frankly, they don‘t rate, even terrorism, never mind Iraq very highly.
It is all about the economy. He has to show that he‘s connected, that he cares, that he has a plan. But, in the end, this kind of single speech approach, or even if it‘s a very well-written and delivered from the Oval Office, it‘s not going to have the impact that he really needs.
OLBERMANN: The irony, of course, is that in Iraq, what we saw was the goal post always being moved. You can do it the other way. You can move the starting line, much closer to where you happen to be standing now, rather than all the way down the track where it actually way.
Is that what we‘re going to see out of the administration and its allies and its proxies out in the next couple of months, that the real work of the recovery and the economy could not end until we were essentially cut free of our debt in Iraq?
WOLFFE: Well, I think there‘s a first step to make in terms of Iraq, which is, this is a guy who promised change and has delivered on a very big part of the change that he talked about and campaigned on. So you could believe this guy.
Remember that whole thing about change you can believe in. This is an important marker along the way to connect people to the campaign and his record in office.
But, you know, when it comes down to the economy, I don‘t think Iraq is going to make any difference. People need to see some kind of recovery. They also need to know that the options are not from the other side, that the other side is talking about reining in spending at a time when people want more support.
So, very nice to talk about deficits and people—it‘s an important issue. But that‘s not going to help people get jobs in the short term and that‘s the priority to voters, say, in poll after poll, they want to see.
OLBERMANN: And, what is that—how does that interrelate to the Democrats and this continuing—if the other is an outlier, the continuing hole in the enthusiasm gap number. That‘s not an outlier. That‘s certainly consistent now. That looks like it‘s a—it‘s a permanent fixture in this process.
WOLFFE: Right. That‘s the most obvious thing that Democrats can effect is the enthusiasm in their own base. You got to ask the question, why are Democrats turn off? You have the economy maybe part of it. But there‘s an education process that needs to go on, both about the realities of Republicans taking control of Congress and also about what the president and his team and Democrats have done.
If Democrats do not care about health care, having been done, they have to ask themselves, “Well, if I don‘t get everything that I want, do I really want the opposite of what I want?” Those are the kinds of communications, mobilization efforts that need to be going on now between now and November, because if they don‘t, the results will be as bad as this Gallup Poll suggests.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe—always a pleasure, Richard, thank you kindly.
WOLFFE: Good night, Keith.
OLBERMANN: An then there‘s the Tea Party. It‘s first vote count war in Alaska has been won with the apparent announcement by Senator Murkowski that she will not challenge that race anymore against Joe Miller.
Meanwhile, it‘s mortgage-defaulting candidate in the Senate in Delaware, and Chris, Rachel, and I get trashed in Nevada.
OLBERMANN: The breaking news out of Alaska. It‘s confirmed now, Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is defeated in the Republican primary by tea partier Joe Miller and considerable upset earlier in the month, has now conceded the race and thus the vote count and a prospect of a recount are at an end. The Tea Party Express had circulated a petition expressing its concern on behalf of its Senate hopeful, Joe Miller, that the election could be stolen. The opposition it said was hatching a plot involving teams of lawyers and political hacks to influence the counting of ballots.
In our third story: Tea Party trying on Republicans what Republicans usually try on the Democrats, and apparently it worked. “Anchorage Daily News” had reported that the Miller camp had accused the National Republican Senatorial Campaign and incumbent Senator Murkowski‘s campaign of making phone calls to absentee voters. Both groups denied it.
Mr. Miller told ABC that Chairman John Cornyn of that group “gave me his word that he was pulling his team out.” The one attorney from the NRSC was returned to D.C. after about 72 hours.
The Miller camp had accused the Murkowski camp of possible vote tampering, alleging one of Murkowski‘s ballot observers had brought an illegal smartphone into the room. Not sure it was the phone or the smart that was the complaint.
Murkowski called Mr. Miller paranoid and then Mr. Miller slightly modified some of his earlier claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI ®, ALASKA: This was not a race about Lisa Murkowski. This was about a race of Alaska. And you gave it all. We gave it all. And I thank you for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Now, let‘s be joined by the radio host and blogger from Alaska, Shannyn Moore, who joins us by phone. Is that correct? Anybody? By phone.
SHANNYN MOORE, RADIO HOST (via telephone): It is.
OLBERMANN: Shannyn, glad you were able to answer that for me.
What happened here? And why did it come to such a sudden conclusion?
MOORE: Well, you know, it was pretty specific, and just the day after the election it was a huge surprise and it‘s really difficult to poll a Republican primary here because 52 percent of the state is independent and is able to vote in that primary. So, I think that they knew pretty quick because it was such a surprise that Miller had come from behind and did a huge blitz. And so, they knew that that was probably coming. They were hoping for the Anchorage votes today and they didn‘t get them.
OLBERMANN: What happens now in terms of—Murkowski has obviously conceded this. We already discussed after the initial fact that there was no chance for her to get on a third-party ticket of any sort. The libertarians confirmed that today, the primary third party option.
Is there any chance that she‘s going to run in any way or has she gotten out of the race completely?
MOORE: Well, I spoke to come one in her campaign about five minutes before she conceded and asked him that question and he said he didn‘t think so. And it sounded from indicators and watching her speech, that she was bowing out. She definitely took the high road.
Joe Miller‘s camp did all sorts of nasty—sort of shenanigan—very misleading. And, you know, I think she‘s probably going to go back to Washington, finish up her job, and come home, like she said.
OLBERMANN: Is there a prospect of her not endorsing Miller or she going to close ranks completely behind him?
MOORE: I—after the way that he has operated, things from tweets coming out of his campaign, referring to her as a prostitute, oldest profession in the book, that sort of thing, being really very paranoid and nasty, I think I would be surprised. I mean, I would be really surprised if she did that, not to mention the Palin factor in the campaign. As you know, Sarah Palin ran against Lisa‘s dad and beat him in the primary and then now Joe Miller has her full, undying support.
So, I‘d be really surprised if she decided that he was a real candidate.
OLBERMANN: Then she sits it out or is there the prospect of cross-party endorsement, as unlikely that would seem to us outside of the environment, it would seem that that particularly the bitterness of the two Palin-Murkowski fights, with both members of that family, could conceivably be strong enough to at least consider that in theory. Is it plausible in reality?
MOORE: Well, I think it‘s plausible. And I know that there‘s a lot of Republicans calling and asking questions about Scott McAdams right now, who‘s a mayor from Sitka. He‘s on the Democratic side of the ticket. He‘s done tremendous things for his town and I think it‘s probably not a shock to people that a small town mayor in Alaska can actually have some effects.
OLBERMANN: A Democratic small term—small town mayor, could they have that kind of effect?
MOORE: Well, you know, he is—our first, one of our first senators was a small town Democrat mayor. And I think that‘s possible. But Scott is a real centrist, and he‘s really pro-jobs, very much about responsible development in Alaska. And he‘s—he has the sway, I think, of being a real Alaskan whereas Joe Miller is this guy from Kansas who is running on a nationality Tea Party platform instead of talking to Alaskans about, you know, about issues that really matter to us that don‘t have anything to do with the Tea Party.
OLBERMANN: Has anybody in the Democratic campaign decided to position this as almost a referendum on the politics of Sarah Palin?
MOORE: I think that that‘s very much part of the conversation here, although, a lot of Alaskans don‘t really like to talk about Sarah Palin at all. They, you know, if they were supporters of her, she‘s a quitter to them. And if she‘s—if you were a supporter, then she‘s just a complete embarrassment.
So, I think that it could come down to that for people. And the way that Mr. Miller has conducted himself, I think, really drives the moderates who don‘t want to get rid of Medicare, who don‘t want to get rid of the Department of Education, don‘t want to get rid of infrastructure in Alaska. I think it really drives them towards looking and finding out more about Scott McAdams.
OLBERMANN: That statistic that has been quoted so many times, that Murkowski and before her, the late Ted Stevens, had gotten basically $5 back for every dollar of tax money. Is that - is that something ironically that could be used against Joe Miller in the Democratic campaign?
MOORE: Absolutely. I mean—people in Massachusetts could probably look at Alaska and be like, well, they are getting so many—so many dollars. Well, when Massachusetts was 50 years old, what was it, 1826? You know, we have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to infrastructure and Alaskans don‘t consider septic systems in towns that have honey buckets of pork.
OLBERMANN: Shannyn, I have to cut you off. I‘m out of time.
The blogger and radio host, Shannyn Moore—great thanks, Shannyn, on late notice.
How your dollars did at the New Orleans free health clinic?
And L. Ron Beck, the ArchBeckhop of Canterbury, Orwell Beck, Garner Ted, Beck Strong—whatever you call him, he screwed up.
OLBERMANN: Before we get to “Oddball” and the tweet and stuff, the free health clinic in New Orleans, you paid for and to whose rescue you came last week. So far, 650 patients in the door today, nearly one-third of those patients had not seen a doctor in three or four years.
And while you were more than generous with your money with the late edition of more than $300,000 in funding last week, we‘re also generous with your time. We had more volunteers than ever before—a full report from Nicole Lamoureux at the New Orleans health clinic tomorrow night. Thank you again. We are overwhelmed.
Now, the sanity break and the tweet of the day. From Eddie Izzard, “Discovered Keith Olbermann exists. All Americans and world citizens of a good mind and heart should follow him and watch his news show. RT, retweet this.” How about that, huh? One of the world‘s talented people and he‘d just give me my own flag (ph).
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
OLBERMANN: Back we go to German soccer in the Bundesliga. And last week, we met Jessica Kastrop, who had the unfortunate encounter with a soccer ball at a soccer game. Way downtown, bang, bang, bang.
But you can‘t keep a reporter down, even if you show her getting hit in the head over and over and over again. Over the weekend, she returned to the pits (ph), this time, fully protected from soccer balls or just footballs, with the help of a helmet. Looks good, too.
In honor of her bravery, let‘s watch her get hit a couple more times.
What a memory that was, even though she can‘t.
To Tamil Nadu in India, for the unveiling of three white tigers. Born three months ago, the cubs have been kept in an enclosure until they could mature a little. Once they got outside, there was a surprise. The fur on one of the cubs had gone from white to completely black.
The U.N. committee on cliches is meeting tonight here in New York in emergency session now to address the crisis created for one how a tiger cannot change it‘s stripes.
Finally, Daisen City, Japan, where what better way to mark the end of summer by blowing stuff up. Twenty-seven fireworks producers taking part in their national fireworks competition. Over 18,000 fireworks lighting up the night sky as thousands cheered on. Competition included two separate categories, one for traditional, one for creative, and boom goes the dynamite.
So, a religion that assail other religions promises hell for gays, wants to build a prayer center two blocks from Ground Zero. And the far-right is not screaming about it.
Now that he has left news to become a televangelist, we‘ll show how the gospel according to St. Beck failed the sniff test on the subject of the Washington Monument.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, the Koch brothers funding the fight against health care reform, now first in line to get funds from health care reform, naturally.
OLBERMANN: “Worst”: In the arrest of Mr. F.B. Frankenstein in Cincinnati.
First, since he has now revealed himself to be not a commentator but a prophet, not a shock jock but a televangelist, we say howdy to the modern Elmer Gantry. And welcome you to the first edition of “St. Beck as in Wreck.”
Aimee Semple McBeck, Elmer Beckry, Jimmy SwagBeck, which ever one he is, from time to time here, we‘ll point out his more egregious mistakes of fact and of faith. And sad to say, Pryor Beck, made an inauspicious debut at the Pentecostal service in Washington on Saturday, because the first thing Ted Haggard will tell you, St. Beckus of Assisi is: don‘t lie to the flock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: If you look at the Washington Monument, you might notice its scars. But nobody talks about that. But a quarter of the way up, it changes color. Did you that it did?
Look at it. Look at its scars? How did the scar get there?
They stopped building it in the civil war, and when the war was over, they began again. No one sees the scars of the Washington Memorial, the Washington Monument.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Sorry about that. Tammy Faye Becker. In fact, for the National Park Service, the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on the 4th of July, 1848, and stones were contributed by many world leaders.
When a stone was donated by the Pope, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant political movement called the Know Nothing Party, stole the stone and threw it into the Potomac River. Then the Know Nothings gained control of the commission in charge of building the monument and Congress withdrew all the funding. The Know Nothings bought their own cheap stones, which was so bad it had to be removed.
And in 1858, three years before the civil war begun, construction of the Washington Monument was abandoned.
Sorry about that, Creflo Beck. It wasn‘t until 1879, 14 years after the defeat they decide (ph), Father Cough-Beck would have supported in the civil war that construction was resumed, using marble from a different quarry. The color change in the Washington Monument, Bishop Fulton J. Beck, has nothing to do with the civil war. It owes to the interference of and hatred of immigrants by the Know Nothings.
Teach your sheep about that, Father Gregori Yefimovich Raspu-Beck.
OLBERMANN: A radical fundamentalist, hate-filled religion announces plans to build a church two blocks from Ground Zero. Funny, they don‘t have a right-wing screaming about that. That‘s next.
But, first, get out your pitchforks and torches—coincidentally, they titled my next book, in stores October 26 -- time for tonight‘s “Worst Persons in the World.”
The bronze—I‘ll be damned—Forest B. Frankenstein, Jr.? Pitchforks and torches, (INAUDIBLE). Mr. Frankenstein got a little torched at the Toby Keith concert near Cincinnati Saturday and went up to two sheriff officers to say, quote, “If I had a knife, I would stab you.” They put him in a black and white, he kicked out the window. They put him in a second black and white, he banged his face into the partition. The alleged perpetrator then added, Frankenstein.
The runner up, Sister Bendy Straws. I know we did Beck and the religion report and everything, this is just too good. The half governor tweets, “Silly media reports maybe thousands at Beck‘s irrelevant event, insinuating MSM sheeple mustn‘t believe their own eyes and ears. Re; event‘s truth.”
Take another look at the tweet. “Maybe thousands at Beck‘s irrelevant event, by typing the @ sign and Beck, the half-governor has invoked the Twitter handle of the singer Beck, not the televangelist Beck, like @Palin gets you a Mr. Palin (INAUDIBLE) of New Delhi in India. Honestly.
But our winner, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, the man who dreamt up the threat of terror babies, has exposed us to more of his wisdom. This time, the topic is math. “A poll says 28 percent of American adults say that they identify with the Tea Party. Fifty-three percent are paying all the taxes. Do you think more than half of all people paying taxes are Tea Party folks? Yes!”
No. This is going after a mosquito in fact (ph) with the bazooka. The same poll Louie just quoted also asked Americans if they are active participants in the Tea Party. The number who said yes was 2 percent. So either Louie thinks less than 4 percent of the country pay taxes or Louie is not very good at math.
Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas—today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: A moderate group of Muslims wants to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero and they get hammered in the right-wing echo chamber.
But an anti-gay, anti-Islamic preacher peddling his own brand of fundamental religion, near the footprint of the World Trade Center—number one story—the silence and lack outrage from the right is deafening.
Bill Keller is the pastor of the online church, liveprayer.com, known for his intolerance of any other faith other than his own and for being a birther. Also for that hair.
Keller calls Islam a religion of, quote, “hate and death,” it might describe the hair. And a wonderful religion for pedophiles—no comment.
Among the titles of Islam, a related daily devotionals posted on Keller‘s Web site, the false religion of Islam and the courage to tell 1 billion people they are going to hell and the coming showdown between Islam and Christianity.
Keller‘s hate had previously been accordant to his Web site and a short-lived national TV show. But yesterday, Salon.com reported Keller‘s church is to begin services this Sunday at the West Street Marriott in Lower Manhattan, two blocks from Ground Zero. Those services running weekly, beginning September 5th, or a precursor—the hair—to what Keller hopes will turn into a 9/11 Christian center at Ground Zero and hair salon.
His Web site claiming the church will be a Christian response to the so-called Ground Zero mosque. Here is Keller making a hard sell to donors in an online video about hair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KILLER, LIVEPRAYER.COM: I know that as time goes on, the Muslims will try to silence me. They will try even to kill me. But the gospel won‘t be silenced (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Reach for comment by “Salon,” Keller claimed his fundraising efforts were going well, though to date, there‘s no evidence of any actual plans for permanent church near Ground Zero.
“Salon” reporter Justin Elliott, author of yesterday‘s article on Bill Keller‘s church, another one today, and he joins us now.
Thanks for your time tonight.
JUSTIN ELLIOTT, SALON.COM: Thanks.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, freedom of religion means just that. But there‘s been no blowback on this from people who think an Islamic center politicizes Ground Zero or brings in an unfortunate religious element towards divisive—nothing at all?
ELLIOTT: Yes. Well, I thought maybe it was the fact that people hadn‘t heard about it, hadn‘t really been publicized. So, I spent a chunk of today actually and yesterday, reaching out to prominent critics of the so-called Ground Zero mosque, Rick Lazio, Carl Paladino, the New York gubernatorial candidates, who are running basically on this issue. I reached out to the Anti-Defamation League, to Newt Gingrich, and a bunch of other people. Basically, none of them got back to me.
And Newt Gingrich‘s people got back to me and said that he wasn‘t going to be commenting, which I take to mean that he doesn‘t object to it. But, basically, that‘s right. No outcry so far.
OLBERMANN: The lack of protest from the left underscores what I think is the left‘s sort of universal commitment to freedom of religion, but does the lack of protest from the right underscore that its protest of the Park 51 center is—it strip out a way what might be, you know, passed off as sensitivity for the families or anything else? But the right is really dealing here with religious hatred and even to some degree racism?
ELLIOTT: Well, I think, as for Democrats, they just don‘t want to go near anything with Ground Zero and I think they don‘t think it‘s a good issue for them.
As for the mosque opponents, I think there‘s really been two fundamental arguments against the mosque. One is from people like Newt Gingrich, that this really is about the fact that the organizers are Muslim, that America is locked into some sort of war with Islam and that therefore the mosque project, community project, is going to be a monument to the Islamist victory on September 11th.
But there‘s been a whole, second group of people, who have argued that this is not about the fact that these are Muslims. This is about the fact that the neighborhood around Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan is hallowed ground, sacred, nothing insensitive should happen there. Charles Krauthammer in “The Washington Post” wrote a whole column about this. I reached out to him, too. He hasn‘t gotten back to me.
But for that second group of people who say this is about the sanctity of the neighborhood, they really should be horrified by this Bill Keller‘s 9/11 Christian center. This is a guy who says Mormons and Muslims and gay people are all going to hell. So, there‘s really no reason why his 9/11 church is somehow less offensive than the—than the so-called Ground Zero mosque.
OLBERMANN: Has Marriott had anything to say about being the host locale for this? I mean, one of the arguments for Park 51 in my opinion, bluntly as a native and somebody who‘s been down there and seen it for the last 8 ½ years, Lower Manhattan needs all the business they can get.
ELLIOTT: No one has asked Marriott yet. I have not called Marriott. But if this is picked up in the media and any politicians weigh in on it, I‘m sure somebody will ask them. That‘s a very interesting question.
OLBERMANN: Is the upshot here as easy as it would look at glance that moderate Muslims or even liberal Muslims are not acceptable at this point in the right‘s scheme of the world but fundamentalists Islam-hating right-wing Christians, you know, feel free, have a nice time, take whatever space you need?
ELLIOTT: I think that is probably true. I also think that this is sort of a byproduct of the fat that the controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque is really a product of political opportunism among other things. I think Republicans know that they are not going to gain with the public by going after an evangelical preacher. Democrats might be able to, but they haven‘t—they haven‘t been so far. So, I think that‘s part of what‘s going on here.
OLBERMANN: And, is there actually going to be a church here from the reverend with the bad hair or is he just trying to raise money and publicity?
ELLIOTT: Well, he claims. I‘ve talked to him. He claims he‘s trying to raise $8 million. He told me the fundraising is going pretty well. His plan is to find a permanent site by the first of the year of next year. So, I mean I think it‘s basically in the same stage of planning as Park 51 is.
OLBERMANN: Justin Elliott of Salon.com—good work on this story and great thanks for your time tonight.
ELLIOTT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That‘s August 31st, it‘s 2,679th day since President Bush declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq, the 2,268th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan and the 134th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
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