Guests: Michael Moore, Robert Reich, Eugene Robinson, Douglas Gravagna
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories we will you be talking about tomorrow?
Julian Assange granted bail in England with the help of our special guest, Michael Moore.
Assange is not contrite: “We now know that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It‘s not something we knew before.”
The blowback: the lunatic right wing fringe calls for suppression of the free press.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP.-ELECT ALLEN WEST ®, FLORIDA: I think that we also should be censoring American news agencies which enabled him to be able to do this and they‘re also supporting him and applauding him for the efforts.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Oh, and assassination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB BECKEL, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I‘m not for the death penalty. So, if I‘m not for the death penalty, there‘s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a (EXPLITIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: On FOX he says this. Did I ever tell you how Rupert Murdoch‘s father made his money by breaking censorship laws and leaking military secrets during World War I?
The tax compromise. Moody‘s investment firm says the tax cuts will put America‘s international credit rating at risk, and any economic growth that they create will be wiped out by the deficit they increase. With Robert Reich.
And more death panels threatened in Arizona. The governor who fought
health care reform and refused to spend stimulus money to cover a $5
million shortfall in transplant insurance now tells complaining Arizonans -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER ®, ARIZONA: I would suggest that people would go to the federal government and ask them to send us stimulus dollars to support these transplants if that‘s what they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Does that sound crazy to you?
Not as crazy as this. This is how Governor Brewer sees herself.
All the news and commentary and Michael Moore—now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, December 14th, 693 days until the 2012 presidential election.
And as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is granted bail and kept in jail, he makes clear that he has no interest in becoming a quiet noncontroversial defendant.
In our fifth story: the epic constantly evolving battle between leaks and secrets as old as time itself, or between truth and war, takes a new form.
Filmmaker Michael Moore posts part of the bail money for Assange. Mr.
Moore joins me in a moment.
Today, a British judge granted that bail in the amount of 200,000 pounds, the equivalent of $316,000 American dollars, but then kept Assange in custody while Swedish prosecutors immediately challenged the decision. Britain‘s high court will hear the appeal.
Swedish government wants Assange extradited for questioning regarding alleged sex crimes. Assange‘s lawyer Mark Stephen saying, quote, “They clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr. Assange in jail. This is really turning into a show trial.”
Part of the bail hearing, Assange released a statement dictated to his mother, Christine, after she visited her son in prison. Quoting, “My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. The circumstances shall not shake them. If anything, this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct.
We know that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It‘s not something we knew before. I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks.”
The latter part of the statement refers, of course, to “Operation Payback” in which online activists, hacktivists, calling themselves Anonymous crashed the Web sites of MasterCard and Visa after those organizations cut business ties with WikiLeaks.
Meantime, Assange‘s mother in interviews has expressed gratitude, as well as obvious concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE ASSANGE, JULIAN ASSANGE‘S MOTHER: And I told him how people all over the world, in all sorts of countries, were standing up with placards and screaming out for his freedom and justice. You know, I‘m not different to any other mother, you know? Every time the news goes on, I‘m so glued to it, you know, is he OK? And these massive forces have decided they‘re going to stop him and they‘re not going to play by the rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Assange‘s harshest critics in this country have called him a terrorist, with the rest of the media sometimes being characterized as criminally complacent.
Congressman-elect Allen West of Florida telling a conservative Internet radio show that Assange‘s journalist amounts to a cyber attack and he added this—
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WEST: Regardless of whether or not you think this really doesn‘t cause any harm, the fact that here‘s an individual that is not an American citizen, first and foremost, for whatever reason, you know, gotten his hands on classified American material and has put it out there in the public domain. And I think we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him to be able to do this and then also supported him and applauded him for the efforts. So, that‘s kind of aiding and abetting of a serious crime.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And a partial store, Tea Party congressman-elect one, sanctity of the freedom of the press, zero. A partial score.
And even more extreme statement perhaps about Assange, from Walter Mondale‘s former campaign manager, FOX News pet, ex-Democrat Bob Beckel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKEL: I‘m not for the death penalty. So, if I‘m not for the death penalty, there‘s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a (EXPLITIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tonight, the U.S. Air Force has confirmed that it has blocked its computers from accessing “The New York Times,” “The Guardian” newspaper and 23 other Web sites that posted classified documents obtained by WikiLeaks. Officials say they want Air Force computer system cleaned of classified material, but this is not an attempt of censorship.
And back to the matter of Assange‘s bail, Judge Howard Riddle had set strict conditions in which Assange would have worn an electronic monitor and resided at a designated address. He would have to report to British police every evening and observe two four-hour curfews.
The $316,000 worth of bail was drawn from a guarantee of $380,000 put up by various supporters. And our next guest gave $20,000 towards that effort. It was accompanied by this statement which reads, in part, “I support Julian whom I see as a pioneer of free speech, transparent government and the digital revolution in journalism. His commitment to exposing the follies of government and business offers the greater society a chance to protect itself from these follies, some aren‘t just follies, some are crimes.”
Let‘s bring in as promised, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
Michael, good evening.
MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You also offered the use of your Web site before Assange or your servers, or anything else you can do to keep WikiLeaks alive. What‘s the premise?
MOORE: The premise is that we really—we really owe a debt to Mr. Assange and to WikiLeaks for turning on a big spotlight on those people who brought about, first of all, this war that we‘ve been in for the better part of this decade. These people concocted lies, and they committed crimes in order to send our young men and women off to war.
And it has cost us not only the lives of our own people, but the lives of literally, now, tens of, if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghan citizens. And it‘s—I just think that if that in a free and open society, if we aren‘t able to find out the truth, mistakes like this get repeated over and over and over again.
I mean, I just—I was thinking yesterday when I sent the bail money over to London, what if we‘d had a WikiLeaks in August of 1964 when we were told that the North Vietnamese fired on a U.S. ship? Which, in fact, was a lie. It was a concocted lie at the Pentagon. And we didn‘t find out about that until Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers some six, seven years later.
What if there had been a WikiLeaks? What if someone could have got that information, and told the American people at the beginning of the Vietnam War, my fellow Americans, you‘re being lied to, this is all made up. How many lives could have been saved?
And you could go down so many other examples, whether it‘s—if—imagine the Dick Cheney memos back-and-forth as he was pressuring the CIA at the beginning just before this last Iraq War started. What if—you know, what if those memos had been released in 2002 or 2003 so the American people could see he was trying to get the CIA to gin up the evidence and sort of fudge the facts so they could make their case for war? What if we‘d had access to that?
So, this is, to me, I just think an instrument like WikiLeaks is vital for a free and open society to exist, because—frankly, I think this is something that Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin would have—if they could have invented this, if there‘d been an Internet back then, they saw the importance of making sure that the corrupt people in power, and they knew the power corrupted, had a very—it was necessary to have a very large light on them. And that‘s what WikiLeaks does.
And for me, I think anybody who supports WikiLeaks, they‘re committing an act of patriotism because it guarantees, I think—I hope—that we have a better shot next time the bad guys try to pull one off on us.
OLBERMANN: Does it matter that he hasn‘t had access to, and, thus, hasn‘t released Dick Cheney memos or some equivalent to the Gulf of Tonkin data from 1964? The specifics—I mean, one of the arguments against this is that it‘s not journalism because it‘s just a massive, essentially, download of secret or hidden information. That it‘s not vetted in some way, not journalistically gone through in some way or sifted.
Does that matter at all?
MOORE: It has been. First of all, the news agencies, from “The New York Times” to the “The Guardian,” to the papers in Europe, they have spent a lot of time vetting it, going through it. I think they‘re very happy to have this access to it.
Remember, right now, we‘ve been focusing on these State Department cables for the most part, which have been, if anything, embarrassing. And even as defense secretary, Mr. Gates, said this does not put anyone‘s life really in jeopardy, let‘s not make such a big deal about this. But the—but the information that was released earlier this year about the Iraq War and then the next drop on the war in Afghanistan, there are some very serious items in there, and especially was heartbreaking to read those reports from our soldiers during the first WikiLeaks drop back earlier this year, where if you read those things, what our own soldiers wrote up in their reports, what they were forced to do, the civilians that were killed, that they killed, and how sickened they were by this because they signed up for the U.S. Army to defend the United States of America, not to go over and participate in this.
It was—it was, I think, incredible information to have. The video that was released that showed the execution by the helicopter of the “Reuters” reporters. I think all of that stuff has been very important—and remember, of the 250,000 documents, the cables they say they‘re going to be releasing, they‘ve only released I think 1,000 or 2,000 of them. So, there‘s a lot—there‘s a lot more to come from this organization.
And I think—I think it‘s a good thing. And I say to the people who
I‘ve had people say to me, you know, I don‘t know if—you know, this is not good. You know, you have to have some secrets. And I can understand that. Diplomacy, all that‘s necessary—you know, you can‘t just have everything on the front page of the paper.
But I would say that because our government behaved so badly in invading a country that was not a threat to us that this is the result. This is what you‘re going to have to put up with. The lights in the room have been turned on and now, we‘re going to see everything from this point on. And maybe it‘s not right that we see everything, but I think I‘d rather that than the alternative.
And remember, it‘s not the leaks that are killing anyone. It‘s the secrets that have killed people. The secrets—here‘s a good example. I asked your producer, I don‘t know if you guys have the famous photo of Mr. Bush when he—in August of 2001, one month before 9/11 --
OLBERMANN: There it is.
MOORE: There it is. OK. Yes.
OK, now, he‘s being handed a secret memo and the memo just happens to say “Bin Laden determined to attack inside United States.” And in the memo, it talks about how he plans on hijacking airplanes.
Now, this is one month before 9/11. Mr. Bush took a look at that, as you can see, and then he went fishing for four weeks.
Now, what if WikiLeaks had existed then and some person in the U.S. government who saw that the president wasn‘t going to deal with this threat put that out there and said, bin Laden and al Qaeda are planning to do something with airplanes and something very soon.
You know, there‘s a wonderful essay that was written by the woman, Colleen Rowley. She was “TIME‘s” Person of the Year for being a whistleblower. Twenty-four-year veteran of the FBI. And she says that—
I got on my site, think it was in the “L.A. Times” this past week or so, and she says, “I think possibly had WikiLeaks existed in 2001, there would have been a chance that 9/11 wouldn‘t have happened because.”
If that had been out there to the American people, if that had been out there to say even her office, her FBI, her field office, had she even known to look for these. If they had taken the call from the flight school where the guy, remember the guy who calls up and says, hey, I got these guys here and they don‘t want to know how to take off or land a plane. Well, that just—that‘s a top secret.
Well, these things shouldn‘t be secret. This affects American lives.
We should know about these things.
And I think—I think—I think these leaks will save lives, these secrets that are kept. Whether it‘s Gulf of Tonkin, whether it‘s 9/11, whether—how we got into the Iraq War. Those secrets, those secrets, they kill people. They take lives.
And that‘s why I‘m a huge supporter of what WikiLeaks is doing.
OLBERMANN: Al right. One complicating issue here—address the
charges against Assange in Sweden. Are they—are they a ruse? Are they
are they a front for something else? And even if they are, indeed, something nefarious against him, you are still in essence participating in bailing out a man who has been charged with criminal sexual charges or will be charged under these circumstances.
MOORE: That‘s the thing. He hasn‘t been charged. They brought no criminal charges against him.
They want to talk to him about—this whole thing stinks to the high heavens. I got to tell you. I mean, I wasn‘t born yesterday, but I‘ve seen this enough times where governments and corporations go after individuals, geez, I think I was just on your show a couple weeks ago talking about this with my film and the health care industry. They go after people with this kind of lie and smear.
Daniel Ellsberg told you about it last week on how they went after him. This is—we‘ve seen this before. Now, his guilt or innocence of this—I mean, what he said they did. And the lawyer said this today in court in London that what they say he did and the charges, his condom broke during consensual sex. That is not a crime in Britain, and so they‘re making the point how can we—how can we extradite him over this?
This is all a bunch of hooey as far as I‘m concerned. The man at least has a right to be out of prison while awaiting the hearing, and I believe that—and this is why I participate in it. This is why I put up a chunk of the bail money. And, you know, I‘m proud to do it because I think this man and what he‘s doing, and what his group is doing is going to save lives.
OLBERMANN: Filmmaker Michael Moore who will join Rachel Maddow next week for her leadership series at the 92nd Street Y. Great thanks. And I‘m sorry we didn‘t get to discuss the trade of your Detroit Tigers of Alfredo Figaro to Orix Buffaloes in Japan. Thank you, Michael.
MOORE: I know. That‘s OK. Next time.
OLBERMANN: Next time. It‘s in WikiLeaks, too. Thank you, Michael.
More good news about the tax compromise, it may compromise this country‘s international credit rating because Moody‘s says any economic growth the tax cuts create will be wiped away by the added deficit. Terrific. Robert Reich next.
OLBERMANN: Former labor secretary says his old boss is wrong to support the tax cut deal. Also, his reaction to the threat by Moody‘s to cut America‘s credit rating in response to the deal.
High speed rail stimulus programs fall through in Wisconsin and Ohio, causing about 20,000 jobs. This Tea Party governor-elect of Wisconsin celebrates.
The conflict of interest judge who ruled against part of health care reform may have bigger problems. The right wing says he made an embarrassing legal mistake in yesterday‘s decision.
And no wonder Arizona may increase its death panels. This is the drawing Governor Brewer has put up on her Facebook page.
OLBERMANN: The U.S. Senate is preparing to pass or tomorrow morning possibly as soon as that, but no earlier, a tax cut deal that is so bad for the U.S. deficit it rattled world financial markets. As we reported on this news hour last week, cutting taxes by nearly $1 trillion will require borrowing hundreds of billions from other countries, although the Obama administration continues to keep secret the details of our debt to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. These countries, not others, buy our debt, even though we don‘t pay much on it in way of interest because it‘s considered a safe investment.
America‘s credit has always gotten the highest rating, AAA. But now, the tax cut deal might change that. Moody‘s, one of the top three U.S. rating companies, releasing a new report the deal, if passed, could threaten Moody‘s outlook on U.S. credit, which would make foreign investors demand higher interest payments to keep buying U.S. debt in the future.
How much does the U.S. rely on foreign countries buying our debt? Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner pitched it to potential buyers in Saudi Arabia last summer. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same in China last year. But, now, thanks to the tax cut deal, years from now, our kids may have to pay more in interest on the money we‘re borrowing now from China and others to finance tax cuts for the rich.
According to Moody‘s, the deal, quote, “Will boost economic growth in the next two years but adversely affect the federal government budget deficit and debt level.” More, “Keeping the existing tax rates would not provide an impetus to growth.” More, “Higher growth should have a positive effect on government revenues and reduce payments related to unemployment. However, the magnitude of these positive effects will be considerably less than the foregone revenue and increased spending resulting in substantially higher budget deficits than would have otherwise been the case.”
The likelihood of Democrats caving again even factors in. Quote, “There is a risk that the two-year extension may be renewed at the end of 2012, given that that period coincides with the presidential election.”
Moody‘s analyst Steven Hess who wrote the report telling “Reuters,” quote, “We have long-term concerns about the U.S. credit outlook. We‘re waiting to see if they‘re going to be addressed in the next couple of years.”
Hess going further in a statement this afternoon to COUNTDOWN, quote, “The outlook for positive action in the next couple years doesn‘t look good.”
Concern about 2012 is looking prophetic already. Possible presidential candidate Mitt Romney already previewing how he will attack President Obama for the tax cut deal. So, too, possible presidential candidate, Congressman Mike Pence, pledging to try to kill it in the House. Both criticizing the president because the deal would increase the deficit.
Senator John Ensign sounding a similar note when asked about funding the deal by borrowing from China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA: Short term, is this going to help the economy? Yes, it is. There‘s no question it will, short term. But the longer term effects to the economy because of the extra borrowing, the higher interest rates that we‘re going to have to pay. Moody‘s just threatened today to downgrade the United States‘ bond rating. That means it will pay a higher borrowing cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s bring in Robert Reich, labor secretary in the Clinton administration. Now professor at U.C. Berkeley‘s Goldman School of Public Policy and author of “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America‘s Future.”
Great thanks for your time again tonight, sir.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: What are the implications of Moody‘s even beginning to think about downgrading its rating of America‘s credit worthiness?
REICH: Well, it‘s a warning shot across our bow in terms of the debt that we are accumulating. And it would be one thing, Keith, as Moody‘s said, if that debt was turned around into genuinely boosting the economy, creating more jobs and economic growth. But so much of that is going to people who are already very rich in the United States.
And that means that they, the rich, don‘t spend very much. I mean, they already—what it means to be rich is means you already have pretty much what you already need and want. And that, in turn, is not going to be much of a stimulus. So Moody‘s is worried in effect that this is a lot of debt without very much of a push. Very much of—we don‘t get very much out of it in terms of helping the economy.
OLBERMANN: The presidential convention at the White House on Friday on this topic after the former president, Mr. Clinton, endorsed President Obama‘s deal—you wrote that both of them are wrong. One of them you served.
Why—why do you think they‘re both wrong?
REICH: Well, a lot of people, including President Clinton and the current president, believe that the current tax deal is sort of, now I guess to what Bill Clinton did politically, by triangulating and cooperating with Republicans, getting the deficit way down in the 1990s. Supposedly, that helped the economy.
But actually, the analogy is wrong. That deficit and that original recession that Bill Clinton kind of got the tailwind of in 1992, 1993, that recession was very, very narrow and small. And indeed, we had a jobless recovery. I was there. We could very, very easily come out of that recession environment in the 1990s, create a very, very fast growing economy. Alan Greenspan, remember, could lower interest rates.
But right now, it‘s an entirely different economy. This is not analogous to Bill Clinton‘s economy. We have had a great recession that came not out of the Fed raising interest rates too high, but really out of a huge asset bubble, a housing bubble exploding. And that means that it‘s going to take years until consumers are out from under that deficit, consumers are able to borrow again. Consumers are ready to buy as much as they were buying before.
The analogy doesn‘t hold. This is—potentially, this deal, this tax deal that Obama is entering in with Republicans potentially is going to just explode the deficit without any real gain for the economy at all.
OLBERMANN: Moody‘s pointed out that in the—with the 2012 presidential elections coming up, that might make it impossible for Democrats to prevent the Republicans from making the Bush tax cuts permanent, again.
Does this president or do congressional Democrats have any plausible way out of that scenario?
REICH: Well, the only plausible way out, I think, Keith, is to tell a very different story about how we got into the recession and how we are getting out of it and how we need to get out of it.
I mean, the dominant story that Republicans are telling is that it‘s all about big government. This is a story they‘d been telling for 30 years. The problem is big government. What we need to shrink government and everybody will be better off.
Well, that‘s simply not true. Trickle-down economics never worked. If you take taxes off of the top and you shrink government, what do you have? Well, you have a lot of very rich people at the top. Right now, about a quarter of all income in the United States is going to people in the top 1 percent.
But average working people have not had a raise adjusted for inflation in years. And we‘re seeing a continuation of that. The danger is just simply that we‘re going to have more of the same.
OLBERMANN: “Mr. Trickle-Down Economics,” David Stockman, sat here at this desk and said it didn‘t work—to underscore your point.
Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton—as always, great thanks for your time.
REICH: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, if you‘re the governor-elect and your state just lost 5,500 jobs because a high speed rail stimulus project fell through, would your reaction be: “A,” solemn or angry distress, or, “B,” celebration? The Tea Party governor-elect of Wisconsin, there was no hesitation. Let the party begin.
OLBERMANN: Wisconsin bails out of a stimulus high speed rail line costing the state 5,500 jobs. The Tea Party governor-elect celebrates, next.
First the sanity break and the tweet of the day from Chico Delainky.
“Give me your wallet. No. Just give me your money. OK. See compromise.”
Hey, they need you in Washington, bud.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
Dateline San Pedro, California, where they pronounce it that way, Chris Angel has nothing on this floating car. And allegedly drunk driver drove his vehicle, careened off the road. Luckily for him the buildings were spaced not too wide, not too narrow, but just right to catch his car, suspending it five feet in the air.
The driver escaped the floating car unharmed but will have plenty of time to figure out the building is not a hitching post for a car in the big house.
And the annual running of the Santas. This is supposed to be Santa running? This looks like Santa sauntering. Don‘t make me replace you with the Frosty T. Snowmen. That inspired them.
The quick Kris Kringles ran through the two-mile course to help raise money for a local children‘s charity. No one was injured, something surprising, considering the diet consisting of milk and cookies.
Time marches on. The Tea Party triumphs in Wisconsin by killing off 5,500 jobs, and the governor of Arizona on camera defending her death panels. Naturally it took a reporter from Great Britain to get her to say her impenetrably nonsense, ahead.
OLBERMANN: During his campaign to become governor of Wisconsin, Tea Party Republican Scott Walker pledged to add 250,000 jobs in his state by 2015. He‘s yet to take office and already his job creation tally is at negative 5,500 at least.
In our third story, two Tea Party Republican governors-elect have turned up their noses at federal money for high-speed rail lines as their state‘s unemployed twist in the wind. The decision to rescind the high speed rail money came down last Thursday. Ray LaHood announcing that Wisconsin and Ohio would forfeit $1.2 billion that had been allocated to build high speed rail lines in the states.
The money, which did not require state matching funds, was requested under Democratic governors. During their campaign, Republicans Walker and John Kasich of Ohio each promised to kill the rail projects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KASICH, ® OHIO GOVERNOR-ELECT: I want to tell you. I‘m governor. The 39 mile an hour high speed passenger train is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Fox News governor had his fact wrong, of course. The train travels up to 79 miles an hour, averaging over 50. Before the $400 million in high speed rail money was pulled, Democrat Ted Strickland unsuccessfully begged governor-elect Kasich to reconsider, citing the projects potential to create 16,000 jobs.
In Wisconsin, governor-elect Walker said his decision to reject $800 million in federal money for the high speed rail line there was made because although the project would create jobs, 5,500 of them, it just wouldn‘t be the right kind of jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT WALKER, ® WISCONSIN GOVERNOR-ELECT: To me the jobs I want are jobs that are sustainable. That‘s why I‘m talking to here and other groups representing small businesses, because I don‘t just want jobs that are created short term based upon the government subsidy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The unemployment rate in Wisconsin hovering around eight percent. The state estimated the high speed rail line connecting Milwaukee and Madison would create about 5,500 jobs by the third year of the project. Still, to Walker this is a win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Push came to shove. Even if it meant it wasn‘t roads and bridges, I was not going to go forward with a train line between Milwaukee and Madison. So I think that‘s a victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn to Gene Robinson, “Washington Post” associate editor, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, MSNBC political analyst, and the author of the new book, “Disintegration—the Splintering of Black America.” Good evening, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Good evening to you.
OLBERMANN: So for all those Tea Partiers who got elected and said, what, do you think I was going to cut my nose of despite my face? We‘ve really had a couple of them that cut off their noses?
ROBINSON: We do. It‘s amazing. I can‘t believe they‘ve done this. So, 5,500 jobs. Gee, no thanks, I won‘t take the jobs. It‘s amazing, but we keep saying that elections have consequences. This is one of the consequences of this election, and you know you elect these people and some of them might actually do what they say they‘re going to do.
OLBERMANN: Are the political consequences of this in these states as straightforward as you would expect? Are people waking up and going, our governors-elect eliminated how many jobs?
ROBINSON: There is a very active discussion, debate about these governors-elect and what they‘re doing. And there are a lot of voices saying, hold on a minute, wait a minute. Fiscal restraint is one thing, but we had that money here. There was, in fact, a Spanish company that set up in Wisconsin to build new train cars, and now they‘ve said if there‘s not going to be high speed rail, there‘s no reason for us to have our factory here, so we‘re out of here.
How in the world can that be good for the state? And people are asking that question.
OLBERMANN: The Koch brothers funded Cato Institute weighed in on this. The quote they gave to ABC News was, “The federal government is like a crack dealer and he‘s giving states a free hit of crack to get them hooked. And of course in the long run the cost of the crack gets worse. In the long run you will wind up losing out.”
Obviously, you want to leave the allusion of the president as crack dealer out of this for a second. But would the Eisenhower interstate system would have gotten built with this kind of opposition?
ROBINSON: That‘s the analogy that came to my mind. We‘d still be driving on two-lane highways from coast to coast if we had this.
Look, anyone who travels abroad knows that American infrastructure, which once was clearly the best and most advanced and sleekest and neatest in the world, is no longer any of those things. I mean, in not just China, but go to France. Go to places that we don‘t think of as having better infrastructure than we do. We‘re behind everybody in rail.
And, you know, the idea that we could ever do something as grand and as productive as the interstate highway system, right now, just kind of seems like a Grimm‘s fairytale. You can‘t imagine it with this total anti-government Luddite attitude that we‘re getting from Scott Walker.
OLBERMANN: Gene Robinson of “Washington Post,” as always, great, thanks. And I‘ll meet you at the railroad depot.
ROBINSON: Let‘s synchronize watches.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Gene.
This man decided where to play baseball next year. Because of that a reporter may have to cover spring training wearing a speed-o.
And there it is, actual video of the governor of Arizona getting fricasseed about her death panels by a British reporter.
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she will join her guest Senator Tom Udall to look at why the Senate is so broken.
OLBERMANN: Arizona contemplates more death panels while the governor insists if people in her state want to fund transplants they should ask Washington for more money.
Time for today‘s nominees for the “Worst Person in the World.” Andy Martino who eight days ago dared to question the technological god that is Twitter, “Here‘s some of what we‘ve gathered during the first day in Florida—lots of information swirling around the Twitter, some questionable. For example, in the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, I‘ll cover spring training in a speed-o.”
Last night, Cliff Lee signed a five year $120 million contract with the Phillies. Speed-o, speed-o for Mr. Martino, please?
The runner up, televangelist Lonesome Roads Beck. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: Anybody within the sound of my voice that was a special ops person, anyone who has ever done any special ops for the United States military, you must inform your friends of the truth. This is the way it happens. Whenever we have been in special ops, if you‘ve ever been over in the collapse of the Berlin wall or collapse of any other country, you know our special ops people are sent in at times just like this.
And what is the instruction? Be there to help pick up the pieces and push, nudge, just nudge it. Push it. That‘s what they‘re doing. They know what point we‘re at, and they know whose hands it‘s going to fall into, and so they‘re pushing it into revolution.
If you‘re in special ops, please, please tell your friends, wake them up. I know you probably have, but it‘s time for people to come out into the open and be vocal about it and tell people what we‘re up against, because nobody in the media is going to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: During the same program, Mr. Beck announced he is now the mainstream media. I‘m not saying he‘s lost his mind. I‘m saying only that I wouldn‘t draft him in a sanity fantasy league.
Our winner, Judge Henry E. Hudson. This is the district judge in Virginia who yesterday ruled against part of health care reform after not recusing himself though he owns part of a strategy firm that has almost nothing but Republican clients, one of whom is the Virginia attorney general, the man who filed the suit in which Judge Hudson ruled.
Apparently the conflict of interest equivalent of the marching band with 76 trombones was not even necessary. Judge Hudson made an error of fact so egregious he‘s been called on it by the far right. A right wing blog, the Volokh conspiracy, George Washington University law professor Warren Kerr writes, “Had a chance to read Judge Hudson‘s opinion, and it seems to me it has a fairly obvious and quite significant error. Hudson wrote, “If a person‘s decision not to purchase health insurance at a particular point in time does not constitute the type of economic activity subject to regulation under the commerce clause, then logically an attempt to enforce such a provision under the necessary and proper clause is equally offensive to the constitution.”
We are deep in the woods here. Mr. Kerr writes that the necessary and proper clause of the constitution is what allows Congress to take steps that are not specifically authorized by the constitution, like nearly all of them. “If Hudson were right,” Kerr says, “he just erased a critical part of the constitution.”
Judge Henry Hudson, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.”
OLBERMANN: Called life saving organ transplants optional, and Cadillac treatment, and in our number one story, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer considers another round of death panels. She tells a reporter from British television that if her constituents are concerned about saving people‘s lives, don‘t ask her, ask Washington for the money. You know, more money beyond the money Washington already gave her that she spent on arena roof repair.
Yet another Arizonan denied a heart transplant denied a heart transplant by Brewer‘s deal panel Douglas Gravagna will join us. Brewer and the Republican-led state legislature are now contemplating cutting axing state Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, a Brewer spokesman telling the associated press “The program called Access remains the largest single state budget problem we‘re dealing with.”
Brewer was at a public event when asked her decision to deny 100 citizens organ transplants, asked by Sarah Smith, a correspondent for Great Britain‘s channel 4.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: How many transplants patients in Arizona have to actually die before you‘re prepared to reverse the decision not to fund their operations?
GOV. JAN BREWER, ® ARIZONA: That‘s a real difficult, unfair question in my opinion. You know? Certainly we have made budget cuts. The bottom line is Arizona simply doesn‘t have the money and—
SMITH: It‘s only $5 million. You must be able to find it somewhere else.
BREWER: I wish that—you know, I have a $1 billion deficit facing the state of Arizona. The bottom line is we simply don‘t have the money. I would suggest that people would go to the federal government and ask them to send us stimulus dollars to support these transplants if that‘s what they want to do.
SMITH: They sent you nearly $200 million in stimulus dollars. Why can‘t you use those?
BREWER: They were sent to Arizona and have been expended in a proper manner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next question, please?
SMITH: What do you say to people who say this is a GOP death panel?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: “Next question, please?” The governor‘s office providing a list to the “Arizona Republic” newspaper as to how the federal money had been spent a partial and utterly unspecific list that includes $12 million dedicated to attracting new business, $10 million to border security and enhancement, $50 million to state prisons.
And as for Brewer‘s suggestion that her constituents should ask for more federal money, just yesterday Brewer applauded a judge‘s decision to declare part of the Affordable Care act unconstitutional, that same hat that would pick up 100 percent of the tab in order for states to expand Medicaid to 2016, 90 percent after 2020.
Today the governor posting this heartfelt message and illustration on her Facebook, page, “Wishing you and your family a rosy Christmas, one that glows with warm blessings of the season, and a “we can do it” spirit throughout the New Year.” Presumably that “we can do it” spirit refers to those who are not living in Jan Brewer‘s Arizona.
Joining me now, as promised, is Douglas Gravagna, who was denied money for a heart transplant by the state of Arizona. You can donate to his fund or anyone else‘s through the National Transplant and Assistance Fund, NTAFund.org. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
DOUGLAS GRAVAGNA, DENIED HEART TRANSPLANT: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How are you feeling?
GRAVAGNA: I feel weak and tired.
OLBERMANN: It‘s cardiomyopathy you have, the weakening of the muscles of the heart. Can you explain how that affects your day-to-day activities?
GRAVAGNA: I have a diseased heart, and it makes me extremely tired. I sleep a lot, and I have trouble walking and breathing. I used to work 16 hours a day, and that is—my life has been taken away from me. I need a transplant. I need a heart.
OLBERMANN: The doctors have you currently being treated with medication. Is that working to any degree?
GRAVAGNA: It‘s making me weaker is what it‘s doing. It‘s creating anxiety. So no, I would say not.
OLBERMANN: This year as we understand it, you‘ve been hospitalized 11 times in a little over 11 months, and they also laid you off from your job. If you do not get the transplant you quite accurately say you need, what happens?
GRAVAGNA: I will die, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When—I‘m sorry. When you hear that $50 million of federal money was given to state prisons in Arizona instead of, say, you know, $45 million to state prisons and $5 million to organ transplants so people like you don‘t get knocked off this list. How does that fact make you feel?
GRAVAGNA: It hurts me because there‘s people out there, not just me, but other families that need organ transplants and we‘re good citizens. We are productive to society. And it‘s just wrong.
OLBERMANN: We just watched the tape of governor brewer suggesting that people in Arizona ask the federal government for more stimulus money and then giving that list of where this money went to, and we mentioned the prisons and mentioned to attracting new businesses. Are you satisfied with the response from that interview, that clip that we showed?
GRAVAGNA: Not satisfied at all, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Tell me why not.
GRAVAGNA: Because I believe she has $30 million that she has in funds that she hasn‘t said what it‘s for, and for the small amount that each taxpayer would pay in this state for a transplant, it just seems unfair.
OLBERMANN: Anything else here as you have the floor, as we say, you‘d like to say to Governor Brewer or members of the Arizona legislature, particularly the Republicans?
GRAVAGNA: I would like to say, I‘d like to know how she sleeps at night to choose to decide whether I live or die and all the other families that are out there that need organ transplants. It‘s not right. I want to live, and I do not want to die.
OLBERMANN: You‘re aware, politically, of the backlash within the state about this, that the Democrats are hoping next month to undo what the Republicans did in the state legislature. Are you hopeful that this will happen in time for you?
GRAVAGNA: I don‘t believe so, but I have to keep hope. But I don‘t believe so.
OLBERMANN: How on earth do you go on if you don‘t believe so?
GRAVAGNA: Day-to-day, Keith. You know, I have good support system. I have my parents. I have family. And it‘s all positive around me. But again, I‘m the one with the affliction. I‘m going through the pain and the suffering. So I have a great support system.
OLBERMANN: The—the nature of how we treat each other in this country, and how some people are capable of not caring about other people because whatever the reason might be, have you seen that change in your lifetime? Have you seen this country change to where we‘re not taking care of each other anymore?
GRAVAGNA: Somewhat. I mean, that could be a touchy subject but, you know, I am being, you know, taken care of now as far as hospitalization.
But I need the heart. If I don‘t get a heart, if I don‘t get listed, Keith, I‘m going to die. And I don‘t want to die. I want to live. I‘m only 44 years old. I‘m a young man. And there are other transplant people out there that have different afflictions but are still the same. So what‘s happening in Arizona is completely wrong.
OLBERMANN: Douglas Gravagna, we thank you for your time this evening and for being so forthright about it, and we wish you the best of luck with it.
GRAVAGNA: Thank you, Keith, and thank you NBC. I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: More than welcome.
That‘s December 14th. It‘s eight days since the Republicans got the deal for taxes for the rich. Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs? I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.
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copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
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