updated 1/19/2011 12:01:13 PM ET 2011-01-19T17:01:13

Guests: Ezra Klein, Richard Wolffe, Arianna Huffington, David Frum, David Carnoy

           

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KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over):  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Dogs, ponies, action—the Republican House is underway, repealing health care reform that it can never repeal.

What kind of reform is it, boys?

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Job-destroying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jobs-stifling.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT ®, TEXAS:  You need to understand how insidious this bill is.  This was written by smart people.

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OLBERMANN:  The Democrats poo-poo—

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ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  This isn‘t a serious legislative effort.

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OLBERMANN:  But this time, the Dems have more than poo, they are prepared.  The Health and Human Services report: repealing health care would end insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, as many as 129 million Americans.

Unlikely support—ex-senator, Dr. Bill Frist, says health care reform is here to stay and it should be, quote, “cuddled,” and, quote, “snuggled.”

Ezra Klein on the health cuddling; Richard Wolffe on the political snuggling.

The Obama op-ed: Too many regulations put jobs at risk?  Arianna Huffington, does that sound a little too, I don‘t know, Republican talking point-ish for you?

Violent rhetoric and a possible next political shooting.  New polling, a majority of Americans see cause-and-effect.

So, why are Mr. Secession, Mrs. Reload, Don‘t Retreat, and Mr.

Partially Topple the U.N. running?  Wait, delusions of grandeur, anybody?

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JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.:  I think I could win the Republican nomination if I chose to run, because I do think I‘m in the mainstream of the Republican Party.

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OLBERMANN:  As Gingrich warns Palin to slow down and think through what she‘s saying, she doesn‘t.

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SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  A group of people being falsely accused of having blood on their hands, that is what “blood libel” means.

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OLBERMANN:  No, too bad.  Here‘s a toaster.

Speaking of playing games, Facebook‘s plan to sell your private info and the revelations that those “Angry Birds” are popping on your privacy.

All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.

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OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.  This is Tuesday, January 18th, 658 days until the 2012 presidential election.

The Republican Don Quixotes planning to repeal health care finally got their moment in the imaginary sun this afternoon.

In our fifth story: Basking in the pretend warmth, they revealed their two-pronged attack.  One, resuscitated an old trick, cherry-pick intel about a threat to America.  And two, warn that the reform was written by the greatest threat to our or any other nation.  Smart people!

But so, it begins.  Seven hours of debate over two days with a purely symbolic repeal vote due tomorrow and in the category of unintentionally funny for the ages and telling.  The prize goes to Republicans speaking off the House floor at the GOP‘s repeal news conference.

Congressman Louie Gohmert damning those smart people who wrote the Affordable Care Act.

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GOHMERT:  You need to understand how insidious this bill is.  This was written by smart people hoping that there would only be a few things removed.

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OLBERMANN:  And thus, Congressman Gohmert may have just stated the number one reason why the Affordable Care Act will never be repealed ever.

Inside the Capitol, Congressman Chris Van Hollen offered the obvious, but possibly still the best critique of the GOP‘s repeal and replace nonsense.  Insurance premiums skyrocketed under the GOP‘s prior control of both houses of Congress while that party did nothing.  And as for the current GOP replacement—

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REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  Why not put your plan on the table first so everybody can see it before you begin taking away the important patient protections in this bill taking effect just since last March.

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OLBERMANN:  But Republicans today offered their favorite attacks on the Affordable Care Act, even as those claims were picked apart by independent analysis.  The GOP claim that the Affordable Care Act will create the loss of 650,000 jobs, citing the Congressional Budget Office for this analysis.

Not true, unfortunately, according to “The Associated Press.”  The CBO offered no such number but it did offer analysis at odds with what the GOP claims it said.

Another part of the GOP report citing the Congressional Research Service chops a sentence short.  According to a simple review by “McClatchy” newspapers, the omitted sentence?  Quote, “would not be a burden on small business owners.”

And broadly speaking, many factors limit the impact the law could have on businesses because the law‘s implementation is staggered, and small employers get tax credits as noted today by Congressman Anthony Weiner.

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REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Small businesses get a 30 percent to 50 percent tax incentive to provide health care for their workers.  Small businesses do.  And you know what requirements they have to go along with that?  None.  No gaudy regulation, no government takeover.

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OLBERMANN:  Meantime, the executive branch, Democrats in Congress and outside groups are prepared to fight this battle on several fronts.  The Department of Health and Human Services releases this: if the Affordable Care Act were repealed between 50 million and 129 million Americans under the age of 65 would be affected because of pre-existing conditions.

The percentage of the U.S. population thus gaining protections under this Affordable Care Act is up to three times the total number of the elderly in America.

A new cable TV ad from the advocacy group United Americans for Change

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NARRATOR:  The Affordable Care Act gave your family the same health protections members of Congress get, but Republicans want to take debt protection away from your family.

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OLBERMANN:  And while House Republicans hold anti-health care reform hearings, Senate Democrats will counter with their own hearings.  Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin starts his series of hearings January 27th.  Thanks for the birthday present.

And then there‘s the former Senate majority leader, Republican Bill Frist.  If Mr. Gohmert did not provide a big enough laugh, he said that the Affordable Care Act should not be repealed, even though it needs work.

Here‘s the laugh, quoting, “It is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based.”  That‘s not funny, that‘s wise.

Here‘s the funny: “The bill has many strong elements.  And those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented.”

Let‘s bring in “Washington Post” staff writer, “Newsweek” columnist and MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein.

Ezra, good evening.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  The cuddling and snuggling report later.

KLEIN:  It‘s the new civility.

OLBERMANN:  I guess—this is—this is sickening, actually, the new civility.

This “job-killing” catch phrase—you‘ve explained previously the difference between employers who cut jobs versus employees who voluntarily leave their jobs or the workforce because of the benefits of the health care laws.  But this bears repeating today particularly.  So, please go ahead and repeat.

KLEIN:  Sure.  Here‘s what the CBO said—the bill because it gives people essentially more money in their pocket because it helps purchase health care insurance and because it makes it impossible essentially to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions will give certain people who would like to retire, say a 62-year-old who has diabetes, the ability to retire because when they leave their employer, they‘ll be able to buy health care insurance on the market on their own.

Now, that does mean you reduce the labor supply somewhat.  You have somewhat fewer people who are working because they don‘t need to work anymore or don‘t want to work anymore.  But this is—reducing labor supply by making people effectively richer and by making it easier to get health care insurance.

I do not—because we are only a new civility here, I don‘t think the Republicans don‘t want that to happen.  They‘re just twisting what CBO said in order to make it look worse.  But that‘s what they said, that this bill will make people richer and make it easier for them to get health care.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  The stuff that Dr. Frist said before he got sort of off on that kinder, really gentler GOP, he would—he would have voted for this act even though it‘s not the bill he would have drafted.  Now, he‘s criticizing the repeal effort by the Republicans.  He also owns stock in a for-profit hospital chain.

But is there some suggestion in here that not being involved in a political machine like the Republican Party in the Senate and the House, he is sort of hit that same common sense, duh moment that most Americans get to here?  Let the thing evolve and it is, in fact, a good start.  You make fixes as needed.  You don‘t go back to square one when the first couple squares have been successfully hurdled?

KLEIN:  And this goes to the basic point about the repeal act to make it sort of problematic.  You know, Republicans really do have the votes to change the bill.  They have the votes when it was being crafted to get enormous compromise from the Democrats, Senate Democrats, Max Baucus would have done anything for Republicans votes.  I mean, they could have essentially whatever they wanted, but they never said, here‘s what we want in return for this, we will give you our votes on the bill.

And here, too, they are going for whole repeal which they know they can‘t get as opposed to sitting down with the Democrats who already put forward the willingness to go back to things like the 1099 reporting requirement for small businesses which Republicans don‘t like and change them.

And so, there‘s been a real effort to play with this based on politics as opposed to make it a policy the Republicans and conservatives can be happy with.  This despite the fact that it looks a lot like what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts and what Republicans coalesced around in 1993 under Bob Dole.  It‘s a policy that at another time would have been very congenial to the Republican Party.  But because it‘s got Barack Obama‘s name next to it, it has been greeted with rather less enthusiasm.

OLBERMANN:  And within the policy issue, there‘s still two different approaches.  There was much talk from Republicans today about health care reform exploding the deficit even though the CBO disputes that as well.  But while the Republicans are talking money and this is going to do this, and it is going to—they are focusing on all those aspects while the Democrats are working on the human factor, pre-existing, kids on parents‘ policies, stuff like that.

Is that the basic dynamic of the rest of this thing however long it lasts?

KLEIN:  It all goes both ways.  So, here, Republicans make the deficit argument which doesn‘t hold up to any sort of serious scrutiny.  And you also have them say, but it cuts Medicare for your grandmother.  Of course, Medicare—cutting Medicare is part of why the bill saves money and that little attention gets alighted a little bit.

But, you know, you do see different types of rhetoric and some of it is trying to if cuss on personal stories.  Democrats are trying to move on that direction.  Other bits focus on costs because, in general, people are truly worried about its cost.

But the reality is, the bill helps individual people and it does cut costs.  It‘s a good bill and it should be built on.

OLBERMANN:  Ezra Klein of “The Washington Post”—great thanks.

KLEIN:  Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  For more on the politics of the whole deal, let‘s turn to MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe, who also covers the White House for “The Daily Beast” and is, of course, author of “Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House.”

Richard, good evening.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Did we bury the lead here, in fact, because of all the good humor that Louie Gohmert offered us in this back-and-forth Don Quixote stuff, did Democrats rebutted misuse of data by the GOP?  And then they had their own set of—it is easy to digest data for their case.  Democrats prepared for something?

WOLFFE:  They are.  They are prepared and more disciplined being in the minority than they were in the majority.  I think they are feeling some wind behind their backs, because remember, the president‘s numbers have gone over that psychological mark of 50 percent.  And, by the way, the poll numbers on repeal have also shifted since just November.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

WOLFFE:  That most recent “A.P.” poll said only 26 percent support repeal, compared to 43 percent that want the law do more, not less.

So, the politics has changed in important ways, but you are looking at a Democratic Party that has something that they know how to defend.  Remember, a year ago, they didn‘t know what they were talking about because it hasn‘t been decided.  All of those messy negotiations, the sausage-making made it extremely hard to rebut anything because they had nothing to put their hands around.

Now, it‘s here.  Those provisions are popular, when you‘re talking about pre-existing conditions or what seniors get.  So, it‘s a different world.

OLBERMANN:  If just support within the Republican pollees has dropped from just about 61 percent to repeal just after the election to 49 percent now, is there—is there any contemplation that kind of number might continue to change at anywhere near that sort of pace and that at some point, this continuing stage craft that they are doing in the House might actually pit the Republicans against their base rather than pandering to their base?

WOLFFE:  Well, I think that‘s going to bottom out at some point, because there is that hard core that just hates everything that Obama does and finds that health care has been a sort of radicalizing force for them because of all the heated rhetoric around it.

But repeal is not what Republicans—even Republicans really think it‘s the most important priority.  What they want to see is action on the economy and on jobs.  So, apart from your hard core Tea Party folks and the most loyal listeners to the “Hannity” show, you‘ve actually got people who want Congress, even the Republican majority in the House, to be talking about something else.  They are off-topic—seriously off-topic for the very people who put them in power.

OLBERMANN:  The president put out something of a broiler plate statement today that touted the best elements of the health care law.  It certainly wasn‘t critical of it, but he also said he‘s willing to work with Republicans to improve it, which is kind of, I supposed, an unintentional dog whistle to the left of you‘re going to abandon all the good stuff for what reason?

Why say this if, obviously, the Republicans don‘t want a compromise and would take credit for anything they managed to change in the bill and claim that there‘s no President Obama and na, na, na?

WOLFFE:  Right.  Well, he is not about to give up important provisions in this law.  He is obviously aware that there‘s going to have to be lots of tinkering around as this bill goes into forth and the law goes into forth, excuse me.  There are going to have to be amendments and changes to it over the course of the next several years.

But being reasonable, looking reasonable and saying to Republicans, look, put something on the table here, that has not done him any harm.  That‘s one reason why his numbers have picked up, only one though, but it‘s an important tone for him to strike at this time.  So, until we see what specifics, apart from the 1099 provision that Ezra talked about, until we see what specifics the president is talking about, I don‘t think people have a reason that worried that he‘s going to gut something that he thinks is the most important piece of his legacy so far.

OLBERMANN:  MSNBC political analyst, Richard Wolffe—great thanks as always.  And you owe me a buck for not bringing up the snuggling or whatever quotes from Frist.

WOLFFE:  We can cuddle later.  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  OK.  Thanks for that, Richard.

So, the Republicans are trying something that couldn‘t get through the Senate and will get vetoed by the president if it somehow did.  What is the president doing?  Writing up Republican talking points about regulation threatening jobs in an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal.”  Arianna Huffington joins me next on the (INAUDIBLE).

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OLBERMANN:  Arianna Huffington asks, why did write an op-ed in “The Wall Street  Journal” supporting the right wing canard that too many regulations cost jobs?

These 2012 GOP would-be presidents, as a poll produces surprising results on people‘s fear about violent rhetoric and the risk of another political shooting—she wants to reload, the guy in the middle wants to secede, and the last one there wants to see buildings topple.

This Democrat won‘t run to retain his Senate seat next year and Joe Lieberman reportedly is next.

They aren‘t after your pigs.  They are after your privacy.  Angry, angry birds data minding your info.

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OLBERMANN:  Barack Obama ran for the White House by blaming the worst financial crisis of a generation on the deregulation of Wall Street.  He replaced a president who left office having achieved substantial deregulation in pretty much every industry you can think of without a single net job creation to show for it.

Barack Obama, as president, has mourned the loss of Americans who died working in poorly regulated minds.  Watch the entire Gulf Coast economy suffer after a poorly regulated deep water oil well blew up.  Americans under his watch have died eating poorly regulated food.  Their children have played with poorly-regulated toys tainted with lead.

And in the fourth story tonight: Mr. Obama‘s big new plan for creating jobs is deregulation.

Writing in a “Wall Street Journal” op-ed today, the president announced the federal review of all regulations, claiming that some government rules, quote, “have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burden on business”—Burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling revelation on growth and jobs.

And then he define a new mission for federal agents, is to ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth.

President Obama did not identify a single rule that has stifled innovation nor had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.  Instead, he pointed to the EPA decision last month to stop regulated saccharin as hazardous waste without explaining how the old rules stifle the economy.

President Obama‘s directive mandating that federal agencies review their rules to ensure that they are business-friendly comes not only as they are amid the creation of new regulations to enforce Obama‘s signature reform, such as regulations intended to prevent Wall Street from hurling the world economy over a cliff again with another bubble of mortgages or something else—Lord knows what—and to prevent health insurance policy companies from tossing sick Americans off their health care plans.

Now, in top of trying to do all that under Mr. Obama‘s federal pay cuts, already overworked regulators will have to do it in a way it‘s somehow business-friendly and somehow also find the time to go back and find old rules that nobody cares about anymore for the president to offer up some kind of token sacrifice to the rich.

Whose idea was this?  House Republican leader Eric Cantor says, “Mine.”  He says he gave a similar plan to Mr. Obama one year ago.  “I applaud President Obama,” said Republican House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa.

Robert Weissman, meanwhile, the president of the consumer group Public Citizen writing about Mr. Obama‘s position on regulation today, quote, “This is the wrong way to think about regulation.  Markets cannot function without proper regulation.  We do not need balance between regulation and the free market.  We need effective regulations that foster the right types of markets.”

The president had a similar view of regulation when he was running for president.

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BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We put in place rules of the road to make competition fair and open and honest.  We have done this not to stifle but rather to advance prosperity and liberty.  Deregulation of the telecommunications sector, for example, fostered competition but also contributed to massive over investment.  Partial deregulation of the electricity sector enabled market manipulation.

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OLBERMANN:  As I have already told you she would, with us tonight is Arianna Huffington, the cofounder, editor-in-chief of “Huffington Post,” and author of “Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream.”

As always, good to see you, Arianna.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Good to see you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  What the hell is this?  I mean, is it political pandering or some sort of sincere idea for job growth or something else?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, it shows that his primary, his exclusive preoccupation right now is re-election, because there‘s no other explanation.  Obviously, he wants businesses to stop just giving to Republicans and then start contributing once again to his re-election campaign as they did in 2008, especially Wall Street.

But for me, Keith, it doesn‘t make any sense at all, because we need to have a big debate about how to save American capitalism.  This is not a left/right thing.  I mean, there are many things wrong, and you can hear many good capitalists who sleep with copies of Ayn Rand‘s book under their pillows who are worried about what‘s happening.

Because Adam Smith, I remember when I studied economics 3,000 years ago, that before he wrote “The Wealth of Nations,” he wrote a theory of moral sentiments.  And he wrote again and again that the capitalist system cannot survive without a moral foundation.  The problem and what we should be debating now is not just regulations.  He said basic morality in the way that businesses and especially the financial sector operate because there aren‘t enough regulator to regulate players in the market who‘s only preoccupation is short-term profit.

OLBERMANN:  You put about Ayn Rand, much better to sleep with the books under the pillow than read them.

What he hinted at today, this directive to essentially go on a witch hunt for unnecessary regulations, what is at stake if that goes forward in any kind of meaningful way as proposed to simply starting and ending with an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal,” which would say, go ahead, what‘s the difference.  It helps you get reelected.  That‘s your business, just don‘t do it.

HUFFINGTON:  But it doesn‘t end there.

OLBERMANN:  OK.

HUFFINGTON:  Because I understand, there are already about 14 to 15 White House officials dedicated to the staff.  And the truth is that if you really want to do something fundamental to deal with the red tape, you should have dealt with the tax code.  I mean, there‘s tons of stuff in a tax code, including many loopholes, and—which allow many businesses to avoid paying taxes and many wealthy individuals.  But no, instead he did something so obvious, pure demagoguery.

And what is really stunning is the timing because this is a very moment when regulations have been put in the books about financial reform.  And when millions of dollars are being spent by thousands of lobbyists trying to undermine these regulations—we saw what happens when regulations are undermined.  We saw what happened in West Virginia, the mining disaster.  We saw the BP disaster.  There are real-life consequences here.

OLBERMANN:  President Clinton was accused of over-regulation of business, created 22 million jobs in the process.  Is this president perhaps scapegoating regulations to either direct the eye away from the fact that maybe he didn‘t get quite the stimulus bill, quite the job creation bill, that he should have gone for—is that what‘s happening here, too?

HUFFINGTON:  Well, I‘m sure that‘s part of it, because the stimulus bill ended there being completely inadequate.  In any case, it included $300 million of tax cuts are somehow being called stimulus.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

HUFFINGTON:  And, also, we are seeing that a lot of the things that he could have done in a massive infrastructure spending, which we need anyway, many for employment, and more ways to support invasion, including the Visa Startup Act that would allow people here, who have been educated here, and people who can come here with money, or entrepreneurial ideas to create jobs.  But because of this anti-immigration problem, we can‘t even get that through which would really help create jobs.

OLBERMANN:  Arianna Huffington, editor in chief, cofounder of “The Huffington Post”—as always, it‘s a pleasure.

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Good to see you.

David Frum on three prospective Republican presidential nominees in a time when new polling suggests Americans seem to be rejecting violent rhetoric, ahead.

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OLBERMANN:  So they asked Mrs. Palin if she knows what blood libel really means.  And she said, it is like that Daniel Day Lewis movie.  There‘s libel to be blood.  I wish her answer was actually that good.  2012 and violent rhetoric ahead. 

First, the sanity break.  And on this date in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a radio message to King Edward VII in England, the first ever trans-Atlantic radio transmission which originated in the U.S.  The radio transmission was interrupted by two traffic reports and a commercial for Goldline. 

Let‘s play Oddball.

We begin down under at the Australia Open with the highly anticipated match between Kimiko Date Krumm and Agnieszka Radwanska, in a battle to see who would advance in the most consontal (ph) category—consanantal (ph) category.  If you ever wonder why tennis players are always tugging at the strings on their racket, here‘s a hint.  Hello!

I‘ll try break Krumm‘s serve.  Radwanska instead breaks her racket.  The head goes flying into the crowd, leaving her with just the handle and a confused look.  Isn‘t this where it used to be? 

Nobody was hurt by the flying racket, but Radwanska did request a replay to show it was not her fault.  Nice grip, though. 

We travel to 30,000 feet above Portugal for the, hey, didn‘t I see that in a movie moment of the day?  Vera Silva (ph) was going about her business as a flight attendant.  Suddenly, to her surprise, her boyfriend got on the loud speaker.  Rather than pulling the “Wedding Singer” bit and serenading the entire plane, he simply asked for her hand in marriage.  Luckily for all aboard, she said yes.  And two hours of awkwardness for parachute usage were avoided. 

Nice moment for all involved, but you don‘t want to know how he was able to get the ring past the TSA agents. 

To the Internets.  Tired of wearing those annoying classes to see things in 3D?  This man, Jonathan Post, says he has a solution, demonstrated here by Parisian director Francois Vogel.  Simply attache what appear to be electrodes to your temples, synchronize them with the video, and let the enjoyment of 3D begin. 

Alternate rapid eye blinks, the Eye Blinkatron 2000  -- not its real name—creates the illusion of a three dimensional image.  Oddball‘s video experts are calling fake on this video, as have most sentient people on the Internet.  But maybe, just maybe this is the only man with a vision of the future.  Or he‘s really high. 

Time marches on!

The public opinion jury might be out on whether violent rhetoric contributed to the last political shooting.  It is not out, however, on whether violent rhetoric might cause a next one.  Details next.

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OLBERMANN:  According to new polling out this week, nearly half of Americans think that harsh and violent political rhetoric was indeed to blame at least in part for the tragedy in Tucson, and more than half think it could easily cause a similar shooting in the future.  In our third story, this puts a magnifying glass on the past rhetoric of several Republicans dipping their toes in the 2012 presidential pool. 

If what we saw last night is any indication, it could take more than Sean Hannity to scrub the record.  Respondents to the Opinion Research/CNN poll were asked to assign degrees of blame to different factors leading up to the massacre; 35 percent thought Mrs. Palin‘s infamous target map was a factor; 44 percent did not.  A lack of resources for mental health care was identified as a big culprit; 70 percent said so. 

Asked about the use of harsh rhetoric and violent metaphors by politicians and commentators leading up to Tucson, the number was essentially split, 48/49.  But asked if harsh or violent discourse would, quote, “cause a future incident similar to the shootings in Arizona,” 54 percent it was either very or somewhat likely. 

With those numbers as backdrop, today the man who once suggested the U.N. building in New York could lose its top ten floors without anybody noticing has now suggested he could be the GOP‘s choice next year.  The former ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton telling Russian television station RT America, quote, “well, I think I could win the Republican nomination if I chose to run, because I do think I‘m the mainstream of the Republican party.  I think Barack Obama is beatable in 2012.” 

The mainstream Republican saying in 1994, quote, “the secretariat building in New York has 38 stories.  If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn‘t make a bit of difference.” 

Then there‘s Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a state with a 27 dollar budget deficit.  The “National Review” cites political operatives in Austin who say, quote, “Perry‘s campaign team has been quietly polling voters outside the Lonestar State to gauge his chances on the national stage.”  This is the same Rick Perry who told a crowd at the Tax Tea Party Rally in 2009, quote, “I‘m just not sure you‘re a bunch of right-wing extremists.  But if you are, we‘re with you.” 

Asked about the audience yelling at the governor to secede, Governor Perry left the option on the table.  Quote, “we have got a great union.  There‘s absolutely no reason to dissolve it.  But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.” 

Then there‘s Mrs. Palin, who today Sean Hannity last night that her aspirations for higher office still exist, just as does her misunderstanding of the term blood libel.

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SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having blood on your hands.  In this case, that‘s exactly what was going on.  Yes, a historical knowledge that people have of the term blood libel, it goes back to the Jews who were falsely accused back in the European times of using the blood of children. 

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OLBERMANN:  That woman is living in a fact-free environment.  I‘m trying.  She was not accused of having blood on her hands.  She was accused of using dangerous and irresponsible imagery and rhetoric to an audience for whom such talk can be almost like an addictive drug. 

Joining me now David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, and founder of FrumForum.com. 

Thank you for your time, sir.  Good for you to be here. 

DAVID FRUM, FRUMFORUM.COM:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Let me start with the big point here, which I would suspect is our common ground.  As a former speech writer, cause and effective language is something you know better than I do.  Does it surprise you that in this CNN poll that 54 percent of people suggested that another tragedy is plausible, is realistic if the rhetoric is not ratcheted down? 

FRUM:  Well, I think people often try to communicate a deeper truth within the yes or no answer of a poll.  They want to say we don‘t like this.  So—since that is the way of conveying it.  The problem with this kind of rhetoric is not its affect on crazy people, who are lost in their own—their own brain disease and who respond to those kinds of perspectives. 

The problem is its effect on normal people.  Your clip of Governor Perry is a perfect example.  Here‘s the governor of the second biggest state in the country, who is a very plausible Republican presidential nominee, who is trapped by things that he said at the behest of an angry crowd. 

Now, that‘s probably—that doesn‘t reflect his real view.  He has no interest in seceding from the union.  He would never contemplate.  But he is entrapped into saying those things.  And others have been entrapped into saying other things.  And that rhetoric will haunt them.  It affects their future viability.  And it affects the working of the political system here in Washington. 

If we are going to get through this repeal vote in the House of Representatives, that will be behind us.  And then we will have to do some real deal making to advance Republican interests.  How do you do that if you have convinced your own supporters that there‘s no compromise with this devil. 

OLBERMANN:  Right.  That brings us to our three examples.  Governor Perry is a good one.  He chose to just sort of nod his head gently to secession, as you pointed out, instead of saying secession is insanity, economically and every other ways, to say nothing of it being treason. 

But as you point out, you‘re kind of trapped by this and the environment in which you flourish—or your most ardent supporters exist.  Can any Republican let up on the tough talk, whether it is violent or nearly so?  Or is there some conviction that it has now become an essential sales tool? 

FRUM:  Well, I hope I‘m not imagining this.  But I do feel in the air a kind of gear shift that‘s taken place in the last week, and partly in response to this terrible tragedy in Tucson, partly in response to the Republicans having majority in the House of Representatives, being back in the game, partly because of the imminence of this health care vote, which leads you to begin to think what‘s on the other side of that vote. 

Newt Gringrich‘s approach to Sarah Palin for speaking too harshly I think is a bell whether here.  You may think what you want about the way Newt Gingrich speaks, but he‘s a very smart man.  He‘s very attuned to what‘s in the air.  I‘m not a regular watcher of every episode of “Glenn Beck,” but my impression has been there‘s been a little bit more self-empowerment on that show recently and a little less paranoia.  Also, if true, a straw in the air. 

OLBERMANN:  Does what Gingrich said—and his quote was “be more careful” and “she should think through what she‘s saying”—does that represent, do you think, any kind of consensus or building consensus among Republicans?  Is it—obviously, I would think you would think it is good advice.  Or is there an element of Mr. Gingrich trying to get some sort of edge on a possible rival?  What is the most important consideration there? 

FRUM:  Well, I do think that there‘s a lot of concern in senior levels

of the Republican party.  We have seen that now for months, of people like

I mean, Ed Gillespie has now given interview denying that he‘s had this view, so I don‘t want to attribute to him, if I‘m being wrong.  But people in that kind of orbit are worried about the down ballot effect of a Palin candidacy. 

           

2012 is shaping up to be a very good year for Republicans in senatorial races.  It may be a more difficult year at the top of the ticket.  It may be in the Republican interest to have 2012 be a lower intensity year, rather than a higher intensity year.  If a lower intensity year—if you‘re going to lose the presidency anyway, but your more educated, older, more affluent voters are coming out as a bigger part of the electorate, then you can have even bigger gains in the Senate. 

OLBERMANN:  David Frum, former speech writer for President George W.  Bush, founder of Frum Forum, great thanks.  And I hope your intuition on the toning down is absolutely correct.  And I applaud any efforts you make to make sure it is. 

FRUM:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Next, is this man about to step out of the 2012 Senate campaign?  Another sitting senator just has.  It appears he‘s next. 

The angry birds are not after the pigs.  The angry birds are after your e-mail address and your phone number.  Why the angry birds do not just buy them from Facebook, I do not know.  The latest online privacy disasters.

And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she sits down with the Democratic leader in the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  He once attributed early support in the 2004 presidential primaries to Joe-mentum.   Word tonight that Joe-mentum for a fifth term in the U.S. Senate is all but gone.  Our number two story, Senator Lieberman of Connecticut, the Democrat who acted like a Republican turned independent, is expected to follow in the footsteps of Regis Philbin and announce his retirement. 

Official will come tomorrow at the Stamford Marriot.  NBC News reporting that he will not seek re-election in 2012.  A source with knowledge of the decision telling “the New York Times” earlier that Mr.  Lieberman is choosing retirement rather than risking possible defeat.  Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in 2006 with a challenge from the left from businessman Ned Lamont.  Mr. Lieberman then ran as an independent and won. 

One Lieberman aide telling the Times the senator the decision to retire around Thanksgiving, but postponed the announcement in order to get Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell repealed. 

Meanwhile, one of Mr. Lieberman‘s Democratic colleagues, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, having earlier already announced he will not seek re-election in 2012.  Across the aisle, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana announcing he will.  The Associated Press reporting that representatives from over 50 Tea Party groups will meet Saturday to strategize defeating Lugar in the primary. 

The sixth-term senator‘s recent support for the Dream Act, Start Treaty, as well as the president‘s two Supreme Court nominees angering many on the right.  Here‘s another one for the list: Lugar now says he is for the reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban. 

And the Peace Corps, Head Start, Vista, Special Olympics, Upward Bound, you know those causes.  Tonight, the farewell to the man behind them, Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., peacemaker and public servant, has died today after a long struggle with Alzheimer‘s.  As a politician, the Democratic Shriver never won an election.  George McGovern chose him as his running mate in 1972, after Thomas Eagleton‘s revelation that he had electroshock therapy. 

McGovern/Shriver lost all but one state to Nixon/Agnew.  You know how Nixon/Agnew turned out.  Public service was Shriver‘s true calling.  As an aid to his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy, he was the founding director of the Peace Corps.  Later, as one of the foot soldier in the Johnson administration war on poverty, he helped create many of the programs I just mentioned, all of which exist to this day. 

Earlier, President Obama called him one of the brightest lights of the Greatest Generation.  “Sarge came to embody the idea of public service.”  Sargent Shriver, survived by five children and 19 grandchildren, was 95 years old. 

Now we know why the angry birds are angry, because we just caught them mining your personal information for resell to others, including those pigs, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  That old saw about how you spend your leisure time revealing a lot about you may be more true than you knew or wished.  Some of the staff here are obsessed with a video game called Angry Birds.  Frankly, I don‘t have any time for video games.  It is a down time activity.  I don‘t see the appeal of hurling tiny birds through the air.  In fact, when it comes to video games, I find it best to just ignore them. 

Amidst the bombardment of electronic entertainment, a cautionary tale.  The next time you play one of those downloadable video games on your smartphone, remember, no matter how fun, no matter how cheap it was, it is going to cost you something.  IN many cases, the cost is your privacy. 

Our number one story tonight, how a recent Facebook flip-flop pulls back the curtain on the data hunters who make your favorite mobile apps. 

Take the massively popular Angry Birds as an example.  As of last month, it has been downloaded onto mobile devices more than 50 million times.  Developer Rovial Mobile claiming the game is played for more than one million hours each day. 

That‘s by one guy.  Here he is, Salmon Rushdie, self-described Angry Birds master.  British Prime Minister David Cameron ops for a big-screen version of the game on his iPad, explaining what happened to that coalition.  Star of TV‘s “Madmen” John Hamm saying the game is his time waster of choice, which is why there‘s so few episodes.  Even Conan O‘Brien revealing how he spent his time in between his two most recent talk show stints. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O‘BRIEN, “CONAN”:  Hey, Conan O‘Brien here.  I‘m still in the same crappy office, but now I have almonds and I‘m on level four of Angry Birds.  Listen to those birds.  They are angry. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Here‘s something Conan may not know.  Every time you play Angry Birds on your personal device, information from that device is sent to marketers.  And developers are not required to let you know your info will be resold in that way.  Last Friday, social networking monolith Facebook announced a new policy in which third-party developers would have access to even more private data from users, namely home addresses and phone numbers. 

An online backlash prompted Facebook to revise its position, posting early this morning, quote, “over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data.  We look forward to reenabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.” 

If that isn‘t bureaucracy speak, I have never heard it.  Such data mining has drawn the attention of the federal government.  The Commerce Department announcing its intent to overhaul online privacy laws.  The current ones on the book originally written in 1986. 

Joining me to discuss online privacy in an Angry Bird world is David Carnoy, executive editor of C-Net.  Thanks for some of your time tonight, sir. 

DAVID CARNOY, C-NET:  Thanks very having me. 

OLBERMANN:  This, I presume, explains why the Mona Lisa of mobile phone games only costs 99 cents, because you are actually paying with your privacy soul? 

CARNOY:  Well, they actually had it for free on Android phones for a while.  Unfortunately, there‘s nothing for free these days.  When you are on the Internet, on your phone, the problem is people want everything to be cheap and free.  But you have to give up something to get a little lift. 

OLBERMANN:  In this case, what is it that you are giving up?  What is the information that the developers are looking for?  How important is that info to their bottom line equation? 

CARNOY:  In a lot of cases, it just literally the ID number for your phone.  But that ID number can actually give you a lot of information.  It can track how much you‘re playing games, which games you are downloading.  And from that information, they can then market to you. 

On top of that, the other holly grail is location-based information.  So they can find out where you are and your demographics, and that allows them to better market to you as well. 

OLBERMANN:  You can‘t see this, but over your left shoulder, there seems to somebody playing a living version of Angry Birds while we watch.  Right behind you and you will see what we are talking about. 

CARNOY:  Yes, I see. 

OLBERMANN:  Should we assume our personal info is being mined every time we are online?  Is it safe to log on to anything anywhere? 

CARNOY:  I think it just needs to be more transparent.  But yes—I mean, think about it, when you use something like GMail, they are serving contextual ads against your e-mails.  It is totally right in your face. 

With a lot of the stuff, what‘s happening is that people are upset that it is not a little bit more out in the open.  And some of this is just little bits of information.  But again, that can go a long way towards establishing your identity, not your real identity, but just your—where you shop and where you are and who you are. 

OLBERMANN:  How likely—or is it likely at all that government at some point is going to step in to try to protect online privacy?  Or will companies be expected to self-regulate the way Facebook has done in revising its policy? 

CARNOY:  Well, I think they will be some new rules.  But at the same time, as long as they have the disclaimer with all the legalese—the problem is people tend not to read that.  But the most important thing is that they should be aware that they are giving something up.  You don‘t want to give up really personal information, like your home address or your phone number. 

But I think a lot of people would be willing to play these games for free if it just was your ID of your phone and what you were doing with those games, what you were doing.  That is the cost.  Unfortunately, in this world, these companies do have to have a business model. 

There‘s a reason that Facebook is worth 55 billion dollars.  It does have a lot of information about a lot of people.  And that‘s what marketers are interested?  . 

OLBERMANN:  As you know, every time you log on to iTunes, if you buy something, you are actually donating five cents to the Republican party.  Sorry, I just made that up.  The Facebook story really was sort of a Friday afternoon bad news dump.  Did they really revise the policy?  Or are we all screwed from using it? 

CARNOY:  I think they seem to be continually revising the policy.  They kind of float these little privacy things out there, and then there‘s all this backlash.  Then they go, OK, we are not really doing that. 

At the same time, that‘s really the holy grail for Facebook.  You are going to see a lot more stuff sold to you on Facebook, whether that is advertising, maybe apps down the road.  There‘s going to be a micro-transition system down the road, most probably, just like iTunes. 

OLBERMANN:  Bottom line on all this, would the public ever go for the scenario in which the game developers or the social sites like Facebook aren‘t allowed to take that personal information, but the apps and the games cost more than they cost now?  Or essentially are we being given a choice between giving free—

OLBERMANN:  I asked our readers at C-Net whether they would be willing to pay a dollar per month for Facebook.  And they were really not happy about that.  They really wanted it free.  So I‘m not so sure that they would be willing to trade even just a little bit of money, one dollar, to have their privacy.

But maybe today, if it really gets a lot of publicity, that will happen. 

OLBERMANN:  Well, maybe 50 cents.  David Carnoy of CNEt.com, once again, great thanks for your time. 

CARNOY:  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  That‘s January 18th, 43 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. 

And now to discuss the repeal vote tomorrow with the Democratic leader in the House—and you know who that is—ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow.  Good evening, Rachel. 

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