Guests: David Weigel, Richard Trumka, Paul Sullivan, Jeremy Scahill, Nicole Lamoureaux
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
From fighting the establishment to becoming it. The Tea Party has its fifth senatorial candidate who immediately steers away from the Tea Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: The reason we‘re here today is because of the Alaskan voter, the volunteer network that was such an important part of our campaign, and all the various endorsements that we got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Fired up? Ready to go? No? Can you fake it?
The AFL-CIO‘s urgent effort to reignite voter enthusiasm. Our guest:
union president, Richard Trumka.
Alan Simpson again. First, the lesser people. Then, how the head of the Older Women‘s League should get a real job. Now, criticizing Vietnam vets because they have been given too many benefits—benefits for which Simpson voted as senator.
Unmitigated gall. The biggest lie. The worst foreign policy decision in American history. And the Bushies still want an FTD “thank you” bouquet for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He couldn‘t be direct about the surge. It would have been even more gracious and appropriate to have done so. But, of course, it is a political issue if he ever were to praise George Bush, the surge, Iraq—a dispirited Democrat base would be more dispirited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The New Orleans health clinic in the wake of the BP disaster. The second leading illness reported: depression.
Who set their house on fire? The flowers—on the porch. Seriously.
And “St. Beck as in Wreck.” Cotton Blather strikes again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: I went to the National Archives and I held the first inaugural address written in his own hand by George Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Wrong again, Sun Myung Beck.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Maybe I wasn‘t clear enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
And then there were five. After last night‘s concession by the incumbent Republican senator from Alaska, five establishment GOP candidates have now been defeated by as many Tea Party candidates whose anti-establishment pretense repeatedly clashes with their full-throated defense of big business.
On our fifth story, as the Tea Party beckons the hard right, Democratic leaders need help from the organization they so often take for granted, the one which might actually tap into anti-establishment populist anger from the left, the unions. The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, joins me in a moment.
Yes, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski conceded after it became clear that outstanding votes would not turn her slim deficit into victory. But, no, she did not endorse her primary opponent, Joe Miller, who under-spent her but may have overwhelmed her with a decidedly old school way of winning the Republican nomination in Alaska, staking out his anti-abortion position.
On the back of the primary ballot, there was a voter initiative requiring parental notification for a teenage child‘s abortion. Both candidates supported the measure but Miller made it a central issue. Murkowski is generally pro-choice. The initiative passed by 55 percent.
The Tea Party leaders are more likely to herald something else—that in a state that had benefits enormously from federal money. The winning candidate wants to slash federal spending, including privatizing Social Security and the, quote/unquote, “orderly transition” out of Medicare.
Now that Senator Murkowski has conceded, Miller maybe trying to pivot to the blandest possible explanation of his own victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: The reason that we‘re here today is because of the Alaskan voter, the volunteer network that was such an important part of our campaign, and all the various endorsements that we got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Mr. Miller ranks—joins the ranks of the fellow Tea Party victors such as Senate nominee Rand Paul in Kentucky, who doesn‘t see why the federal government should have pestered businesses with that pesky Civil Rights Act, and Nevada Senate nominee, Sharron Angle, who said that entitlement programs violate the first commandment, quoting, “We are supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and our daily bread.”
But Angle has now offered a meta explanation, “Understand the rhetoric of a primary is a little different because, obviously, your audience is a little different, so you‘re going to say things in a little more guard way when you get into a general election, precisely since your opponent is looking to cut up your words.”
As for the potential national leaders of the Tea Party Movement, former Governor Sarah Palin tweeted her delight over the miracle of Joe Miller‘s victory. Meantime, Astroturfer and former House majority leader, Dick Armey, was asked if he would be interested in leading the Tea Party, he answered, quote, “Oh, no, no, no, no. I‘ve got 34 goats that depend on me daily. I couldn‘t be away that long.”
Audience participation time. Insert your own joke about Dick Armey‘s goats and the Tea Party here.
We resume. On the Democratic side of the ledger, inspiration and motivation in need. And union leaders are activating a straightforward plan asking that American workers, both employed and unemployed, actually vote for the candidates who votes for them. As President Obama prepares to rally with the AFL-CIO for its Labor Day event in Milwaukee, the union plans among other initiatives, a bite-back campaign targeting those in Congress who repeatedly voted against unemployment benefits.
We‘ll start first with MSNBC contributor and political reporter for Slate.com, David Weigel.
Dave, good evening.
DAVID WEIGEL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Did Tea Party victories over the establishment GOP candidates, or at least the incumbent GOP candidates and their seeming successors, at this stage, is there anyway of assessing the gradient here? Is that a result of Republican division, or is it the result of the ultra-motivated ultra-conservative base?
WEIGEL: Oh, it‘s the base finding itself and finding ways to outsmart mainstream Republicans, or I‘ll say, establishment Republicans. That‘s the word they use. That‘s probably the best word to use.
These voters have been either going Republican for years or, you know, falling out of—falling out of interest and helping Republicans get elected. Now, they can all organize, they can all get on Facebook, they can all contact these candidates pretty easily and get, you know, revved up and drive up votes in a way they didn‘t used to.
You know, one thing I‘d point out: it‘s not just that they‘re electing Tea Party nominees instead of these establishment choices, is that the Republicans who aren‘t being defeated by the Tea Party, you know, John McCain, for example, end up moving in their direction and agreeing with them on the issues. I mean, the Tea Party has been really good, better than the Democratic base, at moving the party in the direction they want, the more conservative direction.
OLBERMANN: At this point, we might as well add Marco Rubio to the list of the successes and make it six rather than five, since he forced Crist to run as an independent for that Senate seat in Florida. Do you have a sense—did Ms. Angle give us more information than perhaps she wanted to by talking about the rhetoric of the primary versus the rhetoric of the general? Any sense in those six races how much and who will try or who will refuse to try to move away from the more extreme positions to take the softer angle, no pun intended?
WEIGEL: Well, Sharron Angle has been refreshingly honest about this.
WEIGEL: I mean, her campaign has shifted pretty radically from one that said, everything a Tea Party activist would say when he stands up in a town hall meeting, you know, the government, socialist Medicare has to be rolled back, to somebody—to a more generic candidate who has to run in a state with a lot of, you know, snow birds moving in, a lot of people who depend on Social Security, depend on Medicare.
And she‘s been honest about the fact that she‘s going to, you know, talk less about those issues and talk more about Harry Reid. I mean, her latest ad just has her pointing the unemployment and foreclosures in Nevada are high. And so, it‘s not really fair for Harry Reid to call her extreme. It‘s a bit of a non sequitur but that‘s what she thinks she can do.
It‘s really only—I think Rand Paul is possibly the only one of these candidates who is not endeavoring to move that way, and that‘s why he‘s the one, if you look at which states should be reliably Republican, he is the one still with the most trouble.
But, you know, Joe Miller has been surged—been a couple polls, not that far ahead of the Democrat. I think we‘re going to see him stop talking about some of the things that won him that primary.
OLBERMANN: All right. And to that point, no matter what they say henceforth, obviously, Harry Reid did this very effectively against Sharron Angle from the point of her nomination onwards. The stuff already out there is grist for a very productive mill if you do it right. Is that enough, though, to drive sort of tepid unhappy Democrats to come to the polls? Not necessarily to vote for Harry Reid or a Democratic candidate in Alaska or one in Kentucky, but to keep people they see as, you know, dangerous extremists out of office?
WEIGEL: Well, the Democratic base just isn‘t as passionate about this. I mean, we‘ve all talked for a couple days about the Gallup poll that shows Republicans with the 10-point generic edge when you‘re choosing people to represent you in Congress. I think the scariest part of that poll for Democrats is that they were twice as likely basically to be excited to vote. Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats.
How do you make that up? I don‘t know. I mean, I‘d like to se what Richard Trumka says about this because Democrats are not running on the bills they passed. In cases like Kentucky, I mean, Harry Reid can‘t really do it. In some of these states—you know, Missouri is another one—where Democrats are fighting the tide, they‘re basically apologizing for everything the party has done in two years in power.
I don‘t know exactly how you rev your base up by saying that. I mean, one reason I hear more Democrats excited about Scott McAdams who is their surprise—I mean, surprise kind of sea biscuit candidate in Alaska against Joe Miller is that, so far, he‘s been a really bold progressive whose environmentalist in Alaska, which is kind of tough. Maybe his campaign would rather I don‘t say that.
But it‘s tough to get your base excited if you‘re not saying, look at all the great things we‘ve done. You know, it didn‘t work for Republicans in 2006 certainly. Not working for Democrats so far right now.
OLBERMANN: Dick Armey‘s goats. I think they ought to run with Dick Armey‘s goats—that‘s a heck of a quote.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Dave Weigel of Slate and MSNBC—as always, thank you, Dave.
WEIGEL: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And let‘s bring in as promised, the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka.
Again, thanks for your time tonight, sir.
RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Keith, thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: All right. As Weigel just said, how do you—how do you fire ‘em up and get them ready to go under these circumstances?
TRUMKA: This is pretty simple. It‘s a real clean choice for working people, between going—continually going forward with an economy that works for everybody, and going back to when Wall Street and corporate America ruled the agenda and ran wild. That‘s what our members are about. This is about jobs and the Republicans have done nothing on jobs.
They‘ve only offered three things. They‘ve offered to get rid of Social Security, raise the age of it, privatize it, cut benefits and give more tax cuts to the rich.
Our members know that doesn‘t work. Our members are going to be excited and it‘s our job to get that information in their hand. We‘ll do it one-on-one and we‘ll get them to the polls.
OLBERMANN: When they say that‘s great and it is obvious that‘s the choice facing us, but the reason I‘m not enthusiastic is I haven‘t seen enough out of what‘s happened in this administration. Economic circumstances being as dire as they are, I‘ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I‘ll give you all the margin that you want, and they still can‘t get excited.
Do you address those dissatisfactions or disappointments or sense that things have not been as good as they could have been? Or do you try to paper them over?
TRUMKA: They‘re angry and frustrated because things haven‘t moved as well as they have.
But let‘s look at what has been done. One, we brought—the president brought the economy back from the brink of disaster. We‘ve reined in Wall Street. We‘ve passed the health care bill that is the basis for a good health care bill going forward. We have the basis of that.
And this president has created more jobs in the recession than George Bush did in eight years as president with an almost trillion-dollar surplus.
Our members aren‘t stupid. They know who is there and you can‘t get them to vote against somebody, against a friend, who‘s been trying to get jobs, by simply saying no to everything. And that‘s the Republican‘s problem. They‘ve said no to everything and they have no program to run on.
OLBERMANN: And I like your opinions on the Tea Party in two respects:
every day, it‘s a little more clear, a little more obvious how much a front they are for the establishment. Not anti-establishment in the slightest.
A, how do they pull this trick of to make, you know, night look like day? And B, what‘s your reaction to their success?
TRUMKA: Well, first of all, all you have to do is look at the money and see who founds them. Our members know that they‘re being funded by Koch Industries, a gas and oil company, by the Boyd (ph) brothers, and a whole bunch of other corporations.
Those corporations have never had workers‘ best interests involved. What they tried to do is create a situation where they can divide workers and confuse workers. Get our members so frustrated and confused that they stay home.
Well, it‘s not going to work because we‘re going out, talking to them one-on-one. Getting things in their hands and they‘re not going to be able to divide us this time around.
OLBERMANN: The most unfortunate thing that probably happened between the White House and labor in the last two years would have been the comments—the anonymous comments that came out after the Arkansas primary. Was that—was that a setback in your opinion? Is it lingering? Is it the sort of thing that just—that just vanishes given the confrontation of November, or is it something that lingers?
TRUMKA: Well, first of all, our members in Arkansas decided who they would and who they wouldn‘t endorse. They decided not to endorse Blanche Lincoln and to endorse Bill Halter.
And here‘s what‘s happened since then. We‘re now—we have a lady by the name of Joyce Elliott running for Congress right now. And in Arkansas, we have more volunteers because people are more excited about what they did in that election than ever before. We think we‘re going to get her elected to the Congress, from Arkansas.
Our members feel good about it. They‘re energized about it. And you won‘t have any trouble motivating that group because of the primary.
OLBERMANN: So, you would look ahead to November and say that the relationship between the White House and the leadership of the Democratic Party right now and the AFL-CIO is strong?
TRUMKA: Yes. It‘s always been strong. We‘ve always been friends.
We wish more had been done. We wish it had been quicker.
But you have the Republicans stopping everything. You have 400 bills that were passed in the House that are sitting over in the Senate because of filibusters and the Republicans‘ refusal to take any action.
You can‘t beat something with nothing, Keith. And they‘ve offered nothing. Our members know it.
This administration has appointed good people. They‘re enforcing the health and safety laws. They‘re doing a number of things to help workers. And as I said, they created more jobs in a recession than George Bush did in eight years as president with a major surplus.
And our members know that that‘s the choice. They‘re not going back to where Wall Street and corporate America run wild. They‘re going forward with an economy that will work for everybody.
OLBERMANN: I‘m only an amateur at that part of it, but I‘m thinking the phrase, you can‘t beat something with nothing. You might have a campaign you might want to use.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO—thanks, as always, sir.
TRUMKA: Thanks for having me on, Keith. I appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Always a pleasure.
Former Senator Simpson‘s one-man attack on everybody—how the co-chair of the deficit commission has moved on from lesser people, and the Older Women‘s League, to insulting Vietnam veterans. Next.
OLBERMANN: The first was his comment about helping the lesser people.
The second, he told the head of the Older Women‘s League to get a real job. Now, some Vietnam vets who get disability pay, he says, are not correctly serving their country. It is time for him to go.
The right wing‘s pushed to get him credit for Iraq. Lies, death, diminished national security—that‘s not called credit. That‘s called war crimes.
An amazing story of your kindness already repaid at your ninth COUNTDOWN free health clinic in New Orleans with our guest Nicole Lamoureux.
And “St. Beck as in Wreck”: The televangelist told the sheep that he had held George Washington‘s inaugural address in his hand. That wasn‘t what you were holding in your hand, sir.
OLBERMANN: On Monday, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, announced what he called a long overdue rule delivering justice to some of America‘s veterans—long overdue in the sense, meaning, since the Vietnam War.
But in our fourth story: a top Republican is unhappy about the rule and he‘s blaming the veterans.
Secretary Shinseki‘s announcement was about Agent Orange. Agent Orange—the toxic defoliant which America dumped on Vietnam to kill the growth of plants that were used as cover by the Viet Cong. More than 19 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed during the war. Most of it, Agent Orange, sprayed on inland forests near Vietnam‘s borders, north of Saigon, and on a mangrove forest lining Saigon‘s shipping channels—meaning it was not just killing trees. It was being breathed in by American soldiers. Soldiers who did not know exposure would later be linked to potentially fatal conditions such a Hodgkin‘s disease, soft tissue cancers and non-Hodgkin‘s lymphoma.
So, in 1991, Congress passed a law to get treatment to Vietnam vets suffering from any of 12 diseases did have to prove they were caused by Agent Orange.
On Monday, Shinseki wrote, quote, “The president and I are proud,” unquote, to provide additional treatment under the 1991 law. It has been extended to cover Parkinson‘s, some leukemias and some heart disease. Enter former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.
Just last week, Senator Simpson, former Senator Simpson, who co-chairs the president‘s panel on reducing spending, said of Social Security, that America was suckling on a milk cow, and the executive director of the Older Women‘s League, who had dared complain about his previous sexist language, should get a real job.
This week, Simpson went after Vietnam vets. Here‘s what he said about providing decades late to the cost of treating conditions that might be linked to Agent Orange: quote, “It‘s the kind of thing that‘s just driving to us this $1,400,000,000,000 deficit this year. The irony is that the veterans who served this country are now in a way not helping to us save the country in this fiscal mess.”
Vietnam vets not helping to save the country because they insisted on breathing in the toxic defoliant their country sprayed on them while fighting the war their country drafted them to fight.
The law that provided for their treatment, by the way, was approved by 99 U.S. senators in 1991, including Alan Simpson.
The White House tonight has issued this statement to COUNTDOWN, quoting, “Obviously, the president strongly disagrees with Senator Simpson‘s comments and the sentiment behind them.” Statement reaffirms the president‘s commitment to veterans exposed to Agent Orange. And goes on to say, quote, “Senator Simpson is the Republican co-chairman of a bipartisan commission and it should come as no surprise that we will sometimes strongly disagree with his positions.”
Let‘s turn to Paul Sullivan, executive director of the advocacy group, Veterans for Common Sense, a veteran of the First Gulf War, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs itself.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
PAUL SULLIVAN, VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: I have to say, personally, I have always liked Senator Simpson. I usually point to him as an example of the days when could you disagree without being disagreeable. But, in my opinion, he‘s jumped the shark here again. The White House last week declined to remove him from the position as co-chair of the commission on the deficit reduction. They have not replied to our question about whether or not they will do so now, but it doesn‘t look like they‘re going to.
Is it plausible in your opinion that somebody with this view of America‘s obligation to its vets belongs, in charge, or co-charge of the panel that assesses our finances?
SULLIVAN: Absolutely not, Keith. What we need is someone who understands our country‘s obligation to take care of our veterans who come home wounded, injured or ill from war.
Let me make this clear: if there is going to be an unlimited budget for bombs and bullets for Iraq and Afghanistan, well then there ought to be enough money to make sure there is enough doctors to take care of our wounded, injured and ill when they come home. It‘s that simple.
OLBERMANN: Some veterans were hoping to hear more from the president about his plans to meet our obligations to them. Given that, do you have any assessment on how veterans would feel about this White House if indeed as it appears, they‘re willing to keep Simpson on even after, you know, this range of attack that have moved from the lesser people to the Older Women‘s League to veterans is allowed to stand?
SULLIVAN: Well, you‘re really asking two questions, Keith. The first question is: does former Senator Simpson belong the panel or addressing veterans issues? And let me put it to you politely. There‘s lots of work for out of work politicians in Washington. And, well, I‘ll leave it at that.
The second part of the question is this: we have a huge crisis with our returning veterans. There is a suicide epidemic; lots of problems are going on.
And President Obama and V.A. Secretary Shinseki have actually done a lot. You know, they‘ve instituted the new rules for PTSD, health care and benefits. The president and the V.A. have instituted new health care and benefits rules for Agent Orange, that you just talked about. There‘s new rules on the way for Gulf War veterans. There‘s massive increases in the V.A. budget of tens of billions of dollars just in the last few years.
So, lots of stuff is being done by President Obama and Secretary Shinseki, but a lot more needs to be done—especially addressing that suicide epidemic.
OLBERMANN: Why is it questions about how to pay for war and war debts only seem to arise when it‘s the veterans who are owed the money or the care rather than the military contractors who are owed the money?
SULLIVAN: That‘s a good question. But let me put it to you this way. Veterans for Common Sense in 2002 held press conferences in Washington saying that not only was the Iraq war that President Bush started based on lies, but we also asserted that the Department of Veteran Affairs was not ready to care for veteran casualties from the war.
And what we have now is about 15 wounded injured and ill returning from the war zone for each casualty. The Department of Veteran Affairs is treating 537,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
So, Veterans for Common Sense has been pushing this issue all along. And we hope, with your coverage, we can keep coming back to this every couple weeks and saying, hey, what‘s the status on veterans? Because we‘re expecting about 1 million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to flood into V.A. hospitals by the end of 2014. That‘s a new patient every five minutes.
OLBERMANN: What would happen, do you think, to our military today if we told recruits, if you get sick out in the war zone that we‘ve dumped the chemicals into, you‘re going to have to prove that‘s why you‘re sick or else you‘re on your own?
SULLIVAN: That sends a very bad message to prospective service members, new recruits.
Our country needs to be sending the message very loud and clear. If you want to enlist in our military, we‘re going to take care of you while you‘re in the military. Give you the best equipment, the best training. Send to you war when there‘s a legal go truthful justification for sending you to war. And then when you come home, we‘re going to make sure if something happened to you while you‘re in the military, you‘re going to get taken care of.
And, unfortunately, you have comments like what Senator Simpson made, trying to say that suddenly, there isn‘t enough money to take care of the very people who defend our country and our Constitution.
OLBERMANN: Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense—great thanks for your insight and your time. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: So, GOP wants credit for Iraq? Like LBJ gets credit for the Gulf of Tonkin? Like Napoleon gets credit for invading Russia in the winter? Like Dick Rowe gets credit for not signing the Beatles? Ahead.
OLBERMANN: So the Republicans still want credit for how well things went in Iraq. How about Eisenhower sending those first American advisers to Vietnam? Do you want credit for that too?
First, the sanity break. And the Tweet of the day from Negative Drew. “I think it‘s too soon for conservatives to use Arabic numerals when invoking September 11. Wounds too real, raw, et cetera.”
Only the conservatives could understand what you meant. They would laugh so hard. Let‘s play Oddball.
Did I say let‘s play “HARDBALL”? Yeah. We begin in Hathaway, Louisiana—yes—where Jesus Christ on a pole—it‘s Jesus Christ on a pole. Ricky Nevar (ph) spotted the blessed plant while driving on Highway 29. No word on how it got up there, though some think it was some sort of divine fertilizer. No, no, St. Beck enters later in the hour.
Utility workers eventually took down the heavenly vines out of fear that the poll was getting too powerful.
(FRENCH), France, bonjour. Where we meet Richard Langouble (ph), a self-taught artist. His specialty, mud sculptures. Using tiny blobs of mud like bricks, Mr. Langouble has made an entire city. Working with mud does have its downside. Mainly the fact that his work will be washed away in the autumn rain, or possibly by the mistrial. Still, that has not deterred him from spending hours and hours on his work. While some may see this job as futile, it sure beats his day work: Fox News fact checker. Fact checker.
Finally to El Salvador. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire. It‘s the Annual Fireball Festival. Every year, young men gather to throw balls of fire at each other. The given reason, to commemorate a volcanic eruption from 1922. I think we all know the real reason, extreme dodge ball league. Although it looks very dangerous, no one was seriously hurt until Araldos Chapman (ph) of the Cincinnati Reds appeared and showed them what a real fireball looks like. National League Central Division joke.
Giving credit where credit is due in Iraq. The greatest foreign policy mistake in American history and Republicans want the credit. It‘s all yours. Just remember the honest word here would be responsibility.
OLBERMANN: In President Obama‘s speech about Iraq last night, the president mentioned his predecessor, President Obama, and praised him. But in our third story tonight, the right wing, specifically the neocons who caused the Iraq war, are whining now about President Obama‘s failure to credit or thank Mr. Bush for implementing a surge of troops in Iraq. You know, the way Nixon thanked Johnson for helping end Vietnam.
No less a neocon than Bill Kristol, spiritual father of the Iraq War, though, writes that Mr. Obama went, quote, “as far as an anti-Iraq war president could go in praising the war effort. Not a bad tribute to the troops and not a bad statement of the importance and indispensability. Not a bad speech. It is therefore unrealistic for supporters of the war to expect the president to give the speech John McCain would have given,” unquote.
Unrealistic? Supporters of the war? What are the odds? Team of policy experts who predicted so precisely the threat posed by Saddam Hussein‘s battery of nuclear and biological weapons, which he gave the keys for to his BFF, Osama bin Laden? Whose glaring insights led them to understand what no one else did, how few troops it would take to win the war so quickly? How could this generation‘s best and brightest have unrealistic expectations of something as simple as a presidential speech?
Former Bush White House adviser Peter Wehner told the “New York Times” about Obama‘s speech, quote, “it would be gracious if he did acknowledge Bush, but we learned a long time ago that Obama is not a particularly gracious man.”
Also unrealistic about the speech, even afterward, former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who also said that Mr. Obama had not praised Bush, but allowed that Obama‘s words were at least, quote, partially gracious.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. BUSH PRESS SECRETARY: He was partially gracious. He couldn‘t be—I think he couldn‘t be direct about the surge. I think it would have been even more gracious, appropriate to have done so. But of course, he has a political issue. If he ever were to praise George Bush, the surge, Iraq, a dispirited Democrat base would be even more dispirited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: For the record, here is how President Obama, so fearful of dispiriting his base, did not praise Mr. Bush. Quote, “no one could doubt President Bush‘s support for our troops or his love of country and commitment to our security.” But praising Mr. Bush was not enough for those war supporters, unrealistic even by Bill Kristol‘s standards. Former Bush National Security Adviser Steven Hadley told the “Wall Street Journal,” quote, “I thought I owed it to the former president that somewhere out there, somebody gives him some credit and points out that he is the one actually that started withdrawing U.S. troops.”
OK. I‘ll do it. I, Keith Olbermann, do hereby give former U.S. President George Walker Bush some credit for starting to withdraw U.S. troops, except for those who were withdrawn because they were already dead, 4,427 of them for whose presence in that nation I also credit President Bush. So thank you, Mr. Bush, for starting to withdraw those troops lucky enough not to die in your false war. Thank you, Mr. Bush, for starting to withdrawal those troops lucky enough to leave before they joined the ranks of the 31,000 whose bodies and lives and futures were shattered by your false war. Thank you for starting to withdraw after bankrupting our nation for your war, after it became clear even Iraq would no longer let you stay, and just in time for America to try accomplish something in Afghanistan, nine years after you let Osama bin Laden get away so you could fight the war for which America, we are told, should now thank you.
Adding his thanks tonight, the national security reporter for “The Nation” Magazine, Jeremy Scahill, also the author of :Blackwater, the Rise of the World‘s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”
Jeremy, thanks for your time tonight.
JEREMY SCAHILL, “THE NATION”: Thank you.
OLBEMRANN: Go ahead. Share your thanks to President Bush while we‘re on this.
SCAHILL: Keith, you know who should be thanking President Bush tonight? The Iranian government. They have a much greater influence in Iraq now than they ever have had. Russian and Chinese oil companies that have gotten a lot of the oil contracts there. Anyone who likes to kill Americans should thank President Bush. And also among those that should thank President Bush are the people in possession of the billions of missing dollars that went missing in George Bush‘s Iraq.
The people who don‘t have any obligation to thank President Bush are the families of the thousands of U.S. service men and women that died in that country, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that died, the millions of Iraqis that are displaced as a result of this illegal, immoral war that unfortunately, Keith—and we have to say this—was supported by Hillary Clinton when she was a senator, and Joe Biden when he was a senator.
So the blame should be shared across the board. But George Suburb is number one responsible for this, and deserves no thanks from anyone except people that could be described as enemies of this country and of security in the world.
OLBERMANN: The former coalition spokesman, Dan Senor, said that the tone of the speech last night was fine. As I mentioned, Bill Kristol called the speech commendable, even impressive. Why are the others so insistent on the president praising Bush, without getting too deeply into the psychology of mass hypnosis and other things that might be relevant. Just the basics.
SCAHILL: Right. These people have a PHD in lying, and a master‘s degree in manipulating intelligence. And it is really sobering to see this kind of brash historical revisionism happening in real-time. The idea that these people want to post some kind of false flag of victory on the corpses of all who have died in Iraq because of their decisions. These people destabilized Iraq. They destabilized the Middle East with their neocon vision of redrawing maps. And they didn‘t even succeed in their own stated mission.
This is a special kind of pathological sickness that these individuals collectively are plagued with.
OLBERMANN: The neocons lied about Iraq to get us in there, and now, as you point out, they are lying about how we got out. Since they were not paying attention, we assume—it is not that complicated. But can you explain the factors that actually led to the reduction of violence there, the one that they erroneously credit to the surge?
SCAHILL: Right. Pardon me for introducing a little bit of fact on to cable news over these 24 hours. But the reality is there was no success of the surge. The fact is that Bush‘s policy in Iraq caused massive destabilization, led to a civil war that killed upwards of a million Iraqis. There were ethnic cleansing campaigns.
When the surge troops went in there, Baghdad was a walled off city. The Sunnis had been pushed out and sided with the United States. Moqtada al Sadr responded to the announced time table for withdrawal that the neocons so opposed by saying he considered it a truce with the Americans and pulled his forces off the streets.
So the entire surge myth permeates to this day. And it is actually one big lie.
OLBERMANN: The Hadley crediting of the Obama Iraq policies goes with it, arguing that Iraq was worth it. But he says that al Qaeda in Iraq is, quote, “still capable of spectacular terrorist attacks.” And he simply asserts that somehow those are not a strategic threat anymore. Iraq is not a threat because the Republicans don‘t have the White House? Is that what it boils down to?
SCAHILL: Let‘s remember—I would like to remind Mr. Hadley—I‘m sure he watches your show every night, Keith—that it was Bush administration‘s policy in Iraq that created an al Qaeda presence in that country. It was their policies that destabilize that country and caused the deaths of so many Americans and so many Iraqi civilians.
Steven Hadley probably sees Osama bin Laden at his corner store or hiding in his bathroom somewhere. So these people have zero credibility and have no business in public life anymore. They shouldn‘t be able to leave their houses without being confronted with the death and destruction that their lies caused.
OLBERMANN: Jeremy Scahill of “The Nation.” as always, a pleasure.
SCAHILL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The good news from New Orleans: you have no now paid for health care for 10,000 of your neighbors. We‘ll go there live.
A good idea to do a negative ad against your opponent in boxing gloves when he had been beaten up so badly he need three operations?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her exclusive interview with the Alaska small town mayor facing Sarah Palin‘s choice for Senate.
OLBERMANN: Worsts and why did the house burn down? Because one of the flowers on the porch exploded. First, since he has now revealed himself to be not a commentator but a prophet, not a shock jock but a televangelist, we welcome you to another edition of St. Beck as in Wreck. Oral Beck, Mother Ter-Beck-a, Beckham Young; whichever one he is, from time to time, we will point out his more egregious mistakes of fact and of faithful.
Sorry, Reverend Jeremiah Beck, we caught you in another one. Here is a great moment from the Beck rapture, total crapture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I have been going to Mount Vernon. I went to the National Archives and I held the first Inaugural Address written in his own hand by George Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Little could Father Cough-Glenn over here know, but there are actually people at the National Archives to call him on his lies. Nope, David Beck-koresh was given a VIP tour of the Archives, but they did show him Washington‘s first Inaugural Address. But his story that he actually got to actually hold it, according to Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper, is wrong. Quoting her, “those kinds of treasures are only handled by especially trained archival staff.”
First, during the same speech as the lie about holding Washington‘s address, Glenny-hin also panted, “tell the truth. America is crying out for truth.” And best of all, a woman at the Shitaqua (ph) show named Olga Sanchez supposedly told the “Washington Post” that “I‘m a big fan of Glenn Beck. He is opening our eyes, teaching us the history we didn‘t learn in school.”
You didn‘t learn it because it didn‘t happen. Nice work, Beck-wamada.
OLBERMANN: The unexpected bonus to your free health care clinic in New Orleans, 70 percent of those who went did not know there was a permanent set of free clinics to which they could also go. That‘s next, but first get out your pitch forks and torches, time for tonight‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Mr. and Mrs. Brian Duncan of Paragould (ph), Arkansas. Twenty thousand dollars in damage has been done to their home. The culprit is that most rare of Earth‘s living things: the arsonist plant. That‘s right. Mr. Duncan says Mrs. Duncan let some flowers die and decompose in a flower pot on the porch. The flower pot was made of plastic. Between the rotting plant and the plastic and the heat, the thing exploded into small flames.
Then the flaming dead flowers dropped on to the deck, burned a hole through it. Then it got to the vinyl siding on the house and the air conditioning vent sucked in all the smoke. Watch out for those spontaneous combustion plants.
The runner up, Scott Walker, again. The Republican candidate for governor of Wisconsin has a new ad against Democratic opponent Tom Barrett.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT WALKER ®, CANDIDATE FOR WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: You know, Tom Barrett can‘t sell his record, so he is throwing punches at me. I‘m Scott Walker and I took on the political machine in Milwaukee, and I‘m ready to go the distance as your next governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: His opponent, Mayor Barrett of Milwaukee, was severely beaten last year when he came to the aid of a woman trying to protect her one-year-old granddaughter from the girl‘s drunken father. In fact, after three operations, Barrett may never still regain full use of his hand. So the punches, boxing gloves thing, real classy Mr. Walker.
But our winner, Jonah Ka‘Auwai, the head of the Republican party in Hawaii, with a double-header of sorts. He sent an e-mail to Hawaiian pastors urging them to bar the Democratic candidates for governor in the state, Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie, from campaigning in their churches. OK, I guess. But Mr. Ku‘Auwai then adds that Republican candidate James Duke Aiona is the only righteous candidate for governor and, quote, “Duke will win because the church has been behind him the entire time, operating in the power and the authority of the name of Jesus.”
He adds, Hannemann “shows no signs of righteousness or being controlled by the holy spirit.” And that Aiona‘s election would give Hawaii its first righteous leader since Queen Liliuokalani, who died in 1917. Head of the state GOP who said this.
Then there‘s the odd note about giving Hawaii its first righteous leader since 1917, given that the current governor is a Republican. She is Jewish. Jonah, you can explain that anti-Semitism away any time now. Ka‘Auwai, the head of the Republican GOP, and today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Today in New Orleans a milestone, reached in part through the tireless efforts of volunteers donating time and medical expertise, and, of course, through your generous donations. Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, the National Association of Free Clinics treating its 10,000th patient in connection with our events, certainly. The two-day free clinic at the Earnest N. Morial (ph) Convention Center wrapped up a short time ago; 1,350 people received care.
Here, in Katrina‘s wake, with the impact of the BP oil disaster yet to be determined, three illnesses dominated: diabetes, depression and high blood pressure. The latter so high prompting the clinic‘s medical director, Dr. Ranny Whitfield (ph), to remark, “what used to be called the Bible belt, the southern states, is now called the stroke belt, the HIV belt, the hypertension belt. We have a high rate of hypertension, probably the highest rates in the world.”
Those seeking care sharing their stories with the tireless volunteers here. Stories often repeated, only the names changed. “I borrow medications from friends, I don‘t take medications regularly to make them last longer. I stopped taking medication altogether. I don‘t have a regular doctor. I haven‘t seen a doctor since Katrina.”
The majority are out of work, but not as many as you would think. Nearly a quarter of those treated prescribed one medication, 18 percent two medications, eight three of them. In a state where 19 percent of citizens lack any health insurance, these free clinics providing hope for many indeed.
Let‘s turn to the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, Nicole Lamoureaux. Nicole, good evening.
NICOLE LAMOUREAUX, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FREE CLINICS: Hi, Keith.
How are you?
OLBERMANN: I‘m pretty good. How about you?
LAMOUREAUX: We‘re doing well here, doing well. Tired but good.
OLBERMANN: We‘ve been saving this most amazing story all night. I‘ll let you provide the punch line. Somebody came in as a patient yesterday. Same person came back today in a different context, correct?
LAMOUREAUX: Correct. It was absolutely amazing. This woman came in yesterday very, very sick, actually went to the hospital with awful kidney stones. She came back today and said I had to pay it forward. You saved me. I was in pain for three days. And now I knew it was my job to give back to someone else.
OLBERMANN: So she volunteered?
LAMOUREAUX: She did. She came as a volunteer. She is still inside working. She showed up here with us. Our doors opened at 2:00. She got here at 11:00 and she said she was going to stay until the last patient is seen.
OLBERMANN: How have you found the New Orleans event to have differed from the other ones, either in terms of the number of people you‘ve seen, their condition, the nature of the illnesses? What has been the difference?
LAMOUREAUX: I think there has been a dramatic difference. They‘re a very resilient people here in New Orleans. They‘ve been through so much between the oil spill and Katrina. We had a woman who came to us and she had a lump in her throat that was diagnosed before Katrina. And she brought all of her paperwork today because she still has not seen a doctor.
But what we‘re also seeing is that these people have worked so hard to pull themselves up. The saddest part. Keith, honestly, was that these people didn‘t believe that we were going to be here today. They said to me over and over again, I just thought it was on the radio and on television. Thank you for staying here. Thank you for being here.
So between having people who are depressed, and not knowing what is going on in their life, and really just doubting human kind, it has been completely different for us.
OLBERMANN: I can imagine how many times—how many rugs have been pulled out from under them in the last five years, why they would feel that. And I‘m glad we were able to push back against that, too. I‘m also amazed by one statistic that you mentioned, that 70 percent of the people you‘ve seen had no idea that there were permanent free clinics in the area? Any kind of infrastructure they could depend on?
LAMOUREAUX: Exactly. And you know, Keith, we‘ve seen this all around the country. Your viewers have helped us help over 10,000 people get the health care they need. More importantly, get connected to those free clinics. So many people do not understand that free clinics exist every day, and especially here. They had no idea that there were clinics right down the road that were willing to help them. Now they know.
OLBERMANN: Something particularly disturbing about New Orleans that we discovered—and I‘m sure you discovered it firsthand. What happened to the medical community after Charity Hospital closed after Katrina? There was actually—you had a shortage of doctors yesterday?
LAMOUREAUX: We did. We had a shortage of doctors yesterday and a shortage of doctors today. This really is really indicative of what we see the future is going to be. There is not enough primary care physicians to last us as we go into the future. But really here, we only had about 30, 40 doctors each day. And you know, we do much more than that. Because they are just not here any longer in New Orleans.
OLBERMANN: All right. That‘s a depressing prospect and maybe individuals around the country who hear that will both heed that call and take advantage on the personal level of what that could mean for them. But let‘s close it out with some other thing. We‘ve talked about the woman who came back as a volunteer. Give me another one of those stories that you‘ll take home with you tonight.
LAMOUREAUX: I think one of the biggest stories I‘ll take home with me tonight is another woman who came to volunteer. Here is why: she came to this clinic last year, the first one we did with you. And she said to me, I brought my granddaughter because my entire family was lost in Katrina and I had to come back. You are the first doctor‘s appointment I went to and the first one that my granddaughter had before Katrina. I knew coming back here was where I needed to be, because you helped get me healthy.
And that‘s what you, Keith—I want to thank you very much. That‘s what you and all of your viewers have done for 10,000 people around the country.
OLBERMANN: It‘s the viewers. We‘re just backing you up, Nicole. Nicole Lamoureaux, the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, as always, a pleasure. Thank you again.
LAMOUREAUX: Thank you. >
OLBERMANN: That‘s September 1st. It‘s the 2,680th day since President Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq, 2,269th day since he declared victory in Afghanistan, and the 135th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
And now with the first national interview with the Alaska Democrat who will face off again the Tea Party favorite there, ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel.
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