Guests: Jim Rutenberg, Larry Scanlon, Bob Cavnar, David Corn
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
The plot to buy America: Tonight, how one man skirted the campaign donation limit of $2,400 to pump in $600,000 against Harry Reid in Nevada. The group: Taxpayers Against Earmarks? It‘s this guy. Just him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That gives new meaning to the term “buy American.” They want to buy these elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After the speaker said that here, the AFSCME pushback: $87 million into the midterms. And you know where this money came from.
And a Tea Party candidate for the House of Representatives finally says it:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN BRODEN ®, TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Our nation was founded on violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, you would urge as an option though?
BRODEN: The option is on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Stephen Broden, Republican Tea Party in the Texas 30th, he approves of the violent overthrow of the elected government of the United States. And he‘s a Becker head.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRODEN: Activation means getting up off the couch, being engaged in the electorate and the electoral process, to save this republic. It‘s got to happen.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: You, sir, are—
BRODEN: And every Saturday on life and liberty—I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Six months since Deepwater Horizon, the moratorium is gone and so are the promises of safeguards. And the investigation report? Postponed until March. Bob Cavnar joins us.
The file clerk decides to rub out the efficiency expert. Part two of Thurber‘s “The Catbird Seat.”
And the Tea Partier running around pretending he‘s an SS soldier in the Nazi Panzer division—that was apparently the highlight of his campaign.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very interesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Friday, October 22nd, 11 days until the 2010 midterm elections.
And today, the perverse exemplar of the outsize, Supreme Court-enabled corruption in this election cycle: super PACs spending unlimited sums from secret donors, even when that donor is just one man.
In our fifth story: PAC-man and the corporate equivalency of that. “The New York Times” expose on how big insurance, big finance and big oil shovels money to the Chamber of Commerce for the obvious advocacy that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce execute so well.
First, the brand new and stark example: in the Nevada Senate race, the super PAC calling itself “Ending Spending Fund.” It has spent nearly $600,000 against the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That‘s super PAC is the political arm of the nonprofit group called Taxpayers Against Earmarks.
But Taxpayers Against Earmarks is actually just one taxpayer, according to Amanda Terkel of the “Huffington Post.” It‘s this guy. Joe Ricketts, the founder and former Ameritrade and part of the new ownership of the Chicago Cubs.
Mr. Ricketts is the sole donor to the Ending Spending Fund, and he would and could be a secret donor if not for the fact that he voluntarily disclosed his identity.
To put this in further perspective, under the law, an individual, such as Mr. Ricketts, may contribute only $2,400 per election to a candidate or his campaign committee. An individual may donate about twice that amount, $5,000, to a traditional political action committee, a PAC. Those PACs, which in today‘s world now seem quaint, must disclose their donors.
And an individual can donate$30,400 to a national party committee.
But an individual‘s contribution to a super PAC, no limit.
As for the other prime player in this election cycle and the practical equivalency of the super PAC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There‘s more clarity now about how a single corporation can secretly donate money to buy the political advertising it wants and needs. Again, the stark example that represents the rule, this one from “The New York Times” expose:
Prudential Financial, a $2 million donation to the chamber last year just as the chamber was launching a national advertising campaign, as well as extensive lobbying in Congress against Wall Street reform.
A Prudential spokesman telling “The New York Time,” the donation was not earmarked for a specific issue. Of course, it wasn‘t. Earmarking the money would violate the law. And earmarking the money does not seem to be necessary.
Dow Chemical last year shoveling $1,700,000 to the chamber as the group fought proposals for tighter security at chemical plants.
Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, AEGON, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, they contributed more than $8 million in recent years to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Again, all of this would be secret if not for the investigative reporting of “The Times.” There is no legal duty to disclose any of this.
Last night, we asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: It‘s a bigger issue. It‘s about our democracy. And they give new meaning to the term, “buy American.” They want to buy these elections.
So, elections are always about the future—you know that, Keith—about what is our vision for taking America forward, as the president said, for going forward, not going backward, fighting for the middle class.
This election is also about our democracy. If they win, which I fully intend to stop them from doing—but if they were to win, it would mean that we are now a plutocracy and oligarchy. Whatever these few wealthy, secret, unlimited sources of money are can control our entire agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I‘m joined now Jim Rutenberg, political correspondent of “The New York Times” and one of those who reported the extraordinary U.S. Chamber of Commerce stories.
Thanks for coming in.
JIM RUTENBERG, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you. I have to correct you. It was my colleagues, Mike McIntyre, Don Van Natta and Eric Lipton.
The money is not earmarked. Explain though how and how successfully and how carefully the chamber takes up political battles that the corporations do not want to be seen as fighting openly.
RUTENBERG: Well, what the story showed is that the money came. You showed it, Prudential, $2 million, right when the chamber is going to start going after the financial reform package. So, maybe the money wasn‘t earmarked. They say it wasn‘t and we have no evidence to doubt that. But you know, I guess people can make their—draw their own conclusions.
OLBERMANN: If it‘s coming from a chemical company, it might have something to do—they might have some interest having it go to a chemical issue and it would be simply assumed. You wouldn‘t even have to say anything that would make it illegal.
That‘s part of the intricacy of the thing, correct?
RUTENBERG: Right. We report, you decide. But, you know, there is a
you know, people can try to connect some dots. It‘s hard because you often don‘t know who‘s behind this money, as you pointed out.
OLBERMANN: The examples that we have are from recent years—do we know that‘s the template of what‘s going on now? Or is that just to be assumed?
RUTENBERG: I don‘t know. Right now, it‘s so—there‘s so much money coming in and they are pinpointing races. It‘s really hard to say. One would have to think or would want to think that the money is earmarked. They say it isn‘t. So, we just don‘t know and will perhaps never know.
OLBERMANN: This was not from your paper‘s reporting, but we cited this example from the Nevada race, this super PAC, the one man—a man who is his own super political action committee.
How does that and the super PAC idea compare to the dynamics of the political activity of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?
RUTENBERG: Well, again, that—to me, it‘s interesting that there are some of these people who will come out and say, I‘m giving a lot of money. We have Bob Perry, a builder out of Texas, make it clear that he has given $7 million to some of these efforts. And that starts with the American Crossroads, which is the group that‘s commonly associated with Karl Rove, who‘s helped them form and fundraise.
OLBERMANN: Do you think in terms of information that might be available on this subject that we‘re at the tip of the iceberg, or did your colleagues pretty much mine this mine?
RUTENBERG: You know, again, because it‘s so dark, who knows? But I feel like we‘re at the tip. I feel like there‘s so much we just don‘t know.
OLBERMANN: And the way the law has been structured, the way it has been reinterpreted by the Supreme Court in Citizens United, there is—there is no—there is no easy route to get this information. There‘s nothing other than going essentially through back-filings of taxes, correct?
RUTENBERG: That‘s right. And, you know, the interesting thing is, if Congress changes hands, then that—there is a—there is a—as you probably talk on the show all the time, the Disclose Act. There‘s some legislation that would make companies have to say what they‘re doing.
If the Congress is in Republican hands, that will not come to be, I‘m sure. I mean, it couldn‘t come to be this summer.
OLBERMANN: And I would assume, even if it were to somehow get to the floor, if the Democrats retain the House, there would be this huge campaign against the Disclose Act with funding provided by people who don‘t have to disclose anything, correct?
RUTENBERG: Right. That would make sense, for sure. So, I don‘t know. But it gives us reporters a lot to do and a lot to work with.
OLBERMANN: I believe the old instructions from our youth was: follow the money.
Jim Rutenberg with “The New York Times”—great thanks for your time tonight.
RUTENBERG: If only it were that easy, but thanks.
OLBERMANN: The alarming amount of political spending by right wing super PACs and the Chambers of Commerce maybe getting the attention of voters. It‘s certainly galvanized at least one key group that is not beholden to a corporation. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, with over 1.5 million members, will spend more than $87 million in the midterms, including funds from an emergency account.
It‘s noted by “The Wall Street Journal” that union becomes the biggest outside spender in the election cycle—the biggest single spender, perhaps.
But a network of outside political groups led by Karl Rove is now expected to reach $250 million in its own spending by Election Day, according to MSNBC and NBC News investigative reporter Michael Isikoff.
Meantime, we have Karl Rove‘s quote from 2004 back when the billionaire George Soros was funding groups such as America Coming Together and the Media Fund. A quote from Mr. Rove, “I‘m a firm believer in strong political parties and thing that weaken the parties and place the outcome of elections in the hands of billionaires who can write checks, and political consultants who can get themselves hired by billionaires who write the checks, give me some concern.”
Then, yes. Now, not so much.
Let‘s bring in the political director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Larry Scanlon.
Mr. Scanlon, thanks for your time tonight.
LARRY SCANLON, AFSCME: Thank you for having me on, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Emergency funds are part of this. Is that because you perceive this as an emergency?
SCANLON: Yes, indeed. You know, we‘ve gone on a two-year budget cycle. And as the cycle proceeded with the landscape, sort of worsened dramatically for a lot of our friends, and President McEntee, the leadership of our union said, hey, we need to invest in this election and that‘s what we did.
OLBERMANN: Your organization has even made the choice to support some of the Democrats it once opposed, according to this piece in “The Journal.” Can you verify that and explain it?
SCANLON: Yes. It‘s not so much a matter that we oppose them. We, obviously, during the course of the election, the legislative session, we tried to move them on legislation. And we were slow to maybe support them earlier in the year.
But once we got past Labor Day, and realized that what was at stake was the actual control, the gavel in the House, where you had to have 218 votes, we re-accessed our position and we started to move more resources in terms of cash contributions permissible under the law, staff on the ground in some of these districts. We did a lot of mail to our members. We worked with the AFL-CIO labor program.
So, it‘s—you know, it‘s kind of an all hands on deck situation.
OLBERMANN: And to that point, regarding how much money that‘s coming in from the other end as that report suggested from Michael Isikoff, perhaps a quarter of a billion dollar raised and spent by Karl Rove‘s outside political groups by the election. It‘s nothing abstract about this. Access for us these other organizations that support Republicans who favor policy that would do what to American workers.
SCANLON: Well, here‘s the deal. We fight in politics to elect the great kinds of people who support working families and workers. And clearly, the other side does not share our agenda.
So, when we listen to John Boehner and Eric Cantor talking about and Paul Ryan, we got to privatize Social Security, we want to go after defined pensions which are key to our folks, and they want to roll back health care coverages, that really concerns us. And clearly, they‘re looking to downsize government, cut taxes. That‘s the service that‘s our members provide.
So, we made a decision that we had to play heavy. And we looked at what was happening on the other side and you see them coming in and saying they‘re going to spend a lot of money in these elections, and there‘s no disclosure. You know, the Chamber of Commerce can put their name on an ad and you don‘t know who‘s paying for that ad.
When AFSCME puts its name on the ad, you know that the 1.6 members that we have are paying for it and it averages out to about $28 per year per member that we spend on politics.
OLBERMANN: “Newsweek” just release ad poll. It came out at dinner time tonight, East Coast Time, which suggests or it suggests is addressing the so-called enthusiasm gap and suggesting that enthusiasm gap is closing.
Let me just give you the highlights. The president‘s approval ratings, 48 approval, 46 disapproval. That was three weeks ago, the end of September. Today, it‘s 54 approval, 40 disapproval. Do you have a sense of how the midterms look? And does that polling jive with that sense?
SCANLON: It does, Keith. We‘re seeing more enthusiasm on the ground. In fact, it‘s beyond enthusiasm. It‘s anger. Our members and other labor movement members, when they‘re reading about what the Republicans want to do, and they certainly have some crazy right-wing candidates this year, they‘re fired up. They‘re volunteering to get on the doors, to make phone calls.
And so, what we‘re seeing is, as we do our polling, that there‘s an uptick or a spike in terms of union members sort of coming home to endorse candidates. Definitely.
OLBERMANN: Did that just happen? Is that a recent phenomenon of the last three weeks?
SCANLON: I would say, yes, it‘s over—actually probably the last four to six weeks.
OLBERMANN: And I imagine you‘re pleased with that.
SCANLON: We‘re working hard to make it happen.
OLBERMANN: Larry Scanlon, the political director of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees—thank you kindly for your time on a Friday night. Have a good weekend.
SCANLON: Thanks to you, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Of course, all this is done to surreptitiously bankroll candidates on the other side of this equation, who will do the bidding of big business. And as it turns out, who will threaten insurrection. The Tea Party and Republican candidate in Dallas seeking the House for the Texas 30th says violence is, quote, “on the table.” He said on tape.
Also on the table, drilling in the Gulf—six months after the Deepwater Horizon disaster with virtually no safety improvements. Bob Cavnar—next.
OLBERMANN: Government oversight still in his hands, relief wells not mandatory, safety improvements never happen six months later and the drilling moratorium is lifted in the Gulf. Bob Cavnar joins us.
Running for Congress and saying if his side doesn‘t win, he has a right to overthrow government of the United States by violence. And he appeared at a Beck 9/12 event and gave the benediction at a Michele Bachmann shindig.
Thus, this Tea Partier just dropped a notch in the crazy rankings. But it turns out he‘s done something worse than the Nazi dress-up play time thing.
And the tale of murder and filing cabinets. Part two of James Thurber‘s “The Catbird Seat.” Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: It‘s been six months now since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Eleven men killed in the explosion, hundred of thousands affected, untold economic devastation, health repercussions and the largest environmental catastrophe in this nation‘s history.
So, what have we learn? In our fourth story: not much.
As the government lifts its ban on deepwater drilling ahead of schedule, and ahead of the report pinpointing exactly what went wrong and why, today, the joint investigation team announcing that report will be postponed until March. Bob Cavnar joins me in a moment.
A deadline extension is given to the final report on the disaster, allowing additional time for testing and public hearing.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announcing just last week the end to the moratorium on deepwater drilling, in addition to a new gold standard in regulation. Quoting him, “The truth is there will always be risks associated with deepwater drilling, but we have significantly in my view, reduced those risks.”
Operators must now file for permits. Rigs and drilling operations must be re-inspected. And oil and gas companies will not be allowed to resume drilling until they‘ve come up with a plan on how to deal with emergencies. Yes. Because that work so well the last time.
To recap, BP‘s 2009 Gulf response plan categorized the spill as unlikely, anticipated no adverse impacts to fisheries or beaches, listed walruses among the species BP would fight to protect in the warm water Gulf, and named Professor Peter Lutz as the while life expert to be consulted even though he‘d been dead for four years.
Only one company has filed a request to drill since the ban has been lifted. It‘s not been identified. Instead, oil and gas industry officials are lamenting the new regulations, saying they‘re delaying drilling. Salazar meeting with some of those officials yesterday in part to pitch a plan for a new Offshore Drilling Institute. Ideally, the consortium would allow government, industry, environmentalists and academics to all work together to advance drilling technology and promote safer techniques.
The industry does not seem to be buying it, however. Jim Noe, the vice president of Hercules Offshore telling “The Houston Chronicle,” it‘s just another way for the government to stand in the way of drilling. “We‘re creating a debating societies and blue ribbon panels with long term goals in mind, but blue ribbon panels won‘t keep our workers working. The industry is experiencing a death by committee.”
This as Chevron announces its plans to spend $7.5 billion to drill even deeper. The company wants to develop two Gulf of Mexico oil fields in waters 7,000 feet below the surface. That‘s considerably deeper than Deepwater Horizon—but with risk, comes reward. The oil fields are expected to produce 170,000 barrels of oil per day. Some of which might even not wind up on the beach.
Joining me now as promised, oil and gas industry expert, “Huffington Post” contributor, author of the new book, “Disaster on the Horizon: High Stake, High Risks and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout,” Bob Cavnar.
It‘s good to see you, Bob.
BOB CAVNAR, OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY EXPERT: Good to see you, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why even impose the moratorium if there were not major changes in regulation planned?
CAVNAR: You know, Keith, the biggest problem is that the Obama administration on the heels almost from the very first hour. If you‘ll recall, they didn‘t even actually respond to the blowout, understanding how bad it was, for almost a week. And I think they were just trying to scramble to get something done. They stopped all drilling to begin with and then just left the deepwater shut down while they allowed the shallow water to go forward.
OLBERMANN: You wrote in the book, “they,” referring to BP and all the other companies that drill in the deepwater, assert in every permit filing that they‘re able to deal with both potential blowouts and ensuing spills when they occur—
OLBERMANN: -- claiming that minimal environmental damage would result. Nothing could be further from the truth.
How will we know these new contingency plans will not just be another cut-and-paste job that lists dead scientists and walruses? Is the only verification, one way or the other, the next disaster?
CAVNAR: I‘m afraid so. The problem is that over the first few wells, the first few years of these new regulations, they‘ll be paying very close attention. But just like the Valdez, after several years, it will just be more cut-and-paste, more—just more paperwork on paperwork. I‘m afraid they‘re not going to actually change what they‘re actually doing in the Gulf.
OLBERMANN: What happened to the idea that like Canada, we should have the emergency wells in place before any further drilling would be permitted?
CAVNAR: You know, the problem with having a standby well is that it actually doubles the risk of blowout, because that well is drilling in the same environment as the first well. The real answer here is to make sure the well doesn‘t blow out. And that‘s what we‘re not talking about. We‘re not talking about control. We‘re not talking about systems. We‘re not talking about redesign of the devices that keep the well safe.
OLBERMANN: Is that the idea behind the Offshore Drilling Institute? Or is that whole thing just something for public relations that pleases neither side?
CAVNAR: I think answer “b.” It‘s just one of those things that I think everybody talking is going to help. It certainly can‘t hurt. But remember, the industry is going to fight anything that costs more money. And so, there‘s going to be a lot of talking, a lot of discussion. But I‘m not sure it‘s going to translate to any action.
OLBERMANN: Ken Salazar told “Bloomberg News” today, his job is safe. Should it be? I mean, would it be—any kind of sing of increased oversight or a victory for environmentalists, or just people who‘d like not see waves of oil again in the Gulf if he were not to continue?
CAVNAR: You know, I‘m not sure I‘d be as confident as he is. You know, the agency obviously was crippled during the years of the Bush administration and he was way behind. But the response was so slow in getting everyone geared up that I think Salazar has some answers—some questions to answer about that.
OLBERMANN: The figure of the extra drilling for the deeper wells from Chevron, $7 billion that they‘re investing in that. This is an industry supposedly experiencing death by committee? They seem to be holding up well enough.
CAVNAR: There‘s this huge money in this business, huge companies.
Some of the largest companies in the world are the ones drilling out here. And so, with these kinds of dollars that play, there‘s a lot of dollars that go into politicians, campaign coffers. And because of that, we‘re not going to have the kind of change that I think we‘re going to really need to make it safer.
OLBERMANN: So, the forecast for the Gulf and other places where deep drilling is done is—what? We‘re going to go through the Deepwater Horizon again in the next decade?
CAVNAR: You know, here‘s the problem: some of the new regulations require a longer period of time for the permits to be approved. That requires congressional action. The Interior just can‘t do that. So, I think what‘s going to happen is nothing is going to happen to a lot of these rules. They‘re going to go back to drilling and then we‘re going to be at risk of it happening again.
OLBERMANN: Bob Cavnar, the new book is “Disaster on the Horizon”—I couldn‘t recommend it more. Thanks for coming in, Bob.
CAVNAR: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Have a good weekend.
CAVNAR: Thank you. You, too.
OLBERMANN: Speaking about disasters, we‘ll meet Pastor Stephen Broden, Republican and Tea Party candidate for Congress in the 30 district of Texas. That‘s Dallas. And if you don‘t vote for him and people like him, he‘s ready to overthrow the government of this country by violence.
OLBERMANN: A Tea Party congressional candidate finally come out and says it: The violent overthrow of the government is, quote, “on the table.”
First, the sanity break and the tweet of the day from La Smith-Miller.
“Does anyone remember when the problem with Obama was lack of experience? Now, all everyone wants is lack of experience?” And, a supposed past association with people who advocated violence against the government was something Republicans were supposedly against. Now, it might as well be a requirement.
Let‘s play “Oddball.”
OLBERMANN: We begin in merry old England. Some are not so merry.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson finishing up a report, enraged protesters ruining the back drop of his shot, he grabbed the sign and smashed it. Well, he didn‘t go so well on the smashing, but at least he has their sign.
Oh, hello. These protesters came prepared with more than one sign.
Curses! They‘re always one step ahead of old Nick.
Nick apologized for losing his temper, but did not apologize for his poor sign smashing abilities.
To Chonburi, Thailand, where horses are not the only hoofed animals which can race. Sixty-three thoroughbred water buffaloes have been brought out for their annual race. And they‘re running. The animals are split into one of four categories, ranging from very small to large. And there is also venti. They are then ridden by what you would probably call jockeys down a 450 foot course. No saddles to protect the jockeys or their bums. So they‘re simply forced to hang on for dear life. Most make it to the end of the course. But then some of them are not so lucky. Most were happy with how the Preparation H Water Buffalo Race turned out.
Lastly, to Mexico City, ironically located in Mexico. It is the 15th annual International Clown Convention. Not to be confused with the Tea Party Convention. Nearly 800 clowns gathered to laugh for 20 minutes in an attempt to break a world record. What record they were attempting to break, not entirely certain. Oh, Carl Paladino, no. I‘m going to guess it had something to do with scaring children.
Unfortunately, these bozos could only laugh for 15 minutes and actually failed to break the record. When asked to comment, Christine O‘Donnell‘s father said he had not been officially invited.
Time marches on.
The would be Texas Republican congressman comes out and admits it. If he doesn‘t get what he wants, revolution, armed insurrection is, quote, on the table. And he self-identifies as a, quote, pastor, unquote, next.
OLBERMANN: Before yesterday, Sharron Angle‘s suggestion of Second Amendment remedies was closest any Tea Party Republican candidate for national office had come to explicitly threatening to violently overthrow the government of the United States.
In our third story, that was before yesterday. Stephen Broden, the Tea Party Republican candidate for Congress in the 30th district for Texas, calls himself a constitutional pastor. Yesterday, he told “The Dallas Reporter” that the violent overthrow of our government was an option that is, quote, “on the table.”
And it is on tape. Broden is the senior pastor at the Fair Park Bible Fellowship, a church he founded in Dallas. It was as constitutional pastor that Broden appeared at a 9/12 Tea Party in June 2009. During the speech, Broden warned the Ft. Worth audience about hidden death panels in the Democrats‘ health care bill. He suggested the Obama administration had contrived an economic downturn to seize power.
He warned that America was turning into Nazi, Germany. And he said that the framers of the Constitution had provided a safety valve for the situation we‘re in. It was called, he said, revolution.
The Youtube clip of the incendiary speech eventually wound up in Glenn Beck‘s inbox. Guess what, he liked what he saw and put the pastor on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I was watching you. It was—I was like, oh, my gosh. You‘re saying the same thing. Do you think I have it right, that these are—these are Marxist radicals that have positions of tremendous power. Is that right or wrong?
STEPHEN BRODEN ®, CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Absolutely. Look, you are dead on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: By our count, Beck booked Broden at least half a dozen times as a guest on his Fox News show, and the pastor became a Tea Party cause celebre. In November of last year, Broden led off Michelle Bachmann‘s anti-health care reform s protest at the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now for our benediction, Pastor Broden from Dallas, Texas.
BRODEN: We‘re concerned that there is end of life counseling and death panels inside this death care. And we believe that is against the law of nature and of nature‘s God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That was the benediction. Broden mingling with the likes of Phil Gingrey of Georgia, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Steve King of Iowa. Then in June of this year, Broden announced his intention to join his Tea Party in Congress friend and run against the incumbent Democrat, Eddie Bernice Johnson.
But yesterday, Pastor Broden‘s words from that Ft. Worth event finally caught up with him. He sat down with a reporter from the Dallas ABC station, WFAA, to review the tape. Asked about the death panels, Broden hedged. Asked if the Obama administration was a modern day Nazi party, Broden backed on.
But asked about his comment about violent revolution, Broden doubled down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRODEN: We have a constitutional remedy here. The framer says if that don‘t work, revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broden says revolution first means at the ballot box. But a violent overthrow is an option.
BRODEN: Our nation was founded on violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2010, you would urge that as an option though?
BRODEN: The option is on the table. I don‘t think that we should ever remove anything from the table, as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The head of the Dallas County Republicans said those remarks were disappointing, but he called them an isolated incident. A Dallas Tea Party organizer named Ken Emanuelson (ph) told the “Dallas Morning News” that he didn‘t disagree with Broden‘s point, but he doesn‘t think revolution is going to happen soon.
As for Glenn Beck? Pastor? Pastor who?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: Steven Broden is—I wouldn‘t say he was a friend of mine. I have met Pastor Steve Broden maybe four times. He seems like a guy who gets it. He is a friend of Alveda King. If Pastor Stephen Broden actually said those words, I denounce those words and I denounce him. But I don‘t believe the press has those words right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yep. The videotape doesn‘t count. Joining me now, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones Magazine,” columnist at PoliticsDaily.com. David, good evening.
DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE”: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, violent revolution is on the table. What now?
Is somebody calling homeland security?
CORN: I think they should call the Communist party, because isn‘t that the entity that wants to overthrow the government? This guy says that we‘re going to depopulate the population with health care. And he compared America to Nazi Germany. Does that mean Obama is going to invade Canada? This is lunacy.
OLBERMANN: The head of the local GOP says, as I quoted him, isolated incident. Except it isn‘t. He is a figure connected to Beck. He is a figure connected to Michele Bachmann. Did Broden just make the greatest case imaginable for the Democrats and remaining normal Republican on the second of November?
CORN: It is not isolated. You mentioned in your intro Sharron Angle calling for Second Amendment remedies, meaning we‘re going to get our way through the barrel of a gun. So what we see here—this is the question I would have for these folks: why should we not call you the We Hate America Party? Whether it is Glenn Beck or Michele Bachmann or this pastor, who are calling for, you know, these violent or near violent remedies.
Glenn Beck says he doesn‘t. But these guys basically say they don‘t like America as it is right now. And in fact, they want to make basic change. Why do they hate America so much?
OLBERMANN: The whole thing last year about trying to tie—or two years ago, trying to tie Barack Obama to William Ayers. And this now, using the prospects—holding out this bloody scepter in front of people, saying if we don‘t win, that‘s all right; we‘ll just kill them all and take over the government. It is something of a political pivot even for crazy Republicans and crazy conservatives. Isn‘t it? Even for them, this is like a new high and low?
CORN: I‘m not sure it‘s a pivot. Maybe it‘s a little bit more of a step to the ledge. We saw during the health care debate the Republicans in the House held a protest march, which they sponsored. What happened? The crowd came out and it started chanting, referring to the Democrats, “Nazis, Nazis, Nazis.”
When you work up people to that sort of fervor—what do you do with a Nazi? Well, you take them out, as Carl Paladino might say. And there is not a long distance from calling Obama and Democrats Nazis to advocating violence against them.
OLBERMANN: Two other topics on this, broadly; Rand Paul is going to announce—announced he is going to debate Jack Conway again, won‘t shake hands again, won‘t answer about Aqua Buddha. What‘s going on in Kentucky?
CORN: Well, the race in Kentucky is an aqua shade close race. You know, it‘s really a close shave down there. And it seemed that Jack Conway might have misfired with an ad that raised some questions about what Rand Paul did as a college student and his views on Christianity.
But, very quickly, the issue turned not into the ad but into whether Rand Paul would or wouldn‘t debate him. It looked like Rand Paul was so offended he was running away. And even Republicans down in Kentucky were calling on Rand Paul to man up, which is the phrase of the year, apparently, and take on Jack Conway.
So I think Rand Paul sensed that he had sort of taken this opportunity and was blowing it. So he has no choice now but to come out to the debate on Monday night.
OLBERMANN: By the a way, in Nevada, the phrase for Sharron Angle is human being up. Last one, you wrote today about more trouble for the Joe Miller campaign. Can you give that in brief?
CORN: Joe Miller is running on a libertarian, sort of anti-big government platform. He is staying away from social issues. But it turns out he put on the campaign payroll one of the most anti-gay of the religious right‘s anti-gay crusaders. A guy named Terry Moffet, who runs a group that flies planes over places like Disney World denouncing homosexuals. And he even—his group even blasted Rush Limbaugh because why? Rush dared to hob-nob with Elton John, who is—who denounces the lord Jesus.
So this group is really far out there. They believe that God will punish America for tolerating homosexuals. I called the Miller campaign and tried to ask them what this guy was doing for Joe Miller, why he was on the pay roll. I got no response.
OLBERMANN: Well, because you‘re a member of the media. David Corn, Washington editor of “Mother Jones,” as always, thanks for your time tonight, David.
CORN: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The murder mystery continues. Part two tonight of “The Catbird Seat” by James Thurber.
Funny dog gone thing happened in Texas. A guy at a college criticizes this Republican congressman and got fired in part thanks to the congressman. Hey right wing, where is your free speech complaint now?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she goes live to Las Vegas, as the president tells Nevadans tonight, keep Harry Reid.
OLBERMANN: Part two of James Thurber‘s brilliant “The Catbird Seat” next, but first, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight‘s Worst Persons in the World.
The bronze to Geraldo Tito Figgerora (ph) of Waterbury, Connecticut. He called the local police the other night to report his car had been stolen. They promptly went out to see Mr. Figgerora and arrested him. In point of fact, his car had not been stolen. The police had seized it because he had left it in the parking lot of condo complex in Old Sabrouc (ph). They had seen him running away from the car after, they allege, he had broken into three condos there, stolen stuff and put it into his car. And it apparently never occurred to him that the police had his car.
Our runner up, him again, would be Ohio Tea Party Congressman and Nazi reenactor Rich Iott. It turns out he has a second military problem. Iott‘s latest campaign mailer reads in part that Iott understands, quote, “the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made because he serves himself.”
In March, he made a donation to the Republican National Committee. On the contribution form, he listed his employer as State of Ohio and his occupation as soldier. Except he‘s not a veteran and he‘s not in the military now. He‘s a colonel in the Ohio Military Reserve, a volunteer militia that has never been called up for duty.
So the only military action Iott‘s ever seen was while he was wearing that SS uniforms. Understands the sacrifices because he serves himself. You bet he does.
But our winner, Louie Gohmert of Texas, possibly the least intelligent member of the House of Representatives. It turns out he is also a petulant, vengeful man. You‘ll recall last summer Gohmert propagated the terror babies nonsense. Back in Texas, an art gallery director named Christian Cutler then decided he wanted nothing to do with the high school art show he was to judge at Gohmert‘s request. Ten days later, Cutler got a letter from Gohmert saying he was sorry about all that, but since Cutler was going to pull out, so was Gohmert.
Cutler didn‘t know it, but the art show was supposed to be held at the Stephen F. Austin College, where Cutler works. In revenge, Gohmert moved the show elsewhere. Cutler attempted to apologize. Gohmert and the school wouldn‘t accept. And now Stephen F. Austin College has fired Cutler as its director of art galleries. In essence, Gohmert got him fired for disagreeing with him.
Do you see anybody on Fox talking about Cutler or freedom of speech or threatening to defund Congressman Louie Gohmert, today‘s worst person in the world?
OLBERMANN: We close another week with more from James Thurber from 1945‘s “The Thurber Carnival,” included in the Library of America‘s “Thurber Writings and Drawings.” It‘s another of James Thurber‘s recurring themes, the ordinary man dreaming of or actually doing extraordinary things. A woman named Ulgine Barrows, who shouts catch phrases she has learned from baseball announcer Red Barber, has beguiled Mr. Fitweiler and wormed her way into the hum-drum offices of his F&S company in New York City in 1941.
In so doing, she has destroyed the efficient, logical world of the hum drum chief clerk, Irwin Martin. So naturally, Mr. Martin has decided to murder her.
Part two of “The Catbird Seat” by James Thurber.
“Mrs. Barrows had met Mr. Fitweiler at a party, where she had rescued him from the embraces of a powerfully built drunken man who had mistaken the president of F & S for a famous retired Middle Western football coach. She had led him to a sofa and somehow worked upon him a monstrous magic. The aging gentleman had jumped to the conclusion there and then that this was a woman of singular attainments, equipped to bring out the best in him and in the firm.
A week later, he had introduced her into F & S as his special adviser.
On that day, confusion got its foot in the door.
After Miss Tyson, Mr. Brundage, and Mr. Bartlett had been fired and Mr. Munson had taken his hat and stalked out, mailing in his resignation later, old Roberts had been emboldened to speak to Mr. Fitweiler. He mentioned that Mr. Munson‘s department had been “a little disrupted” and hadn‘t they perhaps better resume the old system there?
Mr. Fitweiler had said certainly not. He had the greatest faith in Mrs. Barrows‘ ideas. “They require a little seasoning, a little seasoning, is all,” he had added. Mr. Roberts had given it up. Mr. Martin reviewed in detail all the changes wrought by Mrs. Barrows. She had begun chipping at the cornices of the firm‘s edifice and now she was swinging at the foundation stones with a pickaxe.
Mr. Martin came now, in his summing up, to the afternoon of Monday, November 2nd, 1942, just one week ago. On that day, at 3:00 p.m., Mrs. Barrows had bounced into his office. “Boo!” she had yelled. “Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel?” Mr. Martin had looked at her from under his green eyeshade, saying nothing. She had begun to wander about the office, taking it in with her great, popping eyes.
“Do you really need all these filing cabinets?” she had demanded suddenly. Mr. Martin‘s heart had jumped. “Each of these files,” he had said, keeping his voice even, “plays an indispensable part in the system of F & S.” She had brayed at him, “Well, don‘t tear up the pea patch!” And gone on to the door. From there she had bawled, “but you sure have got a lot of fine scrap in here!”
Mr. Martin could no longer doubt that the finger was on his beloved department. Her pickaxe was on the upswing, poised for the first blow. It had not come yet. He had received no blue memo from the enchanted Mr. Fitweiler bearing nonsensical instructions deriving from the obscene woman.
But there was no doubt in Mr. Martin‘s mind that one would be forthcoming.
He must act quickly.
Already a precious week had gone by. Mr. Martin stood up in his living room, still holding his milk glass. “Gentlemen of the jury,” he said to himself, “I demand the death penalty for this horrible person.”
The next day, Mr. Martin followed his routine, as usual. He polished his glasses more often and once sharpened an already sharp pencil, but not even Miss Paird noticed. Only once did he catch sight of his victim. She swept past him in the hall with a patronizing “Hi!” At five-thirty, he walked home, as usual, and had a glass of milk, as usual. He had never drunk anything stronger in his life, unless you could count ginger ale.
The late Sam Schlosser, the S of F & S, had praised Mr. Martin at a staff meeting several years before for his temperate habits. “Our most efficient worker neither drinks nor smokes,” he had said. “The results speak for themselves.” Mr. Fitweiler had sat by, nodding approval.
Mr. Martin was still thinking about that red-letter day as he walked over to the Schrafft‘s on Fifth Avenue near Forty-sixth Street. He got there, as he always did, at eight o‘clock. He finished his dinner and the financial page of “The Sun” at a quarter to nine, as he always did.
It was his custom after dinner to take a walk. This time he walked down Fifth Avenue at a casual pace. His gloved hands felt moist and warm, his forehead cold. He transferred the Camels from his overcoat to a jacket pocket. He wondered, as he did so, if they did not represent an unnecessary note of strain. Mrs. Barrows smoked only Luckies. It was his idea to puff a few puffs on a Camel after the rubbing-out, stub it out in the ashtray holding her lipstick-stained Luckies, and thus drag a small red herring across the trail.
Perhaps it was not a good idea. It would take time. He might even choke, too loudly.
Mr. Martin had never seen the house on West Twelfth Street where Mrs. Barrows lived, but he had a clear enough picture of it. Fortunately, she had bragged to everybody about her ducky first-floor apartment in the perfectly darling three-story red-brick. There would be no doorman or other attendants; just the tenants of the second and third floors. As he walked along, Mr. Martin realized that he would get there before nine-thirty. He had considered walking north on Fifth Avenue from Schrafft‘s to a point from which it would take him until ten o‘clock to reach the house.
At that hour, people were less likely to be coming in or going out. But the procedure would have made an awkward loop in the straight thread of his casualness and he had abandoned it. It was impossible to figure when people would be entering or leaving the house, anyway. There was a great risk at any hour. If he ran into anybody, he would simply have to place the rubbing-out of Ulgine Barrows in the inactive file forever.
The same thing would hold true if there were someone in her apartment. In that case. he would just say that he had been passing by, recognized her charming house, and thought to drop in.
It was eighteen minutes after nine when Mr. Martin turned into Twelfth Street. A man passed him, and a man and a woman talking. There was no one within fifty paces when he came to the house, halfway down the block. He was up the steps and in the small vestibule in no time, pressing the bell under the card that said “Mrs. Ulgine Barrows.” When the clicking in the lock started, he jumped forward against the door. He got inside fast, closing the door behind him. A bulb in a lantern hung from the hall ceiling on a chain, seemed to give a monstrously bright light.
There was nobody on the stair, which went up ahead of him along the left wall. A door opened down the hall in the wall on the right. He went toward it swiftly, on tiptoe.
“Well, for God‘s sake, look who‘s here!” bawled Mrs. Barrows, and her braying laugh rang out like the report of a shotgun. He rushed past her like a football tackle, bumping her. “Hey, quit shoving!” she said, closing the door behind them. They were in her living room, which seemed to Mr. Martin to be lighted by a hundred lamps.
“What‘s after you?” she said. “You‘re as jumpy as a goat.” He found he was unable to speak. His heart was wheezing in his throat. “I—yes,” he finally brought out. She was jabbering and laughing as she started to help him off with his coat. “No, no,” he said. “I‘ll put it here.” He took it off and put it on a chair near the door.
“Your hat and gloves, too,” she said. “You‘re in a lady‘s house.” He put his hat on top of the coat. He kept his gloves on.”
Part two of “The Catbird Seat” by James Thurber. We‘ll resume with part three next week. That‘s COUNTDOWN. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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