Guests: Ezra Klein, Patrick Smith, Wendy Sherman, David Corn, Flor Felix
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Public support for the feel-up falls down. Gallup Poll—angered or bothered by the scanners: 42 percent. Angered or bothered by the pat downs: 57 percent.
Tonight‘s new phrase, “Security Theater.” Tonight‘s new fear: the right‘s attempt to wedge in privatization and racial profiling.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: Sure, profiling is OK. You know, you do it everywhere else in life. It only makes sense. You just need to do it. You need to go through the process and make sure you do it right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Korea, the threat of resumed war or just showing of by Kim Jong-il or his son and successor seriously ill?
Highest corporate profits ever. In the third quarter, American companies make money at an annual rate of $1,660,000,000,000. I thought this president was an anti-business, socialist, wealth-spreading, socialist, anti-business socialist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn‘t know a thing about business.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: He is against the profit-making system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most anti-business administration I‘ve seen in my lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: The president and the rebirth of Kokomo, Indiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don‘t bet against America.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Don‘t bet against the American auto industry. Don‘t bet against American ingenuity. Don‘t bet against the American worker. Don‘t bet against them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Tea Party‘s first target in office: Elizabeth Warren? The bid to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so credit card companies can resume screwing you in the fine print.
Delusions of grandeur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I think FOX News is now the most powerful media agency in the world—not just the country, but in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Except for all the noise. When have they actually succeeded?
And Jan Brewer‘s death panels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOR FELIX, WIFE OF A TRANSPLANT PATIENT: This is the price that we have to pay just because we live in Arizona?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The latest with the Flor Felix and her husband and the liver transplant the state of Arizona promised to get him until the Republican leadership reneged. Happy Thanksgiving.
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, November 23rd, 714 days until the 2012 presidential elections.
And one day until national opt-out day—which we should remind you is not—repeat—not, an official federal holiday.
Nevertheless, Republicans in our government have shown us just as they started calling federal law enforcement jackbooted thugs when Bill Clinton was in the White House that yet, again the election of a Democratic president has turned Republicans from authoritarians into civil libertarians.
Our fifth story tonight: Republicans, who did not blink an eye when a Republican president tossed brown Muslims down his bottomless pits have—as opinion polls have told them to—suddenly found their outrage.
Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz saying, apparently with a straight face, quote, “Surely, it is possible to secure an airplane without sacrificing individual liberties or privacy.”
Chaffetz now calling for an investigation, not of Gitmo or anything like that or torture or warrantless wiretapping, but asking President Obama to investigate why TSA officers followed the college student who videotaped the screening on Friday, of which a man removed his own son‘s shirt to avoid having him patted down. Because, of course, someone videotaping a new airport security measure would have been just fine under the Bush administration.
Chaffetz instead, along with Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra are now calling for racial profiling—I‘m sorry—profiling. Quoting Chaffetz, “Not based solely on someone‘s religion or based solely on someone‘s race.”
Public support meanwhile for these scanners remains, though it is slipping. A poll conducted November 7th through the 10th had found that 81 percent of Americans were in favor of the full body scanners. Another poll conducted Monday shows only 64 percent in favor. The nation is even more narrowly divided on those full-body, quote, “pat-downs, unquote: 57 percent of fliers saying the pat downs bother or anger them, 50 percent of American oppose them, 48 percent calling them justified in another poll.
Public opinion sliding as more anecdotes of absurd or offensive pat downs or screenings continue to bubble up. The ACLU is now reporting more than 600 complaints. The TSA workers union reporting some of its members have been assaulted by angry passengers, calling on the TSA to give passengers pamphlets to explain exactly what the procedure is.
An important note to consider: if you‘re thinking of opting out of the full body scan tomorrow, once you do opt-out, after they tell you your only other option is a full-body pat down, you can‘t change your mind.
A point Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano admitted yesterday when asked whether the pat downs were, quote-unquote, “optional.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are they optional or can you be fined for opting out and will they be imposed on you even if you object as has happened before?
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, obviously, I did not say they were optional in that sense. So, I don‘t know where you got that. But—
REPORTER: From a TSA spokesperson.
NAPOLITANO: Listen, very few passengers receive a pat down. Those who decide they don‘t want to go through the walk-through metal detector or the new AIT machines, there has to be a way to screen them. And the way to screen them is with a pat down.
Then, if an individual—if there are things that alarm either on the walk-through metal detector or on the AIT machines, those also have to be patted down to resolve what caused the alarm. So, there‘s a process for each of those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And what about passengers like Samuel Wolanyk of San Diego? Opted out of the scan, and then stripped down to his skivvies to avoid the pat down when he refused to re-cloth himself for the pat down, he was arrested.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa meanwhile putting himself on the line to make a case for the safety of the scanners, estimated to expose passengers to radiation about the equivalent of what you get two minutes while flying.
Suspicion about the scanners, though, surely fueled by today‘s report in “USA Today” that the companies that make the scanners in the past five years had doubled how much they spent to lobby Washington on things like, you know, using their scanners. L-3 Communications is spending $4,300,000 this year on lobbying, up from $2.1 million in 2005. And RapidScan Systems spending $271,000, up from $80,000 in 2005.
Let‘s bring in airline pilot, Patrick Smith, also an author and columnist, who blogs at AskthePilot.com.
Mr. Smith, thanks for your time tonight.
PATRICK SMITH, AIRLINE PILOT: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: National opt-out day—how do you think this is going to go considering that it doesn‘t necessarily mean opting in for the pat down? And what does it actually do other than potentially make a lot of people miss their flights?
SMITH: Yes, I‘ve got mixed feelings about it. I think you‘re much more likely to just tick off millions of your fellow travelers than you are to affect any TSA policy in a meaningful way.
SMITH: And then what happens on Thursday, we‘re just back to normal again? I mean, hat‘s not really making much of a statement. Not that there isn‘t a statement that needs to be made, but I don‘t know if this is the way to do it.
OLBERMANN: What is the statement that needs to be made, and how should it be made?
SMITH: Well, you know, to a large degree, I think that this discussion we‘re having about scanners and pat downs is an important one because it brings up critical privacy issues and whatnot. But what I don‘t like about it is that it takes our attention away and it distracts us from asking bigger, more important questions about TSA‘s approach to airport security in general, overall. I mean a couple of things by that.
Mainly, I mean we have this approach where every single person who flies from a toddler to an elderly woman to a pilot in full uniform is considered a potential terrorist. And I‘m sorry, but in a country where 2 million people fly every day, that‘s just not sustainable. It‘s not—it‘s ultimately not enforceable. It‘s just a self-defeating approach.
And also, the scanners are really part of this arms race, I like to call it. You know, first, it was pointy objects, and then it was shoes, and then it was liquids and gels, and now, it‘s underwear. You know, we‘re being scanned and X-rayed and patted down just to get on a plane. What‘s next?
I think we need to step back and realize that, look, we‘re just never going to be perfectly safe from every conceivable threat. And we also have to realize that the real nuts and bolts of airport security isn‘t what we see there on the concourse. It goes on behind the scenes. It‘s the FBI and the CIA and counterintelligence.
It‘s not the guy going through your bags arguing with you about the size of a shampoo bottle. We need to get past that and have a system that starts looking for people who might use weapons rather than weapons themselves.
OLBERMANN: How do they do that without resorting or in effect turning to racial or ethnic profiling?
SMITH: Well, some kind of profiling might be part of the answer. You know, the Israelis are very good with what they call behavioral—excuse me—behavioral profiling. You know, we need to bring in some of that. We need to have a layered approach that brings in many different things. And just stop with this—this zero-tolerance, everybody is a suspect, everything is a weapon.
You know, they‘re still taking little pointy objects out of people‘s bags. I had a knife taken from my luggage when I was on duty in my uniform. Stuff like that does nothing to improve security. On the contrary, it takes resources, money, and manpower away from doing more important things.
I think we should scale back a lot of what we see on the concourse and reallocate those people and those resources to better explosives screening behind the scenes, that sort of thing.
OLBERMANN: There was a phrase thrown about today that I hadn‘t heard before, “Security Theater.” Is any of what—the new scanning or pat down techniques, are they of any actual practical use by themselves?
SMITH: Well, it‘s funny. The polls that you cited a few minutes ago show that the majority of Americans are in favor of this, which takes me aback a little bit. You know, I want to say to people, do you want to feel safe or do you actually want to be safe? Because I just—I don‘t see that this is making us any safer.
You know, and if we are going to deploy these scanners, these body scanners, I have a simple question, which is: why are we not doing it overseas in the Middle East or Africa or South America, wherever, where, you know, somebody is much more likely to try and smuggle a bomb on board versus Des Moines or Pittsburgh?
OLBERMANN: Patrick Smith—I‘m sorry.
SMITH: And there are so many questions here. And we‘re seeing—we‘re seeing so much hypocrisy and none of it really makes sense. We‘re not safer for the cause.
OLBERMANN: The author of the blog AskthePilot.com, airline pilot, Patrick Smith—great thanks for your time tonight.
SMITH: Anytime, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn now to Wendy Sherman, former advisor to both President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright, now, vice chair of the global strategy firm, the Albright Stonebridge Group.
Great thanks for joining us tonight.
WENDY SHERMAN, ALBRIGHT STONEBRIDGE GROUP: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You served as Mr. Clinton‘s policy coordinator on North Korea, and obviously, I want to ask you about the developments there. But one question first on the security issue that‘s related to the TSA and the current issue—how useful are these scan‘s X-ray manual? Are they really part—as Mr. Smith there suggested—part of an ideal national counterterrorist strategy?
SHERMAN: Well, I think every American wants to not only feel safe but be safe. I agree with him on that. I think we do need a layered approach, as he suggests.
But I travel all over the world and I think I‘ve been subjected to every single security measure there is in the world. And we have to try out things and get ahead of the terrorists.
I was on a congressional commission for the prevention of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we really think that we need this very detailed layered approach.
President Obama has said, however, and Secretary Napolitano, that we‘re constantly looking at the techniques that we use. We‘re revising them because we have to stay ahead of the terrorists catching up to the next thing we do. It‘s complicated, it‘s difficult.
I feel for everybody who is traveling tomorrow. I understand how aggravating it is sometimes. But I do hope that people don‘t put on a protest tomorrow because I agree with Pilot Smith. It will just aggravate fellow passengers, it won‘t increase security.
OLBERMANN: Let‘s turn to Korea. The early line of what happened overnight, our time, was that this was Kim Jong-il‘s son and obvious successor, Kim Jong-un, showing the other generals and the dictatorship of North Korea that he can throw his weight around. Is that accurate do you think? Or is there more to it?
SHERMAN: I think that‘s certainly part of it—the transition, the succession. Kim Jong-il wanting to show the military, which is a faction in a dictatorship—there are factions—that he is going to create this powerful new leader for North Korea. But I also think it‘s a broader projection of power. I think it‘s a show of deterrence against South Korea, which was conducting a drill in the Yellow Sea or the West Sea, it says, it‘s sometimes called—and a deterrence to the United States, which Kim Jong-il believes could take down North Korea.
And I think also it‘s a bargaining chip, looking ahead to six-party talks. How many things can be put on the table that the rest of the world is going to have to pay to take off?
OLBERMANN: The accounting of this that NBC News has gotten is that South Korea did, indeed, fire first in this live fire training exercise with the artillery pointing south, away from the North Korean border and North Korean territory, and then North Korea responded four hours later, shelling the South Korean positions and the two soldiers were killed. And South Korea claims there are even more casualties after they returned to fire.
Does this necessarily escalate or were points made on both sides that it doesn‘t need to escalate? Not speaking from—just thinks we can‘t predict, but what do we know from this point?
SHERMAN: Sure. I think everyone is trying to keep it from escalating. South Korea was performing a drill. The North Koreans knew the drill was taking place.
It was not a provocative act. It happens very frequently. The U.S. and South Korea also drill together.
The North Koreans are clearly creating a series of provocations. It‘s very dangerous. We need to get back to negotiations and talks, but what we also need is for China, which is a leader in the process at the six-party talks, and really, North Korea‘s only remaining ally to say to the North Koreans, enough is enough. It‘s time to get back to talks and it‘s time to stop this dangerous behavior.
The Chinese want to take a neutral position. I understand that. They want to act as some kind of honest broker, so to speak, in the six-party talks. But there is no honesty here when you‘re putting people‘s lives at risk, when they‘re losing their lives and when you‘re targeting civilians. Enough is enough.
OLBERMANN: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the former special advisor to President Clinton—great thanks.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Every hour, somebody accuses this president of being an anti-business socialist, which is, I guess, why American corporations reported today the highest profits in history, during the third quarter.
And back to Arizona and the all-to-real death panels there. The latest figures on your extraordinary generosity towards two men denied life-saving transplants that the state promised to pay for. I‘ll be joined by the wife of one of them.
OLBERMANN: At the rate, they made profits in third quarter, American corporations would profit $1,660,000,000 this year, an all-time record. And the president still has answer to charges that he‘s anti-business.
The Tea Party investigate-a-thon: target number one is Liz Warren?
“FOX News,” he says, “is the most powerful media agency in the world.”
Media agency isn‘t buying and selling commercials.
And the latest on the Arizona debt panels—our follow up with the wife of the man literally pulled off the operating table after the state pulled out of its insurance obligations.
OLBERMANN: For the right wing pundits and politicians who believe this nation‘s economy is staying afloat in spite of what they consider to be an anti-business president, today‘s report from the Commerce Department should come as something of a shock. Corporate profits of the last quarter were the highest ever as in since they started tracking the number more than 60 years ago. It is a figure so high it dwarfs even made-up numbers like eleventy billion.
In our fourth story: Mr. Anti-business was in Kokomo, Indiana, today, getting a tour of the town that as late as last year was marked for death in essence until the federal government stepped in.
First, those corporate profit numbers. According to Commerce Department, between July and September this is year, American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1,660,000,000,000. In fact, profits have been up every quarter beginning after 2008. That means big bonuses, happy shareholders and still no new jobs.
Moody‘s chief economist Mark Zandi today telling “Huffington Post,” that residual anxiety from the collapse and policy fears continue to stall job creation, quote, “businesses remain very nervous.” Translation? Businesses remain very greedy.
In Kokomo, once deemed by “Forbes” magazine one of America‘s fastest-dying towns. The White House is touting 12 percent unemployment in a town of 46,000, because last July, the unemployment rate there was 20 percent. Kokomo has benefited from over $400 million in federal stimulus money. And it was the federal government‘s bailout of Chrysler that helped that company keeps its Kokomo transmission plants open.
CNN reported that without the federal bailout, many feel 3,500 workers in Kokomo would have lost their jobs. Today, Chrysler announced it would invest another $843 million into the factories there, enabling them to retain more than 2,200 jobs there.
Today, standing amid the hardware at the Kokomo Chrysler plant, the president took credit for the success of his policies and reminded his audience of the people who fought him tooth and nail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We made the decision to stand with you because we had confidence in the American worker, more than anything. And today, we know that was the right decision. There were those who were prepared to give up on Kokomo and our auto industry. There were those who said it was going to be too difficult or that it was bad politics or it was throwing good money after bad. You remember the voices arguing for us to do nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In case you don‘t, and need a refresher, here are some of those voices:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: We need to let the market fix this.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER: I oppose the bailout back in December.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I join my colleagues in opposing this bailout plan.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY ®, ALABAMA: If I had five GM or Ford plants in my state, I would oppose this bailout.
REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA: But the American people know we cannot borrow and spend and bail our way back to a healthy, domestic automotive economy.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
OLBERMANN: A whole lot of wrong in that group of sound bites.
Joining me now is David Corn, the Washington bureau chief of “Mother Jones,” also columnist to PoliticsDaily.com.
Good evening, David.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Good evening, Keith. I‘m still chuckling about eleventy billion.
OLBERMANN: Thank you very much. A line of Dan Patrick‘s, if I recall.
We‘ll get to Kokomo. Let‘s start macro first, the corporate profit statistic—most money ever. All the corporate execs can now go around and in the phrase from Eddie Izzard, stick the money in their ears and go (INAUDIBLE). And still today, this president was called anti-business.
Is there an explanation for this?
CORN: Well, I guess they‘re not making enough money.
Listen, Barack Obama, you know, seems to have saved the auto industry. He gave bailouts, which I think in some ways—you know, they seemed to have worked. But I think they were problematic where he supported the bailout that Bush started to the financial sector that brought us into this terrible situation.
He injected hundreds of billions of dollars of stimulus into the economy that goes into what? Buying things and creating jobs. It helps businesses. He‘s backed small business tax credits.
On the health care front, he cut a deal with big Pharma that a lot of progressives didn‘t like and he created millions of new customers for the health insurance industry that a lot of progressives don‘t like.
I mean, this guy, in essence, saved modern capitalism. You know, we can argue what should have been saved, what shouldn‘t have been saved. And yet, they still brand him as anti-business.
And that little sort of murderous row that you showed earlier on of these people being wrong, wrong, wrong—I mean, it‘s only because it‘s Barack Obama. I mean, that‘s the only way to explain this. If it had been, you know, a Republican president, Nixon, Reagan, they would have been cheering this on. But because it was Barack Obama, you know, their whole strategy has been not to give the guy an inch of credit for anything.
OLBERMANN: Record profits, still no jobs. That‘s as the one analyst put it. That‘s the corporate fellows are just very nervous. Is that right? Or is there some other explanation for it?
CORN: Well, I think there‘s also a taking advantage of the downturn, which is, you know, the old thing that happens is, it‘s called an old-fashioned speed-up. You get rid of people, you make other people work faster and more so you increase your productivity. I mean, we‘ve seen before this even before this collapse, a—you know, a steady rise in the last decades in worker productivity. It hasn‘t matched wages.
And so, corporations are just squeezing the American worker more and more. They‘re working longer hours, in some ways, for less money. And so, now, you know, we shed jobs. Wall Street says hooray. Stocks go up.
And when things start to turn around, it‘s really like, well, maybe we don‘t need all those jobs. And yet we don‘t talk about improving the social safety net and we talk about giving big tax credits, extending them, to the people making the most and who are benefiting the most from these corporate profits.
OLBERMANN: Yes, there was a great book about 1996 that prophesied all of this called “Fat and Mean,” as opposed to lean and mean, obviously.
One of the voices we just heard in that group of clips opposing the auto bailout was Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Do people in Indiana and beyond Indiana understand that if Republicans had had their way, you know, Kokomo might actually—we might have to recall all the maps and cross Kokomo out?
CORN: I don‘t think they understand there might not have been an economy had Barack Obama not continued some of his policies and not put in a stimulus. I mean, they—you still have these Republicans, you know, a year and go and up until the elections, saying that the stimulus created no new jobs and saved no jobs when any mainstream economist, including Mark Zandi, who you quoted earlier, put the figure at 2 million to 3 million.
It‘s really been kind of criminal that we haven‘t had—been able to have a real, solid, honest policy debate or discussion about what works and what doesn‘t work when we‘re in a hole of this nature with the economy. So, it‘s not just, you know, not recognizing what‘s happened in Kokomo, going from 20 percent to 12 percent unemployment is—you know, is the right direction. It‘s not nearly good enough, but yet, Republicans take advantage of the fact that we‘re not down to 5 percent and they act as if nothing has happened at all when that‘s certainly not the case.
OLBERMANN: David Corn, the Washington editor of “Mother Jones”—great thanks as always for your time tonight, David.
CORN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The likely new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is getting right to work protecting who his party was elected to protect—the credit card companies. Ezra Klein, coming up.
OLBERMANN: Just what the Tea Party members wanted: gutting the agency meant to protect them from credit card rip-offs.
First the sanity break and the tweet of the day from Craig B. “Christmas gift idea: TSA does a TNA. Debbie does Dulles. Or Reagan in I‘ll touch your junk at Reagan International Airport.”
Yes. It‘s a new genre. And yes, you just gave them two movie titles for free. Debbie does Dulles.
Let‘s play “Oddball”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Dateline, West Lake, Ohio. Where we see a woman getting her shopping done early but instead of paper plastic, she‘s wondering boxers or briefs. Getting ready for a trip on an airplane? This criminal mastermind decided the best way to get her fur coat was to shove it down her pants. Uh-oh. Don‘t tell me they‘re going to do TSA-style pat-downs at the mall, too.
This felon there was a word here I can‘t use was able to waddle away with two coats valued at over $5,000. Police are still on the lookout for this mink marauder. And when she‘s caught, they‘ll have plenty to time to wear it and keep it out of her pants in the big house.
And in Anaheim, where the no longer Mighty Ducks are facing off against the (INAUDIBLE) stand by the Ducks and pull their net line and go on a full attack but suddenly from behind the net—oh they put net to the RedSkins. The plot thickens though, this was not an Oilers player who scored the nail on the top. But instead Anaheim forward, Corey Perry had an own goal. And put it in his own net from the other end of the ice.
Anaheim obviously went on to lose the game, keeping them stuck in the middle of the pack. It almost seems as if they‘re waiting for a spark. Maybe they can bring back Coach Bombay (ph) and have Duane (ph) chase him around—that‘s an old joke.
Also in hockey, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a large crowd gathered for dollar hot dogs and to watch the spectrum get torn down which can mean only one thing, blowing stuff up. Ok, let‘s watch this sucker go. And boom goes the wrecking ball? That‘s going to take a long time.
Citing the way the arena was constructed, if you remember the roof came off the first year, officials decided it will be—not be a good idea to have an implosion. They could have just gotten the Philly 76ers to do that.
So they decided to take it down a brick at a time. But that does seem oddly appropriate. A chance for something great, instead disappointment that just drags on and on and on. And yes the fans did actually boo the wrecking ball. The end of the spectrum, no comment from the Misterons (ph). Time marches on slowly.
Feel that a hard working public servants and just ideas to destroy and who is the first Tea Party target? Elizabeth Warren, apparently. Next.
OLBERMANN: With every increasing efficiency and ruthlessness, the credit card companies have been streamlining the ways they rob money out of your pocket even if you never pull your card out of your pocket. And then this year came the little yelp of the embryonic consumer financial protection bureau. The first slight blowback on behalf of the pinioned customer.
In our third story, the GOP has revealed plans to smother the little critter and it‘s not yet fully functioning bed and with it its leader, Elizabeth Warren. “Wall Street Journal” reporting that two House Republicans, Spencer Bachus of Alabama and Judy Biggert of Illinois are demanding rigorous oversight of the newly-formed bureau.
Mr. Bachus will likely replace Congressman Frank, as the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee while Ms. Biggert is the top Republican on the panel‘s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Both wrote letters to the inspectors general, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve seeking information about the agenda and structure of the new bureau. A prelude to one of those phony-baloney investigations, the meat on which these, our Republicans feed.
The Treasury is running the agency until it assumes its full powers in July. Ms. Warren serving as special advisor to President Obama is charged with setting up the darn thing. Biggert and Bachus criticizing the Treasury and Warren for not making certain information public, pointing to other financial regulators posting details of their meetings online. Noting there is a clear absence of accountability and transparency.
“To date, we know very little about the activities being undertaken by the Treasury to establish the bureau.” They lawmakers also hint and examining Ms. Warren‘s every move citing concerns “that Professor Warren will be approaching this task without any experiencing, managing or creating an organization of this scale and importance.”
Translation? She hasn‘t taken bribes from the credit card companies. The creation of the bureau stems from the most significant reform of the financial services industry since the ‘30s. It will write and enforce regulations, police loans, in other words the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will actually protect consumers and not the credit card companies. But not if the Republicans can help it.
Time now to call on MSNBC contributor and “Washington Post” staff writer and “Newsweek” columnist, Ezra Klein. Ezra, good evening.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: When Republicans talk about business—business-friendly policies, is this what they—they mean here, you know? You know, here business, let‘s get government out of the way so you can resume your assault on the customers?
KLEIN: When people talk about business-friendly policies, they tend to mean policies that CEOs and business trade corporations like. And this is probably one of those. Business did not like Elizabeth Warren from the beginning because Elizabeth Warren is not convinced that some of the things business does are good for consumers.
So they can‘t get rid of the CFPB. It‘s popular and they have the hooks for it. But they can make its life very miserable. And when you make an agency‘s life very miserable, you also make it less effective. You can tie up the employees making them bring documents and making them go to a million hearings. You can do a lot to hamper its effectiveness simply by making everybody very busy answering your questions and request.
OLBERMANN: And I guess you started on this. If—flesh this out—why particularly is Liz Warren in a—in a very nascent just getting started agency, why are they the—the sort of high-profile targets?
KLEIN: Well, Elizabeth Warren is high-profile and so is the CFPB. One of the things you want to do at the beginning of an agency, is that you set it up—you set it on its path for a very long time. If the CFPB comes out of the gate and does a great job, is very powerful, attracts wonderful talent from all over the Consumer Financing Consumer Protection sort of sectors and if they turn out to be quite effective, that‘s going to be a legacy that future members of the CFPB will live up to.
If on the other hand from the beginning the agency is neutered, if people like Warren are kept from doing their jobs well, if they‘re kept from attracting good talent and if early on the people there can‘t establish the correct relationship they need to get the sort of members of the business community they regulate, not necessarily to fear them but to ease respect for their autonomy and power to regulate them, then it‘s not going to be effective going forward.
So the getting the agency off on the right foot is important to the people who are for it and getting off on the wrong foot is important to the people who are against it.
A Democratic senate and a Democratic White House can probably prevent the Republicans in the House from—from making those major changes backwards and overhauling and—and retrograding on—on financial regulations. So the likeliest outcome is—just the stalling techniques of the hearings or do they look to defund in the House or what?
KLEIN: I doubt you‘re going see anything like defunding. You‘re going to see a lot of hearings. And right now in the House it‘s going to be the Republican approach on a lot of things. It‘s going to be the Republican approach on health care, which may see some defunding, but you‘re probably just going to see a ton of hearings.
It‘s going to be the Republican approach on the entire Barack Obama administration. The nature of minority parties is that when they become—or majority parties have become minority parties is that when you get into the majority, you suddenly get very interested in hearings and oversight and getting people to testify before you. Where, you know, in the Bush years for Republicans and certainly the Obama years for Democrats, there was less of a—that type of suspicion expressed—being expressed in the House investigations committee.
So if Republicans—if the only power right now are Republicans had is to make the life of Obama appointees miserable, then the life of an Obama appointee is going to be miserable for a little while.
OLBERMANN: Huge corporations spent millions on—on the intent of flipping the—the House. They succeeded in that. Did they anticipate the investment would pay off quite this quickly? And is this exactly what they bought?
KLEIN: The corporations had spent—and certainly towards the end of the election, we saw Wall Street shift very, very strongly towards the GOP. They wanted to see their autonomy protected. They don‘t want to be more heavily regulated; they don‘t want people interfering with their business. They don‘t want to be told their ways of making money off of credit card consumers are no longer to be allowed.
So this is the sort of thing they are hoping for. Certainly, they‘re hoping to have a friendlier ear in Congress. And certainly on this particular issue, they now have one.
OLBERMANN: The “Washington Post‘s” Ezra Klein also of MSNBC, of course, thank you, Ezra. Great thanks.
KLEIN: Thanks, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Progress in Afghanistan: the secret talks with and the secret payments to the Taliban‘s number two. Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur, except that wasn‘t Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur they were talking to.
Sadly this is all too real, the latest on the Arizona death panels, you‘re contributions to the victims. We‘ll talk again with Mrs. Francisco Felix.
And at the top of the hour, on “The Rachel Maddow Show” Matt Taibbi on the financial meltdown. No, no not that financial meltdown, the next financial meltdown.
OLBERMANN: Funny how he claims Fox is the, quote, “Most powerful news agency in the world when its actual track record is surprisingly riddled with failure.
And her decision to pull insurance on 98 residents of Arizona who were promised transplants. The latest on Jan Brewer‘s death panel and your generosity.
OLBERMANN: The latest on Arizona‘s state death panels and the life of the man denied money for his liver transplant at the last moment—next.
Before we get to “Worst Persons” though, a quick preamble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: There is no power at MSNBC to do anything. Here at Fox, we have emerged—and correct me if you think I‘m wrong—but I think Fox News is now the most powerful media agency in the world, not just in the country, but in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Here we go. Interestingly, the thing O‘Reilly thinks Fox has power, power to do what exactly? Since Fox launched, it helped a Speaker of the House get a president impeached. The guy actually lost his job. That would have been the Speaker of the House and his successor.
Then Fox championed a Republican presidential candidate who finished second in the vote. Then Fox demanded a war and got it at the cost of 4,400 American lives. Then Fox championed an incumbent president riding the waves of two wars and terror panic who just barely won re-election.
Then Fox‘s war began to be seen by rare consensus of this nation exactly as it was first depicted on television anyway, not on Fox, but on this program as an obscene lie.
Then Fox‘s president became one of the least popular in all of American history. Then the banking and investor class Fox pimped crashed the economy. Then Fox‘s party lost the House and the Senate and the White House and the opposition enacted its legislative agenda, including health care reform.
Then Fox couldn‘t get its war hero POW and hockey mom elected over a black Kenyan Muslim atheist Reverend Wright hugging racist, terrorist, socialist, fascist, communist, community organizer.
Then Fox‘s party with a perfect storm on its side still managed to gain back only one House in the midterms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O‘REILLY: I think Fox News is now the most powerful media agency in the world, not just the country, but in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want me to answer that?
O‘REILLY: Yes. Do you agree with that assessment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Call me, Bill, when you have the power to raise $2.5 million for free health clinics or develop the power to do anything for anybody but yourselves.
Time for today‘s nominees.
The “Worst Persons in the world” not really.
Bronze: Salvatore Larosa accused in court yesterday of robbing the owner of a pizzeria at his home in Staten, Island in New York. Ironically Mr. Larosa got no money because the bag he grabbed thinking it was full of dough was actually full of dough. Dough.
The runner up, Rupert Murdoch. NewsCorp has now purchased a company called Wireless Generation for about $260 million in cash. Wireless Generation makes software to allow teachers to tailor instruction individually. And it has a deal with the New York City Department of Education. And Murdoch just hired New York City School‘s Chancellor, Joel Klein as his senior advisor. You see where this is going, right?
But our winner is our State Department, Afghanistan and NATO. For months we have been holding secret talks about a peace settlement for the Taliban leader named Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. He wanted safety and jobs for his people. That was about it. He even met with Afghan President Karzai. The administration even asked the “New York Times” to leave his name out of an article to protect him.
Now comes the great disillusionment (ph); the “Times” quotes a western diplomat intimately involved in the discussions about Mullah Mansour. It‘s not him. And we gave him a lot of money. Now nobody is sure, was the fake Mansour a Taliban plant or a Pakistani intelligence plant or just a con man?
Don‘t ask our State Department or Afghanistan or NATO who today share honors as “The Worst Persons in the World”.
OLBERMANN: What started as fabricated hysteria manufactured by the right, now an everyday reality in Governor Jan Brewer‘s Arizona. The fall-out continues over her state-operated death panel, denying organ transplants to low-income patients.
But on our number one story, some good news to report—your continued generosity, to be specific. We‘ll hear from one of the families you have helped to support. Flor Felix joins me presently.
The governor and Republican-controlled legislature cutting $5 million in funding from the state‘s version of Medicaid by canceling insurance for 98 people in need of an organ transplant. That‘s nice. $5 million in exchange for 98 lives.
Among those fighting to survive, Francisco Felix and Randy Shepard and we met them and their young families on this news hour last Friday night.
Mr. Shepard suffering from cardiomyopathy. He needs to come up with a million dollars to cover his heart transplant or he dies. Mr. Felix was already prepped for surgery when the liver donated to him by a family friend was given instead to somebody else.
If there is any hint of hope to be found in this story, it is your incredible support and generosity. The National Transplant Assistance Fund, an organization that helps raise money for transplants continues to be overwhelmed, and we mean that actually, literally, with donations.
$56,000 donated on behalf of these two men on Friday and Saturday alone. They‘re still counting the last two days. One donor, Linda M. of St. Louis, Missouri, wrote in on Mr. Shepard‘s online guest book. “I was so moved by your and the Felix family story that was presented by Keith on COUNTDOWN that I felt I had to do something to help. I‘m not a rich person but I have much to be thankful for, especially my own personal good health and good health insurance. I pray every day that every American will be able to say the same soon.”
You can donate to the Francisco Felix Fund or the Randy Shepard Fund or both or anyone else‘s at that address, ntafund—one word -- .org.
Joining me now again, as promised, Flor Felix, whose husband Francisco was denied money for a liver transplant by the state of Arizona. Thanks again for some of your time tonight, Mrs. Felix.
FLOR FELIX, WIFE OF FRANCISCO FELIX: Hi. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: How is your husband doing tonight?
FELEX: He‘s doing better than—than the last days. He‘s continued to be very positive. And thanking God for—for this opportunity that we have. But we lost at the same time, but I—he‘s still very, very positive.
OLBERMANN: We met that extraordinary family of yours on Friday. How
I didn‘t get a chance to ask you then because we had so much to talk about and so little time. How are your daughters fairing through this ordeal? Are they aware of what‘s going on in any sense other than daddy is sick?
FELIX: Well, at this point, with the little kids, they don‘t know what is going on with that. But the older ones, yes. Now they realize our situation. We always try to—to don‘t tell them the seriousness of my husband‘s illness.
But Carmen, who‘s the biggest one, she‘s very disappointed with all of this. She wants to help her dad. It‘s very hard for her. But I—at this point, they know. They know the—the situation.
OLBERMANN: Obviously it‘s very hard for you to you, too, and in ways that people watching don‘t know. You work full time and you go to school full time and then there‘s this. How are you holding up?
OLBERMANN: With the support of—my family is very supportive. One of my sister-in-laws helps me with picking up my daughters at school. I‘ve been working at my company for nine years. It‘s very, very good company and they understand my—my situation. And I just—I had to go back to school. I know that I need to be ready and I need to prepare for—for the next years.
FELIX: It‘s not easy. It‘s been hard. But I still—
OLBERMANN: There are—
OLBERMANN: There are lots of people in this country who obviously don‘t agree with what—what the state of Arizona has done and that‘s shown by the support for you and your family through the donations or through the words of encouragement.
You‘re on the show right now. What would you like to say to those people who reached out and helped?
FELIX: I want to thank everyone. I want to thank everyone because there‘s a lot of people who have been supporting us. We have been receiving phone calls. And I want to thank—it‘s going to—the families. They know—they know my situation. My husband‘s situation.
He wants to live. He wants to continue fighting. He always says that God sent this opportunity to him. If it was a human mistake, God is going to send another opportunity to him.
OLBERMANN: Obviously there is a time factor in this because the doctors say that after a year or two, they would not be able to—to give him the transplant, even were they to find the liver. Why is that the case? What happens in a year or two?
FELIX: We don‘t know what is going to happen. We want to have again another opportunity. I hope that—I know that this is national news, and I hope that somebody—we hope that somebody is going to donate another liver for my husband. We know that he‘s going to have his—his surgery.
So we want to keep positive and—because I was told by the doctor that had he received this liver transplant, he has an opportunity to live up to 30, 45 years. So we‘re going to continue fighting, we‘re going to continue looking for the liver. God—he always listens to our prayers—he listened to our praying because he sent these opportunities to him. I don‘t know if this was a human mistake, but we‘re going to continue.
FELIX: Last point. The idea that—that the governor and the state legislature would do this to save what is for them a very small piece of money, I didn‘t get to ask you this question last Friday night. What would you saw to Governor Brewer right now about this decision?
FELIX: If you have to say something to her, I would say to take a moment and review what why did she sign it? She don‘t have the right to kill people. Basically she‘s killing people. And I will—I would like to ask her to meet with people that she has to meet with.
She always blames Obama. I believe in Obama‘s judgment. And I—but I can‘t believe that Obama asked her to make all of these—these cuts with the budget. If it‘s—if this is true, I would like to hear from Obama saying that. But because I don‘t believe that.
I don‘t believe that Obama told her to cut—she‘s spending many, many, many, many millions of dollars on other things. And I know that Arizona is making a lot of money. So where is this—this money going to?
FELIX: I will say to her—yes.
OLBERMANN: I‘m sorry. I‘m out of time.
FLOR FELIX: Great—thanks for your time. We appreciate everything that you‘ve done and all the best to the family.
That‘s November 24th. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night. Good luck.
And now ladies and gentlemen, in for Rachel Maddow with his guest Matt Taibbi on the next financial meltdown, here‘s Chris Hayes. Chris good evening.
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