TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning everyone, and welcome back to your quickly typed liveblog of the Sunday morning political coprophage chat shows. My name is Jason, and I have returned from my week away in lovely, pastoral Charlottesville, VA, which is about two hours from Washington and thus safely beyond the perimeter where Americans watch or talk about or are even aware of the existence of Sunday morning political shows. It was really like being in heaven, except there was a mediocre college football team.

As you probably know, the government is still basically shut down and we are approaching the debt ceiling deadline as well. On Friday, it looked like this long and torturous conversation that the House GOP was essentially having with itself was finally winding down, with the Senate tappy-tapping their feet and the House crazies working out some of their id exercises at the Valu-Voters Discount Roundup thingy, or whatever it was. Louis Gohmert said that John McCain was an al Qaeda sympathizer, and that just about sums up where things are right now, with that whole group of people.

If you picked "Sunday" -- as in today -- as your date-the-shutdown-ends pool, you're likely S.O.L., but, you know, join the rest of us. We have managed to get to the point where Paul Ryan is attempting to scam everyone, so at least it feels familiar. Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein is finally starting to regret the rough beast, formed from disparate parts of idiots, that he sent slouching toward the Potomac. Things could thus, end soon. Maybe even not badly. I would still practice making fire from dry sticks today if you get the chance.

Anyway, there are some inessential people who have not been furloughed and they're all about to host teevee shows that I have to watch, so let's get that started. As always, feel free to converse in the comments, drop me a line if you need to, follow me on Twitter if that's where you are in your life right now, and for this week's best reads, check out my Rebel Mouse page.


I am still not used to the new opening sequence to this show, and it's bright colors. Luckily we got a wave of dull gray coming in the form of Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Joe Manchin (D-WV.) -- though dull is good, in this context! These two are part of the Reasonable Caucus, generally speaking. Oh, but there's going to be Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who will give us the State Of The Morlock Caucus as well. Plus there will be a panel, as usual.

I'm really not sure this is going to be very exciting. The last few days before a global-economy ending debt ceiling debacle can be like that.

Some stuffed shirt is here to talk about that actually. I think his name is Peter Barnes, and he says that the markets are headed for a bumpy ride this week, because the markets are not too happy about Eve Harrington's scheming. I hope America is ready for some sad traders on trading floors! Also, I hope America is ready to eat canned food and start hunting again.

Okay, so Manchin and Corker are here -- I'm not saying their difficult to distinguish blobs of quiet, grey flesh, but the camera lingers on the wrong one as Chris Wallace introduces them. Don't worry if you are confused and watching at home, telling them apart won't matter all that much.

Corker says that there was some "movement" a couple days ago and now there's no "movement," and that the Senate Democrats may be hesitating. Wallace asks if the Democrats are demanding that the government be reopened and the debt ceiling raised with no strings attached, as if it were a bad thing that there are no strings. ("Strings" as a concept, would be a bad precedent to set here, and would victimize presidents of both parties eventually.)

Corker says that the only question now has to do with sequester-level budget caps. Democrats want to raise them as part of a deal. Wallace's argument -- and it's a fair one -- is why mess with that as part of a deal, when two weeks ago it was Obamacare demands that prevented all of this from happening. Corker agrees with that framework, saying that the Dems are being "One tick too cute." If we can avert these crises, by the way, everyone can meet in conference to resolve the budget impasse.

Manchin says that the shutdown is pointless pain, and the debt ceiling crisis compounds it, and he thinks that there's a deal possibility that has "something in it for everybody" which is the problem, because the House GOP will likely either reject a deal that has "something in it for everybody" or it will cost John Boehner his gavel.

Wallace points out that Harry Reid didn't think the deal was fair to Democrats, and I don't really know what was in the deal that Manchin put together because at this point I basically tune out the work of these various "Gangs of [x] Number of People" because they are essentially Parliamentary Slashfic with heaving septuagenarian bodies. But let me look this up...okay, I guess we are talking about what's colloquially known as the "Collins plan," as it's named for perpetually useless Maine Senator Susan Collins.

I don't see what's immediately so terrible about it, but I take the position that this is not a time to do any kind of bipartisan deal. I think we should reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling cleanly, without any favor trading, because I want to destroy the notion that these are occasions for deal-making. The really great news is that once the government is running and the debt ceiling raised, both parties have nothing but ample opportunities to trade with one another. They could even just consider Susan Collins' ideas on their own.

Manchin does say that the Affordable Care Act should just be allowed to work right now, because it will fail on its own if it's a bad law. Manchin might be doing a little bit of trolling. The attitudes toward Obamacare have shifted on the GOP side -- they're now clearly worried that the Affordable Care Act will inevitably prove to be effective -- and Manchin tweaks their amygdala just a little bit with that comment.

Corker is pretty sure that everything will get resolved this week, but he puzzlingly refers to the sequester level spending caps as "disciplines." It's worth remembering that the sequestration is about as far from a "discipline" as you can get -- the whole point was to imagine a set of budget cuts so staggeringly, obviously, batshit that the mere thought of implementing them would be a total horrorshow and incentivize the cultivation of any other possible budget deal. Now, this is referred to as "disciplines," and that's too bad, because outside the Beltway, the sequestration has really wounded America. Just like it was designed to do!

It sounds to me, though, that the Democrats may be sort of feeling out the situation to see if that can maybe get the sequestration adjusted. That's Corker's sense, too.

Manchin says that post-crisis, there are all kinds of things that can happen on the sequester, like "move toward Simpson-Bowles." The problem there is that Simpson-Bowles sought revenues, and while I'm pretty sure Manchin could get Corker on board, there's the House GOP to contend with, too.

Wallace goes right at that point, pointing out the while Senate Democrats rejected the Collins deal as too generous to the GOP, Paul Ryan and his affiliated weirdos thought that the deal was a GOP surrender, so how do you move something like Simpson-Bowles? Corker sort of snidely comments that Jordan will be on the show to explain the point of view of the lycanthropes, but admits that as the Senate wrangles, they do have to keep the House and its intellectual limitations in mind. The goal, he says, is to try to come up with something that's "close to what the House can accept."

He says, that since we've not gotten anything out of either body, getting something out of one body would be progress. As for the potential economic problems that a debt ceiling breach would pose, Corker stays optimistic, saying that there's a lot more awareness of the stakes this time around, and he thinks that there's an endgame possible that gets past the crisis point without "gouging either side."

Wallace asks Manchin if he thinks the Obama administration has used veterans and cuts in programs as a way of doling out pain, to incentivize a deal. Manchin says that there's no way he could accept that anyone, Republican or Democrat, could do that. Indeed, it's a really puzzling concept -- why Obama would purposely go out to be the villain of the shutdown and make Congress look good by comparison makes no sense at all. I'm afraid that these closures and impacts are just de rigeur for a government shutdown.

Also, I'm afraid to say that if you really want to get to the real pain of the government shutdown, you have GOT TO STOP COVERING THE "MONUMENTS ARE CLOSED" STORY. Believe it or not, there is more to the shutdown that the minor inconveniences of tourists. Only in DC would a person look at monument closures and think, "My God, Obama really wants people to feel real pain!" You could at least go to where there IS ACTUAL PAIN and say that. Give that a try, maybe? Or is twenty-first century demagoguery really that lazy?

Now Representative Jordan is here to rep the Koo-koo Caucus, and make us all miss Corker and Manchin's relative good sense. Jordan sticks to the notion that the House has offered a lot of bills to fund the government, when really they've just sent bills to the Senate filled with junk that the Senate has had to repeatedly remove, or they've done the weird piecemeal funding bills that allow for the traditional Congressional "activity masquerading as achievement" nonsense.

Jordan also sort of thinks that the debt ceiling is a mechanism that sets spending levels. He really thinks that raising the debt ceiling "kicks the can down the road." He doesn't seem to understand that you can debate budget levels on almost any occasion, or that the debt ceiling is about paying bills that we're already obliged to pay.

Wallace, who is basically channeling the GOP donor class, does his best to point out what's at stake, repeatedly asking Jordan if he's prepared to see this go past Thursday and into a default crisis. Jordan says that he should direct that question to Harry Reid and Barack Obama, whose position is that we, as Earthlings, should continue to have this thing called the "global economy," and seeing that U.S. Treasury bonds are a benchmark for the whole kit and caboodle, we should probably maintain everyone's faith in those things, too.

Yikes, he also thinks that sequestration is an important achievement.

Wallace points out that another way we could get past the crisis is for Boehner to bring a clean debt ceiling bill to the floor and watch it pass easily and overwhelmingly with Democratic votes. As Wallace describes this, Jordan visibly ripples with discontent. Wallace asks if Boehner would be removed if he opted to end the crisis in this way. Jordan rejects the question, claiming against all visual evidence that his caucus is "very united."

"I don't think you're going to see that happen," he says, very carefully obscuring whether "that" refers to Boehner bringing the bill to the floor or the House's Keystone Krazies coup d'etat-ing Boehner immediately after. So Wallace asks, and Jordan just sort of mini-panics and says, "Who knows?" and pivots to Obamacare.

Wallace goes along, and points out that the way the world seems to be moving, it seems that Jordan and his pals are going to have to accept that Obamacare is not getting gutted through these shenanigans. Wallace points out that polling-wise, the GOP has been filleted, while at the same time, Obamacare has gotten MORE popular. "Has your strategy backfired big time?" Wallace asks, strongly implying that it's backfired big time.

Jordan does not think that it's backfired, and then rattles through some talking points that someone forgot to refrigerate. Wallace gets a bit scoffy, pointing out that when Paul Ryan emerged from his hidey-hole to put everyone on a new path, he didn't make any mention of Obamacare at all. Jordan attempts to make the case that everyone's accepted that repeal isn't possible, they just want to delay the bill. (Up until some point in the future when it can be repealed.)

Wallace points out that they'll never ever ever get a "delay" bill signed into law. For whatever reason, Jordan keeps talking about "equal treatment under the law," and what a strong argument it is.'s pretty clear from the polls that this is not a strong argument? Also, it's not even an "argument," period? It is just some gobbledygook?

Wallace pauses, leans back, takes a long sigh -- because, wow, this guy, amirite? -- and says, "I guess I'm confused," because what Jordan is demanding is something that none of the adults in the room are even discussing.

Jordan also thinks it's crazy to suggest that anyone is mad at him for shutting down the government. He similarly finds that some of the impacts of the government shutdown he made happen are just "unbelievable."

Wallace is basically all:

Okay, it's panel time, with George Will and Dana Perino and Evan Bayh and Juan Williams.

Wallace asks Will if the Democrats suddenly feel that they've actually acquired leverage in the debate, and Will says that there's really no other explanation for their recent decision to move the goalposts -- and it's fair to say that they've been moved. Instead of just "give us a clean CR and a clean debt limit raise," the new new thing is to get sequestration adjusted. I'm no fan of sequestration, but I also don't like it when easy things become pointlessly complicated!

But if there's a law worth changing, it's the sequestration. Will castigates the Dems here for this new position, and also for rejecting Susan Collins plan. Though Collins plan is also a bit of goalpost moving! If you don't like the way the Dems have moved off of their clean ask, don't suggest that another non-clean ask be the way to go!

Wallace trolls me by asking Bayh if there is "hypocrisy in Washington," which is exactly like going into the woods to ask a pile of bearshit if it was left there by a bear. Naturally, the greatest living avatar of dead-eyes hypocrisy confirms that hypocrisy exists.

Dana Perino says that there will remain a faction of Republicans which will not be happy with whatever deal is made, but eventually the markets are going to incentivize a deal. Williams, like Will and Bayh, think that the Democrats are in danger of overplaying their hands and getting too clever here.

Will says that asking the sequester to end is a "poison pill" and if you want to "bring the GOP together" to fight you, the Democrats should keep pressing on this. Be careful what you wish for, George Will! Pushing on the sequestration in the context of this debt ceiling/shutdown crisis is probably a loser for Democrats -- the advantage they have is that they don't appear to be "playing politics." They're in a stronger position asking for a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling raise. But, once we're past this, they should definitely make sure that the GOP gets tarred as the pro-sequestration party. Good lord, if the GOP wants to "come together" in support of that, Democrats should definitely help them point that out as often as possible.

The panel is not over yet, apparently. I mean, it's over in terms of the potential for being interesting. But mouths continue to pointlessly flap in the arid Fox News Sunday studio. Will thinks that the American people are suffering from "apocalypse fatigue." I've already shot that argument full of hole and left it bleeding on the carpet. I'm sure George Will is suffering from "fatigue," but it's been decades since he's had to actually communicate with a normal human American, so he's just projecting his feelings onto people he doesn't know or care about.

In fairness, no normal human Americans are watching Will right now, either.

Bayh says that we'll have some "anti-incumbent" elections because of all the polarization. But not in the House, he says. Just in the Senate! So...these anti-incumbent elections will only deepen the polarization! Actually, do not worry, because the threats of "anti-incumbent elections" are ALWAYS ALWAYS overstated and overrated. He suggests that we need more moderate Republicans to run in primaries which is pretty to think about, but who is going to fund these primary challenges?

Williams and Perino both argue about who is living in the bigger bubble, Republicans or Democrats, and the answer is, of course, that Williams and Perino live in the larger bubble, and it's completely full of nitrous oxide. Will wants to know what Obama's second-term agenda is, on the mistaken belief that he's not identified what his budget preferences are.

George Will! Here you go, sweetiepants! In the future, this stiff takes less then six seconds to Google.


Okay. Let's Face The Nation. And let's specifically face John McCain, Charles Schumer, Kelly Ayotte, and Tim Huelskamp. Hopefully, Louis Gohmert will bravely appear to say that whole "John McCain supports al Qaeda" line right to McCain's face, because I'd personally be okay with McCain punching Gohmert's larynx clear out of his neck. I will put up the first thousand dollars of the "John McCain Punched Louis Gohmert In The Throat And This Is Not A Crime At All" legal defense fund.

The panel today will be Newt Gingrich and Dee Dee Myers and Kim Strassel and Dan Balz. I will hopefully die of an embolism at some point.

But first, Bob Schieffer wants to talk to Chuck Schumer. Schumer is "cautiously hopeful" about what's going on. He says that the good news is that Senators Reid and McConnell "both understand the gravity" of what a default would do. That is, like, the lowest bar we have to clear! He says that he's happy that so many bipartisan groups are meeting, and groping one another in self-love, and he praises Susan Collins for some reason, and concludes that between the Senate and the White House "there is a will, but there needs to be a way" to get it all past the House.

He offers a little bit of support for the Democrats recent decision to do some sequester gamesmanship, but mainly sticks to suggesting that maybe re-opening the government so that "serious discussions" can take place on undoing the sequester.

Schieffer asks if the Senate needs to give Boehner something to mollify the nutbags in his caucus -- though Schieffer can't think of anything that would work. Schumer agrees with that -- there's nothing that will work in this scenario. He imagines a situation in which Boehner passes something the Senate does without the "forty or so" cuckoobirds that have ruined his life. Which means, we break the "Hastert Rule" to solve this, which may be easier for Schumer to contemplate than Boehner.

Schieffer suggests that Boehner could get "toppled" as a result of doing something sensible, and that what might come after Boehner would be worse. Schumer says that with the GOP doing as bad as they are, because of what the very people who would threaten Boehner are demanding, the best thing to do with "break from that." Easier said than done.

Schieffer also asks if everyone was really close to a deal on Thursday, until the terrible GOP polls came out and emboldened the Democrats to reach beyond merely bringing the government back online. Schumer rejects/dodges the notion -- primarily by pointing out that no one was as close to a deal on Thursday as people may have thought.

Democrats are going to end this Sunday with their "let's maybe get some sequestration territory" back trial balloon shot full of arrows. That may, ultimately, be for the best.

Now John McCain will answer the same questions. He says that yes, Democrats have "moved the goalposts" in light of recent polling, and he wished that Obama would do more, and he's really bent out of shape about the way his Gang Of Twelve was headed to announce their plan when the Senate Democrats put a kibosh on it.

He says he understands that the House doesn't want to take instruction from the Senate, because he was once in the House, and everyone in the Senate is a big ol' snob, et cetera but you know what? John McCain is gonna instruct the House anyway! And so he riffs: Defunding Obamacare is a non-starter! Al Qaeda isn't shut down! The American people have rejected any notion that the shutdown is a good idea.

He also sort of cautions Democrats against trying to "humiliate Republicans," which I guess is a plausible thing to say now that the Democrats are flirting with adding a sequester demand to the deal. But in the wide world of "what goes around comes around," the person who really stands to lose here is any future Republican president. If any of this hostage taking works, Democrats are going to go get themselves some backsies in a major way. (I guess so many GOP spin pimps are going to have to support that, LOL.)

"Now is the time to be magnanimous and get things done," says McCain. Actually, that time was two weeks ago, but you know, the past is past.

McCain basically says that the GOP lost the 2012 election, and that's it as far as Obamacare goes. He laments the way that dysfunction has stolen media time that might otherwise be going to covering the terrible first fortnight of the Obamacare website. He carefully shies away from insulting Ted Cruz -- he sort of can't, having taken a global stand against smashing any more hornet's nests -- but suggests that Cruz's leadership might not be the thing to follow at this point. He'd rather "coalesce with the majority of the American people."

McCain makes his "blood relatives and paid staffers" joke about Congressional approval ratings for the 99,273rd time.

Now here is walking electro-magnetic pulse bomb Kelly Ayotte, to discuss this further. Like McCain, she is unhappy that the Senate Democratic leadership wouldn't back their play, and she is tired of the politics. She is hopeful that we "don't go into default" but we "need presidential leadership." She doesn't want to criticize Ted Cruz, but she never supported using these occasions to try to defund Obamacare. Basically, Schieffer asks Ayotte the same questions he asked McCain and she answers them the same way, only more boring.

We've not really had much in the way of the nutbag perspective, so now here's Representative Tim Huelskamp to express the point of view of everyone in Congress who doesn't take regular baths and won't close their mouths while chewing their food. Huelskamp, whose name Schieffer hasn't even bothered to learn how to pronounce, is pretty sure that there is a debate over Obamacare happening, and that he is winning it.

Schieffer pretty much scoffs at the notion of using the threat of a government shutdown to make a wishlist of policies that turned out to be electoral losers and using a hostage crisis as a back-door way of enacting an agenda, but he's scoffing at the wrong guy. Huelskamp is basically all about that. There is a flurry of talking points that include a melange of disingenuous Affordable Care Act cruft, some Paul Ryan Cliff Notes, a World War Two Memorial shout out...

Schieffer stops him and points out that there are bigger concerns ahead, including a possible default, but I can tell Huelskamp has pre-dismissed the idea that a default would be a bad thing for the world to endure. He believes that there is just no possibility of a default. (He has taken a previous comment from Joe Biden, "There will not be a default," which Biden intended as a bit of rah-rah confidence-building, don't-worry-we'll-avoid-a-default bit of rhetoric, and confused it for an admission that default is not technically possible.

Schieffer stops him, because it is some bullshit, and points out that Treasury has been warned repeatedly of what can happen. Huelskamp maintains that this is all just ghost stories from the White House, and there will only be problems in the global markets if the White House plants false concerns there. And, as you might expect, Obama's seriously stupid debt ceiling speech from 2006 is coming back to haunt him, and everyone.

Schieffer does something I've never seen done before on a Sunday -- he interrupts Huelskamp mid-sentence because the nonsense he is saying is objectively dangerous as well as stupid. "We get it, you're not backing off, okay, shut it down," is basically how Schieffer kicks to commercial. Hilarious.

Schieffer comes back and monologues about how terrible Congress is, and how 6 out of 10 people would like to fire all of Congress. I promise you, of all the people who answered that question, 9 in 10 imagine that their guy is exempt from this. But anyway, other people have to do yardwork and there's a clock that's stopped working, which is okay because there's a clock on everyone's phone now, so who cares. Schieffer is unhappy with everyone, as usual, except for the guy who might have otherwise wound that clock. (For all anyone knows, the guy who winds the clock might be the biggest asshole in the entire city.)

I realize that none of that makes sense out of context. Guess you had to be there. Speaking of, now I have to be here for this panel discussion.

I'm going to leave the TiVo remote aside, because I don't expect anyone to say anything worth pausing over. I could be wrong! But in any event, I don't care.

Will a deal be cut in the next forty-eight hours or will we go into default. Gingrich says that we won't go into default but the deal won't be reached in the next 48 hours, because it's so "complicated." (It's totally not complicated: clean CR + clean debt ceiling raise = Perfection. If X = Perfection, then X also = Ample opportunities to negotiate over the budget.)

Schieffer says, "It's not just Democrats against Republicans or the Senate against the House, it's everybody against everybody, even the Republicans against themselves." Only the last part of that is correct (pending how seriously the Democrats want to complicate things and muddy the waters on making an ill-times sequestration play).

Myers says that it's "unclear what this fight was about," save for the fact that it was a fight that couldn't be won. She still thinks, however, that everyone can "come back with some reasonable proposals." No, no! End the one crisis, avoid the second crisis, and then have a bazaar of reasonable proposals. Hell, have some unreasonable proposals! Do whatever! But don't do it in such a way that innocent parties are harmed by a shutdown or a default.

Balz gets this: "Solve the process piece first, and then get to the substantive discussion." He frets about the Democrats pushing things too far when they see the polls, strongly suggesting that they don't get greedy here. I think all of this is smart. Dismantle these bombs, and then have a debate, in a bomb-free environment.

It's worth remembering that government shutdowns and the threat of default is all illusory leverage -- you get bluster or total destruction. This is not a card you hold in negotiation. Know what a better card to hold in a legislative debate is? The reputation for governing responsibly. Being the guy who'd never blow up the world in a fit of pique.

Gingrich says something that is basically 100% mendacity:

I thinks this a very audacious-- to use one of the president's words-- he wants to repeal 60 years of tradition going back to Eisenhower of putting things in the debt ceiling, and he wants to pretend the 18th government shutdown since 1976 is somehow radical and different. And if he can pull off this reality, he's then free for three years to do virtually whatever he wants. The House Republicans, on the other hand, want to make sure the president has to pay a price every time he gets a debt ceiling, and every time he gets an appropriations bill. And that's why this is actually a legitimate, historic struggle, not just a problem of personality defects.

What Gingrich calls debt ceiling tradition is complete nonsense. You can look it up. What he's describing is complete bullshit.

There is no scenario here that ends with Obama getting to enact whatever he wants. That is effing crackers. I mean, that's pure paranoid lunacy. When and if this is resolved, Obama faces all the same problems. Remember how we couldn't move comprehensive immigration reform? Or jobs bills? Or an infrastructure bill? Yeah, we go right back to that. The "three years to do whatever he wants" scenario is deeply insane.

What the House GOP may end up doing is ensuring that the "president pays a price every time" the debt ceiling or the continuing resolution comes up, but I would bet you any amount of money that the very minute a Democratic Congress is fleecing a Republican president in this way -- and trust me, it's going to be very amusing to see the Democrats do this right back to the Republicans at their first opportunity! -- those same House Republicans are going to whine and cry about how unfair it is. And Newt is going to waddle onto these shows and describe what the Democrats are doing as unprecedented.

Good Lord, Gingrich also seems to think that Christine LeGarde "represents the Eurozone." Jesus wept. She is the head of the IMF. As the head of the IMF, she thinks that the European powers have not done enough to make the Eurozone viable. Gingrich really does get by on these programs without having to demonstrate any acquired knowledge.

If only these panel discussions could be "moderated" by a "journalist," right?

Okay, one more hour of blither.


Okay, so, THIS WEEK will basically be another iteration of the same show I've already watched twice, but with Julian Assange here to "respond live" to a Benedict Cumberbatch movie.

But first, we'll have some talking points shoutery with Senator Lindsey Graham, Representative Keith Ellison, and Representative Raul Labrador. Graham doesn't see a deal possible if it includes moving away from the sequestration, and he won't vote for any plan that will cost Boehner his speakership, or that's tied to something unrealistic -- like defunding Obamacare. Stephanopoulos remarks, "That's a pretty high bar." Labrador doesn't think Obama's been a good negotiator, Ellison says that there is going to be all kinds of time for negotiating after the government is reopened.

Stephanopoulos lays bridging the gap at the feet of Graham, and Graham warns that the Democrats are "moving the goalposts" and that while the GOP is in freefall, polling-wise, "the Democrats are not far behind." Only the first part of that is true. Graham seems willing to take the proper Obamacare bet -- which is to stop impeding it and count on it sucking.

Ellison holds to the position that there should be no negotiations until we're past the crisis points. Labrador says that this is not a position at all. They argue, pointlessly.

Graham says that the GOP "started down this road with unrealistic expectations," and had they just governed responsibly, the big story would be the failure of the Obamacare website portals. His coded message to Democrats is basically to stop moving the goalposts this close to a possible resolution. His coded message to Republicans is: "Why not see if Obamacare doesn't just fail on its own?"

It's weird that after all of the battling, Graham is one of the few GOP legislators willing to make a bet on any of the stuff he's said about Obamacare being true. Most of the GOP is, hilariously, short their own Obamacare warnings.

Okay, we jump to paneling, with Peggy Noonan and David Plouffe and Den Senor and Paul Krugman. There is still, like, forty-five minutes of show left. Yes. I've gotten to the point in the liveblog where I start begging for this to all end. We've also reached the part of the liveblog where Peggy Noonan takes two minutes to say that she doesn't know what's going on.

Krugman warns that the long knives of default won't come down on Thursday, but they will come down eventually. He says that the Democrats only position is that they'll negotiate ANYTHING as long as the hostage-taking is over. Senor takes the position that the period of hostage-taking is the best time to do negotiations.

This is a pretty good crystallization of the problem. It matters more to the GOP to normalize the use of the debt ceiling and government shutdowns as a set of allowable political tactics than it does to actually achieve the passage and enactment of policies they favor.

Noonan thinks that "presidents negotiate on the debt ceiling" as a matter of course. Krugman, thankfully, points out that this is complete bullshit. "Every attempt to make this sound like business as usual," he says, is false. Noonan spins furiously in the other direction. But I have not one scintilla of doubt -- I mean the NULL SET OF DOUBT -- that once there is a Republican president being hamstrung in this way by a Democratic Congress, which is what will become inevitable if this stuff is normalized, Noonan will be crying foul just as loudly as she can.

Senor, I think, however, is right that none of this is going to imperil the GOP's chances in 2014. He has correctly assayed the basic electoral fundamentals in play. I'd worry more about what happens in a longer term for the GOP, but I'd rest easy on the midterms if I were the GOP. (If we default, or if they get so angry at not being to destroy Obamacare that they decide to try to impeach Obama, all bets are off.)

Krugman believes in a year from now, the hinks of Obamacare implementation will be resolved and it won't be an issue that hurts Democrats anymore. Peggy Noonan believes the opposite. Who do you think is going to have the better end of that bet?

Senor plays "off-off-year election bellwethering" saying that Chris Christie's inevitable re-election says everything you need to know. It sort of does! Christie is the model of "Republican governance that doesn't include apocalyptic nonsense" combined with "also facing a galactically hapless opponent." Senor can come back and explain how on earth they couldn't manage to keep Terry McAuliffe from becoming governor of Virginia.

Hey, so, ABC will attempt to talk about something else today: Julian Assange's dissatisfaction with a movie called THE FIFTH ESTATE, which is about Assange and WikiLeaks. Why is this being done? I'll let George Stephanopoulos explain:

THE FIFTH ESTATE is being distributed by Touchstone Pictures a division of ABC's parent company, Disney.


Anyway, Assange is here to help everyone make some money, like a good sport. Assange maintains that Cumberbatch had to fight with the filmmakers to keep them from portraying Assange as a "cartoon baddie," and ameliorate what he sees as problems. What are those problems? Well, Assange says that with so many people in WikiLeaks facing "extremely serious situations," there should be a standard for "ethical filmmaking" which he doesn't think has been met by the filmmakers.

"There's been a cashing in," Assange says, pointing out that Dreamworks stands to make a lot of money. We'll see! I'm not particularly convinced that the box office for this movie is going to blow people away.

One of the people in a "serious situation" is Sarah Harrison, who I guess drew the short straw and has to run the Edward Snowden legal defense from Russia. Assange says that "Edward Snowden is safe" and settled in Russia and "working to educate people" on the NSA disclosures, terming the surveillance apparatus a "threat to democracy" and "a dream of East Germany." The notion that these disclosures could end up doing harm, is, to Assange, a "canard."

Is Assange going to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy anytime soon? In so many words, he says, no. In fact, he essentially says that he's better off not "in the outside world," where Stephanopoulos is.

Admittedly, things are kind of effed up here! But come on, who wants to be holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London? That's like, the lamest part of London.

The second half of THIS WEEK -- the all-synergy all the time part -- continues, with Stephanopoulos pimping the Diane Sawyer interview with Malala Yousafzai. This leads to a segment on the people who beat Yousafzai out for the Nobel Peace Prize -- the Syrian Chemical Weapons Inspectors/Dismantlers, who probably got the news and thought, "Great, just great."

We're stuck talking to a Miliband about it, in this case David Miliband. Not Ed. Which means we won't get treated to this sort of greatness:

So, we get the slightly less idiotic Milliband, who injects some slightly-not-idiotic stuff into the discussion, saying, "“I think the chemical weapons inspectors do amazing work, but the truth is that they probably wouldn’t have gotten this prize if President Assad hadn’t used chemical weapons. It’s a bit of an irony that you’ve got this body that’s done 15 years of important work, it takes the abuse of chemical weapons."

Also on hand is Shiza Shahid, co-founder & CEO of the Malala Fund, who basically says that Yousafzai is totally not sweating the weird decisions the Nobel Prize Committee is making. Shahid, noting that Yousafzai has many years to win a Nobel Peace Prize ahead of her, says, "[Malala] said to me jokingly yesterday, ‘If I ignore the Nobel committee’s decision, I already feel like I’ve won, because people all over the world have been sending in love and prayers,’...So she wasn’t expecting it. She said ‘I have a lot of work to do’ and that’s what she’s focusing on and she’s wished the OPCW luck in their tremendous task.”

So, Yousafzai is thus eligible for the Nobel Prize For Trolling The Nobel Committee.

Okay, well, that's where I'm going to leave this. Hopefully, next week we will have good news about having avoided the pointless destruction of the global economy and not bad news about how we all had better build a giant tire fire if we want to make it through the winter. Until then, have a nice week, everyone!

[The Sunday Morning Liveblog will return on October 20, 2013. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Rebel Mouse page for entertaining reads from around the web.]