TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Oh, hello! For two weeks, we have been on vacation at a nice and quiet beach in North Carolina with limited internet access and a stack of books and an immense amount of free time on our hands. How were thing while we were gone? Did everything in the world of polidicks and politricks get sorted because men and women with wisdom finally stepped to the fore, dismissed the mental tweens who had been running the place, and rededicate themselves to building a nation with the application of stoic reason?

No? Awesome! That means I still have a job!

So, welcome to the...what the hell, let's call it the Season Premiere of your Sunday Morning Liveblog Of Regret. My name is Jason. I am rested and ready but not tanned because my wife is really, really paranoid about the damage the sun's rays can do to you. As always, you should feel free to contribute comments, or send emails. If you want to sign up for a lifetime's worth of trivial observations that don't make a lot of sense, follow me on Twitter. Let's get into it!


Today, Fox News Sunday kicks things off with an infomercial about Glenn Beck's "Restitching America's Hymen" Rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And only after that, will the show take on the matter of the "bad economic news." It's going to be a good morning, for mescaline!

But first, Glenn Beck is here! He is building a religion, he is building it bigger, he is widening the corridors and adding more lanes. He is building a religion -- a limited edition! -- and is now accepting callers for these pendant key chains!

Anyway, what does yesterday mean to Glenn Beck? He says that if it's "just a message for a day, it's meaningless," but we are "forty days and forty nights" away from "transforming America," which means that it's all up to Josh Hartnett now, to avoid having sex with sluts in San Francisco. And then at the end, America gets a weaponized Shannyn Sossamon, to drop on Iran.

Things turn weird in the interview almost right away. Wallace asks Beck why he's always talking about miracles, and asks if he feels if he has a "role in trying to save this country." "You don't?" Beck asks. Wallace pauses and says, "No...I just ask questions for a living." Beck quips, "Oh, I forgot I was talking to an actual journalism."

What was everyone trying to tell "our leaders?" Beck doesn't have any idea. He actually says this! he says that a lot of people came to Washington just because they aren't happy. So, politicians have a burden to make those specific Americans in attendance happy, sod all to the rest of the country. Also, he asked people to "stand in burning bushes," which will probably thin the crowd at the next one of these things.

Beck says that all he meant by "reclaim the civil rights movement" was that he wanted "people of faith" to 'reclaim" the movement, from "politics." (He also says that as someone born in 1964 and in the Pacific Northwest, he couldn't have been a part of the Civil Rights movement.) When Wallace points out that the Civil Rights movement was one about economic justice, Beck says that he doesn't agree with that "part" of it.

Wallace seems to have come prepared with actual history, but Beck's basically immune to all of this, because this whole movement of his is essentially a lot of warmed over lectures about "believing in yourself," and "having a shot." Wallace asks after Beck's famous accusation that Obama is a racist, and asks if he feels as if he has any credibility talking about civil rights. Beck reiterates that all he means by "civil rights" is that "people of faith that believe you have an equal right to justice, that is the essence, and if it's not the effing essence, then we have been sold a pack of lies." So, we can have a mosque, please, in Lower Manhattan?

As for the comment itself? Beck says that he didn't, at the time, understand the influences on Obama, and he didn't understand his theology or his viewpoint, and he "miscast it as racism," but really it's "liberation theology," which of course, Beck thinks is even worse!

Wallace points out that Beck had called Obama's faith a "perversion" and asks Beck, "Who made you the God Squad?" Beck says nobody made him the God Squad (but that the God Squad hates liberation theology!) He says, "Most Christians would look at collective salvation" as a perversion, but that he's a Mormon, so who is he to say what Christians say, except for this particular moment when he's on teevee. (Meanwhile, LOTS OF CHRISTIANS PROSELYTIZE BECAUSE IT'S SEEN AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THEIR OWN SALVATION.

Wallace wants to get into the subject of Glenn Beck? "What are you?" Beck says he's a dad and a "concerned citizen," and took "one class in collage" and "didn't know his butt from his elbow" and then 9-11 happened and then, something? He told people to "run for their lives?" And now everyone has responsibility to stand guard. Is he rich? Yes! But he doesn't think his money is going to be worth much in the future. (REMINDER TO FLACK GOLDLINE!)

Wallace then asks a very simple question, about how things are going since he got that eye diagnosis that hinted at some coming future health issues. Wallace intended it as sort of the beginning of a series of "quick questions," but Beck goes into some long, incomprehensible word goulash recitation where he says, he realized "I'm not seeing something because I have eyes." Essentially, at some point a doctor told him he might at some point go blind, and he laughed and said, "My mom told me that when I ran with a stick."

He doesn't want to be President! Someone else will have to be President, I guess! Some people drink Pepsi, some people drink Coke, and the wacky morning deejay thinks democracy's a joke.

On to the economy, and junk! In for Brit Hume is Romneyite Kevin Madden. Otherwise, same old stuff!

So, what happened to Recovery Summer? Kristol says that the huge Keynesian stimulus was the wrond way to go! The ghost of Keynes says, "You call THAT a huge Keynsian stimulus? That tears it, I'm haunting your ass, Kristol!" And then the rest of the spectres of sense tell the Ghost of Keynes, "Yeah, take a number." And then he just starts playing ghost racquetball with the Ghost of Hayek.

But, the economy is suck-balls! Madden says, "The cement has been poured around the economy as the number one issue." That's true! That's why all this talk of structural budget deficits is so out of touch. Williams says that people still President Bush as the problem and the GOP doesn't have any answers to the problem. Williams thinks that the Democrats will take advantage of the fact that the GOP has no new ideas, but I think that's the sort of thing that won't haunt them unless they retake the Congress and this phenomena plays out in real time." Liasson essentially agrees. The best thing you can have, in the eyes of voters, is nothing on the balance sheet.

The post-election challenge for the Democrats will not just be to help the economy, but to do so in a way that proves they, and they alone, deserve credit for it. (It's sort of too bad that Obama doesn't have his own man at the Fed!)

Kristol's advice to Obama is: don't raise taxes in a bad economy! And don't raise taxes in a good economy! (And the stance against restoring the tax rates to Clinton era levels on the wealthiest Americans may stall. Read all of this.)

Meanwhile, Iraq. I don't entirely agree that Obama "took credit" for ending the Iraq War, but the end of THE Iraq war didn't come about because Obama made a campaign promise. He stuck with the Status of Forces Agreement that was signed in late 2008 by President Bush. (One could argue that the inevitability of the Obama administration, from the summer of 2008, paved the way for that SoFA, but that's an argument for pundit types.)

Liasson points out that there are 50,000 troops that will remain in Iraq. LET THERE BE ORNAMENTAL GARRISONS, FOREVER.

Liasson also says that as far as the Israel-Palestine Peace Process, it's always a mistake to be too optimistic. But even Kristol admits that absent expectations, fortnightly meetings between Netanyahu and Abbas are "a good thing." Which...OH NO! -- means it could actually be a BAD THING?

And that's that. Let's get a little Bob Schieffer on!


Joe Miller, Haley Barbour, Kendrick Meek, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, up in this piece today.

Joe Miller! He may have picked off Lisa Murkowski. Now he's trying to scare off GOP lawyers. What's going on out in Fairbanks, today? Is he the "poster boy" for the "anti-establishment" narrative?

Miller says that his success is predicated on a mix of national help -- Palin and Huckabee endorsements -- and local networks of supporters and personalities, flying well below the radar of the media.

Miller says the country is in crisis and in debt and that everyone will have to do some belt-tightening. And then he says that the answer is to return power to the states. Then he notes that Alaska is resource rich and poised to become really economically powerful, so...have fun tightening those belts, the rest of America! Will he ask then, for less Federal money?'re in a "period of transition." So, Alaska will be cared for by the rest of the nation until they are ready to cut the rest of the nation off. That's cool with everyone, right?

Will it be a problem that he wants to take away Alaskans Medicare and Social Security? He doesn't think so. He does think "privatization" should be on the table. Even if he doesn't want privatization! You know, it's like we have to have nuclear strikes "on the table." It's like one of those dinner parties where you put cyanide and catbox leavings "on the table." It would be irresponsible to not consider eating those things!

That was a very brief interview (GIVE BOB SCHIEFFER AN HOUR, CBS!) and now we are down in Florida, with Kendrick Meek. He won a primary against Jeff Greene, of the vomit-caked yachting Greenes. But doesn't Meek feel TERRIBLE about taking votes away from Charlie Crist? Meek says that those people are essentially non-Floridians, and that he won a "supermajority" of Democrats! KENDRICK MEEK WILL NOT BE FILIBUSTERED!

Does Meek want Obama to campaign for him? Meek says that Obama has already supported Meek, by going to have lunch with him! Remember that time Obama had cheeseburgers with Dmitry Medvedev? That was Obama's way of saying, "Maybe you can run for the Senate in Florida?."

Haley Barbour! Is he BECOMING WILLIAM SHATNER? Look at the guy! Until he opened his mouth and let those syrupy Southern syllables slake out, I had no idea. I was like: WOO! CANADIAN ESPERANTO? YES I WOULD LIKE SOME, BOB SCHIEFFER. Also, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is here. I will be referring to her by her Quentin Tarantino movie heroine nickname, "Debbie W-S."

Can Haley Barbour get with Joe Miller? I mean, wasn't he a Murkowski man? Barbour says that he hasn't taken a side, because the people of Alaska shouldn't have to hear about what they should do from someone from Mississippi. Debbie W-S says that there is, nevertheless, a "raging battle" underway for the "soul of the Republican party." And now, the GOP has got to deal with Angle, Buck, Lee, Paul, and Miller. Who knew that the apocalypse would have five horsemen! I guess that's one industry that's recession-proof.

Schieffer accuses Mike Buck of being the guy who thinks bicycles are the UN-Communist plot, but that's actually Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes. Although maybe Buck's got some nonsense views of his own.

Barbour says Miller is right about out-of-control spending, but that maybe he needs to say things in a different way. Debbie W-S says that the 2010 election will be a choice between a right wing that wants to -- ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Barbour says that we've undergone a "lurch to the left." Debbie W-S says we have not done so. Barbour says that we cannot raise taxes during a bad economy. (And in a good economy, you can't raise taxes either.) And I'd point out that the only thing anyone plans to do with taxes is to institute a net tax cut. Debbie W-S points out that we've saved jobs and added jobs that wouldn't have been there, and that American automobile makers are back to making the cars that nobody wanted to buy in the first place because they were inferior products.

And now Bob Schieffer gives a shout out to friends of his who have fallen ill to cancer. He and his wife are both cancer survivors, and he wants to tell America that we've come a long way in treating cancer -- but that the recent stem cell decision was the equivalent of "not looking through Galileo's telescope."

"No civilization, no society, has survived if it's people came to believe they knew enough, and needed to know nothing more." That's the stuff, Bob Schieffer! (Pretty good message after this weekend's March of the Know-Nothings, too!)


Okay, let's take it down a few notches, shall we?

Today, Meet The Press is in Louisiana to sprinkle MEET THE PRESS BRAND GRAVITAS-LIKE SUBSTANCE all over the levees! And Brad Pitt will be there, I think! As well as everyone named Landrieu! And because this requires actual knowledge about things that cannot be learned from within the Zolofted Washington bubble, David Gregory has been sent back to the dream-opium den from the movie INCEPTION, and Brian Williams will be our host today. AND BUNK IS ON TODAY SO TUNE IN RIGHT NOW!

But first, LOTS OF LANDRIEUS. Try not to think about how politics is a crass game of nepotism and drynastic favor-trading, okay? TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT THIS.

Anyway, why is NOLA America's problem? Why can't everyone live above sea level, everywhere? What are, we, Pakistan? Shouldn't the very land beneath our feet shape itself to the demands of American exceptionalism? Mitch Landrieu points out that NOLA is not the only place in America below sea-level.

Williams asks if Mitch's constant refrain of "I hope we make it," is nothing more than a Democrat doing expectations management. Mitch just says he's cold talkin' the troof about what's going on on the streets and junk!

Meanwhile, Mary Landrieu, she is the Senator. She is the daughter of Moon Landrieu, who was once the Mayor of New Orleans. Again: Try not to think about how politics is a crass game of nepotism and dynastic favor-trading, okay? Anyway, what is it like being one of the few people in power at the time to survive politically? Mary says, "Well, chalk it up to the fact that politics is a crass game of nepotism and dynastic favor-trading, okay?" HA JUST KIDDING. She says the Federal government has taken a lot of money out of the Gulf Coast and it's like for them to give it back. So, really, she is just the lead singer of Midnight Oil. "WHAT DO WE DO IF OUR BEDS OUR BURNING?"

Ha, remember George Bush? He's the guy that Kanye yelled at back when he wasn't yelling at Taylor Swift. Did everything in NOLA turn out just the way Bush promised? Mary says that Bush's promises were "hollow," because the federal government didn't "make things easy." Also, Mississippi did "not make out like bandits." Mary says that the truth will be told in several documentary films that members of the Academy will watch and no one else. My favorite New Orleans movie is "Down By Law," by the way. What's yours?

Would Mitch Landrieu walk unaccompanied at night through the Seventh Ward? He says yes. So, look forward to that?

Can Mary explain the "confusing" relationship between Louisiana and oil? (Williams, contra every government scientist and the White House, correctly states that there is presently, oil "sitting" in the Gulf of Mexico, so kudoes for that.) Mary is all, WHATEVS? We are all really angry at BP, she says. But the nation needs oil and so we gotta go get it. (But sure, we'll "transition" away from oil, eventuellement.) The six month moratorium has created a "blanket of fear." Filled with the smallpox of industry conflict! And sandwich shops are closing because an oil company destroyed the region no one is letting the oil companies further destroy the region drill for oil, with as little government oversight as possible, please?

Mitch says that it's difficult for him to make a comparison between he and Ray Nagin, but what the hell? Ray Nagin was the suxxy suck, says Mitch.

Okay...awkward news peg, maybe? How does Beckapalooza fit in to all of what's going on in New Orleans? Mary says that Glenn Beck's ideas aren't new, but that he's all talk, no action. She says that the government, contra Beck, has had a huge role in rebuilding New Orleans, and that Beck needs to re-examine his facts. Also, she loves Jesus, who was the son of "Moon Jesus."

Also, the New Orleans Saints success was a "cataclysmic" even for New Orleans residents. (I am not sure "cataclysmic" was quite the word he was looking for?

Anyway, now we are going to talk to Brad Pitt about flood walls and stuff. The houses they've built look really cool and are on stilts and have higher code ratings against hurricanes. But they look...what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah! Expensive. Like: "IPads will save journalism" expensive.

But Pitt tells Williams that all of there houses are affordable, as well as being safer and stronger. They come equipped with the high-performance "green tech" stuff that increases energy efficiency, and Pitt says it's now the "greenest neighborhood in the world," and that last month, all but one of the homes were "producing more energy than they were eating."

"I see this place as a template for the future," he says.

I appreciate, and agree with Pitt's sentiment that 'twould have been better if everything in the Lower Ninth had been built in the first place, but the larger issue there is that the poor were living in a vulnerable area because no one wanted to develop affordable housing in the safer areas. (Obviously, it was then the fault of the poor when they all got trapped and died there! I mean, why didn't they get in their non-existent cars and flee to their second homes?)

And now we have Douglas Brinkley and Garland Robinette and Wendell Pierce!!

Robinette says to this day, he's gobsmacked by the fact that NOLA was abandoned for five days. He won't attribute it to racism, but he maintains that it was pretty senseless. He praises the presence of a police chief with a Ph.D., and warns that New Orleans is a "canary in a coal mine" as far as the rest of the nation goes.

Pierce is visibly shaken to see again the footage from "When The Levees Broke" where he sees his own flooded home for the first time. He goes on to largely unpack on the history of the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood, too detail-dense to do justice here. Suffice it to say, it's an important Civil Rights-era neighborhood for middle-class blacks that nurtured a lot of the important black figures of the region, like Dutch and Mark Morial. Pierce says that they are rebuilding in his neighborhood along the same LEED-certified lines as Brad Pitt's doing in the Lower Ninth.

Brinkley, taking up Robinette's "canary in a coalmine" statement, notes that the country has to defend the area's wetlands, as a resource, and just rooting for the Saints and Bourbon Street are not enough. Robinette revoices those concerns, "I don't know why the human animal isn't more interested in its own survival."

Brian Williams notes that NBC News was capable of meeting their staff in the parking lot of a used car dealership in Metarie, to ensure that their staff got drinking water while people in New Orleans were going without.

"We can sit here and debate what caused it," says Pierce, "but does that matter if we don't hold anyone accountable?"

I'll remind you that Pierce is talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I don't want any of you to think he's talking about the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan or the financial crisis or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or [INSERT SOMETHING THAT HAS GONE WRONG IN THE PAST DECADE HERE], because it's so easy to get confused!

Those words can be applied to everything!

Anyway, that's that. We're back from vacation! (And it's nice to be back.) See you next Sunday!

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