TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning to everyone and welcome once again to your Sunday Morning Liveblog, which is, as always, worth two credits toward your degree in Advanced Political Prattle Management. My name is Jason. This week will be a sad one, as Chris Christie is not going to enter the race just to please Bill Kristol, and so we'll not see his eyes light up like a child discovering that he's come down from his bedroom on Christmas to see what he most desperately wanted sitting under the tree -- in his case, a Christie presidency would be even better than an endless, pointless war to demagogue for decades.

As always you can join me in this woeful weekly task by leaving a comment or comments, sending an email, or following me on Twitter, if that's your bag. Let us begin!



Today Chris Wallace is gonna get Fast and Furious with Representative Darrell Issa and Rick Santorum. And -- ha! -- the panel will be asked to grapple with the #occupywallstreet demonstrations. That should go well. Of all the Sunday Morning panels, this is the one that's most aggressively fought to consider what it's like to walk in the shoes of ordinary Americans, right?

But first, the "Fast And Furious" scandal, which our own John Rudolf can ably brief you on if you are unfamiliar with the "botched gun-trafficking investigation" that's been termed "a perfect storm of idiocy."

Issa plans on issuing a bunch of new subpoenas seeking more details about the "what did they knows" and "when did they know its" pertaining to Attorney General Eric Holder and other DOJ officials on this program, which went terribly, terribly wrong -- plant guns were lost until they were found at murder scenes. Issa contends that top DOJ officials were well briefed on the program, and the Judiciary Committee has asked Holder to return to their chamber and explain why he previously professed no knowledge of the program.

Issa insists that Holder "had to know that something serious happened" when Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed with a strayed weapon, which was months prior to when he's said he was briefed on the program. Issa suggests that it raises issues of competence.

Wallace points out that Holder says that Issa himself wasn't briefed on the "unacceptable details of Fast and Furious," but Issa says that was all part of a story that Holder "planted" in the newspapers. OMG! First time that's ever happened in the world of Darrell Issa! But, on to the less tetchy part -- Issa says that the "gun-walking" side of the ATF's operation was kept concealed from his oversight, but that the DOJ knew about what was going on -- that is, guns were going to drug cartels and showing up at crime scenes. Issa calls this "felony stupid," and, I have to admit, it's hard to see what the point of this operation was if you can't track these weapons before they are used in crimes and left behind. I am open to an explanation, obviously!

Wallace points out that the Bush administration had a similar program called "Wide Receiver," but Issa says it was fewer weapons let go, and better traced when they were, and anyway, Eric Holder's whole big thing is investigating the Bush administration, so he would say that. (Meanwhile, I'm like, "Hey, I could definitely dip my feet into some heavy-duty investigations of the Bush administration, but as much as Eric Holder may want to do that, the Obama administration wants to "look forward, not backward." Probably because if you look back you see some real David Fincher stuff, scattered around!)

Meanwhile, Solyndra -- which I consider to be a lot less terrifying to the Republic -- is also on Issa's mind, and he says that there's some sort of "pattern of investments" made, and Secretary Chu is going to testify, and LORD that is going to like watching one of the characters from The Big Bang Theory purchase prophylactics.

For a primer on Solyndra, see here. Having lived through Enron, it doesn't impress me much, as far as an example of the Federal government backing the wrong horse. And criticizing a player in the capitalist game of taking a risk on something doesn't exactly rate much more from me than a snort, even though taxpayer dollars are involved, because the larger problem in our world stems from that time everyone decided that the risk could be removed from capitalism, only it wasn't, and the economy collapsed.

And Issa really needs to find his big boy pants again, because he's terribly aggrieved by the way the government tried to "play the capitalist game" and "pick winners and losers," and, dude, I mean...welcome to America, circa the past twenty years.

Solyndra, Issa says, is "salacious," because of all the favor-trading. Darrell! Two words for you! "Keystone XL!" That's where the real sauce is. (Or just double your resources on Fast And Furious because that is some bonkers nonsense, for real.)

"I have problems with a lot of what [the administration] calls 'green.'" said Issa, which is why he'll probably be very Elliott Less on the Keystone issue.

Issa says his job is to make sure that favorable loan treatment for pet projects and favored parties doesn't happen again, which is maybe something he should want to tell Mitt Romney, before the people who donate to his campaign lose the primary reason they're making donations.

On to the next segment! "Which candidate is in the best spot to challenge the frontrunners [for the GOP nomination]?" asks Wallace. The answer? Not the man booked on the show today, former Pennsylvania Senator and bright ball of constant seethe Rick Santorum, last seen dropping frothy puddles of Santorica at the Value Voters Summit, and still losing the straw poll to Ron Paul and Herman Cain.

Santorum has spent two months in Iowa, so he's going to win Iowa, right? Santorum sure hopes so! He's been to seventy counties. That's seventy counties of people living in fear that Rick Santorum might catch them doing some oral and get a Bible thrown at their head.

Wallace asks about his fundraising number, and Santorum says his "number" is that he's "cash positive." He is positive that he has some cash somewhere. Bus fare, at least. He's living off the land, eating corn husks and grubs and he never sleeps ever. NEVER EVER.

"We feel we're beginning to gain traction," says Santorum, who's poll numbers have remained constantly stuck between 2 and 3% since the beginning of the race.

"We have enough money to do what we need to do, Chris," and if what he "needs to do" is "lose the primary very early," then he's got this well in hand.

Wallace asks why Santorum was blaming Romney for being the Master Puppeteer behind all the primary calendar switches. Santorum says that because Romney isn't doing well in Iowa, he wants to "marginalize" the state. But he's not even bothering with Iowa! Given the effort Romney's made, he's actually doing quite well. I mean, he's doing amazingly well. Can you imagine if you spent two months working Iowa to death only to see a guy who'd not spent more than a few days walk off with five or six times the affection you garnered for all your massive effort to....OHHHHH I get why Rick is so upset, now!

Santorum says people should pick him over Rick Perry because he is a lot more negatively disposed to immigrants and he has a stronger record on national security and loving Israel. Santorum says people should pick him over Herman Cain because Cain is a loser and a failure at politics, and Santorum is a winner at politics, unless you recall the last time he ran for office, which was a magical failure of epic proportions. And anyway, Santorum has a "Zero-Zero-Zero" plan that's better than a "9-9-9 Plan."

Santorum says that "Mormonism is not a cult," and that every Mormon he's ever met is awesome and has strong values, except for Harry Reid, who is a multi-tentacled floating beast with a MILLION EYES, FEAR HIM! COWER AT HIS NAME. Y'AI'NG'NGAH...YOG-SOTHOTH...H'EE-L'GEB...F'AI TRHODOG...UAAAAH!!!

Wallace presses Santorum for the millionth time on that gay soldier whose question he had to answer at a recent debate, because it's going to be Chris Wallace, on this day, that gets his heart to grow three sizes toward the LGBT community. Wallace wants to know why it's okay for heterosexuals to be open about their heterosexuality in the military forever. Santorum says a bunch of word soup. Wallace draws from that, "Do you mean gay soldiers would go after their fellows in the barracks?" Santorum says no. It's just that gay people are sticky and icky, and no one wants to hear about their "boyfriend back home" because right then and there, unit cohesion dies a grim death. Also, it would be hard to recruit people to join the military because of the hostile environment, but, I don't know, it looks like gays have been signing up to work in that "hostile environment" for years, so maybe everyone else should just be a grown up about it?

"I don't want to serve in the same unit as a gay soldier, because they make me uncomfortable," says a recruit. To which I reply, "Thanks, you know, this is a job where people shoot guns and drop bombs on you, so if you can't handle being in close proximity to a gay person who is trying to save your life, maybe this whole 'joining the military' idea is just not for you."

Ha, Wallace throws an argument against racial integration of the armed forces in Santorum's face, and Santorum says it's different for a bunch of reasons. Wallace says, these are the same arguments people who were against racial integration of the military made. They argue about it some more. I have the funny feeling that Rick Santorum is going to get very few votes from the LGBT community!

Now, here's our panel, Brit and A.B. and Bill and Juan! What does Brit Hume think of Occupy Wall Street? He thinks it's risky for Democrats to align with it, even though it "bears something in common with the Tea Party." Hume is right when he points out that whatever happened at the Air and Space Museum yesterday is something that ordinary people will "take a dim view of" so, really, everyone, leave the Smithsonian alone.

Stoddard says the "protest era has returned" and that it's not going to change unless there's a better economy and "hopefully...the debt crisis will be attacked head on." LOL. No, no, A.B. Every minute the government spends on deficit peacocking is a minute more people join the protest era! Debt panic is solely the obsession of Beltway elites. What will end this protest is a concerted decision to stop focusing on structural deficits and start focusing on jobs. The Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop has already done a lot of damage.

Kristol thinks that these protests are against Dodd-Frank, which is HILARIOUS. Dodd-Frank is, as you know, essentially toothless, watered down by the very lobbyists who were bought by the very bailout money you and I ponied up to save the world. I am mystified by every Wall Streeter who professes to be upset about Dodd-Frank. It's like being upset about the imaginary monster under your bed! How many more hugs from their mommies are the Masters of the Universe going to need before their balls drop?

Hume says that the Occupy Main Street's message isn't "likely to stimulate much from independents" and you know, if independents are tragically out of touch with the rest of America, he'll be right. If they happen to actually know other Americans, it will be different.

The people of #occupywallstreet have largely been the invisible mass of folks that do most of the working and living and dying in the country, and whose lives didn't become a set of dire conditions until a few years ago, when the financial avalanche happened and the snow settled at the lowest point on the mountain and then refused to thaw. They don't have this protest game down perfectly. These are people who never thought they'd need to protest! They followed the rules, got decent educations, got jobs, got mortgages, paid on time, showed up to work every day, raised their kids as best they could. Now they are helping each other foster this particular new protest culture because they have to be there for one another -- for mutual support, and to remind America, particularly Americans with television cameras, that they exist, and aren't going anywhere.

The difference between the journalism that makes an investment in the lives of ordinary people and the journalism that doesn't is staggering. When you talk to a journalist who is so invested, you hear someone who sounds like this. When you leave the confines of the Beltway to report on what health care is like for average Americans, you get stories like this. When you actually start talking to the people who are getting ground up in the economic downturn, it produces stories such as these. And if you visit the workplaces of Americans who are fortunate to have a job, you're likely to find a horror story.


Ordinary Americans have found themselves dropped in a world of stark terms and desperate choices, and those who are lucky to be treading water or doing well are nevertheless just as likely to know someone very dear to them who are in the jaws of this crisis. Faced with this reality, what do you imagine actual people might do to try to cut through the veil and stop getting treated as abstractions? Well, for starters, they might take to the streets. The media is awash in confusion, even now, about what the Occupy Wall Street "agenda" is, and what the demonstrators are "demanding." I'd say their demands begin with "acknowledge our existence," and move on to "make a nominal investment to covering what is happening in our lives."

At a minimum, they've a right to demand that much. After all, the folks gathered in Zuccotti Park are probably keenly aware that some mass movements have been deemed deserving of corporate media sponsorship and co-branding.

More paneling: the jobs numbers are good, but not good enough, says Stoddard, because they don't keep up with population growth of the labor force, let alone fill the deep hole. Kristol says that the American Jobs Act is a non-starter because of Senate Democrats but that Congressional Republicans should nevertheless be more pro-active and put forward their own plans on jobs in the meanwhile. Williams maintains that Obama's strategy in re jobs is a smart one, because the polling numbers all line up in favor of the arguments Obama is making. (What Williams is leaving out is the fact that the numbers aren't lining up behind the person making the argument.)

It's gotten to the point where it's just sad watching panels talk about unemployment, and honestly, these four are starting to demonstrate a certain ennui as well. You want to talk about pundit malaise? These four didn't attempt the paint the Occupy Wall Streeters as anti-capitalist! That would ordinarily be a no-brainer for Hume, if not Kristol. Frankly, Williams is way too bourgeois for the middle class demonstrators too. Instead, we just got a lot of limp punditry, warmed-over horsey race observations, and the general sense that everyone's just tired.

Or maybe everyone just needs to put Demerara sugar in their morning coffee. Got me moving today!


"Cain and Gingrich," Schieffer teases. "Yes, Cain and Gingrich." Indeed, why is Newt Gingrich on this show, today? Hopefully he's brought some new Newt-'n'-Callista mugs and mousepads to share with America!

They're both here at the same time! This is actually perfect. Gingrich is running a fake campaign for President in order to move merchandise. And we've learned this week that Cain, despite everything suddenly swinging his way, will leave the campaign trail to go on a book tour. So, this is a perfect pairing of the two "gimme gimme piles of boodle" candidates.

Schieffer starts by asking about the loon who introduced Perry at the Value Voters Summit and how he condemned Mormonism as a cult, which is just the sort of thing that happens at the Value Voters Summit, which is one of the many GOP Furry conclaves that get held in DC every year, for some reason always in Woodley Park. Gingrich says that this sort of criticism is unwarranted and the Mormon Church is a branch of Christianity. Cain says that Mormons "believe they are Christians," and that's good enough for him, because no one's running to be "theologian in chief."

Ahh, the Bible, you know? That's the book that teaches us, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Speaking of! Herman Cain thinks that the Occupy Wall Street crowd should stop being so jealous of everyone who's having success in America and get a job! It's a distraction! Because "the Wall Streeters didn't write the policies that didn't work." (Actually they heavily lobbied for the removal of Glass-Steagall!)

Cain says that union involvement proves it's coordinated and proves it's anti-capitalism. Gingrich agrees and says it's a "natural result of Obama's class warfare." Well, maybe, but it's a result of Obama being on the wrong side of that war -- under the Obama administration, corporate profits have been jaw-dropping. Occupy Wall Street isn't an army ready to fight a new class war, it's an encampment of refugees from the losing side of the last one.

Calling it anti-capitalist sort of misses the point. If the rules of capitalism had been equally applied, instead of dodged in an attempt to create a risk-less casino on synthetic derivatives, we wouldn't be here. Let me toss this to Zaid Jelani, for a focus on that.

There are indeed some anti-capitalist protesters among the people at Occupy Wall Street, just as there are protesters who are against the death penalty, or want to combat climate change, or any number of other causes, which is the norm at most mass protests. Some of the protesters are even supporters of the ultra-capitalist Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

But the actual organizing principle of the demonstrations is to speak with moral clarity of the economic inequality of our current system. The purpose is not to attack capitalism but rather an industry whose wealth was guarded to the hilt by government intervention — backed up by trillions of dollars of taxpayer money through programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and near-zero interest Federal Reserve lending — a form of government intervention that the banking industry received but millions of foreclosed on homeowners and debt-laden students did not get.

During a teach-in at Zucotti Park, the site of the occupation, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz explained that what Wall Street is practicing is “not capitalism.” “We are bearing the costs of their [bankers'] misdeeds,” he said. “There’s a system where we socialize losses and privatize gains. That’s not capitalism. That’s not a market economy. That’s a distorted economy, and if we continue with that, we won’t succeed in growing.” Watch the video of Stiglitz’s teach-in:

One of the popular viral offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been the slogan “We Are The 99 Percent” — referring to an economic struggle between 99 percent of Americans and the super-rich 1 percent. Hundreds of Americans have contributed to the We Are The 99 Percent Tumblr. These Americans aren’t Marxist radicals nor are they anti-capitalist ideologues. They, like most Americans, are angry about being squeezed by an unjust economy wrecked in part by Wall Street’s misdeeds.

Gingrich says "a lot of people are angry" in the country. (He's referring to the real estate developers he talks to, though.)

Cain says that it just comes down to jealousy. "Really?!" says a fairly incredulous Schieffer. Cain affirms, and says that they should go protest in front of the White House, and not "protest the success of somebody else." Ha! I can't wait for him to become President and start dealing with the Iraqis who won't thank us for invading their country and killing them, for fun. "Why are you protesting our success?" Cain will say.

Gingrich goes into a monologue about how much he hates judges. "What right do they have?" Schieffer says, vainly, "Well, they're a separate branch of government."

Schieffer is in fine form today, behaving as you'd imagine anyone would at the sight of a sack of runny horse manure laid on his desk. "You've said that you'll just tell your national security officials to ignore the recent rulings of the Supreme Court in the national security arena," he asks Gingrich, "So which you only follow the laws you wish to follow, under your doctrine?" Gingrich insists he's not doing that, because of something Madison did, and the Supreme Court isn't "defending America" through their actions. (No one in government, at any level, is tasked with the sworn duty of "defending America," by the way.)

Gingrich is essentially very much against the way the courts have helped shape the modernity we all enjoy and the expanded franchises we've been able to take pride in, and so he's very sad. Fortunately for everyone, they worst thing that will happen is that he'll just sell a bunch of books about this. The Little Rock Nine are safe!

Schieffer next gets into the "9-9-9 Plan," wondering what will happen to the car industry, given that the Plan has no sales tax on used goods, like used cars. Cain says that it will "use up the current inventory of used that's not a negative." I don't understand, are cars not going to become "used" in the future? Cain doesn't want to talk about that -- he wants to talk about how his plan favors business interests and provides the "lowest possible tax rate" for "everybody," in which "everybody" equals, "people Herman Cain wants to hang out with."

Schieffer wonders if it's fair to poor people. Cain says it is, because it allows the poor to stretch their dollar and choose between "new and used goods." So there you have it, poor people! Enjoy a life of using "used" medicine and eating "used" food!

Beyond that, I'll observe that four years ago, this joint Cain/Gingrich appearance would have led to headlines that read, "Mitt Romney Campaign Announces Massive Fundraising Haul In The Wake of Cain/Gingrich Appearance On Face The Nation: 'Seriously, that was terrifying,' say GOP voters."

Oh, hey, it's a panel discussion with Michael Gerson and Nancy Cordes and John Dickerson.

Schieffer asks Dickerson about this idea Gingrich had, to haul judges who make decisions that Gingrich doesn't like before a Congressional Committee. This, by the way, is batpoop crazy. If you are a member of Congress and you don't like something a judge did, in America, you can force him into your star chamber and interrogate him about it. Why is this necessary! Why can't people just read the rulings? If I were hauled into one of those situations, I'd just keep answering, "I'll refer you to what I've already said about this case." And I mean over and over again! Until someone murders somebody else!

Dickerson said that if this became a reality, the Gingrich administration would be in a Constitutional crisis from day one, and that probably some people would wonder why no one was working on jobs.

Gerson says that Herman Cain's deal is that he's a boom candidate and they his light we'll fade -- especially as the contest shifts from debates on teevee to a campaign on the ground, where organization and feet on the street win you the nomination. Good "real talk" from Gerson! He goes on to note that while a lot of party elites don't want Romney, he keeps slowly winding up support -- including the support of some Christie donors in the wake of last week.

Dickerson points out that Romney can continue to make the argument that he's the guy who can beat Obama in 2012, and point to numbers that suggest that possibility.

Schieffer ends things today commenting on why it's so hard to get politicians to answer questions, and he basically says that politicians have been trained up in the dark arts of public relations. Schieffer says that he has faith that when trained-evaders start evading, viewers see through it, and regard it as slick and dishonest. He says he makes a habit of noting a non-answer (and he does do a decent job), but that he'll never repeat a question -- he has faith that the audience gets it. I think I'd like to see Bob Schieffer get an hour to work with, because maybe he would drive home his point with repetition.

Just once, I'd like to see someone do what Jeremy Paxman does here:

To mount that sort of interrogation, though, you have to be somewhat driven to do more than allow your guests to show off their best evasions. It's not supposed to be a day spa for the powerful! Speaking of!


What manner of devilry is this? Apparently we will be in Chicago, for Chicago Ideas Week, which coincides with the Atlantic's "Ideas Festival" for starters, and any way do we need more "Ideas" festivals, anyway? I guess so!

So, that's why Rahm Emanuel is on this show today. He'll be countered by Paul Ryan. And then there will be a horsey-race panel with Vanity Fair's Bethany McLean (who co-wrote All The Devils Are Here, which I'd recommend that everyone put on their shelf of post-crash non-fiction with Diary Of A Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager and I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay and 13 Bankers), Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Representative Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), and America's version of Karl Pilkington, Mark Halperin.

So, the economy is bad and from time to time, Meet The Press notices this and then goes and gets sound bytes of famous politicians talking about it, and not doing anything. They took it in, weighed what was going on in the country, and said, "Yes! Let's definitely talk to the Mayor of Chicago for some reason!"

Gregory asks if the economy is bad in Chicago, because he hears it's pretty bad. Rahm says yes, but he's already deployed some talking points against it and so success is all but assured.

Gregory notes that unemployment -- man, it sure looks bad? Are there government remedies? Emanuel says sure! Rebuild infrastructure and expand broadband and get construction workers working on roads and schools and then it will be like a NASA -- without moon landings, but that's okay because apparently there are ROCKS WITH LEGS ON THE MOON.

Rahm says that Obama inherited a bad economy and kept it from getting worse. "We stabilized the situation, now, where's the liftoff?" he says, setting up what would be my next question, "Yes, indeed, where is the liftoff?"

Gregory says that Obama's approval rating keeps going down, so how does he have "a real opportunity to be a jobs president." "What were the opportunity costs," he asks, of not enough stimulus and a shift to health care. Why is it that this is so hard to get one's head around? The cost of the lower stimulus package is that its effect was limited. Why did it get reduced? Because the 60th Senate vote was being passed around between guys like Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh and Joe Lieberman, deficit peacocks all. And so I imagine that the White House was faced with the decision to get what they could or fight for something better and risk getting nothing. Now, in politics, there merit to fighting a losing battle -- if you can enforce a strict definition of the territory you want to occupy, that's a reference point for voters if things fail to work out and they start shifting sideways.

I'm guessing however, that the administration decided that the immediate needs outweighed the long-term politics in that case. They were probably right. What they ought not have done was suggest that the rosy dawn of recovery was imminent. It would have been better to level: "This wasn't what we had hoped for, we believe it will nonetheless have a certain positive effect, we're going to monitor it closely and tell you what it accomplished, so that you'll have the information you need to demand more from the people who gave you less today."

As for health care reform? That was a policy that helped the economy, straight up and down, because expanding coverage keeps households out of crippling debt. That's more money to buy cars, mortgages, durable goods, and cash on hand for entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, it's not going into effect for a few more years!

How much trouble is Obama in for next year's election, because of the economy? Because as always, that's what a bad economy does -- imperil politicians! Rahm basically says, well, of course it's bad. He calls it a "challenge." As in a very sporting challenge featuring a man who, if he loses, will be forced to claim the consolation prize of being a rich member of the American elite forever.

David Gregory is very aggrieved, very concerned that the President has been demonizing Wall Street, with all the brutal new regulations he's imposed people he's thrown in jail bailout money he's denied record profits he's impeded CEO compensation he's clawed back material protections he's won for the working class mild and cautious sympathy -- the fewest drops that could be spared -- he's shown for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.

Rahm says that when the financial sector was close to dying, the country rallied and gave them $700 billion in TARP money and imposed a stress test, and everyone survived because America came to the rescue. Now the stress has fallen on regular people (who will probably get more stressed out to learn that the money they gave Wall Street was not limited to that teensy TARP allowance!) and American people are looking for relief.

You know, it's almost as if when the economy collapsed, taxpayers signed up not to save Wall Street, per se, but to save AMERICA, and what ended up happening is that a massive payment was made to transfer the storm and stress of Wall Street's errors onto the backs of ordinary people. Almost as if we habitually privatize government benefits and socialize private liability in this country, or something?

Anyway, I think people are basically saying, "When we agreed to let you save America with our money, we sort of saw ourselves in the picture, there? So, we're going to leave out homes and go stand in America until you realize that we're a part of this whole deal."

Chicago has a marathon and a dance festival coming up, and did I miss part of the conversational thread here? What are we talking about?

Ha, Rahm says that they've taken a bunch of police officers off clerical duty and put them on the streets and it's going to make everyone safer, because Officer Krupke is on the hunt up in Roseland and he knows how to procure a crap-ton of office supplies, yo!

Gregory: "What does the President have to do to get his swagger back?" Rahm says that "people have to feel" like their lives are improving, and if not that there's a "contrast choice" to be made. In other words, if things aren't going well, Mitt Romney sucks. SWAG. SWAG.

Now, here's Paul Ryan, who says that there's not a lot in the American Jobs Act that the GOP will want to pass. What there is, involves some trade agreements...maybe some business tax reform. Ryan says that the latter might come out of the Super Committee. He also wants to know why that's not in the Jobs Bill. (Uhh...maybe because the Super Committee is doing it?)

Anyway, Ryan is aggrieved that the President is campaigning, during the campaign season.

Gregory shows a clip of Biden saying that "There are limits on what one party can do when the other party is determined to do nothing...absolutely nothing." Ryan says the House has done a lot of things that are now "sitting in the Senate." But flashback two years, and we have the same situation -- Pelosi passing lots of bills getting hung in the Senate because the other party was "determined to do nothing, absolutely nothing."

Gregory asks about whether austerity-absent-aggregate-demand isn't what's killing growth. Ryan just says that since this growth killing plan should be followed for a while because it means government doesn't become the spender of last resort -- despite the fact that we're at our moment of last resort, and interest rates on Treasuries are at record lows, and we don't have an immediate budget crisis, and voters continually affirm that they want the Congress to stop flaking out over budgets and start working on jobs, and they like the components of the jobs act, because they have good sense and understand that in the current environment, if we spend money on productive endeavors we'll be fine.

"What businesses are telling us is that they need more certainty," says Ryan. Where you at, Barry Ritholtz?

When we discuss uncertainty, what we are really discussing is risk. All unknown outcomes contain risk, and therein lies the possibility of loss. Risk is inherent in the concept of uncertainty. However, anyone looking for performance must embrace risk, for without it, there can be no reward.

Uncertainty is what makes alpha, or market-beating gains, possible. Smart traders know that uncertainty is where the money is. No uncertainty, no risk; no risk, no possibility of outperformance.

Since July, when the Era of Uncertainty began, the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index -- those businesses most closely tied to this uncertain economy -- is up 26 percent.

Want some certainty? Go buy yourself Treasuries. You can pick up a very lovely two-year bond yielding 0.41 percent. (Good luck charging two and 20 on that!)


The future, by definition, is unknowable. Investing involves making our best guesses about the value of an asset at some point after this moment in time. There will always be an element of uncertainty involved. We can discount various outcomes, engage in probabilistic analysis, but no one knows for certain what tomorrow will bring.

Those who claim to know fail to understand the most basic workings of markets. We need only consider the track record of Wall Street’s prognosticators to know the truth in this statement. As much as the future is uncertain, the most likely outcomes are well understood.

As an example, consider the uncertainty of tax rates. The 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts will either be eliminated, or they won’t. Marginal rates will go up by three or four percentage points, or not; capital gains rates might revert to 20 percent from 15 percent, or not.

The impact on the economy isn’t all that difficult to discern, even for Wall Street economists. Thus, uncertainty is far less uncertain than you might have been led to believe if you paid any attention to the chattering classes. Even the tax on dividends -- which might rise from 15 percent at present to a 39.6 percent rate in the worst-case scenario -- is less uncertain than it looks. Many dividend-paying stocks are held in tax-free or tax-deferred accounts, or are owned by non-taxable pension plans, foundations and trusts. This mutes the impact of even this uncertain tax change.

Pundits may hate uncertainty -- it tends to makes them look foolish -- but markets harbor no such bias. In fact, markets thrive on uncertainty. It is their reason for being.

If you were wondering what Paul Ryan thinks about Occupy Wall Street, well...he says he won't disparage anyone who wants to protest the government. But we shouldn't "sow class envy in America because it's divisive." It's not the anger that leads to division, Paul. It's the division that leads to anger. And the division is created by policy. And you can see the results, right here.

Okay, so, let's get through this panel. My teevee is making some odd squawking noises that sound like cell phones are trying to call through it, is that me or is that happening to everyone else? Oh, wait, I guess you'd have to be watching this show to know this!

Anyway, Biden says that if things were up to him and the President and Boehner and Cantor were in charge, they'd have solved so many problems, but that Boehner's party is getting in the way of change. And then there's like, twenty more minutes of Biden playing fantasy government. He drafted Boehner and Cantor and should have scored more points.

Schock says it's disingenuous to attack the GOP for doing nothing, because they did a budget that one time, and it was exciting for him. Gutierrez says that the newest Congressmen all want to burn the government down, and then doubles back to point out that the Dems didn't get any input or help passing health care or regulatory reform or immigration reform or anything. What's the point of having two guys on to talk about this? Why doesn't David Gregory make a judgment about who's right and back it up with data.

Halperin says that Mitt Romney is the strongest Republican in the field. But not all Republicans like him. The country doesn't know Rick Perry, according to Rick Perry's advisor. Herman Cain is another candidate, who is getting votes from people right now. So, if you were wondering of Halperin had lost his touch at stating the obvious or saying things that spokespersons tell him to say on the teevee, wonder no more.

Here's Bethany McLean, on Occupy Wall Street: "You can look at the protestors and say, 'They're chaotic, they're disorganized.' And the great irony is, is Washington really much better?" Which is where she should have stopped, but she goes on to suggest that it's the demonstrators that have indulged themselves in "Twinkie sound bites" that "taste good but are ultimately unhealthy." Uhm..."WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY. WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY. WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY.WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY.WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY. WE DON'T HAVE A REVENUE PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPENDING PROBLEM, JOB CREATORS NEED MORE CERTAINTY."

Gutierrez responds: "Well, here's what I think, with all due respect to everybody's opinion, there was $700 billion in TARP. I was there. The money got to the banks. They were on their knees. I don't remember anybody from Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan Chase saying, 'Don't do it, Luis, don't do it. We really don't want the money.' No, I saw the secretary of treasury come out there, each and every day, begging and imploring us. You know what? They got their money. And what did we get? We got a bill for $5 if you want to access your money. So let me just say, it's not bashing, it's looking at the reality.

What is the GOP doing to deal with income disparity? Schock says they want to reform entitlements and deregulate industry so that "job creators" can make more profits, and get tax breaks financed by reducing people's social security payments.

I'll credit Halperin for observing that as far as Obama uniting his base and independents is that it's something that can't happen until he draws an opponent and has an opportunity to play the "define yourself/define your opponent game."

Ha, ha. So Meet The Press does this thing at the end of the show where they review what they've already done and celebrate the fact that they talked about some news stories that are "trending." It's the eternal celebration of following the herd and trailing in the wake of the zeitgeist that defines modern news culture! So, they flash this screen of "trending topics" and touch on "Perry in Iowa" and the fact that "Protests Close[d] a D.C. Museum." The third topic is "Secret U.S. Awlaki Memo" -- the whole deal where the president gets to have a special list of Americans he's allowed to assassinate. Can you guess how much time the show devotes to this topic? If your answer was "NONE," congratulate yourself.

Instead, they're all excited about how the GOP race seems poised to become a street fight over who loves Jesus more and through what religion.

I love how Gregory and Halperin treat the emergence of this topic as something unexpected, and not because they held a "Value Voters Summit" and invited some bigot who hates Mormons to speak at it.

Okay, well that's that, and that's the end of our foray into Sunday blither, which, I'll readily admit didn't do much to elevate me from feeling, and writing, a little groggily today. I apologize for that! I hope that everyone has an excellent Sunday, and the happiest possible week!

[Seven days must pass between now and the next Sunday Morning Liveblog. Spend it reflecting on the joy you've brought to other people! Or, spend it watching this nice collection of music videos directed by Tom Scharpling. Or, take a nap! You've earned it, you!]