Good morning and welcome to yet another edition of your Sunday Morning Cavalcade Of Talking Head Reacappery And Political Whimsy, With Juvenile Emphasis Strewn Throughout In Captial Letters. It is morning in America and we are in a Great and Glorious Transition, if by "great" we mean dull and by "glorious" we mean "beset on all sides by unsubstantiated rumors that everyone and their mother are in line for a job as the Undersecretary Of Worrisome Fiscal Doomery At The Department of the Treasury." Yes, rumors are flying and most of them are extremely unsound, but because a few of them are not, speculation remains the hard currency of the realm where the political media are concerned. It's at times like this that we should remind you that what's really important is that you bookmark and click through to the Huffington Post just as often as you possibly can. We thank you.
Meanwhile, the ongoing financial crisis has gotten to the point where I am now DREAMING of it. Friday night, I had a particularly vivid dream that I had sat down with the delightful and intrepid videographer Liz Glover - who you may remember from when the CNN dog attacked her at the Republican National Convention - because she had a roll of still photographs of Neel Kashkari discussing the bailout package in a Congressional hearing. In my dream the weird thing about the photographs - ALL OF THEM, mind you - is that while Kashkari was simply sitting at the table, behind a microphone, talking, his facial expression was the unmistakeable look of a man in the throes of extremely passionate sexual ecstacy. Liz and I put up a post on HuffPo entitled "Neel Kashkari Makes His 'O' Face," and won several Pulitzers and an Adult Video News Award.
That just about sums up this awful, confusing life of mine circa today. Hope you are doing better! As always, leave comments and send emails.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Today it's bailout city on Fox, with both the automotive industry and the Republican Party in need of help. Byron Dorgan and John Kyl take up the former. "This is about jobs," says Dorgan. And really, it's about a health care company that treats people who make cars the no one wants to buy, because of executive decisions to make horrible cars. Will the Dems have the votes for it? Dorgan doesn't know! Can Kyl block it? Probably! Kyl says it's a "perfect political setup" and that's "probably the point." And DHL is in trouble, too! Basically, every company in America should file for bankruptcy, tomorrow.
"This is not like the financial markets," John Kyl says, "Where we expect to - hope to - get the money back." I know, I know...I'm paralyzed with laughter, too! And also: doom!
Dorgan says he opposed the bank bailout, and notes that "in recent weeks" it's been demonstrated that the monies from that have been distributed in a willy-nilly fashion. So, what's the harm of taking 3% of the money and doing some more quixotic stuff with it! WHY CAN'T I JUST HAVE 1.3% OF THIS MONEY, TO GO TO THE DOG TRACK?
Kyl is aghast at our system of taxation. Why should this dumbassed county in Arizona raise its budget and have it paid by people in North Dakota, he wonders. YES. Let's require passports at the state border and everyone can print their own currencies! BRING BACK THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION! Let's try WORSHIPPING A GOLDEN CALF!
Would Hillary Clinton get confirmed as Secretary Of State? Kyl says pretty much yes, that "superficially" at least, she would be a good choice. Dorgan agrees. Oh, how they'll laugh when Bill Ayers gets the post!
What about stripping Lieberman of his chairmanship? Apparently, he will be "making a presentation" before the Democratic caucus and there will be a secret ballot to decide his fate. I think that whatever presentation should be debasing as Hell. He should have to sing "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" while dressed as a poodle, as the Democratic caucus pelts him with lamb's hearts. Kyl says that he'd be welcome in the GOP caucus, where he would also be pelted with offal.
Now we are joined by Tim Pawlenty and Michael Steele to talk about what's next for the GOP. TPaw, who has started to demonstrate a personality of his own now that he is not having to chase after the doomed McCain campaign and pretend to be excited about it, is developing the "rebrand" argument while everyone else either fetishized Sarah Palin or plans to cap her like Julius Caesar in the Forum. He thinks that the GOP doesn't need to change their principles, but get modern, get middle class, and (I think this is implied) stop acting like zombies enslaved to creaky social issues. Steele says that TPaw (not to be confused with Vulcan starship/British one-hit-wonder T'Pau) "hit it right out of the box." What he doesn't say is that he deserves to be hit, repeatedly, with boxes, for coining the term, "Drill Baby Drill."
Which is what they are talking about? "Drill baby drill is not an energy policy," Steele says. What is it? Nobody knows. I hear it and start thinking about Hieronymous Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights," because I am a Sodomite or something. "Clearly, the Republican Party was slow to the cause of a renewable energy future," TPaw says.
"There is no more money!" TPaw says! So, RUN WILD IN THE STREETS AMERICA, to Sam's Club, where you can buy dill pickles in bulk.
Could someone from Eakin, Minnesota please tell me what a "Hardware Hank" is? Is this another dude that Sarah Palin talks about? Who is starting a blog? Like Joe The Plumber, or Tito The Builder, or Taz The Electroclash DJ/Ecstacy Dealer?
TPaw is asked if he has full confidence in his state's Secretary of State and canvassing board in the Coleman/Franken recount. He says yes, repeating what he's already said, and goes further to knock down the "ballots in the trunk" story. The record should reflect that Pawlenty has been relentlessly fair in his discussion of that Senate race.
And now, Panel Time! Bill Kristol is sitting in for Brit Hume, which means Charles Krauthammer - the original NeoCon Uruk Hai - will be in Kristol's place.
Bill Kristol thinks that Clinton's a shoo-in for the job, which probably dooms the possibility from happening. Liasson says that it's a good career move for her and a good move for Obama. She says "Team Of Rivals," so DRINK. She notes that Greg Craig (now Obama WH Counsel!) once totally undermined her foreign policy credentials during the campaign.
Krauthammer opens up the Bill Clinton-money from Kazakhstan can of worms, leaving the Ron Burkle Sex Plane can to Bill Kristol. And what about Biden? Wallace seems to think that this undermines Biden because he was supposed to be a foreign policy help to Obama. YES CHRIS. There wasn't going to be a Secretary Of State! Not with Joe Biden at the Veep.
Chris Wallace says "Team of Rivals," and "Delores Kearns Goodwin," so DRINK. Kristol doesn't imagine that Clinton will "go rogue" at the State Department. Liasson says that what's transpired has not yet become a "Clinton Restoration," and that the Democratic bench is simply filled with people who worked for the Clinton administration. However, Liasson believes that if Hillary ascends at State, Larry Summers "stock is down" as Treasury Secretary. For a more pointed takedown of Larry Summers, I give you Megan Carpentier, of Jezebel.
Krauthammer says that the lame duck session will feature an economic stimulus package, but no auto bailout. Economic stimulus is the new black. All over the world, economic stimulus. Williams says that a failure to bail out the automotive industry will drive unemployment to double digits, but that, at the same time, would it be fair to refuse any business, if the bottom line worry is the maintenance of jobs, even terrible ones? This is why everyone should quit their job tomorrow, so that we can start over again, maybe by going all the way back to living in teepees and responsibly tending the great herds of buffalo. Seriously! Bill Kristol basically says that there won't be American cars anymore, ever again.
Meanwhile, Hank Paulson gave up on the whole LET'S BUY TOXIC ASSETS idea and instead started buying up equity shares in banks. Gordon Smith is designing our economic bailout, and Henry Paulson, to quote an economist I met this weekend, "is basically the President at the moment."
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Today on THIS WEEK! All the same stuff they talked about on FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Except Stephanopoulosier!
And Schwarzeneggerier! Arnold (who we're going to call Arnold from now on not out of disrespect but out of time saving) did not go to the RGA meeting this weekend because the Southland is, as always, on fire, to the delight of Glenn Beck, who probably needs more butt surgery.
Arnold says that he "hates taxes, hates the word taxes" but that sometimes you have to "put ideology aside" because your state is burning to the ground forever, because of global warming. You know, I don't know if Prop 8 is going to come up, but one discussion I think we should have is that maybe California is on fire because God thinks gay people are awesome and is angry that Prop 8 passed. I mean, if every nutball theologian gets to have an audience preaching the opposite point of view, surely we can entertain the possibility that God hearts the Folsom Street Festival.
Arnold says that whatever thinking goes into an economic stimulus package, it needs to come with the recognition is that the downturn has not levelled off yet and likely won't in 2009. President Bush, of course, seems opposed to any further government intervention.
Blergh. Arnold seems to think the "push" into economic catastrophe is on Freddie and Fannie. I think that the blame lies on all the people who developed those nonsensical funds from bundled, redundant mortgages and created all those BS credit-default swaps.
Asked to discuss the whole GOP-in-trouble conversation, Arnold says, "I think you can simply say that Republicans have just not given the people what they need." And then he starts getting really passionate about it, talking about how irrelevant examining the differences between Republicans and Democrats are in this age. "You sound like Barack Obama," says GS. Arnold goes on to talk about how policy shouldn't divide people along ethnographic lines, and that it's okay for Republicans to support infrastructure programs, and how governance should make a difference to all constituents. Speaking of, Arnold believes that the California Supreme Court will re-examine the decision and probably uphold the rights of gays to marry. He makes it clear that the widespread protests weigh heavily on him, but that he nevertheless supports the original Supreme Court decision.
Arnold also makes it clear that the State of California is ready to work with the Obama administration, and rattles through a list of areas that he thinks they could coalesce around. He also says, of the jokes he cracked at Obama's expense on the stump, that he hopes Obama will not take them so seriously, and that he made them because Columbus, Ohio is the home of bodybuilding competitions and that he thought those jokes would go over well there, and that they weren't intended to be insulting. Huh! Know what else Columbus, Ohio is home to? Deadly, spirit-crushing boredom! HAHAHA! Just jokes! Not insults!
Seriously, though, I've never been so bored in a city in all my life. Columbus, Ohio makes seven hour layovers at Midway airport seem pulse-pounding by comparison. But you Columbusians probably like it that way, or keep the best stuff for yourselves. I imagine that maybe you have a rich cockfighting culture or something. It's the same way we still burn witches in Washington! (DON'T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THAT, THOUGH.)
Now it is Panel Time, I guess, with George Will and Paul Krugman and Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts.
SO. DID YOU HEAR? HILLARY MIGHT BE SECRETARY OF STATE. It's true, it's true! George Will says, "She might be the one making the 3AM phone call!" DRINK. Whoever says "Team Of Rivals" should be killed, in a Columbus, Ohio cockfight. Let's see who it will be. Someone will step up, you just know it!
Sam Donaldson comes very close! Very close! Also, he talks about peeing, because Sam Donaldson is into watersports.
Cokie Roberts says that HRC would not be popular with "the netroots," but OMG y'all, SO WHAT? There's just no satisfying them on everything.
Sam Donaldson says that "You dance with the people who brung you," and them watch them pee outside the tent, onto Donaldson's toupee, as he reads Delores Kearns Goodwin. George Will notes that the Secretary Of State position has been the home for people who are not white males, which probably depresses or excites him. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman can't "get excited" about the Treasury Department. Sam Donaldson says, "YOU GOTTA DANCE WITH THE PEOPLE WHO BRUNG YOU," again! Because he now just repeats stuff, so full of the urine of Lyndon Johnson's enemies is he!
Krugman is reluctantly for a auto industry bailout because restructuring in this climate is impossible because no one will get a line of credit, and that the loss of jobs could be called "the anti stimulus Package." George Will knows only how to diss Amtrak, as he thinks back to when he used to travel up and down the East Coast by rickshaw. Sam Donaldson wants an "extraordinary" stimulus package, where everyone is dancing with whoever brought them. But investors went on strike and "the government had the fidgets!" says Will. Krugman sort of disputes it, but everyone agrees that we were better off after we were bombed, by Japanese kamikaze pilots.
MEET THE PRESS
Meanwhile, time for another edition of sad, old Meet The Press, which is like an ennui stimulus package lately.
Today: automobile bailout! T. Boone Pickens! And Hillary Clinton - she could be Secretary of State! Lock up your daughters!
We start off with Carl Levin and Richard Shelby, yelling at America and its automakers. Automobile bailout? Richard Shelby is agin' it. They aren't building good cars. "They are a dinosaur, in a sense...you hate to see this, they need to become lean, and hungry" - LIKE, UHM...DINOSAURS. Why won't GM velociraptor their way back to fiscal health. Shelby is worried that if we start giving money to companies, we might have to keep giving them money. "This is a road to nowhere," Shelby says, and Sarah Palin has the only bridge there.
Carl Levin, and his sad, droopy glasses are here, to say this is a national problem, and that other countries are supporting their automobile companies, so why can't we? I think that it's maybe because other countries are building cars that people want to buy. "General Motors has twice as many cars, twice as many models...as any other automaker." That's probably part of the problem. ALSO: Most of those other countries aren't reliant on their auto industries to maintain people's health insurance.
"Shouldn't the American people have a SAY-HAY?" wonders Brokaw. Levin agrees, and says he'd be happy to ask the GM CEO to resign.
Shelby says that the bailout is "The beginning of corporate welfare, in a big, big way." WHAT? Beginning? Seriously?
Thomas Friedman is blaming everyone in the world, including, executives, unions and Michigan politicians, for the mess - and will probably come out in a few minutes and do so again. Joe Weisenthal, over at Clusterstock, doesn't agree:
Advocates of a bailout for GM, Ford and Chrysler would have you believe that everything would be fine in Detroit if it weren't for those pesky legacy and labor costs. To them, legacy costs aren't a point to be made in an argument, but a complete argument ender -- like the nuclear bomb of the bailout debate. As soon as someone brings it up, game over.
There are two big problems with this:
1) So what? Who signed these deals with the unions, making it difficult to lay off workers, while compelling the companies to pay healthcare benefits on all those retirees. It was the management, on behalf of shareholders. We don't blame the elderly* for Social Security's problems, we blame the politicians who lack the will to do anything about it. (*Ok, to some extent you can say the AARP has too much political clout, but really, more power to 'em.)
But the bigger problem is:
2) Legacy costs aren't the real issue. You can't blame pension obligations and declining healthcare costs for declining market share. It's not the union's fault that sales were down 50% in October, far outpacing the industry. It's not the unions fault that the companies have bet so heavily on SUVs.
The point, though, is that management bravely made a bad bet, and now that's contributing to the pain they feel. That has nothing to do with legacy costs. It would be one thing if GM and Ford's were successfully holding onto market share, and it were clear that if you stripped out some $X value of labor costs, they would be profitable again. Then you might make the argument. Pass the burden of supporting retirees onto government, and give them some kind of break to defray labor costs. But nobody actually makes that argument credibly.
That's because the math just doesn't support it.
Meanwhile, T. Boone Pickens has been listening in and wants to know what happens when the airline induustry fails. Maybe we finally give up on this whole terrifying flying thing! Back to the days of ocean liners!
Meanwhile, let's get to T. Boone's secret plan to get the United States to buy him power lines to transport energy from wind farms that will built on the aquifer so that he can have all the water, as well. He begins with nothing you haven't heard on the DAILY SHOW. Use natural gas to convert the truck fleet.
Brokaw asks if Obama has been enthusiastic about his plan. Pickens says that he wouldn't describe Obama's enthusiasm as "jumping up and down." And, admittedly...that would be...a little...strange. Let's hope Obama doesn't do much of that. Apparently, he listened and took a lot of notes, and that's enthusiastic enough for Pickens.
Brokaw asks if the drop in fuel price that's happened of late aid his cause or impede it. Pickens says that the "cost of it...we got lucky," but doesn't move off of his core premise: "We've yo-yoed," where prices are concerned. "We're not fixed, we're still importing seventy percent" of our oil.
All interviews with T. Boone Pickens have basically become the same old song. What's the difference between a T. Boone Pickens interview and the Sarah Palin Stock Stump Speech? LIPSTICK.
Some comments of note:
First of all, thanks to ThomasQ, who informs us all that Hardware Hank is not some horrible fraudbot loser who skulks around with John McCain, writing horrible country music songs and arguing with CNN's Rick Sanchez:
Hardware Hank is a lovely, friendly purveyor of all things hardware who's got stores all over the Midwest (the middle part of the country, don't you know). I believe that unlike Joe, Hank is licensed and in all probability will have his taxes actually go up. Not sure about the blog, but he's got a website.
Arnold has always been smart enough to chnage his goals and message to meet the public needs and wants. Can't say that of a lot of these republicans, and I think the ones that are amazingly enough still not listening are going to dig their heels in and in the process bury themselves.
One of the ironies of the election year is the architect of Arnold's success - who capitalized on his ability to deviate from doctrinaire Republicanism into a candidate who could win in California - was Steve Schmidt.
And KellyGrrl reminds me that the whole praying to a Golden Calf thing has already been tried:
The magical bull wouldn't budge on his preference for legal gay marriage, unfortunately.
Okay, it's panel time! With Thomas "Oh, GOD, I Was Just So Wrong On Iraq That I Should Have My Liver Devoured By Peacocks Hourly" Friedman, Katty Kay - who I'm not used to seeing outside the confines of THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW, but am relieved that she isn't some sort of prisoner there, Andrea Mitchell - who'll restrict her commentary according to what financial experts will be providing a STIMULUS PACKAGE to her LADYFLOWER, and Tavis Smiley.
Tom Brokaw says that the automobile industry failures are "mesmerizing." COME ON. That's a really weird way of seeing it. Tom Friedman says Obama might have to tell Detroit to piss off, and that this would be the wise thing to do, because the automakers have no plan: "It was like a crack dealer offering subsidized crack rather than going to a clinic to get off the drug, and Carl Levin was the enabler of that." Well, I don't know what to say, except, THANK YOU, Carl Levin, for making crack so affordable to me over the years. Everytime I'm shuddering on the corner of 14th and R Streets, feeling the Evil Ice in my veins, hoping to ride that dragon into near ventricular tachycardia, I'm going to think of you and your droopy glasses, and the automobile industry, apparently. GOD I LOVE CRACK.
Thomas Friedman pounds the desk! Which is now that much flatter! Like the World! Kay describes Friedman as eloquent, which I guess she's using as a synonym for "frenzied." She wants the management of GM to be "taken out at dawn and hung, drawn, and quartered." Andrea Mitchell says there might be a Car Czar. Let's hope not!
Smiley calls for a "bottom up" approach to Detroit, and I'm not at all sure where he's going with this...unless he means that a new innovative industry should be planted in Detroit. He says that there needs to be more talk abotu "corporate mendacity" and too many people "living on side streets."
Honestly? If you can explain why card-check laws gets knit up in all of this, have at it.
Tom Friedman says that this is all a toxic cocktail, that William Ayers has thrown at the U.S. economy, to protest Vietnam. Also, we are going to need a bigger boat, because it's a JAWS metaphor. Obama is Roy Scheider. We'll need ourselves a good Richard Dreyfuss at Treasury and a Robert Shaw on the Council of Economic Advisors to say folksy, vaguely creepy things. Later on, when we've gotten past this crisis, we can talk about having a Michael Caine around to do some franchise-killing things in 3-D, but WE CAN'T CONTEMPLATE THAT NOW. Everything's too HOT, FLAT AND CROWDED like the streets of Baghdad, which Tom Friedman was TOTALLY WRONG about.
Tom Brokaw, on the G20 summit: "It was really a remarkable gathering, when you think about it." Really, Tom? A gaggle of plutocrats is what excites you?
Katty Kay: "There is not much moral left, there is only hazard."
Let's move to politics, before Andrea Mitchell has to answer questions about whether she can feel Alan Greenspan tremble when they touch, or if she can feel the hand of fate reaching out to both of them. THE WORLD ECONOMY CAN'T HOLD BACK, Andrea! IT'S ON THE EDGE!
Hillary Clinton! Maybe! Secretary of State! ZZZZZ!
Tom Brokaw wants to talk about some black stuff with Tavis Smiley. He says that African-Americans that are "chroniclogically gifted" are happy that Obama is in the White House. BUT! Obama is resigning from the Senate, which means there's no African-Americans in the Senate anymore! HOW DARE BARACK OBAMA! Does he believe that only white people can serve in the Senate? For shame!
Tom Friedman wants "a bankruptcy specialist" at State, because the coming years will make it so the U.S. has to manage "the weakness" of other nations, as opposed to their strength.
Andrea Mitchell said "TEAM OF RIVALS" and "DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN." Drink! Drink again! We're going to need a bigger bladder! She also says the future of the Republican party is in the hands of Bobby Jindal and TPaw, and NOT, NOT, I REPEAT, NOOOOOOT, in the hands of Sarah Palin, who will go back to Alaska forever now, maybe. I think that will make many of you readers happy!
Well that's going to do it for another week, here. You know, it's too bad that the Proposition 8 ruling only briefly came up on these shows this weekend when it was something that a lot of people took to the streets and made themselves heard about all over the country yesterday. There's all sorts of talk, these days, about the people who voted for Prop 8. Some say that black voters in California voted for it in droves, others say that it was Mormon money and votes that got it passed. It's always really easy to get into that sort of division, where you pit one tribe against the other, and glibly wonder how civil rights are supposed to work when some group always seems to find an easy way to justify denying some civil rights to somebody else. But there's something more important that needs saying: Before we blame any one ethnic or religious group for voting for Prop 8, let's remember that all of the people who cast a vote against gay marriage, regardless of race, color, faith, or creed - ALL OF THEM, EVERY SINGLE ONE, is a COMPLETE A-HOLE.
My wife and I, whose marriage has not been even remotely threatened by anyone gay, endorse that message! Good day to you all.