TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning liveblog, Superbowl Sunday edition. So. I am torn on who to root for today, since these are two teams I typically do not care about. Help me out maybe! I'm typically drawn to underdogs, so the thought of the Cardinals winning today is very appealing. That team has been SO TERRIBLE. Plus, Kurt Warner tells me it's the team Jesus is pulling for, so there's an endorsement. But, on the other hand, the Steelers. They are mighty and old-school and great and their owner gave the NFL the salary cap and the "Rooney rule." Plus, all my friends at my old job will have the day off Monday is Pittburgh wins, because the guy who owns the company is a rabid Steeler fan. What to do, what to do? Doesn't the economy perform better if certain teams win the Superbowl? I guess I'd like to root for whoever can do that.

Anyway, I will root for SPRINGSTEEN. As always, leave comments, send emails, share LOST theories, whatever you want, whilst I stare into the gaping maw of Sunday morning's implacable horrorshow.


Whee, here we go. Today's FNS: economic stimulation with Dick Durbin and John Kyl. GOP 'rebranding' with Michael Steele. And the Hume-led panel of dullards.

First, it's time to get into the middle of the fight over stimulating the economy. Kyl is asked about how many people from his party can be counted on to vote for it. He says that he hasn't done a count (which probably means he won't be filibustering it), but that "sentiment" is turning against the bill in the public. Then, Kyl briefly fulminates against trickle-down economics! "It's NOT going to work." Wow! The GOP really is rebranding!

Durbin, on the other hand, says he's working on shoring up Democratic support, and he insists that there are GOP Senators open to the bill. In general terms, he says, "this is not just another political debate." The numbers are "devastating" the GDP is shrinking, it's Crisis Time. Obama has reached out!

Wallace lightens the mood by suggesting that they make a deal on the air. He asks Kyl what can be done about the bill, "recognizing that the Democrats won the election." Kyl's upset about new government programs, and money to the states. That's sort of the best part of the bill, actually. That money to state governments keeps projects on pace and people in jobs. Naturally, there's some dumb pork to criticize. There always is. That's the whole point of dumb pork. But Kyl is all: "Let people keep their own money." Of course, that's exactly what they do. That last time I got a check for stimulus, I made sure that none of that money went to stimulating the economy, and I suspect most people did the same, and would do the same again.

What sort of changes will the Senate make? Durbin corrects the matter: there was a bipartisan decision to include an AMT amendment, Then Durbin starts in with fire-prevention analogies. But how far are Dems willing to go to get GOP buy in? Durbin says "very open" especially to those Republicans who want more infrastructure (they are out there). Durbin also touts that the stimulus bill will have much more oversight than the TARP program. This is an aspect of the bill they could stand to tout a lot more.

As far as big banker bonuses, Kyl conflates Obama's complaint over salary bonuses with profit making in general.

Meanwhile Daschle! I don't suppose Turbo Tax got him all effed up, too, right? Kyl attempts a thought exxercise, "If these had been Bush appointees, what would people be saying?" Well, the news would report it, amid wide-eyed titters, there would be mild outrage from one corner of the blogosphere, and those appointees would nevertheless be confirmed. I think I have this about right. Call me when Tom Daschle tells people that it's okay to torture people, or that he forgot about the day he made a bunch of politically motivated terminations.

Durbin says that Daschle made SACRIFICES, by serving the public. Can I get a chauffeur and a decade-long break on paying taxes, through sacrfice, too? I'd love to have the opportunity to be as honest a man as Tom Daschle. Whatever.

Kyl uses the word perspicacity, for the vocabulary win of the day. But someone better call Rod Blagojevich! Kyl says, on the possibility of Judd Gregg leaving the Senate for the cabinet, that there might not be a hit to the GOP Senate side. Wallace asks him if there's been "a deal" made, and Kyl says, "No deal. If it does turn out that he's Commerce Secretary, events may play out" in a way that doesn't impact the GOP, "in the way you have suggested." So, yeah. They are trying to make a deal, if they haven't already.

Meanwhile, Michael "Lockhart" Steele will be chairman of the RNC, ensuring that all political battles will take on the Virginia versus Maryland flavor that I've enjoyed throughout my life. Steele, by the way, is black! And that's "big news," Wallace says, because the GOP almost voted for one of those "whites only country club types" instead.

Steele is going to KNOCK OVER unnamed obstructionists. It sounds pretty! Since he doesn't really have a grab-bag full of strange, new ideas, it doesn't really seem likely he'll get many internal roadblocks. But, he'll need to reach out to different voters. Wallace brings up, for example, the Hispanic vote, and asks if there's going to be a change in the immigration position. Steele says, basically, they will use PR to convince Hispanics that they support something that they don't support. Hey, it's worked before!

SHORTER STEELE: "The party has to recognize the diversity that's out there, and keep some of that diversity from getting married."

Anyway, Steele is up for a return to the "Contract With America," though he does not LITERALLY want to travel back in time to 1994. Wallace says, "UGH. Just give me an example of a new idea!" Steele says: "WE COULD VAGUELY TALK ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES, AND LEPRECHAUNS." If we get everyone looking for magical pots of gold, Adam Smith's invisible hands will stimulate the genitals of our economy, maybe.

Wallace hopes that he will be an "assertive spokesman" for the Republican party. But he'll probably just use intentionally erroneous flyers to bamboozle lower income voters, like he always does, because guhh.


And now it's panel time, featuring "and Juan Williams, also."

Anyway, is Washington starting to get warmer and fuzzier. PERFECT QUESTION FOR BRIT HUME! Hume says, "GUHH, MUHH, BLEAH. NO. HUME HUME HUME." New word for any video depiction of Brit Hume: "GRUMBLECORE."

Who's had a better week? Liasson says "Both Obama and the GOP did okay. But both have problems." Obama needs to re-up his effort to explain what the bill will specifically accomplish. "The most important part is not whether Republicans vote for it, but whether it works or not." Obama's likely to sow some seeds of bipartisan support for later bills, and that will be of great use to him logn term, but in the short term, there's no risk for the GOP to oppose the stimulus. Bill Kristol says that the GOP has wisely battled with the Democrats in Congress, and not Obama. Juan Williams points out that the Democratic Congress's popularity has ticked up since Inauguration, and he drops Limbaugh's name.

Kristol says he hopes people will "monitor" spending. He also wants the STD stuff taken out of the bill, because the "red state" value he cares most about is the incredibly high incidences of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

HAHA. David Vitter. As much as I want to make fun of Tom Daschle - who I guess is the idiot who Bob Woodward talked about last week. Kristol gets in a very good line: Daschle is a "limousine liberal who doesn't even pay taxes on their limousines." I'm in favor of raising taxes on anyone who uses a limousine, myself. But David Vitter! David, David, David. I know you are like, THE ONLY GOP SENATOR LEFT OR SOMETHING. But you need to realize that no one has forgotten the fact that you are a DIAPER-WEARING WHOREMASTER. You have many, many years of shying away from the spotlight to go yet, David.

Anyway, Daschle, seriously, cannot take the same credit that Tim Geithner did: that Health and Human Services would never be the same without him, that he is the conquering mad genius of all the things Health, and Human Service related. Already, you hear the calls on the left for Howard Dean to take the job. This would be a great idea, I think! Also, it will never happen. Never ever ever. HEY! Maybe we will get Blagojevich in there or something!


Anyway, Chris Blakely is back, copyediting my opening paragraph!

First, why stick with flawed nominees like William Lynn for deputy defense secretary, Tim Geitner for Treasury Secretary, or Tom Daschle for Secretary of Health and Human Services? Obama campaigned against "Washington D. C. politics as usual" and now he appears to be standing firmly behind two nominees who either do not know how to file a tax return or are tax cheats. While Lynn's nomination does not approach the conflict of interest we saw with former VP Cheney serving as CEO of Halliburton, implementing an Executive Order restricting lobbying's influence on government and then following it with a waiver somehow seems even more disingenuous. Speaking of lobbying, I assure you we have just begun to see Daschle's problems because both he and his wife have cashed in big time at the lobby bar. Lucky for us that Bill Richardson had the decency to withdraw from consideration for his post. Too bad Dakota Tom won't do the same.

I don't know what makes Lynn or Daschle or Geithner so damned necessary to my future well being, either. And UGH SO TRUE ABOUT TOM having fitted the nipples of every lobbyist in town for MAXIMUM SUCTION. Facebook disallows pictures of Tom Daschle and lobbyists under there blanket ban on breastfeeding images.

Second, since the collapse of the financial world has come on the heels of eight years of Republican rule (and if you want to lay some blame at Clinton's feet, you would have to acknowledge that blame would be directed at his actions that were GOP-like such as regulatory relaxation), why does the Obama administration believe it needs to dilute the stimulus bill by including more of the same failed policies? While I don't think the Dems need to throw their victory in the GOP's face, the truth is they don't need GOP votes. Yes, they will need a few votes in the Senate, but the Dems don't need to sell the farm to grab a couple of those. I just don't remember the GOP being that concerned about the Dem's feelings at the beginning of the Bush presidency, but maybe I have a faulty memory.

Well, I give a guy like Paul Krugman credit, because he wants to double down on the stimulus policy, knowing full well that if they follow his advice and it explodes in everyone's face, Krugman's gonna take a hit to his reputation. But, you see, I respect that. He's puts his neck out, there, insisting he's right, knowing full well that we can never put the economy to a controlled experiment. But politicians are great big wusses who can't stand hits to their reputation, and so dilution becomes the order of the day. As much as the GOP do not want to see government intervention succeed - because they've opposed it on absolutist terms - the Dems don't want to see it fail. So everyone tends to pad the legislation with ideological escape hatches.

HAHA, Chris also asks:

Who has the greater need for a 12-Step Program?

a) the corporate greed mongers who are so addicted to their plush life styles and just can't help giving themselves bonuses no matter how horrendous their companies perform or now much the US taxpayers underwrite their incompetence, or

b) the government "lifers" who are so entrenched in power that the rules (tax laws, lobbying regulations, pay-to-play schemes) and ethics don't apply to them, or

c) All of the above

I'd be inclined to say "c" - but I'd need a clarification: is one of the "steps" in the program a "campaign of repeated beatings?" If so, then "c."

Meanwhile, George Stephanopoulos is on, and he's Rahm Emanuel's bestest friend. Special economic roundtable! With zero economic experts! Awesome.

Hey, it's Jim DeMint - the guy who's got a bullshit stimulus package of his own! Fred Smith of Federal Express, one of the most awful companies in the damned universe, staffed by functional illiterates. Yelly Barney Frank and Eric "Permanently Grinning Like I Just Did Half A Tab of Mitsubishi" Schmitt of Google are on the panel too. They will all talk in flash cards, I predict.


DeMint: RAAHHH. I hate me some income taxes, and revenuers. We need to protect the little guy, runnin' moonshine, from the guvvamint. Suck on my RAGE, PUBLIC SECTOR!

Frank: We are all Americans! We need bridges! I never saw a taxcut fix a highway! We need to have a government that's JUST RIGHT. I learned this from GOLDILOCKS. YAHH THIS BED IS TOO SMALL!

Smith: You wouldn't think that a delivery company that cannot even find a GODDAMNED ADDRESS would succeed, but there you go! America is full of morons, MWAHAHAHA. ARGLE-GARGLE-BLAHH. More infrastructure, for my dedicated army of morons to tool around on! ARGLE-GARGLE-BLAHHH. Please! NEVER TAX ME, EVER.

Schmidt: Sure, that's a great idea! It's all good ideas! Let's make a casserole, and maybe explore each others bodies, in the Green Room. Hey! Does that helicopter on the ceiling really fly?

Smith: Bahh! Trade! Diffuse benefits! Localized pain! You say we accidentally sent your $5,000 worth of presentation materials to Canada? BLAH! SUCK IT, JERK. Feel my localized pain.

Frank: I want to tax hedge funds, because they are monsters. Something about social safety net! And TARP rules! Let's subsidize people who talk VERYVERYVERYQUICKLYMYGOD.

Rod Blagojevich: You and me, Barney Frank. Let's have a fast-talking contest. Grand prize will be a precious fucking thing - the Secretary of Health and Human Services position!

Tom Daschle: I would very much like to see this fast-talking battle. Could somebody give me a ride to it, maybe.

Timothy Geithner: I shall float to this contest, on a cloud of my own golden, godlike amazingness!

Jim DeMint: If you like American-made products, then you should have put a ring on them. We obviously have to help people, but let's not "help" them by building them things. Let's help them by allowing great CEO's to claim huge benefits.

Frank: Jim! Can I please get some more unintelligible oratory in, edgewise?

DeMint: Okay, Jesus.

Frank: This is stimulus!

DeMint: This is spending!

Frank: Iraq is spending!

George Stephanopoulos: That's another show!

Frank: BLAAGH. All these things are interconnected.


America, watching at home: But that's a good point! Why can't we explore these issues in greater depth.


Smith: I don't think anyone would argue that money from the government should come with restrictions.

Henry Paulson: Actually, I thought we could pre-empt the arguing by removing the restrictions in the first place.

Smith: Oh, right.

Frank: I am going to use the term "de novo."

Me: Okay, you have wrested vocabulary supremacy from whoever it was that said "perspicacity."

DeMint: You think creating 3 million jobs is impressive? My plan will create ten million jobs!

Me: YES. OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME. Which means you plan is more of the "let's barely keep pace with a pathetic level of growth, forever" variety.

DeMint: OH NOES! Long division! My mortal enemy! I'm melting! I'm melting! Heritage Foundation! Send your witch doctors!

Frank: I think that when people drown in bridge collapses, it can have a deleterious effect on the economy, I don't know.

Puddle of DeMint: We need to loosen up the credit market! More borrowing and debt!

David Vitter: Did somebody say something about getting loose? LET ME GRAB MY DIAPERS.

Schmidt: Let's put everything on websites! Let's try tickling the economy, with exotic feathers! Let's put these scenes of feather-tickling, on websites!

Frank: Don't treat my ideological differences with Jim DeMint as a side show.

Stephanopoulos: And now, let's replay the whole discussion in fast forward, with Benny Hill music.

Schmidt: Let's put that on a website.

[David Vitter's diaper falls down.]


Now it's time for another panel, with George Will, David Sanger, Martha Raddatz and Bob Woodward.

George Will is upset with the "Buy America" provisions, surely. Yes, he is. So disappointed, is he! I'm sure that dire warnings of protectionism were served with the aperitif at his Dinner With Obama, if not on a field of mesculin greens.

Bob Woodward says that there's an economic and and banking crisis going on. He just noticed these things! "The more you talk to people, the more you realize that they don't have the correct data for decisionmaking!" He also wants to know what sort of "-gate," this will become.

Raddatz says that foreign policy and economic policy are linked! My God, the wisdom of this show just never seems to start end!

Then they show a clip of Robert Gates wearing a suit coat half-on, half-off. Will says Gates intention is to "double-down" on Afghanistan, and Raddatz agrees. "But what's the strategy?" Woodward asks - a good question whose answer, once rendered, will be utterly lost on him.

Will: "We've now chased al Qaeda into Pakistan."

Woodward seems to be at a loss on the whole fact that there is a Status of Forces Agreement that's been, uhm...agreed to, in Iraq. He's mewling about how he doesn't know the strategy in Iraq. "A timetable is not a strategy!" Uhm...NEWS FLASH. NOTHING, that has been done in Iraq, since 2003, constitutes a "strategy," unless a blind fumble toward turning Iraq over to Iranian interests while empowering all the bad regional actors to our detriment is a strategy. The SoFA at least gets the U.S. out of that swamp of non-thought.

Now he's saying: "These wars sure make for a lot of uncertainty!"

Amanda Mattos: i'm a bit sad. it's superbowl sunday, and i haven't had any sort of dip on any sort of chip yet.

Me: haha. I am liveblogging "THIS WEEK" with George Stephanopoulos, so I am up to my navel in dip.

We should all talk to Amanda, about tasty dips. Because unlike both of these panels, a discussion with Amanda about food would involve at least one party knowing what the hell they were talking about. She's just awesome. Go get her recipe for roast leg of lamb, here. It takes the SUCK of a foreign policy panel with Bob Woodward, removes the "K," and adds a "-CULENT."


Sorry folks. Our blog software has been giving me some fits. But I think it's resolved.

So, remember when I was considering watching John King for a day? A commenter relates:

Don't worry about missing John King's "State of the Union". I've been watching for nearly an hour and it's been one Republican after Republican talking point after another (including EVERY topic he's chosen and alll of his questions).

King even went to a conservative town that voted for McCain....had breakfast with a group of voters who ALL voted for McCain....then asked them a bunch of questions critical of Obama.

His show is awful. It makes "This Week" look like the BBC.

But, see, that sounds like Old-School Sunday Morning Trainwreck Blogging!

Well, anyway, Meet The Press, with John Kerry and stuff.

Oh, it's Kay Bailey Hutchison! Okay. Kerry says that there will be an open process, starting tomorrow, which will add amendments, which sounds like a process that will be completely beyond reproach! Kerry's hanging a pleasing picture, though. He says the Senate should specifically look at measures that add jobs, add jobs, add jobs.

Gregory gives KBH a little boost with a favorable quote from the Concord Coalition that she can work off. She says, "let's just move up all tje military spending," and give people more money from tax cuts that they can either waste on crap or save and not stimulate the economy.

Gregory tosses GOTCHA at Kerry, asking why the Dems shouldn't be accused from using a crisis in the same way Bush used the crisis of 9/11 to further his own agenda. I would have answered, "Why David, I don't recall you ever remarking that the Bush White House was doing that. Have you just now realized it? Do you feel kind of bad that you weren't astute enough to make that connection, when it was happening? Aww, David. Do you need a hug?"

Anyway, David Gregory and KBH are, like, making out with each other, until he arbitrarily runs the countering argument on her. She says, "It was tax cuts, after 9/11 that stimulated the economy." Kerry finally throws cold water on the lovers: "I think the experiment of the past eight years" was a failed one. KBH disagrees, saying that tax cuts were the answer to everything, and the economy collapsed...because of Voldemort, and shapeshifting space ninjas.

Ryan Scott offers in an email:

It literally takes my breath away that I have a better understanding of what it is in the stimulus bill than either John Kerry or Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Mr. Kerry, the correct answer to Martin Feldstein's criticism is that the bill does not give a 500 lump sum payment! It is phased into withholding so that it is distributed in your paycheck meaning that it will lower weekly taxes $10 a week. If republicans think that people are going to consciously save $10 a week to pay credit cards then they are stupider than I thought. Do they even read their own bills?

KBH doesn't seem to understand that the STATES are failing to extend unemployment insurance, and that when she opposed "money for the states," she cannot honestly claim to be funding unemployment insurance.

OH GOD. David Gregory wants to get everyone's reactions to Ruch Limbaugh, now. David, couldn't you have come up with your own reaction worthy question to ask? I'm not even going to dignify this section of the show with liveblogging.

Ahhh, look. KBH said after election day that it was time to support the new President. It's not really fair to imply that she was offering up blanket, lockstep support for Obama, just because the economic stimulus package is "important." Can we not analyze someone's support, or lack thereof, for a piece of legislation on the merits? All this talk about courtly behavior and Rush Limbaugh just exposes this show's obsession with insider, Beltway-scenester politesse. What Gregory is missing is that it's the politesse that masks the substance of the attacks/opposition.

Kerry's got a million different ideas in how the taxpayer money can be invested in banks. I'm waiting to hear if I can get the same deal that Warren Buffet gets, because that's the one that sounds good to me!

In other news, KBH doesn't think Judd Gregg will leave the GOP in the lurch in the Senate, but she cannot say why she thinks that. Kerry joins the ranks of those who just cannot publicly admit how embarrassing Daschle and Geithner are.

Okay. One last panel, and BLOODY HELL WHAT IS STEVE FORBES DOING THERE? He joins Mark Zandi, and Erin Burnett. In this room, I guess Burnett will be playing the role of "Paul Krugman."

Steve Forbes says what is really happening is that there will be a "different economy" and that the credit/banking system needs to be fixed. As soon as we can all go into debt again: success! Burnett says, no, no. We won't have "debt-filled expansion."

Gregory puts up some Heritage Foundation "econometrics." I will counter by including some information on Scientology that is worth just as much to your daily life:

Helatrobus was a now-extinct "interplanetary nation" which was only a "little pipsqueak government, didn't amount to very much." It was distinguished by "gold crosses on their planes, like the American Red Cross or something of the sort."[20] Despite their outwardly friendly aspect, the Helatrobans were responsible for a particularly vicious set of implants, the "Heaven Implants", which were given some 43 trillion years ago. They were also responsible for implanting the Gorilla Goals.

Forbes says that yes, asset values have fallen, but if we work hard, we can all get back to vastly overvaluing them again. So clap your hands, and save Tinkerbell, for Wall Street.

Zandi says that the package will work because it has a mix of immediate spending, long term spending, "efficacious" tax cuts, and confidence building measures. Forbes says it won't work because there aren't enough of tax cuts for really wealthy people. Cut taxes for the wealthy now, and the economy will recover, which will allow the government to cut taxes for the wealthy again. Really, as long as the last thing we do on earth, as the howling fires of Armageddon claim our flesh, is pass a tax cut for the wealthy, everything will be fine.

Now everyone's talking about you and me would be a lot happier absorbing the cost of every bad loan ever made. Steve Forbes says we can do things to keep it from getting too painful! It's our duty, as American citizens, to bear the burden of these mistakes.

There's a segue to Bob Costas, and the Superbowl, which serves as two painful reminders: 1) that the Superbowl, let's face it, is a party for pampered fatcats and celebrities, while sportsfans watch it on teevee, and 2) BOB COSTAS WOULD MAKE A GREAT HOST OF MEET THE PRESS.

Anyway, I really must go. A programming note! I will be joining my HuffPo colleagues Roy Sekoff, Colin Sterling and Katharine Zaleski on a panel at the 92nd Street Y on February 5. Roy and Colin and Katharine are really great! By contrast, I'll probably be like the vast majority media panelists - I'll have two or three good lines I'll try to use, and then lapse into a bunch of vapid pronouncements - but I promise to do my best. Anyway, come if you like! It's at 8:15 pm, 92nd and Lex. See you next Sunday, and go Bruce Springsteen!