TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to Your Sunday Morning Liveblog, the Huffington Post's exclusive weekly report on the thermodynamic exchange that occurs between televised gaseous discharges and what remains of my intelligence. My name is Jason. Today I will be pulling double liveblog duty here. This morning, we chronicle the gnashings and lamentations of the political press. This evening, you can join actor and comedian Taylor Negron, Jezebel blogger and Crappy Hourist Megan Carpentier, and myself in our liveblog of the Academy Awards ceremony. Bookmark this link for your future use.

Between this liveblog and that one, I am rushing off to see Milk, the last of the best pitcure nominees I haven't seen. Seeing Milk may alter my state of mind on this, but for the moment, I'm predicting that the winners will be Cruz, Ledger, Winslet, Rourke, Danny Boyle, and Slumdog Millionaire. I am hoping, however, that the winners will be Henson, Downey, Winslet, Jenkins, David Fincher, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, plus a special award to Sam Rockwell for being the best thing in every movie he is in, why not.

Anyway, let's get rolling on this Sunday nonsense. As always, leave a comment, send an email, follow me on Twitter, and sleep in as I die a thousand tiny deaths.

Oh. Man On Wire. That should totally win, also.


Today on FNS, a roundtable of governors and a roundtable of pundits, talking about "race." GAH.

Wallace says, OH NOES, LOOKIT THE STOCK MARKET, responding to the economy, and to Tim Geithner. I have a range of stupendous reactions to Tim Geithner as well! Trust me! But the stock market is not the economy, nor is it an indicator of overall quality of life. But the big number, it scares us!

Anyway, Mark Sanford is not taking the stimulus money! Or he's saying he isn't, and counting on his legislature to overrule him. Guess we won't be seeing him cutting any ribbons, anytime soon. Anyway, I'd say that Sanford is a massive fool, but South Carolina gets back $1.35 for every dollar they contribute to the common weal, so maybe it's time South Carolina reached for those bootstraps that form the basis of SO MANY LECTURES.

Granholm is taking the money, smart lady. Pawlenty is too, despite criticisms of the bill. Pawlenty's playing this game at a different level that most people. Ed Rendell, who holds the Guinness Record for most email press releases sent to reporters for a single states' most trivial public works projects, is also taking the money. So look for some more emails on Pennsylvania's awesome wastewater innovations.

Granholm wants to strategically invest stimulus money, rather than mindlessly grow her state budget, and I hope she's got the projects in mind to do just that. I'd have liked a bill that was serious about increasing the number of high-speed rail corridors in the U.S. Those rust belt cities could use the benefits that come to the interconnected "Acela-ization" that those of us in the Northeast enjoy. It'd be a boon in the south, too. But eight billion isn't that serious. And being lied to about a phantom train to Las Vegas isn't serious either. Though their should, absolutely, be an Acela that connects L.A. to Vegas. I mean, why not.

Sanford thinks that giving money to the Smithsonian, or to build parks, is not stimulative, because he is a kindergartener. Pawlenty is more concerned about a bubble in our Treasury bills - like I said, he's playing at another level. This is why I think you'll see Sanford jump into a 2012 presidential campaign, and Pawlenty will bide his time.

Granholm has obviously read the housing plan, which is a relief. Sanford, on the other hand thinks that there's a class of people who have "played by the rules" when in reality, there's simple a class of people who prospered on the back of an economy that was founded on the active search for people to make bad investments. Anyway, what Sanford prefers for South Carolina is for his residents to helplessly watch prices fall, borrowers default, toxic home inventories grow, around and around again and again, all the while as local governments crater, the more capable residents flee to healthier climes, leading to brain drain and a drop in productivity, all of which speeds all these vicious cycles, until South Carolina is a crime-ridden failed state with vacant homes and no pot to piss in. Yes. That would be awesome.

Sanford needs to read some Steven Pearlstein is he thinks that bailout money always freezes capital. It really depends on the bank!

Granholm calls Sanford an "outlier in economic theory." Of course, the reason that other countries are stepping forward to assist their auto industry is because the products are better, their business plans more sound, their industry's been extricated from the health care economy...Granholm is better off making the case for universal health care.

Wow. Mark Sanford seems to believe that the textile industry in the South has recovered! It has: overseas.

Ed Rendell actually decides to say something! Relatively smart, at that: Clinton brought down the deficit, and Rendell has used similar tactics to keep costs in line in Pennsylvania, all the while - TRUST ME - launching all sorts of public works projects! Again, TRUST ME ON THIS. MY GOD. I used to get those emails all the time. Sanford responds, "Garble garble blah, when I was in Congress we helped the deficit out too, and anyway: SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE ARE SCARY [crosses fingers, hoping no one remembers that while they were in power, his party came up with zero solutions for MediCare/Medicaid.]

Rendell is not running for president. Neither is Granholm, who was born in Canada. Pawlenty denies it. I don't care what Sanford does or says.

I sort of hope he does run! Just last night, a source I place great trust and great enjoyment in made it sound like the Vetting of Mark Sanford is going to be very entertaining!!

Meanwhile, the Fox Panel is talking about race. I've fallen behind in my Tivoing, to the extent that I am at risk of missing the start of THIS WEEK, which I must watch live, so I'm going to watch the discussion in fastforward. Juan Williams is talking, and now Brit Hume is scolding him. And Juan is yammering back. And Hume is all, "GAH. SERIOUSLY." Now I'm admiring Wallace's pocket square. Mara Liasson didn't wear some eye-blinding shade of frock today, which is nice.

Rick Santelli is yelling, like a moron. I'll give Ryan Avent the floor on this one:

But the housing bust is an entirely different game, for several key reasons. One is that homeowners -- even the responsible ones -- were highly leveraged in the housing market. A good buyer might have put down 20% of a home's value, only to watch prices fall by 40%. Most investors can't lose more in the market than they put in. That's not true for homebuyers. It's also the case that many homeowners were using housing wealth to directly fund consumption, something few stock market investors do.

What this means is that the economic viability of tens of millions of households, many of which weren't even recent buyers or weren't particularly irresponsible in their purchases, is threatened by the housing bust. And this threat continues to grow, because housing is in a vicious cycle -- prices fall, households default, banks are forced to sell off their growing inventories of foreclosed homes at rock bottom prices, and this places pressure on a new round of owners, some of which will default, and so on. Meanwhile, there are all kinds of other nasty effects from massive foreclosures. Local and state budgets are devastated, forcing officials to pursue procyclical budget policies. Job markets suffer dislocations as residents leave. Pain spreads to commercial real estate and local retail. And loan losses continue to undermine the financial system.

It's very serious indeed. But Santelli doesn't seem to understand this, and probably wouldn't care if he did.

And we've caught up! Hume says that the economy will recover is the plans work, and won't if they don't. O-KAY!

Hey kids! If you think that Citibank is solvent, at this very minute, please send me an email with the subject line: "ALSO: UNICORNS EXIST."

Oh well, let's see what's going on over at ABC.


Here's what I had to miss, in all the fastforwarding.

Chris Blakely:

I love it when William Kristol becomes outraged. Someone ought to make a Billy Kristol action figure: Captain Courage! This Sunday, Captain Courage is outraged about Eric Holders calling us a "nation of cowards" with respect to race. Inevitably, drop the word "coward," and Billy will soon be talking military in a heartbeat. We all know how much credibility Kristol has in that area. As this nation's leading chicken hawk pundit, nothing says courage like William Kristol calling out people for using the word "coward." One would almost think that Kristol believes his gig might be up; that someone finally sees Billy for what he really is. Let's face it, no Neo Con has shown more courage in the War on Terror than William Kristol. Every day from the cozy comfort of his DC trappings Captain Courage puts it on the line, boldly leading the charge and chastising cowardice where ever it might lurk -- even in the mirror.

Ahh, yes. Hilariously, he also said, via Jeff Peckerman

...People should move to iraq if they cannot pay their mortgage.

I'd point out that we've built an awesome social welfare system for those Iraqis, too. As soon as Kristol is safely vacationing in this paradise...outside the Green Zone, I'll start checking the condo market in Mosul, believe me!

Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger is touting the fact that his state somehow emerged from the dysfunctional morass of their budgeting chaos. I wait and wait and wait until he gets to the key issue...there you go: WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO REQUIRE A 2/3 SUPERMAJORITY TO PASS A BUDGET? Honestly? That's just insane. California, how do you guys do it? Gail Collins, in the New York Times, just delciously riffed on all of this. WITH KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER REFERENCES.

Anyway, Arnold is taking the stimulus money as well. GS mentions Bobby Jindal's complaints over unemployment insurance. May as well drop some science:

But it is not clear why participating in the expanded unemployment insurance program would result in tax increases for business. By Jindal's own estimate, the recovery package would have funded his state's unemployment expansion for three years, at which point the state could -- if it chose to do so -- phase out the program.

As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin suggested earlier today, perhaps Jindal's presidential ambitions are "clouding" his judgment. "I think he's been tapped as the up-and-coming Republican to petition a run for president the next time it goes around. So he has a certain vernacular, and a certain way he needs to talk right now," Nagin said.

Arnold is very much in favor of greater cooperation between the parties in Washington, and that Obama's clarity should be met with calmness and clarity, even in opposition. (Instead of, let's say, inviting human-joke Joe The Plumber to address your caucus.) I think comity and calmness is great, but I'd rather have a tough debate than weak-willed tacking to "bipartisanship." I mean, what's the point in having a Congress is their default position is to work to pass weak bills? Better to have strong cases made, a winner, a loser, and the opportunity to lay out your case on referendum if the losers end up being right.

Arnold believes that America cannot "nationalize" a bank, because surely we can come up with another, more exceptional sounding word for that.

Arnold is also, like, the biggest booster the Obama administration could ask for. "Be patient!" "They're just getting warmed up!" OK! Can't wait to see, say, Mary Schapiro regulate the nutsack out of Wall Street once she's WARMED UP. I mean: let's maybe toss Larry Summers in a microwave or something! Let's introduce some heat to the body of Tim Geithner with a shiatsu massage, or something.

Arnold's prescription for restoring the GOP? "Listen to the people," and do what they want. That's a good way for a single individual to get re-elected. I think that parties benefit when they successfully build the case for what is needed, even if it comes at the expense of what is "wanted." But, look: I think Arnold is closer to the truth than, say Michael Steele, who is going to revive the GOP with Hip-hop Jamz!

Arnold picks the Reader as his Oscar favorite. OH NOES! Harvey Weinstein has gotten to Arnold! I mean...THE was all right. But it's so far my least favorite. And yeah, I'm rooting for Winslet, but she should have won for LITTLE CHILDREN. Arnold likes THE CANDIDATE, too.

Flomax commercial! Time to show off what I can do, still, in that regard!

Speaking of urinary problems, let's talk bank nationalization! What does George Will, WHO JUST MAKES UP WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS TO SAY, say? "Blarrgh, socialism! Blarrgh, socialism? Blarrgh, maybe?"

Suzy Welch thinks that any nationalization should be preceded by a confidence-boosting love-in, and perhaps the development of NEW WORDS. Paul Krugman points out that we're nationalizing banks already, like it's going out of style. Oh, and as Nouriel Roubini just pointed out: IT'S NOT GOING OUT OF STYLE. NOT BY A LONG SHOT.

Suzy Welch is still yammering: "BUT TEH PERCEPTIONZ! OH WOE!"

George Will says the taxpayer should get something approaching equity. I agree, yes, preferred stock, voting stake, the whole nine. Let's see what we can do. At the same time, George Will, I remind you, is George Will, WHO JUST MAKES UP WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS TO SAY.

George Will, I wish, and hope, that the housing crisis truly is limited a "few counties in five states."


Roubini and Krugman school Santelli on interconnected economies and the vicious cycle and how a crap-ton of the people perceived to have "broken the rules" are actually people who've been downsized, laid-off, and who have had pressure placed on them by everyone else's failure. I only wish they wouldn't spare us the informative lecture on the Brief and Lamentable World Of Mortgage-backed Securities that both of these guys could provide.

Suzy Welch contributes a great metaphor: "It's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, everyone stuck a knife into the victim." Oh, if you haven't seen MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, yet, uhm...SPOILER ALERT.

"Assessing blame is not sterile, because you learn lessons from the future," says George Will, WHO JUST MAKES UP WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS TO SAY.

George Will, WHO JUST MAKES UP WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS TO SAY, says that the Obama budget will be, I guess, more honest than most but still BS because it won't be properly capturing the liabilities of entitlement programs on the balance sheet, an old and brilliant trick of government budget hackery. What won't be happening on the Obama budget are any number of weird Bush administration budget gambits. Here's Yglesias:

Not only is the Obama administration's decision to end Bush-era dumb budget gimmicks that made the deficit seem smaller than it really was a good idea, I also think it's a political no-brainer. For one thing, you'll get some points from someone for being honest. For another thing, I never really understood what the Bush Gang thought it was accomplishing with this stuff. It served to antagonize the tiny minority of people who care about long-run budget projections and impress . . . who, exactly? People, it seems, who don't care enough about long-run budget projections to unravel the trivially obvious gimmicks they were using. But why do you care what those people think?

In a lot of ways, the Bush administration always struck me as a group of people who were just so impressed with their own shamelessness and dishonesty that they wildly exaggerated the extent to which lying about stuff is a useful governing tool. They loved the game, they loved the gamesmanship, they held the public in contempt, experts in more contempt, and the press in even more contempt, and so they just went and did it.

Wow. There's an IBM commercial out touting Stockholm's "smart-toll" congestion pricing system that's solved their gridlock problems. I want this for Washington, DC! Thank you, IBM, for the pro-commuter propaganda!

Also, for what it's worth, Stockholm has some of the most beautiful subways in the world:

Anyway, this crap again:


I received this following preview of today's show:

LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: Roundtable includes someone who i'd call a "CNBC whore" but since it's a woman that sounds bad.

ME: You know, when you write "CNBC Whore," it's like you are really writing "WHORE WHORE."

LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: SHE COOPTS THE HOLDER-RACE COMMENT TO SAY, AND I AM NOT KIDDING: "The way Holder feels about people not wanting to talk about race is the way some people like Rick Santelli feel about not talking about the mortgage plan."

ME: So, by that logic. Eric Holder wants to yell about race in the hopes that Robert Gibbs will calmly apprise him of what it's like to be black?

LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: Bill Burton...would be even better.


LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: That sums it up perfectly.

ME: This Rick Santelli. He is the gift that keeps on giving. Especially when it comes to selling a housing plan!

LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: Rahm sending him candy hearts and flowers. And caffeinated coffee.

Sheesh. WHERE'S MY GIFT BAG, Rahm Emanuel?

What's the over under on the number of ways David Gregory comes up with to ask Jindal if he's going to run for President? I don't know, but he'll be hailed as a goddamned genius.

ME: Ah, you mean Becky Quick!


ME: There is no echo chamber that she cannot sound out!

BECKY QUICK: Stuff is happening! There are noises! What does it all mean? In a word: GAH. Back to you, whoever is back there to be thrown back to. This is CNBC, THE place for circlejerks!

LIVEBLOG OPERATIVE: She is a walking echo chamber.

David Gregory asks Bobby Jindal why he's turning down the unemployment money. He's going to provide you with some answer other than, "Well, David, it's because I'm this idiot, just walking around, saying stuff that makes no sense! I don't understand the concept of temporary!"

Argh, There are no such things as "permanent changes to laws." You see, there are these things, called "elections," that send different deliberative bodies to organizations called "congress" or "senate" or "House of delegates," or whatever the hell they call them in Louisiana...VOODOO NUMBY PANTS HUTS OF NAPOLEONIC CODES or whatever. And when a new Congress begins, THEY ARE NOT BOUND BY THE DECISIONS OF THE PREVIOUS ONES. NOT EVER. So crikey! If you're not getting bang for the buck on federal dollars in three years, pass a new law, and opt out!

So many people say things like "make the Bush tax cuts permanent." And I always laugh and say, "How? Through MAGICKS?"

Anyway, don't take the money, Louisiana. Or, as Jindal does, PRETEND you aren't taking money while you are actually taking money for all those neat-o keen highway projects with the beautiful ribbons that require your governor to bring his VOODOO EXORCIST SCISSORS to cut.

Bobby Jindal wants us to believe that LA is a "donor state!" Yeah, maybe if we narrowly hew to gas taxes. But Louisiana takes a whopping $1.85 per dollar given. Naturally, that's understandable, given the fact that a Hurricane destroyed the lovely private sector this guy thinks is going to float his state's unemployed, via WITCH DOCTOR MAGIC.

"We will look at every provision, and see which things will help my presidential run."

Argh. Jindal is still pimping the debunked "Disney to Vegas" train line. It's like a stale comedy routine. One thing that the GOP needs to address is that from week-to-week, their dumbest talking points can get deflated in hours. There are GOPers operating at a higher level, and they all seem to be the ones that understand that within 24 hours of saying some nonsense like "OMGZ, HARRY REID WANTS TO BUILD THE PORK TRAIN FROM RENO TO HIS PALACE OF FILIBUSTER FRIGHT" a million billion blogs have exposed this as foolishness. So, look, Jindal could have come on teevee and bullshitted his way through the conversation in a million different ways. HE'S CHOOSING ALL THE DUMB WAYS. And that's why this nimrod would be a terrible president. It has nothing to do with his party! It has everything to do with the fact that I could stick his brain inside a thimble and still marvel at all the space with which I was left.

Then, there's ten minutes of Jindal using five-dollar words to avoid answering a few admittedly good questions. Gregory asks: If the private sector is contracting, why can't the federal government get spending going again? Jindal has no idea how to answer that question. He literally does not even try. So well is he armed with buzzwords. Think about it: this guy makes Ray Nagin look like a genius!

JINDAL: It's important to rebuild levees, for the country, because what will happen to the supply lines for gulf coast petroleum.

ME: Uhm...or the people. You remember, right? That Louisiana is home to a species called homo sapiens? That tend to be drownable?


JINDAL: My response to Barack Obama on Tuesday will be based on the fact that he is insanely popular with people, and look, it's not like I have some set of "principles," to stand on. So, we'll probably bash Nancy Pelosi.

ME: You'll note, one day, I think, just how much time Pelosi spends worrying about what people think of her. WHICH IS ZERO TIME. Pelosi is precisely NONE concerned by what you might say about her.

If you were wondering how many ways Gregory would ask the question, "Are you running for president?" One...two...three...four!...FIVE!...SIX!

In Washington, this apparently qualifies as "rigor." To which I would add: MORTIS.

Anyway, Charlie Crist, he disagrees with Jindal. He's more or less restating the case Arnold Schwarzenegger, but more capably. I recall that at that rollout he did with Obama, Crist got cheered as loudly as Wexler. That sort of tells me that maybe he's satisfying his constituents. Alex Castellanos thinks that Crist "changed sides" and "forgot what it means to be Republican."

Gregory asks if it's a mistake to support the stimulus. Crist: "I don't know." But as far as what he thinks Florida needs, it's the stimulus package.

Crist also notes that Florida is deep into the housing market black hole, which makes me wonder if George Will counts that as one of the "five states" with bad housing markets.

Gregory: "The whole country did not share in the housing boom." Didn't we, though? Those mortgage-backed securities spread fake "wealth" all around the country. To a certain extent, anyone's prosperity was contingent on the vapor we all believed to be wealth. That's why I'm not feeling this distinction between "rule-breakers" and "people who followed the rules" and "losers" and "winners" and it's why I'm surely not gonna be dictated to by some bond trader! EVERYONE MADE OUT. NOW THE BILL'S COME DUE.

Let's go back to Ryan Avent:

The government isn't intervening in housing markets because it likes getting folks out of debt. It's intervening in housing markets because housing markets are at the center of the crisis.

My take: We could definitely use the engines of government and finance to punish ANY random group of people who a majority of Americans deem to be responsible. We could very easily do this, as a nation. ON THE OTHER HAND, we could preserve the economy and the basic stability of the nation. But, yeah, we can't do both. We can either dance around the bonfire of the vanities, like a bunch of truly righteous cavemen, or we can put it out. The hard lessons will come, they will be widespread, and no one will be spared. Nor should they.

OKAY: Roundtable time, and once again, we will do speed round playwriting style. So welcome to:

A play in one act.

David Gregory: an eminence grise
Becky Quick, a box avec squawk
Al Hunt, a man with heroic hair
Michelle Norris, an NPR personality not being actively shunned by NPR's ombudsman.
Me: a blogger, of limited, regional obscurity
A Rocket Scientist
Chris Dodd, a Senator
Suzy Welch, hates the yelling, a lot
Eric Holder, who runs Justice
Robert Gibbs, secretary of Press
A Mausoleum, engraved
Michael Steele, "Greatest Rapper Alive" according to Jonah Goldberg.

[Scene: the NBC trapezoidal table, on TiVo]


HUNT: Governor Crist! So full of equivocations! But my house my be in trouble if we don't do something! A range of experts, though, have endorsed the plan.

ME: It would appear that the dividing line between endorsing the plan and not endorsing the plan could be in two areas. ONE: having a basic understanding of how the economy is interconnected versus being someone who believes, FOR REAL, that they are at the center of the universe. TWO: Actually reading the plan versus simply making stuff up about it.

ROCKET SCIENTIST: It's sure not what I do!


QUICK: Santelli likes to yell! Finally he yelled loud enough to get some ratings.

SUZY WELCH: But the yelleeen! The yelleeen!

ME: Suzy, you had your chance on THIS WEEK.

NORRIS: Uhm. The economy, as it turns out, is interconnected. Lenders who knowingly wrote bad loans have gotten bailouts. And the housing market is at the root of our economic problems. So we was it you put it, Jason?

ME: We could definitely use the engines of government and finance to punish ANY random group of people who a majority of Americans deem to be responsible. We could very easily do this, as a nation. ON THE OTHER HAND, we could instead preserve the economy and the basic stability of the nation.


CHRIS DODD: Do you think that people will get scared if I use the n-word?

ERIC HOLDER: See! This is what I'm talking about! We are a nation of cowards.

ME: Eric, uhm...wrong n-word. He means nationalization!

ERIC HOLDER: Oh. Well why can the man just say he wants to put the banks in receivership.

ME: Because that's the R-Word.



HUNT: This story suggests that fear and fragility pervades markets.


HUNT: What are the options, if banks are insolvent? We use new words!

ME: The R-Word? Or a new word!


QUICK: Investors fear the rules of the game? Not knowing them. And not knowing how to thwart them.

NORRIS: Obama has a whip-smart team of economic advisors.

ME: See, I look at a Larry Summers and a Tim Geithner and think: 'Wow. This team could be a whole lot whip-smarter!

HUNT: Santelli is a sophmoric moron.

QUICK: Let me half-heartedly stick up for the one thing that allowed the CNBC metanarrative to beat the MSNBC metanarrative, for a few hours.


HUNT: Yeah, tis dicey.




NORRIS: Burris is a monster. But if you notice, Mayor Daley hasn't called for his resignation. When it does, that's gonna be bonkers.

ME: We'll see if it happens! My understanding is that Burris has the support of Chicago's crookedest Aldermen.

NORRIS: Burris is RUINING the Obama story.

ME: Oh, please.


HUNT: He's making a valid point, but it's just not meet for the Attorney general to be making it.




ME: Yeah, like Battlestar Galactica's Tom Zarek is a civil rights hero.

All right. Thus endeth one Sunday liveblog. Time to get prepping on another. Again, tune in tonight for LIVE OSCARBLOGGING. I am standing firmly behind our local Oxon Hill-born, Howard University-taught, Pentagon working, Potomac River cruise ship singing superstar, Taraji P. Henson. And Kate Winslet. I AM MEETING YOU HALFWAY HARVEY WEINSTEIN!

Have a great Sunday!