TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

So, I have bit of a dilemma today. An existential crisis, if you will. See, thanks to a post I wrote about a hilarious segment on the Rachel Maddow Show between Rachel Maddow and Friend of the Liveblog Ana Marie Cox, I was, for a time, the top search on Google for the term "teabagging." Now, obviously, this is glorious. I'm sure the immensity of the accomplishment doesn't elude you, as it perhaps did my parents, or my alma mater, who have determined for the purposes of their student housing plan for the 2009-2010 school year that I shall not be granted a room on the Lawn, retroactively. But I am bothered by something, namely, the nagging thought that this is the sort of accomplishment that one is supposed to realize at the end of a long career. And here I am, my goal in life basically realized. Too soon, too soon. I have a feeling that everything is going to be a turd panini from here on in.

And yet, it is Easter, and on the third day I am Risen, yea, caffeinated, to once again liveblog for the sins of the Sunday Morning media, and hopefully provide succor to the people, who have long hated these shows, and wish to be led out of bondage to them. So, verily, leave a comment, send your emails, follow mine antics on the Twitter, and prepare ye-selves for one long Easter hunt for anyone making a lick of sense. It's Sunday, and for America, the teabagging is eternal.


OH NOES! Apparently, we're going to have third string Senate personalities, and an attempt to "answer" things about the economy from Fox Business Channel. Yikes.

So, first, Evan Bayh, King of Hyper-Timid Incrementalist Bullshit and Tom Coburn, Barack Obama's oddest pal. Is the economy fixed yet? Coburn says that nobody knows, Bayh thinks that the fact that banks report they are making money is a reason for hope. Yes! Let's all "hope" that banks never have to account for the true value of their assets.

Bayh touts his fiscal conservatism by explaining some decisions he made that to this day, he cannot discuss the merits of, because all he needs to know is that they have preserved his seat in office, like it will this year, with the GOP backing off from funding a competitor for his seat. And why would they?

Tom Coburn gives himself a ringing endorsement: "We're very inefficient in accomplishing anything." And yet, he, too, will stand for re-election!

Bayh namechecks the U.S. Chambers of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, special interest groups that tell EVan Bayh whether it's okay for him to vote on things.

Chris Wallace asks if health care coverage can ever be expanded. Tom Coburn says he wants to see everyone have access and everyone get cheap preventive care, and hopefully the "market" will find a way to solve this problem, despite the fact that the market obviously wants to make big dollars on safe bets that keep people as sick and yet as alive as long as possible. Evan Bayh, is, of course, an "agnostic" on how, as long as he can yell about how everyone should have it every year on the stump.

Meanwhile, pirates! Coburn says we need to be more aggressive in the fight on pirates, but that the rest of the world will have to aid in the fight, and that the way to beat the pirates is to curb the chaos in Somalia. He's totally right about that! Evan Bayh gently points out that the Somali Pirates are not funding terrorists.

Egads, the economy! Shiny arrows have been bouncing in shiny directions! Liz Claman says that green shoots are growing in a fetid swamp of turds. And Jenna Lee says economists say shiny things, but consumers are not spending the moneys! So the markets are Under Pressure! Like the David Bowie song!

Claman's next flashcard says that the market is not in turnaround and that "She's not buying" Wells Fargo's numbers. What a hero! Real wages aren't rising! Fox finally noticed this! And the other woman says things about "nimble investors" and "double bottoms" which sounds like something I'd like to have on film.

Are we heading for double digit inflation? Uhm, yes. Liz Claman recites the numbers what have been out for two weeks. An unmentioned impact? It means that the wrong calibrations have been set for the bank "stress tests," but then, I think all the banks are supposed to pass their stress tests anyway, with the MAGICKS of Tim Geithner anyway. So maybe none of this matters.

Now the Yellow One is talking about V-Shaped Recoveries, but I was much more excited about the Double Bottoms. Of course, maybe the Double Bottoms are Brit Hume and Bill Kristol.

Now this discussion has become a throaty voice-over narration of late 2008. The Yellow One says "I know this is an overused cliche..." which proves that she's ready for Sunday morning.

Anyway, Fox has a business channel. And they have a website to help you find that channel on the teevee. So, BRUTAL MARKET EFFICIENCY!

Panel time, I think? Yes! Hume, Liasson, Kristol and Williams are back and surlier than ever! Brit Hume says that pirates are "mosquitoes"..."and yet they seem to be attacking the bigger boats with impunity?" Wow. Hume actually has a good metaphor, and yet he's SURPRISED by it, because apparently he doesn't know ("and yet...") that mosquitos DO IN FACT attack bigger organisms with impunity.

Liasson says that the Navy will need to develop a "sea-based counter insurgency strategy," which is the dumbest thing anyone, anywhere has said about this crisis. The Somali pirates are not raiding vessels because they are FIGHTING THE OCCUPATION OF THE SEAS. And we are not going to stop piracy by befriending some pirates and enlisting them in the fight against other pirates. That's not how this works. A stable Somali government needs to emerge and govern the ports, so that the pirates have to work harder to find safe harbor.

Now they are talking about how they'll need armed escorts! Jeez-o-flips, these guys don't understand the economy of overseas shipping at all! Kristol thinks that we need to destroy the "elaborate infrastructure" the pirates are using. What elaborate infrastructure? Haven't these pirates played the U.S. Navy to a draw with a hostage and a lifeboat that lacks gas?

Meanwhile, Karl Rove and Joe Biden are yelling at each other in public about the Bush years. Hume believes he's NAILED Biden because no one knows the dates that Biden's claimed taking of Bush to the woodshed happened. Hey, we're not all Bob Graham! Hume wants everyone to move on. Wallace thinks that the ratio of Biden gaffe to Biden serious thought has shifted to the former, which Liasson disputes. Somehow, apparently, Jeb Bush has an opinion on this as well. Kristol points out that blaming the predecessor is just stuff that happens, and Williams agrees. The hilarious thing about all of this? I DON'T THINK PRESIDENT BUSH GIVES A DAMN. Seriously! The guy is padding around his Dallas home, straight up not giving a crap about anything or yelling at anyone or having a political opinion of any sort. (Like always!) (Only now it's okay for this to be the case.)

Oh, yes. The Obama's have a dog now. Woo. Jesus, somehow THAT was a crisis. For eff's sake, just buy a dog and be done with it.


Friend of the Liveblog Jeff suggests:

Fox should just go all in, no more fair and balanced, just UNAFRAID, and to show that they mean business, the new allstar sunday panel should just be, Billo, Beck, Hannity, and any iced tea loving radical.

America might hate this, but it would be good for me in at least one aspect: the people who currently look upon me, disapprovingly, because I pour a strong shot of bourbon in my first three Sunday morning coffees would start looking at me with pity, instead.

Anyway, it's been a while since we've looked in on these Chris Matthews people, so here we go.

Has Obama united the Democrats? OH MAN. I'm going to need more bourbon! Today, Katty Kay (who seems aglow with a couple weeks of fresh intellectual kills on MEET THE PRESS), Dan Rather, John Heilemann, and Gloria Borger.

Seriously, has Obama united the Democrats? I think that to a certain extent, he's maintained popularity with the electorate, and the sync I sense on the foreign policy/defense side has been pretty strong (though this week it's been Gates in the spotlight, not Clinton). But as far as defusing the Hyper-Timid Incrementalist Bullshit Caucus, the administration will probably lose cap and trade and will have to fight the health care fight to the bitter end.

And, I hate to say it, but Obama would be doing himself a huge favor, and making some significant gains as far as unifying Democrats, if he took the business of dismantling the unitary executive seriously. The cosmetic surgery of closing Gitmo merely papers over the fact that all of what Gitmo was will continue to be at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan - except it will be harder to get oversight into the facility, since it's in the middle of a war zone. There's been no meaningful action to take apart the the Bush era wiretapping of low-value domestic nobodies. And the Obama administration has gone further than the Bush administration in keeping the truth of these programs under wraps. Barring some amazing transformation in the next week or so, the Obama administration is set to hit the 100 day mark with a failing grade in preserving and defending our individual liberties against the previous administrations executive power grab. And it won't be a particularly high "F," either.

But Matthews woke up with his pants a stirring, and so now we're going to talk about the union of the left, because Obama is getting along with both Clintons. But people will have to keep making money for the love to continue. None dare call these shallow standards. Borger has convinced herself that Obama's ability to convince everyone that everything is fine with the banks is big news, as opposed to actively exploring what's actually happening. Heilemann praises Obama for getting the backing of "camera magnets." He's been hanging with Mark Halperin for too long.

Kay points out that Obama is sort of his own thing, and for better or worse, competing with BOTH parties.

Now everyone is yelling at each other.

Matthews and Heilemann agree that the banks have ended racism, because of their massive fails. But how will Obama keep the "Reagan Democrats" together with the blacks and the poors? Rather says he will have to "change the perception" that he's in the tank with Wall Street, and working hardest for those at the top. Alternatively, he may have to stop working hardest for the people at the top, which would naturally cause perceptions to change. Borger suggests LET THE POORS EAT HEALTH CARE.

Anyway, Heilemann says that Obama has CATALYSED DEEP FORCES and is now channeling the MASONIC LEY LINES of power.

And everyone beats up on the Clinton's because this is the Chris Matthews Show. And Matthews pulls an old SNL clip. He won't be pulling anything from this week's episode, I predict.

"HA HA HA DARRYL HAMMOND!" Chris Matthews says, trenchantly.

Ana Marie passes along this Sunday Morning alternative: the Washington Post's Peeps diorama competition.

We're back to the show now, and it's time to make fun of the GOP's failure to not fail. Why can't the GOP learn from Reagan's famous ability to compromise his values? Naturally, Mitt Romney is the next person mentioned.

Dan Rather apparently knew the Flying Wallandas personally, and yet says we should not underestimate Mitt Romney, which seems very hard to do? Borger brings up Newt Gingrich, rising from the dead, and Matthews laughs.

The panel then argues over whether the GOP has some magic Shamwow's for the future, or if they'll be beating up cannibal whores in puragtory, forever. Rather says Gingrich is an "ideas person with a good sense of history," which makes sense, because his last original idea is now a part of "history."

Kay says there's no one on the horizon. Rather suggests that it depends on the economy. Matthews desperately wants Borger to say the words "Sarah Palin" but she won't. She will say the same "Gingrich man of Ideas" nonsense. Heilemann suggests that a 2012 race is "very daunting" and that the serious players won't risk their brands in 2012. I agree with Heilemann at this moment in time, but there's a whole lot of things that could go wrong between now and then. (And that WILL go wrong.)

Stuff Matthews doesn't know! Kay says we're going to hear all about "conflict minerals" in 2008. Rather says that this is a "very serious situation" and that Chinese ambitions will exacerbate the damages done by American ambition in the region. Borger says that Obama will be signing tobacco regulation legislation. And Heilemann has his newsy bit that Jindal is considering running against Vitter for the Senate, which would indeed, be a smart move for Jindal to escape the lousy situation he faces as governor of Louisiana. Plus, who wouldn't like to see Vitter drummed out of office? As Heilemann points out, Jindal doing so would also take him off the 2012 playing field. That's interesting because I don't consider Jindal to be smart enough to win the White House. But he's apparently smart enough to know that he should associate himself with smarter politicians, as opposed to the ones likely to run in 2012 at the moment.

And so, Obama will run against teabaggers in 2012, the end.


By the by, I am considering making next Sunday a day exclusively devoted to CNN's three-hour long show. Just because, why not? Everyone needs a change of pace. If you have frenzied, furious objections to this, send me an email with the subject "I HAVE FRENZIED FURIOUS OBJECTIONS TO YOU WATCHING THAT JOHN KING SHOW, GAH MY GOD" and I will consider them, carefully.

A highlight from today's show, by the way:

KING: And on a scale of 1 to 10, sir, how confident are you, 10 being fully confident, that you will meet that deadline, that all U.S. troops will be gone at the end of 2011?

ODIERNO: As you ask me today, I believe it's a 10 that we will be gone by 2011.

Odierno's the only guy with pull that I thought might be a dead-ender on this issue, and if he's calling the ball this way, then I'm staying confident that we'll be hewing to the SofA as closely as Obama and Gates have been suggesting. As always, fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, check out Sam Stein's post on Paul Krugman's appearance on This Week, talking about the not-so-stressful nature of the so-called "stress tests."

And Friend of the Liveblog Chris Blakely riffs on Fox's sense of history:

Although my least favorite panelist, Billy Kristol, did acknowledge playing the blame game was good politics, Grim Hume, in response to Juan Williams comment that Dubya frequently blamed Clinton, suggested that Bush rarely if ever blamed Clinton. Hey Brit, I seem to remember the phrase "We inherited a recession" being uttered a time or two. Let's face it, that so-called recession at the beginning of George W. Bush's tenure was a "speed bump" compared to the gaping crevice that the Obama administration has "inherited."

It occurs to me that Rachel Maddow has recently bought a teevee? That means her consumption of this nonsense may also go up in the near future. That means her alcohol consumption might as well. Good thing for her, though, that she is a mixologist of note, and will thus be quaffing sazeracs while I am pouring vermouth in my Franch Roast, just so I can feel my emotions again.

Oh, and here's news of Pastor Rick Warren, pulling out of doing THIS WEEK today, because of "exhaustion." You know, any serious clergyman would pace himself for Easter Sunday, but remember, Warren is not a serious clergyman. He's a fame-seeking celebrity-spokesmodel for quasi-religious bromides and antigay stupidity. So you should take "exhaustion" to mean the same thing it means whenever a celebrity cites it - namely, that Rick Warren did too much cocaine at Samantha Ronson's DJ party last night, and woke up on the floor of a restroom this morning, encrusted with hipster vomit.

ARGH: having intermittent internet outages, for some reason. Sorry about that. Anyway, Meet The Press.

PIRATES! The standoff continues. Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski says that the pirates "still has some fight left in them" and that the lifeboat continues to drift toward the Somali coast. So the Navy is going to position itself between the drifting lifeboat and the coast.

Gregory suggests that a lot of people are probably wondering how something like this can happen, and that's true, but it's been a problem for a long while now. I'd have to imagine that a lot of people are wondering why it took so long for the media to notice that Somali pirates were capable of this, considering they've been evincing such ability for some time. This sort of attention and concern earlier could have preventing this hostage situation, maybe!

Eight minutes into the discussion, we finally get to the whole Somalia-is-a-failed-state maybe part of the discussion. "What's the endgame?" Gregory asks. OMGZ the perceptions! America is powerless before pirates! Terror reigns everywhere! Let's pretend that we didn't back an Ethiopian armed incursion that added to this instability, okay? Nobody mention that, please!

The pirates, apparently are fisherman in the "offseason." You'd think that it would be more accurate to say that these guys are fisherman who turn to piracy in the offseason of fishing!

Anyway, time for panel discussions!

a sonorous one-act bore!

David Gregory, Easy Like Sunday Morning
Byron York, Escapee From Monkey Planet 'National Review'
Michelle Norris, Pledge Drive for NPR
Robin Wright, Not To Be Confused With Long-Suffering Spouse of Penn
Jeffrey Goldberg, Have You Heard About Israel?
Me, Paul Revere-like rider, Warning of Teabaggings To Come
various Historical Ghosts


WRIGHT: Who would have thought Barack Obama would face the same challenges as Thomas Jefferson? THE BARBARY PIRATES! What is the Obama Doctrine?

ME: Uhm...this is the Obama Doctrine.

GHOST OF SALLY HEMINGS: As long as we're comparing Obama to Jefferson...


GOLDBERG: The U.S. Navy has been brought to heel by a lifeboat, and we have also been fought to a standstill by functional illiterates, in Afghanistan, the land of functional illiterates.

GHOSTS OF THE MUJAHADEEN: Uhm, you ever wonder why maybe Afghanistan hasn't sprouted all your glorious think-tanks and pseudo-intellectual blogs?

GREGORY: OMGZ, the North Koreans! The dud missiles!

YORK: I am pleased to report that no one in the international community is helping Obama. Ha ha, forever.

GREGORY: OMGZ, maybe the North Koreans will give TAPADONGS to Somalian pirates, on lifeboats!

NORRIS: And Johnny Depp and Iran and the DEMONS FROM THE HELLMOUTH, TOO!

GREGORY: I read the ECONOMIST, or at least part of it!

GOLDBERG: Iranian Mullahs have beards, which they chuckle behind, always. Obama is making Israel nervous.

ME: Avigdor Lieberman is making people nervous, too, what with him being a dangerous and unhinged madman and whatnot.

WRIGHT: Iran and the US are actually on the same page, and there is an appetite for going forward. And what Iran is doing with uranium is actually legal.

GREGORY: What does Iran want?

ME: That depends on what Iranian you ask, doesn't it?

YORK: I think the fact that Steny Hoyer and Ike Skelton wrote a letter means we should just bomb Iran, or else the Obama administration is a total failure.

GHOST OF LEHMAN BROTHERS: Man, I am making out like a bandit this week, on this show!

GREGORY: OMGZ, the President is "reaching out" to Islamic countries, instead of calling them "evil" and dropping bombs in our clash of civilizations! What's that about? You can't imagine candidate Obama saying these things?


WRIGHT: I'd point out that the Islamic world is growing simultaneously less jihadist but more religious. So, choke on that depth, Sunday morning!


GOLDBERG: Obama has cleverly approached persuadable Muslims in an attempt to marginalize the bad actors.

ME: Yes. This is called "counterinsurgency strategy."

GREGORY: OMGZ, ALL THE APOLOGIES, FOR EURPOEANZ! WE ARE DOOMED, because Charles Krauthammer wrote an editorial.

YORK: Obama was a failure because he failed to get any European leaders to fellate our mighty bald eagles!


NORRIS: Yes, it was the Three Days Of The Candor! It's all a part of this crazy idea that things take time to develop, internationally.

GREGORY: BUT OMGZ, THE CANDOR, it is like a wonderful new thing, that I am incapable of getting my head around! Where have you gone, Ari Fliescher? You and your cottony lies soothed my inflammed brainpan with your cooling vibes!

GOLDBERG: Uhm, there's this whole new idea that is people in general, think of America as candid with other nations, as opposed to full of deceptions and nonsensical strategies, that people might be more generally inclined to us, even when our national interests remain our priority.


ACTUAL GENERAL ODIERNO, TODAY: "As you ask me today, I believe it's a 10 that we will be gone by 2011."

ME: Don't forget to issue a correction next week, David Gregory!

WRIGHT: I am going to mention Kirkuk!

GHOST OF THE ENTIRE MEDIA WHO HAS COVERED THE IRAQ WAR: What's a Kirkuk? Is that important or something?


ME: Different President, maybe?


YORK: You can overstate the divide! After all, the GOP loves the War in Afghanistan! The good news is that only a thin majority of Americans support the Obama health care plan, knowing nothing about it. So long as no one tries to teach anyone what the health care plan is, victory is ours!


ME: Oh, but the dog has always been here, David.

But, hark! What's this? Something UNCONVENTIONAL? Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson of Planet Money are on MEET THE PRESS. ZOMG! It's like David Gregory got a new puppy today, too!

Gregory credits the PM guys for "trying to increase financial literacy" as if this was heretofore undoable concept. "Why is it so hard to understand?" Gregory asks. Davidson says that countering the difficulty involves finding the "time and space" to do it. It's really too bad, actually, that there aren't hourlong shows on Sunday morning that could serve as the forum for information. Someone should start one!

So, good news, right? Wells Fargo, right? Larry Summers said something, about falling balls, right? Davidson says that the "good news" should be "placed in context." Government intervention has slowed the freefall, but that we are "a ways away" from the return of boom times. Blumberg explains what a lagging indicator is, and how unemployment may remain high even as the recovery is underway.

Both of them say that the banks are going to need a lot more money, and that the banking system overall is "effectively insolvent." Blumberg suggests that what's afoot is akin to the Latin American debt crisis, where the financial institutions were allowed to earn their way out of trouble while the government pretended all the smoke was from an eternally burning tire fire. The whole actually putting banks in receivership remains the more hopeful sounding plan.

Anyway, that was pretty cool of MEET THE PRESS, to have those guys on! Everyone listen to Planet Money, I guess!

Anyway, remember, if you hate the idea of watching CNN all next Sunday, send an email. Now: GO FIND THOSE EASTER EGGS. I have put government bailout money in some of them, for you! Have a happy Easter!