TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

If you haven't already heard this news, hear it now!

A rare parasite which burrows into host fish before eating and replacing their tongues with itself has been found off the Jersey coast.

Fishermen near the Minquiers - islands under the jurisdiction of Jersey - found the isopod, a type of louse, inside a weaver fish.


Mr Chambers told BBC Jersey: "When we emptied the fish bag out there at the bottom was this incredibly ugly looking isopod.

"Really quite large, really quite hideous - if you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp, nasty claws underneath and I thought 'that's a bit of a nasty beast'.

So there you have it. Max Baucus is apparently swimming off the coast of Jersey when he and his stacks of lobbyist money aren't parasitically acting as the tongue in the health care reform debate. (Ben Nelson's brain, by the way, SWARMING WITH PARASITES.)

Hello, I am Jason. Welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog of television political crypto-zoology. Remember 9/11. Remember how many quotations from Joseph Heller's Catch 22 apply to the circumstances since. Feel free to send emails, leave a comment or two, or follow me on the twitter. Let us commence!


Michael Strahan is in a sitcom? Jeez. Doesn't everyone who spent a career actually honing the craft of comedy feel stupid now!

Anyway, Fox News Sunday has Claire and Kent and Lindsey and Orrin and Joe Wilson, who's making his teevee debut!

Was Obama's speech a gamechanger? Hatch says that the speech probably enhanced his chances, though it was partisan. Lindsey Graham thought it was a disaster because it wasn't McCainy enough and made people who've set themselves out to stop reform at all costs as villains. Claire McCaskill says that Obama was talking to America, debunking lies, and DUH THAT IS WHY ANYONE WALKS INTO THE CONGRESS TO TALK TO THEM: TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE. Kent Conrad says that the Senate is unified around "a" plan, if not "the" plan. And that plan has been spunked on by health care lobbyists to the point that prying its pages apart is gross.

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Kent Conrad says Obama is not giving up on the public option, but he may be way into terrible co-ops that won't work at all. Claire says she doesn't know whether the public option is dead, but then calls it a distraction, so yeah, it's probably dead. To McCaskill, Obama's speech was great in that it provided political cover for a junk reform bill. Graham hates the public option, like grim death.

What does Orrin Hatch think about government health care? He thinks that states should just mismanage it, like crazy. He also thinks that reform amounts to "throwing out a whole system" when it really means adding a robust competitor to the current system.

Chris Wallace cites the Lewin Group's research, which is a BS front group for United Healthcare. No one discloses this, ever. And none of these Senators will mention it either, because they save enough favorable things about everyone.

Hatch finds it "interesting" that reform won't happen until 2013. "One year after the presidential election." If anything, that puts Obama at a disadvantage. I don't think the White House realizes how many people think this bill is going to be passed in a month and these concerns are going to be alleviated by Christmastime. If the White House isn't careful, there'll be a wave of people in 2011 wondering where their health care reform is.

Lindsey Graham just declared the House Bill dead, with Kent Conrad nodding along. He supports the Wyden-Bennett stalking-horse-for-nothing bill, a piece of legislation that's co-sponsored by people who won't be voting for it.

Graham says that Wilson's apologized to Obama, and that should be the end of it. He made a mistake and should rectify it.

Anyway, here's Congressman Joe Wilson. IT'S AN HONOR FOR HIM. HE'S GRATEFUL. Will he apologize on the House floor? He says that he believes in civility, but he got so caught up in Town Hall meetings that he had to behave like a clueless dolt himself. He won't apologize again. He thinks he's been proven correct, too! Here's a fun fact about Joe Wilson: He once voted to spend tax payer money on health care for illegal immigrants.

However, in 2003, Wilson voted to provide federal funds for illegal immigrants' healthcare. The vote came on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which contained Sec. 1011 authorizing $250,000 annually between 2003 and 2008 for government reimbursements to hospitals who provide treatment for uninsured illegal immigrants. The program has been extended through 2009 and there is currently a bipartisan bill in Congress to make it permanent.

Hospitals have a legal obligation to treat everyone who comes in seeking care, regardless of citizenship status, insurance or other characteristics. This means that hospitals treat millions of people every year who don't have the means to pay. Obviously, this drives up the nation's healthcare costs overall. Section 1011 helps cushion the costs for hospitals, but it's not nearly enough to cover the actual costs in most areas.

To be fair, Section 1011 is just a small part of a much larger bill that contained many Republican priorities. Still, Wilson's protest against the current healthcare reform proposal giving coverage to illegal immigrants (which is false), is in direct contradiction to his 2003 vote. Allowing illegal immigrants to purchase unsubsidized healthcare through the Exchange that would be set up under the current proposal wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent, and it would be a step towards fixing the problem that Section 1011 was designed to throw federal money at.

So, Wilson's sort of a huge hypocrite.

Wilson says that Obama was "actually mis-stating the facts," and that he would have said that "if he had had time." Remember, by "having time" he's talking about the second or two he had to yell some crap. Wallace is all, "If you're fundraising on this, how sorry can you be?"

Even Wallace doesn't seem to like this guy, who will return to being a footnote to history tomorrow. Wallace brings in Maureen Dowd to hit him, and at one point rolls his eyes so hard and so long it made me wonder if they might get stuck there. He's hiding behind his son's explanation that this was a "Town Hall Moment" when everyone in the world knows that the speech was widely available beforehand and there wasn't anything in the world against which he could spontaneously react.

Anyway, that's Joe Wilson, and based upon his cloying, milquetoasty performance, I find it hard to believe that even his Republican colleagues respect him all that much. He's the very model of the pup you push around.

Meanwhile! About 75,000 teabaggers came and left DC, while you were enjoying your Saturday. Brit Hume says that it's a further "reminder" that "all the intensity is with the people resisting," no matter what "the polls say." Of course, you have to toss out polls because the Tea Partiers won't really show up as a statistically significant number of people in the electorate. They do manufacture an intense amount to stupidity and incoherence. I think this website is the best way to enjoy this micro-movement of lobbyist led simps.

Bill Kristol, years after the PATRIOT ACT and running the nation off to war is now against the government rushing to to do things that could affect American lives. Now, he thinks that people who resist that sort of thing should be listened to. The crowds that opposed his various neo-con fantasias were vastly larger, and way more coherent.

Brit Hume says that the teabaggers "don't like the details they have heard, and don't like them a lot," which, to me, is like when a movie critic you hate says, "Don't go see this movie, it's terrible," and you immediately get on the internet to Fandango yourself some tickets immediately.

Kristol says that making Joe Wilson apologize would be tantamount to the Democrats "leading their party off a cliff," but I think you need to jump off a cliff in order to find the natural habitat of Joe Wilson.

Now this panel is going to take up Afghanistan. Jeezy creezy. Watching these guys shift from a topic like teabaggers to a topic of actual importance, like Afghanistan is like taking a rubber squeak toy away from a puppy and giving it a laser cutting torch. MAYBE THIS IS A TOPIC FOR THE GROWNUPS, I THINK.

Anyway, Obama HAS TO WIN, by LISTENING TO THE GENERALS, and THEN WIN WIN WIN. Bill Kristol says that Joe Wilson supports Obama in Afghanistan! (SEE MY PREVIOUS ANECDOTE ABOUT THE BAD MOVIE REVIEWER.)

Juan Williams points out that Obama has not followed his own path in Afghanistan. Brit Hume says that he's worried that Obama won't send additional troops because he may as well worry that, without evidence. Of course, Obama campaigned on escalating the war in Afghanistan so I don't know where those worries are coming from.


I haven't given FACE much attention of late, so let's do something about that! A reminder to everyone who has recently had existential difficulties with this liveblog: FACE THE NATION will not start until 10:30. So, I will be making some coffee and breakfast between now and then. I won't be liveblogging this. The fact that you do not see any liveblogging of FACE THE NATION is not because I have broken the internet or that the HUFFINGTON POST is no longer working. It is simply because the normal flow of time and space do not actually permit me to liveblog events that have not yet transpired.

Okay. Bob Schieffer's gonna work it out, with David Axelrod and Olympia Snowe. What about these teabaggers? Axelrod says that the protests are not "indicative of America's mood," and he's right, since the numbers would more strongly suggest that supporting the Texas Longhorns football team would be more indicative of the nation's mood, and I know plenty of USC fans. Ax says that the stridency and distortions don't change the underlying goals of what the White House is trying to accomplish. He's right! The pharmaceutical industry is changing those underlying goals!

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Why doesn't Obama just tell America that the Democrats they voted for won't vote for the public option? (Doesn't that question answer itself?) Ax is "not willing to accept that the public option will not be a part of the final package," but that it's not the most important thing.

What about adding to the deficit? Axelrod says that nobody was upset when all sorts of other things added to the deficit. The difference is now, the President is explaining how things will be paid for, and will continue to identify the means by which the debt will be paid for and offset. The President is committed to trimming the debt and get the health care reform package paid for.

Axelrod takes a chance to butter up Snowe, praising her for her involvement in addressing the economic crisis and for being a model of civility in debate. So we'll get to her, now.

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Snowe says that the public option should be taken off the table, that it's a roadblock to consensus, in this case, as always, CONSENSUS=INEFFECTIVE LEGISLATION.

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION TRIGGERZ? Snowe says that this is a possibility, that could bring people some insurance if the "health care industry doesn't perform." Mind you, in this formulation, HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY FAILS TO PERFORM=SEVERAL YEARS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS DYING FROM EMINENTLY TREATABLE MEDICAL CONDITIONS.

Olympia Snowe may or may not vote for the bill if she's the only Republican to do so. She weirdly talks about the effort being put forth by Senators Grassley and Enzi, seemingly unaware that their efforts are being undertaken to actually defeat a health care reform bill and preserve the status quo. She similarly doesn't seem to realize that Baucus' ministrations are 100% driven by lobbyists, who give him money.

Snowe has the Joe Wilson shout was "unfortunate and disgraceful." "This is why I like this Group of Six," who very civilly, and with great fellowship, work to keep Americans from having decent health care. People die, but it's all so CIVILISED!

Kathleen Parker and Roger Simon join us, for a panel. Simon says that the Senate will take the public option off the table. Simon correctly notes that liberal Democrats want single payer instead. Parker agrees that Obama will let another party take the credit for removing the public option. I think that everyone needs to realize that the public option is very popular, and that the Democrats are the only party that can prevent it from getting in the bill. If it's not in the bill, Democrats will lose a lot of seats in 2010. It's sort of JUST THAT SIMPLE, I'm afraid.

Roger Simon worries that if no reform gets passed, people will have to return to their districts and explain "why they won't be getting health care in their lifetimes." I think that yes, members will have to explain, and that yes, many Democrats will lose their seats if they accede to Baucusism and strip the bill of the public option that Americans want very badly, but I think this "in their lifetimes" thing is overblown. People think that because we've gone from Clinton attempting to reform health care to Obama reforming health care, and they think that two decades just have to pass between attempts. The interesting thing is, if something Baucusy passes as "health care reform," Congress will have to return to address their failure a LOT SOONER THAN TWENTY YEARS.

Parker says that while critics complain that Obama overexposes himself through so many public appearances, the truth is "everytime he goes out there he redeems himself." Simon agrees that multiple public appearances tend to give Obama a lot of momentum.

Bob Schieffer says the country is in an angry mood, toting guns, marching with incoherent signs, yelling in Congress at the President. He decries the meanness that has settled over "our politics." I disagree, however. I don't think a meanness has settled over "our politics," I think a media megaphone has settled over the meanest and smallest minded few among us. Again, yesterday, the vast majority of Americans watched college football with friends, and I don't think there's anything mean about that at all.

Okay! Time to meet the Fockers!


Actually, first, time for some Chris Blakely!

William Kristol's FOX NEWS SUNDAY soliloquy about how tax legislation is inconsequential because people's taxes go up 2 % or down 7% and, after all "it's only money," as compared to health care which is about peoples' lives, still has me sitting here with my mouth open. Let me get this straight: Mr. Kristol is in a tizzy because the Obama administration was trying to ram it through health care legislation before August and this time such railroading is unconscionable because health care affects peoples' lives?


So, according to Mr. Kristol, it is OK to railroad through a tax cut for the rich, after all, it's only money -- it does not really affect peoples' lives -- of course, the largest financial collapse since the Depression (on Bush's watch) didn't really affected peoples' lives, did it? Also, it was all right for the Bush Administration to create a national hysteria about Weapons of Mass destruction to railroad through (you were unpatriotic if you did not support them) the Iraq War which lead to a war of choice in a sovereign nation that had no involvement with the 9/11 attacks. Unlike health care, once again, the Iraq War had nothing to do with peoples' lives -- unless you happen to be one of the 4, 261 who died serving in Iraq, or the 30,182 who have been wounded, or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's who died (and the families of any of the preceding). I guess these lives just don't count.

Of course, soon after the above Kristolian observations, Mr. Chicken Hawk was once again beating the drum for war calling greater commitment and involvement in Afghanistan. Over the years, when Brit Hume and William Kristol (two war mongers who both somehow missed the opportunity to serve in the military) repeatedly call for perseverance and the need to send more troops into harm's way, I simply go to iTunes and listen to Bob Dylan's "Masters of War."

I need me some Chris Blakely, before the Meet The Press horns inspire reverse peristalsis in me.

Is it just me, or is Newt Gingrich now like some hobo who lives on the MEET THE PRESS set?

Anyway, PANELS ALL THE TIME. Durbin, Cornyn, Gingrich and Dean. JUST GET ON WITH IT.

What will be achieved this year? Durbin says they will pass reform this year and that disaster shall betide the failure to do so. Durbin says that the Senate HELP committee had 161 GOP amendments, so it's plenty bipartisan. Gregory asks the same question, again, as is his wont, and Durbin answers him, again. Will Congress meet a Thanksgiving deadline? Durbin says yes. They should really really tell Americans right not that the reform won't go into effect until 2013! Just saying!

John Cornyn says...uhm...nothing much. He is like a bobblehead doll that came to life to walk around and dully remind the world about what a living bobblehead doll with a brain of plastic can accomplish if we don't set him on fire.

Watching Gregory go at Cornyn is like watching two doorstops have a staring contest.

Dean says the Democrats shouldn't count on more than three GOP votes and that the Democrats should use budget reconciliation. Dean points out, correctly, that there's nothing wrong with the use of reconciliation, that his panel mate Gingrich has used it, and that the American people won't give a damn if it passes that way.

Gingrich says that he likes the plan outlined by Obama much better than the House bill.

Dean points out that the current bill is "significantly helpful to small businesses...a big boost for small businesses."

Do the Democrats have sixty votes, Gregory asks. Obviously Gregory has dully bought into the whole sixty-vote need. He should really be asking, "Do you have fifty votes, and Joe Biden."

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Durbin supports it, but says "real competition" is what's needed. Durbin finally wins my award for pointing out that the Lewin Group is a bogus, health care lobbyist fronted organization.

Gregory is just full up with the stupid juice today, I'm afraid. "But you don't have sixty votes!" he says, over and over again, mocking Durbin, forgetting of course that budget reconciliation allows passage with 51. Then he pivots on Dean and suggests that "liberals have overshot the runway" by insisting on the public option. I think that public option supporters in Congress recognize that since Americans support the public option in such vast numbers, the key to winning re-election, in any event, will be to return to their constituents and say, "Look at my votes. I clearly supported the public option that you all wanted."

Gingrich says, "I'd love to have free health insurance." I guess he will either be running for re-election or shipping off to Afghanistan.

Cornyn is against demonizing people, unless they are judges from Georgia.

David Gregory, naturally, is terrified of TEH DEFICITZ. Now, he is, anyway. Not during the Iraq War, of course. Sure, lots of Americans may have to crawl off into the wilderness to die without health care, but this will keep deficits low.

Now Gingrich is supporting Medicare. This will last for about five minutes, and then he will go back to the standard default position of getting rid of health care for seniors.

David Gregory really should rediscover what life is like for people who aren't pampered infotainment celebrities. His basic default setting is to screech uncontrollably at the thought that the government might spend money to assist Americans in need.

David Gregory, for example, suggests that "he's been talking to people" about "concerns." He always talks about the people he talks to. He doesn't talk to people besides politicians and producers. And today's example of "people he's talked to," is really just "a National Journal article I've read." I don't believe for a minute this ponce bothers to talk to anyone who's not on his cocktail circuit.

Gregory isn't even hearing anything that doesn't specifically relate to his girlish panic that the government might spend tax money on a poor person.

Gregory races to get in one last question. "I HAVE A QUESTION ON POLITICS!" Oy.

Cornyn says that the problem here may be attempting to put a one-size-fits-all reform system down on all states. The problem being that bringing a vast population into the system will keep costs down.

Durbin is against sending additional troops to Afghanistan. I think that Gregory tossed that last question in because he wanted to make sure he managed a dollop of gravitas on foreign policy this week.

Here's the commercial bumper. I'll give you a Gregory--->English translation.

GREGORY: Next, inside the politics of health care and economy!

TRANSLATION: Step inside the asphyxiating bubble in which I live! I've learned to exist without oxygen ever getting to my brain!

Panel Time, again, with Erin Burnett, Chuck Todd and Joshua Cooper Ramo.

Todd says that Obama is in "more control" of the debate because he's got the Democrats behind him. I'm not sure that's really true. I think Max Baucus is still enjoying strong fellations from health care lobbyists. Todd notes that the GOP is trying to look like their playing a little more nicely.

Joe Wilson. The worst thing that could have happened to this guy is the attention he's received. When he speaks on camera, is innate cowardice is so apparent that I want to stick a bottle of warm milk in his mouth and lay him in his crib to stare at a mobile or something.

Todd: "It's hard to imagine that his apology was real, now." OMG! Could it be that Joe Wilson is some sort of OPPORTUNIST? I sure hope THAT doesn't catch on on Capitol Hill.

I think it's sort of amazing that these pundits are astounded that a president might OUTLINE a broad proposal and then fill in details later. I don't know if they pay attention to Presidential campaigns, EVER, but they are all about politicians making broad promises without ever showing their math or detailing the mechanics or specifically stating policy details.

Erin Burnett, has caught David Gregory's "rich celebrity infotainer disease." She says, that Geithner answered her questions about taxes going up thusly: "What he did was come out and say we cut taxes for 95% of Americans in the stimulus bill and the burden of tax increases, if they come, should be on the remainder, i.e. the top five percent. It is clear taxes are going up."

As I've pointed out countless times, in this particular formulation, taxes are going down. The cut to the 95%, as it more than offsets the increase to the 5%, is in and of itself a net tax cut. This has been a truth that MEET THE PRESS has never been able to quite get through their very thick skulls. More than that, Burnett derives most of these opinions from "economists on Wall Street," which means "executives at Wall Street banks" who she refuses to believe are anything other than right about everything and who, from her frame of reference, are "common people." But they are in that top five, which is why they tell her that.

Anyway, I'd love to continue to attempt to see things from Erin Burnett's point of view, but I'm never going to fit my head up her arsehole, too,

I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION? Chuck Todd says no! There will be triggers that he thinks represent a "gun to the head of the insurance industry." "If Olympia Snowe is the one who suggested it, it tells you what you need to do to get to sixty votes." No. It tells you you better round up fifty votes and Joe Biden, and pass the best health care reform bill you can.

They're taking a break, because all that tonguing of the bung of conventional wisdom was too taxing for four pundits.

MSNBC is now talking about unemployment. "It's scary stuff!" says Gregory, in a way that just instills confidence in you. Erin Burnett is sure that an alternative energy economy will not do the trick. Ramo says we need a "massive rethink" of unemployment and "change what it means to be unemployed." I don't even know what that means. Why don't we change what it means to need oxygen? Why don't we change what it means to drink water?

The panel is, of course, correct that the unemployment number is critically important to this administration's electoral hopes. It's pretty much to only thing that really matters. But could you imagine if Obama really did what these people are suggesting -- CHANGE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE UNEMPLOYED? This show would EAT OBAMA ALIVE for papering over the employment crisis!

My wife is sweeping the living room and it's far more interesting to watch than this show. Probably because actual work is interesting.

Now they are talking about baseball. Sorry folks. The NFL starts this weekend. The long summer nightmare of baseball is over.

Anyway, I must now make way for the huge baby shower that we're hosting, and get off the internets and into some street clothes and OUT OF HERE BEFORE I CHOKE ON ESTROGEN AND ONESIE PAINTING. I hope everyone has a great 9/13. Try to not reflect on the evidence of Osama bin Laden's lasting effects on the country and go have some of your own!