TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Here's Bret Baier here talking foreign policy with various Senate titans. Evan Bayh, Lindsey "Jowly Dave Foley" Graham, Bob Casey and Saxby Chambliss.. A lot of refreshing perspective!

Hello and welcome to your Sunday Morning liveblog. My name is Jason, and today I will be coming to you live-ish on a pair of laptops that are circling the drain. One won't type "m" or periods or commas anyore. The other won't capitalize "o" or "p" unless you force it to, which wouldn't be a problem if there weren't so many people named Obama and Palin and Petraeus. This will all be solved tomorrow when a new laptop arrives. In the meanwhile, expect my usual payload of spelling errors to be up. Anyway, please feel free to comment, or send an email, or follow me on the tweetings! Let's begin with the going roguiest show on Sunday.


Oh, here's Bret Baier here talking foreign policy with various Senate titans. Evan Bayh, Lindsey "Jowly Dave Foley" Graham, Bob Casey and Saxby Chambliss. EXCITING. A lot of refreshing perspective! Bob Casey gets to be the "liberal!" Enjoy this America!

Iran! Getting so NUKEY! What are these four brave old boring white people going to do about it? Jowly Dave wants access, to all the bombs! Half measures won't work! BUT THOSE ARE CONGRESS' FAVORITE MEASURES! Bob Casey can't talk because of technical difficulties. Evan Bayh says we need to ACT NOW on the "financial and economic side" of sanctions. Chambliss says some things you already know, but in a sweet and honeyed Georgia accent. "Iran is headed down the road to getting a nuke. They have a secret hall of Nukeys. What will they have next!?"

Of course, there's the whole constructive beginning of talks with Iran, where the IAEA will be inspecting and Russia will be enriching uranium. But Bob Casey want pension funds to divest themselves from Iran's energy sector, which is too bad because it sounds like Iran's energy sector is growing, with the deadliest of profits! Maybe we can short sell Iran and then bomb them? Or cash in on those new "death bond" derivatives? THOSE ARE A REA THING, BY THE WAY. AGGGH.

Evan Bayh is full of platitudes! And he want's FIRM DEADLINES, like, a few WEEKS, for Iran to become a flourishing pacifist democracy. And Jowly Dave is going to turn loose the awesome power of the RADIO, because he just listened to Rush's "Power Windows," or something. Saxby is hopeful that Obama will take a bolder step. You and the left, Saxby, you and the left.

Bob Casey basically wants the entire Congress to start WARBLOGGING about Iran, immediately. And divest their pension funds from Ahmadinejad. Jowly Dave calls an Israeli attack on Iran, "a nightmare for the world." But he does not want Sunni Arabs to have nukes, and it worse comes to worse, he thinks Iran should have "no planes that can fly, no ships that can float," because they'll all have been bombed, personally, by he and John McCain, who will later throw pots together.

Chambliss says that the problem with military action is that you can't just airbomb them, you have to invade and get crazy. Bob Casey finally mentions that maybe the Iranian people who aren't caustic poopmongering jackwads like Ahmadinejad, and are trying to affect change. WE SHOULDN'T BOMB THOSE GUYS.

Meanwhile, WHY HASN'T OBAMA GIVEN STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL ALL THE TROOPS, INCLUDING THE WOLVERINES FROM RED DAWN? Evan Bayh is all SKEPTICAL that Afghanistan is going to have a competent government ever. Graham wants SURGEOMGSURGELULZ! Also, Karzai's feet need to be put "to the fire" so they get smokey and delicious.

But Joe Biden wants robot planes to replace all the troops. And now he and General McChrystal are totally robot boxing with each other. Bob Casey says, this is "overdramatized." Plus whatevs he's the VP. Casey also says, "we in the Senate have a job to do." LIKE REMEMBER WHEN ONLY THE SENATE HAD THE AUTHORITY TO DECLARE WAR? HAHA those were good times. I'm sure that Bob Casey is going to rally Jowly Dave and Half-Steppin' Bayh and Sexby Saxby to go home with each other and sit down and start pumping out MAD LETTERS OF MARQUE AND REPRISAL, Y'ALLZ!

Casey notes: "Strtegy before resources." That's McChrystal's opinion, remember?

Now Evan Bayh's getting all "AND NOW A MOMENT OF HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE" with us. Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman disagreed with generals, from time to time! It's all a rick backdrop of the past, informing the future, BUT ZOMGZ SANCTION IRAN!

Graham basically says that a "counterterrorist strategy" will not work in Afghanistan, which, I think means he prefers a COIN strategy...and yes, that's what he wants. "Half-measures won't work," he says, insulting Bayh's favorite measures.

John McCain wants ALL THE GENERALS in Congress, testifying, because even though THERE'S NO TIME TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THEN SEND ALL THE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN BY FED EX, Senator McCain wants to talk to the dreamy men in uniform, in DC.

Evan Bayh says the stimulus package is slowly unwinding, and Lindsey Graham says Glenn Beck is "not the sort of political analysis that I buy into."

Hey, look! The temporal reality idiot emailers are back! "Only the first paragraph of the liveblog is available online." I KNOW, MORON. WHY IS THAT? IT'S BECAUSE I HAVEN'T WRITTEN THE OTHER PARAGRAPHS YET. Honestly. Where do these "why can't I see the future, on your blog" emailers come from?

Anyway, the panel is here to talk about stuff they know very little about. Hume is upset that Joe Biden has opposed General McChrystal, and he hopes he loses because he'd love thousands of Americans dying in Afghanistan without anyone asking whether it's smart or not. Brit Hume: SOLDIERS ARE ABSTRACTIONS. Kristol says that acknowledging that decisions are "tough" are "pathetic" and so we need to SURGEOMGSURGELULZ! Juan Williams points out that the American people, who ultimately make decisions with "votes," are sick of the war in Afghanistan. Williams is making so much sense that Fox shows scowling cutaways not just from Kristol, but from Hume.

Hume basically wants ALL THE WARZ, right now!

So, the Olympics! Liasson says whatever, this is low on the list. Kristol thinks "by Obama's view of the world, we should have been rooting for Rio" to win. He thinks that Obama went to "bully" the IOC, and that everyone would have accused Bush of "imperialism" and "cowboy unilateralism" if he'd have done it. I think though that Bush earned those insults through he response to actual substantive foreign policy.

Hume says that the vote was the "world thumbing it's nose at us." Also, the IOC are corrupt, global gangsters. Anyway, maybe Obama can get us a World Cup, or something.

More stimulus? Juan Williams says, "not in the short term." But there will be an emphasis on getting banks to loan to small business, which seems to ignore the fact that the credit market has become the "let's soak up TARP money" market. Kristol says the administration is not "pro-growth," which is weird, because the alternative offered by John McCain would have been a universal spending freeze to make the economy as moribund as possible. Liasson thinks that the next stimulus will be jobs and homes-based.

Brit Hume has just figured out that unemployment numbers lag, and blames Obama for the existence of reality-based economic principles.

Public option? Liasson says it's dead, but a health care reform bill that pretends to reform health care will get to the floor. Williams points out, again, that voters really really want health care reform. He fails to note that they also want a public option, very badly.

Hey, let's check in with our favorite half-hour of pre-taped wonderment.


A day of WARLULZ with Katty Kay, Bob Woodward, Elizabeth Bumiller and Howard Fineman await us! So, hello, ninth year in Afghanistan! Will we send more troops, because of GENERALS ON THE GROUND? By the way, are you sick of every two-bit media hack using the phrase "on the ground?" It's like, "Yeah. Tough military term we tough chairborne warrior types like to deploy." You should at least drink every time you hear it. You will be declared far too drunk to be sent to Afghanistan.

Woodward is here, talking about "some people," who are the people he always talks to, because he is the main character in the movie, "THE OTHERS." Meanwhile, SOME PEOPLE that Bumiller talks to are skeptical, and anyway, maybe more troops won't defeat the Taliban? Ever think of that? Katty Kay says the British people are losing faith in this post-David Tennant Doctor Who environment. Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman then lapse into a lengthy analysis of the photo of the situation room, because HOLY CRAP! MAYBE DAN BROWN'S LOST MASONIC SYMBOL IS THERE! LET'S FIND THE NATIONAL TREASURE!

Now Matthews is double checking with Bumiller whether or not everyone at the Pentagon wants to be friends with Obama, which is obviously so important to strategic success.

Oh no! The "Matthews meter" can't decide whether to do more WARRING! Snapshot of AMERICA, obviously!

Katty Kay says that they are deciding between COIN and counter-terrorism in the short term, but the decision can be "remade later." That leads Matthews to ask, "You mean you can go back in, once you've pulled out?" This question, I feel, reveals too much about Matthews' sex life than I ever wanted to consider.

(By the way, the short answer to Matthews' question is "Yes," with the caveat that you should ask permission first, and not attempt to "pull a Polanski.")

Bob Woodward agrees that it's okay to take time to make a decision. Bumiller thinks that Obama needs to stuff Afghanistan full of quaaludes right now.

Matthews, as is his wont, finds a way to take Chicago's Olympic misfortunes by doing his two favorite things: slag Hillary Clinton and talk about ancient SNL clips.

Pressing on! How many thousands of troops do we need in Iran, to McChrystallize their centrifuges? Woodward says that American people don't think we should go invading Iran, searching for nukey treasures. Howard Fineman has been sifting through the entrails of Joe Lieberman, like an augur.

Things Chris doesn't know? Kay says economists are paying attention to the commercial real estate market. Woodward says that the administration acknowledges that they didn't "do health care right." DUH. Bumiller says the military is doing training exercises in burquas, which sounds HAWT. Fineman says that the Treasury may have to loan money to the FDIC to the banks, none of which will free up lending.

Has Obama avoided major personality rifts in his administration? Kay says yes. Woodward says yes. Bumiller says yes, but political advisers and military advisers are in disagreement. Fineman says yes, because he's "offloaded" the conflict onto Congress, who have predictably turned on each other like a den of amphetaminized scorpion demons.


Bob Schieffer and WAR! With James Jones, Carl Levin and Ike Skelton.

General Jones joins Bob in the studio. What's going on with the meeting with McChrystal in Coperhagen? Why didn't McChrystal build the case for the Olympics, in Kandahar? Jones says that the two men "exchanged views" in a "good meeting." Schieffer is all about OMGMORETROOPS! without recognizing that McChrystal did put strategy ahead of resources on the agenda order. Jones reiterates this fact, but he basically does so in vain when the entire media is a) chomping at the bit to send our kids to war and b) lacks the patience to pause and understand military strategy, and that there can be "bad strategies." The media has long held out the people who badly planned the Iraq war are serious geniuses who would never pause when the cause is sending Americans off to die!

Anyway, Jones is being tempered, cautious, insistent that there are in fact decisions that need to be made, and that you cannot just start pumping war zones with troops at the slightest hint.

Schieffer asks if it will be a hard decision for the president. UHM YEAH PROBABLY. Still: Jones says there is a process to decision making, which is ongoing.

Jones says that the relationship between the US and Pakistan is "on the ascendancy" and that Pakistan is doing a better job fighting insurgents on their side of the border. He believes that success in Pakistan can "spill over" into Afghanistan, but I'd challenge that assumption, as the Pakistani government won't necessarily enjoy having an Afghanistan regime that seeks to undermine them by supporting India.

Are we "dithering?" Jones says no. "This is something the President said we would always do." BUT WHEN WILL THE DECISION BE MADE? Jones says that the matter will be decided in a matter of weeks, the President will have options to choose from, and the strategy will take the entire region into consideration.

In Iran, Jones says that they are working to divine Iran's intent and work diplomatic deals so that they can continue to "move the dial" in the direction of an Iran without nukes.

Anyway, now here's Ike Skelton and Anthony Zinni and Carl Levin, gettin' busy. Is it going to be hard to turn down McChrystal's request for more troops? Won't it be a hard decision to accept McChrystal's request? Zinni wants more American troops. Levin wants more Afghan troops. Levin points out that Bush got four months to decide whether to SURGELOLZOMGSURGE! Ike Skelton is sending Obama SIX PAGE LETTERS about decision making, so, if it takes Obama some time to make a decision, maybe it's because he's still reading Ike Skelton's letter!

Levin notes that McChrystal himself has put strategy ahead of resources as a first-order concern.

Some Chris Blakeley:

Of course, the loudest voices most critical of debate, claiming deployment of more troops is not an agonizing or difficult choice, are usually those who never served in the military (William Kristol, Brit Hume, etc.) and sacrificed little, if anything, during the Iraq War.

Had more pundits vigorously debated and questioned the "need" to invade Iraq earlier in the decade, we might have concluded (what we all know now to be true) that Iraq posed no direct threat to the United States and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Absent any serious debate, the Bush administration invaded Iraq diverting military resources from Afghanistan before that "mission was accomplished."

A topic always absent from these debates is how much do these outspoken war mongers stand to profit if the United States sends more resources into another war zone? Since Dick Cheney, as Defense Secretary for President H. W. Bush, started the ball rolling on outsourcing critical military functions to private, "for profit" companies (Haliburton, Blackwater - now called Xe Services LLC, etc.), these incessant war monger cries for escalation may be more directly tied to an investment decision, rather than any professed patriotic desire to protect the homeland.


MEET THE PRESS! ALL THE TOPICS EVERYONE ELSE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT! Only we'll be doing it with Susan Rice. Also, where are all the jobs! And paneling with David Brooks and Rachel Maddow and EJ Dionne and Mike Murphy.

Newspapers. Why do they keep publishing alarming articles, knowing it will muss up David Gregory's hair, with the concern? What is Susan Rice doing about Iran's ability to learn science? Rice says our approach is "predicated on an urgent need to stop Iran" from having a nuke. And so they've had the P5+1 talks to prevent that from occurring. Gregory wants to know why she cannot pick a solid date as to when Iran will have one. Will they have one by their birthday? Should he buy them centrifuges?

Rice says no one is interested in interminable negotiations. But Charles Krauthammer objects to their strategy. Rice should just say that Krauthammer objects to all strategies that aren't bombing Iran into oblivion. Rice says they have presented Iran with a "stark choice": stop producing nukes or face sanctions from the P5+1. Sanctions include multilateral and bilateral and unilateral. Economic and otherwise. Negotiations are in a finite period. Gregory is beside himself, shriekingly asking why he can't mark his calendar for the first bombing run.

Rice says the optimal outcome is a nuke-free Iran that is peacefully integrated into the international community.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan. Rice reminds that resourcing Afghanistan is a portion of resourcing against a global fight against terrorism, in multiple theatres. Rice insists that the President will take the time to make the decision.

Then more of the typical Gregory nonsense where he works to get Rice to admit to a circumstance in which we might leave Afghanistan before it is stable because he's been masturbating overlong to tiny portions of McChrystal's speeches removed from their context. Rice obviously hasn't been sitting around projecting outcomes, it doesn't take a genius to know that a stable Afghanistan is preferable, but it shouldn't take a genius to know that we can't possibly spend all of our blood and treasure trying to do it. This is a guy who gets incensed at the merest thought of a tax increase, badgering Rice because she won't commit to an endless war that he doesn't want to pay for anyway. "LOOK MOM, I MADE NEWS."

Whatever, David Gregory. Rice says that circumstances evolve and new dangers arise and the president has to be flexible. Is politics a major factor? Rice says absolutely not.

Was it a mistake to for the president to go before the IOC and compete for the Olympics? Rice says no. She'll worry when we have a President that won't compete on America's behalf because he's worried what pundits will think of him.

Rice patiently explains to Gregory about the importance of the United Nations. Since this is the remedial portion of this program, I'm going to get some coffee.

OK, now what? Panel time, by the looks of things. You know, there's so little actual meeting of the press on this show, shouldn't the name be changed? MEET THE PUNDITS, BLITHERING? Maybe it should be called the ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? HOUR.

Okay. I can't believe of all the weird complaint emails I've received today it's only now that someone's pointing out I left a bold tag open, and everything is a festival of boldness. How very unlike the Obama administration!

Brooks believes that Obama will properly resource the war effort, but is concerned that the mission might get redefined to allow the Taliban to exist after al Qaeda is thwarted. Maddow says that there's a partisan divide now, because the GOP wants Obama to not take any time to make a decision, as Bush did, and just start LOLSURGING now, because they've all dosed themselves on LOLSURGIC ACID. Maddow points out that COIN strategy has appeal for liberals and Democrats because it's a policy-based approach to warfare. Nevertheless: YEAR NINE.

Murphy says the "politics are awful" because the choices are either "leave or triple down" and that there's a process where officials tend to want to "romance their way to a third way" of doing things. Dionne points out that McChrystal's been pretty up front about the lack of good government models. Brooks says that the Taliban must be defeated alongside al Qaeda, because: this is all about Pakistan. Which is weird because Pakistan was very stable when it lived next door to the Taliban. Which doesn't mean the Taliban should be allowed to come back to power. What it means is that in some parallel universe, there's a pundit roundtable that's reaching the following conclusion: "Hey, you know, these issues are perhaps too complicated to be solved by pouring our blimp sauce all over them." I WANT TO GO TO THERE. I don't want to stay there, because obviously, I won't have a job writing about these dillweeds. But i want to go to there, just for a day.

Okay, something about Saturday Night Live, who actually are occasionally making good political points, and on to the economy. Unemployment. Up again! Brooks says that we are recovering from a spending binge and it's going to take time to get through the awful part of the restoration. Maddow points out that beyond spending, there were a whole bunch of bad regulatory decisions on the financial market. Brooks thinks that there's no "hunger for a second stimulus." He needs to venture outside the Beltway, where the lack of hunger for stimulus is trunped by, say, the actual hunger for actual food and whatnot.

Dionne points out that you have to do things sequentially: first, get people back to work. Then, reduce the deficits. Then, stay on a path to fiscal discipline. "Even in a recovery, employers are going to give current employees more hours before they hire new workers." Sequentially.

David Brooks won't stop complaining about the SPENDING. Anyone with the luxury of a job and personal wealth can afford to do that. Maddow points out, "What was the alternative, exactly?" McCain's five year spending freeze? Murphy thinks that the money should have been spent, just spent faster.

David Gregory asks if we can find "the bumper sticker" in the situation. And that is why this show is so horrible. THE QUEST FOR THE BUMPER STICKERIEST CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. "I brake for ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT?X100!"

Maddow points out what an embarrassment it was to see people cheering Chicago's failure! Then Mike Murphy says something painfully stupid: that you never send the President anywhere in the world if you don't know what the outcome is going to be. That's sort of a recipe for the president NEVER GOING ANYWHERE.

My wife says, "God, that is really the dumbest thing I've heard all week. What, is the president supposed to be psychic? There's a new reason to criticize George W. Bush for reading to those schoolchildren on 9/11, I guess!"

Brooks backs Obama on the attempt to get the Olympics. Dionne points out that "Country First" is no longer an operative term for the right.

David Gregory now wants to talk about the "left right divide in politics," because of Alan Grayson, who finally made it bad to say the word DEATH PANEL in public. Maddow says that there's nothing wrong with strong and robust debate, that she's not an eliminationist, and that yeah, maybe the "vituperative" language is bad. Brooks says that this is a media circus that doesn't really reflect the way the majority of Americans think.

Murphy then yells at Maddow for MSNBC's programming choices, and it's an excellent microcosm of what they are talking about. Murphy has a good point, which he makes in the smallest-minded way possible. WE ARE ALL GOING TO OBVIOUSLY LEARN SO MUCH TODAY.

John McCain: he is literally going to have to compliment Sarah Palin for the rest of his life.

Brooks says he will eat a coffee cup on the air if Sarah Palin wins the GOP nomination. That sort of sweetens the pot. Murphy says, "She has a constituency, she'll never be the nominee." He's bearish on right-wing radio, too: "These guys can't deliver a pizza, let alone a nominee."

Rachel Maddow sort of thinks the right should answer for Sarah Palin's popularity. Murphy calls that guilt by association.

Oh, joy. Is this over? Yes, it is. Unless I want to watch the "Meet The Press" minute on William Safire, which seems to me to be a mean thing to do to him.

So, that's your Sunday. I am going to go see THE INVENTION OF LYING and drink Guinnesses. I hope you do something similar, especially the beer part. Sorry, Chicago! I still love you guys a lot!