TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome and I hope the weather is more pleasant wherever you are because out my window is nothing but an intensely, overcast world of blah. Luckily I have the entrancing charisma of our Sunday morning hosts and panelists and guests to look forward to watching. My name is Jason, and I'll be hosting this semi-live blog of Sunday blather, hoping that maybe, today, someone will lose their minds, like this dude, in Ireland:

YEAH, THINGS GOT A LITTLE TOO REAL, THERE, DIDN'T THEY? Well, that's okay, let's get back into the Christmas Spirit, THE HARD WAY, courtesy of Fucked Up, Vampire Weekend, David Cross, Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene, Bob Mould, Andrew W.K., Tegan and Sara, GZA, and TV On The Radio

There, now that you are back into the kick-ass spirit of this season, consider buying a calendar for a good cause, why not?

Okay. Let's start this, and hopefully, having started this, end this. As always, you may leave a comment, or send an email, or just sit there contemplatively. There's no need to make a big deal about what's on your mind. Sometimes, a silent rumination will draw people unto you. Who knows? Maybe you'll make some friends that way! You can also follow me on Twitter, a social networking service for the friendless.


If you wanted to, I could switch over and start liveblogging Paula Deen's Cookie Swap, at any time. Just let me know, okay?

OK, so, Fox News will be making Claire McCaskill and Judd Gregg give us jobs, and Jim Inhofe will be "debating" Ed Markey today on climate change. And, Paula Deen is probably making snickerdoodles? Anyone? Anyone?

Okay, Claire McCaskill matches the army of on-set poinsettas. She says that everyone is "on hold" until the Reid Plan comes back from the CBO. She's optimistic that it will bring down deficits and health care costs. Judd Gregg says he is "suspicious" and doesn't want to put more people into Medicare, because eventually he'll support destroying it once this fad of Republicans wanting to save Medicare passes.

This discussion on a bill that neither has read and which the CBO hasn't scored continues for some time. Guess what? McCaskill is sort of for-ish, and Gregg is sort of against-esque. Some government actuary says costs will go up, but Wallace doesn't say for how long. Wallace also is maybe mistaking "bending the cost curve" with "lowering costs." But McCaskill says that "the actuarial analysis was incomplete" and that they are "up to their elbows in sausage making." And Gregg says that the actuarial analysis says it will be a disaster.

Really, what we have now is this weird situation where CBO scores and actuarial analysis says whatever the party of the speaker has told the speaker to say it says. Meanwhile, this intense, crushing obsession with pretending to be interested in actuaries and cost curves and CBO scores.will disappear as soon as attention turns back to Afghanistan.

Judd Gregg, weirdly, tells McCaskill, "I know you guys want to filibuster our amendments." Hey, uhm...and so do you?

Meanwhile, can we spend TARP money on small business. Gregg says, no, we'll have to borrow that money, so suck it, small business, get too big to fail and interconnect yourselves in such a way that you can hold us hostage to massive systemic failure, and maybe we'll do something.

Now McCaskill and Gregg are talking up their vastly dumb deficit commission. WHY DON'T YOU TWO JUST BE YOUR OWN GODDAMN DEFICIT COMMISSION? "This nation is on an unsustainable path," Gregg says. And that unsustainability calls for Senators to chicken out of their reponsibilities, in lieu of a commission that will never be able to come to a consensus.

And now, here's your Markey-Inhofe climate change debate. IT IS AN INTENSE MYSTERY, BY CRACKEE, WHAT THESE TWO MEN WILL SAY ABOUT THIS.

Inhofe says that the President doesn't have the authority to unilaterally pass treaties and that environmental legislation will never pass the Senate. Markey says that Obama has the authority to commit to carbon targets based on the EPA's endangerment finding. He adds that the Senate committee has passed out of the committee, with similar reductions, and that it has plenty of conservatives support it. Inhofe says it doesn't have the support on the floor.

How much money should the U.S. commit to solving this crisis, and what security is there? Markey says something about how the money will not go to China and that rainforests will be preserved, and that doesn't really answer Wallace's question, which he restates as, "How do we assure that the money doesn't get wasted?" Markey says WE'LL DO SOME REAGANY TRUST BUT VERIFY STUFF.

Inhofe says that China and India and Mexico are hoping we pass this bill because it means that American jobs will go there, but the joke's on Inhofe: ALL THOSE JOBS ARE ALREADY THERE.

Inhofe is really trying to get CRAZY ON THE TEEVEE, and Wallace keeps taking the ball away. Anyway, Markey is still pretty confident that some sort of environmental legislation is going to happen.

Meanwhile, climate-gate. Wallace and the panel sort of shut this down last week, and he pulls it up in small bore, here's a couple of weird emails. He gives Markey a chance to plug the Climate Change compendium, and tout the fact that the emails are explained. Inhofe complains about getting filibustered, and Wallace makes him work from the defensive position, which apparently involves reading the Daily Telegraph and visiting his website, which I am sure is magical.

Panel time! Before this panel discusses "The Obama Doctrine," let's give credit to Spencer Ackerman, who first outlined that Doctrine.

Today we have Kristol and Liasson and Cheney and Williams. Cheney and Kristol are the avatars of what Obama called, "the satisfying purity of indignation." Bear that in mind!

Anyway, Kristol wants to believe that Obama shifted his footing vastly, instead of this being a guy who had to try to put a nice face on an award he didn't want and didn't think he deserved. Liasson thinks he is "more fully inhabiting his role" now that he's "sent people into battle," but she needs to get up on current events, I'm afraid: Obama had already ramped up, in Afghanistan.

Liz Cheney liked the parts of the Nobel speech that she was able to convert into a hot gas which could billow up her own ass and sustain her. WILL COPENHAGEN BE ABLE TO STOP THIS? Anyway, she likes torture and rendition. Remember that when an American soldier gets tortured!

Wallace points out that Obama is all about the Predator drones, and with them, he managed to take out a "top al Qaeda operative." The number three al Qaeda! Again! It's like we've gotten very good at killing Spinal Tap's drummer.

Williams says that Obama gave a speech in which he had to justify war at a time where he really would have rather not won the award.

Kristol thinks it's bad that Obama "pulled his punches" in Iran when protesters against Ahmadinejad, despite the fact that those same protesters were saying, "Please do not get crazily involved in this, America, and give them an excuse to kill all of us."

Liasson mentions "the satisfying purity of indignation," and so Wallace has to take a break so that Kristol and Cheney can put out their prayer rugs and bow five times in the direction of the American Enterprise Institute.

Okay, religious masturbatory scenarios having ended, it's time to take up health care. Kristol doesn't think Reid's plan will get the votes, but he's been saying that about health care all along this year, and he sounds strangely unsure, at least at first. He eventually warms up to predicting its failure. Liasson, however, says we have to wait until the CBO numbers come back, there's a small group of Senators in play. Nelson is a "special case," which is apparent on its face, isn't it! But compromise continues apace.

Liz Cheney notes that polling has shown dwindling support for health care, but fails to note that this is because the bill keeps getting further and further away from the strong public option that people want. Juan Williams, unfortunately, knows actual facts about Medicare, but Liz Cheney is louder and will torture you. And now everyone is yelling at each other. Cheney and Williams should probably just go into the green room and angerbang one another, for the sake of the Earth's molten core.


Hey, let's reach for something ridiculously formulaic, shall we?

Oh, hey, this looks like it could get pretty shirty today. Panel includes Kelly O'Donnell, Dan Rather, Helene Coopr, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, who has to be feeling like, "YES. THESE ARE THE REWARDS. A SPOT ON THIS SHOW."

Oh, but, hey, Obama went to give a speech for the Nobel Peace Prize and talked about WAR. WOW. Such ironicalism! Rather says that Obama "didn't square the circle," which means that he'll probably be prematurely awarded the Nobel Prize for Circle Squaring, and he'll have to go to Oslo again, and he'll make a speech about TRIANGLES, and it will be ironic, and then Dan Rather will say, "Well, Obama really hasn't OBLONGED the TRAPEZOID yet."

O'Donnell thinks what's fascinating is the "contradiction between surge and withdrawal." She just can't get her head around it! Sending troops on one day? Bringing them home on another? TOO MUCH FOR KELLY, TELL YOU WHAT. (Hey, Kelly, here's a fun fact! The original "Surge?" You know LOLSURGE CLASSIC in Iraq? It was actually even a more temporary buildup than the one they plan for Afghanistan. It's true!)

The enemy of my contradiction is my Facebook friend! Or is it?

Meanwhile Sorkin says people are out of work! And will be for a while. OMFG: ARE WE IN AN EMPLOYMENT CRISIS? People are hiring folks to only work 35 hours a week! This would be outrageous if it hadn't been going on all decade!

Rather says that the "perception" is that Obama has taken care of the bankers and hasn't done much for workers. That's also sort of the reality, too! Chris Matthews observes that "Geithner and those people around him...they seem like Wall Street guys." WHAT? HOLY SHIZZLES. THEY DO SEEM, EXACTLY LIKE THAT? Heavens to Murgatroyd! Why didn't anyone notice this before and write profiles on Geithner in several leading magazines? Geithner is a "well off New Yorker?" SAY IT ISN'T SO! Next thing you'll tell me is that he was handpicked to head up the New York Fed by fatcat bankers or something crazy like that!

Cooper notes that companies don't hire people when they can maintain productivity with the same number of workers. WE ARE LEARNING ALL SORTS OF NEW THINGS, ON THE TEEVEE TODAY.

Oh, Kelly O'Donnell, stop trying to sympathize with the out-of-work youngs. Quiet, now.

Will health care reform be a historic accomplishment? Sorkin says, "No. I can't believe you asked the question that way." Really, Andrew? Have you heard of this show you agreed to appear on? Cooper says, "No one at the New York Times can agree with each other." Ha, ha, yes, true. Take the topic of: "Where did the reportage in the book, TOO BIG TO FAIL, come from?" No one at the Times can agree! It's a robust debate!

Anyway, Cooper says it will be historical, and Rather says something about a train, that reeks of compromise, like the Vermonter when you'd rather take the Acela.

Only one person on the "Matthews meter" says there will be a public option in the bill. Rather says that will erode the base.

Chris Matthews wants everyone to reassure him the Obama will be great, despite the fact that there are contradictions. Everyone sort of says yes, whatever, shut up, Chris Matthews.

Chris Matthews things it's hilarious that Golf Digest put Obama and Tiger Woods on the same cover. CONTRADICTION! But just you wait! When Tiger Woods wins the Nobel Prize for having sex with all the ladies in the world at least once, that's going to be even more redolent with ironic sauce!

Okay! Climate change! Why is it so controversial and stuff? Sorkin says that "in the boardroom," it's not good to have Al Gore as the spokesman, for reasons that I guess he will articulate as soon as his colleagues report it out for him? Rather says that "contrarians will always jump up from time to time and say 'no the world isn't round,' and from time to time they are right." Well, not about the earth not being round? Anyway, people would rather have jobs now than a planet tomorrow.

Cooper says Obama will go to Copenhagen and return even more fired up than he was before. This is exactly how Denmark's tourism bureau sells Copenhagen to the world. COPENHAGEN: EUROPE'S AMPHETAMINE ORGASM. STROKE OUT TO OUR FINGER PLAN. EVERY DAY IS LIKE THE ROSKILDE FESTIVAL OR SOMETHING, EXCEPT FOR THE DAY OF THE ROSKILDE FESTIVAL, WHICH IS LIKE TWO ROSKILDE FESTIVALS.

Things Matthews doesn't know. O'Donnell says "the potent issue of abortion may not be gone." DAMN, I PUT DOWN A TWENTY DOLLAR BET THAT ABORTION WAS DUNZO. Rather says there's corruption in the truck driving school business. Are they training drivers, or loan sharks? Well, the economy is pretty awful, and people need usurious loans more than they need goods shipped across the country to not be bought.

Helene Cooper says, "Stanley McChrystal was in Washington this week." COME ON, HELENE, I'm sure Matthews heard about that! Oh, she's expanding: We'll see the effects of the surge in February, she says. Oooh. Someone read the transcript of the hearing and dug out a single statement!

Sorkin says Citigroup will give back all their TARP money in 12-18 months.

The entire end of this episode is Matthews, telling people how much he liked Invictus. His huge meta-point: Nelson Mandela has accomplished more than the Teabaggers. In fairness, I've never seen the teabaggers play rugby.


MEET THE PRESS was tops in the ratings again last week. YOU'RE WELCOME, DAVID GREGORY. But man, I will really have to break out some serious turd polish on this week's show. Guests include Christina Romer, who is like a parakeet of positivity. Alan Greenspan is also here, with Jim Cramer, Jennifer Granholm, and Mitt Romney. That's an impressive roster of people I anticipate meeting in hell.

Anyway, the economy, with Xtina Romer. Obama's been yelling at the bankers! Who are irresponsible! Xtina says that there is "a lot of blame to go around," which doesn't mean a lot of punishment, I guess. But news flash! The economy is bad, and unemployment is bad. But the rate of bad is lessening. Which is good unless you'd like the rate of bad to embiggen.

But Xtina is trying, people! They are trying to make new rules of the road, and they will be better. She says there is a "fundamental disconnect" between Main street and Wall Street in that Wall Streeters are still having fun, and need to be told that they are mental.

Gregory wonders, "Is the goal simply to punish Wall Street?" Because what did they do wrong, right? Xtina says that the White House wants them to return to profitability, and lending, and maybe not a return to, say, evil, or stupidity.

When will employment get good again? Xtina says, UHH MAYBE THE FUTURE? There will be bounces and bumps, and it could go up again before going down. When is the recession over? Xtina thinks "we've reached that point in terms of GDP" but not in terms of jobs, so the White House doesn't consider it over.

Gregory takes a quote from Jared Bernstein and an article in Kiplinger's, both written LONG AFTER the economic collapse, and says, "The warnings were there." They were! But those weren't the effing warnings, brah! Tell your research intern that they need to do better with the Gathering of the Gotcha.

Gregory wants to know why the Obama administration didn't "attack unemployment sooner." The Bernstein quote Gregory is fueling this line of questioning with was from December 2008! The Obama administration would have had to ATTACK THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION and remove them from office by force before they could have attacked unemployment. Does no one at NBC ever sit down and talk to the people who make this show, and explain how scintillatingly dumb it is, on a weekly basis?

Gregory wants to know from Xtina if it was a mistake that the stimulus was too small. You know, after months of concern-trolling that it was too big! Anyway, Romer is confident that they got the best package through Congress, but that's because she's just breezily confident about everything.

More reading newspapers to people, on the teevee. At least Romer notices that the unemployment problem is actually closer to a decade long. Most people believe America's employment problem is a recent thing.

Romer attempts to explain how spending money while bringing the deficit down is a "parallel process." That's about as far as you can get with Gregory. I can't imagine what would happen if you tried to explain that this is a good time to run a short term deficit! Or that a spending freeze would entrench stagnant cycles in the economy.

I remain mystified that the Obama White House believes that Romer is a good teevee spokesman. She is terrible. Have you ever gotten through an on air segment with her and thought, "Oh, good. I am reasonably confident that the Obama administration has a handle on this stuff?" Because, I haven't! And, hey, maybe they do! I bet that if we could somehow monetize Romer's intense flopsweat, we'd all be on Easy Street.

And now, it's time for another edition of MEET THE PRESS playhouse, because I am not going to get through this dreadful panel otherwise.

MEET THE PRESS presents:

"Sartre's Antechamber," a tableau of intense regret in one act.

David Gregory: porter at the Gates of Hell
Jim Cramer: Eros and Thanatos in shouty, addlebrained form
Jennifer Granholm: can move back to Canada whenever she wants to
Alan Greenspan: frog-like prince of economic ruination
Mitt Romney: android of pure fraud
Me: in the bleak mid-Meet The Press



GREENSPAN: Jobs and the economy are two separate concepts. Recessions ends, and then the economy is restored, later. But we're past the bottom.

ME: Yes. I am getting used to dragging along that bottom!

GRANHOLM: I went to the roll-out of the Volt! And it's awesome, thanks to Obama, who have just shoveled money at Volt, because its manufacturers are really well connected. DRIVE A VOLT!


ROMNEY: BLEEP BLORP! Obama grew the government, not the economy. BLEEP BLORP! Remember how I went to Michigan and PROMISED TO BRING BACK THE AUTO INDUSTRY, BY MAGIC? BLORP! Somehow this wouldn't have been through government intervention? My keeping of this insane promise?


GREGORY: OMGZ. Look at this chart! Why isn't employment recovering, compared to another recession I'll pull out at random.

GREENSPAN: We have a level of employment right now, that's barely able to keep up with output. But we need to add lots of jobs to just stay even. Plus people who are discouraged job seekers will become encouraged job seekers again, and that's going to be a hiccup. I'm also worried that people won't come back to jobs as productive as they would normally be.

ME: I'm worried that Benjamin Bernanke isn't being as productive as he could be, in trying to solve this problem!

GRANHOLM: Yeah, look, the traditional manufacturing jobs are all offshore now. People may have to use skillsets in different ways, or they may need to be trained to work in emerging fields.

ME: Which is awesome, if you aren't fifty years old!

ROMNEY: BLEEP! BLORP! Stimulus failed. Not at all because it was watered down by Congress! We need to cut more taxes, before the Klingons invade. BLORP.

GREGORY: OMGZ! But the economy, she must grow! Before deficit shrinks!


ME: I simply have no idea, ever, what that man is talking about, and that's probably a good thing.

GREENSPAN: It's very critical that we get the uncertainties out of the system! Everyone should be happy and amazed by how well the stock market is doing! WHY IS NOBODY HAPPY ABOUT THIS. Everyone spend five minutes today, worshipping the NASDAQ.


GREENSPAN: Really, it's just the poor people who aren't doing well. The good news is that rich people are doing great. Would you hold on for a minute? I need to get on my prayer rug and pray five times in the direction of JP Morgan!


ROMNEY: BLEEP BLORP! We have fear, of the government control! They will take over everything! My gears need money to run! BLORP! FART!


GREGORY: OMGZ! Does the Fed need to do more to solve the unemployment crisis?

GREENSPAN: The Fed has done a huge amount!


GREENSPAN: Monetary policy has been stretched to its limit!

ME: No. There's more Bernanke can do.

GREENSPAN: We could have inflation!

ME: Seriously, dude, you are worried about inflation at a time like this?

GREGORY: Why are so many countries so sad and not like us anymore? Jim Cramer, you should probably answer this, for some reason.

CRAMER: Guns and butter and paralysis and we need to raise taxes to pay for wars!

ME: Okay. That last part actually made sense.

ROMNEY: BLEEP BLORP! NO, America can be great as long as we have greatness! But we cannot be paying government more than our awesome private sector, which no longer makes anything and destroys the economy with credit derivatives.

ME: I'm all for raising private sector wages, but unfortunately, that's precisely what makes India's labor force so attractive. And really, weren't we yelling about how terrible it was the union auto workers made money a few months ago? And everyone was touting the non-union shops in the South? Well, those private sector jobs pay less money.

GRANHOLM: People are angry, and frustrated. Leaders need to project confidence.

ME: Well, now you're no better then Mitt Romney.

GREGORY: We'll leave it there.

ME: Ugh, yes, let's.

[Exeunt, chased by a bear.]

This is pretty funny, I got an email from someone asking me to stop doing the Sunday shows in this fashion and instead do a "simple composite of each show," outlining the "main topics, each character's responses [and] hosts [sic] questions."

My promise to you all this Chrismakwanzahukkahwhatever, is that I will never do something as stupid or as boring as that. But here's the bad news! Next week, I shall be liveblogging the Sunday Morning Sack Of Goat Slop from lovely Astoria, Queens, where I shall be DVR-less. This complicates things a little bit, because I'll be even more on the fly than I usually am. So please feel free to leave comments, with your observation and commentary, to offset my even more frenzied typing.

It's been a long time since I've done this without the benefit of the pause button! could get very weird. In fact, I have half a mind to just let it get weird! If anyone knows some awesome New York City Sunday morning cable access programming that we can add to the liveblog, send me an email with the subject, "CHECK OUT THIS HIGH WEIRDNESS ON NEW YORK CITY TEEVEE NEXT WEEK."

Okay, in that spirit, here's the greatest Christmas carol in the world:

Have a great week!