TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning, everyone. My name is Jason and this is your liveblog of the Sunday Morning journey into the Acid Canyon of politics and voice boxes that will never shut up, ever, tear them out though you may, they go right on, until your destroy your own ear canals, and NEVERTHELESS YOU CONTINUE TO HEAR THERE IS NO STOPPING IT. I've no time for a preamble of any kind today. Other than to say unto the thoroughbred race horse namers of America: Sirs and Madams, surely it bespeaks a culture in great decline that we have a horse in the Kentucky Derby named, simply, "Conveyance." What? "Equine" and "Quadruped" didn't make the cut? You must do better.

Ooooo-kay. So, comment, send email, twitter, and the like. We begin, where we so often begin, at the beginning:


Okay, so, car bombs and oil slicks and God knows what else is threatening America, plus Charlie Crist is history's greatest monster. That's what's going on today.

First, there was an "amateurish but powerful" bomb that didn't go off in Times Square, forcing the evacuation of, I guess, all of Times Square, for ten hours. But the bomb wasa dismantled and hey, for ten hours, tourists got to go somewhere that wasn't quite so lame. It was like the Hurt Locker, only it was vaguely near the TKTS line, or something.

Meanwhile, oil slick! Still having troubles. The bad news is that the oil is gushing like crazy, but the good news is that BP's chemical dispersants are seemingly working, and they are drilling a relief pipeline that might reduce the about a month or three! Meanwhile, oil is coming to summer in Boca, like everyone who lives in Minnesota and is over the age of 60.

Now, we have Janet Napolitano and Thad Allen of the Coast Guard and Ken Salazar, sans cowboy hat. Napolitano says they are treating that car bomb like an act of terrorism, and they are investigating the incident. She doesn't spill about the evidence or what it says, saying it's "Too soon to tell." Not surprised.

Meanwhile, is there a "quick solution" to the oil slick? Like magic of faeries or maybe convincing the ash cloud in Iceland to battle the oil slick? Allen says that the work is an "inexact science," but the Coast Guard is planning for the worst-case scenario and bringing all resources to bear, but there's just no quick way to solve the problem. Allen goes on to say that there should have been a number of failsafes that should have stopped this from happening, and that there will be a lengthy forensic investigation of the matter, hopefully not carried out by the cast of CSI: Miami.

"If this goes on for 60, 90 days, we're talking about a situation worse than Exxon Valdez," suggests Wallace. Salazar replies, "That's absolutely the case." Oyyyy.

Why not Federalize the process and have BP pick up the bill at the end? Allen says that's an "antiquated" way of looking at it. By statute and by law, he says, BP is the responsible party. Allen says that the government could run it themselves, but BP has processes and equipment in place that is more sophisticated, and thus, a combined approach.

Wallace (who doesn't actually think this and has said so on the record) asks about this being "Obama's Katrina," and Salazar and Napolitano shoots it down, pointing out that resources have been brought to bear since the beginning. I basically wrote the book on why this isn't a valid comparison, but what can I say? WAYS IN WHICH THIS ISN'T LIKE KATRINA: 1) The White House seems to have noticed that something bad has happened. 2) The response to the bad thing hasn't been "Scramble all available thumbs to penetrate any or all asses!" 3) Officials can actually talk about what's going on with expertise, because they have bothered to actually learn something about what is going on.

Napolitano doesn't think too highly of the Arizona immigration law, by the way! Also, she's heard nothing about becoming the next Supreme Court Justice, and is focused on a lot of other things in the meanwhile.

Hey, remember that time Charlie Crist came on this show and said, "I am basically never going to become an independent, ever?" HA OH WELL? Now Marco Rubio gets to jump up and down on his political future. "You'll never be able to hold him accountable," Rubio says, because Crist is a mind-changing flip-flop promise breaker.

How does Rubio reach out to non-GOP voters? He says he'll walk the earth and talk to people. He uses this "We're the only candidate in the race" construction, over and over again. Is it weird that I find that off-putting? Sorry. That WE find that offputting?

Wallace, ha: "What do you mean 'mainstream positions?' I thought you were a conservative?"

Wow. I'm just realizing now that Marco Rubio's ears are the size of competition class spinnakers!

Rubio "isn't comfortable" with the new Arizona immigration law, because, after all, he's Hispanic, and he probably, quite rightly, doesn't want to have to carry proof of citizenship with him at all times whilst in Arizona, because the heat and those jumping cactus thingies and all the angry olds and weird religious compounds are bad enough. Even though Arizonans are "scared and tired," the solution is for the Federal government to step up security efforts.

What about the future of oil drilling,. Rubio said in a statement that the concern lies with the cause of the disaster and until that is determined, "I don't think we can move forward on anything else." Rubio says, that we should maybe get the situation under control, too, in addition to figure out what went wrong, but that "energy independence is a goal of America." And thus commences Obvious Day, I guess?

What about all of Rubio's taxxcrimes? He says that he is "not aware of any investigation." He says that he regularly reviewed his campaign credit card and paid off any personal charges he made out of pocket. He says that the IRS has not been in contact with him and that no malfeasance has taken place. He also says that he'll comply with tax disclosures that are required of candidates. "People will know more about my finances than any other candidate in the race."

Rubio says Social Security reform is necessary, and stands by his previous statements on the matter: that is to say, changing the retirement age and/or the cost-of-living adjustment should be on the table.

Time for a panel! And the Fox News Sunday standard arracy of Hume, Liasson, Kristol, and Williams are here to numb our minds.

"Brit is the furor over Arizona's law over?" Hume says, "Oh, well, all the critics are wrong! It doesn't single out Hispanics, no no!" He goes on to say, NO WORRIES, it requires authorities to have reasonable cause to suspect that a crime is going on! What Hume isn't saying -- and he just admitted to being a week behind on "reading the news" and "knowing things" and so maybe doesn't know -- is that the law was recently expanded so that police could apply this law in cases where there were suspected violations of local or state ordinances. So, you have a car up on blocks on your front driveway, or maybe someone thinks you're violating the occupancy limits on your rental property, and that provides the police with the pretext to do a mini-immigration sweep.

Hopefully, Hume will have learned all this by next week.

The bottom line is that if anyone asked any of these panelists to prove their citizenship, they'd get mad shirty, and rightfully so.

Lindsey Graham: America's "One and Only Republican Partner." Mara Liasson is just so loaded, today!

Wallace points out that Rick Perry and Jeb Bush are against the law, and Kristol just lolls that off by saying, well, blah-dee-blah, federalism. And secure the borders, with robots and wizards from Hogwarts.

Williams says that this law won't make Arizona safer, and instead is fomenting a "political explosion." But, at the same time, majorities of Arizonans and Americans seem to like it. Williams thinks that's short term, and that Arizona Republicans are on the verge of a Pete Wilson style collapse. Pete Wilson shout outs earn you an immediate remembrance of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy's cover of the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles."

What about the politics of it? Liasson seems to think that if the issue becomes inflammed, it hurts the Democrats in the short term and Republicans in the medium term, and no, I have NO IDEA WHAT THAT IS SUPPOSED TO MEAN, NOR DO I CARE. (Liasson doesn't seem to invested in it, anyway, pointing out that there's actual consensus on an approach, it's just not yet survived the extreme voice of the GOP base.)

Hume says that the disaster in the Gulf hasn't changed his view that we should drill like crazy, but he allows that the disaster will set back the cause of offshore drilling. He also thinks that this delays the cause of energy independence, but that's pretty myopic: even increasing drilling to it's full potential wouldn't put a deep cut in oil imports, and it's better to just start adjusting to a post-oil reality.

Kristol wants us to drill even closer to the shore, and open up ANWR, and thinks that the disaster will spur the public to want to drill there. "I'm a drill baby drill person," he says.

Williams is strangely both for and against drilling, and then also pro-new energy sources? He's against drilling in ANWR but compares it to a national park? I'd rather not drill there either, because surveys suggest the haul is not worth the effort, but I'm not going to pretend that I want to throw the family in the car and schlep up to the tundra to chase after the noble caribou. (Unless the noble caribou have a rare ice-bourbon that I haven't yet tried!)

Liasson says that she doesn't think new offshore drilling is dead. I think she's underestimating the power of NIMBYism. But then, maybe NIMBYism gets trumped these days by the whole "everyone is out of work thing."

OK. Moving on.


OK, so. OIL SLICK! Featuring the guy from British Petroleum, and the troika of officials we've already heard from. And a panel featuring George Will and Bill Maher and Al Sharpton and Matt Dowd, and Katrina VandenHeuvel.

Also, yes, car bomb in Times Square. Situation now safe. PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR OVERPRICED STEAKHOUSES, CITIZENS OF NEW YORK.

Janet Napolitano says there's no evidence that this is nothing more than a "one-off" but that everybody is "on it." Tapper says, "I have to think that Times Square is one of the most heavily surveilled areas in the country. And Napolitano basically says yes.

Meanwhile, here's Lamar McKay from BP. He calls the disaster a "tragic event," and an "event of enormous proportions."

Here's what they say they are doing. First, they are trying to stop the source of flow. Second, they are trying to contain the spill at the source. Third, they are trying to deal with the oil in the water. Fourth -- and this was introduced as a three-part-plan, so who knows what's going on here -- deal with the impacts on shore. That all sounds like stuff that's TOTALL EFFING OBVIOUS, so to be more specific, they are building a CONTAINMENT THUNDERDOME where oil will battle Ghidra or something, they are working to fix the "blowout preventer" that presumably should have, oh, I'm just guessing here -- a layman, mind you -- PREVENTED THE BLOWOUT.

"As you can imagine, this is like doing open heart surgery in the dark with robot submarines." Two things. First: yes, except for failed open heart surgeries DO NOT THREATEN THE COASTLINE OF AMERICA WITH DESTRUCTION. Second: Well, there goes the teevee show idea I was going to pitch Showtime about robot submarine surgeons and the offshore oil derricks that they fall in love with.

McKay doesn't know the total volume of the oil that's involved here. It does not appear to be "all of the oil," though, so that's good news.

McKay thinks that the "partnership" between BP and the government has been effective and has rallied a response, and everything is going to be just fine, seriously, stop yelling at us! But Tapper brings up their "spotty record" and history of "corner cutting." "How confident are you that this accident had nothing to do with cutting back on safety to save a buck?" BURN. McKay says, uhm...fairly confident? It's a "failed piece of equipment." BOO, PIECE OF EQUIPMENT. (Except that these rigs are supposed to have three levels of failsafes?"

How can the people trust anything you say, Tapper asks. McKay says that they've been "aggressive" in their response, which is matching the magnitude of the incident.

What about Richard Morrison of BP, who said in a letter, "While BP is supportive of companies having a system in place to reduce risks, accidents, injuries and spills, we are not supportive of extensive, prescriptive regulations." Huh? What about that, McKay? Will you continue to lobby against regulations? McKay says that's a mischaracterization and that they are not fighting safety.

Will BP stop all operations in the meantime? McKay says, basically, no. But they're doing all sorts of tests to make sure things don't kaboom again, for a while.

Welcome back to the Allen Salazar Napolitano Experience, to settle our nerves. Salazar is asked if he's confident that BP can stop the leak. He says he's confident the leak can be stopped. Tapper follows up on that answer, and Salazar avers, "BP will stop it."

The best case scenario, Salazar says, is that everything is fixed today. But the worst case scenario is that it goes on for 90 days.

Should the Coast Guard burn have happened earlier? Napolitano says that a window of opportunity didn't exist right away, because of weather conditions. Allen follows along, stating that the winds in the region prevented the Coast Guard from starting the burn before they did.

What about the whole part where month ago, Obama said that oil rigs were basically safe? Salazar says that these sorts of accidents are very rare, and "turning off the spigots" would adversely effect the economy. Nevertheless, he allows that there is much to learn from this, and plans for further drilling are basically on hold.

As far as the Arizona immigration law, Napolitano doesn't go as far as saying the law is unconstitutional, but does say the law invites racial profiling and runs counter to the ongoing federal efforts, but allows that Arizonans are frustrated. She and Salazar both allow that there is a need for comprehensive immigration reform, to resolve these issues.

Okay, so, I guess we get forty minutes of paneling? Okay, then!

What about the whole "Obama's Katrina" thing? Will says, no, that's not true, the President is "not responsible for bad things happening." Rather, it's a sign of just how "ravenous for energy" we are. Sharpton follows by saying that the White House responded to the crisis in a timely fashion. Maher disagrees and says Obama should be taking more heat for it -- but largely for wanting to drill offshore, not for the response. "There are two parties that want to drill offshore, where is the other side."

Dowd says the public doesn't equate this with Katrina, either. Rather, it has a stronger context in terms of the mining disaster, and they want to know who is in charge. Dowd says that it speaks to a loss of faith in the government (and so, how can the government do health care.) I sort of see that mining disaster are being an intertwined problem of corporate malfeasance spurred into life by a government that's too responsive to the lobbyist succubi.

Katrina V-H and Will are now fighting over wind farms, and with Maher over Brazil. I missed where these arguments originated, and am not sure they are worth me rewinding. KV-H insists that there's no reason to not seek out energy alternatives. Maher says that the factcheckers will be coming after him, on whatever he said about Brazil, and "sugar cane ethanol" which is something I think I had at a party back in 1990?

Arizona! Yeah, let's talk about this, maybe to the tune of Isaac Hayes' "By The Time I Get To Phoenix." Or not? What does Al Sharpton think needs to be done? Well the Federal government needs to pass some laws. And racial profiling is wrong, and that he's working on protecting the rights of American citizens who look Hispanic. He quips that George Will would be picked up by a Vermont crackdown on Canadians, and that's the same concept.

Dowd calls Arizona a "sideshow," and says that problem is the Federal government has refused to enforce the law. Will seems to think it's significant that there's been a law on the books for 58 years that requires aliens to carry their papers. That's true! But it's beside the point! No one stops me on the street and asks to see my papers on suspicion that I look Scottish or German. Sharpton points out that the Federal law does not empower policemen to ask for citizenship papers because the outside of your apartment looks suspicious.

K V-H points out that the police are divided over the law. And: DUH. The law basically says: 1) Rid our streets of any Latinos we can justifiably get rid of with all deliberate haste, 2) don't get caught using racial profiling, but 3) do something quickly, because you will be sued if you underperform in this effort.

Dowd says that Arizona's response is not a good idea, but it reflects Arizona's frustration. I don't understand the conservative argument here: government intervention is a bad thing unless a significant enough bloc of voters are getting insanely emo with frustration? That seems pretty daft.

I also don't understand Will's argument. Asked about the opposition to the bill from conservatives, like Bob McDonnell, to the law, Will says, OH WELL, YOU HAVE TO SHOW ID TO ENTER THE VIRGINIA STATEHOUSE. And that this is "synthetic hysteria!" But showing ID at the Virginia statehouse and showing your citizenship status while YOU ARE WALKING YOUR DOG or SHOPPING AT WALGREENS are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. I mean, who is synthesizing here?

Then we have a five minute discursive on who is a racist. Will says that Maher says that Republicans are racist. K V-H says Maher didn't say that. Maher suggests that people would freak out if a group of people showed up in Washington with guns and anger and talk of revolution and crazy assed signs and HAPPENED TO BE PREDOMINANTLY BLACK, people would freak right the hell out. That's actually pretty true!

Sharpton tells Will that the whole point of the security at Bob McDonnell's office is that EVERYONE is subject to it, not just the swarthy and accented folks. K V-H points out that Michael Gerson didn't like his column on the matter, and that "Latino-bashing is political suicide for Republicans."

And Maher comes back around to clarifying things by saying, "I would never say all Republicans are racist, because that would be untrue and wrong, but if you are a racist today, you are probably a Republican."

Meanwhile, the immigration bill is deemed tough, and as Will points out, "could have been written by Republicans." Sharpton begs off evaluating the bill until he sees what final form it takes. Then he and Will get into it again! Sharpton says it's strange that the right won't champion this measure, and wants to know why Will won't support it. Will responds by asking, "What anti-immigration measures do you support?" Sharpton objects to having his question answered by a question. Will says, "Let the record show that Sharpton supports no anti-immigration efforts." And the entire table freaks out.

Katrina V-H and Dowd go on to yammer at each other about who wanted comprehensive immigration law when and who wouldn't support it, and then something about tea parties that I don't understand. And then, somehow Tapper reins everyone in so that we can get to commercial.

By the way, biometric ID cards? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. Going to pass the mic to Alex Pareene, here:

One thing Reid and Schumer agreed on was the necessity of a new national biometric Social Security card for every American worker, because national ID cards hit the sweet spot where Democratic government overreach and Republican police state affection overlap.

And here it is, in the "Conceptual Outline" of the Democratic immigration reform proposal, with an Orwellian name and a laughably inept attempt to make it not quite sound like a proposal for a mandatory biometric national ID card.

This is just fantastic politics. As White Populism and the new Know-Nothingism sweep America, Harry Reid is going to stake the political future of the Democrats on both helping immigrants and forcing those few citizens who still have jobs to register their fingerprints with the federal government. (Not that I'm criticizing good policy because it's "bad optics." I'm firmly on the side of the ACLU and the Cato Institute on this one.)

Ezra Klein says it's odd that the right-wing cranks who hate immigrants the most are also the ones most likely to oppose the creation of biometric national ID cards to determine citizenship status, but it really makes perfect sense: only illegals should be trapped like grasshoppers, microchipped, and sent "home." An ID card for American citizens is fascism.



So the new set of Meet The Press is dark and filled with aquamarine cubes. Gregory can stand. He can even talk at the same time. They have even mastered putting images on screens. AND YES, THE FAKE BOOKCASE IS THERE. What is on the fake bookcase? Probably fake books! Although I'm hoping that some guest, one day, just walks over and is all, "Bored now, David, gonna check out a book."

For all the new comforts, David Gregory manages to refer to Janet Napolitano as "SOCKRETARY" Napolitano. CALL IN THE FACTCHECKER? No, remember, it is not Meet The Press' job to report facts. Rather, it's to buy furniture and fake books.

Thad Allen has a bookcase. Is it fake? We should find out?

What sort of cost do you incur, when you construct a bookcase that you are, essentially, never going to use? How many books does Doris Kearns Goodwin have, anyway?

The new sey has all sorts of screens, on which beige and light green and blue sworls ebb and flow across the wall, with the words "MEET THE PRESS" hovering in the ether, like a celestial presence. Behind David Gregory, the Jefferson Memorial is being displayed. This show wants to remind you that they are in the thick of it, and can, if necessary, identify a monument. At the bottom of the screen, the water gently laps at the camera.

So basically, NBC totally shelled out for the biggest and least exciting screensavers that money could buy.

The long table that everyone is sitting at is a black circle, flanked on both sides by dark blue, illuminated rectangles. It looks like something that would sit in Ten-Forward or whatever the bar was called that Whoopi Goldberg worked at on the Starship Enterprise, where people played three-dimensional chess and thus invented the Obama Presidency.

And now, Hillary Clinton is there, on the same set, but pretaped. At the moment, the same table is in the center of the room, but the rectangles are no longer a shimmery dark blue. Instead, they are white. Again, this was pre-taped, so maybe NBC News hadn't gotten their shipment of Shimmery Blue Journalism sauce that needed to be poured into the table. The screensavers are still rocking and rolling, though.

I wonder: will the screensaver behind David Gregory always be of the Jefferson Memorial? Because that will get old, pretty quick. Will it always be this sunny day? Or will the camera move around and point itself at other monuments? Does the potential exist for this sort of thing to happen?

OH, MAN! ONE OF THE SCREENSAVERS IS NOW SHOWING THE U.S. CAPITAL! And another one has pictures of Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai! GAMECHANGER!

I think that Meet The Press has very nearly caught up with the Daily Show's visual presentation. Next: catching up with the journalism!

The black tabletop, viewed from a shallower angle, reveals itself to be very shiny and reflective. No doubt a team of wranglers is on hand to keep Gregory from staring too long at it. The new coffee cups are conic, not cylindrical. They are black. Like the entire set, they probably came from the future, too.

OH, BREAKING NEWS. MUST CREDIT THE SUNDAY MORNING LIVEBLOG: Folks, it looks like we have a SECOND FAKE BOOKSHELF UP IN THIS BITCH, FOR REALS. Oh, wow! In fact, I may have vastly underestimated the sheer amount of fake bookshelves, filled with books that have literally gone to the Meet The Press set to die. Wide angle shots reveals that there are a ton of fake bookshelves. The room is dominated by displays of Potemkin literature.

It make you wonder...what is it like to curate a fake bookshelf? Someone comes along and says, "Hey we're going to build a new set and were thinking, let's have a ton of superfluous bookshelves. You got any extra books?" Do you just hit up yard sales? Or get remainders from Regnery publishing? Or is it like, "Everyone please bring a book from home you don't want," and just hope they are not the same book? Can i check out a book from Meet The Press? Do you all have the novelisation of "Transformers II: Rise of the Fallen?"

I have to say, I keep expecting a gaggle of multicolored Daleks to wheel out from the walls and just start straight up exterminating some mofeaux. Wouldn't it be awesome if a Sunday show was moderated by the Daleks? "DID YOU DO ENOUGH TO STOP THE OIL SPILL? EXPLAIN! EXPLAIN! YOU ARE INFERIOR! YOU ARE GOOD AT DYING!" Yeah! Talk you way out of that, Eric Cantor!

Hillary Clinton's aquamaring frock is blending in with the swirling screensavers. Maybe the screensavers are designed to colormatch the guests? Like John Boehner comes on the show and the screensavers display the fiery center of the sun? Let's hope so.

Oh, boy! They have other screensavers that apparently wheel out and sit on stands at an angle!

Oh, man, Charlie Crist didn't have the sense to come to the show and so he looks like he is being filmed on the set of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" circa 1992. It looks mad chintzy, compared to the new MEET THE PRESS set, which looks like the TRON remake could break out on that thing at any second. Of course, if there are screensaver color-matches going on, then Crist may have made the right decision, because Betsy Fischer would be cranking the screens to "blood orange" level.

I've been sort of fading the chairs, because I thought they'd be more impressive. They are black and chrome affairs that look pretty substandard. Like...too much chrome? You know? Trying to hard to impress? I would have imagined that the show was going to spare no expense to coddle their guests. To literally swaddle their asses in space-age Martian fairy gossamer, marinated in liquid Cymbalta. Apparently not.

The panel still features that same boring guests, don't worry, all of whom seem to have been given the memo to coordinated with the shimmery blue Tron-Zoolander fake-bookshelf orgy that they have going on. Now, the screensaver behind Gregory has changed, showing the Capitol building, I think? Anyway, there are gigantic seagulls flying behind David Gregory, and it really helps your viewing of this show, because when these panels are happening I usually think to myself: "What would it be like to loosen these bonds of gravity, and take to the infinite space above, to soar and swoop. What is it like to feel the wind, tickle glancingly under my feathers, are the great glass dome of the world loomed underneath me. And what would it be like to be able to survive on the raw innards of sea creatures? Because that sounds pretty foul, actually. Best now to think on that."

A wide shot reveals that the panel is seated at a new table. Larger, squarish, seemingly translucent and cloudy. There are still fake bookshelves in places, but in general, the screensavers dominate the background, showing "The Greatest Hits Of Monuments In DC" and not vague swirling color clouds.

Another wide shot reveals that the table sort of looks like a futuristic kitchen countertop. At one end are wondows and a fake looking "newsroom" view. I can't tell if this is a new table, or if some new plastic top has been stuck on top of the old tabletop.

More seagulls. What lives they must lead!

Behind Mike Pence's head you see throngs of people outside, milling around the city, enjoying the day. I'm not sure this show should be actively advertising the facts that more enjoyable alternatives to watching this show exists.

Oh, and there was also talk about the oil spill, Charlie Crist's independent run, the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and the Arizona immigration law. And that's the bold, new Meet The Press, woo.

Okay, programming note. This liveblog is going to be taking time off on Sunday, May 30, in observance of Memorial Day, and junk. Mark you, your calendars! And have a great week, one and all.

[Hi, people. I do my best to keep up with the time space continuum but from time to time I like to pause and rewind the shows on TiVo, so, inevitably, you may wonder where new liveblog is. Be patient, it's coming. Or maybe it isn't? I mean, why don't you live inside my Beckettian nightmare for a while, see how you like it!]