Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another Sunday Morning at the Huffington Post, and this liveblog, where we counter the political spin with grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and non sequiturs that won't make much sense a week from now. Please feel free to leave a comment.
Because there's nothing else on right now, we begin with Fox News Sunday. And today, Mike Huckabee's past...have you heard about it?
Anyway, Wallace's opening salvo is over whether Huckabee wanted to quarantine AIDS patients. He's got a weird way of pronouncing "avian." Huck says that he said a whole lot of not-too-controversial things about it. Wallace says, "Uhm...wrong. The CDC said years before that quarantines weren't necessary."
But Huckabee hangs out with plenty of hemophiliacs and gays and that while he knows more today, he won't recant what he said in the past.
On faith: "I'm even willing to defend Hillary Clinton's faith." Uhm...thanks.
Huckabee's immigration plan: send people to the back of the line, but then speed up the process getting people in. So, legal immigration, but a plan that continues the "sustained invasion" that people like Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck believe is happening.
The takeaway: Mike Huckabee will "expose rear ends," not quarantine them, and presumably put them all in danger when he paroles rapists.
John McCain is up now. It's early, and torture is a topic that McCain usually doubles-down on to find some calm in speaking about, but he sure seems a bit Xanaxed this morning.
Kudos to McCain to keeping the light on torture, not just for its abhorrence and immorality, but also for its inefficacy. For all us non-crazies, the mantra needs to be, "Torture doesn't work." Because it doesn't! Unless you are on teevee! And life is not 24 or Alias.
Mitt Romney is a "good man", who he says he's "only met on several occasions." Of course, on one of those occasions, you pummeled him for his torture position and then totally frosted him by not shaking his hand.
Now McCain is getting animated and energetic. He says he is going to win New Hampshire.
Panel time: Brit Hume, Nina Easton, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.
Brit says Iowa caucus-goers are "independent, serious-minded." Doesn't want to insult Oprah, though...might have a book to sell one day.
Kristol thinks Obama is going to win. Juan Williams doesn't.
Brit Hume thinks Romney's speech will "help" with evangelical voters and was well-written. Hume may thus be even dumber than he thinks evangelicals are. Romney offered a paragraph of evangelical pandering wedged between a paragraph of "wanting to borrow practices from other faiths" and another lengthy portion that was all watered down unitarianism.
If this speech appealed to evangelicals, then it only means that they are mindless, Pavlovian robots. Of course, the greater proof of that is that Republicans since Reagan have pandered to them, won their support, and then screwed them whilst in office, and they never learn.
Torture tapes: Bill Kristol probably has copy of these in his boudoir.
Nina Easton and Bill Kristol thinks that the larger issue is a political one. The Democrats were briefed! Some may have supported waterboarding! Someone once said something nice about the guy who destroyed them! Ted Kennedy should be ashamed! Wrong. The larger issue is what was on these tapes and why were they destroyed.
Commenter MaxBob says: "Just finished watching Chris Wallace question Huckabee and McCain. My feelings are that McCain fared better than Huckabee. McCain was more solemn and concise with his answers, but that depended on the questions asked. Huckabee was caught, again, trying to 'defend' previous questionable decisions and statements, but he finished well by just concluding he has more wisdom and knowledge after the passing of 15 years...McCain being very positive on NH is refreshing, but if he doesn't win, where does he go from there?"
Agreed on the comparison. McCain's "solemn and concise" qualities came out at the last Republican debate as well, and Huckabee seemed to get stoned by a few questions here today. Where does McCain go from NH? Well, where does Huckabee go from Iowa? Campaign money/infrastructure questions dog them both.
OMGs, y'all! Chris Matthews doesn't find Hillary to be "attractive!" What a surprise! And he loves Oprah and compares Obama to JFK. I think someone wants to stand under the misteltoe with B. Rock, don't you?
Matthews is really daring his panel to prove they have a bigger chubby for Obama than he does. "David Ignatius, don't Democrats love romance? Couldn't Barack and me be the new Jim and Pam?"
Who's not ambitious and is running for president? Uhm...Fred Thompson?
Matthews brings up the kindergarten-essay stuff the Clinton campaign used this week. And, really, wasn't that embarrassing? I was just EMBARRASSED for Clinton and Penn and Wolfson, and I had to snort the next day when the whole matter was spun as a "joke." Sure, right! None of them have even the slightest sense of humor!
Chris Matthews thought Romney's speech was great. He thinks Saturday Night Live is great. Matthews: "The things that I think are great are just great!"
Now we're going to talk about the NIE, and how Bush said received "startling new intelligence" but didn't want to know what it was - which, if true, means that we have a president who just doesn't care about dire matters of concern to the nation. What no one wants to say, however, is that what likely happened is that the President knew full well what was in that NIE, but needed his crazy, Iran-as-imminent threat issue to be sustained for as long as possible.
Seems like the Occam's Razor explanation to me, but naturally, even David Gregory, who gets his face lied to so often that there must be some residual numbness, has to engage in the pretense of balance and suggest that the President's actions may have really been "prudent."
Michele Norris says: After the radio debate, the candidates don't bother to spend time shaking each other's hands and saying hello.
We move to CBS and Bob Schieffer. Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Hagel are going to take up the issue of the CIA tapes. Unfortunately, Rockefeller is not much of an orator. However, what he's saying about being in the "Gangs" of Four and Eight is important, because the President always excuses these malfeasances by saying things like, "Well, the Democrats were briefed." At best, they were briefed but legally barred from taking their objections out of the closed rooms. At worst, it means that these Democrats conspired to cover up activity that is illegal or distasteful. That Democrats were briefed is irrelevant if you are a citizen of this country and the causes of this country are "undermined" by these actions, as Chuck Hagel is saying now.
Rockefeller agrees with Hagel, Schieffer seems appreciative of Hagel, even I admire Hagel. It's such a good thing that America will have this strong, independent voice in Congress...OH WAIT. We won't, will we?
A commenter wonders: "I don't see any reason why Democrats can't agree that in some situations it is entirely justified. This can help you get elected and then when you are in power you just don't use torture unless the Nuke in the briefcase scenario occurs or the Sarin in the Subway... whichever you prefer."
Well, the Democrats can "say" that if they want. Maybe one will. But here's the bad news. If we've got a nuke in a briefcase or Sarin on the subway, and the only option we have is to torture someone to get the information to stop it, guess what? That nuke is going off. That Sarin is going to be released. Why? Simple logic. Either the guy you are torturing DOESN'T KNOW and CAN'T HELP, or he DOES KNOW and WON'T HELP. And even if you get the guy who "does know" to the point where he just can't take the torture anymore, he can fall back on this effective criminal technique commonly known as LYING.
I'd rather the Democrats put it in those terms. Because Rudy "Intensive Questioning" Giuliani and Mitt "Double Gitmo" Romney are just not even remotely serious or credible on this issue.
Speaking of torture, I guess it's time for me to back the TiVo up and indulge in some Rudy-on-Russert action.
We begin with a History of Rudy's Hair.
Jeez. Five percent in Iowa! Yeah, yeah...he is up in Florida. But five percent in Iowa? Rudy's really proud of his work in Florida. He'd better hope that momentum plays no role in voter response. Right now, he's saying the same thing Hillary is--he's got a firewall. Her's is in NH, his is in Fla., and both are desperate to make it to February 5 - where they should be favored in primaries in NY, NJ, CT.
Rudy is all over the map on this pre-emptive strike question. I mean, he sort of has to acknowledge that diplomacy and sanctions need to be the primary driver in Iran in the night of this NIE, that you can't really attack a nation that your intelligence community is saying poses no threat on the front pages of every newspaper. But because Rudy has the tongue of every neo-con ghoul you can imagine in his ear, he starts talking nonsense about how Iran's actions to suspend their nuclear program had more to do with deposing Saddam and the "miltary might" Rudy says we displayed in attacking an army that militarily would have been hard-pressed to toast bread.
Also: "big victory in Afghanistan?" Uhm...the Taliban is back, everybody! We've got to go an re-accomplish that mission, now, too!
Rudy denies that the will bring about the harrowing masturbatory fantasies of Norman Podhoretz.
Troops will be in Iraq until the Iraqi government is stable and the Iraqi people are willing to be our allies in the war on terror. Which is exactly the reasons stated way back when the war began, right?
How is it that Rudy could make "extensive preparations" to ward off a millennial terror attack and not "envision" an attack beyond mere suicide bombings?
What? He thought serving in the Iraq Study Group would have conflicted with running for President? You'd think it would enhance his understanding of, oh, I don't know...the KEY ISSUE facing the nation right now? I sure hope we don't find out that any of those speeches he gave present unseemly "conflicts" with running for President.
Rudy just invited Russert to have dinner in Qatar. "We can dress normally."
Rudy on his clients: "You can't vouch for every single thing they did." Words to live by, I guess.
Speaking for not being able to vouch for every single thing they did...Bernard Kerik. What a horrorshow. For Rudy, it's a "tragic and terrible" mistake. A bad appointment. But Kerik was excellent, a hero! So it was a good appointment! "I will not make that mistake in the future." But he'll take credit for the success. And, of course, there's some other underling we've never heard of that really made the mistake.
Giuliani: I failed to find/read/use readily available information on a guy who was only my BFF. So, America, you should TOTALLY put me in charge of the nation's intelligence effort.
Is it right for taxpayers to pay for Judith Nathan's--mayoral mistress--security? Giuliani's got a long answer that doesn't answer the question itself. Threats...my work...blah blah. The question is, is it fair for taxpayers?
Did he just call Tim Russert, "Jim?"
RUSSERT: Using that reasoning, would it be appropriate for a President to provide Secret Service protection to his mistress?
GIULIANI: It would not be appropriate to do it for that reasons, but that isn't the right way--that isn't the right way---that isn't the right way to...analyze this. The reason these things are done is because someone has threatened to do harm and the people who assess it have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to do this.
In other words: "I will protect my mistresses, always. I will pretend that you are talking about some entirely different set of "reasons" than you really are. It will always be the fault of some other "people" who "assess" it as necessary."
Giulianese is the new "Clintonian," folks.
Rudy Giuliani: "We're all imperfect human beings, struggling to be better." Got any evidence to show us that you are "struggling," Rudy? Seems to me that you've lived your life along the lines of pure untrammeled licence. You can't just take credit for living by principles just because you can successfully speak platitudes that speak to those principles.
A couple comments on the Russert-Giuliani exchange:
IMO Tim Russert did an excellent job in questioning Rudy Giuliani this morning, asking the questions that should have been asked about Kerik and public protection for his mistress, as well as questions about his business and other areas I forget right now. Some of the questions may be deemed "indelicate" and may be difficult to sit and ask, but I give Tim Russert credit for doing it. That's what should be done! These are people who want to be leaders of our country with all the powers, etc. that accompany it!
Giuliani couldn't give a good answer about Kerik and Judy Nathan, because there wasn't one to give. He ended up apologizing about Kerik but tried to frame it around the idea that he has made thousands of other good appointments and well anyway, look how good the results were. What a krok. And IMO he was all over the place about Nathan--talking about anything but the actual issue.
But...a countering opinion on Russert.
Russert gave Giuliani a pass on the report that he provided his then whore Judy Nathan police detail security before he "announced" their affair,humilating his wife, children and the citizens of my great city, New York.Rudy lied and avoided the question and good ol Time gave him a pass.
I would have to agree that by and large, Russert questioned well. But, what the latter commenter notes here is pretty interesting. Giuliani's family have been the silent party to this campaign, and all the Judith Nathan news really compounds the humiliations they've already felt at the hands of Rudy. As problematic as Giuliani Partners were made to seem today, I wish Russert had gotten the candidate on the record, speaking about the people whose partnership he cast aside.
A commenter's regrets: "No mention of George Stephanopolus (sp?)... I wish I'd taken some notes to post them here."
I say: Please feel free to do so next week!