Good morning and welcome to your Sunday morning liveblog of the political shows you'll be sleeping through this morning. And what a special morning it may end up being for us! See, last night I rekindled something that had been lost during the election year. Namely, a social life! That thing where you have friends and you do things like talk in person and drink things together, and you are PEOPLE standing in the SAME ROOM and it's DIFFERENT from maintaining all of your relationships over IM and Facebook. That thing! And it was great! Here's what makes today interesting: I realize that whilst out enjoying myself, I forgot to buy coffee filters. So I have no coffee for the first part of this live blog. So, yeah. Facing Fox News Sunday in a raw state of of semi-sleepiness, innocent dreams from the night before still half-remembered? This is going to hurt.
Anyway, NEW MEET THE PRESS TODAY! Can you feel the excitement? If you can, why? It's not that exciting! Consult WebMD why not? You MAY actually be having a stroke! As always, leave a comment, send an email, peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Once again, we'll have Dixie versus Detroit auto bailout "debate," lots of Blago, and a special panel time where these twerps wonder whether OBAMA IS TAINTED BY CHICAGO MACHINE STYLE BLAGOJEVICHERY!
Also! President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq! He still does those things?
Anyway, yes. Bob Corker wants the Big Three to start paying their employees less. Because WOO CHRISTMAS TIME IN RECESSIONLAND! Let's drop WAGES. The unions agreed to do so in 2011, but the Corkers of the world wanted it by 2009. "Had the unions just agreed to this by 2009, the bill would have passed." ALL THEIR FAULT. Of course, the big reason Corker wants Detroit to bring their wages down by next year is because automakers in his district will get to drop theirs just as quickly anyway. Anyway, I'm not fond of the bailout. But you know what I'm even less fond of? DISINGENUOUS PEOPLE.
Oh, and really. What's Debbie Stabenow going to say about all these things? Why can't we talk to a lawmaker who doesn't have a constituency with mad skin in the game, to put it into some sort of neutral perspective, if such a thing is possible.
Corker: "We had everything worked out except for one thing!" And that thing? YAHHH UNION GHOULS! But the thing is, THAT WAS WORKED OUT TOO! In advance! The unions were prepared to make those concessions as stakeholders by 2011!
Stabenow: "This is not the time for a political agenda!" This is a phrase that's only ever said by people desperately trying to assert a political agenda, or who have been run roughshod by one and who lack anything else to say about it.
Oh well! They're just going to give the auto companies money and they're just going to ask for more. Corker's wrong to suggest that we were at some sort of Historical Crossroads where this whole matter would have been solved. "We tried to get the UAW to agree to a finite date!" Translation: "And when they did agree to a finite date, we tried to get them to agree to a new one!"
Oh, well, people. Drive SmartCars, take mass transit, save your own damn money.
And now! How to Solve a Problem Like Blagojevich? Very few things rhyme with Blagojevich! If you haven't enjoyed it yet, please to enjoy Spencer Ackerman's effort to find everything that does:
Anyway, thanks to Blago, there may not be a Senator from Illinois to replace Obama until APRIL. And Blago will decide if it's THAT rapid, unless they can find some way to pry him out of his seat.
Demi Moore is totally playing Lisa Madigan in the movie of this scandal, which will be titled: CAN I HAVE SOME MORE OF THAT MONEY, A%%HOLE? THE ROD BLAGOJEVICH STORY.
What did Rahm Emanuel know about and when? He totally talked up preferences for Obama's replacement, and they were caught on tape! Isn't that embarassing? That Emanuel may have had a conversation, or walked the streets of the same city? No one on Chris Wallace's panel seems to think so, though he keeps prodding and prodding and using different synonyms. "So you don't think it's potentially damaging? Or embarrassing? A matter of much chagrin? Egg on the Obama team's face? Caught with their pants down? In a tough spot? Where there's smoke there's fire? I guess what I'm trying to say is: WILLIAM AYERS."
The panel discussion today: WILL OBAMA BE TAINTED? I wish they'f use the headline from that awesomely horrible TIME story: "Can Obama Escape Blagojevich's Taint?" That put great images in my head! Blago transformed into a rampaging taint...like the Godzilla of taints...blasting Chicago with Taint-Rays. "OH MY GOD! The hair! It's growing everywhere! Raw like kudzu! Thick as pubes! Can anyone stop THAT BLAGOTAINT?"
Anyway, what to the tired bored people say about it? Wallace says Obama reacted like a "traditional politician!" And he hasn't released the sort of information to the public that would probably be better rendered unto Patrick Fitzgerald. Hume says, basically, that Obama's in no rush to hastily bring a bunch of facts forward because the evidence suggests he's got nothing to do with it, and that his nature is cautiousness, so he's being cautious.
But has the BLOOM been cleft from the rose, Wallace wonders? Liasson says, maybe a little, "But if this is as bad as it gets, this is pretty good." William Kristol says that the scandal is pleasingly old-fashioned because it has no sex - and I'm like: "WAIT. WAIT NOW. Bill Kristol. Really. Are you so lazy that you've got to plagiarize Kathryn Jean Lopez for your opening thoughts on this matter? THAT IS SAD. Really."
Juan Williams apparently thought of Jesse Jackson Jr., as being apart from patronage networks, and really, a new-style black leader in the style of Obama and Deval Patrick. And that's the highlight from thei week's edition of "Juan Williams Is Totally Effing Kidding Himself!"
Wallace "nationalizes" this issue by pointing out that the the Democrats can be fitted with the corruption accusation now. It's a good point, up to a point. Dollar Bill Jefferson is gone from office. Blago seemed to have been widely shunned. Rangel is comically, absurdly corrupt, but it's going to take something more nuclear to pry him from his seat. Liasson says there isn't the same critical mass that Republican scandals had - no wide, institutionalized participation in organized grift, salted with sex scandals. But give this new Congress a chance!
For the record: my wife did suggest I use a paper towel to brew my coffee. This sort of sounds like the kind of thing that I mess up really bad!
Bill Kristol sighs heavily and opines: "I don't think it's very smart for a bunch of Southern Republicans to decide that the future of the Republican party is to beat up working class union members in states like Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio." Spoken like someone who was happy with Southern Republicans saying and doing whatever they wanted until you lost all three of those states.
"Every lobbyist in town is after that money!" Williams yells. Where were you, Juan, when the lobbyists for CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS (as opposed to, you know, CARS) were carting off billions?
So many commercials for Flomax during this show? Does Fox News Sunday give people weak streams? I thought it was just me, and I thought it was all political television shows.
Wow. Next weekend I have to wake up to DICK CHENEY? If anyone has any suggestions on how to approach that, and keep my mind and soul together, I'd like to hear about it.
Dick Cheney at 8am on Sunday. Wow. That is going to hurt!
FACE THE NATION
All right. Even though I do not trust the supremely cheap paper towels to make coffee with, I remembered something during the break: I have a coffee press! All is well.
Meanwhile, here's Lisa Madigan, talking Blago. "We have a governor who cannot legitimately govern," she says, explaining her decisions. Her office has been providing assistance and information to Fitzgerald, she says. Does she know about anything about Obama's involvement? Just what she's read in the papers, apparently.
Schieffer, bless his heart, asks straight up whether Madigan's point here is basically: Blago is crazy. Madigan, obviously, won't stipulate to that. But: "No one in their right mind would accept an appointment to his seat." So, she's on board with a special election. Madigan, by the way, is an EXTREMELY. INTENSE. WOMAN. I don't think she blinked during that entire exchange.
Auto bailout time! Bob Corker is back, this time facing off against Carl Levin and Sherrod Brown. Schieffer relates how the White House is going to bigfoot the Senate. Corker goes into his painstaking explanation of the bankruptcy-without-bankruptcy plan. On the unions: "We did not ask for pay cuts by 2009, we asked that they become competitive." Of course, the only way to make them "competitive" by 2009 is to make pay cuts two years earlier than everyone agreed.
Levin says that the White House is going to come through and save the auto industry. Levin praises Corker for his brave use of jargon, which I hope isn't serious, considering Corker's opinion isn't structurally distinct from the votes that scuttled the deal. Levin makes a good point, though, suggesting that perhaps Congress should not be stipulating auto-industry wages by law. Aren't higher wages the sort of thing that makes a job more competitive?
I'll buy that the UAW probably had an ace in the hole where TARP and a legacy-obsessed lame duck president was concerned - this is why you don't give huge handouts to people like AIG.
Michael Eric Dyson is on now, saying that (I guess an upside to?) the Blago scandal will help to contrast Obama's style of governance to the way the Blagos of the world work. That wasn't the Obama-Blago answer Schieffer wanted, depressingly, who then asks, "WHAT IF..." it turns out Obama or Emanuel had done all this wrongdoing? It raises questions: "What if it turns out that Bob Schieffer killed and ate Caylee Anthony's baby?" Would that be bad? What if it turns out that Bob Schieffer's legendary acuity comes to him though the still warm-and-beating hearts of his neighbors' pets? What if he filters his morning coffee through a skein of orphan babies?
MEET THE PRESS
"Our issues this Sunday..." OMG, David Gregory. David. Listen. I'm going to need you to calm down, okay? I had no idea your voice GOT so thin, and reedy. Okay: yes. It's your first show. And it's really exciting because OH NOES BLAGOES! But I need you to chill, baby, because Mitt Romney, fraud spitting robot-ninny is going to be on and YOU SIMPLY MUST PWN HIM TO WIN YOUR FIRST MEET THE PRESS.
Okay, David Gregory? Anyway, Lisa Madigan, Pat Quinn, and Obama Taint today! Plus Granholm versus Romney. And dorky CEOs! Menaces all!
Lisa Madigan, our Avenging Angel of Justice Meted Out with Brisk Intensity and an Unblinking Eye, Who Tina Fey Shall Also Play, on Saturday Night Live, holds out the hope that Blago will Do The Right Thing (as per Mike Huckabee/Spike Lee) and resign of his own accord on Monday, to spend more time with his foul-mouthed wife, their indictments and their constant and unreasonable demands that other people GIVE THEM THEIR MONEY GIVE IT TO THEM NOW.
By the way, my press coffee turned out quite nicely!
Is there an option for him to resign and continue to get paid, Gregory wonders? Really? We're concerned about alleviating this guy's financial worries? Apparently, there is such an option. Madigan says, "I had heard that one of his main concerns was his financial situation." I had heard the same thing! It was all over these transcripts released my the U.S. Attorney's office. Apparently, another one of Blago's chief concerns is the word "motherfucker." I share that concern, actually! I guess we are not so different, Blago and I. We both swear, we both need more money, we're not too happy about the Cubs...at the same time, there are differences. My wife is not a potty-mouthed harridan and I have hair that people respect.
Why is Blago incapable of serving? Madigan says there's just too much alleged in the Fitz releases to give anyone any confidence that any of his decisions aren't governed by his rapacious need for scrilla, all of the scrilla, right now and evermore in perpetuity. "From here on out, he's going to be tainted."
Does she know more than what we've been told, evidencew-wise? Madigan can't answer that in any way other than to say that her office has been working with PFitz.
What about Madigan's own political ambitions? She insists that she is not conflicted, saying that she has to uphold the duties of her office. She insists that she has not thought about taking any office herself.
Meanwhile, Pat Quinn, Lieutenant Governor, was at one point telling everyone what an honest and forthright man Blago was. So, what say you, Pat Quinn? Well, apparently after 2006, "things got worse and worse," as Blago got deep into pay-to-play and kicking Quinn out of his administration (in spirit, I guess). Today, I imagine Quinn is happy about the alienation. Quinn hasn't talked to Blago since August of 2007! Can you imagine?
Quinn seemed to be in favor of special election for the vacant Senate seat. He now thinks an interim person can fill in between now and that election. Obviously, though! Blago could not appoint this interim Senator!
Madigan is in favor of the special election, because of the taint. THE TAINT!
Woah! Is it just me, or was it weird to learn that Madigan and Quinn had been sitting next to each other all that time? Was there a shot that established that? (REWINDING.) Okay. Yes, there was. Still, that was awfully strange direction!
Some reaction to David Gregory. Emailer Gary Kirk says:
Loved the pregnant pause after Gregory introduced his first guests and they waited for him to actually ask them something. It was sort of a "holy fuck - what do I do now?" moment that made him seem a bit more human that the "Thunderbirds" puppet I usually take him for...
Thunderbirds references are always welcome here.
Speaking of being disingenous, Jason, the automakers are not fiscally able to keep paying the current rates through 2011. That's what the whole debate was about. By bringing their wages into line with those of foreign automakers in the US by the end of 2009, it was thought that there was a chance that this could keep the automakers afloat. The UAW appears too short-sighted to see this. At this rate, their employers won't even be around in 2011.
I'm not averse to what you're saying, but really, if this comes down to a matter of whether these companies have a few more months of being able to afford a workforce versus several more months of having a workforce...well, the point is that IS NOT REALLY the problem with the automotive industry! The Big Three have deep, endemic problems with virtually every facet of their existence, and they refuse to address them.
You own a coffee press but you normally opt for crappy machine brewed coffee? I no longer trust you.
I can understand. But in my defense, it's a very old and very cheap press. You probably wouldn't use it, if you had your druthers. (It's still pretty great, brewing coffee this way. I just need a better press, with a higher yield.)
And now, Mary Mitchell and Chuck Todd - who YES many people think should have gotten the hosting gig - are here to answer questions. The first question he answers is to say that the communication between Rahm and Blago were "perfectly normal" and the only thing the Obama camp has to worry about is if anyone did any dealbrokering. But why the delay from Obama in fully disclosing the contacts? Mitchell thinks it's a perception problem? She also thinks it's mindblowing that Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s name not being on Rahm's list. You'll forgive me if my mind remains UNBLOWN by that fact. Todd notes that Jackson would have had a hard time holding the seat in 2010, which is why he wasn't on the list.
What is wrong with politics in Illinois? Hey! Maybe lots of things! But a lot of political machines are happy to not be in the spotlight. Mitchell is maybe onto something when she says that Blago's greatest sin was getting caught, and in such vulgar fashion. Todd talks about how important it is to follow the connections between Wall Street contributions and connect the dots to lawmakers who allowed things like exotic, nutlog derivatives and who backed bailout giveaways. It's almost as if Todd is saying, "Well, if I can't host this show, at least listen to my suggestions!"
David Gregory really appreciates it!
Panel time! Here's your panel of experts: Mitt Romney, Jennifer Granholm, Carly Fiorina, Erik Schmidt, and Lee Scott. Just what America needs! Inspiring words from CEOs! Just like in the Gospel of John!
Anyway, Granholm says that we didn't do a good enough job explaining what failure of the Big Three would mean. Which is perhaps true! I think that just so many things are failing right now. She goes on to suggest that the importance of an American domestic auto industry is the lost innovation in the areas of energy independence. "We'll be replacing a dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on foreign batteries."
Romney says everyone agrees that they don't want the auto industry to go away. But there's a $2000 competitive disadvantage that Detroit faces. So let's remove that disadvantage by unionizing the Dixie plants, right? Let's have national health care? Such things makes Mitt cry! Granholm objects! Romney recites thoroughly debunked claims about labor costs.
Eric Schmidt says a bunch of nice stuff about America that he probably pulled from Google's annual report. David Gregory asks Lee Scott if he'd take over a Big Three company, drawing a lot of dark laughter. Carly Fiorina refuses to talk about any of the things that happened to her when John McCain locked away in the closet, where she could not talk about McCain's incompetence with the press.
"Credit is unavailable!" Fiorina says, bobbing her head wildly! "Banks are not lending!" Uhm...DUH.
David Gregory: "Governor Romney, you understand the capital markets pretty well..." Wow. I'm going to have to ask for evidence of that claim. Romney says that Americans' net worth has dropped, somehow. "In the last couple years," he makes sure to point out. Of course, he suggests that what we need are tax cuts and spending stimulus - but he probably won't be happy about infrastructural spending, and he's probably in denial about Obama's tax cuts. But, hey! He doesn't say anything like that today! I'm just extrapolating from his days on the stump.
Actually, part of me wonders if Fiorina and Romney maybe want to hurt each other a little.
Eric Schmidt, who advises the transition team, thinks that stimulus could provide a "two-fer," improve infrastructure AND grow a new energy industry.
I sort of hope Fiorina runs her bull about the Irish corporate tax rates again, for auld lang syne!
Fiorina says she thinks the consumer is important and that job creation is important to consumers, and YEAH, HERE WE GO!!! High U.S. corporate tax rates!
AMERICA! Would you like to have the 12.5% corporate tax rate that the Republic of Ireland has? OF COURSE YOU WOULD! Trust me! You REALLY, REALLY would. Want to know why? As a percentage of GDP, IRELAND RAISES MUCH MORE REVENUE FROM CORPORATE TAX THAN AMERICA DOES. How do the Irish do that? Are they just drunk, all the damn time? Yes, but that's not the reason! The reason is that despite our nominally high corporate tax rate, there are so many loopholes for corporations to wriggle out of paying, it's pathetic! In August of 2008, the GAO released a report that noted that two-thirds of corporations operating in the United States did not pay any tax at all.
So, yes. Let us do exactly as the Irish do, please please please! But just note that when you suggest to Carly Fiorina that the drop in tax rate comes with a concomitant closure of these loopholes, she stamps her tiny feet, "No, no. no!"
For more on what a complete bullshit artists Carly Fiorina is, ENJOY.
Romney is now wondering why the President doesn't do more the frack up the economy in the time he has left.. And now Eric Schmidt is back to just happily talking about how America is awesome, and there's no other place on earth where he'd rather experience a painful financial crisis, except that he won't experience any such thing because HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF GOOGLE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
What is everyone watching as far as indicators go? Granholm says consumer confidence and access to credit, so "leaders" should tell sweet little lies about how everything will be fine. Fiorina says there should be conditions attached to bailout monies that require lending. Schmidt says Obama's stimulus package will bring confidence back to the market. Romney doesn't want to predict something, because he will be wrong. Lee Scott just wants "Wal-Mart Mom" to be confident. Dave Gregory wants Mitt's wife to be well, which we all want.
I think the highlight of David Gregory's first day was when he said President Bush could "tap the TARP," because that sounded pretty damn dirty.
That will do it for another Sunday. Thanks to everyone who helped to caffeinate me this morning. I hope that this liveblog somehow contributes to your restfulness as well, and everyone here at HuffPo hopes your holiday season is in full, happy swing. See you next week!