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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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You know, most days I wake up and my heart is cheered to see that a certain Tralfamadorian test pilot hasn't ignited the chain reaction that destroys the universe. But, then, there are the Sunday mornings. And, ugh. Greetings! My name is Jason and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog, where I battle wankery with wankery for your amusement. Today, uhm...people say stuff about things. I don't remember much from the preview tip sheet. We'll be sticking to the network shows, though. But if you are watching CNN today and want to send an email about what's going on over there, please do! John King will be interviewing Dick Cheney, who will be plugging the new documentary on how Bush White House energy policy was formulated, The Last House On The Left.

As always, you should feel free to leave comments, send emails, follow my meanderings on the Twitter and give me whatever insight you have as to what I should do about my NCAA Final Four bracket. Please, though - and I cannot stress this enough - no sexting. Thank you.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

Interestingly, FNS has put together a panel that should be generically predisposed to the White House's economic plans, or plans that would be rather in line with their thinking. First up is Austan Goolsbee, who says that AIG has gotten Tim Geithner hopping mad about their plan to disperse $100,000,000 of bonuses. Goolsbee says that they've done everything they can do to stop this from happening, and that yes, he's worried about the backlash. It's just the AIG's core values include:

--extreme dicktery
--cannibalism
--money bukkake

Goolsbee also says that taxing health plans - an idea from Max Baucus - is...uhm...let me see if I get this correct: NOT THE PRESIDENT'S IDEA, but, it is "AN IDEA" and "ALL IDEAS ARE ON THE TABLE" including health policy ideas that the President doesn't like, such as BLOODLETTING WITH LEECHES. Why they cannot simply say, "This bad idea was put on the table, and we immediately said, GAH GET THIS OFF THE TABLE BECAUSE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL I SAID OVER AND OVER THAT I DO NOT WANT!" is beyond me!

Goolsbee says that while he had said that a sign that the stimulus was working was that the unemployment rate would stay in the 8% range at the end of six months (and it's currently at 8.1%), that this analysis was predicated on a different time frame. Uhm...o-kay. Sad to say, I think we'll hit 11% by the time this turns around, and if they are smart, that figure will be a part of their economic "stress tests."

Goolsbee says the work of the bank examinations is not done, so he won't speculate on how much taxpayer spending is going to done on that leg of the stool. Not "can't" but "won't." Though, it is understandable that the appropriate amount of time needs to be taken, but I nevertheless think this idea that private capital is going to be available for the purpose of buying up toxic assets feels a little bit like an leap of faith.

Wallace then presses Goolsbee on statements in Obama's "New Era of Responsibility" brief about the misrule of people at "the commanding heights of the economy," that, in Wallace's opinion, cast moral aspersions on the rich, when it's really about "untilting" the playing field. Goolsbee isn't really prepared to answer, and seems flummoxed by having to defend those statements.

Now it's Panel Time with Barney Frank, Bob Corker and Mark Zandi. Wallace asks Frank about AIG, and Frank deftly provides the sort of answer that Goolsbee should have - that AIG is the perfect example of people at the commanding heights of the economy misbehaving to our general detriment. Frank insists that things have gotten "tougher" under the Obama administration, but then, AIG did get another crack at the till since January 20th.

Corker wants to assess whether these "bonuses" are "bonuses" or "commission payments." He also suggests that there ought to be the sort of incentives in place that would lead companies to take government money only as a last recourse. Zandi, for his part, returns to the notion of stimulus, and predicts that a second package will be necessary.

Frank says he's encouraged by the housing plan, and believes that the same "thought and care" is going to the "let's buy up all the toxic assets" plan - but he can't stipulate to how much it will cost, because he says he's not privy to any information other than what's been made publicly available.

The FOX News backdrop that's been stick to the wall behind Corker is falling down, revealing something written underneath. I hope it ends up reading, "MARS NEEDS WOMEN" or something. Root for the rest of it fall!

Mark Zandi thinks that private money will be available is the profits are there, and he thinks that if the project is organized well enough, that the profits will be there.

Frank then leaps in to yell at Corker, in an attempt to respond to some of the partisan stuff about campaigning against the Bush administration and being obsessed with another stimpak. Wallace basically shuts it down, "I know you prefer to talk abotu substance, but if you want the food fight, then fine." Frank argues that he shouldn't allow a partisan attack to stand. Wallace answers back. Blah blah. The upshot is, some production assistant uses this moment to reattach Corker's backdrop. We'll never know what was written on it now.

Frank says he's for a single payers health care system, Corker isn't. Zandi says that we should be worried about Chinese skittishness in their investments, and then has maybe twenty seconds to explain why. What a question to ask with only half a minute remaining! Zandi's the sort who I'd like to hear go on at length about it. So much for keeping it on substance.

Meanwhile, Sunday Panel. What happened to Sheila Bair?

Brit Hume says the AIG bonuses are going to be a "big stink." Liasson says that it's "politically impossible" to ask Congress for more money. Williams notes that the key problem with AIG's bonuses, whether they are "commissions or not" is that they're not an incentive to retain the best talent - AIG DOESN'T HAVE THE BEST TALENT. They have a passel of FAIL DOGS, that need to be put down.

Kristol notes that the irony of Madoff is that his investors all thought they were playing things very safe and conservative. And yet the presumed payoffs were so gaudy! And constantly so! At some point, don't you have to wonder why your "conservative" investment is consistently paying these astounding returns? The sort that high-risk investments only occasionally yield? I sort of get what Kristol's saying, but having read through those hundreds of emails from Harry Markopolos, I just think that there was a lot of very willful looking the other way, or at least not wanting to believe the worst, going on at the regulatory level. To say nothing about how terrible all the journalistic efforts ended up being.

Now the panel is talking about the White House's attempts to defend themselves against getting pasted for every tweak in the market, and how they've shifted from doomsaying to expressing more confidence. Via Matt Yglesias, Peter Scherer says it http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/03/animal_spirits.php">all boils down to a book:

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag is a numbers guy, a propeller head as President Obama would say. But as David Von Drehle and I write in this week's print version of TIME, Orszag has been spending his time recently reading not about spreadsheets, but about psychology. In particular, he has been reading a new book by the economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller called "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives The Economy, and Why It Matters For Global Capitalism." [...]

The White House is trying to recreate a sense of confidence by pointing out all the measurements that suggest the sudden loss of confidence may be causing the same irrational result that the confidence bubble created. Of course, the White House must walk a delicate line here, for even the smartest people in the Washington do not know when the markets will stop sinking. No one can predict the animal spirits. As Obama said Thursday, "The market is going to be responding to all this information out there and, you know, the whole issue of animal spirits in the marketplace and when suddenly a rally catches, you know, you guys know that better than I do. But my focus has to be on the long term. And my long-term projections are highly optimistic -- if we take care of some of these long-term structural problems."

Brit Hume says that we could "use a little greed" right now. Me, I'm all for the fear. LOVING THIS FEAR. Yeah, people: SAVE YOUR MONEY. BUILD SOME SHIT. DON'T FRACK UP AGAIN. Because, BOO. Yeah, hate to say it, but I hope some of these poltergeists rattle around Wall Street, jumping out of the walls on a periodic basis, for a GOOD LONG TIME.

Sheila Bair was the "Power Player of the Week," and is considered to be the most powerful woman in the world behind Angela Merkel. Then put her on a panel, Chris Wallace!

THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

GS opens it up today with that mountain of animal charisma, Larry Summers. Summers calls AIG the most outrageous. Like, even more totally outrageous than Jem and the Holograms. Man are they PISSED at AIG. But hey, why not just let them fail, or stop them from handing out these bonuses. Summers says what Goolsbee said: "I am not a lawyer," and "The lawyers say that the White House has interceded to the extent they are capable."

GS points out that AIG won't reveal where TARP money has gone, and notes that AIG's partners in crime have not been made to take a haircut. AIG are just the KING DICKS OF THE UNIVERSE. I'll never be able to look at Stockard Channing in the same way again. Summers says, "in principle" there should be transparency and haircuts, but in AIG's case, the OPAQUE and HAIRY-ASS horse has already fled the stable, to many foreign banks.

I'm not a lawyer, but if there's a legal way that AIG can be forced to rename themselves KING DICKS OF THE UNIVERSE, please let me know. Seems like everyone gets away with calling themselves Accenture and stuff.

What about the recent news of bank profits? Are they "out of the woods?" Summers says he wishes he could say that, but there's no reason to be overly optimistic. Same with the recent stock market gains. The overarching fundamentals are still poor, and the news of brief profitability alone won't jump start the lending process.

Meanwhile toxic assets. Who wouldn't want to buy something called a toxic asset, with their personal, private fortunes.

Meanwhile, China is worried about their investments. Was that "sabre rattling?" Or was it just a case of "epee banging?" Summers doesn't claim to know. He's just excited about how many people want to but T-Bills! It's just swell. SURELY THERE WON'T BE A BUBBLE! RIGHT?!

Summers responds to criticism from Mitch McConnell by saying, well, I'd love to see Senator McConnell's plan. His plan would be called the Make Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao Filthy Rich Act of 2009.

Here's the tremulous McConnell now, bitching about how the Obama White House is "using the crisis" to advance a bunch of other stuff, like health care and energy policy. Sort of like someone might use the crisis of 9/11 to launch an unrelated war, except that the Obama White House is working on the original crisis, also.

GS says, "Yeah, that's a lot of criticism, with no alternatives." BURN. McConnell says that they will diddle their way through the the plan, offering their own amendments.

McConnell is also mad at AIG, proving once again that they are KING DICKS OF THE UNIVERSE.

Is McConnell, like Shelby last week, in favor of closing down the big banks? McConnell comes up with three ways of not answering the question, and then...uhm...he's got a fourth way.

HAHA. George Stephanopoulos thinks that the University of Louisville is part of a "Big 8 Conference." McConnell corrects him, but now I know not to take GS's advice as to my NCAA Brackets.

Emailer Jeff Peckerman points out the obvious, on picking your bracket: "Which ever team bill kristol likes,go the other way,we have certainly learned he is never right about anything." SO TRUE.

Panel Time with Jim Ellis, Robert Kuttner, Frank Rich and George "I Write Preposterous Things At the Pleasure of Weak-willed Simpleton Fred Hiatt" Will.

Good lordy loo, how's about those AIG bonuses. George "I Write Preposterous Things At the Pleasure of Weak-willed Simpleton Fred Hiatt" Will asserts that the bonuses are part of what keeps AIG in business. Kuttner suggests that the government has some leverage in AIG, but that a "deplorable continuity" between Paulson's plan and Geithner's stewardship has allowed the GOP to appear as the populists in the debate, which is an excellent point. Rich adds that Obama's messengers - Summers and Geithner - are flawed.

George "I Write Preposterous Things At the Pleasure of Weak-willed Simpleton Fred Hiatt" Will doesn't think the government doesn't have any leverage. Kuttner says that the government could turn off the spigot. George "I Write Preposterous Things At the Pleasure of Weak-willed Simpleton Fred Hiatt" Will sort of has a point - especially where the auto industry is concerned as a comparison - that government saying they'll turn off the spigot is like someone saying they can quit smoking crack any time they want to.

Meanwhile, OBAMA CANNOT DO TWO THINGS AT ONCE MY GOD! JUST ASK JACK WELCH AND WARREN BUFFET! Two guys who are ONLY CONCERNED with market rehabilitation. You think those two worry about going without health care? Anyway, Kuttner attests to the interconnected nature of all of these issues, but says the real problem is that they aren't on the right path where toxic assets are concerned.

Rich says he doesn't object to "the ambition" of the Obama administration, and that it seems like the constant launching of initiatives is creating the illusion that there isn't an "all hand on deck" attitude where the economy is concerned. And that Geithner's deck just isn't staffed well enough yet.

Ellis insists that the banks need to get fixed first. Why can't the banks be one, among many priorities? Where did this vision of the Executive Branch - incapable of chewing gum and walking - even come from?

On to the matter of Stewart and Cramer. Rich suggests that CNBC had sort of become the Home Shopping Network of the financial sector, but that Stewart landed the bigger blow when arguing against the profligacy of insider rule-breaking that allowed so many people to "get taken."

George "I Write Preposterous Things At the Pleasure of Weak-willed Simpleton Fred Hiatt" Will suggests the best journalism in the world is business journalism (boy, that really depends on the source!) but that you shouldn't take financial advice from people who are "shouting." Also, he says you shouldn't play poker with a guy named Slim - which is exactly what the New York Times is doing. RIMSHOT. OH, HA, HA, HA YES YOUR MEDIUM IS DYING.

Oh, and this needs to be nipped in the bud:

"TWINTERVIEW?" NO NO STOP THAT CRAP RIGHT NOW. I like the Twitter, but I am done with TeeDoubleYouization of everything. Just say, "We are having an interview, on Twitter." Not a "twinterview."

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

And, speaking of repeated, fruitless, loudly voiced refusals, it's time for...

OH: Thank you to Miguel. This isn't the first time that, despite trying to take very good care to avoid doing so, I've ended up mispelling "Tralfamadorian." Fixing now. SWEAR TO GOD, I had the Wikipedia page open, but I should have just CTRL-C/CTRL-ved that stuff.

MEET THE PRESS

Christina Romer and Eric Cantor go at each other, like toothy beasts, and there will be yet another paneltastic orgasm from Peter Frum, Katty Kay, Steve Liesman, and Tavis Smiley.

First, Christina Romer! It's ECONOMIC WAR, time! Call David Rees! Tell him it's time we GET OUR ECONOMIC WAR ON! Romer thinks that they are gonna bomb the everloving snot out of the economy, and everything is going to be fine! Let's see the economy try to eff with us after Tim Geithner's done spreading his Treasury Department napalm all over it, like so much Jonas Brothers foam!

David Gregory is now hammering Romer with an old clip about McCain describing the "economic fundmentals being strong"--WHY IS OBAMA SAYING the words "STRONG" and "FUNDAMENTALS" and "ECONOMY" in the same sentence. And my wife is up: "Uhm, he said, this week, that there are SOME strong economic fundamentals. What he didn't do is say one thing and then, later in day, contradict himself. I cannot believe they are comparing these two times!"

GREGORY: It was then candidate Obama...that roundly criticized McCain saying he was out of touch, he didn't get it, he didn't understand."

ME AND MY WIFE AT THE SAME TIME YELLING AT THE TEEVEE: That's because he WAS OUT OF TOUCH, HE DIDN'T GET IT.

ME: McCain proposed a spending freeze! Because he is some sort of idiot!

MY WIFE: OMG! I cannot possibly debate another man on the economy while the economy is subject to so much debate.

ME: That would be crazy! Better suspend my campaign! OR...I MEAN, MAYBE NOT MAKE AN APPEARANCE ON DAVID LETTERMAN.

MY WIFE: I'm John McCain! I cannot do two things at once!

ME: MY GOD! Maybe that's where the media has gotten this whole "Obama is too busy meme" from!

I love Dr. Romer's very friendly way of being utterly withering: "We are looking for crucial indicators. When are jobs turning around, when do we see consumers coming to life. We have good workers, good capital stock, good technology."

Gregory is all: But back then, the economy was in better shape. UHM, THE DOW WAS HIGHER. But "back then" it was going off the cliff. Gregory: "BUT MAYBE MCCAIN WAS RIGHT! MAYBE HE SHOULD BE PRESIDENT! OMGS WE SHOULD HAVE A STUPID SPENDING FREEZE, AND DOUBLE DOWN ON PRO-CYCLICAL ECONOMIC POLICIES!"

Romer: "I really think you are misinterpreting the President. We have our EYES on the fundamentals."

What if Romer is wrong in her prediction that the turnaround begins in the third quarter? Romer is all: Uhm, it's not just me that predicts that, but I'm no fortune teller? But what's plan B, asks Gregory, fairly. Romer says the chances of surprise are "going down," and, uhm...well, it's not time to announce Plan B yet, I guess.

Getting more specific, Gregory asks, What about a second stimulus package? WHICH IS WHAT I WOULD HAVE ASKED IN THE FIRST PLACE, but then, I am not inclined to turn an interview into some simpering Socratic exercise. Romer says that it's just too early to consider doing a second one. Of course, Paul Krugman disagrees. And I think the stimpak got whittled down. But, at the same time, I give credence to the notion that these other components - like the housing fix, the budget outlays, like potential environmental policy - frankly, like lifting a ban on stem cell research, can all be stimulative, job-creating, pro-growth.

Romer says, a bit more pointedly than Austan Goolsbee, but not quite pointedly enough, that Obama is still opposed to taxing health plans, but that it's not "off the table" per se. So this leads to Gregory asking the question about a billion more times. So now it's time for part of the liveblog I like to call:

"JASON DEMYSTIFIES THIS SHIT FOR YOU, DAVID GREGORY"

Hi, David Gregory. I see you have a bunch of questions on the matter of taxing health care plans. Obama was against this during the campaign! But now, it looks like he's considering the idea. And yet, two of his aides today have stipulated that he's nevertheless against it. You think that this means he might change his mind, and unfortunately, you are talking to his aides, who are trained to be overly cautious in their remarks. But let me demystify this shit for you.

What you might call "Obama is considering the idea," I might more accurately term, "For the sake of being an all around good guy, Obama is TOLERATING THE DISCUSSION of an idea he doesn't support." See, one of the things that's been very central to the way Obama wants to do business is that he'd prefer that no party left the bargaining table feeling disrespected. Everyone deserves to be listened to, with respect. That's how he ran the Harvard Law Review, that's how he acted as an Illinois State Senator. That's why he does things like make broad overtures to his opponents. Now, Max Baucus, he isn't even really an opponent! But he's presented himself as a rock in the road of health care reform that has to be gotten around or over. Taxing health benefits is HIS idea.

Now, if it were me, I'd say, "No Max, that idea is right out, forget it." But then, I am different from Obama, in that I don't feel a structural obligation to ever be nice or accomodating to Max Baucus. Seriously, in my life, my policy is that Max Baucus can get out of my goddamned way and LIKE IT. But Obama, he wants to take a different tack, and good for him, I guess. The funny thing is, David Gregory, is that if Obama had flat out told Max Baucus to screw himself, your questions this morning would be: "WHOA! DIDN'T BARACK OBAMA PROMISE A NEW TYPE OF TEH POLITICS?"

When Obama actually goes back on his objection to taxing health plan benefits, then yeah, NAIL HIS ASS. I WILL SUPPLY YOU WITH BRADS. But you know the rules of engagement that are in play here! You know exactly why Obama has to seem to be amenable to this idea. You could just say to the audience, directly: "The irony of wanting to be a good sport with political rivals and people with differing ideas, is from time to time, Obama is going to have to spend time accomodating people whose ideas are anathema to the way he campaigns." And then, you can ask a Christina Romer: "Is this policy of accomodation worth it? What are you gaining? What are you losing? Is it better to just be direct?" And then Romer has to answer that line of inquiry.

But I just don't understand why you have to pointlessly mystify this stuff for your audience, David Gregory. Nothing in the world will be effected by nailing Romer on this puzzling and worthless point.

Romer won't pre-announce the aspects of the small-biz plan, and only says that they are aiming their shot at the secondary market, to try to get lending going again. She also says that the White House was the first and best at being angry at AIG. Really, Tim Geithner just went off! But he has no coworkers yet, so nobody heard him!

"The truth is, AIG is just a problem," Romer says. This is why I thing that everyone needs to refer to AIG not as AIG but as KING DICKS OF THE UNIVERSE. Really, I think that if Obama would break his, "let's be nice to everyone" policy, it shouldn't be for Max Baucus. It should be for AIG. It's be like that one time that Bill Russell was told to foul someone hard. Bill Russell didn't like to play the game that way, but it was good advice, because man, when Bill Russell fouls you hard, GODDAMN. So, Obama should just call AIG the KING DICKS OF THE UNIVERSE. I bet you the market totally rallies, on the back of some bracing honesty - or at least, bracing profanity.

HAHA now David Gregory is talking about how no one is working at Treasury but Tim Geithner, who is rattling around inside the building all by himself like some terrible Coen Brothers movie. Romer says that the Treasury Department does have a staff. Why wasn't it a priority getting it in place? Romer says, blah blah historical parallels, and Gregory asks a bunch of questions. And ARGH this is just another time where David Gregory asks his FIRST QUESTION after SIX others. "Isn't this just a case where you don't want to hire people from Wall Street because they are tainted?" Romer says, "Noooo." ARGH. Ask that question FIRST. FIRST! FIRST!

And see, Romer's answer to the REAL question demystifies this shit: "We have rules about lobbyists working in the administration, and so people just do not surivive the vetting." And now, if Gregory wants to, he can ask, "Do you all regret establishing this high standard?" And then he could ask, "But you made waivers for some people to accomodate Secretary Gates at Defense, couldn't you do the same now for Treasury?"

But what does he do? MOVES ON TO THE NEXT TOPIC. He leaves two very good potential questions on the table. If I was interviewing Romer, I would have led with Gregory's sixth question, and followed up with my two EXCELLENT followups above, and the audience would have gotten some real substantive insight. But I guess MEET THE PRESS values these dumbassed exchanges where first the interviewer and interviewee dance around the real matter at hand, for ten minutes, pointlessly jousting over ephemera.

In a word: GAH.

Moer dumb questions: What is taking so long to come up with a plan to deal with a hugely complicated and politically volatile plan to solve the naking crisis? UHM: THE HUGE COMPLICATIONS. THE POLITICAL VOLATILITY. And the fact that plans to solve banking crises do not, as it turns out, GROW ON TREES or spring from Larry Summer's head like Pallas Athena. As it turns out, PLANS are formulated through PLANNING. I know! These are all INSANE concepts. Obviously, Obama should have cut a vulture open, plopped its entrails on a piece of parchment, and sent THAT to the banking committee!

Romer points out the FDR's bank cleanup took two years. The issue is: will their ideas work! If they DO work, will anyone take points off because the plan was delivered on Day 80 instead of Day 45?

As it turns out, a plan to solve the banking crisis takes longer than putting together an insipid news show.

What is the responsible thing for consumers to do, Gregory asks. Romer says, uhm: Spend a little now, save a lot later. Lady, really, I am not buying a new car. Thanks to his numerous pointless question, David Gregory has no time on the clock to probe this seeming contradiction. That's okay, though. David Gregory could buy a new car tomorrow and still have a lot of money in savings, so I doubt that the question would even occur to him.

Chris Blakely writes in, God bless him:

I am weary of AIG and similar companies whose leaders are nothing more than greed junkies. These addicts are incapable of exhibiting different because regardless of what they say, they are always in pursuit of their next fix. In relentless pursuit of money, they are driven by greed and fueled by a behavior that always provides the needed money injection. What is the saying that is associated with 12-step programs? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Is there a more apt statement to describe the federal government's failed behaviors here? Until someone, somewhere, somehow, demands that these "users" be held accountable for their behavior, we will not see any significant change. If our elected officials are incapable of making these demands, shouldn't that be the focus and role of the fourth estate?

I was naively hoping for more on the Jon Stewart's interview with Jim Cramer on the Sunday shows today, but if you watched the entire unedited video on the Web of the Cramer - Stewart exchange, it is not surprising the Sunday morning shows, for the most part, chose to ignore it. After all, how do most of these media pundits differ from Jim Cramer? I have to say I was disappointed that Face the Nation served up the usual Sunday morning "variations on the same theme," because if there is some hope, it usually lies with Bob Schieffer.

And now, Eric Cantor, the human platitude dispenser.

What does he think about the notion of "the Obama factor?" But he met with small business owners in his district say times are tough, and that the Obama administration is not focused. He's going to double debt and tax job creators! I guess we're going to cling to the notion that Obama's going to be taxing more than 5% of small businesses, today on PRESS MY MEAT REPEATEDLY UNTIL RELEASE.

Cantor: OMG, The banking system is bad, no one is lending money! How did this all happen? Because IT ALL HAPPENED IN THE PAST FIFTY DAYS!

What would Eric Cantor do with the toxic assets? Cantor replies, basically, I DON'T KNOW. "This administration has had since November to come up with a plan." UHM. The guy who was president at the time had a chance to help out, too!

Basically, Cantor's position is that everything depends on the plan, whatever it is, being announced on a faster time frame. I think that the speed is NOT the issue. The issue is, will the plan work. TAKE WHATEVER TIME YOU NEED.

Gregory asks: "You just said you want private equity to come back into the credit market. Private equity might do that if there's an incentive to do that...My question to you, you are complaining about too much spending, how much are you willing to spend to buy these assets."

Cantor says: we came up with an insurance guarantee plan! Other than that, I will not answer your question.

Gregory asks again: Are you willing to vote for more money? Again. Just ask that question first. Cantor says: NO ONE'S COME OUT WITH A BLUEPRINT YET? I can't accept the premise that these things take any time at all to formulate!

Cantor's strategy is to say, "David" as many times as possible. He then ascribes a weird set of ideas to Christina Romer. He also doesn't understand cap and trade, or he doesn't want other people to understand what cap and trade is. Cantor is willing to take the blame for running up the debt, but is that any reason to keep running up the debt? Le sigh. The problem is, we have reached a point where a spending freeze would put the economy into a coma. Credit capital, in Cantor's mind, can some from a magical source, and given to banks.

Argh! ERIC CANTOR! YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING ABOUT TRAINS FROM DISNEYLAND TO LAS VEGAS. That nonsense has been debunked! As I said on March 10, "Everyone Needs To Accept The Fact That No Such Disneyland-To-Vegas Train Exists And Move On, Already."

Also, if you were to get rid of ALL THOSE EARMARKS, we're talking TWO PERCENT of the budget. PLACE ALL THE MORATORIA YOU WANT, you are playing with chump change!

David Gregory, like a WU TANG MASTER, effortlessly becomes the 987th person to point out that the GOP members are earmark crazy. I'd rather he call him out on debunked train myths! I'd rather he point out that earmarks don't account for a statistically significant amount of government spending! It is possible that Gregory just doesn't know these things.

Cantor says that the mission of bipartisanship is to move "Obama to the center" where real solutions are. So long as real solutions come straight from the GOP platform committee.

OMG, what a way to frame this question! Paraphrasing David Gregory: "This week, financial journalism has taken a hit for not sounding the alarm about the economy. What are the ways that Congress failed to sound the alarm. Because you are going down with us?" This is one case where I hope Cantor is capable of a riposte. "I think there's a lot of blame to go around," is his answer.

GOOD CALL from emailer, Jim Brown:

The GOP's congressional mouthpiece attributed his votes for the Bush deficit-ridden budgets to the necessity of supporting the troops in war time. David, of course, failed to point out that W's Iraq debacle was held off the books so was not part of the budget.

This very small vignette speaks volumes of what is killing our democracy. The RW has learned that lies will not be exposed, so routinely and recklessly they have become the party of fantasy. The Fourth Estate is so unmoored from journalistic fundamentals, it not only accept being lied to its face but acts as a transmission belt injecting bad information into the body politic.

And now it's time for our weekly dramatization of the MTP Panel

TODAY:

"Katty Kay Is Crushing All Of You, Good God."

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
David Gregory, be-banged banger of gongs
Katty Kay, like Uma Thurman in KILL BILL
David Frum, dissolves in antacid
Steve Liesman, seller of Lethe
Tavis Smiley, also sort of crushing it
Me, rightfully abus'd Twitt'r'r

PART ONE: "In His Bold Gaze My Ruin Is Ignored."

GREGORY: OMGZ, What about the confidence? If the Obama team now expresses confidence in economic fundamentals, doesn't that mean we should unelect him, put McCain in the White House, and ride his idiotic spending freeze to Twitter City, where his daughter is finally getting the dates she deserves?

LIESMAN: Per recent televised spankings, I am obligated to answer you very soberly. So, why doesn't everyone sit back and see if it all works before we start suggesting any more revolts on the floor of the Chicago Merc. MMMM'Kay?

GREGORY: But, OMGZ, the AIGZ? Who shall slay these horrible bonus-busting werebuffaloes?

SMILEY: Dude. You need to realize that this is what happens when everything you do structurally advantages the wealthy.

FRUM: WHO WILL THINK OF THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE! How dare the Obama administration inconvenience these brave providers of economically stimulating white papers.

GREGORY: Seriously though?

FRUM: The stimulus is to small! It's not global. AND NO ONE IS THINKING OF THE MEXICAN TRUCKING! And the administration has no clue on monetary policy!

LIESMAN: Huh? What? Interest rates are at zero?

FRUM: They could print money!

GREGORY: But, OMGZ, Europe?

KAY: Not to crush you all, but I got news for you. Europeans aren't panicking. They know they're going to be fine. They're going to live. So no one's pushing to help America out. They figure that the problems America faces should be solved my America. Good luck, though!

ME: And seriously, keep talking about "europeanization" like it was a social disease! That will totally get Sweden and France to pitch in!

GREGORY: But OMGZ, TEH DAILY SHOW. Jon Stewart really ridiculed the journalists! But really, no one in journalism saw it coming because it was just too difficult to understand. So no one can claim to be deserving of an award for getting it right! Right? RIGHT?!

LIESMAN: Per recent televised spankings, I am obligated to answer you very soberly. And I am not a CNBC spokesman. But I'll take an award. A small one, anyway. Anyway, there were reporters, reporting on this stuff. That no one noticed isn't my problem.

KAY: Not to crush you all, but this is very similar to Iraq War, where y'all busted your humps so hard pretending not to notice things that were self-evident. "President Bush was not hauled over the coals in a way that Tony Blair was." But in this case, everythings compounded by the fact that this topic is very complicated, and we don't know enough about it to talk about it.

GREGORY: I'm going to interrupt the lady who's rightly pointing out what a failure we all are to ask the same question of Tavis Smiley. "What should have been said? What should have been exposed?" Nothing right! Oh well, just the way it is, right?

SMILEY: "You ain't got the time for the answer, David...there needs to be a poverty agenda in this country."

ME: That's because when you say, "working class," Tavis, David Gregory thinks, oh, like the people under me at NBC news! But they're doing okay!

GREGORY: OKAY! I AM GOING TO ASK THIS! ONE MORE TIME! David Frum! I am asking you! To let me off the hook! And blame working Americans! Please! God! Please!

FRUM: The Bush administration just didn't have any "good economic news" except for the housing bubble, which was at least a good illusion. We didn't want to say anything bad about it, because then we would have been left with just bad economic news.

ME: And that's almost honest! The only thing I'd point out is that if the Bush administration had had a "policy apparatus," it could have been brought to bear on all the other aspects of the economy that promoted that "bad economic news." Instead, you all pretended, and are pretending to this day, that your horrible job growth was a record breaking success.

FRUM: We did it for you AMERICA! Don't blame us! It was all for you! Only for you!

CHRIS BROWN: It was all for you, Rihanna!

ME: Yes. I AIM TO DRAW THAT UNSETTLING COMPARISON.

FRUM: It not anyone's fault that we have 24 hour news channels, that make things less serious!

GREGORY: And the Washington Post is failing too! This can all be blamed on Craigslist. We all could not help but be very very stupid.

SMILEY: "Why can't somebody have said, very simply: Tax cuts for the rich and lucky are not the answer?"

GREGORY/FRUM: OH BUT THAT'S A POLITICAL POINT. THAT DOESN'T SPEAK TO THE ISSUES. RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB!

KAY: Not to crush you, but "journalists are there to ask tough questions." What is the point to us? "We are here to ask the tough question, and then ask a followup question if we don't get the answer."

ME: You might as well be speaking Tralfamadorian to David Gregory, Katty.

GREGORY: Wha--. Wha--. Was what was wrong knowable?

LIESMAN: Yes.

ME: YES! YES! HERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO KNEW!

PART TWO: "Blackface at the Party"

GREGORY: OMGZ THE MICHAEL STEELEZ? He said he's pro-choice, like most Americans!

FRUM: Pro-choice should be a view accepted in the Republican Party. But SWEET SASSY MOLASSEY! We need Michael Steele! He's so exciting and awesome, the way he makes a fool of himself, with hip-hop lingo! And calling Sinatra's crew the "Pack Rats." And caving in and apologizing to Rush Limbaugh, like the Wuss King. GOD THAT WAS ALL SO BEAUTIFUL. We need more of that. We need that face! That face!

SMILEY: It's about the policy, not the blackface.

FRUM: He's not the blackface. He's a differentface.

SMILEY: That's my point, no blackface!

FRUM: Differentface.

SMILEY: Differentface.

FRUM: Coincidentally, blackface.

KAY: Not to crush you all, but "isn't the problem with the Republican party is that I haven't heard a sensible Republican idea on this economic crisis, apart from reducing taxes, over the last four months? They have to start coming up with ideas that the American public is interested in. You've hot some Republicans saying 'We have to get back to talking about healthcare...education, tha kinds of things the American public are talking about. Not just talking about taxes."

LIESMAN: Lowering taxes is the Republican solution to everything.

ME: Careful now, it's also David Gregory's solution to everything.

GREGORY: Some Democrats want to give the American people their money back, too.

LIESMAN: But the American people support stimulus. If you give them money, they'll tend to save it. Right now, the public wants government spending.

GREGORY: WELL I'M GOING TO CUT THIS DISCUSSION SHORT.

And that's your Sunday, folks. Thank you for spending it with me, and experiencing my own self-inflicted torture porn. We'll be back next week, but before I leave you, tonight is Selection Sunday, and, seriously, if you have any good bracketology advice, I'll take it! I want to win the office pool for once. I promise to use the monies on something "shovel ready" like, let's say, MY OWN GRAVE.

Bye for now!