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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

First Posted: 10/22/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:00 PM ET

New New Talking Heads

Hello, and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog of your political chatfests. My name is Jason, and this morning, I have got a message for the shorties, on the occasion of their going back to school. So, why don't all you readers go and wake them up for me, and bring them to your computers. GO ON, GET THEM. Jeez, if I have to get up this early and endure this crap for the next few hours, they can hack it for a few minutes. Plenty of time to sleep when they're dead.

Hi, children of America. I am this obscure person who writes a daffy liveblog online, for money. I understand that some or all of you might be going back to school this week. To those of you who will be attending the same middle school I attended, I am sorry. That place truly sat on the nexus of Hades and what were probably several Indian burial grounds, such was the daily horror of that awful, oval shaped, suburban cesspool.

As many of you know, President Barack Obama is going to be addressing you this coming Tuesday. He'll be saying some generic platitudes that you've probably heard before, and suggesting some homework that you won't do. He'd like you to learn and succeed, probably. But many of you won't be seeing it because a number of slavering idiot fools have raised a hue and cry premised on the notion that the President will, in one hours time, succeed in converting you into Communist arson-zombies, and the adults who run many of your school systems are craven, gutless, pieces of piffle who literally have no intention of ever doing right by you if it threatens to cost them anything.

I mean, that's truly pathetic. We are truly pathetic. And we're leaving you a pretty pathetic world to grow up in. We are incapable of facing any challenge, until it's way too late, and then, even when we fix it, we refuse to learn from our mistakes and do anything about it. This financial crisis you may have heard about is a great example. Adults cocked up the entire world, chasing after magical rewards in a greed fantasia. We very nearly caused Western civilization to explode, poured about a kabillion dollars into the fires of Mordor to stave off an eruption, and have learned NOTHING from the experience.

Or health care. This is a can we've kicked down the road for nearly a generation, lying to each other all the way. Currently, we have a group of people saying insane lies about how giving Americans proper health care is Satanic and bad, and another group of people who are just too terrified to do the right thing. I don't know how long this reform debate has to go, but I'll make a confident prediction: something will pass, and it will be utter, useless junk.

Sorry, kids. That's the story. We, the adults in your life, are, as I've already said, complete cock-ups.

Kids, like the President will probably tell you in his Tuesday speech -- that you will probably have to watch on YouTube, instead of in the manner it was originally intended, because the adults in your life are useless -- I, too, want you to strive and stay in school and do your homework and make good grades and learn as much as you can. But there's something else I need you to do. Something only you can do! And that is to hold all of us useless, disgusting cock-ups responsible.

This school year, wherever you go, whether it's school or your neighborhood or the grocery store or an afterschool activity, I want all of you kids to promise me that whenever you encounter an adult, that you will walk up to them, get their attention, point right at them and simply say to them, "I blame you." Then just walk away. Say nothing more. Do nothing else. Begin with your parents and move onward and outward, to every adult in your life. Don't discriminate between gender or color, age or station. If you see me, I want you to do the same thing. It shall make me very, very proud of you. Not that you should care about that. We are arrant knaves all. Believe none of us.

That's it. I have no further advice to give you. You shall be inheriting one large turd sandwich of a world. I'm so sorry.

Well, if you want some advice, okay: FOR GOD'S SAKE, DO NOT SIGN ANY CRAZY ASS PETITIONS FROM CRAZY ASS PEOPLE. I really cannot stress this enough.

If you or your parents want to send me an email, feel free. You can also leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter. But now, you guys go back to bed. It's time for your parents and I to do penance. And there's really no better way to repent of your cocking up the world than to sit through...

FOX NEWS SUNDAY

So, today, we get more and more and more health care reform discussion, with all sorts of people, such as Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich. Plus, this school stuff. But first, Van Jones is out because he has apparently, and idiotically!, signed some 9/11 Truther petition. This is the sort of thing that people ought not to be doing. He also called Republicans "assholes," which is several degrees less serious, as I'm sure that people on Capitol Hill call each other "asshole" all the time, because, why not? When you go to the snake exhibit at the zoo, you say, "Hey! Snake!" At any rate, Jones will have to ply his trade elsewhere. Of course, what the White House should do is get the next leading light on green jobs, hire them, and double whatever effort they are currently making on that front.

But blah, let's get back to health care. What does Newt Gingrich think Obama needs to say? NO GOVERNMENT PLAN OF COURSE. He thinks that Obama needs to about face on the public option, get rid of it, or else it will be a "tragedy for America" -- because that would be a tragedy, to not give the people the public option they want. Lamar Alexander concurs. Howard Dean does not: the people want the public option as a choice...but Obama needs to show his characteristic strength that the people respect. John Podesta says that Obama needs to redefine the debate and alleviate the distortions.

Alexander says that the plan should be small and incremental, and maybe people will start getting sicker in smaller in incremental ways, out of respect to Lamar Alexander. Podesta says that the goal should be to expand coverage for as many people as Congress will allow. Dean says that if the default plan involves co-ops or a public option trigger, then it's not worth funding. In those circumstances, the best thing to do is reform insurance and stop pretending you've reformed health care.

Podesta says there's a virtue to spending money on expanding coverage. Dean disagrees. "You're not going to do it by giving money to private insurance companies. It's just not going to work."

What sort of public option "trigger" should we need? Shouldn't the current state of all out swamp suck TRIGGER something?

Gingrich goes on the assert that Obama should do what a tiny, crazy fraction of the United States wants, and pass a piecemeal set of GOP legislation, worsen the system, and declare victory. He is the Man Of Ideas! Howard Dean largely knocks Newt down, but on the pivot, he seems very uneasy defending the mixed messages the White House is giving out.

Newt, I think, is right, when he places the unemployment rate as the primary driver of public support for the President. The larger mission the Obama White House has over the next three years is going to have to be putting people back to work. Newt's expanding the minute Teabag Nation into a majority of people concerned with spending and deficits. Of course, a government spending freeze during the recession would worsen and prolong the recession. Also, Obama might win the political battle over deficits by default. Via Stan Collender:

If you look beyond the very short-term, the deficit situation will begin to turnaround next year, that is, before the election. Under current forecasts, the deficit will fall by a record amount from 2009 to 2010. It will still be high by virtually anyone's standards -- probably around $1 trillion or so. But the big change in the right direction will give the White House the breathing room it needs and alter the politics substantially. Anyone want to bet that there will be a cover story somewhere next year calling Obama the deficit killer?

Lamar Alexander says that you can't use budget reconciliation. It would make the bill bad! It would start a "minor revolution!" It would "thumb the nose at the American people!" All of this is utter horsemanure! Dean disagrees: "Americans don't care about the process, they care about the result," For more, read me!

Asked whether or not the bill should include tort reform, Dean is basically like: "BISH PLS. It won't get a single Republican vote, so screw it."

Did Van Jones have to resign? Gingrich doesn't know, he assumes that the White House asked him to leave. Howard Dean calls it a loss for the country, and insists that Jones did not know exactly what he was signing when he signed that truther petition. We'll never know if that is true or not, of course. But, to those guys who were signing up support for gay marriage in SoHo back in the June of this year, while I was working in the office you were standing outside, this is why I didn't sign your petition. I support gay marriage. But at the end of the day, who's to say that's what you are signing me up for? Don't be sad. I don't sign petitions, ever, as a general rule. Lamar Alexander says the real problem is with czars, which I guess we are all still pretending that Obama invented the practice of czars.

Gingrich supports Obama's education speech, Lamar Alexander does too. Howard Dean is supportive of Obama's Afghanistan mission. Gingrich and Alexander may be on surer footing!

PANEL TIME! Van Jones: is it good that we went? Kristol says yes, and that all of us in the media are failures. Liasson says, basically, the Truther matter offset whatever value he had to offer as a Green Jobs Advisor. Juan Williams says the 9/11 petition is the breaking point. Bill Kristol sets up Valerie Jarrett as the right's next target of insane hounding. Watch for that.

The group takes up the matter of the school speech. Chris Wallace reflects on it and says, that he's surprised that a president who promised to break down divisions has ended up being so polarizing. Well, Chris, the POLARIZED people are people who wake up every morning saying to themselves, "What can I do today to make things epically polarized?"

As usual, Fox does that thing where Juan Williams is talking and the cut away to Bill Kristol, looking askance. Kristol says that the problem is that no one would ever suspect President Bush would criticize Democrats, but that Obama should be suspected of criticizing the GOP in any speech he gives. Fox News Sunday gives a cut away back to Juan, on this occasion, allowing the world to see him shaking his head, looking sad.

Meanwhile, one last bit of panelling. Health care. Liasson says that Obama has to give the speech, clear up confusion, give #journotwits one last evening of live-tweeting the health care debate. Okay. That last one was me. I'll actually be learning how to use a CPAP machine, for sleep apnea, during that speech. OVERSHARE!

Hey, in honor of Dick Cheney's biographer being on the show, I think maybe now is a good time for everyone to read the op-ed written by FBI special agent Ali Soufan in the New York Times today:

PUBLIC bravado aside, the defenders of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are fast running out of classified documents to hide behind. The three that were released recently by the C.I.A. -- the 2004 report by the inspector general and two memos from 2004 and 2005 on intelligence gained from detainees -- fail to show that the techniques stopped even a single imminent threat of terrorism.

Take it from one who was there. And then, follow up by reading Spencer Ackerman's take on the piece:

Soufan's op-ed does for reporters what they refused to do for themselves: read the fucking CIA memos declassified a week ago Monday and discover the judgment they delivered on "enhanced interrogation."

Bill Kristol is still insisting that the public doesn't want the public option, so it's not like you're missing anything particularly reality-based if you go and read that op-ed.

ALSO: Here's a portion of a letter from Chris Blakely, to Chris Wallace:

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I cannot tell you how last week's "softball" interview with Dick Cheney still bothers me. Usually, I put FOX News Sunday's weekly "shenanigans" to rest by early Sunday afternoon by just repeating the phrases: "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report; You Decide," accompanied with a grin and a chuckle, seasoned with a shake of the head. But your most recent performance has remained with me all week.

Since last week's show, I went back and watched your interview with Bill Clinton. I am sure you remember the interview because for weeks afterwards, you played the role of "victim," since when you did ask the former president tough questions, Clinton pushed back.

After watching that interview, I re-watched last week's Dick Cheney interview.

I don't see how there can be any debate about these two statements: You did ask Bill Clinton many tough, challenging questions. You did not ask Dick Cheney any tough, challenging questions.

So, what I want to know is this: were you so traumatized by your interview with Bill Clinton, when you DID ask tough questions and he pushed back, thereby making YOU the victim, that you are now incapable of being a tough-minded journalist?

Onward...

THIS WEEK

Robert Gibbs is up in the Newseum. What's up with Van Jones? Gibbs says that Van Jones unilaterally decided to step out of the way for the sake of the President's agenda. Did the president want him to go? Gibbs won't say. Does the President endorse anything that got Jones into trouble? The President thanks him for his service. That's the non-news-news of the day.

Meanwhile, health care. So much sausage is being ground up, but "people will leave" Obama's speech "knowing where he stands." Gibbs describes the effort as "insurance reform," not health care reform. Watch for that!

What about the public option? House loves it, Senate hates it. Gibbs says that a public option won't affect anyone with private insurance, it's for uninsured individuals and small biz, it won't dictate medicare rates.

Will Obama sign a bill without a public option? Good question! Better question is, how does Stephanopoulos know, for a fact, that a public option will not get through the Senate? I think it can through the budget reconciliation process. I guess George has forgotten that this is how HE AND BILL CLINTON PASSED THEIR 1993 BUDGET.

First panel! Bob Dole, Maxine Waters, Tom Daschle, and Mike Pence. Tom Daschle, by the way, is a lobbyist, for the health care industry. This is never ever disclosed!

Bob Dole thinks that the current bill is bad, but that if Obama takes control of the bill, the public will likely tick up in support, because the public prefers when the president "takes ownership." Stephanopoulos believes that you can go bipartisan or not go at all. It's a little pathetic, and by a little pathetic, it's a LOT PATHETIC, but Stephanopoulos is only four feet tall and twee, and so the impact of his patheticness could be more significant.

Maxine Waters says that the House Democrats are going to stand behind the public option, and then gets to the REAL TALK portion of this discussion: First, don't think for a second that the Republicans will offer a single vote in support of health care reform. She further asks for a discussion of the reconciliation process, but Stephanopoulos throws it to Mike Pence, who proceeds to suggest that all sorts of Republicans are willing to work on the health care reform bill. What they won't do is vote for it. This is the reality.

All you people walking around the world, harboring a belief that any member of the Republican caucus is going to vote for a health care reform bill at any time needs to just stop fooling themselves. You are straight up fooling yourself. And yes, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins may be the academic exceptions here, but strictly as a matter of strategy, you can throw them out, too. The Democrats campaigned all during 2008 on the premise that if voters gave them a large enough majority, they could get bills through the Congress and fix a vast array of things. And voters gave them precisely what they wanted. They maxed out the Democratic caucuses. They took a flier. And now, all the people who made those promises need to step up and deliver. If they do, success will come their way. If they don't, bye-bye large majority.

It's that simple, and if this means it's time to dig out the dirt on Max Baucus and Mary Landrieu and say, "You vote for this bill or so help me I will hound you to a goddamned assisted suicide for the sweet relief from the pain I will bring unto you every day of the rest of your sorry and misbegotten existence," then you do that, because you asked the American people to go all in with you.

It makes you wonder: why hasn't Blessed Arcangel of Political Brinksmanship Rahm Emanuel sent a battery of dead fish in the mail to these people? I thought that's what his whole purpose was, to strongarm those that needed a little dose of ear twisting? Maybe it just takes longer than normal to count your hedge fund booty with only nine fingers. Anyway, this might be a good time for that guy to deploy his vaunted political whatever.

Mike Pence says that Gibbs isn't being truthful when he says that no one would be affected by a public option, because in an economy where people are losing their jobs, employers left and right will be looking to dump people on the public option. All of which sort of suggests that there had better be a public option available when the Great Dumping begins! And by the way! As health care premiums escalate, that dumping is going to begin anyway. That's part of why health care reform is necessary. Also, Mike Pence, there's that little matter of ALL THOSE PEOPLE OUT OF WORK THAT CAN NO LONGER SEE A DOCTOR.

Daschle, to his credit, says that Pence supports the FEHB model, which is what your Reps and Senators get. Pence responds by saying that the FEHB doesn't have a public option model, that it's an exchange of five private insurers. Of course, the FEHB could be "the public option," but Pence doesn't want people to have that. Instead he wants people to "buy insurance across state lines." I've actually had out-of-state run private insurance, and the net effect has been no change in cost, with a mild uptick in pain-in-my-ass at the customer service level.

Daschle mocks Pence for opposing the public option on the basis of it being a popular product in the marketplace. Dole says, well, they have concern for private industry. Yes, well, you know, it was traumatic when we moved from silent pictures to "talkies," too. No doubt Bob Dole remembers.

By the way, when did Bob Dole steal Dame Maggie Smith's eyes?

Maxine Waters sort of says, UHM, the private sector is doing awesome and making kabillions of dollars, so I am not going to weep for them.

Dole says that the reconciliation process makes bills bad, and that Americans will have more confidence in a bill that both Maxine Waters and Mike Pence have voted for. I can't speak to an evaluation of Waters' legislative ability, but I would have more confidence in a bill that Mike Pence voted against, because there's a lot of evidence that Mike Pence routinely has no idea what he is talking about. Absolutely no effing idea. Seriously inept and dangerous. He is a dull-witted, talking points-spitting, anthropomorphic political Roomba, wandering from media appearance to media appearance, the bag of dustbunnies and grime endlessly filling his cranial cavity, releasing its volume nonsensically everytime he opens his mouth. The GOP would be well advised to get shot of him, from time to time, I think they demonstrate an awareness of this.

Now Maxine Waters is pointing out that Obama has done everything he can to work in bipartisan fashion, and have been rebuffed, and it's obvious there will be no circumstances, ever, that will earn health care reform any GOP votes. Tom Daschle isn't done kidding himself about that though! Daschle will probably die in a totally-kidding-yourself related accident.

Bob Dole thinks Petraeus should run for President. Dole also asserts that General Petraeus is a Democrat, and "seems to be a quick study."

Panel Time! Bob Gates and Mike Mullen vs. George Will in Afghanistan edition! Also Matt Dowd, David Sanger, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, who will heretofore be known as KVH.

Robert Kagan hates George Will, too. I don't know what to do! If Will and any member of the Kagan family sat down to a debate on foreign policy, I'd probably side with the chairs they were sitting on.

David Sanger says that Obama will likely put off any troop increase for as long as he can, to avoid a two-front political fight. KVH agrees with Will's standpoint, and goes further by saying that all the people who wrote about getting us into these wars should have to face some sort of consequences for being wrong. Matt Dowd says that Obama's lost the public support on Afghanistan. I think though, that the support wasn't that strong during the campaign, when Obama made no bones about the fact he was going to escalate in Afghanistan. People may have their opinions, and their support, but I don't think there's an extant political backlash on this, because no promises have been broken, thus far. The backlash comes when patience is tested.

George Will credits Petraeus as the "author of the Surge that worked." I've always ascribed minimal importance to the "Surge." I think that what's truly worked in Iraq was the setting of a timetable for withdrawal, which the Bush administration finally acceded to in the end of 2008, by signing the current Status of Forces Agreement. Having read the COIN manual, all I can say is that all those Petraeus fans who insisted he get props for the "Surge" were really hiding his light under a bushel, because the COIN manual, as well as the way it came about, is a fascinating piece of work. The only question is, "Will this work in Afghanistan?" Well...counterinsurgency is hard.

And one of the things that makes it hard in Afghanistan is that the Taliban, right now, outpace the legitimate -- or, for the sake of argument, "legitimate" -- government in providing governance.

KVH reminds that Afghanistan is the "graveyard of Empires." In one of the funniest things that my friend Matt ever wrote, he clarified this, calling Afghanistan the "ESPN Zone of Empires."

Matt Dowd says that the health care bill has to get a lot more bipartisan, and that Obama needs to get crazy bipartisan in order to win the public back. I think that the public confidence in Obama is slipping because Obama seems to not want the public option, and instead wants to work with people like Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi, who clearly have no intention of helping out with reform. If he'd STOP DOING THINGS THAT LIKE THAT, that make people wonder, "My God, does he not know what he is doing?" public support will return.

Meanwhile, school speech craziness. Matthew Dowd agrees that it's crazy that people are behaving that way. George Will thinks that Obama is too ubiquitous and is sick of hearing him. KVH and Dowd trade barbs over what the left or right do to the left or the right. Sanger points out that all you need to do to get kids way into an Obama speech is to tell them it's forbidden. REAL TALK.

Now, George Will is straight up insane. He is literally decrying Janet Napolitano for demonstrating the best way to cough. I appreciate the way Will can take simple things and make them sound ridiculous, but Napolitano is a PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL. What's she supposed to do, say: "Well you people pay me a salary to keep you safe. But I'm not going to give you some good advice on how to halt the spread of swine flu because I'd hate for you to feel like the government was being intrusive!" BONKERS. Someone needs to slap Will across the dome with a pair of blue jeans.

VAN JONES WILL BE DEBATED IN THE GREEN ROOM SO GO TO THE GREEN ROOM AND HEAR THE SURELY UNPREDICTABLE THINGS GEORGE WILL AND KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL WILL SAY, ON THE INTERNETS.

Another letter from a parent to her school district:

Dear Principal,


In response to the School District letter on the optional opt out option

Siting State Board of Education Rule R277-105, which states:

"A parent, a legal guardian of a student, or a secondary student may request a waiver of participation in any portion of the curriculum or school activity which the requesting party believes to be an infringement upon a right of conscience or the exercise of religious freedom,"

I would like to excuse my child from any curriculum that might utilize numbers and their relationships to each other. It just so happens that our religion is Con-Science Is Right as referred to in the above rule. One of the most important tenets of our belief system is that the earth is flat, so any indoctrination that promotes any form of geometry (or takes any steps that might lead to an understanding of such) we regard as an infringement of our blessed fringeyness.

I would also like to excuse my child from any lessons in history, as contrary to the popular notion that the universe is 6000 years old, our commandments require us to recognize every morning in our prayers that we were born yesterday. Any lessons that promote any "events" in a so-called "past" or opportunities in a chance "future" would disrupt our forever resurrected time-space discontinuum.

Reading books and acknowledging the "words" in them has also presented a difficult issue for our family, for we are taught that the true glory of literature, unless liturgical, is in the fancy designs you can see by only acknowledging the spaces between the words on a typed or written page, the rest is sin. This of course leads directly to that chapel of blasphemy commonly described as a L-i-b-rary (L-I-B and any derivative is a concept we simply cannot even comprehend until we face our ever loving Death Panel priesthood in the sky), so kindly allow for an alternate activity for my child.

Oh! Regarding speeches, we love 'em! I would request that my child be required, restrained if necessary, to witness any speech, Live or taped by anyone at any time as long as he is given the opportunity to respond in interpretive dance in an assembly attended by only freckle-free children (those damned spots if ya know what I mean.)

I am so grateful that our school district is so flexible (or bendable, or is the word limp?) as to offer these accommodations, Thank you!

May I also apologize for any Electromagnetic Pulse attacks caused by my child's baptismal braces, they should quiet down along with the sunspots.

Okay, since I'm not allowed to liveblog this episode of THE MIGHTY BOOSH I have on my TiVo I will instead offer you:

MEET THE PRESS

For the best live-summarizing of the McLaughlin Group you are likely to encounter today, follow bethatasitmay on Twitter, right now.

Anyway. YAY. Meet the Press. Rudy Giuliani and Harold Ford and Thomas Friedman? GOD WHAT HAVE I EVER DONE TO YOU, DUDE?

I am going to try to minimize the pain. David Gregory notes that poll numbers are slipping on the president, Axelrod says that Obama will "engender great support" by speaking. Let's hope so, because the reason the poll numbers are slipping is because Obama's been slipping around on the popular public option and insisting that key Republican backstabbers be involved in the process. THAT'S WHAT'S "CONFUSING" AMERICANS, David Gregory.

David Gregory does that thing where he introduces a topic, in this case, the public option, that sounds like there's going to be a rigorous explanation of that topic, that degenerates into a tired discussion of gotcha video and politics and who's up who's down, and who said what that seems to be the only sort of interview this airhead Gregory can conduct.

Nancy Pelosi says that a public option-less bill will not pass the House. David Gregory seems to think that the public option loses twelve Democratic Senate votes. If that's the case, there should be clear messages going forth from the White House that twelve Democrats in the Senate are going to get their necks cut. I used to hear about this brutal Chicago style of politics, so it would be really nice if we could find some Chicagoans in the administration or something.

Axelrod is shy on specific contentions today, insisting over and over again that Obama will talk about all of this Wednesday. Significantly, Axlerod avers that the public option is a "good tool" that shouldn't "define the entire debate."

David Gregory asks, "Did the administration lose the thread of the health care debate?" BECAUSE IT'S NEVER DAVID GREGORY'S JOB TO ADD CLARITY TO DEBATES. If there are irrational yokels screeching at town halls, THAT'S THE STORY, even of they are screeching LaRouchian cant.

Van Jones! Did the President order his firing? Axelrod says no, it was his decision, he didn't want his comments to be a distraction. Gregory asks, "Was he the victim of a smear campaign?" UHM, CAN'T YOU TRY TO ASSESS THAT FOR YOURSELF?

Good God! David Gregory is not asking people to respond to HEADLINES AND DECK TEXTS from newspaper articles! Not even bothering to do a pull quote! Pretty soon, David Gregory will have administration officials on, and the conversation will go like this: "DAVID AXELROD, LOOK AT JOHN BOEHNER'S FROWNY FACE. HE IS SO SAD. YOU MADE HIM BIG SAD. WHY YOU MAKE MAN CRY?"

Smash to the trapezoid discussion, with Harold Ford, Rudy Giuliani, Thomas Friedman, and Tom Brokaw.

Brokaw says that the public option will cost money, but there's no question the American health care system needs reform. The administration needed to make the plan simpler, and above all, INEFFECTIVE. Harold Ford, who loves him a plate of bipartisan tripe over partisan filet, says, YEPPERS, THAT WHOLE THING ABOUT PASSING AN INEFFECTIVE BILL IS TOTALLY RIGHT. WE NEED TO COVER FEWER PEOPLE.

Rudee says that the public option won't work, and that he thinks it's good and that there's no cost-savings option on the table, and that interstate purchases and eliminating medical malpractice suits equal "real competition."

David Gregory says that Thomas Friedman was a "a real beat reporter" back in 1993. He's a real beat reporter now, if you think about it! "I believe that if you can name an issue, you can own it." Fine! I would like to name as my issue: Thomas Friedman's mustache! Anyway, Friedman also says that there needs to be more bipartisanship, in order to pass an ineffective bill. Giuliani agrees, harping on the medical malpractice suit elimination crap that wouldn't earn Obama a single GOP vote, and would, HOPEFULLY, cost him a ton of Democratic votes.

Now, everyone's basically arguing about to what extent Obama gave Republicans hugs. Harold Ford has managed to inflame the minute difference of opinion he has with Giuliani into something he can pretend to be animated about.

Budget reconciliation anyone? Brokaw says that some meaningful aspects of reform can come through the reconciliation process, and doesn't come out with some crazy pooh-poohing of it.

Obama's approval rating among independent voters is slipping. Gregory's assumption is that independent voters=centrist democrats. I have to imagine that independent voters are souring on Obama's health care maneuvers because he DOES NOT SEEM TO WANT TO FIGHT FOR THE REFORM FOR WHICH THEY VOTED.

Now we'll hear these people think about the crazy people who don't want the president to speak to children. Brokaw more or less says it's insane. "It's so ripe for satire, it's unbelievable." He compares it to East Germany, and calls it "completely out of control."

Thomas Friedman says, "We live in an age of firestorms, and we need people to stand up and say THAT'S FLAT OUT STUPID."

Well, I'll say this is FLAT OUT STUPID. Unfortunately, NO ONE WROTE THAT ON DAVID GREGORY'S CUE CARD.

Then, on Van Jones, Friedman says that people need to be cautious and remember that they are constantly being YouTubed, and leaving a digital footprint. That makes sense. I don't think he's right by suggesting that people "not say anything controversial." NO, NO, you need to be as CONTROVERSIAL AS POSSIBLE, especially when you are CORRECT. Ahh. Okay, I think he's sort of being sarcastic.

The bridge too far with Van Jones is not his environmentalism, of which he has much of value to say, but with 9-11 Trutherism, which is controversial and objectively wrong. At the same time, if Van Jones is any example, then there's no reason in the world we cannot take a figure like Betsy McCaughey, who does nothing in this world other than lie to people, all the time, and run her right into a metaphorical ditch.

Brokaw is concerned with all the disinformation that's out there. It's too bad there isn't a mass media that can objectively assert fact and truth amid the din. One wonders if, say, a newspaper, started doing that, if people might spend money on its content.

Brokaw wisely points out that over time, the Afghans have learned to have 'reversible turbans," which is to say that whoever shows up in town that day gets their support. And when a stronger force comes on the scene, they support that. This is how the Afghans have survived after decades of their nation being used as a canvas upon which the titanic military sussurations of world powers have been painted.

David Gregory asks Giuliani four times if he's running for governor, as a part of Meet The Press' traditional empty exercise.

And, so, I'll bring this empty exercise of mine to a close as well, so that I can have lunch and go see INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. I hope everyone has a great Labor Day vacation! I'm sorry you children won't be able to see their president talk to them! STAY IN SCHOOL KIDS!

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