TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Bienvenue, everybody! Welcome to your weekly festival of fast-typing and TiVo delay known as your Sunday Morning Liveblog of the Political Chat-Show Hullabaloo. And welcome to the autumn! I know it's not technically autumn yet, but eff the equinoxes! I want this summer to be put behind us, immediately. So let's get into the fall mindset. We have opening week of the NFL today! Crisp evening air on the wing. Around here, the promise of weekend nights include the smells of leaves burning and fall cookouts and yelps of passion from people gathered to watch the Redskins (lose, probably, but I'm holding out hope!). After a long summer spent indoors, dodging the humidity, it's a time when the who neighborhood seems to expand and people let you know they're still there.
So I like it, a lot! But mind you, I'm also someone who thinks being stranded on the New Jersey Turnpike for nine hours on the night before Thanksgiving is a quintessential part of being American, so take it for what it's worth. Still, surely you want to put this summer of cray-cray behind us, right? We shall do that today!
As usual, hello, my name is Jason. You should feel free to send emails or leave comments, and if you feel like you want to spend the rest of your afternoon listening to me yell at Donovan McNabb (he plays for us now, for some reason!), then you should follow me on Twitter.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Wow! Only 51 days until what will probably be a very bad day for the Democrats! So, we'll have Austan Goolsbee to try to tell us about this car into the ditch metaphor, and whether this poetic construction will actually inspire voters to turn out.
Goolsbee is now the head of the Council on Economic Advisors, which is a real job! I believe Christina Romer used to have it. I never really found Romer to be all that compelling or successful a talking head, but then she more or less became known as the Lady Who Said Unemployment Would Go Way Down -- a dubious enough distinction, but not nearly as bad in my mind as being The Treasury Secretary Whose Bank "Stress Tests" Would Be Tied To Those Rosy Employment Figures. TBTF Banks: Still Very Undercapitalized!
Anyway, what is Goolsbee's economic outlook, going forward: "Uhm...uhhh..." And we're off to a smashing start!
"I think it's fair to say that...it's going to be a long battle." To get out of the recession -- which started in 2007! -- it's going to be a hard haul. Unemployment will be high for a long time to come. "I don't expect it to go down appreciably." And thus, your 2012 election season expectations are set!
As far as GDP growth, Goolsbee says it will be "positive, but not as fast as we want it to be."
So, what about that "Summer of Recovery?" Wallace dogs it out. Goolsbee says that all they meant by that was infrastructure projects, related to the recovery act! Uhm, seriously? I don't think that's really true, at all. Goolsbee says that the plan going forward will be to do things that "catalyse" the private sector.
Goolsbee says that Wallace is mischaracterizing the term, "Summer of Recovery," and that's unfair. Wallace disagrees, obviously. Goolsbee maintains that the actions taken created or saved jobs -- to get your head around "created or saved," think of a soccer team's game-time goals to simultaneously create goals while also saving them -- and that plenty of outside sources agree with that assessment.
I don't know if this means anything to you, but Austan Goolsbee is a man who correctly says, "Data are..." instead of "Data is..." Not that I'm going to start dropping the word "datum" anytime soon!
On to the Bush tax cuts! The GOP wants to keep them for the rich, and they'll prevent the extension of tax cuts on everyone else unless they get their widdle stampy-feet way! Wallace wants to pretend that the tax cuts will affect 50% of small businesses -- Goolsbee is there very quickly to respond: 97% of small businesses will not be affected by the President's tax plan. "The majority of the income" Wallace cited "had nothing to do with small businesses." He goes on to note that the small biz plan on the table cuts taxes for small businesses eight different ways.
Okay, this is much, much better than Romer's appearances.
Chris Wallace casts Peter Orszag in the role of opposing the president. Let me summon Alex Pareene, from Salon:
When commentators deplore polls showing huge numbers of people believing simple untruths, they call on the powerful, the educated and the responsible -- the elites -- to set everyone straight.
But sometimes, our elites can't read either!
This week, former White House budget director Peter Orszag began his career as a New York Times opinion columnist with a column about the famous Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire soon.
Here is his position, simply stated, in the second paragraph:In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether. Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it.
So we should extend the middle-class tax cuts for two years and then allow them to expire. The cuts for the wealthy should be allowed to expire now. But Orszag recognizes that the GOP may force the president to extend all of them for two years. Which is bad, but acceptable.
The president's position is that we should extend the middle-class tax cuts and allow the tax cuts on the rich to expire now. As for whether or not he would specifically veto a bill extending all the tax cuts, we can't know until the situation comes to that. He certainly wouldn't announce beforehand that he'd be fine with that, because it's not the most optimal outcome, and he is still negotiating with Congress.
In other words, these two have almost the exact same position on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
So how did Orszag's op-ed become the primary piece of supporting evidence for the claim that Democrats are going against the White House on the Bush tax cuts? Why did the Hill refer to it like this?Orszag, in a column in The New York Times, called for all of the Bush-era tax cuts to be extended for two years, including rates for the wealthiest taxpayers, which the administration wants to phase-out for deficit reduction.
Why did Robert Gibbs face questions from the press corps demanding that he respond to a complete misreading of Orszag's argument? Why did the AP list Orszag as among the "influential Democrats" disagreeing with Obama? Why did George Stephanopoulos ask the the president this?STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's not just Republicans--
OBAMA: -at right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: - are calling for this. You know, your own budget director up until a month ago, Peter Orszag wrote in the New York Times yesterday that it was a good compromise.
OBAMA: No, what ... Peter Orszag said was he'd like to eliminate all these tax cuts, but that politically the best you may be able to do is to get the Republicans to agree to only extend them for two years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said it was a good compromise. He said it made sense.
No, George. Orszag said the good compromise was to extend the middle-class tax cuts for two years and then let them expire. It would be a less good compromise, but still acceptable, to extend all the cuts for two years. Unless Obama is going to veto an extension of the entirety of the Bush tax cuts -- and he refused to say that he'd do that -- the only real difference in their positions is that Orszag thinks all the tax cuts should expire in two years, and Obama seems to want to extend the middle-class tax cuts indefinitely.
Goolsbee says that the President believes that taxes cannot be raised on the middle class -- even though it will cost money. But he doesn't want to do the same for millionaires and billionaires, when economists are screaming that it's a bad idea. Orszag, he says, was making a "strictly political argument" based on what the GOP would be willing to vote for, right now. "I believe he's wrong on that," says Goolsbee.
Wallace tries to play gotcha with Goolsbee dissertation, but Goolsbee is all, "If you've got my paper at home, turn to table six for clarification on industrial capacity utilization and how it affects those numbers, yadda yadda," or something like that. Good thing he remembers his dissertation! My thesis was written mostly between the hours of 3 and 6 am and I mostly remember I was listening to a lot of Underworld at the time.
Newt Gingrich is here now, to talk about the "growing anti-Islamic" fervor that he's mostly helped create. But first, the economy! Gingrich says the GOP will agree to any tax cuts that does not result in tax increases. If you spin that out, and think about your Special Magic Deficit Reduction Commission -- you can basically forget about the deficit being reduced by revenue creation. Not that you should have imagined this was going to happen in the first place.
Wallace says the CBO says that tax cuts for the wealthy give the economy the least "bang for the buck." Gingrich is basically all: Well, if you want to listen to "experts" with "educations," who "know things" because of "applied knowledge," sure! But if you listen to Gingrichian lore, you realize that rich people create jobs, with the amount of money -- teensy in relation to their net worth -- they get back in the Bush tax cuts. You can't expect them to be creating jobs with the other 98% of their assets, can you? Not according to our legends and lore! Also, "rain" is caused by Jesus, crying about 9/11.
Wallace responds by mentioning that this plan would blow a hole in the budget, which means that you really can't call yourself a deficit hawk. Gingrich says, that he balanced the budget and reformed spending in the 1990s. (But the Clinton level of tax rates is precisely what Obama wants to return to. I think that Gingrich really believes that shutting down the government was "spending reform.") Of course, if you targeted the swelling size of government at its bloatiest -- the ultra-not-modern defense budget and the money siphon that is the Department of Homeland Security -- the GOP would raise holy hell.
Gingrich says that Boehner becomes speaker in 8 of 10 models. Nate Silver says it's two-thirds of all models. This seems to be the reasonable range, to me. If you want to make a bet on the Democrats holding the house, don't bet a lot! Stay well within your means.
Gingrich says Boehner would work hard to keep the government open, but I'm reminded of all his House GOP colleagues who told Joe Scarborough earlier this year about how lazy Boehner is, and you think, "No, shutting the government down is precisely the sort of thing he'd enjoy doing."
Finally: Qu'ran burning and the "mosque near Ground Zero." Oh, you mean THIS MOSQUE NEAR GROUND ZERO? The one that's been there for years? Why is it in the news all of the sudden? Previously, the news had been consumed with the Park51 community center that was going to be near Ground Zero. I guess now there's an issue with a mosque that's been near Ground Zero for a long time, that no one complained about?
I think Gingrich is confused. "The President should say that they should not build it there, and that's unfortunate." But the mosque near Ground Zero was built years ago! Someone else was President, then? And since when does Newt Gingrich believe that the whimsical opinions of Presidents ought to trump the rights of localities to set their own zoning rules and enforce local property rights? This seems to me to be many steps beyond the GOP doctrine of "limited government" and sacrosanct property rights.
Gingrich says it would be a "very bad idea to build that mosque" near Ground Zero. But the Masjid Manhattan on Warren Street between Broadway and Church that's near Ground Zero was built before September 11, 2001. So why is it a bad idea that it was built, years ago, at a time when no one referred to the area as "ground zero?" I'm REALLY CONFUSED by Newt Gingrich here! Unless he's talking about the thing that's not a mosque that's also planned to be built near "Ground Zero." But then, that's weird, since there is an actual mosque near Ground Zero? And in either case, PROPERTY RIGHTS? LOCAL ZONING ISSUES? SMALL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
Gingrich says it is an affront to everyone who lost loved ones on 9/11, but again, it's not clear what "mosque" and what "families" he is talking about, and at any rate, one is not entitled to a remedy from the government because something is an "affront" to you.
Newt Gingrich! A very confusing man!
Panel time, with Brit Hume and Mara Liasson and Nina Easton and Bill Kristol. Lot of love for the little guy, on this panel!
Qu'ran burning! What does Brit Hume think of it? He thinks it's "remarkable" thing that this idiot in Florida could get so much attention. He seems to think that the fault is with the Islamic world, for mischaracterizing this as a significant event. Which is strange! I had no idea that "the Islamic world" was controlling the media that pointed cameras at it! He goes on to say that "conspiracy theories flourish" (like, the fictional "death panels," I know!).
Mara Liasson blames...wait for it...wait for it! THE INTERNET! I had no idea that "the internet" was a "series of large corporations who own cable news assets and modern broadcast infrastructure capable of beaming a signal into televisions!"
Chief Executor of the Sunday Morning Liveblog estate Chris Blakely adds more, on the net neutrality tip:
The result that I fear most from these "manufactured" controversies that FOX in particular chooses to feature: like the building of the Islamic Center (not a mosque) near (not at) ground zero and the so-called pastor threatening to burn Korans is an emerging, growing narrative favoring tiered Internet access. Of course, FOX is not the only news organization doing this. FOX, as John Stewart point out this week, are the masters of "manufacturing" their own news to avoid deviating from their predetermined narrative.
Implied or stated in each of the four panelists on FOX News Sunday this morning was that access to the Internet (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) presents a problem because it gives a voice to the "crazies." Of course, the real problem is that most so-called news outlets (whether they are broadcast, cable or print) see promoting these "stories" as a sure way to increase rating, sell more magazines and newspapers, and/or increase Web traffic.
Free speech is not nor should it ever be curtailed because a "crazy" shouts "fire" in a crowed theater, and similarly the crazies on Facebook, the Internet, and Twitter, etc. only gain attention because many news outlets choose to promote these type of stories.
As The Nation's 10th anniversary Entertainment Chart documented, each of the six media corporations (News Corp, General Electric, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, CBS Corporation) control substantial Internet holdings. As such, tiered access to the Internet tremendously benefits their financial interests.
So, as I see the proliferation of manufactured stories gaining more and more attention to the point of dominating the narrative of the "news," I cynically believe that the real agenda here is laying a foundation for an Internet where the powerful may soon have greater access than the rest of us.
Good stuff. I'd also jump back two steps to simply point out that when someone sends out a tweet or a Facebook update, it's not "news" until a "news organization" decides it is. No one has ever confirmed that a single thing written on Sarah Palin's Facebook page is an authentic statement from Sarah Palin. Think about that! They RELIABLY become news. (And I've been guilty of treating them as such, and I should stop!)
Think about what might have happened if this story, then, had been covered thusly: "Tonight, we take a look at the rise of crazy people on the internet. They have crazy ideas, like that it's okay to burn Qu'rans, or stop churches from being built in major metropolitan areas." Instead of, "Tonight, we talk about Qu'ran burning/mosque building: should people do it?" In the latter instance, the media accepts and legitimizes the frame of the crazies. There is always the choice to marginalize the marginal, right from jump street. If you fail to do so, you really can't complain about insanity flourishing, and you really can't sit around wondering why it happened, and you especially cannot blame the global Islamic community for paying attention to it and wondering if there's any credibility to the idea that Qu'ran burning is a mainstream thing, when you've spent a whole month making it as mainstream as possible.
Hume concludes that Muslims have not done enough to take the lead against radical extremists, which is the sort of thing that you can only say if you ignore all of those that do, like Park51's Imam Rauf.
Hume says that there wasn't a big anti-Muslim response after 9/11, which I guess makes the anti-Muslim response in the Summer of 2010 okay?
Okay, I've really dallied with this show. Let's try to sum up.
Bill Kristol wants there to be an "up or down" vote on taxes. Is the Senate filibustering not doing it for him anymore? Easton is mystified that anyone would do something that seems centered on the middle class -- and probably most lawmakers would agree! I mean, how many millions of dollars of campaign contributions can the "middle class" reliably provide to fund re-elections?
Liasson thinks the infrastructure package won't pass even though a lot of the stuff in the package is traditional GOP spank-material. She's not sure that it will work immediately, if passed, but would "work over time." She also says that it would help Democrats, because it gives them a new narrative. Kristol scoffs at that based on his view of the merits. I scoff at that based upon what I know of election fundamentals and the fact that there's so little time left for Democrats to arrest and reverse the foundational viewpoints of voters that have been locked and set since the beginning of this year. Triage is probably the right approach here, for the Democrats (and it will probably be as successful as it was for the GOP in 2006.)
I'll allow Liasson's opinion that the Dem base could perhaps get "ginned up" enough to alter the outcome, but that's based on the distinction between likely voters and registered voters (that indicate most Democratic registered voters aren't likely to vote! Which seems like a problem, in itself!)
THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
I'm tuned in here today because it's an opportunity to hear from Imam Rauf on all this nonsense of the past few months. The alternative was watching Rudy Giuliani and David Gregory, which is, to me, like watching two clowns have bedbug coitus with each other while being smacked in the face with banana cream pies. Some things I cannot do! BUT! Today's TWw/CA includes my employer, so full disclosure: Arianna Huffington is my friend and employer since 2007 at this website that bears her last name.
But first: more Austan Goolsbee.
Christiane is jumping my guns, asking Goolsbee about comments Boehner made on the show I'm recapping next, FACE THE NATION. HMMMM. Maybe I should just jump over to FACE THE NATION real quick?
FACE THE NATION
Hi! Today on Face The Nation, we have John Boehner and Keith Ellison. Will Boehner block tax cuts for the middle class if he can't get his billionaire bailout, too? Bob Schieffer will ask!
Schieffer points out to Boehner that President Obama has been talking about him a lot (in his home state). Boehner says that he's been offering Obama "new ideas," for months, and that there's nothing "new" about stimulus packages. He says we need to stop doing things that are counter-cyclical to the economic downturn, because why not have pro-cyclical policies that lead to a decade of malaise?
"I think raising taxes in a bad economy is a bad idea," says Boehner, who also thinks it's an equally bad idea to cut taxes in a flourishing economy. There are, essentially, no conditions in which raising revenues and paying down structural federal deficits are a wise idea.
Schieffer asks Boehner about whether he'll hold middle class tax cuts hostage in order to get his billionaire's bailout. Boehner says that he wants to do something for "all Americans who pay taxes," even if that means doing nothing for any Americans. He is as confused as Chris Wallace on the whole "small business tax load," Schieffer smacks it down, Boehner goes on to insist that a lot of income not related to small businesses is "small business income."
Schieffer asks if Boehner is saying there's "no way no how" that Boehner will vote to extend tax cuts on the middle class unless it includes the billionaire's bailout. Boehner says that "if that's the only option" -- voting for just the middle class tax cuts -- then he'll vote for them. At Schieffer's prompting, he reiterates this in the affirmative, though he feels it's "bad policy." Schieffer asks him to clarify one more time, and Boehner says, "Of course I would do that." Schieffer then makes sure that is what he is saying a fourth time, and asks if it will be done before the election -- he says he hopes there will be an open debate.
What about the GOP blocking greater consumer protection? Because when you put on Boehner-blinkers, the financial collapse was entirely the fault of Fannie and Freddie, who weren't the over-leveraged subprime merchants who embedded systemic risk throughout the financial markets.
Schieffer wants Boehner to answer for his support of tobacco, Boehner says that Americans have the right to do things that are legal. Schieffer says, "Well, Americans, have the right to shoot themselves, shouldn't we encourage people to not do it?" Boehner says, blah, it's a bad habit, he wishes he shouldn't do it, he appreciates the suggestion. I'm not trying to be a dick, here, to Bob Schieffer, who is a great guy and a cancer survivor, but I actually think you can get into a LOT of legal trouble in America if you try to shoot yourself.
Boehner hates the Affordable Care Act. And he wants to extend the Bush tax cuts. He says that "winning the House is still an uphill fight." (I think it's not nearly as uphill as Boehner is willing to say in public.)
Okay! We'll return to FACE THE NATION a little later! For now, back to THIS WEEK.
THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR
Goolsbee says that the big thing to focus on, with Boehner is the "if my only choice" is, but that if he is willing to just vote for the middle class tax cuts, "I would be happy."
How will skittish Democrats be brought on board? Goolsbee says he's not a "political expert," but he says he hopes that they will largely see the policy sense. "I have noticed that in Congress, there's a different philsophy between what Speaker Boehner proposes and what the President does." You think?
Christine Amanpour cites the Orzsag column, with the same incorrect assumptions that were dealt with in this column earlier and by Alex Pareene at War Room earlier this week and Goolsbee proffers the same answer.
Has Obama "opened an avenue for discussion" on extending tax cuts on the wealthy? Goolsbee says no, and seems pretty absolute about it, citing positions taken by Obama going back to 2008. Not bad memory for someone who's "not a political guy!"
Unemployment is "going to stay high," Goolsbee says, continuing to de-Romer the White House message on the employment rate. He does say that the infrastructure package "could have significant" impact on employment, in a positive direction, but he wisely begs off making a prediction (see also: Romer, Christina).
Poverty! It's on the rise! Can you stop it? Goolsbee says the number one thing you do is get the economy growing and get people back to work.
Please note that when Amanpour went to 51 Park Place in Manhattan, she found as many journalists milling around as she did people! So, I wonder how that community center became such a big deal?
Anyway, here's Feisal Abdul Rauf. He says that the discourse on the subject of his community center has been hijacked by radicals on both sides -- in America and the Muslim world -- who form a feedback loop of insanity that imperils Muslims at home and American soldiers abroad.
Has he threatened the United States, "I have never made a threat...I would never make a threat" against the United States. He does not want to fuel the fires of radicalism abroad.
Should he have done something different from the beginning? Worked with more people? He says that he tried to reach out, and notes that the project was front page news on the New York Times in December 2009, but it wasn't until May of 2010, that people started using the center as a wedge issue in politics.
What did he think about about Palin's "refudiate" tweet? He says it was very disingenuous. I agree on the basis that Sarah Palin has always considered New York City to not be a part of "real America." Rauf cites growing hostility and violence against Muslims in other places across the country, indicative of how little any of this really has to do with his community center. "We are Americans, too." It calls to mind General Colin Powell, in October of 2008:
"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life."
I really don't think that in 2010, we ought to need the return of the Freedom Riders to protect those who want to build churches and pray in them. But if it comes to that, it can be done.
"The battleground is not between East and West. It's between moderates of all faiths, all over the world, against radicals," Rauf says.
Rauf says that had the Qu'ran burning gone forward -- and let's remember that Qu'ran burnings did happen, it's just that the media finally relented on their previous position that any old nimrod with fire and a Qu'ran was worthy of televises news coverage -- it would have been a huge boost to radicals. Why not move your center, to prevent Qu'ran burnings, Amanpour asks, FULFILLING MY PREDICTION OF LAST WEEK, TO WIT:
You see where this is headed now, don't you? Now the people behind Park51 are on the hook for stopping this Quran burning, and all of the negative external impact it may have. Now, all of the refined hate-merchants from early in the story can say that if the "Ground Zero mosque" isn't moved, immediately, American troops could die!
Rauf says that you really equate the "burning of any person's Scripture" with staging interfaith dialogue. He says that he didn't think that the 51 Park Place location was going to be a big deal, and if he'd imagined that it would, he'd "have never done it." But then how could you have predicted that something that's 1) not a mosque, 2) not at Ground zero, and 3) in the same neighborhood as a mosque that's stood for years and years would come to be known as the "ground zero mosque," by people who are liars and cheap political charlatans. (Well, if you're a cynic, you might have predicted it.)
Oooh! Double panel action! First, with regards to this past week's controversies, we have Eboo Patel -- Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core, Irshad Manji -- Professor of Leadership, New York University's School of Public Service, and the Reverend Richard Cizik -- Founder, The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
Cizik says that religions are "transnational," and that the actions taken on Park51 will have global resonances. Manji says that Rauf is asking all Muslims to play on the terms of radicals -- don't give them the mosque debate, because they will find pretext for terrorism in anything. She suggests: "let's have a mosque at Ground Zero, but let's make it the most transparent and most modern Islam possible." (Great! And by the way, that will be used by the "we can find pretext in anything" radicals as a pretext.)
What has the difference not been distinguished, between al Qaeda and the rest of the Islamic world? (Uhm, because no one does enough to point out that al Qaeda is a cult of conspiracy theorists who dazzle and terrorize and hoodwink the very people they profess to support, while simultaneously supporting some of the most corrupt governments abroad.) Manji says that Muslims she knows tell her that they don't know that al Qaeda kill and terrorize a lot of Muslims. I find that VERY HARD TO BELIEVE, because the primary feature of all terrorists is that they terrorize their own as a means of obtaining power! But, okay, if this has gone unnoticed -- NOTICE IT PEOPLE! The primary victim of the al Qaeda cult are the Muslim communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, et al.
Second panel, with George Will and Arianna Huffington and Kate Zernike and Jonathan Karl.
John Boehner! Does he mean what he says about tax cuts? Will says he does! He also says it's weird that the fact that the enemy of the state is now John Boehner is weird and sad. Arianna says that the problem at hand is the 9.6 unemployment rate. I'll add that the U6 unemployment rate is even more revelatory and even more at the back of the coming wave.
Think about it: that number -- which I believe is up near 17%? -- refers to everyone who is unemployed or underemployed. That's a lot of people. In fact it's SO MANY PEOPLE that it's really impossible for ANYONE to not know someone very dear to them, that's not in that 17%. So, the whole country is knit up in this crisis. And because family helps family, and friends help friends, and wives help husbands, and parents help children, we are all tied into this crisis, on a gut level. We are a nation that by and large has a hard time imagining what the future is going to be. We can't make plans. We don't know if we can send our kid to college. We don't know if we'll have to default on our home. We don't know if we'll make our rent. And even if we're really, really doing well, we don't know if now is a good time to be buying that new house/car/refrigerator/vacation.
In that climate, I'd much rather be the political party talking about doom and gloom, then the one trying to calm everyone down and get them to hold on, because there's corner to be turned somewhere. Not because I think that it will be successful! Just that the degree of difficulty is so much less.
So, to mildly disagree, I think the 17% number is the one more embedded in our national psyche at the moment.
Will steps forward to attest to certain election fundamentals that everyone happens to get whacked by. "Let's remember that this is a wave election, following two wave elections." Karl says that the the idea that the Dems will lose the House are premature. But Zernicke says that actual anger in the electorate is profound and Arianna says that the doom cycle goes further into the nation, into infrastructure failure. So, read more about this by picking up Kate and Arianna's respective books!
Sharron Angle: is she cray-cray? Zernicke says her weird positions are more commonplace that people admit. Arianna notes that at the bottom of the anger, is anger over TARP. (I think that as a post-election report, we should pay attention to how those who cast a vote for TARP do, on balance -- it may end up being Feingold's saving grace (he voted against TARP, right?).)
Will says that the banks aren't hoarding money because they are pouting, they're hoarding it because they "can't find lenders who think they can borrow it and make money." My wife immediately pipes up, "That's [an eight letter word for something you find in a pasture]!" Arianna's more "nuanced" reply is, "That's not true. The banks are getting almost zero percent interest loans from the Fed." And she goes on to point out that the government has pretty reliably done the "less" that Will called for in the first place. They've very reliably passed a "financial reform" package that largely upholds the status quo ante on Wall Street.
Had we, say, reinstated Glass-Steagall, or broken up a bank, Will would sound a lot smarter saying "The government should do less!" (Arianna goes on to make a point I had never considered, but as someone who read Andrew Ross Sorkin's TOO BIG TO FAIL, filled with its descriptions of the many "all-hands-on-deck" sessions held between top financial stakeholders and the relevant policymakers to try to save Wall Street from collapse, there was never a similar effort made to stave off or fix the unemployment crisis.)
Okay, it's time to go back to this week's FACE THE NATION.
FACE THE NATION
Here's Congressman Keith Ellison, to talk about whether or not he is a radical sleeper agent of fringe cult horrorkeepers!
Also, Tom Kean of the 9/11 Commission is here. He says that "homegrown terrorism" is a growing threat -- specifically smaller attacks with "non-traditional people," that is, American citizens. What should we be doing? "A lot of things!" And there will be forthcoming recommendations. So, everyone sit tight, as someone conducts a study and produces a white-paper, on Adobe Acrobat. (BUT WHAT IF THE TERRORISTS HIT US RIGHT ON OUR .PDF-MAKING ABILITIES??!"
Ellison says that it's time to reach out to American mosques and get them to enter into relationships of trust with law enforcement agencies and open lines of communication so that suspicious persons can be identified, stand for the proper treatment of Islam as a faith that's allowed to have religious freedoms, and make parents of Muslims more aware that there are people -- literally, predators! -- who are always looking to recruit young people into their radical cults.
Why is Islamophobia on the rise? Ellision theorizes that politicians are being shallow opportunist fearmongerers, and the media is pointing cameras at the shallow opportunist fearmongering. That's my summation, of course! Kean points out that the vast majority of Islam is fighting on our side. Ellison agrees, and says he's working with colleagues to do further study on radicalism, and commends Kean for his work.
Schieffer takes a moment to discuss how great it was that the entire nation came together after 9/11, and he's very right! But I'm going to cut him short because my wife doesn't like to see images of September 11th on the teevee and I always try to oblige. One thing I do on this day, is spend a little time thinking about the many people who stood in line to give blood, and who cheered firefighters who came from across the country into Manhattan, and remember that these are not the actions of a nation that's going to be defeated by terrorists anytime soon. Weirdly -- almost trivially -- I think of the old cartoon, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and how the people in that story have a terrible, terrible thing done to them and their response is resolutely go outside and sing their song just as loud as they can.
It's weird -- almost stupid, I guess -- to have this story in particular in my head when I think of September 11th! I really cannot imagine, say, going on teevee and saying, "Let's consider this cartoon I saw, for a minute, as we discuss this terrible tragedy." But I think it sticks with me because it's a wisdom tailor-made for children, a wisdom that is often of the highest order, and yet, tragically, very quickly forgotten in the rush, perhaps, to put aside our childish things.
Anyway, I hope everyone has a great week, and a lovely autumn! (Please burn some leaves! I really love the smell.)
[If you are waiting on liveblog, be patient! I'm typing it now.]