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TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

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Things that Chris Matthews doesn't know that Norah O'Donnell has agreed to pass on to him in the vain hope that he can learn things include:

The outsourcing business is "booming in India!" Why not watch a terrible sitcom about it on NBC, that explains how hilarious other cultures can be in ways that will blow your imagination into a puddle of warm snot?

There are people who want to put a tax on sodas to lower the deficit! Because a tax on speculative financial transactions would impact the hero-vampires of Wall Street so adversely, that they might not be able to destroy the economy again at great profit with any degree of alacrity!

Kelly O'Donnell has been covering the Rangel trial, and picked up some trivia that is really no longer relevant.

Rick Stengel says that the RGA spent the week hating on Sarah Palin for being the ideal foil of Barack Obama.

Dulcolax stool softener makes it "easier to go!" Oh, wait. That's a commercial. STILL SOMEONE SHOULD TELL CHRIS MATTHEWS THIS.

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Now Norah O'Donnell has a BIG QUESTION and it's about the TSA groping out out taint regions for liberty. The question is, would the four people on the panel rather be "profiled or groped," which is a REALLY SMART QUESTION TO ASK FAMOUS WHITE PEOPLE. Rather says he'd rather be profiled, BUT WE ARE AT WAR SO SOME GROPING IS INVOLVED. Kay will take it up on a groper-by-groper basis, but points out that experts consistently say that profiling doesn't work. Kelly O'Donnell says that there will be GROPE-RAGE soon. Stengel says that people just don't want to "pay the price for security," and the "price" is "stranger-danger handjobs for all of America."

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Today on MTP there will be some Hillary Clinton and some Bobby Jindal, and a panel that includes confirmed lunatic Allen West. So, basically, I'm going to pause for five minutes to refill my coffee and ask The Powers That Be to consider groping me, with a quick death!

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David Gregory is basically going to attempt to do the routine that Chris Wallace has already done today. First he will talk to Hillary Clinton and ask her all the same questions. Then he will chat up a Repubilican governor who has a new book out, and then he'll have a panel discussion on people's insidery books and NYT Magzine cover stories. PLEASE BUY SOMETHING IN PRINT, AMERICA!

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Is the war in Afghanistan ever going to end? Hillary says that the draw down is still sort of happening in 2011, as long as you imagine that beginning to talk about doing a thing and maybe starting to plan for doing a thing is the same as actually doing that thing, which isn't going to start until 2014. Hey, you know, we're talking about it now, so aren't we actually ahead of schedule on ending the Afghanistan War? I think so! Sidenote: please please send many more billions of dollars to Afghanistan, okay?

Gregory asks if we "might have a long term presence" there, say, in the "form of airbases?" You know, like Bagram AFB, where we do things that aren't inadmissible in civilian courts, if you even find out about those things? Which you really shouldn't ever find out about, by the way!

HRC says that "we're intent upon the goal" of transferring power to the Afghans, but sure, we'd be willing to stay around to "train" and "equip" and "support" the Afghans. What about permanent bases? She says, "There's been no decision about any of that." Which means there have been discussions about it, but that nothing was formally "decided," at any of those discussions. So Gregory presses, and she walks it back to "no consideration" has been had about permanent bases, and that they "aren't on the table."

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Moving on the TSA Grope Wars On American Tourists. Are they excessive? Or are they actually AWESOME? Clinton basically says that she's not going to second guess people like Janet Napolitano and "security experts" who you should really be blaming for these searches! Still, she says, "Terrorists are adaptable," and will one day be a crotch-sized menace, and we need to have X-rays zap our nude bodies, for the internets.

As for the Ghailani case, Clinton says that the civilian courts have a "good track record of convicting terrorists" and it far exceeds the ability of military commissions -- it is "regular" and "predictable." And all of the stuff that got tossed out of the Ghailani case (you know, all the TORTURE STUFF) would have also been thrown out of a military commission.

Better question, from Gregory: "If these suspects are acquitted in civilian court, will they be released." Clinton says no. And they won't! Because they have all sorts of funny loopholes to continue imprisoning these people. And that's really problematic, because that isn't really "justice" as it should be known. Gregory wants to know why we bother to hold up our system as the right route if our endgame will be to circumvent justice, in this "the fix is in" way. And I agree, acquittal should mean release -- sorry, that's the way it goes!

Clinton says, "Well our system is the best system." Which explains nothing, and doesn't come close to dealing with this hard question.

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What does HRC think about the Election Day results, and will she sit down with Sarah Palin and have coffee with her? Clinton says that as Secretary of State, she feels no need to comment on politics, and so she doesn't.

"And here I thought I'd lulled you into a moment of candor," says Gregory. God only knows what would have given him that impression!

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Now, here's Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. David Gregory tells him that he's not allowed to wriggle out of political questions like Clinton, so everyone be prepared for an amazing battle of wits as these two men go at each other like TSA agents in a pheromone-heat, groping each other WITH THEIR MINDS!

And for some reason, Jindal is first asked to discuss all of the TSA secret-touching, because wouldn't that be the first thing you would ask the Governor of Louisiana? Jindal says that while we "cannot be lackadaical" about security, but there's no reason that they should be touching children in the bathing suit area.

"It feels like this administration is playing a defensive game against terrorism," Jindal says, who goes on to describe the real successes we've had thwarting terror attacks as mere luck, presumably because his party would do pretty much the same thing but describe it as muscular and awesome. Anyway, let's just allow that the TSA is not DEFENSIVELY stroking crotches, okay? I mean, call that what you want, but it is pretty goddamned PRO-ACTIVE, if nothing else.

"Luck is not a strategy," Jindal says, "We need to be rooting out these terrorists and killing them." Jindal is, I guess, not aware that the questioning of Captain Crotchfire and Biggest Broadway Bomber Since Frank Wildhorn garnered a lot of useful intelligence and that we are killing terrorists at a clip so astonishing that some neocon douchebags with WaPo columns (and in the world of neocon douchery, you are no one until you have Fred Hiatt groping you in Katherine Weymouth's walk-in closet) complaining that we're killing so many terrorists that there aren't enough left over to torture, for evidence that will get thrown out of civilian court.

David Gregory offers no pushback to any of Jindal's bullshit, because he's too busy trying to "lull him into a moment of candor," with his eyelashes.

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Gregory actually DOES ask Jindal about his contention that the Obama administration is sucking at their job, when they are actually doing a "robust" job of terror fighting. Maybe he's noticed that the entirety of Jindal's foreign policy expertise has come from reading some George Will columns -- which Jindal has now admitted to, two or three times?

Jindal says that he also thinks that Bush was wrong in the way he treated Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber. INTERESTING! Because last time I checked, Reid was serving a life sentence in maximum security prison! So, what went wrong, there?

Jindal says a bunch of things that essentially make no sense at all: "Go back to the Miranda rights for the underwear bomber. What evidence do they need? He...I mean they caught him with the device. What was the purpose -- you asked a great question of Secretary Clinton. Why are we doing these civilian trials if they're not gonna release 'em? Why are we compromising sources?"

Uhm. You know, Bobby. If you catch a murderer knee deep in corpses, slain by his own hand, clutching a piece of paper that says, "I KILLED ALL THESE DUDES," and a DVD that shows him killing those dudes, and his grandmother is there, and he says, "Grandma, could you tell the nice police that I killed these dudes and that you saw everything," and his Grandmother says, "He totally did kill those dudes, and I liveblogged the killings myself with video and photographs uploaded to my Flickr account," THEN YOU STILL READ THE GUY HIS MIRANDA RIGHTS.

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Finally, Gregory ends this "Let's let Bobby Jindal pretend he knows things about foreign policy," and gets into his book, which is apparently a lighter version of Rick Perry's "Let's Destroy The Federal Government, Together" book.

Jindal says that the Obama administration didn't have much of a plan to stop the oil spill, and rails against the bureaucracy that inhibited local authorities from operating their own plans, with pointless inspections and nonsense busy work. Jindal says that you saw some of the same delays as you did in Katrina, minus the whole people starving to death in a football stadium and being murdered by police on a bridge.

Gregory says that the White House has pushed back on Jindal's account, and so this whole thing is going to boil down to a "he said-he said" bitch-debate over who did what, when. It would have been useful, maybe, for NBC News to have done some reporting here, so that they could look Jindal in the eye and say "NO YOU ARE WRONG," or "YES YOU ARE RIGHT," or some combination of the two. As it stands, the "truth" about this matter will probably fall in favor of whoever says something about this last and loudest.

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Of course, the funny thing about that is that the White House was pretty happy to see BP and local authorities thwarting the media from doing their job. Which makes me want to ask Jindal, "Hey, you are the governor of the state of Louisiana, right? Why didn't you order state and local police to stop helping BP in the task of impeding the media?"

Jindal says that the voters want to see less deficits, unless the huge deficit is a result of extending the Bush tax cuts for rich people.

Jindal says he is not running for President, no matter how many different ways Gregory wants to ask him. GOOD TRY, DAVID GREGORY! One day, you will successfully fool somebody into spilling his secret plan to run for President!

What does Jindal think about Sarah Palin? He basically wants to change that subject, because nobody wants to be frank about her, and risk her wrath. But nobody wants to be on the hook for supporting her presidential aspirations, either! MEET THE PRESS, asking the questions that everyone else is asking and has provided answers to, unless they are fundamentally unimportant ones!

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Today's panel includes: Robert Draper -- who wrote the 955th profile of Sarah Palin available to humans, Allen West -- who I sincerely believe will be the first Congressperson to actually stab someone on the floor of the House and devour their innards on C-SPAN, proclaiming "THE VISCERA OF MY SOCIALIST MUSLIM ENEMY WILL ONLY MAKE ME STRONGER!", Richard Wolffe -- who basically has been TSA-groping Barack Obama for two books, now, and Paul Gigot. I really have nothing witty to say about Paul Gigot today. Which is probably a relief to Paul Gigot!

Anyway, Gregory asks West about people at airports getting, finally, to third base with someone who cares about their security. West says that "it may become an issue" in Washington, but that the plan to touch everyone should have been preceded by a "marketing" campaign, like maybe: "Hello, I'm teevee's Don Draper, and I'd like to search you vagina for dirty bombs."

West says that Israel has "very good procedures." Let's hear more about them!

I don’t want to generalize too much from a single trip through Ben Gurion Airport, but I’d have to say that my experience leaving Tel Aviv was far and away the most unpleasant encounter I’d ever had with airport security officials in the decade. Moscow in 1998 was worse. As best I could tell, things went pretty smoothly as long as you were (a) Israeli, (b) traveling with an Israeli, or (c) traveling with some kind of well-established tour group. I think this may be how the majority of people go through the airport, which may account for its good reputation. But it took me approximately three hours to get from the initial passport check through to the food court. I was told that I couldn’t take my iPad onto the plane, and therefore would have to check a whole bag that I’d been planning to carry on so that the bag could contain the forbidden device, and the same thing happened to two of the guys I was traveling with. Each individual item from the bad I was allowed to carry on had to be separately wiped down for traces of explosive residue and several items had to be wiped multiple times.

I was groped a couple of times, yelled at by surly Russian immigrants, accused of “lying” because I’d forgotten I had a second iPod charging cord in my bag, interrogated several times about who I’d talked to, etc.

What is true is that except for the Russian immigrants, who do bring the unique Russian approach to customer service, everyone is exceedingly polite. That said, the process took three hours! What’s more, unlike with American security I actually felt somewhat threatened the whole time, like they might just decide I was too left-wing and destroy my laptop. Fortunately, I’d been warned this would likely happen and was delivered to the airport four hours before takeoff. But if you had to arrive four hours before your Atlanta-Boston flight’s scheduled departure, then you’d vitiate the entire utility of air travel.

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Wolffe starts arguing with West, and it doesn't really go very far, but his basic thrust was that he thought it was weird to criticize a Democratic president for something intrusive while not doing the same for Republican presidents. West says it's all about marketing. Gigot says that we could lose support for fighting long wars against nebulous terrorist enemies if we don't figure out a way to make people complain less about the TSA!

Draper says that while there are a "lot of arguments we can make at the margins," this is actually a debate about the price we pay to be secure (and that the former President actually wrote a lot of those checks in the first place).

Is there going to be a battle between the Tea Party and the GOP in Congress over this issue? West basically says no. (And why would there be? The GOP establishment is as good at co-opting people as the Democratic establishment.)

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Wolffe says that democrats and independents want everyone to work together, and if they don't there will be a backlash against the GOP. I think that voters want jobs, and if they do not get jobs, no incumbent is safe, including the President. But then, I don't think Richard Wolffe is too tuned in to the whole "unemployment crisis," as it is not happening in President Obama's hamper.

Gigot says that Obama will have to "move to the center symbolically on tone and substantively on a few issues" if we wants to get re-elected. Actually, many Americans will have to be employed in two years time if he wants to get re-elected. But keep pissing out these pearls of nonsense, pundits!

Tax cuts! West wants all of the tax cuts extended, because the American people have spoken and they want trillion added to the deficit! (This will lead to "growth" and "small businesses" and "a period of time where people will not complain about the deficits, until the Democrats are back in power in the House.")

David Gregory correctly describes the Deficit Commission as "political cover," but Wolffe insists that Obama is serious about the deficits, and is willing to be the only grown-up in the discussion. But the larger problem is that the GOP won't raise any kind of tax ever, no matter how much the DefCom insists. Draper says that this coming lack of success presents Obama with a political opportunity to make a larger point about the GOP's commitment to fiscal discipline -- which is swell, but doesn't address any problem other than Obama's political ones.

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Now, David Gregory wants to talk about 2012, and Sarah, if anyone has a recent piece in the NYT Magazine, they should speak up, now!

Draper says that there are still "big questions" about Palin's record and her grasp of the issues. So, there have been some real dramatic developments in the world of Palin-watching since August of 2008!

What impact did Palin's endorsement have on West's campaign? West says "it was good to have her endorsement," but it's "incumbent upon me to prove myself worthy."

David Gregory asks Richard Wolffe about a Ron Brownstein article and the "beer-wine track" and OMG, I FINALLY HAVE PUNDIT BINGO!

Paul Gigot says the 2012 field for the GOP is "wide-open!" and it's all about "selling yourself to swing voters!" This is really some top-notch political talking! I really hope none of you are missing this!

Remember, it's important to pretend in every presidential election that no one has ever lived through one!

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I'm really impressed by the number of commercials MEET THE PRESS was able to sell during the latter half of this show.

What does Richard Wolffe think about Obama's revival? AS IT HAPPENS THERE IS A BOOK, CALLED "REVIVAL," WRITTEN ABOUT OBAMA, BY RICHARD WOLFFE! Get excited, America!

West says his mandate is to "listen to the American people," which is problematic, because the American people want to raise tax rates on corporate income and those earning more than million, reduce military spending by 10 to 15 percent, and create a carbon tax and a securities-transaction tax.


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Well, that's it for today. Everyone is free to turn on the Washington-Tennessee game, where I'm pleased to report is not 42-0 like that game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, of course, was the first attempt at this new liveblogging format. I hope that it was better for most of you, in that it got the content to you quicker without having to press "refresh" a million-billion times. And i hope it works well for all of you who are tuning in long after the shows are over, to get the liveblog in one long take.

Please, please! If you've any complaints about the new format, feel free to pass them along and I will send them to those who might be able to improve your user experience.

Thank you all very much, and while we're on the subject, I want to take a moment to wish all of you readers and commenters the best Thanksgiving holiday you can have. If you are traveling, travel safely. If you are seeing family that you rarely see, I hope your visit is full of joy. If you are flash-frying your turkey, I hope you do not do it in your carport, because that is a fire hazard.

(Here is my favorite Thanksgiving day recipe of all time! Good luck!)

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