TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads
Hello, hooray, good morning, and welcome to the October 23rd edition of whatever this is! My name is Jason, and I make this quickly typed log of snap judgments about Sunday morning political blah-blah on only a few hours of sleep and barely adequately caffeinated. Today is October 23rd, which means I start my fifth year at the Huffington Post today. On this occasion, I feel like it's time I recognized our wonderful copyeditors. Copyeditors! Lo, I know I do not make things easy on you. I know that more often than not, you have to wade waist deep in words cut clean from my id, which is not what you signed up for, or learned to contend with in school. Thanks for bearing with me, all these years.
With that out of the way, it is time to begin. As always, you are welcome to send me an email, or strike up a conversation in the comments stream, or, if you've a glutton for punishment, follow me on Twitter.
As always, the liveblog will be published as soon as I've typed something, so, from time to time, you may find yourself at an abrupt end, waiting for me to add on. While you wait, here are some things I thought you might like to read.
"How Occupy Wall Street Is Like the Internet," by Conor Friedersdorf. The incredibly true story of an idea that became a rallying cry half a world away. And, hey, there's a political movement that's making placards out of stuff that Conor says on the internet? Sometimes, I think I'm going to enjoy the future.
"Student loan debts crush an entire generation," by Alex Pareene. Why are the folks behind the Washington Post running what amounts to a massive educational scam on vulnerable Americans? Probably they're just horrible human beings!
"Ohio's War on the Middle Class," by Mac McClelland. Super heroine and journalist Mac McClelland went back home for a month to chronicle the effects of the terrible economy. If you missed her blogging, her feature story on the journey has all the good stuff.
(I really think the most appropriate song here is "Bloodbuzz, Ohio," by the National...probably the best post-crash rock song we have right now.)
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Hillary Clinton will be full-Ginsburging it today, Michele Bachmann will be similarly unavoidable, and Lindsey Graham is here to despair of the fact that a war has "ended."
"Plus, the Romney/Perry matchup gets physical," says Chris Wallace, firing the imagination!
First, though, Hillary Clinton is in Uzbekistan, which if you recall is not Herman Cain's favorite place in the world, to talk about all of the international goings on -- Ghadafi being killed, and troops in Iraq coming back home. Right off the bat, I'm glad we'll no longer have to worry about all the different spelling variations of Ghadafi's name.
Wallace asks, "Why is Obama pulling all of our troops out of Iraq?" Lord, give me strength, this will also be one of the last days I'll sit wondering why people like Chris Wallace are so dense that they have to keep asking this question. To review, there's a Status of Forces Agreement that we signed with the Iraqi government, which dictated this exact withdrawal, down to the day. It dates back to the Bush administration. It can only be changed by the Iraqi government. It's just amazing how the media has been able to get away with not knowing this important material fact.
Anyway, in so many words, Clinton explains the above to Wallace. Because this is politics, she calls it a "bipartisan" agreement. She explains that what the Iraqis allow for is a "support and training mission" and a "robust diplomatic presence." Wallace asks why the U.S. was in negotiations with the Iraqi government to leave more troops in Iraq. The second answer is the same as the first! That's who you negotiate with, under the SOFA! "Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation," Clinton points out.
Wallace points out that Iraq could descend into sectarian violence, which doesn't sound like the type of thing that I want our soldiers caught in the middle of, frankly. He also notes the influence of Iran. Lots of people are going to note that. People will say "Iran won the Iraq war." My darlings, the increased influence of Iran is the most predictable natural consequence of the invasion itself. When it began, you should have mused, "Oh, well, this is going to definitely strengthen Iran's influence in Iraq." I would have guaranteed you that result from day one. I feel bad for people who honestly are surprised that things played out that way.
Clinton says that the point of our involvement in Iraq was "to create the opportunity for Iraqis to have their own future." "That is what we were there for," Clinton says. Well, actually it had something to do with WMDs and an imminent threat of nuclear terrorism and September 11th. But Clinton has been helping to author the "official history" of the Iraq War right along. That's "bipartisan," too. This big lie, I mean.
On to Libya! Wallace wants to know if she feels bad for joking about Ghadafi's death, and I mean, if that's something people need to feel bad about, Twitter is going to have to apologize. She says that she welcomes any investigation into whether Ghadafi's death was a war crime. She won't comment on quipping about Ghadafi's death. She also thinks that Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, aka the "Lockerbie Bomber," aka another one of these mad Libyan terrorist wankers, should be returned to a Scottish prison.
Clinton says that we have a policy of "Fight, Talk, and Build" with the Haqqani network, which is probably the diplomatic equivalent of "F--k, Marry, Kill."
Why intervene in Uganda and Libya but not Syria, Wallace wonders. I wonder that myself! Clinton says that Obama's "smart leadership is finally paying off" and that it's a "complex world" and we have to make "the right decision" on a case by case basis. In Syria, she says, we are "strongly supporting a change from Assad." It's kind of like you might "strongly support" the San Diego Chargers, but not actually try to help the San Diego Chargers avoid being killed by a regime of autocratic fanatics.
Now here's Lindsey "Jowly Dave Foley" Graham. He says that Obama is terrible! We need lots of troops in Iraq. He's thrown Israel under the bus! (Under that bus, the Israelis found a cache of state of the art bunker buster bombs giftwrapped for them, by the way, because Obama treats them SO TERRIBLY!)
Wallace points out that a lot of bad people are dead -- Ghadafi, Al-Awlaki, and bin Laden -- and Graham says, sure, good job, with the disappointment of a man who clearly thought he'd be masturbating to those events and now can't enjoy them because he's such a clapped-out partisan hack. He says that Obama "failed to close the deal in Iraq" by following the exact guidelines set forth in the Status Of Forces Agreement that was crafted by President Bush. (John McCain will sing a similar sad refrain on THIS WEEK this morning. McCain and Graham are Washington's two most dedicated Status Of Forces Agreement denialists, and the sight of either is now downright sad.)
Ha, Graham met with a bunch of Iraqis, including al Maliki, begging them to let troops stay in Iraq forever and ever. And he says that they all "suggested" that they might allow it. But, ha-ha, in the end they didn't. Graham is really, really depressed about this. I just want to point out to the mothers and fathers of troops who have been doing umpteen tours of duty in Iraq that Lindsay Graham is just personally devastated that your kids won't be doing several more.
Everybody go read We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People by Peter Van Buren and Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War by Matt Gallagher, please!
As for Libya -- the cost-effective, casualty-free but Constitutionally suspect mission that ended in Ghadafi's death -- Graham thinks that Obama was terrible and he's sad that France had the lead. By not unleashing our air power as fully as we could, he says, the NATO air force was weaker. Maybe! Still pretty awesomely effective, though.
And Graham is also sad that Obama seems slightly more interested in the rule of law, and doesn't like sending as many people to secret prisons to be tortured and eventually detained forever. I mean, he still seems to like some of that stuff, Linds!
"Iran is the biggest winner in this," Graham says. Like I said, was he not aware that this would be the result of the invasion itself? The poor man.
Graham says that he would have defended Obama if he'd left 15,000 troops in Iraq. (15,000!) That is of course a huge lie! Leave 15,000, and you're a traitor for not leaving 20,000. Graham is equally despondent that the 2012 field doesn't seem as bloodthirsty and irrational as he'd like them to be. (This is what's gotten Mitt Romney -- for saying, "It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over to the Taliban military in a way that they're able to defend themselves. Excuse me, the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban. That's an important distinction." -- labeled an "isolationist.")
Okay, so, here's Michele Bachmann, who is close to the end, as far as her candidacy goes.
Naturally, she doesn't like the Iraq War, because "we have nothing to show for it." She's sad that we haven't left troops behind. The example she likes to use is that we'll now have more troops in Honduras than we will in Iraq, but that seems like an easy fix to me! LET'S WITHDRAW OUR TROOPS FROM HONDURAS!
"Iran will have a clear hand and a clear field to exude their dominance," says Bachmann, referring to the fait accompli that dates back to the first day of the invasion of Iraq.
Bachmann stands by the decision to not go into Libya, because we don't have control over who comes to power in Libya. Wallace says he's confused, because isn't the world better with no Ghadafi? Bachmann says sure, but there are weapons missing now, and no one knows who the new people running Libya are, and "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't"...which sort of indicates that she WOULD rather have Ghadafi in power.
Bachmann is going to flatten taxes and simplify taxes and abolish the tax codes and have "flat tax codes that are simple" with her "very fair and very simple flat tax that will abolish the tax code." Flat fair simple tax abolish flat fair abolish!
Bachmann is troubled by Herman Cain's confused position on abortion, because why shouldn't the president issue personal directives over every pregnancy in America! Those are our precious bodily fluids, and Bachmann will personally govern them.
"We certainly don't want to see terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed released from Guantanamo Bay," she says. Wait. Who's releasing him? You mean, sending him in chains to stand trial and then winning a slam dunk case against him and then subsequently sending him in chains to a supermax prison to live for the rest of his life? That's "releasing?" That's actually Bachmann saying, "I just bet KSM has some secret X-Men powers!"
Finally, Wallace brings up her staffers in New Hampshire quitting, and wonders if she isn't just "all in in Iowa." She says that she's spent lots of New Hampshire and will spend more time there, but Iowa is "number one!" So she's staying.
"We'll see you on the campaign trail," says Wallace. Not if you aren't looking for her in Iowa you won't!
Panel time now, with Brit Hume and David Drucker and Kimberly Strassel and Juan Williams.
Hume isn't quite sure how Iraq will end up. Drucker says that if Iran ends up a major player in Iraq it will be a major failure. Iran has been a major player on Iraq for years and years and years already! My God, is there no one who understands this! I am so glad I did not wake up determined to play my "Who doesn't realize that Iran filled the power vacuum in Iraq a long time ago" drinking game. (I mean...I'm sorry I didn't wake up determined to play that.)
Williams says, "the idea that Iran will just dominate Iraq now is mistaken." Oh, he shall be the most disappointed of all!
Hume says that we should have started fighting in Libya much sooner. We also should have killed Ghadafi with MUCH MORE DEATH! Also, why did no one yell, and make their face red? "BLLEEEEERRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!! LIIIIIBBBBBBYAAAAA!" Obama should have yelled, for two months straight, whilst stabbing Ghadafi in effigy in front of the Washington monument.
Strassel agrees: if we'd gotten involved earlier, many fewer Libyan rebels would have been killed. You have to say it that way because no Americans died. Of course, you know why you just can't make America responsible for the deaths of Libyan rebels? BECAUSE THEY WERE LIBYAN REBELS.
Hume hates leading from behind! Spend blood and treasure! I'm guessing he also hates large structural deficits. Cut more Medicare benefits!
More paneling! Mitt Romney and Rick Perry almost killed one another, in a flesh re-enactment of the final fight scene in the movie REAL STEEL (I'm guessing, haven't seen it, Mitt's candidacy is all the robot boxing I can take at the moment). Why didn't Obama establish a no fly zone over the debate, someone could have been killed!
Nevertheless, can Cain stay on top? Strassel says that Cain is not getting hammered, because of his standing in the poll. That analysis is for everyone who just woke up from a tow year coma.
Williams points out that Romney still considers Perry his rival, and doesn't take Cain all that seriously. That's probably correct. Perry has got money, Cain doesn't. Perry has an organization, Cain doesn't. So Perry is the more serious threat.
I'll be interested if anyone on any of today's Sunday shows points out the obvious -- that the way the primary calendar is now set, it favors the possibility that Romney will win the nomination very quickly.
Hume is pretty sure that Perry made a "double blunder" by taking a "cheap shot" at Mitt for his "sanctuary mansions" where undocumented immigrants tended the lawn and the flowers and kept all the paving stones clean for his lordship. I think that Perry will say, "Snack on it, Hume," because the big victory in that exchange was all Perry's, as he got Romney to say, "So, we went to the company...and we said, look, you can’t have illegals working on our property. I’m running for office for Pete’s sake. I can’t have illegals.”
FOR PETE'S SAKE, WHAT WILL PETE THINK?
Williams immediately points that out, and Hume says, "That wasn't the most artful way of putting it." You mean, the way he put it -- ordinarily it would be okay but not when I'm running for office -- wasn't artful? I'd say not! The problem is, it was honest.
Wallace quips, "Let me in let you in on a little secret, we (the media) don't want an Obama-Romney race for the next year." Well, y'alls best get down to undermining Romney like crazy, then!
FACE THE NATION
Basically, we have the same agenda as Fox News Sunday, except we have Rick Santorum in the house along with Michele Bachmann, because why not give more of the bottom tier a chance to shine!
As far as Iraq goes, Schieffer notes that the deal that was struck that has resulted in our troops coming home from Iraq was etched by the Bush administration. Bachmann, however, says that Obama's been in office and has had "plenty of time to deal with the situation" and "events change on the ground." But one of the events that didn't change on the ground was the Status Of Forces Agreement! "This has been more politically based than military-based," she says. Well, sure! But the "political" part comes when Obama asks for a cookie for doing the thing he was compelled to do as if it were his idea. If you really want to make a cutting political charge against the White House on this issue, it would actually behoove you accept the premise that the withdrawal is a de facto condition of the SOFA.
Bachmann makes her "Honduras has more troops/Iran will exert their dominance" point again, and again, I'll point out that we can withdraw our troops from Honduras tomorrow -- this sounds like an excellent idea! -- and everyone should have accepted the fact that the invasion and occupation was going to strengthen Iran's hand in the region, as I did, one the invasion was underway.
Schieffer points out that the Iraqis don't want us there, so, "how can you really help people who don't want your help?" Very good point, as remaining in Iraq in violation of the SOFA would have likely fanned the flames if insurgents.
And, yes, I know how ridiculous it is to constantly be referring to the Status of Forces Agreement as a SOFA. Maybe it makes me feel a little better than somehow, some fluffy piece of living room furniture from SCAN is holding a tiny part of the world together. It's very Douglas Adams, I think.
Anyway, Bachmann responds by saying that the problem is "we have put a lot of deposit into Iraq," and "to think that we are so disrespected and they have so little fear of the United States that there would be nothing we would gain from this..."
Wow. Just...wow. We expended so much money, trying to prove to Iraq that they should "fear" us! THEY NEED TO GIVE US SOMETHING IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS DEMONSTRATION OF EXCEPTIONALISM.
Poor Michele! Like Ted Leo sings, "You didn't think they could hate you, now did you?"
"I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States fully for the amount of money we have spent to liberate these people," Bachmann says, because she is EFFING NUTS.
Michele Bachmann says that "it seems that General Axelrod" is making the decision to withdraw the troops. Yes, according to the agreement. But it's not like the administration didn't seek a way to keep troops in Iraq. As Schieffer explains to Bachmann, the Iraqis -- who are the sole party that can authorize a change to the SOFA -- said that troops could remain, but they would not be granted legal immunity. That was a non-starter, in the eyes of the Obama administration, and so there was no deal. But all of this wheeling and dealing nevertheless hewed very specifically by the conditions laid down by the Bush administration.
Bachmann's response to whether she'd allow the troops to be subject to those conditions is "No, no president could." So what's the problem here? Bachmann says that "We are there as the nation who liberated these people and that's the thanks we are getting." YES, MICHELE, THERE IS YOUR THANKS.
Schieffer points out that Ghadafi and Al-Awlaki and bin Laden are all dead, so doesn't the White House deserve some credit? Bachmann says that the world is better off without these people, but she opposes us fighting in Libya and Uganda.
Andrew Sullivan was speaking some free-range, grass-fed truth, by the way, when he said: "To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now."
God help me, I know I should treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves, but I do laugh every time Bachmann says, "The MANPADs are missing!" Sorry, everyone.
Rick Santorum is here, now, and his campaign has decided to light him, rather eerily and poorly from in front and below. The result is that until he actually MOVED, which wasn't for like, ten seconds, I wasn't sure if that was the actual Rick Santorum or a cardboard cutout of Rick Santorum that you would pose for a picture with, were there anyone in America who'd be interested in posing for a picture with a cardboard Rick Santorum. "Oh, yeah, me and your Aunt Hattie and all the cousins went to Harrisburg, and we had so much fun, although cousin Josie got a bit a tummyache after having that milkshake, and we had to go back to the Radisson to let her take a nap. Oh, but before we went back, look at these hilarious pictures we took! Oh, it looks like we're standing right next to the actual Rick Santorum, doesn't it! You don't know Rick Santorum? Oh, Maude, you should Google him, and find out, because you'll see why this is so hilarious!"
Schieffer tells Santorum that he finds it hard to believe that any President would leave troops there without immunity. Santorum says that it's a shame we have a President that wasn't able to set his own conditions and influence the Iraqi government to change their minds. The next question, of course, should be, "What would you have done to get Iraq to agree to a new set of conditions, Rick?"
Schieffer instead presses on why we would stay in a country that doesn't want us there. Santorum, of course, is terribly surprised that Iran has "broadened its sphere of influence." As I've been saying, "LOL, you ignorant, Rick. You ignorant."
Schieffer points out that Obama has killed a lot of very bad people. Santorum says that "You're not looking at the central core element," which is Iran. And also Syria. And so we should go to war with Syria?
"Would you send American troops to Syria then?" asks Schieffer.
"I'm not saying we should be sending American troops," says Ricky, who says we "should be working vehemently and vigorously with the Syrians and going after Assad in every way, covertly or otherwise." So, basically, we need to go all Green Lantern Power Ring on Syria -- just get vehement! And vigilant! Really squinch up our faces as if we're trying to pass a tainted cantaloupe through our bowels! And, failing that, order up some super-spy assassinations! Doesn't Obama know that solving these problems is so easy!
Does Santorum think Herman Cain is "for real" and a "conservative?" Santorum says that he admits that Herman Cain exists on the physical plane with the rest of us, but he supported the Wall Street bailout, and that makes him not conservative. (The Wall Street bailout, like the Status of Forces Agreement, was minted under a conservative administration, just saying.)
Could Santorum support Romney or Cain if they won the nomination? Yes, he says. He could even support Ron Paul, though Paul's foreign policy has given Santorum "indigestion." Yes. Santorum's convictions are thoroughly fungible. No worries! He'll sell out when the time comes! (Thing is, who'll be buying?)
Roundtable discussion time with CBS political analyst John Dickerson and Romney flack Kevin Madden are here. Apparently they asked a Perry flack to attend this discussion also, but Perry don't play that game. Anyway, first they will talk about Condi Rice's new book. Apparently, she wasn't as listened to as she could have been, in the Bush White House. Dickerson says, though, that the book shows that the most important thing the President does on a daily basis is meet with advisers and manage a team.
Rice also discloses in her book that she's lost confidence in Donald Rumsfeld by the end of her tenure, which proves once and for all that Rice has sentience. (Though let's face it, there were some plants -- hydrangeas mostly, but also some creeping vines and mosses -- that had also evolved to the point where they did not have confidence in Rumsfeld, either.
Well, what about 2012? Will Romney win, even though he's not exciting, to anyone? Madden gives a long answer about polls and competitors and Romney's ability to remain resilient and "hold his own," so the answer is yes, everyone will be stuck with Romney, and like it, because really, the GOP voters want to beat Obama.
Dickerson says that Romney's electability is getting people to give him a second look, but Romney is a "stainless steel" candidate -- no ability to form a human connection. I still think, however, that one day, as Romney scours over the surface of this trash planet, he will finally meet Eve and fall in love -- or at least, a biometric subroutine that approximates "love" sufficiently enough for Romney's neural network to understand.
Dickerson says that Cain is "for real," in that voters are suddenly excited about him and Cain is able to manufacture that personal "spark" with people. But there's no organization. "He's been to Iowa a couple of times, but not enough."
MEET THE PRESS
The death panel is REAL and it will be found on Meet The Press today, as David Brooks and Andrea Mitchell and Harold Ford, Jr. and Jack Welch, and really, I hope for your sake that you do not watch and instead imagine that the four of them are here to perform their new act, "The Aristocrats!" for David Gregory, because one thing that's less soul-destroying that the thought of these four talking about the political horse race, and -- heaven forbid -- the middle class, is the thought of these four getting naked and pulling out the clamps and the hot butter to spread all over their _____________ while Mitchell hovers over Brooks' face and ___________ in his ___________ as Welch and Ford ____________ to each other's ______________ and _____________ in a complicated bit of choreography staged to Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" theme, where every time Parker sings, "WHO YOU GONNA CALL?" Welch responds by ______________ inside Ford's ____________ to the point that you wonder, "I never thought a duodenum could take that kind of pressure!" And then the whole thing moves to the four allowing Gregory to eat ____________ off of Brooks' flaming _________ as the other three perform something called "Halftime Show At the Prison Yachtzee Tournament" in Thailand, where suddenly you don't know where Welch's ___________begins and Mitchell's _____________ ends and you don't care, because by now your eyes need to be bleached, if not fully "Oedipus Wrecked," if you know what I mean, and you'd best because the finale is a full-on historical re-enactment of the Fall of Thebes using only their ___________ and their __________ and their ___________, which somehow they've all stretched up OVER THEIR HEADS LIKE reverse hoodies, and Gregory draws little Disney faces on them, and then the whole thing collapses in a heap of _______________ and tangled __________ and ___________dripping off of every surface.
Also, Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul are here! And, thanks again, copyeditors!
Hillary Clinton is here, and there's something weird with the feed...are they shooting this in 3-D? Did they slather the lens in vaseline? Don't know! Regardless, Clinton says that combat troops were always getting on up out of Iraq and it would be happening according to the SOFA. (The new frame of this, is that Obama showed "leadership" by following the strict instructions he had to follow, and, I mean, when he makes coffee according to the instructions on the coffee maker, is that "leadership?" I don't think so! But then again, if the Status Of Forces Agreement was written by the people from IKEA, and came with some weird pictures that looked like interpretative dance and a bunch of Allen Wrenches and the instructions to "Make yourself two people," then maybe I can see my way clear to calling it "leadership." I'd like to have more praise heaped on me for the computer desk I assembled, at any rate!)
"We had to support a training mission in Colombia for many years," says Clinton, making a comparison to what might happen now, adding that no one should imagine that we won't give Iraq the help they want (which doesn't seem to be very much).
Does Clinton stand by her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq? Clinton says that "this is the time to look forward" and she'll leave it to history to judge whether she made the right decision. "Was the war worth it?" Clinton says that "we'll have to wait a long time" for that to be determined, but that Iraqis and now Libyans have opportunities they didn't have before and she's glad that the United States stood on the right side (which, let's recall was originally the "side" of, "We must go and stop Saddam Hussein from using these weapons of mass destruction which we promise he is planning to use in the nest five minutes, OMFG!").
Segue now, to Libya. Clinton says again that she'd support an investigation into the circumstances of Gadhafi's death. Such an investigation, she says, will help establish democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law, so really, we should think of this as the prettiest drag-a-bullet-ridden-corpse-through-the-streets situation of all time!
As for our relationship with Pakistan, Clinton says we've had intense and candid and frank and open and sincere and serious and frowny and super-big-time-for-real-we-mean-it talks with Pakistani officials, where we've stressed the importance of eliminating terrorist safe havens (like Pakistan's intelligence agencies!) and recognize what's going on in Afghanistan, in terms of reconciliation.
Gregory asks if Hillary Clinton thinks the 2012 GOP field is fielding anyone who is serious about foreign policy, but he does so in such a way -- he brings in the old 3am phone call ad -- that essentially renders the question a bunch of slop. All for the sake of being the sexiest, savviest, rosy-cheekedest wittle Sunday show host in the big wide world! Clinton says Obama "has passed with flying colors every leadership challenge" -- citing the success in Libya and capping bin laden and getting out of Iraq. "I could go on and on," she says, implying that the field of opponents have not "grasped" either the "threats" or "opportunities" out there in the world to the extent Obama has.
So, breaking, the Secretary of State thinks the administration she works for is doing great!
Here's Ron Paul, presidential candidate and friend to the be-blimped. Gregory wants to know how draconian cuts in government spending won't hurt anybody, and Paul says that the money will all go back to the people. Gregory points out that sometimes there are nuclear meltdowns and what not, and Pail says that he'll shift money in order to deal with that -- he just personally believes that "runaway entitlement spending" is directly fueling a "sovereign debt crisis."
Would Paul abolish federal student aid? Paul says, eventually, but not right away because it would shock the system. Paul says that as costs go up, the quality of education has gone down. I'll give him points for insight here -- we're entering an era where it's so relatively cost-free to acquire knowledge, that something has to change -- if higher education just becomes a debt trap you have to enter into in order to receive what amounts to a license to use the knowledge you've acquired, that's just an intolerable set of conditions.
Ron Paul bottom lines what should have been done in the housing crisis/Wall Street collapse: "It should have had a sharp correction because it was artificially manipulated. You -- once you get this distortion you have to correct the mistake. So you do what we did in 1921. You allow the correction to occur. In one year you go back to work. If you keep transferring the debt from the private owners or the pseudo private owners, the Fannie Maes and the Freddie Macs that participated in the bankruptcy, you bail them out and you bail out the banks and you bail out the Wall Streeters, you dump all this debt on the people."
On to foreign policy. Paul doesn't think that troops will actually leave Iraq, that there will be a shift to CIA and contractors and he's probably correct. "Occupation is the key word," he says. "The Turks have already put troops into Iraq. Turks are now allying with the Iranians because there's civil strife up there. That is a consequence." I'll point out that Paul is so far the only person today to acknowledge that Iran's strengthened hand is a "consequence" of the invasion and occupation.
He also points out, "Ironically, there were no al Qaeda in Iraq, and there are now."
Paul admits that one thing he did vote for is going after bin Laden after 9-11, but he didn't sign up for invading and occupying multiple countries. "When it started lingering I argued against occupation, against the war, and I reintroduced the notion of a letter of mark and reprisal and targeting one individual rather than saying, 'We're gonna declare war against the world.' And now we're in all these countries and it's an endless fight and there's no end in sight."
Does the U.S. have a moral authority to lead on humanitarian crises? No. Whoever wants to help people can volunteer and go help, but the Constitution does not allow for sanctioned involvement in such things. Paul says that our "drone war" is "illegal," full stop.
PAUL: Why do you think people hate us? Because there's so much collateral damage. You see, "Oh, this is a bad guy. We'll drop a bomb in him and kill him." Well, we might hit him. We might miss him. We might hit another car. And then you kill 10 other people. Who would we do if they did that to us? We would be a little upset if China did that to us, wouldn't we?
Aye, verily, but then China doesn't have "American exceptionalism," do they? That's why when China waterboards someone it's "torture," and when we waterboard someone it's "freedom."
Paul says that the odds are terribly remote that Iran will ever attack Israel, because Israel has a raft of nukes that will end life in Iran instantaneously.
Paul would scrap the tax code altogether, because "taxation is theft." "The income tax," in Paul's opinion, is premised on the notion that the Federal government owns everyone's money and will take what they like from it.
Paul says that he would preserve entitlements by freezing, through monetary policy, the cost of living, and then steadily raising the retirement age. Good luck with that.
GREGORY: Let me ask you about politicians and this primary fight. You've said you were disgusted by some of the debates that you've been engaged in now. What's turned you off?
PAUL: Well, I guess it's the uselessness of some of this rhetoric. I mean arguing over who mows with Mitt Romney's lawn? I mean -- in the midst of a crisis?
The life of a second tier candidate: you don't get to exclusively talk about your candidacy, you have to help the media assert the favorites they've picked out by answering questions about them. Paul pointing out that the major media discussion of the 2012 race is, at its root, moronic, as about as well as you can fare.
"This is serious!" he urges, to David Gregory. Oh, man, Dr. Paul good luck cracking that nut!
Paul explicates the differences between Obama and Romney, the two most likely candidates, and to his mind, they're the same.
But my point is would there be a change in foreign policy? No. There would not be. Would either one of 'em work on a true audit of the Fed and a change in monetary policy that the Federal Reserve can't monetize debt? No. Would they address the entitlement system? Would they ever address either, one, that we should have concern about our debt and cut something like a trillion dollars because we're on the road to fiscal insanity and a breakdown of the world financial market? No. There would not be a significant difference between the two, although on the edges maybe I think -- Mitt Romney now is probably very sincere about his right-to-life issue and probably on the tax issues there would be some differences. But the big issues, the big policies regardless -- I mean -- Obama was elected as a peace candidate and expanded the war. And he goes into the war without even Congressional approval. I mean when -- when the Republicans get in and they're against -- you know, regulations, they give you No Child Left Behind, prescription drug programs and Sarbanes-Oxley.
Paul forges common cause between the "Occupiers" and the "Tea Party," saying that both are saying "enough is enough."
Sadly, now we have to go to this terrible roundtable discussion.
Is this a big moment for Obama, on foreign policy? Mitchell says it's a big moment that may not last, and that Libya may devolved but you can't fault the White House. "Leading from behind turned out to be very smart," she says. In Iraq, she says that the problem ahead will be whether or not Iraq descends into civil war.
Jack Welch, who is years past his prime and looks dazed, as if he was hit in the face with a shovel fifteen seconds before the lights went up, says, "I mean if he has success in this Iraq pull back it will be very helpful to him." Oh, so "success" is "helpful?" Good to know. Great insight, as always. Superlative. I'm finally glad Philo Farnsworth invented the effing television.
Brooks thinks there could be a crisis in the next year! Unless there isn't one!
Ford is all: "OMG, Obama, so awesome at the foreign policy! Wow. But what about the plight of the American family." That's Mr. I get driven everywhere in Manhattan by limousine, namechecking the "American family."
But let's not linger too long on the underclass, lest some reporting of their condition break out! Instead, here's Mitt Romney and Rick Perry fighting! Look at those two oligopolobots, daintily mussing each other's suits!
What has Jack Welch learned? That people fight, in elections. Mitchell says that people are focused on "income disparities" and "their looking for leadership," and I think that also includes a media that would rather report on the Romney-Perry fight club and not on income disparity.
OH NO, BROOKS HAS GIVEN ROMNEY A B-MINUS! A hit! A very palpable hit! The dread PASSING GRADE. Heavens to Betsy Fischer!
David Gregory is complimenting Jack Welch for his tweet during last week's Meet The Press, in which he said, of Herman Cain, "His no BS clarity is so refreshing." Again, that's the brilliant Jack Welch! On Herman Cain! And his "no BS clarity!" It isn't Herman Cain's who's put out an economic plan that all economists find to be a disaster, and which Cain refuses to show the math used to arrive at his claims, and which was forged by secret advisors, of whom only "Rich Lowrie of Cleveland, Ohio" can be named, for fear of...I don't know what? I tell you what, I want to meet the man or woman who has kept Jack Welch away from three-card monte games all his life, because GOOD LORD.
Welch says that Cain has a "spark" and he's "captured the imagination" of people whether you like 9-9-9 or "think it has 9-9-9 holes in it." But wait! Do you think it has "9-9-9 holes in it?" If you do, why are you praising the guy for capturing the imagination? "Oh, man, that con man took my home and my life's savings but wow did he ever INSPIRE ME!"
Ford thinks that Cain did an excellent job in the debate where Mitt Romney totally owned him. Also he thinks that the President should "project strength" and then everyone will be so suffused with confidence that job creation will begin, through magic!
David Brooks does not think that Obama can win appealing to liberals, and so he really should return to being a lesser version of Mitt Romney, to impress people.
Jack Welch says that Obama can "do a lot for the economy." Here are the lot of things he can do:
1. Drill for oil.
2. "Drive that posture."
3. End all regulations. (People die in mining accidents = more job openings.)
4. He hates the fact that the administration has taken steps to end the practice of employers posting job openings that specifically indicate that they will not consider unemployed people as applicants.
5. "You gotta get a more positive framework."
So Jack Welch will save the economy through off-shore oil disasters and positive thinking and "driving that posture."
Ford also says that Obama's "poss-terr" has been bad. He's too mean to corporations! Who have made record profits!
Brooks: "I think Obama understands. You gotta do the long-term things. Get the fundamental institutions right, which is what Herman Cain understands with the big plan."
"Dropping Simpson-Bowles was a massive mistake," says Welch, who seems to not understand that there's no such thing as "Simpson Bowles!" The Simpson-Bowles commission failed to agree on a plan! THEY FAILED TO COME TO TERMS ON A PLAN! There was nothing for Obama to "drop!" And no one on this panel seems to understand this. My God, these people are just THICK.
Ha, ha. Welch says the Republican plan is "create jobs" and "unleash the economy." WOW. I never thought of that! Just WILLING A BETTER ECONOMY INTO EXISTENCE.
Brooks: "I still think that's insufficient."
I literally cannot bear to watch a single second further. I am so glad that none of you had to sit through that.
Okay, I am now a little intellectually shell-shocked. I feel like by brain just voided decades of acquired knowledge onto my lap and I'll have to spend the rest of the day delicately un-Jengaing my mind. I hope that the rest of you go out and have a wonderful Sunday, and have a terrific week on top of that. We'll see you back here next week. Maybe it won't be so bad! (SPOILER ALERT: It probably will, though, sorry.)