07/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and welcome to your Sunday Morning Liveblog! OMGZ, y'all. Last weeks bonkers literary challenge yielded some fantastic offerings! If you recall the goal was...the goal was...uhm -- well, look, I don't remember what it was precisely, but mostly it was: write something that used the MT engine's four replacement words for tchotchkes: crotchless, hotcakes, latchkeys, and hopscotches. I think the offerings are every bit as relevant and substantive to what we'll see on teevee this morning. Read, because there is a reward for everyone at the end!

We start with Jack in Des Moines:

In Newt's world all children would be LATCKEYS,

In an infinite number of universes an infinite number of Julio Cortazars

are writing an infinite number of HOPSCOTCHES.

Sonia empathizes with the homeless, the sightless, the CROTCHLESS,

If it's Sunday, It's time for MEET TEH HOTCAKES.

And here's "bubbuh" (I gather he wanted this as his nom de plume.)

Crotchless Tchotchkes(aye, them), like Notchless Latchkeys,

Require much empathies to work without unconsciously

Clutching closely while one tweaks them liberally

To fit the barrel politically.

But she who can is Hotcakes and Hopscotches highly

In opinion of the lubricious moderators' of policy.

Crotchless tchotchkes are so like notchless latchkeys

Ahem. La Raza Cosmica! Ole!

That had a bit of a twist ending. Now, here's James Haygood:

With LATCHKEYS and dog-whistles bleatin'

White guys on the TV NewTweetin'


With their racism CROTCHLESS.

Gregory fondles the HOTCAKES they're heatin'.

The prose stylings of Sunny Hochberg:

"In Park Slope I ran into two shayne Yeshiva maideles wearing latchkeys around their necks on black ribbons, looking for little tchotchkes to use as place markers for their recess hopscotches. One giggled as she said she found crotchless underwear on the bathroom floor and wondered whose it was. Not having any better response, I offered to give them some latkes but added people around here call them hotcakes."

Stephen Thurston, updating the Bard of Avon:

And gentlemen in England, now latchkeys,

shall think themselves accursed they were not crotchless

and hold their hotcakes cheap whiles any speaks

that hopscotches with us upon St. Crispin's day.

Lisa Tauxe offers a "post-menopausal musing in haiku."

i am old, crotchless.

lovers with latchkeys don't come

i am left alone

a grey haired lady

dreaming of hopscotches but

baking hotcakes now.

Fellow blogger Mad Kane offers one limerick, and one serious poem:

As a crotchless young woman from Spain

Is savoring hotcakes on Main,

Who hopscotches by?

A buck-naked guy,

Twirling latchkeys and looking insane.

Disconsolate youth,

Lacking latchkeys and adult supervision,

Run around crotchless, uncouth,

Subsisting on hotcakes,

While their absent father

Hopscotches through life.

Carl Goodman's Remembrance of Tchotchkes Past

Hotcakes left uneatened on serving plate, hot no longer

Crotchless underwear buried in bottom dresser drawer, years after lover fades

Latchkeys held onto for dwellings torn down during bulldozer era of Robert Moses

Rain-dulled hopscotch pattern, making hopscotches called out of bounds too easily

And finally, ACTUAL POET Richard J. Spisak, Jr.

They Shot a Doctor in Church Today
in the sunlight, while the news was playing

they careen
in my mind-meaning little
tiny ideas skittle
crotchless unpanting they daunted
no daring, the vacant camera's eye staring
launching books and careers

as the missiles prelaunch cadence
catafaulks the dreams
cheney again remains unchained - journalism-free
UNquestioned his stooge approves

trippingly, temptingly trembling
we approach the sunday chat chews the news
slow-lemming learners, confirmers

the publics pubic hopes skyward
then deny-word wry-word idea-less
these high holy hotcakes
of near-news

latchkey minds
surround the sunday
pundit play, as the press-preens
on screen, crotchess
we watch
brown promo turds of words
are left, compost for some future
of constitutional

Ahh. WORDPLAY! Thanks everyone! And now here's the reward: NO MEET THE PRESS TODAY. Anyway, my name is Jason. As always, feel free to leave a comment, send an email, and/or follow me on the Twitters. Let us commence.


It's some sort of PANIC: SOCIALISM! episode of FOX NEWS SUNDAY: GET ME OUT OF HERE today. I am still half awake, so this is going to be fun!

Richard Shelby, Austan Goolsbee, Fred Malek and Eric Schmidt from our overlords, Google. Goolsbee says...guess what? GUESS WHAT?? The economy is getting worse than predicted! He doesn't want to say that there will be double digit unemployment rate -- at the moment he is "out of the predicting business" -- but here's the scoop. You figure in all the people who are working four-day weeks, stuck working part time, or who have given up on trying to get employed who are not beng captured in the statistics and YEAH THIS IS DOUBLE DIGIT UNEMPLOYMENT.

Richard Shelby thinks that this is all knock knock knocking on socialisms door. Fred Malek says taking over GM is the same thing as torture. How does he see things? OMGZ GUESS WHAT, YOU WILL NEVER GUESS? Giving the financial sector a ton of money? "War of necessity." Taking over GM? OMGZ: NO BLOOD FOR OIL OBAMA TRIED BONDHOLDERS DIED.

Schmidt says that the taking over GM needs to be a "band-aid." What? Yes! Let's put Band-Aid into receivership, too!

Wallace wants to know if the President is going to be telling what cars to make. Goolsbee says that they don't want to run the company and they want to get out of it in five years, and he notes -- correctly -- that the Obama administration got this problem as a can that's been kicked down the road (and shaken up, and waterboarded). Fred Malek says "for years we've had a bankruptcy system that's been impervious to politics because it's run by Federal courts." If only that were true!

Goolsbee's basic argument is that putting GM into bankruptcy during this recession would have been catastrophic. He also claims that the government is basically running a slow simulation of an actual bankruptcy, so, I'm not sure what the difference is. He does point out that all the parties had to take a haircut in this deal.

Shelby says that CIti should have been thrown on the fire, and that "too big to fail" really means "too big to exist." Now, Malek is disagreeing with Shelby: BUT OH NOES DOMINO EFFECT! I CAN'T LIVE, IF LIVING IS WITHOUT CITIGROUP!!

Onto health care reform! What is going on with health care reform? Senator Shelby says that we have "the best health care system the world has ever known." WOO YEAH! AMERICA and the dignity of crawling off to the side of the road and dying!

Wallace points out that Obama now seems willing to tax health care benefits after excoriating McCain on the stump for doing so. Goolsbee says that it was "not the President's plan" but that he's willing to see it considered. There are also, apparently, hairs to be split in comparison. I say, let's have actual actuaries look at the proposed health care plan.

Schmidt says that the fundamental problems in business won't be solved until they solve the problem of health care costs. Shelby says, HOLY NUTZ LOOK AT THE DEFICITS, because he just woke from a coma, I guess. Goolsbee says that the debt load is a "short run" situation and in the "longer run," the numbers you are looking at are large because you are looking at the true budget, as opposed to the budget full up with accounting gimmicks.

WOO, PANEL TIME. More importantly, I can finally get up and get some coffee.

Obama, speechifying in Cairo! What does everyone think about it? Today it's Kristol, Liasson, Krauthammer and Williams. Bill Kristol says that the whole trip was useless and what's worse, it now guarantees Iran will get nukes and we are all going to die, and he's "given up on" attempting to stop Iran. Wallace thinks it's crazy that we'd allow Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program, for energy. Liasson says, oh yes, this is now about containment, not deterrence. Krauthammer says Obama gave "such a pass to Iran that he scared the other Arab states," and that he gave "the weakest statement on Iran by any American president." Krauthammer is also upset that the plight of the Palestinians was deemed to bad, like the Holocaust was bad. This coming from a guy who never says boo when his fellow travelers say that everything is the next Neville Chamberlain or the next communism or the next Holocaust or the next fascism or the next 9/11.

Kristol says that the Obama plan to stabilize the Middle East, unite the persuadable Arab nations, put a peace process in place, and tamp down the anger that fuels terrorism doesn't sound like something that will work. I guess that the alternative is continuing to try to hand out Western democracy at the point of a bayonet! (A plan that has resulted in the strengthening of Iran's regional position and overall leverage, BY THE WAY.)

Meanwhile, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. This is happening. Is she a racist? Krauthammer says that Sotomayor promised post-racial and he is delivering a pre-racial appointment. WE NEED A NATIONAL DEBATE ON THE TREATMENT OF WHITE PEOPLE. Juan Williams says that Krauthammer is misreading Sotomayor, but how can we trust Juan Williams? He doesn't look Caucasian to me! And what, pray tell is this "JUAN" all about? SMOKING GUN! I bet Juan Williams feels that his judgement is superior to Krauthammer's! Well, how can America stand for this RACISM!

Anyway, blah dee blah. The GOP, understanding that Sotomayor is going to be confirmed, should turn their attention to developing an overall argument for their own version of a judicial appointment. This can provide the foundation for reaching the American people, and winning them over with ideas. Instead, they are doubling down on all this racism nonsense -- that THEY KNOW IS NONSENSE -- because they thing the priority should be keeping their shrinking base agitated. The GOP needs to develop clear governing philosophies. They already do the backward, paranoid stuff well. If Obama appoints another SCOTUS justice, they'll have developed no substantive countering, unless, of course, he keeps nominating Puerto Rican women.


Back once again with a breakneck edition of FACE THE NATION, with David Axelrod, working the stache. Harry Smith is in for Bob Schieffer today.

Axelrod is "heartened" by Obama's speech in Cairo, which is a huge scoop! Who would have thought this? But how will the President force the hands of the partners in the Palestinian/Israel confict? Axelrod simply says that they'll continue to talk with leaders and try to influence the partners and build on momentum and hang those SUCCESSORIES posters all over the region. Maybe if you all want to mock up some SUCCESSORIES posters that could help the peace process, send them to me and I will look them over.

What about the awesome new plan that's been floated for the GITMO prisoners, where they willingly plead guilty, and experience the great benefits of the American Death Penalty, and so get what they call the Ultimate Freedom Package (TM) which includes freedom from this mortal coil? Axelrod says that we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from that. Okay! Because the conclusion I had drawn was that some people had LOST THEIR BLOODY MINDS.

Health care, won't it cost trillions, and shouldn't we all just apply for some GITMO justice if we get sick? Axelrod says that it will be a "fiscal disaster" if there isn't reform, and that the bulk of the cost is start-up cost, with savings coming later. Axelrod says that the "sense of urgency" is such that he thinks a deal will get done by the summer. He also says the opposition from the business and insurance sectors are much much less.


Jobless numbers are up? CAN OBAMA APPOINT MORE PEOPLE TO THE SUPREME COURT? Axelrod says that it's not yet an indication that the stimulus has failed, and that the rate of decline is hopefully slackening. He states, sans evidence, that the stimulus has created a lot of jobs.

"There are signs that the economy is improving but we're not satisfied with where we are." I should hope not!

OMGZ it's Newt Gingrich and he's surrounded by pagans and "doing Twitters." All sorts of things, Gingrich has twatted. First she was a racist, then she wasn't, suddenly she is again. Harry Smith attempts to add, you know, context. But Gingrich is on the case! He knows: if you cut and paste certain things she said, pretend you haven't read others, toss out cases like Pappas v. Guiliani that just make the whole racist argument look entirely stupid, convert to Catholicism for the jokes, and that start Twittering like an ancient and discredited nimrod, you know what you get? YOU GET SOTOMAYOR CONFIRMED AND THE REPUBLIC SURVIVING THE END.

Gingrich says that the confirmation process is a "solemn obligation," that he will brutally bugger with Twitters, forever.

What about this awesome plan to allow GITMO people to plead guilty and get executed. Gingrich is like, "I don't know I'm not a lawyer, read my Twitter for all sorts of legal opinions though, GOD I AM A MAN OF IDEAS."

GINGRICH: "The morning China decides to do something about North Korea, NK will change overnight." The same is true, I hear, about a lot of countries.

Gingrich goes on to say that moderates are totally welcome in the Republican party, and then attempts to use the busted up, incomprehensible voting patterns of California to find the pony for the GOP. Harry Smith is all, REALLY WITH SETH AND AMY?

Then Gingrich just starts saying the word Reagan again and again. Today he will send a tweet that is just the word "Reagan" twenty-three times.

Also: RRRAAHHH! Too many people with health care is like being surrounded by pagans!

What will be the most important factor in the decision to run for president? He'll need to have his family's say so, and the "opportunity to govern." Why run for President if you have to negotiate with another party, in Congress? THAT'S CRAZY. Basically, he'll need America to hand everything back over to the GOP. "We'll need a wave of change." SO, AMERICA: If you really want -- really, really want -- Newt Gingrich as your President, well...YOU BETTER GET CRACKING. You damned PAGANS.


Today: Hillary Clinton! She's the Secretary of State! And a one time presidential candidate! TEAM OF RIVALS TIME, y'all! Best to be breaking out the Doris Kearns Goodwin, people!

Anyway, this is the first time Clinton's been on Sunday Morning teevee -- probably because she has a life, or something -- "so there's a lot to catch up on."

What a weird question, right off the top: "Obama has a high powered team of this man and that man and this other man, and OMGZ some totally dreamy envoys. HOW DO YOU FIT IN?" Uhm, she's the Secretary of State? Clinton laughs, politely, at the tiny man who once served in the Clinton administration. "I am the chief diplomat of the United States of America." Clinton says that a good team has been forged - and, for what my opinion matters, I think the foreign policy team and the sync with defense is the best accomplishment the administration has going. Clinton runs down the portfolio and it's quite massive.

Clinton has been taking a strong stop-the-settlements message and running with it. She says it's all a part of working to bring the "Israelis and Palestinians" together. There's a bit of a weird moment, here. Clinton alludes to Obama's speech, and there's this artful fade to him saying "This bond is unbreakable," and then back to her. Maybe it's just me, but that was awfully commercial-like! Anyway, Clinton says that there are demographic trends running against Israel, the implication being that a two-state solution being the ideal goal.

Clinton says that the "natural growth" exception was not anything that was agreed to in any officially capacity, and has no binding effect on the roadmap. What about Mahmoud Abbas' seeming passivity? Clinton suggests that the public positions being taken don't accurately reflect the activity going on behind the scenes.

On Iran, where has she come to? Is she on board with negotiations, now? Clinton says she's adopting a "wait and see" position, and suggests that the approach has potential. GS asks what she thinks the Iranians "want, deep down." So they consider nukes "un-Islamic?" If so, why do they continue to work on the program. Clinton says this all goes back to the need to obtain better information. A diplomatic process gives the opportunity to be sitting "across the table" from Iranian diplomats that could provide some insight. There are ways, she says, of accomodating Iran to a peaceful nuclear energy power without allowing them to become a "nuclear weapons state."

Clinton took the position that an attack on Israel would incur "massive retaliation" during the campaign. She holds to that today, except for maybe the "massive" part. The bottom line is she wants to prevent the Middle East from obtaining weapons. At the same time, she attests to the needs of "putting yourself in the shoes" of the other side when you negotiate. EMPATHY!

Clinton says that the administration is "aggressively pursuing diplomacy, not as an end in itself, but as a means to solve these...difficult problems." She believes that we can extend our values in a way that brings out the values of others.

Naturally, you still have people like Ahmadinejad, who are of the mind that all sorts of foreign policy can be based on the fact that Obama didn't treat his letter of congratulations with the sort of excitement and enthusiasm he thought is warranted. And nothing has worked in North Korea. Clinton's subtext on the former basically reads as: "Well, hopefully that ol' election over in Iran is going to yield us a new President." and on NK, she cites the "positive development" of the way the members of the "six-party process" together. They are all bonding, and scrapbooking, and making s'mores together, and it's great. GS scoffs, "But that's not going anywhere, is it." SHUT UP NERD THOSE S'MORES ARE DELISH!

Clinton says, SANCTIONS AND EMBARGOES WOO and "we're working hard to interdict NK shipments and what not" and that there will be a strong resolution with teeth, maybe, from the UN. Anyway, Bill Kristol is probably watching this and yelling, "NO! NO! B-B-B-B-B-BOMBS! ME WANTY B-B-BOMBS!"

What if we put North Korea on the list of MEAN TERRORIST LOVERS? Clinton says that they are "looking at it."

Also, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, will the U.S. get involved and try to get them out of North Korea? Clinton says that the Swedish Ambassador is checking up on them and that the U.S. is treating it as a humanitarian issue. She says that the charges against the reporters are meritless, and that she's tried everything she can think of to affect their release. Any hopeful signs? Clinton won't stipulate.

GS, working off the anniversary of the Tien An Men Square massacre, asks Clinton to reconcile the strong statement she gave on the matter with an earlier trip to China, where she merely stated that "China knows where the U.S. stands on human rights" -- "How do you approach that issue? When do public statements make a difference? When is private diplomacy important? Who is the audience for public statements?" Clinton says there's "no one easy answer." There are a range of objectives that the State Department are trying to reach, and while they want to remind people of our historical stances, that there's also a small bore, "chipping away" process that goes on incrementally. It's a balance between inspiring the afflicted without unduly afficting the afflictors, where opportunities for diplomacy exists.

How did Obama get her on his team? Well, the story is that she had no idea at all that she wouldn't be returning to the Senate and that she turned down the job at first, but that he was "persistent and persuasive" and that finally she decided to join up. And President Obama has apparently been awesome at answering phones at three in the morning. SO THAT'S THE STORY EVERYONE! SING IT TO THE CHILDREN OF THE FUTURE!

Panel time, with George Will, Clare Shipman, Matt Dowd, and Cynthia Tucker.

What about Obama in Cairo? Will says it was good for Obama to say that Islam is not the problem, but that the natural condition of nations is discord, SWEET SWEET DISCORD. And who on earth would say that the Palestinians are mistreated? Tucker disagrees with the contention that Obama was being naive, and that he used his biography - specifically his awareness of Muslim tradition - was extremely effective, and that it worked. GS obviously agrees with this, but what does Matt Dowd think? Dowd implies it's probably not fair to call this a "hugs not terrorism" tour, and that the array of problems all go back to our relationship with the Muslim world and that it's good that the president acknowledges this, but "what we often forget" is that good relationships and conversations haven't yet yielded to action.

Shipman notes that it's not fair to characterize Obama's efforts as merely pressure on Israel, that it came with enormous pressure on the Palestinians as well. BUT THE SETTLEMENT ISSUE: SO SHINY!

George Will objects to the settlements being thought of as the "key" to the peace proceess. Who says they are? They are merely the proximate cause of a conflict that's come up because of this supposed "secret agreement" that was made with the Bush administration.

Somehow, the chyron over this whole piece reads "SHOWDOWN WITH ISRAEL." Meaning: if you have your teevee muted, you are getting the wrong idea about what is going on in the world. And that's the thing: WHY WOULDN'T YOU HAVE YOUR TEEVEE MUTED?

Meanwhile, Obama appointed John McHugh to be the Secretary of the Army. What's with the strategy of removing key Republicans from the playing board. Dowd says that the GOP isn't going to start liking Obama for appointing Republicans, but that's not the point: the moves are attractive to independent voters, and it proves that Obama's drive for diversity of opinion was not just a campaign promise. Will also imputes that McHugh's departure is an admission from McHugh that he doesn't see much good news for the GOP in the near term, so he's getting out while the getting is good.

GS notes that Obama's moves have also specifically cornered the GOP in a way that makes them a deep south rump party. Tucker notes that in the South, the candidates for office for the GOP are moving farther and farther to the right.

OH BOY. Chuck Grassley is twatting his anger about Obama and health care. I AM NOT A NAIL!! Chuck Grassley is the offspring of John Merrick and a ball peen hammer. DON'T CALL HIM A NAIL, EVER.

Ha, ha. Everyone on the panel laughs at the sad and frustrated twittering of Charles Grassley.

Meanwhile, SOTOMAYOR! She has not always, at every minute in her life, gone out of her way to assert the awesomeness of white people! HOW DARE SHE! What is that all about?

Will says that the GOP wants to use this as a "teaching moment" for America. I guess the lesson they want to teach is WE ARE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS 101. Dowd says that the GOP erred by turning their opposition into a side show, and that they should have instead, based their teaching moment on "judicial philosophy." Tucker suggests that the reason Sotomayor's speeches are drawing such scrutiny because her legal decisions do not provide much in the way of oppositional grist.

Shipman says that Michelle Obama is some sort of post-modern, post-feminist first lady, so, she's like a walking 300 level English class at Bard College or something. Awesome.

Anyway, that is THIS WEEK, and that is this week, a MEET THE PRESS-free week. And congratulations to Roger Federer, who won the French Open. I'd like to wish clay court specialists the world around the best today. I know that we've had misunderstandings in the past, but I really respect your work, clay court specialists. KEEP THRIVING AND SPECIALIZING. Have a good week!