Good morning everyone and Merry Christmas and welcome to your Sunday Morning Political show liveblog. My name is Jason and today I am writing to you live from Astoria, Queens, which has turned into a winter wonderland overnight, courtesy of this weekend's massive East Coast snOMFG storm. It is lovely...for now. I might have a different opinion on it this evening, depending on how well Amtrak does getting me home.
Can MEET THE PRESS be canceled, due to inclement weather? I guess we're going to find out.
We're also going to find out how well we fare without the wonders of TiVo or any other sort of DVR, because that's what I am bereft of this morning. Expect this liveblog to be a little more breakneck than it usually is, as a result. Today will be a good day to contribute to the comments, and point out my failings. What we will have today, hopefully, are the periodic contributions of current Air America/former Jezebel contributor Megan Carpentier, assuming that she wants to make the same mistake I have made: waking up.
For now, let's get ready, I think, for Fox News Sunday. As always: feel free to leave a comment, or send an email, or follow me as some sort of online life partner on Twitter.
Fox News Sunday
CNN's State Of The Union
Wow. Fox News Sunday isn't on until 10am here in New York City! Must be nice for everyone. So, we'll jump to the first hour of CNN's State of the Union, because why not?
David Axelrod is here, talking biz with John King. He thinks that health care reform is going to "happen soon," and that this is a "very strong bill." King wants to know how the paying-for-health care options in each plan can be reconciled in conference, and has a nice presentation on the magic wall, but Axelrod won't "negotiate" the two bills, taking a wait-and-see attitude. John King's probably pretty sad he went to all the trouble to ask.
But is this bill what Obama promised? MAN, RICHARD BURR IN HIGH DEFINITION IS SCARY. I can reach in and touch him, complimenting Ben Nelson. Anyway Axelrod says that Senators seizing a portion of lergesse for their state is "part of the system." WE MADE OBAMA PROMISE TO CHANGE THIS SYSTEM, THOUGH! SUCH A SAD WE HAZ.
Axelrod says that taxing Cadillac plans will affect only 3% of plans, and the idea has merit, and also long long periods of stammering.
OH BUT GUESS WHAT? Didn't Obama promise to get all drugs from Canada, cheap? He did. But it's not in the bill! Axelrod says that the President will "move forward" on the issue, after the HCR legislation is done, and after the FDA "resolves concerns" that all that Winnipeg snowbunny medicine is checked out.
Megan, who is making coffee for us this morning, adds, "Seriously. Axelrod needs to end the combover. No one believes a man with a combover." Why are combovers and bad hair so prevalent in politics. STOP THIS, AGING WHITE DUDES.
Now King and Axelrod are playing with the magic wall. LOOK AT THE MAGIC, AXELROD. See the approval line? It's going down! Why is that? Axelrod says that the President has had to make a bunch of tough decisions, but they will pay off down the road -- he promises! -- and then Obama will reap the approval benefits.
Axelrod dismisses the notion that the shift in voter intensity is running against the president. "A year before the last election, I was explaining to people like you how a candidate 30 points down in the polls was going to win the nomination."
Jowly Dave Foley is on now, with John King. And they are doing football metaphors, with reform first and goal at the one and the GOP mounting a goal line stand! But there are "shady Chicago deals" and bribes and...okay...Lindsey, you sort of lost the football metaphor. He's upset that laws have been made in closed door sessions to which no Republicans were invited. I seem to remember there being this controversial energy bill from the last administration?
Megan Carpentier: Did Lindsay Graham just accuse Democrats of taking bribes? And get snitty about not being invited to the negotiations with Democrats after they all said they wouldn't agree to anything?
jasonxcorps: Yes. And he's using the word "bribery!" And ENRON.
Megan Carpentier: I love the fact that Graham just backed Stupak, and shit all over Nelson's compromise because it allows states to choose. So much for the pro-life community just wanting the Supreme Court to let the states decide!
Jason: I love the fact that he's so upset that he hasn't been invited to join in any reindeer games. "I want to work with this administration," he says, but David Axelrod has really rubbed sand, from Chiacgo, into his ass.
Over at Fox, John McCain is singing the same piss and moan blues: "At least under Hillary care they tried to seriously negotiate with Republicans. There has been no effort that I know of -- of serious across the table negotiations -- such as I have engaged in with other administrations. And that was the commitment that the president made." Who doesn't recall the extent to which those serious negotiations with the GOP turned Hillarycare into the blockbuster health care reform package that solved everything!
Is this new spot from Americans For Stable Quality Care That Calms Us And Doesn't Need A Public Option If It's Going To Make People From Major Health Care Industry Interests Sad SUPPOSED TO LOOK like a video from the Auto Tune The News people?
Meanwhile, here's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Bloomberg to talk about climate change. Bloomberg says that China will be better when their people start demanding to not breathe dirty air. But I think that asking to not breathe pollution is a punishable offense in China.
Megan Carpentier: Schwarzenegger is defending China's commitment to environmentalism, and Bloomberg is suggesting that we just let democracy work in China, and that the Chinese people will just stand up, protest and demand (and then receive!) something from their government? I literally just watch these shows and wonder how stupid politicians think we are, or how stupid they are.
Jason: Many of the things Arnold is citing sounds like movies he is making. THE HYDROGEN HIGHWAY. "Arnold races to save Zoe Saldana from bounty hunters in an apocalyptic future where China's experiment in direct democracy has led to dystopia. THE HYDROGEN HIGHWAY. Opening Summer 2011, just in time for a troop withdrawal." I like how Bloomberg things America in general should use "elbow grease" to plant trees. But in NYC, the solution is to overdevelop the shizz out of everything.
Megan Carpentier: No, in NYC, the solution is to let builders tear down affordable housing and then leave holes in the ground when they run out of money to build high-end condos no one has money to buy anyway. It's a population-reduction strategy: economic eugenics.
Bloomberg goes on to promote carbon taxing above cap and trade systems that "shift the pollution" from place to place.
What about the Palin? Arnold is pretty dismissive, saying "We have a fundamental disagreement on the issue," and goes on to basically suggest that he's going to keep doing what he's been doing in environmental policy. He does not answer King's question, as to whether Palin is a "significant figure in the Republican party." Megan adds: "When she makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look smart, well-read on the issues and articulate by running around insulting him personally, Sarah Palin has problems."
Megan: "John King's lips look kissably pink and luscious this morning. It's not like he needs the make-up assistance when he's up against The Governator and Bloomie. Bloomie in particular looks terrible."
Arnold gives Obama a "straight A" for effort (as opposed to a non-heteronormative A), but thinks he needs to get tougher. Bloomberg largely says the same thing. Bloomberg also dislikes the fact that no one in Congress seems to know what's in the health care bill.
OK. We are going to switch over to the...
Chris Matthews Show
OH BOY! This is going to be some kind of Matthewsian Year End Retrospective, with Katty Kay, Howard Fineman, John Heilemann, and Norah O'Donnell.
FIRST: Obama, he is awesome! What's the super-awesomest things about him? Kay says it's the way he's rejoined the world community. O'Donnell says it's the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, which will maybe help with Hispanic voters, who are so hot right now? Fineman says that Obama has been "calmed the nerves of the world," like sweet-sweet biracial Xanax that you mix with your whiskey and slide off into slumber. Heilemann says that "staving off the depression" was his biggest accomplishment, but he won't get the credit for it until years from now (presumably when the depression is fully staved.)
But what was Obama's worst move? Fineman says Obama was "too cute by half" by letting COngress make a health care bill, instead of "defining what he wanted." Kay says that he was pretty absentee on the issue during the summer. What happens to Obama in July? I don't know. That's when he disappeared during the campaign, too.
What are the Best Things Coming In 2010 For 2009? I am paraphrasing this absurd category. O'Donnell says that people will die in Afghanistan, because of some sort of war they are having? And that we are sending troops to? BREAKING! MUST CREDIT NORAH O'DONNELL. Fineman says that he thinks the White House is worried that their inimitable skills of multi-tasking will not prevent them from getting swamped by things that need to be tended to.
Who's got CHUTZPAH? Is it Dick Cheney? Levi Johnston? Joe Wilson? Vinegar Joe Lieberman? Heilemann says Joe Wilson, but really, that "You Lie!" was his lifetime offering of chutzpah. That guy, seriously, is a milquetoast. Fineman says Lieberman is permanently offended, in a state of "permanent payback." They all seem happy that only Levi Johnston is taking his clothing off. AT LEAST FOR NOW!
Howard Fineman thinks that Palin's popularity is surprising. Really? He needs to examine these things called "Google trends."
Fineman calls Glenn Beck "the plague of the year," and that he should be condemned for what he's been doing, on the teevee. Katty Kay says the "birthers" are this year's finest vintage of crazysauce.
Megan: "Howard Fineman is forgiven for being stupid enough not to know why Sarah Palin is popular by calling Glenn Beck the plague of the year."
Who has backbone in 2009? Better not nominate anyone in the media! They don't: Susan Boyle, Jenny Sanford, Sully Sullenberger...and BENJAMIN BERNANKE? Bernanke: he won't do anything to fix unemployment...that's "backbone?" At least he should be forced to sing Eponine's part from Les Mis. No one on the panel thinks he deserves to be Time magazine's person of the year.
Cad of the year? Megan and I agree: JOHN EDWARDS. Gah.
Megan: At least Ensign was like, 'Hey, sorry I fucked your wife, he's a hundred grand.' And Sanford just weirdly discovered passion in his forties. But Edwards should be stricken with Elizabeth's cancer.
Jason: Agreed. John Edwards is just the worst, on all levels. And Rielle Hunter is just not that good a videographer.
Meet The Press
More fun with David Axelrod, who is quick to downplay DC's historic snowfall as a "dusting" for Chicagoans, and their Chicago Machine Snow.
Gregory asks if the coming bill is "Mission accomplished." Axlerod says, no, it's a "landmark step," and that he agrees with the Krugman column that says the bill should be passed. He says that this will be a "great victory for the American people," because the American people apparently like to celebrate incremental steps to solutions that put off making tough decisions for future administrations.
Axelrod says that health care should not be the vehicle for the abortion debate. But he's stuck with it now! He also says there ought to be an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Megan Carpentier: How the fuck did Axelrod get from 400 North Cap to the NBC studios up by AU in a post-snowstorm D.C. that quickly? Snowcat? Helicopter? Transporter?
Jason: They have powerful snow tires? CHICAGO SNOW TRAVERSING MAGICKS?
Megan Carpentier: David Axelrod uses the term "anti-choice groups" on network television, then corrects himself and calls them "pro-life" and then bullshits about how Nelson's amendment isn't that bad.
Axelrod insists that there are all sorts of great reforms for insurance consumers. Protection against rescission! No annual limits. To which Megan says, "Oh, David, there *were* all kinds of protections in the bill for patients. Then Harry Reid took them out. Shh. Don't tell anyone." EVERYONE CAN WAIT A YEAR FOR CHEMO, THOUGH.
What about criticism from the left? Howard Dean, for example, not a fan of the bill! Seen the news lately? Axelrod writes it off to Dean being "unfamiliar" with certain aspects of the bill. Reflect on how Michael Bloomberg said, earlier, that he hasn't met ANYONE who seems familiar with the bill! Gregory points out that the bill has lost a lot of what liberals wanted, and a lot of what Obama promised to deliver during the campaign. Axelrod has his blinders, firmly affixed, however, pimping the potential of adding 30 million Americans to the insurance industry. By which he means: Sign up at prices they set or get fined at prices we set. All very fair!
Gregory: But at the end of the day, he did not fight for [the public option].
Axelrod: He made the case for it, again and again.
Me: Here we see the wide daylight between "fighting" for something and "making the case" for something. Can we just "make the case" in Afghanistan? And save money? Bend the cost curves of warfare maybe?
Megan: Axelrod really needs to go the full Carville but keep the 'stache. Then no one would talk back.
What about the flagging in the polls? Axelrod doesn't "ascribe poll numbers to" the health care issue. And that "he could have told you a year ago" that everyone would be down on Obama by Christmas. Hey, why don't you tell us how he'll be doing a year from now? He's pretty sure that a "year from now" when a wave of health care reform initiatives are implemented, people will not be voting against the Democrats. Of course, there's also all the aspects of the reform that won't, if passed, go into effect a year from now.
Now, here's Dean. He says that "over the past week" there were some improvements to the bill, but it's "still got a long way to go." But Dean says the current bill allows insurance to get really unaffordable for the elderly. He predicts that the current bill will pit the government against the insurance industry, forever, whenever the govenment wants to control health care costs. He goes on to point out that insurance industry stocks took off last week - and this is the best sign you can possibly have, America, that you are about to get jacked where health care is concerned.
Would Dean stand by his contention to not vote for the Senate bill? Dean says he wouldn't vote for it, no. But, he says the House bill is stronger and a strong bill that he could vote for might emerge from conference committee. He laments the fact that the White House doesn't seem to passionately want a public option. "The elimination of the public option is a real sticking point."
Megan: "Dean would vote for the bill and hope that it gets fixed in conference? Did he pay attention at all during the Bush years?"
Dean is very substantive, pointing out that what we are likely to do is akin to the system in Switzerland or Holland, but without the strong regulatory hand those countries place on their private insurance companies. Gregory don't want to hear about interesting facts on comparative health care systems! He wants to get Dean's reaction to a single snarky line that Alternate Universe President John McCain said!
Jason: Don't you love how Dean gives answers that explain, and contain substance, and all Gregory cares about is asking if he'd vote for the bill? HIGH STAKES JOURNALISM. WHAT WOULD A GUY WHO HAS NO VOTE DO IF HE HAD ONE?
Megan Carpentier: THE DEAD KENNEDY WOULD WANT YOU TO VOTE FOR A PIECE OF CRAP!! Vote CRAP for health care!
Panel time! With Joe Scarborough, Markos Moulitsas, Tavis Smiley and Ed Gillespie. Smiley is on a satellite phone, in war torn Los Angeles.
Markos says that the current bill isn't a "reform" bill, but the expansion of a broken system that needs fixing. On the positive side, it presents health care as a right, but the table is set for knock-down drag outs ahead. JoeScar says that nobody took on the insurance companies, that the insurance sector stock has skyrocketed.
Tavis Smiley takes it a step further, and basically says that "in their first big fight with a powerful lobby," he lost, big time.
Gillespie offers the standard party-hackery...expansion of government, government take-over, super high taxes...he stops just short of rationing.
Scarborough says that the effect the bill is going to have on conservatives is that "it's going to elect a lot of them." And he sites Markos' polls, which indicate listless levels of instensity among Democratic voters.
What about Obama's claim that he's led a stronger effort against the insurance companies than any other administration? Markos says, well, there's been NO PREVIOUS EFFORT, so the minimal amount of effort the President has offered fits that definition. Smiley says that he worries that Obama has "taken the tranquilizing drug of gradualism."
Why is Obama flailing in the polls? Gillespie is programmed to answer, "because he is moving way too far to the left." SERIOUSLY? The leftist way he let the public option die and left Bush era unitary executive policies in place and coddled Wall Street? I think that just the opposite has happened.
JoeScar says that Obama's foundered amid "distractions," but what he calls "distractions" seem to me to be things that are better called, "stuff that a President does." Markos says that independents have been turned off by a lack of results. I think he's close: I think independents wanted the bold leadership they were promised during the campaign. These are voters who treasure responsibility and strength above ideology, and they signed up for a guy who seemed to want to take a sword to Gordion's knot, who is now working at the margins to unravel certain threads.
OH, HEY. I guess most Americans have seen 2009 as a time of great division. But didn't we make Obama promise to end all division in America, in eleven months? WHAT A FAILURE. Bring on the McCain-Lieberman administration!
Scarborough says, "This year has been a year of deference" to people like Nancy Pelosi, and isn't impressed by any effort to reach out to the GOP.
Markos thinks that the coming election is going to be a "base election" and that maybe the Dems can activate their base by going strong at the issue of regulatory reform. Megan scoffs, "That is just stupid. People between the ages of 18 and 25 don't care about regulatory reform. Old men care about that."" One thing is certain: any hopes that Tiger Woods could sex up regulatory reform have been dashed.
In case you were wondering, voters are not having it with insurance mandates in a package that leaves out a public option. And Obama's getting the blame for not doing more to save the public option.
President Obama has said he favors a public health insurance option. Senator Joe Lieberman is widely credited with forcing Senate Democrats to take the public option off the table in order to win his vote. Do you think President Obama should have done more to pressure Lieberman to allow the public option to move forward?
All: 63% 29%
Dems: 87% 10%
Ind: 72% 18%
That will just about do it.
Jason: So, what did we learn today?
Megan: David Axelrod needs to lose the combover. Howard Fineman needs to spend 5 minutes outside of D.C. or New York. The gods are kind, as they spared me from Fox News Sunday. Howard Dean would vote for the bill and hope that it all went fine in conference, which it never does. Markos Moulitsas did something to piss off the NBC make-up person in D.C., so she painted over half his eyebrow.
Jason: That is probably the most substantive thing that can be said about this week. I learned that someone should give you TiVo for Christmas. I learned that Fox News Sunday starts at 10am here, ADVANTAGE NEW YORKERS. I learned that these shows can really go from week to week, feeding off the same stale topical crusts. I learned that Joe Scarborough, Markos Moulitsas, Ed Gillespie, live very close to NBC studios. And that Axelrod has some amazing snow tires or something. Maybe he's taken up snow machining?
Megan: I learned exactly why I don't get up early to watch these things every week.
Jason: You are the luckiest of all.
Okay, we're off to see if the trains are still running! See you next week, when we are in a much less snow-paralyzed state! Stay warm!