03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and happy new year and welcome once again to your liveblog of the Sunday morning politics shows. My name is Jason, and yes, while acknowledging that the 201st ten year period since the switch from B.C. has not happened yet, because of the no year zero thing, I consider the previous decade -- as a cultural period -- to be over. We are done with the Oughts and have now embarked upon our Tweens. So good luck with that, everyone.

While casting about for a perfect cultural artifact to sum up the last decade, I was reminded of this, and it is a perfect summation of who we were in the past ten years:

Yes. We were insufferable a-holes, who worked for banks, and we destroyed the world. Luckily we'll have our awesome recording career to fall back on!

Okay! Time to figure out who we are going to be in the coming decade. Making the case that we are all a bunch of freaks who are seriously going to get overperturbed by a guy with flaming underwear, here are the good people of...


Woo! John Brennan and Kit Bond are here! The U.S. Embassy in Yemen is closed. Brennan says that this is because there are indications that al Qaeda has targeted it...but he is speaking very very fast and very unintelligbly. Maybe he's "drunk," like Max Baucus!

Are U.S. citizens in Yemen in danger? Brennan says that they are doing everything they can to protect them. Pressed again, he says, yes they are. Of course, one is at risk when one goes to the Starbucks. Sorry we can't just all chill out inside our mother's wombs. Lord knows I've asked!

Anyway, Brennan. talking very very fast. He will protect us from al Qaeda, with his fast talking. It sounds like he's saying that Yemen is helping to "take the fight to al Qaeda" and that "al Qaeda has taken a lot of hits." As far as Captain Crotchfire goes, Brennan says there are a few hundred al Qaeda in Yemen, he reached out to them, they apparently taught him some innovative, crotch-based techniques, and voila: YEMEN! Brennan and his team are on the scour for intel. What he's not going to do, apparently, is name names on Fox News Sunday.

What about sending detainees to GITMO? Brennan says they've only sent seven people to Yemen out of the 42 people sent there. These detainees have by and large been remanded into custody. They will absolutely consider sending Yemeni prisoners to Yemen on a case-by-case basis.

Wallace wants to know why we aren't beating the crap out of Crotchfire in a secret prison. Brennan says that they got information from him before he lawyered up, and the fact that he has a lawyer doesn't stop him from talking. Wallace, though, really wants to crap beaten out of him, just for the sake of beating the crap out of him. Brennan says that they'll treat every case in the best way possible, and that this case calls for Crotchfire to be tried in court.

What was the failure that allowed Crotchfire on the plane? Brennan says that's being reviewed, but it looks like: intelligence didn't match up, intelligence didn't get passed on. No smoking gun, though. More like a puzzle that needed to get together. But, he says, so far, there seems to have been no internecine rivalry between agencies at the root of the problem.

Brennan defends Napolitano, and calls Dennis Blair and Leon Panetta "consummate professionals." The White House still backs Erroll Southers, as TSA chair. He also rejects Cheney's argument that Obama doesn't use the words "war on terror" enough. Trust me, if semantics could be weaponized, we'd have killed the terrorists by now.

Anyway, this is one of the most vapid interviews I've ever witnessed. It's like watching an Abbott and Costello routine.

What I think a lot of people are afraid to say is the reason this issue has been so easy to politicize is the fact that nobody died, that this attack is essentially non-serious. Has three-hundred people died, no one would dare do anything but rally round the flag.

From a practical, counter-terror standpoint, you wish that all terrorists could be like this. From a national security standpoint...well, this isn't a national security concern. Nothing in this attack threatens the United States existentially. That's just a fact. But the lack of seriousness is what's given everyone the opportunity to be a child about it. I read Dick Cheney's ninny-bleat to Politico, in which he attempted to set a record for using the word "war" in the space of two paragraphs, and, I'm sorry, you had to wonder what Romper Room he'd escaped from.

Let's just remember that the fact that this has gotten so politicized is the proof that the matter is not that serious, that the inactive Seriousness Glands have not been activated in man like Kit Bond.

Panel time! Brit Hume doesn't like the idea that we're not beating the crap out of Captain Crotchfire, and the whole idea that restoring our reputation of our nation is a terrible, terrible idea, and it means we're being lax. "They're treating it as a law enforcement issue!" he raves. Law enforcement professionals out there, you have my sympathies, how it came to pass that you all became thought of as pussies is beyond me. I think our law enforcement agencies are great, and have an important -- and tragically undersung -- role to play in our counter-terror efforts.

Bill Kristol, also, hates the fact that he lawyered up. "He is the smoking gun! His father tried to warn us?" Is his father trying to warn us of anyone else? He also considers the closure of the Embassy to be a "victory for al Qaeda." No, allowing this incompetent to be treated like a holy warrior is a victory for al Qaeda!

Juan Williams is trying to mount some sort of argument, but it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Brit Hume says that it has not convinced him. He goes on to say that al Qaeda should consider this Christmas attack one "that did succeed." THAT IS JUST MENTAL! Why is Fox News Sunday giving such aid and comfort to our enemies? Calling that a successful attack is just pure, mountain grown INSANITY.

Oh, wow. Now the panel is going to PREDICT THE FUTURE! Brit Hume says that terrorism will return as an issue. Nina Easton says that 2010 will be a "nailbiter" but that Dems will retain control of the House. In the Senate, gone will be Harry Reid and Chris Dodd and Barbara Boxer -- but the GOP won't capitalize in 2012. Bill Kristol predicts that the Iranian regime will fall -- GAH! And you know what that means! That means the Green Revolution is doomed! Damn you, Bill Kristol! Juan predicts the rise of a third party.

Hume and Easton predict that MAD MEN is a good show? Or something? Easton says that the Jay Leno Show is going away...I'm glad that Bill Kristol wasn't the one who predicts that. Juan Williams predicts that e-readers will be huge in 2010. I have a Kindle and I love it.

Brit Hume says that Tiger Woods will "recover as a golfer," and that he'd better convert to Christianity if he wants to be a great person again. And that's Brit Hume...proselytizing on my teevee this morning! I hope that viewers of EVERY OTHER FAITH don't mind Hume's contention that redemption is only really possible if you "Christ up" -- to use the lawyering up metaphor from earlier.

Juan Williams predicts that there will be offseason talk of Bret Favre retiring. Also: BRET FAVRE WILL CONTINUE TO GET OLDER. THESE ARE TWO THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN.

Bill Kristol predicts the coming of stagflation, which is GREAT NEWS.

Wallace says that they will keep that segment on tape and use it to embarrass the panel with it later. They could do that, right now.


Sorry, folks. My connection to the network keeps cutting out. Hopefully, that will be the last time.

Anyway, hopefully THIS WEEK will not feature any attempt to religious conversion. And maybe John Brennan will slow down talking.

Today in the chair, we have Terry Moran. You know, John Brennan looks like he'd be played by John Spencer, were he still alive. I mean John Spencer, character actor from The West Wing, not Jon Spencer, of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Though that would be an interesting casting choice.

Anyway, what's going on with Flight 253? Who dropped the ball? Brennan says there was no smoking gun, as before, just different "streams of information" that should have been woven together in a braid, or highlighted, with Bumpits.

Moran says, hey, isn't this the same failure of dot-connecting as 9-11? Brennan says, again, that there was no lack of sharing because of the unwillingness to share.

Moran says something odd about how Facebook is "always drawing connections." Is it? He asks why the counter-terror effort isn't as "sophisticated as Facebook." Brennan says that it is. WE ARE UP ON OUR ENEMIES STATUS UPDATES. We are SUPERPOKING the terrorists.

Brennan, once again, is all Up With Napolitano. I am amazed that reporters, even now, are struggling to understand that she was referring to the post-attack "system" which "worked."

Switch time! Brennan is out, panel is on. THIS WEEK has a staff of ninjas, that get this switch made each week.

An emailer writes in:

Not that I'm an advocate of waving the 9/11 flag, but in this case, I'm giving
myself a convenient exception: how long until some one points out the fact
that it was law enforcement personnel, no wait, UNIONIZED law enforcement
personnel who performed amazingly on 9/11? I don't remember cops negotiating
for more vacation days before running into burning towers.

Furthermore, I don't remember the Detroit flight crew demanding better dental
care before helping subdue Firecrotch. I don't remember nurses asking for
better hours before administering H1N1 vaccines. And I especially don't
remember any teachers asking for their COLA before protecting kids during
campus shootings. I'm waiting to see if anyone has the audacity to stand up to
state the obvious while pundits take potshots at organized labor.

Good points. Beyond the labor-demonizing that we saw last week, I'd point out that these layers of protection often go unrecognized. I remember being taken aback during Condi Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission when she cast the thwarting of the Millennium Plot as a stroke of luck. It wasn't! The plot was foiled because customs agents did their jobs. I guess it's just hard for some people to admit that our tax dollars fund anything that's good.

Anyway, today we have Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman, Pete Hoekstra and Jane Harman. We kick off with Pete Hoekstra, who I personally cannot wait to be out of the national security business. He immediately attempts to link Fort Hood and Captain Crotchfire as some awesome pair of evildoers. "The good news is that now we are all on the same page," says Hoekstra, who's been the only one in this conversation who's been far off script.

Lieberman repeats his call that we have to go to war with Yemen. The good news is that Iran seems to off of Vinegar Joe's radar.

Susan Collins says that Janet Napolitano's comments that "the system worked" were "bizarre" and "baffled" her. The news here: Susan Collins is apparently too stupid to understand that she's taking those words in the exact wrong context, even after all this time. Even after I've read people correct this misconception. So, Susan Collins is either an idiot, or her staff is filled with idiots, or they are all dissemblers. I'm inclined to believe a combination of all three. But at this point, she may as well be claiming that the Bearcats beat the Gators. THAT'S HOW INCORRECT AND/OR MISINFORMED AND/OR DUMB SHE IS. Terry Moran just sits there, saying nothing.

"Nevertheless, I believe that Napolitano is working very hard," Collins says, as if she could be trusted to evaluate hard work. Joe Lieberman makes an effort to immunize both Napolitano and Collins from criticism. He goes on to say, "We're not out to attack anybody...we're out to fix what went wrong."

"There has been an al Qaeda surge, it seems," says Moran. YES TERRY, I MEAN DUH. CHECK IT OUT.

What about sending GITMO prisoners back to Yemen? Harman says that the prison should close, but that the Yemenis should not go back to Yemen. She supports the opening of a new facility in Illinois. Al Qaeda, she says, "is a global problem...we need a global counter-terror problem." She goes on to say that the Obama administration must do a better job using the civil liberties mechanisms so that our rights do not get infringed on while stronger efforts against "the bad guys" get ramped up.

From there, things get awfully prosaic and scripted. Hoestra says there needs to be better coordination between agencies. Collins is amazed that we don't have a system in place that can detect the explosive, at airports. HOW WOULD SUCH A SYSTEM COME ABOUT SUSAN? By magic? Did you attempt to pass legislation, funding such a program? Because if you didn't attempt to fund such a program through legislation, then THAT'S WHY WE DON'T HAVE THESE PROTECTIONS.

Lieberman believes that Captain Crotchfire should have been dragged off to secret prison and beaten, because of war. He goes to advocate the retention of GITMO, on the grounds, basically, that because Obama is president, abuses will not continue. I'm afraid I don't subscribe to that belief: Oh, well, now that we have a NICE president, he can be trusted with all the unitary executive privileges that the people who voted for him complained bitterly about when Bush wielded them. OH, WELL, THE GUY I VOTED FOR...HE CAN TAP MY PHONE. Nonsense!

OH BURN. Terry Moran asks Hoekstra is he's "proud to have" raised money off the Crotchfire Bomb Attempt. He says that he is proud of who he is and that all he's trying to do is move the President in a policy direction. And that's a goddamned lie. He was attempting to raise money for a gubernatorial run, which has nothing to do with national security policy. I mean, imagine this crap: YOU FOLLOW MY POLICY, PRESIDENT OBAMA, OR SO HELP ME GOD I'LL TAKE THIS MONEY AND GO MANAGE THE PAROCHIAL CONCERNS OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN!

So much has changed, in our attitudes about Yemen. Remember the carefree days when Yemen was a place we went to, as Americans, when we needed to avoid our ex-girlfriends?

Where did that paradise go?

Meanwhile, panel time! With George Will, David Sanger, Cynthia Tucker, and Ron Brownstein.

Will agrees that Captain Crotchfire should be beaten in a secret room, but that the attack represents an failure for al Qaeda as well, as their level of overall competence has fallen off. Which, I guess, makes it even more important that we extract information about their incompetence out of captain Crotchfire? No, I don't get it. Maybe George Will should spend more time listening to George Will.

Cynthia Tucker disagrees with Will's contention that there were too many dots to connect. She says that anyone who walks into the Nigerian Embassy and says the words "extremist" and "Yemen" should be treated as credible. She goes on to say that tomorrow's terror dad will be less likely to turn his son in if he knows that he's going to be sent to a black site.

Ron Brownstein seems to belittle our most heavily guarded prisons, calling them, dismissively, "conventional Supermax." Spend a night in one, Ron! Enjoy how "conventional" they are!

I can't wait to see what member of the panel thinks Tiger Woods needs to convert to Christianity!

Tucker says that she was pleased by Obama's "measured response." "Why allow al Qaeda to terrorize us?" She also says that "terrorism" is a better word than "man caused disasters," and she may be right, but the very fact that we have the time and space to argue over semantics with clear consciences is proof enough that either this threat isn't serious or that we are incapable of taking it seriously.

Meanwhile in Iran, the Green Revolution continues to unfold. Sanger points out that a few months ago, we might not have predicted its sustainability, but here we are, it's just not going away. Sanger notes that the internal strife complicates things for the President's effort in Iran, but I think it's pretty clear that if the Green Revolution is a problem, it's a pretty good problem to have. Will accedes that it's starting to look like "slow motion regime change." Sanger closes on a good to be careful that we don't end up in a confrontation with Iran that aids the regime in tamping down the Green movement.

The panel doesn't seem too impressed with the idea that Rush Limbaugh is going to rally people behind the status quo where health care is concerned.

Wow. Circa 2010, let it be known that it's George Will noting that the current health care bill will exclude 23 million Americans, and it's Brownstein spitting the "illegal alien" talking point.


Well, Brennan is doing the Full Watusi or the Ful John Spencering or whatever it's called, because here he is on Meet The Press as well. Again, he mentions the Embassy closure in Yemen as a response to indications of a specific threat. However, Yemen is "not a new front" in the war on terror. Rather, there has already been "tremendous focus" on Yemen. WHY HASN'T BRIT HUME CONVERTED THE YEMENESE TO CHRISTIANITY YET?

Anyway, "the fight is being taken" to al Qaeda in Yemen. It's just not gone as far as "Nigerian underpants." But we are apparently "rolling" with those in the Yemeni government that could be called "our homies."

Dave Gregory is so super serious about this question that he gives it some trademarked journalistic ostinato: "The President said that those behind the Christmas Day plot will be held accountable. Will be held accountable. Should the American People expect military action by the United States in Yemen?" Brennan says we will take "strong action" against them. Gregory repeats: "Military action is possible?" Brennan replies: "Everything is possible." Magic is possible. We will poison their relationships. We will cancel their favorite shows. Bending the fabric of time and space is possible. Maybe we'll imprison Yemeni terrorists on a magical island.

David Gregory won't stop asking questions founded on bullshit premises until somebody makes him! "Let me talk more about the Christmas Day plot. Last week, the Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, said the system worked." Brennan offers a new answer to this: "Every other day, the system has worked."

Did I miss the part where Abdulmutallab's father became a "prominent figure in Nigeria?" Maybe I missed it. But that feels to me like that part of BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES when the kid gets magically transformed into an honor student.

Anyway, Brennan repeats the greatest hits: threads should have been connected, Napolitano is doing a great job, he does the needed clarification ("What she was referring to, and she's clarified her remarks, the system worked after the incident"), everyone, including me, will be held accountable.

Anyway, David Gregory has a subscription to NEWSWEEK that he'd like to tell Brennan about. And in that NEWSWEEK, there was an article about the attempted assassination of a Saudi Prince, from an underoos assassin. Had Brennan heard? Yes. Brennan went to Saudi Arabia and "saw the room" where the attempt took place, and they disseminated information "broadly," but no, Brennan did not have one of those psychic flashes of insight that the guy on CSI: Miami has or anything. "There was no indication, though that Al Qaeda was trying to use that type of attack and that modus operandi against aircraft," Brennan says.

Gregory naturally, has to ask if we are "safer" than we were right after 9/11, and whether or not that sense of safety is going to run for President.

GREGORY: The-- the question of airline travel, what needs to be done to make airline travel safer?

Ground the planes. Never fly in a plane again. That will make them totally safe!

Brennan says: "There is no single silver bullet that's going to be able to allow us to have that type of assurance that we're going to able to stop individuals coming aboard planes. It has to be a package of things. It has to be technology, it has to be expertise, it has to be intelligence, it has to be cooperation with our international partners. And so, all this has to come together seamlessly. And it has to be done on a daily basis."

And it has to work perfect. And we have to ALWAYS BE LUCKY.

David Gregory is totally sick for those body scanners! But would they have detected the PETN? Brennan says that is unknown. The answer, by the way, could be "no."

Brennan goes on to reiterate his previous points that the criminal justice system is where Captain Crotchfire belongs. This is a good time to bring in a key exchange that took place during the sentencing hearing of Richard Reid, between Reid and Federal Judge William Young, that Glenn Greenwald pulled this week:

MR. REID: I further admit my allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah. Okay? With regards to what you said about killing innocent people, I will say one thing. Your government has killed two million children in Iraq. Okay? If you want to think about something, 20 against two million, I don't see no comparison. Okay?

Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons. Okay? I don't know, see what I done as being equal to rape and to torture, or to the deaths of the two million children in Iraq. Okay?

Thirdly. So, for this reason, I think I ought not apologize for my actions. I am at war with your country. I'm at war with them not for personal reasons but because they have murdered more than, so many children and they have oppressed my religion and they have oppressed people for no reason except that they say we believe in Allah.

This is the only reason that America sponsors Egypt. It's the only reason they sponsor Turkey. It's the only reason they back Israel. Okay? . . . .

THE COURT: There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court.

You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

I think that Judge Young is just the sort of leader this country would be prooud to come behind.

Meanwhile, Brennan goes on to serve Cheney:

BRENNAN: I'm very disappointed in the Vice President's comments. I'm neither Republican nor Democrat. I've worked for the past five administrations. And either the Vice President is willfully mischaracterizing this President's position, both in terms of the language he uses and the actions he taken-- he's taken. Or he's ignorant of the facts. And in either case, it doesn't speak well of what the Vice President's doing.

The clear evidence is that this President has ver-- been very, very strong. In his Inaugural Address he said, "We're at war with this international network of terrorists." We continue to say-- that we're at war with Al Qaeda. We're trying to give it some clarity. And we have taken the fight to them. We've continued, in fact, many of the-- of the activities of the previous administration.

I would not have come back into this government if I felt that this President was not committed to prosecuting this war against Al Qaeda. And every day, I see it in the President's face. I see it in the action's he's taken. And so, I'm confident that this country is in fact protected by this President's position on Al Qaeda and against-- terrorist activities. We're gonna continue to do this. We're gonna do it hard. We're gonna do it constantly.

Now, here are Michael Hayden and Michael Chertoff, for some reason. Hayden seems to attribute the rise of al Qaeda in Yemen to a single jailbreak that freed "two dozen al Qaeda members." It was like the movie CON AIR, I guess. Nicolas Cage wasn't there to stop them! Hayden goes on make mostly measured commentary in support of Brennan and Obama, only cautioning that releasing prisoners should not be decided on an "artificial timeline" and that "we made some mistakes."

Chertoff backs up the contention that this incident basically proves it's gotten harder to pull off attacks against the U.S. "And we've batted almost 100 percent." People should note that this incident is PART OF THAT BATTING AVERAGE. I mean, there are a lot of people who seem to believe this attack succeeded! That's weird!

Really, with Chertoff here, I'm waiting for one moment: is he going to get to pimp full-body scanners? And here we go!

CHERTOFF: I think that-- the-- the-- review that John's gonna undertake is gonna be very specific about that. It strikes me that what we're gonna look at are two possible areas. One is, was there a failure not to connect the dots in this incident, bringing them together, but to understand the significance of what those dots were? And I think that's an important part of the inquiry.

The second piece is, as John pointed out-- is there were scanners in the airport in Amsterdam that were not used. Why were they not used? (CLEARS THROAT) European-- the European Union has banned the use of these devices, because of privacy issues. And I think that's gonna cause another debate about where we strike the balance between privacy on the one hand and the right to life that every-- air traveler has when they get in an airplane.

Gregory wants to "come back to the issue" of scanners, and so he does, asking: " As you have pointed out numerous times-- and we talked about before, you are a consultant for a company that makes the type of body scanners that you advocate, although it's something that you advocated as Homeland Security Secretary-- as well. Would they have done the job? Would they have detected the amount of PETN that he had on board?"

Chertoff answers, "I believe that the answer is yes."

As Gawker's Adrian Chen points out, Chertoff should be introduced, thusly:

Chertoff is a former homeland security secretary and the founder of the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm whose clients include manufacturers of full-body scanners.

I'm glad Gregory at least mentioned it.

Gregory gets into the issue of profiling with Hayden and Chertoff, neither of whom seem eager to suggest that we can racial profile our way to safety. Hayden notes that behavioral profiles are the more effective means of containing the terrorist threat, and Chertoff says that "relying on stereotypes is misleading and potentially dangerous." Gregory's handle on the issue makes it sound like it's a simple matter: " Islamic males between the age of 20 and 30 make up roughly 90 percent of that profile. Is that an inappropriate or appropriate way for law enforcement to be targeting individuals?"

The dumb thing here is that Gregory is conflating an easy task, identifying young Muslim males, with an exceedingly difficult task, identifying terrorists. One of the worst things we could do, right now, is commit a whole bunch of money and effort and time to become better at identifying Muslim males.

Chertoff points out the obvious, that al Qaeda has stepped up efforts to recruit people who "don't fit the stereotype" and who "are Western in background and appearance."

Asked about Cheney, Hayden responds: "I would ask on behalf of the community of which I used to be a part for everyone to kind of calm down a little bit. Stop hyperventilating."

Good luck! Hyperventilating is what we do best! Could you imagine how awful it would be if adequate oxygen started getting to people's brains, and they realized all at once what glittering, terrible incompetents they all were?

Anyway, Panel Time, and again, we suckle at the teat of history today, with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Brokaw, David Brooks, and E.J. Dionne.

LET'S PUT THAT TIME A GUY TRIED TO EXPLODE HIS SCROTUM INTO PERSPECTIVE. Brokaw says it just goes to show that with all our awesome technology, we're still vulnerable against an enemy that's "nimble and cunning." Which sort of suggests that Captain Crotchfire was one of those two things! Brooks is all totally emo about it: the administration didn't do so well. "The country didn't do well." WHAT IS BROOKS TALKING ABOUT? The attack did not succeed! He goes on to say, though, that we're being "teenagers" if we expect our parents to succeed all the time, and that Brennan was "impressive."

I think, as a teenager, I was mad at my parents for not letting me put explosives in my pants. I think that Brooks had a weird misconception of the overall nobility of teens. Brooks says: "And if we throw a temper tantrum or start pointing fingers every time they have a failure, we're just not going to be a resilient country."

Who threw a temper tantrum, though? I really must have missed this. Peter King and Pete Hoekstra did, but most Americans celebrated Christmas and went to see Avatar and watched college bowl games and hung out in Times Square on New Years Eve while Cheney yammered "WAR...WAR...WAAARRRRRGGHHH" a billion times at Mike Allen, affecting no one but members of the media.

Jeez, David Brooks. Pop a Xanax or something!

Goodwin agrees with Gregory's powerful contention that Obama is a different president from Bush, based mainly upon a lot of stuff that neither president actually did.

Then we get to a part where Gregory and Brokaw are just spitting fancy sounding jargon at the screen. Leadership test! Threat matrix! New paradigm!

David Brooks says that in Iran, "the Obama administration has not been tough enough, especially on a moral level, in supporting the people on the streets." How does one demonstrate a "tough moral level," though? That sounds to me like a call for melodrama: chest-beating, garment-rending...if the Iranians were battling Snidely Whiplash over the rent money, maybe that would be appropriate. But I think that the regime would dearly love the excuse to just unleash hell, and that we'd be in the best position to give them one by getting all heavy-handed. Frankly, to suggest that Barack Obama needs to step in as the Green Revolution's personal source of moral authority is really condescending.

Oh, hey, BREAKING! The Obama administration, it seems, would like to get health care wrapped up as quickly as possible. If we didn't mention this every week on Sunday, maybe we'd lose sight of it. PLUS, BONUS OBVIOUSNESS: "the Democrats, for the next nine months, want to have a new two-stroke engine: jobs and fiscal responsibility."

You heard it here 43,283rd!

Dionne: "And I think that, look, if unemployment is 10 percent still in November, the Democrats are going to have a very tough time in this election." Wow. We are really cracking the Da Vinci code of politics, today!

Now they are getting into the history and the decade and some cartoon that David Gregory saw that leads him to say:

But, Doris, a lot made about the notion of this being a lost decade--lost opportunities, lost wealth not just for the rich, but for Americans all over the country with the stock market going down so far.

Not just for the rich! Why, David Gregory is concerned about how the extreme wealth of the extremely wealthy is affecting the rest of Americans who are heavily involved in the stock market! Why, that even includes the moderately wealthy! The entire MEET THE PRESS prism of humanity is refracting the bejeezus out of history!

And that leads to a ton of poetic, self-indulgent waxings about the Kennedy administration and Freedom Riders and the end of the David Tennant era on DOCTOR WHO and the Bay of Pigs and "passionate outsiders" and how the Green Revolution is like Iran's version of the "tea parties" (except that something real is at stake in Iran, and it's being fought for by adults, and oh yeah PEOPLE ARE DYING THERE) and really, WHO IS GOING TO BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO CONVERT TIGER WOODS TO CHRISTIANITY? Will it be you, Tom Brokaw?

And thus we come to the merciful end of this first liveblog of a new year. Let's close with the same lament I've made for the past few years, that this is now the eleventh year in a row that we have failed to achieve the super high-tech reality that was first envisioned by the brave creators of SPACE: 1999.