Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Senate Passes A Revised Bailout Bill, The Electoral Map Moves, And Even More Sarah Palin Bogglement

Hi everybody. As per usual, we're kicking the night off with BREAKING NEWS. It seems the Senate has actually taken some initiative, and passed their own version of the bailout bill. For those of you that slept through your ninth grade government class, things are no where near fixed yet. The bill will still have to make it through a House vote (set for Friday) and that didn't go so well earlier this week. A Jessica Yellin piece explains that this new version has purposefully added some sweeteners, like tax breaks, to try to sway House Republicans who contributed to the meltdown on Monday. Of course, the risk in that is the possibility of driving away Democratic votes they already had.

Needless to say, as Jessica notes after her piece, there will be a lot of arm twisting tomorrow. And I can't help but think that it didn't have to be this way. I'm not talking about the financial crisis itself; I'm talking about the non passage (so far) of a bailout bill. The Bush administration may absolutely suck at governing, but they are good at framing--at least they used to be. Clear skies. Healthy forests. The Patriot Act. WMDs. They know how to manipulate public opinion and if they would have just sold this thing as a bailout of small businesses (which are going to suffer from the credit freeze), rather than a giveaway to Wall Street, people might not be scaring the hell out of their elected officials right now, thus making it easier for them to vote for the bill. Paulson would have had to have been the front man on the message because Bush has no credibility, but I think it would have worked and things would be different now. Can these people do anything right?

Next up, we have an interview with Representative Barney Frank, which is a nice change of pace to hear from an actual player in what's going down. The show used to do these kind of interviews all the time, but lately they've fallen into the formula of packages and pundits. I have to say, I can't look at Barney Frank anymore without thinking of Stephen Colbert busting a move down the hall behind him. Anyway, Barney tells that he thinks the bill has a better chance of passing in the House now, though not necessarily because of the sweeteners. Apparently, it's finally dawning on some House members that there really is a financial crisis that has to be fixed. As Barney says, "reality has changed." Anderson notes that Frank has complained about the lack of regulation over the years and wonders if he feels any personal responsibility. "No," replies Frank. Well, okay then.

Before I go further, I want to point out that this is totally Anderson's favorite question. He asked it all throughout the Katrina debacle, as well as during other random screw ups. Repent to Anderson, people! (It is a good question though. I kid because I love.) Anyhoo, Frank then starts to explain the story of the non regulation of Freddie and Fannie, but Anderson interrupts him. Ruh-roh. You don't interrupt Barney Frank. He interrupts harshly right back. "May I respond?" Bwah! Oh, Barney. I think Anderson Cooper just got pwned . . . and it shuts him up good. Then Frank goes through some more sad Congressional regulation history and Anderson decides to try one more time: "So, you feel, point blank, you were not protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac too much over the years?" You gotta admire his persistence.

Frank basically states that his hands were tied because the Republicans were in power up through 2006. "Well, in the first place, the notion that I stopped them from doing anything they wanted to do, you know, if I could have stopped them from doing something, I would have stopped the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and multi-hundred-billion-dollar tax breaks for very rich people," he says. It might sound like BS that the Democrats were powerless when the Republicans were in charge, but if your read anything about how that House was run back then, you have to kind of feel for him here. If you want to bang your head against the wall, check out this piece from Matt Taibbi. I wouldn't believe it to be true, if I hadn't watched a lot of that stuff go down myself (via Internet/TV of course).

Moving on now to Ed Henry live and we find out that the pressure is on to sway those House votes. It's time to work out those phone-dialing fingers! Especially Obama, who now has a burden on him to deliver more Democrats. Even with a passage, it should be interesting to see how this all spins out, the operative word being "spin."

Ali Velshi is at the big graphic wall again, but it's not so scary tonight. He's just pretty much showing us how the Senate's version of the bill differs from what the House rejected. So what are those sweeteners? Your bank deposits will be insured up to $250,000 instead of $100,000, and there's also $110 billion in tax breaks. There is nothing to help the credit markets, but from what I understand, they should unseize as soon as something gets passed. Ali also tells us the disturbing news that AT&T is now having trouble raising money. C'mon Congress. Fix this.

Onward to the Magic Map! John King reprises his electoral analyzing duties and we learn that the times are a-changing. Well, at least the colors are a-changing. Slightly. John tells us that Obama is ahead Florida. Does this mean The Great Schlep has been a success? Thank you, Sarah Silverman! Other prior red states are trending Obama now too. Yay! Don't get too excited. Don't get too excited. Don't get too excited. There's still a month to go and I have promised I will not let myself think Obama is going to win until I see he's got the electoral votes. My little heart can only take so much massive disappointment.

For discussion of this shift, we're joined by John, David Gergen, and Gloria Borger. Most of this first segment is just strategy stuff, though this from Gloria stood out to me: "I think the question in this campaign has always been, who is more of a risk? And, if you look at the last two weeks, a lot of the voters are thinking, ironically, that John McCain is actually more of a risk when it comes to managing the economy." Why ironically? Maybe I missed her point. But I think a lot of people have always thought McCain is more of a risk.

Then in the next segment there's this from Anderson: "You know, David, it's incredibly frustrating to -- I was literally having flashbacks to Hurricane Katrina where, tonight, we saw senators, basically, patting each other on the back, praising each other for taking action, and I can just imagine folks out there, watching this, and just getting more and more mad listening to these people and no one seems to be taking responsibility." Aw, Katrina flashbacks. I wonder if there's a pill for that. Sorry. I'm being mean and flippant, but this stuff isn't new, you know? And it's incredibly frustrating for now everyone to be all, "Oh my God, crisis!" when anyone paying attention could have seen where all this deregulation would take us.

Yeah, the Democrats are ineffective and aren't by any means perfect, but this administration and the prior Republican-led Congress have decimated everything. Everything. And I just can't muster up outrage at every little incident anymore because I spent most of it already--a lot of it before even Katrina happened. I love that Anderson is principled and wants people to take responsibility for their actions, but we are all at fault here. Including him. Including me. And most likely, including you. As the quote goes, in a democracy, some are to blame, but all are responsible. We all checked out on our duties as citizens and the robber barons took over.

The media should have been investigating the important things like government contracts and corruption instead of Anna Nicole and Britney, and the rest of us should have been keeping informed and making noise when we saw our representatives weren't acting in our best interests. We didn't though. Now our country is falling apart before our eyes and we have no one to blame but ourselves. (And George Bush! Couldn't help myself.) Sorry for the rant, which actually isn't directed at Anderson, even if his quote sparked it.

Let's transition to something hilarious shall we? Okay, will you settle for hilariously terrifying? Yes? More Sarah Palin coverage it is! We begin with a clip of Joe Biden and Palin (separately) discussing their views on Roe vs. Wade and . . . they're actually both almost rational. Who'd a thunk it? Though I am a little concerned by what Palin means when she says she wants to see the country embrace the culture of life. Because if she's talking imposing her views, that's a no-go.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on the upcoming debate, where they'll be meeting in St. Louis. I can't decide whether to be excited or nervous about this thing. It would seem that Palin is going to fall on her face, but I don't know. Apparently she's held her own against more experienced foes before and Biden's going to have to control his gaffes, all the while walking the aggressiveness line. This will be difficult for both of them and I'm not going to underestimate Palin. Joe tells us that when it comes to expectations as to who will win, the polls are split, but it seems to me that if expectations got any lower for Palin, you'd have to dig for them underground. I guess we'll see.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Palin segment without something astoundingly jaw-dropping, so I present to you: clip where Palin can't name a Supreme Court case she disagrees with besides Roe vs. Wade. I love how she just keeps talking, but nothing is really said. Forget Bridge to Nowhere; that was an Answer to Nowhere. This will all be much less funny when she has the nuclear codes (stole that from a freaked out Matt Damon).

Moving on now to Paul Begala and Bay Buchanan, which I had planned to blog, but now that I look at it, I need a pass on Bay right now. I'm going to skip "The Shot" too because I missed most of it. The webcast actually worked for me and the timing was way off on the last one and I ended up watching that instead. A little tip, don't have your speaker volume turned up and then forget you logged onto the webcast. Erica Hill scared the crap out of me tonight. She was all, "Hello." and I'm all, "Ahh!" I only saw two of them; I don't know if there were more.

But tonight we learned that Anderson got a haircut (which maybe you could have learned by just looking at him; I don't know) and, apparently, he had traumatizing post-haircut experiences as a child, which he seems to erroneously believe is the case for everyone. No scarring haircuts for me, but I do remember a boy biting me every day in kindergarten. Does that count? Being only five, I didn't realize he liked me and didn't know how to show it--my only real thought about the situation was, "ouch!" Ah, memories. Hey, has anyone else noticed that Anderson no longer refers to "blogging," but calls it "chatting" instead? What's up with that? Pretty good show tonight. And that'll do it.


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