RachelWatch: Rachel gives the spending freeze a frosty reception

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Today: Rachel is not a fan of the proposed spending freeze and isn’t sure if she’s a fan of Tracey Ullman’s Rachel Maddow.

Breaking News

Rachel started us off with a bang, diving right in to President Obama’s plan to propose a three-year government spending freeze starting in 2011.

Based on her reaction, I think Rachel would have been happier if the White House had announced a plan to bring in Mr. Freeze.

OK, it’s not so much a spending freeze as an everybody-settle-down-while-I-figure-out-what-to-cut here, but that’s less soundbite-friendly. Plus I think the administration folks may be trying to do something with rhyming “spending freeze” and “middle-class squeeze,” and if they are, they should cut that out immediately.

Jared Bernstein, economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, jumped in with some very fast verbal dancing and maybe some jazz hands explaining that the freeze doesn’t affect a whole bunch of stuff and it’s really more cutting waste and shifting funding around and holy rampaging cats, was Rachel not having it.

The debate got lively, but the clip is worth watching for Rachel’s Face of Massive Skepticism alone.

Code Blue

…And while we’re talking political strategy, let’s move on to the news that campaign manager David Plouffe is coming back into the Obama administration fold. (Which I guess means he is not, alas, lending his last name to a line of luxury stuffed animals.)

Plouffe is fresh from a fire ‘em up/let’s not be idiots piece in The Washington Post, but can he really keep the Democrats from chickening so hard that they just start handing over enormous tax cuts to supermillionaires and offering to waterboard the unemployed?

Rachel welcomed Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who has an interesting perspective on the way the media machine tends to look at political strategists, but who I am also beginning not to trust so much.

There are a couple of points during the clip where I feel like he realizes the big picture and shifts gears from genuinely chatting to trying to mess with the Democrats.

Don’t be afraid to do things, Democrats. Would holding on to a soft, luxurious stuffed animal help? I’m just asking.

One More Thing:

Rachel noted that there seem to be a bunch more people who are really irritated with the abuse of the filibuster and the way that the minority can keep anything from getting passed ever until the only thing that happens in the Senate is weeping, compromising, and tooth-gnashing.

OK, yes, getting rid of the filibuster would allow the elected majority to rule again, but has anyone considered the tragic cost in Jimmy Stewart imitations?

Steele a Weasel

Rachel reported that the RNC has mailed out fundraising surveys that have been deliberately made to look like official Census forms, presumably in the hopes of tricking people into thinking they are legally required to fill them out.

The “Census” forms include a note from Michael Steele about how he personally authorized it — So bold! So manly! — and just a little bit of push-polling. (No, no: The kind of push-polling with loaded questions. It’s not that manly.)

Ms. Information

The new G.I. Bill passed in 2008 and went into effect this summer, as long as you don’t take the “effect” part literally. The VA information hotline is so understaffed that in the last three months of last year, about 90% of calls never connected.

Interesting. Bush had threatened to veto this bill, but instead the government has accidentally avoided shelling out the money for it by keeping anyone from being able to call and find out how to use the program.

Oh, dear. I have a feeling that three-year spending freeze is going to involve a lot of time on hold.

Invest in shoulder pads and ear cozies.

And hey, remember how Governor Mark Sanford (R – South Carolina) wrote all those terrible goopy overwrought love letters to his mistress and we all got embarrassed because (aside from the creepy thing he was doing to his family) he just cared too much?

Ready to suddenly get real nostalgic for that?

Sanford’s Lieutenant Governor, André Bauer, suggested that aid programs are akin to feeding stray animals, and indeed that people living in poverty are akin to stray animals, and that strays/people who have a food source are just going to breed, “especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”

Bauer is of course now hiking the Backpedaling Trail and apologizing all over the place, but somehow I don’t think he gets it: A story in today’s State indicates that he is sorry “because now it’s being used as an analogy, not a metaphor.”

South Carolina, please remember to have your Lieutenant Governor spayed or neutered.

Speaking of upstanding Family Values political candidates, doesn’t “importing a haggis” sound like a euphemism for the next horrible scandalous thing someone from C Street House is going to get caught doing?

Well, they’d better do it quickly, because importing a haggis may soon be perfectly legal again.

In honor of Robert Burns Day and possible impending haggis decriminalization, Rachel turned over the end of the Ms. Information segment to special correspondent Angus McFarker.

The Only Thing Worth Dying For

Back in 2001, a team of just eleven Green Berets went into Afghanistan to help the locals topple the Taliban.

Eric Blehm, the author of The Only Thing Worth Dying For and U.S. Army Major Jason Amerine joined Rachel to talk about their are-you-kidding-me mission and the state of the war in Afghanistan today.

Tracey Ullman Gets Huffy

In spite of her extensive dramatic work on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Rachel seemed oddly shy about the fact that Tracey Ullman does a Rachel Maddow impersonation on the new season of State of the Union.

Rachel rolled a clip and Ullman’s Maddow is… acceptable.

It’s miles better than the dreadful attempt that was on SNL last year, but it’s not one of those impersonations that makes you goink out for a second because one human being has so perfectly captured another.

Ullman doesn’t quite have Rachel’s speech rhythms nailed (said the woman whose job it is to watch the show every night), but evidence suggests that this may be because Ullman was spending days at a time in an isolation tank piping in full Arianna Huffington immersion.

At any rate, Ms. Ullman will have a chance to practice her Maddow — she’ll be on the show this Thursday.

Enjoy.

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