Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More Attorney-Gate, Iraq War Anniversary, Animal Trafficking, Raw Politics, And Iraq Discussion (Monday's Show)

Hi everyone. Anderson has dug out his trusty field shirt and we're beginning the show in Bangkok, Thailand tonight to continue the "Planet in Peril" series. Is it sad that that shirt is better traveled than I am? Anderson starts by bringing in John Roberts, who is holding down the fort in New York, and Joe Johns in Washington to discuss the BREAKING NEWS that there's just been a big document dump related to attorney-gate. We learn the 3,000 some odd documents are not in chronological order (oh, sucks for them), so obviously they don't have much to tell us yet. Joe informs us the democrats will be looking for evidence that the attorneys were fired for political reasons and the job of Alberto Gonzales is on the line. John points out that actually the republicans are fighting among themselves about whether or not the AG should get the ax, with the democrats doing their usual sitting back and watching the situation implode thing. He also indicates that the DC rumor mill is busy churning out possible replacements for Gonzales, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Okay, no! That guy should have been canned along with Brownie after Katrina. They cannot make him Attorney General. I thought we were moving away from rewarding incompetence.

Next up we've got even more BREAKING NEWS (when it rains it pours) this time out of Iraq. The AP is reporting that Saddam's former VP was executed by the Iraqi government. I can only guess the cell phone video will be hitting the net shortly. This info then intros us into a Michael Ware piece on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. By some estimates there are still 20,000 Sunni insurgents alone and attacks have almost doubled from two years ago-up to 100 per day now. What it's all coming down to is the battle for Baghdad and this current surge is make or break time. Early signs are good, with violence down and not as much fighting on Haifa Street. However, Michael tells us that the insurgency is always evolving. Now with more troops in Baghdad the violence is spreading outside of the city and the insurgents are also now adapting their weapons, using chlorine bombs. Four years and here we are. As U2 once sang, "How long? How long must we sing this song? How long? How long?"

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece that kind of recaps the war in polls. Oh 360, you're messing with my head. Bill Schneider does the polls; Tom deals with maps. Next you're going to tell me they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Anway, Tom shows us that as the war has gone on and the cost in both lives and dollars went up, Bush's poll numbers took a hit. What's really cool is that Halliburton's stock price is also included. We learn that at the beginning of the war a share was about $10 and now it's up to $35. That's pretty disgusting and so awesome that they pointed it out. Have you guys seen those signs that are supposed to be from Halliburton? They say, "Thanks for everything. Sorry about your kids." Pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

Transitioning now to Anderson standing in an animal market and giving us a rapid fire recap of their trip there, making me totally want to give him an inhaler. Breath, dear. He then intros us into a piece he did in Bangkok's Jatujak Market with a hidden camera. Ooh, Anderson Cooper, undercover! We learn that the illegal trafficking of animals is an $8 to $20 billion a year business, with a lot of the animals being smuggled to China and America. Damn. We see several different species, including turtles and birds. Anderson tells us that authorities have begun to crack down, but unfortunately when police show up at the market the word spreads fast and traffickers just close their gates. On this trip with Anderson and crew is Steve Galster of Wildlife Alliance and he tells us that the law is set up so that once the gates are closed the police can't get in. Well, that's stupid. And that's exactly what happens when Anderson and crew are out with the police. Anderson asks Steve why people should care about this. Steve tells us that these animals could spread disease (oh, bird flu!) and when you take one species out of the ecosystem it really messes with everything. Sigh. Stupid humans.

Moving on now to a "Keeping Them Honest" piece from Jeff Corwin. That's right. Check him out! Aw, he's been temporarily adopted by CNN. Jeff and Steve also do the hidden camera thing, wiring up cameraman Neal and using " techniques of espionage." Jeff is really into this. I guess Neal is all better now since his critter problem. The men then easily cross the border into Myanmar and we're told that the government doesn't really get involved in the trafficking because they don't have control of the area. Once in the market Jeff immediately finds...porn. And he has to pick it up too. Just like a man. "Welcome to the land of the black market," he tells us. It doesn't take long for Jeff and Steve to find endangered species being sold, which violates Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES. They're even offered to buy leopard pelts and not once do they see a cop. After the piece Anderson again asks why we should care about all this. Jeff then basically repeats what Steve said, noting that humans are connected to the rest of the world and all species.

Transitioning back to New York for "Raw Politics," which John Roberts has apparently wrestled back from the hands of Candy Crowley. Good for you, John. First up, we've got Bush promising progress in Iraq. Yeah, I believe that was evidence of progress exploding a little while ago. Then we hear some clips of war protests that went on around the country today. Next we learn McCain spent the day at an opening of an apartment building for homeless vets in New Hampshire. It seems he's vying for the primary vote there. So, if it was say, Florida, that mattered does that mean he would screw the New Hampshire vets and do something there? Classy. Then we hear from Clinton, I guess to keep this thing balanced. She's not really saying much she hasn't already said about the war. Finally, we're told that the democrats won't use their power of the purse to cut war funding. Wimps. The graphics for this segment are still a little crazy, but I think they toned down the sound effects. Or I'm just hallucinating, which is entirely possible.

Next up we have a clip of Shock and Awe from the beginning of the war. "Remember that?" Anderson asks. Um, yes. Actually MSNBC did a whole living history thing today, replaying much of that first day. I don't have plans to watch it, but I recorded it anyway. I've kind of become a horder of history since I'm sure this will all be rewritten someday. I imagine myself giving my grandkids a trunk full of 8 years of Newsweeks and a bunch of DVD news footage to explain what the hell happened. And then they will pick up one of the DVDs and say, "What's this thing?" Heh. Anyway, moving on now to a taped interview Anderson had with Michael Ware and Michael Gordon of the "New York Times." Two Michaels. Guess I gotta go formal with the last names. Anderson notes that al-Maliki has said that the sectarian violence is over and he wonders if that's true. Ware is all, "uh, no." See, there's that whole civil war thing still playing out, so...Anderson notes that attacks are down and asks if the militias are lying low. Gordon thinks so to a certain extent and says that in the short term al Qaeda is the cause of most violence.

Anderson then brings up the fact that General Petraeus has said there is no military option in Iraq, so he wonders if anything else is going on. Ware tells us they've been saying that line since Saddam's statue fell and at the end of the day all the political power is carved up by Shia militias. Petraeus even had to rush a battalion to Diyala province due to increased violence. Anderson also notes that military commanders and US politicians seem to have dueling timelines. Gordon tells us there is a disconnect between on the ground and in Washington. Um, you think? What's really sad is that I can imagine this same conversation taking place in another four years.

Transitioning back to Joe Johns now who I assume has furiously been going through the 3,000 pages of documents. He once again notes they were not in chronological order and I'm sensing a tone here. I take it Joe is not happy about that. And yeah, he hasn't really found anything either, so why you keeping Joe up? CNN should outsource some bloggers and have them on call. They love the data mining. The Shot tonight is a viewer pic sent in from Jose Barientos, who served two tours in Iraq with the Air Force. The pic is of two adorable children playing on a Hummer. Aw. The second hour tonight is the Sins of the Father special. The show was really good. A-

I know some of my readers are fans of Richard Engel. A head's up to you guys because MSNBC is going to air a documentary about his war experiences on Wednesday. Looks good.


Blogger Arachnae said...

I thought we were moving away from rewarding incompetence.

Who's we? You and me, maybe, but those guys? They think incompetence is great!

1:09 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@arachnae-Well, perhaps The Gerg's optimism is rubbing off on me. I don't know. We did trade Rummy for Gates. I know they had to have their arm twisted off first, but it's still something, right? Right?

4:22 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Okay first: Is it sad that that shirt is better traveled than I am?
What's sad is that I thought the same thing when I saw it. I love the shirt, but it always reminds me of that cut-out guy that kids send all over the world getting it's picture taken everywhere. I want to travel like that damn shirt!

I'm always glad to see Michael Ware, but he always leaves me feeling like the worst is yet to come. And he's usually right.
I'd give my left arm to see him and Bush in conversation - both arms, actually.

And now I want to be a secret undercover agent, and catch these illegal traffickers. I'd bust the locks off those doors pretty quick. I'm sure I'd go to jail...but they'd have to catch me first.

And this would be after I jumped into one of those puppy pens and played for a bit, of course.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Jan said...

Stacey--I am surprised that Anderson didn't play with the puppies.

I really like the show last night. It had a little bit of everything. I just don't see this war getting over anytime soon, no matter who gets elected President in 2008. There are so many groups fighting each other, not counting the Coalalition forces, and you never know who is who.

Great post Eliza and I admit I missed a couple of things that you mentioned. That is why I like to read you blog to keep up with things that I missed.

9:27 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

I want to travel like that damn shirt!

Me too! Heh. He wears them so much even I've noticed and I am not a noticer of those kinds things. It wasn't until about a week and a half after Katrina when I went, "hey, has he been wearing the same shirt the whole time?" Though in my defense I was kind of distracted by, you know, tragedy.

Oh, Michael Ware interviewing Bush? That would be excellent. They'd never let him near him though.

9:34 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks Jan! Oh, and you know he petted those puppies off camera. ;)

12:36 AM  

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