Saturday, May 26, 2007

Investigating Earmarks, "The Road Home" Program, Monica Goodling, Immigration, CNN Heroes, And Friday's Greenland Coverage (Thursday's Second Hour)

Hi everybody. We kick off the hour with repeat coverage of the Iraq war bill and then we're on to a Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on all the pork our lovely Congress likes to churn out. Have you spent any time at the Biltmore Hotel in Florida lately? No? Well you should since you spent $96,000 for renovations. That's just one example of many of how Congress is totally wasting your money-with two wars on and a limping city in the gulf, no less. See, when the democrats took over as the majority party they promised to make the earmarks more transparent. So how's that working? Eh, not so much. Apparently Dave Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, isn't really down with the whole telling you where your money is going thing. This makes republican senator Tom Coburn get his outrage on. On the other hand, democratic senator Robert Byrd is okay with it. And this hurts a blogger's head because Coburn sucks at basically everything except this. He rocks when it comes to pork issues. And Byrd? Love him, but he totally sucks when it comes to pork issues. You know what we need? Build-A-Senator kits. Seriously, wouldn't it be awesome if we could take all the good qualities of our elected officials and mesh them into one person? So anyway, Drew our investigator also checks out the $2 million that we spent on Rice Lake Regional Airport, a place that is conveniently placed for corporate executives. During his four hours there Drew spots seven aircraft. But don't worry, he got to catch up on his paper reading. Yeah, that was money well spent. But hey, it's not like we have over 30 million people in poverty or anything. Oh, wait.

Next up we have another "Keeping Them Honest," this time with Susan Roesgen and she's tackling the apparently really crappy "The Road Home" program. If you can believe it (and at this point I know you can), Katrina victims are still having trouble getting money from the federal government. The Road Home program was supposed to, well, help people get back home. Instead, many of the applicants seem to be waiting in limbo, paying mortgages on their damaged homes AND rent on where they're actually living. Nearly 140,000 people have applied for the money, but only 20,000 have gotten any. And this is 21 months after the hurricane, people. The state hired the private company ICF International to run the program and, surprise, surprise, their top people all just got big bonuses. Okay, did we learn nothing from Iraq? Hiring all the private companies to reconstruct has been a complete disaster over there. I'd be interested to know who from the state made the decision to hire them and whether or not they have any connections to ICF. There's a follow up for you. So anyway, Senator Mary Landrieu is leading an investigation into the matter. Let the excuses begin...or actually, continue. After the piece John says, "Stunning and depressing." Yes and yes.

Transitioning now to a Joe John's piece on the testimony of Monica Goodling, former justice department White House liason, on her role in attorney-gate. And hey, now we actually get another picture of her! It's like the woman had previously only been photographed once in her life. So okay, Goodling pleaded the fifth, yet she still admitted that the firings were political. So, uh, oops. And this on top of the increasingly-amnesiac Alberto Gonzales. The people at Justice must be crying themselves to sleep at night. The other story here is that Goodling wasn't even qualified for the job she held and Justice always previously attracted the best. Goodling came from Pat Robertsons' Regent University and it seems her hiring had more to do with politics than merit. You know, this is the same damn thing with Iraq. Again. Right after the invasion they took a bunch of young inexperienced republican operatives and gave them the keys to the country. It's criminal. After the piece we have Jeffrey Toobin to talk about Goodling's experience. He tells us that you don't have to come from Harvard to work at Justice, but Regent is strange in that it is explicitly conservative. Toobin deems it very rare for her to be hired with no prior experience. He also points out that people from Regent and other religious schools seem to have disproportionate influence on the White House. Yep, and that's scary.

Moving on to a repeat of "Raw Politics" (hm, that's weird) and then a repeat of Anderson on the phone. From there we've got Jeff live in Greenland again and he's cold because it's about 15 below Celsius there. "Bloody cold." Poor Jeff tells us his lips have stopped working, though they do seem to be moving. According to Jeff, "What you have to remember is that nearly 700,000 square miles of Greenland's 840,000 square miles of terra firma is made up of ice, 10 percent of the world's fresh water is locked up in this ice and now this ice is starting to melt to a tune of about 100 million tons -- 100 billion tons -- 100 billion tons every year. And that's been happening only for about a decade." Yikes. Stay warm, Jeff.

Next up we have a Thelma Gutierrez piece on Ed Murray, republican mayor of Lindsay, California. Murray is a Rush Limbaugh-listening kind of republican and this piece is about his stance on immigration, but that stance might shock you. Remember how some people have said that immigrants do the jobs that Americans won't? Well, apparently that statement is true-at least in Lindsay, California. Lindsay's economy is all agricultural and a large workforce, both illegal and legal is its lifeblood. Of course there are many that don't like Murray's attitude, but he says he's placed ads offering benefits and such with no takers from Americans. His view is that immigration issues lie with the feds. Interesting. I wonder if he'd feel that way if his economy wasn't agriculture. Doubtful. You know, the world would probably be a better place if everybody had to walk in everybody elses shoes for a little while.

On now to the new segment "Running Mates" and this time we're meeting Mitt Romney's wife, Ann. We learn that she suffers from MS, but is against embryonic stem cell research. Also, she doesn't always agree with Mitt. Hey, me either! Moving on to some "CNN Heroes", Matt and Jessica Flannery, founders of This is actually extremely cool. What they've set up is a way for ordinary people to loan money to entrepreneurs in the developing world in order to help alleviate world poverty. I am totally doing this. You can donate however much you can spare and the great part is you (most likely) get it back, all the while helping tackle world poverty. I know a lot of people like to donate to charites, but hate that they can't see exactly where their money is going. Now you can.

That was the end of Thursday's second hour and now I'm going to do a little blogging of Friday's show for you. My new policy is to skip Fridays, but we've got Anderson and Jeff in Greenland and let's just say I know my "base." I'm all about avoiding the reader wrath. Heh. But before we get to what I've deemed "Planet in Peril: The Brrrr Edition," I'd like to comment on the "What Were They Thinking?" Tonight we learn that some guy in England stayed up for 11 days straight in order to set a world record. Okay, I totally don't believe that. Or, actually, to go Bill Clinton on you, I guess it depends on your definition of "awake." Because most people are going to start having dreams after a while, whether they're "awake" or not. That means that dude from England was probably tripping out a bit. The kicker is that Erica tells us the "Guinness Book of World Records" doesn't even acknowledge that feat because of health risks. You think he would have maybe looked into that, you know, before. John jokes that the guy was practicing to go into cable news and Erica says, "But he can't beat the John King record, can he?" John tells us he falls behind Wolf Blitzer. Oh John, everybody knows robots don't need to sleep-just recharge.

Transitioning now to a report starring a very bundled up Anderson Cooper. It's cold! Anderson then talks to us on the helicopter as they fly to Warming Island and I'm getting deja vu. Besides the extra clothing, (and terrain obviously) it's the same shot almost as when he went to the Amazon. Anyway, this island was discovered by Dennis Schmidt back in 2005 and we learn that no one has ever been there before. Man, how awesome is that? They get to walk around a place no one has been before. As Anderson walks on the ice he notes that you have to be careful of the hidden crevices, "which you can really fall into, and that would be the end of you." Yes, please be careful. I've seen those movies. Also, someone must be doing the cardio, because how he's walking through all that and talking to us without, well, dropping dead, is beyond me.

After his piece, Anderson joins us live, as does Jeff Corwin, who is so bundled up I don't even recognize him at first. Anderson tells us that " This is about as remote a place you can possibly get for -- for a live shot." Well, you're coming in nicely. Yay, technology! "...the upside of this, this is just absolutely tropical," says Jeff. In case it isn't clear, he's frickin cold, people. From Anderson we learn that over the last 30 years the "average temperature here in Greenland has risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit." And from Jeff we learn Greenland is, "actually losing ice at about 100 billion tons a year." Anderson tells us they'll be there for a couple more days, so I guess this is it for the live stuff. I don't know. He also states, "And you've heard about the land of the midnight sun." Actually no, but I have heard about the house of the rising sun. Heh. But Anderson isn't in New Orleans and what he's getting at is that the sun is up in Greenland 24 hours a day there, which is very disorienting.

Anyway, I'd tell them to stay warm, but Anderson and Jeff mentioned they were staying in tents, so that's so not happening. Don't fall in a crevice! They then throw back to John, who thanks producer Charlie Moore and the rest of the crew. Aw, that's right. Behind the sceners need props too. You go Charlie and other crew people (Neal?)! The Shot tonight is this huge wild pig this kid says he killed, but John and Erica are skeptical. Then John says, "But real or cleverly concocted, we want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it at We'll put some of your best clips -- make them convincing -- on the air." What? Nooooo! Don't encourage truthiness, man! Well, Stephen Colbert would be proud anyway. That'll do it, folks.

Screencaps by bcfraggle.


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