Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Benchmarks Not Met, N-Word Funeral, Raw Politics, UK Terror Plot Update, And Big Brother Watching (Monday's Show)

Hi everybody! Happy new week. 360 had themselves a nice mini vacation, didn't they? Although I suspect there might have been some work going on. After all, the show (and CNN as a whole) have been giving off a distinct there's-something-going-on-over-there vibe lately. I guess we'll see. I can't say I was too broken up about my unexpected blogging break. If only the real job was included. Unfortunately, they still required my presence. Anyway, 360 is back, Congress is back, and we are ready to rock and roll. Shall we? We're kicking it off with the BREAKING NEWS (shocker!) that the AP is reporting the Iraqi government has met exactly zero benchmarks set for them. Oh, are we going to award the Iraqi government the Medal of Freedom? Okay, so, yeah, massively discouraging. But surprising? Not so much.

Suzanne Malveaux then joins us live for more. She explains there are discussions going on in the White House right now about what to do if the troop surge doesn't work. Redeployment and withdrawal are being batted around, but Bush is being stubborn as always, claiming a withdrawal equals defeat. Can I point out the obvious here? We're not leaving Iraq. Ever. And actually that was always the plan. Sure, we'll draw down because the army is about to break, but there will be thousands of US troops in that country forever. We're not building a massive US embassy for our health. Not to mention that whole shadow army of contractors (which now outnumber US troops!). I haven't heard a word about pulling them out.

Anyway, Anderson Cooper asks if they're discussing Plan B behind the scenes and Suzanne tells us they're trying to come up with a Plan B. You ever feel like we're just characters in some sprawling comedy that's not actually funny? We're then treated to a clip of the press briefing where we watch a struggle over logic between Ed Henry and Tony Snow. Ed has the logic and Tony is trying to wrestle it away. When that doesn't work Tony just says Ed is in denial. Because, you know, anyone who doesn't think like them must be in denial or just stupid. Also, it's nice to see Ed getting some face time like this on his own network. I don't know if CNN knows this, but Countdown on MSNBC has just been loving all over Ed Henry at the press briefings lately. They play clips of him all the time because apparently he's the new David Gregory. I always assumed the universe would explode or something if one network featured another's reporter.

Next up we have Michael Ware live for the on-the-ground take of the Iraq situation. Anderson asks why the Iraq government hasn't met any of the benchmarks. Michael explains that they're American benchmarks and, well, the Iraqis really don't care much because they're all about keeping their own sectarian power. Michael thinks the whole idea of a unity government that everyone keeps pushing is laughable because the Iraqis only want to protect their own turf and they see themselves as factions. Switching from the political, Anderson wonders if the surge is working out militarily. Michael tells us that General David Petraeus is keeping the official violence figures on the down low, but really, all you have to do is note that there have been 30 soldiers killed this month alone. So...that's a no. Anderson then asks what's up with the Iraqi forces because when they called up 11,000 only 1500 showed up. Michael says it's been this way from the beginning and it's mostly because they don't see themselves as Iraqi troops, but members of a militia. Ah Michael, always such the bearer of lovely news. Stay safe, dude.

Moving on to a Dana Bash piece on all the republicans jumping from the sinking Iraq war ship. We've been hearing several republicans talking the talk about changing strategy in Iraq, but none of them have actually been walking the walk with their votes. Now Olympia Snowe has said she might vote for a pullout. The times they are a-changing. But, yeah, I'm still skeptical. And most republicans still don't want to saddle up with the democrats...even though there's been plenty of democratic proposals that don't involve just up and leaving. You know, if everyone would just shut the hell up in front of the cameras, sit down with each other, and really talk about this, they all probably agree more than they think. Except for Bush of course.

On now to some discussion with David Gergen. Anderson talks about how Jim Webb has proposed that the troops' leave time should equal their deployed time and he wonders if this is really all the democrats can do on Iraq. The Gerg says they can try more, but they won't get anywhere because Bush still has too many republicans behind him. They then discuss the Plan B, or lack thereof. What boggles The Gerg, is that the White House has all these republicans breaking ranks and Bush isn't even trying to be engaged with the party. Pssst, Gerg, he so doesn't care. The Gerg also tells us that many republicans are frustrated about this saying, "these guys don't get it. What world are they living in? Don't they understand how bad this is?" All very good questions and can apply to so many things regarding this administration.

Transitioning now a Jason Carroll piece on the tragic and untimely (timely?) death of the N-word. The murderer? Apparently, the NAACP. Okay, let me clear this up a bit. Anderson intros by talking about the rapper Ludacris and the bad words he says that begin with B, H, F, and N, which they don't wish to say on their broadcast. Um, does the "H" stand for "hos"? Because you totally said that during the whole Imus debacle. It was disturbing. Just saying. But that's not the word we're talking about tonight. It's all about the N-word because the NAACP decided to hold a mock burial for the word. I should point out that CNN has chosen not to bleep the word in this piece. The big to-do is because people are sick of the word being thrown around all over, especially by rappers. However, not many people think the funeral will change anything. CNN takes the opportunity to educate the viewers on what's going down on the streets. "The N-word has become so common on the streets, it's used to mean friend," says Jason. I am more than a little amused. Because, you know, CNN is the first place I turn to about street matters, what with their massive cred and all.

For discussion about this, we're joined by "Jason Whitlock, a columnist for 'The Kansas City Star,' and James Peterson, an Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University and founder of Hip-Hop Scholars." Jason thinks the mock funeral is very important because it represents a changing mindset, but James disagrees. He admires the sentiment, but thinks there are more important issues they should be focusing on. Anderson asks if the word can be used appropriately. James can't speak for what goes on privately, but agrees that it has negative connotations in a public sense. Jason doesn't think the word should be used ever and ties it in with black on black crime, stating that they're treating themselves like the N-word. "That's completely preposterous," says James, pointing out that there are massive societal issues that lead to that stuff. Jason says it's a mindset and James is all, "Hello? Poverty."

Jason then says that James would have minimized what Rosa Parks did because he would have thought the focus should have been on the lynchings and unemployment. Ooh, good point. But James doesn't think that has anything to do with what he's talking about. Anderson asks how they feel about white kids listening to black rappers and then repeating the N-word. James again says that's private and he goes back to his main point of there being bigger issues. Yeah, they're pretty much not on the same wavelength. Anderson then gives Jason the final thought and he says anyone who defends the word "needs to check their own sanity." Well, it's a tough debate. I've never said the word out loud-in any context, but then I hear of people trying to make the word illegal and I'm not so sure I'm down with that. The thought of a word being illegal is actually kind of scary.

Coming back from commercial we're rocking out to Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up," the latest reject of 360's political theme song contest. The finalists are almost upon us! Anyway, we then move on some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and learn that the democrats want $20 million more in the budget for education and social services, but Bush wants to block the addition. Because God forbid we improve our nation's schools when we could be throwing that money away in Iraq. Tom also tells us that Cindy Sheehan is threatening to run against Nancy Pelosi if she doesn't call for impeachment. Conventional wisdom is she has no shot and me? I think she needs a break from all this. It's weird. I remember when she was just another poster on dailykos. In other news, a bunch of 08ers are hitting the road and finally, the six-toed cats may stay at Ernest Hemingway's house. Anderson follows this up with a "meow." Mmkay.

Next up we have a Nic Robertson piece that follows up on that UK plot. The fact that they were doctors is again a central theme. We learn from the Church of England's top vicar in Baghdad that an al Qaeda leader told him, "Those who cure you will kill you," so it would seem the infiltration of the medical profession is some kind of new strategy. It sounds scary, but really, if massively botched plots are what al Qaeda has been reduced to, I say yay for us. Also? that phrase could totally have been referring to something else. I'd be afraid doctors were working on something biological, not explosive.

Moving on now to a Joe Johns piece on our one nation under surveillance. See, the UK has cameras everywhere, 200,000 actually. And they were installed due to terrorist attacks from the Irish Republican Army. Now it seems with our current terrorism problem, people are discussing whether Big Brother should be watching the US too. We're played a video from Baltimore where we see a woman grabbed by a man on a street. The police were watching and were able to respond in seconds. This is what you would call a plus when it comes to cameras. Another plus is a 17% crime decrease in neighborhoods with the cameras. But some people don't think they help and others don't think the cameras are even working. Obviously privacy is the huge issue here, as well as who gets to see the tapes. It's a tough one. I'm not all that comfortable with the cameras (and I especially don't like the ones on stoplights that give you tickets!), but then again, they are handy when something goes down. Of course at this point I don't think it matters what any of us think. The ball is rolling. As the Baltimore Police Commissioner says, "That's the way of the world. This is what we've come to. And the genie is out of the bottle, and it's not going to go back."

Tom Foreman has the headlines tonight and some BREAKING NEWS includes the little tidbit that Senator David Vitter is apparently caught up in the DC Madam scandal. Bwah! Oh, I hope this goes deeper. The Shot tonight is a rainy Rockies/Phillies game and the tarp gets away from them. What's funny is that it was the away team that rushed to help. This reminds me of the day I spent nine hours at Busch Stadium while Mother Nature pretty much took us through all four seasons, including a massive out-of-the-blue storm. There were tarp antics then too and manager Tony LaRussa was trying to help and was pulling on it when his grip thingee broke and he flew back. Fun times. Though not so much for him. The show was pretty good. B


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