Saturday, July 14, 2007

Iraq Report Card, Recommendations Not Passed, Fifth Deployment, Raw Politics, Patient Dumping, And Yellow Stone Wolves (Thursday's Show)

Hi guys. We've got Anderson Cooper coming at us from the roof of CNN's Los Angeles studios tonight. Aw, would they not let him in the building? Larry still mad about him getting more debate time? Heh. Anyway, we begin with learning that the White House released it's interim report on Iraq benchmarks and are told that of the 18, eight passed, two were mixed, and eight basically failed. The White House is of course all optimistic, which is ridiculous, but are we forgetting that initial AP report that said they failed all 18 benchmarks? As thinkprogress points out, even the "success" here is spin. I mean, seriously, we're listening to the White House on this?

Up next we're joined by Michael Ware, someone we should be listening to. Anderson asks if a pullout is realistic and Michael sings us the same tune we've been hearing from him all along on this: that what's happening on the ground and what's happening in Washington have no relation to each other. Michael says the commanders are still in it to win and if we pull out there could be a bloodbath. As opposed to the picnic everyone is having now? Oh, I believe that's the first time I've gotten snarky with Michael. It's just that people predict a lot of things, you know? The big Taliban spring offensive didn't happen. Anderson then talks about the political situation and gets his outrage on a bit about the Iraqi government going on a three week vacation. But Michael doesn't think we should care about that because, "even if parliament sits 24 hours a day for the next three weeks, they're not going to make much progress." Oh, well that's comforting.

Anderson then points out the sectarian violence benchmark was given a passing grade and he reads us a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham who believes that saying there's no progress against al Qaeda denies the troops' sacrifices. Michael then smacks down this BS, pointing out that, yeah, if you just count the bodies in Baghdad it's a little better, but country wide the deaths are the same. Not to mention the fact that a hell of a lot of people have left and, well, you can't kill people that aren't there. Plus the fact that al Qaeda is not responsible for every death, which leads Michael to say, "just looking at al Qaeda as an end to the sectarian violence is almost an insult to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of that violence so far." Touche, Michael. Touche.

Moving on now to a really well done piece from Peter Bergen. Actually they've just recut the interview he did a while back with former CIA Officer Art Keller and used it to explain just how the hell after all the money and effort, al Qaeda is still doing well. What I like about this piece is it's broken down into four mistakes. The first mistake was that we had Bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora, but there weren't enough troops and a request for more was denied. The second mistake was that we kicked Taliban butt and chased them into Pakistan...but then focused all our resources on Iraq. The third mistake was our belief...well, the belief of the idiot's in charge, that all the terrorists would come to Iraq, making them easier to kill. And now Iraq is a training ground. So...that worked out well...for them. Our fourth mistake was that we let al Qaeda spread their ideas everywhere-the Iraq effect. Now we've got people driving into terminals in Glasgow. This was a nice short and to the point piece. Although also kind of infuriating because these "mistakes" were foreseeable and the people that made them, criminal.

Speaking of infuriating and criminal, next we're joined by Tim Roemer, member of the 9/11 Commission, to talk about how roughly half of the Commission's recommendations have yet to be enacted. Which, as Roemer points out, might help out with that whole al Qaeda getting stronger thing. Anderson asks who's to blame for them not getting passed. Roemer says the blame starts at the top. So Cheney? I kid. He of course means Bush, and he hopes that he would get the recommendations passed, but instead Bush is threatening a veto. Okay, every reporter should be out there asking why. Why would the president, who claims to want to protect us, be threatening a veto on the 9-11 Commission Recommendations? Why? Please, someone, ask this. Although, it's important to point out that Bush never wanted the Commission to begin with. Fought tooth and nail against it. Honestly, if you think that man gives a crap about your safety at all, after everything we've seen, well, I can't help you. Anyway, Roemer points out that the new Congress did get some stuff passed, but it's stuck in conference now and he urges people to put pressure on their representatives. You heard him people. They're not going to do it themselves.

Transitioning now to an interview with army reservist Erik Botta and his attorney, Mark Waple. Who is Erik and why does he need an attorney? Erik is about to be deployed for a fifth time and he's fighting it. And yes, I said fifth. Fifth!!! Yeah, we don't have a draft. How in the world can any of us say we support the troops when we deploy these guys five times? When our Senate won't even pass an amendment (the Webb amendment) to guarantee they spend as much time at home as deployed? (BTW, that was almost a completely partisan vote with the Republicans shooting it down.) So anyway, the deployment thing is a really important issue, but unfortunately Anderson has to work for this interview. It's kind of like pulling teeth is all I'm saying. No offense to Eric, I'd probably be the same way. But to summarize, Erik is in school and would like to finish his studies. This isn't about him being against the war or anything. This about him already being deployed four times and wanting to get on with his stateside life. Erik's attorney has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to have them explain why he's being deployed a fifth time. I hope he wins.

Back from commercial now and we're played Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," which I notice Anderson calls a "contender" for 360's political theme song contest. Okay, so I'm confused. I've been calling all these songs rejects because I know the first couple they said didn't really fit, but contender implies they might actually be chosen. So...yeah, I don't know what they're doing, but this isn't a world stopping issue, so whatever. Good to see 360 continuing with that tradition of being the most inconsistent newscast ever. Aw, they try though. Moving on to some "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman and we begin with the news that the McCain campaign is broke. He only has $250,000! Now that's sad. We also learn that, oh by the way, Bush has finally admitted that someone from his administration did leak Valerie Plame's name. And this would be the perfect time to play that clip of him promising to fire any leakers. Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Okay, I guess we're not going to do that. Next up, we learn Senator Barbara Boxer said the "I" word-impeachment. Pssst...Boxer. Get rid of Cheney first. Tom then tells us a Hindu gave the opening prayer in Congress, which did not sit well with some Christians, who proceeded to maturely heckle. Way to be Christ-like. Also? Why is there an opening prayer in Congress? Lastly, there's some stuff about Annie Leibovitz and the Queen, which Tom finds quite amusing. Okay then.

Next up we have a Randi Kaye piece on patient dumping on Skid Row. Apparently whenever Anderson is in LA a Skid Row piece is required. I'm not knocking it; it's an important subject, but I do find it quite amusing how they always run these pieces when he's in LA, even though he's usually not the reporter on the story. So anyway, they've been covering patient dumping for about two years now and it's still happening. In this piece we meet Jose Gonzalez, who was dumped after spending two weeks at Kaiser Permanente Hospital. The hospital told CNN Jose agreed to his arrangements, but Jose doesn't remember signing anything because he was on medication at the time. Anybody else thinking of Alberto Gonzales at the bedside of John Ashcroft? The thing that really makes this all inexcusable (besides it being completely immoral to begin with) is that the Midnight Mission reserves eight to ten beds every night for people just like Jose, so there's no reason for this to happen. Someone is not doing their job.

On now to an Anderson Cooper "Planet in Peril" piece on the gray wolves at Yellowstone National Park, an animal that was nearing extinction, but is now on the way back. Anderson actually went to the park (unfortunately sans Jeff Corwin this time) to check out the wolves himself. See, I told you there was work being done on that mini vacation. Anyway, he tells us that a bison died nearby and they're going to go see if the wolves come back to feed on it like they did the night before. We then get to see Anderson schlepping his gear. Hey mister, aren't you breaking union rules? I'm kidding, people. Once at the spot, Anderson and wolf expert guy, Doug Smith, chill out and wait. And then....wolves! Okay, so that's the showy part of the piece, but we also learn from Anderson that at the beginning of the 20th Century the government got rid of all the wolves in the park. But then in the 80's people started changing their tune because all the bison and elk started getting out of control. Doug Smith then put the wolves back in Yellowstone in 1995 and now the park has more than 150 of them. Local ranchers are tolerating the wolves because they get paid whenever one of them takes out some of their livestock. So yay. Something that works.

Moving on now to a preview of Soledad O'Brien's special on the criminally insane. Meh. I'll be skipping over this. It's not that I don't think it's a worthy topic, but the preview alone turns me off. Cable news seems incapable of tackling something like this without making it way too sensational. Maybe I'm wrong, but I won't be watching. Next we've got Tom Foreman with the headlines and apparently some teen got struck by lightening because he was using his iPod outside. Is it wrong that I find that a little funny? Tom tells Anderson to keep the story in mind and we cut back to Anderson fiddling with his blackberry, all, "What was that? What were you saying about portable devices outside?" Ha ha ha. Just wait until you get struck by lightening. The Shot tonight is the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Anderson asks Tom if he's ever done it and Tom says no, but he does enjoy "the running of the executive producers." Aw, David Doss, do they make you run? They're so mean. Though actually, if the running was done after that Paris Hilton show, I think I totally support the abuse. Just saying. Good show. A-


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