Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Same Old, Same Old

Hi people. I'm just checking in again, so you don't miss me. Well, that whole kumbayah bi-partisan stuff didn't last long, did it? I love how the Republicans spent eight years spending like drunken sailors and now that we're in a major recession they're all, "Zoh my God, this bill has pork in it! Hide the children!" Methinks our president has overestimated the reasonableness of those on the other side of the aisle. It's going to take more than a couple cocktails to get some of them to play ball. I'm actually pretty okay with most of the stuff in the stimulus bill, but some oversight this time would be good. Just a thought.

It was nice to see Stephen Flynn on the show again. One of the things that excited me about Obama was he actually talked about our infrastructure crisis. Before this newest report card came out, I wrote a piece on the subject and just doing research was mildly terrifying. When it comes to this country's infrastructure, we are so screwed. I'm glad we have people like Stephen Flynn sounding the alarm. Hopefully Obama will be able to follow through on some of his campaign promises in that area.

I continue to be weirdly fascinated by Ted Haggard. He claims to be a heterosexual man with same sex attachments. Or something. WTF does that even mean? And why does his family want to go public with all this?

Finally, earlier today when I saw that clip of Obama talking Beyonce I immediately knew that would be our "shot." Ah 360, you're so predictable. Also? There was some slightly frightening talk on the webcast tonight about a possible dance routine? Did I hear that right? If I may make a simple request, dear God no leotards!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Yeah, I'm Still Here

Hey all. I thought I'd crawl out from under my mountain of tissues, lozenges, cough medicine, and antibiotics to let you know that, yes, I am still alive. Mostly. Anyway, reviews are not in the cards right now, but I have been watching the show. I thought Anderson Cooper would be taking a well deserved week off after his marathon inaugural anchoring and stumbly exhaustion-induced post-inaugural performance. No, he wasn't drunk (Diane Sawyer, however,...kidding, kidding). Those Gawker people are such meanies. Although, from now on, whenever anyone asks for a hint, I think I'm going to scream, "It's the Jonas Brothers!" Aw. Poor tired Anderson. And if none of that made any sense to you, well, you're obviously not wasting enough time on the Internets.

The show tonight was really good. I love that Obama gave his first big interview to an Arabic network. Can you imagine what's his face doing that? David Gergen seemed pretty impressed, which is a good sign. And if Reza Aslan is giddy, then I am giddy. Sanity has come back to our shores. Woot! I also enjoyed the Ted Haggard coverage and interview with Alexandra Pelosi. Maybe my recent illness has made me soft, but I mostly just feel bad for the guy. His church abandoned him and he still can't accept that he's gay. It seems like he's living a pretty miserable existence. But if he ever does start a new church, man, don't invite Anderson Cooper. Because he does not want to come, people. When Alexandra asked him if he would ever go to a Ted Haggard church, he replied with a, "No!" that reached a Ted Stevens-like level of emphaticness. Anderson doesn't want to go to his church. Message received.

Anyway, I'd watch the documentary, but alas, no HBO. And...that's really all I have to say. I'll be around.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And So It Begins

Hi all. I'm still pretty under the weather, so this is just me checking in to say yo. President Obama (President Obama Eeee!) may have boogied into the wee hours, but he didn't waste a moment today getting down to work. Very cool. Speaking of those getting right back to work, I was a little suprised to see Anderson Cooper tonight. I suppose at this point I shouldn't have been, but if I were in his shoes I think I would have put in a nap request. I saw Blitzer was back too, though that's not really shocking, him being a robot and all. (Seriously, I don't think there was any point during these past four days or so that I turned on my television and he wasn't there.)

I was a little baffled at how much 360 focused on the oath re-do tonight. I thought the whole thing was kind of bemusing, actually. When I saw the original oath go down, to me, it appeared that Obama had suddenly blanked, which then threw off Roberts. Now we all know that while Obama originally jumped the gun just a bit, it was Roberts who messed up the wording. Both of them must have been hella nervous. I mean, there was only, what, a gazillion people or so watching? As far as I can tell, the re-do wasn't necessary--he became president at 12:00 PM. But hey, if it makes them sleep better at night, go for it. What the hell was up with Anderson Cooper complaining about issues of transparency? Dude, there will be plenty of actual controversies soon enough. I promise.

Well, that's all from me for now. I think I might just do my previously planned inauguration day post this weekend, so maybe if I feel better I'll do a review tomorrow. Or not. I don't know. I'll check back in though. Laterz.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hello Mr. President, We've Been Waiting For You

Note: Happy Inauguration Day! Unfortunately, I think I might be postponing the post I had planned for today. I'm sick as a dog. I'm hot. I'm cold. I'm hot. I'm cold. I wish my body would choose. But it's okay. Because underneath it all, I'm hopey. The enormity of what happened today is something I don't think I can express with my current fevered brain. I hope you understand. Also, shout out to Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and the rest of the Best Political Team on Television. The coverage was good. My readers know I'd be the first one to point out if they were being annoying. Anyway, I'll check back in tonight or tomorrow. It's a good day, people. It's a good day. (Pic snagged from Huffpost.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The End Of An Error

Part of me has been writing this post in my head for years in anticipation, before this blog existed, before I even fully understood what a blog was. But now that the time has come, it's hard to find the right words. How does one fully convey the disaster wrought by the administration of George W. Bush? To allow the mind to acknowledge all of it at once can be overwhelming. If years ago, someone had written a book that chronicled these two presidential terms, many of us would have rolled our eyes at the absurdity. That couldn't possibly happen, we would say. But it did. We are living bad fiction made real.

The lies have been never-ending, the heartbreaks many. It's hard to pick the greatest outrage, the most searing hurt. The August 6th PDB. Cherry-picked intelligence. Preemptive war. The Patriot Act. Ignorant bravado. Outing a CIA agent. Smearing dissenters. Failing to protect the troops. Exploiting heroes. Crony contracts. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Letting bin Laden get away. Signing statements. Obliterating habeas corpus. Terri Schiavo. The loss of an American city. Politicizing every level of government. A tanking economy. Fudging facts. Skewing data on everything from abortions to WMDs. Destroying our standing in the world. Lying. Lying. Lying.

All that, yet it still doesn't come close to explaining what we've been through. To keep my sanity over these Bush years, I've found solace in the comedy of the Daily Show. Jon Stewart and writers have the ability to cut to the truth better than any news organization I've seen. To this day, I marvel at their tendency to have me laughing one second, and sucker-punched the next. This was never more evident than in their coverage of Bush's final press conference. The laughs were plenty, but it was the unfunny line that burned itself into my brain, to be remembered forever. A clip was shown of Bush claiming he had given the presidency his all and hadn't sold his soul for popularity. To which Jon Stewart replied, "You didn't need to. You sold ours."

When it comes down to it, perhaps the greatest crime of this administration is one that can't be articulated in a list or mused over in an op-ed. It is the taking of something from us that can't be defined. Every American may not know the details of what led us to this place, but they all feel the heavy cloud that has settled over our nation. The legacy of George W. Bush is a feeling of loss and despair; a wound deep beneath the surface, unmistakable in its presence, but almost impossible to treat.

Like many, the Bush administration has changed who I am as a person. I was never very political. I am the product of a Limbaugh-listening conservative who was semi-vocal about his beliefs, and a moderate Democrat who really wasn't. It wasn't until college that my eyes were opened to a world beyond my door, that I began to discuss events regularly with my father. But then in the spring of 1999, he suddenly died of a massive heart attack and I stopped thinking about politics. The end of Bill Clinton's presidency was a blur; the 2000 election a foggy memory. I voted for Al Gore simply because I thought Bush was stupid. He was eventually given the office and life went on. In May of 2001 I graduated college. Four months later the world I had been preparing for my entire life completely changed in the amount of time it took two towers to fall to the ground.

It seems naive now, but initially I didn't blame the Bush administration for 9-11. It was an attack almost impossible to prevent. There was nothing they could have done. Except, there was. Each revelation of a warning gone unheeded was like a small cut, adding up to a bloody mess. There was Afghanistan, which made sense. But then, talk of Iraq. America began to tilt. The period can only be described as surreal. Flags abounded, but what they symbolized was lost. Compact discs were crushed. A talk show host was fired. The press secretary of the United States found it perfectly appropriate to advise Americans to "watch what they say." The America I was taught and believed in was virtually gone.

A blogger posting on a liberal site once wrote, "I'm actually a moderate. I've just been radicalized by the worst administration in modern history." The line could have been written by me. As people waved the flag and ignored the details, I woke up. Something wicked this way comes. My studies in social psychology helped me to clearly see what was happening. And I was scared. In 2006, Susan G of Daily Kos wrote a diary that perfectly illustrated why I made the leap from moderately informed citizen to uber news and political junkie: "I'd begun my acquaintance because of headlines and horrors and a screaming, driving voice in my head: There's something wrong! There's something very, very wrong! Learn about it! Fast!" Fear and desperation.

Those days were hard, being part of the minority who were made to feel like traitors simply because we thought differently. It wasn't just random commenters on the Internet. Our own leaders insinuated time and time again we were inferior. Less than American. We congregated on blogs and survived with humor. "So, why do you hate America?" was the oft-told joke. It wasn't until 2006 that I realized it wasn't funny. That these things hurt. Donald Rumsfeld had just stated that administration critics suffered from "moral or intellectual confusion," a charge that spawned Keith Olbermann's first official "special comment." I watched in awe and when he said the words, "This is a democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely," I started to cry because a part of me had forgotten.

There were other horrors, of course. Everything involving the war. And Katrina. Those are things that will be written about, debated, as the years progress. But the feeling, the fear, of not knowing whether or not my country was going to be okay...I will always remember George W. Bush for that. Before him, my generation didn't know war with no end--not in a real sense. We didn't know fear. His administration has taken something from us that we may never get back.

Tomorrow I will post about hope, but today I close the book on our long national nightmare, which will unfortunately still remain present for years to come in the form of a nation left in shambles. My entire politically-engaged adult life I have never known a leader besides the man who leaves tomorrow. He may think he can rewrite history to improve his legacy, but some of us will never forget what really happened. And we will tell future generations. We'll tell everyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eight Years In Eight Minutes

Damn. It really happened, yet it's still unbelievable:

If after watching that you're feeling like, I don't know, you might want to slit your wrists, quick, watch this:

Also, I watched some of CNN's Saturday coverage and I know it's probably not cool to go all "viewer mom" on my TV boyfriends, but upon seeing Anderson Cooper sitting out in the cold with barely any protection against the elements, my first thought was, "oh my God, he's gonna have pneumonia by the time Obama is sworn in." I realize Wolf Blitzer was also similarly lacking in the warm clothing, but I didn't worry about him at all since he is, in fact, a robot. And could no one get David Gergen a tissue? The entire time I listened to him I kept hearing my mother's voice saying, "don't snuff!" Anyway, I know hats and scarves and all that jazz don't look that snazzy on the TeeVee, but to my TV peeps and my incoming prez, I have this to say: William Henry Harrison. Look it up, kids.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Real West Wing: Premiering January 20, 2009

I can't wait to watch!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

US Air Flight 1549 Crash Lands In The Hudson And Bush Tries One Last Time To Convince Us He's Not The Worst President In Modern History

Hi everybody. Tonight we had Campbell Brown in for Anderson Cooper, who is somewhere doing something (I'm all about the specifics, yo). In all honesty, I did some flipping around tonight. I understand why they do non-stop saturated coverage on a story like the plane crash and can't really even fault them for the decision. But when it comes to this kind of thing, once I've heard the facts, I feel like I'm pretty much good to go. Hence the flipping. So sorry, no review.

What a story it was, huh? To recap, this afternoon US Airways Flight 1549 departed LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, N.C. and almost immediately collided with a flock of birds (according to initial reports). The pilot then attempted to return the injured aircraft back to the airport, but was ultimately forced to ditch the plane in the frigid Hudson River. By all accounts, Captain Chesley Sullenberger did a remarkable job landing in a most unconventional spot. All 155 passengers and crew survived and were fairly quickly rescued. Amazing.

Predictably, the situation has been deemed the 'miracle on the Hudson.' I have a pretty high miracle standard, so I couldn't help but roll my eyes a bit. We just seem to be a little too loose with the term is all I'm saying. For some reason anytime anything good happens, it's suddenly a miracle. The miracle in Missouri (finding Shawn Hornbeck). The miracle at Sago (boy, they jumped the gun on that one). And so on. Personally, I'm more apt to call this a case of a really competent crew.

It could have very easily gone terribly bad. To know what that would look like, we just have to travel back to 1982. We've seen this before. In January of that year, Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport in a snowstorm and immediately struck the 14th Street Bridge before plunging into the Potomac River. Only six of the 79 on board survived the initial crash and only five made it out of the river alive. Four motorists on the bridge were killed as well. The man who never made it out of the water, Arland Williams, drowned after repeatedly letting the other survivors take the rescue line ahead of him.

So, even though it's a bad story, for once we get a happy ending. Hey, you know who might have been handy to have around during all this wall-to-wall coverage? Miles O'Brien. In fact, according to Chez at Deux Ex Malcontent, CNN apparently realized that too and used Facebook to try to book him for a phone interview. Unbelievable. What gall. Yeah CNN, it turns out sometimes expertise is a nice thing to have in-house. Too bad you gave that up for holograms and CNN Grills.

Transitioning to the subject of the Bush speech. There's really not much to say because, well, I didn't watch. Did you? I just found it hilarious how little time 360 spent on the thing. I mean, the guy was our president for eight years and it's his last speech evah and everyone is like, "meh, oh, is he still here?" Dubya's last big attempt at legacy-saving was almost completely bumped out of the news cycle by everyday Americans competently doing their jobs. There couldn't be a more fitting ending. Well, okay, two shoes to the face might have been better, but I take what I can get.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bailout Battle, Obama Administration Snafus, Israel-Gaza Conflict Update, Bin Laden Drops Another Tape, Polygamy Interview, And Nazi-Named Kids

Hi everybody. Guess what. BREAKING NEWS, that's what. Tomorrow lawmakers are going to have a vote on the rest of the TARP money, otherwise known as the big-ass bailout. Obama wants it; Congress is leery. Oh noes! A showdown. I think I just saw a tumbleweed roll by. For more, we're joined live by Dana Bash, who is super-excited about the action that's about to go down tomorrow. She's sure it's going to be an "absolute nail biter."

Eh, calm down there, Dana. It's not like you're going to watch them diffuse a bomb. Although, the question does remain, will the Democrats trip up their own guy? We shall see. Also? In regards to the vote being held, Anderson Cooper notes that they "literally just learned this a few moments ago," so I take back my prior "breaking news" mocking. Turns out it really was "breaking." Who'd a thunk it?

Next up, we're joined live by Ed Henry who informs us that Timothy "I forgot to pay my taxes" Geithner might not be confirmed by inauguration. Hm, the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression and no treasury secretary? What could possibly go wrong? But the Obama team is on top of it and they have a plan B in the form of Stuart Levey, a Bush treasury guy that has agreed to stay on if need be. I think the whole thing is stupid. Confirm him! We're wasting time.

A subsequent piece from Ed takes us through all of Obama's recent little presidential snags. To deal with it all, our prez-elect is bouncing back-and-forth between defense and a charm offensive. Raaaahm Emanuel is getting in on the act too, giving out his cell digits to members of Congress to make them feel special. Ooh, I want that number too. I'd prank call him just to hear him cuss me out. Because you know he would. Ed ends by noting that playing kiss-up doesn't always work because Bush did that at first too with Congress by, "giving them funny nicknames." Funny? Wha? Is Ed on crack or does he just not understand condescension when he sees it?

It's that time of night again. Rocking out our panel this time is David Gergen, John King, and Pamela Gentry, senior political analyst for BET. Newbie! Shall we haze her? Topic numero uno is the bailout bill and no offense to our newbie, but this panel really needed to be sporting a financial expert. The majority of the talk was about the political ramifications, but what the hell happens to the economy without the money? This show is called 360, but that was only, like, 270 degrees at most.

Anderson then brings up the dinners Obama has had with both liberal and conservative commentators. Separately, people. He preaches unity, but he ain't stupid. Anyway, I bring this up because I had heard that Andrew Sullivan was one of the dinner guests. Since he's a blogger and bloggers are known to be chatty, I thought maybe I could get some scoop. So I headed on over to Sully's and...was roundly disappointed. In this case, that blog is so not living up to its name. But yeah, kudos to him on the integrity and everything...yada, yada, yada.

We wrap up the panel with Anderson doing a little pimping of John King's new show and laying down a congrats. He notes John will be doing four hours. "You're taking over for Blitzer here as like the hardest-working guy in TV," says Anderson. "Blitzer is going to lend me his batteries, Anderson." Dudes! I'm totally taking that as an official confirmation of Wolf's robot status. I knew it! I feel so validated.

Okay, fun's over and we're going live to Nic Robertson in his usual spot on journalist hill at the Israel-Gaza border. Basically? They're still fighting. But BUT there's talk of a cease-fire--the talk taking place in Egypt. That's something, right? Just one minor snag though. See, Hamas says it won't stop firing rockets until Israel stops their military campaign and opens up all the crossings on the border. On the flip side, Israel says they won't stop attacking Hamas until Hamas stops firing the rockets. So...yeah. Good luck with that, Egypt.

Moving on from an intractable conflict to, oh look, Osama bin Laden has dropped another tape. Guess he was getting lonely in that cave. Anyway, we get the usual calls for jihad and taunts of the prez--this time Obama. Yawn. For discussion, we're then joined by Peter Bergen and "Jawbreaker" author Gary Berntsen. Peter talks a bit about the instructions for jihad and then Anderson brings up how Bush told Larry King that he doesn't know if we've ever gotten close to catching bin Laden. This is of course BS because it's conventional wisdom that we almost had him at Tora Bora, which Gary points out. "President Bush just doesn't want really to acknowledge that?" asks Anderson. In other words, he was lying. Again.

Then Gary lays down the ridiculous oft-made statement that Bush deserves some credit because we haven't been attacked again. I don't understand this reasoning. So what? It was eight years before they hit the World Trade Center again after the first attack. And it's not like we're not hurting here. One could argue that if wasn't for some of Bush's fight against terror (the Iraq War, billions wasted) we wouldn't be in the financial shape we're in. So spare me. Anyway, Peter points out that bin Laden wants Muslims to attack Israel, but he's done nothing specific to help Palestinians. Sounds like something that needs to be talked up.

Next up, we have a Drew Griffin piece on that fake-crash dude, but meh. I'm moving on to a Gary Tuchman piece, which I shall recap like a soap opera. When last we met our hero, Gary had won the favor of the formerly press-shy polygamists and been invited into their Texas ranch. Tonight we learn that one of his interviewees was a young woman named Betty. Skip forward to a book signing with reoccurring character Carolyn Jessop and we learn that Betty just happens to be her, gasp, long lost daughter! Okay, not so much long lost, since Carolyn knew she was at the ranch, but saying that kills the drama thing I got going here.

Anyway, at this point it just kinda gets sad with the broken family and everything, so I think it's time to ditch the soap opera. If you remember, Carolyn fled the FLDS with her kids, but it turns out, Betty wanted to go back. And of course the question all of us outsiders want to know is, "why?" Betty says it's because she thinks the outside world is shallow. Unfortunately, I don't really have an argument against that. Carolyn says Betty is under tremendous pressure; Betty says she's happy there. So, who knows. Also, it totally threw me when Betty said she sent her mom a text. I think subconsciously I assumed these people, like, churned butter and stuff. Must be the dresses.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece about some parents that have named their kid Adolf Hitler. Not only that, they have two other Nazi-named kids as well and now all three kids have been taken by state services. As one of my friends commented, "So...two Nazi-named kids is fine, but three crosses the line into child abuse?" This whole case is confusing. Like, I just said they'd been taken by state services, but even that seems to be iffy with some sources. Anyway, you might remember this family from last month when a supermarket refused to write the name Adolf Hitler on a birthday cake. You know who went ahead and made the cake though? Wal-Mart. Seriously, the confirmations of evilness just keep coming.

As for the situation at hand, the parents are singing the song and dance that they're all about the non-hate. Personally, they seem like attention whores to me. Who writes more than one of their kids names on a birthday cake? Me thinks they wanted to shock. Following Randi's piece, Lisa Bloom joins us for the legal lowdown and notes that it seems like there's more going on here than just giving kids horrible names. Plus the fact that any parent that would do that to their kids is pretty cruel right off the bat.

Our final piece of the night is from Erica Hill, who continues with the light-hearted Obama segments. This time we explore White House redecorating. Okey-dokey.

"The shot" tonight is clips of
Ricardo Montalban who died today. Aw. I have my own shot to add. Long time readers know I've done my fair share of Rick Sanchez mocking, but today he really stuck it to Joe the Unlicensed Plumber and it was awesome. Behold.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Israel-Gaza Conflict Goes On, Clinton's Confirmation Hearing, Dude Crashes Plane To Fake Death, Obama Got Game, And Breast Talk (Because Why Not?)

Hi everybody. We start things off tonight with the BREAKING NEWS (told ya it would be back) that Israel is really pounding Gaza City. This takes us live to Nic Robertson on journalist hill along the Israel-Gaza border. He's hearing a lot of explosions and can see the place getting lit up. Word on the street is that the Israeli troops are destroying a lot of houses through bombing and bulldozing. I still fail to see anything good that's going to come out of this.

Switching subjects now, we bounce back to our own country to talk live to Candy Crowley about a little whoopsie involving Tim Geithner, Obama's pick for treasury secretary. Turns out he failed to pay some taxes. Okay, I know what you're thinking here: "The guy in charge of the country's taxes didn't pay him own? Wha?" But I think he was picked because he didn't pay his taxes. See, Obama knows this country has been living on a steady stream of hypocrisy and just all out BS for eight years now. He can't just cut us off cold turkey, people. We'll get the shakes!

Sure, Obama has promised to bring change to Washington, but he also knows we've come to expect that whenever someone is in charge of something, they're doing the opposite in their own lives. Relentless crusader against prostitution? Dude is throwing down $10,000 a night as client number nine. Strong advocate against child predators? Yeah, he's IMing pages to ask what they're wearing. Passer of anti-gay legislation? You know where this is going. My point is that Obama knows we need to ease into this whole honest and functional government thing, so he's starting us off slow. He even threw in a housekeeper immigration issue for us. Isn't that sweet?

In all seriousness, after the train wreck we've been enduring, a little I-forgot-to-pay-my-taxes kerfuffle pretty much fails to even get an eyebrow raise out of me. Who cares? Yawn. Move on. In a subsequent Candy piece, we learn out prez-elect has put on his get-tough face and already threatened a veto if the Democrats don't let him get his hands on the rest of the bailout money. Aw, look at him all growed-up and acting presidential. Although, I'm with Congress in that it would be nice if we could make sure this money isn't going to get disappeared like the last batch. It's just annoying that now that we have a Democratic president, they've found their backbone. I guess the whole rolling over and being totally useless was just for the Bush years.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and Errol Lewis, who seems to becoming quite the regular in these panel discussions. He's non yelly and non crazy, so I approve. And...that's really all I have to say because there was noting of note here.

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece on Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing today. Some of the issues she brought up was moving more troops to Afghanistan and making an Iraq withdraw a priority. Both sound good to me, though I'm going to be annoyed if we don't start hearing some specifics after the inauguration. Yes, Afghanistan is important and could seemingly use more troops, but what's the goal and what's the plan to achieve that goal? If Obama escalates, he's going to own it--though I'm sure he doesn't need me to tell him that. Anyhoo, it was smooth sailing for Clinton, except when it came to the subject of Bill's foundation. Always Bill, I swear. I wonder if there's ever been some shoe-throwing in that house.

For some pontificating about the hearing, we're next joined by James Carville and Bill Bennett. Um, why? We already had our panel. See, this is what I was talking about in my end of the year wrap-up. Anderson is always saying how the viewers don't want to hear opinions from a blow-dried anchor, but why does he think we want to hear the opinions of blow-dried pundits? Okay, the blow-dried part doesn't really apply to Carville, but you get the picture.

And this segment was a total wash because Carville didn't even say anything completely insane, which is his wont. Although he does get in a good line. Bill states that trouble follows the Clintons around and then insinuates there could be a Blogojevich pay-to-play issue at hand, which leads Carville to say, "what seems to follow the Clintons around are peace and prosperity and budget surpluses." Oh, snap. Then they talk about Sarah Palin, who is attacking the media. Again. Yawn.

Next up, we have a David Mattingly piece that contains new details about that dude who crashed his plane. Then we get actual real "breaking news" that they allegedly just found the guy and he slit his wrists. I guess I can see how this story would be interesting, but I just can't get invested. It's just some doofus, you know? I'd wager nobody will even remember this happened six months from now. I appreciate that they didn't kill the rest of the Gaza coverage to linger on this. Speaking of which...

Transitioning now to a phone interview with New York Times correspondent Taghreed El-Khodary, who is in Gaza City. She backs up Nic's reporting from earlier that many houses in the city are being destroyed. She likens the current situation to a game of hide-n-seek, with the Israeli's trying to pull the fighters out of the city and the fighters trying to lure the soldiers in. Taghreed also relays that when reporting in a hospital, she witnessed a fighter demand to be treated for a minor injury, despite the fact that there were critically injured people all around. What's particularly sickening is that amid the death and destruction, this same fighter apparently found the situation smile-worthy. These people are completely disconnected from the devastation they cause.

Finally tonight, Erica Hill once again provides us with some Obama fluffiness. The dude--ahem, president-elect dude--loves his hoops, but unfortunately the White House court is outside (brrr!) and too small. Never fear. Him being the president and all, he also is bestowed the power of reconstruction. Bowling lanes out, new b-ball court in. Oh, the bowlers will not be happy. Seeing as what an excellent bowler Obama is, I'm guessing he was quite pleased to have an excuse to get rid of those lanes.

"The shot" tonight is boobs! No, really! I loved Anderson Cooper's tease for this: "You won't believe what Oprah said to Kate Winslet about her breasts." Bwah! Is this CNN or a junior high slumber party? So anyway, apparently Kate Winslet shows a little skin in one of her new movies and Oprah very much approved of the naturalness of her assets, as Anderson calls them. Uh, what more is there to say after that? I certainly didn't expect to be recapping a critique of Kate Winslet's boobs tonight, that's for sure. The 360 kids are just full of surprises.

The show was just kinda meh, I thought. They're doing a great job keeping on the Israel-Gaza stuff, but there was too much punditry. Also, I realize this is really just a personal taste issue, but I hope they lay off the guy-who-crashed-his-plane story. Unless there's something deeper I'm not seeing, I'd rather the coverage go to something with a little more meat on it. That being said, I hope they do better in the ratings tonight. Last night they got spanked by Countdown's rerun. Ouch. I felt that sting. And it was a good show too. That's the way the news ball bounces.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obama Transitioning, Bush's Last Presser, The Israel-Gaza Conflict Goes On, Prince Harry In Hot Water, Obama Puppy Picking, And Inside FLDS Compound

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! Weirdly, we're not starting with BREAKING NEWS tonight. What's up with that? Eh, savor while you can, people. It'll be back tomorrow. Candy Crowley kicks things off with a piece on how our future prez is, well, looking presidential. Obama's been doing some foreign policy meetin', releasing-of-bailout-money convincin', and stimulus plan promotin'. I don't know why I just went all Sarah Palin on you. Sorry, was it scary? Anyhoo, we also learn that one of the first executive orders of our incoming leader is going to be to close Gitmo. Sweet! The times, they are a-changing. But it seems the past just won't shut up. Today Bush took it upon himself to give the prez-elect some advice. Psst, Obama. Do the opposite!

Speaking of he-that-ducks-shoes, next up we have a piece from Ed Henry on Bush's final press conference. Aw, I feel a little nostalgic. No wait, that's revulsion. Got them confused. Hey press corps, it's the last time you have to be referred to by condescending nicknames. Happy-dance! So okay, about the press conference. I'm going to try to recap this thing without ending up with just a paragraph of obscenities. We'll see how it goes. Bush was his usual lovely arrogant self and at one point even starts mock-whining, which makes me want to reach through the screen and just...*deep breath* Okay. I think instead of talking about Iraq, I shall leave you with this oldie-but-goodie video that shows all the lies of the run-up to the war and this Bush retrospective from the comedy kids at 23/6.

So far I've been able to refrain from thoughts of violence, but then Bush says this regarding Hurricane Katrina: "Don't tell me the federal response was slow when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed." And...this is the point where I yell obscenities at my television. Man, it's been a while since I've done that. Probably has something to do with the Bush camp not getting much air time lately. Wow, where to begin? Maybe a good jumping off point would be friggin Exhibit A, which is the picture I've posted of what Bush was doing on the day Katrina hit. And the federal government pulled 30,000 people off the roof? It was the Coast Guard that did all that rescuing, with absolutely no help from "the decider." I'm not surprised he's peddling this crap. But my God. People rotted in the streets for days. His administration didn't even know about the Convention Center. Where the fuck does he get the gall to belittle us for telling him the response was slow? Jebus, where's an Iraqi journalist and two shoes when you need them?

For discussion of this, we're joined by David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Errol Lewis. This was one panel I was actually looking forward to because after that Katrina comment, it was a given we would have ourselves one fired-up Anderson Cooper. Our anchor starts off saying how surprising the comment was after Bush had said he had given so much thought to Katrina. Um, yeah, insert bridge-selling joke here. The Gerg is also surprised and then admits that he thinks he was wrong when he previously stated people would have some warmth towards Dubya when he left office. You think? I know you play the part of the optimist, David, but what are we supposed to feel warm about? The war? The debt? Maybe the inattention to global warming? That works in the literal sense.

Even Ed, who is doing the pontification for the president's own party says the guy, "has failed as miserably as any president in modern times." Ouch! Errol then goes into the federal government mismanagement of the levees, and the bungled aftermath of the disaster that still STILL goes on (formaldehyde trailer, anyone?). The discussion moved onto other things in the press conference, but I'm too mad to really recap it. To add insult to injury, we learn that we're still going to have to be appalled all over again on Thursday when 43 plans to give a prime-time farewell address. Screwing with the TV schedule, huh? Yeah, that'll win him more approval points. One last FU America for the road.

Transitioning now to something more pleasant, we go live to Nic Robertson at the Israel-Gaza border. Okay, yes, I'm kidding about the more pleasant, but I'm serious about my desire for more shoe-throwing. Anyway, Nic tells us he's hearing explosions and tanks are moving in. In a subsequent piece from him, we learn there have been accusations against Israel that they're using white phosphorus, which is a horrible substance that burns the skin. It is legal when used for illumination and Israel does not deny they have used it for that purpose. I was wondering when that would get a mention. I'd say I hope they could look into it further, but they can't look into anything further.

Nic speaks with an Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson about the civilian suffering in Gaza and is told they can move out of combat zones. Nic asks if they're providing the people of Gaza somewhere safe to go and the mouthpiece says that, "I think they know. I mean, the people of Gaza know better than most where Hamas keeps their military installations." To which Nic most excellently replies, "But, if they did, then all these civilians wouldn't be killed." Exactly. Then Nic is told you have to be careful with the numbers. The numbers might be a bit inflated, but you can't just make up 900 dead people (300 of which are children). And if it's really fighters and not civilians who are being killed, why not let journalists in so they can tell the world? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Next up, we have a David Mattingly piece about this dude who probably tried to fake his own death, but I'm going to skip ahead to the Randi Kaye piece about Prince Harry. Back in 2006, the younger bro of William took a home video of some of his fellow soldiers and he can be heard saying a racial slur. The video was recently leaked to a British tabloid and, well, now Harry's a racist. The slur in question is the word "Paki" and the only reason I know it's bad (besides Randi's voice over) is from watching the movie "Bend it Like Beckham."

Harry also jokingly called another soldier a "raghead" (due to his head attire), so that's probably not helping either. I'm usually one of the first people to say something when someone is being less than politically correct, but I don't know, I kinda think Harry should get a pass on this. He's a soldier. And while that' s not an excuse, it's pretty ridiculous to be all, "Kill the bad guys! Oh, but don't call anyone a bad name." People use inappropriate humor in stressful situations. My jury is still out on this one.

Moving on now to puppies! In an Erica Hill piece we learn that the Obamas have narrowed down their puppy choices to two breeds. Oh my God! Where's the BREAKING NEWS banner? Normally I might roll my eyes at a whole piece on this, but after that Bush presser, I think we could all use a little puppy-time. Will it be a labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Dog? C'mon Obamas, an anxious nation awaits.

Our final piece of the night is from Gary Tuchman and he is once again on the polygamy beat, this time getting an exclusive look inside that Texas ranch that they raided last year. The kids are back now and seemingly look happy, but who knows what that means. In any regards, the FLDS community is still feeling the heat. Last week Winston Blackmore was arrested in Canada on charges of plural marriage and others are being charged with sexual abuse and bigamy. After the piece, Anderson notes the community was much more welcoming to Gary than what we've seen in the past.

"I've lost count of the car doors that have been slammed on me, the people who have sworn at me, the people who have run away from me, the people who have yelled at me," says Gary. And he's not exaggerating, people. Gary's been getting it bad for a few years now. I think I've seen every one of those disses (that are on tape), always leading me to ask, "don't they know that Gary is the nicest guy ever?" Well, they may not have figured that out yet, but they are slowly warming to the benefits of good PR, hence the open ranch and non door-slamming. Wait until they learn to just sue everybody like the Scientologists.

"The shot" tonight is inflatable trash. Just watch it. You know, I'm almost positive I heard about this a year or so ago. Anyhoo, if they were going to pilfer from Andrew Sullivan, I'm surprised they didn't go for the Beyonce mini me. You shake it, girlfriend! Yeah, I'm a little disturbed.

Not much interesting on the webcast tonight, though I do have to give a cyber high-five to Erica Hill for her love of mutts. Best dogs evah. There was also some talk of Jack Gray's very successful Golden Globes blogging, which I have to say, was quite fun. Apparently, Anderson left himself a Post-it or something as a reminder to take a gander at the merriment, but then, I don't know, something happened. Whatev. Erica says she actually did follow along for a while, but didn't say anything. Ooh, lurker. The watchee becomes the watcher. Or something. Yeah, I got nothing.

The show was pretty good. It's always nice to see impassioned Anderson peek out every once and a while. Finally, when I went to 23/6 to get that video, I found something else. Enjoy (Edit: oh, bummer. Now he's not dancing. Well, go here to watch the Wolfbot get down):

Friday, January 09, 2009

Middle East Fighting Picks Up, All Eyes On The Economy, Blagojevich Does Presser/Horrifies Americans, Suze Orman Back To Annoy, And Equal Pay

Hi everybody. We begin with our requisite BREAKING NEWS, the subject this time being new attacks in the Middle East. This takes us to Nic Robertson live on journalist hill at the Israel-Gaza border and he tells us he's been hearing heavy explosions. The lights have gone off as well. Remember that U.N. cease-fire resolution from yesterday that I wasn't all that impressed with? Yeah, well in a subsequent Nic piece, we learn that it's pretty much being ignored by everyone. Shocker. Speaking of the U.N., they're getting reports that 100 Gaza civilians were evacuated into a house that was then shelled by the Israelis, who say they are investigating. *Le sigh* There will be no winners here. There never are.

Transitioning now from that horrible news to, well, more horrible news--this time concerning our economy. The unemployment numbers are in for December and we're sitting at 7.2 percent, which is the worst it's been in 15 years. Overall things haven't looked this dreary since 1945. This is one of those points where I like to insert something jokey to lighten the slit-your-wrists mood, but...I got nothing. So, uh, here's a picture of a puppy. Still with me?

Up next, we have a Candy Crowley piece that informs us that Obama has officially picked two of his security peeps. But the topic on the tip of everyone's tongue is the economy. Obama is laying down the pressure on Congress to pass his stimulus package, while they, in turn, are being difficult. Congresscritters, I'm about to put you "on notice." Don't think I won't. I actually agree with a lot of their complaints, but I feel like we're standing on the deck of the Titanic, arguing over how best to lower the lifeboats. Just do it! I'm especially disappointed in the Democrats. As Gloria Borger wrote today, they need an intervention.

After Candy's piece, she joins us live to talk about the previous huge-ass (technical term) bailout we gave to Wall Street. And hey, guess what. That first $350 billion? Poof! Yeah, they don't know where that is. Says Anderson Cooper: "I don't know whether to laugh or cry that we have spent $350 billion, and no one really knows where's it's gone." As I've said on this blog before, "laugh so you don't cry, people. Laugh so you don't cry." Because with as many crying opportunities as there have been these past few years, well, you're just going to get dehydrated.

Time now for financial advice from Suze Orman. Oh...yay? It must be Friday because they're doing question filler. And look, Suze has a new book that needs promoting. Nice of 360 to help with that. So anyway, Suze's advice? Prepare for job loss. Cut back. Have a savings account. Wow. How enlightening. Those aren't completely common sense tips at all. Then she sends a questioner to her affiliated website. Good lord.

Moving on to the news that Governor Blagojevich and his bangs-of-corruption were impeached today and apparently he wasn't leaving without a show. I sadly missed his press conference performance and therefore cannot properly snark you through, but if the tease copy of the show is any indication, it was something. B-Rod, as Anderson called him earlier (and hopefully never does again), brought himself some human props to the circus, so that he could point to them and say, see, I've helped people. Also? More poetry reading. Because a press conference isn't officially over until someone reads a stanza.

To discuss--or more accurately, laugh at--this train wreck, we're joined by David Gergen, Joe Johns, and Tara Wall. Anderson starts off by noting the governor's totally straw man argument that he's being impeached because he's working too hard for people. Um, no. You're being impeached because you tried to sell a senate seat. Among other things. Joe points out the bizarre dichotomy between Blago's eloquent poetry-reading and the profanity-laced tapes that got him busted. Think he's ever combined the two? "Two roads diverged in the motherf*cking woods, and I took the one less traveled by. And it has made all the f*cking difference."

Anderson laughs over the massive balls this guy must have (er, not his exact words) to talk about saving lives, all the while shaking down a children's hospital. I think that's my favorite. The Gerg sums this all up perfectly as only the Gerg can: "Anderson, one runs into more and more people from Illinois who say, this guy's nuts, he's crazy. But he's also crazy like a fox, he put Burris in there." Speaking of Burris, they discuss him too, but nobody really knows what the hell is going to happen. There's also stimulus package discussion, and typing that just made me giggle because of the previous porn story. Thanks for that, 360.

On now to an Erica Hill piece on the official word that Marian Obama, Michelle's mother will also be going to live at the White House. That's nice for the girls. This piece felt very deja-vu. I would've been fine with just a headline.

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece that details efforts by Congressional Democrats to get rid of the statute of limitations regarding suing for wage discrimination. See, for 20 years, Lily Ledbetter worked at Goodyear and right before she was to retire she found out that the guys she worked with made more than her. Not cool. So she sued. And won. But then in 2007 the Supreme Court stepped in and said if you're going to sue, you have to do it when the discrimination first happens. All well and good except for Lily Ledbetter didn't know about if for almost 20 years. Because wage discrimination is still very much a problem (women make 75 to 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make, and minorities fair even poorer), Democrats want new law. Republicans claim it will result in unprovable lawsuits. Hm, let me guess; all the detractors are white men.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece on Jett Travolta's memorial service. Okay, I appreciate the show has refrained from ever making this tragedy part of the top story, but this is a little too far. We're shown video of the service that was obviously taken from a helicopter. By who, I have no idea. Classy. Then we get tidbits about the private service that a local paper was able get. And of course there's the Tom Cruise View clip for good measure. There are some official statements too and those are fine. Tell us those. The rest of this...why? Gary had a good piece that ran during Campbell's show tonight and I really wish they would have aired that instead.

Transitioning now to...oh look, Suze's back. Joy. Time for more book pimping! Anderson hits her with more viewer questions and right off the bat she encourages a woman to go to her official website where apparently she'll be able to learn how to save $100 to $200 a month. And this is how I know that Suze is completely out of touch. Things are bad right now. Not everyone is in financial trouble just because they don't know how to cut back or save.

Later, she notes that when she was on Oprah (name drop) she made everyone pledge not to go out to eat for a month. She realizes that there are millions of people in this country struggling just to be able to afford to eat, much less eat at a restaurant, right? Couple her complete out-of-touchness with the poor/lower middle class, with the fact that she keeps scaring well-off people who should be spending and helping out the economy, and she's worse than I first thought. 360, please, there has to be someone better. Or at least someone who won't pimp their website and book.

"The shot" tonight left me speechless. I never thought I'd type these words: the Wolfbot dancing. That's right, Wolf Blitzer shook his groove thing with Ellen, and I almost fell off my chair. Also? Ellen made him a scarf (aw), which the Wolfbot says he will not be giving to our anchor. Anderson did not get a scarf when he appeared on Ellen and he wonders if it's because he failed to dance. That's right, buddy. No dancing; no scarf for you!

Tonight's show wasn't as good as the rest of the week. It's Friday, I suppose. But at least they're still keeping with the Middle East and the economy stuff up top. Hopefully that was the last of the Travolta story.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Continued Fighting In The Middle East, Obama Economic Speech, Blocking Gupta, Riots In Oakland, Cruise On Travolta Tragedy, And Palin Still On My TV

Hi everybody. I fell asleep right before the show and didn't wake up until about 40 minutes in, so I'm blogging the second hour tonight. I'm assuming it's exactly the same, but sometimes they switch things up a bit. Just warning you in case something is off. Anyhoo, we kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS (continuing to break--even in taped form!) that tonight the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The U.S. abstained because...we like rockets? Or, because we have an unflinching pro-Israel foreign policy. Whichever. In any regards, resolutions passed in New York are nice, but it's what happens on the ground that matters.

In a Nic Robertson piece, we learn that Israel is now getting it from both sides--geographically speaking. Since this thing began, Hamas rockets have been hitting Southern Israel from Gaza (as some did today, injuring civilians), but now there are rockets hitting Northern Israel from Lebanon. Couple that with soldiers pushing closer and closer to engaging in Gaza street battles, and the freak out factor has been significantly heightened. Plus, Israel is not doing so hot in the making friends department. The International Red Cross is accusing the country of barring rescuers from victims, in one case finding four small children next to their dead mothers.

The U.N. is angered-up as well because some of their people have been killed. In a war that ultimately requires the winning over of hearts and minds, they seem to be, well, sucking. Following Nic's piece, he joins us live to further flesh out the situation and then the topic switches up to Pakistan, where a couple of top al Qaeda leaders from the FBI's most-wanted list were allegedly killed. Very cool if true, but I've heard this song too many times to do my happy-dance immediately.

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece, which informs us that Obama did a little speechifying about the economy today...and subsequently scared the crap out of everyone. Apparently, he thinks this recession thingee is going to linger for years. Yes we ca--wait, what?! Is someone losing his hope-mentum? Actually, I appreciate the reality. Nice to be talked to by my leader like I'm an adult and not a five-year-old with special needs. That's the change we need, baby.

Anyway, funny story, Congress has like almost a negative approval rating and Obama's is through the roof, yet for some reason the folks on the hill see this as the time to stand up to the incoming prez. And these are the Democrats! They're balking at Obama's stimulus package. WTF? Yeah, it's not perfect (tax cuts, now?!), but Reid and Pelosi need to sit down and shut up. Then there are our obstructionist Republican friends, who after eight years of spending like they were on some drunken coke-high, suddenly are all concerned about the deficit. I swear, this bunch gives us enough stupidity and plot twists, they could have their own reality show. No, CSPAN doesn't really count.

For discussion of all this--you guessed it--panel time! We've got David Gergen, Joe Johns, and Andy Serwer pontificating for us this evening. The Gerg is back! Oh, all is right with the world. Of note is this from Anderson Cooper: "David, it's interesting to hear Republicans complain about deficit spending now. I mean, this is probably the first time in like eight years that they have seemed to think that this is a problem." Thank you! Sometimes when I watch the news I suspect that the media is suffering from some sort of continuing head injury. It's nice when someone remembers--and points out--the past.

The other thing I wanted to talk about from the panel is the subject of Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General. As usual, this afternoon I clicked on Huffington Post's main page and was greeted with a big picture of our Dr. Gupta and the words "Dr. No." Ruh-roh. Since the nomination, there have been rumblings on progressive blogs that this was not the right choice and today Representative John Conyers has officially come out against Sanjay, citing lack of qualifications. Conyers also notes Paul Krugman's concerns, which are related to the blogasm-inducing dust-up between Sanjay Gupta and Michael Moore that occurred in 2007 (a blogger don't forget, yo) over the "fact-check" done of Moore's film "Sicko."

For a good refresher on the incident, check out this post from Rachel Sklar. Since she kicks the thing off by calling Sanjay a dick, I guess I should point out there might be a little bias there. You know, just a bit. (Also, the videos don't seem to be working, so go here for the Larry King "discussion.") Though I did/do love Sanjay, when that whole mess hit the airwaves I came out on this blog firmly in the Moore camp.

The piece that started it all was very clearly yet another example of the media playing their stupid balance game. They knew they'd get screams from the Right if the "fact-check" gave "Sicko" the all clear, so they nit-picked on petty points and made mistakes in the process. Sanjay did a hack job. It happens. It's certainly nothing to be excused. But I don't think the progressive blogs quite understand that the Moore thing was more an incident of poor journalism than an indicator of where Sanjay stands on health issues. They're totally overreacting. Unfortunately, that seems to be what they do.

As for the Krugman "concerns," I think he has actually tapped into an interesting point regarding outsiders. Chris Hayes of The Nation was on Countdown tonight and he fleshed out the idea further. It's definitely something to think about. That being said, the job of the Surgeon General is to communicate health information to the public. Sanjay Gupta is perfectly qualified and unless something else comes out, this opposition is ridiculous.

Finally, I'm finding CNN's role in all this to be quite fascinating. It's interesting that they took Sanjay off all policy stories when they heard of the possible nomination, yet no one thought to tell the on-air people not to gush about it and issue congrats. There's a small possibility this could turn into a confirmation fight (a pretty big news story) and there is no one at the network with any credibility on the issue to report what goes down objectively. To be fair, I'm not sure there would have been anyway and I'm not sure how they could have changed that. I was surprised it even got a mention on 360 tonight, though the coverage was pretty poor. It should be interesting to see how this plays out. Perhaps a subject for future journalism students to chew on in class.

Transitioning to a Tom Foreman piece now on how this economy has people singing the blues and, uh, killing themselves. Yikes. And we're not just talking about people who are getting kicked out of their homes. Crisis hotlines are ringing off the hook with calls from people of all levels of income. In fact, some of those choosing to end it all are millionaires. In those cases, the person's self worth is often tied to their money. That's sad on more than one level.

Next up, we have a Dan Simon piece on riots erupting in Oakland, California, over the New Year's shooting of an unarmed man at a subway station. Well, we sort of have the piece. We've got the video, but Dan's voice-over is no where to be heard. Jason Greenspan, was that the third shoe dropping? Anyway, a little cut to commercial and then...take two! All is well in the technology department now and we learn that not only was the young man unarmed when he was shot, he was also face down on the ground, a fact that was caught on video. As you might imagine, the community is ticked, which led to riots and the arrest of over 100 people. What a mess. And if it wasn't for cell phone video no one may have ever known.

Back to Nic on journalist hill now and he reports seeing and hearing tanks firing on the strip. I'm sorry, this is such BS. I can see why Anderson came back. They've been left with noting booms and tracer fire. What the hell is going on in Gaza? You can't cover a war like this. Obviously, that's a criticism I'm lobbing at Israel and not journalists because they have no choice in the matter and would love to be in there. War is bad. War unseen is the worst.

We're then joined by Christiane Amanpour who talks a bit about the U.N. resolution, though points out the peace-dealing going on in Egypt is much more important. The pressure on Israel is discussed, as well as the challenges of a conventional army fighting deep in urban Gaza. We also learn that Hezbollah is denying that those rockets shot from Lebanon came from them. More likely is that it was a Palestinian renegade group. Well, at least the war's not widening. That's pretty much as glass half full as I'm going to get.

Transitioning now to the Disasta from Alaska who just will not go gently into that good night. I mean, seriously, what do I have to do to get this woman to shut up? And why is 360 so obsessed with her? Anyway, so now Sarah Palin has given an interview in which she rips on Katie Couric and Tina Fey. Apparently, Katie is conceited or something because she, um, asked questions, and I guess Tina Fey is just a meanie, even though Palin didn't seem to have a problem with her when she appeared on Saturday Night Live. Twice.

The moosehunter also complains about her kids being dragged into the spotlight and I would totally give her this one if she wasn't the original dragger. Yeah, there were whispers on the Internets about Trip's real momma, but it was Palin herself that dropped the Bristol baby bomb and brought everything into the mainstream media. Also, she brings up Caroline Kennedy and how her treatment by the press will show if there is a class issue in this country. You mean like how she's political royalty and you're from the meth capital of Alaska? Okay, I'm getting mean now. Well, meaner. But seriously, go away!

On now to a clip of Tom Cruise on The View, not jumping on couches. Instead, he gets a little choked up when talking about the death of Jett Travolta. That's...sad? Nice? I don't know what to do with this. A death of a child is horrific, but I can't get into the whole public semi-exploitation of it. Also? Jett had a mom too. All I hear about is John's loss. Two parents are destroyed here; not one. Anyway, not to be crass, but I guess 360's ratings are telling them people still want to hear about this story because otherwise I don't get why they're showing the clip. Unless it's just their obsession with The View. My cousin and I were just talking over the weekend about how neither of us has ever seen a single episode, yet everyone talks about it so much, we always know what's going on. It's annoying.

"The shot" tonight is 360 exploiting another opportunity to milk their NYE whoopsie for all it's worth. It cracks me up how they continue to refer to it even after CNN had to release a statement calling the incident inappropriate. I kinda thought they'd be taking a we-shall-never-speak-of-this-again approach. This way is much more amusing. Anyway, apparently Kathy Griffin is pumped to be kicking off 2009 as a Youtube sensation. She took to Jimmy Kimmel's show (which I coincidentally watched on the YouTube today) to talk about the slip-up.

It seems Kathy's poor wine-out-of-the-box-drinking momma was quite horrified...for Anderson. Her Anderson, to be specific. Hey, line starts on the left, lady. Momma Griffin couldn't believe her daughter would subject our anchor's blue blood Vanderbilt ears to such vulgarity. Somehow, I think he managed to keep his pearls unclutched. But just for good measure, we get a little confirmation from the man in question: "Mrs. Griffin, if you're watching, no shame involved. Don't worry. Don't blame Kathy. It's all OK."

That'll about do it. No webcast because, er, I was sleeping. The show was good again, though I could have done without The View and Palin stuff. It seems like they're starting to settle into a post-election/new year groove. So far, I pretty much like what I see.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Israel-Gaza Conflict Continues, A Meeting Of Presidential Minds, Investigating Roland Burris, And Porn (That's Right, Porn)

Hi everybody. Well, last night I pondered how long 360 could keep up their on-the-ground reporting of the Israel-Gaza conflict, given the restrictions placed on reporters. Turns out? Two nights. Yep, Anderson Cooper has traveled from his hilltop half-way around the world and a mere 24 hours later is once again occupying his New York anchor chair. Impressive.

We kick things off with BREAKING NEWS regarding the aforementioned conflict, though I'm not sure if the graphic is more for the current diplomatic efforts or the temporary cease-fire to distribute humanitarian aid. This leads us into a Nic Robertson piece and we learn that today the Israelis took a cameraman with them into Gaza. One cameraman. Good job supporting that free press. Mr. Cameraman brings us back images we'd pretty much expect to find: blown up buildings and desperate people.

A bright spot, if there is one, is that temporary cease-fire I mentioned, which Israel will conduct for three hours every day. Don't bother looking for a schedule though, people. They're going to switch it up because they know Hamas is just waiting to exploit an opportunity. As for that whole peace thing? Eh. People may be talking about it, but I see nothing that makes me optimistic. After Nic's piece, he joins us live from journalist hill, where there is currently lots of action going on behind him. Tracer fire. Booms. A war fought but not seen.

Nic tells us that the UN's preliminary investigation of that school strike yesterday has determined they are 99 percent confident there were no Hamas fighters in the school. Color me shocked. For their part, and to be fair, the Israelis say the fighters were not in the school, but very close and adjacent to it. That's certainly possible, I suppose. Anderson points out a drone flying over Nic, which was admittedly making me nervous. Nic then talks about the Israelis possibly moving into urban areas, which sort of screams Mogadishu to me. And we all know how well that turned out.

Transitioning now to our problems at home. Our expensive problems at home. How does a projected $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 and a prediction of nine percent unemployment by year's end sound? Do not want! All these problems will be landing squarely on the shoulders of one Mr. Barack Obama and so far, he's not taking any chances. In a Candy Crowley piece, we learn that today our prez-elect had a Big Meeting and did a little advice-seeking with the former Air Force One club. You know what this means, right? Picture time! Oh how the press (and the politicians) love a good photo-op. Bush 43 says they had the meeting because they want Obama to succeed. Maybe instead of a meeting, you could have left him with a couple less problems. Just a thought.

On now to an investigative piece from Drew Griffin on whether Illinois's probable new junior senator is corrupt. We know the story here: Governor Blagojevich gets arrested for trying to sell Obama's senate seat, legislatures attempt to block him from naming a senator, the senate says they won't seat anyone he picks, Blagojevich defies them and picks a dude anyway--a black dude, and...the senate runs around crying, "oh noes! What do we do now?" Up to speed?

Now Republicans are claiming that state records show something fishy regarding Burris's contributions and lobbying contracts. It looks bad, but then again, this is Drew, so I really have no opinion on the matter. Also, other supposed evidence is that Blagojevich's wife got a job at a place where Burris's lobbying partner is a board member. Presumably if it's a board, there are other board members. It'd be nice to know their take on the matter.

It's inevitable panel time and tonight we've got Candy Crowley, Errol Lewis and Jeffrey Toobin rocking the house. The absence of David Gergen lately is scaring me. Anyway, they start out talking about Burris and how the Democrats are now changing their tune and saying, eh, maybe we'll take him after all. Jeffrey thinks Blagojevich played them like a flute. Yeah, well, it is the senate. Not really a hard task. Errol brings up the race card again, though he notes he's not sure he should call it that. In his view, this is basically about politicians being cowardly and not wanting to upset their black constituents. Because all black people are going to think he should be seated? What?

Jeffrey believes that as citizens we should all be shocked at what went down here. Never fear Toobin, I was totally wearing my WTF face when I heard the news. Candy then brings us the admittedly good point (and a little combativeness) that Blagojevich hasn't been convicted and he's still doing lots of other governor-y things that no one seems to have a problem with. Toobin's not buying that argument though because he thinks you lose some rights when out on bail. From here the talk goes to the other senate seat up in the air--the one possibly going to Caroline Kennedy.

Anderson next brings up the whole Blair House controversy. See, the Obama's had to move to D.C. early for the girls to start school, so they asked to stay in Blair House--think of it as the White House guest house. Except they were totally denied because the WH claimed it was already booked up. So who's staying there? Former Australian Minister John Howard. And now the Obama's are staying in a hotel. Wha?!

"Does this make any sense, that Howard outranks Barack Obama? asks Anderson. Um, no. Candy then plays devil's advocate and gives us a lot of administration spin. Give it up Candy, this is Bush being a dick. There's plenty of room in that house for everyone (119 rooms!) without them even having to see each other. Anyway, the panel kinda laughs at Anderson's bewilderment, leading him to say, "I was just surprised to hear this. I guess I'm the only one." You're not the only one.

Ali Velshi at the financial wall-of-doom now, explaining the new deficit projection. Ooh, and he brought a prop to further demonstrate just how far we're in the hole. I shall call it the scroll-of-depression.

Erica Hill has our headlines tonight and well, I couldn't let this one go by. Joe the Plumber is going to Israel to report on the fighting there. So. Many. Thoughts. I mean, good Lord, what do you do with that? Joe the non-plumber is going to Israel to be a non-journalist to report on average Joe Israelis. He's going to actual Israel, right? I swear, I'm starting to think this guy isn't even a real person. I'm not ruling out an elaborate punking with the use of holograms. One of my favorite parts about this story was Toobin cracking up in the background during the tease. My other favorite part is when it's over and we cut to Anderson, who says, "okay," with a bemused look on his face. You know he so wanted to snark on that. Think he pulled a muscle refraining?

Back to Nic now and the explosions behind him are picking up. We get more info from him, including Israel's use of sniffer dogs.

Christiane Amanpour then joins us live and talks a bit about the talks that Hamas, Fatah, and Israel will be having in Egypt. She tells us that Israel is not down with a temporary cease-fire and they basically want to show Hamas they'll be bringing the pain until the rockets stop. Anderson lays down a Kissinger quote: "the conventional army loses if it doesn't win, and the guerrilla wins if he doesn't lose," and wonders if Israel can still claim victory if they don't seriously hurt Hamas. Christiane thinks both sides will claim victory, but really, there will be no peace until there's a real solution to the whole Israel-Palestinian conflict. Seeing as no one has been able to solve that for decades, uh, yay?

Transitioning now to a Randi Kaye piece on the relationship of Scientology to Jett Travolta's death. I wondered how long this would take. I guess you have to wait a few days before you can speculate about religion's role. One day too soon and you're just distasteful. But anyway, hell if I know what happened here. Apparently the kid died of a seizure and supposedly he was on medication until it stopped working. Scientologists are cool with meds for physical stuff, but not so much with treating mental issues. In any regards, 360 has just found themselves another opportunity to play the clip of Tom Cruise going psychotic on Matt Lauer.

On now to...oh my. Anderson giggles us through the next story's intro, while porn music plays. This piece went to Erica Hill and it's all about porn, baby! Bow chica wow wow! After seeing bankers walk away with billions in government bailouts, the porn industry has decided to put their hand out too (I hope they washed it first!). It seems that people are depressed and therefore not having that much of the sex, which has lead to decreased profits in the adult entertainment field. Oh, poor, poor, porn people. All sexed-up and no one to watch.

Okay, so this is pretty clearly a PR stunt and that has ticked off some of our Congresscritters. Yeah, because if we're looking for integrity, we should definitely look to the porn industry. So, um, yeah. I'm not really sure why 360 did this piece, but a part of me suspects it's because since NYE is over, they're going through Anderson giggle-withdraw.

Speaking of giggles, yours not Anderson's, "the shot" tonight is the puppy-debate that he did for the Daily Show. You can find some screencaps of it and a link to the video here. I wasn't sure that they'd show the part of Anderson yelling, "get this bitch off the stage," but I guess after NYE that's nothing. And yes, I would have chosen him too. Erica asks if he will be staying at the Hay-Adams for a little while. "Until I'm house broken," Anderson replies. Bwah! Remember that CNN commercial years ago when he followed that woman around all day telling her the news? That's my vision of an Anderson puppy. And I want one.

We had a very special webcast tonight, and if this were a sitcom, that would mean a seldom seen person just caught a horrible disease so that we might all learn a life lesson. But this is CNN and Jack Gray is back! Like last time, we must wait patiently for the greatness. So first Erica just pimps his appearance. Then she moves onto porn--naturally. "Later on in the show, porn," might be my favorite quote of the night. Erica also explains how hard it was to put together her piece without using puns. Apparently, there was much giggling over stimulus packages today. Gotta love the maturity level of the 360 kids. And yes, I'm right there with them.

Then Erica talks to Ali Velshi, who knows a surprising amount about the porn industry. Hm. Naw, don't go spreading rumors, people. He's just up on the business innovation side of the deal. In other words, the boring part.

Finally, we come to our man of the hour--or at least of the webcast. Jack is not here merely to amuse us, no--he's got some promo-ing to do. On Sunday, our blog-comedian/associate producer here, will be further spicing up the 360 blog by hosting a Golden Globes live chat. Fun! Pencil it in, people. Sadly, Jack will not be drunk-blogging, but Sammy will be hammered, as per usual.

Also, I loved Anderson's face--his whole body reaction, really--when Jack said he okay-ed the blogging. It's okay Anderson, we know you don't know what's up with the blog. Nobody tell him he's on Twitter and Facebook too; it'll only confuse the poor guy. Speaking of our anchor, he's ditching us on this chat because as Jack tells it, he'll be hanging out with "Cloris Leachman and that whole crowd." Yes, that's exactly who I imagine him hanging with. I'm sure he fits right in. He'll be on Dancing With the Stars in no time.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Anderson Cooper Live From The Israel-Gaza Border Day 2, Roland Burris Gets Shunned, Bush Still Sucks, And Sanjay Gupta For Surgeon General!

Hi everybody. Wow, that Daily Show segment I posted about last night must have been really popular because my traffic has been jumping. I just hope that people have also been watching Anderson Cooper's location reporting this week. I mean, the man is basically risking his life for the (very important) story, so I would hope that people would have at least as much interest in that as watching him be cute with furry friends. Yes, this is me laying down a guilt trip. Just saying. (Of course, with the way of the Internets, the people that I really want to read this won't.)

Tonight Anderson again comes at us live from the Israel-Gaza border and we learn that today 40 people were killed in a UN school at a refugee camp inside Gaza. The loss of life prompted Obama to state he had deep concern about the issue, but he won't be commenting further until after January 20. Me thinks the prez-elect is probably hoping this conflict fixes itself before that time.

In a subsequent piece from Anderson, we're shown footage of the school strike and are told that Israel is claiming Hamas fighters were shooting from inside the school, but I don't particularly believe that. The U.S. tried to claim the same thing in Iraq when a tank fired on the Palestine Hotel (full of journalists). There's always a PR war being waged along side the real one. Anyway, Israel has also released video of them allegedly taking out Hamas targets, yet the rockets continue to rain down and terrify. One good thing is that Israel has bowed to international pressure and decided to open up a humanitarian corridor in Gaza.

To make this all a little more jihadi for us, Ayman al-Zawahiri (you might remember him as Al Qaeda's number two) has decided to get in on this action and released a tape in which he calls for attacks on Israel and blames Obama, of all people. It seems somebody's been feeling a little neglected. Christiane Amanpour then joins us live and says that al-Zawahiri is bashing everyone because he's basically desperate. Also, he doesn't want Obama to have a good relationship with the Muslim world. Anderson notes that previously Israel was claiming there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and now they're setting up this special corridor. Good point. Then he and Christiane talk about what an acceptable ceasefire (to Israel) might look like.

Transitioning now to an Ed Henry piece on what's up with our future leader. On Wednesday, Obama will be having himself a little sit down with previous presidents (only the living--that we know of) to get some advice. We then get a run down of Bush-the-elder and Carter's successes in the Middle East, are relayed Clinton's attempt and ultimate failure at peace, and...Bush 43? Well, yeah, he'll be there too, I guess.

Hey, you know how there was that governor in Illinois with really bad hair and a mouth like a mobster who got himself into trouble? Yeah, remember how nobody wanted him to appoint a senator to fill Obama's seat. Well, he did. And today Roland Burris took a stroll down to the senate to claim his new job. What did the senate say? Denied! Oh, that's has to sting. Rain. A politician scorned. A crush of reporters. You couldn't ask for a better circus.

A Candy Crowley piece picks up from that drama and goes in-depth on some more thorns in Obama's side. First off, people have their hackles up about earmarks in the recovery package, but Obama has pledged we won't be seeing them. Then there's the whole Leon Panetta for CIA head thing. Diane Feinstein, incoming chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, doesn't like the pick,though she's probably just mad Obama didn't notify her first. Biden says that was a mistake, Obama apologized, and even Candy's voice over says, "bad form," but I think Feinstein needs to get over herself. Maybe she wasn't consulted because she's done a craptastic job with oversight up until now.

Candy then sticks around for the inevitable panel and we're also joined by Errol Lewis and Jeffrey Toobin. They talk about how Obama is, well, not talking in regards to the Middle East and then they move on to the subject of Burris and whether or not he'll ultimately be seated. Errol thinks that, constitutionally speaking, Blagojevich was in his right to make the pick. But Jeffrey disagrees on the law. Errol also points out that if Burris is officially denied, the NAACP will probably get involved and it will turn into a racial issue. Lord, talk about playing the race card. I hope that doesn't happen because that's BS.

From here, Anderson switches the topic to the totally amazing news that CNN's own Sanjay Gupta has been offered, and will probably accept, the position of Surgeon General. One of our little CNNers might be joining Team Barack! Aw, they grow up so fast. Maybe Anderson Cooper really does have a shot at Secretary of Take No Shit . Seriously though, congrats to Sanjay. He's very qualified and a great choice. Also? As one of my friends says, "This could possibly be the Hottest Administration Ever." Amen. Qualified people? Hotness? I swear, it's like we're living in bizarro world now. And bizarro world is awesome.

Anderson can't pass up this opportunity to tease Toobin, "
Are you now angling for, like, a chief justice of the Supreme Court position?" he asks. Toobin goes deadpan, "Why? You think that's really funny? You trying to hurt my feelings here?" Bwah! Then he lets us know that he doesn't need a fancy-pants position anyway because he's got, like, OJ and stuff. But he's just joshing, people. He's actually very happy for Sanjay, "I feel nationally more healthy already knowing that he's going to be surgeon general," he tells us.

Back to brutal reality now, and we have a Ben Wedeman piece on that school strike. The UN is calling for an investigation, as they should. Israel is claiming that some of the dead are actually Hamas militants. It's anybody's guess on whether that's true. After Ben's piece he talks a bit about what the new humanitarian corridor might look like and the difficulties in transporting supplies.

Next up, we have a clip of Anderson showing us some of the rockets that have rained down on Southern Israel. The rockets are filled with fuel and shrapnel and are smuggled underground through Egypt. Also, it's Anderson, so you know he has to touch them all. Just saying.

On now to a Nic Robertson piece in which we get to see what it's like for the Israelis living with the daily barrage of rockets. The sirens go off and everyone takes cover in a shelter. Then there is the unmistakable boom of the strike. Nic joins everyone else in running to the impaction location and EMS is there in seconds. Luckily, no one was hurt this time. But everyone there knows that could change at any moment.

This piece also contains an interview Nic conducted with resident Sivan Cohen. Sivan is in the minority, in that she is against the Israeli operation. Nic notes that the rocket could have hit her. "But it didn't. And I have a place to go. I have alarms to help me to run away. They don't have all that stuff," she says, referring to Gaza. Interesting perspective. After Nic's piece, he joins us live and Anderson states that on Israeli television they show the funerals of the soldiers, yet they don't do that in the U.S. This comment made me sit up and pay attention even closer, but alas, the conversation didn't go much further. So rarely we hear that reality pointed out, so kudos at least for the mention.

Transitioning now to a Joe John's piece and a little reminder that Bush is a God-awful president. You know, in case you forgot. According to Joe: "A report prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Oversight says that, since 2001, the Bush administration has failed to implement more than 13,800 recommendations made by inspectors general, the watchdogs of various federal agencies, costing taxpayers almost $26 billion." Awesome. Cue the cries of partisan hit-job. Less than two weeks to go, people. Less than two weeks to go.

Moving on now to Sami Abdel- Shafi back with us from yesterday, this time on camera. He talks a bit about how there's no where to go and people have to keep moving. So sad.

Anderson then notes that they can't independently verify reports from Gaza because, well, Israel won't let them in Gaza. This is a fact that so clearly ticks Anderson off, which actually kinda makes his reporting sharper, so maybe I'm not against that reporter ban after all. Kidding. Anyway, this intros us into an Anderson piece on the propaganda war that's being waged by both sides, which he blogged about. (Two blogs in a row! Somebody should document this. Oh wait, I just did.)

Anderson explains that this time he's not even allowed to embed with Israeli soldiers like he did in 2006 because Israel believes embeds interfered with their military operations. In other words, they allowed journalists to see too much. On the flip side, Hamas controls all images coming out of Gaza, so you can expect to see a lot of dead kids, but not so much with the dead fighters. Everyone plays the game. This was a most excellent piece and I'm really glad they decided to show us this side of the story. I hope they keep it up.

The show was really good again. I wonder how long they'll be staying. With reporting so limited, it must be difficult to get new stories. All the stats, though horrible, will get old after a while. And does this conflict fall out of the headlines come inauguration? It'll be interesting to see how this is handled. But so far, so good.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Anderson Cooper Live From The Israel-Gaza Border and Barack Obama's Next Steps (Plus Bonus Puppy-Debate Pics)

Hi everybody. Well, now with the election over, the tether that attached Anderson Cooper to his anchor chair has official been cut. Field trip time! Unfortunately, as per usual, we're not going to Disneyland. No, instead, another bloody, horrible, and heartbreaking conflict has erupted in the Middle East. Yay 2009? I mean, did nobody get the memo that this year is supposed to be better? I guess someone in the universe thought two intractable wars and a collapsing economy weren't a big enough challenge for our incoming prez. But stick with me, kids. At the end there'll be a puppy; I promise.

Anderson is coming at us live from the Israel-Gaza border and we learn that three Israeli soldiers have been killed by friend fire, on this the third night of the ground invasion into Gaza. We also learn that Anderson would totally love to show us what's going on in the area, but the Israelis are barring journalists from entering. Not cool.

In a subsequent Anderson piece, we're told all the stats that both sides are claiming: dozens of killed or captured Hamas fighters, 530 killed Palestinians, 87 rockets launched into Israel since Sunday, four Israelis killed by the rockets, etc. Anderson also shows us where a rocket hit a market and explains that they're especially deadly because they're filled with shrapnel. Neither side is backing down and there have been worldwide protests of the violence. Oh, and Bush said something about the situation, but I'm pretty sure no one cares.

Next up, we find out that Ed Henry has followed Obama back to D.C. after their time spent chillaxing in Hawaii. In his piece, we learn that the economy is still very much priority numero uno on the prez-elect's plate. But it seems the plan to handle the monumental problem has changed-up a bit since last we met our hero. There's still going to be a big-ass stimulus package (the technical term), but now $300 billion of that is going to be a tax cut.

Republicans had been screeching about all the promised spending (the last eight years never happened, I guess), so Obama decided to throw them a conciliatory bone and include business tax cuts. Hm. Conciliatory is nice, but let's not get too conciliatory, k? Oh, also, Bill Richardson is totally out for Commerce Secretary. Apparently, he has pay-to-play cooties all over him. Or something. Disappointing, but I'll wait for the facts before kicking him to my curb (that's where Edwards is currently sitting).

Transitioning now to Christiane Amanpour live in Jerusalem and she talks to us a bit about the pressure Israel is currently facing due to the mounting civilian casualties. The world at large isn't really too thrilled about dead kids. After what happened in Lebanon in 2006, it's hard to fathom they'd think a ground invasion was a good idea, but I guess that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, according to Christiane, the Israelis would like to try to stop the smuggling of weapons from the Egypt side of the Gaza strip and end Hamas' motivation for firing those rockets. Because invading and killing lots of civilians is really going to tamper down those feelings of hostility. Also, Israel won't engage Hamas in any way (well, any non-violent way), so that leads Egypt to play the Dr. Phil role in this scenario. Unbelievable. Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization that must be stopped, but there has to be a better way.

We bounce back to the U.S. now and Ali Velshi is at the financial wall of doom to break down the stimulus package for us. We learn that 40 percent of it is now going to go to tax cuts, which is a new development and I'm not sure an exactly positive one. We shall see. The other 60 percent will still be going to green infrastructure and things like computerizing medical records. Also? Because we're at the wall of doom and being bummed out is a requirement, Ali tells us that auto sales are down by 30 percent--the biggest drop since 1992. Awesome.

Do you have that familiar feeling? Yep, it's panel time! Even a field trip out of the country can't stop it. Our seat-warmers tonight include Gloria Borger, Joe Johns, and Ed Henry and they kick things off by talking about how quiet Obama is being regarding the new Middle East fighting. Then we move on to the Richardson debacle and Anderson wonders what went wrong with the supposed stellar Obama camp vetting process. Ed tells us they were aware of the issue, but Richardson made it sound like it was nothing and it would soon be going away. Also? Ed says that while Richardson is spinning that he took a bullet for Obama and pulled his name himself, he was totally pushed by team Barack.

The subject next switches up to the new CIA head (which I hadn't heard about yet) and Anderson asks what we know about John Podesta. Then Gloria immediately starts talking about Leon Panetta and I get totally confused. The Google tells me the pick is Penetta. Aw, somebody has jet lag. We'll forgive him. Anyhoo, Gloria tells us that there's a kerfuffle because Obama picked the guy without conferring with Congress or something and I guess they always need to feel special. Boo hoo. Geez, finally get the place filled with Democrats and it's still run by infants. This was actually a pretty good panel since they mostly stuck to factual reporting instead of speculation.

On now to Tom Foreman reprising his oft-played role at the big map. His mission is to inform us visually of what Israel is dealing with logistically and show us its strategic targets. I'm assuming all this information is just coming from the one side (Israel), so take it with a grain of salt. Not that you should believe Hamas (you shouldn't), but when both sides say the same thing you pretty much know it's true.

For a further look into this long-time-coming battle, we move on to a Ben Wedeman piece. Apparently, Israel has been training for this fight for years. About two years ago Ben went to one of their training facilities that actually looks just like Gaza. Hamas has upped their game as well and are looking more and more like an army. Not to mention all the notes they took after watching the 2006 fight with Hezbollah go down. Sources say Hamas has an extensive tunnel/bunker system in Gaza for their leaders. The civilians, however, are sitting ducks. Always the innocent civilians pay the highest price.

After Ben's piece, he joins us live to tell us what the Israelis can expect inside Gaza. There are many fighting factions and it seems they're packing RPGs and setting booby traps. Fun! But the good news is that according to Ben, this is no 2006. Hezbollah was much better prepared for that fight then these guys are now. Let's hope he's right. Anderson brings up the reporters ban and Ben says the official line of reasoning has to do with safety, but some believe it's because Israel thinks the coverage has been biased. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. But Israel cannot possibly be talking about U.S. media. Hell, some of our coverage is more pro-Israel than Israel's coverage. 360 is doing a pretty good job so far at striking a balance.

Next up, things are exploding over Anderson's shoulder. I am not thrilled. Anyway, Christiane is back and she tells us that Israel is actually dropping leaflets on the Palestinians, encouraging them to anonymously turn in the rocket-launchers. The big question is how any of this ends, especially given everyone's refusal to engage with the Democratically-elected Hamas. The discussion ends with a focus on how the conflict might bolster Fatah and Abbas.

On the phone with us now from Gaza City is resident Sami Abdel-Shafi. He reports that things have been tense, especially since ambulances are being hit as well. Necessities have had to be rationed, though he indicates he's better off than most. The civilian death count is discussed and Anderson wonders if it makes sense to drop leaflets. "Where would you go?" he asks. That's a nicely pointed question, because as we hear from Sami, there is nowhere to go. " is very, very unfair for anyone to ask a civilian to leave his home," he says.

Nic Robertson then joins us live to talk about the rockets being sent by both sides. Schools have had to close. We learn that in the early phases of the conflict, most of the Palestinian deaths consisted of Hamas security. Now it is women and children paying the price. When will people learn that you cannot ground invade a grassroots-organization-turned-government? Since there's no backing off now, I hope I'm wrong.

Transitioning back to New York now, and we have a Randi Kaye piece on the death of Jett Travolta. New details have emerged that he died of a seizure and John actually performed CPR. Normally I would have been annoyed at the constant teasing of this story, but hey, if that's what they think they need to do in order to put on a broadcast that is 90 percent hard news, so be it.

The show was really good tonight. Lots of actual news goodness and they're doing a good job at showing both sides of the Middle East fighting (even if they can't get into Gaza). Depending on how long this thing goes on, keeping that objectivity might prove difficult. My only real criticism is kind of technical. At the end of the first hour, Anderson told us they'd be back with live coverage and then at the top of the second hour, he said they were live and the live bug was up. But I am almost positive they were not live. That is a no no. I didn't stick around, so hopefully I'm wrong. As for the webcast, I had some technical issues myself, so all I caught was that Tony is renovating his garage and Frank has some strong opinions concerning the issue.

Finally, since there was no "shot" tonight, I thought I'd make my own. For weeks now, this Daily Show dude has been teasing us with tweeted promises of Anderson Cooper and puppies. And tonight it finally happened (click for video). Given the mass Google searches about it that hit my blog immediately after airing, I take it you guys liked the segment. So I have given in and done some screencaps. Don't expect them every night. Oh, and that "bitch" line? Totally improv-ed. A witty one, that Anderson Cooper. Enjoy:

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