Friday, February 27, 2009

President Obama's Iraq Plans, Question Time, Calling Out Jindal On Katrina, And Anderson Cooper Gets A Midshow Lesson In Onion Chopping

Hi everybody. We kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS that two other banks have bit the dust. I was hoping that I misheard and instead of saying "bank failures" Anderson Cooper was actually reporting about delicious candy inexplicably falling from the sky. But sadly, no. So, yeah...things still suck. On a related note, today President Obama gave a speech to the troops at Camp Lejeune concerning his plans to get us out of the suck, otherwise known as Iraq. So here's the deal: all "combat troops" will be out of Iraq by August 2010 and the 50,000 remaining will come home by the end of 2011. That...actually...sounds reasonable. Wow.

Next up, we have a Tom Foreman piece that takes a further look at the topic. We learn that before the last administration left office, they actually struck a withdrawal deal with the Iraqis too. However, what's not mentioned is that the plan so was not their choice. No props for them! It's also noted that the whole "non combat" troop thing is totally just political. To that I say, uh, duh. Obama is a politician and I'm not going to pretend like he's not. The 50,000 troops will definitely be involved in combat and though I'm not thrilled with it, I'm not ready to be really ticked either. If he breaks his 2011 promise though...

We then go to Ed Henry and Michael Ware for discussion. Michael calls the 50,000 troops thing "a political shell game" because there's not enough to deter anyone posing a threat, but they themselves can still be killed. Yep, pretty much. Which again is why I'm not thrilled with that part. Michael then brings up the Status of Forces Agreement, which basically ended the war under the last prez anyway. "That's not what the Bush administration wanted, but they really didn't have much choice. That's what the Iraqis wanted," clarifies Anderson. Good on him for pointing that out. Too bad the coverage of the SOFA was almost nill (on 360) when it was actually happening. Always great to hear from Michael on this, especially since his views on the war have not always matched up with my own. It's hard to find someone from the other side you can trust.

Ali Velshi at the Wall of Doom now and I just can't take this anymore. Somebody tell me when it's over.

Moving on to a Candy Crowley piece that breaks down Obama's tax program. After the complete and total failure of trickle down economics, Obama has decided to take a stab at trickle up. You know what that means: zoh my Gawd, socialism! Well, at least that's what the conservatives are saying--what they'll always be saying. Meh. The only possible bad I see here is that the new budget scales back the amount a person can deduct for a charitable donation. This has charities worried, especially in this economy. It's a legitimate issue. But then again, I have to say, if you're just donating to get the tax deduction, you're kind of a dick.

Ask the "expert" time! We've got Ali Velshi and CNN Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis taking your questions. I'm not really into these kinds of segments, but I will say thank God it's not Suze Orman. There were a couple of things of note here. I love how Gerri's advice to the guy with the credit card problems was to "remember that it's a privilege to have a credit card." How helpful! The advice to the broke and jobless 23-year-old wasn't much better. Ali suggested he move to a mountain state (that have better employment rates). I don't know if the TeeVee people who jet around all over the place understand this, but for a lot of regular people, it's a huge deal to move.

And the guy was from New York. Does he really want to be North Dakota guy? Because if he gets a good job there, it's going to be hard to quit a good thing to go back to a city where he doesn't have a job. So suddenly, that's his life. It reminds me of when I worked in retail during and shortly following college. I was actually afraid of promotion because I didn't want to get stuck. The higher you move up in a job, the harder it is to leave, and I always knew I did not want that life. I just needed money; I didn't want to wake up in 20 years and realize my temporary job for cash had turned into a career in retail management. Anyway, instead of segments like this, I'd much rather see more reporting on what it's like out there. Or maybe instead of suggesting people move, Anderson could interview a job counselor or something.

So, have you guys heard that CPAC was this week? It's the annual convention for conservative activists, in other words, wingnut heaven. Anyway, they're trying to figure out how to pull their party back together and apparently a new poll of Republicans point to Sarah Palin as the leading contender for 2012. Bwah! Oh please oh please oh please let her run. Could these people be more out of touch?

Speaking of out of touch, it seems that once again a Republican has forgotten that people, like, actually record news and stuff and can therefore go back and fact check their statements. Even about things that happened years ago! I'm of course talking about Bobby Jindal, who totally bombed his Not-SOTU rebuttal. However, while everyone was mocking his Kenneth the Page delivery, most of us failed to notice he was very much not evoking the Kenneth the Page honesty. That little story about government red tape stopping rescue boats during Katrina? Yeah, well, the part about him actually being there when it happened was true in a not kind of way. But he, like, totally heard about it though...and apparently added his dialog in later. Mmhm.

Also? Anderson introed this story by saying that they were "keeping him honest." It kinda bugged me this time because all the legwork was done by bloggers. To be fair, he notes that (though he completely fails to mention Daily Kos where the original sleuthing took place), but I don't know. It's more like they're reporting the story of other people keeping him honest. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they mentioned it. I'm just saying.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and as she finishes up, she tells Anderson to stick around, which causes him to flash an oh-I'm-probably-not-going-to-like-this face. See, this morning Anderson once again co-hosted Regis and Kelly and there was a cooking segment. You all know the Silver Fox is totally my TV boyfriend, but sleep is my best friend, so I missed over half of the show. However, I did see the cooking and fer serious? Not pretty. Anderson's job was to chop an onion and he went after that thing like it had wronged him in a past life, facial expressions and all. Somebody needs to get Anderson a punching bag or one of those stress balls. It's not safe to work out life's frustrations by violently attacking an onion.

Watching him slice it, my first thought was, "lord, don't hurt yourself." And my second thought was how ironic it would be if after braving hurricanes and war conflicts, it was ultimately a morning cooking segment that left Anderson needing medical attention. The 360 kids must have been doing their own cringing while watching this morning and thought to themselves that it might suck for them if their anchor chopped off his fingers. Solution? Let's teach Anderson to slice an onion. Like, right in the middle of the show. And we'll use Iron Chef Bobby Flay to do it. And that is exactly what they did. I'm watching the show and it's all Iraq, economy,...slicing an onion. What the hell just happened? Can you tell it's Friday?

Anyway, they go to a table that's all set up and it's the 360 Cooking Show. First step, getting Anderson to hold the onion. He's not keen on smelling like one. "There is soap and water, Anderson. You'll be fine," says Erica. You really have to coddle these anchors, I tell ya. Anderson then gets to chopping and Bobby gives him credit for trying. "I have no choice because you came on the set," says Anderson. Haha. The end. Oh, also, on the blog Anderson said he was surprised by the whole onion cutting thing, but I'm finding it hard to believe given the table with the onions on it set up there in the studio. Not a noticer, that Cooper.

I think I'm going to cut this short early. There were pieces from Gary Tuchman and Randi Kaye still to come, but sorry guys, sleep calls. Don't forget to check back this weekend for my friend's editorial.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Obama Administration Releases First Budget And Iraq Pullout Plan

Hi all. It's been a long day and I'm beat. I don't mean to turn this blog into AC360 Review By Bullet Points, but I think I'm going to bring those little devils back again for another night. It's how I roll when I'm lazy. Let's get the show on the road:
  • Oh noes! President Obama is breaking his Iraq withdrawal campaign promise by a whole three months. Let us all now clutch our pearls. Meh. Maybe I'm just overly cynical, but I never even listened to his specifics on Iraq because I assumed things would change after the election. I'm not saying I thought Obama was being coldly political, but I mean, it's a war--you can't just put a check on the calender. I'm actually surprised (and pleased) that he seems serious in having combat troops out of the country by 2010, though I imagine there'll be some wiggling with that date as we get closer as well.
  • Man, 360 is obsessed with everything's price tag. Said Anderson Cooper: "Right now, we want to tell you about the other major story brewing today, the battle over President Obama's new budget announced today and the eye-popping bottom line, $3.6 trillion in spending. That's a three and a six followed by 11 zeros." Okay, we're not retarded.
  • Yay to transparent and honest government! No, you can not spend billions on war and pretend like that shouldn't go in the budget.
  • In response to an Obama quote that government budgets should be run as honestly as family budgets, Anderson had this to say: "Well, we should point out, households cannot run deficits, but there are reasons for the government to do it to stimulate the economy. Still, the numbers are staggering." Many people on the live-blog rightly called him out for that completely inaccurate comment, so I hate to pile on. Oh...what the heck? Er, duh, Anderson. Ever hear of a credit card or mortgage?
  • Hm. This is turning into Anderson quote night. Last bullet point I bopped him on the nose; this one I give him a cookie (emphasis mine): "Now, setting aside the obvious fact that the Republicans said very little about exploding the deficit when it was President Bush's budget-busting budgets, putting that aside, are their criticisms legitimate?"
  • I have to say, I'm not digging David Gergen's concern trolling (again!) regarding the "much more activist government" Obama is proposing. He was just saying the other week that our economic problems were too big for the private sector and would require the intervention of government. Well, so too with our other huge problems right now. Hello! I'm also annoyed at his statement that he's not sure the American people know what they voted for. Yes, because the pundit knows us better than we know ourselves. C'mon Gerg. Puhleese. This is the same guy who thought for sure people would have warm thoughts about the last creep that left office.
  • Michael Ware! In the studio! Out of danger and cleaned up real nice. Yes, please.
  • I sort of expected Michael to at least partially slam Obama's Iraq plan, so when he said it was a "relatively sound strategy," I got on board even more.
  • Kudos to Anderson for bringing up the fact that there's no clear strategy in Afghanistan. If the newsies want to go after Obama for something, go after him for that. I need to see some feet-to-the-fire holding. Too many lives at stake to play around.
  • The ban on photographing coffins coming into Dover has been lifted. Finally. Another horrible policy goes by the wayside. It's time to truly look at what this war wrought. As I've written previously, let's stop being afraid of reality.
  • The Randi Kaye piece on the crumbling schools was very good. It's a huge issue in this country, yet inexplicably rarely gets the kind of coverage that was in the piece. The conditions that some children have to try to learn in are mind boggling. Though the schools I went to weren't quite as bad as some of those featured, I can sympathize. Growing up I experienced overcrowding, a horrible leaky roof that lead to water trickling down the steps, and bolted shut windows in 90 degree heat with no air conditioning. I'm sure it's only worse now.
  • I loved Anderson's reaction to that racist watermelon email sent by Mayor Dean Grose: "That's unbelievable. There's no -- I mean, how can you -- that's just stunning." Bwah! It's like he started on a train of thought, but then saw a flashing sign saying, "warning, warning, opinion ahead!," and quickly jumped off onto safe ground.
  • Michael Ware's piece on the Mexican drug war was really interesting...and really disturbing. I'm glad to see he was able to take a break from Iraq, but still do the kind of reporting he loves. I've been hearing a lot lately about the trouble going on in Mexico and apparently Anderson has a 60 Minutes piece on it airing Sunday. I knew he was going there because of the open webcast mic (heh), but kept it on the down low just to be safe.
  • Anderson was on Regis and Kelly this morning, so of course that was the "shot". Those who watched his last co-hosting appearance might remember our anchor getting his butt whooped by Kelly Ripa in germ trivia. Today, he got himself a rematch over...Donald Trump trivia. No, really. Trump was a guest. Blech. You know what's really disturbing? I am very much not a Trump fan and yet I totally rocked the house on this one. I win! It's all about the logic. Anderson came so close to winning, but then blew it on the tie-breaker. I guess the logic got away from him because I'm sorry, but if The Donald did a musical number with Rosie O'Donnell in 2006, that totally would have been mentioned during the big feud they had a couple years back, and it was not. Speaking of that, didn't Anderson mock them both relentlessly? And today he had to sit next to one of them. Awwwkward. Also, I'm usually not a big enough fan of Kelly's to watch her without the bonus of the Silver Fox, but I thought she was really "on" today. She had me cracking up several times. And...that'll do it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Details Of The Obama Administration's Budget Plan Are Made Public And Anderson Cooper Lays The Smackdown On A Fanboy Congressman

Hi everyone. I ended up having to do some multitasking during the show tonight and therefore couldn't give it the attention a review deserves. Never fear though, the bullet points have graciously returned for an encore. Away we go:
  • From what I've heard so far, I am very much on board with President Obama's healthcare plan. I've previously made numerous "gimme my damn universal healthcare" jokes on this blog, but never did I think there was a chance it could happen. So, to sum up: Yay!!! (Yeah, I know my "Yay!!!" is going to be tampered down by reality real quick; don't be a buzz kill.)
  • Maybe it's just me, but it seems like tonight our anchor was letting some opinion show on those sleeves of his. And no, I'm not talking about the smackdown (more on that amusement later). I think I've got the Silver Fox pegged as a fiscal conservative. I've actually suspected this for a couple years, but it's been really apparent during this whole economic meltdown. Anyway, nothing wrong with that. Just saying. Although, I do hope he's not one of those "tax cuts are my religion" people.
  • As for the panel discussion on the healthcare spending, I was a little turned off by David Gergen's concern trolling on the subject. I know all the pundits realize healthcare is a big issue for Americans, but I honestly don't know if they get just how big of an issue. I'm guessing people pontificating on the TeeVee don't ever have to go without medication. I'm not sure where the Gerg gets his healthcare, but I know the CNNers are doing pretty good in that area. So, I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the "mood of the country" is actually with Obama on this one.
  • My regular readers know that I've had some, shall we say, issues regarding 360's economic coverage. Sometimes after the show I chat with friends and tonight I'd like to bring you one of their direct quotes:
Man, CNN's coverage of economic issues is just bone-ignorant. At least David Walker got the fact out there that earmarks don't INCREASE spending, they just direct a tiny fragment of it, but otherwise?

Even the Gerg was being stoopid today. Oh, eek! the budget bill is MORE than last year. How can we do this in these hard times?

Haven't we just been SAYING that in a recession, the ONLY entity that can spend more money is the government? And that if the government decreases spending at the same times as everyone else, we'll go straight into a depression? And haven't leading economists been worried that the 'stimulus bill' isn't big ENOUGH? Don't they even listen to their own coverage?

Gah. They're driving me to drink.
  • So...yikes. My friend has requested to do a guest editorial and I have agreed. You can see it here this weekend. Consider this a preview.
  • Moving on to the smackdown, last night Anderson Cooper expressed shock and some might say harshness over the fact that Congresscritters waited hours yesterday to get a good seat to see Obama, something that I pointed out is done during every SOTU (or Not-SOTU). "I have always assumed they have so many important things on their plate, that there is no way they would spend multiple hours warming a seat, like a tween waiting in line to see the Jonas Brothers," he tells us. So, the updated reference would be the Jonas Brothers. I knew it!
  • Anderson tells us that, "Now, last night, I think I said I thought it was pathetic that our elected representatives had nothing better to do than sit around for so long." Um, hon, you didn't just call them pathetic; you flat out called them losers. Ahem: "I said that the losers who waited all day to get a seat near him were like losers waiting for a Madonna concert." That was when he was clarifying his quote to that winger Stephen Moore. As you might imagine, those Congress peeps who waited weren't too thrilled with being called pathetic and Congressman Eliot Engel (waited 12 1/2 hours!) expressed his displeasure to the New York Daily News: "What's really pathetic is that Anderson Cooper apparently doesn't share my enthusiasm for participating in such a historic and wonderful celebration of democracy. I'm sorry he is so jaded."
  • Anderson goes on to say that, "pathetic may have been too strong a word." And 'loser'! Don't forget 'loser.' Apparently, Congressman Engel didn't stick around for the second hour of the show. Anderson continues by saying that he has nothing against the Congress peeps, but he thinks we should know how our elected officials spend their time. "And, if you feel sitting on a bench for 12-and-a-half hours is the best use of your time, so be it. It's up to your constituents to decide if they agree with you." Booyah!
  • Some might be surprised that Anderson responded (definitely not his style), but this isn't the first time he's pushed back against a politician that called him out. Back in June 2007, there was this senator who gave a speech about New Orleans, complaining about how the media had moved on and mentioning our anchor by name. This did not go over well with the Silver Fox who was like, "oh no he didn't!" Let's just say a lecture was received via the TeeVee. Don't mess with Anderson Cooper, people, that quiet demeanor is deceiving, as the senator learned. I wonder whatever happened to that guy...
  • That was a good piece from Chris Lawrence on the F-22. Remember how the other day I said cutting defense spending would be tough because of opposition from Congress? This is exactly what I was talking about. The military industrial complex, man. The weapons-building is spread around the whole country, so you can't ever get the votes to stop it. Oh also? This line that closed out the piece completely boggles my mind: "And in the battle for creating jobs, economists found education, mass transit, and infrastructure all generate far more fire power than military spending." Okay, I've been pulling out my hair here over the fact that 360 never made a peep about what economists think is more stimulative and NOW after the debate is over and the bill is passed they add it like a throwaway line? WTF? WTF? WTF?
  • I'm moving to Fargo. That is all. Also? Yay to seeing Gary Tuchman. (We never did get his Texas piece, did we? Maybe they threw it in the second hour one night.)
  • Okay, the raccoon and sound effect were cheesy, but I had to laugh at Anderson pretending to kill it with his hand (gasp, call PETA!). Yes, because that's exactly how you kill a raccoon--like a bug. Whenever I see a raccoon, it always reminds me of the time one ran out in front of my friend's car and she slammed her brakes on so hard, I thought we were going to flip over. Then the thing just stopped in the middle of the road and looked at us like, "what?" Crazy raccoons.
  • Zoh Mah God. Michelle Obama went sleeveless! (I actually didn't even notice.)
  • The Obamas better really be serious about this puppy thing because man, they are dragging it out. Apparently, the girls wanted the name Frank or Moose, but like their dad, it seems mom wields some veto power too and those suggestions were nixed. Anderson thought Moose sounded okay to him. If you knew my cat's name you would know I should not be allowed to have an opinion on this matter.
  • Last night, I was all proud of myself for the observation that Bobby Jindal sounded just like Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock." But I should have known, I am not special. In fact, take a gander at "The Jack McBrayer Response To The Internet Response To The Republican Response To The President's Address To Congress."
  • As I said up top, I was multitasking during the show. I turned the webcast on, but then forgot about it and left the room during commercials. After one commercial, I came back to find some chick on the webcast singing about lights going on and off. Um, what? Apparently, I have missed something. Was she singing about their super-difficult microphone off switch? Was that Tech Girl? That's the name I have given to the woman who I can sometimes hear struggling to get the dang mic to turn off. I have no idea who she is or what she looks like, therefore the moniker. I think it makes her sound like a dorky superhero. Oh also? *applauds the singing* Just because I have no idea what the hell just happened, no need to be rude.
  • And...that'll do it. Don't forget to watch Anderson on Regis and Kelly, which he helpfully reminded us about by use of a blog comment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Obama Addresses Congress/Nation, Governor Bobby Jindal Flops Rebuttal, And Analysis With The Best Political Team On Televison

Yo peoples. Woo! Are you pumped after President Obama's first ever (Non) State of the Union Address? What a difference a year makes, huh? I kept waiting for the freaky part where he promises to protect us from human-animal hybrids or some other bizarreness, but it just never came. Change is here. Anyhoo, I'm pretty tired, so I think I'm going to go about this thang in the easiest way I know how. That's right, you know 'em, you love 'em, the bullet points are back:
  • Obama's speech was good. Optimistic, but not delusional. Verbal bullet points gave it some meat. Four years of this? Yes, please.
  • I wonder how many calories the Congresscritters burn off with all their many standing ovations. You'd think there'd be some kind of rule to keep things moving, but I guess not.
  • I am lucky enough to have one of the most technology savvy senators out there. Claire McCaskill tweeted from the hall. Later in the coverage, Dana Bash brought up Twitter and seemed a little comfuzzled on the explainer. I almost expected her to use the word, "newfangled."
  • I think my favorite line might have been what Obama said regarding dropping out of high school: "It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country." Not exactly, "ask not what your country can do for you...," but it evoked similar sentiments for me.
  • I had to laugh at all the giddy autograph seekers. Suddenly Congress turns into an *NSYNC concert. (Yes, I know, I need to update my references by about a decade. Who would it be now, the Jonas Brothers?)
  • Even the people who were just greeting our prez all made sure to touch his back or shoulder or something--like the awesomeness was going to rub off.
  • Following the speech, we immediately picked up with The Best Political Team on Television (TBPTOT) who couldn't wait to ponder whether or not Obama was promising too much. Oh good lord. Yesterday he was too mopey and now he's being overly optimistic. I love my CNN peeps, but I gotta say, you guys are insufferable sometimes. (Though I did chuckle when Anderson dryly noted that Obama had also talked about curing cancer.)
  • Mad props to our anchor for his 50 Cent analogy. I have to admit, when I heard him start to go for it, I was all, "Hold on there, (really) white boy. Do not attempt." So, color me surprised at the mastery. Anderson Cooper, laying down the street cred. Who knew?
  • Poor Bobby Jindal. That did not go well. A lot of people thought he was pulling a rather excellent Mister Rogers, but I'm totally going with Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock."
  • Before Jindal's speech I was listening to David Gergen talk about how this could be the governor's big break and I thought our Gerg had gone crazy. First of all, most people probably turned the TV off or switched channels before Jindal even came on, and the rest of them were probably like, "who's this guy?" C'mon, how are you supposed to make a good impression following Barack Obama, when all you have is a standard speech and a boring camera set-up? These rebuttals are destined for failure.
  • I liked Tom Foreman's fact-check. It was refreshing that he was up front about the fact that Obama gave a truthful speech, so he was just going to mention some nit-picky stuff (though that wasn't his phrase). I actually don't mind them nitpicking as long as it's all put in proper perspective. It's the fake balance that I loath. If Obama's oopsie about cars had been treated with the same kind of weight as, say, Palin's bridge to nowhere lies, I would have been ticked. It's all about perspective, which is something that is unfortunately often in short supply on cable news.
  • Anderson's bemusement over Congress peeps waiting all day for aisle seats cracked me up. "Don't they have anything better to do?" Apparently, they do not. But going back to Anderson, I'm a little confused about his shock because, uh, Congress does that every year. Unless there's been some sort of amnesiac incident I don't know about, I'm thinking he knows that.
  • I almost fell out of my chair when we were introduced to Joseph Stiglitz and Stephen Moore. Zoh mah God, economists! Inviting on economists to talk about the economy? What a novel idea (and about damn time).
  • Man, as pleased as I am, I could have done without the talking-point spouting winger. Yeah, Stephen, there's a silent majority. They just inexplicably haven't participated in any polls. And I love that Anderson had to correct him that no, he didn't call Obama the Madonna of the Democratic Party, but rather simply noted Congress was acting like they were waiting for Madonna tickets or something. Very different. A Wall Street Journal editorialist massively misquoting? No!
  • Argh, Anderson got a bit interrupty with the non winger economist and threw him off a train of thought I wanted to hear. Oh Silver Fox, you're lucky you're so cute.
  • Finally, CNN and Facebook apparently hooked up tonight or something, but I did not participate because I'm still resisting peer pressure to join Facebook. I'm pretty close to caving though. Anyway, Anderson blogged and wanted us to ask questions to be posed to Facebook users about the speech. Okay 1) I love how about half of the comments were questions to Obama (reading comprehension, people!) and 2) so, basically they were asking us to come up with questions to ask ourselves. Way to outsource. I guess if they have more events like that we'll know it was a success. That'll do it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obama Takes Economic Questions From Opponents (With Cameras Watching, OMG!), Governors Refusing Cash, And Some People Think Green Food Is Icky

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! We're going to kick it off with lots of happy news and joy, right? Uh no, not so much. Ali Velshi is already at the Wall of Doom, bumming us out before we've even gotten comfy in our chairs. It seems the Dow went tumbling again, but we've heard this song before. I think I'm through with being concerned about the day to day movements of the stock market. The real story is the level we're at now and not specifically what happened on any given day. Still though, my general feeling is "meh."

Anderson Cooper then notes that President Obama made a pledge today to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. When I heard that earlier, I had to laugh. I mean, THAT'S optimism...bordering on delusion. Yeah, that's so not happening. Ali basically says as much, showing us our budget in graphic pie form, and noting that really the main place he'd have to cut is defense. That should go over really well with the hawks. Hell, forget the hawks, try every member of Congress that has something defense-related built in their district. Good luck with that, Obama.

Next up, we have an Ed Henry piece where we get another sliver of evidence that Obama just might be the real deal. See, he was having this fiscal responsibility summit thingee and at the end he just opened the floor for, like, 45 minutes of questions from everyone there, including--gasp--Republicans, and he let the press record the whole thing. If that wasn't enough, who was the first person he called on? John freakin McCain. You just know Obama is up there thinking, "Okay mofos, is this bipartisan enough for you?" Yes, that's right, my president says "mofos" in his head (or even something a little harsher). Why do you think he pauses so much?

But getting back to the rusty "Maverick," here was his big chance to ask a tough intelligent question, thus sticking it to the kid that stole his dream. So what did he ask about? The cost of Obama's helicopter. Seriously. That's our most pressing economic issue? Hey, why not ask about A-Rod? John McCain has just become the Michael Fletcher of the fiscal responsibility summit. Later, in a twist of amusement, Eric Cantor, who has made me want to throw things at my television lately, turned into a total almost-fanboy when he got his time to talk to the prez. No one can resist the power of Barack.

It's about that time, again. I hope you're ready for pontification because here it comes. Rocking out the panel tonight is David Gergen, Ali Velshi, and newbie Krishna Guha, chief U.S. economics correspondent at The Financial Times. At first I got excited because I thought Krishna was a real economist, but looking at his background, I think that's a no. Though I could be wrong. Anyway, they talk about the summit and bank nationalization and yada, yada, yada. Krishna thinks Obama made that prior deficit comment in order to convince the markets there's a plan.

Also, a friend of mine has urged me to give Ali a cookie for finally acknowledging that unemployment benefits are stimulative. I actually never noticed he'd previously said the opposite, but apparently he did. That was on Campbell Brown's show, which I do not keep honest. I don't know if he's done it on 360. Obviously I need to watch Ali closer. Be afraid, little financial guru, be afraid. Oh, and have a cookie.

We're moving on now to Tom Foreman at his...I don't know what to call the thing. I was going to name it the "special wall," but that just makes it sound like it's driven in on the short bus. If anybody has a suggestion, I'm all ears. Anyway, Tom is using the wall to tell us about a new sheriff in town named Earl Devaney. He's the guy tapped to keep track of our stimulus bucks and yes, they're really calling him a sheriff. The guy has an interesting background: cop, secret service, EPA, and helped take down Jack Abramoff. Sounds good to me. When can he start?

On now to a Candy Crowley piece on Republicans who are refusing stimulus money. Are they exhibiting integrity? Are they hurting their constituents over ideology? Actually, most of this piece focuses on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who I sort of admired for his stand. But then again, he's only refusing $100 million out of $4 billion available to his state and what he's refusing could really help those hurting worst right now. So, I don't know. But hey, he could be telling people he doesn't know if Obama is a real citizen, so there's that.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece that takes us on a little trip in the wayback machine to a time when the country was caught up in the story of a married politician who was having an affair with an intern. No, it's not the 1990's, it's 2001, and if you can believe it, that story ended a lot better than this one. Most of us remember this: Chandra Levy went missing and all fingers pointed to Congressman Gary Condit.

It was a newsgasm waiting to happen. But then, something did happen. There were planes. And there were falling towers. And there were warnings and powder and fear and uncertainty. And there was no more Chandra Levy in our news. Her body turned up the next year. Apparently, they now have enough evidence to convict a man who is already in prison. For his part, Condit was never charged, though the case ruined his career. He now runs an ice cream shop and is planning on writing a tell-all. Of course he is.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and we learn that George Clooney met with Obama and Biden about Darfur. He was actually just in the region, along with twitterers Ann Curry and Nicholas Kristof. I have to say, Kristof's tweet about him and George bunking together certainly got my attention. You can read about said bunking, as well as find a link to their coverage here. George was on Larry King tonight as well. I was sorta hoping he'd be on 360 instead. First of all, Anderson actually knows what he's talking about in regards to the region and also, I'm a bit bummed about being denied the Cooper-Clooney split screen. That's a whole lot of hotness there and...wait, what was I saying?

Last up, we have an Erica piece on Michelle Obama's preparations for the first official White House dinner. Fancypants!

The "shot" tonight is Ben Stiller at the Oscars doing his best imitation of Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman. That was actually pretty hilarious. I love Natalie Portman's, "You look like you work at a Hasidic meth lab." Honestly, my jury's still out on Joaquin. Drugs, breakdown, or greatest punking ever? I dunno!

Anyway, Anderson then goes on to very seriously pimp the "raging" debate over vegetables, (those of the green variety to be precise) taking place on the blog. The whole thing started when Anderson made a random throwaway comment (as is his wont) stating he doesn't like green food. Next thing you know, people are hypothesizing that broccoli is an alien plot to turn us into zombies. Seriously, that's a quote. Which is ridiculous because broccoli is delicious. Lima beans on the other hand? You just know those bastards are hiding something.

On one of the webcasts, Erica ticked off a bunch of green foods and Anderson made a disgusted face to all of them, except peas. I'm pretty sure he even balked at lettuce. Lettuce! I must have seen that wrong. No one can be that weird...said the girl who won't eat pasta. But we're not talking about me here, people. Going back to peas, someone once told me that when they were kids they would hide them in their milk, which is just...ew. That grosses me out. The thought of it has ruined me for peas, though not milk, ironically.

Other stuff on the webcast included Erica putting forth the notion that maybe their procurement of a second microphone has been hampered by a conspiracy plot lead by Anderson. See, that's what I've been saying. Also, Erica uses the term "fancypants," which given my affinity for the word, makes her my new best friend. I don't know why adding "pants" to the end of a word raises its amusement level, but it totally does. Oh, and they're still working on getting that new mic turned off. It's starting to become comical. Hardest off switch evah!

Finally, shoutout to Jack Gray. His Oscar live-blog rocked. I can't believe that lasted four hours. It's a few hours shy of my live chatting record from a couple years back (plus I live blogged Hurricane Ike for five hours last year), but still. Time flies when you're having fun. Or, you know, something less cliched and cheesy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Did TV News Miss Point In Covering Stimulus Plan?

There were plenty of familiar faces on-screen during TV coverage of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, people like James Carville, Laura Ingraham, Karl Rove, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Joe Trippi and Dick Morris.

What it lacked, some critics suggest, were people with real expertise in what the $787 billion plan will mean for the economy and for communities and individuals. In short, it was treated like just another political battle.

Of the 681 people who appeared as guests on a dozen cable news and four network Sunday morning talk shows in the three weeks that ended last Sunday, only 41, or 6 percent, were economists, said the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America.


Two shows the group monitored, hosted by CNN's Anderson Cooper and Campbell Brown, had no economists during the three-week period. By far, the most economists on any show (10) were on Fox's new Glenn Beck show.

(Read more)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Continued Discussion Of The Economic Rescue Plans, Obama Criticized As Not Hopey Enough, Foreclosure Court, And The Recession Hurts The Sexin

Hi everyone. We kick things off with the BREAKING NEWS tonight that the Silver Falls Bank of Oregon is going down. Another one bites the dust. That's the 14th bank failure of the year, bringing whispers of the other "N" word: nationalization. Actually, at this point it's more than whispers--some prominent politicians are flat out saying we might have to nationalize some of the banks. What's that noise you hear? I believe that's the conservatives of the country collectively screaming, "ohmigod, socialism!" This should be fun.

In an Ed Henry piece, we learn that President Obama gave a little lecture to the nation's mayors today regarding accountability for that stimulus money they're taking home. The general message? "You are on notice!" And he's wearing that I-ain't-playin' face. You know, the one that makes you think that even though he's not saying it out loud, in his head, he's totally adding a word after "notice." The mayors, however, aren't exactly trembling in their boots because they've been getting called out right and left by their constituents. They just want the cash--even the ones that opposed the stimulus. Oh, and they know what you're thinking.

No, it's not hypocrisy to oppose a bill and then put your hand out for its benefits, so shut up about it. In fact, apparently it's even a-okay to oppose the bill and then travel around your state touting the awesome stuff you put in the bill, which is exactly what my senator, Kit Bond, has been doing. Lovely. Fear not, people. There might be some evidence of integrity out there. Republican governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mark Sanford of South Carolina have stated they will not use some of the stimulus for their states, though one wonders what the definition of "some" is. After Ed's piece, Anderson Cooper notes this week has been brutal and asks what's going to happen next week. Zombie attack. Seriously. We've been warned!

Panel time! Tonight's pontificators include Joe Johns, David Gergen, and personal finance expert Clark Howard of HLN. I had planned to take to the Google in order to bring you the exact qualifications of this Clark guy, but, well, it's Friday and I didn't. Instead, I shall pose a question to you: doesn't he kinda look like the lovechild of Rick Moranis and Richard Quest? Sorta, if you squint? Anyway, Anderson asks him about the possibility of nationalizing the banks and he says, "I think it's absolutely the right thing for us to do, especially with the largest banks that are basically zombies now." Ohmigod, I was right! (AC360 Review pauses this review to tell you that I wrote that zombie attack thing down on my notes before Clark Howard was even introduced. How weird is that?! We resume this review, already in progress.)

While I envision undead banks, Clark gives us an explainer on what exactly zombifies an institution. Then Anderson throws to the Gerg, who is not at all down with this nationalization thing. He says everyone he's talking to is really apprehensive about the idea because it wipes out private investors. Personally, I'm going to wave my pom-poms for whatever works. Nationalizing the banks sounds scary, but that's probably because it's been drilled into me that nationalization equals socialism and socialism equals bad. So, who knows?

On now to a clip of a couple of people reacting to the stimulus bill. They're skeptical about how it's going to work and where the money will really go. "Not exactly a wellspring of trust," says Anderson. Yes, because two people is an excellent representation of the county's populace. This moves us into a Joe Johns piece on keeping account of the spending. As I posted before, the administration has launched, which allows citizens to track the spending themselves. So that's, you know, awesome.

Not so awesome is that a lot of money will be going to departments and agencies with no specific direction (though if there was specific direction, wouldn't that make it a dreaded earmark?). This can result in phone marking, which is when Congresscritters lobby for money for pet projects after a big spending bill is passed. Apparently, this isn't exactly new, which makes me wonder why our honesty-keepers are just getting around to calling it out now. Oh well. Better late than never. Good piece.

Transitioning now to a David Mattingly piece on some people's dissatisfaction with Obama's acknowledgment of reality, or as David puts it, "too much mope and not enough hope." I'm not sure if that phrasing is coming solely (or at all) from that Mark Mckinnon piece I linked to last night, but if so, how about giving the guy a little shout out if you're going to use his words two nights in a row? Anyway, now even Bill Clinton is accusing Obama of being a Debbie Downer.

Man, how ironic is it that a year or so ago the Clintons were sometimes mocking Obama for his message of hope, and now that the guy is buckling down to actually do the job, he's being urged to lighten up. The man can't win. I completely agree that he has to be careful to not talk down the markets, but geez, man up, America. After David's piece, we bounce back to the panel and the Gerg says he agrees with Clinton, noting that FDR and Reagan always projected a sense that we would ultimately prevail. Uh, hasn't Obama been saying that constantly? Yeah, he doesn't sugarcoat how bad things are, but he also says he's confident we'll get through. I mean, hello!

Next up, we have a piece from Gary Tuchman that details a day in the life of a foreclosure court in Florida. It's called the rocket docket because it handles a thousand cases a day, which is pretty sad. From Gary we learn that, "Foreclosures in Florida sometimes take a year and require a judge's approval." In the rocket docket that usually means a quick once over and signature. One woman shown lost her husband and is now losing her home. Man, life is just so completely not fair. But another woman was surprised with more time from her bank. This was an interesting--though pretty sad--piece.

Moving on, we next have a piece from Tom Foreman, which covers more outrage over the housing bailout. Right off the bat, we're "treated" to a clip of a guy who thinks it's all just an evil Democratic plan to get people dependent on the government, so they'll continue to vote for them. Wow. Way to find a guy spouting one of the most extreme right wing talking points out there. Then we get examples of people being mad on blogs. I guess there are no blogs of people being reasonable about the plan, at least not according to CNN.

We also get a clip of that Rick Santelli rant I linked to last night. The White House has now responded, essentially telling him to read the plan. I went on my own rant about all this last post, so tonight I'll just say that if someone (perhaps Rick Santelli) has a better solution on how to fix the housing market without rewarding those that made bad choices, I am all ears. Otherwise, to again quote my friend, "Life's not fair. Don't be an asshole." This was a fairly one-sided piece. The news loves its controversy.

On now to discussion and question-taking with Clark Howard and Donna Rosato, senior writer at "Money" magazine. Again, I don't really know what makes these people experts, so moving on.

Next up, we have a piece from Erica Hill on how stress of the recession has left people feeling less than frisky. On the other hand, depressed Wall Streeters are paying for their pleasure more than ever. Mmhm. They better not be using bailout money, that's all I have to say.

I'm going to skip "the shot" tonight and instead give you this video I snagged from Andrew Sullivan's blog. It's an awesome explainer of how we got into our current economic mess. Seriously, must watch:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Economy Continues To Suck, Outrage Over The Rescue Plan, Canada Lurves Obama, Follow Up On Child Shooter, And Jack Gray Pops Up On The Webcast

Hi all. A blogger is tired. I'm going to steamroll through this thing, hit on the webcast, and call it a night. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Okey-dokey? We kick things off at the Wall of Doom with Ali Velshi, who talks unemployment and makes us all very sad. Anderson Cooper then throws him a question from ever-present 360 blogger, Cindy, regarding the housing rescue plan and whether or not there is a way to tell the difference between innocent victims and those who were irresponsible. Answer: Not so much. But hold that thought.

Next up, we have a Candy Crowley piece that details some of the outrage related to that prior answer. People are upset about having their tax dollars used to bail out people who made poor choices and tried to live beyond their means. I'm not one of the poor-choice people, so I'm annoyed too, but I'm also finding the anger level to be a tad ridiculous--or at least over dramatic. The fact of the matter is that we're in deep here, people. The individuals who are in trouble are causing everyone's property to be devalued. Helping them helps everyone. Should we let everything collapse just because we think some people aren't worthy of being saved? That's ludicrous.

So, to everyone who wants to automatically oppose this plan because they're mad about who it will help, as my friend so sagely remarked, "Life's not fair. Don't be an asshole." I need that on a bumper sticker. Look, nobody ever promised me puppies and rainbows. Yes, some people who deserve to be slapped upside the head are instead going to get a government bailout, but that's just the way it has to be to save us all. Plus, it's important to remember that many people could afford their houses just fine before everything started collapsing and jobs were lost left and right. There are many innocents hurting here.

I just really hope people keep their heads over this thing because so far some of the TeeVee people have...not. Have you all seen the crazy rant from Rick Santelli? The dude is on the floor at the Chicago Board of Trade going off like he's about to start a populist revolution against Obama's plan. Then he points to all the people around cheering as evidence that America is fed up. Yeah, all those Americans at the Chicago Board of Trade. Those are totally the ones who are hurting. What. A. Tool.

Our panel tonight is rocked by John King, Gloria Borger, and Joe Johns, but I'm skipping most of it. Pretty much the main thing of note to me is this from Anderson: "I read one writer today saying that the president should be more spreading hope, trying to spread hope, that he's been doom and gloom. I think this writer said, you know, less mope, more hope." Our anchor is being unhelpfully vague regarding the writer's name, but the Google tells me he's been reading this piece from Mark McKinnon.

I actually agree with him regarding the Great Depression stats, but he totally looses me when he starts praising the last commander in chief's optimism. I mean there's optimism and then there's just blind stupidity. But I digress. I'm just annoyed at his overall "don't worry, be happy," premise. We can't fix the economy by reading "The Secret," you know? Obama is being pragmatic and talking to us like adults. I for one am happy about that. I love hope, but I also love reality.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece on a fraud case, but I'm going to take a pass. Sorry, my brain battery is low tonight. Instead, I shall move on to Erica Hill informing us that there is now a Bernie Madoff ringtone set to the theme music of Halloween. It's pretty creepy. Erica then asks us to guess whose ringtone she's playing and we learn it belongs to none other than 360 blogger Jack Gray. Now, when I was watching this segment I was all, "yeah, right. And his dog is really a drunk too."

Transitioning now to an Ed Henry piece on O Canada. Well, specifically we're talking about Obama's trip to the country, and he's quite the hit with those up north. Our prez talks NAFTA, Afghanistan, and the financial crisis. The only downside to the trip is that it's cold! After Ed's piece, he tells us he got a little something to warm himself up. "I got one of those beaver tails. It's just out of the oven, and you can see the whipped cream in the shape of an 'O.' They actually call these Obama tails." Then he takes a bite. So, to sum up, Ed just took a bite of Obama's tail. Yes, my maturity level really is that low right now. I giggled about this to a friend during the show and not missing a beat, she replied, "well, I'm sure it's tastier than bush." Oh. Mah. God. Double entendre overload! I better stop now before I have to put a disclaimer on my blog.

We then move on to a Gary Tuchman piece that follows up on that story of the eight-year-old kid allegedly shooting his dad and another guy. You might remember the kid was then interrogated by the cops without council and confessed to the crime. Now he has plead guilty to negligent homicide, which means probation until he's 18. He'll have to undergo regular mental evaluation, but will avoid juvy. After Gary's piece, we're joined by Jeffrey Toobin for the legal analysis and he thinks what went down is pretty reasonable. Me too. Sad though.

I'm going to skip Erica's Michelle Obama piece and the "shot," so I can go straight to the webcast. I actually haven't been watching with any regularity lately, but I just happened to catch a special appearance by Jack Gray. I think that happened last time too. Must be fate, baby. Anyhoo, Jack has some business to attend to--that business being the pimping of his Oscar Live Blog (this Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!).

You might remember that the Golden Globes Live Blog was a rousing success, so this one can only be better. No pressure or anything, Jack. Also? I stand corrected on the Bernie Madoff thing. It really is Jack's ringtone, as demonstrated to us when he calls himself using Erica Hill's phone (does this mean Sammy is really a drunk?!). Now they totally have each other's digits, so they can make late night phone calls to bitch about Anderson's enormous ego (Edit to add: I kid because I love, and I edit because some people can't recognize a joke).

The spooky Halloween music brings up the subject of scary movies and we learn that Erica is a total wuss and will not watch them. Jack was apparently made to watch Jaws when he was a wee child and it left a scar. Ooh, I have a similar story. I was shown the Exorcist when I was a kid. Trauma, people, trauma! I like scary movies (Poltergeist is probably my fave), but anything that involves possession freaks me the hell out. Yes, that includes those stupid Chucky movies. Shut up.

Oh, also? Erica might have let some good news of Jack's out of the bag. It was a little unclear. So, if true, congrats Jack! And smooth save by Erica.

Finally, they did it again. The webcast mic was on for about 25 minutes tonight. I'm pretty sure they knew it was on at least part of the time because there was much talk regarding how to get the thing off, which had me giggling over the question of, "how many CNN employees does it take to turn off a microphone?" But they also know there's a risk of an open mic because there was some whispering about how that had happened before.

So, what did we hear? The crew and Erica betting on how many seconds Kevin could spin his wedding ring. For serious. I only blog that part because Erica mentioned it as well during one of the actual webcasts. I had to have myself a little chuckle as I listened to the open mic commotion and then turned to watch Anderson with his "serious reporter" face on, all furrowed- brow, talking about the economy, and having no idea his crew back in New York is spinning rings in the studio.

Anyway, the whole open mic thing makes me very nervous because it's only a matter of time before something goes out that shouldn't and though I certainly won't blog or mention it, somebody out there will. Too bad there's no where to send a "hey, your mic is on!" warning. They're certainly welcome to email me an address (confidentiality ensured) and I would totally be that warner. Or, you know, they could just figure out how to turn off their mics.

Okay, this got way longer than I intended. Bed for me. That'll do it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Home Rescue Plan Unveiled, Eric Holder's Controversial Comments, Cartoon Draws Criticism, Animal Planet Interview, And More Octuplets

Hi everyone. We've got Anderson Cooper back anchoring for us tonight, which I was not expecting. Take a rest sometime dude, it's okay. Speaking of returns, as I predicted last night, the BREAKING NEWS is baaaack. It seems Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is in the lead when it comes to picking a health secretary. Hopefully this time will be less Daschle-like. Ed Henry joins us live to tell us no final decision has been made, but Sebelius is liked by both parties. Cool. Can I have my universal healthcare now? Pleeeeeeaase?

In a subsequent Ed piece, we learn that when it comes to housing, things are not going well. Not well at all. Lots of foreclosures, which have lead to Obama whipping out a new rescue plan. Ed tells us that between this rescue plan and the stimulus, the price tag is going to hit approximately $862 billion and the implication is we should be very, very shocked and perhaps a bit outraged over the cost. And it is astronomical.

But let's not forget that the Iraq war is estimated to cost up between one and two trillion dollars when all is said and done, money that should have never been spent. Imagine if that money had been used on our own country's problems. For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: "It might have been." That's right, yesterday I brought you Notorious B.I.G., today it's John Greenleaf Whittier. You never know what you're going to get from AC360 Review.

On now to a Candy Crowley piece that's all about Obama's housing rescue plan and how some people don't like it. There's a guy in New Jersey that's not pleased. Hey look, there are people on the 360 blog who are angered as well. And you'll never find uninformed opinions there. The big rub here is that people are upset the plan is going to help those who made bad choices. So, is that true? Damned if I know, and I don't think anyone else does exactly at this point either. Surely there are other things to fill a package with than blog comments and one New Jersian's opinion.

For discussion, David Walker (former comptroller general of the United States) returns from yesterday and we're also joined by real estate "guru" Barbara Corcoran. David seems to be less of a Mr. Crankypants about this plan than he was regarding the stimulus. As for the criticism in Candy's piece, Barbara doesn't much care about fault. She tells us the attitude about houses was different back then and we need to move forward.

Anderson hits on the fairness angle with David, who notes we don't even have all the details yet. From Barbara we learn that the bill is "so darn complicated." So...yeah. If the "experts" on the TeeVee don't even know what they're talking about, I'm certainly not going to attempt any analysis at this point. Instead, watch the TARP song and good luck getting it out of your head.

Transitioning now to a clip of Attorney General Eric Holder giving a speech about race relations, and causing a bit of controversy. Basically? He calls us a nation of cowards, noting that we work and socialize with each other irrespective of race, but come the weekend, it's like the past 50 years of progress never happened. Yikes. We need a panel for this bad boy. Contestants tonight include David Gergen, Roland Martin, and Ron Christie, former Bushie. Gee, I wonder how this debate is going to go? Pretty much likes this: "He's right!" says Roland. "He's wrong!" says Ron. Oh good lord.

You gonna clean this up for us, Gerg? "It seems to me that, if you put aside the question of whether this gave needless offense to many by calling us a nation of cowards, if you put aside the question of whether he should do this as attorney general speak out this way, I just think it's inaccurate to say that we're not talking about race," he says. Thank you. What he said.

It's true we're no where near a post-racial society yet, but it's not true that we're completely walled off from each other. Roland's off the mark there. I live in a mixed neighborhood. I went to a mixed school. I go to a mixed church with a black pastor. I work in a mixed office. I refuse to believe I'm some kind of anomaly.

This leads Ron and Roland into a loud back-and-forth that no one can understand. It's all good though, because while our anchor was away, he apparently bought himself a little can of whoop-ass, which he proceeds to open all over this joint, "Guys, guys, guys, I just want to make a point. Please do not talk over each other. Please don't yell at each other. It is so annoying for viewers. And know a lot of shows do it. It really just drives me nuts." Booyah! Somebody ate their take-no-crap Wheaties this morning. Good for him! That's right yellers, if you don't get straight, Anderson will mess you up. Or, you know, politely ask you to stop. Whichever.

I swear, people, it must be Race Day or something because now we're moving on to discussion about that cartoon that ran in the New York Post. Critics are charging it's a racist portrayal of Obama. For their part, the paper stands by the cartoon, stating it's a "clear parody of a current news event." Anderson throws it to the Gerg for reaction. "Are we having a full moon tonight?" he asks. Bwah!

David, you come from the land of Washington--isn't it always a full moon? As for his opinion, he thinks it's dripping with racism. I was actually a little on the fence with this, but if the Gerg thinks it's racist, that's how I'm going to lean. I just realized that if the Gerg asked me to jump off a bridge, I'd probably do it. Because you know he'd have, like, a totally reasonable explanation for wanting you to do so.

Ron thinks the cartoon is a-okay and as a "proud black man" he doesn't view a chimp as an African American. Also? We're totally wrong here because as Ron notes, the president didn't even write the bill. To that I say, oh COME ON! That is a straw man argument to an epic degree. Then we're back to Ron and Roland going back-and-forth again, with Roland obviously viewing the cartoon as racist. Ron even starts bringing up all the occurrences in recent history that could be construed as racist. Because that's really helpful right now.

Save us, David Gergen! Save us! For his part, the Gerg is so flummoxed he's shaking his head and totally face-palming at one point. I think it was right before Roland calls Ron "delusional." Good times. Well, at least the Gerg was able to get a little of his reason in there. These debates should come with a warning label: should not be attempted without David Gergen.

Now that we're all wound up, we're moving on to the animal attack story--Travis the chimp to be precise. The Today Show interviewed his owner, Sandra Herold, who apparently treated the animal like her own son, even keeping his drawings. This leads us into an interview with Animal Planet's Dave Salmoni to talk about having chimps as pets. I was hoping for Jeff Corwin here, but perhaps this is more of Dave's thang. Anyway, the general message is that chimps should not be pets.

Dave notes that he's a big guy, but a chimp could rip him apart if it so desired. And he's fought, "lions and tigers and bears." Raise your hand if you followed that up with, "oh my!" Anderson then brings up how the woman anthropomorphized (SAT word, kids!) Travis and they talk about laws regarding this sort of thing. These kind of attacks are so rare that I'm not sure why this couldn't all just be a headline, but at least we get to see Anderson talking to someone other than a political analyst for a change.

On now to the news that Octomom might get foreclosed on. I am...not surprised. Also? The show apparently has a strange fascination with women who spit out litters of children, because they've found another set of octuplets--this one in Texas, born in 1989. In a Randi Kaye piece we learn that sadly one died, but the other seven are thriving, along with a little sister. Any advice for the new octuplets? Don't fight, says the kids.

Anyway, they're cute, and Randi is actually very sweet with them, but really, can we put this story to rest please? After her piece, we get this from Anderson: "Don't fight. Easier said than done." Word to that. When I was ten, I was given the choice of living in our spooky (to a kid) basement or continuing to share a room with my psychotic (to me at the time) sister. I went with the basement. There might have been some weird noises, but there was a lot less drama.

That'll do it for me. The show was okay. I'm still waiting to see some economists. At least we finally got to see Roland told to shut it. I know I've blogged for him to simma down a few times before, but it seems like he keeps getting worse. And that Ron guy, like, dropped from another planet or something. Seriously, where do they find these people? Anyway...until we meet again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stimulus Signed Into Law, Auto Bailout Talk, States In Trouble, More Troops To Afghanistan, TV Station Founder Beheads Wife, And Chimp Attack

Hola people. I'm feeling multicultural today. John King continues to keep Anderson Cooper's seat warm while our anchor is absent. Speaking of absences, no BREAKING NEWS? Could it be so? Weird. Don't worry, it'll be back tomorrow. Anyhoo, we're going straight to Ed Henry live, who talks a bit about how our prez is kicking ass and taking names. According to one senior administration official, Obama has made three times as many accomplishments in 28 days than what FDR did in a year. Oh really now? Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In a subsequent Ed piece, we learn that the stimulus has finally FINALLY been signed into law. It is the largest economic recovery plan in U.S. history. Try not think about that part, people. Obama is not naive enough to think our economic problems will soon go away, but he declares this the beginning of the end. The show is officially on the road regarding infrastructure projects. They've already started work on a bridge in my state of Missouri. We do not mess around. Now that the economy is getting all stimulated, the Republicans want Obama to tackle the housing crisis and we are assured that is totally next on his to-do list. Our leader isn't just juggling the domestic issues either--he just sent 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Quite a couple weeks, huh?

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on the failing auto companies. General Motors and Chrysler have their hands out for over $21 billion of our money, claiming that without it they'll go under. The companies warn that bankruptcy would be a disaster in terms of jobs, but the new efficiency they're promising us would also involve slashing upwards of 50,000 jobs, as well as cutting back on production. On the union angle, the UAW has claimed to have reached an "understanding," but as of now we are detailess. After Joe's piece, he and John talk pros and cons of just letting the companies go into bankruptcy. To quote the Notorious B.I.G. (as I often do), "Mo money, mo problems," though I'm guessing this isn't quite the right context.

Our inevitable pontification session tonight has a slight whiff of new panel smell. Sure, we've got stalwart David Gergen, who always rocks the joint with an aroma of sandalwood and optimism, but we're also joined by only occasional guest Pamela Gentry (BET) and newbie (to my knowledge) David Walker, former comptroller of the United States. The Gerg starts off by handing out some stimulus praise, but he's not down with the aforementioned FDR comparison. Yeah, I think I'm with him on that one. I'm also with him in that I think another stimulus is very possible, and unfortunately probably quite necessary. This one was good, but not big enough.

Walker seems not at all pleased with the stimulus, ranting about how less than a third is even truly stimulative in the first place. One thing I hate about newbies is I have no idea where this guy is coming from. Does he lean left? Does he lean right? Everybody has an agenda. Or maybe he's crazy. Hey, don't think just because he's on the TeeVee he's a sane individual. I mean, have you met Congress? I'm just saying it's hard to take in what he's dishing out when I don't know if he's a credible person.

Anyway, there's also auto bailout talk and the Gerg points out how whatever decision is made, it is going to result in pain today, whereas the stimulus money we won't feel for a while. Speaking of the stimulus, the Obama administration has launched so we can keep an eye on where that money is going. Pretty cool. I can remember when people would have to sue under the FOIA to get that kind of information.

On now to a Tom Foreman piece, regarding another fine mess California has gotten itself into. But this ain't no Laurel and Hardy sketch, and actually, California isn't the only state with big budget troubles. While it's true that they have 20,000 state workers facing layoffs, in Kansas people might have to wait to get their state tax refunds, Medicaid reimbursements, and school money. In fact, 43 states started this year short on funds, so the stimulus didn't come a moment too soon. Unfortunately, when it kicks in is another matter. Sorry Kansans, I hope you didn't need those checks immediately. Good job, Arnie.

After Tom's piece, we bounce back to the panel and the only thing of note is when David Walker starts whining that the only part of the economy that has been growing lately is the government. Cue the Gerg: "David, if the private sector could do this, it would be fine. But the private sector can't. The government has got to grow. It's the only institution we have left to help put some steam back in this economy right now." There's that reasonableness we all know and love.

Transitioning now to discussion with Peter Bergen regarding those 17,000 troops Obama just sent to Afghanistan. Apparently, generals on the ground wanted 30,000, but Peter thinks these numbers right now are reasonable given what a task it is to bring troops in country. We're also informed the increased military presence is no doubt related to the upcoming presidential election. Peter doesn't think Obama will be successful in getting NATO countries to help with the manpower. C'mon, Germany, France, man up. John then brings up how Pakistan is negotiating with the Taliban (oh yay), but Peter points out that the US was thinking of doing it too in Afghanistan, so there's that. Of course, those peace agreements from a couple years ago or so could pretty much be filed under "unhelpful." What a mess.

On now to a Gary Tuchman piece that covers the news of a husband beheading his wife. Lovely. But that's not even the half of it. Muzzammil Hassan is the founder of Bridges TV, a television station in Buffalo that aims to counteract negative Muslim stereotypes. His wife, Aasiya, recently filed for divorce and he reacted to this news by...beheading. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a negative Muslim stereotype. This story is the definition of irony. Alanis Morissette could write a song about it. Perhaps most tragic is that the couple has two young children. How do you get through life after your dad has beheaded your mom?

Finally tonight, we have a piece from David Mattingly on a chimp attack. The chimp's name was Travis and apparently he had done commercial work, but on Monday he almost killed a woman as she got out of her car. Travis's owner then ran out and started stabbing him with a butcher knife and he was then shot by police before succumbing to his wounds. Good lord. We get a clip of our old pal Jeff Corwin, who pretty much says these animals should not be pets. Legislation is currently going through Congress.

The "shot" tonight is the Japanese finance minister plastered. Or is he? You be the judge. For his part, the guy claims he was tired, but resigned anyway. The tired excuse isn't completely out of the question. It can happen. Like, say you're on TV for a bazillion hours over a really important couple of days, get no sleep, and then go back on TV. Youtubable stuff can happen. Aw Anderson, I link with love.

The show was pretty good, though I'm still comfuzzled over David Walker's deal. Always good to see Peter Bergen. Last night I gave you guys some links to some newsies who have gotten on board the twitter train. Well, some more have joined the fray, but I want to specifically point out Ann Curry because she's currently sending out tweets and blogging from Chad, so I thought some of you might be interested.

The whole twitter thing is kinda exploding among our journalist friends. I predict many more will join up within the next month. Our anchor might even feel pressure to actually use his account. Also of possible interest to you, Dubai is collapsing. Craziness. I guess the dream couldn't live forever. Finally, poor Zain Vergee. Poor, poor Zain Vergee:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Obama Wising Up, Home Foreclosures, Flight 3407's Last Moments, UFO's (Um, What?), And Sexting (Yeah, You Read That Right)

Hi everyone. Happy New Week! It seems Anderson Cooper has skedaddled off somewhere and left us to sort through this economic mess without his silver-topped guidance. It's all good though. John King is here to hold down the fort, and after anchoring his own brand-spanking new show that airs for four--yes four--hours straight, this should be a cinch. So, let's do this thang. The BREAKING NEWS tonight is that General Motors will be receiving $4 billion more in loans to prevent it from going under.

We go live to Ed Henry for more, and in a subsequent piece we learn that Obama is on the road again, going places that he's never been, seeing things that he might never see again, and he can't wait to get on the road again.'s possible I'm confusing him with Willie Nelson. They do look similar. Anyhoo, Obama is undertaking these road trips because the stimulus fight has taught him he needs to get out of Washington and talk to the people directly.

Another lesson learned is our prez will no longer be putting such a focus on bipartisanship--at least in terms of success and failure. Yay! Finally. The other side doesn't want to play. He just has to accept that. Obama also notes that maybe he shouldn't have given the Republicans all those tax cuts right off the bat. Hm, you think? Obama just wants to get things done; the Republicans want to play politics. Sometimes I think this guy really is everything he campaigned as being. Wouldn't that be something?

Next up, we have Tom Foreman making use of that nifty wall technology again, by analyzing something not so nifty: home foreclosures. The numbers are bad (a million homes foreclosed in the past year and a half) and only set to get worse. To combat the problem, the administration is using $50 billion of the bailout money to attempt to stabilize prices. There are no hard details from Treasury Secretary Geithner as of yet, but Tom takes us through what is likely to go down. This was a good explainer.

I hope you're in the mood for pontification because it's about that time. David Gergen resumes his usual place on the panel and he's joined by Gloria Borger and Joe Johns. Of interest to me here was the discussion about Afghanistan. I appreciate the Gerg's point about there needing to be a plan and I hope the media will hold Obama's feet to the fire about that before he commits any additional troops. I agree with Joe that some liberal Democrats might not be on-board regarding this issue, but I think if there is an actual goal and a plan for achieving that goal, the reaction might be pretty supportive.

On now to a Gary Tuchman piece that brings us more wackiness regarding Roland Burris. You thought we were done with this guy and the whole Blagojevich thing, didn't you? Okay, long story short: Burris is asked under oath if he talked to Blago's brother, answers that he talked to "friends" about his desire to be appointed, files affidavit to clarify that he did talk to brother, but is safely in senate seat before affidavit is made public. The big question is, did Burris commit perjury, and if he did, could he be charged?

Gary thinks no because the statement was so vague, "And vagueness is often your friend, often a defense attorney's friend, when facing the possibility of perjury charges," he tells us. I had to chuckle over, "vagueness is your friend," and I guess I'm not the only one who found the phrase amusing. "Gary Tuchman creating a new bumper sticker for the politicians tonight: 'Vagueness is your friend,'" says John. I knew Google was my friend, but I had no idea about "vagueness."

Transitioning now to Randi Kaye at the big wall to explain Flight 3407's final 26 seconds. According to information obtained from the flight data recorder, the plane rolled violently and dropped 800 feet in a mere five seconds. It had been flying on autopilot, which was not recommended in those icy conditions. It's also noted that the plane crashed facing away from the airport, though it's not known why. This was all pretty terrifying and one has to wonder if it was necessary. Did we really need to know all that? I hope there wasn't anyone watching who knew someone in the crash.

Moving on now to a Chris Lawrence piece on a conundrum our prez has involving his personal safety versus paying a boatload of money. See, Obama's helicopter, Marine One, could really use a makeover. We need Ty Pennington up in this joint. Well, if Ty Pennington knew how to make a helicopter really safe and James Bond-y, anyway. Unfortunately, souping up this ride costs a pretty penny--$400 million. In this economy, it has critics raising their eyebrows.

But apparently the back story is that the previous commander in chief gave the overhauling to contractor Lockheed Martin and they jacked up the price, so this is not all on Obama. Of course, he did say this during the campaign: "We should be spending a lot more money trying to figure out how to get our energy policy right than we should on helicopters for the president." Ruh-roh. I guess we'll see how this plays out, but I'm thinking non issue.

Next up, we have a David Mattingly piece on a fireball and sonic boom witnessed in Texas. At first, experts attributed the weirdness to space debris, but then changed their tune and said it was a natural phenomenon. Not everyone believes that, of course. In fact, UFO sightings are way up in Texas. I think the "in Texas" is the relevant part of that sentence. I mean, hello! It's a big state with a lot of crazy. Speaking of crazy, one "UFO researcher" thinks there have been battles in space. Space battles! Good lord. Was there no other news today?

Finally tonight, we have an Erica Hill piece on the phenomenon of "sexting," which is when teenagers text each other nude or otherwise scandalous pictures of themselves. Wow. When I was that age, just the thought of doing something like that probably would have made me spontaneously combust from embarrassment. But not these kids, I guess.

And the thing is, the act goes far beyond embarrassment--in some cases teens are being charged with child pornography. I think that goes a little far. All I know is that I don't think my future children will be having cell phones. Or computers. Or cameras. Basically, we're going to be Amish is what I'm saying.

The "shot" tonight is Erica again. Did you know she is a newly-ordained minister? A woman of many talents, that Erica Hill. She tried out her skills on Valentine's Day, marrying a couple on CBS's The Early Show. Very nice.

Not anything wildly exciting on the webcast, but we did learn that Erica got a new microphone. This lead her to ask, if we can get one new mic, why not two? She says she's going to talk to Anderson about that, but I think I already know the answer to this question. Hint: Anderson has not exactly shown enthusiasm during talks of a second mic acquisition.

In other random news, David Gregory and David Shuster have both recently joined Twitter and are very enthusiastic about it. We're talking Rick Sanchez levels of tweeting here, people. Gregory has even been posting pictures from the Meet the Press green room. Anyway, I just found their new-technology excitement to be adorable, so I thought I'd share. Oh, also, semi-new to the Twitter-verse is CNN's own funnyman, Jack Gray. Now we can read his comic-stylings in 140 characters or less. That's all for now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Horrible Crash Of Flight 3407 In Buffalo, NY, Stimulus Bill Finally Passes, And An Interview With Ben Affleck Regarding The Congo

Hi everybody. What a week, huh? Our inevitable BREAKING NEWS tonight is that the Senate will be voting on the stimulus bill soon. And they're not playing when they say soon. But hold that thought because we're first covering the horrible plane crash of Flight 3407 into a house in Buffalo, New York, complete with "Fatal Flight" graphic (a bit much, don't you think?). I have to say, I'm kinda ticked at the universe right now. I mean, could we not have a little more time to savor the awesome story of Captain Sully and all those lives saved before our parade was not only rained on, but completely demolished by this terrible news? And all these planes going down is not helping my wariness of flying, which recently became more complicated because I'm pretty sure it was on my flight to Florida where I caught whatever it was that turned into my near-fatal pneumonia. So to sum up, planes? Not a big fan.

A piece from Anderson Cooper gives us the basics: all 49 on board were killed, as was a man in the house (I think last night I blogged 48 on board--sorry). It is the first fatal U.S. commercial air crash since 2006. Ice is suspected as the culprit. There was no indication from the crew that anything was wrong before the plane simply disappeared from radar. Victims of note include a 9-11 widow who did a lot of work on behalf of the families. Man, talk about the unfairness of life. As Anderson does his voice over, we're being shown I-Report video and then we hear from the wife of the man who was killed on the ground. She's devastated, obviously. I think I'd like to go back to when we were just worrying about the imminent collapse of the world economy.

Next up, we go to Jason Carroll near the crash site and he tells us they already recovered the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. Then we're on to an interview with Susan Reinhardt, a woman whose decision to get dinner and take a later flight probably just saved her life. About a decade ago, Gwyneth Paltrow was in a movie called "Sliding Doors," which showed two versions of one woman's life, based on whether she caught a train or didn't. It's amazing to me how something so small--sometimes a decision you don't even really think about--can completely change your life. For example, Ms. Reinhardt tells us she was talking to another woman who wanted to get home fast to see her boyfriend, so she opted to take Flight 3407 and now she's dead. So sad.

On now to an interview with retired airline captain Jim Tilmon for speculation about the cause of the crash. As great a job as Anderson did with the "breaking news" last night, I couldn't help thinking how I wished we had the expertise of Miles O'Brien and how his firing keeps being proven over and over to be one of the worst decisions CNN has ever made. I knew it wouldn't take Miles long to weigh in and he has with a very informative blog post (and I thought it was very sweet of Roland Martin to leave a comment). He then followed up late tonight (I know because he tweeted it!) with another post that links to a NASA video on icing for those interested.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece on that aforementioned 9-11 widow, Beverly Eckert, co-founder of Voices of September 11th. She was a big advocate for 9-11 families, pushing for the 9-11 Commission and enaction of its recommendations She had recently met with President Obama on what to do about terror suspects. It sounds like her dedication will be sorely missed. What are the odds of both members of a couple dying in two separate incidents related to plane crashes?

Transitioning now to Tom Foreman at what I'm going to refer to as the Poor Man's Magic Wall or maybe the Ghetto Magic Map. I don't know. I'll work on it. He's telling us what's in the stimulus bill and moving stuff around on the wall with his hands like John King did during the election. Can't let that technology go to waste, I suppose. Anyway, this breakdown is good, but still no economic analysis. In fact, the whole way this is framed in terms of winners and losers is kinda messed up. I'm sure there was lobbying going on and everything, but it all goes back to turning things into a game, when it's very much not. Tom even calls money for transportation, "sort of a jackpot." I mean, transportation is kinda important, you know?

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on accountability related to the bill. It's so huge, ensuring everything goes as planned is going to be tough. Lawmakers have tried to provide themselves some insurance by giving more funding to the federal inspectors general and GAO, but it may not be enough. At least they're trying. Now everyone just needs to pay attention as the money starts going out. Of course, that's easier said than done.

Panel time! Tonight we're pontificating with David Gergen, Joe Johns, and Dana Bash. They begin by playing a clip of John Boehner having a freakout that no one has read the bill and Anderson asks how often the congresscritters vote on bills they haven't read. "Quite a bit. I mean, it happens all the time," says Joe. Isn't that awful? But I thought it was pretty common knowledge at this point. Remember when Michael Moore went to D.C. and read Congress the Patriot Act (yeah, they didn't read that one either)? Good times. It's pointed out that Congress peeps are busy, much too busy, apparently, to read bills, so the task is often given to aides. This can lead to things being slipped into legislation with no one knowing. Awesomeness, huh?

Dana wants to get in on the bill-reading discussion and she's brought a prop: the 1,100 page bill. "I mean, I can barely lift it," she says. Well, to be fair, you're kinda small. Just saying. Not that I can talk. Okay, so then there's a lot of other conversation, but we're sorta just killing time here, so they can show us the actual vote live. The Senate has been holding it open in order to wait for Senator Sherrod Brown to return from his mother's wake. Finally, he does return, casts his vote, Dick Durbin says some legislature-y stuff, the gavel is banged, and wah lah, we have a vote! Gotta say, that was pretty anti-climatic.

Anderson then brings up how some people see this as a step toward recovery and others see it as some sort of "doom." What he doesn't say is that the doomers are in the minority by a fair degree. Then later he says this: "What's so worrying, I guess, that you have smart people, very smart people on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of this debate who are arguing the exact opposite things. And it's hard to know who's right, and I guess time will tell to some degree." Argh. Stop saying that! Seriously, the whole "smart people on both sides of the aisle" thing is getting really old.

Since he never tells us who WHO these smart people are or the smart things they're saying or gives us proof as to why those things are smart, it renders the whole statement meaningless and makes me think he's just spouting generic crap to look bi-partisan. As I've said before, this is a hard situation because there is no provable exact right answer, but there are these things called economists and the majority of them are on the same page. Seriously Anderson, WTF?

That's pretty much it for the first hour, but tonight during the second hour they ran a taped interview with Ben Affleck about his travels to the Congo. It's very annoying, yet admittedly savvy, that they stuck this in hour two, thus making many of us stick around for almost the whole two hours. (BTW, I can't believe they ran tape in the second hour given the "breaking news" stimulus vote, but whatever.) Of course, if I would have checked the blog, I wouldn't have needed to continue watching since they got the interview online really quickly. And actually, that's the full interview--an edited version made it to air. The interview came about because Affleck has penned a piece about his experiences in the DRC for the recent issue of TIME magazine.

I'm not going to recap the whole interview because I'd really rather you just watch it at the link, but topics discussed include the recent arrest of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, the horrific sexual violence perpetrated against women in the country, and the unbelievable strength of Africans. Ben tells us that in some regions in eastern DRC two out of three women have been raped. It's a stat almost impossible to get your mind around. People may mock him, but in watching the interview, it's clear the guy knows his stuff. I actually did a post back in June related to a special on the Congo he did for Nightline and here's some of the video of that broadcast. Also, our own anchor has done more than his part to bring awareness to the issue, taking the show to the DRC in late September/early October 2006. I blogged it and you can check out my archives if you're interested.

I was very, very pleased to see this interview with Affleck and I'm not sure why they don't do this kind of thing more often. Long time viewers know the things this show (and specifically Anderson) care about--Africa, New Orleans, the wars to a certain extent. But it seems like coverage of them is few and far between. It's completely understandable that CNN can't send their primetime show all the way to Africa with any frequency. I totally get that. Even going to New Orleans now is dicey, what with the huge economic news going on, which, ironically is no doubt affecting CNN's ability to send their people places. What I've never understood is why they seem to have this belief that they can't cover a story unless they go to it.

There are so many opportunities to cover, say, New Orleans, that they're just not taking. For example, I recently linked to Howard Fineman's piece that argued the city should be made a focus of selling the stimulus. They could have had on Howard and covered both the stimulus and New Orleans at the same time. Double win! To be fair, there's questionable synergy going on in that situation (too bad it wasn't a TIME piece), but really it's just an example. It was really smart to have on Affleck and I hope they do that kind of thing more often to bring awareness to stories that for whatever reason CNN can't report themselves.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Gregg Bows Out, The Republican War On Obama, Octomom Coverage (Yes, Still!) And We Stare At Air Force One While Anderson Cooper Fills Time

Hi everyone. Weird headlines going on today. It seems Republican Senator Judd Gregg, President Obama's bipartisan-y nominee for commerce secretary, has suddenly had himself a ponder about the gig and come to the conclusion that, eh, on second thought, no thanks. That brings us to tonight's BREAKING NEWS: Obama's reaction to what appears to be a pretty big diss.

In an Ed Henry piece, we learn that Obama is cool with this latest cold shoulder from the Republicans--publicly anyway. Our prez says he understands Gregg had a change of heart and he's still going to keep working on courting those on the other side. Ok, timeout. Obama we need to have a little talk. Look dude, er, President Dude, I appreciate the attempts at togetherness and singing kumbayah and buying the whole world a Coke and stuff. I do.

You want the Republicans to like you. I get it. But you gotta face facts: they're just not that into you. But don't sweat it, man. Most of the public is smitten. You're young and hip and know how to mobilize a nation online, while the Republicans can't even twitter without an incident (you'd think it'd be hard to get into trouble with only 140 characters, but you'd be wrong). So, don't shut them out--that'd be wrong, but bipartisanship is a two-way street, and if they're not going to play? Screw them.

Moving on to a Tom Foreman piece on the jerkitude of the GOP and their apparent war on Obama. See, after this latest thing with Gregg, Andrew Sullivan declared a war is being waged and 360 has decided to use this as their new narrative. Gotta say, I'm totally on board. In fact, I'd say they're a bit late to the game. Anyway, according to Tom, the GOP is trying to force Obama to either lose his party's support or get closer to them and lose public support (remember, Congress is hated). Eh, I think the public has finally wised up to the Republican's crap this time, but we'll see.

For discussion on this subject, we move to our panel with tonight's seat warmers including David Gergen, John King, and Joe Johns. John explains the whole census controversy, the apparent--or at least given--reason why Gregg dropped out. See, the Commerce Department runs the Census Bureau, which is involved in redrawing the lines for the country's House seats. Where the lines go can determine where the seat falls in terms of party. So in other words, big deal. Just ask Tom Delay. John then tells us the White House wants to take that power out of the hands of the Commerce Department and Gregg saw that as a political ploy.

"But they deny that," says Anderson Cooper. "They say, look, it would still be the same and Gregg would report to the president." Thank you, Anderson, for not allowing John's truthiness to go unchallenged. The census thing is ridiculousness being shrieked about by the base, yet really has no basis in reality, like their hand wringing over the (non) return of the Fairness Doctrine. But what's really disturbing is John's response to Anderson.

He dismissively tells us that Gregg thought he would still be losing power over the census and then he begins his next sentence with, "But, no matter who is right here..." What?! It matters who is right. It's hard to convey why I found this disturbing without showing you the exchange, but my regular readers will recall me recently bemoaning how 360 had taken serious economic news and made it into a political game. This is the same thing. I got the distinct impression from John that to him, this is about politics and nothing but politics. Does he even give one iota about actual truth? This isn't a game; this is our country.

Joe then tells us about all the pressure Gregg was getting for--gasp--working with Obama. But it works the other way too because some Democrats were leaning on Obama for nominating a guy that previously stated he wanted to abolish the Commerce Department. Yeah, I wondered what was up with that too. Kinda reminds me of John Bolten and the U.N., except, you know, without the crazy mustache and total lack of sanity. Anderson turns his attention back to the Gerg--the ever conciliatory Gerg and asks if he really doesn't think the Republicans have declared war on Obama.

"Because, I mean, Pete Sessions, who's head of the Republican Congressional Committee, was citing the Taliban as sort of an example of how to run an insurgent campaign against a larger force." he says. And also? Bwah! I don't know, maybe I'm the only one that finds humor in that. I mean, Anderson is all, "really? You sure? Cos this dude is comparing the GOP to insurgents." But the Gerg stands his ground is basically like, "dude, everyone knows the House is craaaazy." (He says it in a Gerg-like way though.)

According to him, this is some kind of political cultural thing, or about philosophical differences or whatever. Really though, are we surprised? This is the Gerg! I could have written his lines for him tonight. He never thinks the worst of anyone, which unfortunately can make him wrong quite a lot. Love you Gerg, but the Republicans are obstructing. Wake up.

Oh, in between all that panel there was a Candy Crowley piece on tax breaks contained in the stimulus bill. Obama's not getting exactly what he wants. Welcome to Washington.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece about--wait for it--the Octomom! Sigh. I guess I can't blame them. As much as people are talking about her--even in my circle--she must be a ratings bonanza. At least they've (so far) abstained from the latest missing white girl. It seems Greta and Nancy Grace found their next meal ticket. Anyway, apparently Octomom is getting death threats. You don't say? After watching her un-ending media coverage, who could ever have guessed that would happen?

Then there's the Angelina Jolie factor. It seems the chick actually sent the actress letters in the past and now she almost appears to be trying to become her. Whack job. For her part, Jolie is reportedly, "totally creeped out." "Is there a movie in here somewhere?" asks Randi in her voice over. Oh God, no.

On now to a David Mattingly piece on singer Chris Brown and how he allegedly attacked his girlfriend, singer Rihanna, and, um, is this Entertainment Tonight? I don't really know anything about these people and the one interesting thing to me about this story isn't even in David's package. See, usually news organizations keep a victim's name mum, but the Los Angeles Times totally outed Rihanna because they say the public nature of the case made her "fair game" (have they been hanging with Rove, or what?). Apparently, they have a blanket policy on sexual assaults, but go case-by-case for physical ones. So, if Brown raped her, they'd keep it on the down low, but just an assault? Fair game. Classy.

Finally tonight, as with the other night, we're watching a live shot of Air Force One and waiting to see Obama walk down stairs or something. Awesome. Except Obama is taking his sweet time, which leaves Anderson with the task of filling air. How did that go? Not so well. Paper shuffling...stuttery grasping at something--anything--to say. You're losing viewers! Aw, poor guy. Why do they set him up like that? Anyway, finally we just go to break and I'm pretty sure that's when Obama appears, forcing them to show tape when we come back. Ha! Well, that whole thing was quite the programming fail.

That does it for the show. As I'm sure everyone reading this knows by now, not long after broadcast there was a horrible plane crash into a house in Buffalo, New York. All 48 on board perished in what looked to be a fiery hell, as did one person on the ground. Horrific. I bring this up because Anderson returned to anchor the breaking news (actual breaking news for once) for a few hours and I watched most of it. He wasn't in the 360 studio, which makes me wonder if the poor guy had gone home and got called back. Despite my mocking of his Air Force One coverage, when there is real news happening, Anderson does a good job handling and sorting out a fast-moving story. I also really appreciate how cautious he is with information coming to him regarding what should and shouldn't be reported. Anyway, just wanted to mention that. I'm sure we'll hear more about this story on Friday's show.
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