Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Public Option Has A Bad Day, Michael Moore Interview, More Polanski, Father Arrested In Japan, Job Scam, And Did You Hear CNN Has An iPhone App?!!

Hi everyone. Anderson Cooper is doing the new standing thing again. It's a nice change of pace, but I hope this isn't part of the solution to fix the ratings. Anyway, we're kicking off things with a recap of health care reform's no good, very bad day. The Senate Finance Committee quashed not one, but two amendments to add the public option to the health care reform bill.

Lest there be any confusion, the Democrats--the people we voted into office to fix health care--are the ones who just shot us in the foot (and that's not covered!). I don't think it can be said enough, but screw Max Baucus. And when I say "screw," I mean something else, but I'm trying to keep this place classy.

According to Candy Crowley, it's not over for the public option, except that it kinda is. She seems to think we'll be getting some sort of public option-lite. Until the proverbial fat lady sings, I'm not giving up hope. Jason Linkins over at Huffington Post isn't as optimistic, but he has a good write up of what happened today, and just why it's so infuriating. For my fellow public option supporters, if your senator is on the finance committee and voted no, tell them they suck! But, you know, politely.

Joining us for discussion of all this, is Michael Moore. Woo! Obviously I'm a bit biased here, but it's always nice to see a real progressive get teevee time. Michael is fired up and ready to go! He's planning on kicking ass and taking names, though actually probably not in that order. Time to challenge some of these spineless Democrats. Normally I'm not really much of a reactionary, but things have gotten ridiculous. If certain Democrats aren't going to deliver on the public option, vote them out.

Anderson seems to be perplexed by this, asking Michael if he'd really campaign for Republicans. Erm, there are these things called primaries that I think we'll start with, thank you very much. Ned Lamont ring a bell? Bueller? Sure, that didn't work out in the end, but it made Lieberman spend his money and gave him quite a scare. Michael stresses that at least two-thirds of Americans support the public option, so exactly who is Congress working for? He calls the public option, "absolutely make or break."

Then there's talk of a single payer system,which is what Michael really wants (as do I). He says that "any intelligent, or even half-intelligent, nation has either a single-payer or a national health care plan." Okay Michael, simmer down there. Needlessly inflammatory statements like that turn people off. But then he makes the very good point that despite all the calls to compromise on the public option, Obama already compromised on health care reform right off the bat by taking single payer off the table. In my opinion, a dumb move.

"Nothing is going to change. Trust me on this one thing," says Michael, referring to a bill without a public option. And I do trust him. Because as he points out, he's been right about basically everything he's been saying over the years. A lot of progressives have. Yet they are consistently marginalized and I am so friggin sick of it. Perhaps the only thing worse than living through a train wreck, is to warn that one's coming and have no one listen to you. A bill without a public option is a massive tax payer funded gift to the insurance companies. It's that simple.

Anderson wants to know why all the public option supporters aren't out at town halls making their voices heard like the opponents. Michael says he's going to do his part to organize people, but notes that probably most Americans thought that after voting in a Democratic president and a super Democratically-controlled Congress, we were kinda, you know, set. Apparently, democracy also requires batshit insane yelling.

Next, the whole vote count thing is brought up. Some senators (coughBaucuscough) are claiming they couldn't vote for today's amendments because they don't have enough votes, which Jason Linkins pointed out in the above-linked piece, is just about the most ridiculous thing ever. Michael thinks this is stupid as well, and puts on his faux "whiny Democrat" voice that I must admit is in of itself a little annoying. But I'm totally down with what he's saying. As Michael notes, this isn't how the Republicans would play this thing. They'd just do it.

"What is wrong with our side of the aisle? Where is the spine? Where is the courage?" he asks. Amen! Why is it presumed we need 60 votes? We don't. We need 51. Democrats like Baucus are really going to join Republicans and vote against cloture? Fine. Call their bluff. Make them do it. As Michael says, let the Republicans have their filibuster. We do not need 60 votes on the bill. If the Democratic caucus can come up with 51 votes for a bill with a public option there is absolutely no reason to surrender.

Moving on to some discussion with David Gergen and Candy Crowley. The Gerg is "mystified" by Michael's emphasis on the public option. I am mystified by how much the Gerg seems to not get it. He concedes that there is approximately 65 percent support among the public for the option, but then just as quickly dismisses the number, noting that you don't find that state by state. I guess we're supposed to assume that senators like Baucus who are in more conservative states are just doing right by their constituents. Yes, that must be it. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the millions he gets from health and insurance interests that are against reform.

More bizarrely, about a couple minutes later, the Gerg notes all the ways that this is now a weak bill. Uh huh. Once again, you can't mandate that people buy insurance and then not put into place anything (public option) to keep those insurance companies honest. Lots of new customers with nothing to keep down costs? I'm thinking those companies are currently saying, "yes, please." There must be a public option.

Transitioning now to talk about Roman Polanski with Jeffrey Toobin and Jeff Berg, Polanski's agent. I think this is just going to be one of those stories I skip. At least they didn't put it up top again.

So hey, did you hear that there's a new CNN iPhone application? No? Well, then you must not watch CNN, read anything on CNN's website, or follow anyone with any connection to CNN on Twitter. Yeah, me thinks there was a "promote me!" memo sent out today, because boy have they ever! And now it's Anderson's turn. So tell us, Anderson, how much is it? "Less than 2 bucks, $1.99. I mean, you can't afford not to get it. Am I right?" he says. Such a steal! Do you think that was painful for him? Eh, what's a little corporate whoring every now and then. Am I right?

We then move on to the case of Christopher Savoie, an American who had two children with a Japanese native. The couple divorced and the agreement was that Noriko (the ex-wife) could take the kids to Japan for the summer, but would otherwise live close to Christopher in the states. Things were going according to plan, until one day Noriko took the kids back to Japan. Christopher subsequently alerted police, a warrant was put out, and he was given full custody. He expected to get his kids back, but that's not how it works in Japan.

In fact, when Christopher traveled to the country himself to get his children, he was the one who ended up being arrested. Now he sits in jail, while his ex-wife has his kids. Way uncool. For discussion, we're joined by Jeremy Morley, Christopher's attorney, and his current wife, Amy Savoie. This case is pretty outrageous. I had no idea this was how Japan operates.

On now to a Drew Griffin investigative piece, but I missed some of it, so I think I'm just going to take a pass.

The "shot" tonight is a naked New Yorker with a fanny pack buying a taco from a food stand. There is so much wrong with that sentence I don't know where to begin. First of all, ew, unsanitary! And second, a fanny pack? Nakedness, fine. But a fanny pack? That's just tacky. Anyway, Anderson and Erica Hill share my revulsion and for a second there, I thought we were going to get a bastard version of "Really?!! With Seth and Amy." I think they could totally pull that off. I'd watch it.

Once again, 360 did the whole thing where they drop a good segment into the second hour. Tonight it was an interview with the mothers of those hikers being held in Iran. I'm still comfuzzled as to why they're doing the programming like this. Given the current cable news landscape, I would assume 360 is trying to build a base of loyal viewers. Yes, CNN gets mad ratings when events happen, but Michael Jackson can't always die. Cable news has changed significantly even since 360 has been on the air.

So...given that the segments they are dumping seem to be subjects that loyal viewers would actually be drawn to, and given that (I'm assuming) appointment viewers are more likely to tune in for the live first hour broadcast, I don't get their reasoning at all. Because hey, I'm a big fan, but even I'm not going to watch almost two hours of the same thing every night. The only reason I caught the segment tonight is because Colbert had a commercial. But, anyway, I guess they have their reasons.

The show was an improvement from last night.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Roman Polanski Arrested, Iran Testing Missiles, Chicago Student Killed, Inside The Earth Liberation Front, And Modern Slavery

Hi everyone. We begin tonight with Anderson Cooper standing in front of the big screen to intro the night's segments. Ooh fancy! Although, he might have done this last week too. As I said in my prior post, I'm not much of a noticer. Remember when he used to do the standing "pose" with his foot up on step? Good times.

Anyhoo, the introing put me through a roller-coaster of emotions. At first I was annoyed because I thought we were starting with the Roman Polanski story. Then when I realized he was previewing, I got relieved. And...then he really did start with the Polanski story. Le sigh. I'm not going to deny the story merits coverage, but top story? C'mon.

In an Erica Hill piece, we learn that the director was arrested in Switzerland over the weekend in connection with a warrant over three decades old. I think most of us know the basic details of this case. In 1977 Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, then fled to Paris right before his sentencing. France refused to extradite and he continued his directorial career. To this day, the man has his defenders, along with those who feel he got away with a crime.

For discussion (yeah, you knew it was coming), our panel is being rocked by Lisa Bloom, Jeffrey Toobin, and criminal defense attorney Joel Brodsky. Honestly, I don't care much about this. The panel gets all arguey, Anderson loses control, I zone out, and then I tune out. It's been a while since I've had to reach for my remote during the show.

Moving on to the subject of Iran, the country must not have been listening when Obama told them they were "on notice" because they just went and test-fired themselves some missiles. To talk about this, we're joined by Paul Begala and Rich Galen. Political strategists. To talk about Iran. Because that makes sense in a way that totally doesn't. I guess it really is just all a game. Apparently we've already made up our mind about Iran.

For a post that gives some good reasons as to why we don't have to freak out about this whole bomb thing, check out Michael Hastings' latest at True/Slant. From there you can find a good post from Glenn Greenwald that compares the current dialog to that of prior to the Iraq invasion, as well as level-headed analysis from Scott Ritter, the former inspector who was totally right about Iraq. Now an interview with him would have been a good segment.

Anyway, there's not much of note here, them not being experts in foreign policy and all. But I will point out that Anderson again hits on the fact that though Obama seems to be fairly popular worldwide, that popularity hasn't translated into much (example: NATO troops for Afghanistan). I think this is a good point, but he sets it up with a false premise: "For all the reaching out, is this president perceived as being weak?" I'm not sure how you immediately leap from not yet successful to being weak.

As Paul points out, the last guy's macho cowboy policy didn't really get us anywhere either. In fact, it actually made up less safe. Rich is happy that Obama has not taken the military option off the table in regard to Iran. It's funny, when the last crew said stuff like that it used to scare the crap out of me. Obama? Not so much. That's because, in my opinion, Cheney really did want war with Iran, no doubt still does. Obama can leave the war-button on the table to play the psych-out game all he wants. It's nice to know that at the end of the day, we have a president that doesn't really want to press it.

Transitioning now to the horrific beating death of 16-year-old Darrion Albert, a Chicago honor student. In a Joe Johns piece, we learn that Darrion was a good kid who was trying to help a friend and became an innocent victim in a street fight. He was beaten to death by other teens with wooden boards, a crime captured on video. Four individuals have since been charged. This kind of violence among teens is not new to Chicago--last year alone the city lost 37 school kids. 360 has been covering the crisis since 2007.

For more, we're joined by Ronald Holt, father of Blair Holt, a slain student 360 profiled two years ago, and USC Trojans football head coach Pete Carroll, who founded A Better L.A., an organization that works to combat teen violence. Both men seem to attribute this violence problem to teens' family life. Pete discusses structure and the lack thereof. He works to make connections with community leaders, no matter how dangerous, in order to show them that there is another way to live. Sounds like he's doing good work.

Anderson notes all the kids in the video just standing around watching. Honestly, that's not really a new thing or specific to Chicago, is it? I remember when I was in high school we had some pretty big brawls--sometimes daily--and 95 percent of the kids would rush to gawk. Hell, a couple of years ago there was a brawl at a local mall that got so out of hand that they had to call in SWAT. I applaud the work of the guests, as well as 360 shining a light on this, but I don't know, I'm not sure this is a story I see improving.

Moving on now to a Drew Griffin piece, which introduces us to Jake Ferguson, a former member of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). You probably don't think of hardcore radicals when you think of environmentalists, but that's exactly what the ELF was. Known as "the family," the group committed massive acts of vandalism costing millions in damages. They torched everything from lots of SUVs to Vail Ski Mountain. Eventually the FBI caught onto Ferguson and gave him the choice of going to jail or flipping on the ELF. Yeah, he flipped. Talk about giving environmentalists a bad name. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) too.

In tonight's "360 Bulletin" we learn from Erica Hill that Sarah Palin has chosen the name of her memoir. I can barely contain my excitement. The only reason I'm noting this is because before the break, Anderson gave us three choices and told us to guess: "Going Rogue"; "I'm a Maverick, Too"; or "Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow." Now, probably most news junkies already knew it was that first one, but "Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow" completely cracks me up. Fond memories of her last batshit insane speech. Anyway, I was just imagining all the 360 kids having a boatload of fun coming up with possible guesses. Producer Jill came up with the fish thing. Well done.

Up next, it's the first ever "Beat 360"/"Shot" combo! And here I've barely yet to recover from learning the name of Palin's book! "Yes, we are making history tonight," Anderson deadpans. So anyway, "Beat 360" used this picture, and then the "shot" was the video version, which I actually could not find--though admittedly didn't look very hard. Pigs flying jokes are made; hilarity is had.

After we've grown fond of the leaping porkers, Anderson wraps it up with, "And all the pigs were 'eadden' by the large crowd." Erica is shocked (SHOCKED!) he would say such a thing, but I dunno; when he says it like that, it doesn't sound quite so horrible. It's like when he says "Sadden"--the dark prince suddenly sounds, quite frankly, adorable. Oh Anderson, I kid because I love.

Stop right there, people. We're not done yet. Because 360 has decided to pull one of their magic tricks where they drop a perfectly good segment in the second hour and don't tell anybody. Anderson interviewed Julia Ormond and writer Ben Skinner about modern day slavery. It's estimated that 27 million people worldwide are victims, which is pretty astounding. They also talked about corporate responsibility--a topic I'd love to see covered more.

Anyway, this was a good discussion and it's kinda mind boggling to me that they would treat a subject that affects 27 million people almost as an afterthought. Don't get me wrong, major props for the attention, but this wasn't good enough for the first (live) hour? This wasn't good enough for any mention whatsoever, besides one tweet from a producer? Maybe I missed some blog posts. It's just odd how they treat some of their coverage. We never did get the Roxana Saberi interview. And based on blog posts, I know that some of their New Orleans coverage never made it to air. Yet they'll use airtime for segments full of speculation. Honestly, I don't get it.

The show was just meh tonight. I think my commentary pretty much speaks for itself.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran Talk, Census Worker Found Dead, And Interview With Bill Clinton

Hi everybody. I sat down Friday night to write this post and then...didn't. It's annoying to me when I put in the effort of getting down all the story details, and then don't end up following through with the actual blogging. After all, I could have watched the show vegging out-style, occasionally losing myself in Anderson Cooper's blue, blue eyes when things got boring. What?! Where did that come from? I would never do that. Ahem. Anyway! So this all isn't a total waste, I'm just going to barrel through this thing, hitting on the points I want to make. Okey-dokey? And we're off.

We begin on the subject of Iran. Those sneaky little devils have been building themselves a secret underground nuclear plant. At least that's what our prez says, and he is not very happy about it. You best check yourself, Ahmadinejad. Because you are on notice! This moves us into a clip of Bill Clinton talking Iran, and then into discussion with Bobby Ghosh of "TIME" and Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation. Why is it that the Heritage Foundation is never identified as a conservative think tank? That really bugs me.

Shallow alert: I'm not much of a noticer, so maybe this isn't new, but Erica Hill seems to be wearing her hair differently today. And it looks very pretty.

On to David Mattingly reporting on that murdered census worker. Now we know he was naked, tied to a tree, duct-taped, had a rope around his neck, and the word "Fed" was placed somewhere on his body. Still a lot of unknowns though. Says Anderson: "We have been very careful over the last several days in our reporting on this not to jump to any conclusions or speculation." At the time he says these words, I am in agreement.

Cut to about 30 seconds later, Anderson introduces Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, and asks the following: "What are the options in terms of what could have happened?" Bah! You just told us you weren't going to speculate, and now you're literally asking your guest to speculate. So close! After Brian, you know, speculates, Anderson thanks him and tells us, "There is still a lot we do not know. We're being very cautious in what we're reporting on this and what we're saying." Quick tip, if you feel the need to excessively note how cautious you're being, there's a good chance you're, um, not.

(Note: this wasn't anywhere close to being 360's most egregious act of speculation. I didn't even mind it all that much. But the insistence that they wouldn't, and then turning around and having a guest do just that, was borderline comical.)

Next up, "The Big 360 Interview"!!! I feel like there should be trumpets or something. Here come the Big Dawg, Bubba, or if you want to be all proper, the 42nd president of these here United States: one Mr. Bill Clinton. And this interview is making news right off the bat because at it turns out, Clinton here has changed his mind on same-sex marriage. Honestly, I don't know whether to say, "yay!" or "Jebus, what took you so long?"

He goes on to give what I interpreted as a sincere and well thought out reason as to the change of heart. Hopefully more Americans will follow suit. On a related note, I really do appreciate 360 consistently bringing this issue up. Because others aren't. I'm guessing there's a conventional wisdom out in media-land that the issue isn't as important because it only affects a small percentage of the population. But you don't have to be gay to care about human rights.

The next subject I want to hit on is Afghanistan because Clinton was kind of awesome. He tells us that while it's true that if we don't add troops we'll fail, that doesn't mean that adding troops leads to success. "Because the surge worked, in addition to the skill of our troops, because the local Iraqis were sick of the al Qaeda in Iraq," he says. And then Anderson notes that the Afghans are currently on the fence regarding supporting the US over the Taliban. Finally, context! More of this please.

Lightening round! They really love their lightening rounds, don't they? The keeper here is the story about Boris Yeltsin staying at the White House and trying to get a pizza in his underwear. Hey man, sometimes you just want a pizza, dammit, and a little lack of clothing is not going to stand in your way.

I think I'm going to end things here. It was a good show. They've been doing a fairly impressive job lately. I hope the quality isn't just some sort of UN fluke. Keep it up, 360!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Terrorism Plots In The U.S., More Fun At The U.N., Family Pics Interpreted As Child Porn, Possible HIV Vaccine, And John McCain Interview

Hi everyone. A lot going on tonight. As I often (okay, basically never) do, this evening I sat down to watch my local news. Did I find the usual nice normal story about the latest shooting and/or stabbing? No! Terrorism has come to my neck of the woods! Well, almost. As we learn from Anderson Cooper, American Michael Finton converted to Islam while in prison, became a John Walker Lindh wannabe, and just tried to blow up a federal courthouse in Springfield, Illinois. Eep!

If that's not bad enough, we also learn that in Texas, a Jordanian in the US illegally, was plotting to give a Dallas office tower the WMD treatment. WTF? Is this crazy terrorist day? Did I miss the memo? Okay, this all didn't just go down today. From Jeanne Meserve we learn the details of how the FBI investigated and thwarted both plots. Normally all we hear about is government screw ups, so total gold star to them.

Like celebrity deaths, I guess news about crazy terrorists also comes in threes. Today Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi was charged with conspiracy to use WMDs. We're shown EXCLUSIVE stills of him buying stuff at a convenience store. From Susan Candiotti we learn that this allegedly included hydrogen peroxide, a shower cap, hair rollers, and nail polish. Apparently, this stuff is used to make bombs, but um, hair rollers? Maybe he likes to look pretty while he's being an evil doer.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Peter Bergen and former FBI specialist Don Clark. They talk bombs, and then ponder what's up with all these U.S. terror plots lately. We all know that Britain has a problem with homegrown terrorism, but the conventional wisdom has been that America is cool in that area. Peter notes we might have reason to worry that isn't so. Or maybe it's just a coincidence or something. Either way, sleep tight! Le sigh.

Because one day of U.N. fun just isn't enough, we now transition to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, getting a little pissy that Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was even allowed to speak. To lay down some analysis on this bad boy, David Gergen and Reza Aslan are stepping up to the plate. The Gerg is happy Netanyahu brought this stuff to the table, but also believes the U.N. is a place where everyone should get a say--even batshit insane, members-only-jacket-wearing dictators.

Reza pretty much agrees with the Gerg, but also wants to point out that Netanyahu isn't exactly a member of the U.N. fan club, so there are several thing going on here. They then start talking about Obama's foreign policy and the Gerg admits he's had concerns the prez isn't strong enough. May I remind you of the POTUS's awesome Jedi-like fly-killing skills? Also, he totally didn't hesitate to take out those pirates. (That seems like forever ago, doesn't it?)

Change-up now to the specific topic of Iran, with Reza noting that the priorities of the U.S. and Israel differ when dealing with the country. He thinks the U.S. needs Iran to accomplish our other foreign policy goals. The Gerg, on the other hand, thinks it's all going to be about the nukes. "I believe that the central purpose of what we're going to be focused on as an international community is whether the Iranians are willing to freeze their nuclear weapons development," he tells us.

But Reza has heard something he does not like: "David, it's not a freeze of a nuclear weapons program. It's a freeze of uranium enrichment. Let's not conflate the two. These are two different issues." Ooh, tiny polite snap! The Gerg counters that they're not separate issues, and is about to go on, but then says, "let's leave it there for now." What? No! It was just getting good. Argh! Don't get me wrong, I hate arguing, but the Gerg and Reza wouldn't do that. Instead we would have had an intelligent debate between two people who don't fall into the tired left vs. right spectrum. How often does that happen on cable news? Never. And it didn't happen tonight either.

Transitioning now to an outrageous story of how one family practically had their lives ruined just because they took pictures of their children. A.J. and Lisa Demaree snapped some normal bath time photos of their three little girls, took them to be developed at Wal-Mart, and were promptly accused of engaging in child pornography. We're shown the pictures (kids faces are blurred out) and they are completely innocent.

But what happened to A.J. and Lisa was not innocent at all. They join us live and we learn they were placed on a sex offenders list and had their children temporarily taken away. Lisa was even suspended from her job for a year. All this and they did NOTHING wrong. They're now suing the city, state, and Wal-Mart. I fully support protecting children, but it's kinda terrifying how easily the state can just take your kids from you. Hopefully they won't have any long term issues due to being separated from their parents.

For the legal lowdown, we've got Jeffrey Toobin, who differs with the Demaree's lawyer in that he believes Wal-Mart does have a responsibility to report questionable pictures. I gotta go with Jeff on this one. As much as I hate Wal-Mart, I think they're the least at fault here. But Jeff does note he thinks the people at the store and the Peoria PD must have perverted minds themselves to think the pictures were erotica. True dat. The lesson in all of this? According to Jeff (and what I wrote in my notes while watching the Demaree's interview) is use a digital camera.

Next up, swine-flu-survivor Sanjay Gupta is here to talk about a possible HIV vaccine. That would be awesome! What's interesting is that the vaccine is a combination of two other vaccines that previously failed. Also of note, is that because of mutation, there might actually be different vaccines for specific parts of the world. Complicated stuff. In any regard, availability is years away, but it's a good step.

On now to "The Big 360 Interview." Fancy-pants graphic! Anderson got himself an EXCLUSIVE with non president John McCain. In all honesty, there's not much here, but I'll expand on that in a second. For now, let's skip to the part where Anderson brings up his new favorite topic of how we're nation building in Afghanistan. And I say that without snark, by the way. You keep pressing, baby! However long it takes until this mission is better defined.

McCain responds, like Lindsey Graham the other night, by saying we need to first get the security situation under control before we can progress on other fronts. "unless we do what we did in the surge in Iraq, which is clear, hold and secure areas, then it's very difficult to defeat an insurgency," he says. I'm sorry, this is crap. Everyone paying attention knows that the "success" of the surge was brought on by a multitude of factors (such as putting insurgents on the payroll) and was not strictly due to a troop increase. So...how are we going to replicate those factors in Afghanistan? And do we want to? And dude, where is the follow up?

Anderson then reads a quote from McCain that basically says we shouldn't send men to fight a war that the public isn't behind. He brings up the recent poll numbers on the war and wonders if Afghanistan will "end up being, once again, the incredible efforts of our troops in the field bearing this thing alone." I got this one. Go out on the street and grab five people. Ask them to first give you a summary of the last episode of "Dancing with the Stars." Then ask them what they know about what's currently happening in Afghanistan. There's your answer. The troops are already bearing it alone.

Okay, then there's some more stuff, but it's all very talking point-esque. So on to the lightening round! Yes, for real. Speaking of "Dancing with the Stars," our anchor wants to know what McCain thought about Delay's (child-frightening) performance. McCain says he actually spared himself from seeing it, which leads Anderson to recommend he hit the YouTube. I will take that to mean that the Silver Fox is not a big fan of the senator from Arizona.

Our next stroke of lightening is a question about Ghadhafi's tent, specifically, uh, what's it like in there? They both chuckle and McCain says "bizarre," but let's back this train up, shall we? Okay, the other day they led with the very serious outrage (OUTRAGE) over Ghadhafi pitching his tent and now it's a joke? I think you need to choose, guys. Anyway, like I said, I wasn't hugely impressed with this interview, but I do give big props that Anderson is actually doing interviews nightly now. Variety is the spice of life. I won't love them all.

Finally tonight, David Mattingly joins us to talk about a dead census worker, which sounds like it could turn into something bigger. But I'm tired and am going to just wrap things up. The show was good again. It felt like a lot was covered and not much ridiculousness. The ratings last night were pretty good, so...lock in the formula, 360! I think you finally got it. (Watch, now tomorrow we'll get 30 minutes of speculative sensationalism.) That'll do it. Until we meet again.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The UN Gets Its Crazy On, Matt Latimer Interview, John Travolta Extorted, And Sanjay Gupta Got The Swine Flu (ZOMG!)

Hi everybody. You know what I've been thinking this country needs? More craziness. We just don't have enough of it here. Well, today I am in luck because we shipped it in from overseas! Yes, it's insanity day at the United Nations. We've been here before. Remember when Hugo Chavez called Bush the devil and said he smelled like sulfur? Or how about when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed there are no gays in Iran. Good times!

This year the cast of characters has changed slightly. Good old Ahmadinejad is up to his America-hating tricks, but there's a new star in town getting the delegates out of their seats (and making them walk out the door): Moammar Gadhafi (Qaddafi? Khaddafy? Gaddafi? We're all so confused!)

Tom Foreman joins us live for the sum up of wackiness. Let's see, Ahmadinejad stuck to his standard America dissing and, oh yeah, apparently Israel is evil. Surprisingly enough, there wasn't much mention of that whole almost-revolution thing going on in his own country. That brings us to Gadhafi who rambled on for over an hour and a half about such topics as the real source of swine flu (the military, of course) and who killed John Kennedy. Seriously. He also called Obama "my son," which I'm sure gave our prez his "oh WTF?" moment for the day.

For discussion of all this we're joined by Fareed Zakaria; Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US; and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. This was a pretty good discussion, but I'm too tired to really do it justice. I will say, however, that I don't really understand why Rabbi Shmuley was a part of this. I get having him on for the tent thing, but he does UN analysis now? Of note is Anderson Cooper asking Oren if a nuclear Iran is something Israel could tolerate. He gives a long response that does not really contain an answer. Dude, you guys gonna attack Israel or what? That's what Anderson was asking, just, you know, professionally.

Moving on to the domestic side of all this United Nations stuff, it turns out our own president also gave a speech today, laying out a more inclusive foreign policy. The "Washington Times" was then all like, "worst foreign policy evah!" Wow, the "Washington Times" doesn't like Obama's policy. I am, like, so totally shocked by this. Anyway! We gotta talk about this, yo. So we're joined by James Carville and Bill Bennett. But before we get to Obama, Anderson's like, "so dudes, what did you think about that whole Gadhafi thing? How effed up was that?" I might be paraphrasing.

Also, Anderson keeps referring to former UN ambassador John Bolten as Josh Bolten, but we're totally gonna let that slide because there was a Josh Bolten in the Bush administration (chief of staff after Andy Card) and this crap gets confusing. The gist? Bill thinks the Obama foreign policy screws over our allies, while James advocates we give Obama more time to make a difference. Of note, is Anderson making the really good point that even though the world seems to love Obama, they're still not helping us that much. Case in point: ponying up NATO troops for Afghanistan. Perhaps a better defined mission might sweeten the deal.

Next up, Anderson starts talking to us about former Bush speech writer Matt Latimer and the stuff he's blabbing about in his new book "Speech-less". Apparently, Bush didn't think Palin or Obama were ready for what they were getting themselves into. As for Hillary Clinton, Dubya made "fun of her figure." Specifically, he referred to her "fat ass," but we're not told that. Are the 360 kids all prudes now? Anderson goes on to say, "The accusations have some on both sides slamming Latimer for cashing in on personal conversations that were never meant to be public. Matt Latimer joins me now." And I'm floored for a second. That was a very Colbert move. The guy is sitting there in the studio and everything and I never saw it coming.

Latimer's boss wrote in "The Wall Street Journal," that this is all just sour grapes because the dude never became a speech writing star. It seems the only person that comes out smelling like roses is Rumsfeld, who Latimer is working for right now. Okay, I remember Rumsfeld and I find it really hard to believe that he comes out looking good in any book. Latimer defends himself by saying he just wants to show people what Washington is really like. "I tried to do it in a good-natured way. It's a funny situation, it's a funny system, but it also has a lot of problems and challenges," he says. Washington is fun! Whatever.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece on the alleged extortion of John Travolta over his son's death. The Travolta family was in the Bahamas when his son became deathly ill. John wanted to fly him to a hospital in Miami, rather than let an ambulance take him to a hospital on the island. To stop the ambulance, he signed a liability form. People who were with John when his son died, then threatened to make private medical information public if he didn't pay up. This is really disgusting. Who does this to a grieving family?

We're then joined by Steve Helling of "People Magazine," who was in the courtroom for John's testimony. Basically no one knows what was on the document that Travolta signed. Again, really disgusting.

Finally tonight, we're joined by Dr. Sanjay Gupta...BECAUSE HE GOT THE SWINE FLU!! And I have to say, after watching this segment, swine flu has never been so hilarious. Anyway! Two weeks ago when CNN was in Afghanistan, Sanjay got really sick--the sickest he's ever been--and a diagnosis of H1n1 was confirmed by the clinic there. But the good doctor is doing much better now and he's talking with us by satellite (because he's not in NY, not because he's sick).

It turns out our anchor also didn't feel so great in Afghanistan. Now, regular viewers know Anderson has a tendency to not sleep and get run down during field shoots. So yes, I noticed he was sick, but really didn't think it was anything noteworthy. But apparently it was a little more serious than just needing a vitamin. We learn that Anderson actually went to Sanjay with his symptoms (horrible cough, chills, light-headedness) and even asked if it was swine flu, but the doc said probably not. Oops.

Sanjay knew that the swine flu is associated with high fever, which neither thought they had at the time, but seemed to forget about the fact that they were in the desert. So yeah, it was hot there anyway and when Sanjay finally took his temperature it was 102. As Sanjay is relaying this information, we get a cough from Cooper. "Are you coughing right now?" asks the doc. Ruh roh!

Anderson answers in the affirmative, leading Sanjay to say, "I don't think we're contagious, though." You don't think? "I love that I just learned that I may have had swine flu from you via satellite," says Anderson. Bwah! Sanjay then tells us how much having swine flu sucks and Anderson's all (paraphrased), "um, should I get this checked out?" Man, wouldn't you love to see the control room right now. They're probably all, "doood," followed by ponderings of just how much contact they've had with Anderson lately. Our anchor is a bit comforted that he didn't have the fever, so maybe it's not really swine flu. Maybe. But he has had the cough for two weeks. He should get a chest x-ray if he hasn't had one already.

Anyway! They talk some more and they both start coughing. You can tell Anderson is trying so hard not to, which is kinda adorable and hilarious...and I hope he really doesn't have swine flu or I might regret saying that. I can't help cracking up though. The coughing has to be partly psychosomatic because he just got through almost the whole show without a cough and now he can't stop. Anderson tells us he might get checked out. Off camera we hear Erica Hill say, "the entire studio is gonna get checked out!" Bwah!

Anderson notes that unlike Sanjay, he didn't take any time off work following their trip. Oh man. Nobody is holding the elevator for the Silver Fox tonight! Well, if we tune in a few days from now and find a repeat of Campbell Brown or something, we'll know it's because all the 360 kids got the swine flu. Good job, Cooper! Kidding. I've grown attached to you, so get better. Also? Seeing as how you all slept in that one room in Afghanistan, I think you have some calls to make. How's Peter Bergen feeling these days?

Update: video!

If our anchor finding out on national television that he might have had the swine flu isn't fun enough for you, check out tonight's "shot." It's a dancing baby! Oh we love the dancing babies. This one dances to Beyonce's "Single Ladies," which Anderson calls, "the hit that makes almost everyone want to dance. Notice I said almost everyone." Then he mouths "not me." Well, of course you don't feel like dancing. You just found out you might have the swine flu! This may never get old.

I thought the show was pretty good tonight. We had a lot of variety and not much ridiculousness. Kudos, 360. Normally I'd give you a cookie, but I think tonight some Purell might be better appreciated.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gadhafi Pitches His (Literal) Tent On Trump's Property, Flooding Continues in Georgia, Edwards Update, And Lindsey Graham Interview On Afghanistan

Hi everybody. We begin tonight with Moammar Gadhafi's quest to pitch his tent. Uh, it's not what you're thinking. Anderson Cooper tells us the Libyan leader hasn't been on US soil for 40 years because we used to consider him a sponsor of terrorism, but now we don't. So...he's here! And he brought a tent. Yes, as in something that you camp in. Except it has air conditioning. Fancy!

But this whole tent thing is not going well. Central Park said no to the pitching. Englewood, New Jersey? No squared. It's not so much the tent that has people riled up per se, as it is the occupant of the tent, who happens to be responsible for murdering a bunch of Americans. So you can see why people have their "no vacancy" signs out.

The crazy twist of the story--you know there had to be one--is that it turns out that Gadhafi has found a place to pitch that tent: on the property of Donald Trump. Yes, the Donald. Could this get weirder? Well, I guess it could have been Kanye. Anyway, Erica Hill has more details, including a quote from Trump Organization that talks nonsense about having business partners all over the world. It sound like they're trying to play it off that they didn't know this was going to happen.

But whatever, people do business with evil all the time in the name of the almighty dollar. Hello! Halliburton and Iran? Also, we learn that 360 tried to get Trump on the show, but he declined. Praise the Lord for small favors.

For discussion of this, we're joined by Brian Flynn, brother of one of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims, and author and television host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who helped keep the tent out of Englewood. As you might imagine, Brian is not happy. It is noted that Gadhafi won't actually be staying in the tent, but using it to meet visitors. Rabbi Shmuley wants people to protest and make it impossible for the Libyan leader to use his "terror tent of shame" for this purpose. Terror tent of shame? Really? Okay.

Back from commercial, they talk a bit about Gadhafi's embrace of the terrorist just (supposedly compassionately) recently released to Libya. "He kissed Gadhafi's hands. And we Americans need to tell Gadhafi to kiss a different part of our anatomy entirely. The fact is, he does not belong on our soil. Donald Trump should tell him, you're fired," says Rabbi Shmuley. Okay seriously, is this guy auditioning for something? This is getting more bizarre by the minute.

Then Rabbi Shmuley advocates for a potential boycott of Trump Organization, depending on how things go. I'm on-board with that even without the whole terrorist tent thing. Brian says that he will protest. Finally, they bring in Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs by phone and he talks to us about zoning laws, which is riveting television. Just sayin'.

Transitioning to the awful flooding in Georgia, which has now taken at least nine lives. David Mattingly is again on the case, this time in Cobb County. The water is actually receding, but it's left behind massive devastation. We see some of this devastation in a subsequent piece from David as he tags along with a family returning home. To make matters worse, many of these neighborhoods were not in flood zones, so the home owners did not have flood insurance. We've heard that story before. After the dramatic video is gone, I hope 360 remains on the story for the disaster to come.

Moving on to the news that Elizabeth Edwards does not want her husband to cop to being Rielle Hunter's baby daddy because it would give him an excuse to see her. We're then played a clip of John doing his whole "I'm sorry," routine (from previously) and I literally cringe because I think we're about to get one of those "why do men cheat?" segments. But thankfully, no! Actually, what we get is a Joe Johns piece that I don't think has any significant new information from what we heard last night. Oh well. Beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.

Next up, Anderson tells us that the Pentagon has asked General Stanley McChrystal to hold off on asking for more troops for Afghanistan because the Obama administration is rethinking their strategy. Does it really matter if he formally asks for them? Everybody already knows he wants them, thanks to the leaked report from yesterday. But public support for the war is way down, so there's that.

Here to talk about the subject is Republican Lindsey Graham, advocate of more troops. He trusts the generals. Anderson points out that counterinsurgency requires a civilian component and we don't really have that on the ground in Afghanistan. Graham seems to agree, but notes that security is so bad right now that civilians couldn't do anything anyway. Fair point, I suppose.

Anderson then drums on the Al-Qaeda-is-not-in-Afghanistan thing, which we've been hearing from him quite a bit. Graham apparently falls in the camp that thinks that if we leave, the Taliban will take over and let Al Qaeda back in. Okay, but are we saying we have to wipe out all of the Taliban then? Given that they're a part of the population, that could take decades because it would involve winning over all hearts and minds. Plus, are we really prepared to commit resources in every country that could potentially harbor Al Qaeda? The Bush doctrine didn't work. Do we want to invade Somalia?

That ponderance falls in line with Anderson's next question: "is nation building something we really want to be involved with in Afghanistan?" This seems to go right over Graham's head, because he states that the surge of troops is not for nation building. But we can't win this militarily. Basically everyone admits that. So what is he talking about? Sigh. This interview was a good start regarding furthering the dialog (and Anderson did fine), but man, where's Michael Ware when you need him, you know?

On now to the "Prime Suspects" series. Tonight's topic: the Craigslist killer. Randi Kaye does the honors. Normally I hate this stuff, but I will admit to being slightly intrigued by Internet forensics, which is how they caught the guy. I will also admit to laughing and being weirded out that they had someone read the emails for voice-overs. To be filed under: "was that really necessary?" Anyway, somewhat interesting, nonetheless.

Next up, Anderson tells us that Tom Delay busted some moves on "Dancing With The Stars." "We'll show you his version of the cha-cha," he says. Oh God, do you have to?! We're later played the clip, which is just...horrific. Nightmares, people! Nightmares! If you really want to traumatize yourself, I'm sure it's on Huffpost. I'm not linking because I can't afford to be responsible for anyone's therapy bills. "Give him credit. He fully committed to it," says Anderson. Erica then alludes to the ass shots, which were...oh God. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

The "shot" tonight is a drug task force taking a little break to play with a suspect's Wii. Yeah, that's a no no. This brings Erica to ask if Anderson's Wii came with a bowling game. We all remember Anderson's rather awkwardly received birthday gift, don't we? Anyway, Anderson so clearly has not touched that Wii, which is evidenced by the face he is making. But he gives us an affirmative to the bowling anyway. Hopefully his Wii found a new home with people who will love it. (Rereading, this paragraph sounds rather dirty. Seriously, did they have to name it that?)

The show was okay. I understand the outrage over Gadhafi, but I kinda didn't get the intense tent focus. Also, it seems like the Edwards stuff could have just been a headline. Yay to the Lindsey Graham interview though. Not exactly groundbreaking, but a good start in what I'm sure is about to be a long national conversation. That'll do it.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

John Edwards Back In The News And Back In Trouble, A Request For Troops In Afghanistan, Garrido Is Weird, And Georgia Flooding

Hi everybody. We begin tonight by NOT being assaulted by the annoying "breaking news" graphic. I am pleased. Anyway! Anderson Cooper--Emmy winning--Anderson Cooper tells us "The New York Times," has some new scoop on John Edwards. Yeah, that guy. About 10 political scandals back. Think hard and I'm sure you'll remember.

Once upon a time there was a handsome politician who was a true progressive with a shot at the White House. Unfortunately for this politician, he had a rough go of it. His beloved wife's cancer returned, and his candidacy fizzled out. Then there were these weird whispers about an affair. It couldn't be true! Not this politician. Besides, the whispers came from a tabloid. So the establishment media stuck up their noses and the politician brushed it off and that was that.

Until there was a hotel confrontation...and pictures. And suddenly nobody was brushing anything off. Then of course there were the apologies and the Oprah heart-to-heart, but that baby? That other woman's baby? That was not his. Definitely not. Which brings us to where we are today. Because according to "The Times," oh yeah, Edwards is the baby daddy. At least that's what they report he's about to admit. Is there anyone out there who is shocked by this?

Apparently, this is all coming about because "The Times" obtained a book proposal from former Edwards' aide, Andrew Young, and I guess he's spilling his guts. Young claims Edwards asked him to claim paternity of Rielle Hunter's baby and he did. The aide has also written that Edwards promised Hunter that after Elizabeth died they'd get married in a NYC rooftop ceremony complete with Dave Matthews Band. Where to even begin? I mean, dude, why you gotta drag Dave into this?

Obviously the big issue here--besides Edwards clearly being a douchebag--is that Hunter just testified before a grand jury about the money she received from the Edwards campaign. You'll remember that she supposedly made videos for him and that's why she was paid. I guess we'll see how that all plays out. Also, throughout all of this, Anderson uses some version of the word "lie" a bunch of times. And I kinda love it. See? That didn't burn or anything, did it? More spade calling please. (Oh, Joe Johns was here live and I guess I kinda just wrote him out. Sorry Joe.)

Anderson tells us that they invited Edwards on the show, but he declined. So they got the next best guest. Um, scratch that, they had to go a little further down the list and what we end up with is someone tangentially connected to the story: Hunter's sorta friend, Pigeon O'Brien (yeah, I know). I say "sorta friend" because they haven't talked for a while, and Rielle doesn't even want her doing this. So, in terms of this interview, I think the question on the tip of everyone's tongue is, "um, why?" I don't know, people. I don't know.

Anyway, Pigeon knows the baby is Edwards' and we also get a weirdly long PR-type explanation of Hunter's campaign videos, which were apparently very "innovative" (before the Youtube, people!). But the real kicker is when Anderson asks her what they called Edwards. We get this tortured look from Pigeon and our anchor actually asks again. Because this is very important! The nickname? Lovelips. To the Silver Fox's credit, he does not react to this at all. Not even an amused blink.

So okay, I'm not really sure why that just happened. She was a good guest in that she was very articulate, but I'm not really buying her supposed motive that this is all about justice. I mean, the story is going to be in "The Times." I think there's a good chance people will hear about it. I smell an opportunist. Hopefully I'm wrong. Either way, pretty pointless interview.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by David Gergen and attorney Sunny Hostin. Anderson lays out everything Edwards has done and asks the Gerg if he's ever seen anything like this. Oh c'mon! We seem to see something like this every other month. But the fact that Edwards was a real presidential contender is a big point, which the Gerg expands on. It's a topic that I wrote about when the affair first broke. You can read about how Edwards went from "my guy" to DEAD. TO. ME. by clicking here.

Sunny gives us the legal low down and we learn that Edwards could actually go to prison if it turns out he was being as ethical with his campaign cash as he was with his marriage. Then Anderson disses Hunter's videos, which I only note because Pigeon just got done talking them up, so it's a little amusing. And finally the Gerg, dear sweet Gerg, tries to rationalize that Edwards' silence might partly be due to wanting to protect Elizabeth. Because he was thinking about her feelings so much before. I want to be un-cynical like the Gerg when I grow up. He always thinks the best of people.

Transitioning now to what in my opinion should have been up top: the leaked report from General Stanley McChrystal regarding the need for more troops in Afghanistan. Obama has already ordered 21,000, but they need more or the war effort could fail. They also need more trained Afghans. This leads us into a repeat Anderson piece from when they were in the country a couple of weeks ago. Scroll if you missed it.

Discussion time! We're joined by Peter Bergen, Michael Ware, and Rory Stewart of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights. I love Rory. He walked across Afghanistan all by himself in 2001. I mean, wow. Loyal--some might say obsessive--viewers will remember Rory from 360's Afghanistan trip three years ago. See? Rory does not support adding more troops because he doesn't think Americans will stomach 100,000 to 200,000 troops there indefinitely.

Peter notes that "the classic counter insurgency doctrine" requires about 600,000 soldiers and cops to control Afghanistan. Oh...we are screwed. As Peter says, "do the math." Yeah, we're no where near that. Anderson further bums us out by pointing out all the corruption in the Afghan government. Then we get to Michael, whose awesomeness sometimes leaves me speechless. Blunt honesty: "The government that doesn't exist. I mean, America is not going to win this war. Let's face facts. I mean, we're now at the point where we could lose this war," he says. Michael seems to advocate a kind of "Awakening" strategy, except with tribal forces.

Rory thinks everything needs to be reframed because actually doing this whole Afghanistan thing is going to require a significant amount of troops for 30 or 40 years, which would not be popular at all stateside. He thinks what is in the works right now really isn't going to change anything. Anderson then brings up how our troops really seem to be nation building and not hunting terrorists. This brings Peter to point out the big mismatch we currently have in our resources. We need civilians on the ground, but we mostly have marines, who aren't exactly trained for what they're doing right now.

The absence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is brought up as well and Michael again pushes that we need Afghans to fight. But of course Anderson points out that we went that way before with the Mujahideen and I think we all remember that didn't work out so hot for us in the long run. Rory doesn't think anything we're doing adds up. Well,...great. Speaking of greatness of the non sarcastic variety, that was an awesome panel discussion. Seriously, do I see an "Extreme Challenges" special in the future?

I caught Obama on Letterman tonight and having just watched this panel, it was quite interesting to hear him talk about how we need to defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Obviously this topic needs much much more discussion. In a perfect world, tomorrow 360 will play that Obama clip, followed by Michael Ware live to rip it apart. Then they'll have on someone from the Obama administration to respond, all the while Michael remains live. But alas, we don't live in a perfect world.

Moving on now to their new "Prime Suspect" series, which I pretty much couldn't care less about. In a Dan Simon piece, we learn that Philip Garrido had a black box that he thought tapped into the "other side." Or something. And ooh, we even get to see the box! It's black, in case you were wondering. So yeah, turns out Garrido is kinda kooky. I never would have guessed that about a kidnapper who held a woman and her two kids in his backyard for years.

On now to the horrible flooding in Georgia. David Mattingly is standing knee deep in the water and he tells us that they've had 12 inches of rain in 12 hours. At least five people are dead. It's a pretty bad situation and I would have thought it would rate above the Edwards thing, but guess not. Anyway, David tells us that authorities have cautioned people to stay away from the water. David is doing a good job with that, no? He then demonstrates the strength of the current by throwing a plastic bottle into the flooding. Dude, did you just litter? And you know that's not the first one he threw. Joking aside, I hope everyone stays safe.

The "shot" tonight is of Michael Jackson. Meh. They just can't let go, can they? I thought the show was pretty good. There was some ridiculousness with the Edwards story, but the Afghanistan coverage made up for it. I hope they stay on the story. That'll do it.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Possible Terror Plot Uncovered, More Tea Party Talk, Michelle Obama Takes On Health Care, Teen Traces His Roots, And Blitzer Is No Jeopardy Champion

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is once again coming at us from Los Angeles, and we begin with some nice scary terrorism news. An Afghan national living in the U.S. is being questioned by federal authorities regarding a possible terror plot AND he has admitted ties to Al Qaeda. Awesome. From Jeanne Meserve we learn that the guy's name is Najibullah Zazi, but she really doesn't know all that much else.

Peter Bergen then joins the conversation and Anderson says the following: "I have got to say, I am, and I think there's a lot of people who are very skeptical when they hear about these kind of raids or arrests. Oftentimes, kind of on further inspection, it turns out to be just a couple guys sitting around talking, who never had any access to any weaponry or anything." Bingo. I am definitely one of those skeptical "lot of people."

Time and time again we hear about some plot, everyone freaks out, and then later we find out it was just a couple of yahoos who thought they could actually take on a whole army base or something. So while I definitely think this is important for 360 to cover, and though Peter seems to think this one is the real deal, I'm still going to let this thing percolate before I expend any real blogging energy.

Transitioning from one kind of craziness to another kind of craziness. Yeah, we're still talking about the controversy over the protests over health care reform. The POTUS could really use not having to deal with this right now, but deal with it he must. Media blitz! In a Joe Johns piece we get a sum up of our prez talking to the media, broken down by network, which is sort of weird and amusing. On a related note, while we're talking about networks, did you guys see Rick Sanchez taking on the lies of Fox News? Booyah! Now that's what I'm talking about.

Back in the piece, we also learn that Joe Wilson speaks! What does he say? Meh. Nothing that interesting. He claims that if he could do it again he wouldn't. Whatever. For discussion of this, we're joined by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Jennifer Palmieri of the Center For American Progress. Honestly, there is nothing of note here, though Tony does manage to bring up Prop 8. Quite the one trick pony, isn't he? Well, if you count abortion too, I guess he's two tricks.

On now to an Erica Hill piece on the Obama administration's latest move in the health care reform debate. Time to deploy the misses! They're hoping she'll be a force to be reckoned with. After all, she brings to the table a 75 percent approval rating among women, personal health care stories, and fantabulous arms! Unlike with Hillary Clinton, Michelle will mostly just be playing the First Lady role in this situation. I wish her good luck.

Next up, we have a Randi Kaye piece on the murder of Annie Le, which is followed by discussion. But I can't take this coverage anymore, so I switched to Jay Leno. Drew Barrymore was on. She drove a car around a track that had a cardboard Ed Begley Jr. It was weird. So...there's that.

Moving on to a cute Soledad O'Brien piece, in which we follow 14-year-old Donovan Rogers on his journey to trace his genealogy. Malaak Compton-Rock (wife of Chris) started this really cool program called Journey for Change, which took Donovan and 29 other Brooklyn kids to Africa, so they could learn to appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities they have. One part of the program is DNA testing.

The idea is to help the kids learn where they come from. When the big reveal finally comes, we learn that Donovan has roots in Sierra Leone. "I'm complete now. I know more about me and where my ancestors come from. And now that I know this, I'm going to take it further and discover more of that culture, because that's who I am," says Donovan. Cool kid. I hope Malaak is able to expand her program in the future. I really liked this piece, and judging by the look on Anderson's face when it was over, he did too. Yeah, I might have aw-ed. Sue me.

For the "shot" tonight, this just in to The Situation Room: Wolf Blitzer, like, really sucks at Jeopardy. That's right, the Wolfbot came face-to-face with one Mr. Alex Trebek and the result was humiliating, crushing defeat. The most winceable part is when he's informed that even though he's in the negative, it's celebrity Jeopardy, so they're going to make an exception and let him keep playing. Man, that had to burn his beard. So, Anderson and Erica Hill are sympathetic to their colleague's public embarrassment, right? Oh hells no! They're loving this.

To be fair, our anchor (who is a Jeopardy champion himself, thank you very much) somewhat has the Wolfbot's back, noting that it's really more about the buzzer than what you know. Uh huh. Right. And if anyone thought they were getting out of here without seeing a little of the Silver Fox's appearance, well, you don't know him that well. "Oh, you have tape. Excellent," says Anderson, as Erica intros. Yeah, because he didn't know that was coming.

Anyhoo! You can check out Anderson's big win here. If you're like me, you will be amused by the combination of overly intense seriousness mixed with that quirky dorkiness we all know and love. Also? "They told me I might be able to come back on this year," says Anderson. That would be really cool. But are there really that many celebs waiting in the wings that Anderson Cooper has to wait and see if he's been picked to come back on? I guess Alex Trebek really is our overlord.

Finally, goodbye to producer Jason Rovou, who is headed to the home of the suspendered-one. Good luck, Jason. I did not know you, but you rock a bee suit like nobody's business. On a related staffer note, don't forget Jack Gray's live-blog on Sunday! Fun will be had.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Discussion Of The Tea Party Protests, Interview With Barney Frank, Annie Le Case Update, Border Funding Bungle, And An Overly Honest Doctor

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is coming at us from Los Angeles tonight. I know this because he actually tweeted (gasp!), but he did not elaborate. So your guess is as good as mine. Choose your own rumor! Kidding. Okay, so you know how Jimmy Carter got everyone worked up into a lather when he said racism was behind the tea party movement? Well, the news cycle is just about at that point where things quiet down. So you know what we need? Something to ratchet it back up. Enter Nancy Pelosi.

Today she got a little teary when she noted that all this anti-Obama rhetoric is very reminiscent of what she saw in San Francisco in the late 70's, which is a reference to the assassinations of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. I think we all know what happens next in this play. Occupying the role of the Republican who is angry she would even say such a thing, is Minority Leader John Boehner. So that was fun. And the news cycle has red meat for at least one more day.

A Candy Crowley piece breaks it all down. We know the drill: Socialists! Nazis! Racists! Oh my! The president doesn't want anything to do with it, and no one is actually talking about health care. This is where we are now. I don't understand why people have to get so defensive when race is brought up. I haven't heard anyone say that everyone who opposes the president is a racist. If you think you have legitimate gripes, well fine, we're not talking about you. Though one does wonder about people who claim not to be racist, yet get overly defensive when the subject is brought up.

Next up, Barney Frank is here for the "360 Interview" (there's a graphic and everything!). He starts off by talking about the assassinations Pelosi alluded to and notes he wouldn't have made the comparison. All I can think is that I really should rent "Milk" sometime. Then Frank gives us a little history lesson in partisan politics, laying most of the blame for our current situation on Newt Gingrich's doorstep. Apparently the Newster felt that the only way the Republicans could ever win was to demonize the opposition. Says a lot about their policies, doesn't it? And here we are.

Frank goes on to talk about the faith that has been lost in our country's institutions, such as the financial sector and the news media. People get their information from partisan sources now. When you can't even agree on basic facts, what can you agree on? "You guys are more in the middle, but you're in the minority in being sort of in the middle," says Frank, referring to CNN. Anderson is all over this one. "Tell me about it," he says. Aw, the Silver Fox needs a cyber high five, y'all. (Though in my opinion, CNN's problems are just as much their own doing, as they are due to competing against partisan networks.)

For our requisite panel tonight, we once again play a rousing game of "which of these people don't really seem to belong?" Barney Frank sticks around and we're joined by David Gergen, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, and Deepak Chopra. We're back to the racism deal and we begin with Rogers, but he pretty much says what you'd assume he'd say. The Gerg reiterates his point from last night that the racism is only on the fringes. Then he starts talking about Lincoln and the negative way he was portrayed, ending with, "And it's important to remember what happened to Lincoln in April of 1865." Um, wow. There's no follow up here, which is a shame because I think the Gerg just implied something pretty big. Maybe I'm misreading.

It's Deepak's turn now and he goes from talking about the moving goal posts of reform, to the fear people feel, to how end of life care extends suffering, to all the money spent on unnecessary tests, to how there are more health care lobbyists in Washington than Congresscritters. Wow, that was quite a trip we just took. I mean, all good points and all, but quiet the mouthful. Anderson then flips the subject to Frank's totally awesome instructional video on how you deal with a crazy person.

Following the clip, Frank explains that the woman who asked the question was a LaRouche. If you're not familiar, consider yourself lucky. "I ran against one who said that Queen Elizabeth was a drug dealer. My response was that I didn't think she dressed nearly well enough to be a drug dealer," he says. I love it that the Gerg and Anderson are the ones who get a kick out of this the most. Frank then makes probably the most important point about this whole thing thus far, which I'm not sure a lot of people are getting: "There is a reluctance on the part of mainstream politicians to repudiate the angriest and least rational and least logical and unfairest people in their own wing."

This is the problem with the debate in a nutshell. As I've noted numerous times, there are legitimate reasons for people to be wary about reform, but the debate is being driven by the crazies. Why? As Frank says, "The conservatives were very happy to let them go out and attack Democrats." Both sides have their fringes, but at this point the difference seems to be that the Democrats keep their fringe on the fringe, while the Republicans are allowing theirs to represent mainstream conservatives. Example: the Daily Kos is viewed as a far left blog by many, but Truthers and 2004 election conspiracists are not welcome there. Whereas Glenn Beck, who literally tells his followers Obama is creating his own army, is seen as a leader.

Okay, so this brings us to Rogers, who admonishes Frank for not calling out Code Pink during the Bush years. Except uh, according to Frank he totally did (even threatened to have police remove them), and boy is he not happy about this accusation. Rogers also talks about how the protesters are just average people who are scared. Well, of course they're scared; you let people keep telling them that Obama wants to kill grandma. The evilness of government sticking their nose in health care is also brought up. "You mean the same people that couldn't get water to Katrina...," says Rogers. Oh no, he didn't. A Republican is using Katrina as a political football? WTF? When Obama makes some horse guy head of FEMA, then you can talk. Until then, zip it. That's enough of that.

Transitioning now to me changing the channel and then forgetting I've changed the channel. You ever do that? Anyway, when I remember what show I'm watching and flip back to 360, Tom Foreman is there live to talk about the arrest of Raymond Clark in the murder of Yale student Annie Le. We're then joined by Lisa Bloom and stalking expert Rhonda Saunders for speculation. Seriously, Rhonda even flat out admits that's what they're doing: "And right now I think everything is pure speculation. We really don't know." Yep. So the point of this segment is...? Next time I hear Anderson talk about how much he likes facts, I'm going all Joe Wilson on his ass. (With love, of course.)

On now to some actual reporting...from Drew Griffin. Yay? Yes people, I have issues with this reporter. Search my archives if you want some background. Essentially this piece is about two border crossings to nowhere. Nowhere, I guess, being Canada. Love you Canada! Anyhoo! Up in Montana they have a couple of these crossings that see very little traffic, but are getting themselves a $15 million upgrade. Sweet! How little traffic are we talking? Like under 20 vehicles per day. This is illustrated to us by having Drew sit in the middle of the road. See how he can sit there and there are no cars? Clearly no one would have understood this situation without that demonstration.

Drew tells us that once the Democrats took over Congress, the two senators in Montana--Baucus and Tester--became mighty powerful. So, of course, the implication is that this is a big old porky gift to the state of Montana. And hey, that's probably the truth. It certainly looks like it. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no trust in Drew's reporting, so there's that. After Drew's piece, he tells us North Dakota's Byron Dorgan sent Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a note about the situation and now things are on pause. Hopefully the upgrade gets kaboshed if things are really as bad as they seem.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece that continues the series on medical malpractice. We meet cardiologist Lester Dyke, a surgeon who likes to speak his mind and is unafraid of becoming unpopular among his peers. That last part is a good thing because his opinion is not going down well with the medical community. See, while most doctors point their fingers at trial lawyers when it comes to the problem of high medical costs, Dr. Dyke has his finger trained on his own colleagues. He claims doctors are putting money-making above patient care. Whoa. Now that's guts. As you might imagine, his referrals? Yeah, not so good these days.

For the other side, we also hear from gastroenterologist Carlos Cardenas, who denies that Dr. Dyke has been blacklisted for his comments. These men practice in McAllen, a very poor county in Texas, yet home of the second highest health care costs in the nation. Says Dr. Dyke: "The doctors are able to profit not just from being physicians like we have traditionally, but by ordering tests on equipment that they own or X-rays on equipment that they own, or sending patients to facilities that they own or have a financial interest in." Now that sounds like something that needs a big investigation.

But Dr. Cardenas says he thinks the county does extra testing--or utilization, as he calls it--because the patients are sicker. It's an interesting debate. This has been a good series. I wish they were doing their whole "dig deeper" thing on this stuff instead of giving us panels filled with speculation.

For the "shot" tonight, Susan Boyle is baaaack. Meh. I'm over her. The show was okay. They're starting to become too panel-focused again, but at least Anderson is doing actual interviews now. Also, in case I forget to pimp tomorrow, Jack Gray will be live-blogging the Emmys this Sunday. All the cool kids will be there! If you're not familiar with Jack Gray, grab some chicken fingers, wrap yourself in a Snuggie, and click on his name in my links. That'll do it.

Update: I'm getting lots of hits on Gary's story. Here's the video for those interested.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apparently America Is Not Post-Racial Quite Yet, Updates On the Garrido And Annie Le Cases, And The Physician Side Of The Medical Malpractice Issue

Hi everyone. No point in small talk. Off we go! Anderson Cooper begins by telling us that Jimmy Carter is sticking to his comments from yesterday, that race plays a factor in all these tea party protests against Obama. You know, I thought we had solved this whole racism thing a few months ago when Obama tossed one back with a cop and a professor. Who would have guessed that wouldn't do the trick?

In a Candy Crowley piece, we get a recap of how we got to here. Remember how yesterday I said that mixing a former president with accusations of racism equals one big media freak out? Welcome to the freak out, already in progress. For the record, the Obama camp won't touch this thing with a 10 foot pole. They know better than to agree with Carter, lest they hear shrieks that the prez is playing the race card. What he thinks privately, however? Well, I guess we're going to need another off-the-record leak to find out who else the commander in chief thinks is a jackass.

For our requisite panel discussion, we're joined by David Gergen, Roland Martin, conservative activist Nic Lott, and singer John Legend. The lineup sorta makes me feel like I'm playing a game of guess which one doesn't belong. I love John Legend, but I'm not exactly sure why he's on my television right now. Then again, he's intelligent, well spoken, and yes, hella hot (hello!). So I'm not exactly complaining here. I mean, we've got John Legend and no Mark Williams. This is pretty win-win for us.

Roland totally has Carter's back and talks a bit about code words that are used to imply that someone is of the "other." Nic, unsurprisingly has a different view and notes that no racial slurs came from the podium during the protests. Oh well, that's something to brag about. When you have to specify where the racial slurs did not come from, you're not doing so hot. John thinks there's truth to what Carter said, but the comment just inflamed and distracted. Pretty much what I said. Media freak out. Now no one's talking about the real issues. Then John starts saying that he doesn't want a race war, though I'm not sure anyone has actually advocated for one.

Commercial break now and when we come back we learn that Bill Cosby plays for Team Carter. Not sure I would have guessed that. Also, am I the only one that briefly saw NBC's Andrea Mitchell? That would be a weird thing to hallucinate. Anyhoo! The Gerg hits us with some polls that show Carter is not alone. But then he says he thinks that when it comes to most protesters, the racism charge is libelous. "Seven previous presidents have tried to bring health care reforms of this kind. All seven have failed. And, as I recall, all seven were white," he says. Yes, but talk to the protesters and they'll tell you this is not just about health care reform.

John says that he believes there is some racism going on, but also talks a bit about the legitimate fear of government intervention. Hey there, mister. Quit being so reasonable. This show already has a Gerg. Anderson brings up the Nazi signs that people had under Bush and tries to equate it with what's happening now. I don't think it's the same. It sounds terrible, but Hitler/Nazi accusations are like a default these days. If they were just calling Obama a Nazi (and I hate that we're at a place where I'm using the word "just" in that sentence), I wouldn't be as disturbed. This goes beyond that.

Nic claims that the majority of the protesters have legitimate concerns and the crazies are just a small fringe. This is what drives me nuts. You know what, there are legitimate concerns to be had. But we're not hearing about reasonable people working with Obama to alleviate fears over deficit spending. No. These protesters are screaming about how Obama wants to kill your grandma and turn us all socialist. They are not credible people and they are clearly not interested in doing anything that doesn't involve destroying the president's agenda. For Pete's sake, one of the tea party organizers called him a "racist in chief."

John brings up the idiocy of Rush Limbaugh and Nic counters that he's not a legislator. "Rush Limbaugh is a legitimate mainstream conservative," says John. Bingo. Nic again tries to dismiss, by saying Rush didn't march. Um, wasn't the whole 9-12 thing the brain child of Glenn Beck, a man who has said that the president has a hatred for white people? A man who is clearly batshit insane? (Seriously, I watched his show a couple weeks ago and it was one of the craziest things I'd ever seen.)

Anderson then explains the Rush incident that John brought up. Apparently there's a video of white kids beating the crap out of black kid and Rush basically chalked it up to it now being open season on white kids. You know, because Obama is president or something. For the record, it appears it was kids just generally being idiots, which I'm told happens sometimes. Nic doesn't agree with Rush's comments, but then says he might have been joking. What?! "Oh, no, he wasn't joking," says John, adding that Rush speaks for a lot of conservatives.

To wrap up, Nic, David, and John all seem to agree that we are not a racist country at heart. However, John notes that Carter was talking about a certain fringe that is racist and he shouldn't be demonized for saying so. Amen. Now can we please try to find our way to sanity? No? Well okay then.

Transitioning now to the news that bones have been found on the Garrido property, which, actually, I thought we already knew. Testing will have to be done to figure out if they're human. For discussion, we're joined by criminal pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht and former FBI agent and profiler Candice DeLong. You all know I'm not really into the speculation. Anderson seems to push the theory that the other missing girl case really matches Jaycee's, but Candice talks him down. Good for her. There just aren't enough facts yet.

We then switch to the Annie Le case and learn that the cause of death was strangulation. Pretty horrible. In a Tom Foreman piece, we get a sorta profile of Raymond Clark, a person of interest. Tom does the whole lame talk-to-the-neighbors thing. Seems pretty pointless to me. Also, at this point I hope this really is a bad guy because otherwise he's kinda having his life ruined right now.

Then we're back for more speculation with the prior guests, but I've had enough and skip out to MSNBC. Sorry guys. That's how I roll now. Anyway, when I come back, Erica Hill is wrapping up a piece about another Yale murder and how they jumped the gun with the suspect. Afterward, she gives us a little "where is he now" with info she got from his LinkedIn profile, which I find amusing. You think of journalists with their fancy sources and whatnot, but nope, sometimes they're just Googling just like you.

Our final piece of the night is from Randi Kaye and it continues this week's medical malpractice series. Tonight we meet OBGYN Dr. Wendy Fried. Her malpractice insurance clocks in at about $170,000 a year. Um, wow. Apparently her specialty is sued a lot. She had her turn in 1998 when a patient suffered a uterine rupture that required an emergency hysterectomy. Mom and baby made it, and it seemed like everyone was happy--Dr. Fried was even invited to their Christmas dinner.

But then she was slapped with a lawsuit because the patient felt the hysterectomy was unnecessary. In the end the jury found that Dr. Fried did nothing wrong. But that didn't resolve her feelings of betrayal--she had slept at the patient's bedside, and it's led to her practicing defensive medicine. So there we go. Another side to a complicated issue. This is a good series. Too bad they're dropping it at the end of the show like they don't care.

The "shot" tonight is adorable. Just watch. The show was okay. Same old, same old.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Racism In The Tea Party Movement (With More Craziness From Mark Williams), Joe Wilson Gets Pwned By Congress, And Investigating Medical Malpractice

Hi everybody. We begin once again with the sense-assaulting "breaking news" graphic. Since that seems to be their default show opening now, regardless of what's actually "breaking," I think it would be more productive if I only noted it when they didn't use the thing. Way to make something utterly useless, huh? Anyway, Anderson Cooper tells us we're awaiting a police conference on Annie Le, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Right now we're talking race and politics, with a former president thrown in for good measure. Apparently Jimmy Carter did a little chatting with Brian Williams (BriWi to the cool kids) and he thinks a lot of these tea party people who we've been seeing get their crazy on have an issue with our prez's skin color. Ruh roh. Don't get me wrong, he totally has a case here, but mix racial accusations and a former Democratic president, and you've got all the ingredients needed for a full on news cycle freak out.

To begin said freak out, we're joined by Roland Martin and, oh look, tea partier Mark Williams is back. His appearance last night was quite popular. Given 360's new tendency to ratings pander, and the fact that Mark is clearly a fame whore, you should see my totally shocked face that he is once again on my television screen. Oh well. Buckle up kids, it's gonna get bumpy.

Anderson first gives the floor to Mark, who has to get in his requisite Carter diss. He of course denies the racial accusation, but does admit there is a fringe to his movement. I guess that would be fringe-fringe. Roland, not surprisingly, agrees with Carter, and starts name checking all the people in the conservative movement who have recently said or committed racist acts. Example: Glenn Beck saying Obama has a hatred of white people. It's also noted that threats against Obama are up 400%. I'm actually not sure if that number is accurate, but I would believe it.

Mark thinks that's it's not race that's different about this administration, but that Obama is a big old thief. Taking all our money AND borrowing from China. Wait, how is that different from the last guys? He's also got his undies in a twist over Obama supposedly bowing to the Saudi king or whatever. Um, hello, Bandar Bush ring a bell? All this nonsense goes on while Anderson, I dunno, takes a nap or something. Wake up, Cooper! Finally our anchor cuts in to tell them to stop talking over each other.

Roland then gives a long explanation as to why this is all racist, but I'm not really sure he's selling his point. I suppose that's okay though since Mark is back to freaking out about the socialist gardening he brought up last night. I don't even know what the hell we're talking about anymore. Earth to Anderson. Bueller? Roland asks Mark if he would denounce the witch doctor signs and he says he would. But dude, you called him an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug," on your own blog!

Then Mark tries to act like he bears no responsibility for inciting all these wackjobs. Oh, and he implies Roland is a race-baiter. That about wraps it up. "Good discussion," says Anderson. Dude, what have you been watching? So, um, yeah. That was fairly dumb. I take back my comment from yesterday that they should have this joker on to hang himself with his own rope. This is just about sensationalism now. More reporting, less idiocy please. Here's the video, if you're interested.

Speaking of idiocy, today Congress took out their big ruler and smacked Representative Joe Wilson on the wrist. Joe Johns has the latest: Okay, we all remember the "you lie!" incident, right? Well, today the idiot got formally punished. But was it all a waste of time? Joe's semi-snarky copy would imply that it was. I'm pretty meh about the situation. Was it a fairly pointless thing to do when they should be working on more important things? Yes. But I've seen them to do worse. You know, like that whole war thing.

For discussion of this, we're joined by Alex Castellanos and Paul Begala. I'm just going to cut to the good stuff. Alex actually tries to claim that if we're going to censure Wilson, we should also censure Obama, since he also used the word "lie" during his address. Oh. My. God. He can't be serious. Anderson is a bit more awake during this segment and is sporting his trademark "even I can't take this BS" smirk. He points out that, um yeah, Obama was talking about allegations about death panels, which uh, were factually inaccurate. "Are you equating that to some guy, a congressman yelling out at the president?" asks Anderson.

But Alex seems to deny that what Obama said was accurate. This is the problem, nobody can even agree on what's a fact. "Alex is entitled to his own opinion. He's not entitled to his own facts. There are no death panels," says Paul. Booyah! Just keep saying it. Later Paul brings up how Kanye West said Bush didn't care about black people and how Democrats distanced themselves from that statement. Man, that guy is coming up everywhere these days.

Anyway, Alex tries to claim that none of this racial subtext was around before the election, which leads Paul to be all, uh, did you see the Sarah Palin rallies? Seriously, have these Republicans suffered some kind of collective head injury? Next they all talk about the asshattiness of Mark Williams. The segment wraps up with Alex talking fiscal conservatism, a legitimate issue to disagree with the president on. Too bad most of the opposition insists on focusing on insanity.

Transitioning now to Tom Foreman talking about the latest in the Annie Le murder case. He tells us that the police have a person of interest in custody. (The suspect has since been arrested.) For discussion of all this, we're then joined by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht and criminologist Jack Levin. Why, I'm not quite sure. These kind of things continually frustrate me.

This is a show that defines and prides itself on being fact-based, yet here we are with two segments of speculation. Cyril even goes as far as to peg this as an "if I can't have her, no one can," crime of passion. And he could be right. Or he could be widely widely off the mark. That's the funny thing about spouting shit when you don't know all the facts. The show is better than this, or at least they pretend to be.

From one missing girl to another, we're next joined by Dan Simon, who tells us the cops are searching the Garrido property where Jaycee Dugard was held. They're looking for a link to two other child abductions in the area. One girl looked a lot like Jaycee and was her age, so of course everyone goes, "ah ha!" About 15 years ago two young girls went missing in the St. Louis area and later turned up dead. They were almost the same age with the same blue eyes and blond hair. Parents were freaked that there was a serial kid killer on the loose. There wasn't. The cases weren't connected. Let's not jump the gun here.

Our final piece of the night is from the always awesome Gary Tuchman. He's tackling the subject of medical malpractice and does so by sitting down with two of the nation's top trial lawyers: Les Weisbrod and Todd Smith. The attorneys aren't very big fans of capping malpractice settlements and they don't think it would help costs anyway. I am not shocked that I am hearing this from trial lawyers. Apparently punitive damage malpractice verdicts are way less common than everyone thinks. In fact, Weisbrod claims he's had seven or eight over a 30 year period. What? That doesn't seem right, but wow.

Gary reminds us, however, that settlements are often paid before cases get to a judge. Doctors claim this leads to defensive medicine. Gary brings up his orthopedist friend who "takes care of (his) broken bones." Just how many broken bones has it been? This is because of the roller-blading, isn't it? Anyway! Ortho friend's main sentiment is that sometimes life just sucks even when everyone does their job right. Amen, ortho friend, amen.

My opinion? Um, I agree with everyone! As someone who's seen way more than her share of doctors, I can tell you that sometimes they suck. Like, a lot. And I sure as hell want to retain my right to sue them for everything they're worth (no, I never have). I can also tell you that they do put patients through expensive invasive procedures just to cover their asses. Yes, I've had this happen. So...quite the pickle. Uh, good luck with that, guys.

That'll do it. The show was okay. It's getting pretty clear they're ratings pandering. I wish they'd stop.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

RIP Patrick Swayze, Tea Partier Mark Williams' Craziness Causes Unintential Hilarity, Annie Le Murdered, And Bonus Kanye West On Leno

Hi everybody. Well, the 360 kids have made it back stateside safe and sound and for that I am thankful. Now only if we could get the same quality coverage in studio that we got out in the field. Eh, a blogger can dream. Though not a huge Jay Leno fan, I have to admit, I was a little curious about his debut tonight, so I did some flipping. You have been warned.

We kick things off with the God-awful annoying "breaking news" graphic telling us that Patrick Swayze has succumbed to pancreatic cancer, which of course is very sad. Way, way too young. In an Anderson Cooper piece we're given Swayze's career highlights: "Dirty Dancing," "Ghost," "Red Dawn," "The Outsiders," "Point Break," "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar." He had a good career. "Ghost" and "Point Break" are two of my favorites.

Barbara Walters then calls in to talk about the interview she did with Swayze after his diagnosis. This all kinda feels excessive to me. It's always strange to see how celeb deaths rate when it comes to news coverage. A bigger news day he might have just been a headline. Anyway, we learn that Swayze was a Texas cowboy who loved his horses, which leads Anderson to share an amusing colloquialism he first heard from Reagan: "there's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Interesting.

Next up, Erica Hill tells us what people have been saying about Swayze online, but I totally turned to Leno and watched a musical car wash number. Sorry. Then we're joined by Dr. Anton Bilchik for the medical angle. Because we always have to have the medical angle. It's pancreatic cancer. What is there to say? It's deadly and the symptoms are subtle. Kinda a bitch.

Transitioning now to tea party coverage. But before you get your "woo hoo" on, it ain't that kind of party. Candy Crowley gives us the low down in a piece. On September 12, angry citizens took to the DC streets and opened a can of crazy on America. Oh my was it ever crazy. The gist of their message? Government bad! Oh, and Obama is a Nazi. But are they racist? Um, hello! Yes. Not all, but yes, some of them are clearly having a bit of an issue with the country being led by a black man. Once again, no mention of Glenn Beck (who basically orchestrated this thing) by CNN. I wonder if that's a policy or something.

Now it's time for the fun part. For discussion, we're joined by David Gergen, James Carville, and tea party organizer Mark Williams. I'm a little torn about again seeing Mark on my television screen. After all, he's essentially just a dude who hates the president. Why should we listen to him? Not to mention the fact that it appears CNN is breaking their own policy to have him on. But then again, he comes off so poorly that it's almost like CNN is giving him the rope to hang himself. So yes, stick him on TV and let him represent the opposition. Please.

Anderson begins by noting that the protests may have been bigger than liberals would have guessed. Um, really? Because I heard they were at most about 70,000 people, which is a pretty small percentage of the population and not even as large as anti-war protests. And we all remember how those protests totally stopped the Iraq war. Oh, wait.

Anyway, Anderson goes on to wonder if maybe this is really about people being mad their presidential candidate didn't win. Mark brushes that off and says the protesters are "working stiffs" who are being called "Nazis" by their government. Um, come again? WTF is he talking about? Who in the government is calling people Nazis? Perhaps he is confusing that with the last government calling the opposition "morally or intellectually confused." THAT actually happened.

OR maybe he's confusing the government with himself, because Anderson is all, um, actually you're the one that called Obama a Nazi. Mark flat out denies the charge, which leads Anderson to note that it's on his website. Ha! The Internets never lie, Mark! But it turns out his site doesn't call Barack Obama a Nazi. It calls "Mubarak Hussein Obama" a Nazi. You see how that's different? Do you?! Also, Mark wants us to know that Obama is "taking the seeds of socialism planted by George W. and fertilizing them and watering them until they go into full bloom" Zoh my God the president is gardening! The horror!

Since Mark claims to have been against Dubya's socialist seeding as well, Anderson asks if he protested back during that administration. Mark assures us he did. I call BS. This would be the perfect time for 360 to be all, "oh really?" and then whip out a clip of him praising 43, Daily Show-style. Now, of course you can't prove a negative. But one wonders why this wasn't all researched beforehand. That wasn't a question asked for the viewer's benefit. It's clear that Anderson does not know the answer.

The floor finally gets thrown to James, who acknowledges that a lot of people turned out, but is disgusted by their behavior. Specifically the signs that read, "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy." Classy, no? Mark tries to argue that only three people had those signs, but James notes it was confirmed by CNN that they numbered in the thousands. Then Mark tells James he needs to get out and see America. Because obviously the true Americans agree with Mark. See how that works?

Anderson then turns to our favorite voice of reason. Bring us home to sanity-land, David! "I think that, Anderson, we're going off the rails here in some of these demonstrations," he tells us. Looks like it's been one too many Nazis for our Gerg. He even wonders if the country's partisanship is becoming ungovernable. Mark finds this outrageous, noting that in the 60's we had cities in flames. And the Gerg is like, um, yeah, everyone sane condemned that. Yet here's Mark standing up for the crazies. Even James is like, hey, if you want to align yourself and the Republican party with people who scream "you lie!" at the president, then get on with your bad self.

Next Anderson gives us a little Maureen Dowd, noting that he's sure Mark reads her column "religiously." Dowd thinks the protests have an undercurrent of racism. Yeah, they do. But Mark of course dismisses this, pointing out that he's seen "exactly three" of those "witchdoctor signs" during his travels. Three again. What a coinky-dink. Like celebrity deaths, I guess offensive Obama signs always come in threes. Anyway, Mark thinks those fringe people are "no more part of mainstream America than are the hippies who wear nipple clips and feather boas in San Francisco's streets during so-called peace demonstrations." Um, nipple clips and feather boas are racist?

Anderson throws Mark a bone and says that he understands his argument here, but notes that on his website he calls Obama "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief." And this is where your blogger loses it. You can't even be mad at this point; it's just too freakin insane. Just sit back and laugh at the WTFery, people. For the record, Mark is full on embracing the crazy, which reduces poor Anderson to having to ask if he really thinks Obama is an Indonesian Muslim. (And I love the little eyebrow cock--even Mr. Opinionless Sleeves can't deal with this BS.) I'm practically falling out of my chair at this point. The fact that Carville is currently laughing his ass off as well isn't helping.

But the Gerg apparently still thinks this guy is worth getting angry about. "You think he's a racist in chief? Racist in chief? Is that what you called him? That's unbelievable," he says. Aw, it's gonna be okay, Gerg. The crazy cannot be reasoned with. Anyway, Mark continues to cling to his whole "working class American" meme because, obviously, Obama supporters don't work and aren't really American.

Anderson tries to wrestle us back into reality by bringing up a quote from conservative David Frum. Even he thinks things have gotten out of hand. Well, this is what happens when you let the Sarah Palins of the world define your party. I think it's about time to wrap this all up. There's some more back and forth and Mark tells James, without irony, that it's hard to take him seriously when he's acting "irrational." Yes, we wouldn't want anyone to start acting irrational.

Mark also goes off about the "corporate takeover of D.C." Which is why he wants to protect insurance companies? Uh huh. Bottom line, Obama is the change that millions of us voted for. It's not our fault Mark isn't part of that group. You can see the second half of this whole exchange here. Also, apparently Mark was not happy about his appearance, which he relays in a blog post here, calling his segment, "perhaps the most outrageous thing to come out of CNN’s AC360." Well he's sorta right.

Interestingly, this post has been edited. If you do a Google blog search, you will see that he originally portrayed his segment as a "three against one," even saying that Anderson ganged up on him. The new version just focuses on David and James. Afraid of the wrath of Cooper? Too bad the Internets never forget.

Ok, time to watch Kanye West on Leno. Last night at the VMA's he stormed the stage and stole Taylor Swift's moment, confirming to the world he's a total ass. Now he's chatting with Jay. Awwwkward. I flip over just in time to see him take the chair. Leno has gotten softer in his new time slot. Instead of doing a Hugh Grant, "What the hell were you thinking?" he goes all Barbara Walters and almost makes Kanye cry by asking what his late mom would think about the situation. Now, normally I would totally be manipulated by this, but no! He's been acting like a total ass since BEFORE his mom died and now he's going to use that as an excuse? That's some stone cold douche-baggery there.

Back to CNN, we're in the middle of a Tom Foreman piece on that missing Yale co-ed, Annie Le. Except she's not missing anymore. She's dead. Very sad.

Erica Hill has the "360 Bulletin" and hey, guess who we're talking about again? Kanye. "I actually watched just the beginning of that, because the rest of it was pretty much unwatchable. I felt so bad for her," says Anderson. This kinda cracked me up because I did exactly the same thing. When did MTV become so unwatchable? I barely even knew who Taylor Swift was before last night. I only turned it on because people were talking about it on Twitter. Everything is infinitely better when there are people to bitch with online. How do you think I got through any of Bush's State of the Unions? Anyway, we also get played the requisite Obama/Kanye mashup. C'mon, like you didn't know that was coming.

The "shot" tonight is the classic SNL Chippendales skit with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley. Two entertainers both taken too early.

The show was just okay. Hopefully they're still getting back into their studio groove. I guess we'll see.

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