Thursday, September 10, 2009

Live From Afghanistan Day Four And Representative Joseph Wilson Is A Massive Tool

Hi everyone. A slight change-up tonight: Anderson Cooper is coming at us from Marine Forward Operating Base Geronimo. He's also coming at us from THE FUTURE! In Afghanistan, it is currently the morning of September 11th. Eight years. It seems longer. It seems like yesterday. Anyway, Anderson does his whole update, previewing spiel of which we've grown accustomed. Actually, he cuts in and out like that throughout the first half of the show, but your blogger here doesn't feel like getting all detail-y, so our anchor's just going to have to cool his heels for a bit. Catch you later dude.

On to the politics! Ok, I think at this point everybody and their momma knows that South Carolina representative Joseph Wilson decided to play crazy town hall person during Barack Obama's address to Congress. The Republican's outburst of "you lie!" was rightfully met with an immediate "oh no he din't!" among the sane of the nation. In a Joe Johns piece, we get a clip of Wilson's apology. Well, that is, if you define "apology" as something the party leadership made him do.

In explaining the situation, Joe tells us that "President Obama made a debatable claim that illegal immigrants would not be insured in his health care reform plan." Um, debatable? No, not debatable. In fact, easily fact-checked. Wilson was WRONG. In Joe's defense, he later acknowledges this fact while talking to us live, which makes the line in the piece all the more troubling.

Another troubling aspect of this piece is that we're told Wilson lost his cool on C-SPAN when a Democrat claimed the US sold weapons to Iraq, but we're not told whether or not the Democrat was right. He (basically) was. Anyway, while the Republican leadership might have metaphorically sent Wilson to the corner, the crazy base is in full on support mode. They even have t-shirts. No, I'm not kidding. And I fully support the effort. I am always behind anything that makes the demonstrably stupid identifiable by sight alone.

Suddenly, Wolf Blitzer is on my television. Oh, what the hell? See, this is why I call him the Wolfbot. The guy is ALWAYS there. You can't tell me he's not a robot. Anyhoo! He's got himself a panel consisting of Candy Crowley, Roland Martin, and tea bagger--ahem--tea party organizer, Mark Williams. The Wolfbot asks Mark if he agrees with Wilson. Surprise, surprise, he does. According to him, Wilson "absolutely spoke the truth." Then he starts talking about court battles and how illegal immigrants already get covered and Obama can't stop that and blah blah.

So really, this has nothing to do with the bill. This is about being pissed off at the status quo, yet hating Obama, and wanting to destroy anything he proposes. Blitzer then throws this nonsense to Roland, instead of flat out telling Mark he's full of crap, which he is. This is one of CNN's biggest weaknesses. Not everything is a debate with equal sides. WILSON IS WRONG. Why is this so hard?

Pausing this ridiculousness, we're joined by Dana Bash who has the low down on the meeting Obama just had with 17 conservative Democratic senators. They're saying it sounds like Obama is willing to negotiate on the public option. No offense Dana, but please go away because you are making me sad.

Back to our panel, Mark has just been asked if he thinks John McCain is a liar as well, given that he agrees with the POTUS. Predictably, he dodges and changes the subject. What does he change it to? Socialism of course! Good lord. This is pretty much where I stop listening. But there is one more noteworthy exchange. Mark says there is nothing he likes about Obama's plan and Roland asks if that includes the provision to ensure coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Mark acts like he'll be able to find coverage no matter what, which indicates he doesn't know anything about this subject. "You're not going to find them, Mark. They're not going to cover you," says Roland. To which Mark replies, "Well, there is probably a good reason, because it's a bad risk." "Wow," says Roland. Exactly. I mean, seriously, wow. Probably a self-described Christian too. Roland then asks if he would still feel that way if his wife got sick. Mark tries to dodge and then goes with the lame excuse that in the private sector a company would form to take on high risk cases. Um...when? He realizes this already happens, right? What planet is this man from? I am so done with this.

Transitioning now to an Anderson piece in which he goes out on a joint patrol with the Marines and the Afghan National Army. Assisting the Afghans is rough going for the Marines. First of all, there are a limited number of interpreters (aren't you glad we kicked out all those evil gay linguists?!) and the Afghans, quite frankly, aren't up to Marine-level snuff. They go into villages that they know have Taliban, but the locals will deny it because trust is low.

Although one man they meet does give them info (and CNN thankfully blurs his face). Anderson asks him if he trusts the Marines and he says he does. Hey, I have a question: WHERE IS YOUR HELMET, SILVER FOX?! Ok, I'm better now. It's just that in that clip he was the only one (besides the locals) not wearing one. Later, we see some of the Marines with theirs off too and I don't feel quite as shouty. Also, there's a bit of excitement of the nail-biting variety when someone throws a flare and the Marines have to snap into action. (They find nothing.) Everything is scary in Afghanistan.

Moving on now to a taped discussion with Peter Bergen and Michael Ware regarding why we're even in the country. Many Americans no doubt think it's to hunt down Al Qaeda, but that's not really an issue. Peter notes, however, that the Taliban have adopted a lot of Al Qaeda's technique, IEDS being a major one. He seems to subscribe to the theory that if we leave, the Taliban could take over and once again harbor Al Qaeda.

Michael calls that a big assumption and sounds pretty skeptical about the whole premise. So...I still pretty much have no idea why we're there. If it is about fear of Al Qaeda organizing, why Afghanistan? They can set up shop in any unstable country (and have). Are we going to invade all of them? We really want to do Somalia again? And if it's not about Al Qaeda, then what is it about? Ok, so we're nation building. Why that nation and what do we want it to look like when we're done? The debate of Afghanistan has barely begun. Also? We still don't know where the frick Bin Laden is.

Next up, we have a Sanjay Gupta piece on little toddler, Malik, the boy who fell down a cliff and suffered a hematoma. As reported previously, Special Forces choppered him to a military hospital, where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Now he's improved enough to go home, but doing so is not an easy task. He lives in the remote mountains where a helicopter cannot land, so he is taken to a primitive clinic.

From there they will have to carry him home. Yes, carry. Malik's prognosis is good, but the docs are going to need to do some mountain climbing for home visits. It makes me proud that people from the U.S. would do that to provide a little Afghan boy with the health care he needs. It's also kinda ironic given the current debate in this country.

After Sanjay, Anderson is talking to us, but we can't hear him. They subsequently play b-roll and we hear an urgent whispered, "what's going on?" I don't know. What is going on? Sorry, 360, but sometimes you make your technical difficulties amusing.

The "shot" tonight is Anderson talking with some members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. We hear from Zachary Bennett, Mark Scozer, Kyle Campbell, Shane Brandon, and Isabella the IED dog. Ok, we don't actually hear from her, but you get the drift. Stay safe guys.

The show was pretty good, though I'm sure you can tell I thought the political coverage was a tad lacking. Oh CNN, will you ever learn? Probably not.

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