Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Live From Afghanistan Day One, The Right Gets Van Jones's Head, And Obama Wants To Turn Your Kids Communist...Or Something

Hi everybody. Look at me! I'm blogging. So okay, I was hoping to have the time to do a little splainin-type post about my whole disappearing/reappearing act and the direction of this blog, but well, that didn't work out. Maybe later. I really wanted to blog the Afghanistan coverage (check out my September 2006 archives for blogs of their last visit), so for now, this is me metaphorically dipping my toes in the water, deciding if I really do want to go for that swim. And so it goes. Hopefully I'm not too rusty.

We begin in New York, where Erica Hill is holding down the fort and occupying the anchor chair. She then immediately throws it to the owner of that chair, one Mr. Anderson Cooper, who is coming at us from Patrol Base Jaker in Afghanistan. We get some real nice seconds of him staring and blinking and...nothing. Bueller? Well, crap. I was willing the technical gods to do their mojo, but no dice. Sigh. I feel their pain. Back to New York we go.

Erica then talks a little about the recent political goings-on, which leads us into a Candy Crowley piece. Topic numero uno? The resignation of White House special adviser on green jobs, Van Jones. Under fire from the right, he finally bit the big one. His crime? Well, he called republicans "assholes," which, uh, kinda just makes me like him. I kid! Sorta.

Seeing as though our last vice president--you know, the one who crawled out of his undisclosed location to get really chatty lately--was known for telling people to go fuck themselves, I'm not exactly clutching my pearls here. The big issue, however, seems to be that Jones signed some sort of 9-11 Truther petition, even though he's stated he doesn't believe the White House had any knowledge of the attacks. If you want to have a through-the-looking-glass kind of moment, the right wing website Little Green Footballs backs Jones up.

Full disclosure: I don't really know much about this Van Jones guy. In fact, I hadn't even heard of him before the other side got their undies all in a twist. But this all seems a bit like a witch hunt. And I can't believe Candy didn't mention Glenn Beck. Anyway, then Candy goes on to discuss some more about Obama's no good, very bad summer. We're played a clip of Obama all fired up and doing his pointing thing. Hey, it's Campaign! Obama. I love Campaign! Obama. But guess what. Campaign's over.

For discussion of all this, we're joined by Candy, David Gergen, and new dude Joe Hicks, who is vice president of Community Advocates Incorporated. They talk a bit about vetting and I still think there's a bit of BS going on here. Plus, don't you love how Republicans will cling on until the very last second, but Democrats practically leap at the chance to fall on their sword? The only thing really of note here is new dude saying having Van Jones in the administration is like having a Holocaust denier there. WTF? New dude needs to work on his first impression.

Continuing with our panel, the subject switches to health care reform and Obama's upcoming address to Congress. Candy tells us Democrats will be looking for guidelines. Yes. What. Do. You. Want?! Line in the sand time. And the public option better be on the right side of the line. Then our pontificators move on to Obama's speech to school kids, the text of which has just been released. Much to everyone's surprise, our president actually doesn't want to turn your kids into gay-marrying, baby-killing, commies.

Even Republican Jim Greer (who you might remember as the guy who got his ass handed to him by Anderson and Roland Martin) now deems the speech's personal responsibility theme to be worthy of his children's ears. Well, good. Still a hypocritical asshat though.

Erica notes that the Obama camp seems to constantly be on the defensive and wonders why things are so difficult for them. Ooh! I know! I know! Because the base of the Republican party is frickin insane and Obama keeps trying to act like they're reasonable people who don't have the sole goal of destroying him. Not to mention the fact that they've done a good job of co-opting the entire party and a portion of the media. NBC Nightly did a good piece related to this and the Gerg touches on it in his Villager-y Gerg-y way.

Bleh. Still no Anderson. But never fear, next we have a piece from the awesomely awesome Gary Tuchman. He's traveled to North Carolina where we meet Chris Gibbs, principal of Claremont Elementary School, and the decider when it comes to whether or not Claremont's students will hear Obama's speech. While Gibbs gives the situation a little prayer time, Gary and crew head to the county fair for a smattering of opinions. "It's getting like communism," says one gentleman. If you haven't guessed, he's in the 'no' camp. You also might have guessed that schools in the area who don't want to show the speech were mostly McCain strongholds in 2008. Shocking, no?

Anyway, back to Gibbs. God has responded and apparently the Big Guy in the sky said no. Sorry kids. No personal responsibility motivating for you! Gary then asks Gibbs what would happen if Obama wanted to personally come to his school to give the speech. Oh man. More praying! What's sad is that you can tell the guy would be so excited if that happened, but he's got all these crazy parents on his back. This is all so stupid. I think George Bush was probably the worst president in modern history, but if he wanted to give kids a speech about working hard? Who cares? Hell, I'd just be impressed if most of the thing was coherent.

Technical problems solved! Helllloo Anderson! Our anchor explains that Patrol Base Jaker is a forward operating post in a remote region in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province. There are 10,000 Marines in Helmand who are working on the strategy of clear, hold, and build. In a subsequent piece, Anderson talks with Colonel Bill McCullough to learn a little more about the province and the current work being done.

There's talk of nation building and focus on governance. Also, apparently the Marines separate the Taliban into the categories of big "T" and little "T," with the former being the real deal and the latter being those easily co-opted due to their circumstances. Finally, yes, I did notice that the tight tee is being rocked in this piece, though (thankfully) mostly covered by a bullet proof vest. Just sayin'. I'm a news snob. I'm not dead.

On to a Michael Ware piece about the non hunky dory-ness of this mess we've gotten ourselves into. Case in point: Highway No. 1, a 300 mile stretch of road from Kabul to Kandahar that takes nine or ten hours to travel. If you make it alive. The road is American-paved and American-aided (our bucks), but surrounded by pockets of Taliban. Michael gives us this information by walking down the highway, totally exposed, in his bathrobe. Okay, I'm kidding about that last part (he's wearing local garb), but he really is just walking around all exposed. Crazy Aussie always making me worry.

Back to Anderson and he's blinking at us again. Perhaps this is some sort of Morse code. Then someone loudly says, "go!" and boom! He's telling us about election fraud. So that's how you activate an anchor. There's been much talk regarding the fishiness of the recent Afghan elections and now U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, is urging Karzai to allow the Afghanistan election commission to investigate. We're then joined by Peter Bergen who reminds us that Karzai needs 50 percent of the vote and he's currently not there.

The subject then switches to Helmand province and Peter tells us that the Taliban used to control 12 districts and now they only control one. Progress! Of course, there's always the chance they're laying low. Plus there have been attacks in Northern Afghanistan. So...Helmand is all well and good, but we've already played whack-a-mole and it didn't turn out all that great. Finally, there's a bit of talk regarding what we're being sold (going after Al Qaeda) versus what the U.S. is actually doing (nation building). In truth, I'm not exactly sure what Obama is selling here. I'm open to buying, but I'm going to need a better pitch.

Next up, we have a Sanjay Gupta piece from Camp Dwyer for the medical aspect of Helmand. What's interesting is all but 25 percent of the patients in the trauma unit are local civilians. While Sanjay is there, the patients include a young soldier injured by an IED, a middle-aged Afghan national, a two-year-old with a severe brain injury, and a final patient choppered in at night. A busy and no doubt heartbreaking place.

Anderson then wraps up his part by doing some previewing of the rest of the week's coverage. Then we're back to Erica who banters with Tom Foreman about Tila Tequila. Because we all care about her. The hour wraps up with a pool-shooting pup for the "shot" and that'll do it. I would have liked more Afghanistan coverage, but the technical difficulties might have had something to do with that. Besides, they kept the tabloid stuff to the headlines, so I don't have much to complain about. Can a blogger get a woo hoo? That's all for now. Good job, 360! Also, though it's already been said by every fangurl with a modem, be careful.

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Anonymous Duffy said...

Definitely not rusty, dear. Too many LOL moments to even pull quotes, and you're right, the coverage was finally good tonight after, like, two solid months of MJ and kidnap victims. So glad to see you back; hope you hang around and swim a while!

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erica was supposed to be anchoring tonight, you realized that,didn't you?

6:26 AM  
Blogger -Chris Sosa said...

"So that's how you activate an anchor." - Hands-down favorite line, mainly because I've done floor directing before, and it's true!

Glad to see you blogging again. Thanks for the insight!

2:45 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Duffy: Thanks! I'd love to stay around and swim, but sometimes the water is so cold (and filled with tabloid-y nonsense)!

@Anonymous: Erica anchored from New York. Anderson anchored from Afghanistan. Not sure what you're getting at.

@Chris Sosa: Thanks! Cool to see you on the blog. Yeah, I cracked up when that happened. He just sprang into action!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

Welcome back! Great post, as usual.

Anne D.

2:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Eliza: Anderson was just on for a piece, a cut in with his piece from Afghanistan, so that means she anchored the program.

9:40 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks Anne!

5:50 PM  

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