Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Live From Chicago For Coverage Of The Violence, Charlie Rangel Makes Me Sad, The Politics Of Afghanistan, And NOW Takes On Letterman

Hi everyone. Anderson Cooper is coming at us live from Chicago tonight in order to report on the horrible violence that has been plaguing the city's schoolchildren--94 dead since 360 began their coverage of the story. We all know the most recent victim was a 16-year-old honor student named Derrion Albert, and our anchor shows us the very spot where he was beaten to death. It's pretty creepy to see Anderson walking around in the same area that we all saw on that disgusting video.

Gary Tuchman then joins Anderson to tell us about the new plan put forth by Ron Huberman, head of Chicago Public Schools. In a subsequent piece, we learn that federal stimulus money is going to be used to target 10,000 at risk kids (the at-riskiest, I suppose). The plan entails providing each of these kids a 24 hour mentor and part-time employment. However, this isn't exactly controversy free. First of all, 10,000 is a pretty small percentage of all Chicago students and the program won't even touch those not in school. After his piece, Gary tells us that the mentors are not professionals. I suppose it could work. But it seems like there might be better ways to spend the money.

Steve Perry is then brought in via satellite and he is not down with Huberman's proposal. He notes that because the program would be funded by stimulus money, it won't be sustainable because eventually the money will run out. A very good point. Steve's focus is on teachers. Basically he wants them to step up their game and do more for their students than just normal teaching. That sounds good, but I imagine most of them are just going to turn around and say that they're not getting the support they need from parents. Everybody has to play their part. One group fails, everyone fails.

We're then joined by Chicago resident Janice Allen, who is raising her nephew. She's very concerned about the situation in her neighborhood and stresses that the kids need something constructive to do with all their free time. Steve, as on previous nights, continues to state that this problem is a local issue. "I say, with all due respect to Mrs. Allen, she and the members of that community need to know that they can change this," he says. This annoyed me a little.

With all due respect to Steve, I think these people need guidance. The problem has become so big, no one knows how to take the first step. It would be great if someone like him--who has the experience--could go to Chicago and give community leaders specific, concrete advice. The whole city seems to be paralyzed on this issue right now. They need someone or something to bring them together to get the ball rolling.

Back from commercial, we're met with the sound of very loud train passing by, and the sight of Anderson, very amused by the timing of the passing train. Gotta love live TV.

Transitioning now to our political scandal segment of the evening. Senator Ensign? Oh, that was sooo yesterday. We're doing the Democratic side of the aisle tonight. Oh, Charlie Rangel, say it ain't so! Okay, so, Dana Bash is here with Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, to discuss Representative Rangel's failure to disclose, like, a whole bunch of stuff of the income and assets variety. Oops. Rangel chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws, so there's an added dose of irony for you.

I like Rangel. He's done good work. So I'm not ready to throw him under the bus quite yet. Neither, apparently, are the House Democratic leadership. Nancy Pelosi says she's waiting for the report from the Ethics Committee. That sounds reasonable. Anyway, of note from the discussion is Anderson saying, "It's pretty outrageous that the man responsible for writing our tax laws is accused of being basically a complete deadbeat on his own taxes." Damn. Tell us how you really feel, Anderson.

Then from Dana: "I caught up with Congressman Rangel earlier this evening and I asked him just about that question." Just about. Me thinks she prettied-up the "deadbeat" talk. Not to be misconstrued that I'm implying bias from our anchor, I should note that I love he was frank. I just thought it was funny. Anyhoo! We're supposed to have some more discussion with Dana, but judging by Anderson's sudden IFB-fiddling, and the split-second panicked expression on his face, this segment is over. Sorry Dana.

On now to talk about Afghanistan...with political analysts. Oh yay. Instead of listening to James Carville and Bill Bennett bicker over troop levels, I recommend you watch this video of Rory Stewart discussing the situation on Bill Moyers Journal. Thanks to commenter Anne for pointing me to some very sobering analysis.

As for the segment, James and Bill go back and forth. Bill even brings up my pet peeve of using the "success" of the Iraq surge as evidence we should add more troops. For a while, Anderson seems to be asleep at the wheel, but then...,"the major part of what worked was the change in mind, the desire by Sunnis, former insurgents, to either be bought off, paid off, or to change and start fighting against al Qaeda. We haven't seen a willingness on the part of a lot of people in Afghanistan to get off the fence," he tells Bill. Yay, context! Thank you, Anderson.

On now to discussion with Lisa Bloom and Howard Kurtz over the David Letterman drama. Now the National Organization for Women has gotten into the mix, charging Dave with creating a hostile work environment. Lisa pretty much agrees with that, as do I. I'm not trying to be all prudey about this, but the way he keeps joking about the situation is weird. Because it's not funny. Honestly, I never really thought about Dave in the first place, so it's not like I had respect built up for him that I lost. If it were someone I do feel that way about, however, like maybe Jon Stewart, yes, I'd probably look at him differently. Also, Howie, you really need to start tweeting about other things. Just sayin'.

I think I'm going to wrap things up now. Anderson has an interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, but I can't say I got much out of it. Anyway, this was a pretty good show. I was surprised by the lack of the phrase "stop snitching." In fact, I think Anderson only alluded to the "code" once, which is quite a change from the previous coverage. I'm not sure why they switched-up their focus, but I'm glad they did. I think the situation was put in a more proper context tonight. That'll do it.

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