Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Senator Ensign's Ethics Trouble, Economic Regrouping, Lt. Dan Choi Debates Elaine Donnelly Re: DADT, And A Young Boy Caught in Chicago's Violence

Hi everybody. Hey, you know what we haven't had in a little while? Political scandal! Once upon a time, there was a socially conservative Republican who cheated on his wife. I'm probably going to have to get a lot more specific, huh? Back in June, Nevada Senator John Ensign admitted to an affair with a woman on his staff. This news--for the most part--was met with a collective yawn (especially since he was soon totally one-upped by Mark Sanford), but now we're learning, oh, there's more.

According to "The New York Times," Ensign helped his mistress's husband get a lobbying job and clients. And then that dude turned around and lobbied the senator on behalf of said clients. Um, that's a no no under Congressional ethics rules, specifically because you're supposed to wait a year to do any lobbying after leaving a Congressional staff position. Not to mention the fact that Ensign's parents gave the couple almost $100,000. Okay, that's weird. Why are mommy and daddy getting involved like this in a senator's life?

For the proverbial discussion, we're joined by Dana Bash, Joe Johns, and Melanie Sloan of Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). I've always been a fan of Melanie, probably because I'm a fan of responsibility and ethics. She points out this is pretty much the same kind of deal that took down Bob Ney. But the limelight here goes to Dana who tracked down Ensign and peppered him with questions, which we see. He tries to do the whole "nothing to see here" routine, but she doesn't let up. Girl's got moxie! Should be interesting to see where this goes. All I know is, Ensign is in trouuuuble.

Transitioning now to Ed Henry live, talking about the new economic package being bandied about in the White House. Basically, it's a second stimulus, but they're not going to call it a "stimulus" because they know Republicans will win the message war. Ooh! Call it Freedom Dollars! Gotta love politics.

Oh noes. Ali Velshi is back at his Wall of Doom. I'm having flashbacks. Or actually, I'm zoning out. I don't know if he talks too fast, or if it's the subject, or both, but these segments never hold my attention.

For the partisan pundification of our evening, we're joined by James Carville and Ari Fleischer. A sum up: Ari thinks Obama's economic policy has ruined us, James thinks we're doing pretty good given the mess Bush left, and Anderson Cooper is really hung up on the fact that they won't call it a second stimulus. Bottom line? A good percentage of economists noted at the time that the first stimulus was too small, so many of us knew this was coming. This DOES NOT mean the stimulus failed. It HAS worked, just not enough. I will concede to Ari that Obama was much too optimistic with initial recovery figure predictions.

Of note is Ari referring to the first stimulus as the "let's go broke and get there quickly act." Sorry, that name was already given to the Bush tax cuts by the majority of Americans. Next! Also, in addition to Ari stating that the stimulus package put us in hole, he believes that it will be the random business cycle that gets us out. "So, wait. So, Ari, you're blaming (Obama) for a loss of jobs, but any recovery, you won't give him credit for?" asks Anderson with a slight smirk. Good catch by him. I totally missed that because I was busy being all ticked off.

Transitioning now to our rock 'em sock 'em segment of the night. An article in the Pentagon Journal "Joint Force Quarterly," has found that, hey, it turns out that whole being openly gay thing doesn't mess with unit cohesion after all. Who'd a thunk it? Well, I'll tell you who still doesn't think it; Elaine Donnelly, that's who. She is the president of the Center for Military Readiness, which despite its official sounding name, has no affiliation with the military. They're against gays serving openly. Arab linguist First Lieutenant Dan Choi would like to do just that. Both individuals are here to debate (go here for video). Let the games begin.

Anderson asks Elaine why Dan shouldn't be able to serve, and she goes off on a tangent about the law. Well, laws are sometimes meant to be changed. Besides, that's not really what Anderson meant, so he clarifies and asks what Dan is hurting. Again, Elaine dodges, so much so that Anderson literally tells her she's not answering his question. She then tries to compare gays in the military with men and women serving together. Dan notes that sexual orientation and gender are not the same thing. He then goes on to tell us about the real harm that happens when you kick these men and women out. Like, in case people haven't noticed, we can kinda use all the translators we can get.

Dan's answer brings this from Elaine: "Dan, I see little concern for the people who would be forced out of the military if this law passed." Um, what? Anderson is apparently equally comfuzzled, and wonders who these people are who would be forced out. But Elaine, like, literally won't stop talking, resulting in exasperated face from Anderson. "Elaine, please let me ask you a question. Elaine," he says. Finally he gets to ask again. "Zero tolerance of anyone who disagrees is a corollary policy that comes if you treat an issue as a civil rights issue," answers Elaine. Wow. So basically, we need to protect the homophobes, is that it?

Anderson points out that people can disagree with policy, but as long as they serve with respect and don't act on that disagreement, there is no problem. But Elaine's not buying it. Then she and Dan are talking all over each other and Anderson snatches back control. "Guys, wait a minute. Time out. Time out. It really does nobody any good to talk over each other. It's really actually rather irritating. And the audience just turns you off." Booyah! But actually, I'm very much into this, so...carry on.

Dan notes that he's a linguist, which is very important to his unit. He tells Elaine he has a question for her, and then begins speaking in Arabic. "See, if you can't answer that, that's not a problem. If soldiers can't answer that, it's very devastating," he says. Oh, snap. That was pretty cool. And a point well taken. Well, it would have been if Elaine was listening to anything he said. Anderson points out that basically Elaine is insulting service members because she's assuming them to be too "narrow-minded" to serve with openly gay individuals.

"Would you expect women to live with men in conditions of little or no privacy?" asks Elaine. They do, replies Anderson. He notes that he was just there. Then he goes on to ask Elaine if she's ever even been to Afghanistan...or served in the military...or maybe even been on a military base? Bueller? Seriously. Who is this woman? Can I found a professional sounding organization and spout-off on news shows too? This woman doesn't seem to have any credibility whatsoever, though I suppose she makes up for it with pretty apparent homophobia.

Anyway, Anderson brings up the journal article, to which Elaine replies, "There is no other military in the world that is implementing the extreme plan that you are advocating, Dan Choi." Extreme? Disclosing your sexual orientation is extreme? Good lord lady, he's not asking to have sex in public with his boyfriend, he just wants to live his life honestly. And newsflash, he's still gay no matter what, and that is so obviously your real problem. Ironically, as Dan points out, it's people like him that fight for Elaine's right to say these ridiculous things.

Well, that segment was lively, wasn't it? You almost have to feel bad for the people against gay rights (almost), because they've already lost. DADT will be repealed. Gay marriage will happen in this country. Unless they can figure out how to cease the progression of time, there's nothing they can do to stop it. So to the Elaines of the world, I have only this to say: tick, tock.

Moving on to a Gary Tuchman piece on little Martrell Stevens, a six-year-old who became a victim of Chicago's wave of violence when he was shot while sleeping in the back of his mother's car. The bullet that was meant for someone else left Martrell partially paralyzed. His mother is positive people know who the shooter is, but no one has come forward. In fact, she herself sees him everyday. Fear keeps her quiet. I can't even imagine. In a particularly adorable (yet sad) moment, Gary asks Martrell what happened to him and the six-year-old whispers it like a secret: "I got shot." This should not be happening.

For discussion, we're joined by Steve Perry, who implores that the community must take responsibility. Anderson latches onto the "stop snitching" thing again, but he even notes that Martrell's mom is afraid to come forward. Maybe all the witnesses are afraid to come forward. I'm not sure he's putting that angle into the proper context. The show will be live in Chicago on Wednesday and I'll be interested to hear what the local press has to say regarding 360's coverage.

Anyway, Steve points out that if these recent murders had been committed by a white kid, the black community would rise up. He's demanding to see that same reaction now. Wow, tough love and good point. Anderson notes that people seem to accept and even expect this kind of crime against urban kids. Another good point. This would be a much different story if it were happening in an upscale suburb. That's a simple fact. All these dead kids is nothing anyone should accept.

The "shot" tonight is a pint-sized Kurt Russell giving the pre-game pep talk in the movie "Miracle." So cute. For those of you who haven't seen the film, possibly because you're not a sports person, coughAndersoncough, it really is a great flick. I was amazed at how climactic it felt, even though we all totally know the outcome going in. Pretty good show. That'll do it.

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Blogger gayle said...

I loved last nights show!! It was nice to see some heated discussions! I know ,when I talk to my tv and say 'That's right!' and 'What century are you from?' etc.that I am engaged in the events that rear passionate emotions,on both sides.That needs to be heard: To rally people together,to sway others to change their minds or to oppose the inevitable changes that are on the horizon.It's all good! : )

4:52 PM  

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