Monday, October 05, 2009

Where We're Headed In Afghanistan, Republicans Are Spiteful, The Safety Of The H1N1 Vaccine, And An Army Deserter With PTSD

Hi everybody. We begin with the solemn news that on Saturday the US lost eight soldiers in Afghanistan, the worst single-day loss since the war began. With the eighth anniversary of the war upon us, and the current decision afoot of whether or not to send more troops, Afghanistan has finally made its way front and center in the news.

In an Anderson Cooper piece (yes, he actually did a piece and he's not in the field), we learn more about Saturday's attack, which occurred in eastern Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. The troops were in a remote section of the country and very outnumbered. We're reminded that a similar incident occurred last year in Wanat, and are subsequently shown some video of the very scary firefight that was obtained by CBS News.

Speaking of that network, the CBS Evening News is committing about half of each of their broadcasts this week to the subject of Afghanistan. I just watched some of it online and they've got some good pieces. I recommend that you check them out.

To talk about the situation, we're joined by Peter Bergen and Christiane Amanpour, who has just interviewed Secretaries Gates AND Clinton. Christiane always ups the awesome quotient of any discussion. We learn from her that although Gates feels the Taliban now has the momentum in the war, he did not explicitly advocate for more troops.

Anderson and Peter then talk a bit about how the timing of this latest attack was most likely not a coincidence. The Taliban aren't stupid. They're playing US public opinion. It's also noted that these troops sitting on remote bases are essentially sitting ducks. I'm actually confused about this. In Iraq, that was the strategy--get troops out of the big bases and among the people to build trust. But if the Afghanistan troops on these bases are only doing security operations, it's ridiculous they're so exposed.

We get an old clip now of Nic Robertson in Nuristan, huffing and puffing over the rough terrain. I'm pretty sure I blogged this when it first aired.

Back to the discussion, they talk a bit about General McChrystal and how he's basically speechifying his agenda now. I'm sorry, I think he needs to zip it and let Obama weigh all the options. They don't call him Commander in Chief for nothing. Christiane brings up the interesting point that maybe McChrystal is trying to make up for the mistakes of the last generals who blindly followed Bush. Maybe. But I think Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt. For now.

We all know Peter is in support of a commitment with more troops, but Anderson asks him to make the best case for the drone strategy, which he does. Christiane then points out that drones kill civilians and when that happens we lose trust and...that's pretty much one of the main things were going for right now. So...yeah. I'm telling you, people, I feel for Obama because this is not simple. At all.

Anderson then drills in his favorite point--that being that we're really nation building. Christiane admits that, yes, that's a big part of what both McChrystal and Obama have said we're going to do. I don't think the American people fully understand what that's going to entail. We're talking decades of commitment here. And in the short term, the soldiers are not trained for this.

PBS's Frontline has a new special on Afghanistan premiering later this month, but they have a rough cut up now. There's a scene where you can see a young soldier become very frustrated as he tries to communicate with a group of locals. I think it really encompasses one of the main problems of nation building using a fighting force--again, they're just not trained for this.

Moving on to a question that Anderson has been repeating throughout a good number of teases: "Has Obama lost his mojo?" See, our prez has taken a few hits lately, most notably the loss of the Chicago Olympics. Then this past weekend, Saturday Night Live's cold open didn't show Obama in the warmest light, and now we've got Anderson--with a completely straight face--asking about Obama's mojo. As a friend said to me while watching the show, "If you're going to ask a stupid question, at least make sure you don't *sound* like an idiot."

Seriously, his mojo? And seriously, SNL is the go-to for analysis now? This brings back memories of the media doing an about-face on Hillary Clinton following SNL's skits during the primaries. I'm not saying the show is wrong even in this instance, but the media's reaction to it is so, so pathetic. And why is 360 letting themselves get caught up in stupid media narratives again? I thought they got over that. Like a bad cold.

The only good thing about all this is that we get to hear from Paul Krugman, who I love. Of course, my excitement is tempered by the fact that we're also going to hear from Mary Matalin, who I really, really...don't love. So anyway, Krugman has a new column out that rightly calls out the Republicans for having the "emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old." One specific example is their absolute glee in America losing the 2016 Olympic bid.

Anderson is still using his stupid "mojo" question. For the record, no, Paul does not think Obama has lost his mojo--he even thinks we'll get health care reform. Shocker upon shockers, Mary disagrees. Bleh. This whole thing is an exercise in idiocy. I mean, what did we think she was going to say? She obviously never thought he had "mojo" in the first place. And that's the last time I'm using that word in this post.

Mary goes on to rightly note that what has stopped health care reform so far has been the Blue Dog Democrats. Anderson then asks Paul the following: "
Do you think the opposition that the Republicans are throwing up now is different than what the Democrats threw up against President Bush?" I wasn't aware the Democrats ever threw up anything against Bush. Isn't rolling over pretty much their MO? Anyway, yes, yes, of course the opposition is different. The Republicans just oppose to oppose. I mean, seriously, the Olympics? They opposed the Olympics?

Then for some reason Mary brings up Rush Limbaugh, who she apparently reveres. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. She then goes on to say that people like to listen to Rush and Rush knockoffs because they can hear info that doesn't demonize them or call them anti-American. She's got to be kidding. Liberals were called anti-American throughout all of the Bush years for simply questioning his strategies, and now conservatives just literally rooted against America. Disgusting.

So...that segment was fairly pointless. Hell, I probably could have written their lines for them. At least give us some David Gergen next time to make things more thoughtful. Also, Paul is clearly sick. Hope it's not the swine flu!

With that segue, we move on to Dr. Mehmet Oz talking about the H1N1 vaccine. You see what I just did there? Okay, so, the vaccine will start to become available soon and children, pregnant women, and health care professionals will be first in line. Concern about the vaccine is also brought up, and I have to say, Dr. Oz here doesn't really alleviate any fears. Yes, the vaccine is new, yes, there is always a risk. But what really gets me is when he tells us that his wife won't get it or let their children get it. And he seems perfectly fine with this. Mixed messages there, doc.

Moving on to a Randi Kaye piece on the Erin Andrews peephole scandal. I'm think I'm going to skip most of this, but I do want to point out a bit of discussion that Anderson has with Randi after the package runs. They're talking about how the dude just stood outside the hotel door. "
He was allegedly just standing there outside the door," says Anderson. "Recording this just by putting his thing up to the door." Tee hee. Putting his thing up to the door? Yes, I'm 12.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece on an Iraq war deserter who surrendered today. Don Gartin is from a military family, but spent about the last six months on the run because he felt he was mentally unfit to serve. He says he attempted to get treatment for PTSD, but was unsuccessful and feared someone would die if he didn't desert.

According to Gary, Don is now possibly facing a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay, and up to five years in a military lockdown. The Pentagon is not responding to inquiries. Obviously we're mainly only getting Don's side of the story, but it seems like a pretty sad situation. If he has PTSD he should be getting help, not being locked up.

The Letterman scandal was relegated to the "360 Bulletin" tonight. Good job, 360!

The "shot" tonight is a kid rocking out...on the accordion. I knew that instrument would have its day at some point! That about does it for the show, which I thought was pretty good tonight. I hope they keep up the Afghanistan coverage and stay away from going overboard on the celebrity/tabloid crap.

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Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

Yes, finally Afghanistan made it's way ahead of the Teabaggers, Letterman, Jon and Kate, Kanye West, etc. I feel for Obama, too, in the decisions he will have to face. Lynn Sherr filled in for Bill Moyers and did an interview with Rory Stewart. I think you should pull it up. He covers the Afghanistan situation, the nation building and the decades of committment. It was a very thoughtful and informative interview. I am trying to digest a panel discussion on "mojo". Mary Matalin's voice alone repels me. Since Limbaugh is such a racist, I can't bear to listen to those who sing his praises. I agree with Paul Krugman about the health care reform, it made the whole "mojo" stuff sound dumb. I really can't beleive how any news medium would seriously use a lame SNL skit as a narrative for a story. Or how they all went crazy over Letterman, with hardly a mention to the blackmailer. Maybe 360 suffered Letterman and Dr. Drew overload, a decision was made to just put it in the bulletin. That kid made the accordion sound like a church organ. p.s. are you getting both flu shots? Anne D.

6:01 AM  
Blogger eliza said...


It's nice to have news in your news, isn't it? Although to be fair to 360, they did go to the country and have been keeping up with the situation--as of late, anyway.

Thanks for the tip about the Rory Stewart interview. He's a really smart guy, so I'll have to check that out. I just discovered that Frontline has a bunch of their episodes online now. I've hit the motherlode! Heh.

I really dislike Mary Matalin. Like, a lot. Where's Ed Rollins? I may disagree with him, but he rarely makes me want to throw things. As for the "mojo" stuff, if there's one thing I've learned from watching the news, they often have a tendency to go stupid.

Still deciding on the shot.

5:44 PM  

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