Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Senate Announces Health Care Bill, Palin Continues To Haunt My News Viewing, And Killings At The Canal: The Army Tapes Part Two

Hi everyone. We're kicking things off tonight with big BREAKING NEWS: the Senate has a health care bill! And no member of Congress was harmed in its creation. Yet. The Democrats claim the plan will cover 94 percent of Americans AND cut the federal deficit by $127 billion over 10 years. Impressive. Republicans, you might guess, are already essentially going all Joe Wilson on Democrats, declaring there is no way the $849 billion price tag (over 10 years) won't put us further in the hole. Even Conservadems aren't so sure. CNN just received the 2,000 page bill, so I shall refrain from my bitching about fact-checking. Don't ever say I can't be fair.

But Dana Bash HAS been able to get a little more scoop. She joins us live with the news that the bill will cover pre-existing conditions, contains mandates, and does have a public option of which states can opt-out. I say it sounds pretty good; Dana says the public option part is basically dead on arrival. Bah. Such a Debbie Downer. Ooh! A Dana Downer. As for how they're going to pay for this thing, there'll be a 40 percent tax on high cost insurance plans, a slight Medicare payroll tax increase for families making over $250,000, and a five percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery.

Dana tells us that last item has already been nicknamed "Botax." Punny! "A lot of people are going to be surprised about that, but you won't be able to tell, because, you know, they won't show expressions," says Anderson Cooper. Bwah! He'll be here all night people. Try the veal. Anyhoo! Dana continues to bum me out with regards to abortion funding. Then Candy Crowley comes in and tells us that basically the Democrats are just trying to keep this bad boy moving forward. They're like the little engine that could. They think they can, they think they can.

Next up, 360 continues to force us to watch Sarah Palin's every move. Her latest book-pimping visit was to Fox News' Hannity. Oh, do not want! After that clip, we cut to a pre-recorded discussion with James Carville and Ralph Reed, apparently, already in progress. It seems we missed something quiet HILarious, because the guys are cracking the hell up. I guess it will remain a mystery. Also? Why is Ralph so orange? I swear, I can't ever look at that guy without thinking of Jon Stewart pondering if he sleeps in a vegetable crisper. Oh, and then there's that whole Abramoff thing. Seriously, why again is this guy still allowed to be on the TeeVee?

So anyway, James gives Palin all these compliments, which leads Anderson to ask the following: "Are you intentionally saying good things about her, so that the Republicans will keep her around as much as possible? Is there some sort of secret strategy on your part?" ZOMG, the super-secret code has been breached! Anderson is on to the Democrat's diabolical plan. All joking aside, I know many a liberal who would love for her to be the Republican nominee for 2012. Ralph notes that Palin energizes the grass roots and gets out the vote, so we shouldn't be laughing too much. Point taken.

Transitioning now to part two of the special series"Killings at the Canal: The Army Tapes" with correspondent Abbie Boudreau. This segment mostly focuses on the interrogation and confession of Sergeant Michael Leahy, which we see on the tapes. For background, check out my previous post. It's really fascinating to see the actual interrogation. Sergeant Leahy initially claims to have shot one Iraqi, but even though he admits to firing two shots, it takes quite a bit of coaxing for him to explain why the second shot occurred.

Apparently, he shot a second Iraqi as well, but this man did not immediately die, and instead fell to the ground gurgling. Sergeant John Hatley then delivered the fatal bullet. Leahy was hesitating and being vague because he did not want to point fingers at another soldier. In another segment of tape, an interrogator talks about the potential public relations mess. Kinda makes you wonder how often the Army abandons their own people in order to avoid controversy. I'm not saying that's what I believe happened here, but it's something to think about.

In this segment we also meet Leahy's wife, Jamie. The couple were married in a civil ceremony, but they had planned to have a wedding with the works later. That never happened because Leahy is now serving a 20 year sentence at Fort Leavenworth. Following her piece, Abbie joins us to talk about the wives of the men now serving time. Kim Hatley is remaining strong for her son who is now fighting in Afghanistan. But Johanna Mayo is legally blind with three young children. She depended on her husband for everything. So sad for all involved. According to Abbie, no one ever reported the four Iraqis missing. You can watch more here.

Abbie then sticks around for more discussion and were joined by former Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia and former military psychologist Larry James. There's a lot of talk about interrogation methods. Then David makes the point that as a soldier, you're forced to live in the moment. Basically he's saying they don't have the luxury of extensively weighing consequences. Larry agrees with David, concluding that the men were caught up in the "fog of war." But he also notes that there are thousands of soldiers out there right now dealing with the same tough circumstances as the men in the piece, and they're doing so without breaking the law. Good discussion.

Moving on now to Gary Tuchman live to preview his reporting that is, unfortunately, coming up in the next hour. Bummer. Because I won't be watching. Gary Tuchman should never be relegated to hour two. Just sayin'. Anyway, of note in the "360 Bulletin" is the news that a federal judge has ruled that "gross negligence" of the Army Corps of Engineers led to the flooding of New Orleans. Pretty big. Is it weird that the first thing (person, actually) I thought of was Harry Shearer? The show should have him and Ivor Van Heerden on to talk about the story. Look at me, I could be a booker. Yeah, I know, not that easy.

Pretty much the rest of the hour is Obama's press conference live from South Korea. The show was fairly good, though I still do not understand the Palin obsession. I hope Abbie's special gets a lot of viewers when it's aired over the weekend. It deserves them and let's face it, CNN's shows aren't doing too hot in that area right now. Tonight I was surprised to learn that two of my long-time 360-watching friends have pretty much tuned out. And no Jon Klein, the fact that you don't do opinion has nothing to do with it.

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