Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Blame Game On Security Failures, Children Trained To Kill, A Third Party Crasher, And What's Coming In The New Decade

Hi everybody. Before we begin, did I really just see Joan Rivers talking about national security on Larry King Live? That's some stone cold WTFery there. We're also kicking things off with national security--the security of Newark Airport to be exact. You might remember that all hell broke lose at the airport over the weekend when some dude breached a checkpoint. This lead to a line that was comical in its monstrosity.

From Randi Kaye, we learn that said dude has yet to be found, partly because there is no tape of him. Apparently, the security cameras weren't recording--actually haven't been recording for a week. So let me get this straight, with all the billions of dollars we've spent training people, they neglected to show officials how to press "record"?! To be fair (or accurate, anyway), there seems to be some sort of malfunction that needed fixing. But a week?! Jebus.

This moves us into President Obama speechifying on the Underpants Bomber, and how the "intelligence community failed" to connect the dots. He also adds that he appreciates members of his team taking responsibility in their own agencies. And this totally pisses off Anderson Cooper. Those that watched our anchor through Katrina know that he very much wanted to play the "blame game" and was down with fingers being pointed. In fact, he even compares what's going on now to how officials acted in the wake of the hurricane. I was with him then; I'm not so sure I follow now.

We're taken to the Magic Wall where we find a whole mess of Obama Administration officials who can be connected to the Underpants Bomber case--Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and on and on. All people who have THE GALL to not immediately throw themselves on their swords in the name of false accountability. Don't get me wrong, I love it when they name names. If they want to investigate these people's roles, that's fantastic. But this is not Katrina.

Most of you will remember that in the wake of Katrina, FEMA head Michael Brown--a man whose main qualification for the job was head of a horse society--was unaware that there were thousands of people suffering at the convention center. Yes, that is a situation when you say, "fire that guy." But now? We still don't even have all the facts yet. Stepping down for stepping down sake is, quite frankly, stupid. This is a complicated situation. If when all is said and done there is someone clearly at fault, I'll join Anderson in praising the rolling head.

For discussion of this, we're joined by David Gergen, Paul Begala, and Ron Christie. Of note is Anderson asking if Obama should have come back from vacation. "President Bush got hammered when he was on vacation and something happened and he didn't come back," says our anchor. "Something" happened? Wow, vague much? When Shoe Bomber guy did his thing, Bush didn't say anything for six days and got virtually no flack for it, so I have no idea what he's talking about. This gets thrown to Paul...who proceeds to concern troll that Obama didn't wear a tie. And he's the Democrat! Good lord.

After a break, Stephen Flynn, author of "The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation" is brought into the mix. The first thing Anderson does is bring up a comment Sarah Palin made on Facebook. Oh, c'mon! Luckily, Stephen and The Gerg have the sanity aspect covered, with the Gerg noting we need to first understand what went wrong, and Stephen pointing out that there are actually limits on what we can do to keep ourselves safe. The system will never be perfect. Sometimes a dude with explosives in his underwear is going to get through--even if everyone does their best. I'm not saying that's what happened in this instance, but it is what it is.

Ron, predictably, gets his non-explosive boxers in a twist over the idea of--ZOMG--using the rule of law on Underpants Bomber guy. Paul ponders whether or not Ron got in such a tizzy when the Bush Administration--his employer at the time--did the same thing. Oh, snap. But let's let Stephen take us out, shall we? "The goal of our adversaries engaging in terror is to get us to overreact. The goal is to basically get a big bang for their buck. And, so, when, basically, we show that we're not a very resilient society, we're a brittle society, that, politically, we essentially unravel when these things happen, we get into these kinds of fits, this is not good. This is what motivates terrorism to take place on our soil." Word.

Transitioning now to an amazing piece from Arwa Damon about children in Pakistan being trained to become killers for the Taliban. As Anderson says, "real reporting." The children live in abject poverty and Arwa takes us to a compound used to manipulate them. There, pictures adorn the walls, images of what supposedly awaits them in heaven. You can watch the piece here and I'd also urge you to follow Arwa on Twitter, which is where I first heard of this story. She's come a long way since she was one of Anderson's field producers. I'm glad 360 decided to include the piece in their broadcast.

Moment of randomness: Chicken Mcnuggets are magical!

Moment where 360 messes with me: BREAKING NEWS with the red graphic and the sound effect for the same news that we just saw at the top of the show. Really? You're killing me, guys. You're killing me.

So hey, remember that whole party crasher thing at the White House? Well, turns out the two dingbats had a third musketeer. Yep, three--count them, THREE, party crashers. And the chattering class is beside themselves! For discussion, we're joined by Fran Townsend and Sally Quinn of the Washington Post. Now, my regular readers know I'm not exactly a Fran fan, but I'm about to blow some minds because I thought she was pretty reasonable during this segment. First of all, she differentiates between the third interloper's crashing and the Salahis (the third dude got in with the Indian delegation).

I'm not all that familiar with Sally Quinn, but if you thought the Gerg was going Villager, oh man, this woman is Village Queen. On occasion, I might joke about metaphorically clutching my pearls. Sally is one of those people that you know has an actual set of pearls that she literally clutches during incidents such as this one. I'm sure she also has a fan for when she gets the vapors. To Sally, it's essential that someone be the fall guy (or gal), damn if they're actually responsible.

Can the Internets provide us with a take-down of this BS? Why yes, they can. If you're a Gleek you need to click for the title alone. And hey, let's throw in Wonkette's take for good measure: enjoy. You know, when Anderson introduced this woman as being from the Washington Post, I thought he meant like an actual reporter. Not some elitist overseer of the chattering class social scene.

Speaking of our anchor, he had this to say: "It seems to me people used to kind of resign honorably because mistakes were made. Is that just gone? That whole idea?" So we're back to the whole falling on their sword thing again, which I already noted is a little dumb. If someone is in a situation where they think wrong decisions are being made, then yes, they need to resign and go public. If someone truly failed to perform their job, yes, they need to be fired. But a perfectly qualified individual resigning just so the president has a fall guy and the press has a scalp? That's craziness. Also? Did people really used to resign honorably? I'm betting that in any era that was the exception, not the rule.

Moving on now to Anderson on a Segway! No, really! Dean Kamen, inventor of said Segway is the first interview in 360's new "What's Next" series. I can't say I'm hugely impressed with Dean. Don't get me wrong, yay innovation! But his theme of "private industry will save us" was a little irksome. While I do agree that this country is falling behind in educating our children, I'm not sure how statements like this one are going to help us: "There's no stimulus package that this country could possibly put together that will have a better return than stimulating the next generation of kids in this country to be for the 21st century..." Sure, it sounds good, but what does that even mean?

Also? Maybe it's because I live in a suburb where everyone drives, but do people really use Segways? I don't think I've ever even seen one. As for the prosthetic arm he innovated, all I could think of was that CNN Hero who makes sure kids get the prosthetic limbs they need. Who will be able to afford Dean's (prosthetic) arm? What we really need is more things like Google (mentioned by Dean)--infrastructure that raises up the majority of the country. I mean, I'm not saying don't make prosthetic arms and weird rolly machines, but, you know. I'm down with his time machine wish though. A teleporter would be nice too.

I'm going to wrap up. The show was okay. There was a fair amount of ridiculousness. Would like to see more reporting and investigating; less punditry. The "What's Next" series is intriguing. I'm not sure it's for me, but at least they're thinking outside-the-box.

On another note, though I rarely jump into the foray of the official AC360 live-blog (which is often moderated like Fort Knox), I do, however, live-chat most nights with a group of long-time 360-watching friends. We're underground, yo. Anyway, upon logging on, one of my friends said this: "Aw, things got a lot scarier when I flipped from Rachel to Anderson." I asked her to elaborate and she explained that the tone of Maddow's broadcast left her with an "okay" feeling, whereas 360's is more like, "HOMG CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS OUTRAGE? WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE." Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But it's worth noting that the tone of 360 does often give me the urge to add an ironic "Dun dun dun!" Something our fact-based little show might want to think about.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

As always, a great post. Thanks for watching so I don't have to. When I know panels are coming, I tune out. He loosing me if he compares this to Katrina, really lost me. When I see Ron Christie anywhere, I refuse to watch. I know about Sally Quinn, she is the self-appointed Queen of Washington village. and she won't let you forget that. If she were not married to Ben Bradlee, she would not be would be in her social positon. Her climb to the top is soap opera material. She trashed the Clintons because they didn't play the social game by her rules. Where was AC's indignation during the Iraq war bumbling, among the many other situtaions during King Cheney's reign? Jon Stewart also brought up the six days of silence from Bush. I'm with you, I have never recalled people resigning honorably. In fact human nature goes against that, most react the way Gov. Sanford of SC has or the Detroit mayor who refused to leave until handcuffs were placed on him. I fail to understand the vein popping from AC. To me it is misplaced and frankly, it like he's channeling retoric from Lou Dobbs. Anne D.

5:49 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks Anne! I think Anderson's indignation comes from a sincere place, it's just a little misguided. This isn't like under Bush. Though there are certainly things that can be criticized about Obama's team, at least they seem to be qualified for their jobs. They can't be perfect all the time, and God knows they're working in a hugely complicated system.

One of the main problems with the Bush camp was that most of them were trying to fit the world into a reality that simply didn't exist. They ignored intelligence that didn't fit their agenda and dismissed critics. I don't see that with the Obama folks. They're living in the same reality we are. It's a stark contrast.

As I've implied, though this is my side of the political aisle, I've got no problem with heads rolling--if warranted, and IMO, it's too early to know. AC needs to chill a bit. Stay on the story, but chill.

Wow, Sally Quinn is a piece of work. That's really all that can be said about her.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Sammy said...

Anderson's indignation bothers me so much because it seemed fake. It's like CNN really trying to pull up a pretense that they will do hard-hitting-journalism: calling people out. But it really misplaced. They use this tatics twice, in one hour ...

Random notes
I love Anderson on the Segway. I want to see a Segway race.

The magic is overused. Isn't it reserved for John King. Please don't put it on AC360. I don't care about the technology, give me more fieldwork pieces that matter. (I thought Stephen Colbert report from his new magic screen last night was hilarious. His imitation of Anderson's manner is perfect. Maybe I'm just reading too much into it.)

6:49 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Sammy: I'm actually not convinced the outrage is fake. We've seen him take the exact same tactic in other situations (think Katrina). Plus he has a habit of latching on to one aspect of a story and hammering it over and over. "Stop snitchin'." "Aren't we really nation building?" You get the idea. I don't necessarily say that as a criticism--sometimes it's very much a positive.

The feeling by some that this outrage is manufactured might actually be coming from the fact that Anderson actually visibly cares about an aspect of this story, which is unfortunately rare from him these days.

Yeah, the use of the Magic Wall is getting a little comical. It's not a huge deal, but I'm with you: more reporting; less technology.

7:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com