Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Health Care Reform Inches Closer, Dennis Kucinich Interview, Haiti Update, New Take On The Infamous Milgram Experiment, & The Sad Death Of Corey Haim

HI EVERYONE! Oh, I'm sorry. Was that too loud? Had one too many green beers, did you? I hope you all had fun getting your Irish on. I don't drink, so it was pretty much just another Wednesday for me. Anyhoo! We've got lots to talk about. That health care reform thing? We're so close! You can almost taste it. And it tastes like chicken. Or the security of knowing you're not totally screwed if you get sick(er). Whichever!

Ed Henry is on the story for us and in a piece from him we learn that Obama sat down with Bret Baier of Fox News to argue in favor of the legislation. He crossed enemy lines. You know it's serious now. I didn't get the chance to watch myself, but my tweeps thought Baier was too interrupty. No different than how he would interview Bush, I'm sure. As for what's in the bill, nobody frickin' knows, though that hasn't stopped Republicans from being very unhappy about, well, everything.

I've been a very bad little wonk these past few days. I haven't really done my required reading, so there's not all that much for me to add. From what I can gather, the bill's still pretty sucky, but it's better than nothing. According to Ed, the probable vote will go down Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! And since this is real life and not an M. Night Shyamalan movie, I'm really hoping we're not going to get some sort of 11th hour scandal twist. So attention Congresscritters: please kindly keep it in your pants for at least another week. Mmkay?

On now to an interview with representative Dennis Kucinich, former no vote. Today the liberal congressman announced he's changing that opposition to a yes. The 360 kids are doing that video clippage thing again that I like, and Anderson Cooper hits Kucinich with his past statements as well. But the Ohio representative takes back nothing, emphasizing that he tried everything he could to change the bill. I actually believe him on that. Anderson also pretty much asks if he's getting a kickback from Obama in exchange for the vote.

Kucinich denies and just basically states that he doesn't want to be THAT guy. You know, the guy who kills health care reform and tarnishes the presidency of the guy who's actually trying to dig us out of the hole the last guy dug. That guy. Also of note, is Anderson shocking me by bringing up Jane Hamsher of Somebody's expanding their interweb horizons. Besides Huffpost, progressive bloggers rarely get thrown a bone. I rarely ever read that blog (I can't read them all, people!), but I do know that Jane has caused a lot of controversy in the progressive community.

The deal is that Jane wants Kucinich to return the donations of people who gave to him because he was opposing reform (and to be clear, I'm not saying this is what makes Jane controversial). Well, the congressman is already all over that. Wow. I'm a little impressed. Kucinich is such a perplexing person. In theory, he should probably be "my guy." We agree on so much. But then there are those moments where he's talking about aliens and you're like, "God dammit, man! Could you not have kept that to yourself?"

Joining us to boogie down at the post-interview party, are Bill Bennett and Dee Dee Myers. And the ensuing discussion was shockingly rational. I think the panels might be wearing me down, people. I'm pretty sure I only scowled once!

Transitioning now to an update on Haiti. Nearly all of the children those American missionaries took have been returned to their families. In a Sara Sidner piece, we learn more about what exactly they'll be returning home to. In some cases, the sad answer is nothing. The older children know they were abandoned by their parents and attachments have been made to their current caretakers. Such a heartbreaking situation. Good on 360 for the follow up. I'm really liking Sara.

On now to a Randi Kaye piece, that I have to say, made me ridiculously excited. We're going to talk about social psychological principles. Psychology majors represent! Okay, let me back up. The French have created this game show called "The Game of Death." Modeled on the infamous Milgram experiments (a staple of every psych 101 class), contestants were encouraged to give their fellow participants increasingly severe shocks for every answer they got wrong. As in the Yale study, there are no real shocks in this game show--the recipients are merely actors--the object being to see how far the participant will go.

A twist this time, however, is that there's a live studio audience (also not in on the experiment) cheering the shocking on. At first I was surprised this game show could even exist, but then I realized, duh, it's TV--they're not confined by ethics. The Milgram studies could never be officially recreated by professionals because they'd never pass the review board. Because let me tell you, getting approval from them is a pain in the ass. Oh also? If you think conducting a study in questionnaire form rather than working with actual subjects would be easier, you would be wrong. Lesson learned. But I digress.

Randi tells us that only 16 out of 80 participants refused to do the painful shocking. I am not surprised. The banality of evil. We like to think that we're incapable of such acts, but the truth of the matter is that the power of the situation is often overwhelming. Unless you have the self awareness to look outside yourself while you're in the moment and really analyze things objectively, there's a good chance you'll be one of the shockers. This is why everyone should be educated in social psychology.

In 2006, the Sundance Channel aired the documentary "The Human Behavior Experiments" (review here), which, using a lot of original footage, related infamous experiments such as Milgram's, and Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment, to similar instances of today. Obviously Zimbardo's work correlates with the abuse at Abu Ghraib and in fact he even wrote a book about it in 2007 called "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil." (Zimbardo's still alive and possibly bookable, FYI!)

The documentarians related the Milgram study to a series of pranks on fast food restaurants in which managers were called and convinced to do horrible things to their employees, including strip searching. In one case the manager's fiance was even convinced to abuse the employee into performing oral sex. Beyond disturbing to watch. For those that want to see the documentary, I'm sure it's online somewhere. I actually used to have it embedded in this blog, but I see the video's been taken down. Anyway, fascinating stuff.

We're going to "dig deeper" on this bad boy now and for once I'm really excited to be doing the digging. But then I see the guest is Dr. Drew and my excitement is tempered. I don't have anything against him exactly; he's just not a social psychologist. That's okay though. Shake it off. Drew doesn't say much more than what I've already inferred--i.e. your thought process can be skewed by a social situation. Anderson actually brings up the power of television, which is a good point, and something I hadn't really thought about since that factor wasn't present for Milgram. So good on that.

Next up, Dr. Drew stops playing social psychologist (and to be fair, hey, maybe he does have some professional experience in that) and goes back to being an addiction specialist in order to talk about the untimely death of actor Corey Haim. Jeffrey Toobin joins us as well for the legal aspect (someone just got arrested). Doctor shopping is discussed and I'm having Anna Nicole Smith deja vu. I pretty much zoned out for the majority of this, though I do find it sad. I read that Haim was so broke when he died that his family had to ask for donations to pay funeral costs. Awful.

The "shot" tonight is the crew learning Irish step dancing from kids of the Inishfree School of Irish Dancing. I gotta hand it to them, I would not have thought of this one. Oh 360, you so crazy sometimes. Bob really had it down there at one point. Is there anything this crew won't do? I'm just imagining the person who was flipping channels and happened to land on CNN right at this moment, going, "WTF?" Good times.

I thought tonight was the best show of the week so far. Yeah, I'm biased with the psych stuff, but I don't really have any big complaints with anything else either. So congratulations 360, everybody gets a cookie. Will the ratings give them a cookie? Who the hell knows? But they were sucko last night. Fingers crossed. That'll do it.

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