Saturday, November 24, 2007

CNN / YouTube Republican Debate On Wednesday - Not Too Late To Get In Your Video!

A creation of The CNN / YouTube Debate System

On Wednesday, the CNN / YouTube Republican Debate will be held in St. Petersburgh, Florida. This is the long-awaited second of the debates of the successful CNN / YouTube partnership. I expect the star of the debate not to be the videos, but exchanges between Ron Paul and the other GOP candidates -- forget the "Quarter Question."

As some of your know who are regular visitors to this space, my question -- "The Quarter Question" -- was part of the Democratic CNN / YouTube debate process. And as some of you remember, I was a guest on the CNN Roland Martin Show as well as on local Channel Five here in Oakland. So basically CNN and YouTube launched my career as a political commentator. But because of that, my questions may not be picked this time around. I submitted nine of them, and I've got one more up my sleeve before the November 25th deadline.

Which reminds me to tell you that there's still time to get your questions in. Regardless of what CNN does with me, I think it's the greatest debate format ever done and is so right for its time, it could not have been done even four years ago.

Now as far as advice, my suggestion is to stick to questions that concern the Republican Party. I've noticed that a heck of a lot of the submissions -- including mine -- have a "democratic" bent to them. I also read in the NYTimes that CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Borhman has stated that questions which pander to CNN will be rejected, so that excludes one question I submitted and was inspired by a segment of last week's "CNN Situation Room."

But, in their racially ignorant way, the NYTimes -- which employs a writer who managed to present me as two different people in two consecutive paragraphs in an NYT article before the last CNN / YouTube debate -- managed to miss the obvious question to ask Bohrman: if by picking questions that deal with "Republican Issues" they will skip questions concerning race. At a time when the party's beset by divisive questions regarding how it treats African Americans, I can't imagine a debate that avoids that issue.

We shall see.

Ron Paul - Republican - Will Not Support The Republican Nominee Because Of Iraq War

Congressman Ron Paul said that he will not support the GOP nominee for the Presidential election because of the Republican Party's stance on the Iraq War.

Southern California Fires Blaze Again - Fires Return to Malibu, Burning 35 Homes

It's not hard to wonder if this is the work of arson.

MALIBU, Calif. — A fast-moving wildfire pushed by Santa Ana winds raced through the canyons and mountains of this wealthy enclave for the second time in little more than a month Saturday, destroying more than 30 homes and forcing as many as 14,000 residents to flee.

The fire erupted shortly before 3:30 a.m. PST after the long-predicted Santa Anas finally returned, and by late morning it had grown to 2,200 acres, or about 3.5 square miles, but winds began to die down.

"Waking up at 4 in the morning with the smell of smoke in your nose and the wind beating at the windows is something that we learn to live with here, but it always comes as something of a shock," said Mayor Jeff Jennings.

Twenty-three helicopters and airplanes, including a retardant-dropping DC-10 jumbo jet, attacked from the air while 1,700 firefighters battled flames on the ground. One firefighter suffered a minor eye injury.

"It's great to be able to say that we have no loss of lives," Jennings said. "We're sorry about the one injury that's been suffered, but it's certainly not as bad as it could have been."

Helicopters lowered hoses into pools and the nearby Pacific to refill their tanks for water-dropping runs, and SuperScooper amphibious airplanes skimmed the ocean to reload.

Hundreds of firefighters and equipment from throughout the state had been positioned in Southern California for most of the week because of the predicted winds, which had been expected to blow most of the week but didn't arrive until late Friday.

Officials remained wary despite the decrease in wind speeds.

The mayor urged residents to "listen to your radios, go outside and see which way the wind is blowing. Stay alert. Stay vigilant."

An estimated 35 homes were destroyed, and 10,000 to 14,000 people evacuated, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

The fire broke out along a dirt road off a paved highway, and there did not appear to be power lines in the area, Freeman said. Investigators were trying to determine the cause, he said.

Another fire broke out Saturday morning in San Diego County near the town of Ramona and was 40 percent contained after burning 50 acres, said Roxanne Provanik, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Power lines blown down by fierce winds caused last month's 4,565-acre Canyon Fire in Malibu that destroyed six homes, two businesses and a church. That blaze was part of siege of more than 15 Santa Ana-stoked wildfires that destroyed more than 2,000 homes, killed 14 people and blackened a total of 809 square miles between Los Angeles County and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Santa Anas, triggered by high pressure over the Great Basin, blow into Southern California from the north and northeast, racing down through the canyons and passes of the region's east-west mountain ranges and out to sea, pushing back the normal flow of moist ocean air.

Malibu, with homes tucked into deep and narrow canyons along 27 miles of coast on the southern foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, is prone to Santa Ana-driven wildfires. Among them was a 1993 blaze that destroyed 388 structures, including 268 homes, and killed three people.

Saturday's fire burned to the west of the portions of Malibu that burned in October.

Neighbors alerted one another, while authorities drove through Corral Canyon, a neighborhood of about 350 homes, telling people to leave.

Meredith Lobel-Angel, 51, and her husband, Frank Angel, 54, said they had 15 minutes to leave their split-level home and managed to take little other than some clothes and their laptops.

"I ran out on the deck and I just saw a little fire and smoke up the canyon on the ridge (about a mile away)," Frank Angel said. "By the time we evacuated it was already over the ridge. It spread faster than I've ever seen it."

Carol Stoddard, 48, was told by firefighters that her home was probably gone. The 3,500-square-foot, seven-level home was worth $2 million.

Stoddard, a freelance videographer and photographer, captured some of the fire's destruction as trees beside her home and her collection of 12 uninsured cars burned.

"I stayed there until I couldn't breathe and the embers were flying everywhere," she said. "It was dark and I was standing around my house. I couldn't see. I couldn't grab enough stuff that was of importance like my passport."

As a precaution, officials at Pepperdine University told its students to move to a campus shelter, although the school remained largely empty because of the holiday weekend.

"Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday I was told the weather conditions was Santa Ana winds and we all know what that means," said university spokesman Jerry Derloshon.

Stoddard was philosophical about the probability that her house was gone and said she was determined to stay in Malibu no matter what the conditions.

"I'll maybe live in a tepee," she said.


Associated Press writer Noaki Schwartz in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Ny Observer's Steve Kornacki Hammers CNN For "Fixed" Democratic Debate

This is definitely "terring them a new one" in every sence of the words.

As soon as last Thursday’s 128-minute Democratic presidential debate concluded, CNN called on two analysts—part of what the cable channel has dubiously and incessantly branded “the best political team on television”—to interpret what had just transpired for the several million viewers at home.

Not surprisingly, James Carville, one of Bill and Hillary’s closest friends, and David Gergen, a Clinton (and other) White House alum, agreed that it had been a winning night for Hillary Clinton. Apparently, Harry and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason weren’t available.

The use of Mr. Carville, and to a lesser extent Mr. Gergen, provoked some criticism, with watchdogs griping that CNN didn’t properly disclose its conflicts. But disclosure isn’t really the issue. The question is why, given the endless supply of eager political pundits who are unaffiliated with the Clintons and every other campaign, CNN ever offered such a prominent spot to Mr. Carville and Mr. Gergen in the first place.

Not that it was the only insult to viewers last Thursday.

Once the gold standard for all-news television, the Cable News Network used the night to make a convincing argument that it should never again be entrusted with a presidential debate.

The network’s journalistic crimes are legion, starting with how the debate—which, at least in theory, is supposed to serve as a public service to voters—was promoted. In full-page ads, CNN cast it as pure sport, a boxing match in which “the gloves will come off.” Really? How would CNN know ahead of time that that this would be a contentious forum, especially after most of the previous debates had been tame, unless they were planning to force conflict?

There was also the warm-up act, a full-hour of Lou Dobbs fulminating against illegal immigrants and reading letters from adoring and sycophantic viewers, all presented by CNN as some sort of debate preview. This is the same Mr. Dobbs who has done little to quell talk that he himself wants to run for President next year. (Not that this came up on CNN, either.)

It got worse when it was time for the actual debate. First, CNN persisted with the prize-fighting motif, with moderator Wolf Blitzer playing the Michael Buffer role and calling the candidates to the stage individually, like boxers entering the ring. Then Mr. Blitzer introduced Campbell Brown, John Roberts, and Suzanne Malveaux, fellow CNN personalities who would join in the questioning.

“They are part of the very best political team,” he informed viewers.

As the candidates were fitted with their microphones—shouldn’t that have been done backstage?—Mr. Blitzer awkwardly handed off to analyst Gloria Borger, who stuck with the boxing imagery as she told viewers which candidates could be expected to come out “swinging” in the public policy forum they were about to watch.

If CNN was intent on giving America a fight, it could have at least tried to put on a fair one.

But the audience at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas was slanted heavily in favor of New York’s junior senator. One of the first questions of the night, from Mr. Blitzer, sought to incite a tangle between Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton used her turn to criticize Mr. Obama’s health care plan, but when Mr. Obama began, loud shouts from the audience distracted him and viewers at home.

So pro-Clinton was the crowd that Mrs. Clinton needed only to pause for a beat during an answer and the audience would fill the vacuum with raucous cheers. Meanwhile, when Mr. Obama and John Edwards sought to engage Mrs. Clinton, they were shouted down.

Conspiracy theorists will say that CNN had packed the crowd for its old friend. But the audience imbalance, like the inclusion of Mr. Carville and Mr. Gergen, was more an indictment of CNN’s incompetence. The network farmed out the distribution of tickets without insisting on any kind of balance. The resulting Clinton rah-rahing was both distracting and misleading to viewers.

Similar incompetence was at work in the framing of questions. Time and again, candidates were presented with simplistic hypothetical scenarios and told to pick one side. They were invariably presented false choices—human rights or national security?—but if they failed to provide direct answers, they risked looking like typically evasive politicians.

And nothing but incompetence can explain why CNN decided to end on a “cute” question, prodding a UNLV student—who had hoped to quiz the candidates on the Yucca Mountain issue—to inquire if Mrs. Clinton preferred diamonds or pearls.

Knockout stuff.