November 18th, 2009
11:19 AM ET

Is this man really Dr. Death?

Sarah Palin has called Earl Blumenauer's proposition the Obama's death panel.

Sarah Palin has called Earl Blumenauer's proposition the Obama's death panel.

Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Congressman Earl Blumenauer says he's just a regular fellow "trying to get things accomplished." As a result, the Oregon Democrat tells me, he spends much of his time "looking for ideas that can bring people together - simple, straightforward ideas that would help people and their families."

And so he proposed the infamous "death panels."


Before they were Palinized - and turned into those nasty death panels ready to pounce on Grandma (that "goofy stuff," as he now calls it), Blumenauer had a good idea: help people prepare for the end of life.

As he wrote in The New York Times last weekend, the proposition was simple: "I found it perverse that Medicare would pay for almost any medical procedure, yet not reimburse doctors for having a thoughtful conversation to prepare patients and families for the delicate, complex and emotionally demanding decisions surrounding the end of life."

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Filed under: Gloria Borger
November 18th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Murder or battlefield justice?

The wives of three Army sergeants convicted of murdering Iraqi detainees say their husbands are war heroes who should not be in prison.

The wives of three Army sergeants convicted of murdering Iraqi detainees say their husbands are war heroes who should not be in prison.

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Tonight we continue our special investigation into a 2007 execution in Baghdad. Three decorated U.S. Army sergeants shot and killed four Iraqi detainees their platoon had taken into custody earlier that day. The soldiers are now serving prison terms at Fort Leavenworth. During interrogations, the soldiers blamed military policy for making it too hard to detail suspected insurgents.

Tonight, we’ll show you what the Army doesn’t want released – a startling confession by one of the three sergeants convicted of killing the Iraqi detainees. His confession is part of more than 23 hours of Army interrogation videotapes obtained exclusively by CNN. On the tape, Leahy admits to shooting two of the detainees. It is graphic and compelling. We also interview his wife,  who says her husband is a good person and does not belong in prison. Don’t miss Abbie Boudreau’s special investigation tonight.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
November 18th, 2009
10:59 AM ET

Dear President Obama #303: Please pardon my memoir

Reporter's Note: President Obama is a politician who has written some books, and yet voters elected him anyway. So perhaps if I continue my letters to the president one more day, I too can escape the horrid fate I most certainly deserve for writing so much…

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Here’s a good rule for political types: If you are thinking of writing a book, stop immediately and make an appointment with a psychiatrist instead. Especially if it is a book about your life. And even more so if you call it a “memoir.”

Seriously, what is it that makes us suddenly get all Frenchy when we start writing about ourselves? If you’re going to call it a memoir you should have to write it in French, and then pay some guy in Nice to translate it back into English, complete with any goofy comments he’d like to toss in. “So, ah says to moi-self, ‘Senature, vous et tres, tres sexy, n’est pas?” Just call it an autobiography, s’il vous plait.

I’m getting off the point, but you can’t blame me. I’m still swimmy headed from plowing through the entire Sarah Palin book, “Going Rogue,” for the past few days. As political stories go it is fine. She takes the usual liberties with the facts to make her actions seem imminently reasonable, and those of her opponents as illogical as a Three Stooges chase scene. But by and large it’s just a collection of stories from her past and her recollections about those events. Fair enough.


November 18th, 2009
10:47 AM ET
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November 18th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

Was it really a 'Miracle on the Hudson'?


When US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson River and all of its 150 passengers and five crew members were safely rescued in January, the landing of the airplane by pilot Chesley Sullenberger was quickly proclaimed the "Miracle on the Hudson" and dominated national news for days.

A pilot who virtually grew up in airplane cockpits, writer William Langewiesche set out to analyze what happened in the five-minute flight of US Airways 1549, which lost power in both engines when it collided with a flock of Canada geese. His conclusion after writing a new book "Fly by Wire" - there was no miracle.

"I'm sure Mr. Sullenberger himself wouldn't have used that word," Langewiesche said in an interview with CNN. "There was no miracle. There was extremely skillful flying going on and skillful engineering in the background. You can include the flight attendants and the passengers. ... There was a lot of altruism, kind of a bravery, soberness. They were not hysterical, and there was no stampeding.

"Many good things happened, but they all related to the individual strength of the people involved. That includes [Bernard] Ziegler [the designer of the aircraft], Sullenberger, [co-pilot Jeffrey] Skiles and Patrick Harten, the air traffic controller - he was as good as it gets, offering alternatives, the backing off of alternatives, staying cool."

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November 18th, 2009
09:37 AM ET

Dobbs and CNN were no longer in sync

Ed Rollins
CNN Senior Political Contributor

In this past week of very important news - when the president presided over the memorial service for the slain soldiers of Fort Hood and departed on his first Asia trip, and the attorney general made the controversial decision to treat the mastermind terrorist of 9/11 as a criminal to be tried in a Manhattan civilian courtroom - the story of the departure of longtime CNN anchor Lou Dobbs still jumped out.

CNN did its usual first-rate job of covering those other stories, but the Dobbs departure is still somewhat of a mystery. It is a hard story to cover, because Lou is family. And it's far more than a story about changing anchors. It's a story about the direction of the "news business" and cable television's role in that business.

Lou Dobbs is the last of the original news anchors hired by Ted Turner; he started with CNN in 1980. Over the past 30 years, he has been one of the stars and certainly one of the biggest names in the cable news business. As was obvious to anyone who watched or knew Lou personally, he was a big personality who edited and ran his own show.

He evolved over that period from a mainstream Republican who was an expert on the business world to an independent who represented the anger and plight of the working class. His resignation Wednesday caught nearly everybody by surprise, including his staff and certainly his viewers.

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Filed under: Ed Rollins
November 18th, 2009
07:55 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 11/17/09

Editor's Note: Many of you wrote in after last night's AC360° to comment on the special investigation, 'Killing at the Canal.' Most of the comments defended the soldiers, saying they were justified in what they did and should not be sitting in a jail. Some feel they are heroes. A lot of you also commented on the updated guidelines for mammogram screenings. What do you think? Let us know.

Tell us WHO IS this task force recommending no routine screening for women 40 – 50. I've never even heard of this group – am I out of the loop? Who funds their research?

Anderson, please back off on the attack. The truth is, mammography is NOT as good a tool for premenopausal women as it is for postmenopausal women. That's because premenopausal breast cancer is a different, more aggressive, and more dangerous disease than is postmenopausal breast cancer, AND mammograms are less sensitive and specific in premenopausal women. Higher false positive tests result in unneeded procedures and worry.

War is hell. If we are going to wage war, we should pursue it, win, & quit. The policy, as it exists, will lead to defeat as it did in Viet Nam.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
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