Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Immigrants? That's not the first reason that came to mind for me, but it's fair enough to ask--if it were followed by a few more questions about other possible causes of low wages in the US. Here are a few questions that Inskeep should have asked:
- Did the US-led assault against unions, socialists, Indigenous people, the Catholic church, and the poor throughout South and Central America (e.g. Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, Chile, etc.) in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s unnaturally depress labor costs for mulitnationals doing business there, eventually undercutting US wages as those companies moved jobs out of the US?
- Did the US support of rightwing dictators and military juntas throughout Central and South America throughout the Cold War create the social upheavals and poverty that caused and still cause so many Latin Americans to come to the US as undocumented workers?
- Has our own massive "defense" spending weakened the US middle class by undercuting funding for infrastructure, education, health care, worker training?
- Did the deregulation of the Reagan-Bush I years lead to CEO salary gouging?
- Did the vaunted welfare "reform" of the Clinton years lower wage and living standards?
- Does steadily falling value of the legal minimum wage in the US create a permanent underclass?
Monday, October 30, 2006
"It all started six months ago this week. The populist leader Evo Morales told all foreign companies they had exploited his country and they had to hand over control of almost everything they own in Bolivia or else they’d be forced out of the country at gunpoint. They had to do this by November 1st. To make things clear he sent army troops to surround many of the gas fields. Things were ugly and soon got uglier. "
Here are a few problems with Adam Davidson's biased, sloppy, and distorted report:
- "six months ago" - The seizing of Bolivia's gas resources occured in the 1990s in a massive privatization of five state owned gas companies organized by the World Bank and IMF.
- "almost everything they own" - Davidson apparently just made this up. It is nowhere in the decree (which I read through in Spanish). This type of exaggeration was common in press coverage back in May of 2006.
- "forced out of the country at gunpoint" - Sounds dramatic, but Davidson again is writing fiction. I have yet to see or hear of any such threat from the Bolivian government.
- "to make things clear he sent army troops" - Pure opinion on Davidson's part. It is as reasonable to assume that, knowing his history of South America, Morales feared that significant assets would be removed by the gas companies and the army was sent in to prevent such theft or sabotage.
- "Things were ugly and soon got uglier." - Davidson doesn't give one fact to back this up. Was anyone arrested, killed, harassed, deported?
Yes something was ugly and got uglier. But it wasn't what happened in Bolivia.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Montagne relates that her trip to Bamiyan took 10 hours and Simon notes that his took only 6 hours. Wouldn't it be more valuable for NPR reporters to try and reach the site of alleged NATO bombings of civilians? Or at least try to talk to witnesses of the event who are not US/NATO spokespersons? The answer is obvious.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Then this evening on ATC I was treated to extra large cup of Koolaid by NPR's David Greene who spends far too much time "traveling with the President." Greene was with Bush in southern Indiana at a campaign rally which he described as Bush's "first open, old-fashioned campaign rally" of this season. He said he was "really feeling the kind of electric atomosphere" and that Bush drew "an excited crowd." I wondered if it was like those good old-fashioned campaign rallies of 2004 where dissenters with the wrong tee-shirts got hauled of to the pokey? Or maybe it was like the "town-hall" meetings on Social Security where a bumper sticker could get you booted. But who wants to live in the past when you can hear our own cult leader-in-chief (rumored to be buying land in Paraguay!) "talking about the War on Terrorism, really getting the crowd revved up." Drink up...
Friday, October 27, 2006
Even the CIA (!) has to acknowledge the power of history in shaping the current tragedy of East Timor. Their World Factbook, describing Indonesia's ravages in East Timor after 1975, says "an unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals lost their lives." And then on the rampage that Indonesia launched when East Timor voted for indepence in 1999, the CIA writes "anti-independence Timorese militias - organized and supported by the Indonesian military - commenced a large-scale, scorched-earth campaign of retribution. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into West Timor as refugees."
And guess who helped the Indonesians invade East Timor back in 1975, keep them armed and supplied while they tried to "pacify" those 100,000 - 250,000 people? The United States of course (and other European governments). By covering up this history, NPR is aiding those who committed the slaughter of East Timor and helping the Bush administration as it continues to try and rearm Indonesian military with no strings attached.
Addendum: a reader, apparently from the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network (ETAN), suggested the following informative links:
- Commission of Inquiry Report Can Help Timor-Leste Overcome Divisions, But Context of Recent Violence Needs Attention
Given the incredibly dismal state of affairs in Iraq/Afghanistan and the pathetic growth of the middle income wages, and the Foley scandal, etc... it really is hard to imagine the Republicans holding on to power in both houses of Congress. November's voting will be an interesting test of whether the Republican machine can pull off a really big steal (surely, ripping off so many unexpectedly challenged seats will be harder than targeting a few key states such as Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004 to only[!] steal the presidency.)
If NPR was at least reporting on the facts that are known about cage lists, challenging voters, uncounted votes, and Republican-connected Diebold junk voting machines, then people might not be so complacent when election results fly in the face of reality.
I'm very hopeful about the November vote, but I also have a nagging sense of dread that I'll wake up Wednesday, November 8th, to hear how Republicans have pulled off a stunning upset by "defying the experts" and have kept both houses of Congress. And instead of angry citizens taking to the streets to as in Mexico, it will be quiet and secure in the Homeland as Mara Liasson reminds us (as she did today) that Republicans succeeded because they have the "advantages in turning out their vote and money," and they are better than Democrats at "finding and targeting voters" -- I'll say!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Most of the interview is transcribed at the NPR site and it's really a sad piece of journalism. Focusing on the current violence in Iraq Williams asks, "if the generals are telling you the right information about what they need" to which Cheney -- of course -- says they are great generals who are giving good advice. Here Williams might have followed up with statements from some of the dissenting generals who know what happens to good advice, but instead he just asks timidly, "So they're not telling you what you want to hear, you don't think?" Cheney answers "No."
Williams then questions the quality of intelligence gathered in Iraq and lets Cheney get away with saying "And obviously there were problems with intelligence in Iraq early on." For informed journalists that's a hanging curveball right over the plate. Williams just freezes and watches it go by. No challenge about how Cheney falsified, distorted, and cherry-picked ("fixed") intelligence to launch the war on in the first place.
One of the hardest moments of the interview to stomach was - ironically - the part where Cheney talked about stomachs. Williams has asked Cheney about his criticism of Democrats and use of the phrase "cut and run," and in responding Cheney says, "What the enemy's banking on is that they can break our will, that the American people don't have the stomach for the fight." Williams just sits there and lets this lying chickenhawk say this with no challenge--not once but twice! (For more on Cheney's strong stomach Williams might want to read here.)
Probably what is most frustrating are all the questions that are never made: Cheney's manipulation of intelligence, his insistence on the al-Qaeda link in Iraq, his role in torture and providing cover for torturers, and his grossly distorted assessments of progress in Iraq. Williams would do well to watch PBS's Frontline on Cheney before he meets with him next time--that is if he can find the time when he's not running around the Fox studios or ducking into the Whitehouse sideshows.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the "report" was the omission of one key player in the four decades long Colombia tragedy--THE UNITED STATES! To discuss the torture and death squad paramilitaries without mentioning the kindess shown them by the US does show an abundance of chutzpah. But since NPR won't dig up these ugly tidbits I'll do it for them: take a look at the history of the paramilitaries from ZNet, the benevolent attitude of the US noticed by CNN in 2000, and the continuing help shown the paramilitaries in the "Drug War" in 2001. Finally for some of the latest human rights news on Colombia take a look at Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International's excellent report.
The story is supposed to cover the fact that many Republicans believe that villifying Pelosi is key to winning elections in November. What we get is a forty second clip of rightwing Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi villifying Pelosi's character and record: "frankly a very left wing San Francisco liberal like Nancy Pelosi, and we ought to cite chapter and verse showing the votes she had cast on national defense, all of the times she had opposed these tax cuts for middle Americans and all the huge spending increases that we would have had votes prevailed over time."
This does convey the BS and spin that Republicans lay out there, but what about NPR's fact check or counterpoint to these accusations? NOTHING. Wicker's remarks just sit out for listeners to take in. There is no demand for specific votes on "national defense," "tax cuts for middle Americans," or "huge spending increases." Wicker was not challenged by the reporter or by a follow-up look at her record (and his!), or even by an ally of Pelosi to take issue with Wicker's remarks. It is interesting that the story ends by noting that most voters know almost nothing about Pelosi--so for these voters the "information" they get from NPR today will be nothing but distortion lifted "chapter and verse" from the Republicans' campaign notes.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Here's a fascinating little list of people to bring on the air for a news report:
James Dobbins from the RAND Corporation
Bruce Hoffman, from the RAND Corporation
Ryan Henry from the Department of Defense
James Townsend from the Department of Defense
Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute and the Pentagon.
These are the "experts" that Jackie Northam trots out for a piece that is supposedly going to offer listeners out here in the "absorption field" a critique of the US counter-terrorism strategy. The story is introduced by Liane Hansen saying, "The Bush Administration has made combating terrorism one of its highest priorities..." and conlcudes by noting that our biggest problem is a lack of a success in the "propaganda battle"!
I wondered if this story broke some kind of a record for how many Pentagon hacks NPR can squeeze into a single news segment; it surely came close. It's sad that NPR can dip into these "think tanks" and pass it off as informed analysis.
In the second part of the Broke Bow series Hansen describes the WWII veterans in a Broke Bow hotel cafeteria by saying, "support for the troops in Iraq among these veterans is absolute." Is that so? I wanted to ask Hansen. Are they calling for the impeachment and prosecution for those who lied to put so many soldiers in harms way? Did they demand debate and a congressional declaration of war before the invasion? Are they demanding investigation and prosecution for waste, corruption, fraud, and negligence in the "reconstruction" effort in Iraq? It's interesting to compare NPR's pro-war coverage with the remarkable open letter recently published by Pat Tillman's brother Kevin Tillman. I wonder when NPR will have him on the show?
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The piece is an interesting case of NPR taking a "sideways" approach to discrediting news that doesn't fit the official story. I say sideways, because Gjelten doesn't assert that the Bush 30,000 or the Iraq Body Count's 49,000 is accurate. In fact he quotes a National Democratic Institute guy who thinks the number is more around the 100,000 figure. Regardless of these partial concessions to reality, notice how Gjelten attacks the respected Johns Hopkins study.
After citing the numbers of dead in the report and the breakdown of dead at the hands of US and "coalition" forces Gjelten says with slow, deliberate emphasis, "This would mean US and foreign troops shooting and killing on average 87 Iraqis each and every day over a three and a half year period" and then, with no pause, a different voiceover comes in "...it doesn’t meet the, you know, the plausabiltity test." Again with no pause Gjelten's voice cuts in to say, "Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, is among those doubting the Johns Hopkins figure" and then finally with no pause, we are back to White saying, "nothing we know about the war in Iraq looks like that." I will admit that it is a skillful bit of sound editing -- worthy of a DIA employee!
Later in the report Gjelten states "Some researchers have criticized the Johns Hopkins surveyors for not using a large enough sample or taking sufficient steps to insure that it was representative of the entire Iraqi population." I'd like to know exactly who these "researchers" are and what agencies they work for.
It's interesting because I did a little of my own math and found that the average of 87 Iraqis killed "each and every day" is not so hard to accept (though it is hard to stomach.) Based on the war and occupation of Iraq lasting 3.5 years I found that the US figure of about 25,000 troops wounded and killed comes out to an average of about 20 US troops killed or seriously wounded every single day. As Left I on the News has noted the typical US response to an attack has been to unleash overwhelming deadly force, a 4:1 ratio of killing seems within reason.
Perhaps what NPR finds really implausible is that our government and its military would slaughter so many people. Maybe they think our country is just too noble and peaceful to do such things. But I did another little bit of depressing math. I calculated the Vietnam War to last 10 years (3650 days) with a death toll of 2 million Vietnamese killed (a conservative estimate) and came up with the figure of 548 humans killed "each and every single day" by the Americans. My conclusion is that 87 killed a day in Iraq by the US meets the "plausibility test" in spite of what Pentagon apologist Jeffery White and NPR wants us to believe.
It is really inexcusable to for a journalist to allow someone to call withdrawal from Iraq "Cut and Run" without a challenge. I'd have loved to hear her say, "Well general, it sounds like you are for an all out 'Slash and Burn' policy," or "Sounds to me General like you just want to pour more troops into the current "Flail and fail" mission." That would be interesting!
In reporting on the troubles in Amarah, Iraq yesterday, NPR continued its use of the phrase "anti-American cleric" to describe the fundamentalist anti-occupation leader/cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. I had to laugh. Hey NPR - guess what? - "Anti-American" is meaningless in the context of Iraq because, according to polling data, most Iraqis would fit that description: 90% wouldn't want us as neighbors (!) and 61% approve of attacks on US troops (the percentage would be much higher if the Kurds were excluded from the survey). I have an idea, NPR, how about only noting it when someone supports the occupation. The reporter could say "The uncommon pro-American" leader Mr. So-and-So spoke to us in the Green Zone today."
Friday, October 20, 2006
- The president of this country "mouths the words, but the concepts - I fear - escape him."
- "It's a corporate state."
- In this country there is "a marriage between these corporate entities and the state."
Let's see a show of hands for those who picked the United States. Were you thinking of Bush, Halliburton, Cheney, Exxon, General Electric? Hold on, here's one more clue. When the president of this country came to power "over 30% of the population was under the poverty line; now it’s down to about 17%, 18%."
That does eliminate the US, doesn't it. The correct answer is Russia!
It was laughable on NPR's ATC to hear emminent scholar Marshall Goldman saying so many things about Russia without any sense of how close to home his comments were. There was one striking comment in which Goldman stated that in Russia, "the corporate state," corporations do what the state tells them to do. I couldn't help but think, yes, and in the US the state does what corporations tell them--pick your poison.
It really is sad how debased intellectuals in this country can be. In the beginning of the report Goldman says, "the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute which are funded actually by the US Government and whose purpose is to increase democracy and political participation all over the world." That a scholar could say something so incredibly biased, naive, and untrue is stunning.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The other story finds Wayne Goodwyn interviewing the family of a marine recently slain in Iraq. Goodman tells us that the father, though "frustrated with the war in Iraq..." is "like his son,...much more frustrated with Americans here at home." Is the frustration that Americans are doing so little to bring the culprits (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) of this war to justice? Not a chance, it's that "the people in this country, and especially the young people in this country, have got to learn that there's a price to pay for having a country..." This report also has the marine's sister say, "there's a certain mystique about the United States Marines. It's a brotherhood like nothing I’ve ever seen." And Goodwyn finishes the story repeating the father's sentiments: "that's exactly what his son loved about the Marines – the sense of community, the shared purpose, the idea that they were men and women who did more than talk...."
I'm feeling a bit like a broken record on how NPR keeps shilling for militarism, but it's scary. Consider how simple it would be to also talk to some families of slain soldiers who's comments would be a little more pointed and a whole lot more interesting.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
In the NPR report we are told such nonsense as how the important elements of the campaigns were "establishing a connection...at a gut-values level" and delivering "information in a tactical level" (Dowd). Sosnik, meanwhile, tells us that the candidate who will be successful is the one who can reach "opinion leaders" and can "arm them with information as the Bush campaign did very effectively in 2004." Linda Wertheimer chimes in with "the techniques in 2004 that worked so well for the Bush administration...many voters recognized some gut level connection with President Bush."
I just hope that this kind of disinformation ticks people off as much as it should. Even the stupidest voter knows that it is money that runs campaigns--huge sums of money. NPR might also have mentioned how this money is corrupting and undermining our political system. And this isn't even touching on the ugly truths of the Bush campaign success which was based on police-state tactics of clamping down on "information," smearing the opposition, preventing minorities from voting, and outright fraud.
Frankly, I'm steamed...and worried about how the vote may be subverted next month. I hope Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are wrong in their grim prognosis for what's left of our democracy, but either way this type of NPR fast-food news only helps those who want to keep people ignorant and steal elections.
This story hits close to home. Back in the early 90s I took my sons to a women’s basketball game at our local Univeristy (UIUC) and was aghast at the halftime show put on by "Chief Illiniwek" the University's mascot. What I saw was a young barefooted white guy dressed up in mock-chief regalia and war paint who pranced, high-stepped, strutted, and gestured across the basketball court. Then he stopped for a somber "prayerful" pose as the Alma Mater was sung. It was utterly shameless and embarassing.
The "Chief Illiniwek" controversy reveals some deep and distrurbing truths that Siegel’s news-lite doesn’t even approach. He could have called American Indian Charlene Teters to talk about her experience of witnessing the "Chief’s" dance with her children, of organizing to have the "Chief" dropped, and of dealing with hateful reactions of white fans. He might have talked to the Peoria Indians of Oklahoma. He might have talked to the NCAA about why they think Indian mascots create a "hostile" environment (we’ve had evidence of this here lately).
Siegel, broadcasting from the home city of the "Redskins," could have sought out informed commentary on the issue, but instead he opted for the lighthearted and mocking tone that belittles those who find racist mascots troubling.
The two "experts" consulted and quoted in this piece are US government tools: Mitchell Reese and Scott Sagan (notice in his bio it states, "served as a special assistant to the director of the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. He has also served as a consultant to the office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.")
Here's a bit of what these fellows had to tell us:
- "....seems to me that Iran is the test case."
- "key weakness right now of the non proliferation regime is enforcing compliance with international laws and norms; North Korea has violated those, so has Iran. To date they’ve paid little if any price; it’s really up to us to make sure that they do pay a penalty."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Inskeep describes "anger of democratic activists" as anger of "people who are deeply upset with the Bush administration and also deeply skeptical of the centrism that you [Emanuel] were part of....I'll even put it this way, who feel that the Democratic Party sold them out the last several years -- are far too kind to the Bush administration..."
Now this is really odd given that one rarely hears from these activists on NPR -- and moral, progressive critiques of Republican excesses are never articulated by Inskeep. I had to respect Emanuel's response, "what happened after 9/11...a lot of people bear responsibility -- including your profession and mine...."
It is odd, though, that I agreed with Inskeep's line of questioning about the pathetic role of Democrats in opposing the Bush administration, but Inskeep had revealed his ideology earlier in the interview when he asks if it is helping "when Democratic activists bloggers and so forth in your party are perceived as pushing the party toward the left—going after figures like Senator Joe Lieberman...." This is telling! As if going after Lieberman is any indication of leaning "left." Sadly, I think it shows how far, far right the "mainstream" (that Inskeep speaks for) is that Lieberman is considered as anything except a opportunistic, war-mongering rightwinger.
Lastly it was interesting to compare Inskeep's combativeness with Emanuel to his good-ole boy feel-good interview with Dick Armey yesterday. Inskeep might have wanted to do a little research on nasty Armey as he obviously did on Emanuel and the Democrats.
Some kind of open-thread comments section where people can comment on NPR stories while they listen ... "
Sounds like a good proposition. Starting here, I'll try one each day for a while and see if it works out. Feel free to post comments regarding NPR coverage.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
He then goes on to laud Ronald Reagan, just stopping short of posthumously awarding him the Iron Cross: "Reagan is a very popular figure among the military -- and frankly when you look at the basic facts, it's hard to disagree even if you’re a Democrat as I am....he built up the armed forces, he gave people a lot more pride in their military, both within and outside the armed forces....you put all that together and it paints a pretty nice picture in people’s memories of what Reagan did for the armed forces...."
O'Hanlon concludes by advising politicians, "you're only going to be able to be given the trust of the American people...if you first convince the American voter you can protect them the old fashioned way. If you have strong, clear and convincing views on how to employ the armed forces...."
If you can bear listening to this piece, notice how there is not a peep of dissent from Liane Hansen. No challenge to the idea that what our country needs is a massive, agressive security state. No suggestion that our global military establishment may in fact be part of why we are so hated and targeted. Not one mention of the Reagan-led torture, drug-running, and slaughter in Central America. Not one little hint that perhaps the security state and military industrial complex are destroying our republic. And no mention that the "old fashioned" concept of security in the US included an extreme distrust of a standing army and the obvious dangers it poses to a free nation.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
What does Scott Simon know about being "a hard-digging investigative journalist?" God knows he won’t get exposed to one on "Weakened" Edition Saturday. For that matter, what hard-digging investigative journalists are “well-known” in the US? Greg Palast? Juan Gonzalez, Amy Goodman, Dar Jamail, Seymour Hersh? Not exactly household words.
Then Simon plays Politkovskaya's last broadcast in which she challenges the very notions of "terrorism" and the "war on terrorism" in reference to Chechnya. She asks, "why do I put the word 'terrorism' in quotes? Because the vast majority of these people [detainees] have been appointed to be terrorists…this practice…had begun to produce more people who want to take revenge, i.e. potential terrorists.” Simon offers no awareness of how her report could equally apply to the US policy of creating potential terrorists through its own torture and detention policies.
Friday, October 13, 2006
- "...you get a sense of what kind of man we're dealing with from a passage on page 268 of the book Charlie Wilson’s War; it was a bestseller a few years back. So our scene is 1984 and the CIA was trying to convince China to become the major arms merchant for rebels in Afghanistan. As the book tells it, that deal was sealed thanks to the efforts of a brilliant young CIA station chief in Beijing. His colleagues called him 'Broadway Joe,' a tribute to his New York roots and big personality. 'Broadway Joe' persuaded China that selling weapons to Afghan guerillas would be the best way to stick it to the Soviets. 'Broadway Joe' was Joe DeTrani."
Take another look at those fawning descriptions and recall that she is talking about a man who helped get the weapons for some of the most vile criminals imaginable--the very people who later leveled the embassies in Africa and the World Trade Towers in New York (would she describe that as "sticking it to the Americans"?)
'There’s nothing on this green earth stronger than the US Army and that’s because there’s nothing stronger than a US army soldier.' I mean he just lost it, he said, '...and that’s so true we’re the mightiest army in the world.'
This schlock passing itself off as journalism is sad evidence of NPR's pro-militarism. The report could have been an opportunity to discuss the growth of militarism in our society. NPR might have sought the reponses of thinkers like Andrew Bacevich or Chalmers Johnson. Or they could have had a couple of historians on to talk about the attitudes of our nation's founders regarding the danger to democracy that a standing army represents. Instead they opted to jump on board the military bandwagon. All I can say is, "NPR Wrong!"
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Renee Montagne then glowingly descibes the "victory" of NATO forces over the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan: "...in fact last month Taliban fighters dared to take a stand against Canadian troops under NATO command and fight them in a conventional way. NATO says it killed more than 500 of those Taliban fighters. It’s generally regarded here as a big victory for NATO...." I wonder how Montagne confirmed the number of those killed and how many were civilians. It seems that a top British soldier has left Afghanistan with a little different take on things. I noticed that the Guardian, in reporting on the death toll, noted "the toll cannot be verified as the battle zone is closed to reporters and the Taliban often bury their dead within hours."
It seems NPR , like the Bush administration, isn't going to let facts or the lack of them, get in the way of telling a good story. In fact if the victories keep coming like they report them, I think I see a use for the 20 million dollar victory funds recently approved by congress!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
There was another telling moment regarding the sad news of the Hopkins study. John Hendren reporting on the Pentagon's spin of the news (and Rumsfeld and Gen. Casey's dismissive response to the study) states "the poll does have credibility among pollsters; John Zogby of Zogby Research was on CNN earlier and he said 'I can’t vouch for it 100% but I can vouch for it 95%.'" To this admirable bit of reality from Hendren, Michele Norris says, "Hmmm...moving on to North Korea..." Talk about killing any possibility of follow-up.
This morning I recommened Juan Cole's post on this topic. Let me also recommend Helena Cobban's post from her Just World News blog.
Then about twenty minutes later I heard Anne Garrels of NPR discrediting the report by noting "that the timing and methodology are being scrutinized," that the previous Lancet Report in 2004 was "criticized as high" and that this current study has numbers that are "more than ten times Iraq Body Count."
This offered a real study. Dan Damon is one of the BBC characters that really irks me--he is hard-hitting and aggressive in his questioning with guests whose politics he is at odds with. At times he is even self-righteous and sarcastic. BUT, in this case, his highly skeptical questions about the report were directed at one of the authors of the report, who answered his questions knowledgably and carefully--frequently explaining the methodology and why the numbers differ from other estimates. It was INFORMATIVE--and listeners could draw their own conclusions. Anne Garrels, by contrast, simply provided the negative reactions of nameless critics (who clearly have a stake in keeping the numbers low).
For thoses wanting more, Juan Cole offers a far more cogent look at the report and how it will be attacked.
- Amy Goodman: "So why didn't this story end up on Morning Edition or All Things Considered?"
- Sarah Chayes: "I was told that it wasn't important now, that we would have plenty of time later to talk about inter-Afghan squabbling, and that what was really interesting now was to look at, you know, what a bad fellow Mullah Omar had been. And in my own view at that time, that story ought to have been done in 1996 or 1997. We already knew by this point how terrible the Taliban were. But now, I thought what was important was to look forward, at how is this experiment in nation building going to work. And it was kind of flattering our own, you know, sensibilities to continue telling ourselves how terrible the Taliban were."
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I have a better idea. At the University of Chicago there's a scholar of North Korea named Bruce Cumings who would be a great guest to have on the show. He's no apologist for North Korea, but he's also not a parrot for the nonsense that comes from our own "Dear Leader." He's written a very well reviewed and interesting book on North Korea, and here's his website, maybe NPR could contact him?
And then NPR turns to George Edwards, who has remarkable credentials as a presidential scholar, but who laughably says that, regarding North Korea, Bush "may have a chance to improve his image as a statesman." That's rich.
Monday, October 09, 2006
What emerges is half a story, all focusing on the wrongness of North Korea's actions--fair enough for half a story. The half that never even comes up is the Korean War history that helps explain and justify the North's paranoia, the reckless disdain for diplomacy of the Bush administration since coming to office, and the obvious double-standards and hypocrisy of a US policy that shielded Israel's nuclear weapons program, accepted the India/Pakistan programs, and sought to develop new nuclear weapons such as "bunker busters."
Gore Vidal famously calls the USA the "United States of Amnesia." Today's piece on Africa's troubles is exactly the kind of reporting that allows US citizens to coast along with huge gaps in their historical knowledge and--more significantly--their recognition of what states should be held accountable. I commented on this lack of coverage in a previous post on Oto Benga of the Congo. Today's NPR report is more ambitious and therefore even more frustrating. Jason Beaubien touches on the horrors of war in the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Somilia, and the Sudan but there is never discussion of the US flood of weaponry and military assistance to the Congo or the wider region. That is a shame because it this is an pattern of US foreign policy against which an informed/mobilized public could act to demand change. It also might help people understand why real debt relief and non-military assistance is a moral obligation and not just optional charity.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
So what NPR and Liasson should have emphasized was not that the GOP has a great get-out-the-vote strategy, but that they have an even better Throw-Out-the-Vote strategy--one that worked extremely well in 2000, 2004, and will probably prevail again in a) 2006, b) 2008, c) 2010, or d) all of the above.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
- "...it hardly seems the right time for a new peace push…but Secretary Rice said that’s exactly why she came."
- "...her presence was a way of showing Israelis and Palestinians that the US is ready and willing to help both sides if they decide they want to renew negociations."
- "...the United States doesn't like the idea of releasing terrorists to obtain freedom of kidnapped, or of hostages..." (The "terrorists" he's referring to are thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held illegally in Israeli jails.)
- "...we [Israel] have no interest whatsoever of living next to a failed society, a failed state; on the contrary—we'd like to see the Palestinians enjoy economic prosperity and political stability."
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
What was disturbing was how often Inskeep allowed Yoo to make contradictory assertions without challenging him at all. At the beginning of the interview Inskeep asked about US citizens seized as "enemy combatants" and Yoo responded, "If you’re a citizen I think you can go right to Federal Court you have a right to seek habeus review." The obvious question here was "What about Padilla?" But there is no follow up.
Later Inskeep and Yoo have discussed and agreed on the extra-judicial nature of the procedure for the "combatant status review tribunal": it is set up by the defense department, there is no lawyer or independent advocate, and no viewing classified "evidence." Then a few moments later, after Inskeep has brought up the likelihood that innocents will be detained, Yoo states, "there’s always the chance that there will be people who are detained who are not enemy combatants; the same is true of our criminal justice system...that's why we have all these processes, that's why we have all these appeals' levels is to try to correct any mistakes...and to prevent errors." From Inskeep, nothing.
Toward the end of the interview Yoo, commenting on Congress' stripping away habeus corpus rights says, "it would be a lot more expensive, I think what we have here is something very close to the civilian system." Close to the civilian system? What? Inskeep only challenges him on the stinginess of his comment about it being "more expensive."
The last element of Yoo's arguments --which all the Bushists rely on --is that all their means are justified by our being "at war." Yoo states, "this is part of the way the rules of war have worked for a long time...the point of the war is to fight and defeat the enemy...reflects the demands and nature of warfare." This is never challenged by NPR. What war? Where is the enemy? What is the battlefield? When will it end? What are the goals? Who Constitutionally declared it? If NPR keeps buying into the "war on terror" paradigm, then they keep giving these militarists cover. And even within the twisted vision of the "war on terror" NPR never points out how these "war on terror" advocates try to have it both ways: it's a war which requires wartime measures, etc., but the enemy is not really a war-adversary so we can ignore the Geneva Conventions and trample all rules of war even though it's a real war. I get dizzy just trying to find which way is up as I keep falling and falling and falling....
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Then today John Hendren (the Pentagon guy at NPR) offers a puff-ball look at Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld who should be in the docket (with Tenet) for crimes according to HRW. Instead what we get is this:
"there is the confidently dismissive Rumsfeld"
"there is the humble Rumsfeld"
"there is the beleagured Rumsfeld swatting away the pesky doubters"
Then we get to hear about Rumsfeld from Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute who says, "if people want him gone they ought to stop criticizing him." The Lexington Institute is one where one featured articles describes Iran as having a "jihadist government" and another article tries to argue that the real secret about Bush is that he is "liberal."
What we dont' hear is what a criminal Rummy is. Instead it's all just accusations and "pesky doubters." Yuck...
Here is what the BBC had to say on September 22, 2006 about the nightmare of al Anbar and how poorly it is going for the Americans (I'm quoting it at length because it is like nothing one encounters on NPR or in the rest of the MSM in the US):
"The US Department of Defense has now provided another measure of the problem it faces. Its latest opinion poll carried out in Iraq indicates that, among the five million Sunni Muslims there, about 75% now support the armed insurgency against the coalition.
This compares with 14% in the first opinion poll the Defense Department carried out back in 2003. It is a catastrophic loss of support, and there is no sign whatever that it can be effectively reversed.
The rise in hostility to the US forces is clearly linked to the onslaught against the town of Falluja in 2004.
This, we are told, was ordered directly by the White House and the Department of Defense after the bodies of four American defence contractors were hung from a bridge in April 2004.
The ferocity of the attack by the US marines persuaded large numbers of Iraqi Sunnis that the Americans were their enemies.
The situation in the country as a whole has never seriously improved since then, and Falluja itself has still not been entirely subdued."
It is sad that it is almost impossible to imagine such a report ever coming out of NPR. In the Bowman report there is nothing of history or accountability, instead we get such John Wayne/Rambo silliness as this: US Colonel "Detru [sp?] is a lean working class guy from Philly. He has a shaved head, eyebrows that angle into a scowl, and a needling wit. He offers Dalup [Iraqi officer] a lesson from the mean streets of New York City: 'Mayor Guliani had police on every corner, and that was proactive policing.' Bowman's report ends with this comment which shifts the blame to the Iraqis: "they [the Marines] want an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem."