Thursday, January 31, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments are always welcomed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Making Themselves Understood

You might remember last May when the LAPD went on a rampage against demonstrators and bystanders at a a May Day immigration rally. Even at the time NPR had a hard time covering the story - though the cops roughed up one of NPR's own reporters.

Well, gosh. Turns out it was all just a problem of miscommunication, or as del Barco calls it "an old problem, making themselves understood." If only the police had had the Phraselator at the time - then they could have "made themselves understood" and gently escorted all those Spanish speaking folks out of the MacArthur park.

This morning's little police state propaganda piece really took it to a new limit. First Inskeep introduces the report: "The Los Angeles Police Department has a new crime-fighting tool. It looks like something Captain Kirk and his crew might have used in the original Star Trek series. This device was developed by the Pentagon for U.S. soldiers now serving in Iraq and could come in handy in lots of LA neighborhoods where English is rarely spoken."

Crime fighting tool? What crime? Marching in a park? Holding a demonstration? I realize it might disappoint Inskeep and Co., but such things are still legal. And that stupid, condescending comparison to Star Trek...ugh.

Then Mandalit del Barco gets in on the fun. She explains that "the main idea is for police to use the Phraselator for crowd control, to avoid the kind of chaos that happened last year during the huge May Day immigration rights march [ambient sound of police loudspeakers and popping noises]. Police in riot gear used batons and rubber bullets to sweep through MacArthur Park, trying to disperse the crowds, dozens were hurt, including Spanish speaking immigrants and newspeople. "

To avoid the kind of chaos? Excuse me. There was no chaos; there was an intentional police attack on a bunch of unarmed, unthreatening demonstrators, bystanders, and reporters.

Inskeep ends the report by crowing "To hear the Phraselator say, HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK! in five languages go to"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Leave Your Memory at the Door

A visitor to this blog left the following comment in the open thread below:
NPR had a piece on the death of Indonesia's former President Mohammed Suharto, which, though its complete and utter omission, verified the public's general ignorance as truth: That the United States government, and specifically the CIA, had no role whatsoever to play in his criminal rule, or in massive number of murders his regime perpetrated in the name of "anti-communism". And the US certainly didn't give the go-ahead to Suharto's invasion and slaughter of East Timor.
As this reader points out Nurse Michael Sullivan's report on Weekend Edition Sunday is so contemptuous of the historical record as to be criminal. Oh, Sullivan does mention that "many accuse Suharto of unleashing one of the greatest mass killings of the twentieth century - the deaths of more than half a million suspected Indonesian communists and ethnic Chinese," but you'd never know that the US was directly involved in planning and executing this mass murder or in approving and supporting the East Timor genocide (see this page from ETAN if you want to explore links on this).

The basic thrust of the piece was that in spite of being a pathological murderer and torturer Suharto did a lot of good for Indonesia - improving health, education and the economy. (Yeah, and Stalin essentially industrialized the Soviet Union, too.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Militants Again!

(image from UNRWA)

Inskeep this morning on NPR:
"Palestinian militants in bulldozers have smashed new holes in the chain and concrete fence. Crowds of Palestinians cheered as that fence collapsed...three days ago when militants first struck and tens of thousands of residents crossed over..."
Dang, those crazy militants - not only do they get killed by the score, but they attack walls with bulldozers. Don't they know that bulldozers are for knocking down homes, not for breaking down walls so people can get food and fuel? Militants in bulldozers - Jeez, somebody could get hurt.

It's just insane that people in Gaza expect to eat - it just proves they're militants. What's a little malnourishment in 2003, or 2006, or 2007? Who do they think they are, people? Don't' they know that they are an enemy entity?

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bull and Pop Goes the Wessel

Delicious irony again. For fun NPR this morning reported on Malaysian thieves who stole a cow and put it in the back seat of the getaway car. Montagne notes, "so the question lingers how did they squeeze a full sized cow into the back seat of a mid-sized sedan." Ah yes how do you squeeze a lot of bull into a small space?

Speaking of bulls (and bears - oh my) has anyone heard any leftist or progressive analysts on NPR news as they cover the current economic crisis? On Wednesday, Jim Zaroli touched base with Carmen Reinhart (worked as investment banker and for the IMF), and folks from The Economic Group and Global Insight. On Tuesday morning, Inskeep went to the Wessel well twice(!) for a Wall Street Journal perspective.

I don't have a problem hearing from these dedicated capitalists, but a little counterbalance would be in order, eh? Here's a few suggestions: Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect, or Dean Baker of the same magazine, the CEPR would be a good place to call, maybe Robert Weissman, or Chalmers Johnson, or Danny Schechter, or...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Open Thread

I made the mistake of listening to the first 15 minutes of today's (Wed.) Morning Edition...ugh:
  • I learned that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has a "drug habit" and tolerates drug traffickers.
  • I heard yet again about the utterly forgettable Fred Thompson.
  • Finally I was treated to Adam Davidson prattling on about the global economic meltdown and how the fact that different stock markets being in different time zones is so fascinating to him (seriously). He then offered his analysis of economic outlook - all from the perspective of the investor, of course.
They do pack it in sometimes. BTW, any and all NPR related comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

King Gagged...Again

I heard a bit of NPR's Martin Luther King Holiday coverage. Man, seems like MLK worked, sacrificed, and organized just so we could get Clinton and Obama (and Romney and Huckabee!) into the race for President! Hello - there is a war on, a violent, illegal, shameful US launched and run war that calls up Kings legacy beyond his "Dream" speech. How about some of his "Beyond Vietnam" speech? Here's an excerpt apropos of our current carnage in the desert:

"They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."

It's sad that this erasure of the King who was antiwar, anti-poverty, and class conscious happens year after year. Consider this oldie (1995) from FAIR; it seems even more relevant today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Open Thread - MLK Holiday

Anti-war and anti-poverty greetings to all. It's a new week. Lively contributors in the open thread have been covering NPR (so I don't have to). To those wanting a little antidote to NPR's State Department reporting out of Venezuela, is great - here's a link to their posts on "student movements."

I don't know how NPR will play the latest Israeli war crime against Gaza, but Gradstein, apologist for Zionism, mentioned on the hourly reports last night that "Hamas shut off the power plant" and that Israel is still providing 2/3 of the electricity to Gaza.

Keep posting...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments? Let 'em fly.

Traveling With the President

On Jan. 16th's Morning Edition Montagne says, "NPR's Michele Kelemen has been traveling with the President and joins us on the line." I think she meant to say on the leash.

Here's a bit of my own two cents for NPR: drop the whole stupid farce of having your reporters accompany, travel with, and follow the President. Whether its Kelemen, or Greene, or Gonyea, your reporters never challenge the stupidity, hypocrisy, or dishonesty of the President - on the contrary, they go out of their way to repeat, rephrase, and regurgitate whatever he and his staff say. It's embarrassing. It's like getting the news from Barney.

Bush just spent a week visiting the scene of his crimes and Kelemen was along for the ride. Here's her insights:

Jan. 8, ME: "he thinks he can help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a vision of what a Palestinian state would look like....Bush said he hopes people in the region will remember him as the, quote, 'guy who was willing to fight extremists and who had faith in people to self-govern.'
But if this is a trip about burnishing his legacy, he's not expected to change his tune on what he calls the freedom agenda."
Jan. 9, ATC: "he tries to get Israelis and Palestinians to agree on the contours of a Palestinian state....Bush, not one to get down into the nitty-gritty of peacemaking, said he's been urging the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to keep the big picture in mind....he is optimistic the two sides can agree on a vision of a Palestinian state...He says the US won't dictate, but will nudge the two sides....another issue is crowding the agenda on this trip, the threat of a rising Iran. "
Jan. 10, ME: "It is a bold prediction [a peace treaty before Jan 2009]....he's confident with the proper help that the state of Palestine will emerge, and he's confident that when it emerges it will be a major step toward peace....Part of this day was really about giving a boost Abbas. The Palestinian president is a weak leader....Gaza, for instance, is under the control of Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel consider a terrorist organization."
Jan. 10, ATC: (referring to Bush's crass joke about checkpoints) "President Bush told Palestinians today he understands their frustrations about Israeli checkpoints and he got a firsthand view of that, well, sort of."
Jan. 11, ATC: "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says talks are focusing on threats in the Gulf, the problem of extremism, whether by al-Qaeda or Iran and, as she put it, Iran's tentacles in the region....This was Mr. Bush's first visit to Israel as president, and he capped it with an emotional tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he said it was a sobering reminder that evil must be resisted."
Jan. 13, ATC: "Mr. Bush came out strong on Iran, calling it the world's leading state sponsor of terror, and accusing Tehran of sending hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world."
Jan. 15, ME: (on all the progress in Iraq) "reinstates former Saddam Hussein loyalists to jobs...reconciliation...some momentum on this legislative front...administration thinks this might add some momentum to the process...."
Jan. 16, ME: (referring to the thug, Mubarak): "And President Mubarak has been around for a long time. President Bush noted that, that he could he could get some advice from someone who's been in this business for a very long time."

Man, that is some hurting journalism. "Arf!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Human Beings

  • As’ad ‘Eissa Radwan Tafesh, 65, farmer.
  • Marwan Sameer ‘Ouda, 22, farmer.
  • Sa’id Mustafa al-Sammouni, 50, farmer.
  • Ayman Fadel Malaka, 35, car trader.
  • ‘Abdul Salam ‘Atiya Abu Laban, 19, student.

Melissa Block on Tuesday's ATC: "In the Gaza Strip today the Israeli military killed at least 18 Palestinians, most of them armed militants..."

Westervelt goes on to say, ""15 of those killed - Gaza hospital officials say - were gunmen...."

The names of the "militants," the "gunmen" were:

  • Rami Talal Farahat, 30.
  • ‘Aahed Sa’dallah ‘Ashour, 27.
  • Mahmoud ‘Ata Abu Laban, 21.
  • Hussam Mahmoud al-Zahhar, 22.
  • Saleem ‘Abdul Haq al-Mdallal, 20.
  • Mohammed Majdi Hejji, 20.
  • Sakher Saleem Zwayed, 27.
  • Mustafa Yahia Selmi, 20.
  • Mos’ab Saleem Selmi, 21.
  • ‘Abdullah Taleb Salem, 23.
  • Mohammed Sabri Hana, 20.
  • Khamis Abu Sawawin, 25.

At first I just wanted to scream at the radio. Stop calling them militants. Why don't you call all Israeli settlers "militants." Or every Israeli who is in the military or the reserves? Don't they shoot back when someone invades their homes, their cities? Then I just started thinking about the reality of 18 people killed in one day. Look at their names, their ages (14 are 30 years old or younger). Who are these people? I wondered what they have experienced at the checkpoints or in detention? How many of them were husbands, only sons, the sole breadwinner of the family?
Yes, most of them were armed "militants," except for a car trader, a student, and three farmers. But they were Palestinian and that doesn't count for much...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some Reform

I caught yesterday's piece on ATC by Anne Garrells talking about the legislation passed in Iraq supposedly allowing former Baathists back into jobs and into their pensions. Garrells piece does a pretty good job of talking to some Iraqis affected by the law (they are skeptical), but the general drift of the article is that the new law is a positive reform, and that it is just one that the US is pushing...

I happened to read Juan Cole's far more detailed and telling analysis of this new Iraqi law. His work (again) illustrates how limited (and favorable to the administration) NPR's coverage can be.

Friday, January 11, 2008

By Way of an Explanation

Advocatus Diaboli

Deep in my heart I hate despots and priests.
Still more the genius who sucks up to them.

by Friedrich Hölderlin, 1797,
translated by David Young (used with his permission),
published in Margie, v. 6, 2007.

Thanks for the kind remarks about this blog. I don't plan on bowing out for ever -- BUT I am going to cut way back on how much I listen to NPR news. And I don't think I'll be back to posting on such a frequent basis any time soon.

I started this blog with the naive expectation that if the utter lack of impartiality and integrity of NPR news could be illustrated, carefully researched and documented then there would be a broad and significant group of NPR listeners who would reject the blather and outright propaganda that NPR serves up every day, and - who knows - might pester their local stations into cutting back on NPR news (or dropping it altogether). Alas, the NPR juggernaut seems to be gaining steam - like the war business , it's a growth industry. Frankly, I've also run into too many "liberals" and "educated" folk who think NPR is a fairly good and informative program no matter how much fact and documentation one confronts them with to the contrary. We do live in a country of amnesia and denial, don't we?

The work of listening and re-listening to NPR reports and then checking and cross-checking their unfounded assertions and misinformation has been a major time sink (not to mention a soul-killing exercise - even for an atheist!). I have a full time job in a library, I have two teenage sons who I love to death, a partner who likes to see me away from the computer once in a while, and a second profession as a poet. That doesn't leave much time for skittles and beer. I've put in a good year and a half at this because I think it's crucial to challenge the critical role that NPR plays in our country: making the most violent, sadistic, stupid and greedy US policies palatable, acceptable and refined for the college educated and "liberal" crowd - and eventually a younger, more hip generation of listeners.

The one great joy of this blog - and I really mean this - has been the fine community of readers and commentators who are in evidence here. I've become very fond of reading the wit, rants zingers, and insights of responders. I do know people read this blog. If you click on the sitemeter logo down below you can find out a lot of interesting stats: NPR Check is approaching 50,000 hits, someone at NPR reads it nearly everyday, and it gets a daily average of about 70-80 hits. BTW, NPR Check has also been picked up often by, a few less times by, and a couple of times on Crooks & Liars [much thanks to them].

Anyway, the archives will always be here and I encourage anyone to beg, borrow, or steal any and all posts that I've made or research I've done. Also feel free to steal any graphics I've made: you can find them in the side link.

With the elections rolling, the lastest Persian Gulf of Tonkin incident, the endless GWOT and zombified Iraq, etc. there's no doubt there will be more disgraceful coverage of it all on NPR. I'll just be listening and posting less; that's all...

O, and that's me in the picture.

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Break

Folks, I think I need a respite from listening to NPR. I'll try to be sure that the Open Thread is up for comments. As before if anyone is interested in writing for NPR Check, drop me an email. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Is it Bush or Montagne?

This morning, NPR offers its insights into the Bush trip to the Middle East. Montagne opens the piece this morning with this:

"President Bush sets off today for a swing through the Middle East. He'll attempt to nudge Israelis and Palestinians toward peace....he'll also visit key Gulf allies to talk about what he sees as a rising Iranian threat; that's a view bolstered by an incident on Sunday when a group of Iranian boats charged and threatened American warships on their way into the Persian Gulf....."

Holy mackerel, "nudge Israelis and Palestinians toward peace"! What frickin' planet have these NPR hacks being living on? Bush has backed Israeli expansion, aggression, killing, and violence full bolt since taking office. She didn't even present it as "the administration says it's going to....," she just states this bald lie as fact--unbelievable. And then, God forbid NPR not address the "rising threat" of Iran. I love how she just parrots the US military version of events as if its fact. Oh yeah, I bet those US warships were really "threatened."

Open Thread

NPR related comments are welcomed.

Not Straight, but Definitely Narrow

Nash over at Categorical Aperitif sent me a heads up about FAIR catching NPR at its usual business of squeezing the limits of debate to absurd proportions. Michele Norris offered some New Years yuck on Bush's year ahead by sampling assessments of the Bush presidency from the Council on Foreign Relations and from...the Council on Foreign Relations!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bipartisanship - GOP Style

NPR is persistent - I'll give 'em that. You might recall how after the November 2006 elections, NPR went on a campaign to convince the public that the vote was all about "bipartisanship" despite a complete lack of evidence indicating any such thing. They've come back to this non-issue several times since (in January of 2007 they dedicated a whole series to it).

Listening to ATC today, I thought I was having a Deja Vu moment. NPR's Brian Naylor was covering the meaningless conference in Oklahoma featuring "centrists" whining about partisanship. Didn't they just report on this yesterday? Same nonsense as yesterday, but today this interchange struck me:

Christine Todd Whitman: "The intent is to try to get the two existing major parties back to a place where they are functioning as they used to function - certainly from a partisan perspective, but in one that actually gets good policy enacted."
Brian Naylor: "And Whitman and Nunn agree that's something most voters want too."

Really? I don't think so. Where's one puny thread of evidence that voters want bipartisanship? Digby did a great post this past summer, revealing this bipartisan crap for what it is - a page right out of the Republican playbook. If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be on the phone thanking NPR for being such a loyal servant.

(image from Wikipedia)

A Big Thanks to Someone at NPR

First a nod to Wayne Goodwyn: what a great story about Alan Bean and his relentless search for justice in the US criminal justice system that has an endless appetite for Black folks - guilty and innocent. Here in Illinois, the system is infamous for incarcerating innocent men, especially African Americans.

The bigger thanks goes to whoever ran Goodwyn's story right after Scott Simon's gooey "Aren't we a post-racist, color blind society" monologue. Scott was so moved by Barak Obama's victory in Iowa that it got him all goosebumpy thinking about Hillary Clinton running as a woman and Condoleezza Rice serving as Secretary of State. He was even moved by having three Catholics on the Supreme Court (that bastion of Constitutional courage). Hey, I'm glad that an African American and a woman can get a fair shake anywhere, but Jeez, Clinton and Obama aren't exactly challenging the status quo of our military-corporate, global domination political system.

Goodwyn's story was like a dose of syrup of ipecac after the poisonous sweets of Simon. Thanks a ton.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Partisan Polarization, Not

On Friday's ATC NPR gives a lot of attention to a one day conference in Oklahoma. According to Michele Norris, "there's a movement afoot to try to fix a broken, polarized system, or at least there's a one day bipartisan forum geared in that direction. A group of centrists will gather...."

Norris talks to former Sen. David Boren, now the president of University of Oklahoma who tells us "what we've seen, and it's been growing over the last twenty years is partisan polarization and it's literally paralyzing the country."

This kind of report illuminates the ideological bent of NPR. Is polarization what is broken about our political system? What about corporate influence, the military industrial complex, the role of money in campaigns, etc.

In the report Boren claims that Republicans and Democrats both block any legislative moves by the opposing party, and Norris offers silent assent. As readers of this blog know, I'm no big fan of Democrats, but seriously, to put equal blame on Democrats and Republicans for polarization is ridiculous. Anyone who follows politics knows that Republicans have moved to the far right and - since Gingrich's contract on America - have adopted a take-no-prisoners approach to politics. Consider Clinton's impeachment or the "nuclear option" in the Senate a few years back.

Secondly, in the wake of 9/11 there was an astounding (disgraceful?) bipartisan backing of everything Republicans proposed. Where was polarization in the attack on Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, and the invasion of Afghanistan? The polarization has come from the Republican Party with its far right militarism, homophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and extremist Christian attacks on our secular system of government.

NPR insists on calling this "Bipartisanship Conference" a meeting of "centrists" as if the center lies between the extreme right of the Republican party and the center right of the Democratic Party. This skewed view of the ideological continuum explains a lot about NPR's constrained coverage of the news.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Invest This!

"One of the most important things that you can teach a young person is _________________."

How would you fill in the blank? I have a few ideas: have compassion, be skeptical of anything government leaders tell you, don't kill people, don't follow orders, find work you believe in, care for the planet, etc.

No way, Steve Mariotti will tell you. According to Steve (of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) one of the most important things is "the power of compound interest." Man, that's beautiful isn't it! I heard it on NPR's Thursday evening business commercial for Wall Street unbiased report on investing in the stock market for retirement. Oh, for the spirit Abbie Hoffman... In case you are not impressed with compound interest, and maybe even think the whole capitalist project of investing in war and exploitation kind of sucks, NPR has the gall to stick phony, pro-investment words in Einstein's mouth on its web site. If you click on this screen shot

you'll see how they have the bogus Einstein quote on their web version of the story and even on the streaming audio pop-up (Poor Einstein).

To tell you the truth, this story really bummed me out. After hearing it, I felt almost irresponsible for not being out there investing in stocks for retirement; I can only imagine how less left-leaning folks felt. Instead of doing a piece that might question the wisdom of having retirement plans based on the stock market, or probe the very ethics of Wall Street, or put the whole 401K scam in the context of the post-WWII ravaging of the social safety net in the US - what NPR does is a pro-Wall Street guilt trip against the average Jane and Joe who as Michelle Norris says, "are not very good at putting money away for retirement."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More Lame Iran coverage

On yesterday's ATC, Michele Norris starts right off by framing the ongoing Iran story in a way White House propagandists would love:"2007 was a year of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.(as if both countries were equally to blame for this tension-they weren't!)Washington imposed economic sanctions, even hinted(hinted!?)at possible military action in response to Iran's nuclear program(what nuclear program!?). Iran has defied the sanctions, and intensified its efforts to enrich uranium(as is its right under the NNPT!), the very activity that the US finds so threatening.(in spite of the fact that the IAEA has officially said that there is NO evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons program!)."

This whole framework is flawed in so many ways, it's hard not to suspect that it's intentionally calculated to be so redundant with bullshit as to overwhelm the listener's ability to reason, but one way that I think is important is the idea that Iran's getting nuclear weapons would be a direct threat to Europe and the US in terms of missiles being fired at "us".

For almost 50 years, we had something called "MAD", which was elevated almost to a religious status in the circles of people who run and influence foreign affairs. Also, crazy as it sounds,it appeared to work, yet the idea seems to have disappeared, especially when talking about Iran.

This doctrine, if applied to Iran, would do two things; First, it would explain the rationality of Iran seeking nuclear weapons(It's not clear that they are, but I know that if I was Iran, I'd think about it), as Israel, which has at least 100 nuclear weapons, and has threatened Iran, would be deterred by them. And second, it would allay any fears about Iran actually using these weapons, since if it did, it would be immediately and literally "wiped off the map" by the overwhelming numbers of these weapons in the US, Europe and Israel.

This opening didn't particularly catch my ear, since we never hear about events and situations like this on NPR without they are framed in ways that twist the truth in favor of government and corporate Power, but it got even better. Though the main points of the story seem to be That Iran's president, Ahmadinejad is facing mounting domestic criticism(that may well be true, but he's faced some criticism all along, as Iran is a republic, with many competing factions of power within it), and that the US and Europe have not been successful in imposing their wills on Iran(surprise,surprise!),let me jump ahead to the thing that really grabbed me about this story; Mike Shuster says:"The Bush Administration even reversed the longstanding American aversion to talking directly with Iran, but with a precondition. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced her willingness to meet with Iran's Foreign Minister if Iran suspends uranium enrichment. The Iranians said 'no', Rice repeated the offer right before Christmas". Shuster is intentionally packaging administration propaganda designed to make people believe that, one, the Administration has actually made a reasonable offer to Iran(accede to our demands and then we'll talk),and two, that Iran is unwilling to talk to the US(Iran has always said it would talk to the US, and even gave apparently sincere offers of help following 9-11).Good Grief!

Shuster grudgingly allows that the recent National Intelligence Estimate found that Iran's Nuclear weapon program was "shelved"(interesting word)
and really seems pained to report that that the findings "effectively removed the option of US military action", and goes on to report on the scarey prospect of Russia having anything to do with Iran. (followed by a hilarious clip of Bush trying to say "uranium" and "Iranian" in the same sentence).

The second half of the story actually has some interesting reporting, but unfortunately, it was spoiled by the biased tone and framing of the piece. I just want to throw up my hands!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sock It To Me

On Tuesday's ATC when Norris said NPR was going to look back at 1968, I cringed...

She interviewed Bruce Schulman, a historian at Boston University. He seems likable enough, but -whew! what a dull assessment of 1968. Schulman and Norris spend a bit of time talking about the assassination of Martin Luther King. He and Morris present the usual whitewashed version of Martin Luther King. Schulman describes King as "the figure who more than any other represented the Utopian idealistic hopes for productive, peaceful change." Fair enough, but you'd never know that King's assassination conveniently occurred just as King was ramping up his radical politics, vigorously attacking not just the Vietnam War, but the violence and exploitation of the whole US capitalist system.

One can say that NPR's 1968 is a little better than Brokaw's perversions of 1968, but it was notable as much for what was mentioned as what was left out:

Included in NPR's look back was the Tet Offensive, riots in US cities, King's assassination, Robert Kennedy's assassination, Nixon on Laugh-In, and the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics.

Just a few minutes of thinking about 1968 brought to mind a few items left out of NPR's retrospective: The My Lai massacre, FBI's targeting of the Black Panthers (and COINTELPRO in general), French student/worker uprising, the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring, and the Tlateloco Massacre in Mexico.

Partytime in Iraq with Crocker and Montagne

"Residents were welcoming the New Year...celebrations...big parties at Baghdad hotels." - Renee Montagne, ME 1/1/2008.
Too bad I missed the festivities in Iraq; 2007 was such a promising year. To ring in the New Year NPR had Renee Montagne chatting with Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq. Montagne begins with "As he looks back at the year just ended, Ryan Crocker says that some signs of progress in 2007, could make for new challenges in 2008." Uh oh, there's that Progress in Iraq ™ spin again - but new challenges, who knows - maybe she'll ask about the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the non-assistance for the 4 million plus refugees, the simmering conflicts in Kurdistan, the danger of arming the "Awakening" Sunnis, the failure of the British in Basra and the extremism there, etc. etc.

Consider how the exchange actually went:

Crocker: "The reduction in violence has led to refugee and displaced persons returned; this is clearly a good thing but it is also a process that has to be carefully managed."

"As young men get out of the militia business, as they have been doing, they need to have another business to get into. There will be a need for further efforts at political reconciliation."

Montagne : "Let's break down those positives and those challenges, starting with political reconciliation."

I assumed Montagne would, at least meekly, challenge this complete lie that refugee and displaced persons have returned. It never came up again, which is typical for NPR's disgraceful coverage of the US-created Iraqi refugee disaster. And then "further...reconciliation." She might have asked how you can have "further" when there hasn't been any!

Montagne does briefly challenge the "Awakening" strategy, asking Crocker if the arming of Sunni groups might "be a threat to reconciliation itself." But she lets Crocker off the hook as he claims that all the arming of groups is being done in a highly organized, systemic manner with "full coordination with the Iraqi central government." As if the US has done one thing in Iraq in such a way!

You have to wonder, as always, what preparation, if any, is done before these interviews. Do the hosts read any independent/dissenting assessments of the Iraq War (Juan Cole, AlterNet, IPS news)? Apparently not. You have to envy these professional liars like Crocker who can go on a news show interview and get away with saying anything they want, no matter how remote from reality it is.