Sunday, August 31, 2008

McSame Sh%*!, Different Day

McCain picks a political nobody who supports teaching "creation science"[sic], has rabid anti-abortion views that would do the Taliban proud, and who says of global warming, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made." When a friend told me about an email from covering these extremist views of Palin's (including her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest) I was surprised - I hadn't heard such details on NPR. So I thought I'd reprise NPR's coverage of Palin through today (Sunday, August 31) and see what emerges:

(Friday morning) Horsley:
  • She has a lot in common with John McCain; she is considered a reformer.
  • a strong anti-abortion voice
  • a colorful character.
  • a runner up in the Miss Alaska pageant
  • a life member in the NRA,
  • Husband works part time...for BP, the oil company...
  • became governor in 2006
  • was in city government in Wasilla, Alaska
Friday ATC with Horsely again:
  • McCain saw...a kindred spirit who's battled wasteful government spending, corruption, and the Republican party itself in Alaska
  • one time hockey mom
  • working on the PTA to the city council in Wasilla
  • little if any foreign policy experience
  • commands the Alaska National Guard
  • a son in the army who is headed for Iraq next month
  • she and her husband have five children
  • she's a fierce anti-abortion advocate
Friday ATC "profile" by Martin Kaste
  • has sort of a gee whiz manner
  • efforts to clean up Alaska's political system
  • some consider her a policy lightweight
  • evidence suggesting the governor may have tried to get her sister's ex-husband fired from his job as a state trooper
Saturday's Weekend Edition with Horsely
  • was chosen Miss Congeniality 24 years ago in a Wasilla Alaska beauty pageant
  • colorful biography
  • has a reputation for crusading against corruption and wasteful spending almost as strong as McCain's own
  • mother of five
  • a former commercial fisherwoman
  • a lifetime member of the NRA
By this point you see that her extremist stand on abortion gets called "strong" or "fierce" with no mention of detail. There is also no mention of her radical ideas on global warming or creationism. In addition to softening her radicalism, there is another disturbing thread that runs through NPR's coverage of Palin: that Palin's outsider, reformist, anti-corruption actions are identical to McCain's. You can see above that on Friday Horsely states that "She has a lot in common with John McCain; she is considered a reformer," and she is "a kindred spirit who's battled wasteful government spending, corruption, and the Republican party itself."

This discredited nonsense about McCain being a maverick and a reformer reaches a crescendo on Weekend Edition Sunday. Hansen has Chuck DeFeo of the rightwing and lets him say the following with no follow-up whatsoever:
  • both McCain and Palin have strong records of reform, strong records of really bucking the Republican establishment
  • There's no doubt that John McCain has been truly a maverick, someone who has fought for change, has fought for change in Washington, has fought for reforms. With his choice of Palin, he's found someone who's kind of that ideological soulmate
I couldn't believe that Hansen just lets him rehash this misinformation about McCain without even a polite request for a teeny, tiny bit of evidence. This interview was followed by an interview with Joe Trippi, a Democratic campaign consultant, and I assumed he'd been brought on to offer a bit of needed counterpoint. Instead he simply warned Democrats to take Palin seriously and stated that the choice of Palin will be brilliant if McCain can "sell this as a maverick who picked another maverick, two reformers willing to challenge corruption in their own party."
Man, if I had a dollar for every time NPR calls McCain a maverick, or lets someone call him a maverick without challenge I'd have enough money to buy seven maverick houses for myself!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fair and Balanced

On Sunday afternoon's hourly news summary with Barbara Klein, she said, "Security is high in Denver....a wide range of protesters are preparing to demonstrate....This morning about a
thousand people showed up for an antiwar rally on the steps of the state capital. NPR's Jeff Brady is there."

Somehow, poor Jeff was a bit confused. Observing a thousand antiwar protesters and a handful of counter-demonstrators, he figured he'd even things out by sympathetically repeating the slogans and arguments of the counter-demonstrators so that we'd get a Fair and Balanced™ report:
"There were a few folks standing on one corner with "Support Our Troops" signs and mothers of servicemen who were killed in the wars, uh, kind of counter-protesting, saying that their sons had died for the freedoms of the protesters, but it was very peaceful as the march walked by, very respectful, both sides shouted their message and that was it."
Barbara Klein closes it with: "NPR's Jeff Brady reporting from Denver." That's generous.

White Face

Today's Sunday Weekend Edition has a troubling segment on race and politics. Featured are two white folks to talk about the topic (that's curious, eh?). One is a man named Hubert Smith who espouses a point of view that would do Rush Limbaugh proud:

At Hansen's request, Hubert reads comments he originally posted on NPR's website:
"We organized. We marched. I was a public television producer and did shows with black activists...we were optimistic - not anymore. Today, what do many black kids get? A chip on their shoulders and nothing but a long list of grievances. Black politicians insist on their Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks boulevards, but ignore those black kids, or defend them when they mess up...."
At this point I was pretty disgusted. "We organized. We marched." ??? Am I seriously supposed to believe this reactionary racist ("their Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks boulevards") organized and marched for Civil Rights? Does Hansen challenge him to prove his claims? Does she challenge his gross generalizations of all "Black politicians" and "black kids"? Not a bit. Hansen simply states, "Thanks for reading that Hubert, you said you were once a bit of an activist for civil rights, and now you sound disillusioned, what happened?"

Hubert is off and running again:
"I think an opportunity was that point [after the assassinations of King and Kennedy] the challenge was to make something out of their legacies and - rather than do that - black leadership, the supposed voices of the black community and to a large extent many black persons squandered that legacy....they have promoted the victim mentality and the perpetual grievance mentality and they have tried to instill the notion in the black community...they should remain angry...and needy in perpetuity"
Is this the most complex discussion of race NPR could dredge up? Wouldn't it be amazing if NPR had someone on who might reflect on the fact that the US had slavery and violent Jim Crow for over 300 years of its history, that civil rights laws weren't even passed until the mid 1960s, and that affirmative action wasn't even 20 years old when it began being dismantled in the Reagan revolution?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Latest

I've been back for several days, but just haven't had the umph to post on any NPR stories of late. I woke up Friday to the brain killing report on the first ladies' fashion (uggh). However, I was surprised by Jaffe's decent report on the 1968 Dem. Convention which didn't blame the 1968 protesters and commented on the disgraceful protest "pens" for dissenters and protesters in Denver.

Feel free to add your own comments as usual.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q Tips

The previous post will be my last for 5 or 6 days (just taking a little summer break). Keep the NPR related comments coming.

21st Century Pot Decries 19th Century Kettle

(BTW, that's Robert Kagan's face)

Robert Siegel offers place of honor to the historian-war monger Robert Kagan's rubbish that the WaPo sadly saw fit to print. Siegel, with gravitas, states,
"The historian Robert Kagan writes this today in the Washington Post about the Russian attack in Georgia : 'Historians,' he writes, 'will come to view August 8, 2008 as a turning point no less significant than November 9, 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th century style of great power competition complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even - though it shocks our 21st century sensibilities - the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives.' "
Poor Kagan can't even get his dates right. You don't have to sympathize with Russia's actions to note that the attacks of August 8th were launched not by Russia, but Georgia. And you don't need more sense than a fool to note that there is this other country in the world that - every now and then - likes to throw its military might around to "obtain geopolitical objectives." What a sad reflection on US academe that Dr. Kagan is what Yale and Harvard churn out (of course nothing new there, really).

Siegel's interview with Kagan only gets more ludicrous. Jumping on the Russia-as-Nazi-threat invocation that is sweeping the Homeland (e.g. see NYT, WSJ, and Newsweek ), Siegel notes,
"You invoke a chilling analogy: like Germany after WWI....Not to belabor the analogy too much, as you would say, in the 1930s the US, Britain and France have been faulted by historians for failing to contain similar ambitions of Nazi Germany - what should those same countries and the rest of western Europe be doing now to confront Russia?"
Funny, but I just don't recall Siegel or NPR raising concerns about how to confront naked aggression during all those birth pangs in Lebanon just 2 short years ago!

If you read any of the Russia-as-Nazi-threat pieces cited above, it's interesting to note how the 19th century vs. 21st century meme gets worked into their "logic." Of course, in these pieces the US is the hip and with-it 21st century power, while Russia is the 19th century bad boy. The concept even crops up in the Decider's remarks: "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century...." I guess the Lord intervened to put the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in a special non-21st century exemption zone so that the US could never be slandered with the accusation of being - OMG - 19th century!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Militant Radio

Definition 2 from Merriam Webster online's entry for militant is useful: aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative <militant conservationists> militant attitude>

During the hourly news summaries this morning Jackie Northam simply read out a US military statement regarding the killing of several dozen human beings in Afghanistan. By afternoon Craig Wyndam had dropped any reference to the dubious source and was presenting the propaganda if it were established fact:
"In the southern part of the country clashes between militants and Afghan and US-led troops led to a coalition airstrike that killed 25 militants, but also 8 civilians who were being held hostage."
I'm not saying that the information is definitely untrue. It might be true, but - given the record of our high flying wedding crashers - it might well be a flat-out lie. Simply rebroadcasting the US/NATO version of events is sloppy at best, criminal at worst. NPR could simply tell us briefly what the US/NATO version is and then state, "At the current time we have no way of verifying the claims." Or God forbid, they could unembed Jackie Northam who is covering US special forces and their "ambitious training project expected to pay dividends" and send her off to investigate the scene, interview witnesses and report on the findings.

Q Tips

NPR related comments encouraged and welcomed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Joker Discusses Race Card

Bolivia is voting in a presidential and governorship recall vote and Juan Forero is there. Seabrook insists on telling us how to view the vote in Bolivia: "The referendum has exposed sharp divisions in Bolivia between those who support the President's socialist agenda and those who worry he's concentrating too much power in his own hands."

O.K., I'm sorry that's just too simplistic. She doesn't give any indication that Morales' administration is also opposed by the extremely wealthy and reactionary and racist elites in Bolivia who fear losing their right to exploit the indigenous poor for their own gain. No doubt that there are fears among the middle class of Bolivia that Morales is seeking too much power and is indifferent to their interests. A much better description of the situation is available from the Democracy Center blog; it also has better reporting on the results.

Seabrook does ask Forero, "And I understand race also plays a role?"

Given the really appalling racism of the opposition [on vivid display in May of this year], this is an important question (Imagine the coverage that such racist thuggery would garner if it were employed by Morales - or Chavez in Venezuela). Now take a look at Forero's duplicitous answer:

"It does. The government is very much allied with indigenous groups here....There is certainly an element of race in a lot of this, in this crisis among the two sides here because many opposition leaders - though not all - are of European extraction. But some analysts also say that Morales has been using the race card to sow divisions and paint his foes as racists - in other words delegitmize their concerns."

It's quite a performance really. It's not racism; it's just "because many opposition leaders - though not all - are of European extraction." Chew on that one for a while... And then not only does Forero minimize the racism of the opposition, he pulls out the ubiquitous "some analysts" to blame Morales for "using the race card." Scary.

For more leftist (and funny and irreverent) analysis on the situation it's hard to beat

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Things They Didn't Carry

Take a look at the RAND Corporation's "National Security" page; it opens with this statement: "RAND conducts a broad array of national security research for the U.S. Department of Defense." Then glance down at the featured research and you'll see "U.S. Should Rethink 'War On Terrorism' Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida — Jul. 29, 2008." Take a look at the News Release for this RAND study: as others have noted, it essentially refutes the whole "war on terror" approach of the last seven years.

Now take a look at this July 23rd news release from McDonald's and this follow-up August 8th report from PR Newswire (and subsequent reports in Bloomberg's, USA Today, etc.). The reports all note that McDonald's sales and stocks are doing quite well, thank you very much.

I'd say these two stories are both newsworthy, but -heck - I'll go out on a limb and say that a report from a think tank that does "research for the U.S. Department of Defense" and concludes that the multi-trillion dollar, civil liberty destroying, more than one million killed Global War on Terror is a failure is just a tad more important than the fact that McDonald's sales and stock values have increased [especially due to the success of their breakfast menu]. So let's see how NPR covers these two stories.

On the RAND study NPR has given....NO COVERAGE!

On the McDonald's story, NPR was on it as soon as it hit the news cycle (8/8/08). The NPR story features lots airtime for satisfied customers describing the delights of consuming Egg McMuffins and McGriddles - seriously.

La, da, da, da, da....I'm lovin' it!

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

WalMarvelous Roundup Ready News

Boy have I ever been stupid. I thought WalMart was only interested in crushing unions, building big, ugly megastores, crushing small businesses and maximizing profits. And I had even more sinister delusions about Monsanto. I thought they were in the business of bullying their way into monopolizing the global seed market, ruining the environment, taking over Latin American agriculture, crushing their critics, and making gobs of money to boot.

Fortunately NPR has come to the aid of these gentle and beleaguered giants (again). Golly, good ole WalMart and Monsanto just want to help the poor Honduran farmer break free from the laws that impoverish and help grow endless supplies of wholesome food so they and their countries can grow prosperous. It's like Jesus and the loaves and fishes! Who knew?

I know WalMart is a corporate sponsor of NPR. If Monsanto isn't, they ought to get on it.

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Target Iran

Yesterday on ATC, Eric Westervelt's piece on Iran might have well have been written by Dick Cheney or the Israeli Defense Forces. Consider these statements that formed the substance of the report:
Melissa Block: "....some Iranian leaders have called for Israel's destruction....and Israel is within the reach of some Iranian missiles."

Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz: "We want to make sure we're prepared for every option. We don't want war, we want peace. But we will not let that second Holocaust take place."

Westervelt: [Dr. Shmuel Bar, who directs Israel's Institute for Policy and Strategy] "says Iran is renowned for using diplomacy as a stall tactic."

Bar: "I don't think that anybody really does believe that there's a diplomatic solution. The Iranians are well known for attrition and wearing down their opponents with never-ending negotiations that can go on and on. This is their strategy and has been their strategy forever."

Bar: "Iran is a country which is openly committed to destroying Israel, is committed to performing another Holocaust. I think that what's happened in Israel the third generation after the Holocaust has sort of gone back to a Holocaust mentality, sense that 'yes this could happen again.' The statements coming from Iran have exacerbated that feeling."

Westervelt: "'s not clear whether direct engagement will prevail, or how long Israel is willing to wait. As Deputy Prime Minister Mofaz put it recently, 'it's a race against time and time is winning.'"
Wow, kind of makes you want to climb in cool stealth bomber with Ripper and head for Tehran. Too bad we can't hear about the less than stellar behavior of US/Israel regarding the Non Proliferation Treaty and how the "West's" hypocrisy is driving proliferation.

(apologies to Gary Larson)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Vaccinate Yourself

Take a pass on all the NPR coverage being served up on the anthrax investigation and death of suspect Bruce E. Ivins. The really important story that is getting no playtime on NPR is the one that is being dutifully covered by Glenn Greenwald. Is it any surprise that NPR isn't following Greenwald's lead - a story of media manipulation, protection of fraudulent and probably criminal sources, and anti-Muslim, pro-Iraq War hype)?

Over on the side I've added a permanent link to Greenwald's column; if you haven't read him, you've missed some of the finest progressive journalism on the web.

Burning Up the Tube So To Speak

Hey, let's give Andrea Seabrook credit for at least mentioning, on Saturday's ATC, the video of one NYPD's finest assaulting a cyclist in a Critical Mass ride - even if she introduced it with her signature doofiness:
"Now a few of the stories burning up the tube so to speak - news you're more likely to find forwarded to you by email than in any newspaper, call it viral news. First if you think YouTube is all silliness and fluff, check this out: a New York City police officer was videotaped ramming a bicyclist to the ground....the officer was later identified...He's now been stripped of his badge and gun and is on desk duty while the department investigates."
The kicker is that there is a real news story here that NPR conveniently misses. If you read the story of the police assault in the Gothamist, you'll notice this telling fact: "the cyclist in this video was arrested, held for 26 hours, and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest." Seems to me that's what usually happens when the police beat someone up and there's no video camera around. Wouldn't contacting the NYPD Commissioner make an interesting investigative piece? Well, dang, I figured if I waited around for NPR get on the case, I'd be waiting forever, so I just sent an email to the commissioner myself:
Dear Commissioner,

I'm curious to know why the cyclist attacked by a NYPD officer in the Critical Mass ride was arrested, held for 26 hours, and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest. Is this typical? Seems like witnesses and other officers on the scene would have noticed that the rider did nothing illegal.

Could you explain this?
I'll let you know if I get a response, and who knows maybe I'll pass it on to NPR so they can report not just on the cool "viral news," but also on the viral police state called the Homeland.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tortured Humor

[Note: revised on 3-19-11 to reflect that it was Scott Simon, not Steve Inskeep, speaking to McChesney]

Steve Inskeep Scott Simon talked to John McChesney reporting on the charade of justice occurring down in Guantanamo bay. You'd never know that the whole set up of Guantanamo is almost universally recognized as being in violation of international law, and that the country conducting this travesty is only one of seven rogue nations to vote against the International Criminal Court where any legitimate war crimes trials should be held.

None of this comes up in McChesney's extremely slow and creepy comments about the Guantanamo "trial" of Salim Ahmed Hamdan. He states that
"the defense today brought in written testimony from Khalid Sheik Mohammed whose known down here affectionately as KSM. He's the architect, self-confessed architect of the attack of 9/11, and I'll tell you there didn't seem to be any class consciousness in al-Qaeda. Here's what Khalid Sheik Mohammed said about Hamdan...'he was a driver; his nature was more primitive....but he is fit to change truck tires, change oil filters, wash and clean cars'....he almost sounds like the Click or the Clack of al-Qaeda."
There's a lot to unpack in this wretched attempt at journalism:
  • "Know down here affectionately as KSM": Known by who? Obviously not by the other detainees, but clearly by the guards and military authorities holding him.
  • "affectionately": Ha, ha; reminds me of the humor of torturers with their perverse euphemisms such as "Happiness Avenue" or "Frequent Flyer Program."
  • "self-confessed architect": Confessed to whom and to what legitimate authority?
  • "the Click and Clack of al-Qaeda": It's time for a drug test for McChesney...
Later in the report Inskeep Simon asks about closing arguments and McChesney says, "Closing arguments on Monday, sentencing to follow." Even Inskeep Simon has to jump in to remind him, "Sentencing to follow if there's a conviction we should say."

To this correction McChesney smugly states, "If there's a conviction - and if there isn't a conviction, he could still spend the rest of his life here at Guantanamo or at least an indefinite period until the war on terror is over." War on terror? What "war on terror"?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Storytime With Bloody Tom

Tom (*does he or doesn't he?) Gjelten provides a comforting bedtime story of CIA history:
"During the Cold War the United States had one adversary: Soviet Communism. The CIA sent agents around the world to track what the Soviets were up to and to thwart them where possible. But when communism collapsed, the world got more complicated..."
See, those intrepid agents of the CIA weren't doing anything bad; they were keeping us safe by ridding the world of millions of pesky communists in Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Afghanistan, etc. And now children, the world has just gotten so much more complicated that all kinds of secret US government agencies are sending their spooks all over the world to spread democracy and protect the Homeland. According to Gjelten, "The proliferation of new intelligence agents overseas has been hard for CIA old-timers who take pride in their intelligence craft and think no one else does it as well." Isn't that so touching? It made me feel all warm and fuzzy and safe and sleepy...zzzzzzzzz.

*Get paid by The Company, that is.


OK, so maybe it's only a bone, but I'll take it. I've complained several times (very recently, Dec. 25, 2007, and Dec. 17, 2007) about the lack of any serious coverage of the Iraqi refugee crisis, but this morning NPR had a decent report on the issue. Deborah Amos interviewed Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group, which has released a report on the state of Iraq's nearly 5 million displaced persons. This NPR report was significant for finally mentioning the responsibility of the United States for the crisis, and its negligence in providing assistance.

The next logical step would be for NPR to seek out some of the high level war criminals officials in the White House and State Department and demand to know why they have done virtually nothing to address this humanitarian disaster of their own making.