Saturday, November 29, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments are always welcomed.

The Archangel Simon

Scott Simon sermonizes about evil this morning. Simon decides that the premeditated killing of civilians doesn't deserve to be probed for motives:
"A word like 'motive' seems to imply there was reason or purpose. It suggests that, however profane their actions, the terrorists had the incentive of some goal in mind."
He notes that when human beings are "the very objects of damage" it is simply evil, no matter how "terrorists and apologists may ultimately embroider the assault with supposed political significance."

Maybe Simon is right when he says "that evil men and women see no innocents in the world. They will slaughter mothers without conscience and their children, too, because mothers give birth to children who can grow up to be their opponents." Given this new, righteous Scott Simon, I'll look forward to his denouncing ALL targetings of civilians whether done by terrorists in India or by the US government and it's friends and proxies.

Privatizing Public Radio

On Thursday morning Steve Inskeep spoke to Reva Bhalla about the events unfolding in Mumbai. It was an odd interview, because as the interview went on, it was clear that Bhalla didn't really know much about what was going on. Here's a sample of here "expert" analysis:
  • "...what's more likely is that this is part of a larger outfit India Mujahadeen which has been on the militant scene for a while now...."
  • "...already there are some indications when they're bringing up the boats where the militants supposedly came by, um, some hints of Pakistani links..."
  • " far it looks like there's seem to be some reports of them being Pakistani, more were looking most likely at Islamic militants."
Really, Bhalla offered nothing that any listener to the BBC couldn't have come up with: blah, blah, blah...India Mujahadeen...blah, blah, blah...the boats where the militants supposedly came by...blah, blah, blah...Pakistan...etc.

The only explanation given by Morning Edition for spending several minutes with Bhalla was that "she is director of geopolitical analysis at Stratfor, which is a private intelligence company in Austin Texas." The striking thing about Stratfor, is how little you can find out about it. Barron's ran an interesting article about Stratfor back in October of 2001. You can also find Stratfor produced and purchased information featured by several right-wing sites such as Bill O'Reilly, Right Side News and Right Bias. A critic, Al Giordano of NarcoNews has pointed out how in line with the US State Department policy Stratfor's information and analyses are (which coincidentally makes it a perfect fit with NPR News.) Some information on Stratfor can be found at Sourcewatch and almost nothing from their own corporate site.

As far as information on Ms. Bhalla, I similarly could find almost nothing, except her byline on Statfor published articles. However I did find that she has a profile on Facebook which notes that she is a Texas alum '04 (UT Austin I presume) and a Georgetown grad student.

Wondering how NPR justifies using such a "source" I sent an email to the Ombudsman noting the inaccessibility of information on Bhalla and Statfor and asking "why NPR uses Stratfor as a news source when it is not open to any kind of public scrutiny. Does NPR pay Stratfor, and if so how much?"

I'll add an update to this if I hear anything back.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Company They Keep

Inskeep and Gjelten host a euphemistic pity party for John Brennan -- CIA supporter of torture, Gestapo tactics, I mean "enhanced interrogation" practices. Listening to Inskeep and CIA apologist (employee?) Gjelten you'd never know that Brennan strongly supported rendition/torture flights, illegal FISA spying, and torture. Instead you'd think that he was some hapless employee of the CIA who has been tarred soley for associating with the torture big boys like George Tenet.

Inskeep opens the feature by lamenting that "liberal bloggers recently mounted a campaign against Brennan" and then closes the story with noting that Brennan withdrew his consideration "after a campaign by liberal bloggers against him...."

In between these bookmarks we get Gjelten complaining that "it's this campaign that's being waged against him...he said he feared that the hubbub that these liberal groups were raising about him would prove to be quote 'a distraction to the work of the intelligence community...'" Gjelten is pretty smooth how he reduces the substantive critiques of Brennan by people like Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, and Scott Horton to nothing but "hubbub."

One of the most remarkable things about the piece is that in spite of Inskeep beginning with "let's set aside the distractions for a moment and talk about the facts" the story is notable for having virtually no facts in it. To argue for Brennan's sterling qualifications Gjelten quotes himself ("the truth is that John Brennan is pretty much in the mainstream...He's not by any means a hardliner on intelligence issues") and "one Democrat on Capitol Hill" who "said it's sad that Brennan felt he had to withdraw."

Actually what is sad is Gjelten and Inskeep's little CIA inspired homework assignment that they foist on us. No references to Brennan's statements in favor of torture, rendition and domestic spying. No quotes from experts on human rights or international law who might not feel so "sad." And of course, no one to discuss the CIA's long and sordid record on human rights abuses.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Ironclad Strategy

Lianne Hansen this morning introduced WaPo/NPR agent Juan Forero's piece from Venezuela with the following remarks:
"In Venezuela socialist president, Hugo Chavez and his allies are facing a tough challenge from opposition candidates in today's elections for governors and mayors. It's the first time in years that the populist leader's ironclad hold on power has been challenged."
Ironclad hold on power? That's a rather curious way to describe a country's leader and his allies who have been elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities in very free, and very fair elections.

It's interesting to note this description from Global Research of the right's strategy in today's elections in Venezuela:
"The right-wing, pro-Washington opposition has dramatically changed their electoral strategy in these elections. Instead of focusing on personal insults of the President or spouting ideological bromides, they have concentrated on local issues....The opposition and its mass media have launched frontal attacks on deficiencies in garbage collection and the accumulation of rotting waste in the popular neighborhoods, increasing personal insecurity due to crime...."
This description aptly describes Juan Forero's "reporting" from Venezuela, which can't help but make you wonder just who's signing off on Forero's little paychecks.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments always. Please refrain from obscenities in your posts. Thanks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inskeep Freaks

Last night on Crooks and Liars I saw this post about Iran and wondered how long it would take NPR to join the orchestra of FEAR. Well, dang, they didn't waste anytime. This morning Inskeep was pounding the "Iran Might Go Nuclear" drum as hard as his rich little hands could bang it. Echoing his kindred spirits over at Fair and Balanced, Inskeep was very afraid about Iran having 1400 lbs. of enriched uranium which could, possibly, if, maybe, theoretically, someday become enough highly enriched uranium for...1 bomb!

Inskeep worried, "So that sounds kind of frightening. Is it?"

Mike Shuster (no investigative journalist himself) again and again emphasized the utterly hypothetical nature of this uranium ever being highly enriched. But Inskeep was undeterred; he asked, "So should the rest of the world be concerned....[and] how concerned should President-elect Obama be about a problem that he's going to inherit?"

Holy crap, if Inskeep really wants to scare himself silly he could lay awake nights and think about all that potential nuclear bomb material just hiding under the soil of Iran which someday, perhaps in the future, if the decision is made, just might possibly somehow get turned into not one but dozens of nuclear bombs....Seems like somebody wants to get his war on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments? Keep them coming, but please avoid obscenities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

History? Arrr!

On Tuesday morning one listens in vain for any contextual history as the shallow Gwen Thompkins reports on the seizure of a Saudi supertanker by Somali pirates. Anytime NPR covers Somalia be ready to have your memory scrubbed and reprogrammed.

On the other hand, if you turn to some far-flung leftist, conspiratorial news source like...say...the Voice of America you'll find this little nugget of information:
Pirate activities in Somalia stopped briefly in 2006 under the Islamic Courts Union, the group that seized power from Mogadishu-based factional leaders and quickly gained popular support by restoring law and order in many parts of the country. A ban on piracy was strictly enforced.

As the Islamic courts began consolidating under the control of militants, neighboring Ethiopia, with the support of the United States, intervened in December 2006, ousting the Islamic Courts Union and installing a secular - but deeply unpopular transitional government.
I'm not saying that the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was a noble government, but for God's sake they were bringing much desired stability to Somalia and were even sending overtures to the US. Instead of encouraging the moderate elements of the ICU and dealing with them diplomatically, the US opted for the Ethiopian invasion and violent overthrow of the ICU. This policy has been linked not only to a rise in Somali piracy, but has had the effect of strengthening the most radical and dangerous Islamist factions in Somalia. (Can you say, "Blowback.")

You'd would think any story on Somali piracy would have at least some mention of this history - unless, of course, the goal of the reporting is to obscure the historical context and misinform listeners.

But Some Are More Equal Than Others

NPR continues to suppress news of the ongoing war crime being committed by the Israeli government against the civilian population of Gaza. On Saturday Juan Cole, noting the Independent's article "Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel," sarcastically asks, "Oops, you mean it is not a headline in the U.S.? How odd? Why is that?" Maybe NPR fears ruffling Israeli government feathers, and they can always claim that they just couldn't get any reporters into Gaza anyway, how convenient.

Honestly, can you imagine the wall-to-wall coverage NPR would be giving to a US ally suffering a food and fuel blockade? I guess all civilians are not equal - some are more equal than others.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For All the Whos Down in Whoville

You know the scene: Cindy Lou Who asks the Grinch, "Santy Claus, why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree, why?" The Grinch, of course, lies, "I'm taking it home to my work shop, my dear. I'll fix it up there, then I'll bring it back here." The Narrator explains, "And his fib fooled the child. So he patted her head, he gave her a drink and he sent her to bed."

At least Cindy Lou Who - "who was no more than two" - had the good sense to challenge the Grinch with a question as he was stealing her tree, whereas, Poor Lynn Neary on Saturday's weekend edition never questions the utterly sleazy Newt Gingrich as he promotes himself as a visionary Republican man of "new ideas." Not once does Neary raise an objection to Gingrich's assertions, but instead gives him a friendly mike for the following:
  • He touts his "Center for Health Transformation which is developing a totally new health based health reform approach to how we think about health reform in America." (That would be his "totally new" basic neoconservative, market-based health care reform.)
  • He praises his "American Solutions, the organization which launched the Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less petition drive...repealing the Sarbane-Oxley regulatory bill...moving towards a zero capital gains and 12% corporate income tax rate strategy for economic growth..." (Neary has nothing to say about the nonsense of Drill Here, Drill Now or any mention of Newt's anti-environmental agenda.)
  • Gingrich claims that Democrats have an attitude toward business that tries "to harass it and destroy it."
  • Of Detroit's demise, he blames "the current Democratic politics of Detroit [which] have been a disaster for the human beings..." (And I thought the history of Detroit was a bit more complicated).
  • Gingrich claims he (and the new Republican party) will be "willing to go out and actually represent everyone everywhere." (Except for non-Christians and evil secularists).
Yes, little Cindy Lou Who showed some mettle in confronting the thief in front of her, while Neary not only didn't challenge the crooked Gingrinch, but helped him as he "crupt to the chimney and stuffed the tree up."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Q Tips

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Lot of Awful Work Has Been Done

...or "an awful lot of work has to be done" to shut down Guantanamo - so says former Air Force lawyer and current Duke professor, Scott Silliman. It is telling that on the day after the release of a report on the "shattered lives" of released Guantanamo detainees, NPR and Jackie Northam are doing the awful work of convincing listeners that closing the prison camp will be a lot more complicated than they might have thought "during the heady days of the presidential campaign...[when as Northam reminds us] Obama spoke with easy assurance about his plans for Guantanamo Bay and the handling of terror suspects...."

Listen in vain to NPR's report for anyone mentioning torture, war crimes, violations of international law at Guantanamo. Conveniently, with such acts unmentioned, the issue of accountability and restitution never comes up. For Northam the only important issue is the difficulties that closing Guantanamo will present for the US government, "specifically what to do with the roughly 250 prisoners still held at Guantanamo."

To articulate the quandries of the poor, befuddled US government, who better to turn to than US government/military insiders such as Scott Silliman (see above), Commander Glen Sulmasy (of the Coast Guard Academy), and Matthew Waxman (of the Pentagon, State Department and Hoover Institution). One outsider, Vincent Warren with the Center for Constitutional Rights is mentioned for a very brief comment on favorable international attitudes to the new Obama administration. Here's how the cast performed:
Listening to this NPR story I wondered when we will hear from about Gitmo from someone at Amnesty International, or the ACLU, or the Center for Constitutional Rights (to actually talk about their work). Maybe it will be tomorrow...or the day after that...or...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If It's Not Unanimous You Can't Have It

What a bizarre report from Julie Rovner on health care reform and the recent election. As everyone knows the the voters who helped elect Obama President want and expect major health care reform. Explaining the reasons why even reform (instead of complete overhaul) might not happen the way you thought it would when you cast your ballot, Rovner makes this statement:

"So obstacle one is a public that's divided between wanting more and less government involvement in in health care."

Divided? That's funny...I could have sworn there were some serious majorities out there who support government led universal health care. I did a little searching and - whew - I wasn't just hallucinating again. Let's see what some of the polls show:
  • A Kaiser Poll of October 2008 (pdf file) shows 84% believe that "Health care should be provided equally to everyone, just as public education is," 76% believe that "access to health care should be a right," and "over 6 in 10 (63%) favor the government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes."
  • A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey from August 2008 shows "A government guarantee of universal health insurance, even if it means raising taxes, continues to attract broad support. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) favor such a proposal, while 34% are opposed."
  • CNN Opinion Research Opinion poll of May 2007 (pdf) finds 64% of Americans "think the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes."
  • A CBS/New York Times poll of March 2007 finds that "most Americans believe government can play a role in fixing the health care system. Two-thirds say the federal government should guarantee that all Americans have health insurance."
Yeah, that's real division. I mean 37% to 63% is like, wow, almost a 50-50 deadlock with just a little 13% change in each direction. Honestly, does Rovner think she can just make up any lie that fits NPR's general opposition to universal health care and pass it off as fact?

Hey Rovner - busted!

Squirrels, Rabbits and The Greatest Frickin' Generation

Saturday with the Simonizer found him putting a shine on those two pillars of nationalism - God and country. He was having a little chat with two of Billy Graham's shysters grandchildren who have written a book glorifying their humble grandpa who lives in "log cabin" and who we find out "used to preach to squirrels and rabbits." Funny how the corporate/mainstream media like NPR love books that lionize Billy Graham but just can't seem to find the time to cover books that are well researched (and critical of America's greatest war preacher).

Just wouldn't be militaristic enough for Scott Simon without a gooey tribute to the warrior ethos. What better way than a grandfatherly sort who reenlisted after September 11th and now at the age of 60 is in Iraq. Ignoring that the war in Iraq has made many of us citizens of the planet poorer, unsafe and - of course - dead, we get to hear his wife tell us how her granddaughter "who's in about the fifth grade...was very happy to know that Papa Jim was trying to do something to keep the country safe." Aargh...

Lastly, I was struck by a piece from Jackie Lyden on Sunday's ATC. It's a decent enough report about the problems that the tanking housing market has created for WWII era retirees. When I heard her start the story I thought she called them the "Grayest Generation" which seemed a witty turn of Brokaw's sloppy "Greatest Generation" cognomen. But alas, NPR and Leyden have decided that this inaccurate (and propagandistic) label should stand as objective truth.

Gosh, and I didn't even get around to mentioning Sunday's fluffy, feel-good "This I Believe" piece about the power of Teddy Bears...from a veteran of Bagram in Afghanistan...yeah, that Bargram - home of cuddly, feel-good American soft-power...

Friday, November 07, 2008

My Pet Fox

More problems with blurred lines between NPR and Fox News was evident in yesterday's report on Brit Hume's announcement that he was stepping down from his anchor position at Fox News. The piece featured David Folkenflick barely articulating the most timid critique of Fox News, while mainly claiming that that Brit Hume "brought the news channel credibility."

Only in the Orwellian world of NPR News could a loyal mainstay of the venomous Fox News channel claim that he's lost enthusiasm for his job because of "this poisonous atmosphere in Washington over the past, oh I'd say 14 or 15 years. It makes news because sparks are struck; sparks are what make news — there's dissent and disagreement, intense feeling and so on, which all contribute to an untidy and ugly at times, but nonetheless newsworthy, atmosphere."

So does Folkenflik challenge Hume's hypocrisy with a list of Hume's own lies and ugly smears? Barely. He notes euphemistically that "Fox News is itself a home for all kinds of rancor..." (I guess this counts as rancor) and then politely asks, "How much do you feel that your own channel has contributed to that?"

Hume responds that "We've certainly been a forum, as everybody else has, for the arguments of the day. We are more a reflection of it, I think, than a cause." A forum? Like everyone else? Does Folkenflik follow up with evidence to show that Fox News has been far more than a forum, and is not like everyone else? Here's his response:
"Hume cuts an elegant figure in pinstripe suits and pocket squares, and he's known for his mordant wit and his love of a good story."
Clueless Folkenflik might want to watch this interchange with Chris Wallace on the Daily Show and notice how at the 3 minute mark Wallace is presented with evidence of Fox's sorry excuse for journalism. I know evidence is soooooo left leaning and biased.

The story ends noting that Hume wants to spend more time with family and read the Bible...

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Execrable Takes on Great Expectations

(click picture for source)

In the comments of the "Crystal Ball" post below there were some angry (and informative) posts about Mara Liasson's Foxist assault on the expectations of Obama supporters. You have to love the bottom of the tank "scholars" that Liasson stitches together for her report (in order of appearence):
With the aid of these characters Liasson puts together her septic rant:

Regarding solving "the huge problems he's inheriting" Liasson says that "On the campaign trail he made it sound easy. The only sacrifice he asked people to make was (sarcastic tone) turning off the lights and checking the pressure in their tires." Funny how Liasson ignores Obama's campaign calls for sacrifice and service, but revives the ignorant Republican attack on tire gauges.

She then lets Ornstein make claims for "the left." He whines, "if the expectations are high generally, their highest on the left. You've got a group of people who think - first of all - that it's their victory, who believe that Obama is one of them..."

After Ornstein, it's on to Gerson who she says worries that "nothing Obama said during the campaign indicates when or if he might push back against the Democratic leadership in Congress." Seriously, a Bushist speech-writer worried about a President who won't "push back" against his party's leadership in Congress.

Next it's on to money. Liasson warns that "Then there's the clash of campaign promises with dollars and sense reality." Yes, Liasson has just been all over "dollars and sense reality" for that little war that she is so fond of.

As the "tire gauge" jab above shows, Liasson is interested in reviving old Fox News/Republican attacks from the campaign. She revisits the covertly recorded remarks of Biden predicting that Obama would be tested by an international crisis. Liasson says, "His running mate made it clear what he expected in the first six months for a young president just four years out of the Illinois state legislature. 'Mark my words,' Joe Biden told a group of Democratic donors. 'Mark my words.' (This is followed by the distorted recording made of Biden's remarks). This sleazy use of the Biden remarks leaves one wondering where Liasson's gig with Fox ends and her work for NPR begins.

Her piece winds down with Bob Kagan warning that Obama will need to take a complex view of Pakistan and Afghanistan, because "there are no easy answers"--this from easy-answer Kagan himself. It ends with O'Hanlon ratcheting things up on Iran and admitting that Obama does have world popularity.

This from what Montagne calls "NPR's national political correspondent." Astounding really...and disgusting.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Crystal Ball

Assuming the election is not stolen by the right, any guesses on how NPR will frame election results when the Republicans get trounced?