Saturday, February 28, 2009

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There's No Place Like Home

(That's Keene helping Liasson Get Home)

Mara Liasson got back to Kansas CPAC on Friday morning. Surrounded by kindred spirits, she apparently felt no reason to even pretend to be a journalist - instead just reiterated the talking points of the speakers and organizers of the event:
  • "The keynote speaker at CPAC, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was attacking the stimulus bill, or what he called the 787 billion dollar monstrosity."
  • "....indeed Keene [President of the American Conservative Union which sponsors the CPAC event] says, conservatives are feeling liberated because George W. Bush - who many on the right felt undermined their cause - was out of office."
No real surprise, but it's worth checking out the comments to the story on NPR's site:
  • Mark Ace (Poldark) notes how in spite of conservatives running the country for at least the last 14 years, Mara didn't ask one challenging question. He asks, "How about assigning an interviewer who actually asks a material question rather than just transmitting the talking points of the conference?"
  • Grumpy Demo (Former NPR member), who has posted here, provides two links that reveal the rather nasty side of the CPAC which, of course, Mara didn't note in her report.

Shell Game

(that's Inskeep on the half-shell and Odum blowing)

Inskeep takes on Marvin Odum, Shell Oil's president of operations in the Americas. Yeah, Inskeep was really tough on this guy - he asked him about a House committee investigation into Shell and Interior department improprieties (and the letter Odum received from Rep. Markey); he pointed out that wind (and solar energy) could provide all US energy needs if the commitment were made to the infrastructure needs; he brought up Shell's dismal ethical rankings on Covalence; he even brought up Shell's involvement in human rights abuses in Nigeria. Just kidding.

Really Inskeep had a cozy, comfortable (oily, odious) schmooze session with Odum. Inskeep is just so curious as to how the Shell's Angels are going to deal with rising demands for oil, and if more offshore drilling really will provide enough oil for our needs. If you ever wondered what Inskeep's moral vision of Corporatism is, he lays it out in this interview. He asks Odum,
"...but if you think of us as a leaky ship, let's say, I mean do you worry as a corporate executive, that you'll do some well-intentioned things and you'll have the right motivations, and you'll plug a few leaks in the ship...but in the end the ship is still sinking."
Why of course Shell Oil does "well-intentioned things" and has "the right motivations," after all they have the profits to prove it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hoisted by His Own Petard

Steve Inskeep arriving at the airport in far away Tehran had a big insight:
"I regretted abandoning them [three books about Iran] as soon as my turn came in line, because my bags weren't searched after all. That's the genius of certain governments: They get you to censor yourself."
Oh my God! Imagine censoring yourself so as not to offend those in power!

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Blood & Gold


Yesterday on ATC Jason Beaubien's piece on El Salvador's coming election features the usual erasure and distortion of history. Block introduces the feature with this winner:
"In the 1980s, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front drew the U.S. into a bloody Cold War conflict in Central America."
And were the Serbs "drawn in" to the bloody war in Bosnia or Kosovo? Were the Janjaweed "drawn in" to the conflict in Darfur, etc?

From Beubien we get the usual blather about El Salvador being a "front" in Reagan's "battle against the spread of communism in the Americas." Oh, and by the way, "more than 70,000 people died in the war, " though he fails to mention that the vast majority were atrocities against civilians carried out by the US backed government.


This morning Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is on for a reprise of her previous cover-up of civilian deaths in Iraq (remember the "Gold Standard"?). There's no mea culpa in this morning's report. More of the same about how unknowable the death count in Iraq is and how "controversial" the Lancet report was - although it's a bit better than her previous report in that it conveys how completely death and violence have touched virtually everyone in Iraq.

I did go ahead and drop a comment on the NPR site beneath the story. I'd recommend occasionally reading listeners' comments - as they are often quite pointed and astute.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Of Extremists and Militants

Seriously, if you were a reporter and you found out that a "Christian" film festival featured an independent "Christian" film that was the largest grossing independent film of 2008, and you found out that this film festival was offering a grand prize of $100,001 - wouldn't you be curious to know more about the groups and people organizing and funding such things? Not NPR, and definitely not Barbara Bradley Hagerty who apparently has never heard of Google or Lexis Nexis or investigative journalism.

She tells us that the festival is called the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and that Doug Phillips is its organizer. I'd call those leads, and with just a little research you can find some very interesting things about them.

Take the festival for example. Here's it's website, and you will notice in its header it states that it is a project of Vision Forum Ministries. Do a little poking around this "Christian" film festival website and you'll find some fascinating movies on the program page, including this culturally sensitive gem of a film set in Togo which "begins with the meeting and marriage of a young man and woman. After multiple miscarriages, the family asks for help from the local charlatan."

Don't stop at the festival site, though. Take a gander at the Vision Forum Ministries site and be sure to see what these "conservative Christians" (as Scott Simon calls them) believe about biblical patriarchy. And don't miss out on festival organizer and Vision Forum Ministries president, Doug Phillip' biography. If you still don't quite get what these Christofacists are up to you might want to read Doug's blog post from June 2004 where he notes - among other things -
  • "Vision Forum opposes the pagan notion of pluralism....America should serve only Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him alone as the true lawgiver."
  • "...we seek to drive from the land every manifestation of homosexuality. Furthermore, Sodomy was a punishable crime at common law and should remain such."
  • "The Bible makes no distinction between homosexuals, pedophiles, bestials and rapists. All are criminals, the toleration of which brings judgment on the land and devastation to children."
You have to wonder whether Hagerty is just lazy or if she and NPR are sympathetic to these kinds of Christian extremists. It's really a disservice to Christians to call them conservative Christians, especially when every other report on NPR regarding the US "war on terror" mentions Islamic militants and Islamic extremists.

Talking Swat

Last Tuesday on ATC I heard a rather typical Jackie Northam piece regarding the Pakistani truce with TNSM in the Swat valley. She interviewed the usual smorgasbord of CIA, US State Department, and National Security Council shills and - what do you know - they all had basically the same opinions, or as Northam so pointedly stated:
"....none of the analysts interviewed for this report thinks that the truce in the SWAT valley will hold for long."
Honestly, I just didn't have the time, stomach or basic knowledge to sort out Northams lousy (and lazy) journalism, so I emailed Manan Ahmed who posts at the informative ICGA (associated with the other Informed Comment) and who produces the really fine blog, Chapati Mystery. If you haven't visited it, don't let it remain a mystery for too long. I asked him if he'd be willing to post on the NPR piece and allow me to cross-post it here, which he kindly agreed to. Well, he went above and beyond the call - putting NPR in the context of the other rather poor coverage of the Swat valley story. Here's the opening of his post:

Increasingly, I am convinced that the discourse on Pakistan within the United States needs some major intervention. My fear, or maybe paranoia, is that Pakistan is en-route to be declared "mentally incapacitated" by United States aka "failed state". The impact of such a declaration (whether stated or not) would be that US will need to put a "care-taker" in charge of the mess. The rising frequency of the drone attacks, the extension of missile strikes, the troop "surge" in Afghanistan read as concrete steps towards a radically intrusive strategy towards Pakistan. I will have more to say on this. But I wanted, for the moment to simply bring to your attention some recent writings on Swat.

1. Jackie Northam, "Pakistan Deal With Taliban Draws Critics", All Things Considered, Feb 17, 2009.
Perhaps the worst of all recent pieces - NPR could only find 1. CIA Station Chief, 1. State Department Official and 1. NSC Official to declare that the Swat deal basically meant that Afghanistani Taliban have basically invaded and taken over Swat and that this means the Pakistani army is ridiculously weak. Between the lines, you should understand that the nukes are about to fall into the Taliban hands. Also al-Qaeda. Thank you, NPR.
To continue reading.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Any Damn Thing Considered

I guess now that President Science himself is gone, NPR feels compelled to take up the slack and give as much airtime as possible to complete creationist BS dressed up as science. For a while it seemed that NPR was expelling some of this Intelligent Design sludge every year or so [e.g. May 2007 and April 2008], but - gad! - it's getting to be a weekly thing now [e.g. Feb. 13th and today]. I guess this is how Fair and Balanced NPR celebrates the centenary of Darwin's Origin of Species.

Today features Jon Hamilton presenting a typical "he said, she said" debate on Intelligent Design and the "problem of the mind." Now, those of us who actually use our minds are well aware that the mind is a complex and mysterious entity, and if you are a believer in God or a nonbeliever like me, hopefully if fills you with wonder and curiosity to know more. But if you are a creationist always angling for a way to present your bankrupt ideas (or a news organization wanting to promote creationists as legitimate skeptics) then the fact that "scientists don't know [exactly] how the brain causes the mind" is a golden opportunity. As Hamilton explains "here's where the Darwin doubters come in." He might as well have added that the doors to NPR studios are also where the Darwin doubters come in.

I don't have a problem with NPR covering the resurgence of creationism under its various guises - it's a sad and important phenomenon in our country. But to treat this warmed-over creationism again and again as legitimate scientific skepticism and to give it equal footing with the the scientific community is both irresponsible and misleading.

You just have to love the neurosurgeon creationist NPR turns to in this report. We are told he believes that "an intelligent designer that had a hand in producing not only the brain but all living things and certain features of the universe." According to Hamilton, this man believes that "without this designer, the brain would be just a meat computer made up of brain cells." Given the content of NPR of late, maybe he's got a point!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

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Bling and Style

NPR Bling and Style
Glitter Graphics

Newsflash: NPR actually does know how to send reporters out to investigate a story!

On Tuesday's ATC Melissa Block said that "we sent reporter Jesse Baker to the heart of the diamond district in Manhattan" to see what the creepy Lorraine Schwartz was cooking up for the glitterati of the upcoming Oscars. WOW, Jesse was just breathless with excitement for this one:

She confidently states that "If Beyonce wants someone to 'put a ring on it,' that ring had better come from Lorraine Schwartz." And speaking of Beyonce, Schwartz in her best faux artiste voice
croons, "you couldn't aaahhhsssk for a better canvas to show your jewelry on."

Baker notes that "Schwartz put pink diamonds on Barbara Streisand...was selling jewelry to Justin Timberlake back when he was still buying gifts for a girl named calls to Elizabeth Taylor..." This aspiring NPRer was practically panting and tried to wax poetic: " let the jewels overtake's like opening a treasure gold, jade, titanium, gems set in gems....

I'm not sure, but I think Ari Shapiro must have been a bit jealous that it wasn't his assignment to worship at the altar of conspicuous consumption, but he wasn't about to be outdone. He was on this morning interviewing - OMG! - Sally Singer, Vogue magazine's fashion news and features director. Ooh, I just got goosebumps thinking about the fashion shows and all in New York. Ari dives in with just the right mix of shallowness and depth: " the shows this week are you seeing fantasy escapism or is it more depression-era chic."

And Singer is indeed up to the challenge of filling NPR's target shoppers (h/t to Juan "Toss" Ensalada) with fashion wisdom: " can be a place where you can be exuberant, you can be creative, you can be talented, you can be interesting--that doesn't change....this is a moment to say that times can be tough, but that's exciting, that's what brought on punk, that's what brought on the great kind of fun movements in self-expression that have trickled through you know all the booms and all the busts that have followed...

Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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A rather major problem with nearly all of NPR's reporting is the "history scrub." You can guarantee that if the essential background history to a story reflects poorly on the actions of the US government - that history will be deleted, scrubbed, sanitized - sent down the memory hole. Afghanistan proves no exception on Tuesday's ATC.

Michelle Norris blandly explains that thousands more US troops are headed off to Afghanistan and doesn't even chuckle in noting that the United States Institute of Peace [tee-hee] released some new policy recommendations for Afghanistan. To discuss the report, Norris interviews Seth Jones, co-author with Christine Fair of the report (both authors are connected with the RAND Corp).

In fairness, a lot of what Jones says comes off as fairly informed and reasonable. His basic thesis is that Afghanistan has been most stable in the past when there were stable functioning rural/regional leaderships that had a lot of autonomy but were connected and cooperative with a central/urban leadership. He even offered corrective to Michelle Norris' knee-jerk assumption that the answer to all problems in Afghanistan is more US troops and military might:
Norris: "...since so much of the problems in Afghanistan are so widespread, this strategy policy would seem to require many more troops, many more advisers to work at the tribal level to gain that trust and build some sort of security."

Jones: "I would actually say it's the reverse....local forces can a) protect themselves and b) provide services."
What I found so stunning is that neither Norris nor Jones ever mentioned that the baseline of stable functioning "legitimate" local leaders was essentially destroyed and replaced by the most ruthless, fanatic and illegitimate leaders that the US could recruit and train in its 1980s campaign to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Even US News & World Report acknowledges this basic history. On NPR, though, it's as if this nasty little chapter of US involvement in the sorrows of Afghanistan never even happened - or that it had no continuity with the current configuration of the US-Afghanistan project.

I find it fascinating to occasionally hop into the way-back machine and re-read cartoonist Ted Rall's piece on Afghanistan written at the time when most were crowing about the stunning US victory over the Taliban. His piece in the Village Voice from December 2001 is provocatively called "How We Lost Afghanistan," and it is disturbingly prescient. Consider just this nugget:
"Now a Third Afghan War is wrapping up its final act around Kandahar, and a laughable band of charlatans has lobbied in Bonn, Germany, for the right to rule the unruly. Somehow, if the Bushalopes and the Annanites are to be believed, a New Democratic Afghanistan will be cobbled together from the Hekmatyars and Dostums and Rabbanis, all united under the banner of an 87-year-old king who owes more to Fellini than to Shah Mohammed."
I have a suggestion for NPR. How about airing the views and opinions of people who got it right for a change - instead of only consulting the same old stale bunch of State Department, CIA, and Pentagon lovin' pundits and scholars that you rely on again and again and again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

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No Comment Department

Gregory Feifer during Sunday's ATC reporting on the ground from - Moscow:
"...the Mujahedeen rebels would attack the Soviet forces and then climb into the mountains out of reach, and the Red Army really took out its revenge on the local population that was supporting the rebels. US and NATO forces today are trying to do exactly the opposite."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going Nowhere with Juan Forero

This morning Juan Forero was on the anti-Chavez beat for the second day in a row. On Saturday he runs a fine CIA-inspired piece about how anti-democratic the Chavez government and its supporters are. This morning he was beating the drum again, but with a twist. In the piece, we hear Chavez supporters chanting "Oooh, aaah, Chavez no se va!" and Forero claims that it translates to "Oooh, aaah, Chavez is going nowhere!"

My Spanish is not fluent, but it is adequate - and I'm confident that "no se va" never means "going nowhere." An accurate translation would be "Chavez is not going away" or "Chavez is not abandoning [the struggle]."

It's no secret that Juan Forero works very hard to discredit and misinform listeners about the situation in South America, but I was surprised that he would employ such an easily discredited mistranslation to forward his agenda. I mean it's not like the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's Farsi statement about Israel's Zionist government "vanishing from the pages of time" being stated as "wiping Israel off the map" - where hardly anyone in the US speaks Farsi. There are millions of people in the US who speak Spanish fluently and millions of others who know enough Spanish to catch such a crude mistranslation as Forero employs.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter how inaccurate and misleading Juan Forero's "reporting" for NPR is, he definitely "no se va" - Que lastima [What a pity.]

Related update: Last week I posted on Forero's nasty piece alledging how anti-Semitic the Chavez government is. I won't be holding my breath for a correction, now that the case has been solved - with aggressive action by the Chavez goverment.

Friday, February 13, 2009

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Junk News Loves Junk Science

NPR do have a thing for "controversial" non-science:
So I guess it's no surprise that this afternoon on ATC Larry Abramson provides almost no background and context for the Louisiana "Science Education Act" - ( another Trojan Horse of creationism lovingly crafted by the theocratic Louisiana Family Forum).

Abramson introduces the piece claiming that the Science Education Act "protects teachers who engage in what's known as critical thinking about all controversial science - about climate change, cloning, and - of course - evolution." He also tells us that a school administrator and proponent of the law "never brought up God or creation...he and others appear confident that they can use the idea of critical thinking to poke holes in the theory of evolution without bringing God into the equation. That may be why Darwin defenders are so worried."

Abramson simply adopts the Orwellian "critical thinking" language of the law. He also calls sound science "controversial" (which it is if you are in favor of reactionary ignorance). It is also odd that Abramson labels those who want to base the teaching of science on - well - science, as "Darwin defenders" (earlier he described them as "supporters of evolution"). Once again NPR pretends that there are two equally valid sides on this issue. I don't want to waste my time rehashing the mountains of scientific consensus against these anti-science efforts (much of what I posted on the Ben Stein story applies to this piece as well). What I will note is some of what Abramson could have done:

He could be sloppy and lazy and spend most of the report talking to an administrator and a science teacher who want to challenge that wild-eyed, seat-of-the-pants, riddled-with-errors theory of evolution.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

From the Peanut Gallery

With the latest salmonella outbreak from the Georgia peanut processing plant being investigated, NPR puts Joanne Silberner on the case with an assist from Renee Montagne.

Montagne asks, "...are foods getting less safe?"

To which Silberner chirpily responds,
"Well, we're changing the way we eat and it's, we're coming up with more and more problems and the inspections can't keep up. I mean the FDA hasn't really picked up on its number of inspectors. It hasn't been funded to do that. They've got much more to inspect; there's food coming from all over the world. You can't be everywhere...."
Is that seriously the best Silberner can come up with - "the inspections can't keep up" and "You can't be everywhere"? Has she heard of DEREGULATION? (It's been in the news a bit lately.) I don't know what alternate universe Silberner and Montagne were living in in the 1980s, but I'm old enough to remember Honest Ron rolling back safety in the food industry with a vengeance (it weren't pretty). And the problem has worsened over the years - and accelerated under the government-killing stewardship of the Bushistas. As the New York Times noted in 2006, "Cutbacks in staff and budgets have reduced the number of food-safety inspections conducted by the F.D.A. to about 3,400 a year — from 35,000 in the 1970s. The number of inspectors at the Agriculture Department has declined to 7,500 from 9,000."

It's not like you have to have a PhD in Food Sciences to figure out that the problem (which Nader again pinpointed almost a year ago) is the greed of the food industry coupled with the gutting of safety regulations and budgets. It's obvious if you are paying attention, as this Atlanta Journal Constitution writer is, or doing any research. But not to NPR's finest.

Silberner tells Montagne that "it's really the new food reality that companies like Kellogg or Keebler, they will buy products from all over, and then put them into their products, then we eat that final product. We no longer eat locally grown foods from a single source; foods are combined." Yeah, like we were all eating locally grown foods just a few short years ago - hmm, was that 50, 75 or 100 years ago that Silberner's recalling?

Be sure to check out Grumpy Demo's comment on the NPR site. In his comment he also has a link to this great Atlanta Journal Constitution story showing the connections between the peanut boss and deregulation.

Monday, February 09, 2009

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Sobering as a Mugging

(updated below)

Listening to NPR on Sunday afternoon I was amazed that they were covering the ACLU case against Jeppesen - a subsidiary of Boeing - that has provided the torture flights for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program (not NPR's first story on Jeppesen).

I had recently listened to the ACLU's Ben Wizner on Salon Radio where he spelled out the history and implications of this case - at stake is whether US government officials will EVER be held accountable in any way in court for laws broken in the name of national security secrecy, or whether blanket immunity will stop cases from even going to court in the name of "state secrets."

About three quarters of the way through NPR's piece, I was thinking of the "Kudos" post I would write on this blog (by necessity, a rare event). I was impressed that Shapiro's report stuck to the facts of the case and its implications for revealing whether the new Obama Justice Department would offer a break from Bush policy on torture and rendition or would continue the same policy of blanket secrecy and immunity. But then...

Shapiro closed the piece by featuring attorney David Laufman, identified only as having "handled terrorism cases as a federal prosecutor." Shapiro says
"Attorney David Laufman believes tomorrow could be a rude awakening for some of Obama's more liberal supporters. [Laufman] 'There's that old joke that a conservative is a liberal who's gotten mugged and, thank God the new team hasn't gotten mugged yet.' But he says a daily threat briefing can be about as sobering as a mugging."
Oh we childish "more liberal" listeners who just don't understand the real Jack Bauer world of the threats facing our benevolent empire. If only we were privy to the super-secret briefings that the grown-ups get every day, then we too would be begging for more prison camps, more torture flights, more preventive wars, more spying on ourselves - in fact all kinds of "extraordinary" measures to protect the freedoms, liberties, rule of law and democracy that the "bad guys" want to take from us.

As far as Laufman goes, he has a rather checkered past regarding this story. A glance at his biography on the Kelly Drye Legal Counsel firm website reveals that
  • "From 1980-1984, Mr. Laufman served as an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in political and military analysis."
  • "From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Laufman served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson at the Department of Justice (DOJ), where he assisted in managing the day-to-day operations of DOJ and helped to coordinate the Department's responses to the September 11 terrorist attacks."
How convenient that NPR failed to disclose the obvious conflicts of interest that Laufman has in this case. I don't know, it's as if NPR got my defenses down and then just when I was starting to trust the story...BAM! right upside the a mugging.

Unfortunately, the Obama Justice Department has decided that mugging the Constitution isn't such a bad thing after all, and has come out as a torture defender and enabler - in a most deliberate manner.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

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Get Chavez

FAIR has an illuminating study recently published showing the huge disparity in US Newspaper coverage of human rights in Venezuela and Colombia over the past 10 years. Their findings show that in spite of Colombia having an "appalling" human rights record - horrific compared to Venezuela's shortcomings - the US press coverage focuses almost exclusively on Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Like the US Newspapers, NPR has a thing about focusing on Venezuela and Chavez and their main man for such assignments is Juan Forero.

Forero - always happy to push the State Department or CIA narrative on Latin America - is on this morning to portray the Chavez government as dangerously antisemitic.

Forero notes that despite Chavez' denunciation of the recent synagogue vandalism "questions are being raised over whether the government's recent language against Israel is creating a climate of hate. In January Chavez broke relations with Israel over that country's military strikes against Gaza. He called Israel's actions genocidal and expelled Israeli diplomats." Of course Forero doesn't note that Israel's violent actions against Palestinians fit the legal definition of genocide: "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

Forero purports that Chavez's remarks have had "an aggressive tone" "that borders on antisemitic." Forero sneers that in the past Chavez claimed the 2002 coup against him was "hatched by the CIA and Israel's secret service Mossad" and "claimed the gunmen that day were Jewish." Now what kind of nutbar would claim Israel's involvement in genocidal and rightwing Latin American governments. He also fails to mention that a prominent Venezuelan rabbi was present with the coup leaders in the immediate aftermath of the coup.

Forero closes his piece with this chestnut: Andreas (a Holocaust survivor) "knew exactly what the ramifications were. He's a Romanian Jew who survived the Holocaust and then came to Venezuela..." Ah yes, the Chavez denunciations of Israel's slaughter of Palestinians caused the antisemitic attack on the synagogue and it's like Kristalnacht all over again!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Morning Jo(k)e

As Grumpy Demo pointed out below, the GOP has found NPR a great place to get its message out, and out, and out... This morning's Saturday Weakened Edition beat all with NPR offering GOP mouthpiece Joe Scarborough yet another venue to give his sloppy and slippery take on the stimulus plan and the end of bipartisanship (this in addition to listeners having to suffer Juan FOX Williams - not once, but twice - offering his "analysis" of the stimulus issue and Scott Simon longing for a flat tax - how original.)

As a disclaimer, I'm not an Obama apologist. I campaigned for him in Indiana in October and voted for him in November, but I continue to feel that he's far too accommodating to US militarism and predatory capitalism. However, looking at the past month, even a simpleton would have to conclude that the stimulus plan Obama backed early in January was an extremely GOP-friendly offering (with 40% of the plan being tax cuts) and that the GOP has worked as hard as it (and its media mouthpieces) can to torpedo any meaningful economic recovery plan. As Paul Krugman accurately predicted at the time, "Republicans are not going to come on board. Make 40% of the package tax cuts, they’ll demand 100%. Then they’ll...demand that the plan focus on the affluent. Then they’ll demand cuts in corporate taxes. And...that state and local governments should get loans, not aid...."

If anything, you'd think Obama would be criticized for being naive about reaching out to Republicans. As the dominant federal party for years the Republicans have a track record: rewarding incompetence, upholding secrecy and corruption, winning at all costs, destroying essential government services, overfeeding the Pentagon, helping the rich, and screwing everyone else. But Morning Joke doesn't see it that way, he pretends that Obama is just like George Bush who "campaigned saying he was going to be a uniter not a divider." According to Joe there's "just something about Washington DC that divides parties." He feigns shock "because around Tuesday or Wednesday, Obama started going out and actually openly mocking the Republicans" and he was "surprised how quickly Pres. Obama has moved to using the type of language he used Thursday, Friday and then again this morning."

And is there any challenge to this propaganda? Any reminders that Republicans had their way with disastrous tax cuts, and their disastrous bailouts with Democrat cooperation? Any reminder of how utterly and illegally partisan the Bush years were? From Scott Simon? Now that is a joke!

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Geography Quiz Time

Here's a fun little quiz for visitors to this blog. Can you correctly identify which country is being referred to in the following quote given by a guest on a recent Morning Edition story:
"Our challenge in______________is...fundamentally to create an environment where governance and rule of law and economic development will also thrive."
A) The United States (hmmm....governance, rule of law, economic development)
B) Venezuela (governance, rule of law, economic development)
C) Afghanistan (governance, rule of law, economic development)

If you answered Venezuela then you have been listening to NPR's busy Juan Forero way too much and you're wrong! However if you answered either the US or Afghanistan you get a passing grade. Unfortunately, on NPR all you'll hear about is how awful and corrupt the Afghanistan government is (which is true enough), but you'll hear precious little about how responsible the US is for the horrid state of affairs there. Of course NPR doesn't have time to go way back to the US creation of warlordism in order to oust the Soviets, or the US collusion with Pakistan in nurturing the Taliban, but you might expect a bit more depth on the role of the US in creating the Afghanistan disaster over the last 7 years. However that could be awkward, since a great source of information on the recent history is Sarah Chayse who found that it was impossible to do serious reporting on Afghanistan for NPR news.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Are We Stimulated Yet?

There is a Santa Claus! NPR is in the gifting mode, handing out airtime to yackers from the Grand Old Party (Republicans that is) - and a reader of this blog, "Grumpy Demo" from Dallas, was so kind as to do a bit of analysis of NPR's big tilt toward Republican talking heads in it's economic coverage of late. Here's what Grumpy sent me:

In Reporting On White House Economic Stimulus Package, NPR Interviews Six GOP Congressmen For Every Democrat
Based on NPR’s own data, NPR demonstrated a preference for Republican members of Congress in its reporting on President Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package. A review of NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” broadcast records for the month ending February 3, 2008 indicates in the 50 stories on the stimulus, NPR interviewed and quoted 12 GOP Congresspersons, while only quoting 2 Democrats. Numerous polls show that a majority of Americas support the White House’s stimulus package.
When viewed in context - that NPR’s sole Washington news analyst is FOX News’ employee and O’Reilly Factor guest host, Juan Williams, combined with numerous interviews with Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and National Review pundits, with no members of the progressive movement given equal time - NPR demonstrates a clear and unambiguous conservative bias in its reporting. Additionally, during this same period no White House spokesperson was interviewed or quoted by NPR.

Search Data listed below:

Month Ending February 3,2008
Total Stories: 50
Congressmen Interviewed, Quoted: 14
GOP Congressmen: 12
Democratic Congressmen: 2
White House Spokesmen: 0

Morning Edition
  • 01/07/09 Oakley D-WI
  • 01/19/09 Gingrich R-GAx
  • 01/22/09 Roehmer R-TN
  • 01/25/09 Cantor R-VA
  • 01/20/09 Pence R-I
All Things Considered
  • 01/06/09 Hoyer D-MD
  • 01/15/09 Cantor R-VA
  • 01/20/09 Pence R-IN
  • 01/26/09 Grassley R-IW
  • 01/27/09 Camp R-MI,Simpson R-ID01/29/09 Gerlach R-PA,Davis RNC,Camp R-MI
Search Links:

(Reporter: Grumpy Demo, please distribute as you see fit.)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Drone Love

I thought NPR couldn't show more love to the unmanned, extrajudicial killing machines of the Pentagon and CIA. There was one at an awesome arms bazaar on January 2007; there was "Drone Daddy" coming home from killing on April 2007, and Drone Bowman salivating over the exquisite precision of killer drones on December 2008.

You can never have too much of a good thing, so NPR brought out Jackie Northam on Monday morning to talk about how the use of killer drones in Pakistan is being "reviewed" by the US. Odd thing is that - except for Andrew Bacevich's blunt assessment that drone attacks represent an expanded war in Pakistan - the rest of the interviewees are rather upbeat about them:
  • Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation, using the same "clear, hold and build" propaganda of US counterinsurgency, says that drones may be helpful in the short term, but "over the long run, they need to be supplemented by much broader, longer-term activities to clear hold and build..."
  • Stephen Cohen of that "liberal" Brookings Institute claims (with no evidence) that the majority of people killed by drones in Pakistan have been "militants." He also notes how humane they are: "What they do is allow any country that possesses them to pinpoint and target without much collateral damage. The drone in a sense, while it conjures up images of a mechanical monster, in fact is far more effective and more humane than dropping tons of bombs on an area."
After Jackie's softening up operation Monday, Tom Gjelten emerges from the shadows on Tuesday morning with yet another big "scoop" from his employers high officials at the CIA. It's a real performance:
  • According to Tom, starting early last year "the CIA turned up the heat. Unmanned aircraft began targeting suspected al-Qaeda leaders and facilities in Pakistan on a routine basis. Now US intelligence officials are reporting the results of the ramped up campaign. The al-Qaeda leadership has been decimated says one official."
  • "The enemy is really, really struggling says another official. These attacks he says have produced the broadest deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaeda leadership in several years."
  • The featured "skeptic" of these claims is Bruce Hoffman (CIA award winner). Hoffman, according to Gjelten "says one effect of the strikes against al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan could be a demoralization of Jihadi warriors in other parts of the world." This is followed by Hoffman's own voice, "Might they not conclude if the United States can reach out and target these highly protected and valued individuals, what happens to the ordinary soldiers?" That is some serious skepticism!
Just in case you get some wild idea that maybe our half-trillion dollar war-stimulus package is a bit much now that al-Qaeda is on the ropes, Gjelten reminds us that we have nothing to fear but the lack of fear itself:
"The officials are careful to say the reported success of the Pakistan campaign does not necessarily mean the al-Qaeda threat has diminished. As many as a hundred fighters have already graduated from training camps in Pakistan and are said to be prepared for terrorist operations in the West."
We then are treated to the puffery of Sec. of War Gates asserting that "we will go after al-Qaeda wherever al-Qaeda is." To which Gjetlen wonders, "And where might that be? Al-Qaeda has been defeated in one area before only to pop up somewhere else. It's operations in Pakistan may be weakened, but officials say the network is now gaining strength in east Africa."

Westward ho! to Africa. Sounds to me like we might need a few thousand more of these humane, freedom lovin' Reapers.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.


Hey what do you know, in the midst of capitalism's global implosion there were two very different economic forums being held at the same darn time! There was the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, representing the interests of global capitalism and the World Social Forum (WSF) in Belem, Brazil, representing alternatives to predatory globalization.

Well, dang, lets see how NPR - which has been touting the merits of journalists "trained to see patterns in data and ask informed questions" - covered the dueling forums:

Here's a little search of "World Social Forum" on the NPR site. What do you know, nothing from 2009, 2008, or 2007! In all just 8 results.

Let's compare that to a little search of "World Economic Forum" on the NPR site. Hmmm...seems NPR was a bit more interested in the big money at Davos. You can see a wealth (128 results) of stories on the capitalist forum, including a whole story featuring the pro-terrorism, bad Samaritan, and always wrong Thomas Friedman.

UPDATE: Readers have asked for more on "always wrong" Friedman, so here's a few interesting links - enjoy: