Thursday, May 31, 2007

How Much Are They Paying This Guy?

Ted Koppel talks about Iraq on ATC tonight:
"Where the Bush administration has failed, tragically and repeatedly, is in explaining to the American public why U.S. forces were sent into Iraq in the first place, and why they must remain there now."
(Oh, and the lying, the shock and awe arrogance, the flouting of international law, that's sort of beside the point.)

"Certainly, the United States has a moral obligation to deal with the chaos and anarchy that were, at least partially, unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But that falls into the category of something we're doing for them. The president cannot and should not expect Americans to give their open-ended support to a nation that seems overwhelmingly to regard our troops as 'invaders and occupiers.'"

(We're doing it for them and they are so ungrateful, those devils!)

"What, then? There is a reason for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq that has more to do with American interests: stability in the Persian Gulf, the world's single largest producer and exporter of oil and natural gas."

(Yes, four years of US troops in Iraq has brought amazing stability to the region.)

"Do we know for a fact that, without U.S. troops in Iraq, that country's chaos would bleed into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; Egypt, Syria and Jordan? No. But chances are better than even that it would — and you can throw Iran into the mix."

This is mind-numbingly stupid. I wonder who at NPR fished Ted Koppel out of the talking head tank anyway - does he ever have an original, provocative thought? And I wonder how much he makes for his brilliant analysis? Frankly anything over zero is too much.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Open Thread - Wednesday & Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

As Golden as It Gets

Discussing Bush's appointment of Robert Zoellick to head the World Bank, NPR's Alan Davidson is downright ecstatic about the revolving door between government and high powered financial institutions. Talking to Robert Siegel, who comments of Zoellick that " can hardly imagine a better resume for becoming president of the World Bank," Davidson is positively giddy. He says, while chuckling, "Exactly, yeah, Goldman Sachs has famously given a lot of major, uh, traded a lot of people to Washington...folks from both sides of the aisle."

In this piece of adulation, where Davidson tells us that Zoellick is "about as golden as it gets," what do we learn of Zoellick? Nothing. Not a word about his ties to the Bush family, his neocon credentials, his ties to Enron, etc. All that matters is that he's from NPR's favorite firm, Goldman Sachs. But hey, Zoellick will be leading the fight against poverty at the World Bank - he's got the resume to prove it.

Non-journalism Meets Non-science

NPR had a great opportunity with the opening of the creation "museum." NPR could have interviewed scientists who would have laid out the overwhelming case that there is no science in this farce "museum" just as there is no science in the creation "science" movement. NPR could have contacted the NCSE for some experts and information, instead of turning things over to the woefully ill-informed Steve Inskeep and Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

This statement of Inskeep's is a stunner: "A scientist might argue, a conventional scientist might argue, he or she is looking at the evidence and following that evidence where it goes. Your starting point is that it’s already known that the world is only 5000 years old and that it was created in seven days and you must look at the evidence in a way that fits what you already take as true." Notice how Inkseep says, "A scientist might argue" but then corrects himself and says "a conventional scientist might argue." The implication is that "conventional scientists" are just one version of scientists, no more worthy of legitimacy than so-called creation-scientists!

Hagerty is no better - maybe even worse. She says that one of the literalists touring the facility "drove from Lancaster Pennsylvania to see evidence for what she already believes...that God made the universe in six days..." There's one problem here: there is NO EVIDENCE! Hagerty also states that "the vast majority of scientists say dinosaurs predated man by 65 million years." Like Inskeep, Hagerty is sadly confused. The fact is that ALL legitimate scientists agree that dinosaurs predate humans. Yes there may be a few who insist on the fiction of human coexistence with dinosaurs just as there may be a few scientists who think that the Apollo missions were faked or that the sun revolves around the earth. Vast majority implies that there is legitimate scientific debate about creationism - there isn't.

Of course this is all taking place within the context of an idiot President who hates scientific research and truthiness (as Colbert so aptly puts it.) It's sad to see NPR give these anti-rationalists a stage in which they are presented as one side of a reasonable debate.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Open Thread - Monday & Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Using the Dead

NPR has been featuring a problematic reporter this year - Bob Konrardy a Vietnam War vet who went to Iraq in March of this year as an embed in the same-named platoon that he led in Vietnam. Konrardy is not a reliable journalist by any stretch, his own paper's editorial board sees it as a point of pride that he is "no mainstream journalist."

There's been something a little weird all along about this fellow. In NPR's first story on him we learn that he survived grave wounds in Vietnam, lost many comrades from his platoon, and recently began suffering PTSD after retiring from work. In that first report he said he wanted " go over and see combat, to try to put some of those old demons to rest." But then he added, "It’s not about me, it’s about the platoon." Actually it seemed all about him.

NPR's second feature on him was a study in the bizarre. Describing his time in Iraq he told Deborah Elliot, "...the platoon clears four houses...guys have to go into this house at night...rooms are like your bedrooms at home...they have no idea what’s in that room; there could be a kid with an RPG in there...the anxiety level goes into’s terrible..." Now that was interesting since I have yet to read a confirmed case of a house raid resulting in deaths of US soldiers from a "kid with an RPG."

Elliot then mentions that in Konrardy's photos of a raid, the man of the house is in his underwear, his wife's in her robe, and their little kids are at their feet. You might expect her to ask, "Don't you think raiding Muslim houses in the middle of the night with non-Arabic-speaking, heavily armed, tense US soldiers is likely to fuel resentment or worse?" Instead Elliot asks, "...did you ever feel that it wasn’t appropriate for you to be in these private homes since you are not an active duty soldier or a journalist who’s working for a newspaper?" Holy crap! If you're an active duty soldier or a journalist for a US newspaper, then - heck - mi casa es su casa - come on in...

Tonight was the final straw. It turns out that six US soldiers and one Iraqi in the platoon that Konrardy did his therapy-embed with were killed about a week ago. And here's the message Konrardy supposedly has from the men who were killed:
"...while we’re over here we sincerely believe that we are not having terrorists bombing our malls and bombing our sporting events because we’re keeping them too busy. So we’re protecting America, we’re helping our families" [to which Konrardy adds] "—and they believe that. And I do."
It's sickening and ironic; in his first NPR interview Konardy said, "I know I can’t do anything about the war..." and yet here he is doing the all he can to peddle the most blatant lie about this war that there is: that it is supposedly protecting us and making the world more secure when, in fact, it is doing exactly the opposite.

(Image source.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

No Question About It

Major General Garrels is at it again. This morning she's channeling more information from the Pentagon about the situation in Iraq and the definitive evidence of Iran's role in the mayhem. First there's this little horror:
"US and Iraqi forces raided...Sadr City. The US military says early morning airstrikes killed five suspected militia fighters. The military says it also captured a man suspected of bringing weapons and explosives from Iran. But the Iraqi police and Sadr members of Parliament say the attack hit innocent civilians who were waiting in line at a gas station."
For Garrels it's just a ho-hum day of slaughtered "suspected militia fighters" or people queuing up for gas - who really cares when the US captured a big, bad Iranian agent?

If that seems bad watch out for this one:
Garrels states, "US officials say lots of different armed groups – Sunni and Shiite – are getting support from Iran, and that includes Sadr’s militia...BUT THERE'S NO QUESTION that militias acting in the name of Sadr, if not with his approval, have been using the new deadly roadside bombs which the US says come from Iran. They can pierce armor and they’re responsible for the deaths of more and more American servicemen."
Oh yeah, no question about it, if General Killwell or General Betrayus says it then it's just got to be true - in fact the evidence seems like a slam dunk to me!

Regarding this propaganda on Iran it's well worth reading this post from The Washington Note that Juan Cole noted in his blog on Friday - scary stuff!


Listening to John Ydstie and Deborah Amos "explain" the current outbreak of fighting in and around the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee in Tripoli, Lebanon, I couldn't help but wonder what is the story they are not telling. You don't have to work too hard to figure it out--and as usual it ain't pretty: Tony Karon does an excellent job of sizing up the situation and exposing the sinister machinations of our own Lord Voldemort--Dick Cheney.

Also useful are a couple of links describing the Fatah al-Islam group (this from Al Jazeera and this from the Council on Foreign Relations).

Open Thread - Saturday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Soft, Cuddly Revolution

From just beyond the Kuiper Belt comes this intro to a piece on Iran. Renee Montagne states,
"Earlier in our conversation, Gareth Smyth mentioned a soft revolution; the Bush Administration would like to ignite one by paying to promote human rights and democracy in Iran."
No comment needed...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Open Thread - Thursday & Friday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mission Accomplished - Inskeep

Wednesday morning Inskeep talks with Retired Major General Tom Wilkerson, CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute - a "think tank" as Inskeep describes it. A pro-militarism institute housed on the grounds of the US Naval Academy (by the way).

Inskeep noting that more sailors and airforce personnel are training to be on the ground in Iraq asks, "Is that something each branch of service finds to be rather important for its own interests as well as necessary for the national interest?" What national interest in God's name? I think he means the Bush-save-my-political-ass interest in Iraq and the US imperial adventure in Iraq.

In the course of the interview the figure of $20 billion is bandied about as the cost for a new aircraft carrier - the "crown jewel" and the "the symbol of American military might" as Wilkerson points out. Proving he's sensitive to so much money being poured into just one floating temple to Mars, Inkseep goes out on a limb and wonders, "Are there people inside the Pentagon who are asking if maybe you can build ten smaller ships for a billion dollars each that are more flexible and do a lot of things for you and save you money over all?” (Oh, the humanity).

Not one question raised about why our nation needs to squander so much for war. No analysis of what such spending really means for the national (and global) interest. I did a little calculating and here's how just one billion dollars breaks down for Urbana, IL and our public schools. Our town has about 40,000 souls and our school district spent about $50 million this year. So one - yes one - of Inskeep's billion-dollar-boats would float 20 school districts of our size - 20! No wonder politicians want to hold teachers strictly accountable to performance - after all, they are just throwing money at them.

Who's Right to Exist Is It Anyway?

This morning Inskeep was talking to Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut about the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. They were discussing how the refugees were not integrated into Lebanese society for a variety of reasons and Inskeep said, "Can I just ask, is part of the reason the camps stay there and stay there because if Palestinians were integrated into normal life in Lebanon or somewhere else, um, it might be seen as an acknowledgment that__________."

a. "...their hopes for dignity and justice have been crushed."
b. "...their dreams of a state and genuine homeland are buried beneath Israeli settlements."
c. "...the world has turned its back on the just claims of Palestinians for return or compensation."

Given Israel's campaign of destroying Palestinian society and its continued occupation, colonization and theft of Palestinian land you might expect a person of compassion and integrity to make such a statement - but hey, this is Steve Inskeep, and here's what he says,
" might be seen as an acknowledgment that Israel has a right to exist, and is going to stay there."
Imagine that, Palestinians won't surrender to "ethnic cleansing" because it would acknowledge Israel's "right to exist." Only in the upside down world of NPR can you get such mangled logic. I've commented before on this nonsense about Israel's "right to exist." Here it is again. Fortunately, Paul Salem is not a loyal tool of Israeli propaganda and explains that there are complex and tragic reasons why the refugees in Lebanon are so isolated.

(graphic from B'Tselem)

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Salvador Amnesia Again

I won't waste much space here. NPR returns to El Salvador and gangs AGAIN this month and once again finds no need to even touch on the history of the US' savaging of El Salvador. I posted on this before and have almost nothing new to add. Mandalit del Barco ought to be ashamed.

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lily Pads

Renee Montagne leads off this story on permanent US bases in Iraq with
"Two factors may determine the course of the war in Iraq — one is political progress inside Iraq and in a moment we’ll check up on efforts to share oil money. The other factor is American public opinion."
(Oh and Renee there's that insignificant factor of the Iraqi people - they do get in the way by the hundreds of thousands, don't they? And the insurgents, and foreign fighters, and monumental US arrogance and stupidity).

After this NPR's Guy gets down to explaining what the War Department sees in its crystal ball:
"...the key term I keep hearing is lily pads...what it essentially envisions is a series of military installations around Iraq, maybe five or six of them, a total of between 30,000 or 40,000 US troops in Iraq for a long period of time—lasting you know maybe a few decades. And the idea is that these bases will be somewhat hermetically sealed....and these sort of lily pads will be in various strategic areas in Iraq...and that will enable the US military to maintain a presence in the country perhaps as I say for a few decades"(!!!)
What on earth can you say to this? Lily pads? Few decades? You have to love how Guy just picks up this Pentagonese and makes it his own. Oh well, if you can't beat them, then let's just find some other nice names for these crusader fortresses:

How about swim rafts? That has a relaxing feel?

Or maybe doilies on the dinner table?

Perhaps oil rigs? Oops maybe not.

Skip It

Take a pass on NPR's "coverage" of the Lebanon fighting and head on over to Juan Cole's Informed Comment.

Open Thread - Monday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Open Thread - Sunday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Monkeying Around with the News

NPR is at it again--making up an issue where none exists, and thereby avoiding issues of real substance. They did it immediately after the 2006 elections by trying to sell the idea that the elections were all about "bipartisanship" (and not the Iraq war) and this morning John Ydstie and Mara Liasson were going to the heart of a big issue; the "frustrations" with too many candidates in a debate. Honest, I'm not making this up; here's Ydstie getting it started:
"...this large group of [Republican] presidential hopefuls...the Democratic field is almost as large....The question is does the sheer size of the field affect what voters can learn about the candidates." To bring Liasson into the conversation, Ydstie asks, "Is it necessary to have so many candidates?"
In her response Liasson concludes, "...that does cause some frustration, not just on the part of voters who are watching and maybe want to hear more from the candidates, but it also causes some frustration among the candidates who want more time to get their message out...." She does note that the greater number of candidates allows the lesser known candidates an "opportunity to break out of the second tier."
An interesting fact is that if you look around on the web and in the news, you find virtually nothing about concerns regarding too many candidates debating. And why should you? What you do find is a lot of concern with the Kremlinesque control over the Presidential debates exercised by the two major parties when the election season heats up - oops, exercised by the two major parties' corporate-funded surrogate, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

I should also note that this phony issue of "frustration" with too many candidates was launched on NPR a few days ago by Dan Shore. In his "analysis" he dishonestly states, "Ron Paul of Texas broke ranks by suggesting that the United States may have invited the 9/11 attacks by bombing Iraq in the 1990s." The term "invite" is obviously loaded and was never used by Paul (it was used by one of the moderators and then picked up with gusto by Guliani). You can read the exchange here and decide for yourself. What obviously irks Shore is any dissent from the extremely narrow limits of acceptable discussion that a controlled front-runner debate enforces. Ah, but Dan Shore knows what's good for us: "It strikes me that the public would be better served by ending the early candidate debates in favor of more extensive head-to-head debates between the Democratic and Republican nominees...I can remember such being more fruitful."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Blah, Blah, Blair

Ok, were you brave enough for Inskeep and Blair?

Well trooper, the problems for Bush and Blair are all about confidence and a lack of patience! Blair tells us about "a fall in the confidence in your country and my country" about "what were doing in Iraq." Yes "we" are doing some amazing things in Iraq and Blair is all over it: "...that’s where you’ve got just very carefully to analyze what is actually happening there in order to see what you should be doing."

Blair concludes that "the reason why people in Britain, people in America have lost patience to an extent is because they see the carnage and the bloodshed...and that must mean the thing is wrong, and the truth of the matter is, it is being driven largely by al-Qaeda on the one hand, Iranian backed elements on the other hand who are linking up with a minority of extremists inside Iraq..."

Man, that is a wheelbarrow full, yet Inskeep says nothing to challenge this fantasy of al-Qaeda and Iran being the root of all problems in Iraq--and why should he? It's the standard line of NPR news anyway.

From Iraq, the interview moves on to Palestine and Israel (Be afraid.) Blair shows that he can match chutzpah with the best of the AIPACers: "You know, if you take the Palestinian issue, the reason why there’s not—you know the reason why there isn’t progress in Palestine in the way there should be is because the same forces are at work. Look there’s absolutely no doubt at all that you could get a Middle East peace process that would deliver an independent, viable Palestinian state and an Israel confident of its security living side by side in peace. The reason you can’t is that every time we get anywhere near progress, the same terrorism erupts—"

Same forces! He means al-Qaeda and Iran of course. And by terrorism he is only interested in the deaths of innocent Israelis (which is terrible). That Inskeep doesn't counter any of this is sad. Can you imagine him being so compliant if a Palestinian spokesperson made a nearly identical quote, but instead said, "you know if you take the Palestinian issue, the reason why there’s not—you know the reason why there isn’t progress in Palestine in the way there should be is because those in the US and Israel who thrive on war and conflict for power and profit are at work derailing it....every time we get anywhere near progress, the same Likud and neocon extremists assassinate some Palestinians or kill a bunch of civilians like the family on the beach last summer—

Oh that's right, in NPR world Palestinians and Iraqis count for three-fifths of a person...or maybe one fifth...or maybe nothing.

Open Thread - Friday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brace Yourself

You may want to eat a light breakfast Friday morning: Steve Inskeep is interviewing Tony Blair. I'll wager a guess that he won't present any of the facts about the growing disaster in the Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East in general and Blair's responsibility for it. Instead any critique will be couched in how "unpopular" the war in Iraq is.

Consider David Greene's reprise of Blair's sleep-over at the White House and the press conference with Bush and Blair in the Rose Garden. Seabrook introduces the story by recalling that Bush and Blair "have stood together through the Iraq war, even as it badly damaged the political standing of each" (if only that were all it had damaged.) Greene picks up on this theme: "...both leaders are of course politically wounded by the growing popular opposition to the war in Iraq." My God, don't you just want to grab Greene by the collar and get it into his head that what matters is not the "popular opposition to the war" (which these two have held in contempt from the start); what matters is the monstrous bloodshed and disastrous events of the past four years and the long term tragedy that will result from their war of aggression.

Dumb Ass Radio

This evening I almost decided, "Enough! I can't listen any more. It's just too stupid." First, on ATC there is a decent enough story about Microsoft's bullying tactics regarding open source software, but then it devolves into the most insipid, Seabrook-led (Oh wow!) drivel about how much patent examiners make and about the goofy, crazy patents that people try to get approved. Then there was a 4 minute, 20 second waste of time about, oh my goodness, all the distractions people engage in in their cars and how in some states cell phone use is banned and texting is banned and oh wow, lets send the reporter out into traffic to see what everyone's doing. It was like a mutant offspring of Car Talk, Good Morning America, and Paul Harvey--gross....

How Can You Improve on This One?

Morning Edition brings us vintage LP's for training parakeets to talk. We get to hear a campy authoritative voice say, "Teaching a parakeet to talk is fun," and assuring us that the recording is "designed to teach any healthy, normal parakeet to talk." Then a few silly jokes and sound effects and the crowning moment was Inskeep ending the piece (not heard on the web link) in his best parakeet voice, "Wraaa, this is Steve Inskeep, for NPR."

Open Thread - Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Our Own Mullah Omar

For any of those sad souls out there who still maintain that NPR leans even gently to the left - or has a balanced approach to the news, consider the death of the one of the founders of the the American Taliban - Mr. Falwell, our own Mullah Omar. Over the past two days NPR has given extensive coverage to the passing of Falwell. So far I've heard only from supporters (Paul Weyrich and fawning students at the laughably named "Liberty University"), critical supporters, and NPR's own journalists. What I never heard was a spokesperson such as Gary Leupp or Chris Hedges who would explain the very real Christo-fascist tendencies of Jerry Falwell and his contemporary crop of clones like James Dobson. There was some mention of the "hatefulness" of some of his remarks, but I never heard any one journalist or commentator remark on how shocking it is that a religious extremist leader who championed the assault on our country's precious tradition of secular government founded by secularists is praised by most of the contenders for the Republican nomination. Disgraceful...

Dont' Forget to Pack the Sunglasses

This morning was exceptionally bizarre as Steve Inskeep talks to Noah Shachtman of editor of a blog for Wired Magazine. They are discussing the Pentagon's clampdown on online postings by soldiers and employees of the DOD and military personnel's access to various online sites.

Shactman has this to say of milbloggers: "These guys are the most authentic, most honest voices out there, and they’re some of the best sources you’ll find on how progress on the ground is going." Excuse me: Most authentic? Most honest? No way. Maybe most authentic of what it's like for that particular soldier. Definitely, some honest, some just plain old b.s. - and some probably written by an employee of the Pentagon in the disinformation business. Frankly there's a whiff of warrior-worship in Shactman's comments, a scary attitude that runs through a lot of our burgeoning permanent(long)-war society.

The best-worst part of this report was when Shactman tells us the real reason that the Pentagon is implementing these new restrictions on information:
"What they’re concerned about is that somehow al-Qaeda is going to piece together a word from this blog and two sentences from that blog and piece it all together into some picture that’s going to spell doom for American interests in Iraq lets say."
Seriously, that's about the dumbest, most gullible take on an obvious move to stop the uncensored flow of information in and out of Iraq as the US disaster there becomes more and more obvious, painful, and gruesome.

And does Inskeep challenge this assertion? No way, instead he "randomly" reads a post from a milblog that Schactman has recommended to him: "You really have to come here to understand how well things are going, at least in Anbar....we are creaming these fools." Wow...hold everything...change in travel plans this summer...let's pack up the kids and head to sunny Anbar...maybe on the way we'll stroll through a market in Baghdad and pickup some fruit and veggies -- just like at a market in Indiana in the summertime. Swwweeet!

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Garrels: Hawk and Vulture

I'm really sad thinking of the fate of the captured US soldiers. For all seized persons I can only hope for their safety and well-being - though I know it's unlikely. I was struck by the information released about the ambush and capture of the US patrol. Reading this Reuter's article I noticed: "Caldwell said that after the attack at 4:44 am a nearby unit heard explosions, suggesting a coordinated operation. Minutes later a U.S. drone observed two burning vehicles. When a rapid-reaction force arrived one hour after the attack they saw five soldiers dead, Caldwell said." My thoughts were, "Why the hell was a small 8-man patrol put in such a vulnerable position - ONE HOUR from reinforcements? And especially near the area where the US rape-murder of the Iraqi girl and her family occured. I went poking back through NPR news to see if I could find a critique of the military commander who put them there--nothing--but I came across this regurgitated neocon-speak from Anne Garrels (again!):
"It’s not clear yet who and what caused today’s attack, Sunnis or Shiites, but the commanding general Rick Lynch has said both Sunnis and Shiites in his area are using more and more of the particularly deadly and sophisticated roadside bombs which can penetrate armor. The US says these, the technology for these or the, the roadside bombs themselves come from Iran; they’re not easy to make..."
Using the deaths of these men to put in a plug for attacking Iran. Again Garrels repeats unfiltered and unsubstantiated allegations--she should get a commission from the devil Cheney himself.

(source of graphic)

A Somber Acknowledgement

More grief every day from Iraq. This time the son of a critic of the Iraq War, and occasional guest on NPR news, Andrew Bacevich.- was killed a few days ago in Iraq. NPR reports that he was Prof. Bacevich's only son and was 27 years old. How many more?

Credit goes NPR this evening for playing an excerpt from an interview they recently conducted with Bacevich in which he said of the war in Iraq: " unnecessary and misguided war has ended in failure and we’re only now trying to figure out what that ending is going to look like."

"An unnecessary and misguided war has ended in failure...." A far too rare moment on NPR.

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, May 14, 2007

You Knocked My Block Off

Listening to Barham Salih, one of the puppet government's Iraq's deputy prime ministers being interviewed by Michele Norris was like watching a French poodle get mauled by a pit bull (it wasn't pretty). If it were a Rock'em Sock'em Robot match Salih had it hands down. Why in God's name does NPR send out an intellectual featherweight when sparring against a professional b.s.-slinger like Salih. Here's how the bout went down:
Salih: "But this is a battle against an enemy called al-Qaeda and international terrorism that is transcending borders, and it is attacking here in the United States; it is attacking us in Iraq....I can tell you this readily...Americans cannot deliver for us; we have to deliver for our own country."
My make-believe interviewer: "Whooaa big enemy called al-Qaeda? What about the SCIRI death squads; what about the Sunni insurgents, what about the Blackwater shoot'em up types, what about Iraqis who just don't want a bunch of heavily armed, scared, trigger happy, kick-in-the-door-at-night English speaking soldiers occupying their country?"
Norris: "You say Iraq needs to deliver for itself, to stand on its own. Until it's able to do that, if you are against any kind of timetable for withdrawal, how long do you think the U.S. should or would be involved in Iraq?" [trans. Squeak, squeak, stand on its own, timetables, how long should the US be there - squeak, squeak...]
Salih: "When we assumed sovereignty in 2004 – June 2004 – we had no forces. Now Iraqi police and Iraqi military are nearly 400,000 or so."
My make-believe interviewer: (laughing heartily) "Sovereignty...ha..ha...that's funny. That's good. And excuse me Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, but did you really just say 400,000? Do you think I'm as stupid as my President, or are you dropping acid? 400,000? Now that is rich!"
Norris: "Now, Dr. Salih, I didn't hear in that answer a time frame. For many Americans, what they're uncomfortable with is this open-ended commitment." [whew, bold time frame--very daring.]
As this farce of an interview goes on they talk about the "surge" and how it has been "succeeding" somewhat. And we get.

Norris: "I want to return to something you said. In your estimation, you say the surge is working, but might this be a temporary breakthrough in the areas where they've actually been able to provide some measure of security...." [Surge is working? On which planet?]

Salih: "That is the danger. How can we sustain the military gains? It's not just a matter of clearing a neighborhood for a day and then relieving it and creating a vacuum. We are working now on measures by which these military victories, these security measures, could be sustained beyond a search."

My make-believe interviewer: "That's it Mr. Salih. Military gains? Military victories? You've insulted our listeners enough for one day. This war is bad enough, but you are killing me...Goodnight."

I've got to believe that it's no accident that NPR lets a politician come on and shovel the same line as Bush with no challenge. It passes as informaton and lends credibility and legitimacy where none is deserved.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mark Your Calendar, If You Like

Are you ready for September? Brace yourselves, because the campaign is on to set us up for a September gosh-by-golly, no lies, straight-talking, boy-scout-honest report on the Iraq war from that mythical warrior, Saint Betrayus and his smart-as-a-whip PhD side-kick, David Killandcullem.

Guess what? I'm not buying it. Why should I believe that these two will tell us anything remotely resembling the truth, when if either of them had a shred of integrity, they would have told Bush and the American people that the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster and is the fault of the American government and military - period. Read this excellent post on TomDispatch written by The Independent's Patrick Cockburn if you are's sad and sobering.

Instead of questioning the whole nonsense about "making progress" and "improvements" through the "Surge" or "new" counterinsurgency - NPR just gobbles up (yum,yum) the hooey from David Kilcullen, the senior counter-insurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Iraq. Here are a few gems from the interview:

Kilcullen describing the sectarian horror of Iraq (for which the US is deeply responsible) he says, "by cutting the al-Qaeda engine, if you like, out of that cycle, we can dramatically reduce the amount of violence that's happening in the society."

Of the use of thousands of troops looking for the missing US soldiers, Kilcullen says "there are benefits that come from flooding an area if you like, for a temporary period, to really send a message to the population and bring them to our side." (!) Jackie Lyden didn't see this a fit for any followup questions...too bad.

When asked about how the war is being discussed in the US Congress, Kilcullen tries a bit of humor: "Well you know, thank God all I have to worry about is al-Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency, which is a much less complex and threatening environment than possibly back in Washington" (Har, har...unless you're one of the million killed Iraqis or thousands of killed and wounded US soldiers.)

Kilcullen assures us, "Let me just say, we are going to know by the end of the summer how things are turning out...we're not going to put spin on this; we're not going to pretend it's working if it's not."

Any doubters out there? Not at NPR. What a surprise.

Florida Fluff

Man, stealing a national election is soooo funny! NPR picks up the commentary of Florida writer Diane Roberts who takes a humorous view of the elections in Scotland being described as Florida-esque. What NPR doesn't understand, is that it's really unseemly for a news organization to do a humorous piece on a national tragedy when they've done virtually NO serious coverage of the event in the first place. Don't believe me? Do a little search on "felon list" + Florida on NPR and you get nothing on their major news shows. It's odd that a lone reporter named Greg Palast can find a substantive story on the Florida felon purge, and he can get his story on the BBC. In digging and digging I could find only one decent report on NPR, a piece from April 2002 by Juan Williams which looked at the loss of huge numbers of African American votes in my hometown, Jacksonville, Florida.

Really the offense of calling the Scots election Floridaesque is that it belittles the accomplishment of the Bushists in Florida. Scotland was a bungle, a snafu - Florida was a democracide.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Golden Boy is a Killer

I know I'm in trouble when I find myself in agreement with the Republican voice on an NPR story. On Friday's ATC, NPR revisits Rahm Emmanuel, who was their "golden boy" following the November 2006 elections. Last night's NPR's piece continues the debunked myth that Emmanuel won the House for Democrats, but mainly the report by Michele Norris is all about Emmanuel's personality and his tactics for fundraising. From his biographer we hear that, "half of his right middle finger has been cut off, and that creates this tough guy image. He did a stint working for the Israeli army in a civilian capacity during the first Gulf War...things like that make him seem like a killer..." The main thing we learn in this report is that Rahm believes in "winning."

Norris does interview Rob Simmons, a former Republican congressman from Connecticut, who lost his seat in a tight midterm race. He comments, "One of the problems that I think the Democrats have, that Rahm Emmanuel has not helped them with, is their fundemental core values and beliefs. It’s all very fine to come up with new strategies, new tactics, fundraising or blogging or this kind of stuff – but if you don’t have a strategic vision about what your party is all about, what you want America to be in fifteen or twenty years, then you still have substantial weaknesses."

Yes, wouldn't it be great if NPR poked around in the moral universe of Rahm and other political operatives - instead of treating politics like a horse race where all that matters is who's ahead, who's raising more money, and who wins? I would have loved to hear Rahm explain how serving with the Israeli Army squares with oft trumpeted line of the US as broker between Israel and Palestinians. Norris might have asked about Rahm's earlier defense of Bush and the Iraq War. It would have been interesting to ask him about the clearly mixed results of his campaigning in November elections (see the PDA Nov. 21 2006 article here.) and to explore the nature of his more progressive successor to the DCCC. That would be asking a lot of NPR; it would be asking for substance over surface...

Open Thread - Saturday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

NPR covers the Senate's Homeland Security Committee meeting in which the big question is trying to understand "homegrown terrorists." Unfortunately we are subjected to the chair of the committee - Joe Lieberman and the responses of the FBI's assistant director, John Miller. Here's just a sample of this report:

Miller: "So the questions that we ask are, and now we ask them again, and in a different way with the Fort Dix case: 'Where did they become radicalized? How did they become radicalized?'"

Temple-Raston (of NPR): "Miller said the FBI and a number of other government agencies are still searching for clues....They (the FBI) want to understand who radicalized these men and when it happened."

Amazing! NPR reports this foolery as if it were worthy of merit. Hmm...what on earth could be radicalizing someone? Couldn't be the US President calling for a crusade. Couldn't be a wacko-evangelical crusading general involved in the torture of Iraqi Muslims. Definitely wasn't the special treatment meted out to Muslims after 9-11. Surely it wasn't the respect the US gives to dead combatants or the religious beliefs of Muslim detainees. Not the minor inconveniences shown to travelers with "terrorist" sounding names.

I in no way condone people plotting to kill US troops on their bases or engaging in violence to further their political goals - but really is there any confusion about what fuels this kind of radicalization? The really challenging question that NPR will never touch is to ask what leads to the radicalization of people like George Bush and Dick Cheney who seem to opt for violence as a first answer to any conflict and have already achieved what these suspects are alleged to have desired -- the deaths of thousands of US troops. That's the investigation I'd like to see.

Open Thread - Friday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


How does NPR decide who gets on for an interview and who doesn't? This morning was a painful chat between Inskeep and PR hit man, Eric Dezenhall. "In the business of making bad news go away...," Inskeep tells us, "Mr. Dezenhall was initiated into the world of public relations in the Reagan Whitehouse." As if doing public relations for the criminal enterprise called the Reagan administration is something to be proud of - zounds!

During the interview, Dezenhall tells us "You’re dealing with one of the most sensitive points of my business which is the clients I don’t take; you can’t take someone who is hateful and who is totally guilty and who has no interest in repenting, and put lipstick on that pig." Actually if you're Dezenhall, that's exactly what you can do. Take a look at the SourceWatch report on Dezenhall's business or this report from Business Week and see if you can find the pigs needing lipstick (maybe the lawyers for Enron's Skilling?).

I'll confess that PR Watch's Sheldon Rampton convinced me that Dezenhall is a smart, engaging fellow and if you want to see how an interview with Dezenhall should be done read his interview.

Open Thread - Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Most Difficult Case

If you bomb hotels killing a tourist, were involved in the bombing of a passenger plane killing 73 people, and were caught with 200 lbs. of explosives for blowing up an auditorium where a dictator and head of state you oppose is speaking (and were convicted of the crime) you are:
a.) a good ole boy who just likes to blow things up
b.) a lover of freedom and peace
c.) a boy scout working on a merit badge
d.) a terrorist

And so Steve Inskeep asks Greg Allen this morning, "Is it, is it fair to call this man a terrorist – given all these incidents in which he’s been linked, to which he’s been linked?" Is that bold, or what?

Oh, and Allen, who earlier described these activities as "several efforts of sabotage," replies, "You’ll certainly find many people around the world and in this country who have no problem calling him a terrorist. You have someone who there is evidence that links him to bombings and that certainly in this post 9/11 world would qualify someone as a terrorist. But you talk to people in Miami..."

I'm really floored by this. I honestly don't care how much I sympathize with someone's cause, if they blow up planes with people on them or tourist hotels - guess what - it's terrorism. I wonder if Allen would have described the destruction of the World Trade towers as "several efforts of sabotage?" Pretty damn crass...

The American King

From Parallel Earth, yesterday's Morning Edition brought us our Criminal-in-Chief all dressed up and playing royal-boy to the Queen of England. Unfortunately, NPR wasn't being the least bit facetious. Consider this priceless interchange between NPR's Rebecca Roberts and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post:
Roberts: "Now white-tie involves a tail-coat, is very formal. This President not very famous for his formality. How did he do?"

Milbank: "...I must say that I think he enjoyed it enormously and when you think about it – you know there’s a poll out yesterday that says his support is down to 28% - but here was a chance for him to behave as the head of state as opposed to the head of government and you know essentially be the American King: the cannon batteries, the fife and drum corps, the Air Force Band, and to actually escort the monarch around for a review of the troops. So this is a chance for the President to step out of the daily dreariness of the Iraq War and sort of bask in all the trappings of being the President."

Roberts: "Do you think he took advantage of the opportunity? Did he succeed?"
You could spend a bit of time unpacking this sad waste of airtime. I found that last little bit about the "daily dreariness of the Iraq War" to be really sickening - daily dreariness?! Oh, and readers may be wondering if Roberts hard-hitting final question was ever answered. Yes, and it was a winner:
Milbank: "Well probably one day does not turn things around..."
I'll say.

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


So much for positives (see previous post). Guy Raz talks to Steve Inskeep this morning about the House Armed Services Committee considering the Department of Defense budget. Here's a little nugget from The Guy regarding the missile defense installations that Pentagon wants to stick in Poland and the Czech Republic:

(Raz): "The idea is – at least according to the Pentagon – is that Europe faces a ballistic missile threat from Iran. Ah, and so the continent needs a missile defense system. Well, you know there are three main problems. One, it’s unreliable. Two, the Russians see it as a threat to their, uh, their ballistic problem. And three, it’s very expensive; it’s more than the annual budgets of many countries around the world..."

How stupid does Guy Raz think we are? For God's sake, three problems? How about the big, frickin', humdinger of a problem? There is no ballistic missile threat to Europe from Iran! What a joke...ugh.


All right, here's a confession: NPR impressed me with two recent pieces. The first was the story of neurosurgeon and professor Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, who admits to coming into the US as an undocumented worker back in the seventies. When the NPR interviewer asked him about his "illegal" entry, he thought about it before answering and then commented that all he was thinking about was that he was hungry and had to try and feed himself and his family. Doctor Quinones-Hinojosa went on to take classes, become a surgeon and a citizen.

Given the poisonous attitudes toward "illegal" immigrants so frequent in the media, this was a subtly challenging piece for NPR to air. It doesn't take the usual "pro-con" approach, but instead just gives listeners something to think about - poverty, determination and the dignity of the human spirit. A nice contribution.

The second piece had me cringing when it began: Julie McCarthy covering the upcoming visit by the Pope to Brazil. Uh oh! And it was going to talk about liberation theology. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised. Not because NPR just rolled over and gave a leftist perspective, but because McCarthy actually gave time for the spokespeople of liberation theology to explain their ideas. She didn't come down on one side or the other of the battle between the Vatican and liberation theologians and Latin American activists. Instead she reported on some of the realities that poor Brazilians face, on the realities of environmental degradations in Brazil, and on the attitudes of both opponents and proponents of liberation theology (without any condescension toward any parties). A welcome mind-blowing experience. Thanks Ms. McCarthy.

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Open Thread - Monday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Major General Garrels Reporting

On tonights ATC the top of the news (5:01 EDT) report featured the following:

Craig Windham: "A roadside bomb killed six American soldiers in Iraq today, and the military announced the deaths of five other US troops. Car bomb attacks left at least 47 Iraqis dead. US military officials are bracing Americans for the possibility that American casualties may remain high for weeks to come. NPR’s Anne Garrels has more from Baghdad."

Garrels: "The US military says expanded operations have generated better intelligence, leading to the seizure last month of 731 weapons caches, more than double the number found in January. Despite this Major General Rick Lynch told reporters both Sunni and Shiite extremists are increasingly using sophisticated roadside explosives with technology from Iran that can pierce armored vehicles. He said he expected the rate of American casualties to increase over the next ninety days, with the so-called surge only having a decisive effect by September."

Not one scrap of evidence. Not one bit of skepticism.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Blackshirt Nation

UPDATE: NPR finally covered this story on Sunday Weekend Edition, May 6, and did a better job.

Here's a little activity I'd suggest you try.

On the NPR site, type "Patricia Nazario" in the search box and here is what you get. Look carefully - the most recent story featuring Patricia Nazario is a September 2004 story from Bogota, Colombia. Unbelievable, it is the evening of May 5th and NPR news has yet to do a significant segment on the LAPD's attack on the peaceful immigration rights rally--including an assault on local NPR affiliate reporter, Patricia Nazario. You would think that since NPR had one of it's own affiliates attacked, it would want to get some extensive coverage.

I emailed the NPR affiliate station, KPCC, and this is the exchange:
(My inquiry): I run a blog that is critical of NPR's national news coverage. I was stunned that the national bureau has not done any follow-up to the mention that a local affiliate's reporter was injured. I would like to comment on this on my blog, but thought I should inquire whether NPR has contacted you about doing any further coverage of this story.

(KPCC replies): Thanks for writing to KPCC. NPR did in fact follow up on this story. Carrie Kahn interviewed Patricia for a story, Day to Day wanted to interview Patricia for a story (we turned that one down because it was early in the morning after a very long night) and a new NPR program, Tell Me More, is going to interview her on Monday. News Director, 89.3 KPCC-FM.

Okay, so if Carrie Kahn interviewed Nazario, where is it? Carrie Kahn covered (covered up?) the police attack on the march in her report on May 2nd's Morning Edition, the morning after the attack. Here is her coverage:
"that turned into a standoff as some members of the crowd refused to move (sounds of police yelling). As officers yelled a small group of protesters threw bottles, sticks and Coke cans at police. Within minutes lines of officers in riot gear swept into the park firing rubber bullets and ordering everyone out....Most inside the park including families with small children, street vendors, and television crews didn’t hear the orders to disperse until police were already in the crowd. Several TV camermen and reporters were pushed and hit by police, including an NPR member station reporter from Los Angeles. She was treated at a local hospital...."
So here it is four full days after a squad of police without badges or identifying tags attack people with clubs, non-lethal bullets, and tear gas and that's all we get from NPR news - in spite of their having a local reporter who was one of the victims of the police.

For decent coverage of the attack take a look at KPCC's coverage, Truthout (featuring local Fox video coverage and LA Times article), or this photo coverage from the LA Times (source of the graphic).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Open Thread - Friday & Saturday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ethical Crusaders

In NPR fantasy world the US wages war with cultural sensitivity and gentle counterinsurgency. And today Rachel Martin takes us into the ethical world of West Point where the cadets are getting ready for this "new kind of war."

It's all very reassuring...and worthless as far as news goes. What NPR should be looking into is the takeover of the academies by our own Christofascists. Now that is newsworthy, and not very reassuring, and NPR won't touch it.

Crimes Against Memory

Imagine doing a news report about crime in South Africa without backgrounding it with the effects that apartheid had on civil society, infrastructure and economic justice. That would be pretty stupid. And yet this morning NPR reports on the problems of gang violence in El Salvador without once mentioning the savaging of El Salvador's social and political networks through the US directed state terror in the Salvadoran Civil War of the 1980s.

It's typical of NPR to utterly decontextualize historical events - as if attempting to scrub the memories of its listeners, to remove history from the record. It was painfully ironic to recall that one of the last widely publicized atrocities of the US trained and funded Salvadoran forces was the assassination of six Jesuits and two lay people in November of 1989. In that crime the perpetrators made a point of removing the brains of several of the victims; it was a brutal and powerful message to those who were determined to remember the crimes of that war.

Open Thread - Thursday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Down the (You) Tubes with Melissa Block

With the scathing review of the mainstream media's role in pimping this sorry war in Iraq, with the Tillman family's condemnation of the US Military's media manipulation of Pat Tillman's death, and with the exposure long ago of the Pentagon's psy-ops program of planting false media stories -- you'd think NPR would take a jaundiced view of the Pentagon rolling out its "unfiltered" YouTube channel.

Guess not. If you look at this LA Times piece on the program from yesterday and compare it to today's commercial for the Pentagon on NPR, it's pretty obvious that this is a scheduled, scripted campaign: same old crap about videos of US soldiers shooting insurgents, inflating soccer balls for Iraqi kids, giving first aid to Iraqis, and carrying bandaged children. Next we'll be hearing about US squads breaking into Iraqis' homes at night to tuck in the little Iraqi children and read them a bedtime story (I'd suggest My Pet Goat.)

And who does Melissa Block talk to to get a critical, expert opinion on this latest propaganda blitz? Why the unbiased, tell-it-like-it-is, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a spokesperson for the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. Now that's what I call hard-hitting, risky reporting. If it weren't so horribly tragic, it would be funny.

Michelle on a Mission

NPR just can't get the coverage of Colombia right. Although on March 11, 2007 they got it right - very far right. It was only two weeks ago that Juan Forero reported on the very direct ties of the Colombian government to paramilitary death squad actions, even though, as one reader pointed out, Forero failed to lay out the US complicity in Colombian (and other) death squads. And yet today Michelle Kelemen introduces the report on Colombia's bloody president with this upbeat jingoism:
"Uribe seems like a man on a mission, he’s determined to make his case for continued US aid to fund Colombia’s war on drugs and terrorism."
A man on a mission, Colombia's "war on drugs and terrorism." Dang!

What Are They Paying This Guy?

Ted Koppel weighs in on ATC yesterday.
"There really are US interests at stake in the creation of a relatively stable Iraq, but even from a purely partisan point of view, the Democrats are making a mistake. They should depoliticize the Iraq issue. If anything they should publicly hope for the success of the President’s policies. If he wins we all win."
When I hear this kind of crass stupidity and think of my sad, little $60-a-year contribution to my local NPR station helping to pay for it, I get really ticked off. "Relatively stable Iraq"? "Depoliticize the Iraq issue"? "Hope for the success of the President's policies"? "If he wins we all win"?!!! Holy #%<+!!

Open Thread - Wednesday

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Waterboy for Empire and Oil

Several readers were ticked off at this morning's Venezuela report on NPR. I want to look closer at this report because I found it interesting for how incredibly hard Inskeep worked to get Forero to spin the story to the right, and how - to my surprise - Forero resisted, and actually seemed to try to do a decent job. Readers of this blog know I'm no fan of Forero, but consider the interchange:

Inskeep: "This is May Day, International Workers Day, not a huge holiday in the United States, but a big one in socialist countries."
(Spoken like a wannabe Fox in NPR clothing!)

Forero: "...nationalization, not a seizing of property, but rather the state exerting control over it resources...multinationals that came here years ago...lured by what was considered very low royalty rates, virtually no taxes....Chavez has seen these companies rack up record profits...Venezuela should get a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. In this way he’s not all that different from Putin and...or from other governments around the world..."
(I think Forero is actually trying to normalize the actions of Venezuela and put it in the context of the predatory practices of the multinationals. Now watch where Inskeep tries to take it.)

Inskeep: "...the oil companies get to stay...they are essentially put on notice they could be kicked out at any time, is that right?" (Well Steve, if you are a tool of the oil companies that's right.)

Forero: "Well, they’re not really..." He then points out that they are taking 60% controlling interest in oil projects.

Inskeep: "Could any of this affect the oil supply to the United States?" (Inskeep plays the fear card.)

Forero: "Chavez blames the US for trying to oust him in a coup a few years back..." (This is the worst part of Forero's report. It's not just a matter of "blame;" the US did back the coup-and the mainstream press in the US too). Then Forero makes a great point, "Venezuela is interested in sowing the oil, as they call it here, and so what they want to do is spend it on social programs: literacy programs, health care, and so on..." (He reports this as a decent, reasonable goal, and then Inskeep - like Dick Cheney's wooden dummy - comes back with what follows).

Inskeep: "Could some of this money be used to spread Venezuela’s power through the region and effectively cause trouble for the United States. " (Unbelievable. Even Forero can't go there and points out that Inskeep's position is the Bush viewpoint.)

Open Thread - Tuesday

NPR related comments welcomed.