Monday, July 30, 2007

Goal! : I want America to Go Out

You'll hear about Iraq's soccer team upset victory and celebrations on NPR, but you won't hear what the team captain has to say about the occupation. How convenient. It's interesting to consider how different the coverage would be if he had said positive things about the US military invasion and occupation.

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

An Informative Crosspost

In the "Open Thread" below, blogger and professor Debbie Reese notes some significant errors in an NPR News story covering the history of Pueblo people. You can read her post here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Open Thread

Any and all comments regarding NPR news are welcome.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Breather

Hello readers. I have to confess I'm a bit burned out on listening to NPR News.

I'm in a work related training all this week with little time for listening/blogging and it has been a blessing. Next week I'm on jury duty and not likely to be posting a lot.

In the future I'll probably continue to do occasional posts, but I don't think I can keep listening to NPR as much as I have been this past year. NPR's News is far worse than I imagined it would be when I started this blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Piling On

Here's Cokie Roberts, buckraking journalist, this morning discussing the modest proposal of Senator Russ Feingold to censure Bush and Cheney ( a motion that is long overdue):
"The Congress could seem to be ineffectual, or they could seem to be overreaching. Yesterday Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin proposed a censure resolution for the President and Vice President condemning their actions in Iraq and other things....things like that, if the Democrats seem to be just piling on a President who's already at remarkably low approval ratings on a war that the public has turned their backs on. The Democrats pile on on that that could be a problem."
If this doesn't make you want to toss your cokies cookies, what will?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hell Freezes Over!

I'll end the weekend on an up note. Wow, great report on ATC tonight. Jackie Lyden interviews recent guest Joost Hiltermann, to talk about his newest book, A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq and the Gassing of the Halabja. Hiltermann was an early critic of the war and the release of his book is an important event and an antidote to official American amnesia.

NPR gets a thumbs up for this one. More please!

A Kinder Gentler Torture State

Keeping with NPR's insistence that Saudi Arabia is run by "moderates" we get to hear about its great new rehabilitation program for "anti-terrorism" detainees. According to NPR and Saudi officials the program has "has prevented some young men from returning to al-Qaeda or other radical groups" and creates a "a relaxed, nonthreatening atmosphere" for detainees. If you know about the nightmare of Saudi detention and the institutional abuses of the Saudi government, then this report is nothing short of a mockery of human rights. Disgraceful.

I Don't Recall an Election

On Saturday and again this morning Dan Schorr puts an imaginative spin on the Democrats' failed attempt in Senate to shut down the Republican filibuster and get a withdrawal amendment voted on. Speaking of the all-night session Schorr says:
  • [Saturday] "...they had made a strategic mistake. They thought that since all of the polls showed that Americans want to see troops coming back that if they took a step which was trying to get a few more Republican votes....what they didn't realize that while people want troops back they're not willing to sort of pull the rug from under the troops now and so I think that the Democrats learned a lesson."
  • [Sunday] "The all-nighter fails to achieve the goal of setting a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. When it came right down to it many Americans were not ready to pull the rug from under the forces in Iraq and the Republicans mocked the overnight session."
Since when did pulling troops out of an illegal, incompetent war become "pulling the rug out" from under the troops? And when did a Senate vote become equal to what "people want" or what "many Americans" are ready to do?

The COIN of the Realm

On Saturday Weekend Edition Scott Simon talks to Sarah Sewall about the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (which can also be downloaded from this site). The piece is an adoring assessment of US COIN in general and this manual specifically. Sewall gushes:

  • "...the statements from this administration, while they talk about a terror threat, don't do much in the way of providing a world view and a framework for thinking about the US role in confronting it - and ironically I think this field manual goes farthest in providing us with a useful framework."
  • "In counterinsurgency your goal is to enhance the legitimacy and the capability of the host nation government..."
  • [regarding minimizing civilian casualties] "...the manual says that VERY EXPLICITLY [stated with great sincerity and emotion]."
  • "It's a whole different mentality."
  • "...this doctrine tells us what we can do so that we're not making the mistakes that we've made in Iraq."
Of course, it never even comes up why an insurgency develops (injustice, dictatorship, exploitation, invasion, and occupation) or the fact that the US has historically sided with the most despicable side in its counterinsurgency struggles (El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Philippines, etc.)

Tom Hayden has an informative, scathing critique of the collaborationist role that academics like Sewall are playing in our increasingly militaristic national policies.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Health Care to Die For

In my previous post I noted NPRs championing of union concessions. They point out that a major problem for labor and management in the US is the skyrocketing price of health insurance. I know I pay $7000 a year for a mediocre 80/20 family, group plan with $20 office co-pays. Personally, I'd rather be paying that money in taxes for a single payer plan (Ooops, single payer plan is a bad word on NPR News) that would benefit everyone.

This morning NPR takes on the Health Care crisis, and as you might guess they focus on reform that would preserve the health insurance industry. I don't dispute that this is a position that one can argue for or against. What is incredible is that no serious attention is given to eliminating the insurance industry and going for a single payer national health care system.

The only person NPR sees fit to talk to is Len Nichols of the firmly pro-establishment New America Foundation. If you look at the Health Policy Program page of the NAF (which Nichols is the director of) you'll see that their recommendation is for
"the Program promotes a mandatory, citizen-based approach to health insurance that, combined with credible cost containment measures, can ensure universal coverage and enhance America’s long-term economic and social well-being."
"Mandatory" means you have to buy it just like car insurance. The way premiums have been going, I can just see those insurance executives rubbing their hands.

What's with NPR? Is it so hard to talk to articulate advocates for a single payer system. Maybe they are afraid it will kill them or the corporations that sponsor them...

Concession Stand

(Graphic from CRAP)
As the UAW faces a summer of negotiating major new contracts with US automakers NPR could have used this as an opportunity to look a the range of opinions regarding labor strategies and tactics in the current environment of predatory global capital, nonunion southern auto plants, and health insurance ripoffs.

Instead Frank Langfitt limited the discussion to how pragmatic and necessary concessions are.
Yesterday's ATC and today's Morning Edition focused mainly on how UAW president, Ron Gettelfinger, is so grown up and reasonable (though others would disagree). Here is what we hear about Gettelfinger:
  • "instead of railing against the company, Gettelfinger went to work making changes in the plant and improving the product."
  • "...brings a needed sense of realism as the union bargains with companies staring into the abyss."
  • "... a sophisticated person."
  • "Instead, the word that keeps coming up when you talk about Gettelfinger is pragmatic."
Langfitt does briefly mention that some workers are concerned. He says, "Like other workers, Parker wants Gettelfinger and union leaders to put up a fight. Parker says that if they keep giving up workers' benefits it undermines the union's very reason to exist." That was on ATC yesterday, but this morning we get the following interchange with another autoworker:
Langfitt: " other workers, Henry's resigned to concessions."
Henry: "We've been getting and getting and getting, and we may have to give a little back, it's as simple as that."
Langfit: "But he also thinks if Gettelfinger, the union president, makes too many concessions, workers will reject the contract....and yet the consequences of that could be even worse....the companies will just ship jobs to low cost countries."
See, unions have just been "getting and getting and getting." In fact according to Langfitt (and the conservative George Will) In earlier decades, when Detroit dominated the market, the United Auto Workers got great benefits for their members and built a virtual WELFARE STATE. Now the companies are trying to dismantle it." That is some loaded language. I'm looking forward to NPR's balancing this with describing the auto executives as setting up a virtual extortion ring! I think I'll be waiting awhile for that one.

Some good alternatives to this pro-concession reporting can be found at: Labor Notes and Counter Punch.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Lie with a Little Help from My Friends

Man o' man, what a load of bunk Sec. of State Rice dumps into the compliant lap of NPR voice Michele Norris. Here's a few of the tidbits that Rice served up in the course of this love fest:
  1. "The second intifada had been begun by Yasser Arafat."
  2. "...Yasser Arafat was dealing with Iran to bring weapons in to the Palestinian territories."
  3. "Palestinians have elected a man in Mahmoud Abbas and a prime minister, now, in Salam Fayad...."
  4. "It's very hard to imagine a partner for peace that refuses to renounce violence and refuses to recognize the right of the other partner to even exist...."
  5. "And we saw what Hamas did in Gaza, when they threw people off of buildings and then knelt to pray."
A journalist might have a few comments on these remarks. For example Norris might have said:
#1 - That is an extreme oversimplification Sec. Rice and shows that you accept completely the Israeli-Zionist version of events which calls into question the "honest broker" image you try to portray. Many credit Israeli brutality and Ariel Sharon's armed visit to the Temple Mount with sparking that Intifada."

#2 - Your claim about Iranian weapons and Arafat was never proven and again completely accepts the IDF version.

#3 - Fayad was not elected but appointed by Abbas, whose government a majority of
Palestinians rejected in the January 2006 elections that Hamas won.

#4 - But Israel refuses to renounce indiscriminate violence and collective punishment and the Likud party of Ariel Sharon who you strongly supported declares all of Palestine for Israel in its charter.

#5 - You certainly do embellish the violence of Hamas while ignoring the Fatah crimes during the time you are referring to - and of course you never mention the atrocities of the Israeli military against Palestinians which go back for decades.
One could go on and on. Not only does Norris never challenge the outright lies and slanted versions of Rice, she even lobs a whopper herself:"with groups that mean to do us harm — with Hamas...." Do us harm? Interesting that Hamas has never committed a documented terrorist act against the US and even worked to free the BBC's Alan Johnson.

Unfortunately, the whole interview is premised on the ridiculous notion that the Bush administration has not been engaged in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Not engaged? As the links above show, they've thrown the full weight of US military, diplomatic and economic support behind the Israeli government since coming to office - and that is very different than being "disengaged."

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big Goals

Yesterday on ATC Michelle Norris stated "President Bush today sought to revive Mideast peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders." And then this morning Steve Inskeep reminds us that "All the setbacks of his Presidency have not stopped President Bush from declaring big goals. His latest is an effort for Middle East Peace. " Man, I didn't realize what a peacenik Bush was!

NPR has been making a lot of hay out of this latest Bush "proposal" for Israel/Palestine. What is sad is how mercilessly NPR limits the range of viewpoints on the Israel/Palestine issue, and how devoid of facts the reports are.

Yesterday featured Don Gonyea doing his typical parrot routine of restating Bush's words as if that somehow gives them more substance - and so we get:
  • "On the hopeful side, the President pointed to Palestinian elections and the selection of the moderate, Mahmoud Abbas, as the Palestinian President."
  • "Palestinians now face a choice between the moderates in President Abbas' government and Hamas...a group devoted to murder."
OK, and what about dissenting views? Gonyea says that "Critics have long accused the Bush White House of not being engaged early enough and aggressively enough in the Israel-Palestinian conflict." Well, that is vague and pretty darn easy on an administration that is shot through with Likudnik neocons (also see these resources). And as usual the one "critic" we do hear from is an insider (adviser to six Secretaries of State) , Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Criticism of Israel's terror and violence is absent, but Goneya says, "Miller notes that the best opportunity for success may have already passed. Iran and Syria are greater obstacles than they were five years ago. And he says Hamas and Hezbollah had grown in stature as well."

On this morning's report from Michelle Kelemen Miller is back and Paul Pillar is also consulted. Pillar is a critic of the Bush administration, BUT not of overall US policy in Palestine. No surprise there; he is a veteran of US intelligence operations.

My gripe with NPR is not that they interview these people. They offer valuable information about US government perspectives and policies, but where are critics of the whole arc of US policy in the region? For that you'll have to go to places like Electronic Intifada or the information rich site If Americans Knew.

Monday, July 16, 2007

One For the Craw

Put down your copy of 1984; don't just read about newspeak, tune in to NPR news this morning and live it! Be warned, NPR this week is "taking some time this week to look at the ways this country is responding to the terror threat." Should be enlightening.

This morning Wertheimer goes right to the source of international terrorism - Columbus, Georgia home of WHINSEC/SOA one of the world's most infamous terrorist training camps. But that is so 1990's [in fact you have to go waaaay back to 1997 to hear anything about this dirty secret on NPR News].

On this morning's show Wertheimer interviews "Lt. Randy Robertson, he's the director of das Vaterland homeland security for the city of Columbus, Georgia." Robertson states:
"We are home of Fort Benning, which is one of the largest military installations in the world. Were also the world headquarters of AFLAC Insurance, and of Total Systems, which is the largest credit card processor in the world....So we feel that with the way terrorism is, that these infrastructures would definitely be a target for terrorists."
To which Wertheimer responds:
"We'll surely Fort Benning can take care of itself. And I was just wondering why - if Fort Benning places you at risk - you can't just lean on the anti-terrorism expertise out there to help you?"
Yeah, why not check out some of the "experts" who've graced the halls of Ft. Benning and see if they have some advice on anti-terrorism.

BTW, take a look at SOA Watch site, they are planning this November's (11/16-11/18) demonstrations at Ft. Benning, which have been drawing thousands and now tens of thousands, though you wont' here about it on NPR unless the protestors start riding motorcycles for war and patriotism.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Happy to be Hadley

Ugh. Why in God's name does NPR send its talking heads to do the work of journalists. On Friday's ATC the hapless Michele Norris goes mano-a-mano with National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley.

In round one it looks like Norris might actually put up a challenge. To Hadley's defense of Bush wanting Congress to back him 100% Norris counters:
"I'm wondering if the President is in some way asking members of Congress to abdicate their role to advise and consent and guide the President, particularly on foreign policy, and in doing so to defy the wishes of their constituents..." (I could almost here the crowd shouting 'Mee-chele! Mee-chele!')

Hadley does a little bob and weave and Norris follows up with this jab: "...when you look at this administration there have been a number of missed signals on the level of violence in Iraq after the invasion, on Saddam Hussein's weapons stockpiles, on a number of decisions about when and where to place troops, and when and where and how to replace certain people who were architects of the war--is [sic] the American public looks at what happened in the past, why should they trust this administration...?" (Uh oh, trouble - courage fatigue? - missed signals is pretty wimpy, but at least she is bringing up some legitimate points.)

Hadley, sensing that things might be getting a little too truthy retorts with the tried and true 9/11 brass knuckles: "...we should not underestimate the challenge that came to this country after 9/11..." It has the desired effect. Norris crumples. In a voice that can only be described as pleading she tries to make a comeback with "...and we're told this week that al-Qaeda is as great a threat now as it was before 9/11."

Hadley then lets loose with an astounding roundhouse: "No that's not actually what you're told." Not actually what you're told! Hey, Michele you are a journalist, not a schoolgirl in the principal's office. It doesn't have squat to do with "what you're told;" it has everything to do with the FACTS (old and new) that this administration has helped al-Qaeda regroup, train, and recruit. Does she make any protest? Not a peep; and she just lets him pound away:
  • "It is certainly not where it would be if we had not as a nation taken all these actions that we've done since."
  • "al-Qaeda continues to be a threat....going after them operationally, overseas so we don't have to deal with them at home....come up with an alternative vision...that is the freedom and democracy agenda."
OMG! "Not where it would be," the old "so we don't have to deal with them at home" rubbish, "freedom and democracy agenda." Sadly, that's where the interview ends - after Norris signs off from her prone position on the canvas.

Looks Like a Bloodbath To Me

Melissa Block talked to Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) yesterday on ATC. I think Melissa thinks she's George Bush because she kept repeating his arguments (which is pretty scary if you think about it).

The delusional thinking begins right at the get-go: "You could look at the preliminary report on Iraq, mandated by Congress and released today by the White House and say, ‘Progress has been made. The proverbial glass is half full.’ You could also say, ‘No the glass is half empty. Things aren’t getting better.'" Block is right, you can certainly say these things if you are uninformed or dishonest, but if you are a journalist your job is to show how not only is the glass empty, it's on the floor in about a hundred pieces and there's not even any frigging water to boot.

Next Block takes advantage of NPR's shameful history of minimizing the civilian slaughter in Iraq by a factor of ten. Considering that about a million civilians have been slaughtered in the Iraq War since 2003, what is one to make of these comments by Block?
  • "President Bush today warned of the risk of mass killings in Iraq on a horrific scale. If that were to come to pass, what would you do then? Would you send troops back in then?"
  • "But you’re talking about just thousands of US troops left by next April, what would happen if there were a bloodbath?"

Guess what Melissa? Over two million refugees, two million internally displaced, and one million dead out of 26 million people counts as a bloodbath. The glass may be empty, but the tub is full.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baby Steps

I'd be curious to know what reactions others may have had to two reports on NPR today. The first one was an interview with Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. Hiltermann has been on NPR a little over a dozen times in the past 8 years, usually to talk about his work with Human Rights watch and Hussein gassing of the Kurds in the 1980s. (He has some really interesting recent comments on that history which I'd love to hear discussed on NPR).

Hiltermann is not the usual tool we get on NPR. He seems thoughtful and informed on the Iraq disaster. Ydstie asked Hiltermann, "Are you concerned that American politics is now going to speed forward and require the withdrawal of American troops on a relatively rapid basis?" To which Hiltermann answers, "Yeah, that is a concern I have. You know, I was against the war, but now I'm against a precipitous withdrawal of American forces...created a huge security vacuum and you have to fill it lest the country and the region descend into chaos."

The report ended there, which I found pretty frustrating. Isn't that's where the piece should have started. I couldn't help but feel that Ydstie framed the report to simply end on a note favorable to the continuing occupation, but I wanted to hear what Hiltermann proposes as a way forward: How does he address the unpopularity of the American occupation among Iraqis? How does he see the occupation ever ending? What would he say to the Bush administration? etc.

* * *

The second piece was a report from John Burnett embedded with US forces in an outpost outside of Baghdad. I have to give credit to Ydstie and Burnett for discussing how the administration's claim that Iraq is all about fighting al-Qaeda is misleading and simplifies a far more complicated situation facing US troops on the ground. Being "embedded" it's a limited report, but it was refreshing to hear NPR willing to air contradiction to some of Bush's lies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lopping History

Today was one of those maddening NPR reports where a valuable contribution to history is so chopped and defanged as to make it worthless. The book Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA by Tim Weiner looks like a good read. There's so much that could be talked about regarding the crimes of the CIA, and current miseries that the CIA helped bring about (the Iranian tragedy, Jihadism, Haiti) that you almost have to admire the ability of the Morning Edition crew of Ydstie and Montagne to reduce it to nonsense.

Montagne begins, "At the dawn of the Cold War Allan Dulles, Richard Bissell, and Frank Wisner were considered daring, imaginative and brilliant. Under them in the 1950s America’s spy agency launched audacious operations: it overthrew foreign governments, even attempted to assassinate foreign leaders – actions that are now recalled more with embarrassment than pride." [Who considered them daring, imaginative, brilliant? Guatemala and Iran - audacious? Embarrassment - instead of shame and disgust?]

Weiner states that, "[Wisner] was not interested in espionage which is the core mission of the CIA, he was interested in covert action...and that got the United States into a good deal of trouble." To which Ydstie responds, "And Wisner actually sacrificed hundreds of lives trying to do this during the Korean War." I was pulling my hair out at this point. I'm not sure how edited Weiner's remarks were, but it wasn't just the US that got into "trouble"; it was misery and death imposed on millions of people, the numbers are so huge that Ydstie's incredulous "actually sacrificed hundreds" seems grotesque.

Ydstie does ask "How different is the CIA now, than it was then?" And Weiner answers that "It’s the same organization…it is the President’s secret army." That's a great answer and a great place to start talking about the CIA's recent and current murders and tortures - but no such luck. The report essentially ends there.

Wouldn't it be great if NPR did some serious follow up on this piece and talked to John Stockwell former CIA-insider and critic, or William Blum former State Department official turned critic. There is so much dirty CIA history that it's a shame to see it more covered-up than covered.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Job Hunting In La-la Land

John Burnett is really beating the bushes in Iraq for a positive story. And since reporters seem unable to do any independent reporting there the story he gets is provided by the US Army. The Army has sent a team to set up a job fair in Baghdad and John Burnett is there:
"....The job fair was judged a success, more than a thousand people filed applications, some two hundred got jobs on the spot...and there was no bombing....but in order to win the war, in order for millions of Iraqis to go back to work - hotels and factories and shops and offices must reopen....."

Imagine if back in the summer of 2003, I'd told you that in four years the US war effort in Iraq would be failing in virtually all areas, and that Iraq would be in the midst of a vicious civil war and would be on the verge of collapse as a state, but that some reporters would still be clucking about "but in order to win the war...." Oh, and I'd have to sadly warn you, it wouldn't be the just the rightists on Fox or Clear Channel; it would be National Public Radio News. Imagine that!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shoveling Up the Same B.S.

If you're a rock musician willing to sell your music to advertise stuff for sale then you are all right in NPR News World, but if you bring your music to to a cause such as stopping global warming then you're a target for ridicule. David Greene did his best to make the attendees and performers at yesterday's Live Earth event seem like a bunch of fools at best (quoting Dave Matthews on using cloth diapers) or hypocrites at worst:
"It was all to be very grand and high-minded but yesterday afternoon outside giant stadium it was all about tailgating and beer pong involves trying to toss ping pong balls into cups of beer...Kara Mueller [sp.] was hosting one of the games outside an SUV...
You get the drift. NPR ends this little put down with a 50 second clip of the Police singing the refrain "Sending out an SOS" over and over and over...(and so the title of this post).

Compare other coverage (The Madison Capital Times or The Guardian of London) of the event and notice that they too question the effectiveness of such events--but with a lot less sneer. Readers who haven't seen it should also take a look at Chris Mooney's two part piece on global warming and media coverage of it - Part I and Part II which are posted at the Huffington Post.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Open Thread - Weekend

I'll be away for a few days. NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Signs That It's Working

NPR has fully embraced the Bush Surge strategy in Iraq. The they artfully set it up. First, we were treated on Independence Day to Bush quacking on about victory in Iraq. Instead of treating this invitation only military audience speech with the ridicule it deserves, NPR's David Welna gave it a respectful send up, going so far as to note that "Mr. Bush warned that advice from military commanders in Iraq — rather than politics — should dictate any troop withdrawals." (It's worth noting that NPR gave no coverage to Bush's Likudnut speech citing Israel as the model for Iraq).

And where are we going to get this "advice from military commanders?" That comes this morning from military mouthpiece, Guy Raz. Raz has been reading counterinsurgency "expert" Kilcullen (who honed his skills with that freedom-loving institution, the Indonesian military). NPR has had Kilcullen on before.

What do we learn from Raz and host Montagne? Here's a sample:
  • Raz: "...the strategy is basically about driving literally a physical wedge between the general population and the extremists....he describes it is as clear hold and retain."
  • Montagne: "And are there signs that this strategy is working?"
  • Raz: "Well there are. There are signs that it’s working. The main problem with it is the lifeblood of the strategy requires two main elements - commodities that commanders don’t really have, which is time and troop strength....Ultimately, of course, with pressure coming down from Congress and the American public, military commanders in Iraq know that they may, they simply may not have those commodities."

There it is, the NPR line: The "surge" is working brilliantly and only needs time and troop strength to deliver the US a stunning victory, but the pesky Congress and the fickle American public just refuse to stick it out and are going to be responsible for a humiliating defeat. Stay tuned.

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Baquba Dooba Do!

Yet another milblog report from NPR. Know-nothing Melissa Block interviews Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek about how the US has "cleared" Baquba of al-Qaeda. Listening to this interview, you'd think that the main foe of the US in Iraq is al-Qaeda and not its own illegal invasion, gross incompetence, the insurgency and civil war (you get a far better picture from Informed Comment).

Melissa asks lots of questions about the torture chambers of al-Qaeda (more questions than ever asked of the US torture chambers in Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Camp Cropper, etc.) as if al-Qaeda had a monopoly on torture in Iraq (hmm...what about that puppet government we are propping up in the Green Zone?)

You'd do well to be very skeptical of NPR's Baquba coverage given that just a few weeks ago NPR featured the pentagonally-embedded Mike Gordon (yes he of the recent Let's-Get-Iran rubbish).

Oh but all is not gloom and doom. To celebrate our "independence," stenographer Rachel Martin gives us a feel-good piece about our newest citizens who earned their privilege by serving Caesar (complete with a message from "Commander in Chief, President George W. Bush", and the attendance of Senators Surge McCain and Habeas Corpses Graham.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Open Thread

NPR related comments welcomed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Don't Know Much About History

Skip NPR's chat this morning with regular guest, RAND terrorism hack, Bruce Hoffman. When asked by Renee Montagne if the "explosive filled vehicle" in the UK represents an innovative import from the Iraq War, Hoffman correctly notes "on the one hand this is not a new tactic," but then erroneously traces it back to Hezbollah 's attack on the US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Well, well, isn't that convenient - ignoring the previous long history of the car bomb, including Israel's bloody use of it, and the post-1983 reliance on the car bomb by the US in Beirut and in its training of the mujaheddin in Afghanistan (training that inadvertently culminated in the 9/11 attacks).

For a complex and unnerving history of the car bomb use your spare time to read Mike Davis' history: Part I - The Poor Man's Air Force and Part II - Car Bombs with Wings.

More Math Fun

Don Gonyea reports from Kennebunkport, Maine this morning. Gonyea covers the protests that greeted Bush and Putin. As you might guess there were interesting discrepancies between Gonyea's report and those from other news organizations. Gonyea mentions that the protest rally "drew about a thousand people" whereas the AP cites about 1700 and the Bangor Daily News gave a figure of 1500. Punch those numbers in your calculator and you'll notice that even if you go with the lower 1500 number, Gonyea's guess is 33% lower.

Gonyea also states that "most protested the Iraq War; a few highlighted Putin’s crackdown on dissidents," which is interesting because both the AP and
Bangor Daily News stories note that criticism of Putin was a significant message of the protesters.

But here's where the real math fun begins. Gonyea notes that about "two dozen counter-protesters" were there supporting Bush and the Iraq War. So we have at least 1500 protesters versus 24 counter-protesters and guess how the coverage breaks down in regards to airtime? The critics of Bush/Putin/war get 67 seconds (not bad in a four minute piece), but - wait - the 24 diehard Bushists get a full 30 seconds! If you just pull out your trusty calculator and do a strict proportional relationship of 1500 to 67 seconds, then the Bushist "crowd" of 24 should have got about 1 second of coverage.