One thing you can say for our wondrous New-Broom-of-the-System Democrats. They may have folded like a two-dollar suitcase faced with the Caligula in the White House, but at least they got rid of Don Imus.
Well done Democrats!
Not to exhume the Imus issue. But whatever you thought of Imus there was one great thing about having him on the air: you had somewhere to escape from the appalling Steve Inskeep.
Inskreep (sorry can't resist), he who hath never met a progressive he didn't feel compelled to patronize or contradict, replaced the much lamented Bob Edwards a year and a half ago as Morning Edition's co-host, where his smug, condescending drone has become a daily reminder of the Republican drive to garrote the last independent voice in national news.
(Should you need an example of Steve's sympathies check out his deferential serve-up-the-softballs interview last month of war criminal Douglas Feith. Which teaches us, class, that there are other kinds of on-air obscenity than calling college athletes offensive names.
But it's not really Inskreep I'm gunning for; rather an insidious phenomenon that's been occurring on his watch. As soon as the Dems took control in January, Morning Edition began to include an almost daily diet of 'behind-the-scenes' Iraq-related news stories (Feith-based perhaps?) so pro-war they made you wonder if there wasn't a Pentagon PR flack embedded with this particular NPR unit.
This is only getting worse. The 'stories' range all over the subject map from the logistical concerns of non-combat units (medical, infrastructure rebuilding, even chaplains) to heartwarming home-front stuff to the trials and lifestyles of Iraqis who work with US forces. There's nothing theoretically wrong with such topics, but the stories all have the pre-packaged uncritical feel of shameless plants. And two relentless messages: A. Iraq is a war like any other, dirty yes, but a just war, justified and justifiable; B. things are going much better than you think, if you'll just stop listening to those lefty naysayers.
Recently, alas, the disease seems to have spread to other NPR news shows I've listened to for years like the stalwart All Things Considered. Predictably on Memorial Day weekend, it went critical. Some coverage was as it should be: memorials of the men and women -- usually agonizingly young -- whose precious lives have been squandered by our latter-day Caligula and the moral sewage in Congress who enable him.
But some coverage did not memorialize. Notably the one place you'd never expect to encounter the plague: This American Life. On Saturday, my favorite NPR show ran what amounted to a 30-minute infomercial for something called the Center for Lessons Learned, a Kansas-based US-military outfit whose mission is to learn from previous conflicts how to 'do the job' better in this one.
Sound harmless? Uh-uh. Nothing could have rammed home more effectively the message that Iraq is not what the entire planet now knows it to be: a genocidal assault on an innocent people by greed-crazed criminals. No, it's a 'normal' war with 'normal' problems to which there are 'normal' solutions which the US has every right to be fighting.
As a bonus, driving home message B. we got to hear Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post explain that things aren't half as bad as we thought. The brutal ethnic cleansing in Iraq which has created domestically and abroad four million refugees, is 'soft' ethnic cleansing. The raging civil war that's killed as many as half a million humans is only a 'low-level' civil war. The cherry on the cake was hearing Ira Glass -- of all people -- ask Mr Ricks: 'Don't we have a moral obligation to stay in Iraq... until we fix something?'
Now it's entirely possible that Cheryl Halpern (CPB's odious rightwing chairman and the likely source of all this pro-war drivel) stationed a Blackwater operative in the studio while Ira was recording, with a pair of high-voltage electrodes millimeters from his testicles. I certainly hope that's the explanation. But you have to wonder which NPR icon will succumb next:
"It's been a busy week here in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my home town on the edge of the prairie. A tornado ripped through town last Tuesday night. Pretty much flattened the place. We still haven't decided what to call the tornado. Lake Wobegon takes its time deciding such things. We can't make up our minds between Tornado Sven and Tornado Bjorn.
"Not much help has shown up. You see 98% of the Minnesota National Guard: Guardsmen, rescue vehicles, support personnel and the like are over in Iraq -- or Eye-rack as Pastor Lindquist calls it. His Church -- First Lutheran -- took an even worse beating than most of us. We're gonna miss it. It was quite a landmark, standing there in the center of town. When people gave directions to strangers, the operative phrase was always: 'and then you'll come to a big white Lutheran church.' And if two people were giving directions the second person would always add: 'full of big white Lutherans'. An old joke but a good joke.
"That's all gone now. Now there's just a mountain of white clapboard next to the cemetery. Pastor Lindquist held a prayer meeting -- right there in the ruins -- Friday night when it became clear that no help was coming, from the National Guard or FEMA or anyone else. Almost everyone came except Peter Gutmansdottir, the town atheist. For once people noticed. Which is interesting because Lake Wobegon has always been tolerant about Peter being an atheist even though he's pretty vocal about God's non-existence. They put it down to his being from Iceland.
"For some reason the Lord had chosen to leave First Lutheran's pulpit intact and the Pastor took it as a sign from heaven that he should preach a sermon. Not -- as Nellie Gynt whispered to her sister - that he's ever needed a heavenly sign before. Anyway he said it wasn't till Tornado Sven or Bjorn came through that he realized what the word 'sacrifice' meant. By sacrificing the help we might have gotten from the National Guard, we showed our support for the boys and girls over in Eye-rack fighting for our freedoms. Their need for rescue vehicles and so on was far greater than ours. And so was their mission. Because if we don't stop the terrorists over there, what's the point in rebuilding Lake Wobegon over here?
"He got a big hand. He got an even bigger one when he announced that when his church was rebuilt, it wasn't going to be called the First Lutheran Church anymore. It would be called The First Church of Christ the Arab-Slayer. Or as Pastor Lindquist says Ay-rab-Slayer.
"That brought the house down - figuratively of course. Then just about everyone in Lake Wobegon went over to Peter Gutmansdottir's place and beat him senseless."
This has been a production of NPPRR