History 101

So far, no one has a clear answer for why the Afghan sergeant turned his AK-47 on Huling, shooting him in the stomach and killing him.

National Public Relations

For a country that celebrates its own armed insurgency against a foreign imperial power (well, its own government, actually, but nevermind) every July 4th—not only celebrates it but views it as its defining act—America sure has a difficult time wrapping its head around the whole occupier-occupiee relationship.

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A Very Rare Occurrence

So far, authorities have no possible motive for the killings, Bowman says, but he emphasizes that the intentional killing of civilians by U.S. soldiers has been very rare in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen some instances over the years of crimes being committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq with maybe a handful of civilians dead, but nothing of this magnitude,” Bowman says.

“Bowman” is Pentagon spokesman Tom Bowman.  Sorry, make that NPR’s Pentagon correspondent.

Interesting how when a lone soldier, or group of soldiers, takes it upon himself to massacre half a village, it’s described as “intentional killing of civilians” and a “crime,” whereas when a remote control airplane fires a missile into a civilian area and kills a bunch of, ah, civilians, it’s an accident.  How unfair.  Maybe the guy heard there were “insurgents” operating in the village and took a little initiative, you know, instead of waiting around for the drones to do it for him.

Transparently Full of Shit

The newly formed congressional supercommittee’s 12 members are charged with finding more than $1 trillion in budget savings this fall. Their clout could attract more campaign contributions, and lawmakers are demanding greater accountability for the money the panel’s members take in.  [emph mine]

NPR

Nah, you think?

Good thing, then, that we have men of high principle on this supercommittee, such as The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz (or is it The Tin Man?):

Earlier this week, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told the Boston Globe he’d decided not to do any fundraising while he serves on the supercommittee. However, possibly out of deference to colleagues who do plan to raise funds, Kerry downplayed his decision when asked about it.

“I think that too much is being made out of that. People are doing business here in the United States Senate all the time,” he says, “and unfortunately, because of the nature of politics, they have to raise money too. So I’m not going to get into that discussion.”

Too bad he’s not in a position to do anything about “the nature of politics”—you know, like a position of power or something.  And I guess we’re supposed to believe that Kerry is taking the high road by refusing to do any fundraising.  That’s because he’s not going to need to—his mere presence on that supercommittee will be all the fundraising he needs.  Notice he didn’t say “refuse to accept any funds.”

It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a little bit

Leave it to NPR to fixate on the dated wallpaper in the master bedroom while completely ignoring that the house is infested with termites and the foundation is sinking.  Surely one of the more noteworthy problems with corporate America is the dearth of Asians in upper management.  Just like the problem with the U.S. government is a lack of [insert minority of your choice] in prominent positions.  Because, as having our first black president has shown…well, okay, nevermind.  As I was saying, we’ve really got to do something about this bamboo ceiling thing.

The apparent reason for this critical shortage is that a lot of Asians aren’t properly acculturated.  For instance, they’re unaware that in America you don’t get ahead by doing your job well, but by kissing the boss’s ass.  There’s also something called the “Asian poker face.”  This refers to the tendency among many Asians to refrain from smiling for no reason, a habit that seems to unnerve the whitefolk, who were raised to believe that it’s normal to go around with a blank expression of joy on your face at all times.

This last bit really gets me.  I’m not Asian, but I’ve had that exact experience countless times in my life.  More people than I care to remember have told me that I need to smile more, that I’m too serious, too quiet, too whatever, as if these were diseases that needed to be cured.  I’ve had people tell me, after getting to know me, that they had thought that I had no personality, or that I was an asshole, or, in some cases, both.  I must have gotten the wrong message from this, though, because it never occurred to me that I needed to be coached in the art of smiling on command.  Instead, I came to the conclusion that these “all-American” types are either insecure children who need the constant reassurance of a smiling face, or else they’re petty authoritarians who’ve taken it upon themselves to police what they consider to be aberrant behavior, and, either way, that they weren’t worth wasting my time trying to impress.  Besides, they shouldn’t be encouraged.  The last thing we need are more hucksters trying to dazzle us with the whiteness of their teeth.

In which Pakastani general assures de facto US state media outlet that he has no qualms about killing “terrorists”

Malik insists he has no orders to go easy on the network.

“As a military commander, let me assure you, I have no orders to spare anybody, and I don’t spare anybody,” he says.

But when asked if his troops are specifically targeting the Haqqani network, Malik says: “We don’t specifically target anybody. You see, there’s no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist.

“Anybody who challenges the writ of the state, or who is working against the interest of Pakistan, we target them.”

Malik never quite says he is or is not targeting the Haqqani network.

“I don’t give names to the terrorists, you know,” he says. “I don’t differentiate. My issue is I ask questions later, I shoot first. … We target them very, very indiscriminate, if I may say so.”

Listening to this on the way in to work yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that Steve Inskeep was auditioning for a job at Hillary’s State Dept.  His tone was all like: “Well, are you gonna kill these Haqqanis or what?  Huh?  I can’t hear you!”

Conservatives like to rip NPR as though it’s some sort of bastion of “socialism” in the heart of freedom’s land.  This is your typical Hannityesque critique of the “librool media” pushing its insidious, American character-eroding pro-government agenda.  As usual, they’re only half right.  They’ve got the pro-government part correct, but the “liberal” bugaboo is nowhere to be found.

You’re the brightest most wonderful person

I love when my local public radio station resorts to naked flattery in its pledge drives.  Immediately following a segment this morning on NPR, in which Cokie Roberts used the word “obstreperous,” the local pledge drive host came on and said: “Where else on the radio can you hear the word ‘obstreperous’?  Here at WHYY, we don’t insult your intelligence.”

Or, more straightforwardly: “You’re so much smarter and more sophisticated than the riffraff that listens to those other radio stations.” 

Not that there’s anything surprising here.  They’re just playing to their audience, or their perceived audience—or perhaps just that portion of the audience most likely to break out their wallets.  But still, it’s funny how this also feeds into the negative stereotype of the typical public radio listener: essentially an elitist whose progressive, socially conscious views (often on display in the form of bumper stickers on the back of his suitably “green” automobile) are just further evidence (in addition to his master’s degree in corporate handjobbery) of his superiority to others.

Truth in Advertising

The local NPR affiliate in Philly, WHYY, is in the midst of one of its annual pledge drives, and this morning its main pitch man, a pompous twit whose affected highbrow manner of speaking arouses a powerful urge to drag him to the nearest high school and stuff him in a locker (after dumping his backpack and stealing his lunch money, of course) was going on about how “you, the listener” are responsible for financing the station and how they’re able to bring us the high-quality programming they do because they’re not beholden to the commercial interests that other stations are.

Then, I swear less than two minutes later, the other pitch person said something about how they’re probably going to get less money from the federal government (not a “commercial” interest, true, but certainly a pretty big interest nevertheless, wouldn’t you say?) this year, so listener pledges are even more important than usual; and this was followed by a spot for a local hospital that specializes in cancer care.  So, for shits and giggles, I went onto the station’s website and, sure enough, there’s a page dedicated entirely to soliciting corporate “underwriters.”

Well, gee whiz, and all along I was wondering why their programming is basically no different than the so-called commercial media outlets.