Tuesday, June 30, 2009



From the consistently well produced and thoughtful WNYC's On The Media , actual program transcript from the June 26, 2009 . Host Bob Garfield interviews Alicia Shepard, NPR Ombudsman, about her logic on defending why NPR is not calling torture "torture".

BOB GARFIELD: The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights says that waterboarding is torture. The International Committee of the Red Cross have called what the U.S. did “torture.” Waterboarding is unambiguously in violation of the International Convention on Torture, which has been ratified by 140-some countries.

It seems to me that the only people who think it’s a debate are the Bush Administration, who are the culprits. So how does that constituent a debate?

ALICIA SHEPARD: Well, there are two sides to the issue. And I'm not sure, why is it so important to call something torture?

Grumpy adjusts his glasses:

"I'm not sure, why is it so important to call something torture?"




Ahem, well at least the host doesn't let Ms. Shepard off the hook, in fact he gets her to admit the NPR's euphemisms for torture reflect a pro-Bush bias:

BOB GARFIELD: I put it to you that embracing a euphemism for torture validates a political position. You’re trying to be apolitical but, in fact, to embrace terms like “harsh interrogation tactics” instead of calling a thing by its name, in effect, gives credence to the Bush Administration’s argument, does it not?

ALICIA SHEPARD: Yes, I think it does. I think using terms like “harsh interrogation tactics” or “enhanced interrogation techniques” does validate the Bush Administration. So that’s why I said why not just describe it. I think when you detail something and explain specifically what it is, then the public can decide.

BOB GARFIELD: NPR certainly has no difficulty calling murder “murder.” It doesn't call it “enhanced argumentation technique.” The terrorists call themselves “freedom fighters” but NPR calls acts of terror “acts of terror.”


BOB GARFIELD: In other respects, NPR hasn't taken a position against, you know, nouns. Why this one, in particular?

It goes down hill from there for Ms. Shepard. Like a good Beltway Village, Mr. Garfield's logic bounces off her like bullets against superman. Believe it or not, she attempts to create a (false) moral equivalency in NPR's coverage of abortion (a legal medically ethical procedure) to torture (illegal medically unethical).

Here's her closing statement, remember, she is an actual journalism professor:

And so in my opinion, as somebody with almost 30 years of journalism experience, it’s not the role of the media to take on characterizing things.

Believe it or not words escape me, so I'll let some else contradict Ms. Shepard's argument:

As someone who studies the media, writes about it and believes in it, I can easily say that Jon Stewart may profess to be a comedian but he is also one of the best journalists in the country.

He holds people in power accountable on a daily basis. he provides context and he does it all in a way that is totally enjoyable to watch
-Alicia Shepard, commenting on Planet Money blog, re: Jon Stewart vs Jim Crammer 03/13/09
I wonder what changed Ms. Shepard's mind about what constitutes good journalism in less than three months?


Ok, I discovered yesterday that blogger labels all posts as "drafts" even the active posts.

The Grumpy Industries Quality Control Department was tasked yesterday with deleting the sub-standard drafts that don't meet our stringent quality standards for freshness and minimum number of typos (something to do with the Five Sigma Program.) Anyway, turns out all blog posts for June were deleted.

Fear not, June's posts have been restored, no thanks to Blogger's [not] help, but thanks to Google cache - nothing on the Internets is ever erased.

YOU COMMENTS WERE NOT INTENTIONALLY DELETED, I just need to figure out how to find them again. I'm not sure if the old links to this site work.

Anyway than you for you cooperation, carry on.

We now return to our regularly scheduled rant.

Friday, June 26, 2009

NPR versus Patrick Henry

We doon need no stinkin' rights.

Gen. Juan Peron: A template?

On today’s Morning Edition the "Proposal Offers Specifics On Preventive Detention" by Ari Shapiro was beyond the usual NPR FOX-lite hackery, it represented a full assault on the founding principals of the American Constitution.

Ari fawningly, interviews Benjamin Wittes, but he fails to mention the Mr. Wittes is fellow at the Hoover Institue, noooo he's from the Brookings Institute and one of those special “serious people” that the Beltway reveres. Mr. Wittes also has contempt for the fundamental principles of our Constitution.

"Effectively, Wittes concedes, someone could be locked up forever as long as a court approves of the detention twice a year." -Ari Shapiro, NPR

Shorter Wittes: Because Bush has already suspended the Bill of Rights and ignored domestic and international law with his chain of secret prisons and instituted torture as policy, then its OK, so let’s write laws documenting these policies, that will put a nice patina of legality on classic authoritarian techniques. Wouldn't that argument justify the legalization of the Japanese American interment, Jim Crow, the Trail of Tears?

Mr. Wittes you see, has written that he believes "the absurdity of the Eighth Amendment" for you kids out there, the Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The phrases employed are taken from the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Yep, limiting cruel and unusual punishment, is absurd.

Now that NPR has succeeded in normalizing torture as US foreign and domestic policy, it’s proceeding to the next logical step: promoting the FOX/Right Wing meme that fundamental human rights make America weak and must be eliminated.

Wittes is adovcating an authoritarian chief executive that can suspend habeas corpus with the approve of a secret Star Chamber court system: What could possible go wrong? NPR isn’t concerned about a President that's reading the mail of their political opponents, since it ignored this story so what’s a little indefinite imprisonment without charges or trial based on hearsay evidence between friends?

While growing up attending the Grumpy Consolidated Independent School Districts, in Grumpyville, Illinois I was taught that the American government was comprised of three co-equal branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) that provided checks and balances to each branch. Apparently my teachers were wrong, according to Wittes when we're afraid, we only have one branch of government, the Executive.

Thanks to NPR and this think-thank genius, I’ve learned that our government is really a Unitary Benevolent Authoritarian Strong Man who can revoke anyone’s rights at his or her whim (nice template see: Chile under Pinochet, Argentina under Peron, Cuba under Fidel). I guess we weren’t endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights after all. It’s not like anything could go wrong.

Patrick Henry: Give me liberty or give me death.

NPR and the Right: We’re afraid of death, take our liberties.

US Citizen, enjoying Wittes' proposed law.

Has anyone (reporter, editor, clerk, intern) at NPR ever bothered to read the Constitution or Declaration of Independence? Based on Mr. Shapio’s cheer leading, er “reporting” during the Bush/Cheney regime and this report, it’s clear he hasn’t. As a public service, I would suggest Ari start with this document , something that he and his colleagues seem to have no passing familiarity with.

NPR and Ari Shapiro when it comes to the Bill of Rights, not smarter that a fifth grader.

Mr. Shapiro, NPR's legal correspondent who over looked (missed? ignored?) the DOJ scandal (yeah which one?) report has numerous other problems. The least of all is that Shapiro claims, with out any evidence, the Mr. Wittes' gutting of the Bill of Rights is getting "serious consideration" by the White House. Yet based on Wittes' Hoover Institute bio, he's neither a lawyer or has attended law school.

Thursday, June 25, 2009



continuing yesterday's puppy meme and who doesn't love puppies? While sitting at my desk here at Grumpy Industries International World Headquarters, I kept rethinking about Juan Williams FOXtastic "analysis" of Obama's press conference yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition.

You see, Juan described Obama'a behavior as "derisive" of the press. Juan sadly doesn't appear to not understand the meaning of the word "derisive." As a public service, and service to the public is Grumpy Industries mission, and for the edification of Mr. Williams, here's a definition and some examples.

Derisive: abusing vocally; expressing contempt or ridicule.

Here's your good FOX friend Bill O'Reilly on the recently murder Dr. Tiller:

"In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000."

"For $5,000, 'Tiller the Baby Killer' -- as some call him -- will perform a late-term abortion for just about any reason."

"Tiller has killed thousands, thousands of late-term fetuses without explanation."

"No question, Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands."

"'Tiller the Baby Killer' out in Kansas, acquitted, acquitted today of murdering babies."

"This guy will kill your baby for $5,000, any reason. Any reason."

"If we allow Dr. George Tiller and his acolytes to continue, we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody."

"If we allow this, America will no longer be a noble nation."

Now THAT'S "derisive" speech.

Here's a new word that Juan Williams should learn and it best describes his defense of O'Reilly's hate speech,


The link below is Juan defending O'Reilly, worse yet equating Bill speech with the Civil Rights movement.

Another USDA Grade Snark, 100% trans fat free, organic, free range product of Grumpy Industries International.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009



(Nicholas Wang aka clonesnake, via http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloneofsnake/520524953/ creative commons)

Today's Morning Edition has Juan Williams and guest host David Greene discuss Obama's press conference yesterday before getting to the FOX News talking points, they spent more time talking about where Obama was physically standing and the stage craft (did they ever do that to W?), than the substance of the press conference.

Well that answered the question if two Bush/Cheney era lap dogs lay down together, does any analysis happen?

Nope. Excuse me while Grumpy gets his rolled up newspaper.

David Green: NPR's White House lap dog under Bush, who never challenged Bush once despite: stealing an election, WMDs, Mission Accomplished, DOJ, Plame, and on and on. Green distinguished himself once by never distinguishing himself, because he didn't want to get kicked off of Air Force One.

Juan William:, the FOX alpha lap dog who distinguished himself by giving not one, but two of the most servile interviews of Bush ever ("The country is praying for you Mr. President") and most recently "embarrassing" (per cpb Ombudsman) NPR by defending Bill O'Reilly's hate speech directed at murdered Dr. Tiller .

These two Pomeranians sit down and recite the Beltway Press' latest dishonest talking points that the press has is going soft on Obama and now Obama's in trouble. Juan claims, falsely, that Obama has been dericise to the press, talk about a total lack of awarenss, Juan is the biggest fan of W, who's White House bragged about their contempt for him and his colleages.

If only Obama was like W, held fewer pressers, treated the press with contempt and ignored questions, that would be OK with these two pups.


(A shorter and more typo filled version was left at the NPR website.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


What journalism used to strive for when Grumpy was growing up:
"To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful." -Edward R. Murrow
What journalism at NPR and among the Beltway Villagers has become:
"the role of a news organization is not to choose sides in this or any debate. People have different definitions of torture and different feelings about what constitutes torture. NPR's job is to give listeners all perspectives, and present the news as detailed as possible and put it in context." -Alicia C. Shepard NPR Ombudsman, Journalism Professor
If you want to be appalled, just read the defense of NPR not calling torture "torture" by Alicia Shepard NPR's (Not A) Obudsman.

It hard to believe that anyone, much less a journalism professor, would actually write such nonsense:
"To call them torture suggests we've taken sides in the debate."
Oh, no, can't control, . . . ist too much, GRUMPY GET MAD, RANT ON, . . .

Only NPR and the Ombudsman would think that correctly and accurately describing water-boarding, considered torture for centuries, and illegal under US law for more than a half century, would be "taking a side."

What side would that be? Human decency? The side of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross? Talk about an Axis of Evil. Maybe NPR is doing its best of offset reality's well know Liberal bias.

There's only one problem with this facile and less than honest explanation, NPR originally didn't have a problem calling "torture" torture take a look at this series from 2006 The Question of Torture The Question of Torture three years ago NPR called torture "torture".

It seems clear to me that once Bush/Cheney's crimes were being revealed, NPR made a clear and conscientious decision to defend the Bush Administration. This combined with NPR' numerous interviews with torturers and their apologists (Yoo, Cheney, Gonoz, even "Jack Bauer", et al) while blacklisting Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other critics, while numerous staff work full time for FOX, shows NPR's abandonment any journalistic standards.

Thank God for Terry Gross, Bill Moyers, and PBS, who didn't show NPR's cowardice in the face of torture. For example PBS broadcast s"Ghosts of Abu Grave", "Taxi To the Dark Side" and "Torturing Democracy" excellent documentaries, which apparently Ms. Shepard along with NPR editor didn't watch.

Don't know which is worse, NPR's contempt for its listeners, journalism or human decency.


The always excellent Glen Greewald, has a much better point-by-point rebuttal of Ms. Shepard's poor logic and moral turpitude. Here's the first sentence:

Anyone who believes that NPR is a "liberal" media outlet -- and anyone who wants to understand the decay of American journalism -- should read this column by NPR's Ombudsman, Alicia C. Shepard, as she explains and justifies why NPR bars the use of the word "torture" to describe what the Bush administration did.

He then hits the ball out of the park after that.

Also, tip o' the hat and much deserved congratulations for NPR Watch getting the recognition for its good work.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009



Here's a quote I heard last on night while watching Cable TV:
I don't know what the government is coming to. Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business! Why, they're even talking now about having "bank" examiners. As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks! Why, at home I have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books. I have a slogan that should be blazoned on every newspaper in this country: America for the Americans! The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking. Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for president!

Here's your choices:

A) Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of House and GOP Ethics Expert

B) Larry Kudlow, MSNBC Talking Head and Free Marketeer

C) Henry Gatewood, Bank President, Lonto Bank & Trust

It's Mr. Gatewood.

Wow, seventy years and the Right hasn't changed their talking points since the New Deal.

I was watching (curse you Tuner Movie Classics!) John Ford's 1939 classic Stagecoach last night. The Henry Gatewood character is described per AFI database as "the town's sanctimonious banker who mouths respectability while clutching a carpet bag filled with stolen money." Almost sounds like he could be a Wall Street Investment Bank?

I'm not a big fan of Westerns, and even less of a fan of John Wayne, but this is a wonderfully subversive film and great story telling, if you have 90 minutes its well worth your time. The heroes, all flawed, are social outcasts: an alcoholic, a prison escapee, and a prostitute. Yet their behavior is more moral than their "betters" who take every opportunity to slight them. In John Ford's world character is revealed by a person's behavior, not words or social standing, now that's an out of date concept.

Credit where credit is due, the screen play is by Dudley Nichols best known for his collaborations with John Ford, notably "Stagecoach" (1939). Nichols also worked with Howard Hawks, Jean Renoir, Rene Clair, George Cukor and Fritz Lang.

(Spoiler Alert!) You know it's Hollywood, because at the end of the film the embezzling banker is arrested and carried off to jail accompanied by an angry mob. Now days they get a bonus and are invited on FOX and MSNBC to cry about how lazy the American people are.

If you don't trust my judgement (wish choice) here's Roger Ebert, Film Critic:
John Ford’s mixture of character depth and hard-riding action reminded audiences that the winning of the West was more than just popcorn fodder. Ford’s work inspired Orson Welles, who screened the film 40 times while shooting "Citizen Kane."
Bonus humorous aside or snark: Separated at birth, Larry Kudlow and Donald Meek? Meek who plays Peacock, the whiskey drummer is in the center of the poster below.