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  1. O'Franken Factor

    brian on 2004.06.01
    at 04:57 pm

    Today is the first time I've listened to The O'Franken Factor, on AirAmerica, an answer to the right-wing view point that rules AM Radio (and FM-Talk, as the genre now has some FM stations). Oddly enough, Franken's show doesn't play in the Boston market. Isn't Boston a "liberal haven?" The capital of "Taxachusetts?" Oddly enough, the local talk radio landscape is made up of 96.9 Right-wing Talk (they do get points for carrying Imus, however), and WBUR, one of the local NPR affiliates (which contrary to some opinion, is not a liberal power. They do host Boston-based Car Talk, however.)

    As expected, the show is entertaining. Even if you're not liberal, it's fun because Franken is funny. You can tune in at airamericaradio.com, using the Real Player, even if it doesn't play on your local airwaves. Got to love the internet. Well, there's something that could get better... it could be QuickTime. ;-) Actually, the quality has been very good, the best experience I've had with Real products. Also, if you have satellite radio, AirAmerica plays on both XM and Sirius networks, or soon, the audio will be on Dish Network's digital music selection.

    Posted in: Media

     

    Comments (1)

    1. steve said on 2004.10.31 at 10:52 pm

      hope this thing copies here-very poignant piece of writing!

      This makes me so sad for what we have done to Iraq..

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Hien Nguyen"
      To: "Hien Nguyen"
      Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 1:25 PM
      Subject: Fwd: wall street journalist on Iraq

      <
      I thought you may want to read this. It's the full text of Farnaz
      Fassihi's
      "private" e-mail dispatch from Baghdad. By now some of you have
      probably
      heard of her.

      Fassihi is the Wall Street Journal's correspondent in Baghdad. A few
      days
      ago she wrote a private e-mail to friends and family describing both
      her
      life as a reporter ("Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these
      days is
      like being under virtual house arrest") and the situation there (her
      conclusion: "If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the
      Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat'").

      The text is devastating, and given that it was NOT intended for
      publication, it is probably the most candid and credible piece of
      reporting
      we've got out of Baghdad recently.

      Let me add (according to Tim Rutten's column in the Los Angeles Times,
      who
      has obtained on-the-record quotes from the WSJ editor on this) that the
      Wall Street Journal is now recalling Fassihi for a "long-planned
      vacation"
      that will extend until past November 2nd. Which means that she's barred
      from writing about Iraq until after the US election.

      Here is the full text of her "private" e-mail (which was first
      published on
      the Poynter Institute website).

      Bruno

      ---

      From: [Wall Street Journal reporter] Farnaz Fassihi
      Subject: From Baghdad

      Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under
      virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this
      job: a
      chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far
      away
      lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a
      difference.

      Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those
      reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to
      and a
      scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk
      in the
      streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in
      restaurants,
      can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories,
      can't
      drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of
      breaking
      news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside,
      can't
      take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at
      checkpoints,
      can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And
      can't
      and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car
      bomb so
      near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most
      pressing
      concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive
      and
      make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security
      personnel first, a reporter second.

      It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it
      April
      when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when
      Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when
      Sadr
      City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly
      battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began
      spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most
      of
      Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a
      disaster.
      If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has
      been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy
      failure
      bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

      Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are
      thing?'
      they reply: 'the situation is very bad."

      What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't
      control
      most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day
      around
      the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the
      country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of
      landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there
      are
      assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically,
      means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and
      over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking
      that
      the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public
      transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing
      them.
      Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.

      A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said
      young
      men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground.
      They
      melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with
      dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals
      this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there
      were a
      dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to
      avoid
      driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to
      detonate
      them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land,
      the
      population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

      For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of
      abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around
      Baghdad
      because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways
      between
      towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend
      at 11
      p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes
      in
      broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week
      and the
      Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood.
      They
      were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from
      their
      generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m.
      when
      he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown
      back
      near the neighborhoods.

      The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming
      down. If
      any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated
      every
      day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists
      and
      Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating.

      I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with
      the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly
      told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping
      chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes:
      criminal
      gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in
      turn
      sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way
      from Al
      Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French
      journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month
      with
      no word on release or whether he is still alive.

      America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National
      Guard
      units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being
      murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date -- and the
      insurgents
      are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S.
      military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they
      just
      trained to get rid of them quietly.

      As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate
      that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the
      $18
      billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1
      billion
      or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving
      security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

      Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of
      sabotage
      and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war
      exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is
      holed up
      and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?

      Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for
      insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any
      day,
      even if it means having a dictator ruler.

      I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were
      allowed to
      run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly
      sad.

      Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about
      elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the
      importance
      of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a
      democracy
      that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy,
      forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq
      before
      all is lost."

      One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those
      of us
      on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it
      from
      its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem
      has
      been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and
      it
      can't be put back into a bottle.

      The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months
      while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of
      the
      government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the
      other
      half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at
      polling
      stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections,
      leaving
      the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that
      will not
      be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.

      I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate
      in
      the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some
      degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and
      risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and
      murdered for
      cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are
      you
      joking?"

      -Farnaz

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