Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If you're not angry, you're not paying attention

My homeward-bound commute usually starts sometime between 6:00 and 6:30, just in time for me to catch Fresh Air with Terry Gross on my local NPR station. In case you don't remember, this is the show where Terry Gross made Bill O'Reilly cry like a pussy and run out of the studio by - get this - asking him questions. (Sissy O'Reilly later claimed that she was mean and unfair and didn't come close to showing the level of courtesy he shows his own interviewees. Coward.)

Fresh Air usually involves interviews with recent authors, so interviewees cover the entire spectrum of human experience, from actors and athletes to politicians and pundits. About half the time the show centers around topics I don't really care about, and on these occasions I get to venture out into the crapfield that is commercial radio. (God, I need to hook my CD player up again soon. I took it out of the car when I went to Ireland and never put it back.) But other days the show is riveting and engaging and sometimes even results in what NPR refers to as "driveway moments" - times when I sit in my parked car listening to my radio for five, ten, fifteen minutes or more because I can't stand to turn off the interview. This tends to get me some odd looks in the Sam's Club parking lot.

Lately there have been more and more of these sorts of interviews, probably because the worsening political and social situation in the United States is resulting in more books and articles being published on more important and relevant topics. This, at least, is a sign that some parts of American society are still functioning - or need attention, depending on which side you're on in the culture wars. Here are three recent shows:

May 9, 2006 · The Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage noted in a recent article that President Bush has asserted the right to ignore numerous sections of laws passed by Congress. The scrutiny prompted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to call for June hearings to investigate the matter.

Ever wonder why Our Unitary President has never vetoed a single bill presented to him by Congress? Two words: signing statements. Bush has decided that his novel interpretation of the role of the President means that he and he alone my decide how laws passed by Congress apply to the office of the President. Gosh, did someone say "Checks and Balances"? Check out this cartoon for a perfect illustration of the concept, courtesy of fellow Felbernaut Sharon.

May 11, 2006 · Journalist Michelle Goldberg, a senior writer for the online magazine Salon, and covers the Christian Right. In her new book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, she writes that Christian nationalists believe the Bible is literally true -- and they want to see the nation governed by that truth.

American Theocracy and the coming Culture Wars. Better decide which side you're on, fast. I know where I stand. Do you know who you'll side with? This is a scary, scary topic.

May 16, 2006 · While the Northern Marianas Islands are a U.S. territory, they are exempt from the usual American laws regulating minimum wage, tariffs, quotas and immigration. Yet clothing sewn in the sweatshops bears the "made in the USA" label. To further complicate matters, the Marianas were a client of Jack Abramoff, who, with the help of Tom Delay, blocked legislation that would have eliminated these exemptions.

Ms. magazine reporter Rebecca Clarren and executive editor Katherine Spillar discuss the latest issue's cover article about the sweatshops of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sweatshops, slave wages, human trafficking, forced abortions, women pushed into the sex trade - all on American territory, all with the consent and support of lobbyist/puppetmaster/convicted criminal Jack Abramoff and stooge/thug/not-yet-convicted criminal Tom DeLay. Another proud moment for Republicans everywhere!

Listen. Get angry. And do something about it.

1 comment:

anne said...

I love, love, LOVE the interviews Terry Gross does! I did get to hear the one on the signing statements. What an outrage!

I think the unfortunate fact of the matter is that NPR is sort of "preaching to the chior". I wish the regular media had the...backbone to report on this stuff.