Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On Surges & Having the Last Laugh

Is the Surge Beginning to Work? The Economist lucidly
explores that question this week. And because the authoritative British weekly has been a persistent, sensible critic of the Bush Administration's go-it-alone strategy in Iraq, I think it speaks with far more credibility than most publications. In any event, it's worth reading. Another persistent White House critic, former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, offers his own take on the surge in this week's New York Review of Books. He notes that by depending on the neoconservatives for this latest idea, "Bush's continued reliance on them was, even more than the proverbial second marriage, the triumph of hope over experience."

Chris Lydon Gets the Last Laugh. A few years ago, Boston-based Chris Lydon got into a beef with his local NPR affiliate, Boston's WBUR, over who owned his show, beamed nationally (though only on a few stations, with a total audience of under a half-million listeners). The clash of wills with the station drew considerable media coverage, in part because of some of the eye-popping numbers (Lydon earned, and later walked away from, well over a quarter-million dollars in salary) for ostensibly "public" radio.
This piece nicely describes the controversy. Lydon eventually moved on to Harvard, where he hatched a comeback. That became Radio Open Source, an interesting experiment in blending radio and the web (check out this program with the New Yorker's Sy Hersh). As the show itself describes it: "Open Source is a conversation, four times a week on the radio and any time you like on the blog. We designed the show to invert the traditional relationship between broadcast and the web: we aren’t a public radio show with a web community, we’re a web community that produces a daily hour of radio." Anyway, the happy ending just got written. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation, the same visionaries responsible for the annual "genius grants," have just awarded Radio Open Source a $250,000 grant. At least that should cover Lydon's stipend for the better part of a year (he says, jealously).


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