Friday, July 11, 2008

Radio News

About Face is moving to Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm Arizona and Pacific time, 6:00 pm eastern time. A paying customer bought our Saturday air time, so we get bumped to an unsold time slot. We are welfare airtime Veterans For Peace. Our first Sunday broadcast will be 20 July.

It's also the second anniversary for About Face. Pretty amazing for a program that has no sponsors other than the station itselfand its general sponsorship after our chapter couldn't continue paying for airtime. KPHX has been very supportive throughout. To mark the change in time and the advent of a third year on air, we are planning a program of progressive music that celebrates economic justice, universal brotherhood and speaks out against war and exploitation. Requirements are that lyrics be suitable for broadcast radio, understandable to a general audience and that the music, or spoken word, address issues in an intelligent if not necessarily respectful or reverential manner. Humor and satire are always welcome. We have about 40 minutes (give or take) so four minutes is about average time.

The music program will be my penultimate appearance as co-host on About Face. I begin a full-time job on 28 July. I will more easily meet the job requirements for non-partisanship, independence, objectivity and professionalism if I do not co-host an media program associated in some minds with activist politics. I can live with the limit for a while and I do not plan to give up radio entirely. About Face has shown me how much fun it can be and I love having a microphone. I'm pretty sure I can do a program based on my work as a veterans advocate once I pass the certification test, which comes up in about 10 days. In the meantime, I can also get some studio experience in both audio and video. If I get enough good music for the upcoming About Face and we get a good response, I will see about doing a few of those during the year. Possibilities always exist and I welcome change. Whatever regrets I have about leaving About Face will fade as new opportunities arise.

My last About Face program will be 27 July. Our guest is Dr. Larry Crook, president of the Thai-Burma Border Health Initiative. Larry is an old friend and accomplished photographer from Gallup NM where he was chief of internal medicine at the Indian Health Service hospital there. Since retiring he worked with Doctors Without Borders on the Thai-Burma border and has now created a non-profit to address the continuing health needs of the distressed population there. It's not exactly a veterans issue but we think it definitely speaks to peace.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

It Never Fails

The latest weapon: high explosive rocket-propelled propane tanks.
The use of the rocket-propelled bombs reflects militiamen's ability to use commonly available materials and relatively low-tech weaponry to circumvent security measures that have cost the U.S. military billions of dollars.

Human ingenuity seems boundless when it comes to fighting. 9-11 was a pretty simple job, too. That's why empires are always vulnerable.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In the Newspaper

I came across these hwadlines reading the dead tree version of The Olympian today:

Suspicious speaker spurs evacuation. It started out as a suspicious unattended package that turned into stereo speakers. But my original thought could easily describe America these days. We will prevent suspicious speakers from polluting tender minds by evacuating all within hearing range of said suspicious speakers.

N.C. employee retires, refuses to lower flags for Helms. The linked story is much more colorful than the three inch squib in the dead tree version but both identify Jesse Helms as a man of "hate and prejudice". Who says the media never get anything right?


Master of War

Even Russians can see that America is destroying itself and harming others with its military addiction. Why in the hell don't Americans understand this? To further the point, the tremendous lead in technology that grew from US space exploration in the Sixties is pretty much gone now. America's interest in space these days is military.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

The General, the Flyboy and the Grunt

Last week's personal events pretty much overshadowed other news for me. That, plus the lack of regular internet connection, so I caught very little of what took place outside of my own little world. I did, however, catch bits and pieces of General Wesley Clark's comments about John McCain and found nothing to disagree with in what the general said. Fred Kaplan sums up the affair as a combination of Clark's political ineptitude and a grunt's cynicism toward the flyboys. Kaplan gets it right, at least from this grunt's view (which is, of course, from the ground).

Among infantry soldiers I knew in Vietnam, one of the most disdainful epithets was "sleeps in a bed at night". As far as we knew, pilots flew missions and went home. Even our chopper pilots, who were at far greater risk than Navy or Air Force pilots, usually slept in beds at night. Unlike the flyboys, though, chopper pilots were often down and dirty in the fighting. For me, dismissing flyboys was not so much that I was tough and strong (sometimes I give into that illusion) but rather that I was getting screwed and they weren't.

Until they got really screwed--shot down, killed or captured. Dead is dead and captured is even worse. And John McCain got truly fucked over in Vietnam, far worse than I did. He, along with many others, suffered great hardship with honor. General Clark was candid in his admiration. I, too, will always admire John McCain's strength and courage. I certainly don't know that I would have done as well.

One reason I will always remember John McCain's Vietnam service is that he never stops reminding me of it. Like Clark, I don't believe McCain's service record is much preparation for the presidency (although his duty as Senate liaison for the Navy probably taught him to schmooze well). I go a step beyond Clark and say that McCain's record of honor and courage as a POW has been far less evident in his subsequent public life. Don't forget, John McCain is a son of privilege and has long relied on good connections (grandfather, father, the Hensley fortune, Arizona Big Business, lobbyists and a fawning press) to make his way in life. He is hot-tempered and reckless with a blind faith in the "free market" and Big Money to solve the nation's problems and military force to deal with the rest of the world. Expediency and self-interest are more associated in my mind with Senator John McCain. Honor and courage are Lieutenant Commander John McCain.

For me, McCain's experience as a congressman and senator is a far more reliable gauge of his potential as president than his military career. After all, he should have learned something during three decades in Washington. Apparently not, though. He's still a mindless militarist, an unreconstructed Cold Warrior, secure in the "faith of his fathers". The world has moved on. John McCain has not. I give him credit for working with John Kerry to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam but other than that, I don't see actual accomplishments that give me any reason to think John McCain will offer much opportunity for the United States to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Barack Obama certainly has his limitations and uncertainties but those arise from the possibility of change and his inexperience. John McCain will bring us more of the same. He has experience but his experience is wrong for America and the world.

The general was right.