Friday, July 10, 2009

Musings: Shouts and Whispers

A downpour hit just as Koko and I were preparing to set out for our walk, so we snuggled on the bed, listening to water pour from the eaves, until it passed and we emerged in a world of puddles and glistening pavement.

Venus was low in the eastern sky and a ringed moon, still bright and round, though her lower right side had been nibbled away, was headed west, with Jupiter in tow. We were headed mauka, passing a banyan tree inhabited by dozens of birds twittering without need of a messaging utility, and passed by the squeak, squeak, squeak of a man walking in wet rubber slippers.

The sky brightened with shards of delicate pink that turned a silvery-gold and then the sun rose, a glowing orange sphere that pierced the mass of gray clouds above it with a bold ray of red light.

Far more difficult to pierce is the veneer that surrounds so many “military appreciation” efforts, which gloss over all the blood and guts and waste of the armed forces and focus instead on the God Bless America red, white and blue.

Such was the case with the ad — at least, I think, and hope, it was a paid advertisement — that appeared in the current issue of “Currents,” the useless publication of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

It had a banner headline that read Military Appreciation and was signed with aloha by Dennis Esaki, the former KIUC board chairman. In it, Dennis detailed his recent “opportunity, courtesy of the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s DV Program to fly to the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, spend two days on it on an official tour, observing day and night flight and other operations, and was catapulted off its deck.”

In case you’re not familiar with the DV program, it’s a little perk offered — at taxpayer expense — to people like Dennis, who have the means to go out and promote the military after they’re given VIP treatment aboard a vessel.

You may remember that during one of the more ill-fated DV excursions, Commander Scott Waddle, captain of the USS Greeneville, was showing off for his guests (after revealing classified information about American sub capabilities) by performing an emergency surfacing maneuver. In the process, he managed to sink the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing training vessel, killing nine persons aboard, four of them high school kids.

So anyway, Dennis was out on a similar excursion and duly reported to all of Kauai’s electric users his gushing praise for the boys and girls who man our “multi-million dolar jets, bombs and nuclear reactors.”

They are our ambassadors to the world. They are prepared to protect us at the drop of a hat.

We sit at home complaining about nuclear power in our backyards, while we expect these men and women to live above nuclear reactors, bombs and millions of gallons of jet fuel.


You know, it’s pretty darn weird when you look at it like that. Why do we expect — heck, allow — kids to live like that? Surely we could find something less hazardous, and more meaningful, for them to do.

The piece jumped out at me not only because I found it annoying to see that bit of propaganda in the KIUC mag, which co-op members pay for, but because it made me think of a call I received from DWPS, a frequent commenter on this blog, when I was doing the recent KKCR show on the military’s impacts on Hawaii.

He wanted to know if I’d be just as willing to do a show featuring guests who appreciated the military, and in the interest of fairness, I said sure.

But seeing Dennis’ piece reminded me that the military does a bang-up job of tooting its own horn. Why should we take up valuable community radio time when the military spends millions on recruitment ads, PR staff and DV programs?

Meanwhile, the alternative point of view is expressed by nonprofits that find themselves up against government lawyers when they try to obtain information that affects us all and really should be public.

In other words, they’re a mere whisper in the wind that is so often drowned out by the military megaphone that we all pay for. And how fair is that?

Finally, if you’re interested in the issue of roadside herbicide spraying, I have a piece on that subject in the current Honolulu Weekly.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But seeing Dennis’ piece reminded me that the military does a bang-up job of tooting its own horn. Why should we take up valuable community radio time when the military spends millions on recruitment ads, PR staff and DV programs?"

Exactly Joan! "Fair and balanced" is a farce when our tax and co-opt dollars are used in such a manner. When the media environment is awash in a sea of crapola any serious reporter could spend a lifetime of work only presenting alternative views and never even tip the scales from the jingoism and boosterism towards "fair and balanced". We have military bases in countries throughout the world, but no other country has any in this country. We have nukes flowing out our nose yet yap and saber rattle about others (unstable regimes)wanting the same protection for their countries. Yet even ask such questions and ideologues complain a reporter is not objective, because they present only one side of the story.

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X "

"I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolt." ~Mark Twain

Anonymous said...

"News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising. - Lord Northcliff

Anonymous said...

eh, not me thanks. not really a fan of that station / thinking either. but i do look forward to the dole / nicaragua pesticide fraud case story, or a story on how now it seems the navy / base had nada to do with that fish kill. so which did you hear more of: ~ "pmrf caused it,"...or ~ "maybe not" or "let us wait and see?" the former of course, and it was not "drowned out by the military megaphone" (or correct...but hey, no surprise, consider the "sources")

dwps

Joan said...

Oh, sorry if I incorrectly implicated you, dwps, but strange how the caller voiced exactly the same sentiments you had raised in a comment.

As to the Niihau fish poisoning, I wasn't aware that the cause had been definitively determined. And since the state wasn't testing for chemicals other than the rodenticide, we'll likely never know for certain if the Navy was the cause.

Anonymous said...

dwps said: "so which did you hear more of: ~ "pmrf caused it,"...or ~ "maybe not" or "let us wait and see?" the former of course, and it was not "drowned out by the military megaphone"

That is to narrow a focus. Look at the big picture, the entire media environment. Positive stories about the US military overwhelm negative stories. One can always cherry pick exceptions. Be Army strong! Adopt a Iranian puppy.

Anonymous said...

if so id say my thoughts on things are not so out of the ordinary. and i for one (like others i bet) readily adopt views i see here and elsewhere -- like how st law, county departments, and state statues etc are pretty poorly coordinated as to burials (well explained to me recently by a real estate agent). i now echo same, and i bet many more people see that problem clearly now too


"I wasn't aware that the cause had been definitively determined"

-- hey i just like the part where civilians offer their gmo darpa theories, its drummed in certain circles, and then when some science comes out pointing the other way you dont hear about it anymore from them (dont want to hear / repeat / note that which is not in line w/ your agenda, much like - ironically - g. bush jr would do)

http://kauaiworld.com/articles/2009/06/07/news/kauai_news/doc4a2b63c68f2e0334414249.txt

but hey, that algae toxin in the fish could have been gm crop related, i guess

anyways, if its that important to somebody to criticize US military in hawaii, focus on pearl harbor water pollution, a proven real harm


"That is to narrow a focus."

-- well yes i am totally cherry picking my example. but its on point, local, and recent


"Adopt a Iranian puppy"

- nice one! :)


dwps

Anonymous said...

"-- hey i just like the part where civilians offer their gmo darpa theories, its drummed in certain circles, and then when some science comes out pointing the other way you dont hear about it anymore from them (dont want to hear / repeat / note that which is not in line w/ your agenda, much like - ironically - g. bush jr would do)"

True enough but I think Joan's point is that these folks have NO REAL VOICE compared to George Bush and et al -- so repeating or giving "equal time" to someone already saturating the media is far from "fair and balanced".

Anonymous said...

"True enough but I think Joan's point is that these folks have NO REAL VOICE compared to George Bush and et al -- so repeating or giving "equal time" to someone already saturating the media is far from "fair and balanced".

-- fair point. agreed. the groups you cite, as you note, got the de facto bully pulpit, which should be factored in to things. im totally for less fox "news," more noam chomsky think (not that he is perfect or anything)


dwps

Dawson said...

"But seeing Dennis’ piece reminded me that the military does a bang-up job of tooting its own horn. Why should we take up valuable community radio time when the military spends millions on recruitment ads, PR staff and DV programs?

Meanwhile, the alternative point of view is expressed by nonprofits that find themselves up against government lawyers when they try to obtain information that affects us all and really should be public.

In other words, they’re a mere whisper in the wind that is so often drowned out by the military megaphone that we all pay for. And how fair is that?"

State-sponsored standing military isn't about fairness, it's about coercion in wartime, political manipulation in peacetime and self-aggrandizement at all times.

Individuals within it may (or may not) act out of a sense of social ethics. But as an organization, the military is as shortsighted and arrogant as any other entrenched bureaucracy, and just as convinced that its kukae don't stink.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be cool if we could get the Brock Lesnars of the world to fight our battles.
You just need to look at this profile and "The Church Of The Narrow Mind" comes to fruition (http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090712/SPORTS24/907120355/Lesnar+manhandles+Mir)

Makes you wonder where humanity is headed!

Hope you find it humorous!!

irk said...

the whisper that needs to be shouted is lack of justice.
adm tom fargo's court kangarules against court-martial,
cdr waddle resigns with pension intact,
distinguished visitors embark,
and nine are dead.