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.