Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, June 20, 2003
While waiting this morning in a long Friday bank line I had the opportunity to overhear a conversation between a good old boy and a female acquaintance. Both people were in their early to mid 50s.

The good old boy says, “Well, wha’cha think about what’s going on over there in…in Eye-rack?”
The lady replies, “No, why has something happened?”
“Well, they’re payin’ ‘em $250 for every soldier they kill” says the old boy.
“To kill our soldiers?” the lady asks.
“Yeah,” says old boy, “You know they had me all over, Korea, Panama, Beirut, the Philippines and it just don’t damn work. One of our boys gets killed every day.”
The lady says, “I got a nephew that graduated and just joined the Navy. He leaves in August.”
“Good for him,” says old boy, “I got a grandson just getting back and another leaving.”
“Yeah,” says the lady, “I got a grandson just getting back, too.
“You know,” the old guy says, “This stuff’s gotta stop. We gotta stop being the world’s policeman and let somebody else handle it. No body in the world appreciates it. I’m sick of our kids getting killed for nothing.”

Very telling, I thought. Everyone in the bank line was casually listening in to this conversation. Sometimes it seems as if every family here in northern Kentucky has a young one serving in the United States military. The current national arguments over WMD and intelligence failures, unlike so many other national issues, have a particular resonance these days here in the Bluegrass state.
A front page story in this morning’s Washington Post says, “U.S. troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers,” and concludes with this illustration of mission impossibility sensed by the blue-collar worker in the bank line:

Even relatively simple projects designed to show goodwill can turn sour. Military engineers recently cleared garbage from a field in Fallujah, resurfaced it with dirt and put up goal posts to create an instant soccer field.
A day later, the goal posts were stolen and all the dirt had been scraped from the field. Garbage began to pile up again. "Is this animosity, crime or both? What kind of people loot dirt?" said Capt. Allen Vaught, from the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "We can't build stuff and then have everyone just help themselves.”

According to the New York Times, FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s career plans suffered a major setback yesterday as the United States Senate, moving with astonishing speed, began the process of reversing the highly controversial Powell rules recently enacted, despite tremendous public opposition, by the Federal Communications Commission:

A broadly bipartisan group of the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation by voice vote to restore the earlier limits on the number of television stations a network can own. The bill would also restore most of the restrictions that have long prevented a company from owning both a newspaper and a radio station or television station in the same city.

A provision within the Senate bill would also force a number of radio groups, including Clear Channel, which dominates the Cincinnati radio market, to divest themselves of some radio properties.
This morning’s column by Washington Post media critic Tom Shales:

It didn't help Powell's cause that he tried to railroad his changes through in a cavalier way, one seen as contemptuous of public opinion and, for that matter, of the whole regulatory process. "It's the most significant defeat that the biggest media companies have had in a long, long time, no thanks to Mr. Powell," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, yesterday afternoon…Schwartzman [Andrew Jay, president of the Media Access Project] said Powell has been "very discredited" by this major defeat. His chairmanship of the FCC has largely been a disaster, at least where public interest is concerned. The committee's vote could also put a large stumbling block in Powell's dreams of a glorious political future for himself…No one need weep for Powell. But it wouldn't be indecorous to cheer for McCain and his committee…Let's gloat -- while the gloating's good.

Photo: Michael Malor, San Francisco Chronicle

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