(Photo, via Library of Congress; Some is of the “newsies,” the children peddling newspapers around city streets, when people still paid some money for words on paper.)
As I write this I’m listening to Eyes Left, which explicitly IDs as a “Socialist Military Podcast.” Last night, I was catching up with Lions Led by Donkeys, claimed on Twitter as “the only podcast for laughing at the failures of military history. Hosted by
@jkass99 and @nickcasm1 produced by @inthesedeserts.” Speaking of Twitter, I’m explicitly chatting there with Fortress on a Hill, in response to the question I asked in the last post. I’m working to follow their advice, and focus on the most powerful experiences relayed by soldier-dissenters. But right now, I want to finish writing about this particular circle of e-griots, and why it’s hard to pull away.
- Fortress on a Hill first caught my attention with their interview with Joe Kassabian, which was more informative than most I’d heard elsewhere. But what elevated them for me was this one, which first introduced me to Rosa del Duca: The hard path of resistance” panel included some who reminded me of my first Hotline clients back in the day, young (mostly) men who had diverse ways of deciding that they needed AR 600-43 of the Universal Code of Military Justice. The episode also highlighted an ironic truth, re 9/11/01: for one of the panelists it was “the day my dad enlisted,” a date that was only an echo when he did. (Of course, being me, I wanted to reach out to every single one, including the one whose case is still waiting for approval before he can be released; “Can’t I find a place for JJ Rodriguez somewhere in the book?” but that way lies madness. )
- Breaking Cadence, del Duca’s pod (on hold for awhile), is the one most specifically focused on CO stuff, and featured folks I remember from back in the day, like Vietnam veteran Gregory Ross or current GI Rights coordinator Siri Margerin. Her chat with attorney Steve Collier, on habeas corpus claims, brought back memories of working for him, while highlighting the too-often-forgotten story of Stephen Eagle Funk.
- Also on the list of CO podcasters is the singular Logan Isaac, whose podcasts range from Red Letter Christians to Ponder XChange, and whose tagline is “Creating a Martial Hermeneutic.” I’ll write more about Isaac later, since podcasting’s only a fraction of what he’s doing now; but Ponder Xchange is good for those who need a basic education of what GI Rights are all about.
- Joe Kassabian’s pod, named for the troops misled into fighting World War I, would be foe the gonzo-historian in me even if I didn’t know and admire him otherwise. I was fascinated by his War of 1812 series, though it intercepts only partly with my book’s sections on those same years. But as a J-school graduate, I was blown away by its explication of the 2014 Mahmudiyah murders, whose understanding shamed that of most civilian journos. I was therefore completely unsurprised by how Joe scooped entirely the corrupt operators in the hyper-lethal Yemen War, before the usually-reliable lefty media even thought to look there.
- Which leads me to the tremendously addictive Hell of a Way to Die, which today featured Nate Bethea’s story of how he left the military just soon enough to keep his G.I. Bill and snagged an interview with the oft-mentioned-here Joe Haldeman. But it crosses over from interesting to essential listening when stuff like military’s white supremacy problem surfaces, as in last month’s “Bad News: The Coast Guard is Now Fash, Too.” I’ve listened to that episode three times, so I don’t forget everything noticed here.
- But if you want to hear the most antifa stuff in a veteran-run podcast, Eyes Left is probably your first stop. Spencer Rapone, who made national headlines last year as the “Commie Cadet,” joins Mike Prysner, who many of us met at Winter Soldier 2008. It’s the perfect spot to explore the legacy of Vietnam-era OGG Andy Stapp, and deconstruct the actually-fascist Trump border deployment. Prysner’s organization March Forward is focused on helping active-duty folk resist, so they were my first stop when the Venezuela coup started.
All of the above are worth your time, or at least mine. If, like me, you’re more the bookish sort, you might find yourself filling your shelf or Kindle with titles like Breaking Cadence, Kassabian’s Hooligans of Kandahar, Danny Sjursen’s Ghost Riders of Baghdad, or Matt Gallagher’s Kaboom after hearing some of these. Either way, these newsies are carrying gold, and deserve all the respect you have.