Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I will be venturing to a computer-free zone for the next few days (beautiful Fort Wayne, Indiana), so have a great Thanksgiving all.

And yes, tomorrow is November 22, the anniversary of the first event I can say that I truly remember:

Hard to imagine a Jack Kennedy pushing 90....

Viet Duh?

"We'll win unless we quit."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the lesson learned from Viet Nam by George W. Bush, that great freedom fighter who saved Alabama dental offices from the scourge of communism.

No one ever said he was a quick study. There are of course many obvious lessons to be learned from that painful era (even The Princess Bride gave us "Ha ha.. you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is: Never get involved in a land war in Asia.")Those lessons tend to revolve around the limits of American military power, the crucial role of nationalism and ethnicity as motivational forces and the inability to impose unpopular western-style regimes on cultures we don't understand. Somehow I don't see winning unless quitting, a simple-minded cousin of "stay the course," on that list of lessons learned.

And then there is Dennis Byrne, one of the dimmer bulbs that for reasons that pass all understanding is allowed to bloviate on the op-ed page of a major newspaper:
The folks who believe the Iraq war looks increasingly like the Vietnam War are right. At least the part where the United States pulls out and leaves millions of people hanging out to dry. That part where the war comes to a dishonorable, murderous end. Like on the day, April 30, 1975, that America broke its promises to millions of South Vietnamese and jumped ship. The day on which hysterical Vietnamese civilians and officials were crowding a ladder to the top of the U.S. Embassy, pleading for a seat on the last American helicopter out. The day that crowds of Vietnamese swarmed the embassy gate, crying for escape or protection, as North Vietnamese tanks approached. The day that uncounted thousands turned into freedom-seeking boat people. We abandoned millions of people to be stripped of their freedoms, imprisoned for their beliefs or slaughtered by a monstrous, tyrannical regime. It was one of the most shameful days in American history. It was our own day of infamy. Blame public opinion for bringing shame on ourselves. Public opinion demanded a Congress that simply decided to choke the life out of the South Vietnamese. Yes, the Iraq war is beginning to look a whole lot like the Vietnam War.
No, Denny, that day was not the day of shame. The shameful days were those of more than a decade past when, like today, we fought an unnecessary, misbegotten war conceived of hubris, deceit and a fatally flawed ideology.

We did not leave "millions of people hanging out to dry" that day, we left Viet Nam to determine its own destiny. No doubt the course of that process was made more painful by generations of western imperialism and war, buty the process was Vietnamese. The "government" of South Viet Nam was horrifically corrupt, and was peopled by holdovers from French imperialism, priviled and Catholic, known as the "whites" in an agrarian, Buddhist nation. No matter how many American bodies were sacrificed on the altar of the domino theory, this regime never commanded the respect and loyalty of the people.

There were many lost opportunities in the Viet Nam saga. Ho Chi Minh was at Versailles in 1919 seeking inclusion of Asian peoples within Woodrow Wilson's vision of self-determination. During World War II, Ho used the words of Jefferson to declare Vietnamese independence, yet FDR returned his people to the French to enlist DeGaulle's help in post-war Europe. Dien Bien Phu in 1954 should have allowed us to see this as a post-colonial contest for the soul of a small, distant nation rather than the central front in the war on terror sorry, the struggle against global communism.

In The March of Folly, popular historian Barbara Tuchman wrote that America "betrayed" itself in Viet Nam, and how right she was. Unfortunately, another lesson, apparently unlearned, of the Viet Nam era is how willing American leaders are to engage in those same acts of betrayal, and how willing the betrayed nation is to allow them to do it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fox Gets Bitch-Slapped

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation got into bed with O.J. "I found my ex-wife's murderer in the mirror" Simpson on a commercial venture designed to squeeze profit from a miscarriage of justice. On December 1st, HarperCollins (a wholly owned subsidary of News Corp) was going to release a book (purportedly written by O.J.) describing "hypothetically" how he would have killed his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. In the run-up to publication, there was a TV Special, a "no-holds-barred" interview to be aired over two nights. This tripe was first offered to NBC - which passed without hesitation. Apparently the higher-ups at News Corp didn't even bother to offer it to anyone else. They made an announcement late last week that Fox would carry the interview next week on the 27th and 29th. The disgust was immediate and palpable.

I wondered outloud which company (ies) would even consider sponsoring this program. Apparently the answer was ZERO. Today, Murdoch actually apologized as he cancelled BOTH the book and the TV special:

I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. "We are sorry for any pain that this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

Perhaps Murdoch read this little tidbit from the Fox station manager in Louisville, KY as he explained his reasoning for NOT airing the proposed special:

"I have my own moral compass and this was easy," said Bill Lamb, general manager of WDRB in Louisville.

Make love, not war

Marin couple calls for global orgasm for peace

AP) SAN FRANCISCO - Two peace activists have planned a massive anti-war demonstration for the first day of winter. But they don't want you marching in the streets. They'd much rather you just stay home. The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, who live together on a houseboat along scenic Tomales Bay in Marin County, just north of San Francisco.

Their immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm on December 22 while focusing on world peace. "The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said on Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."

Male activists reported feeling sleepy immediately after planning the event, while women were frustrated that the men were unable to bring the plans to a mutual, satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

John, why the long face?

No, no, no, a thousand times NO
WASHINGTON - Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry said Sunday he is still considering a second run for the White House in 2008, despite public criticism of what he has has called a “botched joke” about the Iraq war.