Reminds me of 1968

Looking at photos of the demonstrations in Chicago reminds me a little of the Democratic National Convention in 1968. During that steamy summer, Chicago exploded as protesters gathered there to show solidarity against the war in Vietnam.

Once again, we the people are pissed off about our money being spent on wars abroad instead of people in need both here and abroad. Many of us see this as a gathering of warmongers. Veterans marched to return their medals and people  by the tens of thousands supported them.

While news outlets were describing the “hundreds” who came out to protests, we see pictures of tens of thousands filling the streets.

We see photos of unruly crowds, just as we did in 1968, but we also see people who are peaceful, who want nothing more than to express their thoughts in a land that boasts freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

I have been to many demonstrations in my time. I wish I could be in Chicago today.

In 1968, we were told we couldn’t leave Vietnam because the Communists would overrun South Vietnam and then all the neighboring countries and then go on to conquer the world, known as the “Domino Theory.” It was “fight ’em there or fight ’em here.” Today that same argument is being used to keep us in Afghanistan for 11 years and counting. Terrorists will come and kill us in our sleep.

Well, the Commies didn’t show up on our shores, and if we stop meddling with the governments of the Middle East, the terrorists will have no reason to come after us.

War is a very profitable endeavor when it’s not your country that’s being shot up or bombed back to the stone age.

The most important difference between our most recent wars and the war in Vietnam is the lack of information Americans today receive about what’s really happening. Correspondents in Afghanistan have to fight to get any stories on the evening news. Reporters are “embedded” rather than allowed to go in search of the truth.

During the Vietnam war, we saw the horrors every night on the news. We watched as American soldiers torched villages where they suspected Vietcong soldiers were hiding. We saw a man executed by a gunshot to the head, we saw children lit afire with napalm. We saw our own gravely wounded soldiers loaded up into helicopters.

We aren’t allowed to see that now, because if we did, we would demand this slaughter in our name be stopped immediately. This war isn’t as unpopular at home as the Vietnam war was because we’re not seeing the destruction being wrought in our name. That’s how NATO wants it, and that’s why we have to stop it.

Average Americans aren’t being asked to contribute anything to the war effort except our sons and daughters, who may be deployed three, four or five times before they are too broken to be deployed again, unless, of course, they die.

Like Vietnam, it isn’t the wealthy whose children are going to fight. During Vietnam, the wealthy could buy spots for their children in the National Guard after they had run out their college deferments. Back then, the Guard didn’t deploy overseas; we had the draft to fill the ranks of the regular military services. But the draft is so unpopular politically we now recruit poor kids out of high school and promise them a college education when they get back — if they get back.

In Vietnam, the majority of draftees were from the working class. The wealthier you were, the better your chances for avoiding the draft, either through college deferments or medical deferments (I’m thinking of Rush Limbaugh’s anal cysts). It’s no coincidence that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the chicken hawks never served in the military (well, George’s daddy got him into the National Guard, where we all know his record of not showing up).

Meanwhile, military contractors are lining their pockets with billions of our tax dollars. The rich are getting richer while the rest of us are getting screwed.

Is it any wonder Americans are crowding into the streets of Chicago to protest?




Remember when journalists could be trusted?

I grew up the daughter of a hard-nosed newspaper reporter who valued the truth above all. He could cover an issue he felt passionately about and leave his own feelings at the door. He had integrity.

I remember when Walter Cronkite was the nation’s most trusted man. He reported the news and nothing more, until he saw what a travesty the Vietnam War had become and felt compelled to speak out. I was disappointed, even though I agreed with him.

Opinion is why newspapers have editorial pages, and that is where opinion used to be confined.

But in recent years, opinion has crept more and more into the news, with Fox leading the way and MSNBC answering. That wouldn’t be such a problem if people got their news from more than one source. As much as I like Rachel Maddow, she is not my only source of information.

Even the New York Times can’t be trusted anymore. Remember its role as a cheerleader in the run-up to the Iraq War?

There is precious little left of the unbiased media. Someone cited liberal bias to me because a survey of Washington, DC, journalists done in 1992 showed more of them voted for Bill Clinton that the elder George Bush.

First of all, we don’t use 20-year-old data. Second, you can hold your personal opinions and still be fair.

I have covered issues like abortion and been called fair by both sides.

However, the media does make one huge mistake these days, and that is validating information that is just plain wrong by tring to tell both “sides” of a story.

You wouldn’t expect to see someone saying tobacco is safe in a story about thye damages smoking and “dipping” do.

No one would say the Earth is flat in a story about geology.

Few people believe that psychiatric illness is caused by demons, and no reporter would think he or she has to quote someone who does believe that.

The fact is that the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are losing ground, and it’s because we keep cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations and making up for lost money by taking services from the poor and shipping jobs overseas, villifying those who receive unemployment benefits as lazy and turning away the sick because they don’t have insurance.

The wealthy conservatives get away with it because the media continues to give validity to the lies and disinformation, and if someone doesn’t, they’re attacked as biased.

When the Harvard Medical School study that found 45,000 Americans die prematurely each year because they don’t have insurance was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,  I offered a copy of the study to my local paper. The editor told me there wasn’t enough staff to cover a national story like this and the paper would rely on The Associated Press to cover it.

Well, the AP didn’t do a story. In fact, when I searched the Web for any mention of the study in the media, I found only two mentions: one in the Boston Globe Harvard is in Boston) and one in the Sacramento Bee.

It was Keith Olbermann who covered the story. Ed Shultz grabbed onto it like a pit bull and didn’t let go. Eventually, the story was mentioned in other media, but it was downplayed.

That’s just one example. Remember the Downing Street Memo that proved George W. Bush was tweaking the evidence to gain public support for his illegal war in Iraq? For months, the only place I heard about it was on Al Franken’s radio show.

We can’t trust big media anymore. Not Fox News, not even the New York Times. They’re withholding important information that Americans need to know and perpetuating the lies of the right.

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