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Watching the latest episode of Ken Burns’s Vietnam War saga tonight,  Monday, covering the period from mid 1968 to mid 1969, I’m reminded again of how thin the “veneer” was in Presidential politics, as Nixon and Kissinger hustled to kill the fledging Paris peace talks just three days before the November election, tipping the outcome in their favor by promising the Theiu government a better peace deal under a Nixon administration. Of course, that treasonous deal by political aspirant Nixon fell thru, and 20,000, that’s right 20,000, additional Americans died before the war finally ended in 1975.

Here’s a section on that from my 2011 essay, All That Glitters, published under auspices of the Chicago Literary Club (to read it all, go to http://www.chilit.org, then “Papers” then “Papers by Author” then initial “E” then hit title of essay).

“In the summer of 1968, I learned that indeed I’d be assigned to Vietnam. I wrote to the Information Officer of the Military Assistance Command in Saigon and told him of my military and university training in PR, and asked if I might be posted as an information officer on arrival in late November.

“1968 was a turbulent, defining year in America. Martin Luther King was assassinated, then Bobby Kennedy. President Johnson had beat anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, then dropped out of the race as public support for the Vietnam War began to wane following the Tet debacle. Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic candidate, but the Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago saw Mayor Daly brutally suppress anti-war riots in the streets, perhaps scuttling Humphrey’s chances.

“Republican Richard Nixon became the next president, just after his representatives, directed by Henry Kissinger, secretly motivated the South Vietnamese Thieu government to boycott the newly launched peace negotiations in Paris, suggesting they would get a better peace deal under a Nixon administration, according to recently released Presidential documents. The real motivation may have been to deny the Democrats the election advantage of ending the war on their watch. Whatever the intent, this had the unintended effect of extending the war for another four years, with 20,000 additional American deaths, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.  It was the year of the My Lai massacre.”

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As the entry below from today’s Writer’s Digest dramatizes, this day in 1862 was the bloodiest in American military history. But the Vietnam War, to be dissected in tonight’s debut of the new 10-part series by Ken Burns, claimed more than twice the American lives, plus 3 million Asian lives.  Yet this country of ours continues such fruitless combats, and the waste that was Vietnam echoes in our continuing crusade in Afghanistan, now America’s longest, and perhaps must futile, war ever.

It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland, along the banks of Antietam Creek (1862). It was the bloodiest single day in American military history, with nearly 23,000 casualties, and it ended in a tactical draw. One regiment, the First Texas Infantry, lost 82 percent of its men.

The 12-hour battle began at dawn, in a cornfield on David Miller’s farm. It was the first Civil War battle fought in Union Territory; the second, the Battle of Gettysburg, would happen less than a year later. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had brought troops into Maryland — which was still part of the Union, even though it was a slave state — to try to replenish his dwindling supplies. Encouraged by word of Stonewall Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry, Lee decided to make a stand in Sharpsburg rather than return to Confederate Virginia.

Union Major General George B. McClellan commanded twice as many troops as Lee. Not only that, but he also had a copy of Lee’s battle plan. But McClellan fumbled these advantages, failing to fully collapse the Confederates’ flanks and advance his center — which meant that more than a quarter of McClellan’s men never entered the battle. In the afternoon, Union troops advanced and a victory seemed imminent, until late-arriving Confederate reinforcements held them off. By sundown, both sides simply held their own ground. A veteran of the battle later recalled, “[The cornfield] was so full of bodies that a man could have walked through it without stepping on the ground.”

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed.

If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

 

—Mark Twain

(courtesy of Ed Weed)

The opening scene in 2012, just five years ago, from the TV series  “The Newsroom,” made me tremble back then, and still does today, as the Trump regime bulldozes its way through the increasing rubble of America’s former greatness.

Wonder what I’m talking about? Take a look: you’ll remember.

All this fuss from our Republican candidates about heresy, Satan, Christianity and women‘s reproductive rights might have fit right into the 17th century.

I was reminded of that when I read the following in the Writer’s Almanac today. As one pundit commented, we don’t just need new politicians, we need a new electorate!

“On this date in 1632, Galileo published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (books by this author), in which he argued against the belief of the church, that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, and that in fact the Sun is the center of the solar system, and the Earth is circling around it. TheDialogue was placed on the Catholic Church‘s Index of Forbidden Books the following year, and Galileo was tried and convicted for heresy. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest, and none of his later books were permitted to be published in his lifetime. TheDialogue remained on the Index of Forbidden Books until 1835.”

My God, it took the Church two  hundred years to figure that one out!!!

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