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Those Were the Days

Another form of post-sixties recovery. Why we were in Vietnam. Plus: Fans of Dick Clarke. Mugging on the highways. Chopping into Lamm. Plus more.

3.25.04

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FADED YOUTH CULTURE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Sixties to the Finish:

Mr. Tyrrell's analysis of the odious "counterculture's" influence in this year's presidential contest is excellent, but it neglects a third group of sixties survivors -- erstwhile hippies ashamed of '60s behavior and anxious to atone.

We are the clowns who argued that the domino theory was a hoax perpetrated by the unethical on behalf of the brutal, in the name of clods too mean to embrace a brave new world. When triumphant Vietnam's first step toward Utopia was vindictive slaughter, we knew remorse. When Cambodia was dragged into bloody, savage anarchy we knew shame, and know it still.

When the honorable Carter arrived we expected the Cold War to fade away, as Soviet leaders were made tractable by the common sense efforts of just plain folks. But our man's servility and willful ignorance of reality made the world a more dangerous place, and we looked elsewhere for inspiration. Little by little, we grew up.

There are not enough of us to cinch this year's election for the incumbent, human nature and the bell curve being what they are. But we can amplify our effect by conducting partisan efforts behind enemy lines.

Chat up the fellow next door when he waters his lawn wearing a Cheap Trick tee shirt. Remind him that the people who took acid and weed away from him are after his cigarettes.

Show the picture of the girl screaming over a dead body at Kent State to some liberated lady; if she blanches, show her the photo of J-Reno's thugs liberating Elian Gonzalez; explain who's who and what's what.

Most of all, and as often as possible, remind boomers that the convictions that move them are no longer matters of principle but articles of faith. Show them that now they are the fusty old ladies and caponized men trying to make the world conform to saccharine delusions they've had about life for 40 years.

Explain that the easiest way to dissent these days is to oppose the censors trying to purge the Western mind of unkind words and impolitic assumptions. Explain that a way to defend freedom is to fight for journalists' right to describe events as they happen, no matter whom that offends, or what stereotype it might prolong.

Then do any scut work that comes your way. Stuff envelopes or drive voters to the polls, walk precincts in the toughest part of town; do whatever it takes to offset the influence of all the dippy hippies who will never be troubled by the demands of logic or the lessons of history.

Do it to undo the lingering damage done all those years ago. Then, no matter who wins or loses this or any other election, keep saying the things we now know to be true. It's time to fight back.
-- Edmund Dantes

The most likely reason that the rancor is up is the same reason in the culture wars -- the majority/conservative base has become vocal. The liberal arms have had control of the Mass Media for forty years with little opposition. But with the explosion in media options conservatives have found a home and found each other.

Usually turmoil indicates a pending shift in the political fundamentals. The current battle being joined will likely define this country for a century. Both sides know the stakes so the battle is white hot. Hopefully the pro-American unilateralist forces shall win.
-- John McGinnis

BRAKING GOVERNMENT
Re: Eric Peters' Progressive Ticketing:

I read with interest the above article concerning the arbitrary nature of amounts of fines etc. Here in the UK, the incumbent Blair government and all relevant agencies have been waging a war against motorists for years. Your reference to "speed cameras," as we call them, needs some clarification.

Originally introduced with the admirable intent of combating road accidents and deaths, it quickly became clear to the great British public that the real reason for the mass introduction was to raise revenue. Whilst the police forces and government emphatically denied this, public skepticism was fueled by the strange locations in which some of these cameras were sited: behind traffic signs, under bridges and, because of their dull gray color, frequently invisible to the driver until the last minute, resulting in tire-screeching braking, likely to cause more accidents than prevent them. Due to public clamor these cameras are now required to be painted fluorescent yellow or orange and are being removed from all areas not listed as accident blackspots. We may not have a Bill of Rights or a written constitution, but any British Government that hurts the British motorist's wallet is likely to be hurt by return in the ballot box.
-- Daniel Butterworth
London, UK

Mr. Peters in his article "Progressive Ticketing" commits a schoolboy error in asserting that the "Brits" have no Bill of Rights. In fact, us Englishmen & Welshmen have had one since it received Royal Assent from William & Mary on 16 December 1689, shortly after the Glorious Revolution. Possibly the Scotchmen had to wait a little longer.
-- Tom Holbrook

Here in Texas we already have a limited form of progressive fines. If you are caught speeding in a construction zone the fines are double. Not exactly based on income, but it's the foot in the door.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

FANS OF DICK CLARKE
Re: George Neumayr's Weasel a Happy Tune:

Richard Clarke must not comprehend his image: an unimaginative, bitter, fourth level career bureaucrat vying for public attention. I have more respect for bag boys at the grocery, who keep their own counsel and perform their assigned tasks well.
-- David Shoup
Dublin, Georgia

While others may despair that Richard Clarke is having his time in the spotlight, I don't. He has put a face on the bumbling bureaucrat who failed our country and caused the death of thousands here and elsewhere in the world. The man has more blood on his hands than a heart surgeon and his spinning lies won't wash them clean.
-- Ed Laws

If Edmund Burke and Winston Churchill were alive, they would wonder at Madame's, Sandy Berger's and Richard Clarke's concept of the proper role of a leader. They claim that combating terrorism was the highest priority of the Clinton administration, but nobody seems to have asked them what exactly was done about it. (Only the most politically naive can believe that Clinton himself had any preoccupation greater than his "romantic" obsessions -- other than that, his priority seems to have been to be as corrupt as possible.) Actually the answer is very little, except for lobbing a missile at an aspirin factory -- and that frightened the terrorists about as much as the threat to prosecute them in America's federal district courts. Can't you just hear Br'er Rabbit pleading: " Whatever you do to, don't prosecute me in federal court." They contend the American people would not have allowed more. Whose fault was it that Americans did not trust Clinton to act honorably against our enemies rather than because of his own precarious political position -- whose own shameless salacious conduct had brought him to that?

Burke and Churchill would have understood that a true leader would marshal the support of Americans to whatever actions were necessary to protect the nation. In hindsight, that was too much to expect from a "leader" who could not decide where to vacation without a national poll. More disturbing, too much from a president whose sexual misconduct and dubious personal history --r remember the period when he disappeared into Russia during his Oxford sojourn -- laid him open to express or implied blackmail. We can only plead with voters to not allow ferrets like Clarke to gamble on another Democratic nominee with a similar history.
-- J.R. Wheatley
Harper Woods, Michigan

Does anyone know how many pieces of silver Clarke received for his book?
-- Dick Melville
Ozone Park, New York

VIETNAM WAR WINNINGS
Re: Paul Beston's Kansas City Kerry:

As someone who spent 13 months with a Marine rifle company in Vietnam, I have also waited for the post 20th Century national debate on Vietnam Paul Beston suggests.

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos once recounted to a journalist how Lyndon Johnson, standing before a wall-size map of Asia at a military base, explained to her the U.S. counter-communist strategy for the 1960s. Johnson insisted, she recalled, that the war was not about Vietnam or even Indochina but about buying time for Thailand, Burma, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines to strengthen their military and internal security

In other words, one of the most underdeveloped nations in Asia was used to metastasize Soviet and Chinese resources onto the battleground where collateral damage and ultimate outcome would have the least negative impact. In the meantime, the rest of free Asia was spared the full attention of international communist aggression.

This model was followed in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Nicaragua and elsewhere to accelerate the collapse of the Soviet Union. But such a strategy would be nearly impossible to sell to the American public, or any Western democracy.

I believe that John Kerry's 120-day "Vietnam experience" -- complete with wounds, medals and a myth of valor -- was stage-managed by the Kennedy political machine. In my opinion, his near psychopathic lying and shameless exploitation of the Vietnam war disqualifies him from any debate.
-- Bradford Silliman
Savannah, Tennessee

LAMM CHOP
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Malthus's Quarreling Children:

Richard Lamm may be remembered, as Biddle wrote, by most as the former Colorado governor who sought to displace Ross Perot as the 1996 Reform Party nominee, but I'll always remember him for his earlier assertion from which many inferred a call for euthanasia: "The old have a duty to die." Anyone else remember that one?

Considering that the elderly vote in numbers greater than those of other demographic groups, it's a wonder that he could compete for any elective office, much less a presidential nomination. Perhaps a small universe such as that of the Sierra Club board is just the right place for him.

Still, if it takes sidling up to the Sierra Club to achieve control of our border with Mexico, then let it be so. It matters not to me whether they regard it as a national security issue. Politics' making strange bedfellows is an old and venerable tradition in which I'll happily indulge.
-- Stephen Foulard
Houston, Texas

TOUGH ACT TO SWALLOW
Re: James Bowman's Authentic Heels:

According to James Bowman, Kerry and his advisers seem to believe that acting tough and full of righteous indignation is "more likely than modesty, forbearance, humility, civility or good humor to win the votes of key electors." If so, it is a wise strategic decision. The latter characteristics appear to be so be absent in Kerry's natural behavior that it is probably beyond his acting range to fake them convincingly.
-- Will Pickering
Campinas, SP, Brazil

GUNGA DEAN
Re: The Washington Prowler's Happy Days Are Here Again:

Just when we thought that we'd heard the last of Howard Dean he stuns the world by leaking the news that he is going to endorse John Kerry. Will this stunning news bring out the Prozac vote? The I-have-the-note-from-my-own-doctor medically unfit draft-dodger vote? The vertically challenged vote? The former governors of small, insignificant states with terrible weather vote? I would think that by now it should be obvious to the Democrats that having Howard Dean's name attached to anything (even to John Kerry's moth-eaten person) would mean certain defeat and ridicule. Or is Howard Dean merely playing out the last card in his eternally losing hand?

Governor Dean is the quintessential political loser: a little too frantic, a little too shrill, a little too conciliatory, and a little too eager to jump on what he hopes will become the Kerry Bandwagon. There could be a future reward in store for Governor Dean if he can safely deliver all of Vermont's .00000456732 electoral votes. How about the ambassadorship to Nepal? It is a country where Governor Dean would appear to be, if not actually tall, then not exactly short. Which, at this stage in his political career, would amount to a major victory.
-- Tillman L. Jeffrey
Manteca, California

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