Open Thread for Monday, September 11, 2017

Part of a tree has fallen across my neighbor's driveway. That's all I've seen, I'm happy to say.

Part of a tree has fallen across my neighbor’s driveway. That’s all I’ve seen, I’m happy to say.

I decided to stay home today. You? Here are some possible topics:

  1. Anything to report about Irma? — My parents have no power at their house. They were told about 6,000 homes are in a similar situation. And there’s that tree across my neighbor’s house above. You?
  2. Irma knocks out power to more than 6 million in Florida — Which, I suppose, puts our 6,000 into perspective.
  3. Desperation in Caribbean: ‘All the Food Is Gone’ — And then, farther south, things are worse than that. Which is usually the case.
  4. From Sept. 11 To The Beatles’ British Invasion: How We Remember Our First News Events — It seems incredible to those of us who were stunned by JFK’s assassination, but there are actual, technical adults walking around for whom 9/11 was the first huge news event they can recall. For others, it’s smaller events such as the death of Princess Diana.
  5. Pope Francis: If Trump is ‘pro-life,’ he should extend DACA — You bet.

74 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, September 11, 2017

  1. Norm Ivey

    Some homes without power in the St. Andrews (per Facebook). Someone posted a picture of a waterspout at Isle of Palms.

    First news event? I remember kids talking about Robert Kennedy’s assassination, but it didn’t register with me much. The first event I remember talking with other kids about was the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes at Munich. That’s also the first time I remember reading something in Time magazine that wasn’t pop culture stuff.

    1. Norm Ivey

      Oh…the moon landing. We watched on TV and then went outside and looked at the moon. But that happened during the summer, and I don’t remember folks talking about it much in the days that followed.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        That’s confused with other stuff for me. We were spending the summer with my grandparents in Bennettsville, and my grandmother had been ill. Then, she had a heart attack and died the morning after the first walk on the moon.

        That afternoon, we were sitting on the porch and my uncle, who is only six years older than I am, said something about how strange it was that we had been watching men walk on the moon, and hours later, his mother was dead. Trying to be cheerful, I said, “Well, at least she lived to see it” — meaning, the moon landing. He said, “What difference does that make?” I didn’t know what to say to that.

        It’s kind of like the fact that 9/11 had less of an emotional impact on me than it did on others because my wife was busy fighting off Stage 4 cancer, and that was about all we had room to worry about.

        I have more clear, uncomplicated memories about the earlier parts of the space race, such as John Glenn’s flight. I was in the 3rd grade, and we went to the auditorium to watch it on a TV that had been placed on the stage…

  2. bud

    Just got through watching United 93 again. It reminded me of just how atrocious Ws initial response to this tragedy were. In real time it is difficult to understand the thinking behind a president who was the only man who could order shooting down civilian airliners to sit in a classroom and continue reading to second graders. Those 5 minutes were the worst 5 minutes of the American presidency. Those 5 minutes alone were worse than all of Donald Trump’s irresponsible tweets combined. So whenever I hear someone suggest they long for the days of George W. Bush I call B******T!

    1. Scout

      I think the tweets are worse. Lots worse. Not freaking out in front of children is a good skill. So is taking time to collect yourself before responding. Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump took 5 minutes to consider some of his tweets.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, Bud always makes a HUGE thing out of that — a manifestation of his lingering BDS — and I don’t think it was significant one way or the other.

      Or maybe I even lean toward Scout’s interpretation — that it was good that he stayed cool in front of the kids for those seven minutes before he left.

      But in any case, he was in no way derelict in his duty as president. There’s nothing we needed him to do in those seven minutes.

      I can only imagine how Democrats would have criticized him if he’d gone running from the room in a panic, freaking out the kids…

      1. bud

        Two people use the ridiculous “freaking out 2nd graders” meme. He wouldn’t “freak” anyone out by simply excusing himself. Or he could have simply not gone into the classroom in the first place since he already knew about the first plane hit. Everyone would quickly understand what he was doing. It was all over tv by then.

        Look I don’t despise W. He’s certainly a far more decent human being than Donald Trump. He stopped drinking, got himself in shape and seemed to be a good family man. I wasn’t especially upset that he was elected. (2004 was a different story). But George W. Bush was simply an unqualified disaster as president. So far Trump has done some awful stuff with the environment and immigration. But he has a long way to go to be worse as POTUS than W.

        1. Bart Rogers

          Okay bud, I am throwing the bright yellow “Bull$h!t” flag on this one. You sound like one of the “birthers” now. Their stupid nonsense about Obama is nothing compared to yours when it comes to GWB. Full of conspiracy theories you prefer to believe because you do hate and despise GWB. Remember, I have been reading your comments about him for years and they have only gotten worse. Your obsession is more than obvious, it is like a high speed freight train colliding with a car stuck on the tracks.

          And you actually believe Trump is more qualified than Bush? Whatever credibility you ever had with me is gone – but I know you could care less and that is fine with me.

          1. Barry

            If you have read the great Politico piece about Bush and his actions that day along with the activities on Air Force One, you would know Bush handled things extremely well.

            We like to imagine that the Presient had great information and knew what was happening that morning. As the Politco piece makes clear, a Today show viewer, that morning, had more information on what was happening than did the President simply because he was traveling.

            The technology was way, way different then.

            Anyone that says Bush should have acted different in that classroom is just spouting off. His aides had no additional information for him. Running out of the room to nothing but blank stares from his advisors would have served no purpose other than for public relations purposes.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Bud, you started out being reasonable, and then went off the rails again.

          Donald Trump was a worse president than any who went before the day he was inaugurated. Worse than Andrew Jackson. Worse than James Buchanan. Perhaps even worse than George B. McClellan would have been had he beat Lincoln in 1864. Remember, this is a guy whose first act as president was to send his press secretary out on a Saturday morning to lie to the press about the size of the crowd that turned out for his inauguration.

          Trump is not, as you say of Bush, a decent human being or good family man. He degrades the office by holding it. There has never, ever been a president who devalued the office so much simply by being elected to it.

          The competition for worst president is over. Trump has won, game, set and match. There’s no comparison…

    3. Bart Rogers

      bud, the only one who is being poisoned by hatred is the one who is the vessel carrying the poison. I guess I will never understand your absolute hatred of GWB. And don’t try to deny it, you do hate the man with everything in your being or soul, whichever you prefer.

      The first plane hit the Twin Towers at 8:46 am and the second one at 9:03 am. It was not until 8:50 am GWB was informed of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. At 9:31 am, GWB announced there was an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.” The third plane hit the Pentagon hit at 9:37 am. At 10:07 am, United 93 was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania by the passengers.

      At 9:42 am, ALL flights were ordered grounded. There were approximately 3,300 commercial and 1,200 private planes in the air at the time. Now, out of approximately 4,500 planes, who could have successfully identified United Flight 93 as the one to target, get a fighter into the air and shoot it down?

      Instead of providing a link to a Slate article, it is copied and pasted for your convenience.

      “Why Did President Bush React Calmly When Told About the Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks?
      Dec. 18 2014 7:32 AM
      By Quora Contributor

      This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

      Answer by Adam Nyhan, American:

      I’m no fan of George W. Bush, but having worked for a member of Congress and other elected officials and having supported them at public events, I always thought it was a cheap shot to criticize Bush’s immediate response to the news of the Sept. 11 attacks.

      Many people have seen the video of Bush as he received the news from his White House chief of staff, Andrew Card. The president was reading a book to schoolchildren in Florida, covered by a dozen news cameras. Card approached, whispered in his ear for a few seconds, and departed. Bush calmly continued chatting with the children, showing no sign that anything was amiss. Several minutes later, he excused himself and left.

      The first time that most Americans saw this video was in 2004, when Michael Moore included it in his film Fahrenheit 9/11. Many formed a quick judgment: You see, Bush is such an amateur, so indecisive, that he choked under pressure. He should have rushed to direct our defense against the terrorist attacks. But he’d rather read a book to some kids.

      This criticism is too lazy, too cute. To me and many other political aides, it seemed obvious what had really happened: Card had whispered a brief update, lacking details, and had not urged the president to cut his public appearance short. How much information could Card have given in those few seconds? Was that long enough to convey the full scale of the emerging picture?

      And what was the urgency in Card’s voice? I can tell you this: If you work for a public official and need him or her to immediately drop everything and come with you for an emergency briefing, no matter what the assembled media might report, then you would just tell the official that. You wouldn’t whisper a lengthy explanation in their ear in front of a dozen news cameras. It was absurd to think that Card urged the president to leave the event and that the president just ignored him. It seemed far more likely that the president was told: It’s bad, but we’re on top of it, and we’ll be ready to brief you in a few minutes, so sit tight. Bush would have concluded that his highly competent military and intelligence advisers were forming a game plan. Rather than make a sudden exit from a public event, one that would trigger unhelpful speculation about an emerging crisis, he wrapped the event up quickly but casually. I had a hard time saying that was unreasonable.

      And sure enough, there was more to the story. One journalist later reported that the president had seen a sign held by his press secretary reading “Don’t say anything yet.” And Card later explained that he had deliberately moved away from the president quickly “so that he couldn’t ask me a question.”

      There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of President Bush, as there are of President Obama and most other elected officials. But this one missed the mark.”

      And I will add one other fact to the story. I was standing in line at the check-in counter at Myrtle Beach airport when my wife called me and told me about the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. Before we finished checking in, she called again about the second plane hitting the Twin Towers. We proceeded to the upstairs lounge to watch what was going on. Within minutes, we were told all flights had been cancelled and all flights already airborne were being grounded at the closest airport that could handle the aircraft flying. So, I was there on that morning, where were you bud? No one knew for a few minutes exactly what was actually happening. This was not like Pearl Harbor when the planes attacking had Japanese emblems painted on them, these were domestic airliners.

      Neither one of us knows what we would have done during the 5 minutes from the time GWB was informed until he left the classroom. 5 minutes bud, 5 minutes. Please tell all of us, especially me exactly what would bud Bloom have done under the same circumstances. And don’t let your absolute hatred of GWB interfere, put yourself in his place or the place of any other POTUS. Do you think Obama would have jumped up and run out of the room as if his hair was on fire?

      You are free to think, believe, and hate anyone or anything you want to but at least, try to be honest in your evaluation. This was the first time since December 7, 1941 that an attack on US soil that killed 3,000 people had taken place. If you are so experienced in the running of the affairs of this country in times of crisis, then do let us know what you would have reacted and how effective your actions would have been.

      If you cannot at least be honest, then from this point on, what is the use of bothering to read anything you post? How can I believe anything you have to say?

      I know, you really don’t give a damn!! Continue living with your blind hatred of GWB. I am sure he stays awake at night worrying about how much bud hates him.

    4. Richard

      Yeah, Bush should have jumped up, ran hysterically down the grade school hallway, went into complete panic mode and required medical personnel to give him a sedative. That’s how you run a presidency. Had Bush ordered the shoot down of a civilian airliner, you’d be here complaining about that too.

  3. Scout

    I am home because no school. Some of our neighborhood has some outages. My Mom is out of power and a neighbor of hers has a tree down (Southeast Cola near VA). Our power has flickered a lot but so far we are OK.

    I remember John Lennon getting shot and Reagan getting shot both when I was in grade school, and the Challenger exploding when I was in High School.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I wrote a live editorial about Lennon’s death — it was a small paper and even though I was the news editor, the editorial page editor asked me to do it because she thought I’d do a better job than she would. Or he (that may have been when Hunter Brumfield, who occasionally comments here, was still EPE).

      Ditto with Reagan and the Challenger. Those were things I dealt with professionally. Challenger was a much bigger deal for me than the Reagan shooting because I was still at The Jackson Sun when Reagan was shot, and that paper was so focused on local news that all we did was take the wire copy and put it in the paper. I was news editor at the Wichita paper when the Challenger exploded, and there we considered ourselves to be our readers’ newspaper of record, and we went all-out on big national and international news. In fact, we’d usually hold a post-mortem meeting a day or two later to compare our coverage to that of other papers of similar size across the country. And I was the guy in charge of all that…

  4. Karen Pearson

    Lots of limbs down in the yard, but no major damage yet. As long as the sycamores and the tulip poplar don’t fall on us, we should be ok. The earliest I can remember is the inauguration of Pres. Eisenhower. I loved the space program. The most major news story for me was JFK’s assassination. As much as I disliked W. I have to agree with most of you about his reaction, in that those few minutes made no difference. We didn’t know which (or where) planes might have been headed to the crash, and even then, it was unlikely that armed fighter jets could have been scrambled fast enough to intercept the appropriate jets.

  5. David Carlton

    On another subject–I just learned of the death of my brother-in-law, Pat Wylie. Since you’re not a football fan, Brad, you may not have encountered Pat; his chief claim to fame was as the USC Band’s halftime announcer for a number of years. Otherwise, he was a prominent band director, mainly in Camden, where he also directed the community band for a long time until his health began to fade. Like me, he was raised Southern Baptist, and, like me, took his faith too seriously to remain Baptist; he became a devout Episcopalian, in his later years serving his parish, Grace Church in Camden, as its Verger. He was an ebullient personality, who loved music and travel, especially to Britain (He was an ardent anglophile and scotophile), and celebrated his 65th birthday with a skydive. SC is poorer without him. Lux aeterna luceat eis.

    1. Rose

      I grew up in Camden, and I’m sure his former band students would disagree with you, David. His chief claim to fame was as their band director. He just did that USC thing on the side. He was deeply loved by his students, and that is a fine legacy.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah. I sort of understand what David meant — or I think I do — but the Southern Baptists I know (including my parents) are pretty serious.

        I hope what David meant is that someone who is serious tends more toward high-church ritual and formality in worship.

        For my part, I was and am drawn to the sense of continuity through the past 2,000 years — and through the couple of thousand before that, since to me Christianity makes less sense outside of a Jewish context.

        To me, if I’m going to be in a church, it might as well be the one once headed by Peter. I’m drawn to the history, with all its trappings and all its baggage — what Cheech and Chong termed “the whole Catholic-a church, with the priests and the nuns and the little bambinos-a…”

        We can all find fault with the religious affiliations of others — which we shouldn’t do — and with our own as well.

        For instance — I mentioned that there’s an Episcopal church locally that I frequently visit, and I always enjoy the Masses, partly because the acoustics are so much better than at my parish. But occasionally things come up that remind me of why I’m Catholic and not Anglican, despite my Anglophilia.

        You’ll recall that I attended Mass at that episcopal church a couple of weeks ago, and was inspired by the Old Testament reading. But I was struck by something else. The Gospel reading that Sunday was the passage from Matthew when Jesus said to Simon Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

        For us Catholics, as you know, that foreshadows Peter becoming the first pope, and sets out his authority as leader of the church.

        Yet when we were doing the prayer in which we pray for the leaders of the church and civil authority, the local bishop was mentioned, and the archbishop of Canterbury, and even our president “Donald” — but not Pope Francis.

        And we know why, don’t we? Because of my 2nd cousin (14 times removed) Henry VIII, and his desire to rid himself of his lawful-wedded wife (the daughter of their most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella).

        Everything else is there, because Henry didn’t change anything but the authority of the pope in creating his new church.

        So there’s that one small sticking point. But beyond that, I very much enjoy worshiping in Episcopal churches, and feel very much at home…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          There goes Brad again…

          Yes, Henry was my cousin (and probably yours, too, if you spent the time tracing it to find out). So were two of his wives, Anne Boleyn (2nd cousin 15x removed) and Catherine Howard (3rd cousin 15x removed). Anne and Catherine were in fact each other’s first cousins (Anne’s mother was a Howard), but I’m related to both of them and Henry by separate routes. (Henry and I are both directly descended from Owen Tudor; Anne and I from Geoffrey Boleyn, and Catherine and I from Sir Robert Howard of Tendring.)

          I’m confessing more than bragging here. Henry and Anne were pretty appalling people, IMHO.

          An interesting (to me) tidbit: Of his six wives, Anne and Catherine — the ones to whom I’m related — were the only two he had executed. So I’ve got a family grudge against him there, even though he, too, is family…

        2. Barry

          I know plenty of extremely serious Christians that find many faults with “ritual” and avoid it as much as possible.

          I can take it in limited quantities.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            We’re all about some ritual. For me, it lets me know I’m in church instead of, I don’t know, at McDonald’s or in a business meeting. It sets things apart, helps you get into the proper frame of mind.

            I grew up with preachers in business suits, but somehow that just doesn’t look right to me anymore…

  6. Kathleen

    I don’t suppose any of you “children” remember the aborted Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We had just recently gotten our first television set. I found the images disturbing and kept thinking ,”Somebody do something!”

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I just missed that. I was around, and watching TV, but I was watching “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok,” “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp,” “Captain Kangaroo” and “Howdy Doody.”

      I had just turned 3 less than three weeks before the uprising…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t remember being particularly aware of major grownup news events before the 1960 election.

        I was totally for Nixon. Kennedy had scared me during the debates, with his belligerent talk aimed at the Soviets. I was too young to understand that he was trying to sound tough to make up for his relative youth (he looked plenty old to me) and inexperience, compared to a vice president. I just knew he sounded like a guy more apt to send my Daddy off to war — and I was right, of course, since my Dad later went to Vietnam.

        I was really upset when Nixon lost. I don’t know why I was off from school, but I remember the inauguration being on TV live. I hid behind a chair rather than watch it, and my mother told me to stop being ridiculous…

    2. Bart Rogers

      I remember it and how the Hungarians were actually expecting America to come to its rescue. That was during the heyday of Radio Free Europe and the broadcasts encouraging Hungarians to revolt against the USSR and its control over the country. During that time, we had morning devotions and our class always prayed for the people of Hungary. We followed the events in class because not many families had a television set at the time. (Plus, for all us old timers, television was broadcast only a few hours each day and the number of channels was limited to one or two.) It is difficult to imagine the disappointment the people of Hungary must have experienced when the much anticipated and reasonably expected American help never materialized. I think this was when the USSR became a world power and became openly more aggressive.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Here’s what I said about it last week, in a poorly punctuated Tweet:

        Yeah, that’s supposed to be “we’re not ready,” not “were not ready.”

        I’ve been lulled into making mistakes such as that by Apple autocorrect. It usually places apostrophes appropriately, according to context. I’ve gone from finding that irritating to relying on it too much. And so we slouch toward letting the machines take over…

        1. Bryan Caskey

          The worst thing with that is I don’t remember anyone’s phone number anymore. I just put it in my phone once (sometimes the other person types it in so I don’t even do that part) and then I never really see their number ever again.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, absolutely. I don’t know any of my kids’ phone numbers, as bizarre as that would have seemed to me 20 years ago.

            We all rely on external memories now, and have allowed that part of our brains to atrophy….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Nope. I thought I got the point from the words. And now that I’ve looked at the picture, I see that I did!

            Actually, it’s not that unusual for B&N to discount a new book that way.

            But as I said, I’d be surprised if this is a big seller…

            1. Bart Rogers

              The “stand topper” Claus was referring to is the one offering 30% off on fiction and Hillary’s book is in the stand the topper is standing on. Now that is actually funny and to a large degree an accurate description of her book.

  7. Harry Harris

    If I had lost to Donald Trump. I’d be looking for excuses also, but only Hillary would write a book about it. Time to do some long, quiet reflection and then turn to some productive work. Bernie has invited her to help with moving forward. She should chill for about another 2 years. Just like her husband before (whose behavior got us George W Bush), she doesn’t need to explain or excuse; she needs to apologize. Then be silent for a while.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author


      Although I disagree somewhat when you say, “only Hillary would write a book about it.” Anybody who has been a major-party presidential nominee, particularly one who has been a national figure as long as she has, will have publishers lined up ready to pay for a book. And relatively few would turn down those advances.

      Personally, I don’t read such books. And in her case, I’m less interested than usual…

    2. Bart Rogers

      Agree with you and Brad. But, Hillary is making the rounds on television shows that are Hillary friendly. She was interviewed by Jane Pauley and didn’t admit that her “deplorables” remark about Trump supporters did any harm or caused anyone to change their mind. I didn’t watch the interview but did waste time reading most of it. Based on the interview, about the only tough question Pauley asked was the deplorables remark.

      Clinton went through a long laundry list of the reasons she lost and not once did she actually take responsibility for her poor performance other than admitting she should have paid more attention to the Rust Belt states, normally a staple voting bloc for Democrats, especially Wisconsin.

      I still SMH in wonder how this country could put forth two of the absolutely worst possible candidates for POTUS I can ever remember. One was a “legacy” nominee and the other was an absolute abomination of a candidate that won in total disregard for honesty, sincerity, comity, and about anything else from a long list of negative traits.

      In many ways, Trump and Clinton are much alike. It is never their fault, never. Everyone loves them, everyone. (just ask Trump) And the list can go on and on of the similar traits they share but their supporters don’t see it at all. If Trump had lost, you can bet he would be on a tour, touting a book about how he lost and it wasn’t his fault.

      IMHO, the offshoot is that it will be almost impossible for a moderate candidate to win the presidency because this nation has become so divided, isolated, and tribalized (my word) into special interest groups, leaving Main Street America with no real voice in the debate, discussion, or whatever. At this point, I see no candidate on the horizon who can offer a broad appeal across the political spectrum and win. I have doubts Trump will be the candidate in 2020.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        My favorite part of that CBS interview she just did was where she admitted to buying a second home just before the election for the sole purpose of accommodating all of her additional staff she would have as President Elect. You have to have a heart of stone to not laugh at that amount of hubris.

          1. Claus2

            Then you missed her interview this morning on the Today show. She takes 0% responsibility for her loss, it was all someone else’s fault. This woman can look you straight in the face and lie to you. I feel sorry for the SS security detail that has to deal with her on a daily basis.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I can guarantee you that I’m going to miss anything on the Today show.

              I watch next to zero broadcast TV, beyond PBS. And I particularly avoid TV news, unless I’m looking for something in particlar — and I usually go to the station’s website for that.

              As for “Today” — I have never understood why people would be watching TV, much less that sort of TV, in the morning. I’m either sleeping, or I’ve got something I’ve got to get up and DO.

              Or perhaps I should say, I couldn’t imagine it until recently. I’m getting back into a work routine, and I’ve started back to doing it in the morning rather than evening (or sometimes, in addition to the evenings).

              But to me, that’s what a Roku is for. I’ll watch a full episode of “The West Wing” or “Blue Bloods” or “Vikings” or “Bosch” while doing my time on the elliptical trainer.

              Sometimes, though, as I’m doing my stretches at the end, the episode will be over, and I’ll turn off the Roku, and see a couple of minutes of WACH-Fox’s morning news program. And if a commercial comes on, I might switch to “Today.”

              But I have yet to see anything there that would be worth seeking out to watch. “Today” seems like kind of silly programming to me…

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        “IMHO, the offshoot is that it will be almost impossible for a moderate candidate to win the presidency because this nation has become so divided, isolated, and tribalized (my word) into special interest groups, leaving Main Street America with no real voice in the debate, discussion, or whatever. ”

        Which is why we need to do two things immediately, so that maybe within a generation, we can get over this situation (I think it would probably take about that long, even if we do everything right immediately):

        1. Completely revamp the way we do reapportionment.

        2. Institute the National Service I was talking about in this post.

        And the most urgent of the two is No. 1. After we do it — and reform would necessarily completely remove incumbent and party protection from the process — it will take a few election cycles to replace significant numbers of the extremists who now hold office from “safe” districts.

        I think No. 2 would take even longer to have a noticeable effect, of getting to where we have significantly fewer people who see anyone who disagrees with them as “the enemy.” At least 20 years, I’m guessing, quite likely longer…

        1. Doug Ross

          Vee vill force you to serve your country and you vill like it!

          Nostalgia is a great thing. You just get to remember all the nice parts of something.

          Meanwhile, many if us remember just how divisive forced service to go and be killed in a useless war turned out for this country. Plus all the thousands of families devastated by sons who were killed or returned as shells of their former selves. There’s a reason the draft was stopped by our elected representatives, right?

            1. Doug Ross

              I read your post, not the one you linked to. The one where you claimed military service in the “old days” created this group of men who were color blind, tolerant, caring bunch of community organizers. You claim that military service was a positive formative experience in those bygone days of yore. I say “malarkey”. Where are these great human beings who came back from military service and created such a blissful world?

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Retired and/or dead now. Which is why things are as ugly as they are today.

                You can call truth “malarkey” all you want, that doesn’t make it so.

                I wish I could help you see it, but you and I have very different cognitive styles…

                1. Doug Ross

                  Your view is always at 50,000 foot with blinders on. I’m down in the weeds of reality with a pair of binoculars.

                  George Wallace – WWI Veteran
                  Strom Thurmond – WWII Veteran
                  Jesse Helms – WWI veteran
                  Joseph McCarthy – WWII veteran
                  Richard Nixon – WWII veteran

                  These guys must have missed the day they covered peace, love, and understanding during boot camp.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  If you’re down there IN the weeds, and looking at those same weeds with binoculars, aren’t they kind of blurry, so close up?

                  Your binoculars would probably work better up where I am…

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  As for your list, Doug… really? I think you forgot the Dirty Dozen — they were ALL in the Army. Of course, they were fictional, so…

                  If the worst list you can come up with includes Nixon, it’s a pretty weak list. I’d LOVE to have Nixon as POTUS right now.

                  I really don’t have the time to come up with a thousand good examples for each of your bad ones — but you do understand that that’s entirely doable, don’t you? Can’t we stipulate that?

                  I mean, it would be silly to come up with just five random names to counter your five (say Eisenhower, JFK, RFK, Jimmy Stewart and Steve McQueen), because that wouldn’t prove anything more than your list does.

                  The thing is, you DO have to look at the big picture, and note the tremendous advances our country made in the decades that the WWII vets were in charge. You have to look at the great arc of history. And, just to head you off, that mass trend will in no way be negated by a list of five, or 500, bad things that happened between 1945 and, say, 1985.

                  I know you don’t like it, but I’m talking forest here, not trees…

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Of course, as a great fan of the novel, I can say that not even all of The Dirty Dozen were awful. Samson Posey was a noble and admirable guy, and Ken Sawyer was a good soldier who just got drunk and went out of control one day.

                  But Victor Franko, Archer Maggot and Roscoe Lever were pretty scummy guys, I’ll admit…

                5. Claus2

                  It was a book???

                  I’m allowed to see Classified data, yet I can’t get past this stupid Robot blocking Geepers. What’s the Geepers trick with the Geepers street signs, do you include the Geepers post or not? Geepers this is Geepers frustrating.

                6. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Was The Dirty Dozen a book? Yes, an awesome one. Way better than the movie.

                  As much fun as it was to watch Lee Marvin in the film, the Reisman in the novel is a much more interesting character. He had killed a man (in self-defense) when he was 16, and had spent the years since then (he was 30 in the novel, much younger than Marvin) knocking around the world as a soldier of fortune before ending up in the OSS after the war started. He had an identification with the criminals he was leading, figuring that he could easily have ended up as one of them.

                  The character played by Telly Savalas was three characters in the book — a ruthless professional criminal from Alabama, a Tennessean who had become a big Bible-reader in prison, and a mousy little guy who was SURE he couldn’t have killed that woman he was convicted of murdering.

                  I first read it when I was 14, and it has remained a favorite ever since…

                7. Doug Ross

                  And I can come up with a list of people who are either bad or good who DIDN’T serve in the military. There’s no correlation between someone’s behavior and whether they served in the military. None. The military is a subset of Americans in general, good and bad.

                  Many good men have entered the military and come out worse. Probably more than the number of bad men who had a change of heart.

                8. Doug Ross

                  Also, since you’re a PBS viewer, I hope you’ll watch Ken Burns new documentary series on Vietnam that starts next week.

                  Here’s an interview with Ken Burns regarding the series:


                  Gillespie: Talk about that and various sequences or episodes. Talk about particular Lyndon Johnson, who opened up what became known as the credibility gap and was clearly saying one thing privately, another thing publicly to a point where he couldn’t even run for president in ’68. Is that what you’re talking about when you’re saying, I mean this is a place where Vietnam kind of is the start of the world-

                  Burns: It’s one of the places because, of course, that’s on one political and policy level. There’s another military one. There’s another intimate one that may involve protestors or gold star families or the soldiers themselves who are walking on eggshells. The film very clearly says that, from Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and particularly Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and, to a lesser extent, Gerald Ford, nobody was straight with the American people. Nobody. That credibility gap began with Truman when so much stuff was done in secret, continued with Eisenhower, continued with Kennedy, escalated significantly with Kennedy and even more, exponentially so, with Johnson and then you had in Richard Nixon, somebody who came in with his national security advisor absolutely understanding the real politic, as they would say, of it, of we need to end this war and fast and find themselves using some of the same rationales, the same sort of justifications and the same sorts dissembling that the other presidents had used to sort of kick the can down the street and not deal with Vietnam, which gets a lot of Americans and even more Vietnamese killed. This is an ongoing, if you want to talk about rolling thunder, there’s a kind of rolling dissembling-

                9. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I plan to. I’ve been rewatching “The Civil War” to warm up for it.

                  What do you want to bet you and I will draw wildly different conclusions from watching it?

                  Frankly, I think it’s too soon for a treatment such as this to have the kind of value that “The Civil War” did. It’s too soon, and too complicated — and too many people are still traumatized by the divisions that arose in the country at that time.

                  Of course, you can say the same about the Civil War. But at least the people most directly concerned were all dead, which took SOME of the emotion out of it…

                10. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, and Doug: A lot of stuff was kept secret in WWII, and the Civil War, and the Revolution.

                  In fact, the military disasters that were kept secret in the Second World War were on a monumental scale impossible in the ’60s. That’s one of the reasons Vietnam was so unpopular. People SAW what war was like, on TV…

                11. Bryan Caskey

                  I plan to. I’ve been rewatching “The Civil War” to warm up for it.

                  No invitation was received. I shall assume it was lost in the post. When may I wait upon you?

              2. Doug Ross

                A good quote from Burn’s co-filmmaker:

                “Novick: We’ve been wrestling with what is going on. How does it relate to what happened in Vietnam, and I think we’re not making the same mistakes. We seem to be making other mistakes that are related and one of them, though, that’s a theme I think, is that we Americans, even though we’ve learned many lessons about how to fight a limited war better or counter insurgency or limits of power and having to make friends and not just worry about body count, there’s certain things, and the press access, all that. Those are lessons that we have absorbed in the military and the politicians have absorbed.

                The thing that we can’t let go of, and maybe we shouldn’t but this is a question, is that we still seem to think that people far away in other countries want, what we have to offer, and that we can bring them democracy and the kind of open society that we have and that if we just offer them from the menu of options that we have in Afghanistan or in Iraq, they’re going to embrace who we are and what we’re bringing. That, the idea that you can go to a country far away and insert yourself into something and somehow understand it well enough and make things happen, that’s tricky.”

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  And I like this bit from the lengthy piece — itself the first of a three-part series — about the series in The Washington Post:

                  The portrait of America that emerges from the series at times made me feel ashamed, sometimes from directions I hadn’t anticipated. Before watching “The Vietnam War,” I probably would have dismissed as bluster the idea that the United States dishonored itself by leaving Vietnam. Hearing Duong Van Mai Elliott, who grew up first in Hanoi and then in Saigon and worked for the Rand Corp. in Saigon, explain that her father was moved by America’s intervention because “we’re such a small and poor country and the Americans have decided to come in to save us, not just with their money, their resources, but with their own lives,” made it harder for me to dismiss that broken promise…

                  I feel that shame acutely, and have felt it ever since 1975.

                  Just as I feel shame that the Hungarians who rose up against the Soviets in 1956 thought we would help them, and we didn’t.

                  And just as I felt shame that we didn’t help the Iraqis who rose up against Saddam after the Gulf War, leading to their brutal suppression….

  8. clark surratt

    To David Carlton: Sorry to hear of Pat Wylie’s death. I have fond memories of working with Pat helping promote the USC band at the time he was announcer. His boss, Ralph Wahl, worked hard to make the band a big hit, such that he was criticized for it. One newspaper columnist compared him to Prof. Harold Hill in The Music Man. Anyway, I lost touch with Pat (who also had been band director at high school where my kids went) but knew he continued as a music leader in Camden. Thanks for your post.


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