Effect Measure

Obama, JFK and the sixties

Does the Obama candidacy signal a return of “the sixties”? It’s possible. What does that mean? Even those us who were there remember the sixties imperfectly. Not because we were permanently stoned. Memory is selective. We remember it as better than it was. We were young, and that makes a difference.Yet, as tristero observes over at Digby’s place, the sixties were not just a time of flowering creativity and the securing of new freedoms, but also a terrible, difficult and dark time for anyone who had any political awareness.

The run-up to the sixties was in fact much like the last few years. Rick Perlstein’s book Nixonland fills in the grubby and genuinely horrible details. If you haven’t read it you owe it to yourself to see just how terrible each day’s news could be. A few words that come to mind suffice: anger, anguish, shame, embrrassment, fear, disgust, outrage, confusion — that’s just for starters. They should sound familiar to anyone paying attention these last few years. Maybe there was no internet or cable TV, but the period had its own versions of swiftboating, some of it as hilarious as it was dismaying. Here’s Perlstein’s sketch of a 1950 Democratic primary campaign:

George Smathers beat Florida senatory Claude Pepper by accusing him of being a “sexagenarian,” committing “nepotism” with his sister-in-law, openly proud of a sister who was a “thespian.” He also pointed out that Pepper had been a Harvard classmate of Alger Hiss’s. (Nixonland, p. 34)

Yet there is no denying the sixties were also historic. The world was changing, although not all the changes were happening at once or in the same direction. Suze Rotolo’s wonderful memoir of Greenwich Village in the years 1961-1965 is a double love story, one about Bob Dylan and the other about a bohemian enclave that no longer exists. It is quintessential sixties. But her story is also about the confusion and dilemma of a vibrant and sensitive intellect submerged in her identity as “Bob Dylan’s chick.” There was no women’s movement to provide the words and emotional and intellectual support to help her and those around her make sense of it. That was in the near future.

One movement had already come to fruition. The races were still separated, but the civil rights movement was underway as the decade started. It provided an essential ingredient that was to be a hallmark of the sixties: idealism. It was a robust and deep idealism and it engaged the best young minds of a generation. It wasn’t just political, but also artistic. The visual arts, music, theater, poetry were in wild and sometimes incomprehensible ferment (compared to The Living Theater, today’s avant garde seems timid). Nor was all the idealism productive. Coupled with accumulated resentment and outrage, it could also lead in other diections, such as the self-imolation of the Watts riots and later the violent self-destructiveness of the Weathermen faction of SDS.

But idealism was still the core. What unleashed it? When the decade started, the world was already pregnant with it. The developing embryo had its own organ systems: the civil rights movement; beatnik culture; rock ‘n roll; a reaction to McCarthyism. But the midwife was Camelot, the Presidency of the charming, young, dynamic JFK. Politically, Kennedy was an inveterate Cold Warrior and from a progressive point of view he was no prize. What he was, was a master of soaring and idealistic rhetoric. And the rhetoric unhooked the fasteners of Pandora’s Box and out flew Hope and Idealism and a sense of empowerment, particularly for the young. Pandora’s Box contained not only Hope but Fear. The idealism was eventually vitiated by the disillusionment and sense of betrayal after the assassinations of Malcoml X, JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the fierce Right Wing reaction that rose up to meet it. Pandora’s Box shut again. And the idealism it contained was shut away, too.

Until now. Barack Obama could well re-open Pandora’s Box. Obama, like Kennedy, is liberal only within the frame of conventional ideology. In progressive terms his proposals don’t match his rhetoric. The best I can say about them is they aren’t despicable, although in relative terms that’s pretty good. But that doesn’t mean the rhetoric is empty. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. Rhetoric matters. And it can have an effect. All the ingredients for a revival of idealism are back again, just as they were at the dawn of the Kennedy Presidency. For the first time in many years I have an abundance of wonderful, dedicated, idealistic students. They want to save the world. They aren’t cynical. They think they can make a difference. They are full of creative energy. And I am hoping Barack Obama will be the catalyst.

You don’t have to remember all the details of the sixties to remember it was a wild ride. So if I’m right, hold on and fasten your seatbelts.


  1. #1 suzyf
    June 5, 2008

    Revere, you’ve captured the essence of the 60s so well – congratulations. Both the good and the bad. But the one thing you didn’t mention – the elephant in the room – was the war in Vietnam. So much of what drove us in the 60s was opposition to that obscene, useless war (and we all, even us comfortable middle class white girls, had a stake in it because our boyfriends and brothers had low draft numbers). One good thing about the draft was it made everyone aware of the true costs of war. OK, that was the only good thing about the draft, I guess. We lost 10 times more US soldiers in that war than we have so far in Iraq (and I’ve no idea how many civilians were lost in Vietnam, and how that compared with Iraq). Getting us out of Iraq, and keeping us out of any new wars, will be a major task for the new President Obama (sounds good, doesn’t it!) and between that and picking up the broken pieces left by Dubya, I’m not all that optimistic that he’ll be able to get much else done. I hope to be proven wrong…. maybe that’s what he means by “the audacity of hope”!

  2. #2 revere
    June 5, 2008

    suzyf: I didn’t mention it because in the run up to the sixties the war wasn’t on the table. My first demonstration against the war was the earliest of all (February 1962) but at that point we only had “advisors” there and the protest included lots of other things. The flowering of the antiwar movement was post JFK. The sixties were a very complicated time but the social origins were pre Vietnam. I’m in agreement with all you say. I spent ten years organizing against that war (and countless years organizing against the ones that came after it), so I am with you in spirit. I omitted much discussion of it and much else because in the confines of a blog post it required much more explanation.

  3. #3 DrugMonkey
    June 5, 2008

    Great one revere! Are we who came to political awareness in a climate of the “failed” Carter admin and Reagan nightmare irretrivably cynical? Can Obama reach the all critical GenX? And let us have our Camelot?

  4. #4 Quiet Desperation
    June 5, 2008

    They want to save the world.

    What if the world doesn’t want them “saving” it?

    They aren’t cynical.

    And once again that will be their undoing.

  5. #5 Abel Pharmboy
    June 5, 2008

    revere, what a fabulous essay to bring perspective in a way that only someone like you (eloquent and having lived through and been politically active across both periods) could.

    I spoke last week with an African-American man who had been a civil rights activist in the 60s and he shared his excitement that he has seen for the first time in 40 years the passion among young people that existed as you describe. I said it’s sad that it took 40-50 yrs to return but he said he was happy that it has returned at all.

    I agree that we are in for a wild ride.

    [btw, funny that you should pick the 1950 Smathers/Pepper race as an example as I had the honor to set for a spell with Stetson Kennedy whose disgust with that bile led to his write-in campaign captured by Woody Guthrie and revisited in the 90s by Billy Bragg and Wilco.]

  6. #6 Oran Kelley
    June 5, 2008

    I just don’t understand your 1960s history.

    I think the history of the era was far more complicated that you imply here: I don’t think, for instance, that the triumph of the civil rights movement has much to do with the student activism of the later part of the 60s.

    And I’d really have to question how ardent an idealism was that could be quenched by a few assassinations, dramatic as they may have been.

    To me the generation of the (late) 1960s will always be the stockbrokers of the 1980s in waiting.

    That sort of idealism we can do without.

  7. #7 revere
    June 5, 2008

    DM: Lots of people between the two eras kept the fires burning. They weren’t the spirit of their times but of an earlier time but they (you) were incredibly important. In many ways it was more difficult than for us sixties types as you didn’t have the company. So hats off to you and your comrades (I use that word without its fifties connotations!).

    Abel: Thanks. Everyone’s experience was different, but I remember your excellent Stetson Kennedy post. For those of us who remember, the vibes are good.

    Oran: I don’t know what your experience was during that era, so I don’t know what to say to you. Our mileage differs. I can only give you my observations and feelings today. This isn’t the sixties, to be sure. And most people in the sixties weren’t activists. But of the ones that were, I remain in touch with many and they have remained staunch progressives and people who have kept trying to do the right thing. If some of them have done well, I’m not bothered by that. Progressive politics isn’t a vow of poverty. As for questioning the idealism of the time, if you didn’t live through the shocks of that era, it is difficult to imagine how any of it could have survived (and a great deal of it did). Yes, the sixties were very complicated and I touched on very little of it. Perlstein’s book presents more of the details but the details don’t fully capture it. But to say that an idealism that doesn’t survive four assassinations and a bloody and fruitless war with no end and much else besides (loss of jobs, loss of life and liberty) is weak is also to simplify, don’t you think? I wasn’t writing a book. A blog post is a sketch of a point of view and that was mine.

  8. #8 PhysioProf
    June 5, 2008

    I just finished Perlstein’s book. All I can say is, “Holy shit.” I have never read a modern history book that is so incredibly well-researched, well-written, and just, well, totally awesome. It really is staggering!

  9. #9 MarkH
    June 5, 2008

    Is part of being from the 60s a tendency towards conflating the pointless behavior of the yippies and hippies with the hard work done by MLK, the SCLC, the SNCC, the freedom riders etc. in the early part of the decade?

    Really, what did the later “idealism” accomplish? Did they shorten the Vietnam by even a day with their efforts? Was a single accomplishment of the civil rights era attributable to that white, middle-class feel good idealism? Or was it entirely from the efforts of the small subset of civil rights warriors from that era that took the fight to the South, and politicians like LBJ who took the fight to the Democratic party?

    The only people that ever made a difference in that decade were the ones out in their best Sunday clothes in the Alabama heat getting their heads cracked, hit by firehoses and bitten by police dogs. All the other “idealistic” behavior from that decade (Abbie Hoffman levitating the Pentagon, the Chicago debacle etc.) was just shrill pointless idiocy and a thin excuse to use drugs and do nothing productive. Worse, the current generation thinks that’s how protests should actually be carried out, through spectacle and idiocy, rather than hard work and discipline. It irritates me that the ideals I believe in and hope to advance are constantly being stained by this patina of hippiness, and I truly hope they don’t end up getting identified with Obama as they certainly could sink his candidacy.

    If this is the 60s all over again I’m ready to be the stodgy old fart who thinks the young folk of today need a good asswhipping and maybe a draft to straighten them out (a la Grandpa Simpson). I’d prefer that decade not be repeated in my lifetime, or at least not the latter half.

    Sorry for the rant. Hippies piss me off.

  10. #10 Oran Kelley
    June 5, 2008

    Perhaps we should all go back and read All the Little Live Things?

  11. #11 revere
    June 5, 2008

    Mark: You’re entitled, although you are hardly old. There was more to the sixties than the civil rights movement and you have benefitted from a lot of the rest of it. It was a time of cultural evolution. The world today would not be recognizable to someone living in the sixties. Did we end the war? No. But we haven’t ended this war either. Did we cause the great advances in civil rights? No. But we haven’t done much today, either.. Judging things in this way misses the point. Have you stopped quackery or denialism? What does that say about the blogosphere? Nothing, really.

    As for your opinion about “the only people who made a difference” I’d say it was a tad presumptuous. As for a draft, that would be a catastrophic mistake, enabling an even worse kind of military adventurism. If we had a draft you’d probably be fighting in Iran now. Is that what you want? And how come we don’t have one (and saved you from fighting in Iran. You’re welcome)?

    Most people went through the sixties in pretty ordinary fashion, so I don’t think you are in any danger of being caught up in anything that would make you feel uncomfortable. BTW, have you ever known a hippie except via some kind of stereotype from the movies or newspaper? I wasn’t a hippie but I knew plenty of very decent people who were called hippies because they had long hair and would rather get stoned than kill someone or follow orders. Compared to a lot of people in the suburbs in their Sunday best they were model citizens. So clothes and hairstyle aren’t really the point, are they? Nobody is saying that everyone who lived at the same time thought the same things and did things the same way (if that is what “conflating” is meant to imply). It was a very messy time, as I tried to indicate. It was also very exciting and its products in music, art and social mores are still with us. Maybe those things aren’t important to you, but they would be if you had to live under those constraints given the freedom you have now.

    The current generation thinks protests should be like Chicago? I guess you don’t go to protests, and of course you weren’t in Chicago (I was). It strikes me that you aren’t very much in touch with what people somewhat younger than you really think. It’s a complicated world, Mark. Rants are welcome here, but I admit I am surprised at your angry tone.

  12. #12 pauls lane
    June 5, 2008

    The 60’s from a kid’s (at the time) perspective:

    1960 – first grade for me – scary.
    long hair
    drugs: uppers, downers, reds, grass, lsd, speed (not that I used this stuff but we were taught about it and on the street we certainly heard about it)
    JFK dead
    MLK dead
    RFK dead
    race riots
    Orioles beat Dodgers for first WS win in Oriole history
    Mets beat Orioles in WS (I was devastated)
    Jets beat Colts in SBIII ( devastated yet again)
    Man on the moon
    peace symbol
    flower power
    David Peel and the Lower East Side (don’t know why this sticks with me, possibly because it was the first record I heard with naughty words)
    volkswagon busses
    jeans (dungarees – we considered them work or play clothes not a fashion statement – my mother had a fit when I started wearing them to school)
    Lucky Strkes and Chesterfields (my first cigarettes; non-filter)
    Miller the Champagne of Bottled beer in pony bottles!
    Walter Cronkite and weekly body counts
    Star Trek
    Man from Uncle

    Funny I remember more of the 60s then of the 70s or 80s and probably the 90s. Just more impressionable as a little kid growing up or too busy with my own rat race beginning in the 70s – high school, college, work, own family? Don’t know.

  13. #13 revere
    June 5, 2008

    pauls: Pretty good list. As tristero said at Digby’s place (link in post):

    First of all, there was way too much going on in too short a time – the pace of life, at least for Americans plugged into the news and culture, was much faster than it is today. In the space of one month in 1967, say, one would have to absorb news of mulitple riots, an assassination or firebombing, a steaming pile of lies about Vietnam, protests of those lies, and the release of a half dozen or more songs many of which are as beloved now as they were then. And the next month brought more of the same.

  14. #14 revere
    June 5, 2008

    Oran: Never read the book, but now I’d like to. It certainly sounds like it captures some aspects of the time well. Some “hippies” were truly odious creatures and some were lovely souls. You couldn’t tell by their hairstyles and dress. Just like suits and ties and Sunday bests.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 5, 2008

    I also remember it as a time that by 1962 me being seven at the time that we were building this really cooool underground storehouse. I also remember partially something called the Bay of Pigs, and the Gulf of Tonkin. I distinctly remember my Dad telling my mom that we would be at war within days with Russia if something didnt change.

    Obama isnt a progressive IMO. I dont wax nostalgic over the “good ole days”. I do fear what could happen if we continue with this politically correct stuff that has since Truman gotten us into to so much trouble.

    Here is something. If we are going to fight a war for any reason… no more resolutions this or that. Full on declared wars. Then there is no question of intent. Next is that when we are not at war that the Defense Depts budget gets pegged at GDP. If we are stagnant then so is their budget and the same for social programs. If you dont got it you dont spend it. During FDR we got into this spend ourselves to prosperity thing and its an experiment that has failed. Keynes be damned. The national debt is a disgrace and the personal debts are worse.

    Flat tax. Revere says we can all pay a little more. How about a national sales tax and then we dont have hand wringing going on, fights, fires at restaurants on December 31st.

    And Revere is right about Vietnam. We should have just kicked Vietnams ass if we were going in. Smoked them with unrestricted bombing and it wouldnt have taken more than a week or so to bring them down. 50,000 Americans for what? At least Iraq is beginning to settle down and we are turning over the facilities to the Iraqis. We are also charging them for air strikes now too. They’ll toss us out pretty soon and maybe Iran will be the next one.

    My kids will get to do time lines like the above. WJC got a blow job. Bush went into Iraq on partially flawed intelligence. Hillary got handed her teeth by the first really viable black candidate. Maybe we will get to see a few things change Revere but I really doubt it no matter who is in charge. What we need is a paradigm shift to occur. None of that on the horizon.

  16. #16 pauls lane
    June 5, 2008

    thanks MRK you reminded me of ‘bomb drills’, crouching under my school desk and sitting crosslegged in the hallway facing the wall, head down, with my arms covering my head. This was going to protect me from the Big One.
    I half expected to see a missle explode in the school parking lot. Bomb drills beat putting your spelling words into sentances, I hated that class exercise.

  17. #17 K
    June 5, 2008

    Hold on to your seats, when the reality of Peak Oil and all its implications finally impact the consciousness of America and the world, Idealism dies. It was nice while we were on the way up, but on the way down we will see all the evils we sought to eliminate resurface. We are not prepared to live as people lived before we won the oil lottery. And we have billions more people on the planet then.

    A proper idealism for the time would be reducing lifestyle dramatically and severe population control measures.

    I wish it were not so.

  18. #18 Grace RN
    June 5, 2008

    I was recently working in a home of a fellow Obama campaign worker. Her mother had just been to see Senator Obama speak and offered this story.

    She had to wait to enter the auditorium where Obama was speaking because the police and bomb-sniffing dogs were checking the area. She recalled the unleashing of police dogs on the people in Birmingham Alabama May 1963 as they peacefully protested segregation.

    Now in 2008 police and dogs were protecting a black man.

    If Obama could undue just the damage of the past eight years history will remember him as an excellent leader. I firmly believe the US is at a critical juncture, and just hope we haven’t passed the ‘point of no return’.

  19. #19 pauls lane
    June 5, 2008

    what damage of the past 8 years?

  20. #20 revere
    June 5, 2008

    pauls: what damage of the past 8 years?

    If you have to ask . . .

  21. #21 Ktesibios
    June 5, 2008

    Thus spake M. Randolph Kruger:

    Bush went into Iraq on partially flawed intelligence.

    I think a more accurate description would be that Bush went into Iraq on the kind of start-with-the-conclusion-and-cherry-pick-evidence-in-support-while-ignoring-all-contadictory-evidence nonthinking which characterizes the idiots who claim that he was the author of the 9/11 attacks.

    When you have elected leaders routinely behaving like Alex freakin’ Jones it’s a very bad sign. What’s worse is that that, and the popularity of paranoid conspiracism in the USA, are indicators of what has become of the reasoning powers of the general population.

  22. #22 JJackson
    June 5, 2008


    Timing is everything

    I never seem to get my timing right

    I always wanted to be an idealist and now you tell me I was too young for the last cycle and I fear I shall be too old for full immersion in the next. Do they allow ancient idealists?

  23. #23 revere
    June 5, 2008

    JJ: It’s never too late. Sounds like you were an idealist right along anyway, so you didn’t miss a thing.

  24. #24 JJackson
    June 5, 2008

    The FGI

    (Fighters for Grey Idealism) What do you think?

    Sort of like the Black Panthers but with an afternoon nap.

  25. #25 pauls lane
    June 5, 2008

    It appears to me that idealists, full of idealism, run head-on smack dab into futility because of the impracticality of their idealism. Which isn’t to say one shouldn’t try but don’t be surprised if you find yourself in your 50s or 60s running a blog or even sadder commenting on another’s blog.

  26. #26 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 5, 2008

    Whats more sad that if they just came clean about everything it would tank the markets. We have been infiltrated by operatives of all ilks. There are those that think that we should return to the thought processes of the 60’s. Notice how they talk about Nixon in the 60’s. He wasnt even there except from 68 and part of his second term. How do you spell Bush? First you become a progressive, have the NEA decide that you are doing it all wrong, allow children to run the schools and the homes, dont ensure that there is parental accountability. Dont forget the teachers who use their positions of authority to rape students, grow up a generation or three on welfare thus ensuring a disaffected, and above all permanently poor lower class that will vote for you if you promise not to let those checks fail to show up for not even looking for a job. Then you pay them literally to have babies so they can make money off the welfare. Oh, and then lets legalize or decriminalize everything that could possibly allow your head to clear long enough to understand that drugs are not what you spend your money on. Then in just ten short years, you simply learn how to spell NIXON as B-U-S-H. You also turn around and tell people that we can afford more taxes to ensure healthcare for those same addicts because the government has failed them.

    Progressives? Obama? Vision? Change? Uh-huh. If GWB is stupid then I can live with that. At least it would be honest on his part. Not something that I can say for Obama whose mind gets foggy when it comes to pastors, criminals, and the circumstances around his birth. This is all progressive of course. Those same progressives put Jimmy Carter and WJC in the White House and we saw a new war break out. Not the direct shooting kind, but one that kills kids, moms, dads and attacks schoolyards and embassies. Its the kind of war that makes the worlds nearly tallest buildings hit the ground. Now they want to “reach out” just like Madeleine Albright. Even she finally got it and wanted tactical strikes against terrorist targets.

    Colin Powell had to sit and chat about WMD’s that were UN verified and never found. Where did they go? I say that again, UN verified. Not US verified. We got progressives who insisted Valerie Plame was a spy even though she was never covert because if she had been, there never would have been a referral by the CIA counsel to the Justice Dept. To do so would have been a felony in itself. That would have been the outing. So a guy sits in jail for trying to protect the Administration. Only one sword swallower in the Bush Administration. How many in the Clintons? How many bodies lying around them?

    So those same progressives and liberals worked against a president. Our recent progressive candidate Hillary sits and talks about armoring up Humvees and how its unacceptable that we are losing people in Iraq. All on a vehicle that cant run thru the desert sand anymore because the armor is too heavy. Nice RPG target. We saw an election that was run by the law, trying to be changed using the law by progressives and liberals. We saw dangling chads falling off in the machines as they whipped through them the first time, more the second. But now we have voter intent because of a dimple. We had an election determined by the Supreme Court… a first. Rather than just acknowledging loss we got a progressive view, the snub that it was rigged when the election in the key Florida counties in question was run by Democrats…liberals. We saw a deliberate attempt by the media to denigrate a sitting President by making up false documents and skew that same election. Making news where there wasnt any.

    We also saw a candidate Swift Boated which ran back to those same sixties where he said his men and himself were out busily committing war crimes. Didnt see any prosecution. Hey but we cant waterboard them sunsabitches to keep attacks from happening..even though the courts have ruled in the favor of the Administration. But we also found out that same candidate met with North Vietnamese officials in Paris at the same time. How progressive. How Democrat.
    Anyone got Hanoi Janes number? At least she had the ass to do it on TV.

    We now are at a crossroads and get this one wrong Grace and we are going to see a mushroom cloud rising. Either Israel will pre-emptively attack Iran for developing nukes and start WWIV or Iran will start it and there will be multiple mushroom clouds going off in in Iran. Syria is another little piece of work. I sent a picture of a facility in Syria that was in question over a year ago to Revere and lo and behold its a goddamn nuke plant. Oh… and of course its for peaceful electricity production.

    I am not saying that McCain is the answer. I am a Republican and I am trying to get my arms around his ideas and statements. On the other hand Obama is no more qualified to be President than Lyndon Larouche. Our processes are hard in the US. They always have been. There is no objectivity. Everyone is now being held accountable for what they say and do and out of context on both sides of the fence and by which media is spouting it. Its always one upsmanship. You have four networks against one. The one is the number one news source in the US. The others are has beens, and one recently has been. Its quite an even match. Or as Paul Harvey would say, “And now for the rest of the story.” He isnt a progressive.

    Yes, waxing nostalgic. I hope that I can make it to 80 to see the opening of the Kennedy Assasination files to see if he was doing Marilyn M., whether the Ruskies had compromised him, and especially whether there is any indication that we let the Cubans/Mafia get him.

    Yeah, them sixties. Cant wait for us to return to them.

  27. #27 MarkH
    June 6, 2008

    Mark: You’re entitled, although you are hardly old. There was more to the sixties than the civil rights movement and you have benefitted from a lot of the rest of it. It was a time of cultural evolution. The world today would not be recognizable to someone living in the sixties.

    But how much of the hard work was accomplished by the undisciplined behavior of the yippies and hippies? All the hard work was done by the people wearing ties, not tie-dyes.

    Did we end the war? No. But we haven’t ended this war either.

    Exactly, because the shitheads protesting today show up with puppets, or worse, wearing all black with masks and bandannas acting like anarchists. This shit turns everyone off. Success against this war will only come when we start acting like MLK, and get our heads cracked in our Sunday best. Not when hippies get beat up on TV which is more fun to watch for most Americans than rodeo.

    Did we cause the great advances in civil rights? No. But we haven’t done much today, either.. Judging things in this way misses the point. Have you stopped quackery or denialism?

    My efforts are at least based on hard work, discipline, science and reason. Not a weak excuse to do drugs and fuck without consequence. Cheap shot, try harder next time.

    What does that say about the blogosphere? Nothing, really.

    Couldn’t say it better myself, because while hippies were wandering around high a bunch of nerds created the internet through hard work and discipline. Accomplishing things, it’s great, people all over should try it.

    As for your opinion about “the only people who made a difference” I’d say it was a tad presumptuous. As for a draft, that would be a catastrophic mistake, enabling an even worse kind of military adventurism.

    Did you see my Grandpa Simpson reference? Don’t you remember the hippie episode? Dammit, take a joke.

    If we had a draft you’d probably be fighting in Iran now. Is that what you want? And how come we don’t have one (and saved you from fighting in Iran. You’re welcome)?

    Grandpa Simpson. Again. Did the hippies end the draft? No, again a bunch of guys in suits and ties. People who fought in Vietnam coming back and protesting in their uniforms and showing their objections to their government. Hippies? Nope. Again and again, the people who put their money where their mouth is made the difference.

    Oh god yes. I gave up on protesting this goddamn administration because all my well-meaning efforts were being ruined by the spectacle of jackasses from the 60s and their neo-hippie converts. I despise hippies from personal experience.

    I wasn’t a hippie but I knew plenty of very decent people who were called hippies because they had long hair and would rather get stoned than kill someone or follow orders.

    Or do anything productive. Oooh, you’re too stoned to do anything, that’s a moral stand.

    Compared to a lot of people in the suburbs in their Sunday best they were model citizens. So clothes and hairstyle aren’t really the point, are they? Nobody is saying that everyone who lived at the same time thought the same things and did things the same way (if that is what “conflating” is meant to imply). It was a very messy time, as I tried to indicate. It was also very exciting and its products in music, art and social mores are still with us. Maybe those things aren’t important to you, but they would be if you had to live under those constraints given the freedom you have now.

    I’ll give you the music, but the freedoms were won by people with a lot more balls, and lot more discipline than the sissies that sat around smoking pot and acting like that was revolutionary. Accomplishments are for the accomplished, not the lazy.

    The current generation thinks protests should be like Chicago? I guess you don’t go to protests, and of course you weren’t in Chicago (I was). It strikes me that you aren’t very much in touch with what people somewhat younger than you really think. It’s a complicated world, Mark. Rants are welcome here, but I admit I am surprised at your angry tone.

  28. #28 MarkH
    June 6, 2008

    The current generation thinks protests should be like Chicago? I guess you don’t go to protests, and of course you weren’t in Chicago (I was). It strikes me that you aren’t very much in touch with what people somewhat younger than you really think. It’s a complicated world, Mark. Rants are welcome here, but I admit I am surprised at your angry tone.

    Sorry, failed to block this. I have been to many protests (my brother might even show up to attest to this). I lost my taste for them because of the spectacle (puppets, stupid costumes, idiot anarchists wearing all black, bandannas and jackassery, the failure to represent yourselves as sharing commonalities with those whose minds you are trying to change etc…) All it does is alienate people, because frankly, more people are like me, and hate hippieism, than think it’s useful or productive. Enough young shitheads will show up to any protest with “free mumia” or “Bush caused 9/11” or “Don’t eat meat” signs to ensure any protest against the system is thoroughly undisciplined and guaranteed to accomplish nothing. It’s experience that generates my contempt. It’s the mimicry of the of the wrong part of the 60s that ruins the present attempts at change. It’s that worthless fucking “idealism” of hippies that haunts liberalism and renders meaningful protest ineffective.

  29. #29 Douglas
    June 6, 2008

    Mr. K:

    Idealism, 2008: As smoldering embers come back to life, so is hope for a better life, despite all the troubling trends and fear-laden news. Glad to be in America, where creative energy rises up from the farms, suburbs and cities, brushing off “nattering nabobs of negativism” and collectively contributes to a greater purpose; America’s got talent, plenty to take on the latest, greatest problems:
    Peak Oil, and the aftermath. For once, we will all have to learn to do without luxuries, get outside, away from our computers, work together in our local neighborhood, pool resources, barter our skills and create a new way to thrive: check out Permaculture.com

    Some hippies did manage to scratch the surface of the wisdom of the ancient people and are busy now at the cutting edge of energy efficient, low-cost housing, ready to change building codes all across this land…
    So it will be the idealists who have risen from the ashes and rebuilt this country, one acre at a time.
    It’ll be the best of the 60’s with no need for drastic zero population growth, or other misplaced draconian solutions.

    This kind of idealistic national village may even take the cynicism out of our friend Randy K… but what would be the fun of that?

  30. #30 BikeMonkey
    June 6, 2008

    It’s been 28 years of nearly unrelieved depressing right wing hegemony, revere. I think you are too quick to overlook the effect this has had on the political engagement of an entire generation.

  31. #31 BikeMonkey
    June 6, 2008

    oh, and MarkH you have a point that modern cartoonish protesters who act like Fabulous Furry Freak all the time detract from the message. What you are missing, however, is 1) temporal context (they were the original thing back then, and for a reason) and 2) the way that progress gets made because the wackjobs spread the field.

    To distill this to just one simplistic example consider the duality that was Malcom and Martin. Your button-down, tie-wearing actor, MLK jr, gained some of the traction that he did because he was the alternative. The alternative to something, Malcom X, that was really unpalatable. And so MLK jr became the compromise middle. Do you really think he would have gotten anywhere near as far so fast without the threats of black power and nation of islam type stuff?

    Do not be so quick to write off the smelly hippies or extremist actors of one stripe or another. They serve a role and it is a mistake to simplistically assign all progress to the buttoned-down more-palatable alternatives that appear to win the day.

  32. #32 Clare
    June 6, 2008

    There were hippies and there were hippies… some spent much of the time wasted, others rolled up their sleeves and got busy running farms, starting businesses, community organizing, and so on and so forth. True, many of them morphed into social conservatives down the line, which is unfortunate. But not all of them. It’s a mistake to paint the 1960s with too broad a brush, I think.

  33. #33 pauls lane
    June 6, 2008

    MarkH has a solid point. He wasn’t the first though to make that point. Back in 1968 Lennon/McCartney said, and I quote “But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow”.
    Course now it is pictures of Che they like to carry around.
    If you don’t think that picture of Che in Obama’s Houston campaign HQ isn’t going to stick in people’s minds, think again.
    I would like to add the nerds that created the ARPANet, the forerunner of the Internet, were DoD types, the antithesis, if you will, of the types MarkH is railing against.
    Also yes I think MLK’s message would have resonated without the likes of Malcolm X. MLK’s message appealed to everyone. Malcolm’s early message appealed to a fringe. Malcolm’s early message hurt the cause and apparently he realized it because he changed the message before he was gunned down by his own.

  34. #34 revere
    June 6, 2008

    Mark: For someone who wasn’t there, you seem to be pretty sure about what did or did not happen back then. You also seem to have had some unhappy experiences today that have colored and, I would say, prejudiced your opinions about what is the only appropriate way to protest. I can’t speak to that.

    The reason we don’t have a draft today is not because of Vietnam vet protests. They were symbolically important (and I was close to that movement) but always on the margins of the anti-war movement. IMO the reason you aren’t fighting in Iran today is because the people you disdain — and they were of all kinds, no matter how they dressed up or didn’t dress up — fought the good fight and made the draft politically infeasible. Political movements are not monolithic, disciplined affairs where everybody does the same thing in the same way, at least not in this country. Nor is it possible to gauge the effect of any one kind of tactic. As BikeMonkey points out there is a complicated interaction that often has consequences no one could have predicted (both good and bad). And as Clare says, quite rightly, there were hippies and there were hippies. Many were highly productive. There were people in their Sunday best and people in their Sunday best. Most people in their Sunday best who deplored the hippies were part of the problem, not part of the solution. You have strong views on what works and what doesn’t, what worked in the sixties and what didn’t. I’d like to see some evidence for those views, since you are so committed to evidence based arguments.

    You place a lot of emphasis on discipline and hard work but you define it in your own way. Sitting with locked arms as police are pushing through in a phalanx using billy clubs takes discipline, no matter how you are dressed and no matter if your hair is short or long or you are black or white. I have a broken rib to attest to it. Being jailed when you are already a doctor doesn’t take discipline, perhaps, but it is frightening. I can attest to that. Planning demonstrations and writing polemics is hard work and you don’t get paid for it. Just the opposite. I can attest to that. Those were difficult times and people you seem to have utter contempt for sacrificed significantly so you don’t have to go to Iran. At least not yet. It doesn’t appear you are inclined to do anything to stop it except perhaps write a letter or a blog post. Maybe I am wrong. I would be glad to hear what you are doing, since it is an Iran adventure is a real possibility. It is possible to organize protests yourself, you know. We’ve done it at our medical center, both in 1991 and 2003. Just because you are doctor or medical student doesn’t mean you can’t protest in any way you think is appropriate. As a matter of conscience.

    Regarding your Grandpa Simpson joke. That wasn’t a joke. It was an attitude you were parroting and I see nothing in your comment to suggest you meant it sarcastically. It is clear you meant it seriously.

    Why was the reference to the ineffectiveness of what you do in regard to stopping denialism a “cheap shot”? It was a shot, yes, but exactly in the spirit and with the point you initiated. I’d like to know what was cheap about it, given that.

    Again, I am somewhat taken aback by the anger in your comments. There is room for reasoned disagreement, obviously. But the emotion and bitterness in your comments goes beyond it. It makes you sound like a culture wars crank.

  35. #35 revere
    June 6, 2008

    pauls: You can see my response to Mark’s points (which I don’t consider as solid as you do) above. Regarding Malcolm X, I only met him once but that was enough to understand his personal influence. There was a fire and intensity in his eyes that was extraordinarily charismatic. He was a factor in the civil rights movement and made it what it some of what it was. He was just one factor, as was MLK as was Stokely Carmichael and James Forman and John Lewis. He was not gunned down by his own (unless you think all blacks are the same and have the same interests) any more than JFK was gunned down by his own. He was killed in vicious factional fighting, just as our soldiers are being killed in Iraq.

  36. #36 K
    June 6, 2008

    Douglas – you don’t understand the difference between the highly energy dense fossil fuels and the much less energy dense alternative fuels.

    It is not a coincidence that Population zoomed with the discovery of huge fossil fuel resources and the invention of machines to use them.

    Please read “The Party’s Over” by Richard Heinberg (a slightly more optimistic man than I but not by much). I wish it were different but pie in the sky has never trumped reality. I wish we could feed 6+ billion on organic farming. Google Guano Wars and try to think hard about why bird and bat shit was worth fighting over. In fact to guard the remaining guano (which on the bird islands was once as much as 150 thick and is now only a few feet) guards are not being posted as per this article in the NY Times

    We have used up much of the topsoil, we are using up underground water at an astounding pace. Global Warming is making food production more difficult. ETC ETC

    I worked most of my life to help people, make the world a better place. But the end is nigh – not by God’s hand but by our own. This planet CANNOT support 6 billion without fossil fuels. How many it can support is uncertain. Perhaps a billion. No doubt the oil wars will take care of that. In a die off civility ceases.

  37. #37 pauls lane
    June 6, 2008

    by ‘his own’ I meant the in-fighting.

  38. #38 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 6, 2008

    Revere has this one down and is correct. Conscripted armies dont fight as well as the volunteer ones. The reason for the end of the draft though is in question. It was an ends to a means. They did away with the law so that they could end the war. Ike put us in minimally, Kennedy upped it and didnt like what he saw and pulled it back. Then the military supply complex sucked up to Johnson and the rest was history.

    The right stayed pissed at Mr. J. because he wouldnt win it and the stories of bombing schools and hospitals were never ever verified by the media. We all knew it wasnt true, but we knew the frag orders came directly from the W. House each day. The left hated him because we were in it. The kids were looking for student deferments and that mean you had to be white and in school. Blacks never made it into school. But whites in the military outnumbered the blacks by 2-1 and not the other way around. Whites in the combat zone were disproportionately killed. May have been that blacks living on the mean streets learned a bit more about combat back at home. Then there were the hell no, aint going to go such as Cassius Clays. They tried to make an example out of him. He was and is another liberal hero of the severely right leaning M. Randolph.

    That “example” pissed off black and coming up America and civil war was going to break out for sure but between which factions. Students against the establishment, whites against blacks, Christians against Muslims. Then Kent State and the Weathermen happened and it snatched this country back to reality. We were killing our own. Talk is big, getting down to killing is a mean sport with a no quota limit once it gets started. To this day no one knows where the live ammo came from because it was never passed out. No one knows who gave the order to fire but kids with rocks against soldiers with even bayonets is not a match. Flowers in the gun barrels. They posed not the slightest threat.

    Draft card burning was a crime. Saw that more than once and finally M. Randolphs number came up 1A and then the lottery. Only thing I ever won in my life. Shit!

    I agree with K. We get to the same end via different means. 6.5 billion people. We cannot support them without fossil fuels, to hear some say it we cant with it. The nervous and jerkies that have been happening on human die back are a result of this and its a perpetuating problem. Since we got into this save the world shit the population of the earth has grown to a staggering size and its unsustainable. All the newly saved people do is have new people to save…on average 2-3 for every family. There are no morals involved in this. They just do it by whatever means. We feed them, and it continues to increase the population thus raising the cost of food to those who could afford it. Later, even the affluent will be moved down lower and lower when food supplies start to drop.

    GW, GC or just good ole fashioned wars and pestilence lay in our futures. The world food supply has dropped from 41 days to only 33 since biofuels came into play and its likely lower than that and we all know its disproportionately distributed now. Trick is to keep it from tipping over completely. Call it God or nature, the survival of the fittest is about to come into play.

    BTW K sanitized sewerage can be used for fertilizer…..Getting it out is the problem and the heavy metals in it. But its useable.

  39. #39 Oran Kelley
    June 6, 2008

    Oran: Never read the book, but now I’d like to. It certainly sounds like it captures some aspects of the time well. Some “hippies” were truly odious creatures and some were lovely souls. You couldn’t tell by their hairstyles and dress. Just like suits and ties and Sunday bests.

    All the Little Live Things is a great book. I was completely taken aback that it was written before the Summer of Love, etc.

    The main character in the book is a New Deal kind of leftist. The book is essentially hostile to sixties idealism, which Stenger sees as either naive or a mask for selfishness and irresponsibility.

    The reason why I said the hippies of the 60s were the stockbrokers of the 80s was not to slam anyone for making money. What I was getting at was that the idealism of the late 60s was fatally weak. It was bound to turn into disillusionment and nihilism and then into tiresome nostalgia.

    Rather than celebrating a return to this sort of idealism, I think we ought to be praying nothing like that happens again.

    Unfortunately I think there is a return to that kind of idealism. So many of the people who have become interested in politics in the past two election seem to have totally naive expectations of politics.

    Horse trading and deal making (that is, actually getting things done) are looked upon as inherently corrupt, and people seem more attached to the symbolic value of Obama the chaste and pure than they are to any particular accomplishments they hope to see from him.

    In the recent discussion of Clinton’s Kennedy reference, many Obama supporters seemed pathologically attracted to the idea that he might be assassinated, as if they subconsciously prefer a safely dead symbol to a living politician.

    This worries me.

  40. #40 Grace RN
    June 6, 2008


    Too bad no one YET has heeded the warning against the military/industrial complex given by Ike’s farewell speech as president in 1961.

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    link: http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

    It is the extension of that complex aka Haliburton/Blackwater and the immoral greed of a few old rich white men (Cheney/Bush clan) that drives the mess we are in now.

  41. #41 revere
    June 6, 2008

    Stegner has a terrific reputation as a writer and I am embarrassed to admit I’ve never read any of his novels. I know his Pulitzer Prize book, Angle of Repose, also took on the counter-culture, which he was none too enamored of. However he was very much of an older generation of writers and the sixties would not have been a congenial environment for him. He was not experimenting with the form but honing it as a genuine craftsman does, carefully and lovingly, by all appearances. One of these days, when I have time . . . :)

  42. #42 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 6, 2008

    Grace-Cheney doesnt need any more money. Pushing on a billion dollars now from the Halliburton buyout. They keep running back to that for no good reason. Blackwater too. They are contractors and they are accountable… hold them to it. If Cheney’s friend had been killed bird hunting, they would have gone after manslaughter charges.

    There is a connection of course, but you are a nurse I assume. If subpoenaed to testify in a wrongful death or euthanization you could be called into question against a doctor that you know, love and respect. Same thing with Cheney and the “boys”. They are all Texas oil tycoon types. Guilt by association. Just like high gas prices being blamed on the oil companies. Their margins havent increased in over ten years but we have a group in Congress who think that making money is a crime. The crime is that they come up with legalized theft if you make too much by “windfall taxes.” Didnt see that come into play with Bill Gates when Microsoft gave us shitty programs and crappy computers to run shitty software. Kind of like paying them to piss you off? Same thing.

    Remember, I am of the belief that the money in your pocket is your own. I believe in taxes for things that are in the Constitution and that specifically says the military, not social programs. More of this save the world shit and we are going to go down the tubes here. We send it off shore be it jobs or money and we suffer. All thats happening now is just that. All of the money is going to Saudi Arabia and one of these whiz wheels by necessity will come up with something to make it where we dont need them anymore (oil and Arabs). Then they can take their supertankers and go out and ram them into each other to settle disputes.

    Film at 11 on Fox!

  43. #43 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 6, 2008

    Mark H….The we generation became the ME generation. Its all about ME now.

    Remember the Coke commercial? All of those people for the better part moved back into the system as either right, left with very little in between. For me the first thing I though of on the whatever it was anniversary was that it was a perfect strafing run on the side of that hill. I said that to some military friends and they said they had thought the same thing. What a terrorist could have done is what they said too.

    How far have we come?

  44. #44 BikeMonkey
    June 6, 2008

    many Obama supporters seemed pathologically attracted to the idea that he might be assassinated, as if they subconsciously prefer a safely dead symbol to a living politician.

    No. I fear he might be assassinated because he’s the best bet next to Hillary (no? think about domestic violence and the rate of women-hating serial killers..) to bloody be assassinated!

    Don’t try to pooh-pooh the idea. It can happen. It isn’t some sort of sick wish to have it occur.

  45. #45 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 6, 2008

    I for one think that it aint over until Denver BikeM and maybe not even then. There isnt a thing the Clintons wouldnt do to regain the White House. If Obama is dumb enough to put her on the ticket then so be it. He will reap the rewards of his departure and stupidity if he does ascend to the throne.

    Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer sound familiar?

  46. #46 Dylan
    June 6, 2008

    The ’60’s was the only genuine epochal decade out of the entire five that it was responsible for gestating (I’m counting this one, even though we are a few years shy of a complete decade…and this one is one incalculably huge, monstrous shit sandwich, to boot).

    In California, where I reside, the Supreme Court recently saw fit to do what should have been done long ago; allow normal people whose sexual orientation is non-heterosexual to finally be legally wed. The Court that did this consisted of six Republican appointees, and one Democratic Appointee. What decade do you think that these seven people would perceive as the most influential in their particular frame of reference? The slow. long overdue dismantling of the most destructive, repressive, and reactionary elements of the fulminating conservative religious establishment in this remarkably confused and fitfully insecure and uncertain nation is now moving in a direction that will put us in a position that will assure that our country moves, with more reasoned self assurance, in a direction that will help it to regain its previous level of stability, and sanity. The sixties were the only solid, reliable beacon that this country has known in the last half-century. The insanity of the last eight years will be remembered as the most ignominious, delusional, despicable period of time in our entire history. For good reason. It tried to undo all that the sixties secured for us. These people were utterly ruthless, and terribly frightened. Soon, they will be gone.

  47. #47 Oran Kelley
    June 6, 2008

    Stegner has a terrific reputation as a writer and I am embarrassed to admit I’ve never read any of his novels. I know his Pulitzer Prize book, Angle of Repose, also took on the counter-culture, which he was none too enamored of. However he was very much of an older generation of writers and the sixties would not have been a congenial environment for him. He was not experimenting with the form but honing it as a genuine craftsman does, carefully and lovingly, by all appearances. One of these days, when I have time . . . :)

    I hadn’t read anything by him, either until a colleague retired and gave me a copy of this book.

    I had been under the impression that he wouldn’t be my cup of tea–that he’d be too self-consciously literary or too much of a scenery painter.

    Though he is a bit of a scenery painter, I was surprised to find that I really liked the book and that Stenger was thought provoking as well as being, as you mention, a fine literary craftsman.

    Certainly worth a try.

  48. #48 pauls lane
    June 6, 2008

    I just don’t get it Dylan, I really don’t, “…regain its previous level of stability, and sanity.” I have absolutely no idea, not a clue, what time this “previous level” was? Can you help me out here? As far as I know, and correct me if I’m wrong, it hasn’t been legal for ‘non-heterosexuals’ to wed in the United States since
    forever. Revere said in another post, that only within, I don’t know 50 years or so that white/black (black/white if you prefer) could be legally wed. So let me know when this “previous level of stability, and sanity” occurred. Thanks much.

  49. #49 M.Randolph Kruger
    June 6, 2008

    Dylan, liberal Republicans do not a majority make. This will end up in the Supreme Court and they will rule whether the Cal Supremes legislated from the bench or not. The same as to the 9th would would say it was legal for trees to mate.

    I for one consider it to be abomination and thats based upon my religious upbringing and partially in the laws of the US and definitely in the laws of my home state. I have good friends that are gay, they know my position on it. I go out drinking with them because like me if its a sin to be homosexual, it cant be any greater than doing some of the things I do either. But this is for god to decide later. Until then the laws of each state are different and gay rights are becoming super rights and I have a problem with that and only because yet another special interest group gets something that the rest of us cant do. Whats next, a fully muslim town getting to have multiple wives?

    Sorry…. cant ride this wave in. Jonny S. is a pal and he has suffered for his sexual orientation at the hands of cops and others. I would kick their asses on the spot if they messed with him around me for it. Go to jail I would and they would have to Rodney King my ass. But sometimes you have to fight for what is right. Being gay is something that they have to deal with and it isnt something where the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many in the law. Its just another liberal idea that is being pushed. They can be out of the closet, they can go to work and school and I would fuck anyone up that tried to prevent that but marriage is a union of a man and woman. Its just not there and it goes back into the teachings of just about every major civilization

    If it does become the norm, then there will likely be a law passed to prevent it. Arnie got this one wrong and he is going to have problems because of it.

  50. #50 pauls lane
    June 6, 2008

    this has nothing to do with the current topic, however I felt it was important to mention it:

    Happy D-Day. May God forever bless their valiant souls.

  51. #51 paiwan
    June 7, 2008

    Pauls: When people are truly engaged their lives make us find that the world are theirs; no matter the engagements are eliminating a tyrannical regime or …We need heroes which are thousand faces; nevertheless the calling never end-to us also.

  52. #52 pft
    June 7, 2008

    To me, as I reflect back on it now, this was when our Democracy was ended. Today it is fascism cloaked in a flag and an illusion of Democracy. We vote, but they choose who we vote for, like in Iran. At the time, it didn’t seem so bad, especially since they ended the draft before I reached 18.

    JFK, MLK, RFK were a message from the elite that they are in charge. JFK was the last real President we had. Real- meaning he served the people.

    JFK is said to have been assassinated by a Communist who supported Cuba (Fidel and Cold War Commies = Bad). But he took a hardline with Israel over it’s nuclear development. He also supported Algerian Independence and had close ties with Egyptian President Nasser and supported him in the Yemen civil war. Israel shed no tears over his demise. He threatened Big Oil by threatening the Oil depletion tax. The Globalist feared him because he was not a Free Trader, and sought to impose a tax on Capital leaving the country for countries with cheaper labour (a bill with loopholes was passed after his death). And the MIC feared and loathed him, as he would have moved toward rapproachment with Cuba and the Soviets in a 2nd term, and he would have pulled out from Vietnam.

    RFK is said to have been assasinated by a Palestinian from Jordan over his public support for Israel. (Palestinians and Terrorists = Bad). This support may have been to appease those he believed were involved in taking out JFK . Remember, RFK went after the Jewish Lansky Mafia big time as AG and had made many enemies. Joseph Kennedy, Sr and the Kennedys in general were believed to be anti-semitic, and RFK had little support in the Jewish community when he started his campaign, and needed to reach out to them (much like Obama did by kneeling at the AIPAC alter). RFK as President likely would have been able to deal justice to those behind JFK’s assasination, and as an American, he would have put America’s interests above that of any country. Knowing the truth about the USS Liberty if he took office would have influenced whatever views he had of Israel, since he did not tolerate criminal acts well. Plus he would have ticked off the MIC by shutting down Vietnam, and Big Oil which was using the war under protection of our Navy to find out how much oil they had. They found not as much as the experts predicted, so Nixon pulled the plug on the War.

    Both were likely killed by the same group. When a crime is committed, look at who benefits and follow the trail. Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan were patsies. Sirhan Sirhan had all the earmarks of a MK ULTRA program, so rogue elements within government were likely involved.

    It was a conspiracy by the same group that lead us today and who gave us 9-11 and the TLC economic destruction of America. They are an alliance of Anglo-American and Israeli elites, with a shared vision of a world order that has brought us Globalization and Free Trade, and Global Fascism. These elements include both Christians and Jews, even Muslim, but their ideology is not defined by religion or nationality. At the highest of levels, they control and cycle back and forth between the neocons of the US and Israel, with the Global Warrming Bunny Terrorists on the so called left.

    This world would be a very different place today if JFK and RFK were not killed, and it would be a better world than it is. JFK Jr’s death in 1999 was also suspicous

    What about Obama? Obama’s foreign policy will be dictated in every respect by Trilateral co-founder Brzezinski. Obama is surrounded by Trilateral members David Rockefeller, Jay Rockefeller, Joseph Nye, Paul Adolph Volcker (this dude killed our real economy), Jimmy Carter, and many more. With James “Rodney the Robot” Schlesinger now helping to purge the Pentagon, including its associated intelligence agencies, the Trilateral grip on Washington DC is tightening. Obama’s choice of a vice president will be dictated by long-time Trilateral stalwart Jim Johnson.

    TLC Prez Jimmy Carter created FEMA by Executive Order. Bill Clinton passed his test with TLC David Rockefeller and got to be Prez, and he gave us NAFTA, allowed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, manipulated CPI to deprive SS recipients of the COLA adjustments to keep up with inflation, not to mention that bogus war in Yugoslavia that has given us a big base in Kosovo, the bombing of Iraq and sanctions for the same reasons that

    Bush invaded Iraq, which turned out to be bogus, and allowed our “productive” economy to move to China.

    Read Obamas book Dreams from My Father from 1993 (not the one ghost written by his supporters when it was decided he was going to run for President).

    He provides a quote from one of Wrights sermons describing the world “where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere. … That’s the world! On which hope sits.”

    There is truth here, but there is also a generalization that all whites are responsible, thats racism.

    Other comments he himself made in the book

    “I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.”

    “It was my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d package all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, Dubois and Mandela.”

    [The man was a polygamist who abandoned his family, a socialist that killed himself drunk driving and beat his women when drunk, and his cousin whom he admires (but not admitting they are related)in Kenya is leading an opposition movement that is accused of ethnic cleansing and associated with Islamic extremists]

    “To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students, the foreign students…..”

    “It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.”

    Obama blamed “white people ? some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives.”

    The man is an admitted Globalist and Free Trader, maybe even a racist. Bush is these things too, and he targets Arab Muslims, even Persian Muslims. Obama might have some different targets.

    Also, his support for the Climate Security Act is the most dangerous threat to our economy since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. It will be the knife that kills it for good when he signs it next year as our Prezident.

    The only hope he gives me is hope that I am wrong.

  53. #53 marquer
    June 7, 2008

    [(Obama’s father) was a polygamist who abandoned his family, a socialist that killed himself drunk driving and beat his women when drunk, and his cousin whom he admires (but not admitting they are related)in Kenya is leading an opposition movement that is accused of ethnic cleansing and associated with Islamic extremists]

    I had not heard the polygamist allegation about Obama Sr., and, given its inflammatory nature, would think it appropriate to provide documentation.

    That said, what appears to be without doubt is that Obama’s cousin in Kenya made what is a *very* well documented campaign promise, on the record and in writing, to the local Muslim community. In it he said that he would, if elected, support their drive to impose shariah law upon the general Kenyan population.

    And Obama endorsed this man’s candidacy!

    Given that self-described progressives also often call themselves secularists, I find their silence on this issue telling.

    As for the general topic of the 1960s, I met at one point a grizzled Berkeley elder of the old left, who actually was there in the unremarked early days when Mario Savio climbed on a police car in Sproul Plaza and spoke to the crowds.

    I was talking with this guy about the sudden, massive sea change in the atmosphere of the 1960s in the Bay Area. 1967 had been the Summer of Love, and yet merely one year later, everything was different, and for the worse. Peaceful demonstrations had turned violent. The leitmotif went from accomodating and open and trusting, to paranoid and ideologized and revolutionary.

    The guy who had actually been there asked, “And why do you think that was?”

    I said, “Tet offensive. Assassinations of RFK and MLK. Pot and acid replaced by speed and heroin in the street drug culture.”

    He said, “Very good. And totally off the mark.”


    The explanation, he said, was very simple. The social radicalism of the time centered on the university campuses. At which campuses, circa 1967, most male undergrads had safe deferments, and most of those were hence not too troubled by Vietnam, as it was someone else who was going to be drafted to go die in a rice paddy. Insofar as those kids associated themselves with the New Left, it was because of sexually available hippie chicks and dope, the 1967 vibe.

    In 1968, the Big Green Machine ran out of trailer trash and ghetto blacks to draft, and came after affluent suburban white college boys. Who didn’t like that one damned bit. And who then joined (out of self-preservational self-interest) the Marxist elements of the New Left in violent, riotous street protest.

    I note the corollary to the WWII cohort in which Paul Fussell was drafted. He and the others in his unit entered the Army under a specialized program for college eggheads, and were told they would be trained for important but safe rear-echelon positions. Then, in mid-1944, Big Green ran out of warm bodies. Fussell and all of his smart elite buddies got cranked through a speedy grunt infantry program and went straight into the freezing mud of the Hurtgen Forest. They did not like that one damned bit either. But at that point protest was pretty much futile.

  54. #54 revere
    June 7, 2008

    marquer: I was there, too. Just because someone was there doesn’t mean their opinion is correct. In my view (and it is my opinion), the version you give is a distorted and ridiculous caricature of a complicated picture.

    Regarding Obama, who cares what his Kenyan family thought, thinks or did? I don’t endorse Obama’s religious views and I find the suffix on every speech, “God Bless the United States of America” to be ridiculous pandering, or worse (maybe he is sincere). I don’t really care, though. I’m voting what I see as my interests and the interests of most people in this country, so I’ll vote for him. I’d prefer better but you work with what you have. And McCain is a non-starter. Which one is elected makes a difference (think Supreme Court, if nothing else).

  55. #55 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    June 7, 2008

    Pardon me, MRK, but what the FUCK are to trying to say? They don’t get a “special right” legislated from the bench, they now get the same right that I have always had, that you have always had and that heterosexual people have always had.

    Where does it say in the U.S. Constiution, or the California Constitution that it is up to the government to decide who one should marry?

    Liberals have this outrageous idea that your love life is not for the government to decide. People have sex whether they are married or not. I don’t know if you ever realized that or not, but the marriage decision in favor of gays is not about allowing people to share sodomy. That was decided long ago by selective enforcement of the sodomy laws. They are written to include all sodomy, including oral sex and anal sex. They were never written honestly enough to preclude gay sex while allowing straight sex. That’s why the courts struck the law down in Texas.

    This is about people having the right to finally choose their legally sanctioned life partners. If you don’t want to be in a gay marriage, no one is going to force you to get married in a homosexual relationship. It’s fine with the government. If you don’t want to belong to a church that performs gay marriages, that’s fine, too.

    But where do you and cultural conservatives get off with the idea that government has the right to prevent a freedom? If it’s “up to god to decide” then are you willng to say that Roberts, Thomas and Scalia talk to god when they make their decisions?

    Take a look at Article VI of the U.S. Constitution sometime and tell me what it says about the Supreme Law of the Land. It doesn’t accede to any scripture. Finally, your ignorance on the history of marriage and civilization is astounding. Monogamous heterosexual marriage is a relatively recent norm, and even at that it has been more full of holes than it has been holy.

    Sorry to join in steering the thread, Revere, but I can’t let this kind of crap pass when I see it.

    Besides, I was pretty young in the sixties.

  56. #56 K
    June 7, 2008

    MRK, yes you and I do agree on population and what is coming. I think the cause is one step farther back than you posit. Why do people want to save other people – because if we can those elements of our brain programs kick in. When we can’t other brain programs kick in. The reason up until now that we have been able to save other people is that we won a one time energy lottery (and thought it would last forever so spent it with haste). However not all the “saving” was motivated by admirable motives – the green revolution had a profit motive. Cheap labor has also been a motive to keep lots of poor people barely alive and willing to work for next to nothing. Religions motives are also often suspect – such as the Pope’s ban on birth control.

    But the failure to deal with population is also tied up with the denial that we live on a limited planet and the capitalist GROWTH religion which denies that growth must end in the end.

    But finally, the collapse that is coming has a causation that is outside of any little stuff you can point to. Joseph Tainter, in the Collapse of Complex Societies lays out the root causes – the increasing energy needed to support complexity eventually falls short and down we go. This time it will be global and final. We had one last fling at civilization – now back to what we evolved to be – hunter-gatherers – unless the oil wars go nuclear and our species becomes extinct.

  57. #57 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 7, 2008

    K-We are on the same track with only some small deviations. You are right about what is happening and we are now seeing the acceleration towards ” ” in our future. Complete meltdown? I dont know but a severe hit is about to be taken in this country.Canada too. Everywhere around us the lack of food is starting to come into play. Too many souls pulling on the ability of the earth to support it. The rise in oil prices was and is as inevitable as the fall of the Roman Empire. They lost their energy source which was cheap labor (slavery). Slavery was their energy source back then. They quit collecting them with the idea that breeding them was more effective…..

    Then it collapsed as that source became questionable. Cant field an army when they need to be at home planting crops instead.

    Dont think that you are wrong about the hunter gatherers, only that its about to happen sooner than later.


  58. #58 K
    June 7, 2008

    MRK, actually the slaves were not the energy source of the Roman Empire, Agriculture was. Slaves, like cars are users of energy not sources of energy (as the Matrix got so very wrong)- one never thinks of a tractor as a source of energy yet it does the same farming tasks a human does. Of course an adult human has been tanked and can be depleted of its food fuel and discarded as the Nazi’s did with there work extermination program.

    First the Romans tapped the excess food resources of conquered nations, then they began to rape the soil of fertility by overuse. Soldiers and their horses as well as slaves need food for their bodies to be put to use.

    Tenant farmers are almost slaves but not quite and actually usually work out better for the large landowners (saves on whip expenses not to mention guards). But food was also taxed from peasant farmers in the far reaches of the empire. But when the soil is exhausted and you have a bad year, if you take food from the farmer so he doesn’t have enough to feed himself, well next year that human machine isn’t going to be growing any food for you and your army. But in desperation to hold on to empire, they tried to do so anyway. So many per Tainter actually welcomed the invaders as a better deal than Rome.

    We are not only using up the ancient stored energy in fossil fuels we are destroying the soil with our agricultural practices (almost learned after the dust bowl, but forgot much).

    We have had cheap food long enough now to forget that it is the primary and most crucial energy that humans need.

  59. #59 Douglas
    June 8, 2008

    Too bad you have such a pessimistic view in mind. The end of oil will be similar to a “tribulation such as the world has never seen”; no doubt. The stage is setting itself now:
    Our Anglophone Empire spending its last before the crash, continued and more violent scapegoating of the one billion plus Muslims (recalls similar aggression against Jews and other groups of people under the Nazis), Rich, elite neighborhoods hiring armed security (Blackwater now hiring).
    Of course, violence will rule the day, but then wane as its actors die off.
    Global warming itself may make our efforts to survive moot, but after the great crash, the sudden shift away from massive fossil fuel consumption might provide nature’s balance.
    The party will definitely be over for those who cling to their wasteful lifestyle, as the coal fired power plants providing for heated swimming pools throughout the country are redirected to more basic needs. I suggest the book “The Vanishing White Man” by Stan Steiner, for a view toward surviving peak water, peak oil, etc.
    Great famines and die offs have happened throughout history but man survives, no less educated in survival techniques.
    People have been farming in the driest deserts of the Southwest since before Columbus, and will continue surviving, regardless of topsoil conditions. Mega- Agribusiness, however will cease to function. Food security is a serious problem; migration, away from Hawaii, for example, will be necessary, given that it has only a few days supply of food for its ever-growing population. But the problem of starvation IMO is not unsolvable, especially as people tend to help out strangers and work together in times of great need, after violence peters out. Korean War survivors in the South for the most part cast their differences and feuds aside in order to rebuild from total devastation.
    Rebuilding will happen, with simple energy efficient design according to location. So we become better educated hunter gatherers and embark on a new chapter in history. Survival of the fittest–less violent, more long-suffering, creative and industrious, open minded and open handed; Most likely the greatest nation in the new era will be Tibet, and hopefully they will help to keep us from starving.

    Sirhan Sirhan, fall guy: John Marks’ book “The Search for the Manchurian Candidate” shows documents regarding CIA MKULTRA among other behavioral programs they were/are into. Sirhan’s current defense attorney Lawrence Teeter makes a convincing argument damning the legal “defense” of Grant Cooper and more details regarding that despicable event.

  60. #60 mpb
    June 8, 2008

    Good summary.

    Oran Kelley | June 6, 2008 10:08 AM– Oran is correct there was a significant component of selfishness and aggression towards others in the generic hippie-antiwar peace-and-love whatever. There was a lot of the mummery effect, too, which carried over in later age groups who were (it seemed) trying to re-create the “atmosphere” but not the effect– UMass in the late 70s had plenty of demonstrations (and drunken vandalism) as an effort to re-install segregation, whether for skin color or for gender. It made it difficult for others who were tunneling from the inside out to make actual changes.

    One other assassination of that time which is never mentioned in the list but which certainly struck me in the context of the time is that of the neo-Nazi leader (Lincoln? Rockwell?). I think his assassination preceded the others and I don’t remember the details.

    Another key figure at that time was Tom Dooley the doctor working in Laos (“pre-Vietnam”). His books were influential to many activists.

    My parents would never vote for Nixon because they were in California when he ran against Helen Gahagan Douglas. Let’s hope that kind of politicking is gone for good. The 50s and 60s (and especially the 70s) should not be restored, especially the veneers. Living through it once is enough. However, the activist inspiration continues.

  61. #61 K
    June 8, 2008

    Douglas, I think my view is realistic, unfortunately reality is frequently not not. For instance 1/2 of the world’s population now live on $2 a day or less. Am I pessimistic to say that for 3 billion people life on this planet is the pits right now?

    We raise chickens for pleasure. We have 100 chickens fenced (for their saftey from predators) on 1 acre which they freely range. However in all likelihood that 1 acre can only provide food for 1 or 2 chickens. So we feed them grain from the midwest (read oil) and greens from my garden. (note free range commercial poultry is moved frequently but still are supplimented with grain etc.). Should we stop feeding them all that grain, they would quickly denude the acre and then turn to cannibalism. Having done so they would have created an acre that would feed no chickens and would not feed any for a long time. Think about it.

    When farmers were feeding people from the southwest deserts before Columbus’s time there were 100’s of millions of humans in the world, not 6+ billion.

    The highly organized south west indian civilizations eventually collapsed despite being able to farm. Easter Island collapsed despite being able to farm the island for some time. Its gonna happen on a worldwide scale. Will a sustainable population be left that will reorganize and go on? Depends. Lots of nukes out there and lots of belligerent countries who would like to play the game of last man standing. What in the political arena is there to remove my pessimism about all out worldwide nuclear war as it becomes clear that we will never again have as much oil per day as we have now, and that with each passing year we will have less?

  62. #62 MarkH
    June 13, 2008

    Revere, it is possible to be a student of history and know things from study without being there personally.

    Actually I kind of agree with Rangel on the draft (D-NY). We should have a draft rather than a standing army and its elimination was an enormous mistake. Drafts made it so the country felt the consequences of a war and had to own it as their own. With a standing army we can kill hundreds of thousands, go to war at the drop of a hat, and where is the consequence? Where is the sacrifice for our war? If anything the absence of the draft is the contemptible choice. It’s a total cop-out. Fear for personal safety ended it, and now that that fear is gone we commit our troops to absurd wars fearlessly, knowing that it will be mostly the underclass that will bear the brunt of our foolishness. I would rather have no standing army and a draft than our current system, even if it meant I could be drafted (which as an MD would be quite likely). A standing army makes Bush’s policies that much easier to implement, that much harder to stop.

    And the reason the vet marches worked wasn’t because of hippies and yippies like Hoffman. It was because of soldiers who represented the common people made the effort to convince the public at large something was wrong.

    Change will never come until people have to feel the consequences of these mistakes in their homes, and have to suffer from the war the way people in Iraq are suffering. Otherwise it’s too easy to just go shopping and forget it’s even happening.

  63. #63 revere
    June 13, 2008

    MarkH: It is possible to know much from reading history if you weren’t there, of course. So I would like to know the historical references for your assertions about dirty fucking hippies. If you read the history of that period you will see that MLK’s activities in Chicago in the summer of 1966 caused a serious political problem for open housing legislation, legislation that would probably have passed if he hadn’t demonstrated. Vietnam Vets didn’t make much practical difference. They were a symptom, not a cause. There is zero evidence they had any effect beyond symbolic. They weren’t considered “common people.” They were portrayed as traitors and deserters, worse than draft card burners or hippies. Consider even the most respectable of them, John Kerry, and the 2004 election. It was a liability for him. I supported those vets and knew them personally. I admired them. Not just the high profile ones like John Kerry, but the ones whose names are lost to history. I provided medical care at a number of “sanctuaries,” events where AWOL soldiers, protesting on principle, took sanctuary in a church. They were surrounded by the people you deride, supporting them, sustaining them and keeping them from social isolation when they went to prison. Your comments are historically uninformed and prejudiced by commonly held misconceptions. Your assertion that the Vietnam Vets protests “worked”? Since you are into evidence based assertions, I’d love to know the evidence for that. It would be a comfort to me. Did the antiwar movement, in general, “work”? I don’t know. A huge number of us who spent years in that movement did it as a matter of conscience and for many at some personal risk, but whether it “worked” or not is a matter of debate and I don’t have an answer. The picture is very complicated and one can argue it many different ways. Everything was interacting with everything else and I think analysis is fraught with difficulty.

    Moreover it is hard for me to understand your position that marches were counterproductive but the draft made a difference. If marching against the draft was counterproductive than so was the draft.

    The more important thing about conscription, however, in terms of history, which is where you started your comment, is that it enables a government to do things they couldn’t do without it. This is evident in the history of warfare from the Napoleonic Wars onward. Do you doubt we would be in Iran if our military were capable of pursuing this adventure? Opposition to this war is as broad and deep as it was to Vietnam and there is no draft. Did the draft enable Vietnam? Yes, absolutely. Read the history. Did drafts make it so we felt the consequences of war? No. Read the history. When you are forced to do something and are just following orders, you don’t experience the war as your own. The contemptible choice, in most instances, is the choice to go to war, a choice often ratified by the public who flock to recruiting centers (true in the case of Iraq, WWI and Korea to name three examples). Read the history. If you want people to feel the consequences, then levy an explicit war tax to pay for it.

    Yes, we can learn from history, but apparently we don’t learn from history.

  64. #64 MarkH
    June 13, 2008

    I don’t know revere. I don’t feel like the current war is having the impact on the average American that the Vietnam war did. Pretty much everyone had to consider the possibility of service, and I think it should be clear this is no longer the case. As far as Napoleonic times, well, it’s quite a different world from then and citizens have more rights, more freedom to speak their mind and be responsive to the government. I find that a bizarre comparison. The draft certainly did not prevent the Vietnam war, I think all would agree that we were still as a society trustful and confident of our government and a good part of the era was the disillusion of Americans as a whole with the notion that government was run by honest well-intentioned folks. Ultimately the war ended because people registered their discontent with it.

    Similarly, a volunteer army has failed to prevent a stupid war that kills many innocent civilians and puts our soldiers in harms way. I think you would agree that this time is different however. We don’t pay as much attention to casualties, to the effects of the war on the populace etc., because I think the volunteer army has the effect of isolating the personal side of war away from many Americans. Eisenhower himself warned us against standing armies for just this reason. It’s too easy to use them, and the cost for politicians is lower. While the draft sucks, no question, I’m not convinced a standing volunteer army is any better, and certainly seems worse from the standpoint of too much power in the hands of cretins like W.

    I’m much amused by the tendency of my fellow scibs to call me crank and denialist whenever I disagree with them. It hurts a bit, because it shows they don’t read my blog *sob* as there is more to these words than just a pointless epithet that indicates one’s disagreement. I might be angry and mean about this but I don’t think I’m denying history. There is room for disagreement here without denying historical fact.

    My stance is simple and can be summed up in a few phrases that are certainly reasonable points of contention.

    1) The jackassery of the folks like Hofman (levitating the pentagon, Chicago fiasco, throwing money on wall street etc.) while funny, was ultimately futile. It is very difficult to describe a success of any of these protests, but very easy to find a lot of anger and alienation of those whose minds they were trying to change. In particular I think you have to agree they shot themselves in the foot in Chicago.
    2) The buffoonery of today largely seeks to repeat these behaviors despite the evidence that they are tactically ineffective.
    3) The major accomplishments of the civil rights era occurred before 1964 and largely culminated in the civil rights act of that year. While this does not represent the completion of the work of folks like King, it has been the lasting foundation of what they accomplished. None of what they did had anything to do with hippies.

    Further I’ll tell you where my anger comes from. The hippies of today are the useful idiots of the current administration. I think they’ve incredibly helpful in extending this war by undermining protest against this war from within, by allowing it to be dismissed as the foolishness of the idealistic young rather than the considered belief of the majority. They make the anti-war movement look bad. Same with the anarchists, the free-Mumia jackasses, and all the other twits that show up at current protests and embarrass the cause. If I were a crank or a denialist I’d attribute this behavior to some conspiracy by Bush to undermine his opposition. Being a realist I know not to attribute to malice what one can attribute to incompetence and realize that these people just don’t know the harm they’re causing.

    As far as the draft being ended by the Vet marches, wasn’t that originally your contention?

  65. #65 M. Randolph Kruger
    June 13, 2008

    I wouldnt call Kerry respectable for anything Revere. He may have gotten Swiftboated but at least Jane Fonda had the guts to sit in her anti aircraft gun and be filmed in it. Kerry was meeting with the VC and NVA in Paris secretly just after he got out and was testifying about cutting ears off. He was and is an opportunist and as bad as any bozo you put up from the Republicans. Cleanest uniform I ever saw in a combat zone…. .

    I agree with Revere though that having a draft enabled Vietnam. But we would have had that anyway with or without because it didnt enable Russia. There was a huge hungry bear that outgunned us in and around the Fulda Gap 50 to one. The ONLY thing that kept that from getting out of hand was the extreme capabilities of the USAF to penetrate Russian airspace.

    Personally I think Vietnam finally ended because of the costs.

    We didnt have too many antiwar protests in the South. We had civil rights marches instead and protests, boycotts etc. More power to them. E.g Martin Sheen is a great hero of mine. I cant stand the guys politics but he was willing to go to jail on at least five pops that I can remember to protest war, civil rights etc. That takes some guts and I respect Hanoi Jane for doing it too. Those two were politically incorrect for their times and slowly the system went to a more centrist position in the following immediate years as a result. Whether it was migration or gravitation towards the middle I think could be argued for the next thousand years.

    Mark H-I was part of that standing military and they are not part of the lower class of people in the US. If anything that was Vietnam era stuff. The entrance scores proved that and many left good paying jobs to join the Guard and Reserves. They ARE the Army and USAF now. Thats the reason its felt so strongly when they are deployed.

  66. #66 revere
    June 13, 2008

    MarkH: Several things. I have no idea what part the protests against the war, which included many people not subject to the draft, played in ending it. On the Left, there is strong sentiment that it was the Vietnamese who ended the war by winning it. I am agnostic on that. There were so many forces at work it is hard to say what was the dominant force, if there was one. My contention was, however, that Vietnam Vet protests were always marginal and played little part.

    Regarding today’s hippies. There aren’t any. Hippies were a thing of the sixties and early seventies and they are gone. Is there a wide range of behaviors and attitudes and political opinions today? Yes. There is at every time. There will always be some that are considered mainstream and others that are considered fringe. You don’t like some that are considered fringe. That’s your prerogative. The idea that some people are counter productive because of what they say or do at a particular time is a constant. The abolitionists and the suffragettes and the civil rights movement all had that charge leveled against them, as did those who were less exalted and less successful and probably more than a little crazy. Abby Hoffman was very funny and he played a part at the time a little bit like Jon Stewart does today or Paul Krasner did then. He pointed up the absolute absurdity of some of what was going on. You are free to think that kind of theater is useless. That’s a common attitude. Whether it is right or not depends on context and what question is being asked.

    As for behavior that everyone agrees is counter productive, I might remind you that an extremely common tactic, attested to by a lot of documentary evidence (e.g., cointelpro) was to place agent provocateurs in the crowd to start throwing rocks or use abusive language, etc. We were all aware of this tactic but couldn’t do much about it. It was designed to alienate people on both sides . . . people like you.

    The civil rights movement didn’t end in 1964. Nor is it properly confined to those who many whites think of as the well behaved Negroes who wore suits and ties. It included lots of uppity blacks. I’m sure you thought they shot themselves in the foot.

    Chicago was an outlier in many ways. If you read Carl Oglesby’s memoir (he was an early SDS leader), Ravens in the Storm (just published) you will see the internal battle over whether it was a good idea. But it also exposed the role of the police and resulted in the Kerner Commission. It was unlike any other anti-war demonstration of the period. You talk about the buffoonery of today. I don’t know what you are referring to, so I can’t possibly reply. Care to give some examples? The Free Mummia folks are very marginal. Is that what you are referring to? Anarchists? That covers a lot of territory. Chomsky is an anarchosyndacalist. Is he the kind of buffoon you are referring to?

    I wouldn’t call you a realist. I’d call you a cynic with preconceived and extremely conventional notions of what is appropriate. of the “don’t rock the boat” variety. That’s a style. It’s not realistic. “Don’t rock the boat” has not been a very successful motor of social change.

    You don’t like being called a crank (for the record, I didn’t call you one, I said you sounded like one). Just because you have a blog that purports to give signs of crankery doesn’t mean that you have it right in all or even most instances. I consider people who perseverate and can’t let go of a false idea and express their uninformed views in angry and bitter fashion to be cranks. You don’t have to agree but you aren’t the ultimate crank expert. You’re just someone extremely interested in (obsessed?) with a certain kind of person who has unhealthy interests impervious to facts of a certain kind. They don’t interest me particularly so I don’t often read your blog (not because it isn’t good or I disagree with it but because it doesn’t interest me).

    Finally, the draft. The main difference between the standing army composed of volunteers and one raised by conscription is size. The bigger it is the bigger the scope of criminality its leaders can cause. The draft was in place at the beginning of the Vietnam war. It wasn’t instituted because of Vietnam. It already existed. It made Vietnam possible. The antiwar movement may or may not have played a part in ending the war but it was certainly the major factor in ending the draft. You have it to thank for the fact you aren’t in Iran. Even if there were Dirty Fucking Hippies involved.

    Listen, Mark. I am not letting you off on this one for a reason, although it is clear you are making an effort to moderate the expression of your views (which I have noticed and appreciate and give you credit for). I am not letting you off because I think it is important for you, as a person who will have the lives of others in your hands, to be able to recognize and admit when you have been unjust, insensitive and not well informed. It’s not your opinions I object to. It’s the extremely judgmental way you have expressed them. Your contempt was palpable. What if you had a patient that was what you considered to be a “hippie”? You need some practice in putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes if you are going to be the kind of physician I know you want to be. And you need some humility. When it comes to what went on in the sixties you don’t have a clue. You just have prejudices.

  67. #67 revere
    June 14, 2008

    Randy: Kerry is respectable in the eyes of the public. He is not respectable in my eyes or apparently in yours, although for different reasons. We are each outliers on that one.

  68. #68 MarkH
    June 14, 2008

    I love this new tact of people saying I can’t be a good doctor if I express a strong opinion. It’s a bizarre new kind of concern troll. Agree with me or you’re not just a bad person, but a bad doctor! Shockingly, my behavior in medical endeavors has absolutely nothing to do with my feelings about individuals, as we all have contempt for one type of person or another and it’s the definition of a professional not to act on such feelings. We all dislike neo-nazis, but we treat them just the same (I have already). Believe it or not I’m more than capable of putting my feelings aside for the greater good.

    Hippies don’t exist anymore? Depending on your definition of hippie, I guess this is possible. Is the current trend in protests based more on the spectacle of the likes of Hoffman than on the discipline of the likes of MLK? Certainly. At least in my experience up until about 2005 when I could no longer stomach attending them. And it has nothing to do with not wanting to rock the boat. I’m a happy boat rocker. I just think the best way to do it is through organization, not chaos.

    Go to a major anti-war protest sometime and just observe. Or see for instance the images from this protest. See the jackass with the globe? Or the “Bush is more evil than Bin Laden sign? What does this spectacle accomplish? What happens to your message whenever you have an antiwar protest and the anarchist show up wearing bandannas and all black and cause a ruckus? They invariably do. What happens when jackasses show up with signs calling the president Bin Laden? Remember the girl at the Montreal world bank protests who, dressed like a hippie, tried to hand the policemen flowers? Who gets photographed by the press? The thousands of ordinary folks who are expressing their opinion through protest? Or the one jackass who confirms all the preconceptions of those whose minds you are trying to change with some self-serving spectacle?

    The discipline of the freedom riders and the folks who sat down at segregated diners was extreme. At the civil rights museum in Birmingham they have a wonderful little display of the training they went through before engaging in these protests. Training! They were taught to respond non-violently, to take abuse and not react. That’s more discipline than I’ve probably got. Pretty goddamn admirable. The protests of King and others resulted in the legislation that laid the foundation of civil rights for subsequent decades. That is beyond doubt. What did the Hippies and Yippies create other than chaos?

    You wrote a post about how the idealism of the time was great. I disagree. I’m asking where’s the evidence? What did that idealism accomplish? You admit, everything is so multifactorial the influence can’t be felt in anything accomplished that decade. But no one can deny the influence of a disciplined men like King, who were willing to do the hard work of turning idealism into reality and put their lives on the line to do it.

    Ultimately I think we’re rehashing the argument of Peter vs Paul. You think the idealism alone matters, I think idealism in the absence of works is meaningless.

  69. #69 revere
    June 14, 2008

    MarkH: I never said you couldn’t be a good doctor if you have strong opinions. That is a gross distortion of what I said. Regarding idealism, I also never said it alone was everything. Again you are distorting what I said to erect a straw man. Since I actually knew the freedom riders and the demonstrators and the hippies and Vietnam Vets I can tell you that their discipline was borne of idealism. Do you think standing in front of soldiers or policemen with flowers doesn’t take discipline? I know many people who are extremely disciplined but without any ideals. They accomplish things, some of them good but many of these things are bad. Richard Nixon was one of the most disciplined politicians ever. He was totally without ideals. You want to strike a blow against pseudoscience with a blog? That’s both pretty idealistic and likely not very effective regarding the goal. It still takes idealism and discipline, and, in my view, extremely honorable. If you read what the mainstream says about bloggers (undisciplined rumor mongers without any accountability that hurt the cause and distort the truth) it sounds a lot like what you say about “hippies.”

    I wrote a post about how idealism was a key ingredient of the sixties and I thought it was returning after a regrettable absence. That was an observation and a value judgment about idealism. You went ballistic about hippies, accompanied by a bevy of uninformed (and frankly ignorant, conventional and unsophisticated) accusations about a time, place and people you know little about except from magazine articles and what other people say (who also weren’t there). When I called you on it you responded by distorting my argument, claiming I accused you of things I didn’t and repeating your arguments again and again. That is the behavior of a crank. I’m not surprised you are stung by this and I feel a bit guilty about doing it. No one likes this. I did it reluctantly because I thought it would be useful to you later — if you have the discipline to consider it honestly. That can be hard. But it’s up to you.