Monday, April 30, 2007

30 April 1975

Today is Monday, 30 April 2007.

On this day in 1975, the Thirty Years War in Indochina, better known to Americans as the Vietnam War, concluded as Saigon fell to the forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN), or “North Vietnam”.

With imperial arrogance, Americans usually think of the Vietnam War as a phenomenon of the 1960s and ‘70s, when in fact it began on 2 September 1945, with the proclamation of the independence of the DRVN from the French Empire. Formal combat did not begin until the following year, and the French attempt to restore colonial rule continued until 1954, much of it sustained by American taxpayer dollars. The USA/USE then assumed hegemony over the so-called “Republic of Vietnam” (RVN), or “South Vietnam”. The USA installed Ngo Dinh Diem as leader, a masterpiece of foolishness, as he was a Catholic with a messianic sense of his own destiny in a predominately Buddhist country, a mandarin in a sea of peasants.

RVN was never a viable entity. One of the most profound contradictions, or animosities, in terms of governmental stability, among both the political classes and the officer corps, was between nationalists, who had opposed both the French and the Japanese invaders, and those who had made their careers by collaborating with the French occupiers. Add to this the corruption and economic exploitation characteristic of the French occupation, which was continued with gusto by their Vietnamese successors, and one had the makings of a classic disaster.

All compounded by the simple-minded anti-Communism of conservative Americans, particularly in the Republican Party, who saw “Communism” as one single, monolithic conspiracy, instead of a contentious alliance of nationalistic Communisms, each with its own agenda. The final straw was the infamous Domino Theory, which held that “Communist” victory in Vietnam would lead inevitably to the loss of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and finally Australia.

As has been pointed out in this column previously, the inclusion of RVN within the American imperial strategic perimeter was a geopolitical error of the first order. Vietnam had no geopolitical significance in the struggle between the USA and the USSR; its “loss” changed nothing. Its significance was human: the extermination of some 6,000,000 Indochinese and 60,000 Americans, and countless millions of others maimed.

The Museum of the Bourgeois mourns.

Is Iraq “another Vietnam”? This is a question I’ll revisit column after next.

Tomorrow is International Workers Day, and we’ll be “keeping the Red flag flying”.

Friday, April 27, 2007

In Memory: Mstislav Rostropovich

Today is Friday, 27 April 2007.

It is with great sorrow The Museum of the Bourgeois memorializes the death of Mstislav Rostropovich, 1927-1980.

Not only one of the finest cellists, he was also a fearless champion of human freedom.

In 1970, he sent a letter to Pravda, which declined to publish it, and several European newspapers, which did. In it, he wrote, “Explain to me, please, why in our literature and art so often people absolutely incompetent in this field have the final word. Every man must have the right fearlessly to think independently and express his opinion about what he knows, what he has personally thought about and experienced, and not merely to express with slightly different variations the opinion which has been inculcated in him.”

These values should be held by everyone, and feared by all tyrants.

The Museum of the Bourgeois extends sympathy to his family, friends, and all lovers of music.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Today is Monday, 23 April 2007.


It is with the most profound sorrow, eyes filled with tears, that The Museum of the Bourgeois reports, recognizes, memorializes, and honors the death today, at 73, of David Halberstam.

Pulitzer winner, gritty-in-the-dirt reporter, author of perhaps the finest Vietnam War book, The Best and the Brightest, and perhaps the finest 9-11 book, Firehouse.

Personal Notes.

Only a handful of journalists meant as much to those of us who were Vietnam War draft resisters.

HH and his wife sometimes ate at the same Japanese restaurant in New York City as Halberstam. I would always give him a nod of the head, to let him know I knew who he was, but that I did not wish to invade his privacy.

Now I wish I had.


[I originally wrote Irony, then instantly corrected it, for DH would have noted that there were two ironies mentioned, and one must always be accurate.]

My wife and I had take-away sushi tonight for dinner.

To survive Nam and die in a car crash in California.


Few times have I written the following, and had more sorrow for it:


On the Death of Tsar Boris

Today is Monday, 23 April 2007.

A few preliminary remarks on the death on this date of former Tsar Boris Yeltsin; details and amplification to come.

A long-time, loyal, and very successful, careerist in the Communist Party of the USSR, Yeltsin in 1987 attempted a coup within the Politburo which would have elevated him to #2. He failed and was booted from the Party leadership. He then discovered the wickedness of the Party (“I am shocked! Shocked!”) and the necessity of Democracy.

He maneuvered himself into power as President of Russia, then within the USSR, and used the August 1991 coup to destroy the USSR and achieve nearly absolute power in Russia.

He proceeded to sell off state enterprises, rightly belonging to the Russian people, to political cronies and campaign contributors. When, in 1993, he abrogated the Constitution and began to rule by decree, and the Parliament opposed his treasonous acts, he sent tanks to bombard Parliament.

His rule was marked by corruption on a scale not even seen during the Soviets, a drastic decline in the living standards of most Russians, and a genocidal war against the Chechens.

In 1999, Yeltsin made a deal with former KGB gangster Vladimir Putin: Putin guaranteed immunity from prosecution to Yeltsin and his family, and Yeltsin made Putin President, who has subsequently restored many elements of Soviet dictatorship.

Most sources describe him as a Great Champion of Democracy. It has never seemed to me that rule by tanks and rigged elections constitutes the democratic.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

For T & L

Today remains Thursday, 19 April 2007.

I don't like doing this "In Memory" stuff, since it means someone is departed.

T, a fine history prof who taught me much.

L, his son, a comrade in the good fight.

For My Friend C

Today is Thursday, 19 April 2007.

Today's column is LIVE. Writing raw and without revision.

Let's rewind to 1993.

HH is walking down 8th Street in NYC, glances in a coffee shop, sees on the TV a building half blown down, walks in, and it's in OKC.

To be self-centred, HH has many friends in OKC, or who might have had business in ... they first said it was the Courthouse, before correctly identified as Murrah Fed Building.

And I couldn't get in contact, in those pre-cell phones days, with any of them for hours.

Thankfully, none of them were there.

Well, save for one, hadn't seen in years, and she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And, heavy vicious sarcasm, it's so fine that killing Tim McVeigh brought them all back to life.

So, and I don't know if this music will work for you out there, but, somehow, it resonates for me on this day, and yes, someone I knew, many years ago, and hadn't seen for years, and thought most highly of, died in that building that day ...

I think I'll just sit in my favourite chair for a while, listen to some tunes, and give thanks for my friend C.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Treat

Today remains Tuesday, 17 April 2007.

In one of those odd anomalies that happen on the Web, Wikipedia today said it was the birthday of Constantine Cavafy, the great Greek poet, and in another place said he was born on 29 April, which is true.

Having been a virtual evangelist for the genuis of Cavafy for many years, give me an inch, I'll take a mile: here, fellow kids, one of his finest poems.

For those of us that it's been too long since we studied Ancient History: it's just before the battle Antony loses to the soon-to-be Augustus, and, as legend or history has it, Antony, in the window of his palace, hears the mystic music of the gods departing Alexandria, signalling that their favour has been withdrawn from him, and that his cause is lost.

The Gods Abandon Antony

By Constantine P. Cavafy

Trans. By P. J. King and A. Christofidou

When suddenly at midnight an invisible
procession is heard passing
with unearthly music, and with voices -
do not mourn in vain your fate that's fading now,
your works all failed, your life's
ambitions proving all a sham.

As if you had been ready for some time,
as one with courage, bid farewell to her,
the Alexandria that's leaving.

Above all don't be fooled, don't say it was
a dream, and that your hearing was mistaken;
don't stoop to such vain hopes.

As if you had been ready for some time,
as one with courage, as befits a man who
once was worthy of a city such as this,
approach the window steadily,
and listen with emotion - not with
a coward's pleas, entreaties -
up to the end enjoy the sounds,
unearthly instruments of the mysterious
procession... bid farewell to her,
the Alexandria you're losing.

More Perspective

Today is 17 April 2007.

With all due respect to NET, which respect is without limits, and the comment on “Perspective” yesterday.

I can’t give it a rest.


“Leaflet drops will be made north of US lines banning the people not to proceed south, that they risk being fired upon if they do so. If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot.”

Letter from Ambassador to South Korea John J. Muccio, to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk, 26 July 1950, regarding the Rules of Engagement.

One can understand the level of fear that Ambassador Muccio, and others, safe behind the lines, experienced when North Korea invaded South Korea. After all, they weren’t on the front lines, they were in position to be whisked away to safety, and so one can understand their level of panic, seeing they were never in mortal danger.

Perhaps they believed that American troops needed to kill refugees, since some of same, of course, could be Commie infiltrators, and the ends justify the means.

HH hates nations and nationalism. Yes, I was born, raised, and have always lived in the USA/USE, for good and ill. The point for me is that this nation I’m part of is just as good and as vile as all the others.

I live here, I partake of the evils and advantages, and so all the responsibility falls upon my head, for good and ill.

Many the time I’ve thought of going into exile, but this is my home, my responsibility, and I can’t run away from it. I try my paltry efforts to turn the tide around, but I'm obviously not good enough for that.

“We’re” just as bad as all the others.

Doesn't please me to recognize facts like that.

There’s a bright red line, nay, a thread, nay, a river, a tidal wave, of violence running through American history, just as Athens, Persia, Rome, Sparta, Egypt, Spain, England … “when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?”.

The Museum of the Bourgeois offers the most profound empathy to all the loved ones of those dead yesterday, in Virginia and Baghdad, and everywhere else.

Every death or wound, to anyone, diminishes all of us.

How we prepare positive responses to such facts, so as to heal all wounds ... what I've been trying to figure out my entire life.

Not so much progress yet, but ... so it goes.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Today is Monday, 16 April 2007.

“The worst mass shooting in U.S. history.”

Thus Wolf Blitzer on CNN, regarding the killing of ca. 31 today at Virginia Tech.

Fell free to chime in with your favorite mass murder, but let me start the ball rolling: the Massacre, by the U.S. Army with rapid-firing artillery, of the Miniconjou band of the Lakota at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on 29 December 1890.

300+ murdered.

And it’s really a toss-up: were more Native Americans murdered, or more African Americans murdered, in the conquest and subjugation of the USA/USA?

Odds are: the gunperson today will turn out to be a victim of mental illness. Such is usually the case when killings are retail.

Those leaders responsible for the wholesale holocausts of Native America and Slavery have no such excuse: they were just in it for power and profit.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No. 42

Today is Sunday, 15 April 2007.

Only one number has ever been permanently retired by every team in major league baseball: 42.

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson, #42 in your program, as great as ever there was at second base, took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first Black to play in major league baseball.

60 years later, and still a “race problem” in America.

“Surprise, surprise, surprise!”. --- G. Pyle.

Hell: we all know the truth: ‘tis a pigmentation problem in the minds of “white” folks. Euro-Americans, like Euro-peans of every stripe the world over, more often than not, think they are destined by “color” to be top of the heap.

Who’s kidding whom? I’m not “white”, “blanc”, I’m a fast-wrinkling shade of pink.

The pigmentation foolishness, con, wickedness, is just another pathetic rationalization for one group of humans to beat up on another.

When Jackie Robinson took the field that day, 60 years ago, he took the field for all of us, in liberation, whether we liked it or not.

We are all, like it or not, the better for it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"I'll Fly Away"

Today is Friday, 13 April 2007.

For those who missed this in the "Comments" section on Wednesday:

Thanks for this to the incomparable "Earthboundmisfit". I know who you are, I know where you live, and it's never been you who are misfit, just most of Life.

We're trying to make something of ourselves.

Can't help but gild the lily, and Kurt is laughing at this if he can:

A classic of gospel bluegrass:


Some bright morning when this life is over
I'll fly away
To that home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away (in the morning)
When I die hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I'll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly
I'll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I'll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away.

So it goes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In Memoriam: Kurt Vonnegut, Kind

Today is Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 11.13pm CDT.


It is with the most profound sorrow that The Museum of the Bourgeois has just learned of the death of Kurt Vonnegut, aged 84.

"“Mark Twain finally stopped laughing at his own agony and that of those around him. He denounced life on this planet as a crock. He died.”" --- KV

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ” --- KV

So it goes.

There it is.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ku Klux Imus

Today is Tuesday, 10 April 2007.

Now comes Don Imus: “nappy-headed ho’s”.

Not like Imus hasn’t been living in the gutter for a long time.

A decade ago, The New York Times appointed a Black woman as White House correspondent. Imus said, “Isn’t The Times wonderful? It let’s the cleaning lady cover the White House”.

I don’t much care by now what is in the heart of Imus. What I care about is the hate and filth spewing from his mouth.

I believe in the First Amendment. Imus can spew hate and filth whenever and wherever he wants. (I suggest noon on any Saturday on 125th Street in Harlem.)

But Imus’ speech isn’t free: he charges a high price for it. And CBS and NBC pay that price because he’s such a profit center.

Maybe Imus isn’t a racist and female-hater in his heart. Maybe he’s just so greedy he’s willing to pander to racists and female-haters who consume his filth. Maybe CBS and NBC are just so greedy they jump at the chance to pander to racists.

“Free speech” means anyone should have the right to speak their mind, no matter how vile and evil. It doesn’t violate that right to insist no one should be paid for vileness and evil.

Had Imus a shred of decency left, he would quit. Had CBS and MSNBC shreds of decency left, they would have fired him by now.

Don Imus, CBS, MSNBC: Your white sheets are ready.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Might Without Morality

Today is Monday, 9 April 2007.

Was it really only four years ago today?

In an unparalleled feat of arms, in less than a month, the leadership of Kaiser George, Co-Kaiser Cheney, and Field Marshall Rumsfailed had seized Baghdad, driven Saddam Hussein into hiding, and consummated the Conquest of Iraq.

Peace and Freedom reigned.

Mission Accomplished!

From Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech at Riverside Church, Manhattan, on 4 April 1967 (one year before his murder), denouncing the crime of the Vietnam War:

“We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Friday, April 06, 2007

Out of the Fire, A Dream

Today is Wednesday, 4 April 2007.

Here's the addendum to the placehold noted below.

On this day in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered.

Changed my life forever.

So, ain’t that a caution: on this date, one year ago, thanks to my lifelong friend, whose name is very close to, but not, The Rand Corporation, who built me a blogsite, this column debuted.

All honour and glory to Dr. King, and to millions of African Americans who were lynched and viciously treated in the ordinary ways of daily life.

Herewith, I Have a Dream:

“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”.

This column is a place-holder. Today is 6 April. HH has had some bad arthritis problems. This weekend, HH will fill in.

By the by, 6 April is date of accidental discovery of TEFLON in 1938, which was first used to coat valves in the processes creating fissile materials for the first atomic bombs, at Oak Ridge, TN. And thence, to our skillets.

Out of the fire, into the frying pan.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Promised Land

Today is Tuesday, 3 April 2007.

On this date in 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered in Memphis the famous “mountaintop” speech.

Herewith, the conclusion:

"And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"

Dig this, the real footage:

(Coming soon: my Brainiac computer lifelong comrade will teach me how to embed same above with a "click here", so you won't need to paste it into your browser. Please give HH a break: grasshopper is but an humble Liberal Arts major.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Master of Space and Time

Today is Monday 2, April 2007.

First the good news, then the political fury.

1. Goin’ out on the WAVELENGTH, to You Know Who You Are: on this date in 1942, mega-rocker Leon Russell, Master of Space and Time, of Lawton and Tulsa, Oklahoma, was born.

2. Oklahoma currently has two unfortunately massively-embarrassing U.S. Senators. I’ll put a fork in Tom Coburn in a future column. Today: James “Jim” Inhofe, take a bow.

“Crazy Jimmy” thinks W. Bush should pull a Nixon as regards the corrupt political firing of U.S. district attorneys.

“It is kind of like the argument that Nixon should just have burned the tapes and it would have gone away.”

So, the president not only has the Constitutional authority to fire his appointees, but also to set them on fire?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This Machine

Today is Sunday, 1 April 2007.

HH is 55, on this date, a fine symetry.

In early 1972, HH, a "fugitive from justice" for having returned his draft cards to the Federal government, in resistance to the Indochina War, was "hid out" for a week by a friend in Okemah, Oklahoma, in the ruins of the house where Woody Guthrie had been born 60 years before.

Herewith, Woody:

Woody had a slogan on his guitar: "This Machine Kills Fascists".

His friend, Pete Seeger, has a slogan on his guitar: "This Machine Surrounds Hate, and Forces It to Surrender".

Herewith, Pete:

Surround with Love
Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time
Hatred ceases through love
This is unalterable law
The Buddha

During World War II, Woody Guthrie painted on the face of his guitar, "This machine kills fascists."

Years later, Pete Seeger circled his banjo head with the words, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

Long time passing, Pete wrote a song about 9.11.01:

It was a dawn of autumn beauty
A bright September day
Some moved across the bridge to work
While others flew away
Just ordinary people
Where they were meant to be
Taking care of work and life
Just like you and me

We cherish those who lost their lives
We will always remember
We shall surround hate with love
And force it to surrender

The planes were taken over
The buildings torn and red
Hands reached out for other hands
And final words were said
When the calls connected
From land or from above
While facing fears of death and loss
They only spoke of love

We cherish those who lost their lives
We will always remember
We shall surround hate with love
And force it to surrender

"Tell my kids I love them"
"He's my friend, I'll stay"
"I love you, mom, please take my dog"
"I'll show you the way"
"Leave your chair, we'll carry you"
"Bless your firefighter's soul"
"A few of us are taking them,
Ready, guys? Let's roll"

We cherish those who lost their lives
We will always remember
We shall surround hate with love
And force it to surrender

Four brutal acts of terror
What sprang up in their place
Were a million acts of courage
A million acts of grace
Many thousands made it out
Many thousands gone
Their acts of human decency
Will help us carry on

We cherish those who lost their lives
We will always remember
We shall surround hate with love
And force it to surrender

Now the world considers
An answer for this crime
We ask if meeting hate with hate
Will finally work this time
A time of deep reflection
All families to think of
And those who when it mattered most
Only spoke of love

We cherish those who lost their lives
We will always remember
We shall surround hate with love
And force it to surrender.

The happiest of birthdays to Woody, Pete, and you.