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Post Memories of 1968, USS Pueblo Crisis
Created by John Eipper on 01/25/18 4:14 AM

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Memories of 1968, USS Pueblo Crisis (David Duggan, USA, 01/25/18 4:14 am)

In January 1968 I was a junior in high school, worrying about my gymnastics routine on the pommel horse (we had just started competition after a year of prep work), where I would go to college, and when I would get my driver's license, having just turned 16 in Chicago suburban Lake Forest.

This was shortly before the Tet offensive, two months before Lyndon Johnson said that he would not seek, nor would he accept his party's nomination for the presidency, 2-1/2 months before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, five months before Robert Kennedy was assassinated, six months before Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical on human sexuality, seven months before the tanks rolled into Prague after the Prague spring, 10 months before Richard Nixon was elected president, and not quite 11 months before Harvard beat Yale 29-29 in what some will say was the most exciting football game of all time. Who says that if you can remember the '60s you weren't there?

Of course I recall the seizure in waters claimed to be Korean (inside a 50-mile radius but outside the then-internationally recognized 12-mile radius) and viewed this as another in a series of Soviet-sponsored Cold War provocations: the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the attempted takeover of Bolivia (where Che Guevara was killed in 1967), followed by the Baader-Meinhof, Red Brigades and Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist attacks in the 1970s. Capt. Bucher's confession is an art-form unto itself, and I suppose the North Koreans are still reading it as a sincere expression of remorse for his spying for the "Bowery Street Billionaires." Despite giving its name to the bank that Joe DiMaggio shilled for in his post-Marilyn Monroe years, back then the Bowery was NYC's version of Skid Row.

Fast forward 50 years and I haven't been on a pommel horse in three decades, seldom drive as I live in an urban area, and use my [Dartmouth] college education to kibbitz on current affairs. I am old enough to remember the release of the Iranian-captured embassy hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, avoiding a punch line to the question, what is orange and glows in the dark? Iran after Reagan becomes president.

How ironic is it that 50 years later, it is the American president who is orange?

JE comments:  And Trump glows, sort of.  David Duggan's posts come meticulously polished right out of the box, but I still had to double-check the '68 Harvard-Yale game.  Yes:  Harvard "won," 29 to 29.  That was the next morning's headline in the Harvard Crimson, following the Cambridge side's 16-point comeback in the game's final seconds to reach the tie.  People who assemble lists of this type put the '68 H-Y contest in the Top Ten.

The North Koreans are not famous for their sense of humor, but I wonder if they ever got a proper gloss of the Bucher confession.  How did the Captain compose such a brilliant piece under extreme duress?

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  • Memories of 1968 (John Heelan, -UK 01/26/18 4:07 AM)
    1968. European attention was focused on student unrest, labour strikes and near-revolution that brought France to a standstill, resulting in de Gaulle fleeing from the Champs-Élysées.

    At the personal level, I was about to move jobs to Germany.

    In the UK, Wilson was PM and the country was in thrall to the labour unions. Enoch Powell gave his "Rivers of Blood" speech about immigration. General relief that the cricket Test series against Australia ended in a draw.

    JE comments: Sportswise, the Detroit Tigers won the '68 World Series over my second-favorite baseball team, the St Louis Cardinals.  Granted, this was 18 years before I first set foot in Michigan.  In '68 I was a Californian, and would move to Missouri in 1971.

    And then there was the controversial '68 Olympics in Mexico City, together with the massacre of student protestors at Tlatelolco.  Up to 400 people were killed.

    If we have to pick a watershed year of the 20th century, 1968 is a leading candidate.  Not so much for "history" in the war-and-geopolitics sense, but culturally.  Way too much stuff happened in '68, and the world was never again the same.

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    • Researching Mexico's Massacres; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/30/18 3:55 AM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Regarding the milestone year, 1968, I wish I had time to reply further to
      JE’s impression (see John Heelan, January 26th), backed by growing claims, that Mexico’s 1968 Tlatelolco
      massacre took up to 400 lives.

      My survey of Mexican massacres made in
      2012 (excerpted below) didn’t take even the exaggerations on Tlatelolco
      up past 300. They seem to keep growing. Meanwhile, overview research
      on the comparative size of massacres in Mexican history seems seldom if
      ever to have been done. My survey was conducted in connection with the
      San Fernando immigrant massacre of 2010, which had 72 dead—perhaps
      still the largest single mass execution in modern Mexican history--though
      in 2011 San Fernando revealed numerous other mass graves from various
      separate events, with a total reported body count of 193. Residents may be
      right when they say this was an undercount, while by now, Mexico has grown
      accustomed to hearing of mass graves or body dumps at points across the

      Here is the excerpt from my survey, with the modern era in Mexico
      defined as beginning in 1920 at the end of the Mexican revolution:

      Amid the storms of the revolution, atrocities like Pancho Villa’s massacre at San Pedro de la Cueva in 1915 multiplied, seeming to be committed by players on all sides. But as a new ruling party emerged in the 1920s, atrocities diminished. The Cristero War of 1926-1929 was a conservative backlash against revolutionary euphoria (which had gone so far as to virtually outlaw the Catholic Church in 1923). In that aftershock war, the most prominent atrocity seems to have been La Barca in 1927, a pitched battle between armed combatants, but with a massacre of captives afterward by Cristero forces. The overall death toll at La Barca apparently pushed toward 90, but the massacre portion had only a part of the killing, perhaps no more than about 40.

      The largest mass execution of that age was apparently Topilejo in 1930, a horrific spree when post-revolutionary rulers crushed lingering resistance. But even then, despite torture and furtive wagon loads of the executed, the best sources paint a picture of no more than about 60 dead at Topilejo. Later decades brought other descents—from the election massacres of the 1940s to the counter-insurgency sweeps of the 1960s-1980s in the “Dirty War”—but in terms of size in a single event, Topilejo in 1930 seemed to hold the field.

      The signature atrocity of post-World War II Mexico was Tlatelolco in 1968, not strictly a mowing-down of immobilized captives but still a focused field of fire directed at a surprised crowd who had few if any weapons. So many official falsehoods covered Tlatelolco that for decades afterward common belief said that up to 150 or even 300 might have been killed. Eventually, however, determined scholarship opened previously closed archives, and investigators, arguably in sympathy with the victims and not inclined to cover up, documented the Tlatelolco death toll firmly: 44 killed.

      In the same era, the signature massacres of counter-insurgency were far smaller, ranging from the 5 to 7 killed at Atoyac in 1967 to the truck massacre at Aguas Blancas in 1995, with 17 killed. Then the next epochal massacre to scar Mexico’s psyche was Acteal, in the jungles of southern Mexico amid new guerrilla conflicts in 1997. Acteal’s merciless killing of women and children, by frenzied village partisans tied to military interests, set a standard of its own for lack of empathy; total body count: 45.

      None of this would compare to the norms of a coming age, when strategic mass murder by drug gangs would reach a new plateau. Not just lack of empathy but a certain dogged persistence is required to exterminate 72 human beings (the body count in the San Fernando immigrant massacre of 2010).

      Our own age is too close to these events for the perspective of history. As with Tlatelolco, it may be decades before some of the deeper truths are known—though the new age is oddly paradoxical in that regard: Tlatelolco was like many bygone atrocities in that one of its fundamental secrets was the body count: Was it really 300? Or was it 44? In our later world, by contrast, the body count in the immigrant massacre of 2010 became one of the few links in the fact-chain that could be seen publicly with a degree of confidence: 72 dead.

      JE comments:  Gary Moore identifies a crucial shift in this macabre actuarial science.  Whereas in the "old-school" massacres you knew what happened but not how many died, presently it's the other way around.  Gabriel García Márquez referenced the old paradigm in One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), with the massacre of the banana workers.  Although the corpses would fill an entire train, the "official" narrative denied any deaths or violence at all.  Indeed, nothing had happened.

      (There is a creepy prophecy in GGM's episode: Tlatelolco came just one year later.)

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      • Post Unpublished - please check back later

  • 1968 Never Ended (David Fleischer, Brazil 01/26/18 3:54 PM)

    In Brazil, we have a neat book--1968, o ano que não acabou (1968, the Year that Never Ended).

    JE comments:  This is another way to describe a "watershed" year.  Other years that never ended?  2001, definitely, and possibly 1989 with the beginning of the end of the Cold War.  Besides the obvious 1945, I'll also vote for 1918, with the redrawing of Europe and the world after WWI.  It's a bit scary that we're presently at both the 100-year and 50-year mark for Years that Don't End.

    On that possibly troubling note, a very happy 2018 to David Fleischer in Brasília.

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    • More Memories of 1968, the Year that Never Ended (David Fleischer, Brazil 01/28/18 4:47 AM)

      To add to WAISer recollections regarding the "The Year that Never Ended":

      In 1968, my wife ant I lived in Gainesville, Florida, where I was doing graduate studies at the U of Florida. We had rented a three-bedroom house in the NE section of town for the same price as our previous duplex apartment near the University.

      One night in April, we organized a big party for all the Brazilians (and Brazil fellow travelers). At about 10:30 pm, the police came by to tell us that our party was "very noisy" and that people should go home. A bit later, around 11:30, they came again and more aggressively told us to immediately end the party and that all persons were ordered to go home quickly. Why? That day Martin Luther King had been murdered in Memphis, and the police informed us that the African-American neighborhood in Gainesville was in pre-riot mode--and a total curfew had been declared.

      That summer, we went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I did a special summer training course in research methodology at the ICPR/University of Michigan. As we left Ann Arbor in August, we planned to drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit friends and my sister & brother-in-law who were in Brazil Peace Corps training at the U of Wisconsin/Milwaukee.

      My wife suggested that we swing through downtown Chicago so she would see what this city was like, but I said, if we do that we will not make it to Milwaukee in time to pick up the key to the apartment we were to stay at. After we had circumvented Chicago, the car radio told us about the large confrontations of demonstrators with Chicago police during the National Democratic Convention. So we were lucky not to have been caught up in that turmoil.

      Finally, the January 8, 2018 edition of The New Yorker magazine has a very interesting article on 1968, focusing on that year's election.


      JE comments:  David, those were some significant near-misses.  WAIS will have a lot of half-century reminiscing to do throughout the year, starting with the USS Pueblo last week and continuing with the Tet offensive two days hence.  The MLK assassination anniversary on April 4th will be a massive milestone.  And the November elections, together with the ushering in of the Nixon Age.

      Yes, '68 never really ended.

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  • Memories of 1968: Grenada and Carriacou (Timothy Ashby, -Spain 01/27/18 5:22 AM)
    In 1968 I was living on the small (120 square miles) Caribbean island of Grenada, where my father was the Chief (and only) Veterinary Officer. The island was still very colonial, having officially had its status changed from a British Colony the previous year to an "Associate State" of the United Kingdom. We still had a white British governor who lived in the grand 18th-century "Government House" on a mountain overlooking St. George's harbour amidst a necklace of 18th-century forts.

    I attended the Grenada Boys Secondary school which was located in a decaying army barracks dating from WW II. I was one of only two Caucasian boys in my class, and for some reason the headmaster decided to seat us together (we had the old shared wooden desks) at the front of the classroom. Our moldy, smudged textbooks mainly dated from the 1930s, and I clearly remember the black Grenadian boys in my class reciting "Our ancestors were Angles, Saxons and Jutes." By the way, the ages of the boys in my Standard Three classroom ranged from 13 to 19 (I was 14). I often skipped classes to dig for 18th- and 19th-century British Army artifacts such as regimental buttons around the old forts.

    The island had no access to television (probably a great blessing) and each evening we listened to the BBC World Service on Radio Grenada. I was only vaguely aware of the Vietnam war, but we were all saddened by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. My friends (children of resident ex-pats like me) were in British boarding schools (Gordonstoun and Eton come to mind), and they would bring back LP albums of the famous 60s rock groups, so I was very aware (and a great fan) of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc.

    My father's duties included looking after sick animals on the island of Carriacou in the Grenadines north of Grenada. I voyaged with him to Carriacou on an old wooden sailing schooner that took eight hours. We were driven around the island in a badly beaten up Land Rover inspecting goats and cows. I remember one old farmer milking a goat directly into a very dirty glass, adding a great dollop of rum to it, and handing it to me. My dad said it would be impolite not to drink it, so I did. We stayed in the Mermaid Inn, the island's only "hotel," owned and run by the famous sailor J. Linton Rigg, who was quite elderly at the time. There was no electricity, and we had Coleman pressure lanterns for light. The only amenity (besides being right on a perfect beach) was the well-stocked "Honour Bar" in the lounge.

    JE comments:  This is the Forum's first-ever mention of Carriacou, after 53 years and 39,490 posts.  Wikipedia tells us the national plant is the Flamboyant Tree, and the locals eat coo-coo and okra.  That's cornmeal mush with, well, okra.  Moreover, Carriacou is reportedly the friendliest, healthiest, and safest island in the Caribbean.

    I want to go!  And by the by, Tim, your childhood deserves an entire book.  I'm sure you have countless stories of growing up on/in Grenada.


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    • Memories of 1968: Tet Offensive (Mike Calnan, USA 01/27/18 2:57 PM)
      Also, in 1968 the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia, the Tet offensive occurred in Vietnam, Martin Luther King was assassinated, there were riots in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention, and LBJ announced that he would not run for re-election. There were also riots in DC after the King assassination. I'm sure there's more.

      I was a Junior at Virginia Tech and my dad was in Vietnam.

      JE comments: Time magazine just did a lengthy retrospective on 1968. Click below.  January 30th is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Tet offensive, the psychological turning point of the Vietnam war.  Note how quickly Tet came on the heels the USS Pueblo incident.


      Great to hear from you, Mike, and best wishes for a WAIStastic 2018.

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      • My Father at Tet (Mike Calnan, USA 01/28/18 6:12 AM)
        Thanks, John, for the Time magazine link and the WAISly wishes!

        During Tet, my dad, an Infantry Colonel, was the Senior Advisor to the 9th ARVN Division in the Mekong Delta. After Tet, he was certain that the VC/NVA had been defeated because of their very high casualties. He wasn't in a position to see the social and political climate at home.

        From the perspective of a college student in Civil Engineering and ROTC, I remember these events vividly but I didn't perceive the timing until I wrote my WAIS post on 1968. I'm especially surprised that the Johnson speech and the assassination of Rev. King were so close together. I watched the Johnson speech live, and was as surprised as the rest of the country. I was impressed that he did something for the good of the country rather than his career. I was in Front Royal, Virginia stopping for gas when we received word about the loss of Rev. King. I was with a group of ROTC students on the way to Fort Meade, Maryland for a drill-team competition. At the time, an Armored Cavalry Regiment was stationed at Fort Meade. They were involved in the riot control in DC. We were restricted to the base.

        A WAIStastic 2018 to you, John and all WAISers.

        JE comments:  Of the two historic assassinations of 1968, I personally recall only that of RFK.  Perhaps because it came later in the year?  I was just a tyke in '68, age 4.

        As you remember it, Mike, was there serious fear of social upheaval, even revolution, after the MLK assassination?

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        • Tet Offensive, 30 January 1968 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/29/18 4:25 AM)
          As Mike Calnan correctly reports, tomorrow will be the 50th anniversary of the beginning of great Tet Offensive by the North Vietnam and the Viet Cong.

          This battle was the greatest paradox since the end of WWII, as in the end the Tet offensive resulted in a great victory for the South Vietnamese and the US forces. In the US however, a weak domestic front (does the name Dan Rather says something?) decided that it was a defeat and turned against the war. They abandoned their poor South Vietnamese ally. An Empire cannot drop an ally in such a way if it wants to maintain credibility.

          This does not mean that all the operations since Dien Bien Phu were correct. In fact, according to a study by James A. Lucas in Global Research, "US has killed more than 20 million in 37 nations since the WWII." The Empire does not have a flattering record.

          The invasion of Czechoslovakia, mentioned by Mike, will have its 50th anniversary next 21 August. This even touched me very much, as I reported previously, because my wife and I helped a Slovakian officer to escape from a Russian ship.

          JE comments:  I found the James A. Lucas article (link below).  Lucas attributes responsibility to the United States for 9 to 14 million deaths in the following countries alone:  Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sudan.  Lucas goes on to give a detailed country-by-country analysis.  Many, including many in WAISworld, will take great exception to his claims.


          Eugenio Battaglia recounted the thrilling escape of Vlado from a Soviet training ship in this 2015 post.  It's worth a replay:


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  • 1968: The Political Education of a Callow Youth (Patrick Mears, -Germany 01/29/18 3:47 AM)

    I mentioned in an earlier WAIS post that I was raised in a Republican family in the city of Flint, Michigan, which means that Republicans there back then were almost as scarce as hen's teeth.

    Flint, an important motor vehicle manufacturing center, was a heavily unionized town that consistently voted Democratic since the late 1940s. As a GOPer, I was not fond of Lyndon Baines Johnson and his presidency and, at the same time, I was becoming more and more disenchanted with the Vietnam War, especially after the Tet Offensive in late January, 1968. In the run-up to the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries held on March 12, 1968, I was one of the few members of Teenage Republicans in Flint and was greatly surprised and pleased by the showing of the then little-known Senator Eugene ("Gene") McCarthy of Minnesota in the Granite State's Democratic Primary (42% vs. 49.6% for LBJ). McCarthy's campaign there was aided greatly by the number of college students from all over the United States, who became "Clean for Gene" and traveled to New Hampshire to engage in grass-roots campaigning.

    This primary and the announcement made on March 16th by Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, that he would also challenge LBJ for his party's nomination, caused a sea-change in this race. On March 31st, Johnson announced that he would neither seek nor accept the Democratic presidential nomination and was dropping out of the race. At that time, the political pundits opined that LBJ's Vice-President, Hubert Horatio Humphrey, would soon join the race as the candidate of the Democratic "establishment." Soon thereafter, HHH announced his candidacy on April 27th. He won no primary races and relied on garnering delegates to the party's National Convention through state conventions and the support of favorite-son candidates. Other than two state primaries that were captured by "favorite son" candidates in Florida and Ohio and another two where the delegates were designated as unpledged, McCarthy emerged the victor in six primaries (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey and Illinois) and RFK won four (Indiana, Nebraska, California and South Dakota).

    The crucial primary contest between McCarthy and Kennedy turned out to be in California on June 4th, which was held only one week after the Minnesota Senator had scored an upset win in the Oregon primary over the Senator from New York by a margin of 44% to 38%. The candidates appeared in a televised debate a few days prior to the vote and most commentators at the time declared the debate to be a draw. However, as almost everyone knows, RFK emerged victorious in the California contest (46% to 42%), but was tragically gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles only minutes after making his victory speech. At the time of Kennedy's death, the committed delegate count was 561 for Humphrey, 393 for Kennedy and 258 for McCarthy.

    After RFK's assassination, the nomination of Hubert Humphrey became a foregone conclusion. The Democratic delegates convened in Chicago and voted overwhelmingly for HHH, who captured 1,759.25 ballots. McCarthy came in second with 601, and George McGovern, supported by disappointed RFK-pledged delegates, received 146.5 votes. Notably, delegates cast 12.75 votes for RFK's brother, Edward M. ("Ted") Kennedy, and 1.5 votes for Alabama's football coach, Paul E. ("Bear") Bryant. On August 28, 1968, the third day of the Chicago Convention, a riot broke out on Michigan Avenue between the Chicago police and anti-war protesters, which event was characterized by many as a "police riot," sparked much controversy at the time and thereafter, including (i) the unforgettable exchange between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal on ABC's live coverage of the Chicago convention (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY_nq4tfi24 ), (ii) the scolding over police "Gestapo tactics" given by Senator Abraham Ribicoff to Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley from the convention podium (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPO45s6U6SI ), and (iii) Norman Mailer's 1968 book about the two national conventions of 1968, Miami and the Siege of Chicago. The dénouement of this story is that Richard Nixon secured an extremely narrow, popular-vote victory over Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election, notwithstanding (or, perhaps, because of) George Wallace's third-party presidential run, which garnered 46 electoral votes from five southern states.

    On a personal note, after LBJ's withdrawal from the race in late-March, I signed on as a campaign volunteer for Gene McCarthy's campaign and worked out of its office in downtown Flint. As a seventeen-year old high school student, my tasks were essentially menial ones, e.g., assembling campaign literature and stuffing it into envelopes, delivering campaign literature door-to-door throughout Flint, and doing odd jobs around the office. I experienced two political "aha moments" while doing this work, however. The first was the result of an extended conversation that I had one day with an older, highly educated, Jewish woman stuffing envelopes with me at the campaign office. She mentioned in the course of a discussion about George Wallace's candidacy her deep concerns about anti-Semitism reemerging as a political force in the United States. In my naiveté, I expressed my disbelief that this could happen. She said that If I had lived as she had during the 1930s in the United States, I would feel just as she did. That exchange gave me a large helping of "food for thought" that continues to this day.

    My second epiphany happened in the course of distributing McCarthy campaign literature in a mixed-race, Flint neighborhood. One of the doors that I knocked on was that of "Sammy" Williams, an African-American disc jockey on Flint's Radio WAAM, who would often spin discs at dances held at my small Catholic high school. He recognized me as the St. Agnes High student who pestered him to play 45-rpms by the Four Tops, the Contours and Eddie Floyd of Stax fame ("Knock on Wood"), and invited me in to talk politics. After I made my pitch for Gene, he explained to me in detail why his rock-solid allegiance to Humphrey could not be moved--that he and many others of his race would never forget Humphrey's successful advocacy at the 1948 Democratic National Convention in favor of a strong civil rights plank in the national platform, where he famously urged his fellow delegates to "get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." This moving chapter of the democratic heritage of the United States I had not heard before and, like my earlier exchange on Anti-Semitism in America, this lesson has never left me.

    Attached below are two examples of McCarthy campaign literature that I have kept since 1968.

    JE comments:  What a year to be coming of age, Pat.  I imagine there was tension in the Mears home about your work on the McCarthy campaign.  I've often said there are two kinds of families:  those where the children follow their parents' politics in lockstep, and those in which the children flee to the polar opposite.

    These (below) are amazing documents, especially the Black Power event in Tiger Stadium.  Political flyers have become far more polished in half a century, but they're no longer as sincere.

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  • My Memories of 1968 (Istvan Simon, USA 01/29/18 6:02 PM)
    I think 1968 was a year of change, change that came in a shocking way.

    In 1968 I was an undergraduate engineering student in Brazil. Being an opponent of communism in all its forms, I was dismayed by the protests against the Vietnam War, by the draft dodgers burning their draft cards and fleeing to Canada. I was disturbed by Robert Kennedy, whose assassinated brother JFK I greatly admired and who in a very real sense had started the escalation in Vietnam against the communist takeover of South Vietnam. The anti-war candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and RFK were incomprehensible to me. I was disturbed by the terrible dual assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, a sign of a terribly violent American society, always so full of guns, blind hatred and so lacking in peacemakers like King himself was, and to a certain extent Bobby Kennedy was, too. This idiotic tendency to attempt to resolve issues with bullets persists to this day in the United States, now my adoptive country. I fight every day to end the disgusting destructive influence of the NRA on our politics.

    Before I go too far in this direction, about which one could write book-length posts, let me return to 1968. Shocking as the struggle of America was to find its soul in view of the challenges of the war in Vietnam, my attention was more on Europe at the time, with the spread of the student revolts in Paris to Germany, to everywhere, even Brazil. I watched incredulous as De Gaulle seemed at first completely paralyzed for weeks of complete inaction, challenged by massive protests of students rioting in Paris. Then I watched amazed, as when he finally decided to act, he put an end to it all in a decisive 24 hours, in which he put tanks on the bridges on the Seine, and in strategic places, like the good general he was, arrested the leaders of the "protests," and exported the rest who fled to Germany, where they would repeat the same garbage they wrought in France.

    The causes of such turmoil are hard to pinpoint. The spiritual leaders of all this were the French left with Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, the "intellectuals" who were delighted to see all this turmoil while they closed their eyes to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and shamelessly promoted disgusting murderers like Castro and Che Guevara as heroes, and even more disgusting mass-murderers like Mao Zedong. If there is a hell, which I doubt, Sartre and all the French left should certainly burn in it.

    Having witnessed the Hungarian revolution just 12 years prior, I knew that whatever the sins of the West may be, then and now, it paled in comparison with the gulags of communism, regimes based on lies and the traumatization of entire populations, in the name of an insane ideology built entirely on lies. Yet these French "intellectuals" theorized rivers about how much "better" the disgusting Marxism that they admired was than the "horrors" of capitalism. They were wrong then as they are wrong now, those who inherited their stupid ideas and continue to promote the Hugo Chávezes, the Lulas, the Maduros, the Daniel Ortegas of this world, or the Allendes of a few generations ago.

    The protests of 1968 mellowed and created the more palatable Green Parties in the West. Communism is long gone from my native Hungary, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Chávez and Castro are fortunately dead, though their dishonest successors still traumatize Cuba and Venezuela. Lula has been convicted and sentenced to long years of prison, but unfortunately has not yet started serving a well-deserved incarceration.  There are hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees living in Colombia. Yet Maduro, who deserves to be hanged for his vile misrule and incompetence, is still in power.

    JE comments:  Lots to chew on here, but for now I'm most curious about Lula.  What's the buzz in Brazil, Istvan, about his legal status?

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    • Lulu's Legal Limbo (Istvan Simon, USA 01/31/18 1:52 AM)
      John E (January 29th) asked me about the status of the former President of Brazil, Lula.

      Lula was convicted of bribery and received a sentence of 12 years and one month by the appeals court. It is in my opinion the most significant legal case in Brazil, and if Lula goes to jail it will transform Brazil into a less corrupt country. My understanding is that he remains at liberty, because he is allowed to appeal his conviction all the way up to the Supreme Court without his sentence being carried out. This is a terribly bad feature of Brazilian law, but that's the case.

      The Brazilian Justice system has always been slow and bureaucratic, terribly dysfunctional. This allows the thieves to thrive in Brazilian politics. If you steal a loaf of bread like Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, you go to jail. Jail conditions in Brazil are often terrible. You may be murdered inside the prison's walls and tough luck, no one cares much, because you are a "criminal"--a "marginal," as Brazilians call it. Marginal means in Portuguese someone on the margins of society. But if you steal literally billions, like Lula and many other politicians did, nothing ever happens to you. Or at least nothing ever happened until Juiz Moro came on the scene.

      So Lula's conviction is in my opinion tremendously important for Brazilian Society, but only if his ultimate fate is serving his prison sentence. Not only Lula should be in prison; his entire kleptocratic family should be in jail. His son is very rich, and as far as I know has not been molested by the police, but it is fairly clear to me that he did not make his money honestly. It is a family without honor or morals, like many Marxists are. No one ever accused the Castro brothers of living in poverty either.

      Lula is not alone in being a politician who is rotten to the core in Brazil. Such politicians exist in all parties, encouraged by the impunity accorded to these bloodsuckers. Temer, the current president who replaced Dilma, is of course also corrupt. Yet I believe he is less corrupt than Lula. Dilma was the president of Petrobras when the large-scale thievery occurred there under Lula's presidency. Dilma is an ex-terrorist, together with Jose Dirceu, Lula's right-hand man, and also of the Workers' Party, who actually is in jail. Jose Dirceu is also an ex-terrorist.  You can see from this the character of the fine people who are Lula's closest collaborators.

      One of my very good friends was a high official in Lula's administration. He was director of Banco do Brasil, obviously a very important, influential and prestigious position. Jose Dirceu got rid of him after about a year of heading this huge bank of the Brazilian government. Though I never really talked about this with my friend, I should have I suppose, I suspect he lost his job because he was not a thief like Jose Dirceu was and is.

      The following article may be of interest to WAISers


      JE comments:  The Forbes article above adds a key point:  Brazil has a "Clean Slate" law that prohibits impeached or convicted politicians from holding office for a period of eight years.  Brazil's political opposition is not interested in sending Lula to prison.  Rather, they sought the conviction to prevent the still-popular Lula from running in the October presidential elections.

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    • Ric Mauricio Remembers 1968 in San Francisco (John Eipper, USA 02/04/18 5:02 AM)

      Ric Mauricio writes:

      ♫ Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind

      Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine♫


      1968. Yes, I remember it so well. The year after the Summer of Love, it was indeed a year filled with many memories. I was a hippie then, long hair and all. In the Haight Ashbury, with many friends. Non-materialistic. Enjoying the music, the light shows, the camaraderie with the psychedelic rock musicians. And there was the hope of peace and love. There was also sex and drugs (two risky areas that did not appeal to my sense of healthy living ... I was into yoga and exercise even then).

      Then there was Vietnam. The draft. Istvan Simon mentioned that he did not understand anti-war sentiments of RFK and Eugene McCarthy. Istvan definitely would not have understood my stance. In fact, very few people I had discussions with understood my anti-war sentiment. I was thrown out of an SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) meeting when I pointed out that their sympathy for the Communist Viet Cong was a direct contradiction of a democratic society. But I was anti-war for very practical reasons. I pointed out that one cannot win (why go to war if you cannot win?) if your team can only go to the 50-yard line, while the other team can score. Many years later, McNamara confirmed the lies.

      Then there was assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. I met Bobby Kennedy in San Francisco two days before his death in Los Angeles while campaigning for him. It was the first time I could vote. But to meet someone right before their murder, well, that was downright shocking to one's psyche. And yes, I did meet George Moscone as well (his assassination was to happen 10 years later).

      Then there was Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raising their black-gloved fists in the air as the Star-Spangled Banner was played. Here we are 50 years later and we continue to have the same issue, with Colin Kaepernick being blackballed from the NFL for his symbolic gesture. Sorry to those who condemn their supposed disrespect of our national anthem (actually, I prefer America the Beautiful, which raises goose bumps whenever I hear it), but I do see Kaep's point even though there are those who prefer not to. Did you know that burning the American flag (unless ceremoniously retiring it) is legal? Now that's disrespectful, but I understand, it is protected by free speech.

      But all was not seriousness or sadness in 1968. I remember seeing the first 747 taking off from SFO and reading about the orbit of the moon by Apollo 8. Talk about engineering marvels.

      Oh, and I do remember the girls I was interested in. I remember visiting my friend's golf class. I had the long hair and since I was outside a lot, a reddish tinge to my tanned face and body. One of the girls in his class asked me if I was an American Indian. I told her I was half Paiute, half Cherokee. Wow, she exclaimed. My friend behind her was laughing. He later told me she wanted to date me. But I was 18 and she was in her 30s. Hmmm. Now I'm thinking, why didn't I take her up on that?

      JE comments:  "If you remember the '60s you really weren't there."  Ric Mauricio was there and he remembers.  Another cliché sent to the trashbin!

      Ric, I'd love to hear more anecdotes from the Haight's glory days.  Ben and Jerry now hawk ice cream on the corner with Ashbury.  It's a fitting transformation:  two hippies turned into entrepreneurs.

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