The Vietnam War killed more than 58,000 Americans. That's a lot of people and a lot of heartache. It deserves attention. But it killed several million Vietnamese and severely affected -- and I mean severely -- the lives of many millions more. That deserves a whole lot more focus.
Yes, there is plenty to criticize Portman about, but at least he seems to have made peace with himself and his son -- something that is still so elusive to millions of Americans. Perhaps that should count for something.
Try not to think about dying, because there's nothing you can do about it, because you're tied down, because someone is pouring that water over your face, forcing it into you, drowning you slowly and deliberately. You're helpless. You're in agony.
As two hellish, costly and needless wars struggle toward collapse, this is the time -- now, right this minute, before the next false alarm goes off -- for us to look honestly at the cost and quality of national security based on militarism.
You can be sure: Hagel's military service in Vietnam will be mentioned -- and praised. You can also be sure of this: no senator will ask Hagel about his presence during the machine-gunning of an orphanage in Vietnam's Mekong Delta or the lessons he might have drawn from that incident.
The problem is that the U.S. media has no voice critical of the overall enterprise. Even liberal outlets like National Public Radio and The New York Times are all united in the project of occupation. No one bothers to examine the history.
Thirty years of gun-slinging mass murder American style had almost pushed me into mute hopelessness. But feelings of despair offer no answers, so I went looking for antidotes. I had found two, before the horrific gates of gun violence hell touched my own family.
I have consistently defended Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for Secretary of Defense, against allegations that he is "anti-Semitic," against attacks for his lack of appetite for "elective" wars, etc.
I had planned to go to Washington for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. But then the flu happened, and I decided it would be wiser to stay home than to take the bus to DC from Jersey and stand outside for who knows how many hours, coughing away in the winter weather.
John Kerry's and Chuck Hagel's service in Vietnam in the late 1960s suggests three common lessons and legacies from that tragic war that are likely to influence their policy recommendations to the president for whom they work.
For half a century we have been arguing about "the Vietnam War." Is it possible that we didn't know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.
Conservatives have consistently glorified military service, as they should. But now, as Obama nominates a man who has served honorably in combat in Vietnam, the "Hagel Haters," -- many "chicken hawks" themselves -- are disingenuously changing their tune.
If you chose to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," you never had a doubt that you could also turn off, tune out, drop back in, and get a job -- a good job -- any time you wanted. It's not a feeling the young would recognize now.
My admiration then for RN is due to his grit, his durability, his physical and political discipline, his resilience and his indestructibility. "You are only defeated when you quit," he would say. Richard Nixon never quit.
Forty five years ago this week, a record was released that would become the first posthumous number-one single in American recording history. I'm speaking of course of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay."