Monday, January 01, 2018

Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ Fails To Land the Real Scoop On the Fate of Free Vietnam

"Democracy dies in darkness" is the new motto of the Washington Post. It adopted the slogan amid the campaign of the liberal press to topple President Trump.

Steven Spielberg’s new movie about the Washington Post is a reminder — however unintended — of something else. Sometimes democracy dies in the full glare of the press.

That’s what happened in Vietnam. And the film, "The Post," takes on a special irony today, as a press full of righteous indignation seeks to overturn an American election.

Mr. Spielberg’s epic is about events that took place in 1971. That’s when the Washington Post published the secret history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers.

The history had been assembled on orders of President Johnson’s secretary of defense, Robert McNamara. A security analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, who’d turned against the war, leaked the documents to the New York Times.

Among the things the papers showed is that America’s leaders sometimes lied. About, say, the events in the Tonkin Gulf that led Congress to authorize the Vietnam War. Or about whether we could win.

The Times started publishing the papers in June 1971 but was stopped by a federal judge. Mr. Ellsberg then gave boxes of the papers to the Washington Post. All eyes then fell on the paper’s owner, Katharine Graham.

Played by Meryl Streep, the doughty doyenne is torn between two factions. On one side are her bankers, who are trying to raise capital for the paper; on the other, her famed editor, Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks.

"What are you going to do, Mrs. Graham?" Bradlee asks her.

The real drama, though, was the war. Bradlee is up on his high horse. "The way they lied — those days have to be over," the editor tells Graham.

Fair enough. It’s not my intention to fault either of them.

Yet this movie deals with only some of the lies about Vietnam. Inexcusable as they were, the lies told by the Americans were relatively small beer.

It was our Communist enemies who told the big lie — that the war was a struggle for liberation by Vietnam’s noble comrades, who took on the Americans with pitchforks. What hooey.

The truth is that the war was a conquest of free South Vietnam by a well-armed, Soviet-backed regime in the north. At the end, the enemy emerged from the jungles with tanks and surface-to-air missiles.

The Pentagon Papers disclosed that our own leaders, in effect, refused to heed evidence that we would lose the war — and sent our troops anyway. "The Post" seems to buy into this theory. Yet it wasn’t sending troops that turned out to be the error. Rather, it was assuming we couldn’t win.

On the ground in Vietnam, our GIs did just that. In the most famous battle, Tet in 1968, our soldiers trounced the Communists. The cause of free Vietnam was betrayed in the United States Congress, which had been turned by the anti-war movement.

That danger had worried the Washington Post’s greatest editor, J. Russell Wiggins. He was the editor who built it into a national publication. He, however, was a liberal hawk.

And staunch. Once, on a visit to Moscow, Wiggins was shown by a representative of the North Vietnamese a sheaf of newspaper clippings about the peace movement in the United States.

That was how the Communists planned to win the war, the thug told Wiggins. A colleague, Stephen Rosenfeld, later described how "Russ’ face reddened and he set his jaw."

When The Washington Post fell away from the war, Wiggins quit, ahead of his retirement, and became LBJ’s ambassador to the United Nations. He is, sadly, unmentioned in the movie.

The Supreme Court allowed the Times and Washington Post to proceed. Nixon launched his hunt for leakers. The movie ends with the discovery of the Watergate burglary that eventually cost Nixon the presidency.

It fell to President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger to try — heroically, in my view — to keep Congress from abandoning Vietnam. Early in 1975, though, Congress cut off supplies of ammo and materiel to our ally.

The Communist conquest quickly followed.

Let President Trump — and his critics — remember: When Congress cut off Vietnam, it wasn’t about saving our GIs. They’d long since been withdrawn.

No, the decision by Congress was to retreat in the face of Soviet Communism. It was about abandoning the hope of free Vietnam itself.

Vietnam’s democracy died in broad daylight.



US stocks mount milestone-shattering run in the year of Trump
Business is booming

Wall Street has taken stock investors on a mostly smooth, record-shattering ride in 2017. The major stock indexes are closing in on double-digit gains for the year, led by Apple, Facebook, and other technology stocks.

"This would go in the category of stellar year, with very little volatility in the market and pullbacks that were essentially minor," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Several factors kept the market on an upward grind for most of the year and repeatedly drove stock indexes to all-time highs. The global economy rebounded, while the US economy and job market continued to strengthen, which helped drive strong corporate earnings growth.

Investors also drew encouragement from the push in Washington, D.C., to slash corporate taxes, roll back regulations and enact other pro-business policies. Congress passed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill, which reduces corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent, last week.

The S&P 500 index is on track to finish the year with a gain of about 22.5 percent, counting dividends. That means if you invested $1,000 in an S&P 500 index fund at the beginning of the year, you’d wind up with about $1,225 at the end of the year.

Other major market indexes also were on course to deliver solid gains. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.1 percent, while the Nasdaq composite is headed for a 28.2 percent gain. The tech-heavy index blew past the 6,000-point mark for the first time in April.

Small-company stocks, which trounced the rest of the market in 2016, got a boost this year as investors bet that the companies would be big beneficiaries of a corporate tax cut bill. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks is on course for a 13.1 percent gain.

For the most part, markets overseas also fared better this year than in 2016.

In Europe, Britain’s market closed the year with a gain of 7.6 percent. Indexes in Germany and France finished 2017 with gains of 12.5 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s benchmark index notched gains of 19.1 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The gains in overseas markets reflect how economies in Japan, Europe, China, and many developing nations began growing in tandem with the United States for the first time in a decade. The United States delivered GDP growth of 3.1 percent in the second quarter and a 3.3 percent gain in the third, its fastest rate in three years.

"We hadn’t seen that kind of growth all together in a long time," said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "We had a pretty strong third quarter and we’re going to have a pretty strong fourth quarter, too."

The market also rode out many negative headlines in 2017.

North Korea tested a ballistic missile for the first time in July. Then, reportedly, a hydrogen bomb in August. Major hurricanes slammed into Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. And congressional Republicans’ failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled worries on Wall Street that the Trump administration’s plans for a sweeping corporate tax cut and other pro-business policies would be delayed or derailed entirely.

Still, investors seemed determined to keep the market moving higher. On days when the market pulled back, stocks typically rebounded the next day.

"You had geopolitical risk with regard to North Korea and the saber-rattling on both sides caught the market’s attention, but it became a buying opportunity," Krosby said.

The last time the S&P 500 had a correction, or a decline of 10 percent or more, was in February 2016. In 2017, the biggest single-day drop was less than 2 percent.

And the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, is on track to end near historic lows. Traders repeatedly bought back in on bad news in 2017 because they, and corporations, have a lot of cash and don’t see better places to get a return as long as the economy and company earnings continue to improve, Christopher said.

"People have just been waiting for pullbacks to buy the dips," he said. "There’s still a lot of cash on the balance sheets of businesses and households."

And now eight years into the bull market, many analysts expect stocks to keep climbing next year.

"We expect the bull market to continue in 2018, but at a more moderate pace," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.



Some Leftists reject the "Russia" obsession

Excerpt from Justin Raimondo below:

The small but intrepid band of left-wing commentators who remain sane in the midst of the Trump Derangement Syndrome epidemic have written (and tweeted) about the new left-wing Russophobia and their severe disappointment that it appears to be taking over the Democratic party base. Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, Doug Henwood, Aaron Mate (of The Real News), Robert Parry of Consortium News have all reported, refuted, and regretted this ominous development, while managing to give the impression that this something new and unique.

The “Trump is a Russian agent” crowd has not one iota of credible evidence that the elected President of the United States “colluded” with the Russians to somehow hypnotize American voters into casting their votes for him: none, nada, zero, zilch.

That doesn’t matter to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or Louise Mensch, three of the most prominent disseminators of the collusion conspiracy theory: they simply report it as fact. Nary a day goes by when the latest iteration of this continuing hoax doesn’t morph into a new variation. Paul Manafort is spilling the beans. Mike Flynn is singing like a bird. Yes, they write like that, in trite, tired phrases worn down by overuse: their imaginative powers are confined to emitting evidence-free conclusions, like that time the Post reported the Russians had hacked into Vermont’s power grid (false – they never even called the power company), or when Mensch swears half the White House staff is about to be perp-walked. All is always about to be revealed – just keep reading the Post, checking the Times, and following Mensch’s tweets!

From a seemingly successful political scam the new Russophobia is fast turning into a growing industry, with several rival conspiracy theorists and “expose the Russians” outfits peddling their wares. The politics of this is reflected in the reunion of the “centrist” liberals with the neoconservatives, like David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Max Boot, all of whom are fanatic NeverTrumpers and have joined the anti-Trump “Popular Front” advocated by liberal warhorse Michael Tomasky.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: