George W. Bush Speech on Freedom and U.S. Leadership.

I wasn’t very impressed with George W. Bush as President.  I was more impressed with his father.  I’m a life long Democrat and old enough to remember when members of both parties could put aside differences and come up with compromises that worked.  Now the Tea Party Republicans and Trump Holes seem bent on destroying America and handing it over to either Putin or the Nazis.

I never though I would say this but Thank you President Bush, someone from your Party and of your stature had to say this.

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Vietnam War Protesters have NOTHING to Apologize For

From Common Dreams:

When patriotism and pro-war become synonymous.

By David Zeiger
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Common Dreams

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, something like this:

It was beyond cruel what was done to Viet Nam vets. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell.

That’s a comment made on my Facebook page when I posted Jerry Lembcke’s very insightful review of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series, The Vietnam War. Lembcke points out that the series promotes the established narrative that for Vietnam vets, the experience of coming home to a “hostile” public was “more traumatic than the war itself.” As I will discuss here, Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran and Associate Professor Emeritus at Holy Cross College, has dedicated much of his life to countering and disproving that narrative.

Now take a close look at the above statement. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell. The implication is, of course, that while this person didn’t do it, others must have “protested the soldiers,” referring to the ubiquitous stories of soldiers and veterans being harassed, hounded, called baby killers and spat on by a variety of protesters and, as the stories usually go, “long haired hippies.” Actually, this particular comment was part of a string of responses to someone who claimed he was “urinated on while in uniform.”

That the returning Vietnam veterans were “spat on and called baby killers” has now reached the level of gospel truth, most distressingly among those who were themselves part of the very movement being vilified by those claims. No one saw or was a party to such attacks, yet everyone “knows” it happened. Someone must have done it, or why would so many people claim it was done to them?

Why indeed. Answering that one question sheds a lot of light on how and why the relationship between the antiwar movement and the veterans of that war has been widely, and very effectively, rewritten–a rewrite that has gone virtually unchallenged by those who were there and who, frankly, know better. Today, four generations after the Vietnam War, the mythology of mistreated veterans continues to play a profoundly powerful role in stifling protest against America’s wars in the name of “supporting the troops.” And with Donald Trump threatening to “Completely destroy North Korea” while unleashing the military in the Middle East, nothing could be more urgent than confronting that myth.

First, some personal background. From 1970 to 1972 I was on the staff of the Oleo Strut, a GI Coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, just outside of Ft. Hood, home to tens of thousands of Vietnam returnees who still had six months or more left to serve. The Oleo Strut, like dozens of GI Coffeehouses near bases around the country, was a place where soldiers could find literature about the antiwar and Third World liberation movements, discuss and debate the war with both civilians and fellow GIs, and, most significantly, build their own movement against the war and the military. For two years I helped them distribute their underground paper, The Fatigue Press, with a monthly press run of 5,000. In 1971, I helped plan and organize an “Armed Farces Day” demonstration against the war right outside the gates of Ft. Hood that over two thousand GIs participated in.

Statistics and a wealth of documentary evidence from that time show that my experience at Ft. Hood was the norm, not the exception. The GI Movement of 1968-1973 was so all-pervasive that Col. Robert Heinl famously wrote that it had “infected the entire armed services.” Historian James Lewes has documented over 500 different GI underground newspapers (available online at the Wisconsin Historical Society), along with dozens of organizations from GIs United Against the War to clandestine Black Panther chapters in the military. A 1972 study commissioned by the Department of Defense found that 51% of all troops in Vietnam had engaged in “some form of protest,” from wearing a peace sign on uniforms, to desertion (over 500,000 “Incidents of desertion” in the course of the war), demonstrations, and outright mutiny (including the widespread practice of “fragging”–troops killing their own officers). And by 1972 Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a highly visible, major force across the country. The widespread picture of a military full of soldiers “doing their duty” while privileged civilians protested and hurled insults at them is, to put it bluntly, a lie.

In 2005, at the height of Iraq war, I made the film Sir! No Sir! That film, broadcast in over 200 countries around the world, told the story of the GI Movement, a story that had been erased from just about every history of the Vietnam war. In Sir! No Sir!, Jerry Lembcke makes the point that the reality of thousands of GIs and veterans opposing the war had been replaced by the myth of hippies spitting on them, and it was that contention that drew the ire and attacks from pro war veterans who hounded several critics who had praised the film.

But Lembcke is the only person I am aware of who has thoroughly researched the claims of veterans being spat on and the broader insistence that they were shunned and attacked by the antiwar movement. He wrote about his findings in his 1998 book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, a must-read for everyone who wants to know how veterans were actually treated by the antiwar movement. Here are just a few tidbits of what his research revealed.

To begin with, over the entire course of the war there is not a shred of documentary evidence that any spitting incidents occurred. No articles in newspapers or magazines, no letters to the editor, no television news stories, no FBI reports, no arrests or complaints filed with police. Nothing. Not even Stars and Stripes, voice of the military, reported on any spitting incidents. And in an era that was heavily documented with photographs, including by the GIs themselves (Lembcke points out that Pentax cameras were sold at PXs and were the camera of choice among the troops, not unlike cell phones today), not one photo of a veteran being spat on exists.

The stories that are told almost always happen in public, usually at airports and coming from crowds of demonstrators whose goal is to humiliate the returning troops. We are told that commanding officers warned GIs they’d be spat on when they returned home, that they should throw away their uniform to protect themselves. Yet no one alerted the cops, or military authorities, or the press? We’re talking about assault here. Wouldn’t the FBI, whose goal throughout the nineteen sixties was to thwart and undermine the antiwar movement, have arrested at least one spitter? There were, if the stories are to be believed, hundreds—even thousands—of them. And what about the press? Soldiers at airports being routinely abused and spat on would certainly have gotten to the media, who would, as Lembcke points out, “been camping in the lobby of the San Francisco airport, cameras in hand, just waiting for a chance to record the real thing–if, that is, they had any reason to believe that such incidents might occur.”

The simple fact is that between 1965 and 1975 no one was claiming to have been spat on. Okay, so maybe they were spat on metaphorically, as the increasingly popular expression goes. I have seen several people who initially claim they were spat on, when challenged, change the story to a version of “Well, I wasn’t literally spat on, but I may as well have been.” When the gentleman who claimed on my Facebook post to have been urinated on was challenged by several people, his story became “I ducked into a bar to get away from the jerks.” Who the “jerks” were was never explained.

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Working to Disarm Women’s Anti-Aging Demon

From The New York Times:

By Ashton Applewhite
Oct. 10, 2017

A couple of years ago I had a light bulb moment. So many women color their hair to cover the gray. Many resent the effort and expense, and it’s a major way in which we make ourselves invisible as older women. When a group is invisible, so are the issues that affect it. Suppose the world saw how many we are, and how beautiful, I mused. Suppose we morphed together, in solidarity: the Year of Letting Our Hair Go Gray! It would be transformative!

I posted the idea on my This Chair Rocks Facebook page. I got a ton of blowback. I deserved it. “You go first,” was one notable comment, so I did, bleaching my whole head. (I keep part of it white, partly as an age-solidarity dye job and partly because I figure no one believes the brown is real.) Mainly I learned an important lesson: Who was I to be telling women how they should look or what they should do? To each her own. We each have to age in our own way on whatever terms work for us.

One thing we can all agree on, though? Aging is harder for women. We bear the brunt of the equation of beauty with youth and youth with power — the double-whammy of ageism and sexism. How do we cope? We splurge on anti-aging products. We fudge or lie about our age. We diet, we exercise, we get plumped and lifted and tucked.

These can be very effective strategies, and I completely understand why so many of us engage in them. No judgment, I swear. But trying to pass for younger is like a gay person trying to pass for straight or a person of color for white. These behaviors are rooted in shame over something that shouldn’t be shameful. And they give a pass to the underlying discrimination that makes them necessary.

Appearance matters. Adornment pleases. But society’s obsession with the way women look is less about beauty than about obedience to a punishing external standard — and power. When women compete to “stay young,” we collude in our own disempowerment. When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism and patriarchy. What else we can we all agree on? This is one bad bargain. It sets us up to fail. It pits us against one another. It’s why the poorest of the poor, around the world, are old women of color.

What’s a girl to do? Join forces against ageism the way we mobilized against sexism in the 1960s and ‘70s. For movements to have power, their members have to embrace the thing that is stigmatized, whether it’s being black, loving someone of the same sex, or growing old. That means moving from denying aging to accepting it, and even to embracing it.

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Hairy legs in a fashion advert are good news for feminists … aren’t they?

To shave or not to shave?  I abandoned high heels, make up (most of the time) and shaving my pits and legs back in the 1970s.  Being relatively hairless the latter didn’t require much effort as most never noticed.  Shaving pubes always seemed like it was for porn stars and other sex workers, besides it itches like crazy and if people freaked out about a few hairs escaping my bathing suit bottom it was their problem not mine.

Ahh but now we live in an age where everything including much which should be kept private is communicated to the world as a political statement.  Me?  I was a hippie dyke and skipping those commercial gender ideas just seemed like the thing to do, or not do might be a better way of putting it since doing them requires effort and spending money.

From The Guardian UK:

It’s uncomfortable to see progressive ideas being co-opted to sell stuff. But at least it’s a challenge to misogynist ideas about women’s bodies

Tuesday 10 October 2017

In Arvida Byström’s shoot for Adidas, the model and artist wears pastel pinks and a lacy frock. She also power-poses, taking up space – evidently never having been informed that girls in pretty dresses should keep their knees together. She’s petite, blonde and feminine, but with a facial expression clearly communicating that you should not get all up in the business of this princess. On her feet, a pair of pristine sneakers announce themselves as the footwear of choice for fierce gals in skirts. And on her legs, the ultimate fashion accessory for this (and, in my opinion, every) winter: hair.

The hair, predictably, has offended those with delicate sensibilities. Byström has even reported rape threats. (Funny how folks with rigid ideas about how women should behave seem to set extremely low standards for their own public comportment, no?)

And so we’re back to the female body hair conversation, but with an interesting twist. Because body hair, it seems, is now mainstream enough to be marketed. Not body hair itself, of course. That’s free. Rather, the feminist aesthetic of body hair is on sale: the IDGAF badassery of it, the bravery (and it does take bravery) of being that woman on the tube with hairy legs.

Not long ago, I saw a hairy female armpit looming large on a screen in New York’s Times Square. The advert was for H&M. I was surprised that a presumably well market-researched campaign had concluded that hairy women would not hurt a major fashion brand. I felt good. Then bad. Then confused.

I experience cognitive dissonance when it comes to feminist branding. On the one hand, capitalist co-option of progressive symbols can weaken their force. Think Coca-Cola in the 1970s using the aesthetic of the hippy movement to convince consumers that radical love meant buying the world a Coke; think Che Guevara T-shirts in Primark; Kendall Jenner in that Pepsi ad; Theresa May sporting her Frida Kahlo bracelet (Theresa – do you actually know who that is? Hint: she used to go out with Trotsky!)

The brand gets an easy-wear, machine-washable liberal sheen for their labour practices and politics. Meanwhile radical ideology becomes just another product for sale, voided of its context, intent, and – eventually – power.

And yet, not every corporate uptake of progressive ideas is as empty as this. For example, Dove’s use of the feminist language of body positivity is intended to make us buy more shimmery lotions, of course, but it also pushes back against the toxic turn visual culture took in the 80s – all that starving and surgery disguised as step aerobics. It battles the beauty myth and does some feminist work.

Necessarily, advertising and marketing reflect the ideas that are likely to appeal to us. They also shape our desires and expectations. If they didn’t, then why would corporations spend millions on them?

Both Byström’s work for Adidas and Dove’s well established “real beauty” brand privilege limited categories of beauty. As Byström astutely points out in her reaction to the abuse she’s been getting, she’s white, slim, able-bodied and cis, and thus on the receiving end of a fraction of the flak that women from more marginalised demographics face. It’s way easier for skinny white girls – like her, like me – to get away with gender transgressions.

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