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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Post of 2011

Well, everyone, this is it. It is the last day of 2011 and if you are not looking back on the last twelve months dissecting what has happened since this time last year, than I am honored to have the one exception to that rule reading my blog. lol In all seriousness, I think the key to surviving New Years Eve (besides alcohol) is to not be too hard on yourself. I used to do that...obsess over everything I did not do in the year to the point where this holiday of sorts became one that I approached with bitterness and depression and now...Well, I still hate it but I don't ring in the New Year hating myself and that is good. (Yes, a little known fact about me is that I do honestly hate New Years Eve. I have ever since I can remember. But I think it is because I hate endings. However, in order to get to the fresh starts you have to let things go.)

In the last twelve months there have been many changes in my life. I started out this year engaged. I was a mother. I had a pretty predictable life and I was under the assumption that by this time I would be married (the date was set for October). And then in the blink of an eye all of that was gone. First, he left and then he took his child and I was left with the rug pulled out from under me wondering what was right. Do I try to put things back together again knowing that neither one of us was happy for the sake of the family I built or do I accept what has happened and reinvent parts of my life to suit me and me (mostly) alone (there is my baby sister to consider also but since she is 15 she is down for anything at this point). After some epiphanies I went with the latter and I am so much happier for it. Except for the damage my body has done and a few new emotional scars, I am me again.

Reconnecting with a great guy I once knew was a very unexpected but beautiful surprise for me this year. His friendship has meant quite a bit to me these last few months as I assume he knows already and although there are sometimes frustrations involved, having that friendship is worth it to me. Whatever it becomes in the future it makes me happy to know we will always have that. I love him, he loves me and right now that's enough. :)

On a note totally unrelated to love and all the mushy shit, I got my associate's degree in psychology this year, I started my bachelor's, and I made the choice to self-publish Castles Made of Sand. People I have never met have actually read my book. It may not be much, but I still think it is pretty fucking cool. Hopefully in 2012 I will be fortunate enough to find the right agent to take the self out of that phrase because that has been my goal all along. But at least I made some movement toward something this year with my writing, right? Right. :)

Until this last week, the year had not been too bad for my immediate family. Ending 2011 with grandpa in the hospital hooked up to tubes, being told that he could still die even after he has held on this long, is mind boggling to me. But I have faith that he hasn't gone through all of this to let go now. This time next year I will be writing about something crazy he did at Christmas. And it is that belief that allows me to be here typing this instead of losing my fucking mind.

Except for grandpa's health problems, I can see the good that has come from every painful situation I have faced this year. Every tear I've shed has cleansed me, every sob helped me let go, and I can honestly say that as far as where I am in my life, I sit here tonight happier than I was at this time last year. I know where I am going and I am proud of where I've been. Tragedy, pain, it does serve a purpose if only you try hard enough to find it.

So what about the next twelve months? What do I want from 2012? I want good health, joy, and prosperity, and peace for those I love. I want to finish Rapunzel and self-publish it in March and then find an agent to find a publisher that will take over the work of promotion on a bigger scale than I ever could. I also want to get a good chunk of Book Two to the Dark Fairy tales series, Beauty and the Beast, finished by next New Years Eve. Are you excited? I'm excited. Luke is quite dashing as the beast, kids. He may be the sexiest vampire I have ever made. He's just that good. No surprise, really. Of all the Princess movies, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite and I have always thought that the way The Beast was in the cartoon was pretty fucking hot. Don't judge my strange ways, ok? That's not nice. haha I also want the world to be a stronger but kinder place, I want people to be stronger but kinder people, and I want some wisdom to finally seep into the collective consciousness of humankind. Will I get that? My hopes are not high. But if you want it, you must start it with yourself. 

Good books, good music, and good people are really all I need...along with love of all be happy. So if I get only that this year, I will be content.

And as for you, my good blogger people, I wish all of you the best twelve months you have ever had. I hope you all have a year full of prosperity, good health, love, joy, and peace. I also hope that when you sit twelve months from now and you look back on 2012 you see more good things in those months than bad and for each bad thing that does come your way, I hope it leads to something great. God bless/Blessed be to you all and may you all have a very very happy New Year. Now it is on to 2012!!!!
P.S. In case you couldn't tell, I am among those that believe the Mayan Calender ends in 2012 because the people making it ran out of stone to carve it on...;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lyndon B. Johnson Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election

On March 31st, 1968, Doves everywhere sat in awe before television sets as LBJ gave an announcement that both shocked and delighted them. Before an audience of thousands via the TV, he told the nation that he would not seek nor accept a nomination for a second term as president. Why was this so important? As far as many hippies and protesters were concerned, LBJ had the power to stand in the way of Kennedy or even McCarthy gaining the Democratic nomination in 1968. So when he decided to step out, they had faith that a Dove may take his place in the Oval office in January. Of course, this was short lived. Humphrey, LBJ's Vice President, soon threw his name in the hat and of course by June the dream of Robert Kennedy taking office was slain right along with the man himself. But on that night protesters and hippies from sea to shining sea were thrilled as they listened to Johnson's speech:
And here is Liz's take on that speech:

 'I never expected to see Lyndon B. Johnson on the television. I never expected that look on his face that I at once recognized as a sort of resignation. What is this jackass up to, I wondered. When he began to speak I listened despite myself and in the end I was so glad that I did. First he called a partial end to the bombing in Vietnam. This made me turn up the volume a little to see what other surprises were in store for us. Then he began to talk about the national division over the war in Vietnam. And this was the reason he gave for the biggest surprise of the broadcast. Looking at the camera in a moment that conveyed for me, the most emotion of his presidency, he said, “I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
    This was a moment that we had waited on for so long. He wouldn’t run. There was no possible way that we would have to put up with his insane bureaucratic bullshit for another four years.'
This is an article from the L.A. Times discussing LBJ's possible motivation for bowing out taken from :
 'Forty years ago tomorrow, President Lyndon B. Johnson shocked the nation with his televised announcement that he would not run for another term as president.
"I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president," he said on that night in 1968.
Since then, there has been much speculation about what motivated his decision. Many believe he dropped out because he feared he would lose and wanted to avoid the humiliation.
As appointments secretary to Johnson -- the position now known as chief of staff -- I followed the ups and downs of the president's decision-making process closely, and I am convinced that fear of losing was not why he declined to run. In fact, just prior to his March 31 speech, we instructed our pollster, Oliver Quayle, to do an in-depth survey pitting Johnson against all of his competitors in both parties. Johnson defeated every Democrat and Republican candidate by relatively wide margins.
The poll was conducted about the time of the New Hampshire primary. Because Johnson had not said definitively one way or the other whether he would be seeking the nomination, insurgent Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy was the only serious candidate on the Democratic ballot. Even though McCarthy did much better than anyone expected, the fact is that Johnson won the primary with 49% of the vote -- all on write-ins.
From my vantage point, the president had begun seriously considering not running much earlier, in September 1967. That's when the president asked Texas Gov. John Connally to join him and Lady Bird Johnson for a weekend at the LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas. The only others invited that weekend were the president's top secretary, Marie Fehmer, and me. Connally and the Johnsons rode around the ranch in the president's Lincoln Continental convertible (usually with the top down and the heat or air conditioning on full blast, depending on the weather) and talked at length over meals about whether to run again. Connally argued that Johnson should retire. Mrs. Johnson, in a more delicate and indirect style, implied that she also hoped the president would not run again.
As a 28-year-old who had been working closely with President Johnson for only three years, I could not believe that this man who so relished politics and governing would voluntarily walk away from such power. Clearly, I was only beginning to understand the Lyndon Johnson persona.
In December 1967, we were again at the LBJ Ranch during the Christmas season. One of my tasks there was to coordinate the writing of the 1968 State of the Union address, which was to be given the following month. During that process of exchanging speech ideas and drafts, the president asked me to contact one of his former staffers and speechwriters, Horace Busby, and have him draft a separate conclusion -- what Johnson referred to as a "peroration" -- announcing that he would not seek reelection. Busby's writing was to remain totally confidential from all except the president and me. It was kept separate -- typewritten on one sheet of paper that Johnson carried in his pocket.

When the president completed his address on Jan. 17 without reading the Busby peroration, I assumed he had changed his mind and would run for reelection. Johnson's explanation, however, was that he had left the only copy of Busby's remarks on his bedroom night table and therefore decided not to make the announcement. Over the next couple of months, we had several more discussions at the end of the workday about whether he should run. He told me that he still had important legislation he wanted to move through Congress and felt that if he had announced in January, he would have become an immediate lame duck, powerless to move the Congress.
In these late-evening talks, he gave several reasons for not running again. He said his father and grandfather had both died at age 64, and he felt that he would not complete a second term as he would be 64 during the last year of that term. (As it turned out, Johnson died in retirement at 64.) He said that he had always been so busy with his political life that he had never fully enjoyed participating in the growing up of his daughters and that he wanted the time to have that experience with his grandchildren.
But I believe that the most important reason he decided not to run again was his passionate desire to conclude the Vietnam War honorably. His middle-of-the-night awakenings to get the casualties report; his ongoing concern about the safety of his son-in-law, Chuck Robb, who was a Marine officer in the thick of heavy combat; his personal sense of responsibility each time he met with troops soon to be heading to Vietnam; and his growing sense of the futility of achieving total victory -- all of this had taken a toll on his vitality
In many of our discussions, he said that if he did not seek reelection, he would be free to explore all options to conclude the war. If he did run, however, politics would interfere. "What if the opportunity came late in the campaign; I might want to wait until after the election for fear it might be misinterpreted and cost us votes," he once said, "and then the opportunity might have been lost."
Johnson was an avid student of history. More than anything, he wanted his presidency to be judged well by history. His foreboding was that the war would overshadow all of his domestic accomplishments.
In March, in addition to ordering the Quayle poll, Johnson asked for information on President Truman's 1952 announcement that he would not run again. That speech was made on March 30 -- about as late as Johnson felt a candidate could possibly wait to decide.
On Friday, March 29, 1968, Johnson held a Rose Garden session with White House journalists, announcing that he would make a televised address Sunday. That evening, he asked White House press secretary George Christian; my predecessor, Marvin Watson; and me to have a drink in his private office just off the Oval Office. He asked us whether he should announce on Sunday that he would not run again. Our advice was straightforward, splitting 2-1 that he had to run. Christian was the no vote; I argued that at this late date, Johnson had to run because to drop out now would splinter the Democratic Party in the fall.
The rest of that weekend was a blur as the speechwriters cranked out draft after draft announcing a significant shift in our Vietnam policy designed to lure the North Vietnamese and their allies to seriously consider a settlement to the war. I contacted Busby to write the peroration again, putting him in the White House family quarters in order to keep his work secret from other speechwriters and staff.
Early Sunday morning, the president summoned me to the White House to join him and his daughter, Luci, at Catholic Mass at St. Dominic's in southwest Washington. During Mass, he instructed me to call Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who was to go to Mexico that morning, to ask him to postpone leaving until we could visit him at his apartment after the church service.
At the apartment, Johnson, Humphrey and I took seats in the vice president's small study. Handing the speech to Humphrey, Johnson said he wanted Humphrey's comments. Reading through the main text, Humphrey was his usual ebullient self, with many positive comments. Then came the "I will not seek" peroration. Humphrey became short of breath, as if he was having an anxiety attack. He looked up, speechless. Johnson admonished Humphrey not to say anything because the decision to make the announcement wasn't final. Humphrey's eyes moistened. Then, perhaps thinking of his failed 1960 campaign for the Democratic nomination against John F. Kennedy and of Robert Kennedy's recent entry into the '68 race, Humphrey said, "There's no way I can beat the Kennedys." Johnson gave him encouragement, and we left to go back to the White House.
After many more rewrites, the president asked me about an hour before the scheduled 9 p.m. speech to tell the technician -- and only the technician -- to put the peroration on the TelePrompTer.
Once the speech began, I returned to my office to call Humphrey, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, congressional leaders and a few others.
When the speech was over, it was as if Johnson had regained several years. He had a new bounce and in short order was talking about what we needed to do concerning the war and the remaining legislative agenda. But only four days later, LBJ's confidence and optimism were badly battered when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, touching off riots in several cities.
As for me, a very young man who thought he was so seasoned, I had witnessed another dimension to Lyndon Johnson. He pursued purpose even at the cost of power.'

Students Seize Admissions Building at Howard University- March 1968

In March of 1968, students took over the admissions building at Howard University. This was a month before the infamous take over at Columbia University and Liz had never seen anything quite like a take over before. This was aggressive protesting and before '68 there was little of that in Liz's circle of protesters. Yes, she had seen aggressive protesting in her early days at Berkeley but even that was not quite like this:
'Howard University students seized the admissions building. This was a startling thing, a new thing to me. I had never heard of students taking over a part of a university in protest. I watched the news of it and the clips from it and I was awed. I didn’t necessarily agree with it but I didn’t disagree with it either. It was simply a new realm to me, one that had not been explored until that moment. The peaceful protestors were tired of being nice. They were tired of trying to use words to reason with unreasonable fools. They were sick of being pushed around for trying to make a difference. I felt that same way deep in my bones. Things were moving along the way we wanted them to but for how long? And if it all came crashing down again would we go about doing things the way we had for years?'
This is a first hand account that I found while searching the take over on yahoo search. It comes from a fellow blogger and the direct link to it is I followed this blog upon reading this account because to me, this person must be pretty fucking groovy to have been involved in such a thing and while I have not read through other posts on it, I would assume that if you like this blog, you might like this cat's blog as well:
"I was a freshman at Howard University when 1,200 of us entered the Administration building on March 20, 1968, sitting-in in protest over the threatened expulsion of 38 of our classmates who had been accused of disrupting Charter Day.

Four days later we marched back out, having shut down the University and having saved those students from expulsion, successful in having prevailed in all our demands save one: the removal of President James M. Nabrit, which would come to pass two years later when Dr. James Cheek took office.

While we were the first United States university closed down by student activism, Columbia University (which had supported our efforts) followed our protest with one of their own and because of better media coverage is generally assumed to have been first. I am happy to set the record straight.

Among the protest leaders, Michael Harris, the Freshmen class president would later become a lawyer in the Howard University Office of General Counsel. Howard University Student Association (H.U.S.A) president Ewart Brown, M.D. is currently Premier of Bermuda, and Tony Gittens, Ph.D. is executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities."

Here is some information about why students occupied Howard University taken from
'About 350 students and union workers crowded the plaza outside Howard University's administration building Friday morning, protesting a long list of grievances including problems with on-campus housing, delays in financial aid payments and labor practices, and at one point threatening a sit-in before they were turned away from the building's doors.

"We love Howard," said Corey Briscoe, 20, a junior and the director of student advocacy for the Howard University Student Association. "But this impinges on academic freedom."

The crowd, many wearing black T-shirts as a sign of protest, waved colorful signs and chanted "Students first!" and "We want answers!"

Students described long lines at the financial aid office and loan and aid payments that were still missing nearly two weeks after the school year started.

"I live off-campus. On September 1st I was supposed to pay my rent," said sophomore Jecika Merzius 19. She said that she turned in her forms in June but was only approved Thursday. "Everyone is having the same problem."

Another student said she had had similar problems last year.

"I wasn't even sure I could afford to come here until the first day of school," said Tahir Alberga, 19, a sophomore.

Students also complained of a shortage of on-campus housing and called for the resignation of the interim vice provost of student affairs, Charles Gibbs, who they said had censored an article about disciplinary actions against students in the Hilltop, the student-run newspaper.

Members of a service workers union protested the school's employment practices.

Though the students were advocating press freedom in part, organizers asked participants not to speak to media unless the student organization's public relations director was present. Students who did speak to one reporter were repeatedly hassled by others present.

And at least some students watching from across the street weren't convinced that the protest would be effective.

"I don't think this is the right way," said junior Dexter Williams, 21. "There have been many protests on campus before, and nothing's changed."

As the crowd dwindled, a minor scuffle broke out at the door as Joseph Smith, 25, a divinity school student, tried to open a door and was kicked in the leg by a Howard security officer. But the doors locked as the protest organizers asked the crowd to remain calm. By 1:30, 2 1/2 hours after the protest had started, organizers asked the crowd to move to a university chapel, where they would rest and wait as organizers met with university administration.

A university spokeswoman said the Office of the Provost met with student leadership Friday. A follow-up meeting is planned for early next week, with the president and senior leadership present to discuss student concerns and possible solutions.

"We take the concerns raised by our students very seriously, and the university is committed to providing a high-quality education and first-rate student support services," she said in a statement.
Sources: '

At this point I would post a picture but alas! I could find none. So, instead I will leave you with this...although this take over lacked the notoriety that Columbia's achieved in history, it certainly had its place. It paved the way for Columbia and it was, in a way, a new face of protesting that would start out as more aggressive but still mostly harmless (Well, harmless for the public at large...not so much for the protesters that got their heads bashed in for trying it...) and would, in time, evolve in some cases into aggression that tore apart the image of the anti-war movement. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Robert Kennedy Announces He Will Run For President-March 16th, 1968

I was going to do Robert's announcement that he will run and the scene about his death in one post but I changed my mind about that. To keep my blog from being a big bore, I do try to keep from repeating subjects when possible which is why I will post the small things between March and June in this post but the assassination needs its own post, I think, not only because it was enormous to the movement but because, as you will see, it was very personal and very hard for Liz. So...March 16th, 1968 is the date and Liz and her friends have hoped that Kennedy would announce his bid for president as Liz states with this:

'On March twelfth L.B.J. won the New Hampshire democratic primary. That was a small blow to all of us. However, the win was slim with Eugene McCarthy losing by only eight percent. This gave us hope. Here was this man whom so many had supported for so long and now he was just barely winning against an outspoken dove who, if elected, would certainly bring us home from the war. We would support McCarthy. Still, so many of us hoped that Robert Kennedy would soon announce his bid. After his meeting with Cesar Chavez in Delano, California on the tenth it seemed that he was certainly up to something and what else could a Kennedy be planning to do with such actions on election year if not running for office? That was our logic anyway.'

So of course, when it happened at last it was a very emotional moment for her:

'The voice of Robert Kennedy could be heard and we shut up to hear what he had to say. At first we were unclear about the reason for the conference. As we listened, we agreed with him and then….at long last….he said what we had been waiting months to hear. “That is why I am announcing my candidacy for president of these United States.” At first we were silent, all of us. It had to have a second, this message that we had yearned for, in order for it to sink in. To my surprise I felt a tear slide down my cheek. There are probably many readers who are, at this point, scratching your heads and wondering why. What was the big deal, you might ask. McCarthy was a dove but he was not as outspoken as Kennedy about the war. Robert’s name alone gave him power and influence that McCarthy could have never matched. And he had, for over a year, proven himself to be an ally to us, the peaceniks. After the years of Johnson and Hoover’s FBI we needed Kennedy. We needed at last to have someone with power on our side. Kennedy was that man and if there was anyone out there who could beat LBJ it was the little brother of the man whom so many considered to be one of the best presidents of all time. Of course, we didn’t want him because of his connections with Jack. We wanted him because at last, at long last, here was a politician who GOT IT! With just the one speech, that one promise to lead us, Robert became what his brother had been in his presidency. He became a face of hope. How could I not weep when at last the end of the nightmare seemed closer than ever?'

Of course Liz followed Kennedy's campaign and I won't share all of the small bits but I will share a moment that sticks out from his campaign a little more than others. It was the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Many major cities in America had riots that night and into the days that followed. Kennedy was in Indianapolis that day and he was supposed to go out and give a speech. Just before he was due to go out and meet the crowd he was told of King's death and he knew he would have to say something about it to the people if he went on with the engagement. Those around him advised against it, fearing the emotions of the crowd and how they might react as a result of the news of King's murder. Robert, however, insisted that he go out and speak to the people that had gathered to hear him. Liz watched all of this on her television in her living room as she sought to make sense of what had happened and she, like so many, got a little bit of comfort that day from the words that RFK had to say:

'As I sat watching the news, watching clips of Bobby Kennedy as he broke the news of King’s death to a crowd gathered in Indianapolis, one of the only major cities in America that did not riot that day or in the days that followed, the riots were just beginning in Watts. Hearing what Robert had to say that night gave me a sense of calm. He did not make light of what had happened, he did not play down the situation, but I think it was that that made the speech so good to hear. Something horrible had happened and the wounds were now bleeding for the nation that had seen too much in the way of good and evil to let something so tragic pass by. Something had to be done, something that might act as a band aid on the gash to our collective psyche. If I had known how long it would be before any sort of healing began, I might have wept a little more that night.'

Of course, I can't help but see a cruel irony in this clip as it was only a couple of months before Robert met his end because of an assassination's bullet. Perhaps he knew as he spoke to the people before him that his own death was a possibility he could not overlook. Maybe he had a bit of a premonition about it as he talked of the death of a great man. Who knows? Did his speech somehow prevent riots in Indianapolis? No one can say. Perhaps...or maybe that was simply a coincidence. But for Liz that night as she sat in her living room knowing that by the next morning she would have to stay clear of Watts or risk her life because of the hell it would be from angry people who did not want to accept this blow, his words provided shelter from the storm.


General Westmoreland and the Doves that disliked him...

In the anti-war movement those who were against the war (Doves) had some people in the world of Hawks (those who supported the war) that they really despised. There was Johnson and Hoover and Nixon...and Reagan...and General William Westmoreland. Now, this was the guy that would go on television and tell everyone how the U.S. was winning the war in Vietnam...they just needed two hundred thousand more young men fresh out of high school to come fight. So you can see how he became a very easy scapegoat for hippies and peaceniks. Liz never met him, she never sat down and done some large elaborate interview with him (though that would have been a trip, I am sure) but Liz did hate him very much. She did see him as one of the sinister faces of the machine that was keeping the war going when no one quite knew what they were fighting for. To her, him and others like him were murderers the same as if they had shot everyone of the American soldiers who had fallen themselves. Now, whether you agree or disagree with this, you have to look at it from the point of view of the character. To her, he was a liar and his lies to the American people ended in slaughter for thousands. The part I am about to share is brief but hopefully it captures a little of the frustration that Liz faced in regards to this man and his cause:

'I watched on the news as General Westmoreland, another hawk that none of us could stand, was asking for two hundred and six thousand more troops to go to Nam. This was a blow to the movement, of course, and it fueled my anger so that I was a furious mouth piece.'

Here is a small piece about the consequences in this last request for troops. Taken from
General Westmoreland took command in Vietnam in June 1964 replacing Gen. Paul Harkins. He was instrumental in raising the level of US forces deployed in Vietnam and in developing the strategies implemented in the region. Westmoreland continuously requested for an increase in manpower in Vietnam and President Johnson, who had his own troubles at home, refused to send more troops and finally recalled Westmoreland after he successfully stopped the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive in 1968. He was replaced by General Creighton W. Abrams 

But the story did not end there:
Upon his return to the US, Westmoreland was appointed as Chief of Staff of the US Army. His biggest challenge was to withdraw the troops from Vietnam and ready them for duty in other regions of the world. He was successful in restructuring the Army at a difficult time, but his tactics in Vietnam had become unpopular with some groups in the US. He maintained for many years that the policy in Vietnam had been the right one. General Westmoreland retired in 1972.

When Westmoreland was dismissed from his position on March 22nd, 1968, Liz was hopeful. She saw light at the end of the tunnel, a chance for the war to finally come to an end. She had not yet become as jaded with peace talks and new guys as she would be in the years to come where she learned never to put her faith in anyone related to the government. She still thought it was possible that a Dove or someone that saw the war as an unnecessary waste of American lives might do something to make it all end:
 'March twenty second became another victory for the doves. General Westmoreland, the son of a bitch who had generated so many lies to keep up morale for the war, the bastard who kept asking for more men so that it seemed like there would soon be none left to give, was relived of his duties. It was speculated that this came as a result of the Tet Offensive and the mess that it was perceived to be, though this was never really said outright. I think that the fact that he asked for more troops so soon after the Tet Offensive ended did nothing to help him. Within days he was replaced by a man named General Creighton Abrams who reversed Westmoreland’s strategy. He ended major search and destroy missions and focused more on protecting the people. What more could we have asked for? The light at the end of that tunnel seemed to be growing brighter and brighter.'
Westmoreland is vilified by Liz, yes. Why? Probably for the same reason why a character who dislikes hippies would likely vilify John Lennon or Abbie Hoffman: He was one of the most public faces of the war from 1964-1968 which was the time when the number of troops sent over to 'Nam hit its highest points. He was an easy person to blame for what people in the anti-war movement saw as a waste of life. He stood for everything they hated. And so most of them did...very much. And Liz, being Liz, was certainly no exception.

A detailed biography on General William Westmoreland taken from

Early Life:

Born on March 26, 1914, William C. Westmoreland was the son of a Spartanburg, SC textile manufacturer. Joining the Boy Scouts as a youth, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout before entering the Citadel in 1931. After one year in school, he transferred to West Point. During his time at the academy he proved to be an exceptional cadet and by graduation had become the corps' first captain. In addition, he received the Pershing Sword which was given to the most outstanding cadet in the class. After graduation, Westmoreland was assigned to the artillery.

World War II:

With the outbreak of World War II, Westmoreland swiftly rose through the ranks as the army expanded to meet wartime needs, reaching lieutenant colonel by September 1942. Initially an operations officer, he was soon given command of the 34th Field Artillery Battalion (9th Division), and saw service in North Africa and Sicily before the unit was transferred to England for use in Western Europe. Landing in France, Westmoreland's battalion provided fire support for the 82nd Airborne Division. His strong performance in this role was noted by the division's commander, Brigadier General James M. Gavin.
Promoted to executive officer of the 9th Division's artillery in 1944, he was temporarily promoted to colonel that July. Serving with the 9th for the remainder of the war, Westmoreland became the division's chief of staff in October 1944. With the surrender of Germany, Westmoreland was given command of the 60th Infantry in the US occupation forces. After moving through a number of infantry assignments, Westmoreland was asked by Gavin to take command of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) in 1946. While in this assignment, Westmoreland married Katherine S. Van Deusen.

Korean War:

Serving with the 82nd for four years, Westmoreland rose to become the division's chief of staff. In 1950, he was detailed to the Command and General Staff College as instructor. The following year he was moved to the Army War College in the same capacity. With theKorean War raging, Westmoreland was given command of the 187th Regimental Combat Team. Arriving in Korea, he led the 187th for over a year before returning to the US to become deputy assistant chief of staff, G–1, for manpower control. Serving at the Pentagon for five years, he took the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1954.
Promoted to major general in 1956, he took command of the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, KY in 1958, and led the division for two years before being assigned to West Point as the academy's superintendent. One of the Army's rising stars, Westmoreland was temporarily promoted to lieutenant general in July 1963, and placed in charge of the Strategic Army Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps. After a year in this assignment he was transferred to Vietnam as deputy commander and acting commander of the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).

Vietnam War:

Shortly after his arrival, Westmoreland was made permanent commander of MACV and given command of all US forces in Vietnam. Commanding 16,000 men in 1964, Westmoreland oversaw the escalation of the conflict and had 535,000 troops under his control when he departed in 1968. Employing an aggressive strategy of search and destroy, he sought to draw the forces of the Viet Cong (National Liberation Front) into the open where they could be eliminated. Westmoreland believed that the Viet Cong could be defeated through large-scale use of artillery, air power, and large-unit battles.
In late 1967, Viet Cong forced began striking US bases across the country. Responding in force, Westmoreland won a series of fights such as the Battle of Dak To. Victorious, US forces inflicted heavy casualties leading Westmoreland to inform President Lyndon Johnson that the end of the war was in sight. While victorious, the battles that fall pulled US forces out of South Vietnamese cities and set the stage for the Tet Offensive in late January 1968. Striking all across the country, the Viet Cong, with support from the North Vietnamese army, launched major attacks on South Vietnamese cities.
Responding to the offensive, Westmoreland led a successful campaign which defeated the Viet Cong. Despite this, the damage had been done as Westmoreland's optimistic reports about the war's course were discredited by North Vietnam's ability to mount such a large-scale campaign. In June 1968, Westmoreland was replaced by General Creighton Abrams. During his tenure in Vietnam, Westmoreland had sought to win a battle of attrition with the North Vietnamese, however he was never able to force the enemy to abandon a guerilla-style of warfare which repeatedly left his own forces at a disadvantage.

Army Chief of Staff:

Returning home, Westmoreland was criticized as the general who "won every battle until [he] lost the war." Assigned as Army Chief of Staff, Westmoreland continued to oversee the war from afar. Taking control in a difficult period, he assisted Abrams in winding down operations in Vietnam, while also attempting to transition the US Army to an all-volunteer force. In doing so, he worked to make army life more inviting to young Americans by issuing directives which allowed for a more relaxed approach to grooming and discipline. While necessary, Westmoreland was attacked by the establishment for being too liberal.
Westmoreland was also faced in this period with having to deal with widespread civil disturbance. Employing troops where necessary, he worked to aid in quelling the domestic unrest caused by the Vietnam War. In June 1972, Westmoreland's term as chief of staff ended and he elected to retire from the service. After unsuccessfully running for governor of South Carolina in 1974, he penned his autobiography, A Soldier Reports. For the remainder of his life he worked to defend his actions in Vietnam. He died in Charleston, SC on July 18, 2005.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Castles Made of Sand and the new Kindle Deal

Ok, boys and girls, I have news. No, not big news like a million dollar book deal (Wouldn't that be grand?) but it's still kind of exciting for me and for anyone who has a Kindle and an Amazon Prime membership. Apparently Amazon has set up a library (virtual of course) chalk full of e-books and yours truly has enrolled Castles in it a book lover I happen to feel that borrowing can sometimes be far better than buying (especially if you are taking a chance on a newbie like me...let's face it...I don't exactly have Stephen King's reputation...Yet. hahaha) and as a writer I see lending as a good chance to get my work out there. The thing is, I had to unpublish the book and republish it in order to enroll because of an option had selected by accident when I first published it back in March. So the book will be temporarily unavailable for about 12 hours or so but when it comes back, it will be the same version with some improvements (some mistakes corrected in spelling and grammar) and it will be enrolled in the lending program. And, as always, it is still available for sharing between pals regardless of your membership status. (Yeah, for those of you who did not know, if you buy Castles and you think your BFF might like it, you can share it. Or if your dear friend bought it and you want to check it out, you can borrow it.) So let's hope this turns out to be a good deal for the writers and the readers alike. And if it turns out to be a bad idea? I'll bail out of it and warn you all of the faults. hahaha 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

CCR-Suzie Q

And because I am a nice person (stop laughing...that's not nice) I am leaving you this week with good tunes...or rather a good tune. The song is Suzie Q, the band is CCR, the year is 1968, and Liz is hearing the record by this "little known Berkeley band" for the first time. Imagine how groovy that would be! 

Elizabeth Louise Sanders VS The Feral Feminist (1966)

I think it would be kind of hard to deny that when it comes to equality for my fellow females, I am a bit on the "Anything you can do us chicks can do better" side. So that means I have feminist views, right? To an extent....but upon reading about the feminist movement I learned something shocking, something unexpected. Roughly 90% (figure made up entirely by me just this moment) would have probably hated me. Why? Well, I love my bras. I believe that the part of my anatomy bras were designed to support look a thousand times better with one than without one. I also love my Cover-girl makeup, my Miss Clairol blue-black hair dye, perfect for covering my stubborn and premature white hairs (dark brown, blue black...not that big of a change which is why I can get away with it),  I love finding the right outfit, I love (and by love I mean LOVE) my white trash press on finger nails with extra glue, and I love to look pretty. I don't do this to impress men. Hell, most of the time I get myself all dolled up to sit here and the only guy that sees my efforts are my grandfather. I do it because when I look like I put some effort into my appearance I feel better about myself. But apparently these beauty habits were frowned upon by feminists back in the day as stupid expensive rituals designed to snag a husband therefore making them counter-productive to the movement. I suppose in that way, a feminist with my beauty habits would be like an anti-war protester bombing for peace (And again...think the Weather Underground cuz yeah, they did that...) but I don't like oppression. Being a small group oppressed by a larger group is unjust enough but being oppressed by your own group? Where is the sense or logic in that? I knew I had to say something about the feminist movement because  here was Liz, this strong, independent woman in California during the '60's. Yet she wouldn't exactly fit in with their mold, would she? So here was the case of Liz VS the Feral Feminist: 
'During the November meeting, as we sat rapping by the waves an issue came up that I had never really dealt with. “What are your views on the new feminist movement?”
     I looked over at the girl who asked the question. She was a year younger than me and new to the meetings. Her name, as I recall, was Clara. Tall, Twiggy-thin, with long blonde hair and big blue eyes, she looked more like a model than a feminist. Still, I was more taken aback by the fact that I had never given a thought to the question than that Clara had asked it. “Well, obviously I believe women deserve equality. We are capable of doing anything a man can do. To be honest, though, I’ve never delved into the actual movement. I’ve never met with feminists or anything like that.”
     “Would you like to? I attend meetings with a group housed close to the U.C.L.A. campus. The meetings are held the second and forth Sundays of the month and if you would like to check it out for yourself or the paper or whatever I would be more than happy to take you.” Because it was an important issue to many of my readers and because I figured I would fit right in and enjoy myself I agreed. What ensued as a result was my one and only instance of dabbling in the feminist movement.
     On Sunday morning I got up early and got ready, doing all the things I usually did. I got dressed in my every day clothes, which included the addition of a bra, I put on makeup, and I braided my hair. When Clara came to get me I was surprised to see her face void of the paint she normally wore to school and her usually fashionable clothes replaced by a plain pair of blue jeans and a plain black tee shirt. Assuming it was her laid back weekend appearance (who doesn’t have one of those?) I said nothing. It was she who asked in a sweet tone, “You look nice but do you really think you should go looking like that?”
     “Why not? It’s how I go everywhere.” I replied.
     Shrugging, she said simply, “Alright.” As she sped off with me hanging on to the dash board.
      After a few near death experiences thanks to her terrible driving, we made it to the meeting place in one piece. For that I was grateful. As she said, the small house was just two streets over from the campus. Cars were lining the street and I could tell the place was packed. Here we go, I thought, going in to face the lions. As soon as I walked through the front door everyone stared at me as if I were from another planet. “This is Liz.”Clara announced. “She’s never been to a fem meeting and she wanted to check it out.”
     One woman stood out as particularly hostile toward me. We all sat down in a circle as instructed and as soon as everyone was ready this chick started her attempt at verbally attacking me. “Is there some reason why you insist on dressing to encourage male attention? Can’t you see that’s what they want and by feeding the cycle of male repression you are only contributing to the problem?”
     I was genuinely flabbergasted by the woman’s words. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” I replied, feeling my temper start to flair. Everything I had learned from Professor Wilkins’s class about accepting the opinions of others went right out the window at that moment.
     “The only reason why a woman would dress the way you are dressed is to attract male attention. The entire cosmetics industry is fed by ignorant women who are wasting valuable time and money on trying to get some stiff pricked loser to look at them. And as for bras…”
     “They hold my tits up so I can see them sit, at least twelve hours a day, where they were meant to sit. As for attracting male attention, I have an old man. We’ve been together for two years and we’ve lived together the whole time. I dress the way I do because these are the clothes I am comfortable in. I wear makeup because I enjoy it. My old man has seen me without any of it. He’s with me first thing in the morning when I look terrible and I smell like morning breath. He’s seen me with the flu, he’s held my hair back while I threw up, he’s seen me from every angle and position imaginable. I doubt if he gives a fuck if I use Covergirl or not!” I spat out.
     Some of the women were smiling, some giggled, but the unsavory bitch just kept at it. “Oh, you have an old man and he lives with you? So what do you do all day, June, bake cookies and knit scarves?”
     “The name’s Liz, and, though it is none of your damned business, I work. I’ve had the same job for two and a half years in a very masculine profession. I am also working on a psychology degree. And I am heavily involved in the male-dominated anti-war movement where I am respected amongst all of those testosterone filled male egos as a comrade despite my padded tits and Covergirl-covered face. What do you do for a living besides sit around and run your mouth about a world you’ve probably never entered?”
     “Actually, I’ve devoted all of my time and energy to the importance of the movement that matters.”
     “How do you make money, then? Do you write articles about it?” I persisted.
     “Here and there, yes.” She was getting angry.
     “Well, here and there doesn’t pay the bills, does it? Who pays for this place?”
     “It was my father’s house…”
     “Your father? But isn’t he a man? I’ll bet you live off daddy’s money, too, don’t you? So in all actuality you, Miss-Do-It-Herself-Feminist are the one who is supported by a man while I work my ass off to be independent, right?” I stood up, disgusted with the whole scene. “This feminist rhetoric sounds just as goddamned oppressive as the male dominated society it claims to fight against. When you all wake up and decide to allow all women to be exactly who they want without criticizing them, give me a call.” I walked out of that house and the notion of feminist values then and there and I never looked back.
     Following my departure I walked over to the U.C.L.A. campus to use one of the pay phones located there. I had decided if I couldn’t get a hold of anyone I would walk but I wanted to try the house first. Julie answered on the first ring and agreed to come and get me. While I waited I sat there and thought about what had just taken place. What sort of world where we living in when people would gladly trade one form of oppression for another simply because the new oppressors were more like them? In my mind a woman telling another woman how she has to do things was a greater betrayal by far than a man doing the same. If something like that was happening with the feminist movement was it also happening in the anti-war movement or the civil rights movement? If the answer was yes than what the hell was the point of any of it?'
The National Organization For Women's 1966 Statement of Purpose (Taken from ):

'We, men and women who hereby constitute ourselves as the National Organization for Women, believe that the time has come for a new movement toward true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes, as part of the world-wide revolution of human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders.
The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.
We believe the time has come to move beyond the abstract argument, discussion and symposia over the status and special nature of women which has raged in America in recent years; the time has come to confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right, as individual Americans, and as human beings.
NOW is dedicated to the proposition that women, first and foremost, are human beings, who, like all other people in our society, must have the chance to develop their fullest human potential. We believe that women can achieve such equality only by accepting to the full the challenges and responsibilities they share with all other people in our society, as part of the decision-making mainstream of American political, economic and social life.
We organize to initiate or support action, nationally, or in any part of this nation, by individuals or organizations, to break through the silken curtain of prejudice and discrimination against women in government, industry, the professions, the churches, the political parties, the judiciary, the labor unions, in education, science, medicine, law, religion and every other field of importance in American society.
Enormous changes taking place in our society make it both possible and urgently necessary to advance the unfinished revolution of women toward true equality, now. With a life span lengthened to nearly 75 years it is no longer either necessary or possible for women to devote the greater part of their lives to child- rearing; yet childbearing and rearing which continues to be a most important part of most women's lives -- still is used to justify barring women from equal professional and economic participation and advance.
Today's technology has reduced most of the productive chores which women once performed in the home and in mass-production industries based upon routine unskilled labor. This same technology has virtually eliminated the quality of muscular strength as a criterion for filling most jobs, while intensifying American industry's need for creative intelligence. In view of this new industrial revolution created by automation in the mid-twentieth century, women can and must participate in old and new fields of society in full equality -- or become permanent outsiders.
Despite all the talk about the status of American women in recent years, the actual position of women in the United States has declined, and is declining, to an alarming degree throughout the 1950's and 60's. Although 46.4% of all American women between the ages of 18 and 65 now work outside the home, the overwhelming majority -- 75% -- are in routine clerical, sales, or factory jobs, or they are household workers, cleaning women, hospital attendants. About two-thirds of Negro women workers are in the lowest paid service occupations. Working women are becoming increasingly -- not less -- concentrated on the bottom of the job ladder. As a consequence full-time women workers today earn on the average only 60% of what men earn, and that wage gap has been increasing over the past twenty-five years in every major industry group. In 1964, of all women with a yearly income, 89% earned under $5,000 a year; half of all full-time year round women workers earned less than $3,690; only 1.4% of full-time year round women workers had an annual income of $10,000 or more.
Further, with higher education increasingly essential in today's society, too few women are entering and finishing college or going on to graduate or professional school. Today, women earn only one in three of the B.A.'s and M.A.'s granted, and one in ten of the Ph.D.'s.
In all the professions considered of importance to society, and in the executive ranks of industry and government, women are losing ground. Where they are present it is only a token handful. Women comprise less than 1% of federal judges; less than 4% of all lawyers; 7% of doctors. Yet women represent 51% of the U.S. population. And, increasingly, men are replacing women in the top positions in secondary and elementary schools, in social work, and in libraries -- once thought to be women's fields.
Official pronouncements of the advance in the status of women hide not only the reality of this dangerous decline, but the fact that nothing is being done to stop it. The excellent reports of the President's Commission on the Status of Women and of the State Commissions have not been fully implemented. Such Commissions have power only to advise. They have no power to enforce their recommendation; nor have they the freedom to organize American women and men to press for action on them. The reports of these commissions have, however, created a basis upon which it is now possible to build. Discrimination in employment on the basis of sex is now prohibited by federal law, in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But although nearly one-third of the cases brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the first year dealt with sex discrimination and the proportion is increasing dramatically, the Commission has not made clear its intention to enforce the law with the same seriousness on behalf of women as of other victims of discrimination. Many of these cases were Negro women, who are the victims of double discrimination of race and sex. Until now, too few women's organizations and official spokesmen have been willing to speak out against these dangers facing women. Too many women have been restrained by the fear of being called `feminist." There is no civil rights movement to speak for women, as there has been for Negroes and other victims of discrimination. The National Organization for Women must therefore begin to speak.
WE BELIEVE that the power of American law, and the protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to the civil rights of all individuals, must be effectively applied and enforced to isolate and remove patterns of sex discrimination, to ensure equality of opportunity in employment and education, and equality of civil and political rights and responsibilities on behalf of women, as well as for Negroes and other deprived groups.
We realize that women's problems are linked to many broader questions of social justice; their solution will require concerted action by many groups. Therefore, convinced that human rights for all are indivisible, we expect to give active support to the common cause of equal rights for all those who suffer discrimination and deprivation, and we call upon other organizations committed to such goals to support our efforts toward equality for women.
WE DO NOT ACCEPT the token appointment of a few women to high-level positions in government and industry as a substitute for serious continuing effort to recruit and advance women according to their individual abilities. To this end, we urge American government and industry to mobilize the same resources of ingenuity and command with which they have solved problems of far greater difficulty than those now impeding the progress of women.
WE BELIEVE that this nation has a capacity at least as great as other nations, to innovate new social institutions which will enable women to enjoy the true equality of opportunity and responsibility in society, without conflict with their responsibilities as mothers and homemakers. In such innovations, America does not lead the Western world, but lags by decades behind many European countries. We do not accept the traditional assumption that a woman has to choose between marriage and motherhood, on the one hand, and serious participation in industry or the professions on the other. We question the present expectation that all normal women will retire from job or profession for 10 or 15 years, to devote their full time to raising children, only to reenter the job market at a relatively minor level. This, in itself, is a deterrent to the aspirations of women, to their acceptance into management or professional training courses, and to the very possibility of equality of opportunity or real choice, for all but a few women. Above all, we reject the assumption that these problems are the unique responsibility of each individual woman, rather than a basic social dilemma which society must solve. True equality of opportunity and freedom of choice for women requires such practical, and possible innovations as a nationwide network of child-care centers, which will make it unnecessary for women to retire completely from society until their children are grown, and national programs to provide retraining for women who have chosen to care for their children full-time.
WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy -- with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today's economy and that, for a girl as for a boy, education can only be serious where there is expectation that it will be used in society. We believe that American educators are capable of devising means of imparting such expectations to girl students. Moreover, we consider the decline in the proportion of women receiving higher and professional education to be evidence of discrimination. This discrimination may take the form of quotas against the admission of women to colleges, and professional schools; lack of encouragement by parents, counselors and educators; denial of loans or fellowships; or the traditional or arbitrary procedures in graduate and professional training geared in terms of men, which inadvertently discriminate against women. We believe that the same serious attention must be given to high school dropouts who are girls as to boys.
WE REJECT the current assumptions that a man must carry the sole burden of supporting himself, his wife, and family, and that a woman is automatically entitled to lifelong support by a man upon her marriage, or that marriage, home and family are primarily woman's world and responsibility -- hers, to dominate -- his to support. We believe that a true partnership between the sexes demands a different concept of marriage, an equitable sharing of the responsibilities of home and children and of the economic burdens of their support. We believe that proper recognition should be given to the economic and social value of homemaking and child-care. To these ends, we will seek to open a reexamination of laws and mores governing marriage and divorce, for we believe that the current state of `half-equity" between the sexes discriminates against both men and women, and is the cause of much unnecessary hostility between the sexes.
WE BELIEVE that women must now exercise their political rights and responsibilities as American citizens. They must refuse to be segregated on the basis of sex into separate-and-not-equal ladies' auxiliaries in the political parties, and they must demand representation according to their numbers in the regularly constituted party committees -- at local, state, and national levels -- and in the informal power structure, participating fully in the selection of candidates and political decision-making, and running for office themselves.
IN THE INTERESTS OF THE HUMAN DIGNITY OF WOMEN, we will protest, and endeavor to change, the false image of women now prevalent in the mass media, and in the texts, ceremonies, laws, and practices of our major social institutions. Such images perpetuate contempt for women by society and by women for themselves. We are similarly opposed to all policies and practices -- in church, state, college, factory, or office -- which, in the guise of protectiveness, not only deny opportunities but also foster in women self-denigration, dependence, and evasion of responsibility, undermine their confidence in their own abilities and foster contempt for women.
NOW WILL HOLD ITSELF INDEPENDENT OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY in order to mobilize the political power of all women and men intent on our goals. We will strive to ensure that no party, candidate, president, senator, governor, congressman, or any public official who betrays or ignores the principle of full equality between the sexes is elected or appointed to office. If it is necessary to mobilize the votes of men and women who believe in our cause, in order to win for women the final right to be fully free and equal human beings, we so commit ourselves.
WE BELIEVE THAT women will do most to create a new image of women by acting now, and by speaking out in behalf of their own equality, freedom, and human dignity - - not in pleas for special privilege, nor in enmity toward men, who are also victims of the current, half-equality between the sexes - - but in an active, self-respecting partnership with men. By so doing, women will develop confidence in their own ability to determine actively, in partnership with men, the conditions of their life, their choices, their future and their society.
This Statement of Purpose was written by Betty Friedan, author of "The Feminine Mystique".'
A Short Video Explaining the Movement in the 1960's:

Final Thought: I am grateful for all waves of feminism. As a woman who saw a future outside of the kitchen from a very young age, I am grateful to all of my Foremothers who had the tits to stand up and say "No, actually, I am not going to take this shit anymore!" The point of this scene was not to dog feminists or the movement or their was to show that fighting for freedom is a beautiful thing, especially if you win. But fighting for freedom is completely pointless if you take away the rights of others to be who they want to be in the process.