The Link Between Vietnam and Nixon’s Recognition of China

A Disrespectful Loyalty, Episode 9

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burn and Lyn Novick

Film Review

Last night Maori TV showed part 9 of the Vietnam War series.

During the period covered (February 1970 – March 1973), Nixon’s sole focus with to withdraw US troops from Vietnam without losing the 1972 election. He knew he would be defeated if Saigon fell. Much of this episode consists of tape recordings of Nixon’s Oval Office conversations with his chief security advisor Henry Kissinger.

Although the filmmakers refer to 1/4 of US GIs using marijuana in Vietnam and 40,000 being addicted to heroin, for some reason they neglect to mention the South Vietnamese army was the main source of these drugs.

They do report on the growing influence of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and play an excerpt of former naval lieutenant John Kerry’s (a VVAW member) compelling testimony before a Senate investigative committee.

1971 also saw the New York Times publican of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. This Defense Department study, covering 1945-1967, revealed successive US presidents had been continuously lying to the American public regarding their true motives waging war in Vietnam.

Nixon’s paranoia about documents Ellsberg and others might possess about his own lies led him to create “The Plumbers,” a secret team that broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (in the hope of finding material they could use to blackmail him).

Much of this episode focuses on the Paris peace talks, and Nixon’s efforts to force North Vietnam to agree to a favorable peace treaty. To this end, he resumed bombing raid on North Vietnam, which were far more brutal (in terms of civilian casualties) than those Johnson had been condemned for.

I was surprised to learn that Nixon’s recognition of Communist China (after nearly 40 years) was part of a ploy to increase Chinese and Russian pressure on their North Vietnamese allies to sign a peace settlement favorable to the US.

The latter would be signed on January 23,1973, and over the next few weeks the last US troops would leave Vietnam.

As of March 1973, over 58,000 GIs and 2 million Vietnamese had been killed in North Vietnam.

 

How Rigged Voting Machines Are Stealing Our Elections

 

Hacking Democracy

Directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels (2006)

Film Review

Hacking Democracy is about Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, and her efforts to end the systematic use of voting machines to alter American election results. At the time the documentary was made (2006), computers counted 80% of the votes cast in US elections. However because the software programs that run voting machines are considered “trade secrets,” neither candidates nor election officials have any way of auditing whether voting machines are accurately recording and tabulating votes.

A visit to the group’s website (http://blackboxvoting.org/) indicates the vote tampering Harris uncovered continues to be widespread. Big discrepancies between exit polls and “official” (machine tabulated) results suggest that vote rigging is even more widespread today than it was ten years ago. If anything these discrepancies are worse than ever in 2016. See What is #Exitpollgate?

The film mainly focuses on Diebold corporation, owing to a fluke in which Harris obtained copies of software code one of their employees (a whistleblower?) mistakenly uploaded to an old Diebold website. With the help of various software engineers, Harris successfully elucidated exactly how vote tampering occurred in various counties in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

She first became interested in the role of voting machines in vote rigging after finding a voting machine in Volusia County Florida that awarded Al Gore a grand total of minus 16,022 votes. Programming computers to record negative votes is essential to ensure that vote totals don’t exceed the total number of voters.

The film poses a number of unresolved mysteries, such as why John Kerry didn’t challenge the vote rigging in New Mexico and Ohio in 2004 – despite promises he made his supporters to fight voting machine tampering. Shortly after his concession speech Kerry, whose victory was assured by exit polls, acknowledged that vote counting in New Mexico (where every single Hispanic district voted for Bush) had been rigged.

Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism

Robert Greenwald (2004)

Film Review

Outfoxed makes the case that media mogul Rupert Murdoch is first and foremost a politician – that he uses Fox News and his vast media monopoly* to promote conservative politicians who protect his financial interests. As evidence, it provides dozens of Fox News broadcast clips, samples of Roger Ailes’ daily editorial memos, and interviews with former Fox producers, reporters and commentators.

Murdoch used 21st Century Fox and the six TV stations owned by Metromedia he acquired in 1986 to form the Fox Broadcasting Company. In 1996, he entered the cable news market, hiring Roger Ailes to set up and run the Fox News Channel, a 24-hour cable news stations.

The former reporters and producers featured in the documentary talk at length about Ailes’ daily memos about topics they were required to cover (and avoid) and the spin he expected. Murdoch has a special hatred for the Kennedys, Bill Clinton, anti-war movie stars and Jesse Jackson and Fox employees were expected to invent opportunities to demonize them. The memos they received also heavily emphasized terrorism, fear of terrorism and divisive wedge issues, such as abortion, gay rights and religion, especially in election years. The intention was to distract US voters from issues, like the economy, that were problematic for Republicans.

Reporters and producers who failed to follow Ailes’ directives would be chewed out, demoted or fired. Commentators who failed to follow Murdoch’s party line would have their contracts canceled.

Election and War Coverage

Outfoxed devotes special attention to the biased coverage of the 2000 and 2004 election campaigns and the War in Iraq. In their vicious demonization of John Kerry in 2004, Fox News engaged in a deliberate attack campaign more typical of a political party.

The Fox Effect

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald also examines the effect Fox News has on other TV networks when they feel pressured to report Fox-initiated propaganda as news. The rumor that John Kerry looked and acted French – a pure Fox News invention – is a case in point. Likewise in 2000, ABC, NBC and CBS all declared Bush the winner at 2 am on election night, immediately after the Fox analyst (Bush’s first cousin) did so. Only Associated Press reported, correctly, that the Florida race was too close to call.

The Internet Effect

Produced ten years ago, the film’s call to action – lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – is totally obsolete. Greenwald had no way of predicted the social media revolution or its negative effect on traditional media. Young people no longer rely on TV for news and information. Young Americans (age 25-54) particularly avoid Fox News – there’s no way a network catering to an older male Republican base can possibly address the issues that concern them. This is reflected in a steady decline in Fox News ratings over the last five years.


*In addition to Fox Networks, Rupert Murdoch owns Harper Collins, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the British Sun, Times and Sky Television, five regional US newspapers and more than 100 national and regional Australian newspapers.