LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON – VIETNAM 1967, by GARRY ARMSTRONG

WHEN OUR PRESIDENT WAS A HERO


Location: A campfire in Vietnam near Saigon.

Year: 1967.

1967 and 1968 were very intense years for me. I had jumped directly from college and small time commercial radio, to ABC Network News. The time was right and the opportunity was there, but I was a kid thrust suddenly into the big leagues. My journalistic baptism started with the 6-day war in the Middle East which began on my first day at ABC. My professional life continued with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the volatile 1968 Presidential campaigns and a long visit to Vietnam, the first of several.

At headquarters in New York, my assignment was to receive reports from ABC’s field correspondents. I’d speak with them over static-riddled phone lines. Difficult to hear for anyone, harder for me. The daily MACV — or war front reports — were often significantly different from what the Pentagon reported. It was disturbing, worrying. Then, they sent me to Vietnam.

The sights, sounds and smells of Vietnam are still with me, 50 years later.

ABC needed a grunt to help the news team covering President Johnson’s visit to Vietnam. I was it. My job required I not allow myself to be distracted from the work at hand. I was a young reporter still learning the ropes. I had to stay focused on the story and exclude the other harrowing images around me.

LBJ vietnam 1967It was a typical evening, the never-ending noise of artillery in the background. It was what was called “down time.” Dinner around a campfire. GI’s, South Vietnamese soldiers, politicians and news media, all hunkered down for chow. Everything was off the record. Chow was beans and some unknown local meat. Most of us ate the beans. Skipped the meat.

President Johnson or LJ as he told us to call him, squatted at the point of the campfire and told some colorful tales about dealing with his pals in the Senate and Congress. The stories were punctuated with smiles and profanities. LJ was drinking from a bottle which he passed around. Good stuff.

Halfway through dinner, the beans began to resonate. The smell was pungent! I must’ve had a funny look on my face because LJ gave me a withering stare and asked if I had a problem. I remember sounding like a squeaky 16-year-old as I responded “No sir.” LJ guffawed and passed the bottle back to me.

Before completing his trip, President Johnson confided to some of us that seeing Vietnam up close confirmed his worst fears. He broadly hinted he was unlikely to seek re-election, given the backlash of Vietnam back home in the States. I thought he sounded like one of my cowboy heroes putting duty above personal gain.

But it wasn’t a movie. It was the real thing. History in the making.

The following day was my final encounter with Lyndon Baines Johnson. There were handshakes, a smile about our campfire evening and LJ was again President Lyndon Johnson, one of the truly great American presidents.


Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States, from 1963 to 1969. As President, he designed “Great Society” legislation, including civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and a “War on Poverty”.

Johnson’s civil rights bills banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing. It included a voting rights act that guaranteed the right to vote for all U.S. citizens, of all races. Passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 reformed the country’s immigration system, eliminating national origins quotas.

Johnson was renowned for his domineering personality and his readiness to do whatever it took to advance his legislative goals.


Today, we have a president — if you care to call him that — who believes all of the good things LBJ did is garbage.

I’ve been around long enough to understand how many bad things can be fixed, eventually. Maybe not completely, but at least in part. What if we destroy the world? When the beauty of our world has gone and what’s left are expensive condos? When the trees have disappeared? When the sky is dull green, gray, and full of filth? What then? How do we come back from that?

When the poor are lost, and there’s nothing remaining but ugliness? What then, indeed.

“POBs” AND OTHER EXISTENTIAL THREATS – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m sorry, but I haven’t gotten all my renewed Star Trek fever out of my system. I’m having too much fun.

So here’s another thing I’ve noticed that was popular in the original series, but not so much in the later ones.  The “POB”. Or “PESKY OMNIPOTENT BEING.”

POBs were usually alien races that were once normal biological beings. Like us. Except of course for the mandatory differences in their foreheads, ears or noses.

memory.alpha.wikia.com

memory.alpha.wikia.com

But after millions of years of evolution they no longer needed their biological forms and became pure energy. For some reason never explained, this seems to give them omnipotent powers.

memory-alpha.wiki.com

memory-alpha.wiki.com

There are two basic groups of POBs. POKs. Pesky Omnipotent Kids. And POAs. Pesky Omnipotent Assholes. The first category made sense. Omnipotent children would build their own planets, capture the Enterprise, annoy the crap out of the whole crew, break the ship and kill a few Red Shirts.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

At the last minute, the parents would show up, fix the ship, bring the Red Shirts back to life, apologize profusely and disappear in a cheap special effect. The crew would all be like WTF? And life would go on to the next episode.

granades.com

granades.com

Later shows, especially Star Trek The Next Generation featured the POA. The most popular one was “Q”.

redqueenencoder.com

redqueenencoder.com

He was part of something called “The Q Continuum.” Whatever the hell that was. For some reason, he was obsessed with screwing around with The Enterprise and Jean Luc Picard.  In some ways it sort of made sense. I mean think of it. You’re omnipotent. You’re omnipresent. You know everything. You’ve done everything. You know everything you are going to do. After a while. Say a few billion years, you’d probably get pretty bored.

“What am I going to do today? Oh who am I kidding? I already know what I’m going to do and I’ve already done it.  A TRILLION TIMES!” Looking at it in that light, I might find it fun to screw up Jean Luc Picard’s weekend too.

tonic.org.uk

tonic.org.uk

Of course if Star Trek The Next Generation was on the air today it might be just a little bit different.


POA (Star ship Enterprise): . You are now under the command and the judgement of the all-knowing, all-powerful “T” from the “TRUMP CONTINUUM”.

hinterlandgazette.com

hinterlandgazette.com

PICARD: Oh crap.

imgflip.com

imgflip.com

ENSIGN CRUSHER: Captain is this a POB? We studied them at the academy. I can’t believe I’m actually in the presence of a Pesky Omnipotent Being!

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

PICARD: No you’re not. He’s just a Trumpulan. We’ve dealt with this jerk before. His real name is Donnie. He likes to sneak up on Federation ships, beam aboard and try to convince them he’s a POB.

thedailybanter.com

thedailybanter.com

DONNIE: No I don’t.  My name is not Donnie!  I hate that name! It’s “T ! And I have no ship. I need no ship. I am all-powerful!

PICARD: Oh for God’s sake Donnie. Your ship is parked right outside. We can see it right there on the view screen.

ex-astris-sciencia.org

ex-astris-sciencia.org

DONNIE: That’s not my ship.

PICARD: Yes it is. Look, it says TRUMP in huge  letters right there on the hull.

ex-astris-scientia.org

ex-astris-scientia.org

DONNIE: No it doesn’t. You’re listening to the lying media again!

PICARD: No, we’re not. We’re looking right at the damn thing!

WORF:  Sir, I’ve locked all weapons on the ship. I can destroy it on your order.

en.wikipedia.com

en.wikipedia.com

PICARD: Don’t tempt me. Look Donnie, I  don’t have time for this. We have to start an episode. Worf, beam him back to his ship and get us out of here. Warp factor two.

DONNIE (as he fades out in a special effect):  You can’t do this! Only I can save you! I’m being treated very unfairly! SAD! Buy my daughters clothes! What a world, what a world.

PICARD:  I never thought I’d say this. But, I miss Q.

geekintoshape.com

geekintoshape.com


We all miss Q. 

A QUICK CLARIFICATION ABOUT THE FIRST AMENDMENT

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is not a substitute for using your brains. It’s good to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s the right thing. Your opinion, no matter what you think, is not as good as everyone else’s, not when it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s fine to believe in facts, reality, and truth. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is total crap. Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t managed to do. Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

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