Fifty years ago tomorrow!


Napalm in South Vietnam: Fifty years ago this week, the person who wrote the new guest essay for the New York Times was nine years old. At the start of her essay, she describes her childhood experience up to that point in time:

PHAN THI (6/6/22): I grew up in the small village of Trang Bang in South Vietnam. My mother said I laughed a lot as a young girl. We led a simple life with an abundance of food, since my family had a farm and my mom ran the best restaurant in town. I remember loving school and playing with my cousins and the other children in our village, jumping rope, running and chasing one another joyfully.

All of that changed on June 8, 1972. I have only flashes of memories of that horrific day...

Her family was leading a simple life with an abundance of food. Then, at age 9, she became famous around the world as the unclothed child running down the road, her body aflame from the napalm.

Today, "Ms. Phan Thi is the founder of the Kim Foundation International, which provides aid to child victims of war."  She has long been a Canadian citizen. She has led a remarkable adult life, which she describes in her essay.

A point of chronology follows:

In early 1972, when Phan Thi was living a simple life in that village, a group of lost souls here in this country were conducting the "dirty tricks" campaign against Candidate Muskie to which we briefly referred in yesterday's report. 

They'd badly lost their way in the world. Their behavior shows the types of things people will sometimes do in pursuit of, or in service to, wealth or fame or power.

People will sometimes behave in remarkable ways in pursuit of wealth and power. For today, we're going to leave that basic point right there.


  1. "...a group of lost souls here in this country were conducting the "dirty tricks" campaign against Candidate Muskie"

    Oh dear. That was truly the age of innocence, compared to massive banana-republic-style trickery (a-la "russiagate" or "1/6 committee") your, dear Bob, liberal tribe is staging these days...

    Oh well...

    1. liberals had no hand in collusion with the Russians or the 1/6 insurrections -- those were both done by Republicans, just as the Muskie dirty-tricks were Republican rat-fucking -- admitted by those who did them.

      Why not go all the way, Mao, and claim that both
      Buffalo and Uvalde shootings were done by the government in order to seize Republican guns?

  2. "we're going to leave that basic point right there"

    Somerby thinks he has made some point, but he has not. First he talked about a Vietnamese girl who had a traumatic experience but did well with the rest of her life. Then he talks about Muskie and a supposed trick that was played on him, in service of "wealth or fame or power" which is a very vague attribution of motive. Somerby never connects these two people. He calls Donald Segretti a "lost soul" on slime evidence. But Segretti never bombed Vietnam, napalmed no one, and Nixon (who he served) ended the war in Vietnam. Would Muskie have done so? No way to know, since he didn't get the chance -- as a consequence of his behavior while seeking fame or power or wealth (depending on what motivated him to seek the presidency). Did Nixon perhaps pursue reelection in order to end the war -- and does that serve wealth or fame or power on his part? Or did it perhaps help this child to a better life? Would this woman have done as much to help others if her life had continued untroubled by the trauma of war? How would that have affected other children?

    Somerby thinks he is hinting at something profound, but since he does not explain himself at all, we can only guess who he intends his bad guys and good guys to be. Would Muskie have referred to this woman as a Canuck or was that what he was trying to hide when he objected to his wife's foibles being revealed by the press? Maybe she called Canadians Canucks? Maybe the public had a right to know that? Again, Somerby expresses no specific opinions about anything -- but he tries to borrow this woman's accomplishments (reflected on his own approval) and he pretends to know who should have won the 1972 election, but won't say who. No Democrat had any hand in what occurred then, and Broder merely reported what he saw -- a visibly upset Muskie with what he thought were tears on his cheeks (but could have been snow, depending on where you were standing at the press conference). Somerby blames the press, but that is what a press is supposed to do. Shouldn't Somerby have blamed the primary voters instead?

    Is Somerby perhaps taking a bold stand against napalm! It is about time someone did! Where was Somerby with this opinion back when the war was raging? Oh, yeah, hiding from the draft in a Baltimore schoolroom, pretending to teach inner city kids and not bothering to acquire the tools of his trade. If he were a mensch, he would have been a conscientious objector or gone to Canada himself, as many of my friends did.

    There is every reason to believe that Muskie would have lost as badly as McGovern did. Is Somerby perhaps suggesting that the Democrats don't love wealth or fame or power enough to win elections? In that case, shouldn't he have said something about ethics, which was surely taught in his philosophy courses at Harvard? Or is he now going to take a semi-courageous stand against the Ukraine War, pretending that antipathy to napalm puts him on the side of the Russians, and not his support for the right wing, party of wealth and power, if not fame.

    Somerby won't say -- because he never says. But why bring up Muskie's name at all? Why not talk about what Al Gore did during the Iraq war? It must have been something courageous, remarkable, something to help traumatized kids, right? Or why would Somerby spend so much time talking about him, long after he has faded from public service? Or is this all just about a boyhood crush?

    1. Richard Nixon did not end the war in Vietnam and his politics, in and out of power, only increased the agony we needlessly inflicted on that Country. I agree with you, Bob makes zero sense here.

    2. Kissinger negotiated a ceasefire under Nixon. The final pullout was under Ford (Nixon had resigned). Nixon is credited with ending the war.

    3. Actually, Nixon was originally credited with "bringing Peace to Vietnam." As Guliani was credited as the hero of 9-11. Anyway, Nixon tried to bomb the North into submission, didn't quite work, took a phony peace to get reelected.

  3. "People will sometimes behave in remarkable ways in pursuit of wealth and power."

    Here we have Somerby's own confession. What has he been doing here in pursuit of money? He has been playing a dirty trick on his readers, pretending to be liberal while promoting Republican talking points and undermining the mainstream press (essential to the success of our democracy), since at least 2015, when Somerby could say nothing positive about Hillary and predicted Trump would win. The success of the Russian/Republican ratfucking in the 2016 election put Trump into office, and Somerby did his bit. But merely hinting at his role is not sufficient -- it is time for Somerby to clear his conscience and confess his sins. Then he can retire this sucky blog and enjoy his retirement in peace. Somerby is Segretti (only less clever), not Muskie in this little melodrama. His schtick is worn out and we are tired of refuting his lies. Time to fess up and take a well-earned rest, Somerby.

  4. It is ghoulish to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of a girl being napalmed, even if she did go on to lead a fulfilling life.

  5. I guess Bob is talking about liberal cable news stars and he’s not all wrong. But his targeting is selective to a laughable degree, and he’s terrified over what we learn about Trump and his asshole followers in the coming weeks.