What I learned from Mike Gravel are lessons ignored, even mocked, by the establishment, writes Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
I first met Sen. Mike Gravel in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in early 2006 after a mutual friend told me Gravel was contemplating running for president.
Our Waldorf breakfast lasted four hours. I was surprised that such an American politician existed. He seemed to lack the expected self-importance. More incredibly, I agreed with him on every point of public policy–foreign and domestic. Having been a reporter for decades–I was a correspondent for The Boston Globe at the time–I’d surpassed the average citizen’s cynicism about people in government.
But here was a former United States senator questioning the most fundamental and seemingly unshakeable myths that underpin a brutal status-quo. The central myth, affecting foreign and domestic policy, is that U.S. behavior abroad is driven by an altruistic need to spread democracy and that its vast military machine is defensive in nature. If Americans would be convinced that the opposite is true, the edifice of lies that supports an imperial house of cards could crumble.
Here was someone from the heart of the system vowing to undermine it by declaring–eventually on a debate stage with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden–that Americans’ motives abroad are avaricious and aggressive, its military offensive, and its consequence death and destruction, not democracy.
It is suicidal for a politician to tell American voters that America’s motives are impure, that they are not the “good guys” in the world, and that money that should be spent on them at home is wasted destroying innocent lives abroad.
But that is what Gravel was prepared to do. He told me of his plan to run for president. He knew he had no chance, but was convinced by others to use the run to promote direct democracy and to tear down the deceptions.
I agreed to cover his campaign to highlight the crucial issues that he was raising that the mainstream would denigrate or ignore. I was at the National Press Club in Washington when he declared in April 2006, a full two and a half years before the election, and broke the story for the Drudge Report. In his announcement speech Gravel made his pitch for direct democracy. He said:
“Our country needs a renewal–renewal not just of particular policies, or of particular people, but of democracy itself…. Representative government is mired in a culture of lies and corruption. The corrupting influence of money has created a class of professional politicians raising huge sums to maintain their power. These politicians then legislate later in the interests of the corporations and interest groups that put up the money.
Are today’s politicians any more corrupt than those of earlier days? I don’t think so. Most men and women enter public service and begin with an attitude and a concern for the public good. It’s the power they hold that corrupts them. Throwing the rascals out–Democrats or Republicans, or for that matter any party may make us feel a little better, may give us some therapy, but reshuffling the deck won’t make any difference….
Equipping Americans with deliberative lawmaking tools will unleash civic creativity beyond imagination. A partnership of citizen-lawmakers makers with their elected legislators will in fact make representative government … more responsive to the needs of people.”
When an AP reporter asked him what was to stop the people from bankrupting the nation in their self-interest, Gravel told him that in the 100-year record of state initiatives that had never happened and the reason why was because it was the people’s money. Mike firmly believed that if Americans could vote on national policy the troops at the time would come home from Iraq and they’d only vote to send their sons and daughters to die if the U.S. were attacked at home.
I next saw Gravel at a dinner in June that year commemorating the 35th anniversary of his reading of the Pentagon Papers in Congress. The dinner was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, where Gravel in June 1971 got a copy of the Papers indirectly from whistleblower Dan Ellsberg, who was at the dinner, disagreeing on minor details of how it all happened.
On the Trail
I soon found myself on the campaign trail with Mike, trudging up the steps of the state capitol in Des Moines, driving through a blizzard at Lake Tahoe after covering the first joint event with the other Democratic candidates and then sitting right behind Michelle Obama and to the right of Sen. Christopher Dodd’s sister at the first Democratic presidential debate in Orangeburg, South Carolina on April 26, 2007.
Gravel was probably the most talked about candidate after that debate for the things he dared say, such as the war in Iraq “was lost the day George Bush invaded on a fraudulent basis.”
Gravel said some of the other candidates “frightened” him. “When you have mainline candidates who turn around and say there’s nothing off the table with respect to Iran, that’s code for using nukes. If I’m president of the United States there will be no pre-emptive wars with nuclear devices. It’s immoral and it’s been immoral for the past 50 years as part of American foreign policy.”
The other candidates laughed and mocked him. “I’m not planning on nuking anybody Mike,” Obama said. On a talk show later, when Obama was asked how tough campaigning is, he said it was very tough when you had to get up on a cold Iowa morning and had to listen to Mike Gravel.
When the debate moderator Brian Williams asked Gravel who exactly frightened him, Mike said:
“The top tier ones. Oh Joe [Biden] I’ll include you too. You have a certain arrogance too. You want to tell the Iraqis how to run their country. I gotta tell you we should just plain get out. It’s their country. They are asking us to leave and we insist on staying there.
You hear that the soldiers will have died in vain. The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain and they are dying this very second. Do you know what’s worse than a soldier dying in vain? More soldiers dying in vain. That’s what’s worse.”
Later Williams asked him, “Other than Iraq, list the other important enemies to the United States.”
“We don’t have any important enemies,” Gravel said.
“What we need to do is deal with the rest of the world as equals. We don’t do that. We spend more as a nation on defense than all the rest of the world put together. Who are we afraid of? Who are you afraid of Brian? I’m not.
“Iraq has never been a threat to us. We invaded them. I mean it’s unbelievable. The military-industrial-complex not only controls our government lock, stock and barrel,” and here he looked over at the other candidates all in government at the time, “but they control our culture.”
That crystallized it for me. Like every other American I grew up under the sway of heavy propaganda that portrayed the U.S. as a victim of other nations’ aggression, rather than being the perpetrator of it. It was one of many, many things I learned from Mike Gravel, and that others would benefit learning too.
When the debate was over I joined Mike on the stage. All the candidates and their wives were glad-handing each other. Mike said he had no time for that so we retreated to the green room. On the way I told him I hadn’t figured out Obama yet. But Mike told me, “He’s a fraud.” It turned out he was right about that too.
At some point during the campaign we decided to do a book together. I spent hours interviewing Mike and researching his history in the Senate. I traveled to Alaska and met his allies and enemies. I went to Philadelphia to see his sister. We then traveled together by car to Quebec to see the town where his father came from and visit his relatives there.
On the way up we stopped in New Haven, Connecticut to get something to eat. A bunch of Yale students recognized him and crowded around the table. Though we were running late he spent about two hours charming them.
In doing the book I learned about Mike growing up in Depression-era Springfield, Massachusetts, working in his father’s paint business, which gave him an appreciation of laborers, and his faith that ordinary people can run the nations’ affairs.
It was during Gravel’s time as an Army counter-intelligence officer in Germany during the 1950s that his life-long distrust of intelligence agencies was spawned. His job was to listen in to other people’s conversations, a job that he reviled. As he spoke only French at home as a child, he was sent to France to infiltrate communist rallies where he went undetected as long as his Quebecois accent wasn’t discovered.
When he returned home from Europe Gravel drove a cab in New York while he studied economics at Columbia. He kept a crowbar under his seat and once chased a would-be robber with it in a Manhattan intersection.
Having decided on a career in politics, Gravel staked out for Alaska, then still a territory, where he thought he had a shot. He arrived in Alaska on August 26, 1956 the day I was born. He first worked on a railroad clearing moose from the tracks.
When he was elected to the state house of representatives he took an interest in indigenous communities in remote areas and was instrumental in setting up high schools for them and when in the U.S. Senate helped settle their long-running land claims.
Even before he was sworn into the Senate he showed he was his own man, standing up to Ted Kennedy who wanted to make him part of the Kennedy clique. It was in the Senate during the Cold War that Gravel made his mark as an anti-militarist. After traveling to a war zone in Vietnam he sponsored legislation to defund the war, then to normalize relations with China before Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing set up Richard Nixon’s opening and Gravel topped it off with being the only senator to take the Pentagon Papers from Ellsberg and read them into the record in a bid to end the war.
A Political Odyssey
I also learned that Mike was a crafty politician. In the book he admits to lying on several occasions, including that he supported the Vietnam War, when he really opposed it, in order to get elected to the Senate.
That craftiness was put to good use as Mike fought several battles with the publisher on my behalf. But he did not like my title and the publisher chewed me out for daring to suggest the cover to the right that was rejected.
While I was in Alaska Mike barked at me over the phone that the title would be A Political Odyssey. I added the subtitle: The Rise of American Militarism and One Man’s Fight to Stop It.
In the week that Mike died Consortium News has coincidentally been publishing excerpts from the book about Gravel’s reading of the Pentagon Papers in Congress, which happened 50 years ago to the day this Tuesday.
I was told by people close to me that I was getting too close to the subject I was writing about, complicated by the fact the book was in Gravel’s voice and would have his name on it.
After the book came out, when we were interviewed by Leonard Lopate on his WNYC radio show, Lopate directly asked me on air how I could be an objective journalist in a book like this.
My response was that I challenged Gravel on many things he told me and fact-checked the major parts of his story in addition to doing copious amounts of original research. The truth was I agreed with Gravel on nearly every policy and was in no conflict writing about it, unlike in my work for major corporate media.
To the End
Gravel remained active on issues he cared about until the end. Just days before he died he was complaining about the evils of U.S. intelligence agencies. He was ridiculed when a few years ago he said at a conference that the government had suppressed information about UFOs. Last week the Pentagon released a report about hundreds of UFO sightings.
Gravel played a critical role in releasing the classified 28-page chapter from the 2002 Joint Congressional Commission study of 9/11 that highlighted Saudi officials’ involvement. He met with sitting senators and congressman in 2016 to press them that they had the right to release any information they wanted based on the Speech and Debate clause of the constitution and the precedent Gravel set in releasing the Pentagon Papers and having the Supreme Court confirm that right.
I stayed in touch with Mike in the years since the campaign and he was always supportive. I wrote the foreword to his last book, The Failure of Representative Government and the Solution: A Legislature of the People. When I became editor of this site Mike agreed to join the board of directors. He also became a huge supporter of Julian Assange and of the work we have done covering his extradition ordeal.
Mike’s Pentagon Papers case, in which Gravel sued Nixon and it reached the Supreme Court, dealt with identical issues. Gravel, his aide and Beacon Press, which published the Senator Gravel Edition of the Papers, all faced prosecution under the Espionage Act for publishing government secrets. Unlike Assange, Gravel escaped indictment.
At the time of the Pentagon Papers episode The New York Times ripped Gravel in an article entitled “Impetuous Senator.” A photo of Gravel appeared reading the Papers, with the caption, “A bundle of contradictions.”
The story, by Warren Weaver Jr., began: “The latest indoor sport on Capitol Hill is to try to guess what impelled Maurice Robert Gravel, a forty-one-year old Alaskan real estate developer, to attempt to read a part of the Pentagon papers into the public record, and ultimately to burst into uncontrollable tears.”
The Times then ridiculously went on to speculate that because he was born on May 13, 1930, under Taurus, the sign of the bull, that Gravel was “inclined to extremes and to impulsive actions.” He was contradictory, the Times said, because Gravel voted “with the liberals but against their leadership candidates and against their efforts to curb the filibuster. He loves the Senate but offends its elders. He is highly image-conscious but behaves in ways that mar his own reputation.”
The Times obituary Sunday on Gravel picked up where the newspaper left off exactly 50 years ago. It said he was “perhaps better known as an unabashed attention-getter, in one case reading the Pentagon Papers aloud at a hearing at a time when newspapers were barred from publishing.” It denigrated Mike’s courageous reading of the Papers as “grandstanding.”
To the end the establishment hated Mike Gravel. And Mike welcomed their hatred. He told the American people what they did not want them to hear.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .
“Why can’t we have more decent politicians like Mike Gravel?”
Getting more decent politicians is the most challenging question facing us today. The answers, posed in many forms for centuries in
America seldom get any traction and perhaps the imperfections of our candidates are shared by all of us. We all know that all is not lost witness the many amendments to our Constitution. One ting that could help us today would be the re-emergence of the muckraking journalist at the turn of the twentieth century, the challenge being finding fora(word?) to engage in such practices. And another barrier is the short attention span of all of us.
I began my freshman year at University of Colorado, Boulder in 1963 at age 17; the year of JFK assassination, LBJ escalation of Vietnam War, release of first recordings of Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. The birth of the resistance movement began gestating when students could afford to be idealistic. My tuition as full time student was $245 semester total cost $1,400 for the year room & board, books, entertainment and a few rock climbing supplies. As a 3rd year student working on the family cattle ranch, I routinely used Dupont ditching powder to clean out beaver dams. I stockpiled a few cases to block arms trains in Byers Canyon until I was led to an epiphany of pacifism by my new Quaker Friends. Some students refused up front to cooperate in any way and were able to stick to it. Other adamantly declared resistors gradually failed tests as they advance through pre-induction physicals, induction, deployment and finally fragging deaths as 2nd lieutenants. One friend, artist Ron Fundingsland, shot himself in the foot before his draft physical, was called in again after recovery; shot himself a second time before the draft board decided that he was more trouble than asset to the New Action Army. We collectively explored and found our own ways to resist; independently learned this key to being rejected for the genocide operations. Reveal that you are more trouble as a sarcoma than value as a grunt. We knew the Pentagon Papers before Ellsburg. So, Mike Gravel, to our vanguard, was a welcome sight for sore eyes; the first politician who joined us. This note should explain why Mike was modest and not self-important. We had already brought the war home and emboldened him to express his own impeccable sense of propriety. Thank you for reposting Sen. Mike Gravel’s sterling moments and your attestations of friendship and support.
Mike Gravel was honest, compassionate, and spoke impassioned, unalloyed truth in a Washington and media environment that has only become more hostile and contemptuous to such qualities. A believer in representative democracy in a post-representative Democracy – how guache. The contrast between Gravel and soulless, neoliberal careerists – as exemplified by Obama, Clinton and Biden – makes for truly bizarre viewing. Much of what made this man so admirable and his policy proposals so important is needed and desired by a majority of Americans. Now more than ever.
“When the debate was over I joined Mike on the stage. All the candidates and their wives were glad-handing each other. Mike said he had no time for that so we retreated to the green room. On the way I told him I hadn’t figured out Obama yet. But Mike told me, “He’s a fraud.” It turned out he was right about that too. ”
I share his and your opinion.
The comment that we have no enemies, that we can work with what are described as enemies is a pretty profound and unorthodox statement. Certainly that is true of Russia under Putin, who has made the offer many times to sit down and talk. I believe Trump was willing to do just that until he was ambushed by Russiagate. In fact it may have been among the reasons Russiagate was undertaken.
I take the Senator’s remark as not pollyanish but as an attempt to change our mindset and course in dealing with other nations. In saying that I suspect the resistance of the powerful marginalized him.
I am American expt living in Rusiian Far East, near Vladivostok. You are quite correct about Putin and what I call Russiphobia. I am writing an article now about the racist underpinnings behind this fearmongering that has put nukes on the table. But stop to think that during these fawning Prince Harry times that USA and Russia represent analogues. These are the nations that revolted against Monarchy, rebels who both failed established lasting democracy. When Obama talked about a ‘reset” I had hope. Then the globlists, Hillary and Nuland had their way with coup in Ukraine as yet another success in destabilization of democracies. Now we have a President who, with his son Hunter, went carpetbagging for gas on publicly funded aircraft. I have proof positive that it was a foreign coup that put fascist Bandera nationalists in power with Israeli Mossad help. Now you can see the article written by IDF soldier who participated in training the Banderas in urban warfare on U of Ottawa Global Research. This is my jaundiced eye of insight to the Russiphobia. Read eugenicist Lothrup Stoddard’s Revolt Against Civilization, 1922 screed against Slavic underpeople, Untermensch, to understand that the Holocaust included 33 million Slavic WWII dead.
I will never forget Gravel’s reading of the Pentagon Papers. It was heroic and the right thing to do.
It is extremely rare indeed for people to observe a person such as the late, great Senator Mike Gravel, – whose actions while living on Earth left others with nothing but the most positive, friendly and loving feelings of gratitude for knowing him, or knowing of him, before – as all will experience – the inevitable passage to the world of spirit.
Somewhere now in the Creation, the immeasurably radiant reunions between Mike Gravel and those souls he knew and loved who passed before him consist of a power, joy and beauty of which words are non-existent to describe.
Due to his highly moral thoughts, words and actions over the span of 91 years, future generations on Earth will most certainly experience conditions more amenable to good health, happiness and well-being.
Rest in the peace which passeth all understanding, Mr. Mike Gravel.
Words cannot express how much I admire your courage at seeking out the truth. Mike respected you for your integrity. and loyalty.
Our family has lost a giant. I have lost my big brother who was always present in my life.
I’d like to see the 5-Volume set you have author of this article! I say it in good humor. Did they sign each volume – (rhetorical).
My mother-in-law also had the multiple myeloma cancer (assuming I got my facts correct). Man, that is the worst. It takes your body down one part at a time and hits you up with so much affliction you never know whether it is coming from it or something else.
My mother-in-law, as she was wont to do, said eff it, and she died right off. God-Bless her for that.
I think my generation is underestimated with respect to the determination of some of us to move the dot along. I think there will always be ones who are not afraid to speak truth to power and sometimes they might end up in jail or get a bullet to the brain or some other sort of inexplicable harmful fate, but there will always be others who are ready to be in their place after the bully tries to control the whole play of all of us and everything. This literally is the moment when we all together collectively decide to stand up to the bully and let the bully know – don’t be so 20th century you clueless fool.
History is wonderful.
Herstory is better.
Our story is
yet to be
I hope the honorable Senator Gravel from Alaska rests in Peace.
Fantastic, Mr. Lauria! I have felt lately that your recent terrific pieces gave me back a big confusing chunk of history that was always been missing for me. In an unbelievably clear and direct way your work has given it the importance and perspective we have great need for. Especially now. We need more on same “integrity spotlight” to put Julian’s work for us-all right there too, just now. Gigantic thanks. We weep for the loss of this tough, smiling wonder. And we welcome more work like this of yours, Joe. As wonderful educative straight reporting as ever needed! May Ellsberg live to see Julian freed and celebrate with all of us. Mike did so much right! You are too, Joe, doing exactly what would make it known. For the good it was and is!
4,000,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian lives! A number almost too large to grasp. Over 58,000 US military lives lost. The horror of those lives lost can be felt by reading Lt General Howard G Moore’s and Joseph L Galloway’s co-authored book, “We Were Soldiers Once….And Young”. I am a Vietnam Veteran. While I was a relatively ‘safe’ veteran as a pilot of a C-141 transport plane and based out of a New Jersey, I did on many occasions fly material into Vietnam. On several occasions I brought back bed ridden, wounded soldiers to hospitals in Texas and Chicago. We also transported caskets containing the fallen back from the war zone and destined for burial by their families at their homes. Flying into and overflying the Vietnam war zone gave me a semblance of the feeling of the reality of war. Losing two very good friends to that war brought that feeling home and struck me in the gut with an indescribable feeling of loss.
a truely wonderful piece…..as someone struggling to keep his head above the sunami of mind crushing propaganda,
thank you consortium news…..
Thank you for this fitting tribute to a great man. He set the bar high for what integrity in government looks like which is why the establishment was so determined to attempt to tear him down. People who can’t be bought are the mortal enemies of the corporate state. It is incumbent on those of us who appreciate Mike’s legacy to carry it forward and force his detractors to eat their words.
Rest in power Mike. Thank you for being a shining example of what speaking truth to power looks like.
Thanks Joe for an essential and fascinating backgrounder, that everyone ought to read. We need way more people like Senator Gravel if NATO countries are going to team up with the rest of the world on all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Goal 16 on overhauling corrupted institutional culture so that healthy institutions may advance equal justice for all, is a prerequisite for enabling progressive internationalism and co-operation between populations to replace short term profit-motivated oligarch-controlled, deregulated capital as our governing political model.
More voices need to articulate the fact that Julian Assange is the upholder of #Principle7Nuremberg on the duty of soldiers to not be complicit in keeping military atrocities hidden. The cause of ending the right of governments to lie with impunity – as Wikileaks provides a venue for insiders to release facts that refutes dissembling is a vital service, is part of a model for honest governance. It will be essential if we are to replace industry-controlled SRO self regulated false governance over banking and investment. It would surprise the average person that the 2016 Nobel Prize for economics was given for the setting up for enabling criminal regulation of banking. hXXp://neweconomicperspectives.org/2017/02/2016-nobel-prizes-economics-go-pushed-criminogenic-policies.html
We need everyone who believes that governments must not be given the right to lie with impunity to join the cause of making banking regulation mean authentic regulation: criminal code adherence included. hXXps://viurrspace.ca/handle/10613/5098/browse?type=author&value=Lokanan%2C+Mark
As an Army medic in Viet Nam, and a survivor of one of the greatest lies in world history, I wish I could have met Mike Gravel. There was not one day during the Viet Nam War that the U.S. Government did not commit an atrocity in Viet Nam. Not one day! American corporations can’t make a killing during peace. W A R = Wealthy Are Richer! Lying is the most powerful weapon in war. When politicians and the rich start sending their kids to war, I’ll start believing in noble causes. Mike Gravel knew all of this, he knew the monster in the room. I will forever be thankful for his presence…
I was hired by Senator Gravel’s office to work as an assistant to Chuck Fishman who was working on a motion to the Supreme Court to quash a subpoena that Nixon served on Gravel’s assistant to discover who had leaked the Pentagon Papers to Gravel. The case was heard in the Supreme Court, and argued for denying the NIxon subpoena, based on the Constitutional doctrine of Separation of Powers, by North Carolina’s Senator Sam Ervin Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ervin opened his argument in a heavy Southern drawl, saying, “Yo’ah Honors–as I was walking over here today I saw your beautiful green lawns and I looked across the street at our rolling Capitol grounds, and I most respectfully ask yo’ah Honors to keep off our grass! The nine grave judges, clad in black robes burst out in laughter and Gravel won his motion not to be compelled to reveal the source of the Pentagon Papers. Gravel acted heroically, since it appeared at the time that the NY Times was stayed by the courts from publishing the Pentagon Papers. And he has been in the forefront, together with Daniel Ellsberg, who was willing to risk imprisonment to reveal the horrible truth about the Vietnam War and the years of lying, for freeing Julian Assange, a journalist who wants American citizens to know the lies and coverups by the powers that be of Americas provocative criminal aggression around the world.
Alice, you nearly stole our thunder as we have just published the next installment in our series about how Mike Gravel revealed the Pentagon Papers in Congress and this one deals with the Supreme Court battle, replete with Ervin’s quotes.
I kept waiting for it to appear but thought since he died it would never make it into print!! Glad you’re writing it up!!
These are excerpts from A Political Odyssey, which we began serializing last Monday and will conclude on Wednesday because of the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers. It was a sad coincidence that Mike Gravel passed away in the middle of this series.
WE already knew the Vietnam was was an unjust murderous cause serving no good purpose. The Pentagon Papers served no purpose or solution except to show how our soldiers were sociopaths. We should all know already that every politician is one. No politician is any good, some are better liars than others, that is all. MY books illustrate that news media like yours is either ignorant or deceptive. Which is it?
Consortuim of Independent Journalism is certainly an exception to your cynical ‘rule’ of complicity. Robert Parry’s exposure of October Surprise was pivotal in many people’s political consciousness enlightenment. There are many others such as Michel Chossudovsky and some young new faces like Abby and Robin Martin who stand immune to your brickbats. Did you reach the conclusions in your books without benefit of reading other’s good work?
Mike, Thanks much for your comment.
RIP Mike Gravel. [The best Canadian Imports to USA in 100 years = Mike’s parents. Thank-you, Canada. ] Thank you, Mike, for your humble and huge spirit of love, and devotion to the highest spirits of justice, equality and peace with one another. One of my life’s heros. May your life’s efforts remind all that it is very lonely on the “side of the gods”, in this world. We must all be as brave as Mike was, to defeat our life’s enemies, which is evil incarnate. jusqu’à ce que nous nous retrouvions
A most excellent article. Enjoyed reading it very much. Motivates one to keep up the good fight.
It’s such a shame that we loose the great ones like Gravel and are left with only the muck at the top…
I was 11 years old when JFK was assassinated.
America has been going downhill ever since.
The President Kennedy of the summer of 1963 was a wised up soul. He had been in charge during the “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba, and he was in charge during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which scared Americans to death. I believe he grew from those two experiences. He made a speech at American University about achieving world peace. That speech probably got him killed.
The Pew Charitable Trust does a survey of American “trust in government.” The percentage of Americans who “trusted the government”. took a nose-dive in 1964. It never recovered. There was a momentary up-tik during the Illusory years of Reagan. But in general the trend has been “downhill” ever since 1963.
Just consider the people who attacked the capital on 06 January 2021. Their grandparents never would have dreamed of doing such a thing.
If there is such a thing as a nation’s ‘soul’ that soul was grievously damaged by the prosecution of the Vietnam War, which took over 2,000,000 Vietnamese lives and 2,000,000 Camb0dian lives, making the landscape of SE Asia forever perilous, with old minefields and the consequences of Agent Orange. Nearly 60,000 US soldiers died immediately in that war. Several hundred thousand others had their lives damaged and blunted over the years. There were certain movies about the Vietnam War that began as anti war “statements,” but in the public mind became vicarious opportunities to indulge in cynical fantasies about creating death and destruction in foreign lands.
In 1966 there was a mass shooting in Texas. A man climbed up into. a tower and killed people on the ground. That mass shooting was talked about for months. It was singular. It wasn’t a daily event as we see today.
What has changed?
I guess i could write an essay about this, but I am running out of steam.
Absolutely wonderful tribute, Joe. We are fortunate to be blessed with knowing Mike Gravel so very well because of your professional and personal (no contradiction there) relationship.
I only add that in addition to his being on the CN Board, he was an important contributing member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, whose many writing are available on CN.
Thanks Larry — Joe.
A really courageous guy. Everyone else Ellsberg asked to read the Papers declined. This included George McGovern and Paul McCloskey. Gravel’s version was then published and it turned out to have more info in it than the Ny Times version. And it included Kennedy’s plan for a phased withdrawal.
We would do well to replace our entire U.S. Senate with 100 of Sen. Mike Gravel’s choosing. Thank you Joe Lauria for recognizing and supporting this great citizen; may he forever rest in peaceful memories.
In mentioning the good Senator’s support for Julian Assange’s persecution, you inadvertently reminded me that it is being reported that a principal FBI witness in the case has admitted to giving false testimony against Assange in exchange for prosecutorial leniency regarding several felonies he committed. SEE:
Thank you Ethan. We ran our own story yesterday on the false testimony.
Thanks….I’ll definitely check it out. At the present the Julian Assange link in your reply doesn’t appear to be ‘clickable’, so I’ll try to copy and paste it when I finish perusing todays offerings.
We do not permit clickable links in the comments section.
Yes, why can’t we have more decent politicians like Mike Gravel?
Why must we be forced to choose between war criminals?
Sounds like me. I have invented autonomous democracy dot org for you to use while developing policy at constituent assembly dot org. It doesn’t yet run on all cylinders but a young programer is out of school for the summer and on the case. Maybe you will collaborate to build a better democracy than old-fashioned representation of capital.
Mike Gravel was one of the extremely few politicians who, though it is a cliche, did indeed speak truth to power. About the only criticism that one might make of Gravel is that he remained in the Democratic party instead of aligning himself with an independent party which could challenge both major corporate and militant political parties. And the Times’s denigration of Gravel is, unfortunately, not unexpected from a newspaper which brooks little dissent from anyone who goes up against the establishment.
New York Times: “regime” refers to foreign governments that are CIA targets.
I agree that the NY Times obit of Mike Gravel was written to make a joke out of his memory.
The writers involved probably weren’t even alive during the Vietnam War. His reading of the Pentagon Papers was referred to as “grandstanding.” It took real courage for Gravel to do what he did.
Why can’t we have more decent politicians like Mike Gravel?