Vietnam was the beginning of the lies, the incompetence, the flushing bad thoughts down the memory hole. I left the country of my childhood and came back to a place I didn’t know anymore. Nothing that’s happened in all the years since has reassured me: not raising a family, not good fortune in many things. The dry rot has continued to eat away at us, even as one president declared it Morning in America, another proclaimed a New World Order, and a third boasted Mission Accomplished. And now the syphilis has broken out in all its third-stage fury: a president not fit to take an American soldier or sailor’s salute, much less command them. A Congress that doesn’t know what it’s doing and doesn’t care, as long as it meets its payments to its backers’ bagmen. And the children of the men I served with bellow their heads off in rallies supporting the whole fraudulent spectacle.