Not Fonda Hanoi Jane

Looking for someone on whom to bestow an accolade? Jeff Jacoby suggests someone to avoid: Not another accolade for Hanoi Jane.

IT WAS on April 30, 1975, that the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon surrendered to the invading forces of North Vietnam. That collapse ended the long Vietnam War, uniting both halves of Vietnam under a single communist dictatorship ruled from Hanoi — a dictatorship that remains to this day one of the world's most repressive. The fall of Saigon sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives in flimsy boats; many drowned at sea, or were captured or killed by pirates. To this day, April 30 is commemorated sorrowfully throughout the Vietnamese diaspora as Tháng Tư Đen, or "Black April."

When the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month singled out April 30 as an annual day of recognition, however, it was not to ensure that the historical trauma of Vietnamese Americans would receive solemn and reverent attention. It was to honor Jane Fonda.

"Starting today," declared supervisors board chair Lindsey Horvath at a public ceremony, "we proudly proclaim April 30th each year as 'Jane Fonda Day' in Los Angeles County, in recognition of her incredible contributions to entertainment, environmental sustainability, gender equality, and social justice."

Could any proclamation have been more tone-deaf?! Of all the people to single out for honor on "Black April," none was more certain to provoke outrage in Vietnamese American circles than Fonda, who has been widely reviled as "Hanoi Jane" since 1972, when she traveled to Southeast Asia to make broadcasts for Radio Hanoi and promote the North Vietnamese war effort.

The Getty Images description for the picture du jour:

American actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda looks though the scope of an anti-aircraft gun during her tour of the North Vietnamese capital. She arrived July 8 [1972] at the invitation of the Vietnam Committee for Solidarity with the American People.

I've made a half-hearted effort to boycott Jane over the past half-century, but I'm sure she hasn't noticed the resulting financial impact.

Also of note:

  • Mister, we could use an economist like Milton Friedman again. His son David posts some stories on his substack about MF. All good, here's an excerpt:

    When my parents got married, they decided that there were certain things that were difficult to say and should therefore be replaced by numbers. Only one survived in actual usage. In their family “number two” meant, in my family still means, “You were right and I was wrong.”

    One reason is that it is shorter, so easier to say. A second reason is that using the number reminds speaker and audience that admitting error is a difficult and virtuous thing to do, which makes it easier to do it. A third reason is that using a family code reminds the speaker that he is speaking to people who love him, so are unlikely to take advantage of the confession of error to put him down.

    My father used to be fond of the phrase “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” sometimes abbreviated TANSTAAFL. He eventually stopped using it on the grounds that it was not true, that both consumer and producer surplus are, in effect, free lunches. He replaced it with “Always look a gift horse in the mouth.”

    Phrases he continued to use included “A bad carpenter blames his tools,” “It is a capital mistake to make the best the enemy of the good” and Cromwell’s “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.” He referred to my carrying too many logs in from the woodshed to the fireplace in order to do it in fewer trips as a lazy man’s load.

  • He had it right the first time. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) remembers When Bill Clinton Lost China.

    Thirty years ago Sunday, Bill Clinton lost China. On May 26, 1994, Mr. Clinton delinked human rights from China’s most-favored-nation trade status.

    In 1992 Gov. Clinton promised “an America that will not coddle tyrants, from Baghdad to Beijing.” After taking office in 1993, he issued an executive order that demanded human-rights improvements as a condition for continued MFN status. It called for “releasing and providing an acceptable accounting for Chinese citizens imprisoned or detained for the non-violent expression of their political and religious beliefs, including such expression of beliefs in connection with the Democracy Wall and Tiananmen Square movements.” None of that happened.

    In January 1994, midway through the executive order’s review period, I went to China armed with a letter signed by more than 100 members of Congress pledging to stand with Mr. Clinton. Virtually every Chinese official told me that the fix was in. Trade would be delinked from human rights. I didn’t believe them. On returning, I told Secretary of State Warren Christopher: “They think you’re bluffing!”

    They were right. Mr. Clinton abandoned the executive order, signaling to China that the U.S. cared only for trade and profit. I argued that Mr. Clinton was turning his back on the oppressed in China and that the Communist Party couldn’t be trusted. The party got rich and militarily powerful. The Chinese people, Americans and the world are paying the price.

    No surprise: doing Monica Lewinsky wasn't the only thing Bubba lied about.

  • Guess the GOP Governor. Here's Vodkapundit's headline: This GOP Governor Revealed the Truth About Newsom, Cuomo, and I Can't Stop Laughing.

    If you guessed this guy, congrats:

    You don't often hear much from Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu but, after today's news, I'd sure like to hear more. Speaking at the Reagan Institute Summit on Education in D.C. on Thursday, the sometimes combative governor didn't mince words when asked how governors could "play a bigger role" in leading their states.

    "Lead by example" was Sununu's immediate response but, apparently, there's one current Democrat governor who isn't up to that part of the job — and Sununu says even fellow Democrats agree.

    "Almost all the governors get along," he continued. "In my eight years [as governor] I can honestly tell you there's only been two, maybe a third, but two real governors that really nobody likes, nobody cares for at all."

    "Would you say who they are?" the interviewer asked.

    "Do you really want me to? Yeah! [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo," Sununu said with a knowing shake of his head, "complete jacka**. No one likes him."

    But Cuomo is a disgraced former governor. C'mon, Gov. Sununu, give us the real dirt.

    "And I gotta be honest, no one cares for [Calif. Gov.] Gavin [Newsom]. Gavin's just a pr**k," Sununu admitted to laughs and cheers from the Republican audience. "It's really disappointing. I got along with him, all of us [governors], got along with him for a while. But even Democrats — they won't tell you out loud — but behind closed doors, they're like, 'Oh, God, look who's coming.' And they all roll their eyes."

    Expurgations in the original. I'm pretty sure the words were not 'jackals' and 'prank'.

  • Might as well try it. At Reason, Eric Boehm reports: Congress' Budget Process Is Broken. Here's One Idea for Fixing It. After detailing the well-known breakage:

    If Congress won't abide by the old budget rules, maybe what it needs are some new ones. That has to be better than the way things work now, argued Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, an entity that was also created by the 1974 budget act.

    "I think Congress should pass a budget process reform bill, and I don't care what's in it," Holtz-Eakin, now the president of the American Action Forum, said during a recent conversation with Santi Ruiz in his Statecraft newsletter.

    The process of writing and passing a new set of rules for the budget process would give current lawmakers a stronger obligation to actually follow those rules, Holtz-Eakin says.

    "Sounds crazy, but it just might work!"