A Speech Like No Other

It was the greatest speech ever given in American history: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremonies at Gettysburg, given on November 19, 1963.   The speaker before Lincoln, Edward Everett, a very famous orator in his own right, droned on for over 2 hours.  After the respectful — and perhaps thankful — applause upon the conclusion of Everett’s speech, Lincoln took the podium.  His speech lasted less than 2 minutes.  When it ended, there was dead silence from the massive audience that had assembled to hear the speeches and pay their respects at Gettysburg.  There was dead silence because no one realized  the speech, so brief and to the point, had actually ended.  Slowly there was hesitant clapping from the audience.  This — silence and confusion — was the immediate and ironic response to the greatest speech ever given in American history.  Of course, all the Northern newspapers picked it up for their next edition, and when those 272 words were actually read by the public, an immense reaction took place that reverberates to this day.  Such is the power of the printed word.

Gettysburg Address Text

Gettysburg Address History

Where Is Our Leader?

LBJ

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

LBJ

If you study the JFK assassination and get into the weeds – read many books about it, listen to many YouTubes, and join several Facebook JFK assassination groups to discuss the event – you will inevitably come across quite a bit of material critical of LBJ.   I must admit that, at the time in the 1960’s and until recently, my view of LBJ, apart from his role in the Vietnam War, was a fairly positive one, as he came across on TV as a kind of benign uncle looking out for the welfare of the American people.

There is no question about his stellar record in the civil rights movement.  One could make the argument that JFK was pulled kicking and screaming into civil rights for Afro-Americans, but LBJ jumped in with both feet, and was certainly one of the important leaders of that movement, if not an indispensable one.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would not have happened without him.  As for his declaration of war against poverty, how can any American not tip his hat to a president who is that idealistic and that bold — the goal being a “Great Society” where you have actually eradicated all poverty.  Wow!  Just wow.

But when you begin to delve into the JFK assassination material, a frequent critical commentary you come across immediately concerning LBJ is the assertion that just before he was assassinated, JFK was about to pull the plug on our involvement in Vietnam, but that when LBJ was sworn into office, he reversed  that decision and ordered full steam ahead.  There seems to be documentation that proves that this actually is what happened – that the Vietnam War might have been avoided had JFK lived, but LBJ instead proceeded with the war with a vengeance.  We all now know about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that was in response to an event that never actually happened — when you really want war, you become inventive, it seems.

You will find many allegations about LBJ’s use of his political office for graft to enrich himself.  There is no doubt that, like many politicians, he ended up an extremely wealthy man – with assets in excess of what one  would expect him to have amassed based on his various salaries as an office holder, although he could have just made some shrewd and lucrative business decisions to amass said wealth.   But the graft allegations really don’t surprises me or even bother me very much.   American politicians and graft go together like peanut butter and jelly.  In fact, my somewhat cynical view is that graft is just part of the compensation we owe our politicians for doing what is often a nasty and certainly contentious job.  Look at all the abuse and venom we heap upon them, even the good ones.  (I wouldn’t want the job.)

But the one allegation that you will come across that really was surprising to me and kind of shocking, given my view that LBJ was a sort of kindly old man looking out for the country, that is, the image that he managed to project on TV, was that LBJ was indirectly involved in several murders (Henry Marshall, Agriculture Secretary; George Krutelnik, an FBI informant; Ike Rogers and his secretary; Harold Orr, another FBI informant; Coleman Wade, yet another FBI informant; Josefa Johnson, LBJ’s own sister; John Kinser, Josefa’s boyfriend; and, last but not least, President John Kennedy).

It is alleged that several of these murders were carried out by LBJ’s supposed personal hit man, Malcolm (“Mac”) Wallace, who was actually convicted of one murder, sentenced to only 5 years despite the murder being described as “murder with malice,” but the judge in the case — guess this! — suspended even that modest sentence, which is itself kind of astonishing, that is, suspending a sentence for a murder conviction.  All of this legal chicanery in a murder with a conviction when there was talk of the death sentence happened when LBJ was governor — what the governor wants the governor gets.  That LBJ may have had his own sister murdered certainly takes the cake.  (I confess I did not know LBJ even had a sister or that she and her boyfriend had been murdered.)

People who put the murder allegations out there usually point out that the image LBJ projected in public was a far cry from the real person – that the real LBJ had this ferocious, uncontrollable temper that could erupt at any moment, and that in fact the man had strong psychopathic tendencies.    I must admit I was shocked to read about these provocative revelations not once, but over and over again, from many different authors.  I felt like the dopey American who believed, naively, his champion politician was some kind of a saint when in fact he was anything but.  But allegations are a far cry from proven facts, and I really have no way of knowing whether there is a scintilla of truth to any of the murder allegations.  He may not have been guilty of anything more criminal than showing us that scar.  (See the site below for just one reference in regard to the murder allegations — there are many others.)

I won’t go into all the JFK assassination theories related to LBJ — the conspiracy theorists have a field day with him, as he was after all next in line and so had motive, and there’s some credible evidence that he wasn’t all that fond of Jack his boss, Mr. Ivy League as well as Jack’s condescending brother — but let’s just say my view of LBJ, the sweet old man looking out for his country, as projected on TV, has been modified somewhat.

LBJ Murder Conference

Where Is Our Leader?

A Speech Like No Other

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

 

 

 

Where Is Our Leader?

Great civilizations, no doubt, can rise or fall depending on the presence or absence of an effective leader at a critical juncture.  Few would doubt that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the perfect leader to face a relentless depression and a terrifying world war.  His leadership still rings down through the ages with the echo of his forever familiar words, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and “A date which will live in infamy.”  But what if there had been no FDR to face the double barrel perils of a depression and a world war?  What might have been the darker fate of mankind then?  What might it be today?

Of course we have many politicians who pledge to fight for seniors.  And defending the middle class is the stock and trade of the “successful” politician – that is, those who get re-elected.   And one must not forget the tough stance on keeping our military strong.  All these positions are good to go for any politician who intends to survive elections, for woe to those who take a stance that in any way undermines the interests of seniors, the middle class, or the military.  We all know this to be true.

But where is the politician who is willing to tell the public that, at over 21 trillion dollars and escalating, we have way too much government debt, that the government borrows 40 cents for every dollar it spends, and so it is time to finally pay down the bill.  It is time to actually raise taxes, not just on the super rich so that it will not impact the average Joe and his vote, but across the board – raising your taxes and mine?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the politician who is willing to tell the public that our war on drugs has been a miserable failure, that, as a result, the prison system has become bloated and is unsustainable, and so it is time to end this second Prohibition, which has failed just as miserably as the first?  It is time to legalize and regulate many of these drugs; time to develop humane health programs for the myriad addicts; and time to reduce the prison population by early release for trivial victimless crimes along with jobs training to minimize recidivism.  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will be honest with the public and confide that we are on a suicidal descent into a dangerously warming planet, and so it is time to get serious about the reduction of carbon emissions despite the economic consequences, that is, time for a carbon tax, if not serious restraints on the use of all fossil fuels, which will no doubt mean job losses and reduced GDP?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who, instead of demanding even more military spending to enhance our “readiness,” is willing to be honest with the public and confide that world events are not totally under our control despite the imposing size of our military, and that, more often than not, what really works better than the blunt hammer is the deft diplomatic negotiation where there is true give and take on both sides — not just theirs?  And, sadly, this deft diplomacy has been sorely lacking.  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will level with the American people and tell them that the entitlement programs have to be reformed to make them financially viable by pushing out the eligibility age to at least 70, increasing the Social Security tax significantly, and introducing means testing to reduce or eliminate these benefits for the well to do who can get by without them?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will tell the public that the national government in conjunction with state governments must undertake an expensive infrastructure program to repair or replace roads, bridges, and waterworks because these assets have been seriously neglected, and this monumental effort will necessitate even more tax increases?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will take on the apparent economic inequity between races and particularly focus on the lack of opportunity for pockets of poverty in the inner city as well as routine police mistreatment of minorities, particularly Afro-Americans?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will shine a light on the adverse effects of decisions like Citizens United, and inform the public that the national government is now the instrument — bought and paid for — of the highly financed lobbyist?  That there is now an urgent need to put caps on campaign contributions, to roll back the definition of corporations as people, and to even consider term limits for congressmen in order to restore some semblance of democracy to our elected officials instead of what we have today – a plutocracy and a government controlled by special interests.  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will finally unravel and resolve the immigration mess by 1) identifying current illegal aliens who do not have a felony conviction, 2) offering them a reasonable pathway to citizenship after a suitable grace period, and 3) then be in a position to identify and deport new illegal aliens so that this problem does not continue in it chronic form and does not re-occur once it has been resolved.  That leader is nowhere to be found.

And where is the leader who will tackle the demise of the middle class and the swelling of the ranks of the poor, with the wealthest receiving an ever increasing proportion of the national wealth.  Never before has the republic seen such a skewing of the class structure.  Forty-three million citizens are now on Food Stamps; 1 in 5 American children do not get enough food to eat, and forty-five million live below the poverty line or 12.7%  of the population.  The richest 1% now own 38% of the total wealth of the country; the richest 20% own 87%; but the lower 50% own a meager 1.1%.  Where is the leader who will reverse all of these trends, reduce the number on Food Stamps, reduce the number of Americans living below the poverty line, broaden the ranks of the middle class, and require the richest Americans to provide the economic resources necessary to boost the livelihood of the impoverished and declining segments of our population?  That leader is nowhere to be found.

Government debt, a failed war on drugs, a prison system bursting at the seams, global warming, over reliance on the military and an absence of any real diplomacy, unsustainable entitlement programs, a ravaged national infrastructure, economic inequality between races and the blight of the inner city, lobbyist and corporate control of government, a broken immigration system, and a deteriorating class structure with entrenched poverty – these problems will not be solved without strong leadership.   But what if they are not addressed?  What if there is no FDR to save us this time?

LBJ

A Speech Like No Other

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00