Friday, July 31, 2015

Nixon Was in Dallas as JFK Arrived on November 22, 1963

Recently, I have been going through some of the unpublished blog entries that have been piling up (this is a bad habit, and I am already aware of that) and I noticed some that I assumed had been published long ago.

Well, this one came as a real surprise.

This was a blog about on particular article that examined how strange it was that President Nixon had been in Dallas on the morning that President Kennedy was shot, thus adding to the mix of all of the conspiracy theories out there about who was behind the assassination.

Personally, I am not sure of what happened there. There are times when many of the conspiracy theories make sense - seem to make more sense, in fact, than the official story. There are other times when I am turned off quite a bit from the sometimes swaggering confidence and self-assuredness that many of the conspiracy theorists seem prone to exhibit.

However, there is one thing that I still feel as strongly about now as I did almost two years ago, when I first began to publish entries about the Kennedy Assassination, and that is that what this represented, in a very real sense, was the beginning of a long decline for the United States.

No, I will not argue that everything started going wrong from that point on, and that there have not been any positives. Indeed, some things improved in the country since then, and I suspect that this is only natural. After all, however tragic that event might have been, some people will always try to do the right thing, and make the country a better place. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, and then the Voting Rights Act passed the very next year. President Johnson set up Medicare, fought hard against poverty, and attempted to emphasize beautifying America. Nixon opened up relations with China, much like Obama has opened up relations with Cuba. Environmental legislation has been created, enacted, and strengthened. We had one of the most decent and honest men ever to assume the highest office in Jimmy Carter, a president that I personally admire more than most others, probably including President Kennedy himself. He scored the first major breakthrough in the bigger goal of peace in the Middle East, and Clinton followed this up a couple of decades later with another huge achievement in this regard. Rights have continued to be expanded, and now encompass the LGBT community increasingly. The Cold War ended, peacefully, and the threat of a World War III between the Soviet Union and the United States was no more. There surely are other improvements from the past that are not immediately coming to mind.

However, as much as I admire the accomplishments of President Johnson in trying to implement his "Great Society" programs on the domestic front, he and his administration essentially started (and at the very least, greatly escalated) and mishandled the Vietnam War in a despicable manner, to the point that it has long overshadowed his accomplishments within American society itself. The Vietnam War built on the already growing level of skepticism that the country was feeling following the Kennedy Assassination, and the official explanation as stated in the Warren Commission report.

Nixon opened China up, and also deescalated the tensions that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union, but he also escalated the Vietnam War after promising to withdraw with honor. He set up the failed healthcare system that emphasized private profits over a fairer system. And, of course, there was Watergate, which I suspect fueled more skepticism within American society.

We had Jimmy Carter as president, as I mentioned. But much of what he tried to warn the nation about was rejected at the time, even though it has proven to come true all of these decades later. And, of course, he was soundly defeated by a man who, I think, quickly accelerated the decline of the nation's fortunes, even if he remains quite popular to this day.

There has been growing awareness of environmental issues and the reality of the dangers of climate change. Yet, the resistance and denial of climate change, and now, of climate change having been caused by human activity, has hindered stronger progress at every turn, and often served to set the country at odds with the rest of the world, making it stand out in ways that served to embarrass and discredit the nation and its reputation.

The Cold War ended peacefully, but it was followed up by an ugly and mean-spirited gloating that was counterproductive and, frankly, shameful. This spirit of premature celebration that many Americans felt proved their superiority also allowed Americans to remain blind to the dangers of numerous weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union having gone unaccounted for, and with that country suddenly on it's knees, a lot of those weapons were sold, and have gone into dangerous hands, making this world less secure.

Surely, despite the significant breakthroughs by Carter and Clinton towards in the Middle East, we can hardly look at the situation today and believe that the spirit of aiming high to achieve major breakthroughs like those in the past seems alive today. If anything, the situation in the Middle East looks worse today then ever before.

The country has been transformed by art, including some landmark changes in music and literature since then. There has been some great works of art, although this has been watered down significantly by a drive for money, corrupting art. Nowadays, we have many authors with paper thin characters, but with books raking in the dough. As for music, we have Justin Bieber and others who are all over the celebrity headlines, but bring little to nothing to true music aficionados. It sometimes feels like the entire country is obsessed with celebrity culture, to the point of absurdity.

Overall, the American Dream has felt less and less accessible to more Americans, as the wages of the vast majority have not grown much, although prices for everything have risen dramatically. The wage gap between the rich and the poor has widened, leading to staggering economic inequality not seen since the days leading up to the French Revolution.

There is a focus on health increasingly, although there is an aspect to it that is superficial, and mostly fixated on appearances and numbers, and not on well-rounded health.

Finally, technology has greatly improved and transformed our lives and society in general, but benefits and salaries have stagnated, and the quality of life overall has, and is, going downwards generally. Much of this technology has come at the expense of our privacy, and much of it has also led, paradoxically, to a decline in competency in other fields. There have been advances in medicine, although the healthcare system that this country continually chooses continues to fail tens of millions.

Yes, there have been improvements in the United States since that day when Kennedy was assassinated. Yet, more Americans seem fixated on this one event than ever before, because I cannot be alone in thinking that it feels like it represents the beginning of a real decline in America. It might sound cliche, but it does feel like this was the loss of some innocence, and a point of no return.

What undeniably seemed to grow beginning with the Kennedy Assassination was a greater skepticism among Americans. While skepticism can be a good thing, it certainly is not automatically so. And I suspect that one of the problems in the United States today is that there is far too much skepticism and cynicism that prevails today. I have mentioned many paradoxes about the state of the nation today, but there are even more. We have religious spirit like never before, yet a decided lack of charity too often prevails. We have politicians running for high office while proudly proclaiming that they hate government. The land that took pride in Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty welcoming new immigrants now speaks excessively about how illegal immigrants from Mexico are destroying the country, to the point that after making derogatory blanket statements about Hispanics, Donald Trump found his favorable poll numbers among Republicans spike sharply up, making him the clear front-runner for the time being, at least. We have more gun violence than any other industrialized country by far, yet far too many Americans believe that the cure for gun violence is more guns, and easier access to guns, even for those with troubled and violent backgrounds, or mental conditions that should exclude them from access to guns.

In short, this is not the America of Kennedy's Camelot days. The Kennedys in general, and John F. Kennedy in particular, represented a certain spirit and image for the country. They were young, wealthy, and attractive, and it is understandable that so many Americans adored them. After all, this is how the country wanted to see itself, as possessing youthful energy, and being idealistic and capable. The Kennedys seemed to be driven by a purpose to making the country better, and a trusting nation believed in that dream. It might have been naive, but even so, there was a sweetness and a youthful sincerity that seemed to exist at the time, which led to a desire to truly work to improve the country. And it seems to me that, as tragic as the death of one man was on that November day in 1963, the larger tragedy is that this was the beginning of countless other assassinations of the American Dream since, even if these did not always grab the headlines, or indeed were as clear cut or literal as the Kennedy Assassination itself was.

And so the Kennedy Assassination continues to fascinate, and many Americans continue to try and solve the mystery on their own. It seems a symptom of this age that this is so, because whether they realize it or not, Americans lost more, much more, than a president on that day. It seems that this singular event opened up the floodgates that have never fully closed ever since.

Below is a link to a fine article on the Kennedy Assassination from a unique perspective, as it follows President Nixon on the day of Kennedy's assassination, which began in Dallas for both of them. I also wrote a couple of paragraphs back then that I retained for this blog entry now:

Here was a very well written article focusing on the man who lost the Presidential elections of John F. Kennedy in 1960, and who also happened to be in Dallas on the day that Kennedy was assassinated.

It is a fascinating piece, and was an enjoyable, and short, read. You can read it in one sitting.

Yet, it is absorbing, and written in such a manner that you can almost picture yourself in the shoes of Richard Nixon, and even John F. Kennedy, for a very brief bit of it.

"Kennedy rival Nixon left Dallas as JFK arrived in November 1963" By ALAN PEPPARD published: 02 November 2013:

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