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They say……”never speak badly about the dead………” Thinking back over the last 70 years, it is amazing that the dearly departed have included the following Presidents of the United States: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Milhous Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Some of our past and departed Presidents have come to achieve and maintain semi-mythical status. When the Greatest Generation speaks of FDR it is with a great reverance that certainly under severe scrutiny….may not be totally warranted. Did FDR bait the Japanese and Germans into starting World War II? Was FDR really a racist elitest that simply land grabbed the Japanese farmland in California and put all the Japanese into internment camps? Did FDR know about the attack on Pearl Harbor two weeks before it happened? Did FDR plan to expose all of our aging Naval fleet and aged Pursuit and Fighter planes to the Japanese on December 7th? What Communists did FDR truly know and allow into his various Adminstrations. Why did FDR dump the very popular Henry Wallace in favor of Harry Truman when he knew his days were numbered? What US banking interests did FDR give to Adolph Hiter during World War II, to keep the war going longer?
Then comes Harry S. Truman from Missouri. who completed the Fourth Term of FDR, dropped the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese and finally ending World War II. Truman met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in Potsdam, Germany….a town a few kilometers outside of Berlin, Germany after Victory in Europe Day on May 8th, 1945, thusly officially beginning the Cold War on July 18th, 1945. Germany was split into four parts; English, French, American and Soviet. Additionally, Berlin which was within the borders of the Soviet Zone was split into the four zones represented by the four powers. Perhaps, Harry’s remark about “Good old Joe!” at Potsdam inspired Stalin. It was the beginning of Checkpoint Charlie…..between the American and Soviet Zone in Berlin. Within three years Truman had created the Soviet Berlin Blockade in 1948-1949 – instituting the Berlin Airlift to supply our troops and civilians there as well as getting us involved the Korean War starting June 25th, 1950 – thru July, 1953 – removing WW II – Hero General Douglas MacArthur. Truman was re-elected over the Republican Tom Dewey in a shocker. Truman’s claims to fame were that he prosecuted Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who had given the Atomic Bomb Secrets to the Soviets – and they were killed in the electric chair in Sing Sing prison. The only civilians to be publically executed by US officials from World War II. The 60 German spies dropped off by submarine who had done Fifth Column sabotage of military and civilian facilities…..did not count. The US additionally incarcerated hundreds of Germans in prison in Arizona and Texas. Finally, Truman was most well known for the sign on his desk: ”The Buck stops here!” This may have been a double e’ntante…from his days working the Pendergast Machine in St. Louis, Missouri. His wife Bess and daughter Margaret…played the piano.
Dwight David Eisenhower gets one of those mythic passes. He led our forces on D-Day, he was a five star General, his wife Mamie was cute as a button and he was elected in 1952 to end the Korean War and get rid of Harry Truman. He did both. He served two terms, played a lot of golf and created a highway system which would begin the new “Hot Rod Generation” and the great “Detroit Iron” engine of growth for the entire country. The automobile explosion and the ticky tacky housing industry boomed. ”Leave it to Beaver”, “The Life of Riley” and Marlon Brando…….”The Wild One” created a world of ducktail haircuts, pink pettycoats, dark coffee houses with Beatniks and Bongos, Zen and Jack Keruoac and Alan Ginsberg, Marijuana and Lenny Bruce. Then came Elvis, Alan Freed, Payola and “Rock and Roll”, Alan Dulles, the CIA – the Quiet Americans and geopolitics zeitgeist -before it was all over and the Kennedy’s came to town!
JFK continued the mythical nature of the US Presidency. Assassinated by who? The Cuban Missle Crisis! Jackie Kennedy! Little John and Caroline! RFK! Martin Luther King! The Vietnam war? Was he for it or against it? George Wallace! The whole Kennedy Clan! Joseph P. Kennedy! The Bay of Pigs! Lee Harvey Oswald? Fair Play for Cuba? Sam Giancana? Marilyn Monroe? Peter Lawford and Frank Sinatra? Organized Crime? J. Edgar Hoover? The Military Industrial Complex – the new years? Voting rights for Blacks? Marches on Washington? Overturning Jim Crow laws? November 22nd, 1963 – the end of Camelot!
Lyndon Baines Johnson was a crude man. He was a brutal talking politician that used his power whenever he could. Lyndon’s wife Lady Bird was his foil where Lyndon could stash bought up licenses for radio stations, oil land and property and whatever else he wanted to hide. His pal Billie Sol Estes was another dupe that did Lyndon’s bidding, cornering the market on roadway asphalt in all of Texas and Vietnam. Lyndon did everything wrong from the beginning of his first day and term of office. Taking the oath of office, on Air Force One with the wife of his assassinated President still drenched in blood and the body of the President still not cold – on the way back to Washington D.C. from Dallas. His words were cold, obvious and devious. Lyndon immediately started ramping up the war in Vietnam…..implementing the phony and fraudulent so-called Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, backed by the war hawks in the Congress and the Military Industrial Complex. In order to get the country headed to war, Lyndon backed what he simply called the “The War on Poverty” and “The Great Society”. Lyndon pressured Richard Russell to back his play for a Voting Right Acts of 1964 and the list of under funded social reforms could choke a horse. Not since FDR …..had we seen such a banal attempt to socialize the country without the support of the people. LBJ defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964…..on the backs of the Kennedy families sorrows and by utilizing a campaign dedicated to fear of nuclear destruction should Goldwater be elected. When Robert Kennedy challenged LBJ during the 1968 campaign – RFK was assassinated mysteriously in June after the California Primary which he had won. MLK – Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream speech…” in late August of 1963. MLK was assassinated mysteriously April 4th, 1968. MLK was supporting RFK for President. Lyndon Johnson was key to the assassination of JFK, RFK and MLK in our humble opinion. This is the reason that the entire Warren Commission Report still cannot be shown in 2063. The Vietnam war killed over 58,000 American youth and wounded or maimed another 350,000. LBJ wanted the blacks and the trouble maker younger generation off the streets – so he drafted them. Finally, LBJ gave his “I shall not run or seek…..” speech March 31st, 1968 …five days before MLK was assassinated and three months before RFK went down in Los Angeles. The anti-war movement was at its peak!
Richard Milhous Nixon, was dirty from the start. His loss to JFK was a severe body blow which created a meaness and a paranoia that impermeated his entire Administration. He surrounded himself with paid off dirty tricksters, double dealing, double talking strange folks without ethos or compassion for their fellow man. Henry Kissenger served as his foil to deflect his own negative attitudes. The bombing and invasion of Cambodia and Laos without UN approval was typical of his geopolitical concept of dealing with the yellow people. As the race riots of 1965, 1966, 1968 had already shown to Nixon…..”he had enemies …..” which may have included members of the Press and many Activists including Malcolm X and MLK. He got J. Edgar Hoover to dig into various things. He got the IRS to follow in the footsteps of LBJ and direct their efforts towards punitive action for any considered wrong doing….to the Nixon Administration. As the peace process in Paris bogged down, around Christmas Nixon finally decided to bomb Hanoi and Haiphong Harbor. Meanwhile, George Wallace the American Independent Candidate in 1968 had taken almost 13% of the Presidential Vote. Wallace was looking to run in 1972 to challenge Nixon again. Wallace was shot five times in May of 1972 and was relegated to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Wallace obviously never challenged Nixon again. Watergate however came along shortly thereafter and even though Nixon was re-elected easily in 1972, by August of 1974 Nixon was forced to resign and be replaced by his second Vice President Gerald R. Ford. Spiro T. Agnew, Nixon’s Vice President until October of 1973 was forced to resign first……on the pretext of Tax Evasion……for using the New York Milk Fund for Children for his own purposes and not reporting the income.
Gerald R. Ford was a wily politician from Michigan. He played football at the University of Michigan “Big Blue”, but he couldn’t chew gum and walk straight. He had a proclivity for falling down a lot. Chevy Chase made an entire career on Saturday Night Live…..showing off some of the more egrigious Jerry Ford moves. The first thing he did was Pardon Nixon. This guaranteed that he was going to be a short term replacement for Nixon. Jerry Ford was never elected and was beaten by Democrat Jimmy Carter. The Mayaguez incident in May of 1975 was a serious messup….which killed a bunch of our Marines and left us with egg on our face – when the Cambodians attacked, killed and took the “Mayaguez” a container ship……..this was a total FUBAR operation from the get go. Gratefully, it was the last military engagement of the Vietnam War. Betty Ford was a nice lady with a drinking problem that later started the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, California so that Jerry could play golf and fall down without getting too cold in the process. Considering Ford served only two years in the Presidency……..it is amazing how much he could screw up in that time. When Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976 – you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Ford. But it did – No Olympics in Russia (because they invaded Afghanistan), Billy Beer (the brother), Roslyn (the Psychic), Lillian (the Mom), Amy, James, Jack & Donnel (the kids) – Peanut Farmer from Georgia – ”The Pennsylvania Avenue – K Street Hilbillys!”
Ronald Wilson Reagan and Nancy were our 40th President. ”Ronnie and Mommy”, came along at a time when our country was in big trouble. Our economy and that of the world was in turmoil. The Soviet Union was at its zenith of expansion. The Iranians had taken our Embassy, Diplomats, Employees and Marines hostage and held them for over a year. The Sadat-Begin-Carter Camp David Peace Accord was on shaky ground. Sadat is assassinated in October of 1981. Our American military had been cut to the bone. Things were tough, gas prices still spiking from the Carter years and the Arab Oil Embargo. Two months after taking office, Ronald Wilson Reagan was making progress and lots of people didn’t like it. On March 31st, 1981 Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr., the son of a dear friend of George H.W. Bush. Ronnie Reagan survived. The myth begins; The Iranian hostages come home on the first day of the Reagan Administration. The Soviets pulled back their warships from the Atlantic and Pacific in close proximity to the United States. The Stock Market rises on the fact that new oil deals are made with Mexico and Venezuela for long term contracts. The cost of gasoline goes down a little. Gold hits its high of $848 dollars an ounce and Silver at $41.20 an ounce and crashes when the Hunt brothers, who had cornered the market liquidated about half of their holdings. Federal Oil Land Licenses are opened and some actually go to Native Americans. Pride in the American military is slowly restored. New technology is created for the Military Industrial Complex. Close ties are made with Margaret Thatcher and Great Britain. When Pope John Paul comes to power, Reagan creates a triumvirate of Pope John Paul, Margaret Thatcher and himself. Little did they know….it would finally spell the end of the Berlin Wall.
We won’t go on about the Reagan Myth……too much to cover. We might leave you with this urban legend however: On the very first day of the Reagan presidency……..Secretary of State Alexander Haig sat down in the Oval Office with Ronnie and they called Brezhnev. ”Leonid? Yes, this is Al Haig, I am here with President Reagan and we just wanted you to know a few things: You know that 1968 Brezhnev Doctrine bullshit you put on Czechoslovakia…..and the other five countries you consider socialist rather than communists? Well, forget about it – as we might remind you, I was NATO Commander for eight years and we have every one of your nuclear launch codes. You screw with us and you will have every one of them go up right in their silos!”
The Dead Presidents Club! They just don’t make them like that anymore…..do they? Well, let’s hope not …anyway!