Archive for the ‘JFK 50’ Category

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

Posted: November 22, 2013 in JFK 50


Fifty years ago the world changed.  I am a total conspiracy theorist about so many things, not just the assassination of JFK, and I think he was probably way more of a creep than a lot of Democrats would care to admit but when those shots rang out that day in Dallas things started to go downhill fast in this country.
I feel pretty certain that although JFK was wealthy and powerful, he did have a genuine concern for the rights and equal treatment of people all around the world.  He didn’t seem like a blatant exploiter who didn’t care that it took thousands, if not millions of hungry poor people to support each privileged, rich person on the planet.  The ridiculously wealthy know the formula all too well.  About five to 8% of the population can maintain a hold on about 92 or 93% of the world’s wealth as long as there are the right amount of middle-class citizens to fill the mid-level jobs and act as the consumers of the goods that generate the flow of money while the bulk of the world’s people remain in poverty as the exploited, seriously underpaid laborers who grow, pick, process or manufacture and deliver all those material goods.
Lately, I think, the truly filthy rich have realized that they can maintain their privileged positions and perhaps grow even wealthier with a smaller, more compact middle class.  So while so many left-leaning activists have been shouting that we need a re-distribution of the wealth, what the very powerful have been able to engineer is a re-distribution of the poverty.  They know full well that they don’t need as many mid-level, middle-class workers as they needed a decade ago, two decades ago.  They know it’s cheaper to have a smaller, overworked, over-taxed and barely-covered-with-benefits workforce and the bottom line will stay the same or even get healthier so why should they care if unemployment hits 12 or 15 or even 20% some day soon?  As long as they control the western militaries there will be no Revolution.  And as long as they can keep finding evil “enemies to our way of life” they can keep their militaries.  It really doesn’t matter who is the President of the United States or the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister or Premier of England or Japan.  There is a small group of very powerful men who decide everything that happens anyway.  Dan Brown would say it’s the Masons.  Rachel Maddow might say it’s Dick Cheney and his gang at Halliburton.  I think it’s an old brotherhood called the Grey Men and I think that JFK was on to them so they had him eliminated.
And, you know, I really don’t care if there is an exclusive group of wealthy men that runs things and keeps all kinds of secrets from the rest of us.  But I do have a huge problem with all of the exploitation that obviously takes place every day, every year, every decade, every generation to maintain the status quo.  I made a conscious announcement to the universe years ago that I would be more than willing to make do with less if it meant that just one child somewhere in the world wouldn’t have to go to bed hungry every night.  I do not need a new car every two years, I do not need $175.00 sneakers or $200.00 jeans or the very latest in cell phone technology.  Yes, I would love to be able to pay my bills more easily, I would love for this planned “economic downturn” to end so I could find a good job again and earn what I’m worth.  It would be nice to have a little money in the bank and feel confident enough in my situation to let my bills be paid automatically each month rather than worry constantly if there’s enough in my account to cover everything, but I do not need extreme wealth.  My kids are my riches.  Their good health is my wealth.  My success at living the most non-exploitative life that I can manage makes me happy and keeps me feeling fulfilled.

So, was JFK’s murder a Grey Men conspiracy?  Was he too much of a humanitarian for them, ready to give away too much of what they coveted?  Would he have found a more diplomatic solution to the “troubles” in Vietnam?  If he did he would have ruined their plans to lower the population of poor, restless, urban Black men in this country by sending them off to an un-winnable “war” and bringing so many of them home in body bags with perfect little packages of pure heroin from the golden triangle tucked neatly inside to distribute conveniently throughout the country’s inner cities, to help decimate and eradicate the rest of the non-white “problem.”  Can’t you just see some white, supposedly “good Christian” wealthy guy standing up at a clandestine meeting somewhere and saying something like, “Look, we can only allow (this many) of those (insert N-word here) to live in this great country of ours.  Too many and they’ll eventually rise up against us, kill our sons and rape our wives and daughters.”  The Vietnam War (which they call the American War in Vietnam, by the way) was a perfect way to “handle” that “problem.”

Paranoia?  Perhaps.  Still, paranoia or no, not one bit of this would surprise me if it were ever proven to be true.  As a member of an ill-treated minority it’s only natural that I should occasionally look over my shoulder for creeps who want to hurt me because they think of me as not quite equal.  I have been verbally gay bashed.  And I have called people on their racial bigotry many times.  Granted, I am no angel, but I do try to fight my demons every day.

You really do have to wonder, though, don’t you, what the heck goes through the mind of a person who is okay with genocide.  And land theft.  And culture eradication.  I can sort of understand devout faith and utter devotion but what the fuck could possibly have made it seem okay to the European Christians, who came early to this continent and the one just south of it, to tell the millions of people who were living here that their land no longer belonged to them, their language was no longer to be used and their beliefs were all going to be replaced by a new religion?  Huh?  Japan tried to do that to China and it started a huge war.  Germany tried to do it to Europe and it started more of the same war.  Saddam Hussein tried to roll into Kuwait and, of course, because there was oil there, we sent in the military.  There was no oil in Bosnia so hardly anyone tried to end the ethnic cleansing there 20 years ago, despite the outrage all over the world over what was happening.  Just like there’s outrage all over the world because of the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As there should be.  You don’t go killing old ladies and children just because some bad-ass militants are trying to control their country.  I despise the Taliban and what they do in Afghanistan.  I despise Al Qaeda’s violence.  But you really won’t be happy, will you, until you turn all of the countries in the Middle East into quiet little obedient, Bible-toting satellites, where American developers can swoop in and open shopping malls and food courts that sell Monsanto-laced garbage that is supposed to pass for food.  No, you just need that ever-present evil enemy to justify, in perpetuity, your outrageously enormous defense budget.  You need a way for the war profiteers to always profit.  After WWII it was those scary Communists.  Now it’s the radical fundamentalist Muslims, half of which you helped put into power decades ago.  Who will it be in 20 years?  I know, maybe all those legally married gay people.

So why, if it wasn’t okay for Japan to invade China or Germany to invade Poland or the old Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan, was it okay for England, Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands to invade North and South America hundreds of years ago?  Why has there been no formal apology like there supposedly was in Australia to the indigenous peoples there?
We know that John F. Kennedy was a privileged, philandering, pretty-faced rich boy deep down inside but on the surface, he appeared to care for the underdog, seemed to at least want to try to level the playing field.  Jimmy Carter is wealthy, too, but also one of the nicest people I have ever met.  A true humanitarian.  Which unfortunately made him an ineffective president.  Still, I voted for him because it seemed like he cared.  Twice, I voted for him.  And I am honored to have met him.  I loved when he said he had lusted in his heart.  Who hasn’t?
I’m human.  I lust in my heart every day.  I don’t want to force people to believe in only what I believe in.  I’m way too nice for that.  Oh, and I have no army.




Image I will never forget that day.  I was 5 years old and home already from the morning session of half-day kindergarten.  My sisters were still in school.  My mother was home that afternoon, instead of at her job as a salesperson at the A&S store not far from our house.  My dad had died nearly four years earlier, his remains buried under a beautiful and far-reaching oak tree in the front row of a hilly, roadside section of Arlington National Cemetery.  I had only been there once to visit his grave site.  My grandfather, who lived with us at the time and used to pick me up at the bus stop on the days when my mom was at work, was out, probably at his favorite watering hole down the block.  On the days when he was supposed to retrieve me from the school bus, he would sometimes drive down there with me, give me a nickel for the candy store next door and then tuck into the bar for a nip of brandy. On certain days he would take me to the next town east, where my aunt and uncle had a fried chicken and ribs place called The Little Pigs.  I’d feast on savory, fatty foods and take a nap on a cot in the back room until my mother showed up from her job and we’d all go home.  One sparkling October day my grandfather completely forgot me and left me at the bus stop, continuing on to the restaurant by himself.  All hell broke loose at The Little Pigs that evening when my mom got there and found the cot empty.  They raced back in the dark and of course checked the place where the bus usually let us off.  A neighbor, my best friend Joey’s mom, stuck her head out her front door and called, “Anne, she’s here.  I have her.”  I had fun that afternoon, playing with all of Joey’s boy toys.  My grandfather, meanwhile, was ready to have his head examined. That sad, blustery day in November of 1963, though, I was playing in the den of our Long Island split level.  Our poodle, Squeaky, was sitting by my side.  My mom was upstairs in the kitchen, making domestic-chore noises and listening, as always, to the “Good Guys” of WMCA on her boxy transistor radio.  I think I heard her sigh heavily and sit down.  And then, I’m certain, I heard her sobbing.  When I padded up the stairs and quietly asked her why she was crying her muffled response sounded illogical.  “Somebody shot the Desitin,” I thought I heard her say.  I wondered why someone would want to shoot a tube of ointment. I have been the mother of a five-year-old girl.  Three times.  I wonder how I would have handled it if something equally terrible had happened when one of my girls (or 2 together, since they are twins) had been five.  On September 11, 2001 Bea was 2 1/2 and saw too much of the insanity on television.  We tried to shield her from the non-stop coverage eventually, but that first day, when I was at work on 58th street and couldn’t get home till the following afternoon, she saw plenty.  If she wanted to she could have seen the smoking, collapsing towers from the window of an upstairs bedroom in the house on 33rd Street in Brooklyn.  But five is way older than two.  I think, if I were home alone with her as a five-year-old, I would have wanted to share the tragedy with her, too.  Gently.  Cautiously.  And I don’t think I would have hesitated to let her see me cry. Which is how my mom handled it and I am so very grateful.  Because I think her crying in front of me is why I remember the day so vividly.  I eventually figured out the truth, that someone had shot the president, not the Desitin.  And for the rest of the day and then the whole weekend we were glued to the TV, watching as the news unfolded in front of us.  We saw Bobby, who we all loved, board Air Force One when it landed back in Washington, D.C. carrying the president’s body and his wife, Jackie, still wearing her blood-stained suit.  We saw the casket rolled down and out from the back of the plane.  We saw images of the dignitaries who flew in from all over the world to pay their respects.  We looked at newspaper photos of the casket, laying in state and being kept company by vigilant Army soldiers, Marines, sailors and two Catholic priests. And then, on the morning of Monday, November 25th, which I only know because I looked it up, the somber funeral procession began.  We were given the day off from school.  It felt like time had stopped and the whole world was watching.  My mom and sisters and I were in the den, looking up at the black and white TV that was recessed into one wall, the same wall with the window through which Squeaky crashed one night during a particularly loud thunder storm. Eventually the procession crossed the Potomac, from D.C. into Arlington, Virginia.  It slowly moved down the main entrance of the National Cemetery.  I was mesmerized by Black Jack, the beautiful horse following the caisson, riderless and with boots affixed facing backwards in the stirrups to honor the fallen hero who would never ride again.  He was an ornery horse, that Black Jack, as impatient as I for the sadness to be over.  I watched casually, not quite sure of the importance of what I was seeing.  There must have been television cameras everywhere along the route.  I can picture them now, 30 years into a broadcasting career, as giant, gray hulking behemoths operated by men wearing suits and ties.  The funeral procession got to the end of the entrance boulevard, a path I have walked and driven many times, turned right and headed down a road I know so well, a road that, even then, felt familiar.  They proceeded through an ornate iron gate where the way begins to rise, slightly.  There’s a curve to the left and just before that curve, on the right side of the road, a camera was stationed, waiting.  The operator’s only task was to pan right and follow the slow advance of the casket, which he did, perfectly.  It had to have been a short lens because the image was what’s known as a wide shot, with lots of room around the central subject.  And there, as the flag-draped casket rolled by, was the oak tree, the slope rising towards Taft’s grave, the tall, thin water spigot I have since used repeatedly on floral arrangements, and the pure white stone I knew. “There’s daddy’s grave,” we all shouted at once, jumping simultaneously from the sofa.  My mother gasped.  My sisters and I, for a fleeting moment wild-eyed and amazed, sat back down quietly.  And then, at last, I understood the importance of what I was watching. 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