Not Backward, Please

Eisenhower_and_KennedyI have been thinking, I know dangerous up there my brain wheels grinding and all.  Nevertheless, I have been thinking.  Thinking about how the world has changed in fifty years, especially the United States.  How we as a nation and a people have changed so very much in this short half-century of time that has passed since the assassination of JFK in Dallas.  Do you wonder how we have changed?  Do you think it is for the better or like me, do you think we are worse as a nation and pettier, smaller as a people.

Dwight Eisenhower warned us of some of what was to come if we allowed certain elements of our society to gain control.  In his farewell speech he said much, though one quote is often referenced it is also taken out of context, leaving off much of what President Eisenhower said and intended regarding the military-industrial complex, I recommend reading his speech.1

From this same speech comes an even more profound statement, one that looked into the future and saw the potential of our smallness.

“Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history, yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.”  1

What does this mean?  As the oldest President handed the reins of power to the youngest, he warned the nation of our potential for terrible acts.  He thanked Congress for working with him in a bipartisan manner.  He thanked the nation for allowing him to serve.

What this doesn’t tell us, we were already sending soldiers to Vietnam.  We had been doing for years though the term then was ‘advisors’.  Three weeks before the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara upped the ante, increasing both military and economic support.  We were at war again, though undeclared.  This would lead to the first draft of unwilling soldiers since 1942, on December 1, 1969.

The world was in upheaval.  Young people taking to the streets, demanding they not be sent to die on foreign shores.  Demanding accountability for the billions spent, the lives destroyed and lost, the flag draped coffins shown on television every night reminded us, young and old, this was not a war of our choosing.

President Johnson decided not to seek reelection because of the outrage against Vietnam, thus handing the reins of power to Richard M. Nixon.  The nation was once again sent spinning, though he eventually ended the war, he also taught us a terrible lesson about the abuse of power.

Do we think about this, track this abuse of power in those we elect to high office?  Personally, I don’t think we do.  I think instead we shrug it off, in some cases even expect it and so continue to elect the miscreants.  One thing I know for certain.  No matter who actually commits the acts, whether criminal or simply scandalous we lay the blame at the feet of the President holding office at that time.  With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at the High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the past several administrations:

Crimes=Convictions  :  Scandals=Bad Acts made public

scandals

I will admit it was difficult to come up with these numbers, nearly every site listing numbers gives a slightly different view and I did not include Sex Scandals in the numbers of which we have had many over the years.  Soooo, while these numbers are close to accurate, they may be off by one or two in each administration.  What I found fascinating in looking through the lens of history?

the big ones_scandals

Look at that would you, all those big ones.  What does that say to us?  The redder we get the more corrupt.  That no matter which side of the aisle congress falls on, whoever is in the White House sets the tone.  Is this why today we have a bunch of obstructionist clowns, criminals and hypocrites trying their damnedest to manufacture scandals to lay at the feet of this President and this administration? Thus far though we have many named scandals, not a single one have stuck except in the minds of those who would smear, those who would destroy a legacy, those who are so filled with hostility toward this President, they would do anything including destroy democracy and us, the American People in their crusade to destroy this administration.

Don’t mistake me, I can find fault with President Obama.  I wish he would lead us further down the progressive path, further to the left rather than sticking so closely to the middle.  I understand though, he is leading the entire nation, not just the part I belong too.  I wish he would end Afghanistan, bring our soldiers home for good.  I wish he would rein in the NSA, shutter the programs of his predecessor.  I wish he would stop the Drone attacks and the killing of civilians.  I wish, frankly he would stop negotiating with his haters and stand up for his base, lead the party and the nation with strong words and actions that call out the naysayers by name. But I understand, sometimes you have to act in the best interest of others to gain the best interest of an entire nation.

I thought though these little factoids were interesting, fifty years of High Crimes, Scandals and What the Hell in the face of a changing nation.  No, our President isn’t King, Dictator or any of the other names laid at his feet.  He also clearly isn’t leading the most corrupt administration in the past century.  The election and ultimately assassination of John F. Kennedy opened the door for so many things, including the opportunity for Barack Obama to become President someday.  Strange what fifty years will do to a nation.

I have to ask all those Conservatives, those Tea Party Republicans, those whatever on the Right you call yourself; what is it you want to take us back to anyway?  From where I sit back doesn’t look all that grand.

1http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/deploymentsconflicts/l/bldrafthistory.htm

Comments

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Enjoyed this post, Val, especially the quote. I love quotes, unforgettable words, and insights. That’s a great pic at the bottom.

    Hey, in aside, I just read on Wesley’s blog – http://colltales.com/2013/12/02/curtain-raiser-164/ – about there being protests at Walmart about the basically slave labour employment they do. Not a peep in the press about this. I didn’t know a thing about this. Wish President O could do something about that, but I know, it’s corporate greed. It’s ATROCIOUS people are working so much, on such minimal wage, ATROCIOUS. This is our lives!!!!!!! We need not just to pay the bills but also to have some fun! Atrocious…

  2. There have been many changes over the last fifty years Val and not only in the USA, it is widespread across our planet and there is more to come, I just hope that we see a much better world in the future. Dwight Eisenhower’s speech was and still is futuristic in many ways, I guess everyone will read it and fill in the blanks any way they see fit but he definitely knew what he was talking about.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Val 🙂

    Andro xxxx

  3. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s death made most of us look back to the way we and our government were. Your post gives further reason to look back. I remember Ike being president but I don’t think I ever read his speech. He was right, the world is certainly smaller but I don’t think the mutual respect is there. Good post!

    • I was to young to remember Ike, but remember in fits and starts JFK. Mostly I remember the reactions of those around me. His death though is what introduced our nation to the possibility of ‘terrible’ within the context of political action in the very worst way. The murder of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and then finally Bobby Kennedy, I think convinced us we could not have heroes. Maybe even didn’t deserve them.

  4. Eisenhower was the last decent Republican president this nation had. Men, including my father, were drafted during the Korean War. After that, I believe military conscription resumed in 1965.

    Yes, I wish Obama would grow a f*****g backbone and stop negotiating with the extremists in the GOP. They made it clear from the moment he won the presidency 5 years ago that their top goal was to make him a one-term president. John Kerry and the Dems tried to place themselves above dirty politics in 2004. We know how well that plan worked! You can’t play nice with extremists, whether on the left or the right. They don’t understand logic and cooperation. The news that the U.S. may be in Afghanistan for another decade almost knocked me to the floor! I’m incredibly disappointed in Obama.

    • The first lottery draft was held on December 1, 1969 I suspect that is what the confusion is. This was the first since 1942. Officially the draft had been in place since that time, without interruption.

      You are right, there doesn’t seem to be any understanding of negotiation or compromise, on any level.

  5. Politics has become such a kettle of fish. The smell is becoming cloying. I’ve never been much for politics but in the past few years not only can I not avoid what’s going on but wish I could move to a new planet, one that more like the democratic process we used to have. Everywhere, scandals, sex, drugs, controversy and lack of professionalism.

  6. Thank you for laying it all out for us in a very thoughtful, pragmatic way. There are at least two things that are for the better since the assassination. 1) Dallas. Prior to JFK’s death this was a completely, unabashedly racist city. The assassination was a wake up call for them. It’s not a perfect city, but certainly better than it was. 2) Civil Rights. JFK was trying to implement civil rights laws and met with great resistance from the South. However, after LBJ took over he pushed it through, in the name of JFK’s memory. He played his hand cleverly, and brought upon us a new era. Not without it’s struggles, mind you, but it was a great step forward.

    • LBJ certainly drove the vision, at a cost to himself and to the Democratic party for years to come. Dallas, well this is where I live and it is an interesting city at least, certainly it has lost much of its early roots but frankly I think this is more due to the influx of out of state residence than anything else, we are not a true Texas city any longer in all honesty.JFK and LBJ surely did usher in a new era, their joint vision of change gave us much that was good but with it the stakes were raised and look what we have today as a result of taking our eyes off the ball.

  7. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Wow – fascinating stuff, Val. Love the charts. When you look at the facts that way, it’s really eye-opening. I try to remain moderate and “Vote for the Person,” but sometimes that’s difficult…to me, politics is ever-changing, yet, in many ways it stays the same and we just slap different terms, different titles, etc… on people, scandals and actions that are further exploited (rightfully and wrongfully so) by the media for their higher ratings due to these political frenzies. Have a great weekend and Thanksgiving!

    • I am progressive in my politics for the most part. I am independent in my voting though more and more I find I cannot vote for Republicans, it wasn’t always that way. I have never voted a straight party ticket until this last election, then I simply looked for the Blue and pulled the lever, didn’t matter I wanted as many Democrats wherever I could put them. Sounds terrible but it is the truth. I have been a wonk most of my life, since before I could vote I have followed politics, my first dream was to be a civil rights attorney and argue in front of of SCOTUS.

      Have a lovely holiday week and Thanksgiving.

      • AirportsMadeSimple says:

        Hi Val – Thanks for sharing. What most folks don’t understand is that Texas (I’m a Texan) was primarily a Democratic/conservative (!) State for many years until the Repulicans reinvented themselves in Texas, so now we’re considered a Republican/conservative state!! Many folks who live here don’t realize it.

        How do I know? I grew up on a ranch in West Texas near Eden, TX. When I was a kid, my folks went to vote downtown. This was the cusp (and in some smaller towns still the case in Texas) of the changing era.

        When they arrived to vote and asked where the Republican votes were to be cast…they didn’t exist! They were told (sarcastically) if “they wanted to vote Republican, they might want to re-think their home address/jurisdiction.

        They voted for those they wanted to on the Dem ticket but had to not get a voice for those on the other tickets!

        This is still the case in East Texas. 🙂

        But they’ve come a long way in the last 5-6 years. 🙂

  8. Great references to Eisenhower. I wonder how many people realize that he wasn’t a military leader, but rather a president with a retired military leadership background. Coming off of WW II, the 1950s were a time of getting things done … sure not everyone was happy or agreed, but productivity for the common good remained the order of the day.

    In terms of the scandals/criminal activity/etc stats, I’m not sure I can grow a conclusion from them. After all, I imagine there are some comparative stats that can show a darker light on the Dems.

    Nonetheless, your closing question is a great one!

    • I tried to be fair on this one Frank. I pulled the stats from a variety of sources not just one. The criminal behavior and the scandals, I verified and only added if I could verify from more than one source. I left off the sex scandals, except for Clintons as it resulted in Impeachment and it wasn’t really sex but lying under oath. The Dems were not without their issues, they were included. Crimes were only included if they resulted in convictions. No party was unscathed, I tried to show this. Scandals I included in the second chart if they resulted in Criminal Charges, Loss of Office, Disbarrment, or other sanctions.

      I love Eisenhower, he is my favorite Republican President. Like many Presidents, I didn’t like everything he did. But then I don’t like everything any President does. We would be idiots if we followed blindly.

  9. Great post, Val. I would have guessed that when the White House is red, we are more corrupt, but I’m “pleased” to have that confirmed. Loved the analysis. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • I am not certain I would have guessed to such an extend. Strange, isn’t it, how big of a blind spot there is among the GOP regarding their heros yet, the better presidents (corruption wise) seem to slide right off their radar. The only ‘bad’ think Ford did was pardon Nixon. The only ‘bad’ thing Bush 1 did, pardon many of those involved in Iran-Contra.

      Hope all is well in at your end of the world. It is freezing here.

      XX

  10. A fascinating analysis, Val…And what inspired and visionary words by Eisenhower who I’d really only thought of as an uninspired old soldier !!

    • I have always liked Eisenhower, I find him an interesting President. My favorite Republican really, though there are a few things he did that continue to yank my chain badly. His farewell speech was inspired, he and his brother spent a great deal of time writing it and there are copies of many handwritten versions.

  11. Excellent post! I’m amazed by those who belong to the the “Tea Party”they are also on Medicare the program that was once considered the “third rail’ of the Republican Party is the one they would like to eradicate along with FEMA, NASA, NOAA and the list goes on.
    This time they would like to return to only existed on television. Remember the Roaring 20’s a splendid example of family values.

    • I can only echo Nacy’s comment.

    • I find the arc of history fascinating. Current trends aren’t really talked about much these days, so we don’t watch them and question or challenge. We don’t demand accountability unless it is convenient. The entire idea of ‘taking our country back’ is absolutely frightening to me, this was intended as only one example. There are many others, you have identifed some.

  12. Very interesting charts, Val. Thank you for showing us new ways of looking at the same old things.

    • I am glad you found it interesting. My mind ground, mostly because of all the lambasting going on right now. All the manufacturing of scandals with no substance. The name calling and just pure ugly. I thought to myself, where does this all come from, what is the arc.

      • The results you came upon were something I intuitively felt was the case. Interesting to see statistics to back it up. It’s not sheer hypersensitivity that makes even slightly left-leaning folks to come to the conclusion that the R machine is more malicious and than the D. There is a bully mentality and a collective addictive, power-mongering persona that appears to be getting worse every year, even when they are not in office. I think that was a new one for the books, by the way–this immediate, unrelenting witch hunt as soon as O stepped into office, all without a hint of shame in their actions.

  13. I’m not sure I understand the top chart.

    But I do agree that the number of scandals of Dems pales in comparison to those of the GOP. Because they generally think they are above the law.

    • Dang, I was afraid of that. Crimes = convictions. Scandals = simply bad behavior

      Honestly, some of the bad behavior by Dems is bad, but based on all my scouting about you are right it does pale in comparison. What I found really interesting though is how little there was prior to Reagan.

      • I think the first table just needs a heading saying what it is. I kind of figured it out, but really wasn’t sure.

        And I truly, to the soles of my feet, feel that what Reagan ushered in was evil.

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