Tag Archives: richard nixon

What Year Is It, Anyway?

In 1973, I was transitioning between my sophomore and junior years in college.

Like so many young men and women at Syracuse University’s S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, I followed the story of the Watergate break-in and the growing evidence that the Nixon White House was involved.

When Brent Snowcroft acknowledged to the Justice Department that President Richard Nixon routinely tape recorded conversations in the Oval Office, the nation was stunned. But now, at least, we could get to the bottom of this mess. All we needed to do was listen to the recordings.

Once we could obtain them, that is.

I remember all this clearly and easily. I was between 19 and 20 years of age at the time. The 45th President of the United States was between 26 and 27 years old back then. It seems incredible he couldn’t or wouldn’t remember anything about those singularly historic developments.

And yet, within the last two days, the President has tweeted to former Director of the FBI James Comey and threatened to release certain recorded conversations if Comey testifies in the (as of this writing) ongoing Congressional probes of possible collusion between the Trump Presidential Campaign/Administration and Russia.

Philosopher Georg Hegel once opined that if you don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, you have to know history. To ignore the lessons we can learn from the past means we are doomed to recreate them.

And President Trump (just like your humble blogger) has had the opportunity to know these lessons first hand. But it would seem he wasn’t paying attention. His threat to Comey strongly implies that Trump has made such recordings.

Be prepared to hear him attempt to walk the threat back (“I never said I had any recordings, I merely suggested he should hope I didn’t. Actually, I don’t make recordings; they’re so much trouble, so much trouble… But it would have been a terrific idea if I had.”)

So now we have to go round and round the mulberry bush to try and obtain copies of these supposed recordings.  And so it goes.

For those too young to remember, eventually Richard Nixon’s recordings were obtained and, once heard, his fate was sealed.

Let us pray that, thanks to Donald Trump’s own monumental ignorance of recent American Political History, the demise of this administration will be just as inevitable.

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Annnnnnd I’m out……

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Anything for Art

When the going gets crazy, sometimes it’s best to just get out of the way of the artwork! Our old friend, Rick Stevens will take over from here…

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Sometimes you find the purest forms of communication in the least expected location…

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This much is certain: the Republican Party has undergone a metamorphosis…

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Then there’s the matter of Culture and the Arts. Abraham Lincoln died watching live theatre. Richard Nixon enjoyed screening movies.

#EmperorDonaldTheLast doesn’t read books or magazines or even briefing reports longer than one page, and those have to be heavy on bullet points and graphics.

So when he tried to cut endowments for the arts and humanities, what did he think would happen?

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And the fate of healthcare hangs precariously in the balance…

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And, oh yes, there was something about the … was it… the FBI?..

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So, in conclusion, please be of good cheer!

If you have a faith life, meditate and pray. If you don’t have a faith life, work on your deep breathing and relaxation exercises.

If you’re the primary cause of all this tension, please resign, thereby sparing us all of the time and stress of having to have you impeached…

Thanks to the artists.

Thanks to the rest of you.

Annnnnnd I’m out.

An Eye for an Eye, A Bullet for a Bullet, A Gun for a Gun and an Idiot for an Idiot…

One of the benefits of age is experience.

I remember the 1960s and 70s because I was alive, conscious, alert and oriented enough to remember them personally. There was talk of “Revolution” in the air.

A lot of it. Talk. A lot of talk.

“The Revolution will not be televised.”

“The Revolution will not be announced.”

“The Revolution will come like a thunderclap and when it is over everything will be different.”

Well, no, no, no and did I mention… no.

But there was, as I say, a lot of talk, much of it scary. Remember, this was a world for whom the second world war was no distant memory, it had been personal, too.

So when people spoke of armed uprisings and revolution and political upheaval, lots of folks got frightened enough to take it all at face value and they got together and decided to dig in their heels and resist.

The FBI and the CIA started looking for revolutionaries in all kinds of places, their logic dictated largely by irrational and self-serving paranoia.

And the reactionary conservative political movement was seeded through this means, the movement which gave us Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the First, Newt Gingrich, George Bush the Second, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and perhaps the most bizzarre manifestation of this philosophy ever conceived, Donald Trump.

Just to name a few.

I say all of the above because yesterday I heard some people speaking in tones and ideas that I haven’t heard in 50 years. And I wasn’t at all happy to hear them again.

Gun violence by police aimed against black men and other minorites has planted the seeds for sniper gun violence aimed against police in Dallas, Texas, and soon — who knows where else?

(By the way, am I the only one who sees the tragic parallels of a sniper in DALLAS?)

I lived through the polarized days of the Vietnam War and the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention and Kent State.  It wasn’t glorious, it wasn’t enobling, it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t cool.

It was so distressing, right down to the level of the subconscious, that the eighties which followed the seventies were dubbed the “me decade” because everybody was exhausted from caring about the larger issues and the consensus was that we should all of us just take a break, get stoned and just stop worrying about anything that went on outside our immediate neighborhood, or even beyond our own front yard.

This was the decade people stopped carrying pizza out and started to have it delivered to their front doors instead. This was the decade that gave us the placebo phrase “victimless crime.” Renting porn movies on VCR cassettes – like smoking weed – was at that time a victimless crime.

Now, a full generation later, we have an entire population of men who view ritualized sexual assault of women as a rite of passage and smoking weed is viewed with much the same gravity as the failure to signal a turn.

And now we have reached the age that may quite possibly give us the phrase “victims of justice” or, more simply, “police victims.”

I hope not, but I once more fear for the future of this once-great land and I do not think that polarizing people further is the way to restore that greatness.

Let us pray, not prey.

Campaign Fatigue Really Is a Thing

And I’m not the only one who thinks so!

Or: How I came to be flattened like a roadkill pancake along the Information Superhighway during the 2014-2016 US Presidential Campaign.

For almost my entire life, I have been an avid follower of the news in general and American Politics in particular.
My parents encouraged me to read the daily newspaper and what were then the leading weekly news magazines.  Every four years my parents openly discussed the Presidential races around the family table.
The night of the general Presidential election, the results were closely monitored at the television set and in 1964 I remember my Dad filling out a U-S map as Democrat Lyndon Johnson won state after state in his victory over Republican Barry Goldwater.

FILE PHOTO:  In Profile: 100 Years Of US Presidential Races

At that time, the country was increasingly polarized by the undeclared war in Vietnam, not to mention racial disparity and the seeds of financial disparity as well.  Differences of opinion were earnest and deeply held, but the tone of civil discourse was mostly just that: civil.

Race Relations Coffee Cartoon

President Richard Nixon, aided greatly by mega-diplomat Henry Kissinger, brokered “Peace with Honor” in Vietnam and opened relations with the Chinese mainland, even as his domestic advisors attempted to subvert the United States Constitution in an effort to conceal the White House involvement with the “third-rate burglary” at the Watergate.    Nixon ultimately resigned and we told each other, “The System works.”
But Nixon turned out to be just the kind of political role model we didn’t need.  He had gotten away with more than that for which he was punished and that observation did not go unremarked.  It was only a matter of time before somebody would attempt to succeed where Nixon had failed.
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President Nixon (R), the only holder of the office to be compelled to resign the U-S Presidency
In the last year of the previous century, in the election of 2000, George W Bush succeeded to the Presidency under the murkiest political circumstances in the nation’s history.  Quite possibly the most clear-cut model of a figurehead ever elected to the Oval Office since Warren Harding, Bush functioned largely as a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy while Vice President Dick Cheney (who had selected himself for his own office) set policy in conjunction with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
It is especially ironic to note that Bush’s father preceded him to the Presidency and was himself a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  More than a few of the intrigues Bush the elder had set in place would be the targets of the intrigues the second Bush White House would set into motion.
GHW Bush and GW Bush
President George Herbert Walker Bush and his son, President George Walker Bush
Cheney and Rumsfeld, with nary a day’s worth of military experience between them, engineered a course of action that steered the United States into multiple military misadventures in the Middle East, ostensibly to prevent the use of non-existent weapons but in fact designed to benefit select multi-national corporate interests in the Defense and Energy Industries along with certain allies in the Middle East.
 It was a collateral benefit that such gambits also served to fuel a spirit of jingoistic nationalism, a useful distraction from the overarching reality to distract the masses who were required to be fodder for these machinations.

EDIT KOTERBA 10-21-2012 Color. Campaign Fatigue.

Since that time, the kind of terrorism these wars were meant to crush has only flourished and spread further into the Western societies to which they are opposed.
And now, the domestic American political scene, which once was thought to be impervious to the kind of megalomaniac despotism that once was the exclusive province of Depression-era fascism, Communism and Third World military juntas, shows signs of infection itself.
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George Orwell, chronic depressive and writer of prescient political fiction as well as non-fiction
 In his novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell writes that the main function of War is to destroy the output of Human Labor in order to keep the citizens focused on the need to produce more goods and services to replace those destroyed in the conflict.  The key here is the element of distraction.
In July of 2015, Slate columnist Daniel Engber had already written about Presidential Campaign fatigue.
Here’s the link:
 http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/07/campaign_coverage_fatigue_finally_a_solution_for_readers_who_are_already.html
Not only is his proposal ingenious, it’s also most amusing to read some of the ultimately erroneous assumptions he makes.  None of us are truly psychic..
Georg Hegel
Georg Hegel, philosopher
What remains to be seen is how far the American electorate will move toward authoritarian totalitarianism.  Georg Hegel, the philosopher of the latter half of The Enlightenment, famously observed, “What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.”
John Brunner
John Brunner, award-winning author of Science Fiction novels
One of my favorite writers, the late John Brunner in his epic novel “Stand on Zanzibar,”boiled it down this way: “Papa Hegel he say the only thing we learn from History is that we learn nothing from History.  I know people who can’t learn from what happened last week.  Hegel must have been taking the long view.”
Yes friends, those who neglect to study history are inevitably doomed to repeat it.  
Hence the current political climate in the U-S, fueled largely by people who don’t realize they are not blazing any sort of new trail but rather are barrelling headfirst down a well-worn rabbit hole with a cement dead end.  
And this is really why I and so many other Americans are feeling the effects of Campaign Fatigue so early this year.
This just in!: In case you’re prepared to dismiss me as just a lone shrill voice in the wilderness, please click on the link below.  It leads to a story on the subject of “Presidential Election Burnout” among voters long before the General Election is scheduled to take place.  And interestingly, the phenomenon is NOT limited to just the current campaign!
Here’s the link:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/26/the-more-people-pay-attention-to-the-2016-campaign-the-more-it-bums-them-out/
Mount Trump Cartoon
A couple of cartoons because, frankly, I just had to lighten the mood somehow.

Bummed Out from Pluto Cartoon

Still Alive and Well!

Your humble servant and blogger
Your humble servant and blogger
Am keeping very active in the offline world: family, work and such, just not very vocal online, but I promise that will change eventually.  Meanwhile…
Buy Girl Scout Cookies!  It’s the Samoa’s Fortieth Anniversary!
The Samoa was being introduced at just about the same time Richard Nixon was taking his final bow, but somehow I doubt very much that the two events were connected…
nixon engraved portrait