Saturday, November 23, 2013

JFK: Political Thoughts

....during a reception at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedys were supposed to take an elevator to greet their guests. But the elevator was not working, and when they stepped out, the lieutenant said, he was so close to Mrs. Kennedy that he could smell her perfume. Here is how he remembers what happened next: “I’m in my mannequin face, and she said words to the effect, “Jack, let’s take the stairs.’ And he said, ‘We can wait.’ They go back and forth a few times, and then her tone changed just like any other wife. ‘Jack, people are waiting.’ ‘O.K.,’ he answers her and turning his head toward me, says, ‘Don’t worry — I make all the big decisions.’ ”.... NY Times, Friday, Nov. 22. 2013
That was why teenagers like us, who became political junkies because of him, loved JFK. Read "Reckless Youth" about his early years and you'll see the sense of humor and also his defiance of authority. But not Jackie's in this case.

Yesterday I did my "Day Of" - Oh, God, Another November 22, 1963 Remembrance where I didn't want to get too deep in the political weeds.

The first thing I thought of once the shock of the assassination wore off was that anti-Castro Cubans who were livid at what they viewed as Kennedy's betrayal at the Bay of Pigs, did it. And Oswald's initial connection to Cuba in those early hours made it look that way. But he was portrayed as a Cuban sympathizer. I assumed for many years he was manipulated by the exiles. If not them then the right wingers. Or the military. Or the CIA.  [See above].

I spent most of Friday afternoon listening to Mike Francesa on JFK on WFAN. What's a sports talk show doing talking about JFK? Mike is a JFK freak and has read every book on the subject. He had some great JFK expert guests on and the talk was invigorating -- Mike even let someone else talk for a change.

There was a lot of talk by Mike about how the military leaders and Kennedy hated each other -- after the Bay of Pigs he didn't trust their advice. Mike suggested watching the 1964 movie "Seven Days in May": US military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Hmmmm. Read this Wicki:
Seven Days in May is an American political thriller motion picture directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Ava Gardner, and released in February 1964 with a screenplay by Rod Serling based on the novel of the same name by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, which was published in 1962. The story is said to have been influenced by the right-wing anti-Communist political activities of General Edwin A. Walker after he resigned from the military. An additional inspiration was provided by the 1961 interview by Knebel, who was also a political journalist and columnist, conducted with the newly appointed Air Force Chief of Staff, Curtis LeMay, an advocate of preventive first-strike nuclear option. President John F. Kennedy had read the novel and believed the scenario as described could actually occur in the United States. According to Frankenheimer in his director's commentary, production of the film received encouragement and assistance from Kennedy through White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, who conveyed to Frankenheimer Kennedy's wish that the film be produced and that, although the Pentagon did not want the film made, the President would conveniently arrange to visit Hyannis Port for a weekend when the film needed to shoot outside the White House.
Edwin Walker was the general Oswald took a shot at shortly before Nov. 22. There was a rampant right wing movement that emerged from the anti-Communist McCarthy witch hunts of the 50s. The John Birch Society was the Tea Party of the day but much more fringe.

And then there was the growing civil rights movement and what that unleashed. Even though Kennedy was cautious, his moves were enough to turn loose the nuts.

So this was the environment the assassination took place in and Dallas was a sort of Ground Zero.

Throughout yesterday afternoon I was thinking back to those times. We -- my friends and I -- became interested in politics when JFK was elected. In 1960 I was in my junior year at Thomas Jefferson HS -- I was on the Honor classes and we received what I would consider a college level education, with a lot of political talk. We made sure to watch the JFK press conferences. We were reading the NY Times.

So I was aware of the trip to Dallas and the concerns - until I saw some of the recreations of the shooting this past week I was pretty convinced there was more than one shooting. This is not to say that Oswald was not an agent of some kind or being manipulated in some way.

There has been a lot of talk and attempts to prove that JFK would have pulled us out of Viet Nam. My buddy at Raging Horse pretty much goes in that direction. (But then again, he is Irish.) I don't agree. I don't believe in the "great man" theory of history. It wasn't FDR who created the conditions that enabled him to be great. Neither did Churchill.

I think even if Kennedy wanted to make peace of sorts -- with the Soviets, Viet Nam and even, as suggested, Castro, he could not pull against the prevailing winds of the Domino Theory. And if he resisted he would be shunted aside -- or maybe even assassinated.


Some links people are sending:

Rolling Stone:

And more for conspiracy fans:

Carl Gibson
Published: Friday 22 November 2013

16 Mind-Blowing Facts About Who Really Killed JFK 

Just this one is enough to get one assassinated by the lunatic Cuban exile fringe:

5. JFK openly sided with Castro in the Cuban Revolution
"If you see him again, tell him that I'm willing to declare Goldwater my friend if that will guarantee Kennedy's re-election!" – Fidel Castro to 
Jean Daniel, November 19, 1963
On October 24, 1963, French journalist Jean Daniel met with JFK in an interview arranged by Newsweek. Daniel would later interview Fidel Castro, just three days before Kennedy's assassination. US-Cuba relations had been volatile since the botched Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Castro had recently removed Fulgencio Batista, a right-wing dictator allied with the US, from office, and instead allied with the Soviet Union in the height of the cold war. The Bay of Pigs invasion was the CIA's failed ploy to push Kennedy into a corner and force him to go to war with Cuba, and by default, the Soviet Union.
President Eisenhower had already allocated $13 million to the CIA during his final year in office to authorize the training of Brigade 2506, a paramilitary group charged with overthrowing the Castro regime. Three days after Bridgade 2506 traveled from Guatemala to invade Cuba, Castro forced their surrender, prompting Kennedy to make the decision to mount a larger invasion or suffer a humiliating defeat. After the incident, Kennedy famously said he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."
Jean Daniel's eye-opening interview with President Kennedy, roughly 2 years after the Bay of Pigs and a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, revealed that Kennedy in fact sympathized with Fidel Castro, the socialist leader that Americans were conditioned to hate. This is in spite of the fact that Kennedy ran against Nixon in the election on a platform of stiffness toward the Cuban regime.
"I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime.... I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries." – 
John F. Kennedy, October 24, 1963
Just as he did with Nikita Khrushchev, JFK used intermediaries to correspond with Castro and set up a meeting between the two leaders, subverting his own State Department. Kennedy instructed Adlai Stevenson's assistant, William Atwood, to start communicating with Cuba's UN ambassador, Carlos Lechuga. Castro was doing the same, having been urged by Khrushchev to communicate with Kennedy in an attempt to make peace. Atwood was making progress on setting up talks between the two leaders through Castro's assistant, Rene Vallejo.
On November 19, 1963, Fidel Castro appeared suddenly at Jean Daniel's hotel in Havana, prompting a six-hour conversation from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., wanting to hear all about his conversation with Kennedy. The Cuban leader told Daniel that he believed Kennedy could be the one US president to forge world peace.
"He still has the possibility of becoming, in the eyes of history, the greatest President of the United States, the leader who may at last understand that there can be coexistence between capitalists and socialists, even in the Americas. He would then be an even greater president than Lincoln," Castro said.
On the afternoon of November 22, Jean Daniel was interviewing Castro at his home about the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Castro got a call about President Kennedy having been shot in Dallas. Upon hearing the news, Castro repeated the phrase, "Es una mala noticia (this is bad news)," three times. Upon hearing confirmation of Kennedy's death, Castro told Daniel, "Everything is changed. Everything is going to change." Lyndon Baynes Johnson put on hold any and all dialogue between Washington and Havana, despite Castro's numerous attempts to reach out and make peace.



  1. I stayed away from the main stream tv coverage, except for about three hours Friday night. Some great film of those days- but mostly sugar coated content, other then the Zapruder clip.

    Never could figure why Bobby would start deporting Mafiosi who were longtime colleagues of Poppa Joe Kennedy, and who made sure JFK went to the WH. He bit the hand that fed him. Johnson was also a cut throat criminal leading into the Assasination. Nothing said about him in the mainstream media. The Kennedy's acquired their initial wealth criminally.That being said , even at 7, I felt the charisma of The First Couple...and I believe that sense of possibility has never returned to the country. The wound still hasn't healed...

  2. JFK & Little Bro were masters of deceit. My favorite were the US missiles aimed at Moscow & calling it Cuban crisis. OINK

  3. Hi Norm,
    thanks for the plug. Just for the record I, too, am a non-believer in the Great Man Idea of history. Still, even as FDR or Lincoln did not create the conditions that allowed him to do what they did, nor was they a cyphers being led by some hidden Hegelian geist. The shaping was, I believe, mutual.

  4. It should read:
    Hi Norm,
    thanks for the plug. Just for the record I, too, am a non-believer in the Great Man Idea of history. Still, even as FDR or Lincoln did not create the conditions that allowed them to do what they did, nor were they cyphers being led by some hidden Hegelian geist. The shaping was, I believe, mutual.


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