Saturday, October 29, 2016

Americans Lost Faith In Democratic Institutions Traced To The Kennedy Assassination

One of thousands of 'Wanted for Treason' posters retrieved from Dallas streets on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Our civic decline and mistrust in government commenced almost from the instant of Kennedy's killing.

More and more articles, op-eds have been shedding light on the retreat of American voters from embracing democracy and democratic institutions and many even distrusting the voting process entirely. For reference, a Pew Research Center Poll barely a month ago showed the "trust in government" at 19 percent, compared to 89 percent in 1959.  Meanwhile, Gallup's research  has: Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low.

One article kept from The International New York Times, from when we traveled eastern Europe last September, stated that not only have citizens liked democracy less than they once did but also "the democratic game itself"  has been eroded. The level of discourse citizen to citizen has coarsened as well as the discourse within and between branches of the government itself.  We now see, for example, procedures like the filibuster - once reserved for extraordinary circumstances -  employed with regularity.

Most astounding to me was the observation (ibid.)

"When asked by the World Values Survey to rate how democratically their country is being governed on a 10 point scale, a third of Americans responded at the low end - 'not at all democratic"

Even more astounding and veering into the appalling - a recent public opinion poll showed that 43 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents would support a military coup against the United States government under certain circumstances.

What has happened between 1959 and the present to degrade civility and political civic space to this extent? Writing as one who has lived those years and observed carefully the nation's political arc, I can put the down slide almost from the time of the Kennedy assassination, on Nov. 22, 1963. 

Most savvy and politically aware people, paying any attention at all, knew from the instant LBJ was sworn in (later on the 22nd) that he had had a hand in at least accepting a plan for the kill.  When he set up the phony Warren Commission,, everyone with  politically savvy eyes and ears could smell a rat, a ruse to cover up the bastard's tracks. With the  cover up's assistance of Operation Mockingbird, the metastasizing cancer of government distrust had begun its long and sordid track. As Steve Kornacki reported in his ‘UP’ journal on MSNBC, the morning of Nov. 23, 2013, the "fix" was in even before JFK arrived in Big D. Using tapes and media documents, Kornacki showed that Johnson was about to be exposed as an influence peddler in conjunction with the Bobby Baker scandal by LIFE magazine in its upcoming issue. Johnson knew this months in advance and also he had no choice other than to place his future fortunes with the several interests that wanted Kennedy dead, especially the CIA.

A paper trail of bank statements and payments was to have been included in the LIFE expose, and as Kornacki pointed out a Senate investigation would have ensured LBJ being dumped from Kennedy’s 1964 ticket.  In other words, LBJ had by far the most to gain from JFK’s assassination, since he’d then be next in line as President, and not have to face justice in the Baker scandal. What most don't say is that many of us were already aware of Johnson's nefarious background at the time and we didn't trust him.   Philip Nelson, whose book ‘LBJ – The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination’ – was even cited by former British intelligent agent and author John Hughes-Wilson,  observed (Chapter 6: The Conspirators, p. 317):

“The crime could only have been accomplished with at least the acquiescence and foreknowledge of the only man capable of choreographing the massive cover-up which was immediately launched. It is axiomatic that since the cover-up started before the shots were fired, the order for JFK’s assassination could only have come from his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.”

By 1984, LBJ's propensity to remove obstacles by murder was finally uncovered in a Dallas Morning News headline article, e.g.

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Billie Sol Estes reported that Johnson had Henry Harvey Marshall, a USDA official in charge of the federal cotton allotment detail,  killed because he had attempted to link Estes’ nefarious dealings to the then Vice-President.  While Estes ended up doing prison time, he did have his say before a grand jury (which subpoenaed him)  In the follow-up grand jury investigation, Johnson, his one-time aide Cliff Carter, and ‘Mac’ Wallace were all deemed “co-conspirators in the murder” of Marshall.

But Johnson was only one sordid piece - or cog-   in the whole undermining tapestry that has ultimately led to the massive citizen distrust in government and the democratic process we behold today. It is part of the cancer I refer to as erosion of the nation's civility and civic space.  The fact is that enormous external forces were already afoot and wary of Kennedy's policies and genuinely liberal stances on multifold issues.  Stances which, if continued, would very well threaten those interests.

For example, we now understand today that much of the rancor and sense of rebellion has been initiated with global trade pacts like NAFTA.   We now also know that the hype used by the elites to pump up support has been more a matter of manipulation of citizen consent, e.g.

But this incentive to spread a misshapen plan for global trade didn't just commence in the past 25 years. Nor did the aspiration for a genuinely fair trade system originate recently. In fact,
the original importance of preserving a global trade network without sacrifice to private monopoly or multi-national power was first recognized by  John F. Kennedy in late 1962 and 1963. He made enormous efforts to stave off incipient private control of the globalization process. As Donald Gibson observes in his must-read monograph(‘Battling Wall Street – The Kennedy Presidency’, Sheridan Square Press, 1994, p. 113):

"John Kennedy declared the 1960s the decade of development. The Alliance for Progress, development aid, low interest loans, nation-to-nation cooperation, and some measure of government planning were some of the ingredients of that policy. Within a few years of Kennedy's death most of this had been abandoned. By the early 1970s, this type of effort and the optimism associated with it had vanished altogether."

The effect was that the task of implementing and governing economic adjustment was assumed by private markets. Power which has grown exponentially since the extirpation of the Bretton Woods agreement in 1973. The causal undercurrents and ideology of corporate-state global domination have been well articulated by Gibson, even from before its emergence within ten years of the Kennedy assassination (which many astute observers tie in with financial elite interests) (op. cit. P. 75):

"Kennedy's ideas.. .his view of foreign aid and foreign policy, and his recommendations and actions in a variety of specific areas disrupted or threatened to disrupt an established order. In that established order, in place for most of the century, major government decisions were to serve or at least not disrupt the privately organized hierarchy."

Gibson goes on to point out that the vested interests within this hierarchy were similar to, "if not direct imitations of those of that older British elite rooted in inherited wealth and titles, and organized in the modern world around control of finance and raw materials." (ibid.)

It seems very plausible then, that the slaying of John F. Kennedy set the stage for a global Corporatocracy in which these same elite imperatives would be allowed to subordinate and dominate the interests and welfare of the masses. Imaginary? Take a gander at columnist Jay Bookman's view from his article "New World Disorder - Evident Here and Abroad", in The Baltimore Sun, 1998):

"The global economy has been constructed on the premise that government guarantees of security and protection must be avoided at all costs, because they discourage personal initiative. In times of crisis, however, that premise cannot be sustained politically. In times of trouble it is human nature to seek security and protection and to be drawn toward those who promise to provide it. That is how men such as Adolf Hitler, and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin came to power, with disastrous consequences. "

Let's be reminded here that Hitler's ascension, in particular, was spurred on by increasing dissatisfaction of Germans with the democratic processes of the Weimar Republic. A lot of insights have been gleaned by talks with my German sister-in-law, Krimhilde, e.g.

When I saw her earlier this year in Barbados we again talked about conditions before Hitler came to power.  Mostly, people were fed up. Fed up with the scarcity of key food items and also with the inflation.

"When a loaf of bread cost more than a week's wages it is serious" she said.

Hitler was viewed with suspicion, as Trump is now, but offered a plan, a way out, "Lebensraum"  - and Germans jumped at the chance to improve their lot. But it would mean trashing the Versailles Treaty which had been a millstone around Germans' necks.

With Hitler's invasion of the Sudetenland, in 1938, the incineration of Versailles was finalized and Hitler and the Third Reich were well on the way to their ideal of expanded living space and resources.

After this diversion let's return to the global trade issue, and again, Kennedy's will to insist it be equitable. Gibson notes that the elite banking and financial interests at the time  (ibid.) "would have little tolerance for a president who interfered with their decisions or made their interests secondary to the needs of nations or of people in general."

One could say that by the time of JFK's assassination, the global tableaux had been set for eventual market domination of the world. With no other fearless national leaders to stand in the way (the last ones assassinated) the goal of worldwide subjugation of national interests to speculative capital, trans-national corporate control and personal debt could proceed apace. One merely had to await the right constellation of pro-market interests,  military consolidation and interjection, e.g.
and this was incepted in the Reagan years - reaching its culmination in the early 1990s via bi-partisan support of "Neoliberalism". 

The global trade plan was long range to be sure, but the elites had always been patient. Now they would exercise that patience and sense of noblesse oblige. Again, the payoff being a world of serfs delivered to them by their own governments. These governments themselves hamstrung by the unequal power of differing accords (i.e. GATT, NAFTA) over which they had little option other than to 'sign on'. Accords which could disembowel labor, its pensions and benefits, and lay waste to all social safety nets to protect the more vulnerable citizens. At the same time reckoning hard-won environmental laws as 'trade impediments' to be challenged in a world trade court (WTO).
Perhaps no more eloquent condemnation of this travesty arrived than from an op-ed by Ian McDonald, appearing in The Barbados NATION (Aug. 14, 1998):

Do we really believe for one moment that those who preach free trade and the inevitable triumph of market forces have anything other than their own increased wealth and aggrandizement in mind? Do we honestly believe they think the system they espouse is fundamentally a good one for all concerned? Are we so naïve as to think if, by any chance, the system were to operate against their interests, that they would not make sure it was changed or abridged to suit them? Are we so innocent and trusting that we cannot recognize bullying and crude self-interest when our noses are being rubbed in it constantly?"


"We should cease making speech after speech accepting that our fate and the fate of the world, will inevitably be decided by impersonal, market controlled forces and the sooner we accept this the better off we will be. Instead we should be denying most strongly, in every forum available to us, that such a fate is inevitable... That instead the world deserves a better future than the one on offer from the ruthless money men and sleaze-ridden free trade marketeers, who are making this terrible bid to dominate the world."

 McDonald's writing flair exactly channeled the building rage against governments themselves for siding with elite interests to render them pawns. It prefigures today's rage and massive distrust in democratic institutions.  William Greider, in his masterful work One World Ready Or Not - The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, is blunt that the overall imperative is  ultimate abolition of all governmental, national social insurance systems - whether these be Medicare or Social Security in the United States, or the analogous systems in Germany or Barbados. In each case, the particular system to be replaced by a privatized entity able to generate individual debt, corporate profit and further income inequality.

Were there significant citizen efforts to thwart the march toward global corporate fiefdom?  Yes, and the most recent were by the young (mainly) protestors behind Occupy Wall Street.  However, once the Neoliberal security state had them in their sights, e.g.

The movement basically was neutralized.  Factored into this was how OWS protestors - exercising their first amendment rights- were targeted by rifles in Houston, in 2013, e.g.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the document obtained from the Houston FBI, said as received by David Lindorff (see also: )

"An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles."

By now, with the justified citizen efforts pummeled, rage began to mount, and malignant distrust of all government institutions as well as the Constitution itself began to take hold. They only needed a spark, and that was delivered by Edward Snowden in 2013 when the first NSA files disclosing massive overreach were released. Among the findings:

" The following information was deemed  fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards."

There existed a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, were considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database in question could identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources note the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

The tragedy of the 20th (and now 21st ) century is the tragedy of the civic commons. The gradual erosion of civil society is largely fueled by the removal of civic space (as well as civic protest)  and hence the reality that citizen interests are eclipsed by corporate and market interests, either in pursuit of state (or corporate) power, profits or both. Thus, political influence is purchased via the power of the purse, for example in lobbying, or in the current cycle via Koch brothers infusion of money to defeat policies, candidates they don't want. These vermin then write the laws subsequently enacted to favor their special interests, whether bloated defense contracts, or absurd prescription drug bills that are really corporate welfare.

Again, this isn't occurring just in the U.S. (though it has been most rapid here) but all over the world, as the Globalists clear out public space to make room for their corporate power enclaves.

If you don't know why there's such anti-government (anti-establishment) rage as well as loss of faith in the democratic process then you haven't been paying enough attention. Thus, no surprise we've seen the dominance of corporate space over civic space, paving the way for citizens to emerge as corporate serfs and pawns.

The latest blow to citizen trust in the process and in government didn't arrive by way of the TPP, NAFTA or any other global trade pact but by FBI Director James Comey's announcement yesterday to revisit Hillary Clinton's emails, this now barely ten days from the general election. As Jennifer Granholm put it last night on Chris Hayes' show:

"You can't put something out eleven days before a presidential election that has an impact on the election...I'm a former federal prosecutor and the rules related to how a prosecutor or investigator is to act in the face of an election are really quite clear. You are to limit the impact on the election. But in this case there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on her part."

Indeed, the case was only re-opened because files were found on sex pervert Anthony Weiner's computer which was shared by Huma Abedin, a Hillary aide while at State.   In an interview on 'Smerconish' (CNN) this morning, Matt Miller - another former prosecutor - agreed that  yes, Comey was probably worried about the Rs using it to criticize him if he waited until post-election, but added "You know, that's too bad, but you suck it up!"

On Chris Hayes 'All In' Mr. Miller also noted:

"When the FBI conducts investigations like this they're not supposed to comment on them anyway and especially not so close to an election. There's a long standing practice at DOJ that they go out of their way not to say anything close to election day, usually defined within 60 days."

Alas, the damage may already have been done, we just don't know how much. What we do know is this latest episode isn't likely to elevate citizen trust in the democratic process - even as it fuels the furor of Trumpies now convinced he was right all along in his wild accusations about election "rigging". They would be well advised to worry more about how his election would spur this country further into the global corporatocracy and render them - and the rest of us - even more abject serfs.

See also:


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