“The Road We’ve Traveled ”
Do we ever get such President again?
Robert Fritz wrote, “It is not what a vision is; it’s what a vision does.”
What does a vision do?… Vision is the ability to see.
Paul Alexander Wolf
“The Road We’ve Traveled ”
Do we ever get such President again?
Robert Fritz wrote, “It is not what a vision is; it’s what a vision does.”
Paul Alexander Wolf
“I am making a collection of the things my opponents have found me to be, and when this election is over I am going to open a museum and put them on display” -LBJ.
Perhaps Lyndon Baines Johnson neither needs a museum to put his assumed actions by his opponents on display, nor does he need the archives and classified documents to support his actions, – as history will deal with this eventually when at about 2029 any of the secret documents not being destroyed over time, will be disclosed to the public.
His Presidency marked a change history would take, neither by choice of the public, nor by justice assumed to be operating in the systems of US government. His Presidency and the entire Executive branch at his time is still surrounded in some mystery.
Many historians tried to describe both the man and his years in public office, and all have been succesful in giving some details of this man in action, smart and bright in his background dealings, charming at times in private conversations, – but at the same time a man to be dealt with with caution. Lyndon Johnson would not shy away from any operation if the last would save his public career.
Whilst discussing LBJ, the question might be raised how far a person is prepared to go to compromise justice if so required, to save his personal and public reputation against any wrong doings in the past. Obviously the last depends on what happened in this past.
From any person to become US President it might be assumed that apart from the drive to power there are generally spoken good intentions to contribute to the country. Once being faced with the responsibility of the US Presidency the perception of people in this role do change in line with the requirements of this role and the broader responsibilities, – extending by far the responsibilities of being a US Senator or Governor. Still the element of choice is around to compromise yourself based on wrong advise, compromise yourself as result of the history you have (of perhaps being compromised already) and people being prepared to help you at the highest level as long as you know “you owe them” as well. The scenario’s are always complex, different as well, for each US President. Some US Presidents have been in a position never ever being compromised in the past, entering from this point of view with a clear conscience in the White House. They had nothing (“terrible”) to hide, don’t need the favours from FBI and others to protect their past from becoming public knowledge. Speaking in the present, they don’t need to “pay back” with certain favours and deals never to be made public. Strictly spoken this is the best position as when you are principal centred you can’t go much wrong, despite genuine errors and mistakes perhaps. However if this is not the case and you are already compromised before entering the White House, the level of dependence on those who are prepared to protect your history from becoming public knowledge (within the same systems of the Executive branch) are not without risk. Some may compromise themselves even further in those complex scenario’s where conscience is slowly losing control of the actions being required, even at the highest level of public office in the US. “Review of the JFK assassination 2011″ in the June 2011 edition of this blog gives an extensive picture of the level of criminal corruption at the Executive branch of the United States of America when Johnson took over from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th US President.
As will be illustrated on LBJ – power can be dangerous, especially if the systems of governance at times are allowed to work outside the domain of the law without being detected at the same time by the systems who are supposed to protect the law, and the integrity of public office. At times it proved that all those systems suffered from widespread criminal infestation never as such being acknowledged by the US from historic point of view.
At the end of the day it all depends on the people operating those systems at the Executive branch, however it depends as well on the people operating the Legislative branch within the US, as both the House and the US Senate have much powers. However they proved not always to work with the public interest at heart as due to dominating powers at the background compromising this public interest.
In the above spirit US Presidents from LBJ until the latest Bush Administration will be discussed, not as an attack on the American system of government, but as a concern that the systems of governance (the physical exercise of managing both power and policy in the US) has been so weak for decades in the democratic republic of the US. It is a reflection of a deep-rooted unresolved problem where it seems that the Union of the US as a concept has neither been perfect nor optimal. The last however is a minimum requirement.
People who were or became US President did live in the White House at a certain time in history, had to face certain pre-existing dynamics and most of the time they tried to deal with this as good as possible within the given circumstances. They could make a personal choice to grow in those circumstances and leave a legacy despite some violations of justice. As an US President it is almost impossible to make always the best possible decision at any given possible time, as much is dependent on the perception and advise being created within both cabinet, advisers and Agencies. However where justice get compromised still there is the personal choice to make it better or worse, to make it better or bitter.
It is the dilemma we all face as people, however within the position of the highest executive powers this requires the wisdom to be aware that once’s actions may decide the lives and wellbeing of many others. It can make a Nation grow or break on its fundamentals, its future. It can make a Nation develop in surplus or deficit, both morally and financially.
Within this context we start with Lyndon Baines Johnson, or LBJ as he was often called.
Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973) was born close to Stonewall in Texas and his family with a Baptist background was quite involved in State’s politics. He worked as a high school teacher and after the Japanese attack on “Pearl Harbour” he joined straight away the US Navy.
He was a “New Deal” Democrat representative in 1937 before actually joining the Navy during the war. In 1948 he did win the race to be the Democratic senator for Texas and under the Presidency of John F Kennedy he served as Vice President. LBJ has been the majority leader in the Senate since 1955 and after the JFK assassination on the 22nd of November 1963 in Dallas (Texas) , he became the new US President without having initially an electoral mandate. With a huge majority he was elected in the US Presidential elections of 1964 and managed without much resistance to pass the Civil Rights Act through Congress in 1964. This bill was largely prepared already by JFK the previous year, not popular at the time. The battle for civil rights as we know has been a long one and significant incidents during the Kennedy Administration prepared the Kennedy team for the required legislative changes to pass Congress once reelected, but history took a different course of action..
Once elected with such majority of voters Johnson with the complete backing of the US military powers, ordered in 1965 the Airmobile Division and forces of the CIA to go to Vietnam to increase the US fighting strength, followed by an increase in military fighting strength from 75000 to 125000 man on the ground. This evolved quite quickly after the 1964 elections in 1965. As often happens in history there needs to be a trigger to get public opinion on board when it applies to extending or starting war. LBJ used a surprise Vietcong attack at Pleiku in which 6 American military advisers were killed and 116 wounded on the 6th of February 1865. LBJ’s aides assisted him with a 2 stage and premeditated contingencies plan , prepared several months before the attack. The first step was a retaliation airstrike in North Vietnam and the second step was to intensify the air war. History shows this was implemented in 1965.
It proved that LBJ decided on this level of intervention without really considering the costs and implications. Looking at the last Bush Administration we see that history tend to repeat itself, however the triggers are different. Bush used 9/11 to go to war in Afghanistan and the second step was the war in Iraq. He as well did not consider the costs and the wider implications, a legacy which did leave the US with both a material and immaterial deficit, billions of dollars lost and not being accounted for, a multi trillion budget deficit, more than a million lives being lost and human rights being compromised at the limits against the Convention of Geneva.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx8-ffiYyzA&feature=player_detailpage (Report of the Gulf of Tonkin incident – LBJ)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HODxnUrFX6k&feature=player_detailpage (Gulf of Tonkin: McNamara admits it did not happen)
As part of the slogan “The Great Society” LBJ implemented a few economic and social welfare programs, including MediCare for the elderly and legislation to improve education, whilst increasing the war efforts. He needed this public support at the domestic front to carry out in close coöperation with the military powers a most excessive war program in Vietnam, as this was the agenda of the military leaders in the US.
As a result of the huge war implications in Vietnam an active anti-war movement within the US started to grow with fast increasing levels of public dissatisfaction with LBJ. LBJ was pushed by both the CIA and the Pentagon not to change direction and as both the CIA and Pentagon were the background powers playing a part in the JFK’s assassination with LBJ’s full approval and awareness beforehand, he had not much choice to continue the way it was to aim for a US military victory. By the end of August 1966 only 47% in the US did approve Johnson’s Presidency. The war became increasingly unpopular. By 1968 more than 500000 US military troops were concentrated in Vietnam. The war was costing some 2 billion dollars a month and meanwhile more bombs were dropped in Vietnam than during the second world war.
Within this context the new York Senator Robert Francis Kennedy decided to run for the Presidency in 1968, being a major representative of the anti-war movement and social justice.
LBJ faced “a catch 22 position”. He became aware that the Vietnam was an “ugly war” after his new Defence Secretary Clark Clifford following the replacement of Robert McNamara tried to seek a political solution. LBJ was stuck. With RFK being likely a successful candidate and both the CIA and Pentagon still pushing the war in Vietnam he was facing a predicament. The background US powers were loyal to him as there was a reciprocal arrangement between him and the background powers regarding the premeditated JFK assassination and him (LBJ) taking over as US President. Johnson had no other choice than to resign, in despair. Before this, LBJ did fully support the JFK assassination cover up with installing the Warren Commission and highly CIA favourable representatives running the historical falsehood this Commission provided to mislead the US people and Congress. With LBJ deciding not to be reelected anymore in 1968 it did not mean that the CIA and Pentagon’s directions about Vietnam had changed. This direction needed to be continued after 1968, with still being the issues around the JFK assassination a matter of “national security” not to be disclosed and the direction of Vietnam as part of the same “national security” not to be discontinued. It opened the way for new background dynamics neither to be compromised nor to be disclosed. The powers behind the US President were very smart in playing the democratic systems within the US at their own benefit.
The RFK assassination including the assassination of Martin Luther King, jr facilitated elections in which Richard Nixon could be elected. Lyndon Johnson could not face the Vietnam war anymore where he could not find a way out without repercussions. He was an unpopular President and as reflected he would likely lose the 1968 elections anyway.The week after LBJ declined to accept the nomination from the Democratic Party for another term as President – Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles after winning the California primaries, which would almost secure him to get the Democratic nomination and the Presidency in November 1968.
The anti-war demonstrations were stronger than ever before and the strongest representatives of the anti-war movement were actually Martin Luther King,jr and New York Senator Robert Francis Kennedy. Both the CIA, the FBI with Hoover and the Pentagon were opposed to the anti-war movement, opposed against a potential RFK being President in 1968. RFK would have been neither a US President being compromised by the military establishment nor by either the CIA or Hoover from the FBI. With RFK winning the California primaries in June 1968 he became the person who would likely defeat Nixon in 1968. Nixon was aware of this, like FBI Chief Hoover as well.
Nixon was from CIA perspective 100% save for US military policy and the anti-war movement needed to be broken. First by taking Martin Luther King,jr out of the picture and when Robert Kennedy increased in popularity and became the likely candidate to win the elections after the primaries in California, the premeditated strategy was to assassinate Kennedy as he was considered to be at this stage the main obstacle for CIA’s defined “national security” . The implications would be horrendous if Kennedy would be elected President in 1968. He was perhaps even more determined than his brother John J Kennedy. Both the FBI (with Hoover still being the Chief) and the CIA could not face this prospect as with RFK being President the withdrawal from Vietnam would become a fact. Hoover would likely lose his job with everything he inflicted at the background of the various scenes he played a role. However needless to say the JFK assassination with a floored Warren Commission report would be vigorously investigated again and CIA involvement with Lyndon Johnson’s part would be disclosed to the public. As such Kennedy would likely get both Congressional and public support to reorganise the CIA and bring LBJ to justice. RFK became a security risk. As a US Senator of New York he was of no harm but being the potential next President after Johnson would open all the past corruptions from US Government and “Bobby” would not take any nonsense. He did not make it. The cover up was smart and well swallowed by the American public. The question is who gave the order to take him as a second Kennedy out of the picture. Not unlikely there was Presidential approval from Johnson, because Johnson was prepared to pay any price to avoid history catching up on him, and so were the background powers at the same time.
Unrest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago (Illinois) with riots and protests by thousands of anti-war demonstrators (many of whom favoured McCarthy) were crushed on life television by brutal police force from Chicago (after the RFK assassination in June 1968), – which increased a growing sense of general unrest with the public. The police acted on strict orders from the FBI (Hoover).
Both the combination of LBJ being unpopular, the riots in Chicago and the discouragement of both African – Americans and liberals after the assassinations of both MLK and RFK contributed to that former Vice President Nixon (under Eisenhower) did win the Presidential elections from Hubert Humphrey (LBJ’s Vice President). Johnson had warned his Vice-President that when he would oppose the war in Vietnam, he would destroy his career.
Robert Kennedy’s assassination did not only play Nixon in his favour, but it played Nixon’s close ally Hoover and the CIA in their favour as well, besides the Pentagon. LBJ likewise did not need to worry about RFK anymore. The secrets of the 22nd of November 1963 in Dallas would be even more secured with Richard Nixon than with Hubert Humphrey, as both Nixon and Johnson had a silent agreement on this issue as both were involved.
The background powers in the US proved to be succesful in their strategic approach with impact on public opinion as well. Richard Nixon did win the Presidential elections carrying 32 States and 301 Electoral votes. Richard Nixon was an old close ally of both Hoover and the “old” military establishment.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was a highly controversial politician to start with. Smart as a politician, but corrupt before he became even Vice-President.
His involvement in the Bobby Baker scandal did never see the public light in full and the fact that he has been reportedly facilitating an assassination to silence the person who would potentially make his involvement and other corruptions public during the time he was Majority leader of the Senate gives an indication how far he was prepared to go to save his public reputation. He had people working for him to do “the dirty work”.
His ambitions to take over from JFK started already early in the White House and he was able to create at an early stage already a good relationship with both Hoover and the CIA. After the Bay of Pigs predicaments he had further dealings with Allen Dulles (who was fired as CIA Director by Kennedy) and Richard Nixon (the architect of the Bay of Pigs plans in Cuba). An important “oil representative” from Texas had a CIA assignment and a growing role at the time. His name was George Herbert Walker Bush, the son of Prescott Bush (1895–1972) a vivid JFK opponent, a close friend of both Nixon and Eisenhower.
Johnson’s relations with both President Kennedy and in particular Robert Kennedy were strained at times, the least. Robert Kennedy from the beginning was against LBJ’s nomination for the Vice Presidency. Especially both Robert Kennedy and Johnson’s relationship was very tense, – and when Robert Kennedy in his function as Attorney General got to know more about Johnson’s background including his profound corruption (and an earlier assassination) he decided with his brother the President that the time was there to find an alternative for the Vice Presidency of LBJ in 1964.
Johnson was actually a very practical choice during the elections of 1960 as within his role of Majority leader in the Senate he was quite popular. He was known for his tactical approach and many background dealings and very capable in this role. Actually he had hoped to win the democratic Presidential nomination in 1960 and personally he felt he deserved it more than Jack Kennedy.
Days before the JFK assassination Robert Kennedy was in the process of leaking most damaging information to Life Magazine about the Bobby Baker scandal in which Johnson was clearly involved. It would blow his political career for once and for all, however the 22nd of November 1963 did change history for once and for all.
FBI Chief Hoover assisted LBJ to prevent the Bobby Baker scandal leaking to the press after LBJ’s inauguration.
We may assume with LBJ knowing that Robert Kennedy was in the process of ending his political career was determined to prevent this happening at all costs. As he reflected to his mistress on various occasions he felt often utterly embarrassed by the Kennedy’s and before the 22nd of November 1963 he reflected to her that this would soon over, and that it would never happen again.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7j5xgNH-P6M&feature=player_detailpage (History is proving LBJ has been responsible for the JFK assassination)
In retrospect Lyndon Baines Johnson should have been never US President. With a positive public image initially of being reliable and pleasant perhaps he proved otherwise to be ruthless, calculated, unstable, – and violating justice in the worst possible way against US Constitution and against the US law. The JFK assassination, the Warren Commission, key witnesses being assassinated, the Vietnam war etc do cast a very dark shadow on this otherwise capable man. Being capable and being a person of good integrity not always goes well together as proved in Johnson.
His social reforms were good. It did help public approval whilst LBJ preparing with both the CIA and the Pentagon an immediate and drastic change in the Vietnam policy after the assassination of JFK. There is obviously more to his general Presidential legacy than mentioned in the above.
However concentrating on the issue of violating justice, the measure of this man was not what he did do wrong at an incidental time of his life by error or mistake or by a relatively minor flaw of character. The issue with LBJ is what he did do wrong as a deliberate act to screw up a Nation as part of a Coupe d’Etat where he was personally involved, allowing as such the assassination of President John F Kennedy. The orchestrated cover up afterwards in which various other people were killed are part of this history. He got his way, escaping with an FBI assisted cover up of the Bobby Baker scandal when he became President and was forced in a predicament to escalate the war in Vietnam with many American and other soldiers being killed, within a conflict which actually was the conflict of South Vietnam.
Many people in retrospect do consider the war in Vietnam an error of judgement, hence JFK reportedly -and with evidence at the time – wanted to withdraw just before he was assassinated. This was not what the military background powers wanted and together with Lyndon Johnson, supported by the parts of the Executive branch a pending Coupe d’Etat was in the process of preparation. Johnson convinced Kennedy that it was important to go to Dallas in Texas to sort some frictions out in the Democratic Party which would boost his Kennedy’s support in the 1964 elections. Kennedy was warned for going to Texas but the 1964 elections were important and the reasoning of Johnson made sense. Johnson would look after some security issues and both the CIA and FBI would prove to be helpful.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD4611qW6R8&feature=player_detailpage (E.Howard Hunt implicates Johnson in the JFK assassination – part 1)
The Coupe d’Etat on the 22nd of November 1963 did change the direction for the US for many years to follow, with still implications in the ruling systems, – neither allowing nor permitting justice about the failures of those years during various Administrations afterwards.
Likewise the might of both the CIA and the Pentagon with Presidents either unable or unwilling to tighten control, did escalate both the losses of human lives and the costs of various pointless war’s at a level to bring a Nation on the verge of total financial collapse in 2011, apart from gross injustice being inflicted over the past decades. This happened by choice, neither controlled within the Executive branch nor regulated within the Legislative branch.
In terms of US Presidential profiles in violations of Justice, the participation in the Coupe d’Etat as it happened in 1963, the orchestration of the worst possible political crime in US history buried in the graves of many, did actually create a precedent or authority to continue certain trends at the Executive branch increasing the disconnection between citizens and the government.
This was possible in the US and in a way it is still possible. The US Constitution is at the heart of Justice, but neither the Executive branch nor the Legislative branch did allow the justice systems to work in the US as it should be. It would benefit the country so much if this would change and this first chapter on the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson gives an indication where it should have changed.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGYrATdJQiY&feature=player_detailpage (1960ties LBJ 1 of 2)
Former US President Richard Nixon to be discussed in part 4