In a Kennedy state of mind

JFK Assassination Records Collection Act

Bobby and John

I’ve been in a Kennedy state of mind. It’s been going on long before this recent JEOPARDY clue in the category EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSE for $200: Born in Boston in 1890, she had 9 children, including John, Robert, Edward & Eunice.

ITEM: This is the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Francis Kennedy. I’d expressed my reservations about Bobby back in 2008.  I was no fan when he ran for US Senator from New York -the carpetbagger! – in 1964. Tom Lehrer quipped the following year that Massachusetts was the only state with THREE Senators.


ITEM: This year, August 28, marks the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom. This discussion is informative. “SNCC chairman John Lewis’s speech… on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial criticized the Kennedy administration…, which caused considerable difficulties. “

A draft of Lewis’ speech was circulated beforehand. “The speech… directly confronted Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department for its refusal to pursue and prosecute racist assaults on activists and black Southerners. The original speech, written by a committee of SNCC activists, included the rhetorical question, ‘I want to know, which side is the federal government on?'”

RFK 37

ITEM: I recently saw a question on a website about whether RFK would have become president in 1968 if he had not been killed. Almost certainly, yes.

From this 2021 article: “There was empathy in him that grew, especially after his brother’s assassination. He attacked childhood poverty, faced down the generals who wanted to attack Cuba with nuclear weapons, and broke with his Democratic president over the Vietnam War, opposing it not only on political grounds but morally.”

Just before he got shot, he said, “On to Chicago.” From Larry Tye, author of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon: “Sure, Bobby Kennedy was talking about his hope of capturing the nomination at that summer’s Democratic National Convention in this Windy City. But he had no intention of waiting until August to wrap things up.

“This master of political maestros was planning to stop in Chicago on his way back East from Los Angeles. And he felt sure that a planned meeting with Mayor Richard J. Daley would yield both an endorsement and a critical leg up on the only rival who still mattered, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.”

With RFK as the Democratic nominee, there would not have been violent clashes between police and demonstrators in Chicago. Despite a splintered party, Humphrey almost beat Nixon in November; RFK whips RMN.

Like father, like son?

ITEM: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced in April 2023 that he is running for the Democratic nomination for  President in 2024. I shan’t be voting for him.

“He’s suing Daily Kos, trying to force the entity to reveal the identity of a pseudonymous community writer who criticized his participation in a Berlin rally organized and attended by Nazis. He mourned the loss of Tucker Carlson’s right-wing hatefest of a TV show.

“In May 2019, Kennedy‘s siblings said he had ‘helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.’ But COVID was the anti-vax movement’s ‘moment to shine,’ where he grew in profile, getting nearly a million Instagram followers before it was shut down for misinformation.”


ITEM: JFK was killed on November 22, 1963, also sixty years ago this year.  From the National Archives: “Nearly 30 years after his death, Congress enacted the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. The Act mandated that all assassination-related material be housed in a single collection in the National Archives and Records Administration.

“The resulting Collection consists of more than 5 million pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, and artifacts (approximately 2,000 cubic feet of records).”

You have the opportunity to facilitate history. “Visit the JFK Assassination Records Collection Transcription Mission to get started. Various Citizen Archivist missions have been created featuring records from this collection. Select a mission and get started transcribing to help make the records more searchable and accessible.”

55 years after the MLK assassination

“We must revolt against this peace.”

Martin Luther KingMany have noted that August 28, 2023, will be the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. Incidentally, that date is also the 15th anniversary of the nomination of Barack Obama for the presidency.

But today is 55 years after the MLK assassination. I remember the day extremely well. I’m not particularly prone to conspiracy, but even The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford asks the question of who killed the reverend, was more than one person involved, and the like. And my thought: was it a coincidence that he was killed on the first anniversary of his sermon denouncing US military involvement in Vietnam?

Missing the point

I despair that King’s message is often obfuscated. Dr. King campaigned against not just racism but poverty. In his final book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”, he wrote:

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.  With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: ‘This is not just.’ . . . Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.

Yet Census data show an increase in income inequality in the US. Worldwide, the rich keep getting richer. “The top 1 percent seized twice the new wealth as the rest of the world in the past two years.”

So it is absurd when the Christian nationalist founder of Pastors for Trump said he was ‘pretty sure‘ that Martin Luther King Would Have Been a ‘MAGA’ Republican. I’m “pretty sure” Jackson Lahmeyer has heard, at most, one piece of one MLK sermon. For your maximum irritation, readers, go to the link above to see a MAGA hat photoshopped onto an image of King.


The AFL-CIO posted on the most recent King holiday: “We must remember him and his words truthfully—far beyond the often-repeated and misused line about skin color and character.

“Most people know Dr. King only as a civil rights leader. But we must remember him as a labor leader who was assassinated while supporting 1,300 Black men in their fight against neglect and abuse at the sanitation strike in Memphis, Tennessee.

“Dr. King is associated with ‘peaceful protest.’ But we must remember his sermon ‘When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.'”

“If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated, and segregated, I don’t want peace. So in a passive, non-violent manner, we must revolt against this peace.”

(Coincidentally, I linked to that piece two years ago.)

Really honoring MLK

I recommend to you that you read  Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Peruse his speeches.

If you want to take in I Have A Dream, which was at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – he was an economic warrior  – read or listen to the WHOLE thing; it’s about 17 minutes long.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.”

Then remember, he advised the crowd not to “drink the poisonous wine of hate,” but to use the “way of nonviolence” when taking “direct action” against oppression.

Thugs, supported by the CSPOA


Gov. Gretchen Gretchen (D-MI)

Thugs are usually associated with, er, a certain demographic. For me, when 13 people were charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer,  the term “thugs” came to mind.

In the spring of 2020, folks with guns gathered in Lansing to decry the governor’s stay-at-home order to try to stop COVID-19. Some brought signs that read ‘Tyrants Get The Rope.”
And IMPOTUS egged them on.  “[She] should give a little.” Obviously, this is a different response than his reaction to other protests in America in 2020.

Governor Whitmer said, “When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet, encourage, or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.” The accused Michigan terrorists also discussed ’Taking Out’ Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

But, wait! There’s more!

Beyond the plot of kidnapping, a mock trial, and possible assassination, there are more disturbing elements. There were additional plans to blow up a bridge near her home to delay law enforcement response. Another idea involved killing “police officers in the hope that Black Lives Matter supporters would be blamed, thus sparking a new civil war.”

The Michigan contingent is “very cozy with law enforcement—including Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.” Leaf, in fact, said, the accused terrorists were within their rights to conduct a  citizen’s “arrest” of Gov. Whitmer.

Take a listen. Fox 17 reporter “Aaron Parseghian caught up with Leaf to get his thoughts” on the men facing charges. He expressed no regrets “appearing on stage with these men at a May 16 rally in opposition to the lockdown orders.

“Leaf belongs to a far-right fringe group who call themselves the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association (CSPOA). If that sounds familiar, it’s because some of the whackiest and cruelest sheriffs in the news over recent years all belong to this organization.” This includes “the Trump-loving disgraced former Milwaukee sheriff, David Clarke.” He’s the black guy with lots of medallions who was at the 2016 Republic National Convention.

“In short, they (wrongly) believe the Constitution gives them the ultimate authority in their county and that they can enforce—or not enforce—whatever laws they want. They also frequently espouse anti-government views. Like many of today’s far-right groups, their ideas are founded in white supremacy.”

Of course, the defense says Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot was just ‘big talk between crackpots’. Ah yes, boys being boys. Or thugs.

WHY MLK Jr. was targeted for assassination

MLK’s activism took a turn from… “his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.”

mlk targetedLast year, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, there was an understandable restatement of the facts surrounding the event. And the obvious question addressed who killed MLK.

This TIME magazine article is typical: What We Know About Why James Earl Ray Killed Martin Luther King Jr. “Fifty years later, some questions linger about why exactly the civil rights leader was targeted and whether the shooter acted alone.”

I have no doubt WHY he was targeted: he didn’t “stay in his lane.” The Intercept noted that his activism took a turn from… “his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.” As long as the issue involved castigating those Southern white people, all was well with the liberal establishment.

But Martin had the audacity to, first privately, then publicly denounce the war, and by extension Lyndon Johnson, the President who had signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

King “labeled the war an ‘enemy of the poor,’ saying that its budget was draining anti-poverty programs; he also pointed out that it was hypocritical for him to preach nonviolence to activists at home, while watching his government reject that principle abroad. But ultimately his stance came from personal moral conviction and his devoted Christian beliefs.”

Sadly, a half century, the issues have not really changed. A recent article in Common Dreams written by by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis – who I saw recently – and Lindsay Koshgarian addresses this.

The title is “Trump Wants to Give 62 Cents of Every Dollar to the Military. That’s Immoral.” Correctly, it notes: “A budget shows our values more clearly than any tweet, campaign speech, or political slogan.”

Standing against that type of immorality got Dr. King killed. He died exactly one year after his speech at Riverside Church in New York City opposing the war in Indochina.

“James Earl Ray, a career criminal who had briefly served in the U.S. Army, shot the advocate of non-violent resistance. Ray was spotted at the scene and, almost immediately after the killing, his fingerprints were found on the gun. Those prints were already among the FBI’s records for wanted individuals.

But just as Mick Jagger sang about who killed the Kennedys, America’s indifference may have slain the civil rights leader. And it may do so to ourselves.

Thanksgiving 2018 and JFK assassination

Governor Scott Walker was an enemy of labor and particularly teachers.

JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963
JFK Thanksgiving Day proclamation 1963
When I went out with a woman named Susan in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she always had a particular blessing at Thanksgiving. She invoked the memory of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was assassinated on 22 November 1963.

I’ve linked the two events in my mind so much. When the anniversary and the holiday actually happen on the same day, which took place in 1984, 1990, 2001, 2007, 2012, takes place in 2018, and won’t happen again until 2029, it seems…correct.

Maybe because my daughter was studying world religions recently, but it’s like – stay with me here – the principle of Yin and Yang, that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites. The pain of loss and disruption and uncertainty is somehow paired with the joy of thanks and hope and renewal.

Anyway, here are some things I’m thankful for:

* Kindness, as exemplified by custodian Carolyn Collins’ Closet of Kindness

* The truth tellers: Especially Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and, for more current info, A Closer Look – Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Also The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, which has found its own voice.

* Some of the election results, including All 19 Black Women Running for Judge in a Texas Race Won

Zach Wahls was elected as a State Senator for Iowa’s Senate District 37

Would it be ungenerous to be thankful that certain people lost? Probably, but I am. I’m only human.

Governor Scott Walker appears to have been defeated by just enough to not get a recount, a policy he himself enacted. He was an enemy of labor and particularly teachers. As Borowitz wrote: Unskilled Wisconsin man unable to keep a job.

Notorious Vote Thief and Incompetent Gubernatorial Candidate Kris Kobach Loses. As Kansas Secretary of State, he “built his career on voter suppression, whipping up nativist fervor by claiming that a large number of noncitizens are casting ballots. (They aren’t.)”

Democrat unseats Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in Orange County [CA] House district – “Rohrabacher’s friendliness to people with links to Russia has become more controversial.”

Rowan County, Kentucky’s Kim Davis, the clerk who refused to sign marriage licenses for gay couples, loses to Democrat.

Author of North Dakota Voter ID Law Targeting Native Americans Loses His Seat–To A Native American – Randy Boehning, a GOP state representative, was unseated by Democrat Ruth Anna Buffalo

On a more positive note, I’m thankful to Gus and Mary and Jack and Adriana and Becky and others who visit my blog almost every day; those bloggers I’ve been following, including, but not limited to, Arthur, Chas, Jaquandor, and Chuck.

I’m thankful for my library friends; my church friends, in particular, the choir; my hearts friends – next game is March 9!

I’m thankful for my old friends such as Uthaclena, who dragged me to a ball game; Karen; and notably Carol, who went to visit my sister after her accident.

I’m thankful for my in-laws (REALLY!), sister Marcia, and niece Alex; my niece Rebecca, who took great care of her mom; sister Leslie, and all those other folks, especially Leilani, who treated her.

I’m thankful for my daughter, who always teaches me something new; and my wife who tolerates me.

Finally, I’m thankful to the folks I email or message when I’m feeling down, which includes some of the above.
With the closing of Camelot

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