Since I need to download and transfer my WordPress database in order to get the site that I’ve spent 10+ years writing up again, I can’t post this directly. I’m hoping against hope that this entry nevertheless gets spidered by Google so that the datestamp is subject to later proof. I was going to write just a blog entry about JFK & The Boomer Mythos, but Harry Reid went and nuked the filibuster!
Make no mistake. The filibuster is dead. Some of its vital organs may still be drawing blood, but they will fail soon. The Senate has two modes: (1) executive and (2) legislative. When it’s in mode 1, it considers presidential appointments and treaties. In the latter case, the Constitution sets the vote threshold. In the former it does not. With the exception of Supreme Court nominations, ostensibly, the rest of the Senate’s executive business is now subject to a majority vote. Mode 2 is a different question, though I hardly see much possibility in upholding this distinction for long once the House, Senate, and White House are in single-party control again. There’s a chance, of course, that could happen again on January 3, 2015. For that to happen, Obama will probably have to solve the nuke situation with Iran and Obamacare will have to be going swimmingly and we’ll probably need a Republican scandal, but it’s not impossible.
Obama could have a very productive second term if that happens. We might see some form of the takling filibuster put back in place, but why? Maybe legislation will be more robust, but I doubt it. The only thing I can think of is if the Democrats had 60 senators in 2009 and Frist had pulled the trigger in 2005. Instead of negotiating with President Snowe over a too-small stimulus and with Joe Lieberman over the public option, there might have been some amazing things done in the first session, including a cap-and-trade bill.
What ifs make a good segue into the other topic. While Oliver Stone maybe didn’t capture a lot of historical accuracy in his potrayal of Jim Garrison’s quixotic mission, he certainly captured the Boomer mythos well, I think. Other than the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy had a pretty hollow presidency. He blundered on the Bay of Pigs. He dithered on civil rights. He got pwned by Krushchev at Vienna and on space. He made a trade most people didn’t know about at the time , in fact, in the Cuban missile crisis.
And then there’s Vietnam. Now let’s be clear. Kennedy did pretty much start it. But he didn’t pull a Maine with the Tonkin incident and he didn’t escalate to hundreds of thousands of troops like LBJ, or lie about what was going on there, or continue to fight and bomb after it was a lost cause.
That was Johnson.
But so was Medicare. So was the Civil Rights Act. So was the Voting Rights Act. And most of that might not have occurred (let’s face it) if not for the assassination. In that sense, Kennedy is a worthy martyr for those causes, but he almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to achieve that on his own. He showed nothing to suggest he would. It was ol’ cornpone Lyndon that did all of that.
All of these people who believed that somehow it was Nixon’s election that stopped the revolutionary wave of the 60s or that it wouldn’t have gone that way if JFK had lived or if RFK had been elected are engaging in wishful thinking. RFK only came to be anti-Vietnam to stick it to Lyndon, really. He was for it at first. The man was a Tailgunner Joe aid for christ’s sake.
Maybe they should have considered the plan of electing Humphrey instead of freaking out over Vietnam and making it worse, something the toddler left is about to do again in 2014 because dr0nnnnnz.
So instead, they all turned around and voted for Reagan later. Right.
In reality, it was probably the strange brew of the near miss at the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of Kennedy that caused the stalemate on civil rights to be ended, which caused a social earthquake that just had to have a backlash. Then you throw Vietnam into the mix and the lines are drawn.
The Boomers are the biggest “fuck you, I’ve got mine” generation in history and they deserve no credit for the 60s, which was a social advance that occurred because of hard work done by people older than 14 in 1960. When these clowns got the vote, they contributed to the most reactionary phase of the 20th century.
Most of the conspiracy theories hold no water. The audio of a 4th shot turned out not to show it. Ballistics work done recently shows that the magic bullet wasn’t so magic; it was just the behavior of that particular gun’s kind of bullet. And people could fire that rifle that fast. Oswald shot alone. What’s not 100% clear (though is probably 95% clear) is that he was nuts enough to do it without being involved in a formal “conspiracy” or acting as an agent of Cuba, the exile Cubans, or the Russians. But just because he was the only shooter doesn’t mean that he didn’t have material support (why he would have such a cheap shitty gun, I don’t know) or other kinds of encouragement. He got the job at the depository long before anyone had any idea that’s where the President would be. For all we know, there were a dozen nuts like him all over Dallas, but there’s never been any evidence of any such thing.
So, in the end, what I like more than the Oliver Stone explanation of a bunch of old establishment oil and military dudes in a smoke-filled room is what I’ll call the Michael Moore version. Not after any explanation he’s given (I know of none), but of his theory of gun violence in Bowling For Columbine. The easy availability of guns, the violent yet still sort of naive culture, and the times were the co-conspirators if nothing else. In the end, it doesn’t matter that much anymore. If the Russians did do it, those Russians are gone. If it was Castro, oh well. It wouldn’t matter all that much. But Oswald had already tried to kill someone a few months before, a general who had been involved in promoting segregation. It’s not impossible that he could have been egged on even if no one explicitly got involved in planning or anything like that. Just think of the kind of violent hyperbole that the Tea Party uses against elected officials, like Nevada senate candidate Sharron Angle suggesting “2nd amendment remedies” against liberals, something that in fact came to pass in numerous incidents since 2008, when the rhetoric got dialed up. 1963 was the year that Kennedy finally put a civil right bill before Congress. It’s not impossible that people were creating this same ambience of murder and political assassination and it shook a nut loose, the way it has done to guys like Gabby Giffords’s shooter.
Ultimately, I’m using this theory to make the same kind of polemical point that Stone and other babyboomers would about Vietnam and to say more about 2013 than 1963. The difference is that I’m not making shit up. The other difference is that my explanation makes the world more chaotic, even more scary really. You can’t kill the bad guy and restore justice because chaos always comes back.