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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Turning point

Thirty-five years ago today, some serious American history was made. Were you alive then? Where were you when the news broke? As transfixed as I had been for many, many months by the Watergate scandals, when the actual resignation speech finally happened, I missed all the live media coverage of the event. You see, I was in the middle of one of those great cross-country road trips that can change a person's life, and it certainly did mine.

On the day in question, some good friends and I were camped out on a bluff somewhere near Winona, Minnesota -- high above the mighty Mississippi and the legendary Highway 61. We had heard just before we set out from Milwaukee that something big was up with Nixon, but that had become an almost weekly refrain at that point, and it didn't really register with any of us.

It was a beautiful afternoon and night, and overlooking the river, under the stars, watching the lights of the boats that plied the waters below us, we made our own news. It was there, I think, that I laughingly dubbed myself "Cowboy Jack," but like so many jokes it had more than a kernel of truth in it. The next day, we said goodbye to our Midwestern pals and hiked back down to our car, to head out toward the Badlands. We switched on the car radio, and the announcer was talking about "President-designate Ford." The three of us looked at each other through the haze of the night before and shouted "Holy s**t!"

It was just the beginning, of course. For a young person who had never been west of Philadelphia, the beauty of the American West expanded with every 100 miles we covered in my buddy's Plymouth Duster. Here he is at Rushmore:

A momentous time on so many levels. The road stretched all the way to L.A., and then over to Tucson, which was my traveling companions' destination. Adventure after adventure. I flew back to New Jersey from there, but the West had won me over, quite handily. Nixon was gone, but as far as the East Coast was concerned, as a practical matter so was I.

Comments (23)

The summer of love (1967) was my turning point for being done with the East Coast. I just had to wait until I was old enough to head West and find the place where I belonged. And reading Another Roadside Attraction my senior year of college and spending a year in law school in Boston, tipped me towards Portland instead of someplace in California. The rest as they say is history.

The West one me over in November 1963. That signaled my momentous change: on that day, Kennedy was shot.

Nixon-Ford became a footnote.

That's an awesome photo.

I was on Mt. Baker. When we got into Bellingham we saw a banner across someone's porch: "Resignation Party!" Then we went looking for a newspaper.

I was nearly eight when Nixon resigned. Of course, I was a Michigan boy, so while my grandmother was thrilled that one of our own was now President, I was understandably horrified when Ford took the reins. Watching Nixon's resignation turned me into a political junkie earlier than most, but it definitely turned me into an independent as well: in 1980, I was helping to campaign for Anderson, even though I wouldn't be able to vote until 1984, and I still think Kerry could have won in 2004 if he'd been serious about running with Hunter S. Thompson.

I was at home taking down the Union Jack I had been flying in protest (I'd rather go back to bad King George than deal with good King Dick) and yet I was full of regret since President Ford was impossible to characterize.

Photo caption?

"These are the Presidents on Mt. Rushmore. Some of you will not be joining them."

I was in Castine, Maine, visiting my in laws with the two kids in two. On vacation from a job in Washington, D.C., with a federal government ww all know.

We found a bunch of old sparklers and had a barbecue, clam bake and party in the back yard that evening, and danced around with the sparklers.

Isn't it sad that Portland appears to be willing to tolerate Richard Nixon as its current Mayor.

Lies and cheats to get elected, gets caught, more lies and a coverup, and hands envelopes of cash to the prime witness. Sam and Dick. A matched pair of jerks.

Flashbacks! And they ended the draft soon after, right around the time that Neil Goldschmidt (through his many enablers) started....[shudder]

The West does have grand awesome natural majesty still on display. Thanks for sharing, Jack.

During my first visit to Portland from "back east" years later, I called my girlfriend from new Pioneer Square raving about how clean it was in comparison: "You could eat off the sidewalk!"

Of course, that was put into perspective six months later when I moved to town and the first notable experience on the sidewalks of Portland was two Portland Police officers viciously kicking the heck out of a poor dazed old homeless Native American alcoholic who was just sleeping on the sidewalk -- literally kicking him into the back of their patrol car, laughing the whole time they were doing it in between shouting ridicule and racists jabber and stupid-ass cop quips. They never touched him with their hands.

That same year, the "Choke 'em, Don't Smoke 'em" t-shirts started circulating among the PPD in the aftermath of a police choke-hold killing of an African-American businessman during a traffic stop, and a dead possum was tossed onto an outspoken community justice advocate's front porch in NE Ptld.

Meanwhile, Goldschmidt and his cadre ate sandwiches.

I sat in front of the TV, a mere late-grade school kid, and watched Nixon's speech in black & white.

I remember saying "mom, he's really ugly". to a kid, Nixon looked like a guy who would kill your dog then convince your parents that you did it.

A matched pair of jerks.

Nixon was much more intelligent.

a police choke-hold killing of an African-American businessman during a traffic stop

I believe it was over shoplifting, wasn't it? At the 7-Eleven at MLK and Weidler.

Actually security guard Lloyd Stevenson was doing his civic duty intervening into the shoplift situation just prior to police arriving. Unfortunately by the time PPB arrived Stevenson was involved in an argument with someone else. The police tried to calm him down, choked him out, and putt him into cardiac arrest.

Nixon could have been the beginning of a new era for holding all persons accountable for misdeeds, no matter what their position in society. It has not gone so well.

After lying, I think if Nixon if had just said:

"I'm really, really sorry for lying and I'm now working to regain the public's trust",

he could've remained in office and everything would've worked out okay. I mean, only if he was really, really sorry.

I remember where i was. Whenever Nixon flew to his house in California, he landed at the El Toro Marine Air Base where i was stationed. As soon as I heard he resigned, i went out to the air strip to watch the S.O.B. get off the plane.

I was on a Trailways bus eastbound approaching Burns when the news hit the little transistor radios - even the cowboys in Resistols & Shitkickers were glad to see him go. Pulled into Salt Lake early next morning & from previous experience knew the little store off Temple Sq was not too particular about age when selling 32oz bottles of Coors (then a novelty for Oregonians, & before the 40s). A pleasant celebratory trip through mid-America enroute to NYC, where I caught the SS Michelangelo of the Italian line for an amazing 8-day voyage to Genoa (student fare $163!! wine & meals included) - mostly alleged students like me, taking the Love Boat to a year of Europe, and again much rejoicing over the demise of Nixon. I spent the year touring in a '64 Beetle, navigating by maps of WW2 vintage lent me by a 70-yr old Austrian friend (main square of each town labelled "Adolf-Hitler-Platz"), and many US kids sewed Canadian flags to their backpacks, thanks to Dick. But not like my first trip 5 years ealier, when you could sell your Levi's for $50, and get a couple bucks for a JFK half-dollar.
Michelangelo was sold to the Shah in '75, & broken up on a beach in Pakistan in '91 - ou sont les neiges d'antan?

I was taking some summer classes at UC Berkeley. There were crowds on Telegraph Avenue shouting with glee.

Yeah, I remember. Barely made a ripple of emotion or catharsis, at the time, since it was so anticlimactic. Shoulda been impeached and not allowed to 'resign' -- which was some starting of the crap of 'making it up' like the Supreme Court stepping into and ruling on the 2000 Florida ballot count. We don't need no stinkin' 'new rules,' just obey the Constitution. 'Installing' Ford did not stop the war. And did start the downslope runaway train which has plummeted us hellbound ever since.

Only two weeks ago there was more 'discovery' on the tapes at the archive. This time there is a new angle on recovering the eighteen-and-a-half minute gap and preliminary indications are that the erased conversation was openly discussing how much Nixon knew about JFK's murder, that it was not Oswald. Each new item along the way has added evidence that the Nixonian was far worse than ever was said or thought of it.

Two or three years ago, reports surfaced about Woodward being incompetent and unqualified as a reporter/journalist, and was 'planted' at the WashPost through behind-the-scenes power manipulation, (a CIA 'asset') only scant few months before the curious 'Woodward & Bernstein' plum 'assignment.' Bernstein is already on-record having said Woodward was the one who came up with 'Deep Throat' and Woodward was the one who somehow came up with the inexplicable 'hot tip' that advanced the story each time their investigation (June '72 - May '74) got stopped, stonewalled, at an impasse.

The least 'stretch' (i.e., Occam's Razor) that explains all the oddities of Nixon's no-talent rise (from 1946, but especially 1968-74), spelled out in a logical rational fashion (and as corroborated by attesting witnesses in whole or in part of his timeline of events), sees that Nixon cached the JFK murder secrets he knew, as bargaining chips in any power-struggle confrontation against the CIA removing him. The core of the power struggle is, (and has been since 1946), that the CIA aims to 'run the country,' which means setting out to conduct any war or obtain any territory they decide, and overpoweringly overrule the President/Congress unable to stop them.

[So IKE said as much, that the 'complex' was stronger than he knew how to stop; and JFK stood up against the rogue Agency and got murdered; and LBJ quit ("will not seek reelection") rather than have those deadly deeds as stigma on his political nature (but it got stuck on him anyway), and Nixon thought he could do it his way (uber-war) and so win 'victory' and get out of Vietnam, (all of Vietnam was CIA's doing, which did NOT intend to 'get out' but to occupy, with permanent civil instability), and if CIA tried to undermine his direction and control then Nixon planned to threaten revealing CIA guilt in murdering JFK. So, bottom line, CIA staged 'Woodward & Bernstein' to bring slow pressing heat to at least neutralize Nixon busy with self-preservation and perhaps get him to boil over and be removed. And in that light, 'resignation' was compromise between Nixon avoiding impeachment infamy (or assassination JFK-style) in exchange for him not abolishing The Company.]

The action was furious in the times, and the outcome uncertain (democracy's elected President versus brutality's totalitarian CIA), and that's why -- the Motive -- of CIA's ploy with 'Watergate' putting quicksand under Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover died in '72, a rival and nemesis of CIA and ally of Nixon. Congress's Pike and Church Commissions '73-74 were putting counter-quicksand under CIA, concluding in divulging the 'Family Jewels' (but only halfway -- the "limited hangout route") which documented the CIA was (since 1946) only murderous thugs in the powermad crimes-against-humanity style ever the same as Stalin and Hitler and Napoleon and supremacist imperialists of antiquity. And also, (Nixon enabled) Congress's JFK Assassination Commission which reported the official US Govt findings of Congress in 1975, (after Nixon), that Oswald was NOT a lone gunman and other guns and goons of a conspiracy "probably" did it as the evidence could convince a reasonable man.

The counter-forcing against CIA was enough to get them to shut down their war in April '75. But they did NOT get out, did not pull back, did not retreat; and more secretively went on shaming America 'warring' to murder innocents and civilians, wanton and worldwide, with 1975 incursions into Angola (making HIV/AIDS virus), Pakistan (deploying nuclear-bomb capacity), Afghanistan (Kissinger/Zbigniew's supremacist 'global chessboard'), and, more, South American countries. Also more Southeast Asia ... but enough: Institutional evil.

Incidentally, May '74 was when Dubya got his MBA after 2 semesters at Harvard, and his old man (CIA 'asset' among the first 1946 recruits, later Ford-appointed Director, '76), had imprisoned Dubya in a guard shack quarantine along the Alaska pipeline (being built) under CIA supervision to 'cold turkey' dry out from cocaine and who-knows-what'all that summer when Nixon resigned.

Don't remember where I was but I was glued to those hearings.

I actually believed govt worked back then!

Boy was I ever mistaken.

I was a teenager when Nixon was resigned. Apparently my mother heard the news on a radio. She was ironing in a bedroom when I entered the room. She fingerspelled that Nixon has resigned. I gave a why look, and she then fingerspelled he is a crook. I did not pay much attention to Watergate stuff.

I was outside playing with my little green Army men. Later, watching Walter with my Mom on the faux-wood console TV I saw some old guy get on a big helicopter and another old guy take his place.
But I can't think of that right now. I am fixated on all that hair on Jack...acres and acres of hair!

That's not me in the photo -- it's one of my road buddies. But here is a photo of me the very day Nixon packed it in:


Time it was and what a time it was
... it was.
A time of innocence.
A time of confidences.
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories,
they're all that's left you.

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