For generations, we’ve been told that President Kennedy, in contrast to the caricatured President Nixon, was an idealistic martyr whose greatest goals were cut short. This typically comes from those who attack businessmen as powerful white men who take advantage of innocents. But in a recent blog post I argue that, the more we learn, the more we see it was Kennedy – more than Nixon – who was shifty and sneaky and, above all, Kennedy who lusted for power at the expense of innocents, enacting bad ideas that harmed and ultimately killed millions of people. My post was recently featured on Capitalism Magazine, where it is currently the most liked, shared and Tweeted commentary.
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Yesterday, a former United States senator who was roundly rejected by his Pennsylvanian constituents and who seeks government based on religion, including procreation as the purpose of sex, swept three caucuses and primaries in the 2012 Republican presidential campaign. Conservative Rick Santorum won in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, throwing the Republican race into a tailspin. In topping 50 percent and winning by wide margins in states with low turnout and high concentrations of Christians seeking more religion in government, he trounced the GOP’s frontrunner and flip-flopper Mitt Romney, originator of ObamaCare, nasty Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. The Catholic conservative is the most explicitly religious major presidential candidate.
Though he sounds reasonable on Iran, and Islamism, former Sen. Santorum – elected in a backlash in the 1990s against the dead on arrival Clinton health care plan and master of nothing but an abysmal record on capitalism and individual rights including total submission to faith-based President Bush – opposes the moral foundation of the United States: man’s rights. Taking advantage of the accurate perception that Romney is unprincipled, Gingrich is unseemly and Ron Paul is a kook, the folksy former senator is waging an open and, thus far, straightforward campaign of telling Republican voters exactly what he will do as president: impose faith, family and tradition in government, which precludes him as a serious opponent of Islamism or the welfare state and fundamentally disqualifies him from the presidency. He seeks to annihilate any trace of a secular republic, from contraceptives and abortion to sodomy and homosexuality and he aims to impose bigger, religious government. Rick Santorum – congenial, conservative and loaded with “gee whiz” appeal – ought to offend every decent American.
But with Romney failing to make the case for the morality of capitalism – and Romney’s been partly right on private equity and the decimated middle class – Santorum’s triple victory tells us three things: 1) this historic presidential election may go all the way to the convention in Tampa, Florida, with Santorum as the most consistently principled unless you count Ron Paul as consistently incoherent; 2) bundled up, Romney must assert an at least partially moral case for capitalism and freedom to differentiate himself, which he’s unable to do, it is not too late for a new candidate to emerge and reelection of the atrocious President Obama just became more plausible and 3) because Obama is atrocious and Americans are coming apart and looking to believe instead of to think, the prospect of theocracy in America is rising.
“I’d rather my children red than dead,” President Kennedy told a young White House virgin whom he had summoned for sex, during the so-called Cuban missile crisis, according to the New York Post‘s account of a new book, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford. Ms. Alford claims that she was a teen-aged intern who was invited to swim and expected to have sex with the President, Democrat John Kennedy, which she did, and that over the years of their affair she was also subjected to various forms of humiliation including being forced to consume what was probably amyl nitrate and asked to have sex with a Kennedy aide and a Kennedy relative (Ted). The book goes on sale this month.
None of this is surprising. As I recently observed, in posts about Richard Nixon and the Berlin Wall, President Kennedy, who has been sold as a great statesman, especially by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, was a shifty character and seriously deficient president who was an advocate of government control of economics and communications. If Ms. Alford’s charges are true – and I suspect they are – they add to the evidence that Kennedy was a flawed American president.
According to a piece on Slate, Ms. Alford’s identity was first revealed in 2003 in Robert Dallek’s published portions of a 1964 oral history in which the liaisons were described. Slate – hardly part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy – reports that the New York Daily News then found someone who confirmed JFK’s affair with the teen-aged subordinate. Slate notes that Time magazine’s late White House columnist, Hugh Sidey, who covered the Kennedy administration, wrote in Time that “there was a Mimi,” adding that “there was also a Pam, a Priscilla, a Jill (actually, two of them), a Janet, a Kim, a Mary and a Diana I can think of offhand.”
Given what we know of the sordid history of the Kennedys – their backroom deals, crimes and affinity for fascism – not to mention countless indiscretions, it is long past time the press and their puppet-masters in politics and government stop ignoring and distorting the truth. They should drop the pretense that JFK was a great president and start accounting for his actions. Ultimately, historians will judge the Kennedy family’s legacy on the merits of their ideals in action: trying to force Hollywood moguls to remove Jewish names from film credits to placate Nazis, allowing Soviet construction of the Berlin Wall, refusing to enforce the law on behalf of Americans who are black, creating military disasters including bringing the U.S. to the brink of nuclear war, and creating socialized medicine and HMOs.
The record speaks for itself without new disclosures which confirm what the press already knew: that they also used power to take advantage of those without power. Better red than dead – the opposite of Patrick Henry’s Give me liberty or give me death! – was more or less the Kennedy presidency motto; that it apparently was confirmed by a 19-year-old who lost her innocence to a power-lusting president (who indiscriminately used his power for lust) ought not to shock anyone, least of all the media. Let’s not hear anymore of this Camelot nonsense, except as a warning against media complicity in propagating the government’s lies.
“You’re our hero,” read a sign at a statue of the late government-college football coach Joe Paterno, who died on Sunday at the age of 85. But Paterno, who by his own admission sidestepped, ignored or evaded allegations of child rape, is not a hero. He was a football coach at a state college and he made crucial errors of judgment which, by the kindest interpretation of his involvement, which was under investigation, may have aided or abetted serious crimes against children. Nevertheless, government-financed Penn State declared that it will hold a public memorial service, where signs, photography and video will be forbidden.
The governor, Tom Corbett, ordered state flags to fly at half-staff. Joe Paterno, an employee of the college for 61 years who by most accounts did his job and coached football better than most, does not in my estimation deserve the accolades. He worked for a well-respected college and his primary responsibility was to teach students and provide an example and, whatever the outcome of the charges against his former colleague, Jerry Sandusky, whom I think is guilty, he failed. “I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he told the Washington Post about his actions in his final interview. So, he made a mistake and did so at a place for higher learning on the taxpayers’ dime, which, while it does not make him a monster, makes Paterno a non-hero and undeserving of worship by people in the Keystone State and everywhere else. We don’t yet have all the information about Sandusky’s alleged crimes or Paterno’s actions, but, increasingly, sports spectators worship thugs, not heroes, as pro hockey team owner Mario Lemieux said when he threatened to quit. Given what we do know, Paterno worship is more of the same.
Another non-hero is also a government employee. Her name is Gabrielle Giffords, the stricken Arizona congresswoman who was shot and survived in a lunatic’s attack in Tucson, Arizona, last year. It was a good call for her to quit, as she recently announced, though it would have been better had she done it sooner. Her district has essentially been without representation since she was injured in a terrible tragedy in which lives were lost. It is a representative’s job to serve the republic and represent constituents and she should have quit her job months ago. Instead, Congresswoman Giffords, too, is being treated as some sort of heroine. I am sure there are millions of Americans like me who are sorry she was shot and wish her well. But it doesn’t make her a heroine or excuse the lack of representation for Americans who deserve full, congressional representation during the nation’s darkest times since the Depression.
A third government non-hero, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Christian libertarian son of a GOP presidential candidate, was detained earlier today by the TSA for refusing a government-dictated security pat-down. While Sen. Paul exercised his individual rights and I hope (and doubt) his act of civil disobedience encourages people to act to kill the TSA, Matt Drudge’s red-colored headline, “TSA DETAINS U.S. SENATOR”, should read: TSA DETAINS U.S. CITIZEN. The outrage is that Americans are submitted to the tyranny of unconstitutional restrictions on travel and association every day. That a politician is affected, too, should be of no concern to anyone except the politician. Any decent politician would use the detainment as an opportunity to build support for a law abolishing the government agency.
Because praise for non-heroes trivializes the concept of heroism, glorifying these three government workers – Coach Paterno, Congresswoman Giffords, Senator Paul – redounds to anti-hero worship. Real heroes are those who consistently live life at their best; men such as Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs and John Lewis. Real hero-worshippers refuse to raise a glass to mediocrity. They know the difference.
Concerned that hers would be a distorted, doddering depiction of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990), I was more or less dragged to see The Iron Lady and was pleasantly surprised by the movie, starring the overrated Meryl Streep (Doubt, Mamma Mia!), one of my least favorite actresses. The framing device, Thatcher’s delusional visits with her late husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent), provides a subtle focus on the price she paid for power and, while some may find it distracting, I found it interesting. The framing of this old former prime minister, holding on to her top value as a means of orienting herself to a harsh reality, deepens one’s understanding of what might motivate an intellectual woman to seek power over one of the West’s greatest countries.
In a culture that fetishizes powerful women instead of admiring them for themselves and their achievements, The Iron Lady stands out as a well-crafted tale of a woman who merely steps in to run things because no one else is really up to the job. Another forceful mind in history, Ayn Rand, once wrote unfavorably about the issue of a woman president and, seeing The Iron Lady, one is reminded why. Throughout modern history, from Catherine the Great to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the toll such power takes is clear and director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!), with writer Abi Morgan, deftly suggests that what moves Margaret Thatcher is looking up to man, not looking down upon men.
Shuttling between certain episodes of Thatcher’s past and present (centered during the aftermath of the Islamist terrorist attack in London), which is often awkwardly activated, we see the young, middle class grocer’s daughter form her political philosophy early in life from gathering lessons based on talks and actions in abundant example by her father, an extraordinary man who taught young Margaret (Alexandra Roach) rational virtues such as pride and productiveness. With her daughter Carol (Olivia Colman) bearing indignities of her own from her mother’s harsh words, Thatcher trudges onward, gamely filling in gaps where strength and dignity are lacking in the world around her. In other words, like most strong women of the 20th century, she became the man in an era in which men were weak, indecisive and increasingly emasculated by feminism because, rather sadly, she had to.
Here is where Streep’s performance should have been brilliant and isn’t (and critics’ conventional wisdom that Streep is better than the movie has it backwards). The real Margaret Thatcher, by most accounts, possessed an undeniably fiery sexuality in her Parliament and Downing Street years, and none of that’s in evidence in Streep’s performance. Margaret Thatcher was womanly, in the best sense, during her stirring and passionate speeches, as if she was laughing or winking to the mostly foolish men that surrounded her and they were everywhere in politics (and still are, only more so). Streep’s Thatcher is more dowdy and plodding than womanly, though her best scenes involve striking recreations of Thatcher’s finest speeches, which resonate powerfully for their words and meaning, and one craves more because Thatcher, who was always better than Reagan, has wickedly been vindicated by history.
That fact, the rightness of her political philosophy of capitalism, is inescapable in its logic as dramatized in The Iron Lady and, while it’s not as neatly created and edited as The Queen, seeing Margaret Thatcher as she might have been in her prime is reason enough to see this movie. There are glaring omissions, such as her relationship with the British royal family, but seeing an intelligent woman take on the world in order to be both her best and live in a liberated world of her making is its own reward. In one scene during the controversy over the poll tax, Thatcher’s harsher side is exhibited when she dresses down one of her Tory leaders. She snaps and rips him and everyone realizes she’s gone too far. The unspoken thought is that everyone realizes she’s right. Margaret Thatcher, born in 1925 and still living in Britain, held to certain ideals like a steel claw. Whether taking on an American diplomat urging her toward appeasement during the initiation of force against Britain off the coast of South America, labor unions and socialists or Irish terrorists, Thatcher was an iron lady. The Iron Lady demonstrates why.
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