A reckless man and the promiscuous use of power 5

Today being the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, there will be many a paean of praise for him ringing through the land.

Though we deplore his assassination – most probably by the Communist arrested for the crime – we have found little to admire about JFK.

Which is why we were quite pleased to find this unenthusiastic review of his presidency and unflattering estimation of his character by Derek Hunter, who writes (in part) at Townhall:

President Kennedy remains popular with journalists and historians, but was not a popular president with the American people at the time. His re-election in 1964 was not certain. It was, in fact, a long shot at the time of his murder.

His presidency was, for the most part, a non-event. The Bay of Pigs was a fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the brink of nuclear war, cost us missiles in Turkey and doomed Cuba to the underside of the Fidel Castro’s boot to this day.

On civil rights, something for which President Kennedy receives much credit and praise, he did little more than pay lip service to the concept. My friend and a host of the C4 Show … Clarence Mitchell IV, whose grandfather was Clarence Mitchell Jr., the chief lobbyist for the NAACP during the Kennedy years, tells me, “My grandfather always said President Kennedy, at the insistence of his brother Bobby, was not a champion of civil rights, that he was actually an obstacle. He kept things slow because he wanted the support of southern Democrats. It wasn’t about right and wrong with them, it was about what would get them the most votes.”

President Kennedy is given credit for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he had little to do with it aside from having spoken on the subject a few times. In fact, C4 tells me that in August of 1963 there was a “big meeting” of civil rights leaders at the White House with the Kennedy brothers because there was talk that they might not endorse JFK’s reelection. They were promised what politicians always promise voting blocs they’re stringing along – action after the election. Tragedy intervened, so we’ll never know what he might have done, but we do know what he did do and that wasn’t much at all.

In fact, it seems nearly every positive development of that era is somehow credited to JFK – even those he had little to nothing to do with. It’s just been credited to him, or imposed on him, as part of the myth-making surrounding “Camelot.”

President Kennedy was a great orator and a master at public relations. He also had a press corps that adored him, thus insulating him from reality in the annals of history. (Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?)

The “Camelot” legend was myth, constructed to obscure the reality of a despicable man elected through fraud and an unholy alliance with the mafia in Chicago.

The real John F. Kennedy was a womanizing misogynist, a spoiled brat who ran for the U.S. Senate for lack of anything else to do and to feed his controlling [pro-Nazi] father’s ego. Just eight years and very few accomplishments later, he sought the presidency for much the same reason.

He was a reckless man, sleeping with interns, girlfriends of mafia bosses, Russian spies and seemingly anyone else willing. He took his job seriously enough, but in perhaps the most blatant act of corruption since Teapot Dome, appointed his own brother Attorney General of the United States. Kennedys are loyal to Kennedys first; there is no second. The idea that Robert Kennedy could be trusted to, if called for, investigate possible corrupt actions of President Kennedy is laughable.

After his tragic assassination, the Kennedy myth-making started and hasn’t stopped. It started with the coaching of 3-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. to salute his father’s coffin for the cameras as the procession passed, and it continues to this day. Even his gravesite is a testament to that myth.

President Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and rightfully so. He did serve our country with honor in World War II. But real estate at Arlington is at a premium, with our heroes buried in close proximity to each other to accommodate all who deserve it. Yet the JFK gravesite sits alone in a large otherwise-vacant plot. I don’t begrudge him the eternal flame – though that seems a bit much. But his wife is buried next to him in spite of remarrying, and his brother, Robert, is buried there too, even though he did not serve in the military.

This “devout Catholic” family exemplifies hypocrisy on every level – from their bootlegging beginnings to their philandering lifestyle, there is very little about their legend that stands up to even the most cursory of scrutiny. Despite this fact, hours of television time, gallons of ink and gigabytes of web-space will be dedicated to how extraordinary JFK was, how they all were.

It’s simply not true.

We have little argument with all that. (But if they were not actually devout Catholics – and who can know? – it would be one thing in their favor in our eyes.)

For the rest, we would only comment that JFK and his brother Bobby were extraordinary of course as men of power. They are historical figures. But neither of them had an extraordinary mind, and neither left any great gifts to the world.

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Steve Chapman writes (also at Townhall) that Kennedy …

… led people to imagine that their government had the boundless capacity to improve the world, and on the day he died, they could still believe that.

His administration and that of his vice president and successor Lyndon B. Johnson are significant in the same way: They represent the pinnacle of ambitious, visionary government. What each president lacked was a sober sense of the limits of what it could do, at home or abroad. …

Kennedy came into office having roused unrealistic expectations. …

His inaugural address did nothing to dampen the mood. It cast the United States not just as the defender of its own security and freedom, but as guarantor for the entire planet. Kennedy declared that “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty (emphasis added).”

In case that promise did not seem sufficiently grandiose, he added, “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”

Kennedy gave the highest priority to the foreign arena. But Johnson’s domestic program grew out of initiatives begun by JFK. And LBJ was no more inclined to restrain his rhetoric.

He extolled his social welfare plan as though he were describing paradise: “The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. … It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community … beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”

Neither president paused to consider whether and how the clumsy tools of government could actually fulfill these dreams. Kennedy took the first steps into a war in Vietnam – which proved that supporting friends did not assure the success of liberty and that there were some burdens Americans would not bear.

When Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, he proclaimed that it represented nothing less than “a commitment to eradicate poverty. …  Like many Great Society programs, it did not live up to its billing. …

JFK and LBJ set out to prove how much the U.S. government could accomplish at home and abroad, a mission that endeared them to those who believe in the promiscuous use of power.

They ended up proving how much it could not accomplish, and how little extravagance can buy.

They may have proved it, but new generations of believers in the promiscuous use of power have arisen and take no heed of the lesson. Obama is proving it all over again, disastrously. But will the believers in the state as an ever-flowing fountain of money, and the president as an all-wise all-good father, ever learn it?

Iran and Syria – hanging together 1

Iran and Syria: push one and both will come tumbling down.

So Michael Ledeen tells us. He writes at PajamasMedia:

The future of the Middle East (and perhaps of most of the world) depends on the survival or downfall of the tyrannical regimes in Syria and Iran. We need to do everything possible to ensure their downfall. This is the right policy for all the good reasons:

– Strategic: Iran is our major enemy and the leading killer of our people;

– Moral: Iran visits unspeakable horrors on its own people and wants to export this system worldwide;

– Regional: there is no hope for peace in the Middle East so long as this regime remains in power.

And so? What the hell are we waiting for? And why is there not a single candidate who will give voice to it?

The chief thing we’re waiting for is a new commander-in-chief.  And it’s a useful thing for him to know that the Iranian and Syrian regimes survive or fall together; that if one is knocked down the other’s done for.

Can we agree that Iran and Syria now constitute a single strategic problem? Surely Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, thinks so. Otherwise he would not have ordered the Revolutionary Guards to conduct a policy of all-out military, financial, and intelligence support for the Assad regime …

The Syrian crisis is only one very dark cloud in the terrible storm that has descended upon the Iranian regime.

That is why the current announced policy of the Obama administration — “Assad must go” — is incoherent. … If Assad must go, so must Khamenei. They are fused at the belly button, part and parcel of a strategic alliance that is responsible for thousands of American deaths and tens of thousands of American casualties.

Ledeen stresses and illustrates the rottenness of the Iranian regime, and praises “one of the world’s truly heroic figures, the Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, imprisoned for more than six years and subjected to severe torture.” While we are dubious that an Ayatollah can be a world-class hero, we gather that this one is better than the others in the club.

Amazingly, he has continued his campaign from within Tehran’s grim Evin Prison. No charges have ever been brought against him, although it is obvious that he has been singled out for advocating separation of mosque and state, toleration of minority religions, and respect for the civil rights of the Iranian people. In recent days he has suffered a heart attack, but has been denied medical attention. If he dies, perhaps the winged troika of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, and their many admirers, will mourn the death of this fine man, whom they have judged unworthy of American support.

The three harpies, we call them. They cawed about the need to interfere in Libya on the grounds that civilians needed to be protected, so Obama and NATO helped sharia-loving, black African-hating rebels to oust the tyrant Gaddafi and set up a brand-new oppressive regime including al-Qaeda terrorists. For some reason they do not explain, the harpies and Obama are more concerned for Libyan than Syrian or Iranian civilians.

This administration has always shrunk from speaking the truth about the Iranian regime, which is now engaged in a “killing spree” at the expense of the Persian nation. There have been so many executions and arrests of late that it’s very hard to keep track of them all, ranging from movie directors to Baha’is, from Christian converts to peaceful Sufi dervishes, and on to political protesters and those unlucky enough to be in the area when the security forces are unleashed. This frenzy of repression — more a bloody orgy than a spree — bespeaks enormous insecurity as well as the great evil about which I have been warning for so long.

And it is as corrupt as it is malevolent. …  Recent stories have highlighted huge financial losses, the true dimensions of which are considerably larger than those reported so far.  The corrupt mullacracy has exported a lot of money, and the first glimmerings of their methods are only surfacing now because of the enormous tensions within the regime. …  The Islamic Republic is a system of mutual blackmail, and whenever one of the components feels threatened, it typically responds by firing a warning shot across the others’ bows. The corruption is not just personal graft and fraud, although there is plenty of that to go around.  The major part is systemic. … Iran’s currency continues to crash

So Khamenei is entitled to be very worried, and we are entitled to give this tottering edifice the little push required to put it out of its misery.

But the easier one to topple is Syria.

The Syrian resistance probably needs material support including weapons and perhaps some training … they will need to fight it out, at least for a while.

We are all for the smashing of the two regimes, but not for an attempt to turn either country into democracies – not because we wouldn’t like them to be real democracies, but because where Islam dominates democracy cannot thrive. (Turkey seemed an exception for the last ninety years or so, but is now reverting to the darkness of sharia.)

There should be no more hearts-and-minds campaigns.

In connection with which Ledeen quotes President Lyndon B. Johnson:

 “If you’ve got them by the balls, the hearts and minds generally follow.

We’re not fans of LBJ, but we like him for that.