‘The Annual Roosevelt-Kennedy Dinner’

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I grew up in a New England Democratic family. Since politics were a matter of culture and ethnicity (I never actually heard it described that way — we just knew), it would have seemed unnatural for us Swamp Yankees to be anything else.

Simply put, Jews, Italians, Polacks and the Irish were expected to be Democrats. They formed the coalition that voted in the party that claimed to “help the little guys.” Republicans were a different species, living in fancy houses somewhere up on the hill in fancier towns like West Hartford or Litchfield or Avon Old Farms. They wore gray three-piece suits and owned banks or something. They had Mayflower names like “Bush” and “Acheson” and “Lodge.”

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One of my dad’s favorite Republican stories came from the autobiography of Dean Acheson, the future Cold War Secretary of State who (like my dad) grew up in Middletown. But it seems to have been a very different Middletown. Acheson told of learning an important lesson about “the rules” from his own father (the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut.) The Achesons, pere et fils, were out fly fishing on Pameacha (pronounced “Pa-mee-chee”) pond or creek one day, when young Dean’s fly hooked a minnow. The minnow in turn was taken by a larger trout. The young Secretary-of-State-to-be was thrilled, but his father sternly advised him that he had to put the trout back: “We don’t fish with live bait.” Those were The Rules.

My dad would recount that story and laugh at loud. He was only six years younger, but grew up in quite a different Middletown, sleeping three-to-a-bed in rented quarters in the Polish ghetto, first in Duck Hollow, later (after Duck Hollow flooded out) near Hotchkiss and Williams streets, where he always swore his hair had been Vulcanized in place by the exhaust gases from the neighboring Goodyear tire factory. In the summer, during the Great Depression, he and his buddies would wait for low water in Pamechea Creek. Then they’d attempt to kill a few fish by whacking them with sticks or dropping rocks on them, so their families would have something fresh to eat.

One of the few annual events for which my folks would get dressed up to go out each year was the annual fund-raising dinner of the local Democratic Party, held to raise some modest loot for the party’s local municipal and legislative candidates, some of whom would traditionally rise to speak about how they wanted to improve the local volunteer fire department, the subscription ambulance service, whatever. It was called the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, named for the two most famous forebears of the modern Democratic Party. It had been called that for as long as anyone could remember.

Surely not much needs to be said about Thomas Jefferson, champion of limited government, sworn enemy of tyranny, author of the Declaration, second only to Great Washington among the Founding Fathers. And Andrew Jackson, after all, had been the president of the common man, the first populist chief executive, a rough-hewn Tennessee frontiersman who started out barely literate, but succeeded as an Indian fighter and then, incredibly, beat the British at New Orleans.

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Replacing a bunch of guys dressed up like the king of France, he and the insurgent backwoods Democrats proved for the first time that even a poor boy of the common stock really could become president. And he fought the Bank of the United States -– a Hamiltonian scheme that Jefferson and Madison warned would concentrate the money power in federal hands, violating a Constitution that called for gold and silver money to be coined by private banks under Congressional standards of weight and purity.

Such a bank, they warned, came with the dreaded excise (which would penalize southern agriculture), and could lead to the nation being flooded with worthless fiat paper currency.

In 1832, Jackson won. The Hamiltonian scheme of the national bank was put to rest for 80 years (despite the tyrant Lincoln’s attempts to revive worthless federal paper money and even to impose a hideous and thoroughly unconstitutional “income tax”), till it resurfaced as today’s Rockefeller-Aldrich “Federal Reserve Board,” which is indeed debasing our new “Monopoly Money” currency even as we watch.

So imagine my shock last week when I picked up my local newspaper to learn that the local Democratic Party had held its annual fund-raising dinner, attended by public-trough hopefuls including a UNLV activist who favors quotas and set-asides by race, disability and gender (all five genders — or is it now six?) and thus bills herself as “the most progressive” of the lot -– that being the “Annual Roosevelt-Kennedy dinner.”

ERASING THE PAST

WHAT? What the heck happened to Jefferson and Jackson?

Well, being Southerners who lived before 1865, they were both “slave owners,” you see. So cross them off the list, apparently. Bury their legacies; make them disappear.

Really? Shall we now take Washington off the dollar bill, as well? Not only was he a slave-owner, he didn’t even allow his wife to vote! And he drained swampland at Mount Vernon that doubtless sheltered numerous “threatened” weeds and bugs! Oh, the horror!

Yes, Jackson’s Indian removal policies -– continued by his successor Van Buren, who otherwise might rank as our greatest president (if we properly define that honor as someone who obeyed his oath of office rather than seeking personal grandeur in new schemes of war and tyranny) -– were wrong. They smell distasteful, even criminal, today.

(I suppose I might feel differently if any of my relatives had been killed by Indians in living memory, which was doubtless true of a lot of Americans in the 1830s. Though there are Indians, and Indians. I don’t remember reading about a lot of atrocities by the Cherokees, or any of the other “civilized tribes” whose lands were so coveted in those decades.)

But there is a danger in thus allowing those whose thinly disguised agenda is to further expand government power and tyranny to slice away and discard, to discredit and get us to renounce and abandon, this nation’s pre-1865 history. To do that, obviously, they need to erase or malign this nation’s champions of limited government — based on the failure of such champions, now long dead, to retroactively satisfy some 21st-Century whims of Political Correctness.

Especially when they do so, selectively. For do they also observe that the (now) sainted Abraham Lincoln vowed repeatedly the Southern states could keep their slaves if only they’d stay in the union, that even in 1863 he brazenly “freed” only those slaves under Confederate jurisdiction (meaning his admittedly unconstitutional and widely ridiculed “Proclamation” actually freed not a single slave), while the “Great Emancipator” remained curiously silent about the slave labor still being used by his Union forces to bale cotton in captured portions of the Southwest for export to England?

(For the record, Lincoln vehemently opposed racially mixed marriages. Instead, he favored schemes to deport all American blacks to Haiti, or anywhere else.)

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In a special election in May, 1861, 10 distinguished Marylanders including physicians and judges were elected to the state House of Delegates. Because he suspected them of harboring secessionist tendencies, Lincoln had most of them arrested and sent to military prisons without trial. An Episcopal minister in Alexandria, Virginia was arrested for omitting a prayer for the president of the United States in his church service as required by the Lincoln administration. Arbitrary arrests of bankers, priests, and merchants suspected of disloyalty continued in New York through most of 1861. Newspaper editors in the north who wrote things displeasing to Mr. Lincoln were arrested and imprisoned. Whole states and territories were placed under martial law. A New Orleans man was executed by occupying Union General Benjamin Butler for merely taking down a United States flag. See Tom DiLorenzo’s “The Real Lincoln” -– pp. 138-139 –- as well as his “Lincoln Unmasked.”

Yet Washington freed all his slaves in his will, after all -– considered a bold and unusual step at the time. Jefferson similarly freed his children by the mixed-race Sally Hemmings, a relationship about which it would be interesting to know more, the tradition of a widower taking his wife’s half-sister to bed being a practice as old as the Bible, while obviously Jefferson lived in an era when formalizing that relationship as a “marriage” would itself have been considered scandalous.

But just as significantly, whom does the Democratic Party now honor and adopt as their figureheads, in place of Jefferson and Jackson, deemed “great” for more than 150 years by Americans who actually read and knew most of this history -– including plenty of black Americans?

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‘THE DARK SIDE OF CAMELOT’

John F. Kennedy? Kennedy was the heroic president of my youth, admired for his energy, his wit and apparent candor. I remember my mother and her friends returning from seeing him speak in Hartford during the 1960 campaign, sighing about his charm and his good looks: “That red hair!” The Kennedys finally “brought class” to the White House on the European model, their fans gushed. “A concert by Pablo Casals!” And Jackie dressed so well! Not like that boring, do-nothing Dwight Eisenhower, his frumpy wife Mamie, and that surly, common, Dick Nixon, whose idea of classical music was “The Theme from ‘Victory at Sea.'”

The nation was shocked when Kennedy was killed -– JFK became a virtual saint in Catholic households, complete with little shrines with candles — though it took decades for most of us to realize what that shooting really meant: that this nation really wasn’t (and long hadn’t been) an exception to the rule of tin-pot dictatorships, where interchangeable front-men “presidents” could be bribed, elected by fraud or outright vote-buying, eliminated with a couple of bullets by powerful domestic elements who felt they’d been double-crossed.

Read Seymour Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot.” Kennedy’s on-the-job whoring (including with suspected agents of foreign governments) was pathological, beyond reckless. He had one of his many doxies, Judith Campbell Exner, haul bags of cash to mobster Sam Giancana, who was being paid to help the Kennedys carry Illinois in the 1960 election. Giancana did so (legally, Hersh contends, simply using the organized unions — not via the kind of ballot-box stuffing for which Lyndon Johnson grew infamous in Texas.) But after the election Jack and Bobby Kennedy turned on their father’s old buddies in the Mob, staging hearings and vowing to crack down on “Organized Crime” (but only one kind of “organized crime”) for short-term political gain.

If the CIA later needed Mob help to eliminate Kennedy after Jack broke his separate campaign promise to the Cold Warriors to back the counter-revolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs, would it really be any surprise if they got it? In fact, that help was probably named “Jack Ruby.”

The Kennedys also spent millions literally buying the 1960 West Virginia primary. And Hersh documents how Exner also carried cash payoffs to Kennedy in paper bags on behalf of California industrialists who wanted government contracts to develop robotic armored vehicles, desalination systems, and fighter-plane avionics . . . finally helping to explain some of the bizarre, counterintuitive — and very expensive — weapons development of the McNamara era. Exner reported Kennedy advised her to get an abortion after the president insisted she return to the White House for a final one-night stand and got her pregnant, “driving her into the arms” of mob boss Giancana.

The Kennedy brothers thought nothing of using assassination as a tool of statecraft, arranging for the removal and murder of presidents Diem in Vietnam and Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, and trying repeatedly to whack Fidel Castro. This was the hero of my youth? While I’m still not willing to concede assassination is ever “OK” (except for lying IRS men, of course), you can’t help but start to hear a hushed voice sighing “If you live by the sword . . .”

Nixon was convinced Kennedy beat him by taking the more hawkish position on overthrowing Castro, the very junior Massachusetts senator saying the U.S. should back a counter-revolutionary invasion. Nixon, a member of the incumbent Eisenhower administration who’d been briefed under conditions of top secrecy about the planned Bay of Pigs invasion, couldn’t very well say “I agree, and in fact plans are underway.” So he ended up looking like the peacenik.

After his election, Kennedy OK’d an invasion of Cuba that anyone with even minimal military experience must surely have seen could not succeed without U.S. air support — and probably a lot more than that. Yet he then withheld that air support, and subsequently fired CIA director Allen Dulles, supposedly for trying to back him into a corner on said air support. Why? Hersh reports a Kennedy statement indicating he actually may have wanted the Cuba Libre forces captured and imprisoned so they wouldn’t come back and give him trouble in Florida, raising a furor over his “going soft on Communism.”

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The surest sign that the CIA set up the shooting in Dallas in November, 1963, was the arrangement of the cover-up. Oswald as patsy had CIA fingerprints all over it, as did stealing the body at gunpoint so it would be autopsied not in Texas (as required by law) but at Bethesda Naval Hospital under command of an admiral (Calvin Galloway, 1903-1992) who ordered the military surgeons to “ignore the throat wound,” after doctors at Parkland in Dallas had reported a big chunk of the back of the president’s head missing -– a sure sign he’d been shot from the front. And who else could have arranged for LBJ -– who needed the presidency to halt financial investigations in Congress that would have led to his being dumped from the 1964 ticket -– to appoint the discredited and dismissed Kennedy enemy Allen Dulles to the Warren Commission, where he (along with Secret Service agent Elmer Moore, who later admitted badgering Dr. Malcolm Perry to change his testimony about the wounds) could badger, tongue-lash and intimidate any witness whose testimony tended to challenge the “single-gunman” theory? Surely the man and his organization deserved an award for chutzpah, even if it should have come wrapped in a nice indictment for conspiracy, murder, and treason.

(See James Douglass’ “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters,” for starters — that and other books using recent research are summarized at http://www.justice-integrity.org/faq/729-jfk-readers-guide-assassination-books-reports . And if you still believe massive graft and corruption weren’t involved in helping LBJ build up a multi-million-dollar Texas radio-station empire in the 1940s — that it was all just Lady Bird’s business acumen — read Robert Caro’s “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” especially Volume 2.)

Maybe Kennedy “matured in office” and would have pulled us out of Vietnam, where plainly part of Johnson’s deal to get the presidency was a promise to send thousands of boys my age to their deaths. Maybe.

THE GREAT PRETENDER

As for Franklin Roosevelt, he was clearly our second greatest tyrant after Lincoln, a man who campaigned in 1932 on a platform that promised a down-sized government and a “budget annually balanced,” who during that campaign specifically ridiculed Socialist candidate Norman Thomas’ proposals for government make-work schemes and old-age pensions as “fantastic and un-American,” but who used the Constitution for toilet paper and flushed it down the toilet within days of taking office.

It would be hard to find any major Roosevelt initiative that was authorized by the Constitution. Read John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Henry Hazlitt, or Rose Wilder Lane, on FDR. In fact, it was no less a personage than 1928 Democratic standard-bearer Al Smith who quipped that Roosevelt, after his election, “caught the Socialists in skinny-dipping and stole their clothes.”

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How many of today’s ill-educated government-school graduates know that Frank Roosevelt stole Americans’ privately held gold and gold certificates starting on April 5, 1933 –- ordering it seized from their safe deposit boxes on pain of prison, “paying” for it with paper dollars not ever redeemable in gold, paper notes that he would soon purposely devalue to scarcely more than half what they were worth on that date (and which today are worth less than two 1933 copper pennies?) Look up “Executive Order 6102.”

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A wealthy dilettante who had failed at every business venture funded with his mommy’s money, Roosevelt purposely maneuvered us into World War II through “lend-lease” (leading European cartoonists to quite properly ridicule our supposed “neutrality” — and when are we going to get paid back, Franklin?) and embargoes on steel and oil to Japan that left them with no options for their oil-hungry fleet but to “use it or lose it.” Then — foolishly assuming the blow would fall only in the Philippines -– he failed to warn our commanders either there or in Hawaii.

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What’s that? Roosevelt’s desire to fight Hitler was admirable? Then why not campaign in 1940 on a platform of “Let’s bomb Hitler”? Isn’t that the way we do things in a representative Republic -– make the case to the electorate and let them decide? And if it was all about fighting German genocide, why did the Roosevelt administration turn away boatloads of Jewish refugees from Nazi tyranny, sending them back to their almost certain deaths? If he was going to “bend the law” and use some executive discretion anywhere, why not grant political asylum to people who faced death at home?

Roosevelt also ruined our economy, just to keep busy and look like he was “doing something.” America’s 1921 recession had come and gone in no time precisely because official Washington did nothing, simply allowing market wages and prices to adjust after the anomalies of the Great War. But from 1929 through 1939 Hoover and then Roosevelt created such uncertainty among American investors and industrialists with their unpredictable demands for tax hikes, new regulations, artificially propped-up wage and employment levels, unfunded mandates, and the kind of innovation-punishing government-organized cartels that Ayn Rand so famously and successfully ridiculed in “Atlas Shrugged,” that by May 9, 1939 his own Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, admitted in an appearance before powerful Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

Morgenthau made this “startling confession,” historian Burton W. Folsom Jr. points out, during the seventh year of the New Deal he helped FDR create.

“In these words, Morgenthau summarized a decade of disaster, especially during the years Roosevelt was in power. Indeed, average unemployment for the whole year in 1939 would be higher than that in 1931, the year before Roosevelt captured the presidency from Herbert Hoover,” Folsom writes in his book “New Deal or Raw Deal? / How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America.”

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My mom has long praised FDR for the make-work government jobs that allowed some of her relatives in Ohio to put bread on the table in the 1930s, when they “couldn’t find any other work.” But this is a classic example of Bastiat’s “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” Why were those dead-end, unproductive government jobs, painting rocks white or watching trees grow, necessary? Whose interventions had destroyed both the ability and the willingness of private-sector entrepreneurs to create real jobs, producing real products and services that people needed and would willingly pay for? And isn’t that being repeated, right now?

In fact, maybe it is appropriate for today’s new, divisive, entrepreneur-hating, quota-dominated, state-socialist Klepto-Democratic Party to honor Franklin Roosevelt, who played with his stamp collection as tens of thousands of American boys died in a pointless campaign to conquer Italy — Italy? -– and then turned over half of Europe to the cynical slavemaster Stalin as a present on VE Day.

I hope they enjoyed their dinner.

One Comment to “‘The Annual Roosevelt-Kennedy Dinner’”

  1. R R Schoettker Says:

    Excellent article. While a Jefferson admirer, I am nevertheless not blind to his personal or political failings (such as his typical aristocratic profligacy or the English embargo and the ham-handed treatment of San Domingo). That acknowledged however I have never believed the reconstituted slanders from the virulent political campaigns of the early republic regarding his fathering slave children. Modern examinations of this issue almost surely have identified the real culprit for sowing paternal Jefferson DNA as his elder brother who was well known to cavort on Mulberry Row. That this has been ignored by those who would prefer to claim descent from someone of substance rather than a frivolous wastrel and is pandered to by the defamers of anything “pre 1865” should surprise no one.

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