WEIRDLAND: January 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021

TV adaptation of The Great Gatsby, the Myth of Camelot, The Beautiful and Damned

The Great Gatsby is coming to television. A+E Studios and ITV Studios America are teaming with writer Michael Hirst for a big-budget TV series based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel. A network is not yet involved as the co-producers plan on shopping the series to premium cable and streaming outlets. Envisioned as a closed-ended miniseries, for which Michael Hirst (Elizabeth, The Tudors) will pen the script and exec produce alongside Groundswell Productions' Michael London (Sideways, Milk). Fitzgerald's estate is also involved as Blake Hazard, a great-granddaughter of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and a trustee of the estate, will serve as a consulting producer. Sources say A+E Studios has had the rights to the iconic novel dating back to the 2000 TV movie that starred Paul Rudd as Nick Carraway, Toby Stephens as Jay Gatsby and Mira Sorvino as Daisy Buchanan. That telefilm was a co-production with BBC and aired stateside on A&E. The rights to the book, effective this year, are now open to the public domain. "I seem to have lived with Gatsby most of my life, reading it first as a schoolboy, later teaching it at Oxford in the 1970s then re-reading it periodically ever since," Hirst said. "As the critic Lionel Trilling once wrote: 'The Great Gatsby is still as fresh as when it first appeared, it has even gained in weight and relevance.' Today, as America seeks to reinvent itself once again, is the perfect moment to look with new eyes at this timeless story, to explore its famous and iconic characters through the modern lens of gender, race and class conflict.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's profoundly romantic vision does not prevent him examining and exposing the darker underbelly of the American experience, which is why the story speaks to both tragedy and hope, and why it continues to resonate today." Described as a reimagining, the series will dig deeper into the hidden lives of its characters through the modern lens of a fractured American dream while also capturing the full majesty of Fitzgerald's timeless vision. "I have long dreamt of a more diverse, inclusive version of Gatsby that better reflects the America we live in, one that might allow us all to see ourselves in Scott's wildly romantic text," Hazard said. "Michael brings a deep reverence for Scott's work to the project, but also a fearlessness about bringing such an iconic story to life in an accessible and fresh way. I'm delighted to be a part of the project. There are few stories in the pantheon of American literature that transcend time like The Great Gatsby. A+E Studios is privileged to bring this powerful, complex work to life with the blessing of Fitzgerald family member Blake Hazard. Michael stays true to Fitzgerald’s novel while building on that legacy with a modern vision that will be more reflective of America both then and now, including an enhanced exploration of the female characters. We are currently searching for a director and are excited to bring this out to the market." Gatsby has been adapted for the big screen multiple times, with takes in 1926 (toplined by Warner Baxter), 1949 (starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field), 1974 (starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow) and in 2013 (with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan). Source: hollywoodreporter.com

A professor named Carlyle V. Thompson published a paper arguing that Jay Gatsby was an outsider of the American dream. Gatsby's origins as a bootlegger explain the thousands of speakeasies and craft cocktails bearing his name. But the novel never clearly divulges the source of his wealth. Gatsby represents the failed dream of an immigrant, he could represent Joe Kennedy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and even Anna Delvey. American fiction is full of thinly veiled Gatsbys as Don Draper in Mad Men or Coleman Silk in The Human Stain. In 1915, Scott had written in his ledger: “If I couldn’t be perfect, I wouldn’t be anything”-which can be linked to his fragment from The Great Gatsby (now considered the great American novel but unfortunately rejected from the Modern Library in the early 1940s because of low sales): “Jay Gatsby of West Egg sprung from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God — and to this conception he was faithful to the end.” Edmund Wilson, Fitzgerald’s editor and ‘intellectual conscience’, completed the unfinished novel The Last Tycoon (1941) using Fitzgerald’s personal notes and drafts, and reckoned his Princeton friend as “a martyr, a sacrificial victim,” after his premature death (aged 44). Fitzgerald understood in the midst of the 1920s what most would only see in retrospect: that “the dead dream” will always fight on, as we try to touch the intangible, “struggling unhappily, yet undespairingly” towards what we keep losing. 

Part of our fascination with Fitzgerald involves his fall from grace, noted Arthur Krystal in The New Yorker in 2009. “The man who commanded between $3,000 and $4,000 for a short story as late as 1930 was forgotten by the reading public six years later; in 1936, his total book royalties amounted to just over $80. “My characters are all Scott Fitzgerald. Even the feminine characters,” the complex author reckoned. In the recent critical essay Understanding Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (2014), Robert A. Albano clarifies: “Fitzgerald was able to incorporate the many sides of his own personality into the creation of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald himself was a romantic who ignored the reality in order to achieve a goal which many would have thought to be impossible.” Source: www.highbrowmagazine.com/

One of Jackie Kennedy's favorite romantic novels was The Beautiful and Damned,  F. Scott Fitzgerald's second novel. Reggie Nadelson, writing in The Independent, claimed, “In the end, Jackie liberated herself from the Kennedys and became the last real Kennedy—glamorous, desirable, mythic.” Author Norman Mailer, who had been both her friend and foe, delivered his assessment: “Jackie Kennedy Onassis was not merely a celebrity, but a legend; not a legend, but a myth—no, more than a myth: She is now a historic archetype, virtually a demiurge.” Back in her apartment, John Jr. opened a letter that she’d asked him not to read until after her burial. “My dear, beloved son: You are going to take your special place in history. I want to be looking down on you as you assume a future position of power, like your father. He attempted to make the world a better place. And Bobby was going to carry on in his footsteps. Now the burden will be on you. In my heart, I know you will succeed beyond your greatest dreams. It is with eternal love and pride in you that I send you on your way, which I know will be the road to glory. When your battles are over, and the burden passes from you, I know one thing that is good and true. you will be the greatest Kennedy of them all. Your mother, Jacqueline.” Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (2015) by Barbara Leaming

Marilyn Monroe was a virtual icon for Madonna. Marilyn had had an affair with John F. Kennedy, Sr. It seemed almost logical that Madonna should follow in her footsteps. The president wasn’t around to seduce any more, but his son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was around—and in her words, “he looked smart and hot.” JFK Jr. went backstage to greet Madonna after her “Who’s That Girl?” performance in Madison Square Garden. Don Johnson, then at the peak of his Miami Vice fame on TV, was also there with flowers, but Madonna rejected him before walking away with the prize hunk of the night, JFK Jr. himself. The JFK Jr./Madonna sightings began in New York during the weeks leading up to Christmas of 1987. “Could it really be true?” the public asked, “that Madonna was actually dating the son of Marilyn Monroe’s former lover, his father, President John F. Kennedy?” The symbolism that MM, the blonde bombshell of the 50s had been replaced by another bombshell in the 80s, Madonna, wasn’t lost on the tabloids. Biographer Wendy Leigh claimed, “In her own mind, Madonna wasn’t just Marilyn emulated but Marilyn reincarnated, sent here to fulfill her psychic destiny. At every step, Madonna continued her consumption of the Marilyn mystique, but she craved something more. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was just the last step to finish off the deal—the ultimate Monroesque experience. Madonna realized that adding John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s scalp to her sexual belt would be another publicity coup.” In his biography of Madonna, Andrew Morton wrote: “Although JFK Jr. and Madonna were lovers for a brief period, the affair was not a success. John Junior was intimidated by Madonna’s reputation. Rather ruefully, she explained to friends after the end of her affair with Kennedy that he was just too nervous for them to click sexually. The chemistry certainly wasn’t there. ‘Some guys can handle the fame, others can’t,’ she sighed. “And he couldn’t.’” When Jackie heard of her son’s new main squeeze, she asked Ted Sorensen, “What designs does this volatile creature have on my son?” 

A photo taken on Monday January 11, 1994, by Paul Adao outside Jackie Kennedy's apartment, reveals that John Kennedy Jr had taken the decision of leaving behind his relationship with Daryl Hannah and introduce Carolyn Bessette to her mother for approval. It seems only John's ex-girlfriend Christina Haag had been given a previous seal of approval. In her memoir Coming to the Edge, Christina recalls her relationship with Jackie: "For years after that first weekend together, even when my romance with John was over, there would be a letter from Jackie now and then. On occasion, she would call—she’d seen me acting in a play or there was a book of hers she wanted me to have. It would arrive by messenger, and slipped inside the fresh pages would be an oblong cream card with the Doubleday anchor at the top: I thought you’d like this, love Jackie. The letters—on pale-blue stationery in blue pen, or lapis correspondence cards embossed with a white scallop (and one black-and-white postcard of Pierrot)—I kept tied with a red ribbon in a shoe box. The last arrived a month and a half before she died, before I flew back from Los Angeles to attend her funeral Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola—police barricades outside the baroque church and a slew of perfect white flowers blanketing her coffin. “I hope all goes well, Christina,” she had written  in her last letter in her artful, tender script. 

And whenever Jackie called—there would be her voice, more like music than speech, and I would feel an intense thrill, like the kind you get from a private crush you want always to keep secret. I remembered how she giggled when she ate ice cream in August and there was a windy ride one summer on Mr. Tempelsman’s boat. I was alone with Jackie on the back deck; we were on our way to pick up John, who was spearfishing off Aquinnah in Martha's Vineyard. The whole way, she told me stories, the ones I wanted to hear—not of the White House, but of her youth adventures, of the balls and parties she’d gone to in Newport and Southampton before she was married, when she was a girl in New York. Once Jackie and Mr. Tempelsman offered me a lift in their Lincoln Town Car, and when we passed the marquee for Speed-the-Plow, she lit up. Had I seen it? I hadn’t. The play, she said, was good, but Madonna was terrible on it. She drew out the last word and laughed. The tabloids had been rife with stories about them that spring, stories John scoffed at. “I think you should go,” Jackie said to me, like sharing a joke, “I think you should go next week—and have John take you. And then go backstage!” I remembered also how she always made a point of complimenting me—my hair or some detail of the clothes I wore. At first, because of who she was, it stunned me. But what may have been good manners or the desire to nurture confidence in a young woman became for me a lesson in acceptance and feminine grace. And I learned, in the end, to simply thank her. 

One morning, I replayed one of her phone message, listening once more to the glide of her voice. It was the first time we’d spoken since Christmas. Since I was no longer her son’s girlfriend, my intention was not to be too personal this time with Jackie, but if I expected some awkwardness, there was none with her. We just caught up and we spoke of other things. Then she explained to me why she had called. She told me John had met this PR young woman who worked in Calvin Klein, Carolyn Bessette. Jackie thought she was lovely and educated, and that she could see how much love Carolyn felt towards her son. —Come to the Edge (2010) by Christina Haag

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Disunited Nations, The Kennedys in the World, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy project

Review of "Disunited Nations" by Peter Zeihan:  The coming end of American hegemony will be good for America, but disastrous for much of the world, according to this sweeping treatise on international relations. Zeihan (author of The Accidental Superpower), a geopolitical strategy consultant, predicts that a United States weary of foreign entanglements will stop enforcing the post-WWII global “order” in which it guaranteed the military security of allies, kept sea lanes open, and welcomed exports from developing countries. What follows, he contends, will be pervasive disorder, in which some nations flourish—including a rich, isolated United States—as others face political chaos, economic regression, war, and famine caused by the breakdown of global supply chains and international cooperation. Zeihan pegs his arguments to in-depth discussions of the geography and agricultural, economic, and demographic trends of major countries and their impact on regional rivalries. Some of his prognostications are convincing: China’s vulnerability to trade blockades means it will never be a global military power as many fear, he reasons. Zeihan integrates a wealth of information and data into lucid analyses written in an accessible tone, explaining why the kind of superpower of US is different from the “superpowers” of the past, like Ming Dynasty China, Achaemenid Persia, or the Roman Empire. Zeihan describes that the absence of an American global order would lead to geopolitical regionalization all across Eurasia along historical lines. This means that the powers that had traditionally been dominant in Europe, Middle East, and the Far East, would end up explicitly dominating those regions again, as well as being subject to the same internal and external challenges that they have always been plagued with (e.g. China and its cyclical civil wars; the Middle East returning to the Anatolia vs Iranian Plateau geopolitical paradigm; continental Europe being dominated by the Franco-German area; Russia returning to its previous “horde lands” dynamic, etc). It is precisely because of the American Order that these countries have been "protected" from their reoccurring historical problems. The United States of America is an expansionist power. The 19th Century was largely spent expanding from 13 colonies to a nation that extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In addition, from the late 19th Century to the first half of the twentieth, the US focused on building influence. Post World War II, the US expanded its influence in Europe, Asia and Africa. Then post-Cold War, this influence was expanded to key parts of the former Soviet Bloc. Zeihan assumes that the colonial era could be revived. However, the major lesson from Iraq was, you can't do old-fashioned colonialism in the 21st Century. Zeihan don't have positive predictions on South Europe, alluding these countries aren't stable enough since the begging of the 2000s. Source: www.publishersweekly.com

The Kennedys in the World (March 1, 2021) by Lawrence J. Haas (a former White House communications strategist and award-winning journalist, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, author of Harry Truman and Arthur Vandenberg: the Partnership That Created the Free World, which was named by The Wall Street Journal one of its top ten non-fiction books of 2016), offers us a rich, fascinating, and consequential story about JFK, Bobby, and Ted Kennedy. From an early age the brothers developed a deep understanding of the different peoples, cultures, and ideologies around the world; a keen appreciation for the challenges that such differences created for the United States; and a strong desire to reshape America’s response to them. From their childhoods in the first half of the twentieth century, the brothers were prodded by their demanding father, Joe Kennedy, and their distant mother Rose, to learn and care about the world. For more than six decades after World War II, the Kennedy brothers shaped the U.S. response to almost every major global challenge of their times: the Soviet Union and China, the Cold War and Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Chile, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Korea and Vietnam, South Africa and Northern Ireland. In their time, America was what it remains today—the world’s greatest power, with roles and responsibilities that stretch across the planet. Jack, Bobby, and Ted shared a tough-minded internationalism and a conviction that America belonged on the side of the oppressed and not the overlords, but each applied that legacy to different challenges in distinct ways. Now the torch has been passed to our generation and this book serves as a powerful reminder of who we are as Americans and who we can be. Source: amazon.com

There is to hoping to the publishing of at least a new book which will come to fruition, especially if Carolyn's friends are given a voice and its purpose will be to shed light on the real Carolyn Jeanne Bessette-Kennedy and his romance with John Kennedy Jr., shattering old rumors that have eclipsed Carolyn Bessette's real accomplishments and her humanity. Source: instagram.com

Saturday, January 23, 2021

“European Perspectives”, JFK "Battling Wall Street", Ann Coulter's "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", JFK Jr vs Trump

In European Perspectives: Essays (2020), Dr. Alexander Jacob seeks to differentiate Jewish-derived Marxist socialism from the German-derived spiritual socialism. Although “a professed anti-Semite,” Marx had a “Jewish mentality” that manifested itself in a “materialistic view of life”. This is in contrast to what might be called the communitarian ethos of Werner Sombart’s German socialism and Oswald Spengler’s Prussian socialism. One useful feature of European Perspectives is its assessment of a number of important European thinkers: Werner Sombart, Oswald Spengler, Erik von Kuehnelt–Leddihn, Julius Evola, Theodor Adorno, Hans–Jürgen Syberberg, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt and Theodor Herzl. Sombart, one of Jacob’s favorite scholars, believed “that the modern system of commercial capitalism was due not mainly to English Protestantism as Max Weber had proclaimed but to Judaism.” Jacob is an admirer of Spengler’s Prussian socialism which does not seek to destroy capitalism. Early on, Spengler saw that “democracy, in general, is an unholy alliance of urban masses, cosmopolitan intellectuals, and finance capitalists. The masses themselves are manipulated by the latter two elements through their specific agencies: the press and the parties.” Jacob’s ideology synthesizes Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Evola’s beliefs. He accepts Evola’s criticism of Jewry and the bourgeoisie, but appears to reject his disparagement of Catholicism. Jacob concludes that Syberberg wanted to use “art as a redemptive influence on society,” while Adorno used it “as an instrument of revenge.” In the fourth essay Jacob shifts gears to examine two books, both written in 2011, that analyze the success of Western civilization: The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne and The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson. Duchesne’s thesis is that the West has always been different, more creative, than other civilizations. The source of this creativity is the “aristocratic egalitarianism” of Indo-European societies. This unique aristocratic egalitarianism was made possible by a political arrangement that provided “relative freedom and autonomy from centralised authority”. For Ferguson, the West’s greatness can be found in: “competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic”. Like Duchesne, Ferguson sees a lack of centralized power as a Western asset as opposed to the centralized bureaucracy of China. He believes property rights are closely associated with “the rule of law and representative government”. Ferguson is not, however, completely sanguine regarding the future of the Occident. He warns that the greatest threat to the West is “our own loss of faith in the civilization we inherited from our ancestors,” while Duchesne expresses similar concerns about the “nihilism, cultural relativism, and weariness” of the West.

To Jacob’s thinking, what Fukuyama considers 'the end of history' is Jewish “economic utopianism which manifested itself in the twentieth century as totalitarian Communism and was transformed in the new ‘promised land’ into totalitarian liberalism of the ‘American Dream’”. Jacob concludes that Fukuyama’s neo-conservatism illustrates “the incompatibility of the American system with genuinely European systems of political thought.” Jacob traces how the English, and later the Americans, deviated from traditional European values. In essence: the rise of Puritanism led to the English Civil War, the Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution. Puritans with their individualism and industry came to see “citizens as economic units of production not unlike those of the later Communist utopia of Marx”. Plus, according to Jacob, Puritanism has always been heavily influenced by Judaism. Then, increasingly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Jews in America were able to transform the remnant of Puritanism into their own political/economic system. It was “the re-entry of the Jews into England during the Puritan revolution” that began the unraveling of European culture, with the end results that we see today. There is a desperate need for a new aristocracy in Western societies. At present we are ruled by elites who are hostile to the interests of Western peoples. Before an aristocracy can develop, we need to create a revolutionary cadre from which a new elite will emerge. The historical peoples of the West are now slated to become minorities in their own homelands. We need new elites to propagate a new ideology and that is a monumental task. Nothing could be more difficult, yet nothing less will do. Alexander Jacob obtained his doctorate in Intellectual History at the Pennsylvania State University. His publications include Nobilitas: A Study of European Aristocratic Philosophy from Ancient Greece to the early Twentieth Century (2000), and Richard Wagner on Tragedy, Christianity and the State (2019). Source: unz.com

As sociologist Donald Gibson explained in his fine book Battling Wall Street, President Kennedy never joined the Council on Foreign Relations; he did not join any secret societies at Harvard; he didn’t like working intelligence during World War II. He got transferred out to the South Pacific and served with a bunch of Joe Six Pack guys on what were close to suicide missions. As this author demonstrated in the second edition of Destiny Betrayed, both in the Senate and in the White House, Kennedy was opposed to much of what this Power Elite was doing abroad, especially in the Third World. After his death, the progress that he did make in the White House was largely reversed. 
As Gibson comments, Kennedy’s overall business program was really pro-production and nationally oriented. Kennedy’s tax proposal was also aimed at securing for the treasury billions of dollars “in income from interest and dividends going unreported and untaxed each year.” His proposal was to use an annual withholding tax, as with middle class income. For dividends, he proposed a higher rate of tax on families with incomes over $180,000 per year—almost two million today. He also proposed tax code alterations to prevent the wealthy from concealing income garnered through advantages like investing in holding companies. Kennedy felt that wealth should be acquired and used through productive investments that benefited society as whole. He was not in favor of profits accrued through financial speculation and inheritance. As Gibson notes, "Kennedy’s overall program was trying to guarantee that the search for profit would not end up destroying rather than creating economic prosperity for the country. In this he was very clear, consistent and coherent." Kennedy wanted to shift capital from non-productive to productive investments. He was specifically interested in expanding low cost energy production. The above program, combined with Kennedy’s policies overseas made the president rather unpopular with the corporate aristocracy. Kennedy had made himself a target for big business by his stand in the U.S. Steel case in 1962. As the late John Blair wrote about that conflict, it was “the most dramatic confrontation in history between a president and a corporate management.” (Blair, Economic Concentration) Beyond that, he then went even further in his priority of the public good over corporate greed. Kennedy stated that the "American people would find it hard to accept situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives, whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility, can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185,000,000 Americans." 

As Donald Gibson notes, one of the things that many of his critics were disturbed about was Kennedy’s willingness to loan what they called “easy money” for credit purposes. Which, of course, is what the Alliance for Progress was about: low interest or no interest loans for infrastructure and capital improvement. By 1962, Dillon seemed to have gone over to the side of Kennedy’s critics on this and other issues. For example, he was pressing for less government spending, except for defense expenditures. The Wall Street Journal, another consistent critic of Kennedy, wrote in 1963 that the activists in the administration, like Heller, had gained the upper hand over the conservatives like Dillon. (Wall Street Journal, 10/3/63, article by Philip Geyelin) The article said that Kennedy did not want to rely on monetary policy to cure a balance of payments problem. And, in fact, the president had come to think that such problems were too important to be left to bankers. He also did not agree with another of their notions, namely letting interest rates rise. (Hobart Rowen, The Free Enterprisers: Kennedy, Johnson and the Business Establishment
By 1963, there was a split within the administration over general economic policy. There was on one side the activist Kennedy group which included JFK, Heller, and Franklin Roosevelt Jr. of the Commerce Department. On the other side was Dillon, the Federal Reserve, and their outside backer David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan. As Gibson points out, and as I have tried to indicate here, the economic powers in America had been pushing for a globalist agenda even during Kennedy’s presidency. They wanted European colonialism to be replaced by American imperialism, which would allow American business entities to be shipped abroad. They also wanted old-fashioned tight-money monetarist rules in banking. Kennedy opposed both. Source: kennedysandking.com

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion; everyone is not entitled to his own facts. If a president’s “cutting corners or hoarding dirty little secrets” is enough to impeach him, as Nixon’s attorney general, Elliot Richardson, said, because “honesty is the best politics,” then Clinton’s bald-faced lies under oath in a citizen’s constitutional case against him would have to be enough. There are pretty clear rules and standards for what constitutes a “high Crime and Misdemeanor,” or an impeachable act. To paraphrase the current “just about sex” line, Watergate was about a two-bit breaking and entering. And unlike with Monica Lewinsky, it wasn’t committed by the president, but by people who worked for his campaign committee. The Philadelphia convention in 1787 adopted the impeachment remedy in the process of creating the first government in the history of the world that would have separated powers, checks and balances, and sharply limited powers. And, of course, no king. The reach and purposes of impeachment would be different in a constitutional republic. Personal misconduct took on a larger role in impeachments, for example, and policy disputes became irrelevant to impeachable conduct. Impeachments in Great Britain had been used as a weapon in the ongoing and turbulent power struggle between Parliament and the king. The only impeachment convictions ever rendered by the United States Senate were for the high crimes and misdemeanors of: Drunkenness and Senility; Incitement to Revolt and Rebellion Against the Nation; Bribery; Kickbacks and Tax Evasion; Tax Evasion; Conspiracy to Solicit a Bribe; and False Statements to a Grand Jury. But the American variations on impeachable crimes flow directly from the Constitution itself.  

In brief, Richard Nixon’s subversion consisted of: One invocation of presidential privilege, and zero criminal offenses. The worst that could be said of Nixon’s alleged “obstruction of justice” was that he thought the president had a right to fight a legal case, just like a private citizen might. If Nixon telling one lie, not under oath, constituted the creation of an “Imperial Presidency” demanding the president’s impeachment, what did Clinton create by telling repeated lies, not only to the public, but under oath? As Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey casually remarked of the president, “Clinton’s an unusually good liar. Unusually good. Do you realize that?” Nixon wanted one man investigated, and he wanted FBI information on that one man: Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official who was leaking national security secrets to the New York Times. If that was “unrelated to national security,” what are the implications for an FBI investigation of a public servant whose job Clinton’s friends wanted? In any event, like the IRS, J. Edgar Hoover also ignored him, which is why Nixon brought in the Plumbers to plug national security leaks, some of whom were later caught at the Watergate Hotel. Indeed, the famous “smoking gun” tape was the direct result of the fact that the FBI would not accede to the Nixon administration’s demands—as is discussed on the tape. Twenty-five years later the Clinton administration uses the IRS and the FBI—and this time these agencies are responsive—to persecute an innocuous public servant whose job Clinton’s people wanted. Nixon acted from defensiveness; Clinton acted from cupidity. 

At least Nixon tried to bend these agencies to his will to stop leaks of national security information; at least he tried to manipulate the agencies to protect his people rather than to attack his enemies; at least he was rebuffed; and at least President Kennedy had his sexual trysts in a consensual way with grown women. One realizes how low President Clinton brought our country when you start thinking 'Bring back the Watergate Plumbers!' Clinton's flacks have frequently made the preposterous claim that this whole mess was the Supreme Court’s fault for allowing the Paula Jones suit to proceed. It is as if somehow the Supreme Court had been holding back all this time, and by mere historical accident it all caught up with Clinton. When in fact, private civil lawsuits against presidents have always been allowed. But other presidents weren’t vulnerable to those lawsuits because other presidents weren’t such pigs. The case is that Nixon did not invoke his privilege in an investigation “about sex” he personally engaged or pressed upon an unwilling female. Nixon simply raised his privilege in an investigation about a third-rate burglary he hadn't committed. Clinton's whole presidency was a complete mockery of the American people. For the Clintons, it was all just a game. 29th President Warren Harding (whose extramarital affair with his secretary Nan Britton eroded his popularity) must be turning flips of delight in his grave to know that at least he wasn’t such a pervert like Clinton. No one has ever been caught like Clinton, in this tawdry combination of sexual perversion, witness tampering, and public perjury. Even the most frothing-at-the-mouth Nixon haters never really thought Nixon had himself committed perjury. There was a dignity about Nixon's conduct that is unimaginable for Clinton. As far as I am concerned, Clinton's degrading behaviour is the most complete ignominy in the American presidential history. —"High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton" (2002) by Ann Coulter 

“We finally got the authoritarian liberals have been talking about,” Ann Coulter told The Daily Beast about ex-president Donald Trump. “And I want to point out what a gigantic pussy he is. Who are these people still supporting Trump? I don’t understand why. Why are you doing this for Trump when he doesn’t give a crap about you? These poor, working-class Americans, hanging on by their fingernails! No, he didn’t have time for them. He held a rally and he encouraged them to march on the Capitol while he goes back to the White House to have a nice lunch because he’s a gigantic pussy. He always has other people doing his dirty work. He was this tough guy on The Apprentice. He couldn’t even fire his own attorney general. He sent Corey Lewandowski to do it." Coulter sputtered with rage as she vented about the ex-president. “I hate him,” she seethed. “Trump betrayed his own supporters at every turn,” Coulter added. “He turned over his presidency to Idiot Boy Jared. I hate him. He’s a betrayer. Yes, I knew he was a coarse vulgarian. Yes, I knew he was a huckster. I think we all did. But one thing there was no warning of was Jared and Ivanka. They ran this presidency and all they cared about was impressing Kim Kardashian and sucking up to Wall Street. After he was elected, we got the most gigantic bait-and-switch in history. That was a shocker.” Source: thedailybeast.com

John Kennedy Jr. (Speech to the American Society of Magazine editors, April 27, 1999): "I thought if I could parachute behind the enemy lines and join the journalistic profession, which has often attacked my family, then I could begin to let my perspective about journalism seep in  George magazine and maybe influence the presentation of politics." 

Carolyn Bessette photographed by Robert Curran in Miami, on March 21, 1998, at the wedding of Betsy Reisinger (pictured with Carolyn) with Kenan Siegel, John Kennedy Jr's good friends and Rugby teammate at Brown University. Carolyn and Betsy bonded over a passion for fashion and Carolyn helped Betsy shop for her wedding in Bal Harbour the night before. Betsy Reisinger: "Carolyn made me feel so special as she was so inclined to help me. Carolyn kept our photograph in a beautiful silver frame in her apartment with John at Tribeca. This framed picture was mailed to us in Miami after their fatal plane crash. I am so grateful to have this photo to remind me of Carolyn's kindness." In 2007, Donald Trump, interviewed by David Heymann, recalled his encounter with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy: "I didn’t find Carolyn Bessette as beautiful as everyone else did. She had a great style and a good body, but she wasn’t my type. To John, she was beautiful. Many people considered her a great beauty. I constantly heard these rumors about them—they were having extramarital affairs or they were on the verge of divorce. Michael Bergin was an absolute sleazebag. I know other girls who dated him and said he was a fucking loser!" Kenan Siegel remembered the occasion (February 1997) when Donald Trump hit on Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy at Mar-a-Lago, the resort in Palm Beach County that was acquired in 1985 by Trump for $10 million. "Carolyn looked really embarrassed and said to John: 'that thug tried to flirt with me, can you imagine that?' John turned white as paper and threw a vitriolic glare in Trump's direction. John and Donald Trump were complete opposites, like water and oil. If they made a movie, they would be mortal enemies, the handsome guy with principles against the nasty bully. It would be like the old good guy versus the bad guy. Carolyn was so classy and Trump just looked like white trash with money. I think Trump actually was jealous of John's ability to attract classy women and of course of his historical and political legacy." —The Day John Died (2007) by Christopher Andersen

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Joseph Kennedy Sr (The Patriarch), John Kennedy Jr (the sexiest and the sweetest Kennedy man)

On 17 December, 2012, David Nasaw (author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy) dismissed on Chicago Tonight (Chicago Public Television) the myth of Joe Kennedy's alleged bootlegging. In another interview with NPR, Nasaw explains with detail his complex subject: "Joseph P. Kennedy was a man of boundless talents, magnetic charm, relentless energy, and unbridled ambition. His life was punctuated by meteoric rises, catastrophic falls, and numerous rebirths, by cascading joys and blinding sorrows, and by a tragic ending which was Shakespearean in its pathos. An Irish Catholic from East Boston, Joe Kennedy was proud of his heritage but refused to be defined by it. He fought to open doors that were closed to him, then having forced his way inside, he refused to play by the rules. He spoke his mind — when he should not have. Too often, he let his fears speak for him. He was distrustful, often contemptuous of those in power — and did not disguise it. His anger and his hatreds were legendary, especially at those whom he believed had betrayed him. Joseph Kennedy had wanted to exert his influence in a positive way. His children entered public service with verve and single-mindedness because that was what he raised them to do. He told his children over and over again, 'I'm making all this money so you don't have to make money, so that you can go into public service. He impressed on them that those who are privileged with money, with education, with good looks, have to give something back to those who don't have those privileges, and he truly believed that," Nasaw tells NPR: "And all of these kids grew up knowing they were not going to go into business. They didn't want to go into business. They were going to do some sort of public service and, in the end, they did." 

"On graduation, he crossed to Cambridge and Harvard College, where he found himself for the first time in his life the odd man out. It was only when he graduates from Harvard that he begins to understand what it means to be an Irish Catholic from East Boston, whose father is a local ward leader. He wants to go into banking or finance. He cannot get a job. Cannot get an interview. His friends, who happen to be Protestant with the same degree that he has and not as good a head for numbers as he has, they have no problem getting jobs. So it's at that moment in 1912 that he realizes — really for the first time — that there are going to be a lot of doors closed to him, and only because he is Irish Catholic in Boston." By the time Joe Kennedy left college, he knew who he was: the smartest man in the room, the one who would come out ahead in every negotiation he entered into. His ambition was to secure a place in a major Boston bank or financial house, but such positions, he discovered on graduation from Harvard, were reserved for "proper Bostonians," not the sons of East Boston Irish Catholic ward leaders. He made the best of the situation by getting a civil service job as the youngest assistant bank examiner at age 25." 

"During the 1920s, Joe Kennedy was a major player in the nation's fastest growing industry, moving pictures, and one of the few Irish Catholics to own or run a studio. The Hollywood he encountered was not a dream factory. It was a town and an industry focused on raising funds to finance the transition to sound and organizing itself to repel attempts at censorship. Kennedy arrived as the head of a minor debt-ridden studio and positioned himself as a non-Jewish white knight who would rescue the industry from those who questioned its taste and its morals. He promised to apply a banker's good sense to making pictures: to cut production costs, raise studio profits, and boost share prices. His rise was meteoric, but after only a few years in the industry, he retired — with Gloria Swanson as his long time mistress and millions of dollars in stock options."

"Trusting no one, with no allegiance to any industry or firm or producer, he made a fortune in Hollywood by selling RKO to Howard Hughes and then in New York, buying and selling options, stocks, and bonds to the companies with which he was associated. A multimillionaire by the age of forty, his outlook on the world was transformed in the early years of the Depression from one of hopeful expectation to an almost unshakeable pessimism. His fears for the future of capitalism after the Depression deepened and prompted him to abandon the private sector in 1932 to campaign for Franklin Roosevelt's election as president. A conservative banker and stock trader with no experience in national politics, he was the odd man out on the campaign trail and, later, in New Deal Washington. Few government appointments have been as universally condemned as was President Roosevelt's choice of Joseph P. Kennedy, a Wall Street operator, to be the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934. And few were as universally acclaimed as Kennedy's was within months of his assuming his post. His years in Washington as chairman of the SEC, then chairman of the Maritime Commission, were marked by triumph, his reputation as a truth-telling nonpartisan with analytical approach enhanced to the point where he was prominently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate."

"Joe Kennedy was rewarded for his service in Washington with appointment as ambassador to the Court of St. James's. The first Irish American to be named to London, with no experience whatsoever to prepare him for the post, he was an outsider again, but this time he reveled in it. He returned to Washington in disgrace. He tried to be of service to his country after Pearl Harbor, but there was no place for him in the Roosevelt administration that he believed worthy of his talents.  In the postwar period, his pessimism became more corrosive still, as did his conviction that he had been right all along to oppose the war against the dictators. He stridently, proudly, renewed his calls for appeasement, this time of the Soviet Union, and for isolation from rather than engagement in the world outside the western hemisphere, and did all he could to provoke a "great debate" on the wisdom of fighting a cold war that, he feared, might turn hot at any moment. He took his role as the parent of nine seriously. He was an active, loving, attentive, sometimes intrusive father. He pushed his children forward, giving them good advice whether they solicited it or not, gently chided them to do better, and taught them that family was sacred." 

"Joe Kennedy raised his kids to be as confident and as stubborn as he was, and as relentlessly optimistic as he was pessimistic — and, for the most part, they were. One cannot help but admire a man who from such humble origins back to Dunganstown (Ireland) became so wealthy, powerful and politically influential. This most articulate, most dominant man, in December of 1961 — less than a year into his son's first term as president — has a massive stroke. They perform the last rites. Nobody thinks he'll last more than 24 hours; he lasts eight years. But during those eight years, he is unable to communicate through language. He can't write, he can't speak, though he seems to understand everything he's told. And it is during those eight years that he witnesses the assassinations—the violent deaths—of his second and his third sons. An unimaginable horror after another. And there's no way for him to express his feelings except to sob. And he cries and he suffers, but he knows it won't bring back those lost sons." Source: www.npr.org 

Robert T. Littell:
John and I shared similarities that connected us quickly. My grandfather was an old-line WASP from Barrington Hills, Illinois, where he’d made his name and fortune in banking, the same than John's grandfather Joe Sr. We had both turbulent childhoods and emerged with the confidence of survivors. Neither of us could we really talk about our fathers’ deaths. We’d been raised by strong-willed mothers and brainy sisters. And we shared a belief in our own future greatness. My big Teflon-coated ego was an important part of our fast friendship. Irreverent and cocky, I believed that I was John’s equal or better. I can’t explain this and don’t defend it; it’s just the way I was then. And John liked it. We found our friendship easy. From the start, we were each other’s best audience. We each knew the other to be hilarious, brave, and brilliant. That’s one of the key conditions for male bonding—deep, unconditional admiration. Add a constant stream of well-intentioned jokes and you’ve got the recipe for a great friendship. 

On one hand, John was the only son of the most accomplished member of a very prominent, accomplished clan like the Kennedys were. John was also, without question, the media’s favorite Kennedy: the “sexiest” one, the one who never got in trouble. On the other hand, John was something of an outsider within the Kennedy family. Though very close to Anthony Radziwiłł, and close to several of his cousins, especially Bobby Kennedy Jr., Timmy Shriver and Willie Smith, John had a slightly strained relationship with the tight-knit crew as a whole. He’d been raised outside of their Massachusetts world, kept apart by his protective and New York–based mother. She saw to it that her children were as independent as she was. It wasn’t long after our game that Jackie took the decision of occupy her own home on Martha’s Vineyard—close to the family, but still separate. The Hyannis Port gang teased John not for lack of love but, in my opinion, out of envy. This didn’t bother him a bit. He had the best of two worlds and he knew it. He could be tough when someone trespassed his boundaries, but in essence he was a sweet, compassionate and generous friend.

When John had to introduce Carolyn officially to the Kennedy clan, I was convinced she was going to have difficulties in adjusting that tense, suffocating atmosphere in Hyannis Port. I know Ethel Kennedy and Eunice Shriver tried hard to implicate her in the family activities, but Carolyn was seen as this modern, non-traditional young woman who didn't conform to the typical Kennedy wife in many aspects. John was a monogamous and loyal guy. Frankly, his loyalty with his friends was the same than his loyalty with his girlfriends. I know first hand he had many skirts thrown at him, but with women he was quite innocent, he was very innocent on that level. He even had blocked Madonna's advances. John gave me a very funny account of himself and Madonna stuck in a hotel room in Chicago, saying to the Material Girl he hadn't brought condoms, that was the excuse he used to stiff her. On another occasion, he gave Melanie Griffith a fake phone number, for Christ sake! I suppose some journalists would have liked to paint John as more of a playboy, or more of a Kennedy or more mysterious, but frankly he was rather transparent and I believe he stuck to his vows with Carolyn. The Men We Became: My Friendship with John F. Kennedy, Jr. (2004) by Robert T. Littell

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Decline of the West, The Kennedy Mystique

The political-economic-social system that emerged in Western countries after World War II was based on a very simple premise: if you worked hard, if you tried hard enough, you could always live better than your parents. That truth held for a few decades. At the beginning of the eighties, it began a slow and gradual decline, finally consummated in the Great Recession of 2008. Western workers earn more or less the same today as they did 40 years ago. The probability that a young person outperforms their parents has been falling little by little in all deciles. In 1940, the children of the lowest percentile (those poorest families) had a 95% probability of obtaining a better economic position than their parents. By 1980 that percentage had dropped to 79%. The same happened with the middle percentile (the middle class): if in 1940 93% of their children could hope to live better than their parents, in 1980 they were only 45%. That is to say, at the height of Generation X, the outlook for most middle-class children (more numerous than the rich or extremely poor cohorts) was stagnant. They could no longer overcome the wealth and status of their parents. Similar figures show the high percentile: the children of wealthy families had a 41% improvement in the earnings of their parents in 1940; a huge percentage that contrasts with 8% in 1980. A steep decline at all levels. As we say, the factors are varied, but can be roughly summarized in two: wages have stagnated since the mid-1970s (instead, workers in 1964 earned $ 20.27 an hour, compared to $ 22.65 in 2018); and the economy has become polarized (less middle class and a larger gap, and more difficult to bridge, between the most economically privileged and the poorest). 

Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of The West, published 1918-1922, laid out the trajectory of the enfeeblement and decay that awaited us, developing a theme that went as far back as the Greek historian Polybius, but that, in the wake of a war that wiped out a generation, seemed less a “theme” than an historically imminent reality. The greatest poet of the modern age, William Butler Yeats, felt it in his bones, working out a visionary schematism in his prose volume A Vision and reflecting on the inevitable in his timeless poem “The Second Coming,” written one year after the end of the Great War. Robert Bork’s must-read Slouching Towards Gomorrah hammers out Yeats’s vision in lurid contemporary detail, pointing toward a “syndrome” of collectivist attitudes dominating the culture, the debilitation of the family structure, and a “left-liberal moral consensus” diluting the text of the U.S. Constitution. In his master volume On the Eve of the Millennium: The Future of Democracy in an Age of Unreason, published in 1995, Irish historian Conor O’Brien was not sanguine about the prospects for Western civilization in the coming years. Our dissolution is abetted by common lassitude, self-indulgence and studied ignorance, by those, O’Brien writes, “who are indifferent to politics, society, religion, virtually to anything.” We watch “history on the screen with apathy and an occasional passing flicker of horror or indignation, as if we do not believe that history can happen here.

Arnold Toynbee in his twelve-volume A Study of History, among my prize collections, articulated a theory of recurrence -- owing in part to The New Science of the 18th Century Italian political philosopher Giambattista Vico -- in which he saw patterns or cycles of growth and decay common to all civilizations, of which he isolated more than twenty-six exemplars. Though maintaining a guarded optimism that correlation is not infallibly causation and that Western Civilization might survive an otherwise inevitable debacle, he posited that once psychological devastation had gone too far, recovery would be impossible. Perhaps it was from reading Toynbee that O’Brien speculated about the onset of apathy and indifference leading to civilizational collapse. He believed we were already there. Though I disagree emphatically with Jonah Goldberg on many issues, his Suicide of the West remains a valuable book, confirming O’Brien’s thesis. Goldberg writes that the “corruption of the Miracle of Western Civilization can only succeed when we willfully and ungratefully turn our backs on the principles that brought us out of the muck of human history in the first place. The trouble is that “for more than a generation now, the best principles of the West have been under assault. Intellectuals are recasting the virtues of our system as vices.” Goldberg borrows his title from James Burnham’s magisterial 1964 Suicide of the West, in which Burnham writes of a “morphological pattern,” an unmistakable trend or curve. “Over the past two generations Western civilization has been in a period of very rapid decline, recession or ebb within the world power structure.” What we call liberalism is “the ideology of Western suicide,” permitting Western Civilization “to be reconciled to its dissolution.” Although he holds out hope for a transition to a higher order above the parochial divisions of the past, which seems touchingly romantic, his analysis of the liberal virus has rarely been bettered. 

In Michael Walsh’s terms from his new book
Last Stands, manly virtue fights to the foreordained end. The issue is this: We cannot deter, but we can defer. What we are really doing, whether we know it or not, is buying time. Western civilization and its constituent nations are too far gone to be retrofitted; our internal enemies have seen to that. As Bork writes, a “soft and hedonistic culture…faces a continuing assault from within.” The prospect is grim. Apathy, indifference, psychological devastation, and self-hatred are the norms of our present moment. America, the guarantor and bellwether of the West’s survival, has been hollowed out by its Olympian classes, the political, informational and fiscal elites -- this was Founding Father and second president John Adams’ deepest fear. In his important 2018 study John Adams and the Fear of American Oligarchy, Luke Mayville parses Adams’ conclusion that “republican governments had always been threatened by elite domination and that America would be no different.” In the course of time, cowards and parasites -- let us call it the Iscariot function -- will prevail over Great Men and Women. Nation-saviors like Churchill and Thatcher will be cast aside, heroes will be betrayed by friends and colleagues. The historical template is Themistocles, the philosophical, Socrates, and the literary, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. They cannot forestall the vector of decline and will be derided and punished for having tried to do so. As John Adams wrote in an April 22, 1776 letter to James Warren, “But I fear, that in every assembly, Members will obtain an Influence, by noise not sense. By Meanness, not Greatness. By Ignorance not Learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls. I fear too, that it will be impossible to convince and persuade People to establish wise Regulations.” Nonetheless, for those of us who still care and recognize the precious muniment we have been given, let the coup de grâce happen later instead of sooner. The fight continues on a myriad fronts. Source: americanthinker.com

Neil Sheehan was born of Irish parents  in Holyoke Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard in 1958. After his military service he went to work for UPI in Tokyo. He spent two years as UPI’s chief correspondent covering the Vietnam War.  It was at this time––1962-64––that he became collegial and friendly with the Times’ David Halberstam. 
The commander in Vietnam at that time was General Paul Harkins. Since Sheehan and Halberstam were intimately involved with the actual military operations, they knew things were not going well. As author John Newman wrote in his milestone book JFK and Vietnam, this rosy outlook was an illusion perpetrated by both military intelligence and the CIA. It was carried out by Colonel James Winterbottom with the cognizance of Harkins. (Newman, 1992 edition). In a 2007 interview that Sheehan did, he said that he and Halberstam had a conflict with Harkins over this issue of whether or not Saigon and the army of South Vietnam (the ARVN) was actually making progress against the opposing forces in the south, namely the Viet Cong. He said that their impression was that Saigon was losing the war. Their soldiers were reluctant to fight, the entire military hierarchy was corrupt, and as a result, the Viet Cong forces in the south were getting stronger. It is something that David Halberstam did his best to forget about in his 1972 best-seller The Best and the Brightest, but Sheehan was more open about in his 2007 interview. The smiles in the picture belowe were genuine because Sheehan and Halberstam truly believed in winning the Vietnam War. At any and all costs. 

The simple truth was that Sheehan and Halberstam were classic Cold Warriors who wanted to kick commie butt all the way back to China. They saw what America was doing as some kind of noble cause. They felt that we and they––that is, all good Americans––were standing up for democracy, liberty and freedom. As far as political sophistication went, they might as well have been actors performing in John Wayne’s propaganda movie, The Green Berets. 
In fact, as Newman shows in his book, Winterbottom would simply create Viet Cong fatalities out of assumptions he made. Harkins understood this and went along with it. The idea was to control the intelligence out of Saigon in order to bamboozle Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.  But throughout that year of 1962, whenever McNamara would report back to President Kennedy after one of his SecDef Meetings––a conference in the Pacific of all American agency and division chiefs in Saigon––he would deliver to the president the same rosy message he had just heard. And that message was false in two senses: the number of Viet Cong casualties was exaggerated, and the number of ARVN casualties was being reduced. This intelligence deception was happening in the spring of 1962. It was Kennedy who, through Galbraith, went to McNamara. And it was not for the purpose of promoting the ideas of the Pentagon on the war. Now, if the alleged 500 interviews Halberstam did were not enough to garner this information, there was another source available to him:  the Pentagon Papers––which Halberstam says he read. Both Sheehan and Halberstam fell in love with Colonel Vann. They were completely unaware of what was happening in Washington, how Kennedy had decided to take Galbraith’s advice and begin to remove all American advisors. They wanted to win, and they both felt it was only through Vann that the war could be won. One of the reasons Kennedy decided to get out is simple:  he did not think Saigon could win the war without the use of American combat troops. Or as he told Arthur Schlesinger: "The war in Vietnam could be won only so long as it was their war. If it were converted into a white man’s war, we would lose as the French had lost a decade earlier.” Kennedy said the same thing to NSC aide Michael Forrestal: America had about a one-in-a-hundred chance of winning. The president said this on the eve of his going to Dallas in 1963. Kennedy turned aside at least nine attempts by his advisors to commit combat troops into Vietnam during 1961. It’s very clear from the interviews that Sheehan did later in his life that, like Halberstam, he had a problem with admitting Kennedy was right, and he, Halberstam and John Paul Vann were wrong about Vietnam.

Why not mention Bobby Kennedy’s antagonism against the war in Vietnam, which was clearly manifest during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency? In fact, as author John Bohrer has written, Robert Kennedy had warned President Johnson against escalation as early as 1964. (The Revolution of Robert Kennedy, p. 70). Kennedy had told Arthur Schlesinger that, by listening to Eisenhower, Johnson would escalate the war in spite of his advice. When Halberstam heard about this, he now began to criticize RFK. How dare Bobby imagine that he was smarter than Johnson and Ike on the war. What did Robert Kennedy think? You could win the war without dropping tons of bombs and using overwhelming force? Again, this exchange exposes who Halberstam and Sheehan really were in 1965. If I had been that wrong, I would have excised it also. As per extending the New Frontier beyond its borders, this is contrary to what Kennedy’s foreign policy had become after his meeting with Gullion. JFK was trying for a neutralist foreign policy, one that broke with Eisenhower’s, and tried to get back to Franklin Roosevelt’s. 
What Sheehan is doing here is pretty obvious. He is transferring his guilt about who he was, and what he did while under Vann’s spell, onto Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy was opposed to what both Halberstam was writing and what Vann was advocating for about Vietnam. As proven above, JFK did not want America to take control of the war––to the point that President Kennedy tried to get Halberstam rotated out of Vietnam. (David Kaiser, American Tragedy, p. 261) A Bright Shining Lie was an establishment project. The book was edited by the infamous Bob Loomis at Random House. Loomis was the man who approached Gerald Posner to write Case Closed, a horrendous cover-up of President Kennedy’s assassination. Source: kennedysandking.com 

Except for Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy (both of whom died while in office), all presidents beginning with Calvin Coolidge have written autobiographies. 
The richest president in history is believed to be Donald Trump, who is often considered the first billionaire president. Truman was among the poorest U.S. presidents, with a net worth considerably less than $1 million. Certainly one remarkable aspect of Johnson’s career is that he was born working class, held low-paying government jobs throughout his entire life, yet took the oath of office as the wealthiest president in modern American history, having accumulated a personal fortune of over $100 million in present-day dollars, with the financial payoffs from his corporate benefactors having been laundered through his wife’s company. This odd anomaly is so little remembered these days that a prominent political journalist expressed total disbelief when I mentioned it to him a decade ago. Only James Madison had surpassed Lyndon B Johnson with a networth of $113 million (adjusted for inflation). After Johnson, it follows Bill Clinton (with a peak net worth of $75 million), Franklin D. Roosevelt (peak net worth of $60 million), Barack Obama (peak net worth of $40 million), George W Bush ($39 million), John Quincy Adams ($23 million, adjusted for inflation), Richard Nixon (peak net worth $17 million), Ronald Reagan (peak net worth $14 million), John F. Kennedy (peak net worth $10 million), Dwight D. Eisenhower (peak net worth of $9 million), and Abraham Lincoln ($1 million, adjusted for inflation). Johnson naturally expected to play a major role in the new administration, and he even issued grandiose demands for a huge political portfolio, but instead he found himself immediately sidelined and treated with complete disdain, soon becoming a forlorn figure with no authority or influence. As time went by, the Kennedys made plans to get rid of him, and just a few days before the assassination, they were already discussing whom to place on the reelection ticket in his stead. 

Much of Johnson’s long record of corruption both in Texas and in DC was coming to light following the fall of Bobby Baker, his key political henchman, and with strong Kennedy encouragement, Life Magazine was preparing a huge expose of his sordid and often criminal history, laying the basis for his prosecution and perhaps a lengthy prison sentence. By mid-November 1963, Johnson seemed a desperate political figure at the absolute end of his rope, but a week later he was the president of the United States, and all those swirling scandals were suddenly forgotten. Indeed, the huge block of magazine space reserved for the Johnson expose was instead filled by the JFK assassination story. 
In one bizarre 1961 incident that strangely foreshadows the Warren Commission’s “lone gunman” finding, a federal government inspector investigating a major Texas corruption scheme involving a close LBJ ally was found dead, shot five times in the chest and abdomen by a rifle, but the death was officially ruled a “suicide” by the local authorities, and that conclusion was reported with a straight face in the pages of the Washington Post. Based on these considerations, it seems extremely difficult to believe that any JFK assassination conspiracy took place entirely without Johnson’s foreknowledge, or that he was not a central figure in the subsequent cover-up. According to Roger Stone, as his mentor Nixon was watching the scene at the Dallas police station where Jack Ruby shot Oswald, Nixon immediately turned as white as a ghost, explaining that he had personally known the gunman under his birth-name of Rubenstein. While working on a House Committee in 1947, Nixon had been advised by a close ally to hire Ruby as an investigator, being told that “he was one of Lyndon Johnson’s boys.” Roger Stone also claims that Nixon once emphasized that although he had long sought the presidency, unlike Johnson “I wasn’t willing to kill for it.” Stone further reports that Vietnam Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and numerous other prominent political figures in DC were absolutely convinced of Johnson’s direct involvement in the JFK assassination. Source: unz.com

Unlike Winston Smith's fatal conversion to political correctness, American values and common sense will triumph in the end because the authoritarian alternatives to Western democracy are serial phases of social engineering, political repression, economic decline, and ultimate collapse. Liberalism, like mathematics, works every time it is tried. Its governing philosophy sustains a commitment to the nation's fundamental principles: to constitutionalism and the separation of powers, to equality and freedom under law, to the protection of individual rights, and to the preservation of self-government. Liberalism insists that civil rights are not to be considered as privileges of tribal identity politics. It affirms that every citizen shall enjoy the right of free expression without fear of intimidation or censorship. Liberalism means, in brief, that political ideology cannot interfere with truth -- and that alone is victory. ––JFK Jr (George magazine)

A Republican Tribute to John (July 22, 1999) by Ann Coulter: "John F. Kennedy Jr. was no run-of-the-mill Kennedy. I knew John F. Kennedy Jr. and I worked with John F. Kennedy Jr. John Kennedy Jr. actually did have the looks, charm, intelligence, humility, kindness, and class. The first time I met John was at a George magazine luncheon at Le Cirque to honor George magazine's "Twenty Most Intriguing Women in Politics." But the magazine founded and edited by the scion of the country's most famous Democratic family was truly a political magazine, not a Democratic magazine (as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Esquire, Time, and Newsweek are). I told John MSNBC had fired me for it - but rushed to assure him, not to worry, they fired me a lot and had always hired me back. I still felt kind of bad about all the firings. The network had hired me because I was a conservative and then would fire me every time they discovered I was a conservative. I was seen as this right-wing performance artist. I have to confess I was tempted to think 'American society is stupid, I am going to screw with it.' But John was a kind man and he asked me what comments I had been fired for. Uber-Democrat, definition-of-cool John Kennedy Jr. thought it was tremendous that MSNBC kept firing me and a few months later George ran a bemused item on my repeated firings. About a year and a half after the luncheon, John hired me as a regular George columnist. Wow! This really was a new kind of Democrat. John wasn't a part of the older generation of Stalinist liberals who try to censor differing viewpoints and engage in the "politics of personal destruction" to harm those who disagree with them. As his magazine's motto says, this was "not just politics as usual." The importance of what John was doing to political discourse in this country cannot be overstated. If you've ever been on the receiving end of the "politics of personal destruction," it's not always fun being called a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc. Through his magazine, and his very being, John had begun to take the bitter acrimony out of political dialogue. While political neophytes out of Hollywood yammer about getting the younger generation involved in politics, John actually did it. John was able to begin altering the political dialogue in a way that no one else ever could. That is why it is so painful to hear the media talk of John in terms of the Kennedy mystique of liberal mythology or to hear him compared to a dysfunctional, airhead princess. Despite the liberal media's praise, John was a great man. Perhaps more important, he was a good man. In one of our last conversations, he made fun of one of the magazine's liberal columnists for being a predictable bore. Despite the massive publicity John had received for flunking the New York bar examination, he was very bright. During my book tour for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, I spoke at a George magazine breakfast about my book. John came to the meeting, and after my presentation he was the first to start asking questions. He had clearly read the book - unlike so many interviewers - and his questions raised some of the exact same points renowned intellectual William F. Buckley would be raising with me on Firing Line a few weeks later. He was making it safe to talk about politics again. For that, this Republican is deeply grateful and mourns his loss. ––"How to Talk to a Liberal" (2004) by Ann Coulter

JFK Jr.'s young life was further emotionally scarred by the 1968 assassination of his uncle Robert, who had become a surrogate father. John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist whose ranch Kennedy worked on as a teenager and who became a good friend, said in an interview in 2016 that JFK Jr. always wanted to be a "good man" rather than a great one, and he was "chosen as the sexiest man because People magazine should have named him the most virtuous man, but I guess it doesn't have the same ring." Kennedy Jr. attracted national attention when he introduced his uncle Ted at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, spurring many followers to speculate about his possible future in politics. On Kennedy's romantic life, JP Barlow describes him as "faithful" and "a serial monogamist." Among his alleged romantic conquests was Madonna, although his executive assistant, RoseMarie Terenzio, dismisses it as "maybe one night… sorry." He had a serious romantic relationship with actress Daryl Hannah, but he didn't settle down until his marriage to Carolyn Bessette. Their relationship suffered under the strain of the constant hounding by the media, which drove Bessette to a depression. Source: vanityfair.com

   
America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story (2003). Director: Eric Laneuville. Writer: Jon Maas based on Christopher Andersen book. Actors: Kristoffer Polaha as JFK Jr, Portia de Rossi as Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and Jacqueline Bisset as Jackie Kennedy. The TV film was released in 2003 on Starz channel, but due to several legal disputes, it was officially banned.

Extracts from the first "American Prince" draft: 

Carolyn Bessette POV (after meeting John Kennedy Jr): I saw some flickers of anger flashing in his eyes. Not having buckled his seatbelt, he slid closer to zip the space between us. "Alright, seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? I have been nothing but gracious to you all the night and you are not even looking at me. What the fuck did I do wrong?" he practically shouted. His anger only fueled my own. "I just know your type. You're a self-righteous git who thinks the world belongs to him. People like you infuriates me!" I shouted back. John glared back at me. "You don't even know me, so why don't you just calm the fuck down and get down off your high horse for a second," he scoffed at me. "I don't need to know you, and I don't want to! You reek of privilege and false confidence, I can't stand politics!" I nearly shrieked back at him, drunkenly slapping at his chest to push him away from me. He grabbed my wrists to stop me. "Oh, that's how it is then? You hate me?" he asked, shoving my hands back against the window. He searched my eyes for acceptance, and suddenly he kissed me. "I'm exhausted," I said, yawning and stretching "and I need a shower". "Was that an invitation?" he asked with a goofy smile. I was exhausted by the time we got back to my bedroom. John delicately dried me off with a giant fluffy towel and dressed me in the black negligee I pulled from my cupboard. He carried me to bed and set me in gingerly, pulling a soft blanket over me. I don't know what compelled me--feeling alone or wanting more of his companionship--but I said something that surprised myself, and I think surprised John as well. "Will you stay with me?" I mumbled quietly. He sat on the bed next to me. "Is that what you want?" he asked pensively, kissing my forehead. "Yes," I sighed, holding his hand. "Then I'll stay," he whispered while he threw me a beautiful smile. He got up and went to the other side of the bed, climbing in next to me. He pulled me into him and reached across me to switch off the lamp, and I quickly fell asleep, satisfied but slightly dazed. We had talked more and now I was surprised by how much we had in common when it came to musical tastes. Eclectic, jazz, classic rock, alternative and indie pop throughout. 

"Do you have a favorite song?" he asked one day. "God, that's tough..." I said, picking my brain. "I love so many, but I think it has to be one with incredible lyrics, voice and music, and I have to go with something classic--one that will never go out of style and makes me inspired every time I hear it." "I totally agree with that," John nodded, "So, what is it?" "I think Feeling Good, by Nina Simone," I replied. "Damn, Carolyn, a woman after my own heart," John said, looking at me intensely for a long moment. "Your favorite lyrics?" he pressed. I didn't have to think about that, "And this old world, is a new world, and a bold world for me," I sang back at him. "You have some decent pipes," he complimented, and I blushed shaking my head. "Thought you'd go with 'freedom is mine, and I know how I feel'," he sang back, teasing me. "I need to learn to be bold before I can feel free," I sang back. He eyed me with that curious and boyish face I had learned to recognize. I started getting more comfortable under his gaze. "Well, what about you?" I asked, waiting for him to reciprocate. "I'd have to say Dream a Little Dream of Me," he answered quickly under his breath. I smiled: "Please tell me you mean the Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald version? It far outweighs Doris Day's original, in my opinion." "Exactly!" he said, speaking excitedly. "It's the duet with the two of them and of course..." "The horn?" I interrupted. He looked at me, absolutely dumb struck. "Yes. The horn makes it," he conceded slowly. "Favorite lyric?" I asked. "More of a verse, I'd say," he replied before singing to me. "Stars fading, but I linger on, dear, still craving your kiss. I'm longing to linger till dawn, dear, just saying this..." I purred into his mouth, kissing him with a passion. His hands found my face and pulled it closer to his. He admired my eyes, and delicately he caressed my cheeks with his thumbs, sliding down my lips. "Christ, Carolyn, you are absolutely delectable," he remarked before pressing his plump lips against mine. My heart fluttered and I kissed him back. "I needed you so much," he whispered against my lips. "Now I can see the real you," I asserted. And with my words he brightened again. "What changed your mind?" I smiled at him. "You did. You let me get to know you. And you taught me how much you cared, and how different you were than I thought. I was wrong to judge you," I said honestly. "You know all that Kennedy garbage sells..." He raised his eyebrows at me, "You keep things pretty close to the chest, Carolyn." I blushed. "What would you like to know, then?" "Now that's an excellent question," he pondered, leaning forward and raising one eyebrow. He leaned forward a bit more and whispered, "Everything." I laughed aloud and sipped on my wine. "Everything," he repeated, chuckling and leaning back, sipping his own wine. I laughed with him. "But, seriously, I don't know. I was almost functional until you came along. Honestly, you're making me crazy." I was taken aback--he was being so straightforward. "What do you mean?" I sipped more wine. "I mean what I said," he replied seriously, taking a swig. He made eye contact with me and we keep on staring at one another. I could tell he wanted me to say something, but I didn't know what would be right. "I can't get my mind off of you," he said with honesty. He stared at me and brought a hand up to my hair, running his fingers delicately along it. "Carolyn, I think you should know that I really care about you. I don't just think of you as a friend or a lover. In the last few weeks, I've realized that you mean a lot to me," he said, swallowing before continuing. "I don't think I can keep doing this if you haven't developed feelings for me, too; you know, beyond sex," he said carefully, his eyes searching mine. "I need you," I said in return, and he gulped for a moment. "Please, never stop saying that," he begged, kissing me again before reaching his hand down to the hem of my dress. "You don't understand the money doesn't matter to me. Let me help you, Carolyn, please quit your job!" he pleaded, bringing his hands to my face and lifting my lips to his passionately.