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James Piereson: The Making of a Martyr

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These were the myths in which the Kennedy assassination came to be embalmed. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they are still widely believed, and not only by members of a credulous public. The claim that JFK was a victim of hatred and bigotry or a martyr in the crusade for civil rights is now a basic element in the liberal interpretation of the post-war era.

James Piereson writes: It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was cut down on the streets of Dallas by rifle shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, a self-described Marxist, recent defector to the Soviet Union, and ardent admirer of Fidel Castro. The evidence condemning Oswald was overwhelming: the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his rifle, the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the warehouse where he worked and where he was seen moments before the shooting, witnesses on the street saw a man firing shots from a sixth floor window in that building and immediately summoned police to provide a description of the assassin. Forty-five minutes later a policeman stopped Oswald on foot in another section of the city to question him about the shooting. As the policeman stepped from his squad car, Oswald pulled out a pistol and pumped four shots into him before fleeing to a nearby movie theater where he was captured (still carrying the pistol with which he had killed the policeman). Two days later Oswald was himself assassinated while in police custody by a nightclub owner distraught over Kennedy’s death.

Despite the evidence, few Americans today believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy or that, if he did, he acted alone. A recent poll found that 75% of American adults believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy of some kind, usually of a right-wing variety. This is not surprising because most of the popular books published on the assassination since the mid-1960s have elaborated one or another conspiracy theory. Right-wing businessmen, disgruntled generals, CIA operatives, and Mafia bosses are the typical villains in these scenarios. Before long the Kennedy assassination came to be encrusted in layers of myth, illusion, and disinformation strong enough to deflect every attempt to understand it from a rational point of view. And this enduring national illusion and confusion has had unfortunate consequences.

Creating the Myth

In the days and weeks following the assassination the idea took hold that a climate of hate in Dallas and across the nation established the conditions for President Kennedy’s murder. Racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, followers of the John Birch Society, fundamentalist ministers, anti-Communist zealots, and conservatives of all kinds had sowed hatred and division in national life. These battalions of the American Right had been responsible for manifold acts of violence across the South against Negroes and civil rights workers in the years leading up to the assassination, and they must have been behind the attack on President Kennedy. It followed that President Kennedy was a martyr, like Abraham Lincoln, to the great causes of civil rights and racial justice. Liberal writers had warned throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s about the undercurrent of bigotry and intolerance that ran through American culture and the political dangers arising from the “radical Right.” Now it appeared that their warnings had come to fruition in the murder of a president.

[Read the full story here, at claremont.org]

This explanation for the assassination did not drop out of thin air but was circulated immediately after the event by influential leaders, journalists, and journalistic outlets, including Mrs. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Democratic leaders in Congress, James Reston and the editorial page of the New York Times, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., columnist Drew Pearson, and any number of other liberal spokesmen. The New York Times through its editorial page and columnists insisted that a climate of hate brought down President Kennedy, even as the paper’s news reporters documented the evidence against Oswald and his Communist connections. Reston, the paper’s chief political correspondent, published a front-page column on November 23 under the title, “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in the Nation.” In the course of the column he observed that, “from the beginning to the end of his Administration, he [JFK] was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the Right.” Reston returned to this theme in subsequent columns, pointing the finger at hatred and a spirit of lawlessness in the land as the ultimate causes of the presidential assassination.

Following this line of thought, Chief Justice Warren, soon to head the official commission that investigated the assassination, declared: “A great and good President has suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” Pat Brown, governor of California, and Charles Taft, mayor of Cincinnati, organized a series of candlelight vigils across the nation “to pledge the end of intolerance and to affirm that such a tragedy shall not happen in America again.” The Reverend Adam Clayton Powell (also a congressman) issued a statement shortly after the assassination: “President Kennedy is a martyr of freedom and human rights and a victim of injustice as promulgated by Barnett and Wallace,” here referring to the segregationist governors of Mississippi and Alabama. Less than a week after the assassination, Pearson published one of his syndicated columns under the title, “Kennedy Victim of Hate Drive.” Many took this a step further to declare that all Americans were complicit in Kennedy’s death because they had tolerated hatred and bigotry in their midst. As a popular song, “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones put it a few years later: “I shouted out: who killed the Kennedys? When after all it was you and me.” This became the near universal response to the assassination: a strain of bigotry and hatred in American culture was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.

For his part, President Johnson saw that his job as national leader in that time of crisis was to supply some meaning to his predecessor’s sudden death. “John Kennedy had died,” he said later, “[b]ut his cause was not really clear…. I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” In his first speech before the Congress on November 27, Johnson proclaimed that “no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.” The civil rights bill, which Kennedy belatedly proposed in mid-1963, was approved in 1964 with bipartisan majorities in the Congress. On the international front, Johnson feared a dangerous escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union and another McCarthy-style “witch-hunt” against radicals should the American public conclude that a Communist was responsible for the assassination. From his point of view, it was better to circumvent that danger by deflecting blame for the assassination from Communism to some other unpopular target. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Cold War Archives ‘Soviet Spy School: Small Town Espionage’, 1960

Series: Moving Images Relating to Intelligence and International Relations, 1947 – 1984
Record Group 263: Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1894 – 2002

Production Date: 1960. Scope & Content: This film discusses Soviet spy school training and covers surveillance and audio contact.

National Archives Identifier: 896138
Local Identifier: 263.3153

Series: Moving Images Relating to Intelligence and International Relations, 1947 – 1984

Record Group 263: Records of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1894 – 2002

 


Go Fast With Super Oil!

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[VIDEO] Freedom 101 

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A video crash-up covering the political landscape of the 1960’s, featuring MLK, RFK, JFK, Malcom X, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater.


Atlas 5 AV-007

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[PHOTOS] Mary Tyler Moore, Dancer

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Japan: ‘City & Design’ Magazine, Cover Illustration by Isamu Kurita, 1966

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[VIDEO] REWIND: Music From National Football League Films 

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THE GREATEST: Born Today, January 17, 1942: Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali 

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Jerry Mitchell  writes: January 17, 1942: Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali broke through racial barriers in the segregated South and became the best boxer in history, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and the heavyweight championship in 1964. Three years, he was stripped of his title after he refused to be drafted into military service. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction, and Ali fought again, winning back the heavyweight crown in 1974 when he defeated George Foreman. But the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay is probably best remembered for his three matches against Joe Frazier. His boxing and his words became poetry, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’


HELP! #6, January 1961: Original sketch by Harvey Kurtzman & Final Photo Cover by Ron Harris 


Happy Birthday Mary Tyler Moore

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[VIDEO] The Gift of Apollo

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‘Tormented’ (1960) Directed by Bert I. Gordon


Steal This Election

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Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that Abbie Hoffman wrote ‘Steal This Book.’ Democrats are doing the 2016 update.

Daniel Henninger writes: A serious person might ask: Why did John Podesta, the Democratic Party, and various of its media affiliates head into the fever swamps after Donald Trump won the election?

“Something in the post-1968 Democratic genetic code is always on the brink of tipping into anarchy. Most American voters become uncomfortable when they see an Abbie Hoffman or Michael Moore cavorting in the streets with the country’s politics. Almost always, voters make Democrats pay a price for conducting politics by extra-political means.”

We knew months ago that the Trump phenomenon could drive women mad and make grown men weep, but how to explain the adoption of a Tom Clancy conspiracy, to wit: Vladimir Putin, using hacker slaves in a Kremlin basement, stole the election for Mr. Trump? Therefore let’s sequester the 538 folks from the Electoral College in a safe house for a CIA briefing before they vote to validate the results of the 2016 election.

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“For Democrats of that generation—which is the Podesta and Hillary and Bernie generation—Abbie Hoffman was their Michael Moore. Abbie summed up his view of politics with a book titled, “Steal This Book.” Many did.”

Several explanations press into view, the simplest being . . . embarrassment.

[Read more here, at WSJ]

Mr. Podesta and his associates lost the election, or at least the one that has been deciding U.S. presidential results since George Washington carried the Electoral College vote in 1789. (Gen. Washington got 69 votes, John Adams 34.)

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“Now Michael Moore is exhorting thousands of bereaved and angry Democrats to descend on Washington next month to ‘disrupt the Inauguration.’ All I can say is: Do it!”

This year’s loss happened in large part because the Hillary campaign ignored Bill Clinton’s advice to pursue the blue-collar vote that won him the presidency. The Clinton campaign thought Barack Obama’s “coalition of the ascendant” would win a third straight time. Staring out across the U.S. political map today, they look now like the coalition of the descendant.

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Why this? Why are the Democrats resorting to the goofball gambit of asking Electoral College electors to steal the election for Hillary Clinton? The answer is because that’s how this wing of the Democratic Party does politics.

Little surprise that the people responsible for this debacle are filling the skies with Putin-elected-Trump flak to divert eyes from why they lost states they should have won.

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“The progressive Democratic demonstrators that filled Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower after they lost is the same party wing that rioted in 1968 in Chicago outside their own party’s convention.”

Another, more plausible explanation would be the belief among Democrats that the Trump victory is a temporary political bubble.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Trump won by gaining the support of les deplorables who formerly voted Democrat or who had stopped voting altogether after losing faith in the system. That is a thin, volatile presidential base.

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“If Mr. Trump consolidates his election support with material progress, Republicans could have a governing coalition for many election cycles. One of the election’s most intriguing footnotes is that Mr. Trump increased support among blacks and Hispanics over the 2012 result by 2% each. That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

If President Trump doesn’t deliver prosperity that satisfies these new voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, they’ll abandon the Trump Republicans. Then, like Silly Putty, the Democrats’ Blue Wall of electoral-vote states will reform in 2020. Read the rest of this entry »


Tin Toy Museum ブリキのおもちゃ博物館 


‘Psycho’, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960

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[VIDEO] Post #ComedyCentralRoast Disaster, Let’s REWIND, Old-School: Don Rickles 1969

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Hitchcock Poster: ‘The Next Showing of Psycho Begins at…’

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‘Six Krazy Little Comics Covers’, Art by Wally Wood, Topps Comics, 1967


[VIDEO] Nixon’s 1968 RNC Acceptance Speech

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Marvel Comics: ‘Evel Knievel’

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[TOYS] Pocket Transistor Radios Manufactured During the 1950’s & 1960’s

Great website focusing on the design and history of pocket transistor radios manufactured between 1954 and 1965.

MINIMAN M42 MINIMAN M33MINIMAN M44

More…

Source: ROCKET RADIO MG-306

 


Muhammed Ali, 1942-2016

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“I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning and thrown thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock,
injured a stone, hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”

— Muhammad Ali


Mighty Thor Scooter Wind-Up Toy, 1967

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‘I Shall Not Seek, and I Will Not Accept…’

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Preliminary Color Pencil sketch and Final Cover by Norman Mingo for Mad Magazine #89, September 1964

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Preliminary color pencil sketch and final cover by Norman Mingo from Mad magazine #89, published by EC Comics, September 1964.

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LIFE International, 1962

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[VIDEO] REWIND: Shocking Blue ‘Venus’

Official Video of “Venus” by Shocking Blue.


[POSTER] French Grande for MIRAGE, Edward Dmytryk, USA, 1965

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French grande for MIRAGE (Edward Dmytryk, USA, 1965)

Designer: Guy Gérard Noël (1912-1994)

Poster source: Posteritati


Célébrissime Affiche Belge du Film de Fisher ‘Brides of Dracula‘ 1960

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Célébrissime affiche belge du film de Fisher “Brides of Dracula” (Hammer-1960). Un maximum de personnages rentrés au chausse-pied… Doc.: Universal Film S.A.

Source: Steve Niles


[PHOTOS] Dizzy Gillespie, July 1963 at Fort Belvedere

 


[PHOTOS] NASA Has Released More than 8,000 Images of the Apollo Mission


Zappa on Civics

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[PHOTO] President and Mrs. Kennedy with the 1961 White House Christmas Tree

KN-C19677  13 December 1961 President and Mrs. Kennedy with the 1961 White House Christmas Tree. White House, Blue Room.  Photograph by Robert Knudsen, Office of the Naval Aide to the President, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.


[VIDEO] The Ohio Express: ‘Chewy Chewy, 1968 

Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Co. were two of the leading late-’60s bubblegum rock groups. Under the aegis of producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, both of these rather anonymous bands surfaced repeatedly on the late-’60s pop charts for Buddah Records, spearheading the bubblegum rock craze. With Joey Levine taking the vocals on their early hits, The Ohio Express roared up in 1968 with “Yummy Yummy Yummy” and “Chewy Chewy,” a pair of million-sellers. Future 10CC leader Graham Gouldman fronted the Express on their final chart bow in 1969, “Sausalito (Is the Place to Go).”

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At the same time, another Kasenetz-Katz discovery, New Jersey’s 1910 Fruitgum Co., was bubbling over with the obnoxiously catchy “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” and “Indian Giver,” another gold record triumvirate. Like their labelmates, their mercurial chart run was history before 1969 was over. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide


‘Charade’, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, 1963

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Japanese Movie Poster: ‘Thunderball’, 1965

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Movie Poster: ‘Alfie’ Directed by Lewis Gilbert, Starring Michael Caine, 1966

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Alfie [1966] directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Michael Caine


[VIDEO] William Shatner Performs ‘It Was a Very Good Year’