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‘Chappaquiddick’ is a Long-Overdue Dismantling of the Kennedy Myth

Maureen Callahan writes: Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy left a young woman to die in a shallow pond — and America went on to reward him with a lifelong career in the US Senate — we are finally beginning to reckon with the Kennedy myth.

But only just.

The new film “Chappaquiddick” is, to date, the most brutal and honest account of what happened that night. But it’s also something else: an indictment of our collective hero worship at the altar of Brand Kennedy, which bred so much corrosive entitlement that surviving brother Ted, the family beta male, went home to sleep it off after leaving a loyal young staffer to die alone.

“Chappaquiddick” is a much-needed counterweight to two current hagiographies: CNN’s docuseries “The Kennedys,” airing to high ratings on Sunday nights, and Netflix’s forthcoming documentary “Bobby Kennedy for President.”

JFK and RFK remain, of course, the family lodestars. But in 1969 Ted was next in line, and he had a lot of public sympathy.

His brother Robert had been assassinated while campaigning for president the year before. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Ted himself barely survived a plane crash in 1964, dragged to safety by Senator Birch Bayh (the irony) and hospitalized for five months. It was assumed, within the family and without, that Ted would run for president in 1972. He had three small children and, the July weekend he went partying in Chappaquiddick, a pregnant wife at home confined to bed rest.

As portrayed by Jason Clarke, the young senator is a venal, self-pitying coward, thoughtless and remorseless, ambition his only care. He treats loyalists and groupies with equal contempt, and as the weekend begins, he toasts them all for “wanting to prove yourselves worthy of . . . the Kennedy name.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Kyle Smith’s Movie Review: Ted Kennedy Exposed, Finally 

The movie isn’t a hit piece, but the history it tells is infuriating.

Kyle Smith writes: Chappaquiddick must be counted one of the great untold stories in American political history: The average citizen may be vaguely aware of what happened but probably has little notion of just how contemptible was the behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy. Mainstream book publishers and Hollywood have mostly steered clear of the subject for 48 years.

“If Chappaquiddick had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career.”

Chappaquiddick the movie fills in an important gap, and if it had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career. (It was only a few weeks ago that a sitting senator resigned over far less disturbing behavior than Kennedy’s.) Yet this potent and penetrating film is not merely an attack piece. It’s more than fair to Kennedy in its hesitance to depict him as drunk on the night in question, and it also pictures him repeatedly diving into the pond on Chappaquiddick Island, trying to rescue his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). He may or may not have made such rescue attempts. Moreover, as directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), the film is suffused with lament that a man in Kennedy’s position could have been so much more than he was. Yet Ted, the last and least of four brothers, was shoved into a role for which he simply lacked the character. That the other three were dynamic leaders who died violently while he alone lived on to become the Senate’s Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the most dizzying chapter of the century-long Kennedy epic. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Mary Jo Kopechne Won’t Get to See This ‘Chappaquiddick’ Trailer, But You Can

Nearly five decades ago, on July 18, 1969, a car went off the Dike Bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick. The driver, Ted Kennedy escaped. His 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, did not.

Ted Kennedy

An upcoming movie, Chappaquiddick, attempts to tell the story of what happened that night and why it took Kennedy some ten hours to report the accident to the local Edgartown police …

Chappaquiddick poster

… The film, directed by John Curran, stars Jason Clarke as Senator Kennedy, Kate Mara as Kopechne, and Bruce Dern as Ted’s father Joe Kennedy. It’s based on the 1969 inquest into the accident. Read the rest of this entry »


The Resistance That Cried Wolf

W. James Antle III writes: It’s impossible in some quarters to discuss Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a shady Russian lawyer without being quizzed about similar bad things politicians from the opposing party have done.

What about Ted Kennedy’s secret messages to the Soviets while Ronald Reagan was running for re-election? What about the Ukrainian government trying to help Hillary Clinton? And on and on it goes.

This bit of rhetorical judo has become so common in our politics that it even has a name: “whataboutism.” Naturally, its origins have been traced back to the Russians, if not even further back. The Economist‘s Edward Luce described it as an attempt to “match every Soviet crime with a real or imagined Western one.”

More recently, the tactic has been deployed by diehard supporters of President Trump, as well as by his more removed “anti-anti-Trumpist” backers.

And you know what? Trump’s supporters are not wrong to urge us all to truly examine historical precedents. Because all too often, Trump’s fiercest critics declare his every utterance and action unprecedented without bothering to thoughtfully consider the precedents.

Now, when “whataboutism” is used to defend the indefensible, it is obviously wrong. But not every historical comparison can be dismissed as simple “whataboutism.” And there are good reasons why “What about … ” questions have so frequently been raised under this president. The case against Trump is not simply that he does things that are wrong or bad, but that he is bad in ways that are unprecedented and represent a sharp break from important political norms.

If we are going to chastise Trump for norm violations, shouldn’t we first establish how normal or abnormal his actions in a given area really are? If we are going to say he is guilty of doing the unprecedented, shouldn’t we look to see if there are in fact any precedents? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Bill Whittle: Death By Dynasties

Do Americans love a dynasty? The media wants to tell us that everyone is looking for the next Kennedys. Check out this Afterburner to see how wrong that is.


A Bunch of Crazy-Pants Cuckoo Bananas Bigots Speak Out for Religious Liberty

From MKHamm,  Hot Air:

Wow, just check out the hate!

Chuck Schumer:

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“The parade of horribles has already begun. The American people today know that religious freedom is not a luxury. I believe this legislation is essential.”

Steny Hoyer:

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“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.

Jerrold Nadler:

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[VIDEO]

“It’s no accident the Founders decided to put the free practice of religion first… and this Congress should do the same…It was the genius of our framers…that we were not to leave minority religious practices to the…majority…If there is a shared American value, it is a commitment to religious liberty.”

President Bill Clinton:

(read more)

Hot Air


Ted Kennedy: National Lampoon, 1974

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THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Michael Wolraich’s Confession: ‘I Sorted Hillary Clinton’s Email’

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Natural language — the way people ordinarily speak and write — is notoriously difficult to parse

 writes: When Hillary Clinton released emails from her personal account last week, many assumed that her attorneys had personally reviewed the messages before sending them to the State Department, but that’s not what
happened. As detailed in her press statement, the review team used keyword searches to automatically filter over 60,000 messages, flagging about half as work related.PANTSUIT-REPORT

“I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.

I’m afraid that I don’t share her confidence, and I speak from experience. Twenty years ago, I used the same method to sort the Clinton administration’s email communications, including those of First Lady Hillary Clinton. It failed miserably.

Email did not exist when Congress established the Freedom of Information Act in 1967, and government officials did not originally consider electronic communications to be public records that they had to preserve and disseminate. On the last day of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a group of organizations representing archivists and libraries sued the White House to prevent 12-hillary-clinton-email.w245.h368the administration from deleting email relating to the Iran-Contra scandal. A temporary injunction was issued, and the case wound its way through the courts until 1993, when a federal judge ordered President Bill Clinton to preserve all electronic communication under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Even after significant tweaking, I don’t recall achieving more than a 70 percent success rate, which is particularly poor when you consider that random sorting would yield 50 percent if the distribution were even.”

In 1994, I was 22 years old, fresh out of college and working as a computer programmer for a company called Information Management Consultants. IMC was one of many three-letter-acronym corporations that ring Washington’s famous beltway and feed off government contracts. I dressed in a gray J.C. Penney suit and programmed three-letter-acronym computer languages (SQL, 4GL) for three-letter-acronym federal agencies (IRS, OPM, DOI, OMB, DOD). It was dull work, made duller by my company’s decision to block employee access to the “World Wide Web” so that we would not be distracted from our work.

“Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States!”

One day a colleague invited me to join a mysterious new project for the Executive Office of the President (EOP). The White House had hired IMC to archive its email after the court ordered it to preserve electronic records. Few people had multiple email accounts back then and many federal employees used their work accounts for personal communication, so we had to figure out some way to distinguish work email from personal correspondence.roos

[Check out ‘s book “Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics” at Amazon.com]

Those were heady days for a young government IT contractor. We had a special office in Arlington, Virginia, where we were could dress casually while pursuing important, groundbreaking work for the President of the United States! We lounged around the conference table in our khakis and scrawled deep thoughts on the big whiteboard. Mostly, we wrote words: president, federal, treasury, treaty, China, Serbia, ambassador, military, classified, and so on. These were the keywords with which we hoped to flag all the work-related messages, or at least the vast majority. We included the names of federal officials, common misspellings, and, of course, numerous three-letter acronyms. Since I had a philosophy degree, the team leader asked me to design logic to make the search smarter, e.g., “white AND house.”

“To make sense of natural language, it’s not sufficient to recognize the words; you also need to understand grammar, appreciate nuance, interpret metaphors, grasp allusions…”

To test our algorithm, the administration gave us a batch of sample messages. They included official business, such as a debate about a public scandal in which an official traveled by federal helicopter to play golf, and less official business, such as a private love note between two staff members. We ran our algorithm and crossed our fingers. Read the rest of this entry »


Mollie Hemingway: Anatomy Of A Smear: The Media Vs. Republican Senators On Iran Letter

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The claims in the Daily Beast story are completely 100% unsubstantiated

mollie writes: This week, a group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas (pictured above, with a kitten, in Iraq) issued a very brief open letter to the leaders of Iran explaining the differences between mere executive agreements and international treaties ratified by the Senate. It’s a fairly basic letter that includes reminders about the Constitutional system under which we operate. I couldn’t begin to speculate why, but the media lost their collective minds over this letter. Along with other Democrats and progressive activists. You can read the breathless, outraged, totally-over-the-top headlines if you’d like to see this melt-down in action.

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Now, that’s fine. That’s their business. To be completely honest, and not that you care, I’m not the biggest fan of such letters myself. I mean, they’re not as bad as Nancy Pelosi going to Syria to undermine Bush’s foreign policyJimmy Carter helping North Korea get nuclear weaponsTed Kennedy secretly asking the Soviets to interfere in the 1984 election or any of the many other interjections we’ve seen, but I think it’s generally a good idea to yield to the president on foreign negotiations, even if it’s a really bad president who couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag if the stakes involved, oh I don’t know, going ahead with Iran as a nuclear power.

“What he sure as MOTHERFREAKING FREAK doesn’t say is that he’s a senator, that he thought it was a dumb idea to sign the letter, that he signed it and then realized it was a bad call or that he represents the ‘some’ in the headline.”

But let’s look a little deeper at just one part of this media campaign against Republican senators. It comes from Tim Mak of the Daily Beast and it looks like he’s got an explosive story:

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Whoa. Check that out. Republicans now “admit” that the letter was “a dumb idea”! That’s huge. And “some Republicans who signed on” are now “realizing” it was a bad call? I can’t wait to read this story — taglined “HINDSIGHT” for extra flair — can you?

“Other than this low-level staff aide who didn’t even say he thought the letter was a bad idea, much less a dumb one, we have two Republican Senators who always opposed the letter and then also a Democratic Senator who didn’t like the letter…”

What are their names? Which of the senators are changing their minds and “admitting” and “realizing” that the media were right after all? Who are they?

[read the full text here, at The Federalist]

Oh dear. That’s … weird. Very weird.

“So, in other words, we have a story that in no way supports the headline. Not even close…”

Hunh. Tim Mak’s story doesn’t even claim a single senator changed his mind. Not even close. Yikes.

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Um. So it turns out that the only people quoted in the story against the letter are people who always opposed the letter. There’s also a quote from an unnamed, completely anonymous “Senate Republican aide” who doesn’t in any way say anything even remotely close to the claims made in the headline or anywhere else in the piece. Read the rest of this entry »


Are YOU on Hillary Clinton’s Hit List?

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The Golden Globes awarded Woody Allen with some version of a lifetime achievement award Sunday night, but according to Woody’s alleged son, he definitely didn’t deserve it.

And a new report shows that Hillary Clinton keeps a burn book on all of the people who aren’t her friends anymore. Claire McCaskill and Ted Kennedy both get fully dressed pages of doom.

Check out today’s episode of “Morning Bro,” featuring Matt Lewis, Vince Coglianese, Taylor Bigler and Christopher Bedford.

Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare: ‘if the law actually goes down this time there will be a lot of fingerprints on the murder weapon’

The Three Burials of Obamacare

Douthat_New-articleInline writes: The first time Obamacare seemed finished, doomed, doornail-dead, the voters of Massachusetts played the would-be executioner. In January 2010, they sent a pickup-driving Republican to the Senate to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, apparently depriving the health care bill of its crucial 60th vote and sending Democrats scrambling for a Plan B.

[See also: The Next 90 Days: the Obama Administration will Declare Victory and then Abandon Most of Obamacare]

Except that Plan B turned out to be Plan A, thanks to the maneuverings of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the surprising stiffness of Democratic spines — and a bill that seemed undone by voter backlash went staggering across the legislative finish line instead.

The second time Obamacare seemed headed for an early grave, it was the conservative justices on the Supreme Court who were was going to see it off, by following through on their oral-argument inclinations and finding the individual mandate unconstitutional. Read the rest of this entry »


Grim Reaper: Obama reaps what he sowed

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Given the Affordable Care Act’s multiple crises in its first month of implementation, there’s no way President Obama and his fellow Democrats could be having a good time right now. But imagine if, instead of passing national health care legislation with only Democratic votes in 2009 and 2010, the president had won even a little Republican support for his health scheme. What if Obamacare had passed with ten GOP votes in the Senate and 30 or 40 in the House? If that had happened, the program would still be a mess, but Obama’s political problems would be far less serious.

If Obama had 10 Republican senators and 30 or 40 GOP representatives on his side, those lawmakers would be invested in the program’s success. And the GOP would be effectively divided on Obamacare, instead of solidly united. Some Republican lawmakers would likely favor approving additional money for implementing the troubled program, or perhaps favor holding off on vigorous oversight for a while, or at least not attacking 24-hours-a-day. Instead, Obama is facing a solid wall of Republican opposition.

Read the rest of this entry »