“Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”
African proverb used regularly by Chinua Achebe
Archive for the ‘Book News’ Category.
“Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”
“Weaned on a pickle” was how the acid-tongued [Princess] Alice Roosevelt Longworth described Calvin Coolidge, America’s president from 1923 to 1929. Popular historians have been no kinder. Many blame his laissez-faire approach for prompting the Wall Street crash of 1929.
Implicit in this view is the presumption that only interventionist central government can help America recover from economic shock. Mr Coolidge’s hallmark was distrust of government. He saw it as an entity that uses “despotic exactions” (taxes) that sap individual initiative and prosperity across the board. American readers who believe intervention to be a good thing are likely to blanch at a controversial new biography of Coolidge by Amity Shlaes, an American columnist and historian of the Depression. However, if they are brave enough to read on they will also discover a presidency of remarkable achievement that has received too little attention. During Coolidge’s tenure American debt fell by one-third, the tax rate by half and unemployment collapsed.
Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment
Reached through sober analysis, [Sheldon M. Stern—who was the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library for 23 years] conclusion that “John F. Kennedy and his administration, without question, bore a substantial share of the responsibility for the onset of the Cuban missile crisis” would have shocked the American people in 1962, for the simple reason that Kennedy’s administration had misled them about the military imbalance between the superpowers and had concealed its campaign of threats, assassination plots, and sabotage designed to overthrow the government in Cuba—an effort well known to Soviet and Cuban officials.
In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy had cynically attacked Richard Nixon from the right, claiming that the Eisenhower-Nixon administration had allowed a dangerous “missile gap” to grow in the U.S.S.R.’s favor. But in fact, just as Eisenhower and Nixon had suggested—and just as the classified briefings that Kennedy received as a presidential candidate indicated—the missile gap, and the nuclear balance generally, was overwhelmingly to America’s advantage. At the time of the missile crisis, the Soviets had 36 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 138 long-range bombers with 392 nuclear warheads, and 72 submarine-launched ballistic-missile warheads (SLBMs). These forces were arrayed against a vastly more powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal of 203 ICBMs, 1,306 long-range bombers with 3,104 nuclear warheads, and 144 SLBMs—all told, about nine times as many nuclear weapons as the U.S.S.R. Nikita Khrushchev was acutely aware of America’s huge advantage not just in the number of weapons but in their quality and deployment as well.
Kennedy and his civilian advisers understood that the missiles in Cuba did not alter the strategic nuclear balance.
Moreover, despite America’s overwhelming nuclear preponderance, JFK, in keeping with his avowed aim to pursue a foreign policy characterized by “vigor,” had ordered the largest peacetime expansion of America’s military power, and specifically the colossal growth of its strategic nuclear forces. This included deploying, beginning in 1961, intermediate-range “Jupiter” nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey—adjacent to the Soviet Union. From there, the missiles could reach all of the western U.S.S.R., including Moscow and Leningrad (and that doesn’t count the nuclear-armed “Thor” missiles that the U.S. already had aimed at the Soviet Union from bases in Britain).
Beginning in the late 1980s, however, the opening of previously classified archives and the decision by a number of participants to finally tell the truth revealed that the crisis was indeed resolved by an explicit but concealed deal to remove both the Jupiter and the Cuban missiles. Kennedy in fact threatened to abrogate if the Soviets disclosed it. He did so for the same reasons that had largely engendered the crisis in the first place—domestic politics and the maintenance of America’s image as the indispensable nation. A declassified Soviet cable reveals that Robert Kennedy—whom the president assigned to work out the secret swap with the U.S.S.R.’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin—insisted on returning to Dobrynin the formal Soviet letter affirming the agreement, explaining that the letter “could cause irreparable harm to my political career in the future.”
Only a handful of administration officials knew about the trade; most members of the ExComm, including Vice President Lyndon Johnson, did not. And in their effort to maintain the cover-up, a number of those who did, including McNamara and Rusk, lied to Congress. JFK and others tacitly encouraged the character assassination of Stevenson, allowing him to be portrayed as an appeaser who “wanted a Munich” for suggesting the trade—a deal that they vociferously maintained the administration would never have permitted.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. “repeatedly manipulated and obscured the facts.”
The patient spadework of Stern and other scholars has since led to further revelations. Stern demonstrates that Robert Kennedy hardly inhabited the conciliatory and statesmanlike role during the crisis that his allies described in their hagiographic chronicles and memoirs and that he himself advanced in his posthumously published book, Thirteen Days. In fact, he was among the most consistently and recklessly hawkish of the president’s advisers, pushing not for a blockade or even air strikes against Cuba but for a full-scale invasion as “the last chance we will have to destroy Castro.” Stern authoritatively concludes that “if RFK had been president, and the views he expressed during the ExComm meetings had prevailed, nuclear war would have been the nearly certain outcome.” He justifiably excoriates the sycophantic courtier Schlesinger, whose histories “repeatedly manipulated and obscured the facts” and whose accounts—”profoundly misleading if not out-and-out deceptive”—were written to serve not scholarship but the Kennedys.
But the Kennedy mythology lives on.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is, as the story says, an “attorney and well-known environmentalist” who has, as the story doesn’t say, apparently spent his years in a search for relevance. Being a Kennedy must be hard work, with unreasonable expectations placed on you.
The burden took its toll on RFK Jr. nearly 30 years ago, when he was arrested for heroin on a flight from Minnesota to South Dakota. He pleaded guilty to possession. It was a felony conviction.
The government is huge, stupid, greedy and makes nosy, officious and dangerous intrusions into the smallest corners of life….
The federal government of the United States of America takes away between a fifth and a quarter of all our money every year. That is eight times the Islamic zakat, the almsgiving required of believers of the Koran; it is double the tithe of the medieval church and twice the royal tribute that the prophet Samuel warned the Israelites against when they wanted him to anoint a ruler:
This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you. … He will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and you shall be his servants. … And you shall cry out in that day because of your king….
1 Samuel 8:11-18
Our government takes more than thugs in a protection racket demand, more even than discarded first wives of famous rich men receive in divorce court. Then this government, swollen and arrogant with pelf, goes butting into our business.
[Bruce Schnier:] Without trust, society collapses. And without societal pressures, there’s no trust.
. . .
As an individual, what security threats scare you the most?
[Bruce Schnier:] My primary concerns are threats from the powerful. I’m not worried about criminals, even organised crime. Or terrorists, even organised terrorists. Those groups have always existed, always will, and they’ll always operate on the fringes of society. Societal pressures have done a good job of keeping them that way. It’s much more dangerous when those in power use that power to subvert trust. Specifically, I am thinking of governments and corporations.
Schneier on Security (blog)
The TSA’s mission is to make them look good and to keep them viable, to get more money. Kind of like drug “warriors”. Jokes.
Jill Kamp Melton has a new book out:
The Power of the Zip is a manual to help anyone figure out how to speak and how to listen more effectively. With assessments and step by step guidelines to help people recognize what they are doing and reframe bad habits into “language leverage”, The Power of the Zip will make people more successful in their professional and personal lives.
The Power of the Zip: Reinventing the Way You Talk One Conversation at a Time, by Jill Kamp Melton
Sample sections and full Table of Contents on Amazon.
Tags: Jill Kamp Melton
I’m offended! Get a thicker skin, babies. Sheesh.
Tags: free speech
They are two of America’s most celebrated presidents. One, a Republican who had a storied military career, created the American conservation movement and once gave a speech after being shot by a would-be assassin; the other, a Democrat who overcame dyslexia as a child only to lead America to victory in World War I and formulate the idea of an international body of nations dedicated to the preservation of peace. These are the tales all American schoolchildren are taught about Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. However, they are also a whitewashed view of two U.S. presidents who, more than any other, set the United States on a path of expansionist government that has given us anti-liberty policies like Obamacare.
“Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedoms,” by Andrew Napolitano
In contrast, see Calvin Coolidge, Silent Cal
Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.
Mark Pennington on Robust Political Economy vs. Market Failure Economics
“Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy,” a review by Donald J. Boudreaux
Tags: Mark Pennington