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Friday, November 29, 2013

Charting Our Destinies: From FDR to Obama


In "What's to Like About JFK?" I cited humorist Art Buchwald's maudlin poem about the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963, as an example of how captivated Americans were by JFK. Two lines from the second stanza stuck in my mind:

We weep for our children and their children and everyone's children.
For he was charting their destinies as he was charting ours.

And so were Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bushes I and II, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Did any American ask them to? No. Like John F. Kennedy, they, too, just assumed it was the proper function of government to establish national "goals" and the natural role of the office of president to "lead" us to them. To chart our destinies.

But, where to? What were those goals? What precisely was the nature of the destination?

The problem I've had with virtually every presidential address I've ever heard or read and that was made in the 20th and 21st centuries, aside from their content, is that they've been fundamentally authoritarian in nature. "I'm here to lead, and this is where we are going, or ought to go. No kicking and screaming, please, there's a good fellow." The presumptive role of presidential "leadership" has always been abrasive to my sense of having a choice in my own destiny, and not that of anyone else's, and especially not the plans of a "leader." I don’t want someone, and especially not the government, "charting" my destiny.

Few questioned the propriety of a president setting himself up as a kind of executive Scout Master prepared to lead his Cubs on a non-stop crusade to "do good." Too many Americans were susceptible to JFK's emotion-appealing rhetoric and felt a zing in their hearts when he turned on the charm, donned the mantel of "leadership," and began pointing in a multitude of directions.

On March 9, 2007, the late Ted Sorensen, JFK's principal speechwriter, special counsel and adviser, endorsed Obama for president in 2007, worked in Obama's 2008 campaign, and even provided assistance on Obama's inaugural address. Sorensen claimed that he and JFK collaborated closely on speeches. But Sorensen, a liberal, would not have written anything that JFK would have had reservations saying in public; however, JFK would not have much disagreed with anything Sorensen wrote.  

Sorensen says, in this video, comparing JFK with Barack Obama, that Obama, among other things,

"…has that same spirit, that same desire, to call to public service, especially the young people, all the citizens of this country, to live up to that great title, 'American citizen.'"

When Sorensen died in October 2010, the Associated Press published an effusive obituary that all but canonized the speechwriter, as well. Sorensen's career with JFK began in 1956.

Of the courtiers to Camelot's king, special counsel Sorensen ranked just below Kennedy's brother Bobby. He was the adoring, tireless speechwriter and confidant to a president whose term was marked by Cold War struggles, growing civil rights strife and the beginnings of the U.S. intervention in Vietnam.

Some of Kennedy's most memorable speeches, from his inaugural address to his vow to place a man on the moon, resulted from such close collaborations with Sorensen that scholars debated who wrote what. He had long been suspected as the real writer of the future president's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Profiles in Courage," an allegation Sorensen and the Kennedys emphatically - and litigiously - denied.

In short, what "they can do for their country." Except that, in Obama's case, it is an issue of what he is doing to it.

Brian Marquard, in his November 1st, 2010 Boston Globe article on Sorensen's death, wrote:

“I think Ted became the most important adviser and, on balance, I think he was the best of the brightest and best,’’ said Harris Wofford, a former US senator from Pennsylvania who had served as an adviser to Kennedy. “He also knew what John Ken nedy thought. They had an extraordinary relationship. It would be hard to know where one person’s thoughts ended and the other began.’’

Officially, Mr. Sorensen was special counsel to the president, a role he reprised with Lyndon B. Johnson. Mr. Sorensen worked so closely with Jack Kennedy, however, that he became widely regarded as the president’s alter ego, liberal conscience, and intellectual confidant. Kennedy sought Mr. Sorensen’s counsel at every key juncture, from campaigning for the White House to guiding the country through perilous times such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis.

By Mr. Sorensen’s description, the two were as one as they drafted turns of phrase Kennedy made famous. Scholars in decades since have parsed sentences and scoured records while trying to deduce who wrote which words.

A number of conservative weblogs and online news outlets have paid compliments to President John F. Kennedy's vaunted anti-communism and virtually enshrined him in the pantheon of American leaders and presidents, simply because of his hostility to the Soviet Union.

JFK's friendliness with the welfare state is ignored by them. Had he lived to have a second term in office, doubtless he would have accomplished at least half what Lyndon B. Johnson, his successor in office after his assassination, accomplished in establishing a full-scale welfare state.

Nowhere in his speeches as a senator from Massachusetts, as a presidential candidate, and as president is there any indication that he was opposed to welfare state legislation. Sorensen, the son of a progressive liberal politician, was one, as well. He and JFK could not have worked so effectively together had there been a fundamental difference in their political thinking. One was Tweedledum, the other Tweedledee.

Out of the 2,256-word Dallas speech (almost twice as long as JFK's inaugural address), the term freedom occurs eleven times, while leadership occurs eight times. For what is leadership leading to? What would JFK's goals have been? No one seems to have ever questioned his role as a "leader," but what would he have led us to? The phrase from Art Buchwald's tearful "We Weep" poem from November 1963, "charting our destinies," bothered me, because it is the antithesis of freedom. The presumption needed to be challenged.

The undertone of the Dallas speech, which focuses on America's military deterrence capabilities, is off-putting because it communicates something other than a concern for the country's safety and survival. That undertone is: The country is mine to manage and to set in the right direction (whatever direction that might be, which is certainly, given JFK's liberal credentials, not in the direction of freedom), and I expect you to do your part.

None of the steps discussed by JFK in his undelivered speech would have been necessary had President Franklin D. Roosevelt been receptive to invading Europe through the Balkans, as Churchill had advocated in order to cut off the Red Army (before it had even broken out of Russia), to securing a surrender of the Nazi government in return for joining an Allied effort to oppose Stalin and his designs on Eastern Europe (a surrender German generals had sent unacknowledged feelers to Roosevelt about), or even to giving aid and succor to the very real anti-Nazi underground in Germany, an underground which reached into the highest ranks of the Wehrmacht.

For a first-class discussion and detailed revelation of the disgraceful roots of the "Cold War" and the role of Soviet espionage, of the Soviet penetration of FDR's administration, and of the treason of fellow-traveling Americans in the government during his years in office, see Diana West's American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character, a work reviled by Leftists and Neocons alike because it departs from, challenges, and exposes the standard estimate of FDR and the conduct of WWII. See also her The Rebuttal: Defending 'American Betrayal' from the Book-Burners, in which she counters every criticism of American Betrayal and exposes her virulent, smear-happy critics as ambitious censors. The West could have been spared the cost in lives and treasure of the "Cold War" had the Soviet Union been allowed to collapse during or shortly after WWII. Here is tantalizing excerpt from American Betrayal, recreating an event that occurred in Washington D.C. in the summer of 1941:

…It's a good bet State Department office windows were open in those pre-air-conditioning days. Maybe a passerby heard the percussive beats of a manual typewriter as Loy Henderson, a resolutely anti-Communist Foreign Service officer, tapped out a plan for the United States in the increasingly likely, even expected event that Hitler's Germany attacked Stalin's Russia somewhere along a line of battle four or five thousand miles away from Foggy Bottom – as indeed the Germans would do in launching "Barbarossa" the very next day. It was June 21, 1941.

…Finally, should the Soviet régime fall…the sky won't fall, too. This is a cloud-parting concept, revealing beacons of a never-before-glimpsed light. Finally, should the Soviet régime fall…we should let it. Finally, should the Soviet régime fall…an anti-Communist government could take its place after the war….[pp. 244-245, American Betrayal]

Instead, the Soviet régime was propped up by FDR's policies, not least of which was the cornucopia of benefits from Lend Lease, which enabled the Soviets to resist the Nazi invasion, and later to swallow Eastern Europe, replacing Nazi tyranny with Soviet tyranny.

As with his inaugural address in January 1961, the main thrust of JFK's Dallas speech was anti-communist and pro-defense, emphasizing the importance of nuclear deterrence. Still, the Dallas speech echoes a call to arms in the way of committing the country to the defense of freedom. Yet the problem is that JFK never really burdened himself or his rhetoric with a definition of freedom. He used it in a general, insinuative sense, counting on his auditors to fill in the blanks about what freedom is or what it meant to them, basing their understanding of what JFK might have meant by it in an unspoken consensus of what I have described elsewhere of calculated ambiguity.

And his message always was: You exist and have some freedom to make America great, but for no other reason, and I'll decide whether or not you're worthy of praise.

By way of comparison, reading President-elect Calvin Coolidge's inaugural speech of March 1925, one doesn't get the sense that Coolidge is taking charge of everyone's life, or assuming command of the country's destiny. He had no charisma and certainly wasn't photogenic. He was neither a glad-hander nor a philandering playboy as were most of the Kennedy men.  Listening to him read on the radio from a script on the "Duty of Government" doesn't give one the impression, either, that he was a man on a white horse ready to save the nation. His principle message to Americans was that the future of the nation as a free country was up to them, not him.

Coolidge's addresses, in print and on radio, contain a mixture of virtues and fatal flaws, but one doesn’t get the sense, either, that he ever talked down to Americans. He did not see himself as a member of some elite group prepared to lead the country out of a desert. The White House page on Coolidge reports:

In his Inaugural he asserted that the country had achieved "a state of contentment seldom before seen," and pledged himself to maintain the status quo. In subsequent years he twice vetoed farm relief bills, and killed a plan to produce cheap Federal electric power on the Tennessee River.

The political genius of President Coolidge, Walter Lippmann pointed out in 1926, was his talent for effectively doing nothing: "This active inactivity suits the mood and certain of the needs of the country admirably. It suits all the business interests which want to be let alone.... And it suits all those who have become convinced that government in this country has become dangerously complicated and top-heavy...."

JFK uttering the word "freedom" meant nothing to him or to Sorensen, and this is clear when one examines their shared political philosophy, because they never define the term. Uttering the word cost JFK nothing. He had fascist designs on the country. He asked Americans what "they can do for their country," and this exhortation echoed Hitler's and Mussolini's asking Germans and Italians what "they could do for their countries." They were demanding that the citizens of those countries recalibrate their lives to live for the sake and glory of the race or the nation.

Remember that Hitler and Mussolini both were anti-communist, and continually fulminated against the Communists, not because they abhorred Communism, but because it was a competing totalitarian ideology, a rival statist political philosophy. JFK asked Americans to recalibrate their lives, too. JFK was a political pragmatist looking for something to do, something to be a "leader" of, but it had to be a collectivist or altruist cause. He was as much a welfare statist as was LBJ and his successors, including Ronald Reagan, but most especially Bill and Hillary Clinton, both Bushes, and now Barack Obama.

Obama, in enabling the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic jihadist entities, is following in the policy footsteps of FDR in propping up the Soviet Union, and of Ronald Reagan, whom we should thank for enabling the Taliban and Al-Qada, for once the Islamists had finished defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan, they turned their sights and guns on the West.

JFK, in his undelivered Dallas speech, whether he knew it or not, addressed the legacy of FDR's recognition of the Soviet government as a legitimate one and of how he conducted WWII as a virtual valet to Josef Stalin's wishes.

On the other hand, Obama has never much disguised in his banal rhetoric his hostility to freedom. His friendship with the Muslim Brotherhood and its operatives in and out of this country's government, and now coupled with his surrender to Iran in Geneva over Iran's nuclear program, compounds the error made by Reagan in aiding Islamic designs on the West, by further emulating FDR's pro-Soviet policies.

In this light, Neville Chamberlain was not the only appeaser of tyranny, and, as with Chamberlain, peace will not be had in our time.

Barack Obama is also "charting our destinies," in which death by ObamaCare or death by an Iranian-designed nuclear bomb detonated in Israel or the U.S.is the destination.

Obama is no appeaser of tyranny. All indications are that he is its friend and ally.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's to Like About JFK?

The rhetorical question could just as easily be rephrased to elicit the same answers: What's not to like about JFK?

Plenty.

Most of the commentary I read on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22nd 1963 exuded a special, repulsive kind of adulation, combined with almost tearful reminiscences of what the country was like half a century ago (it was a bad country, ready to be knocked into shape by a great leader) and plaintive projections of what it could have been had JFK been allowed to complete his presumably first term in office (it would have been a good country, able to take its place among the best welfare states in the world).  

The joke is on the sigh-filled dreamers. We have in President Barack Obama's two terms almost precisely what JFK would have created: a semi-socialist, semi-fascist government dedicated to "leading" the country to "greater" things, an administration determined to marshal Americans to march in lockstep in the direction the White House and its allies in Congress wish us to go, complete with a "charismatic" icon of a leader, glib of tongue and murky in his motives.

Much of the commentary was so maudlin that it caused one to wonder about the mental health of the individuals who wrote it. For example, the New York Times chose to reprint humorist Art Buchwald's New York Herald Tribune poem, "We Weep," from November 26, 1963:

We weep for our President who died for his country.
We weep for his wife and for his children.
We weep for his mother and father and brothers and sisters.
We weep for the millions of people who are weeping for him.
We weep for Americans, that this could happen in our country.

We weep for the Europeans.
And the Africans.
And the Asians.
 And people in every corner of the globe who saw in him a hope for the future and a chance for mankind.
We weep for our children and their children and everyone's children.
For he was charting their destinies as he was charting ours.
We weep for the Negro who saw in him a chance for a decent life.

And etc.

Had enough? There are two more stanzas, just as bad, but I thought you should be spared them. Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post, in her November 22nd "A Tribute to John F. Kennedy," picks up Buchwald's lachrymose sentiment fifty years later, but adds something revealing about herself and how she perceived the country in November 1963:

…Neither the truth nor the myth of the man seems to matter as much as the deeply personal experience of hearing the words:


“A death in the family” is how many have described that day, and this is as accurate as any explanation, especially for people who were children then. The president and Mrs. Kennedy were more than the nation’s first family; they were our parents, too. We identified with the children and looked up to the grown-ups….

Thus, when Kennedy died, we lost our symbolic father and our grief was for ourselves as well as the Kennedys….

If truth be told, when I learned of JFK's death, I felt nothing. As a high school senior, I'd felt nothing but an irritation with the man, coupled with a sense of impending doom, which I was able to identify only years later. Listening to his speeches grated against my aural sensibilities; it was like hearing someone run his fingernails down a blackboard. I'd watched film clips of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini haranguing rapt crowds on television, and JFK gave me that same feeling, that he was an ominous threat to my life and to my future, and that if I stood in the way of the leagues of admiring, emotion-driven mobs, I'd simply be trampled to death.

This was not a pretty or flattering observation to make about "my fellow Americans."

But I never then nor have I ever regarded JFK or Jackie Kennedy as "parents" to "look up to." I did not want a "leader," did not want to be lead, did not want to be "taken care of," did not want to be immersed in some hideous, identity-erasing gestalt of national purpose. The notion of "belonging" to a collective was an alien and repellant one.

In fact, I grew to despise the whole Kennedy clan, from Joe Kennedy, Senior, who made his initial fortune as a bootlegger, clear up to Ted Kennedy, whose political career should have been aborted because of Chappaquiddick, Mary Jo Kopechne, and the charge of homicide that was never levied against him, but in whose name and memory ObamaCare was largely passed, and all of JFK's children. The whole spoiled, power-lusting bunch of them.

I despised the JFK "Camelot" myth as much as I mistrusted the whole FDR myth, because it was the unreserved canonization of these two political figures which caused me to smell something rotten in Denmark.

I subscribe to a number of "pro-freedom" weblogs. Some of these organizations are scarier than any George Soros Progressive organizations. Liberty Counsel, which touts the line that the U.S. is founded on Biblical principles, is one of those. I received this "alert" just this morning:

Yesterday, as a nation, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The words most associated with JFK came from his 1961 Inaugural Address, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” It’s not hard to see how far “progressive” liberalism has taken our nation away from this simple patriotic proclamation in 50 years and how foreign that concept is to the current administration.   

Religious American conservatives are not the only ones smitten with JFK. Europe doesn't seem to have lost its ardor for him. For example, here are the words of a Briton, Sean Collins, Spiked's American correspondent, on the 50th anniversary:


…Most of all, Kennedy injected a sense of dynamism and optimism into politics, and people were willing to believe in him. He encouraged public activism and responsibility, in his call ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’. He aimed high, urging a manned flight to the moon before the end of the decade (even though the technology to do so was hardly evident). Americans were problem-solvers, and there were few limits to what could be achieved - that was his message.
JFK came to symbolise optimism and idealism (even if he didn’t ultimately live up to it), and his assassination appeared to be the death, not just of the man, but of what he symbolised. People hoped Kennedy would bring a new era of prosperity and innovation; but as the years passed, his assassination appeared to mark the beginning of an era of decline. Reagan, Clinton and Obama attempted to reintroduce optimism into American politics, but all paled in comparison with the genuine optimism that greeted JFK, and all ultimately proved to be let-downs.

In many ways, not a few of them scandalous, JFK served as a "role model" for another destroyer of the country, Bill Clinton. One thing that anchored the political philosophy connection between Clinton and JFK was the startling, full-page photograph of 16-year-old Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK  in the White House Rose Garden. I think I saw it in the New York Times, and have that page buried somewhere in my archives. I dubbed it, "Passing the Torch."  A video was made of the encounter. That photograph, however, concretized what I had observed was the perilous direction the country was taking.

I left this comment on a November 22nd FrontPage article, "Fact, Democrats, and the JFK Legend," by Bruce Thornton, who debunks JFK's legislative record:

JFK was a fascist. Any president or president-elect who asks Americans what "they can do for their country" is simply emulating what Hitler asked of Germans and Mussolini asked of Italians. "I'll cut taxes and shake my fist at the Commies, but you have to follow me and live for the country, not for yourself." Compared to current Democrats and Progressives, JFK looks squeaky clean, almost nostalgic. But he was still bad news. If he'd said in public that the government should get out of the economy and out of education, I'd cut him some slack. But, like his fellow Democrats, he just assumed that the government had a mission to run the economy and educate Americans. He was a statist, and a fascist to boot.
 
No one today dares call JFK a fascist. But his style, his rhetoric, and his behavior all comport with the means and ends of fascism. JFK, on a European tour before he entered politics, expressed admiration for the Nazis. Only last May, in a book review by Alan Hall in the British Daily Mail, it was revealed that JFK wrote in his journal:

'Fascism?' wrote the youthful president-to-be in one. 'The right thing for Germany.'  In another; 'What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?'

And on August 21, 1937 - two years before the war that would claim 50 million lives broke out - he wrote: 'The Germans really are too good - therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.'

And in a line which seems directly plugged into the racial superiority line plugged by the Third Reich he wrote after travelling through the Rhineland: 'The Nordic races certainly seem to be superior to the Romans.' 

Other musings concern how great the autobahns were - 'the best roads in the world' - and how, having visited Hitler's Bavarian holiday home in Berchtesgaden and the tea house built on top of the mountain for him. He declared; 'Who has visited these two places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important personalities that ever lived.'

Liberal columnist Dylan Matthews, in his November 22nd Washington Post opinion piece, "Americans think John F. Kennedy was one of our greatest presidents. He wasn’t," credits Lyndon Johnson with accomplishing what JFK set out to do but was assassinated before he could realize his legislative goals.

Conservative George Will, however, claims JFK was a "conservative." In his November 20th Washington Post column, "The JFK we had and the memory that lives," he wrote:

…Many who call him difficult to understand seem eager to not understand him. They present as puzzling or uncharacteristic aspects of his politics about which he was consistent and unambiguous. For them, his conservative dimension is an inconvenient truth. Ira Stoll, in “JFK, Conservative,” tries to prove too much but assembles sufficient evidence that his book’s title is not merely provocative.

A Look magazine headline in June 1946 read: “A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative.” Neither his Cold War anti-communism, which was congruent with President Harry Truman’s, nor his fiscal conservatism changed dramatically during his remaining 17 years.

It was left to his successor in office, Lyndon B. Johnson, to create the massive welfare state which JFK was sure to have pushed for himself, given his pragmatic way of finding things for government to do and purposes for Americans to hove to, to win brownie points with an mesmerized public and a forgiving news media. Rand Simberg, in his November 22nd USA TODAYcolumn, "Dear NASA: President Kennedy just wasn't that into you," casts credible doubts on JFK's commitment to an American space program, calling NASA a "centralized state-socialist bureaucracy that we established to beat the Soviets' state-socialist bureaucracy to the moon."

Larry Sabato in his November 20th Washington Post column, "Lead like John F. Kennedy," lists JFK's strong and weak points. Among the strong points was his way with words and not needing an electronic cue card/teleprompter to deliver speeches, as does the current specimen in office:

Kennedy hired a superb wordsmith, Ted Sorensen, who substantially wrote JFK’s book “Profiles in Courage,” his stirring inaugural address and many other well-known speeches. Yet Kennedy was no parrot. He was a marvelous editor and wordsmith, too, and he could talk extemporaneously without a text for long stretches.

Sorensen wrote JFK's signature statement: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Or apparently it was plagiarized (by Sorensen and JFK in a "collaborative" composition of the inaugural address of January 20th  1961) from an oft-repeated homily by JFK's headmaster at the elite Choate School, according to a November 1st, 2011 book review by the Daily Mail of Chris "Tingle" Matthews' Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.

U.S. author Chris Matthews makes the claims in Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero. He unearthed notes written by George St John, the President’s former headmaster at Choate School in Connecticut, which suggest he had been aware of the 'ask not' line for many years.

The papers quote a Harvard College dean's refrain: 'As has often been said, the youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask not "what can she do for me?" but "what can I do for her?"'

And Matthews is an admirer of Kennedy, not motivated to smear or denigrate JFK.

But whether or not the inaugural address line was plagiarized, it deserves parsing. What JFK said before speaking that line is important to take into context. He was, with very little ambiguity, asking Americans and the country to devote themselves to "saving" the world for "freedom," although what he meant by "freedom" is lost in an ambiguity deliberately calculated to appeal to emotions, not reason. He was sanctioning the federal government's taking the lead in that "selfless" campaign in "a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself." This echoes Wilsonian Progressivism, which called for the U.S. to become the supreme global exemplar of selfless service to "noble causes." This is unadulterated altruism.

Much of the inaugural address was written as an answer to the Soviet Union. Nowhere in it does JFK hint at what Americans were asking their country (or him) to do for them. Doubtless, JFK was not asking Americans to fight for their country by championing individual rights, the sanctity of private property, and freedom of speech. Far from it. Liberty was the last thing on his mind.

But the person who nailed JFK's politics and warned of the dangers he represented to the country was novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, long before he was assassinated, long before anyone else began to smell something rotten in Washington D.C.

In her provocative column, "The Fascist New Frontier," based on an address she gave at Ford Hall Forum in Boston in 1962, she wrote:

The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open…. [p. 98]

Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it—at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens…..[p. 98]

Under both systems, sacrifice is invoked as a magic, omnipotent solution in any crisis—and “the public good” is the altar on which victims are immolated. But there are stylistic differences of emphasis. The socialist-communist axis keeps promising to achieve abundance, material comfort and security for its victims, in some indeterminate future. The fascist-Nazi axis scorns material comfort and security, and keeps extolling some undefined sort of spiritual duty, service and conquest. [p. 106]

But, surely, freedom of speech would be guaranteed under a fascist régime, wouldn't it?. Quite the contrary, wrote Rand.

Freedom of speech means freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by the government—and nothing else. It does not mean the right to demand the financial support or the material means to express your views at the expense of other men who may not wish to support you. Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to agree, not to listen and not to support one’s own antagonists. A “right” does not include the material implementation of that right by other men; it includes only the freedom to earn that implementation by one’s own effort. Private citizens cannot use physical force or coercion; they cannot censor or suppress anyone’s views or publications. Only the government can do so. And censorship is a concept that pertains only to governmental action. [p. 106]

By what means could the government establish censorship without scaring men off, without calling it censorship? By pressure applied by the myriad federal agencies that regulate business and men's actions in the private sphere of our "mixed economy." Rand wrote:

The dividing line – the frontier – between a "mixed economy" and a dictatorship lies in the issue of freedom of speech; the establishment of censorship is the tombstone of a free country. Observe the concerted efforts of the administration to push – or rather, to smuggle – us across that particular frontier. I say "to smuggle," because these efforts are as devious as the New Frontiersmen's use of language – and the fog of their terminology is here at its thickest….[pp. 105-106]

…Rule by hidden, unprovable intimidation relies on the victims' "voluntary" self-enslavement. The result is worse than a censored press: it is a servile press. [p. 109]

And what have we had for at least the last half century but a servile, boot-licking press that cheers on any candidate who preaches "volunteerism" and "wealth redistribution" and deference to the "public good" and all the other collectivist panaceas?

Barack Hussein Obama was only a year old when Rand wrote those words. But they apply to him and his administration as well as to JFK and his administration. And I think, tough as she was, she would have swooned in disbelief at the state of a country that would elect the likes of Obama – twice. (She died in 1982.)

What's to like about JFK?

I would say: Nothing.


*"The Fascist New Frontier," by Ayn Rand, in The Ayn Rand Column. Ed.  Peter Schwartz. Irvine CA: Ayn Rand Institute Press, 1998.