Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saviour

"I know there is a God -- and I see a storm coming;
 if He has a place for me, I believe that I am ready."
-- John F. Kennedy
He was the only one. The only one in the Administration who refused to attack the island. The only one who stood up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood up to the rest of his National Security State (which wasn't his at all), stood up to the established media chorus calling for invasion and air strikes, stood up to the strategic coup being organized behind his back by one of his future killers, Lyndon Johnson. As we now know, the Cubans and Soviets had operational battlefield nukes which, if fired, would have taken out Miami, Washington DC, and New York City. Hence, the end of the world. At every turn, he refused confrontation. When the missiles and sites were discovered. When he ordered the blockade of Cuba, and the Soviet ships approached the quarantine line, he pulled that line back -- four times. When the Soviet tanker Bucharest, almost certainly not carrying any missiles or other armament, steamed toward the blockade line, he decided to let it proceed to Havana, again against all advice. Privately, Kennedy had begun to doubt the validity of the CIA photos, ostensibly proving the existence of the Soviet missiles. (CIA had doctored photos before, during the Bay of Pigs.) When Rudolf Anderson, Navy flier, was shot down in a National Security State covert operation directed against Kennedy by sending -- against direct White House orders -- a U-2 surveillance flight over the island at the hottest moment of the crisis, he kept the shoot down quiet until the crisis was over. "He chickened out again!" bellowed Air Force General Curtis LeMay. (A further anti-Kennedy covert op also involved a U-2: one just happened to "stray" low over Soviet territory, then was "rescued" by nuclear-armed F-102s back to base.)
"There was now the feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans and Soviets and Cubans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling. But again the President pulled everyone back. . ." -- Robert Kennedy
When two letters arrived from Khrushchev -- the first agreeing to all United States demands, the second belligerent and escalatory -- Kennedy decided to proceed as if the second letter never arrived. (JFK would later agree, after the crisis was settled, to all the Soviets had asked for, in the second hard-line letter.) In the most dangerous moment in human history, when all force was on his side, he refused all force. As he whispered to his brother as the Joint Chiefs started clamoring for a first-strike against Moscow: "And we call ourselves the human race. . . I think of all the children in the world who have no idea what the United States or the Soviet Union even are. . . Well, better Red than dead."

Better Red than dead. Was this heard by anyone else? James Douglass:
For at least a decade, JFK’s favorite poem had been "Rendezvous" by Alan Seeger, an American poet killed in World War One. Kennedy recited "Rendezvous" to his wife Jacqueline in 1953 on their first night home in Hyannis after their honeymoon. She memorized the poem, and recited it back to him over the years. In the fall of 1963, Jackie taught the words of the poem to their five-year-old daughter, Caroline.

On the morning of October 5, 1963, President Kennedy met with his National Security Council in the Rose Garden of the White House. Caroline suddenly appeared by her father’s side, and she said she wanted to tell him something. He tried to divert her attention while the meeting continued, but Caroline persisted. The president smiled and turned his full attention to his daughter. He told her to go ahead. While the members of the National Security Council sat and watched, Caroline looked into her father’s eyes and said:
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air-
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath-
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
After Caroline said the poem’s final word, “rendezvous,” Kennedy’s national security advisers sat in stunned silence. One of them said later the bond between father and daughter was so deep “it was as if there was ‘an inner music’ he was trying to teach her.”

Henry Miller often wrote that each of us are placed here on earth in order to learn one lesson. We then move on. It is hard to appreciate John Fitzgerald Kennedy's life apart from its ending -- a manner of ending surely influenced by his actions during the Missile Crisis. Yet perhaps the miraculous singular purpose of his life was to save us all. For he did.

The Monday night, October 22nd, 1962 television address:



Many actors have played Jack Kennedy in movies and television, on stage. None have captured the self-effacing, realistic, inner grace of the man. The decency. The isolation. The melancholy and fatalism. Here Bruce Greenwood does. Thirteen Days (2000) itself is merely in the deep end of the theatrically-released Movie of the Week genre and is nearly drowned by Kevin Costner's endless, insufferable presence. (He plays White House Chief of Staff Kenny O'Donnell who had little to do with the Crisis drama.) Greenwood makes it special. A remarkably intelligent actor who gives us the hardest of all things to capture on film: thought. And he embodies Kennedy as not only the center (despite Costner's suffocations); but also as target.



No one has appreciated John F. Kennedy more beautifully and profoundly than Catholic theologian James W. Douglass, in his masterpiece JFK and the Unspeakable and in continuing lectures. Here is Douglass at his most moving, Seattle, Washington, September 2008.



And a documentary presented by the JFK Library showing what would have been, without President Kennedy: "Clouds Over Cuba"

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dear Heart


No American composer ever captured the heart of an era the way Henry Mancini captured the heart of the early-1960s. His songs contain within them the loss and heartbreak we would feel, when thinking about that time, the height of the American Century. . .

Monday, October 16, 2017

When Women Were Women and Men Loved It


A woman's place is in the home in this rather insane documentary from '62. (Guess the director never saw All That Heaven Allows, Bigger Than Life or The Wrong Man.) Still, what's better: this?; or Rachel Maddow, Lena Dumbham, Hillary Clinton, Mary Barra, and Kathryn Bigelow? Your choice.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brothers

From May of '93, Dr. Michael Parenti interviewed by Dave Emory.

Fresher than a daisy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1971 and Now


As antidote to wee Kenny Burns's corporate totalitarian bullshit made for the Petroleum Broadcast System (and for the Coke brothers), here's a 1971 Pacifica broadcast featuring Peter Dale Scott and other historians, recorded right after Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers.

Even then, they knew.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Komachan

Inside 21st-century U.S. culture, kids are generally seen as knowing and obnoxious schemers, somehow always smarter than their parents, sexualized, made to seem like junior-mint Yuppies about as narcissistic as the grown-ups. One of the remaining beautiful parts of Japan is the respect shown toward children as children. Most books, television, games, toys, anime, and movies are emotionally sophisticated, and the creators expect Japanese children to understand. . .

Komaneko is one of the sweetest and saddest movies/anime I know. And so quiet. Another difference: turn on anything American for kids and there won't be more than a nano-second of silence.

Created by Tsuneo Goda, from 2006.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Gravity and Grace

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sacred Heart


The Saint was perhaps the deepest and most beautiful thinker of her century.

Simone Weil left us with these five self-judgments:
1. Not to be dishonored.

2. Not to die without having existed.

3. To traverse this somber age in manly (or womanly) fashion.

4. To perish with a clear vision of the world we shall be leaving behind.

5. To work toward a clear comprehension of the object of our efforts, so that, if we cannot accomplish it, we may at least have willed it, and not just have desired it blindly.
Her essay on concentration ("Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God"), concentration being the ultimate act of love, puts the reader in a state of Grace.

Monday, October 2, 2017

House N*gg*r


Glen Ford:
Morgan Freeman is used to playing God, and in lesser roles, president of the United States. These days, however, Freeman has sold his image and aura to the worst warmongers on the planet. Morgan Freeman has signed on as a front man and propagandist for an all-out military confrontation with Russia, the only country that has the power to turn the United States into a burned out cinder. In a video that Freeman’s right-wing friends are circulating on social media, the actor declares that a new world war has already begun.

“Russia is waging war on the US,” says the text of a video, produced by the so-called Committee to Investigate Russia. Morgan Freeman then intones, “We have been attacked. We are at war.” He spins an infantile 1950s-type demonization of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, for supposedly using “cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world.” At this point, we discover that the man who plays God on film is, in real life, just an old time, shuffling Uncle Tom, the kind of shameless bootlicker that we hoped had gone extinct. Morgan Freeman says of the United States, “for 241 years our democracy has been a shining example to the world.” Freeman’s slave ancestors must be cursing his name from the grave.

A sudden, early grave awaits us all, if Morgan Freeman’s script-writers have their way. The ideology of the Committee to Investigate Russia comes straight from CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations, which has vetted every U.S. war since World War Two, and the Pentagon. Former CIA director James Clapper, who lied to the entire world when he told Congress that the government was not spying on the telephones and personal computers of everyone on the planet, sits on the board. He got away with perjury, and now he’s writing Morgan Freeman’s lying script. Max Boot is a rightwing historian with the Council on Foreign Relations who wants to “beef up” the U.S. military. Evelyn Farkas is also on the Council, and is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense. Norman Ornstein is a scholar at the Republican-dominated American Enterprise Institute. And Charles Sykes is a rightwing commentator.

This is the political company that Morgan Freeman keeps: militarists, spies, and rightwing hate-mongers – the real dangers to world peace. When Freeman says that the U.S. is already “at war,” he is effectively demanding an attack on Russia. Under Nuremberg rules, Morgan and others like him are guilty of crimes against peace – which are capital crimes. Freeman is trying to whip up a war frenzy that can only end in nuclear annihilation. That makes Freeman a danger to the human race. A war whore -- not God-like at all.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Uptown

Happy October

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Matt


A pitcher straight from the heart. Grant Brisbee with a tribute.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Find the Way

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In the Company of Men


One was the Prince of Darkness; the other, a Prince. Yet both were giants who defined their worlds, and they recall us to a time when the country believed in the connection between action and consequence, not only in the political realm, but in the private as well.

57 years ago tonight: Kennedy/Nixon Debates, Round One.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Please Make It Stop

I guess it isn't enough for Morgan Freeman that he's always been the Uncle Tom of movie actors. And it obviously isn't enough for Rob Reiner to be the worst movie director of the last 30 years, not counting Ron Howard.

Now this.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trane

Happy 91st Birthday.