Sunday, December 28, 2008

Voices We Have Lost (I): George Carlin

New World Notes News
Volume 2, Number 1 -- January 6, 2009

This week in New World Notes, #46 -- January 6 & 9, 2009:

From time to time this winter, New World Notes will look back and pause to appreciate--and commemorate--some of those who died in 2008. People whose voice had helped keep us sane(r) in an increasingly insane world. People whose absence we already regret.

The list is far too long, even if we limit it to those whose whose voices would have been (or had been) at home on this program. Utah Phillips, for instance. Studs Terkel. Most recently, Harold Pinter. And the saddest loss to me: George Carlin.

A touching memorial poster. Found on Carlin's Web site a few days
after his death. An FCC obscenity complaint (largely upheld by the courts)
resulted in Carlin's famous routine, "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV."
Unfortunately, you can't say them on radio, either!
Click to enlarge.

A troublesome student and a high-school drop-out, Carlin displayed an extraordinary shrewdness of mind. He would analyze a scene and identify its key forces, key actors, key conflicts--the real conflicts, not just the most apparent ones--and find every moment in which somebody was BS'ing somebody else. Which, as he saw it, was generally the power elite and the prostitute politicians together BS'ing the average citizen.

And no, he didn't use the initials B.S. Even more than Orwell, Carlin hated euphemism. If you had two mangled legs, don't tell Carlin that you are "differently abled." Let alone, "not handicapped but handy-CAPABLE!" He'd tell you to go f*** yourself. Without the asterisks.

This was far from cold-heartedness. He felt that both society and government should help the cripples. And that nobody would lift a finger to help, so long as there weren't any cripples but only hundreds of thousands of differently-abled "handy-CAPABLES."

Carlin then (sorry: dunno when) . . .

Wish I could say, "And now." And not so long ago. Apparently 2001.

In addition to this utopian side, Carlin also had a soft, gentle side. You can hear it in this week's installment, when he talks about "the little things that bring us together." You could see it also in the gentle roles he played in children's shows. As "Mister Conductor" in the lovely TV series Shining Time Station, featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. (Ringo Starr played the same role; as did, less ably, Alec Baldwin.) Carlin also played Rufus, the kindly envoy from the future in the movie for adolescents, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

In this week's program, though, we short-change Carlin's sweet and gentle side and focus on the acerbic. In four excerpts, Carlin blasts back at religion, euphemism--hard to tell which one he likes less: probably religion--and (twice) Class Warfare.

Credit where due: elsewhere, Carlin has praised the fine education he received during a stint in a Jesuit-run high school. He credits the Jesuits with equipping him with the analytical and reasoning skills that enabled him to reject organized religion in general and Christianity in particular. The best-laid plans of mice and St. Ignatius Loyola sure ganged agley in Carlin's case!

Agitator, definitely. Was he also a terrorist?
Refer to the chart, and then YOU decide!

Ironically--like those who shaped his habits of mind--George Carlin's great predecessor also was a clergyman. In 1731, this Anglican priest--Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin--wrote what could serve well as an obituary for our own departed satirist. In "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, D.S.P.D.," the good Dean showed how he hoped people would speak of him after his death. If Carlin had endowed an insane asylum in his will--as Swift did, in Ireland--the parallels would be exact:
  • Perhaps, I may allow, the Dean
    Had too much Satyr [satire] in his Vein;
    And seem'd determin'd not to starve it,
    Because no Age could more deserve it.
    Yet Malice never was his Aim;
    He lash'd the Vice, but spar'd the Name. . . .
    His Satyr points to no Defect,
    But what all Mortals may correct; . . .
    He spar'd a Hump or crooked Nose,
    Whose Owners set not up for Beaux.
    True genuine Dulness mov'd his Pity,
    Unless it offer'd to be witty.
    Those, who their Ignorance confess'd,
    He ne'er offended with a Jest;
    But laugh'd to hear an Idiot quote,
    A Verse from Horace, learn'd by Rote. . . .

    He gave what little Wealth he had,
    To build a House for Fools and Mad:
    And shew'd by one satyric Touch,
    No Nation wanted it so much:
    That Kingdom he hath left his Debtor,
    I wish it soon may have a Better.

Carlin was never was a religious man. Well, rest in peace anyway! And rest in peace, Professor John W. Tilton, who, many years ago, taught me to appreciate Swift and satire, and whom I should have thanked somewhat earlier. --K.D.

Catch New World Notes . . .
, Noon to 12:30 PM, WWUH-FM 91.3 (West Hartford) &
Fridays, 7:30 to 8:00 AM, WHUS-FM 91.7 (Storrs) &
Any time: Listen to or download any installment ... or subscribe to a podcast ... at A-Infos Radio Project:

This week's music:

  • Intro: Warren Zevon with Something Happens, "Werewolves of London"
  • Anne Feeney with Commander Cody (vocals & piano), "Preacher and the Slave"
  • Outro: Rich Wyman, "Guantanamo" (band version)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Return of the Jello

New World Notes News

Volume 1, Number 25 -- December 30 , 2008

Public Apology: In last week’s program I mentioned that Molly Ivins had been one of 2,000 liberals in the state of Texas. In the interest of homeland security, I revealed where to find the rest. In doing so, I had the sort of mental slip everybody makes once in awhile. Like saying “Saddam Hussein” when you meant “Barack Obama.”

So I heard myself saying that 200 liberals could be found on the campus of Southern Methodist University. I half expected the flood of hate mail I received from the Dallas suburbs, but the threatening notices from SMU’s lawyers were a surprise. So let me say that I have ceased and desisted this arguably felonious behavior. I acknowledge the falsity of my statement, which statement I deeply regret and now do publicly retract.

Obviously, I momentarily confused Southern Methodist with Texas Christian University, in nearby Fort Worth. The few emails I received from the TCU faculty were charitable and humorous, poking gentle fun at what they saw as my “brain fart,” to quote George Carlin, as several of them did.

The Rapture: Hartford, looking southwest from what is now Interstate 84. I think.
Note the total absence of downtown businesspersons heading heavenwards. Did
the motorcyclist make it, or is that him inspecting his spark plugs (far left)?

This week in New World Notes, #45 -- December 30 & January 2:

Return of the Jello

Title of this week's program courtesy of Jonathan Dowst, who, despite my best efforts, has been transmogrophied into a Star Wars fan. On the plus side, at least he still loves playing with language.

People may find it surprising that many of our best cultural and political analysts focus on language. Orwell, of course. In 1984, the State has a program of reducing the English vocabulary to only a few hundred words--thus making it impossible for people to make subtle distinctions. So politics becomes a matter of Good (those who agree with the Chief Executive) vs. Evil (those who disagree with him). And obviously, in such a world, diplomatic shilly-shallying is less than useless, so in case of disagreement with another government, send the Marines!

Does this sound at all familiar? (See also: Evil Empire, Axis of Evil, neoconservatives, Bush Doctrine.)

Though no fan of the Christian Right, Jello thought the anticipated Rapture was
“kind of cool!” He relished the thought of all the “religious extremists” being
“wafted up to heaven--
naked! --leaving the rest of us to put the world back
together again in peace.” Jello didn’t realize (see illustration) that (1) apparently
the saved
wouldn’t be naked and (2) every drop-dead-gorgeous example of
nubile jailbait would be swept up in the first
tranche. My first lover favored
denim wraparound miniskirts too, to equally good effect. Apparently Howard
Hughes--looking for a new challenge after famously engineering the brassiere
Jane Russell wore in
The Outlaw-- later had the good fortune of meeting the
sweet young thing in the Afro at a church social.

I recognize the style of The Watchtower’s in-house illustrator. Someone
should advise the Seventh-Day Adventists that a Methodist war criminal
has snuck in among the faithful.

Before Orwell there was Swift and (especially in his essays) Twain, among others. Afterwards we have--to rattle off the first to come to mind--Dorothy Parker, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Molly Ivins, Michael Parenti, and Jello Biafra. All are good analysts of politics and culture. All discuss the use, abuse, and misuse of language. Interestingly, all except Orwell are known for their humor, and some are card-carrying comedians.

We’ve already had more than enough Rapture illustrations, but this bit of kitsch was
so charming, I had to share it. It’s called “The Rapture,” but I suspect it could be
called “The Death of Ophelia” equally well. What is that thing at the top of the picture?
Did someone toss a Hoover Upright into the pond after her? Makes me inclined
to suspect the husband.

Molly we heard last week; George Carlin we shall hear next week; and let us now turn again to Jello Biafra. When this Dead Kennedys alumnus is not punk-rocking away with Jello and the Melvins, he's an astute political analyst and social critic . . . and a very funny speaker.

In these selections from a talk he gave this summer, Jello delivers his own "farewell kiss from the widows and orphans" of our country to the White House’s Current Occupant. Which inevitably leads Jello to the subject of How to Mangle the English Language for Fun, Profit, and Glory--while destroying the country that made your wealthy and comfortable life possible . . . to say nothing of the Middle East! Which reminds Jello of his high school geometry teacher, the only man who could even approach Bush when it came to logotorture and grammaticide!

Jello’s a half-century old this year. The recording artist, not the non-nutritious
dessert. Jello’s
nom de guerre combines a region of Nigeria once known for
starvation--and probably just as hungry today--with the popular American
junk-food. Not bad for a punk rocker in a band with a name like

The Dead Kennedys, eh?

Jello also discusses “creative sabotage,” how to reduce your bondage to corporations, why Armageddon “could really wreck your day,” and why “doing something,” even if only a little, “is always better than doing nothing.”

Recommended listening.

I don’t know where or when this photo was taken. How’s this? “Proudly displaying the
Colors, the President bids a fond
adieu to Baghdad at the conclusion of his surprise
pre-Christmas visit.” Another problem with the French is that they don’t even have a
word for
adieu, either! (Bush had actually said this about entrepreneur.
Could I make this stuff up?)

Catch New World Notes . . .

Tuesdays, Noon to 12:30 PM, WWUH-FM 91.3 (West Hartford) &
Fridays, 7:30 to 8:00 AM, WHUS-FM 91.7 (Storrs) &
Any time: Listen to or download any installment ... or subscribe to a podcast ... at A-Infos Radio Project:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Special: Molly Ivins . . .

New World Notes News
Volume 1, Number 24
-- December 23 , 2008

This week in New World Notes, #44 -- December 23 & 26:

Christmas Special:
Molly Ivins on Religion, Politics, Democracy,
and Those Darn 'Lord Impersonators'

Now comes New World Notes's first-ever Christmas Special.
I should have devoted installment #38 (November 11) to the subject of guns. Then I could have called it NWN's ".38 Special." Yes, I know, I could have done it this week as well, as there's also a ".44 Special." Not too common these days, though. And since I know neither how to breed or nor how to shoot horses, I can't use ".45 Colt" next week either!

Probably my best bet would be to wait another six years, get permission to do an hour-long show on guns, and call it our ".357 Magnum."

So installment #44 is our Christmas Special, and let's not hear any cracks about shooting off my mouth!

Featured speaker is the late, great humorist, journalist, and Texas-liberal agitator, Molly Ivins (d. 2007). And to hear Molly inevitably is to hear about Texas--which is how my mind turned to the subject of guns & ammo in the first place. Who ever heard a story about Texas that didn't involve at least one gun?

Texas Governor Rick "Goodhair" Perry. "That man has a head
of hair every Texan can be proud of, regardless of party."

This being modern Texas, though, the story has more religious nutcases than guns. People who believe that God is giving them special assignments. For instance: drive to Louisiana naked. With 16 naked neighbors. In the same car. (If you have to ask: Pontiac GTO.)

Or for instance: invade Iraq, bring the hajjis Christianity, democracy, and free-market capitalism, and let them pay for our help out of their oil revenues.

Looking in good spirits despite chemotherapy. Quite a contrast
to the Governor, though!--as she was in most other respects
as well as tonsorially. Molly died of breast cancer in 2007.

Molly--who is addressing an audience in Berkeley--also touches on California Governor Schwarzenegger (who looks like "a condom stuffed with walnuts"), Texas Governor Rick "Goodhair" Perry, and the Enron executive appointed as Texas State Utilities Commissioner--and driven out of office by the state's legion of small-game hunters. Plus musings on democracy in America and hard-earned advice from a Texas Liberal to left-wing activists everywhere: Have a good time now. Don't wait until you've won all the battles to make politics fun!

And next time you get special instructions from On High, make sure it's the real Lord who's speaking and not one of those damn' Lord Impersonators such as the one Crawford's Connecticut Cowboy has been listening to!

California Governator Schwarzenegger:
"a condom stuffed with walnuts"?

Ann Richards--Governor of Texas, 1991-1995; defeated for re-election by
W. Bush; died in 2006. Possibly the only politician in the state Molly ever
admired--apart from onetime Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower.
Here Richards tests the radical new motorcycle--the first ever designed
and built in Texas --the Alamoster 883, as Keith Olberman (rear)
scowls in approval.

But in our Christmas Special, it wouldn't do to let the Lord Impersonators have the only word about Higher Things, so the program features other voices too. Roy Zimmerman sings about "Jerry Falwell's God." Tom Lehrer sings about celebrating Christmas, American-style. And I offer a few words of praise for the man Ezra Pound (I think it was) appreciatively dubbed "Commander Carpenter." A.k.a. Jesus of Nazareth.

So happy Christmas, one and all! And if anyone happens to give you a Christian Bible as a Christmas present, see if it has a decent index. If it does, try looking up some topics, just to see if Jesus might ever have had anything interesting to say on the subject. Possibly,

  • America, God's blessing of, or not
  • homosexuality
  • abortion
  • neighbor, loving your
  • hungry, feeding the
  • naked, clothing the
  • homeless, giving shelter to the
  • peacemakers
  • ploughshares
  • wealth, personal
  • stones, casting the first

As the byline shows, Molly's wit and sanity are missed
well beyond the confines of Texas. Cartoon by Bagley.

Catch New World Notes . . .

Disclosure: A number of captious critics, some of them clad in leather jackets, have taken issue with certain points of the Ann Richards caption.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Khrushchev, Kennedy, WW III, & the Great Address -- Part 2

New World Notes News
Volume 1, Number 23 -- December 16 , 2008

Miss Porter's School (just a few miles from here) teaches that pearls
appropriate. I guess. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
(left, with John Jr.) was Class of '47. Portrait by Richard Avedon.

This week in New World Notes, #43 -- December 16 & 19:

* * * * *
Khruschev, Kennedy, World War III, and the
Great Address at American University
-- Part 2

* * * * *

This week NWN presents less analysis and more story, and Jim Douglas tells the story well. From the inauguration to the Bay of Pigs invasion . . . to Kennedy's secret correspondence with Khrushchev, his secret negotiations with Castro, his escalating battles against powerful war-hawks, the Cuban Missile Crisis, . . . and the stunning address at American University, June 10, 1963. And we'll also hear the second half of this address.

* * * * *
For nearly eight years the United States has suffered under a pair of rulers, each with a screw severely loose somewhere in his cranium. Somewhat disconcertingly, many of the loudest voices calling for injecting some reason, logic, and caution into the state's foreign policy have come from the upper ranks of the military establishment.

So it's hard to imagine a time when the situation was the opposite. When the President could pass any sanity test yet devised, and the rest of whole "national security state"--the Top Brass of the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the higher-ups at the CIA--was demonstrably crazy. Legally, clinically, and for all practical purposes.

Unless you think it's sane to fear communism and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics so much that you do everything you can to start a "preemptive" nuclear war with the USSR. Sure, the Soviets had atomic bombs and the ability to drop them on the USA. But don't you see? We have more atomic bombs than they do! We can win the Cold War! Once and for all! Now is the time! God bless America!
Kennedy addresses the nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I'm making this up, right? I wish! Seriously, they "reasoned" that the US could destroy nearly all of the USSR's industrial capacity and kill 150 million Soviet citizens at the cost of only 40 million American dead. I'm not sure if they factored the effects of radioactive fallout into their equations. Probably not.

They thought that they could trap or trick the young and inexperienced President into touching off this war, which would begin with the bombing of Cuba and escalate into nuclear war with the Soviet Union. They came extremely close to trapping him during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The world was saved (I guess) by the Celtic stubbornness of Kennedy--with a surprising and huge amount of help from his nominal enemy and secret pen-pal, Nikita S. Khrushchev.

Had Truman or Clinton or The Little Cowboy been President in 1962, instead of Kennedy, today we'd all be speaking Cockroach.
"US, Russia Now Facing Test of Will," reads one headline.
How the government & Corporate media wanted us to see the crisis.
The truth was much more interesting--and improbable--than this.

Long before the missile crisis, Kennedy had become estranged from his national security state. Now he declared all-out war on them. He announced this "war" to the world in his great commencement address at American University, June 10, 1963.

Here's my version of what happened next. The national security state reminded Kennedy of who's in charge with three assassination attempts in November. The third one worked. The powers-that-be of the Soviet Union removed Khrushchev from his dual office (Premier of USSR and Chairman of the Communist Party of the USSR) in October 1964.

The speech at American University touched on civil rights (hear this week's
excerpt). The next day, Kennedy spoke to the nation on that subject.. Early in
his term, Kennedy was not
an especially strong civil rights advocate. Later
he came to realize that disarmament and world peace were impossible
without civil rights. Conversely, Martin Luther King, Jr., came to realize
that civil rights were impossible without disarmament.

Catch New World Notes . . .
Tuesdays, Noon to 12:30 PM, WWUH-FM 91.3 (West Hartford) &
Fridays, 7:30 to 8:00 AM, WHUS-FM 91.7 (Storrs) &
Any time: Listen to or download any installment ... or subscribe to a podcast ... at A-Infos Radio Project:

Trivia (?) :

On January 28, 2008, Sen. Edward Kennedy (JFK's brother), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (nephew) and Caroline Kennedy (daughter) formally endorsed Barack Obama to be the Democratic candidate for President. They chose American University as the place to make their announcement. Just coincidence or symbolic statement?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Photos -- December 7 Peace Rally

Some views of the Pearl Harbor Day peace rally at the north portal of the State Capitol building, Hartford, Connecticut, 12-7-08.

The afternoon was cold, but the crowd was in good spirits, and the Capitol grounds were much more colorful than usual.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Khrushchev, Kennedy, WW III, & the Great Address

Download this radio program
List all ... & download any ... installments

New World Notes News

Volume 1, Number 22 -- December 9 , 2008

Jacqueline & John F. Kennedy, January 1961; proof sheet by Richard Avedon

This week in New World Notes, #42 -- December 9 & 12:

* * * * *
Khruschev, Kennedy, World War III,
and the Great Address at American University

* * * * *

I had never even heard of John F. Kennedy's Commencement address at The American University (June 10, 1963) until this past year. I first listened to a recording of the address only two or three months ago. I was stunned. In my judgment, this is the greatest speech made by a U.S. President since the Gettysburg Address.

This week and next, New World Notes will broadcast nearly all of this address, coupled with very useful commentary by Jim Douglas. Douglas is writer, historian, and theologian--and author of the recent JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.

Douglas explains the surprising and profound historical events to which this equally surprising and profound speech is a response. He also charts JFK's transformation--by these events--from a typical Cold Warrior to a crusader for peace and disarmament.

So how come--if you're at all typical--you've never heard of the American University address, let alone heard of Kennedy's conversion to an advocate of global disarmament? After all, you’re plenty familiar with parts of his First Innaugural Address. Ask not what your country can do for you. . . .

Well, ask not me. Rather, ask the corporate-controlled mass media and the corporate-controlled school textbook industry. While you're at it, ask them why you can recite Martin Luther King's Establishment-friendly "I have a dream" speech forwards and backwards, but you hear almost nothing about the anti-Vietnam-War and anti-military-industrial-complex speeches he made in the last year of his life.

To many Europeans, the USA ca. 1961 looked less like Camelot than like Hell's
own lunatic asylum. Police brutality, racial strife, sexual license, radioactive
"fallout," and a President of dubious competence with his finger on The Button:
Gerald Scarfe was having none of it.

Funny how powerful popular leaders keep ending up dead soon after they begin denouncing the U.S. War Machine. . . . And did somebody just mention Malcolm X?

Those darn' Crazed Lone-Gunmen Acting Alone! They really ought to unionize and fight for better wages and working conditions. For example, the retirement benefits they've been getting are even worse than Wal-Mart's. James Earl Ray’s were almost as bad as Lee Harvey Oswald’s.

Arch-warmonger Gen. Curtis LeMay--head of the Strategic Air Command
and a leading advocate of preemptively attacking the USSR--discusses U.S.
responses to the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962.

For a wonderful brief review of the scary, surprising, and strange historical events that transformed Kennedy, came this close to touching off World War III, and brought about the great American University address--and Kennedy‘s death--see the previous blog entry: “The Story Behind the Greatest Speech You Never Heard” ( ). This page offers concise written history plus no fewer than eight super graphics from the period, including photographs, magazine covers, and political cartoons.

Catch New World Notes . . .

Tuesdays, Noon to 12:30 PM, WWUH-FM 91.3 (West Hartford) &
Fridays, 7:30 to 8:00 AM, WHUS-FM 91.7 (Storrs) &
Any time: Listen to or download any installment ... or subscribe to a podcast ... at A-Infos Radio Project:

Essential graphics:

Nothing attached to the newsletter this week, but do check out the 8 graphics on the Blog page that gives the historical background. It’s OK--honestly!--if you skip the history lesson and just look at the pictures & captions. See the citation, above.

Still more graphics to come next week!

On January 28, 2008, during the presidential Primary campaigns, Sen. Edward
Kennedy (JFK's brother), Caroline Kennedy (daughter), and Rep. Patrick
Kennedy (nephew) chose American University as the venue to announce their
endorsement of Barack Obama. Was this a symbolic statement or just coincidence?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Story Behind the Greatest Speech You Never Heard:

Khruschev, Kennedy, World War III,
and the Great Address at American University,
June 10, 1963

Vienna, 1961: the only face-to-face meeting of Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the so-called National Security State (NSS)--minus the President--was itching for a war with the Soviet Union. This war, they all concluded, the U.S. was sure to "win," owing to its huge lead over the USSR in nuclear weapons. The NSS here included the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (i.e., Pentagon bigwigs), and the CIA and other intelligence agencies. They were confident they could prod, trap, or trick the young and inexperienced President Kennedy into authorizing this war.

And they came very close to trapping him during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

The CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961 had been an earlier attempt to touch off a war with the Soviet Union. Kennedy did not fall for the ruse. He chose humiliation over Armageddon and refused to back up the anti-Castro rebels with ground troops or air cover. Afterwards he fired CIA director Allen Dulles and declared his intention to smash the CIA into a thousand pieces.

My guess is that Richard Avedon phoned in sick . . . so
Life had to borrow a cover artist from Stag magazine.

In mid-October 1962, U.S. spy planes revealed the existence of at least one Soviet missile base in Cuba. The missiles were capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the United States. To fray tempers still further, a U.S. spy plane was shot down over Cuban territory, and Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba.

The NSS campaigned hard for the go-ahead to bomb Cuba . . . before the missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads. This action would have the added benefit, they "reasoned," of touching off the long-sought war with the USSR. Years later, the U.S. discovered that the Cuban missiles already were armed with nuclear warheads. We now also know that at the same time nuclear-armed Russian submarines were submerged off the coast of Cuba.

Oops-y! Memo: Next time, get better intelligence before starting war.

Castro (right, with glasses) put an end to the CIA-sponsored invasion
in short time. The CIA expected the invasion to fail, but they hoped it would
escalate into war with the Soviet Union--which the U.S. would surely "win."

So in 1962, the world came closer to nuclear war than even Kennedy realized. Credit for preventing the holocaust goes to Kennedy and--to an even greater extent--to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who held back the Russian dogs of war. He did so--at great cost to his career--in part as a personal favor to Kennedy, with whom he had developed a secret, personal written correspondence.

MRBM = medium-range ballistic missile. Site was at San Cristobal,
on the southwest coast of Cuba.

Khrushchev publicly withdrew the missiles from Cuba. The United States secretly withdrew its own missiles from Turkey. The U.S. Corporate Press announced that the U.S. had “won” its “confrontation” with the Soviets. “We went eyeball-to-eyeball, and they blinked.”

To the patriotic Corporate press, the conclusion of the crisis demonstrated
the wisdom of a "stand tall" diplomatic stance backed up by superior arms
and the willingness to use them. My feeling is that pundits whose research
skills stop short of being able to learn what a Colt Single Action Army
("Peacemaker") revolver looks like ought to steer clear of analyzing the
subtleties of international diplomacy. Drawing by Hearst cartoonist
Karl Hubenthal, published October 29, 1962.

Another politically conservative cartoonist, Herbert Block ("Herblock"),
had a better reading of the lessons of the missile crisis.

Kennedy was persuaded (by SANE chairman Norman Cousins) that he needed to repay Khrushchev’s favor by announcing a bold next step towards peace. He did so at American University, June 10, 1963. Here he denounced the military-industrial complex, and he announced that negotiations leading towards abolishing nuclear weapons would soon begin.

As two practical steps in that direction, he declared a unilateral halt to atmospheric testing of nuclear “devices,” and he announced that high-level negotiations towards banning nuclear testing would begin immediately--in, of all places, Moscow!

Kennnedy at American University, June 10, 1963

It's thrilling to hear the loud applause from the audience that greeted the announcement of each of these "steps." Unlike the totally scripted Presidential speeches of today, "applause lines" with appropriate pauses were not written into the text back then. Consequently, there was much less applauding. But what there was of it was genuine. Further proof of my theory that, whereas the American state wants war and more war, the American people want peace and prefer to resolve international differences by negotiation and--remember this old word?--statesmanship.

A few months after this surprising speech, the world’s first Nuclear Test Ban Treaty had been negotiated, signed, and ratified by Congress.

A few months after that, on November 22, the assassination of Kennedy was completed on the third attempt within three weeks. Eleven months later, Premier Nikita Khrushchev also was removed from office, though allowed to live. He died of natural causes in 1971.

Score: U.S. and Soviet National Security States, 2; “Unreliable” peacenik heads of domestic government, 0.

Trivia Question: On the day following the American University speech, Kennedy addressed the nation in another major speech. What was the topic?

Answer: Civil Rights. Disarmament crusader John F. Kennedy came to realize that there could not be peace without justice--specifically, Civil Rights. At around the same time, Civil Rights crusader Martin Luther King came to realize that there could not be racial justice or Civil Rights without disarmament. "Everything That Rises Must Converge," reads the title of a short story (by Flannery O'Connor) of the same period.

Kennedy's conversion to an advocate of peace and disarmament came gradually, then took a large leap in October 1962. Early in his term--as this Canadian cartoon indicates--Kennedy tried to convince Canada to acquire nuclear weapons. He succeeded. The seated figure is Prime Minister Lester Pearson.

(Adapted by K.D. from Jim Douglas’ talk, in NWN #42-43, with additional information from Wikipedia and other sources. Any errors of fact or interpretation that survived the editing process are mine alone. Not that I see any.)