Tag Archive | "Robert F. Kennedy"

Where are Today’s Marshal Dillons?

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Seeking freedom from “taxation without representation,” our nation’s Founding Fathers feared a takeover of their newly established government by groups or individuals, a.k.a., “the enemy from within.”  Envisioning a three-branch government to circumvent such a takeover, they installed checks and balances in the Constitution of the United States of America.  Two hundred fifty three years after the drafting of that Constitution, our government has been tested concerning those checks and balances.


Beset by economic woes, the American public of the twenty-first century questions the motives of its government.  Is there now indeed an enemy from within attempting to establish rules and regulations for it’s own dictatorial purposes?  For the answer, let’s examine some of those rules and regulations.


During the Cold War with Russia, Senator Joseph McCarthy held Congressional hearings centering on the infiltration of Communists into our society.  His targets included Hollywood writers and producers that allegedly made movies with Communist overtones, movies thought to brainwash the American people.  As a result of McCarthy’s witch hunts, Hollywood blacklisted certain writers and producers.  Once blacklisted, these people never worked in Hollywood again.  McCarthy’s agenda was based upon fear, a fear that nearly brought Communist Russia and Capitalist America to a nuclear war.


Competition between Russia and the U.S. continued with the Race to Space.  That race ended on July 20, 1969, when American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.


Before and since, Congressional investigations into alleged criminal and unethical activities flourished.  Chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver from 1950-51, the investigations focused on organized crime.  From 1960 through 1967, Senator John McClelland conducted an investigation of organized labor, specifically the AFL-CIO as led by Jimmy Hoffa.  Investigations of this nature prompted Robert F. Kennedy to publish a book in 1960 entitled, “The Enemy from Within.”


In the early ’70’s, Hollywood took on the theme of organized crime with the film, “The Godfather.”  Rife with the rituals and clichés of organized crime families, the movie created a stereotype of all Italian Americans, many of whom were deeply insulted by the “guilt by association” generated by Hollywood.  Organized crime is just that: organized.  It is not restricted to one ethnicity or one strata of society.


I postulate that many of our lawmakers are guilty of organized crime.  What else can we call it when they accept favors or campaign contributions from lobbyists, in return for the passage of legislation benefiting lobbyists?  Lobbying should also be considered a form of organized crime: there is nothing more organized than big money buying special favors through legislation.  Money now outweighs morals in this country.  This situation recalls the tale of Diogenes, carrying a lantern, seeking an honest man in broad daylight.


Who in power can we trust, when the laws that affect our lives are based upon money offered and accepted?  Who indeed?  It makes us wonder if the collapse of Wall Street in 2008 was truly a market correction or a contrived plot.  The collapse prompted President George W. Bush to react with a financial plan (TARP)  to offset another Depression.  This plan proved positive for Wall Street, which rapidly recovered, but it did not stop the recession from happening. Was the collapse an excuse for financial institutions to receive large amounts of stimulus money?  Was it meant to reassure savings in failings banks by increasing FDIC limits to $250,000 per account?


Will we wake up tomorrow and find our Constitution a worthless piece of paper? Will we find that we have lost our American sovereignty to a global society?  Will the American worker have to compete for wages against his foreign counterparts in a New World Order?  Oversight from our elected representatives is critical to ensure that the answers to these questions are not, “Yes!”  But this oversight is sorely lacking.  No branch of government has stepped forward to conduct an investigation as to why we are in such dire financial straights.  The only resistance to Big Government is the people’s Tea Party.


Newt Gingrich stated in a recent debate, “It’s not government’s job to create jobs.” This responsibility belongs to American corporations. We have become too dependent on government to supply us with our daily bread.  Maybe that old fuddy-duddy Ron Paul hit the nail on the head with his vision of a free market with little or no governmental regulation and letting the chips fall where they may to resolve our economic woes.


Our legislators must be accountable for their actions.  It’s time that the American people held their own Congressional investigation: an investigation of Congress! All lawmakers would be compelled to disclose how their actions have created an untenable situation here, and how they aim to correct that situation.


At one time, our nation had public servants who actually looked out for the citizens whom they served.  Without them, the Wild West would not have been tamed, and our nation would never have achieved its Manifest Destiny to stretch from “sea to shining sea.”  Although fictional, the character of Marshal Dillon in the long-running radio and television program “Gunsmoke” characterizes the decent, honest public servant who helped America achieve greatness.


Today, we need real life men like Marshal Dillon, men who would put community and country first, fight the fights that need fighting, right the wrongs that have beset our government and society, and restore America to its rightful place – in the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, “a shining city on a hill.” 


Robert Vaughn: A Fortunate Life

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Robert Vaughn

When The Man from U.N.C.L.E. debuted in the mid 1960’s, I was too young to understand the cold war between the U.S. and Russia, but old enough to enjoy this hit “spy versus spy” TV series.  Blonde David McCallum and dark-haired, dark-eyed Robert Vaughn played good guy espionage agents Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo, respectively.  While Illya was young and hip, Solo was more mature and cerebral, but no less compelling a character.  U.N.C.L.E. was my first introduction to Robert Vaughn.  Over the years, I have seen this fine actor in a number of TV shows and films, but I knew very little about his private life.   Coming upon his latest book in the library, A Fortunate Life, I was intrigued enough to take it home.  Vaughn’s portrayal of the rational and often stoic Napoleon Solo had given me no hint of the deeply passionate man who put his convictions into action time and again.  Let me share with you some of the more interesting facts that I have learned about Robert Vaughn.

 

He grew up in a family of actors.

 

In 1939, at the age of six, Robert recited the entire “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet for famed actor Jack Barrymore.  At the end of his performance, the audience exploded in applause and Barrymore praised him with a very vocal, “More, lad, more!”  The venue was not a stage but a bar in Chicago, and despite the accolades, the boy’s mother had to prompt him to reprise the  soliloquy several times.

 

Vaughn’s favorite role is Hamlet.

 

He was one of the stars of the blockbuster film, The Magnificent Seven.

 

While the beautiful actress Natalie Wood was most closely associated with another Robert (her husband, actor Bob Wagner), Robert Vaughn was also romantically involved with her for quite a long time.

 

He holds a PhD; in 1970, he received his doctorate from the University of Southern California.

 

A Fortunate Life is his second book.  Published in 1972, the premise of his first book, Only Victims, also served as the subject for his doctoral thesis.  Only Victims is an exposé of Hollywood’s blacklisting of certain actors in the 1950’s.  Victims of McCarthy’s witch hunts — in, ironically for Vaughn, the cold war era — the performers found themselves unemployed and unemployable due to their politics, viewed by the paranoid-in-power as Communist.

 

Robert Vaughn was the first actor to speak out publicly against the Vietnam War.

 

His opposition drove him to debate William F. Buckley on that archconservative’s TV program, The Firing Line (one of the longest running shows in TV history).  By all accounts, Vaughn won the debate.

 

In addition to serving as National Chairman of Dissenting Democrats, the largest antiwar organization in the United States, he was instrumental in persuading Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy to run for President of the United States.

 

Convinced of a conspiracy, Vaughn believes that Sirhan Bashara Sirhan did not kill Bobby.  For those interested in delving further into this mystery, the actor-activist recommends Peter Evan’s book Nemesis.  Evan expounds upon a theory that Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who married President Jack Kennedy’s widow Jackie, was partly responsible for Bobby’s assassination.

 

Because of the many beautiful women with whom he had liaisons, and the adventures that he had with friends and fellow actors Steve McQueen and James Coburn, Robert Vaughn did indeed have a fortunate life.   The book reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and part of the 80’s.  Vaughn is an excellent storyteller who knows how to capture and hold the reader’s interest.  If you like your politics served up with a little Hollywood glamour and gossip, this is just the book for you.

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