John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Berliner" Kennedy is a member of the Dead Kennedys, and the first one to join by an assassin's bullet.
While he has become sainted due to his martyrdom and the historical impression that he was the liberal left's Last Great Hope, many of his forays into international affairs proved to be disastrous, or at least, dangerous brinkmanship (e.g., the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis). However, his efforts for civil rights proved to be of good intent.
After her husband's death, Jacqueline and historian Arthur Schlesinger created the best PR blitz ever when they claimed the First Couple used to lay in bed listening to the soundtrack to an Arthurian musical of epic proportions. This little morsel blossomed into the most absurd myth about the Presidency, dwarfing the romanticization of Lincoln in pure bullshit. According to this mythology, prominent in Southern New England, Kennedy was an Irish Catholic Saint with a heart of gold and, if not killed, he perhaps would have ended all war on planet earth, if not perhaps granted every tax payer a free kitten.
The reality is way more complex and darker. His father, the pro-Appeasement Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, had arbitrarily decided Jack would take up the idea of being the First Catholic President because he'd killed his career by supporting Hitler and his older son, Joe Jr., was killed in the War. His father groomed his sons for greatness in government or civil service, and created a vast political machine in Massachusetts through marriage, business deals, and re-negotiating Canadian liquor import licenses when Prohibition was ended in the wake of the Depression. Kennedy's father actually hedged his bets well by getting his son Robert put onto the HUAC Committee along with Roy Cohn under Joseph McCarthy, painting his sons as hot-shot Red Hunters.
For all intents and purposes, it seems quite clear that America did in fact choose Richard Nixon in the 1960 election, but Richard Daley was in Joseph Kennedy's pocket, ergo a convenient case of minor ballot fraud by the Democratic Party that foreshadowed, of all things, the election four decades to the day later featuring George W. Bush and Al Gore.
As President, Kennedy was at odds with the Joint Chiefs, the CIA, and J. Edgar Hoover from Day One. He had inherited from Eisenhower an invasion plan for Castro's Cuba, to begin at the Bay of Pigs, where the CIA was obviously pulling more sway and had more power than was acceptable under the Constitution. When they launched the invasion, Kennedy refused air coverage for the militia of invaders, who were promptly stopped by Castro, an embarrassment on the global stage that Khrushchev used for great comic effect.
The Joint Chiefs wanted to turn the Indochinese peninsula into a parking lot, if need be, in order to stop Ho Chi Minh. Kennedy sent advisors to the war zone, but refused to put troops on the ground, in spite of his Generals. When they discovered that the Cubans had allowed the USSR to position missile bases all of 90 miles from the Florida Keys, they advised a 'First Strike' nuclear attack that would have led to a nuclear holocaust. This was despite the fact that America had positioned Jupiter missiles on the Soviet-Turkish border, doing essentially the exact same thing as the Russians. At several points in the crisis, the Military dissent was so strong Moscow believed that Kennedy would face a coup d'etat from his military advisors.
J. Edgar Hoover, who was getting on in years, had turned Communism into a Freudian fetish object in his tenure at the FBI, a symptom of his own greater personal issues. He convinced the Kennedys to let him wire-tap Civil Rights leaders because they had links to the old Communist Party, such as A. Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. Hoover then used a rather broad wiretapping warrant to eaves drop on Martin Luther King Jr.'s sexual dalliances, at one point trying to blackmail the Reverend into refuting the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Kennedy's learned about a protest march on August 28, 1963, they basically talked the leadership into making it into what Malcolm X called a 'picnic'.
All the while, Kennedy had lied to the public about his very painful Addison's Disease and was medicating himself with painkillers. He carried on with an assorted rotating carousel of casual mistresses, making Bobby into something of a wingman/clean-up crew for his older brother. Whether Marilyn Monroe actually was one of these lovers is still unclear, but it is acknowledged now that Kennedy did have a fling with an East German spy. Whole books full of conspiracy theories come from these facts, but in the end they portray a Presidency much more accurately than any Camelot-based woo.
 'Secret Societies' speech
On April 27th 1961, Kennedy gave a speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York. Aside from being a particularly good example of Kennedy's superb grasp of rhetorical pathos, it's become exceptionally popular amongst online conspiracy whackjobs, almost exclusively because Kennedy uses the term 'secret society' on one occasion, and makes reference to the US being opposed around the world by a "monolithic and ruthless conspiracy," which relies variously on "infiltration instead of invasion," "subversion instead of elections," "intimidation instead of free choice" and "guerillas by night" to "expand its sphere of influence."
Versions of this speech are all over YouTube with ridiculous titles (e.g. 'JFK blows the whistle on 9/11') - the speech is generally quote mined down from its original 20 minute length to a pithy 5 minutes (some are as short as a minute or two) which focusses on the juicy when de-contextualised statements listed above, but they're invariably so poorly edited that the speech doesn't actually make much narrative sense (although it's certainly a credit to Kennedy's aforementioned grasp of highly charged rhetoric that he can sound convincing and purposeful even when what he's saying is incoherent). All in all, said videos command a combined viewership of several million.
Depending on what theories you subscribe to, JFK was referring to one or all of the following - the CIA, the Fed, the FBI, the Illuminati, the New World Order, 9/11, Mossad, MI6, Freemasons, Israel, Skull & Bones Society, 'Big Government' and so on. However, many conspiracy peddlers seem to be in agreement that it was this speech that led to his assassination.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that Kennedy was talking about something totally unrelated to any of the targets just mentioned (although, ironically, JFK's statements about the behaviour of this enemy are directly applicable to the actions of the US throughout the Cold War period). Additionally, for a speech that supposedly threatened The Powers That Be to such a degree that they had no recourse but to assassinate Kennedy in cold-blood two years and a half years later, verbatim text transcripts of the speech in its distinctly non-scurrilous entirety (and a full audio recording) are freely available in numerous places on the web. A brief read or listen of the oratory in full reveals that Kennedy was clearly speaking in reference to the Soviet Union, and it's due to their own generalised idiocy (ignorance of the logistics and history of the Cold War, ignorance of the use of terms like 'closed society' and 'Iron Curtain' in political discourse, etc.) that conspiracy theorists believe differently.
- "If by a 'liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a liberal."
- "We need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all - except the censor."
- "Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed - and no republic can survive."
- "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth."
- "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
- "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
- "A wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."
- "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind."
- "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."
- "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
 Anything else?
Oh, almost forgot:
 See also
- JFK's commencement address at American University
- John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory
 Ich bin ein footnote
- ↑ Despite being a member of the NRA and liking wide-ranging tax cuts. Seriously, what even constitutes as leftie in the States is quite...different.
- ↑ cf. Chris Matthews. Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry that Shaped Postwar America.
- ↑ cf. Matthews.
- ↑ cf. Matthews.
- ↑ cf. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/2012/1016/Cuban-Missile-Crisis-the-3-most-surprising-things-you-didn-t-know/The-Cuban-Missile-Crisis-almost-caused-a-US-military-coup Retrospective article.
- ↑ cf. Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years.
- ↑ http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1145 Malcolm X, "Message to the Grassroots".
- ↑ http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/05/science/sci-jfk-addisons5
- ↑ http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKrometsch.htm WHOOPS!
- ↑ Including the JFK Library