Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are thrilled to see the economy grow by five percent in the third quarter. They also sigh as reports show theaters offered to allow a limited release of “The Interview” to see how real the terrorism threats were but Sony declined the offer. And they rip New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio for suggesting the media is to blame for paying attention to the violent messages of protesters prior to the killing of two NYPD officers on Saturday.
Archives for December 2014
As the year comes to a close, we take time to reflect upon those family members and friends who died in 2014. As we cope with the loss and hold on to cherished memories, there are others who died this year that we may not have known personally, but we knew their work and their ideas that impacted our world. In another segment, we appreciate the lives of those who touched us in the area of arts and entertainment, from movies to television to music and more.
Now we turn our attention to those in politics, business, media and sports who left us in 2014.
ARIEL SHARON WAS A BARREL OF A MAN WHO ROSE TO ACCLAIM AS A MILITARY HERO IN ISRAEL AND LATER SERVED AS DEFENSE MINISTER AND PRIME MINISTER. KNOWN FOR HIS NO-NONSENSE APPROACH TO TERRORISM, SHARON LATER SHOCKED MANY OF HIS SUPORTERS BY UNLATERALLY HANDING GAZA OVER TO THE PALESTINIANS. INCAPACITATED BY A MASSIVE STROKE FOR SEVERAL YEARS, SHARON DIED IN JANUARY. HE WAS 85.
AS THE COLD WAR THAWED THROUGH THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MIKHAIL GORBACHEV AND RONALD REAGAN AND GORBACHEV AND GEORGE H.W. BUSH, GORBACHEV’S MOST IMPORTANT SUBORDINATE WAS SOVIET FOREIGN MINISTER EDUARD SHEVARDNADZE. LATER ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA UPON THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION,SHEVARDNADZE DIED IN JULY AT THE AGE OF 86.
IN HAITI, THE RENOWNED FRANCOIS ‘PAPA DOC’ DUVALIER WAS SUCCEEDED BY HIS EVEN MORE CORRUPT AND FAR LESS COMPETENT SON. JEAN CLAUDE ‘BABY DOC’ DUVALIER WAS FORCED INTO EXILE IN THE 1980S. HE WAS 63 WHEN HE DIED IN OCTOBER.
IN AMERICAN POLITICS, THE REAGAN VICTORY IN 1980 ALSO BROUGHT THE FIRST REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY SINCE THE 1950S. TENNESSEE’S HOWARD BAKER, WHO RAN UNSUCCESSFULLY FOR THE GOP NOMINATION AGAINST REAGAN ASSUMED THE TITLE OF MAJORITY LEADER. WHILE FAR MORE MODERATE THAN REAGAN, BAKER SHEPHERDED THE NEW PRESIDENT’S TAX CUTS THROUGH THE UPPER CHAMBER ALONG WITH OTHER KEY INITIATIVES. BAKER RETIRED IN 1985, ONLY TO COME ON AS REAGAN’S CHIEF OF STAFF LATE IN THE SECOND TERM. HE LATER SERVED AS AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH. HOWARD BAKER WAS 88 YEARS OLD.
WHILE REAGAN CERTAINLY HAD HIS WAY IN FRONT OF THE MICROPHONE, HE ALSO RECRUITED THE INTELLIGENT AND WITTY JAMES BRADY TO BE HIS PRESS SECRETARY. HIS TIME ON THE JOB WAS CUT SHORT AFTER JUST TWO MONTHS, WHEN THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON REAGAN’S LIFE LEFT BRADY PERMANENTLY DISABLED AFTER BEING SHOT IN THE HEAD. THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS ROOM NOW BEARS HIS NAME. BRADY DIED IN AUGUST AT AGE 73.
BRADY OFFICIALLY HELD THE TITLE OF PRESS SECRETARY FOR THE REMAINDER OF REAGAN’S PRESIDENCY, BUT THE MAN WHO DID THE DAY TO DAY WORK FOR MOST OF THOSE YEARS WAS THE APTLY NAMED LARRY SPEAKES. HE DIED IN JANUARY AT THE AGE OF 74
JEREMIAH DENTON WAS A TRUE AMERICAN HERO. DENTON WAS CAPTURED AND HELD PRISONER AT THE INFAMOUS HANOI HILTON IN VIETNAM. HE NEVER BROKE UNDER INTERROGATION AND TORTURE. WHEN FORCED TO READ A SCRIPT ON TELEVISION, DENTON BLINKED MORSE CODE FOR THE WORD TORTURE, LEAVING NO DOUBT WHAT CONDITIONS WERE LIKE FOR U.S. PRISONERS. DENTON WAS THEN ELECTED TO THE U.S. SENATE FROM ALABAMA IN 1980. ALTHOUGH DEFEATED FOR RE-ELECTION FOR SIX YEARS LATER, DENTON REMAINED A EXAMPLE OF COURAGE AND GRACE AND BECAME AN OUTSPOKEN ADVOCATE FOR CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES IN HIS LATER YEARS. DENTON WAS 89.
IT’S PRETTY RARE FOR ONE TO CHANGE THE BALANCE OF POWER IN WASHINGTON, BUT VERMONT’S JIM JEFFORDS MANAGED TO DO IT. FOLLOWING THE 2000 ELECTIONS, THE SENATE WAS SPLIT 50-50 WITH VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY’S TIEBREAKING VOTE PUTTING REPUBLICANS IN THE MAJORITY. JEFFORDS WAS A LIBERAL REPUBLICAN STARTING HIS THIRD TERM WHEN HE DETERMINED THE PARTY HAD BECOME TOO CONSERVATIVE. HE BECAME AN INDEPENDENT AND CAUCUSED WITH DEMOCRATS, GIVING THEM THE MAJORITY FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND A HALF. JEFFORDS RETIRED IN 2006. HE WAS 80 WHEN HE DIED IN AUGUST.
THE MOST COLORFUL MEMBER OF THE HOUSE FROM THE MID-1980S UNTIL HIS EXPULSION IN 2002 WAS OHIO’S JAMES TRAFICANT. KNOWN FOR HIS OUTLANDISH SUITS, OBVIOUS TOUPEE AND ‘BEAM ME UP’ CATCHPHRASE AS HE RAILED AGAINST GOVERNMENT STUPIDITY, TRAFICANT WAS FORCED FROM OFFICE IN 2002 FOLLOWING HIS CONVICTION ON FEDERAL BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION CHARGES, FOR WHICH HE SERVED SEVEN YEARS IN PRISON. HE DIED FOLLOWING A FARM ACCIDENT IN SEPTEMBER. TRAFICANT WAS 73.
BETWEEN BARRY GOLDWATER’S PRESIDENTIAL RUN AND THE RISE OF RONALD REAGAN, NO ONE CARRIED THE CONSERVATIVE MANTLE MORE PROUDLY THAN ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN PHIL CRANE. SERVING FOR NEARLY 35 YEARS IN THE HOUSE, CRANE WAS KNOWN FOR HIS FIERCE AVERSION TO BALLOONING FEDERAL SPENDING. ONCE, WHEN SHOWING THE AUTOMATED VOTING SYSTEM ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TO A NEW MEMBER WHEN DEMOCRATS WERE IN THE MAJORITY, CRANE QUIPPED, ‘VOTE YES ON DEFENSE AND TO ADJOURN. VOTE NO ON EVERYTHING ELSE.’ CRANE WAS 84.
TWO HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL BIG CITY MAYORS DIED THIS YEAR. IN WASHINGTON, NO ONE WAS MORE POLARIZING THAN MARION BARRY. CONSIDERED A HRO BY THE BLACK COMMUNITY FOR HIS CIVIL RIGHTS WORK AND FOR GIVING BLACK BUSINESS MORE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE PAST, THOSE SAME ACTIONS DREW ACCUSATIONS OF CORRUPTION. BARRY ALSO DREW HEAT FOR THE SKYROCKETING MURDER RATE IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL AND FOR AN EROSION OF CITY SERVICES. GETTING CAUGHT SMOKING CRACK ON CAMERA BY THE FBI IS WHAT HE’LL BE BEST REMEMBERED FOR, ALTHOUGH IT DIDN’T STOP HIM FROM WINNING ANOTHER TERM AS MAYOR. BARRY DIED IN NOVEMBER. HE WAS 78.
JANE BYRNE WAS THE FIRST AND STILL ONLY FEMALE MAYOR OF CHICAGO. HER TENURE IN THE LATE 1970S AND EARLY 80S WAS A NIGHTMARE FROM START TO FINISH. BYRNE LOST THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IN HER BID FOR RE-ELECTION. SHE WAS 81 WHEN SHE DIED IN NOVEMBER. TOM MENINO RULED CITY HALL IN BOSTON FOR 20 YEARS AND WAS FAR LESS CONTROVERSIAL THAN BARRY OR BYRNE. SEEN PROMINENTLY IN THE WAKE OF THE 2013 BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS, MENINO WAS 71.
BACK IN WASHINGTON, JOAN MONDALE, THE WIFE OF FORMER VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE, DIED IN FEBRUARY. SHE WAS 83.
THE MAN WHO MAY HAVE DONE THE MOST DAMAGE TO THE REAGAN PRESIDENCY WAS IRAN-CONTRA INDEPENDENT COUNSEL LAWRENCE WALSH. HAILED BY THE LEFT AND REVILED BY THE RIGHT, WALSH DIED IN MARCH. HE WAS 102.
ANOTHER MAJOR PAIN IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE REAGAN WHITE HOUSE WAS THE SAVINGS AND LOANS SCANDAL. BUSINESSMAN CHARLES KEATING WAS AT THE EPICENTER OF THAT SCANDAL. HE WAS 90 WHEN HE DIED IN APRIL.
ANOTHER EMBARRASSING REVELATION FOR THE GIPPER WAS THE PUBLIC ASSERTION THAT NANCY REAGAN CONSULTED AN ASTROLOGIST TO PLAN HER HUSBAND’S SCHEDULE TO AVOID FUTURE ASSASSINATION PLOTS. REPORTS LATER CONFIRMED THE ASTROLOGER TO BE JOAN QUIGLEY. SHE DIED IN OCTOBER AT THE AGE OF 87.
AND ONE OF THE MOST DESPISED MEN IN AMERICA DIED IN MARCH. FRED PHELPS, HEAD OF THE SO-CALLED WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH, LED LITTLE MORE THAN HIS OWN FAMILY AS THEY PICKETED THE FUNERALS OF SOLDIERS KILLED IN ACTION, CLAIMING THEY DIED AS PUNISHMENT FOR AMERICA EMBRACING HOMOSEXUALITY. PHELPS WAS 84.
IN JOURNALISM, FEW NAMES LEFT A BIGGER MARK OR CHANGED THE PROFESSION MORE THAN BEN BRADLEE. THE FORMER WASHINGTON POST EDITOR GUIDED THE PAPER FROM A LOCAL DAILY TO ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT VOICES IN POLITICS. BRADLEE LED THE POST THROUGH THE PUBLISHING OF THE PENTAGON PAPERS AND STEERED WOODWARD AND BERNSTEIN AS THEY EXPOSED THE WATERGATE SCANDAL. BRADLEE HAD BEEN SUFFERING FROM DEMENTIA WHEN HE DIED IN OCTOBER. HE WAS 93.
GARRICK UTLEY WAS A LONGTIME NEWS ANCHOR FOR NBC. UTLEY DIED IN FEBRUARY AT THE AGE OF 74.
BRUCE MORTON WAS THE CURMUDGEONLY CBS NEWS REPORTER THAT DUG UP THE REAL STORY BEHIND ALL THE TALKING POINTS. MORTON DIED IN SEPTEMBER. HE WAS 83.
TERRI KEENAN WAS A SHARP BUSINESS REPORTER AND ANCHOR FOR CNN AND THEN THE FOX BUSINESS NETWORK. KEENAN DIED SUDDENLY OF A HEART ATTACK IN OCTOBER AT THE AGE OF 53.
IN BUSINESS, TRUETT CATHY WOLD TELL YOU HE DIDN’T INVENT THE CHICKEN, JUST THE CHICKEN SANDWICH. CATHY TURNED A COUPLE OF ATLANTA FOOD COURT STANDS INTO THE CHICK-FIL-A PHENOMENON. KNOWN JUST AS MUCH FOR HIS DEVOUT CHRISTIAN FAITH, PHILANTHROPY AND GIVING HIS EMPLOYEES THE DAY OFF ON SUNDAYS, CATHY WAS 93 WHEN HE DIED IN SEPTEMBER.
EILEEN FORD BUILT THE RENOWNED MODELING AGENCY THAT BEARS HER NAME AND RULED THE INDUSTRY FOR DECADES. FORD WAS 92.
THOSE MODELS HAD TO WEAR SOMETHING ON THE CATWALK. IF THEY WERE LUCKY, IT WOULD BE SOMETHING DESIGNED BY OSCAR DE LA RENTA. THE DESIGNER TO THE STARS DIED IN OCTOBER. HE WAS 82.
IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS, ONLY ONE COACH HAS WON FOUR SUPERBOWLS IN THE NFL AND CHUCK NOLL DID IT IN A SIX YEAR SPAN. THANKS TO HIS STEEL CURTAIN DEFENSE, NOLL TURNED THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS FROM NFL AFTERTHOUGHT TO THE MOST FEARED FRANCHISE IN THE LEAGUE. THE HALL OF FAMER CHUCK NOLL DIED IN JUNE. HE WAS 82.
THE LAST ORIGINAL AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE OWNER PASSED AWAY THIS YEAR. RALPH WILSON JR. OWNED THE BUFFALO BILLS FOR OVER 50 YEARS AND WATCHED THEM CLAIM TWO AFL TITLES BUT NO SUPERBOWLS, EVEN THOUGH THE BILLS WENT TO AN UNPRECEDENTED FOUR CONSECUTIVE TITLE GAMES IN THE 1990S. WILSON WAS 95.
WILLIAM CLAY FORD OWNED THE DETROIT LIONS FOR OVER 50 YEARS BUT HAD ONLY ONE PLAYOFF WIN TO SHOW FOR IT. FORTUNATELY HIS AUTO BUSINESS ACUMEN WAS MUCH SHARPER. FORD WAS 88.
MALCOLM GLAZER NOT ONLY OWNED THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS BUT THE MOST FAMOUS FRANCHISE THAT PLAYS THE OTHER KIND OF FOOTBALL…MANCHESTER UNITED. GLAZER WAS 85.
THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS ARE STILL THE ONLY UNBEATEN TEAM IN NFL HISTORY AND THE QUARTERBACK WHO RARELY GETS MUCH CREDIT FOR THAT RUN IS EARL MORALL. MORALL STARTED MANY GAMES THAT SEASON IN RELIEF OF THE INJURED BOB GRIESE. HE ALSO APPEARED IN EARLIER SUPERBOWLS FOR THE BALTIMORE COLTS. MORALL WAS 79.
IN BASEBALL, MANY CONSIDERED TONY GWYNN THE BEST PURE HITTER SINCE TED WILLIAMS. A STAPLE IN RIGHT FIELD FOR THE SAN DIEGO PADRES, GWYNN WAS MUCH BETTER KNOWN FOR HAVING ONE OF THE BEST LIFETIME BATTING AVERAGES IN HISTORY AND LEADING THE PADRES TO TWO NATIONAL LEAGUE PENNANTS. GWYNN DIED OF CANCER HE ATTRIBUTED TO YEARS OF CHEWING TOBACCO. GWYNN WAS 54.
IN THE LATE 1940S AND EARLY 50S, IT WAS ALMOST A GIVEN THAT THE NEW YORK YANKEES WOULD WIN THE WORLD SERIES. ONE OF THE KEY FIGURES IN THAT RUN WAS SECOND BASEMAN JERRY COLEMAN. FAR BEYOND HIS EXPLOITS ON THE DIAMOND, COLEMAN SERVED AS A FIGHTER PILOT IN BOTH WORLD WAR II AND KOREA. HE LATER BECAME A HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCER FOR THE SAN DIEGO PADRES. COLEMAN WAS 89.
RALPH KINER WAS ONE OF THE GAMES GREAT SLUGGERS FOR THE PIRATES, CUBS AND INDIANS IN A HALL OF FAME CAREER. BUT FOR OVER 50 YEARS, HE WAS ALWAYS LINKED TO THE NEW YORK METS, WHOSE GAMES HE ANNOUNCED FROM THEIR START IN 1962 UNTIL HIS DEATH IN FEBRUARY. KINER WAS 91.
ONE OF THE TRUE CHARACTERS OF THE GAME WAS DON ZIMMER. POPEYE WAS KNOWN FOR MANAGING THE BOSTON RED SOX IN THEIR PAINFUL 1978 SEASON, GUIDING THE CHICAGO CUBS TO THE DIVISION CROWN IN 1989 AND SERVING AS BENCH COACH FOR THE GREAT YANKEE TEAMS UNDER JOE TORRE. ZIMMER WAS 83 WHEN HE DIED IN JUNE.
JIM FREGOSI SPENT 18 YEARS PLAYING IN THE BIG LEAGUES BUT GAINED MORE FAME AS A MANAGER. BEST KNOWN FOR LEADING THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES TO THE 1993 NATIONAL LEAGUE TITLE, FREGOSI DIED SUDDENLY FROM A STROKE IN FEBRUARY. HE WAS 71.
BOB WELCH HAD A VERY SUCCESSFUL PITCHING CAREER, HIGHLIGHTED BY TWO MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. A YOUNG WELCH ENGAGED IN AN EPIC DUEL FOR THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS AGAINST YANKEES SLUGGER REGGIE JACKSON IN THE 1978 WORLD SERIES. WELCH WON THE BATTLE IN GAME TWO THAT GAVE THE DODGERS THE WIN EVEN THOUGH THE YANKEES WON THE SERIES. WELCH ALSO AMASSED AN AMAZING 27 WINS IN 1990 FOR THE OAKLAND A’S – AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT EARNED HIM THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD. WELCH WAS JUST 57 YEARS OLD.
ALVIN DARK WAS SHORTSTOP FOR THE 1954 WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS. LATER A MANAGER, DARK GUIDED THE OAKLAND A’S TO THE 1974 WORLD SERIES TITLE. DARK WAS 92.
OSCAR TAVARES WAS A VERY PROMISING STAR FOR THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, WHO HIT A KEY HOME RUN IN GAME TWO OF THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES. TAVARES WAS KILLED IN A CAR CRASH JUST DAYS AFTER THE SERIES ENDED. HE WAS JUST 22.
ONE OF THE GREATEST BASKETBALL MINDS BELONGED TO DR. JACK RAMSAY. RAMSAY COACHED THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS TO THE 1977 NBA CROWN. HE LATERSERVED FOR MANY YEARS AS A TELEVISION AND RADIO ANALYST FOR NBA GAMES. RAMSAY WAS 89.
IN HOCKEY, PAT QUINN WAS A SUCCESFUL COACH FOR FIVE DIFFERENT TEAMS AND REACHED THE STANLEY CUP FINALS TWICE. HIS GREATEST TRIUMPH WAS LEADING CANADA TO THE GOLD MEDAL IN HOCKEY AT THE 2002 WINTER OLYMPICS. QUINN WAS 71.
VIKTOR TIKHONOV WAS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL HOCKEY COACHES IN HISTORY, LEADING THE SOVIETS TO THREE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS AND EIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. HOWEVER, IT’S THE ONE HE DIDN’T WIN THAT HE’S BEST KNOWN FOR. TIKHONOV WAS COACHING HE USSR WHEN IT LOST TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE MIRACLE ON ICE IN THE 1980 WINTER GAMES. TIKHONOV WAS 84.
IT’S HARD TO FIND A BIGGER WINNER IN HOCKEY THAN JEAN BELIVEAU. BELIVEAU PLAYED MORE THAN 20 SEASONS WITH THE MONTREAL CANADIENS, WINNING 10 STANLEY CUPS. HE LATER JOINED THE FRONT OFFICE AND HAD A HAND IN WINNING SEVEN MORE. BELIVEAU WAS 83.
RUBIN ‘HURRICANE’ CARTER WAS A SOLID MIDDLEWEIGHT FIGHTER, BUT HIS GREATEST CLAIM TO FAME WAS BEING WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED FOR 20 YEARS FOR A MURDER HE DID NOT COMMIT. CARTER WAS 76.
IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, FEW BROUGHT MORE ENERGY OR FURY TO THE RING THAN THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR. HE WAS JAMES HELLWIG IN REAL LIFE. HELLWIG DIED SUDDENLY IN APRIL AT THE AGE OF 54.
IN ADDITION TO JEREMIAH DENTON, THE NATION LOST MORE OF ITS GREATEST MILITARY HEROES THIS YEAR. LOUIS ZAMPERINI WENT FROM A REBELLIOUS YOUTH TO AN OLYMPIC RUNNER. SERVING IN WORLD WAR II, HIS PLANE WAS SHOT DOWN IN THE PACIFIC. AFTER WEEKS ADRIFT AT SEA, HE AND HIS FELLOW CREW MEMBERS WERE CAPTURED BY THE JAPANESE AND TREATED HORRENDOUSLY. ZAMPERINI THEN BECAME A DEVOUT CHRISTIAN AND EVEN FORGAVE HIS CAPTORS. HIS STORY IS TOLD IN THE BOOK AND MOVIE ‘UNBROKEN.’ ZAMPERINI DIED IN JULY. HE WAS 97.
IT WAS THE ATOMIC BOMBS THAT BROUGHT AN EARLY END TO THE WAR AGAINST JAPAN. THE ENOLD GAY DROPPED THE FIRST HUGE BOMB OVER HIROSHIMA. THEODORE ‘DUTCH’ VAN KIRK WAS THE NAVIGATOR ON THAT FATEFUL FLIGHT. HE WAS 93 WHEN HE DIED IN JULY.
CHESTER NEZ WAS THE LAST OF THE ORIGINAL NAVAJO CODE TALKERS, THE GROUP OF NAVAJO INDIANS WHO CREATED A CODE THE JAPANESE COULD NEVER CRACK. NEZ WAS 93.
THE BAND OF BROTHERS WAS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS COMPANIES IN WORLD WAR II THANKS TO THE WRITINGS OF STEPHEN AMBROSE. ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN BROTHERS WAS ‘WILD’ BILL GUARNERE. HE DIED IN MARCH AT THE AGE OF 90.
WALT EHLERS NOT ONLY SERVED ON D-DAY, BUT HIS HEROIC ACTIONS IN THE BATTLE OF NORMANDY EARNED HIM THE MEDAL OF HONOR FOR RESCUING A FALLEN SOLDIER AND RISKING HIS LIFE AGAIN TO RETRIEVE THE MAN’S WEAPON. EHLERS WAS 92.
2014 was a memorable year in many ways, but just like every other year, there were man famous names and faces who died over the past 12 months, leaving us with only the memories. Today, we look back on those we lost in the arts and entertainment:
HE SHOT TO STARDOM ON HAPPY DAYS AND MORK AND MINDY, BUT ROBIN WILLIAMS BECAME A LEGEND ON THEBIG SCREEN, IN UNFORGETTABLE ROLES IN FILMS SUCH AS‘DEAD POETS SOCIETY’, ‘MRS. DOUBTFIRE’, ‘ALADDIN’ AND‘GOOD WILL HUNTING’, FOR WHICH WILLIAMS WON A BEST SUPPORTING OSCAR. WILLIAMS STUNNED THE WORLD WHEN HE TOOK HIS OWN LIFE IN AUGUST. HE WAS 63.
UNTIL WILLIAMS’ SUICIDE, THE MOST SHOCKING HOLLYWOOD DEATH WAS THAT OF PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. HIS OUTSTANDING ACTING WAS SEEN IN COUNTLESS ROLES FROM FILMS SUCH AS ‘SCENT OF A WOMAN’ TO ‘THE BIG LEBOWSKI’ TO ‘CAPOTE’, FOR WHICH HIS WON AN ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR. HOFFMAN DIED OF A DRUG OVERDOSE IN FEBRUARY. HE WAS 46.
IN THE 1930S, THE BIGGEST MOVIE STAR IN THE WORLD WAS A PRECOCIOUS LITTLE GIRL NAMED SHIRLEY TEMPLE. ONE OF THE FIRST CINEMATIC CHILD STARS, TEMPLE WOULD LEAVE ACTING IN THE LATE 1940S BUT WOULD RE-EMERGE AS A DIPLOMAT DECADES LATER. SHE SERVED AS AMBASSADOR TO GHANA AND CZECHOSLOVAKIA UNDER TWO DIFFERENT PRESIDENTS. TEMPLE DIED IN FEBRUARY AT THE AGE OF 85
ONE DAY AFTER ROBIN WILLIAMS DIED, WORD CAME THAT THE LEGENDARY LAUREN BACALL DIED AT AGE 89. KNOWN AS MUCH FOR HER MAY-DECEMBER ROMANCE AND MARRIAGE WITH HUMPHREY BOGART AS FOR ROLES IN CLASSICS SUCH AS ‘TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT’, THE BIG SLEEP’, ‘HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE’ AND ‘THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES.’
MICKEY ROONEY ENJOYED ONE OF THE LONGEST CAREERS IN HOLLYWOOD. VAULTING TO FAME AS THE TEENAGE LEAD IN THE “ANDY HARDY’ MOVIES, ROONEY WAS A FIXTURE ON STAGE AND SCREEN FOR OVER 80 YEARS – ALL THE WAY UP TO A ROLE IN ‘NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.’ MICKEY ROONEY WAS 93.
ANOTHER ACTOR WITH DECADES OF EXCELLENT PERFORMANCES WAS JAMES GARNER. FIRST FINDING FAME AS BRET MAVERICK ON TELEVISION, GARNER ATTRACTED LEGIONS OF FANS WITH HIS TURN AS ROBERT HENDLEY, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE SCROUNGER IN THE SCREEN CLASSIC ‘THE GREAT ESCAPE.’ GARNER WENT ON TO MORE TV SUCCESS IN ‘THE ROCKFORD FILES’ ALONGSIDE MEMORABLE ROLES IN FILMS FROM ‘SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF’ TO SPACE COWBOYS.’ JAMES GARNER DIED IN JULY AT AGE 86.
ONE OF GARNER’S GREAT CO-STARS IN ‘THE GREAT ESCAPE’WAS RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH. THE BRITISH ACTOR STAYED ACTIVE FOR MANY YEARS, AND IS ALSO REMEMBERED FOR HIS ROLE IN BOX OFFICE SMASH ‘JURASSIC PARK’. ATTENBOROUGH WAS 90.
ELI WALLACH STARRED IN TWO OF THE MOST PROLIFIC MOVIES OF THE 1960S, ‘THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN’ AND ‘THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.’ WORKING ALL THE WAY UP TO THE RECENT ‘WALL STREET’ SEQUEL, WALLACH DIED IN JUNE AT THE AGE OF 98.
ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE FILMS OF THE EARLY 1960S WAS ‘JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG’, TELLING THE STORY OF THE NAZIS TRIED AND CONVICTED OF WAR CRIMES FOLLOWING WORLD WAR II. THE OSCAR-WINNING LEAD WAS THE WORK OF MAXIMILIAN SCHELL. ALSO AN ACCOMPLISHED PIANIST, SCHELL WAS 83 WHEN HE DIED IN FEBRUARY.
RUBY DEE WAS AS WELL KNOWN FOR HER ACTIVISM FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE 1960S AS SHE WAS FOR HER WORK ON SCREEN. BEST KNOWN FOR HER ROLES IN ‘A RAISIN IN THE SUN’ AND ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’, DEE DIED IN JUNE AT AGE 91.
HAROLD RAMIS WAS EITHER IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND THE CAMERA FOR SOME OF THE MOST BELOVED MOVIES OF THE 1980S AND 90S. RAMIS DIRECTED ‘CADDYSHACK’, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION,
ANALYZE THIS’ AND ‘GROUNDHOG DAY’ AND HAD KEY ROLES IN CLASSICS LIKE ‘STRIPES’ AND ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’. RAMIS WAS 69.
MIKE NICHOLS WAS ANOTHER ACCLAIMED DIRECTOR. BEST KNOWN FOR ‘THE GRADUATE’, WHICH EARNED HIM AN ACADEMY AWARD, NICHOLS WAS ALSO BEHIND ‘WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, SILKWOOD, WORKING GIRL AND THE BIRDCAGE. NICHOLS WAS 83 WHEN HE DIED IN NOVEMBER.
BOB HOSKINS WAS OFTEN SEEN IN SUPPORTING ROLES, INCLUDING ‘HOOK’ ALONGSIDE ROBIN WILLIAMS. HOSKINS’ GREATEST ACCLAIM CAME IN ‘WHO FRAMED ROGERRABBIT?’ HOSKINS WAS 71.
ONE THE MOST ACCLAIMED MOVIE MUSICALS WAS ‘THE SOUND OF MUSIC’, WHICH ADAPTED THE STORY OF THE REAL-LIFE VON TRAPP FAMILY. ONE OF THE MANY REAL- LIFE VON TRAPP CHILDREN DIED THIS YEAR. MARIA VON TRAPP WAS 99.
JOAN RIVERS WAS ONE THE MOST INSULTING PERSONALITIES ON TELEVISION BUT SHE ALSO MADE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LAUGH AND WAS A TRAILBLAZER FOR WOMEN BOTH IN TELEVISION AND IN COMEDY.
BEST KNOWN LATER IN LIFE FOR HER FONDNESS FOR PLASTIC SURGERY AND FOR CRITIQUING THE RED CARPET ATTIRE OF CELEBRITIES, RIVERS DIED IN SEPTEMBER AFTER SHE STOPPED BREATHING DURING A
THROAT PROCEDURE. JOAN RIVERS WAS 81
IN THE 1950S TELEVISION COMEDY BROKE NEW GROUND WITH ‘YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS’. SID CAESAR WAS THE STAR WHO ENJOYED A LONG SHOW BUSINESS CAREER IN THE DECADES THAT FOLLOWED. CAESAR WAS 91.
ON GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, THE PROFESSOR’S EXPERTISE ON JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING GOT THE CASTAWAYS OUT MANY DIFFICULT SPOTS AND GAVE THEM THEIR BEST CHANCES TO BE RESCUED UNTIL GILLIGAN INEVITABLY MESSED THINGS UP. THE PROFESSOR WAS PORTRAYED BY RUSSELL JOHNSON, WHO DIED IN JANUARY AT AGE 89.
GILLIGAN’S ISLAND WAS THE CREATIVE WORK OF SHERWOOD SCHWARTZ. HIS OTHER TV CLASSIC WAS ‘THE BRADY BUNCH’. ALICE WAS THE BRADYS’ LOVABLE BUT SOMEWHAT ECCENTRIC HOUSEKEEPER, PLAYED BY ANN B. DAVIS. DAVIS DIED AFTER A FALL IN JUNE. SHE WAS 88.
BUT NO TV BUNCH WAS MORE ECCENTRIC THAN THE ADDAMS FAMILY. KEN WEATHERWAX PLAYED YOUNG PUGSLEY ADDAMS. WEATHERWAX DIED IN DECEMBER. HE WAS 59.
EFREM ZIMBALIST WAS A BELOVED STAR OF MULTIPLE SERIES. ZIMBALIST WAS THE LEADING MAN IN ’77 SUNSET STRIP’ AND ‘THE FBI’. A DEVOUT CHRISTIAN, HE DIED IN MAY AT AGE 95.
THE 1970S BROUGHT US SOME OF THE MOST BELOVED DRAMATIC CHARACTERS. ONE OF THOSE WAS PA WALTON ON ‘THE WALTONS’, WELL-PORTRAYED BY RALPH WAITE. WAITE DIED IN FEBRUARY. HE WAS 85.
AMERICANS ALSO HAD GREAT AFFECTION FOR NELS OLESON, THE HEN-PECKED YET KINDLY MERCHANT ON ‘LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.’ OLESON’S CHARACTER WAS THE WORK OF ACTOR RICHARD BULL, WHO DIED IN FEBRUARY AT THE AGE OF 89.
ANY MUSICALLY TALENTED FAMILY TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD NEEDS A GOOD MANAGER. FOR THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY THAT JOB WAS HANDLED BY REUBEN KINCAID, WHO WAS PORTRAYED BY DAVE MADDEN. MADDEN APPEARED ON MANY OTHER TELEVISION SERIES AS WELL. HE DIED IN JANUARY AT THE AGE OF 82.
ON WELCOME BACK KOTTER, MR. KOTTER HAD TO KEEP THE SWEATHOGS UNDER CONTROL. HIS WIFE, JULIE, HAD TO LISTEN TO HIS SILLY STORIES AT THE START OF MOST EPISODES. JULIE WAS PORTRAYED BY MARCIA STRASSMAN, WHO DIED IN OCTOBER. SHE WAS 66.
DESIGNING WOMEN WAS A POPULAR SITCOM IN THE 1980S AND 90S. THE ONLY MAN REGULARLY COMMISERATING WITH THE WOMEN WAS ANTHONY BOUVIER, PLAYED BY ACTOR MESHACH TAYLOR. TAYLOR
DIED IN JUNE AT THE AGE OF 67.
DON PARDO’S VOICE WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. HIS OLD SCHOOL DELIVERY NOT ONLY INTRODUCED THE CAST MEMBERS BUT ALSO INTRODUCED COUNTLESS SKETCHES AND PARODIES. WORKING RIGHT UP UNTIL HIS DEATH IN AUGUST, DON PARDO WAS 96.
ONE OF THE MANY CAST MEMBERS PARDO ANNOUNCED OVER THE YEARS WAS THE TALENTED JAN HOOKS. SHE DIED SUDDENLY OCTOBER. HOOKS WAS 57.
JIM LANGE WAS A VERY POPULAR DISC JOCKEY WHO GAINED EVEN MORE FAME AS A GAME SHOW HOST. BEST KNOWN FOR THE DATING GAME, LANGE WAS ALSO HOST OF THE SECOND INCARNATION OF NAME THAT TUNE. JIM LANGE WAS 81.
MARY ANN MOBLEY WAS MISS AMERICA AND THEN HELD A VARIETY OF T-V JOBS, INCLUDING A ROLE ON THE FINAL SEASON OF DIFF’RENT STROKES. MOBLEY DIED OF BREAST CANCER IN DECEMBER. SHE WAS 77.
NO ONE ROCKED HARDER THAN JOE COCKER. BEST KNOWN FOR SONGS LIKE ‘UNCHAIN MY HEART’ AND ‘YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL TO ME’, COCKER LOST A BATTLE WITH LUNG CANCER IN DECEMBER. HE WAS 70.
FOLK SINGERS WERE ALL THE RAGE IN THE 1960S AND MOST OF THEM ROSE TO FAME FOR THEIR MUSIC PROTESTING THE VIETNAM WAR. PETE SEEGER WAS NO DIFFERENT, BUT MANY POLITICALLY ACTIVE MUSICIANS VIEW HIM AS A TRAILBLAZER IN THAT ARENA FOR HITS LIKE ‘TURN,TURN,TURN.’ SEEGER WAS 94.
THE EVERLY BROTHERS PERSONIFIED THE CLEAN CUT, FAST-PACED MUSIC OF THE EARLY ROCK AND ROLL ERA. WITH HITS RANGING FROM ‘BYE BYE LOVE’ TO ‘WAKE UP LITTLE SUZY’, FANS LOVED THE HARMONIES OF DON AND PHIL EVERLY. PHIL DIED IN JANUARY. HE WAS 74.
FOR DECADES, YOU COULDN’T GET TO THE TOP OF THE CHARTS WITHOUT HEARING IT FROM CASEY KASEM. NOTED FOR HIS DISTINCTIVE VOICE, HIS REQUESTS AND DEDICATIONS AND FOR BEING THE VOICE OF SHAGGY ON THE SCOOBY DOO TELEVISION SERIES, KASEM WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH THE TOP 40 COUNTDOWN. KASEM DIED IN JUNE AT THE AGE OF 82 IN THE MIDST OF A VERY UGLY CUSTODY DISPUTE BETWEEN HIS CHILDREN AND HIS SECOND WIFE.
FEW POETS EVER ACHIEVED THE ACCLAIM AS MAYA ANGELOU. THE WRITER TURNED PROFESSOR EVEN RECITED A POEM AT THE FIRST INAUGURATION OF BILL CLINTON. SHE DIED IN MAY AT THE AGE OF 86.
Attorney General Eric Holder says federal laws against sex discrimination in the workplace ought to apply to transgenders and activists already say they will push for an end to the ban on transgenders in the U.S. military.
Last week, Holder quietly released a memo stating that laws interpreted as not applying to transgenders in the workplace need to be expanded.
“Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status. Attorney General Holder informed all Department of Justice component heads and United States Attorneys in a memo that the department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination, reversing a previous Department of Justice position,” the memo stated.
The memo also included a quote from Holder, stating the shift in the Justice Department approach to Title VII is the latest step in affording equal protection under the law.
“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” stated Holder in the memo. “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants. And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”
An activist group called the American Military Partner Association immediately began pushing for an end to the ban on transgenders serving in the military.
“The Supreme Court and the Attorney General have made it clear that workplace discrimination against transgender people is not only wrong, but unlawful,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway in a statement. “While the Defense Department follows a different set of rules, there is no valid reason that our transgender troops should continue to be prohibited from serving openly and honestly. The ban continues to harm our military families, military readiness, and ultimately the mission. The Secretary of Defense should do the right thing and immediately order the review of the current outdated regulations that he said he was open to back in May.”
Retired U.S. Army Col. Bob Maginnis has been directly involved in this debate for over 20 years. In 1993, he testified before the Pentagon’s 1993 Military Working Group that eventually adopted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to the ban on homosexuals in the military. Maginnis also served as a senior adviser to Lt. Gen. John Otjen, the senior member of that working group.
Maginnis says this policy would apply to people who have undergone surgery and those simply in conflict over their gender.
“We’re talking about people called transsexuals. In other words, they’ve had sex change surgery. Others are transvestites, they’re cross-dressers. Others are drag queens and drag kings and people that just cross-dress for the entertainment,” said Maginnis, who believes this is simply the latest item on the agenda for those who succeeded in overturning the ban on gays in the military.
“People, by this description, would be allowed in the military to live accordingly. In other words, sex-specific facilities would be open to them. If they’re a man in terms of physiology but a woman inside according to them, then they would be able to go into women-only facilities: locker rooms, restrooms, showers. The assignment of barracks would be in accordance with that. Then, of course, they would insist upon the surgery at taxpayer expense,” said Maginnis.
Maginnis encourages Americans to investigate the research on transgenders by Dr. Paul McHugh, the former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. McHugh’s work concludes that sexual identity issues persist even for those who go through the surgery, some of whom seek same-sex partners of their newly chosen gender. Maginnis says it does the military no good to get involved in these issues.
“These are confused people, unfortunately, and the idea is that you want to saddle the U.S. military with a particular group of people? We already have enough issues with sex-based issues. Why do we want to proceed in that direction?” said Maginnis.
It’s been four years since Congress passed legislation allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Maginnis says the impact is already clear. While lawmakers and the media are focused on the legitimate concern of men assaulting women in the military, another statistic is also very troubling.
“What is under-reported is the fact that the most dramatic increase has been in male-on-male sexual assaults. The advocates in the Obama administration and elsewhere don’t want to talk about those numbers are very credible,” said Maginnis.
Maginnis and others are also deeply concerned about what they see as the erosion of religious freedom in the military since the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Maginnis believes there is a link between the end of the ban and the limiting of religious liberties, but he doesn’t believe one directly led to the other.
“I think they’re parallel. Certainly we’ve seen it fall (negatively) on Christianity as we’ve seen a change in the embracing of homosexuality in the military. As a direct result, we’ve seen the bashing of Christians who have a strongly held moral belief about what is proper and moral conduct,” said Maginnis, who says chaplains who dare to speak out against homosexuality are treading on very thin ice.
“If a chaplain speaks out against homosexuality, he often puts his own career in jeopardy in the military. That’s what’s beginning to be seen. People that are speaking out about Christianity in general and saying that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, they put themselves in jeopardy,” said Maginnis.
It remains to be seen whether Holder’s shift in the interpretation of sex discrimination laws is ignored, will require congressional action to enact or whether the administration will try to change policy on its own. Maginnis says whether it’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or the push to allow transgenders to serve openly, the agenda at work has nothing to do with military effectiveness.
“They want us to dismiss all our strongly-held religious views about sexual issues and gender issues and accept anything as OK,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly for giving President Obama a lump of coal for Christmas, not as an insult but to highlight the potential of American energy that Obama is stifling. They also discuss the crisis in the relationship between the NYPD and Mayor Bill deBlasio after two police officers were murdered on Saturday in response to recent grand jury verdicts clearing police in the deaths of black men. And they react to the head of Sony insisting the company did reach out to the White House for advice after President Obama said Sony was wrong to scrap the release of “The Interview” and should have contacted him.
The Capitol Steps ring in the season with two Christmas Carol parodies, as they poke fun at former Vice President Al Gore’s ongoing insistence that the earth faces imminent doom from global warming and give Homeland Security’s version of “The Night Before Christmas.”
The Danish newspaper editor who published the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban is blasting Sony for caving in to hackers demanding that it scrap a movie depicting the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
Flemming Rose is foreign editor at Jyllands-Posten, the largest daily newspaper in Denmark, and is author of “The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited A Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech.” He published the Mohammed cartoon in 2005. Months later, the massive, deadly protests erupted in the Middle East in response to the cartoons.
This week, Sony Pictures decided not to release “The Interview” after hackers threatened to carry out a 9/11 terrorist attack on theaters showing the movie. Rose is deeply disappointed in the decision.
“I think it’s a disaster. I think it’s outrageous that Sony is caving in to this kind of pressure, even though I understand they would like to protect their people working for them,” said Rose. “Sony is outsourcing the right to decide what is going to run in U.S. movie theaters to a dictator in North Korea.”
Far from solving the problem, Rose says succumbing to this sort of cyber bullying only encourages more of it.
“It’s a slippery slope. If you give in to this kind of intimidation and threats, you will not get less of this. You will get more because you tell the intimidators that it works,” he said.
Rose hopes Sony executives will have a change of heart and release the film. If they don’t, he has some other ideas to mitigate the damage to the freedom of speech.
“I think they should put it free online or they should call on every movie studio in Hollywood to do movies with similar plots,” said Rose.
Nine years ago, Rose was faced with a similar decision. After learning that the author of a children’s book about Mohammed could not get an illustrator to work on the project over fears of backlash, he commissioned Danish cartoonists to draw the founder of Islam, both to see if the cartoonists would limit their own expression and to start a dialogue about self-censorship in Denmark. Rose says he never thought about nixing the idea, although he never expected the reaction the image of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban would have in the Middle East.
The cartoon drew limited reaction for weeks. Three months later, Muslim groups in the Middle East launched protests in response. Over 200 people were killed. Rose still has no regrets for his decision and says there is no blood on his hands or on his newspaper.
“People often say the cartoons triggered violence in the Middle East. I think that’s a very unfortunate phrase. There were people who made a decision to commit violence. It bears no automatic or mechanical relationship between publishing cartoons that cause offense to some people and committing violence. It’s a decision that individuals make and they should be held accountable for what they do,” said Rose.
Beyond that, Rose says standing up for freedom of speech and of the press is a vital for those who wish to preserve them and it’s a lesson Sony and everyone else needs to embrace.
“If one person stands up, it’s very easy to silence him. But if one thousand, five thousand, ten thousand and even one million do the same thing, it will dilute the fear. You cannot go after one million people,” he said.
After Sony canceled the release of “The Interview” set for Christmas Day, some theater owners announced they would replace the film with “Team America: World Police,” a profane film mocking then-North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il made by the creators of the “South Park” television show. However, Paramount Pictures quickly blocked any theaters from showing the movie. Rose says that only makes the problem worse.
“At some point, nobody will be able to say anything. It will all cause some kind of offense. If people feel they get their way when they threaten when they are offended by something, this is an open-ended process that will end in a tyranny of silence,” said Rose.
After the cartoon controversy, Rose spent several years traveling the world and debating the importance of free speech versus respecting various cultures and other sensibilities. Rose believes the solution to what he faced and Sony is facing now is for people around the world to demand the freedom of speech.
“This is a global debate and we need a global solution. I think that the global solution will be a global first amendment that free speech is a fundamental right in any society and it cannot be balanced by religious sensibilities or dignity or certain versions of history,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Mitt Romney for urging Sony to release “The Interview” online and encourage viewers to donate to Ebola relief. They also rip Paramount for blocking theaters from showing “Team America: World Police” in place of “The Interview.” And they react to CNN’s Gloria Borger likening Obama’s unilateral strategy to Clark Kent turning into Superman.
President Obama’s outreach to Cuba is simply a product of his leftist ideology and rewards an oppressive communist regime while gaining nothing for the United States, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United States John Bolton.
On Wednesday, as he confirmed a prisoner swap with Cuba, Obama declared that our 53-year-old policy of severed diplomatic relations and an economic and travel embargo aimed at the Castro regime was a failure and bore considerable blame for the poor relations between the two nations and for the impoverished state of the Cuban people. Obama then announced negotiations designed to resume normal diplomatic relations and called on Congress to lift economic and travel embargoes aimed at Cuba.
Bolton wholeheartedly rejects Obama’s narrative.
“It’s a very bad decision. It’s highly ideological. It comes from a leftist perspective that the president expressed in his remarks explaining the new policy. He believes that we are as much responsible for our disagreements with Cuba as the communist regime in Havana is,” said Bolton.
“It is an ideological tick and the president has given political legitimacy to the Castro regime. He’s thrown them an economic lifeline and gotten essentially nothing in return,” he added.
Bolton says Cuba will not interpret this shift as an imperative to respect the human rights of its people. Instead, he says the Castros see it as nothing more than a badly needed infusion of money.
“What they wanted was a little relief temporarily. It’s no indication they’re going to change fundamentally or that any other of these regimes will change as well. In fact, the signal that is sent internationally is that if you’re an adversary of the United States and you want something from us, you’ve got the next two years to get it,” said Bolton.
According to Bolton, Obama is actually limited in what he can do on his own. In the 1990s, Congress codified the trade and travel embargoes, meaning lawmakers would have to reverse them as well. Bolton stresses, however, that the damage extends far beyond those policies.
“The damage comes from the signal it sends to foreign governments. Basically, the embargo was an important political signal to people to say, ‘Don’t get too close to Cuba or you’re going to have consequences in your relationship with the United States.’ Now the signal from Obama is that we don’t care and I think that will benefit Cuba enormously from investment elsewhere in the hemisphere, from Europe, from China, from Russia,” said Bolton.
In addition to his time representing the United States at the UN, Bolton also served in the State Department. He says the U.S. has always employed a longstanding rule of dealing with adversaries that Obama seems to be ignoring.
“Negotiation is not an end in itself. This issue is does the outcome of the negotiation benefit the United States,” he said.
Bolton says throughout the Cold War, Republican and Democratic presidents usually engaged the Soviets only when the conditions tilted in America’s favor. He believes Obama has the wind at his back in this situation but insists on the U.S. getting the raw end of the deal.
“The Obama administration has negotiated in case after case from a position of strength and giving everything away,” said Bolton.
Other statements offered as facts in Obama’s speech on Wednesday also frustrate Bolton, who alleges they’re just not true. First, he disputes Obama’s contention that the embargo against Cuba has failed.
“I believe the embargo has been a success. It was never designed to overthrow the Castro regime. It was put in in 1959. If that were the objective, why did President Eisenhower plan and President Kennedy implement in 1961 what became known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was obviously designed to overthrow Castro. If they thought the embargo was going to do that, they needn’t have planned the invasion,” said Bolton.
Another issue that rankles Bolton was Obama’s multiple mentions of Cuban animosity toward the U.S. because our history of colonizing it. He says history proves that never happened.
“He referred to American colonialism, which would be news to President McKinley and others in 1898 who fought with the Cuban people against Spain to liberate Cuba,” said Bolton.
Bolton says this effort to re-establish diplomatic ties also encourages more of the world’s bad actors, including Cuba’s Marxist friends in Venezuela and the Russians, who were already looking to revive it’s military presence on the island that played host to the greatest threat of nuclear war in the twentieth century.
“All of this signals that the administration is not going to push back on that,” he said.
While Obama paints diplomatic relations and canceled embargoes as the path to infusing Cuba with democratic ideals, Bolton says all this policy will do is increase the likelihood for repression to continue once the Castros are dead.
“I think it gives this dreary, authoritarian regime a lifeline to perpetuate itself, to become, after the Castros die, another Latin American dreary, authoritarian government. I really hoped that when they met the actuarial tables, that you’d have the possibility of a real representative government in Cuba. I think that has now been pushed way off into the future, which is why it’s not only bad from the U.S. perspective. It’s bad from the perspective of the Cuban people,” said Bolton.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review slam President Obama for throwing Cuba a lifeline and getting almost nothing in return. They also cheer Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for his passionate and compelling opposition to Obama’s policy. And they rip on Hollywood for surrendering to North Korean hackers and deciding not to release “The Interview.”