White House Staff Tells All: Inside The Private Lives Of First Families

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

A new book released this week gives readers an unprecedented look at life inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from the perspective of the traditionally reticent White House staff. In her book, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, Kate Andersen Brower brings together their stories from the administration of JFK to the current day.

Brower’s research was extensive, including interviewing over 100 former White House staff. She spoke to retired butlers, ushers, bakers, florists, maids, and doormen among others. Some staff members were reluctant to participate in Brower’s project at first, due to an unwritten tradition of silence about their work; but the writer was persistent and persuaded some to share their stories, and the momentum built from there.

Not surprisingly, one of Brower’s discoveries was that life inside the White House became tense between the Clintons following the revelation of President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Bill was relegated to the proverbial couch in the residence for months. Staff also recalled profanity-laced shouting matches between the couple that only intensified following the affair. Staff suspected that Hillary threw one of her bedside books at him, hitting his face and leaving blood-stained sheets for the staff to replace.

Bill and Hillary were the most private occupants of the White House in recent decades, according to Brower. “I’ve had staffers say that the Clintons were definitely the most paranoid first family that they ever had to work with,” she said.

A very poignant moment, which Brower opens the book with,  follows the assassination of John F. Kennedy as seen through the eyes of doorman Preston Bruce. He recalled a tearful hug with Bobby and Jackie Kennedy when they arrived back at the White House at 4 am, immediately after JFK’s death. Jackie, still in her bloodstained pink woolsuit and clutching Bobby’s arm, said to him softly, “Bruce, you waited until we came.” He replied, “You knew I was going to be here, Mrs. Kennedy.”

Brower writes:

Exhausted, Bruce spent what was left of that night sitting upright in a chair in a tiny bedroom on the third floor. He took off his jacket and bow tie and unbuttoned the collar of his stiff white shirt, but he wouldn’t let himself give into exhaustion. “I didn’t want to lie down, in case Mrs Kennedy needed me.” He refused to go home for the next four days, seeing the Kennedys through the funeral and its aftermath.

Mrs. Kennedy thanked Bruce by giving him a tie that JFK had worn on the flight to Dallas. Bobby Kennedy gave him the gloves he wore to his brother’s funeral.

Creative Commons/Public Domain

Creative Commons/Kennedy Family Leaves the Capitol Following JFK’s Funeral/Public Domain

Another fact Brower’s research revealed regarded a bizarre demand for a custom shower by JFK’s successor Lyndon Johnson. He wanted a shower with “water charging out of multiple nozzles in every direction with needlelike intensity and a hugely powerful force,” according to the writer.

With much trial and error, White House plumber Red Arrington accommodated Johnson’s demands concerning the custom shower. However, afterwards, he experienced a nervous breakdown, requiring hospitalization for several days. Johnson also took multiple shower-heads with him when he traveled.

Nixon took one look at the shower after being elected and said, “Get rid of this stuff.”

Brower packs 50 years worth of stories over 10 administrations into her work. The book currently ranks #4 on Amazon, two days after its release.

h/t: Daily Mail

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama’s Secular Stagnation Is A Cover-Up

Photo credit: Joe Crimmings (Flickr)

John F. Kennedy campaigned for president in 1960 by belittling Dwight Eisenhower’s three recessions and declaring, “We can do bettah.” He was right. In the 1960s, after the Kennedy tax cuts were implemented, prosperity returned, the economy grew by almost 4 percent annually, unemployment sank to record lows, and a gold-linked dollar held down inflation.

But today, many leading economists are throwing up their arms in frustration and assuring us that 2 percent growth is really the best we can do.

Barack Obama’s former chief economist, Larry Summers, began this chant of “secular stagnation.” It’s a pessimistic message, and it’s now being echoed by Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer. He agrees with Summers that slow growth in “labor supply, capital investment, and productivity” is the new normal that’s “holding down growth.” Summers also believes that negative real interest rates aren’t negative enough. If Fisher and Fed chair Janet Yellen agree, central bank policy rates will never normalize in our lifetime.

Unfortunately, Americans seem to be buying into this dreary assessment. A new Wall Street Journal poll finds that three out of four Americans think the next generation will be worse off than this generation. So long, American Dream.

But secular stagnation is all wrong. It’s a cover up for mistaken economic policies that began in the Bush years and intensified during the Obama administration.

It would be hard to conceive of a worse set of policy prescriptions than the ones Larry Summers and his Keynesian collaborators have conjured up. We’ve had bailouts, massive spending-stimulus plans, tax increases on “the rich,” Obamacare, rudderless monetary policy that has collapsed the dollar, the Dodd-Frank bill, anti-carbon policies, a vast expansion of the welfare state, and on and on.

These measures have flat-lined the economy. It’s as simple as that. There has been no divine intervention, with God ordaining: Thou shalt only grow at 2 percent!

The blame falls on the White House and the Fed, and the discredited Keynesian model that government spending, debt, and cheap money are the way to restore growth. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. We’re still waiting for the government-spending multipliers and the Fed’s escape-velocity rebound to kick in.

Amazingly, the architects of this colossal policy failure are the same people who promised they would rebuild the U.S. economy “for the long term,” as Barack Obama put it in 2009. But they’re now blaming the stagnant economy on structural problems beyond their control. Oh, we get it. Consumers and businesses are wrong because they didn’t adhere to Keynesian economic models.

We have paid people not to work by raising eligibility and time limits for various benefit plans, substantially raised marginal tax penalties when people move from welfare to work, disincentivized employers from hiring more workers (Obamacare, minimum wage), raised taxes on investment, passed new regulations to strangle our energy industry, unionized even when workers don’t want it, continued corporate-welfare cronyism, and refused to fix a corporate tax system that sends jobs abroad. And then we wonder why the economy won’t shift into a higher gear.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The Collapse of Journalistic Standards in JFK Coverage


Any hope that the media will practice civility and raise journalistic standards has been dashed by the sympathetic coverage given to a new book falsely charging an American president with mass murder and political assassinations.

The book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, is based in part on the work of a communist operative, Joachim Joesten, who was assigned by the Soviet KGB to divert attention from the communist connections of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

But author Roger Stone maintains, in the face of the evidence, “I don’t think the Russian state was involved in any way” in the JFK murder.

A former conservative turned libertarian, Stone has been recognized over the years for his role as a “political trickster” and has lately been promoting legalized marijuana, prostitution, and homosexual marriage. He even appeared topless in a gay rights parade. His bio claims he “first tipped off the FBI to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes.”

“I was born and raised a Roman Catholic,” he said in one interview. “I believe in God, but I think basically organized religion is a hoax.”

Stone has no journalistic credentials to speak of. His bio proclaims, “Aside from politics, he’s also known for his personal style, and writes the annual ‘Ten Best and Worst Dressed Men and Women in the World’ column for the Huffington Post while serving as Men’s Fashion Editor for the Daily Caller.”

The book is written with Mike Colapietro, described on the book flap as an “investigative journalist”—who is, in fact, a former sports writer and contributor to SMOKE magazine, devoted to cigars.

Nevertheless, the book has been taken seriously by such outlets as the Sean Hannity show on the Fox News Channel, the New York Post, The Huffington Post, The New York Daily News, Esquire (online), The Daily Caller, The National Enquirer, The Globe (the tabloid), The New York Observer, The Daily Beast, Newsmax, USA Today, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, and Politico.

Stone’s book “stands on the research of citizens who have doubted the government’s version of events as depicted by the Warren Commission,” his preface says. One of these “citizens” is identified as an East German Communist by the name of Joachim Joesten, the author of the 1968 book The Dark Side of Lyndon JohnsonJoesten’s other books on the Kennedy assassination include Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, published by a KGB front company, Marzani & Munsell.

In an email exchange, Stone acknowledged that he cited and read Joesten’s book. “I read his books,” he told me. “They are among the earliest works on the role of LBJ.”

Another one of Stone’s sources, cited in the preface, is Thom Hartmann, the “progressive” media personality featured on the Moscow-funded Russia Today television channel.

Joesten’s book, The Dark Side of Lyndon Johnson, finds Johnson guilty of murder and says, “If Lyndon Johnson has any brains left, he’d blow them out before the law gets around to him. That way he could at least escape the pinnacle of infamy and save his country from foundering in an abyss of national shame.”

Despite such sources, Stone’s JFK book has received sympathetic coverage from outlets on the left and right, including Sean Hannity, who allowed Stone to accuse LBJ of killing Kennedy and eight other people—“murders to cover up corruption, murder to cover up vote theft and electoral fraud.” No proof is offered for any of this.

Significantly, Stone has appeared on Russian media outlets such as the Voice of Russia and RT (Russia Today) television, where he has assured the Kremlin that he holds the Soviet state blameless in JFK’s murder.

As Soviet-bloc defector Ion Mihai Pacepa has written, the purpose of the KGB commissioning Joesten to write his book was to divert attention away from Oswald’s connections to the Soviet Union and Cuba. Variations of this theme have brought in LBJ, the CIA, Texas oil men, or various “right-wingers” as potential culprits in the JFK assassination.

Stone’s book is published by Skyhorse Publishing, which capitalized on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s murder by also releasing Jesse Ventura’s book, They Killed Our President: 63 Reasons to Believe There Was a Conspiracy to Assassinate JFK.

Other books published by Skyhorse include Stories of Lesbian Love and Erotica and Fifty Shades of Ecstasy.

A former aide to various Republican politicians, Stone claims Richard Nixon made “veiled references to Johnson’s complicity in the Kennedy assassination.” In fact, secretly recorded White House conversations involving then-President Nixon were released showing Nixon blaming Kennedy’s murder on the communists. Nixon said, “They pinned the assassination of Kennedy on the right wing, the Birchers. It was done by a communist and it was the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated.”

The “hoax” he is referring to is the elaborate KGB disinformation campaign to conceal the truth.

As noted by Professor Paul Kengor, Ronald Reagan also blamed the communists. Speaking in 1968, Reagan gave a speech saying, “Five years ago, a president was murdered by one who renounced his American citizenship to embrace the godless philosophy of communism, and it was communist violence he brought to our land. The shattering sound of his shots were still ringing in our ears when a policy decision was made to play down his communist attachment lest we provoke the Soviet Union.”

Johnson understood this as well. He told journalist Howard K. Smith, “Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first.” It was a reference to American plots to overthrow or assassinate the Cuban dictator and Castro’s promise to retaliate. A Cuban communist defector said Castro knew in advance about the communist plot to kill Kennedy.

But Johnson’s fear of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union led him and the Warren Commission to play down Oswald’s international connections to the Soviet Union and Cuba.


This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

Media Ignore JFK’s Anti-Communism


Our media remembered President Kennedy, but not what he stood for in global affairs and what made him a communist target.

On Friday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings unveiled a monument inscribed with the last words of a speech that Kennedy never got to deliver to businessmen at the Dallas Trade Mart. The words included: “We in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”

The speech was anti-communist and pro-freedom to its core. It would not be delivered by any liberal Democrat in this day and age.

Kennedy’s prepared remarks said, “I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere—it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall’s speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe—it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.”

Our media did not remind the American people that Kennedy was an anti-communist determined to stop communism’s advance around the world by making the U.S. into the strongest military power on earth. This was the main subject of the speech Kennedy never gave.

In his prepared remarks, he said the U.S. would not “watch the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow West Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba. But while our goals were at least temporarily obtained in these and other instances, our successful defense of freedom was not due to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend…”

Ominously, Kennedy, the victim of a communist assassin, spoke in the prepared remarks of “the guerrillas, saboteurs, insurgents and assassins who threaten freedom” in the world. It was a clear reference to Castro and communist efforts to take Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Much of the speech was about building up U.S. military strength, both conventional and nuclear forces. He said, “…the lessons of the last decade have taught us that freedom cannot be defended by strategic nuclear power alone. We have, therefore, in the last three years accelerated the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60 percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe.” Kennedy understood the nature of the Soviet threat to Europe.

He went on: “But American military might should not and need not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism. Our security and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength of others, and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world to maintain their independence of choice. Our assistance to these nations can be painful, risky, and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today. But we dare not weary of the task. For our assistance makes possible the stationing of 3.5 million allied troops along the Communist frontier at one-tenth the cost of maintaining a comparable number of American soldiers. A successful Communist breakthrough in these area, necessitating direct United States intervention, would cost us several times as much as our entire foreign aid program, and might cost us heavily in American lives as well.”

The President explained that “About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist-bloc—nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communistic aggression—Vietnam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on its own the resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased overseas deployment of American combat forces.”

But on Friday night’s “NBC Nightly News,” Kennedy’s pro-military stance was completely ignored.

Curiously, anchor Brian Williams played a portion of a telephone call involving Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, who “feared a wider plot” in the murder of Kennedy. Johnson had said in the phone call, “What raced through my mind was if they had shot our president driving down there, who would they shoot next? And what, what was going on in Washington. And when would the missiles be coming?”

Who was “they?” Missiles from where? From the Soviet Union, of course. And “they” were the communists. Johnson knew the Soviets and their surrogates, the Cubans, were behind the assassination. For this reason, the foreign connections of Oswald were played down in the Warren Commission report. LBJ feared a world war.

Fifty years after communist Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, our media still don’t want to be explicit about the assassin, his motives, and his backers. After all, Castro, one of their favorites, is still helping run Cuba.

Perhaps the truth is too discomforting to Democrats. After all, Kennedy was one of the last liberal anti-communists. Reminding the public about Kennedy’s commitment to freedom around the world might cause people to compare and contrast JFK’s pro-freedom message to the actions of the current Democratic President, Barack Obama, who, on the very day Kennedy was being remembered, was sending his Secretary of State to Geneva to make a deal with the anti-American terrorist regime in Iran.

Rather than build up U.S. nuclear forces, which are on the decline, Obama is seeking to allow most aspects of the Iranian nuclear program to proceed.

Can anyone imagine Obama saying, “We dare not weary of the task” of defending freedom? On the contrary, America is on the decline, while our enemies and adversaries are on the march.

Kennedy’s speech concluded, “We, in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than by choice—the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.’”

A reader responded to the posting of this speech on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website by commenting, “If you didn’t know whose speech this was, you’d think it was written by Ronald Reagan. What Democrat politician would give such a speech today? If anyone gave that speech today, the left would label him a right-wing religious zealot and scream at him for not keeping the separation of church and state. Yet, the left still regards JFK as their ideal president. What must it be like to have such double standards coming from one brain?”

That is why the liberal media must constantly be challenged to tell the truth about JFK.


This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

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