JFK Conspiracy

One of the most widely accepted conspiracy theories in the US remains the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Just last week I heard someone suggest that Oswald didn't act alone.  Statistics show that more than half of US residents agree with this statement, and are convinced to this day that Oswald was a patsy, silenced by Jack Ruby a few days after the assassination.

For many, many years I was one of those people. I read several books on the subject, watched every documentary, even went to Dealey Plaza once simply to stand next to the spot where Kennedy was shot. In many ways the assassination of JFK was the lynchpin for all of my conspiratorial thinking; it was the first conspiracy theory I had ever heard, it was the most solidly defensible of any of the many popular conspiracies that cropped up later (so much so that even the US government has agreed there was a conspiracy, contradicting the findings of it's own commission that investigated the assassination) and once I was led to question that theory, my belief in all those other theories also crumbled.

Why shouldn't they, when they didn't even have a magic bullet to hide behind?

The trip to reality was long and arduous for me. It started about the time I started writing this blog, and continues to this day.  Every single thing I read these days sends me off looking for corroborating sources and counter-arguments, just so that I can be sure I'm dealing with real facts and not some fever dream of the magical thinking majority.

I wish I had access to Case Closed when I was a young man looking for facts on the JFK assassination.  The depth of investigative research that Gerald Posner has gone to is unequaled amongst the many different authors on the subject.  Here is an interview with Posner from 2013, discussing the mountains of evidence linking Oswald to the killing, and detailing the kind of man Oswald was.





If Case Closed had been available to me when I first started looking into this subject, I never would have started down that rabbit hole of conspiratorial thinking in the first place.  Would have simply come to the conclusion ah, Oswald shot Kennedy and left it at that.  But I didn't have access to that book back in the 70's when I was into the subject.  I don't even remember the titles of the books I did read; but I do remember The Men Who Killed Kennedy documentary being something I watched and rewatched many times, as well as the Oliver Stone film JFK which I remember receiving quite credibly.

Except for one thing.  The repeated mantra back and to the right which Stone puts in Garrison's mouth in the film. I actually went back and reviewed the Zapruder film because of this, and discovered that the motion he insists is there really isn't there at all.  The film clearly shows the headshot coming from the back and above, just as Posner says in the video.

But I didn't have Posner.  Never ran across his book until recently, while listening to back episodes of the SGU (like so many good skeptical habits I have picked up) what I had was my own inability to ignore evidence when it is presented to me. What I stumbled across was this re-enactment (one of several) proving that the magic bullet was nothing of the kind. That the trajectory of the bullet is mappable and repeatable given an accurate reproduction of the events of that day.

First off is The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy clips of which are assembled here;




The second source of video was a very detailed recreation of the exact poses of the victims taken from Zapruder film footage, that were mocked up by Anatomical Surrogates Technologies for the  documentary JFK: Beyond The Magic Bullet (full video available in three parts here) While the shot does appear to strike too low, the trajectory is almost identical to the bullet on that fateful day.






Lastly we have the recreation of the headshot showing that the direction that Oswald fired from was indeed the only direction where the damage seen to the President's head can be replicated.  For those who simply aren't convinced by the replication of the magic bullet's trajectory.





Conspiracy theorists will of course come up with reasons why this proves nothing. Personally I see no reason to continue pretending that Oswald did not kill Kennedy.  If you feel the forensic tests are simply not enough evidence, then I encourage you to pick up a copy of Case Closed.  If none of this suffices, then I suggest you look to your own mental barricades. If your beliefs cannot be falsified, that just means that you dare not have them refuted.

In It For the Power Alone

Confession time; I enjoy the State of the Union address.  I watch it every year, without fail. Some years I can watch it straight; others I have to watch through a comedic lens. I genuinely appreciate a good speech. I enjoy the pageantry of the State of the Union, and unlike others who think it should be retired, I think this country would be less than it is without the President appearing to talk to us about his perceptions of the union, and his plans for the next year.



The last six years have been enjoyable times.  Compared to the Presidents who preceded him, Barack Obama shines when he is speaking. Neither W nor Clinton could hold a candle to this man when he has a message and wants to talk to you about it.  Reagan is the only President in my living memory who comes anywhere close to being as magnetic a personality as our sitting President is.

Still, there is a part of the current State of the Union that I really disapprove of, and once I describe this to you, I'm betting you'll agree with it.

I'm sitting there watching the speech, and I hear the President get to the subject of equal pay for women, and John Boehner doesn't stand up for it. None of the Republicans stand up for it.  By their actions, they appear to be opposed to all of the policies which the President set forth, many of which deserved applause.  I was just rewatching the Nightly Show from the night of the speech; and during the "Keeping it 100" segment, Amy Holmes says she would not support the President's call for equal pay by standing for it. She apparently thinks she should be paid less than a man for doing the same job.  Or is there another factor at play here?


There is an obvious conclusion which can be drawn from these displays of disdain for progressive causes.  They sit on their hands because they don't want to give approval to the party in power, that much is clearly true.  They sit on their hands because they want to hold the power for themselves. That is also true.  It's all about the power, wielding the power. It isn't about what is good for the country, or what is good for the people in general, it is about the power and the power alone.

I can hear you now dear reader The Democrats Are No Different! and if they fail to stand and applaud for progressive causes, for things which will be for the good of the nation, then they are just as craven and should also face rejection at the polls. Having viewed the State of the Union as I have for decades, I haven't noticed the Democratic party failing to applaud proposals they agree with.  Only the Republicans appear to feel the need to openly crave power in this fashion.

So it makes me wonder. Why exactly should we vote for these people who are in it for the power alone? Maybe we should elect people who go there to represent us?  Just a thought.

Non-Omniscient Friends

I love it when people leave over a thing that I didn't even know was a thing.
I've written hundreds of thousands of words they all loved, then I said one thing they didn't agree with, or think they don't agree with (it's not like they actually bothered to find out why or what I meant), and they stormed out in high dudgeon. 
The only thing I can say is, well, thanks.
(Courtesy Jim Wright)
Was posted by a friend on Facebook just a few seconds ago.  I love it when people leave over a thing that I didn't even know was a thing was my dead honest response. I love it because I don't know everything, and it gives me something to go research for a few minutes or hours.  I love it because it gives me new things to write about, to muse over. Most of all I love it because, as Jim says in his rant real friends don't do that and that's the one tool that is lacking in social networking as it stands these days.  A good winnowing tool to separate the chaff from the wheat; to separate real friends from hangers on.

Real life needs that tool just as badly as social networking does; unless you are willing to be dead honest with everyone around you and suffer the consequences of that. So few people are even willing to admit that they are uncertain, that they don't know the thing that the other person it ranting on about, that the average interaction between strangers resembles nothing more than posing and pretense of interest; all while both parties and their observers are wondering what the hell is really being discussed here.

It doesn't matter the subject, or the names in question.  Any two people discussing any given subject will eventually stumble across something that one person thinks is the most important thing and the other person has never heard of that thing, or has heard of it and thinks it is a waste of time even to discuss it.  What happens next determines if they really are friends, or not.

Friend really isn't the right word, anyway.  Friend is too casual, like someone you occasionally meet while out drinking, but you wouldn't trust to help you dispose of that body in your trunk (hypothetically. Like a zombie plan) you wouldn't expect that person to know everything that is important to you.  What followers on social networking engage in feels more like worship than friendship. Which is just setting yourself up for disaster in the end.  There isn't anyone out there who is perfect, who has perfect knowledge.  At some point, even your closest brother in arms will say something that you think is unforgivably stupid.

A real friend forgives anyway, or at least accepts the imperfection. It would be mighty dull being surrounded by perfect people.  That would be my personal hell, being surrounded by people who  agreed with everything I said. I live for the next good argument, the next time someone disagrees with me and then offers a counter-argument that makes me think.  You can never do enough thinking in this life.

Obama Best President Since Eisenhower

In an argument on DC's forums last year, amidst all the caterwauling, hair tearing, and general hatassery concerning the President and the upcoming elections, I proposed the following; that Barack Obama could well be considered the best President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.  I said it at the time largely because I like to take a devil's advocate position, but also because I've become quite weary over the last 6 years listening to idiots run down the sitting President.

Generally, I'm right there with them.  I mean, given the track record of Presidents in recent history, it's not hard to thrash a President and have a receptive audience.

I first started paying attention to politics when Carter was in office. I couldn't vote back then, but I thought Carter was getting a raw deal leading up to the election of 1980. His policies weren't anything to brag about, but the weakness of the President and the country that conservatives railed about was largely an illusion that they invented simply as a tool to use against him.  As history has demonstrated, Reagan didn't know anything more than how to hit a mark and say a line (mostly) correctly; and people in his employ did negotiate with the Iranian hostage takers. In 1984. Again? Who knows.

Reagan's term in office was hardly anything to brag about either; in spite of what armies of conservatives say otherwise.  Yes, it's true, the Berlin wall fell on his watch, but that falling had almost nothing to do with US policies in the region, and everything to do with ham-handed bureaucrats behind the iron curtain, and a Soviet President elected to usher in a new era of openness demanded by the people. What Reagan should be known for, the albatross that he should wear, is Reaganomics or trickle-down economics; which has been shown to be a complete failure and has actually contributed more to economic instability than any other action committed by any other US executive in modern history.

(Courtesy information aesthetics website)
Reagan's real legacy is the S&L debacle, brought about by loosening regulations on financial institutions, almost exactly as predicted by people opposed to that action.  The Iran-Contra affair that I mentioned previously barely moves the needle compared to the destructiveness of Reaganomics.


But Ronald Reagan was popular and was elected to two terms.  His popularity even earned his Vice-President, an almost political unknown named George Herbert Walker Bush, a term as President. But the damage done by Reaganomics continued to plague the nation, and not even a short, victorious, righteous war to stymie the aggression of a Middle Eastern dictator could secure him a second term in office.

As a peacenik, someone opposed to war in general if not in principle, George H.W. Bush's willingness to go to war didn't earn any points with me.  None of the things his successor said or did made me believe he was any different.  Bill Clinton's term in office benefitted from the investment of the LBJ administration in space technology, in the form of microchips that were finally small and powerful enough to drive the information technology revolution that we are in the middle of; which makes his term in office seem halcyon in hindsight. But his willingness to involve the US in every correct world event (with the exception of Rwanda. Which he says he wishes he'd gotten involved in as well) lobbing missiles like they were footballs at every hotspot on the globe, provided the grist for the mill of anti-American sentiment around the world.

Packing a bomb which exploded on 9-11.  That's the take-away that history will draw from this era, the post-post WWII decades. When the US fumbled the ball handed to it by the old-world European powers, and let someone else take up the lead internationally (who that will be remains in question) the election of Bush II will not be remembered for what Al Gore supporters would like it to be remembered for, but for the results of America being asleep at the wheel internationally almost since the end of the Vietnam war.

Bush II didn't steal the election, he simply won it on a technicality. So he got to be the guy in charge on the day when the buzzards came home to roost.  The saying roughly goes we get the best enemies money can buy and we made the enemies who attacked us on 9-11; both figuratively and in reality.  We trained a good number of terrorists to resist the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, including some who later worked for Al Qaeda, possibly even OBL himself. The administration was warned but ignored those warnings, and then set about fighting a war that would end up being the longest in US history, and arranged for that war to occur based on false evidence.  In the process the Bush II administration destroyed American credibility on the world stage (whatever was left of it) torturing innocent people who just happened to be in a warzone at the wrong time.

To finish off his term, Bush II (prefer W? Use that) also failed to act on the looming financial crisis (also about which he was warned) and consequently handed the election of the next President to the Democrats, who could have run the proverbial yellow dog, and it would have won.  If it hadn't been for Sarah Palin's circus show, there wouldn't have been anything of interest about the election of 2008.

With that as a backdrop, you can imagine what I thought of Barack Obama going into his first term.  Don't get me wrong, I voted for him in the primary in a vain (?) effort to throw the election his way instead of towards Hillary Clinton (I have no use for political dynasties) but I voted straight Libertarian for my last time in that general election. Held my nose and voted for a Republican in Libertarian clothing. Won't be doing that again.

But Obama pretty much did what he promised.  Oh, I know, he cratered on a lot of things that privacy advocates and conspiracy mongers think he should have taken a hard line on.  But he has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without looking too ridiculous in the process; and no matter how much saber rattling the Conservatives do, the anarchy currently afoot in Syria/Iraq doesn't amount to much in the scheme of things unless you happen to have business there.  Happen to live there (if you do, you have my sympathy. But do you really want to help Bashar Assad stay in power?  Really?) It managed to win them seats in the midterms, blowing out the possibility of a more productive congress in 2015, but in the end they remain on the wrong side of history.

Why, you ask? Why are they on the wrong side of history?  Why would Obama be considered a good President? Because the general trends are predictive and obvious.  I tripped over them even if you, dear reader, did not.

Since the Cold War ended and we blithely went on unchanging in or priorities, the Old World powers found their legs and stood on their own again.  If you want to visit countries with the highest ratings for health, productivity, happiness, etc., look no further than the old economies that hard liners in the US still wrongly dismiss.  Proof of this can be found by the ease with which Germany absorbed the poorer provinces of Eastern Germany, long held back under Soviet rule.  How the French absorb refugees into France at a rate that rivals the US.

Canada's adoption of the Canada Health Act hasn't proved disastrous for the Canadian economy as predicted. It's services continue to improve at an impressive rate, leaving the US in the dust. Even Mexico City has better healthcare than we have in the US, finally making the claims of liberal agitators like Micheal Moore truthful, if only in hindsight.

The writing is on the wall, has been on the wall for sometime and US citizens apparently never noticed. Socialized medicine, for lack of a better appellation, appears to be the future.  The notion that individuals can pay for health services as needed and build the kind of infrastructure that the average person wants (emergency services, research, etc) has been effectively shown to be a pipe dream; and that systems can and do function with the amount of complexity required to provide services in a timely fashion.

Ergo we will all be charged something to provide the services we all say we want but don't want to pay for; or rather, underestimate the cost of.  But that subject is beside the point I'm trying to make, and I don't want to be distracted from it.

Every President since and including FDR talked about doing something about healthcare in the US.  Every President since Truman has actively asked for and/or crafted legislation to fix the US healthcare system. Barack Obama, in the face of the stiffest opposition faced by any President in US history, helped to craft compromise legislation that at least advances the goal of universal access to healthcare for the first time in US history.  No one likes it, to be sure, but it appears to be working all the same.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is out this morning and reveals that 15.9 percent of American adults are now uninsured, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months of 2013 and has shown improvements in every major demographic group with the exception of Hispanics who did not advance. 
Courtesy; Forbes "The Real Numbers On 'The Obamacare Effect' Are In-Now Let The Crow Eating Begin"
If it continues working, if we actually expand on the basis set down by the Obama administration, What then? When Presidents back to the time of Truman tried to get this done?

Why Eisenhower? Because Eisenhower was the last President to put his name on a fundamental change that was positive to the US as a whole. LBJ might have done this with his Great Society, but his term was marred with Vietnam (which could have been avoided) Eisenhower managed to avoid any major conflicts, and established the Interstate system with funds Congress had given to the military.

I'm not planning on doing an exhaustive search back though 60 years of Presidential history just to make my point.  Truthfully, when I first proposed the idea, I just stated best President in our lifetimes. I was born in the age of Kennedy, and while his ending was tragic, what LBJ achieved in his name was of more importance than anything he did aside from not starting World War Three during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the grand scheme of things that is what he will be remembered for, aside from his words that took us to the moon on LBJ's watch.

Which is really all that matters to history.

LBJ might pull a close second, even with Vietnam on his record, but that just really speaks to the lackluster nature of our leaders post-WW II, not to any high achievement on LBJ's record.

What's funny is, I've heard similar talk in the news media of late, which is why this subject came back to mind. Obama took the shellacking of his party in stride, decided he wouldn't sit out the last two years of his Presidency and play golf; at least not yet anyway (If you ask me he's earned it, having taken less vacation than the last two Presidents) and took his Presidential pen in hand (something else he's done less than recent Presidents) to reduce the suffering of people who it was in his power to help.
It is noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority
The title caught my eye Every President Since Eisenhower.  Well that's interesting.  Not a recommendation, but at least a true observation on the obstinacy of Congresses across the years. So I went looking farther.

A piece from this time last year in the New York Times lays the case out pretty well;
Mr. Obama, barring tragedy or resignation, will get to serve eight years, but his margin of victory last November was not overwhelming. He won 62 percent of the electoral vote, which ranks 16th among the 30 presidents who sought re-election after their first terms. Mr. Obama’s electoral vote percentage was better than any of the 10 first-term losers, of course — but among the 20 winners, it exceeded only James Madison in 1812, Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Harry Truman in 1948 and George W. Bush in 2004.
That's just going on percentages. Puts him in the running with Clinton, well below Eisenhower or LBJ in historical importance based on electoral percentage.

But that's a little dry, don't you think? Surely it means more than that, historical importance? More than the President's popularity with the voting public?  Not necessarily.  Specifically, I have a hard time believing that Reagan will maintain his high rating (historically ranked 10th in importance) even with his overwhelming second-term victory percentages, given the looting that his administration ushered in and is only now coming to light.

Still, the cost-cutters will be hard pressed to nay-say Barack Obama's place in history if he stays on course through the rest of his term;
Courtesy Forbes Magazine
You are reading that right.  Obama most conservative federal spender since...
...Dwight D. Eisenhower. Don't hold your breath waiting for your conservative outlets to spin this the right way, they won't; or they will take Heritage Foundation's tack on the subject and insist that Bush II's war costs should be saddled on Obama. In any case, the groundwork has been laid. My work here is done.



When I say that Obama is the best President since Eisenhower, it's not a compliment to Obama or Eisenhower. I just want to make this point clear. It's an observation on just how predatory our government has been in the past, continues to be at present. Imagine what US society would look like if Americans thought of themselves as not engaged in a zero-sum competition with their fellows? If we elected a government that actually focused on common welfare and not killing perceived threats to our ever-diminishing piece of the pie?

That is how Obama is different than his predecessors since Eisenhower, or at least since Carter. This is the first time the military agenda hasn't dominated every second of the sitting Presidents time. The first time in decades that any social advancement has been registered; or more precisely, the first time the downward slide of the average American has been noted publicly.

We (as citizens) should build on that, rather than be distracted by the same-old glittery glamour of sabre-rattling and outright warfare that has come to be synonymous with US policy since WWII.