Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Liberals Can Also Be Misinformed And Ignorant In Parsing Our History

On reading an article ('Can We Ever Recover from the Murder of John Kennedy?') by Harvey Wasserman, on the liberal blog two nights ago, I was impressed by the insight displayed and why we as a people still haven't come to terms with his killing. However, many of the comments were another thing - demonstrating every manner of ignorance and idiocy one could imagine. It confirmed my beliefs that liberals are as ill-informed about our 35th President and his record as right wingers. And while not quite in the "Larry Schweikart" "mold they aren't far behind from what I read.

Some examples:

1) One bonehead who goes by the monicker 'RE James50' claimed Kennedy had issued "Reaganesque supply side tax cuts"when President  This ignorant bollocks came straight from the playbook of Charles Krauthammer, resident WaPo neocon, who used it in 2001 when the initial Bush tax cuts were being promoted. It ought not be necessary to say this, but any liberal who incorporates false arguments and claims from the likes of Krauthammer is as misinformed as he is. (Krauthammer attempted to convey a veneer of truth by citing  a JFK speech before the New York Economic Club in December, 1962.  JFK's speech endorsed a general tax cut, and let's bear in mind at the time that the top rate was 91%. JFK proposed lowering it to 65% for the wealthiest, still nearly two times what the current top rate is for them (after the Bush tax cuts).

When a well-informed commentator tried to correct James he simply doubled down on this bullshit - even after the sane contributor presented evidence of Kennedy's peoposals from Donald Gibson's excellent monograph: 'Battling Wall Street- The Kennedy Presidency'. To remind readers of what that evidence was,  JFK's tax cut proposals included:

- The elimination of all tax breaks set up in the form of foreign investment operations or companies

- The repeal of all tax advantages by corporations operating in low tax countries, such as Switzerland

- The repeal of the 100% charitable contribution write-off by the wealthy

- Withholding tax on the investments, dividends and capital of the wealthy to ensure revenues could not be lost by too many shelters or at the 'end point'.

- Tax on investment dividends so that all those earning in excess of $180 k would pay a much higher rate.

-Devices that would prevent 'high bracket taxpayers' from concealing income from 'personal holding companies'.

- An anti-speculation provision that would ensure property or investments were kept at least one year - else no benefit from existing capital gains rates would apply

-The elimination of special 'gift' transfers as well as repeal of the $50 dividend exclusion and the 4% dividend credit.

(Source: 'Battling Wall Street - The Kennedy Presidency', by Donald Gibson, Sheridan Square Press, 1994, pp. 22-23)

In addition - again omitted by the conservos - JFK targeted large oil and gas producers who had been manipulating a (1954) law to avoid taxes and gain an advantage over smaller producers.

The character ('RE James') on smirkingchimp averred it didn't matter because Kennedy "didn't get his proposals passed". But this is unmediated rubbish that fails to grasp that what ended up on the table was a compromise that was the best Kennedy could do with a Repub congress,  Granted then that most of his provisions didn't survive the compromises forced by congressional committees (which held JFK's Medicare, and Civil rights legislation up for ransom)  but it represented the best he could do under the circumstances- and in no sense were the cuts "supply side" - first because supply side hadn't even been invented yet! (By Arthur Laffer). and second because supply side is always tilted much more to the richest.

A bit of background:

In 1974, Arthur Laffer,  then an economist at the University of Chicago,  traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Donald Rumsfeld, Gerald Ford's then chief of staff (though Rumsfeld subsequently fobbed him off on Dick Cheney).   Laffer had a new theory on why tax rates were inefficient and high, or one might say "inefficiently high. Laffer then proceeded to sketch his infamous diagram on a napkin on why the rich could be said to be "over taxed".

Laffer's crude napkin diagram is shown here for reference. As drawn, it was totally convincing! Especially for a guy like Cheney with minimal math skills. Note the line defining the highest marginal tax rate of 70% for Gerald Ford's presidency. What Laffer's curve sought to show is that by cutting that rate down, say to 50%, one could increase the revenues by nearly 35%! Of course, the 50% turned out to be wholly arbitrary and in fact after Reagan became President in 1980 the rates were cut down to 50 by 1981, then to 28% (by 1988). After all, if one could increase revenues by cutting taxes 20%, imagine what one could do by cutting them more than 40%!

Thus did Laffer's curve become the basis of Reagan's tax cuts and the whole tax cut meme ever since, despite the fact that in reality no community or even human body has mamanged to GROW by virtue of starving! But try to tell the bulk of Americans, who continue to buy into this codswallop at a mind-boggling rate! (Or that Kennedy actually prescribed them too!)

But the difference between taking a top 91% rate down to 65% and keeping already ridiculously low rates of 36.5% is the difference between night and day. And imposing tax cuts of the magnitude of Reagan's in an already debt exploding environment ($1.5 trillion already splurged on defense by mid -1985) is fiscal insanity. By comparison, idiots like James were totally unaware Kennedy still had a healthy surplus (as opposed to deficit environment) to work in, so could afford his tax cuts without doing untold damage.

Were Kennedy's tax policies really as maimed as RE James suggests? Go look at the record in the press at the time then decide!   For example,  Fortune accused him of an attempt to "manipulate the tax level against the business cycle". ('Activism in the White House', June, 1961, p. 117).  Why the hell would such an organ of finance capital bellyache like this if Kennedy's tax law was a hollow fake?

Two years later, Fortune implored Congress to stop JFK from "using tax policy as instruments to manage the economy". ('The Dream Businessmen Are Losing', Sept. 1963, p. 91).  Again, why the whining if Kennedy's tax cuts were so wussy and "supply sided"? All James had to do was look at the media record, but like too many liberals he was more invested in buying into Kennedy's weakness than his strengths and accomplishments. (Something I partially blame on Kennedy "historians" like Robert Dallek who have no remote clue what the man actually did, and also critics like Noam Chomsky and Seymour Hersh - with his several books, articles on JFK's dalliances)

Along the same lines, the "central organ of finance capital" - The Wall Street Journal, launched various articles and diatribes accusing JFK of being a "statist" and other things. Some of those articles include:

- 8/6/62 'No Cause for Celebration'; p. 6;

- 3/26/63 'Too Much Money, Too Little Thought', p. 18;

- 8/15/63 'When Friends Become Foes', p. 8

Meanwhile, Henry Hazlitt, contributing editor at Newsweek (The Washington Post's sister publication) was airing many of the same complaints against JFK. These polemics, appearing regularly in Hazlitt's 'Business Tides', included taking JFK to task for his tax policies - including the proposed tax on U.S. business earnings abroad while he also chastised Kennedy for "welfare spending".

Never mind! The cynical manipulators out to brainwash citizens are betting that most are ignorant of recent American history and they will surely exploit that deficiency to play their little game. As long as useful idiots and tools such as RE James exist, they will keep on doing it.

Sadly, in scanning the comments, James' foolishness didn't stop there, he actually also took the sane and rational commentator to task for "quoting Curtis LeMay" as evidence that Kennedy  saved the world by refusing to bomb and invade Cuba. In fact, the commentator had referenced the actual transcripts of the tapes at the time in the book, The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis’, by Ernest R. May and Philip K. Zelikow (1997, President and Fellows of Harvard College).

The transcripts included the specific reference (p. 347) that "Strategic Air Command moved from the general Defense Condition 3 to Defense Condition 2, the level just below general war. In addition to ICBMs and submarine-based ballistic missiles, every available bomber – more than 1,400 aircraft- went on alert. Scores of bombers, each loaded with several nuclear weapons and carrying folders for pre-assigned targets in the Soviet Union."

But the moron insisted "Khrushchev deserved as much or more credit as Kennedy". He did, in the aftermath, in finally resolving the crisis - hence proposing  the removal of U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing theirs from Cuba. But, Khrushchev was not in the Crisis room with JFK facing down the rabid Joint Chief hawks like Lyman Lemnitizer and Curtis LeMay. Thus, it was on Kennedy - man on the freaking spot- who denied them the bombing campaign they wanted followed by invasion. If Kennedy doesn't stand his ground in the Crisis Room, nothing Khrushchev does later matters.

Indeed, as Robert McNamara makes clear in his 'Fog of War' documentary ('Lessons 1, 2) , had Kennedy succumbed to the Joint Chiefs'  demands nearly 160 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (and 93 tactical nukes)  would have been unleashed on the eastern U.S. This McNamara learned when he met with Castro in 1992 for the 30th anniversary of the event. McNamara asked Castro if he;d really have seen his country destroyed in the potential altercation and he responded firmly, "Yes, and you'd have dome the same if faced with massive bombing and invasion of your country -with likely takeover".

McNamara could hardly believe what he heard, but he likely forgot - 30 years after the fact - that the motto circulating in the US of A was "Better dead than Red"

Another doofus weighing in on the comments thread claimed that Kennedy had only managed to get "one minor piece of legislation passed in all his time in office". Which is yet more ignorant drivel and I have noted JFK's major accomplishments in other posts, including:

1) JFK established and promoted the "Alliance for Progress' to enable low-interest loans for Latin  American nations, thereby outraging the 'Street" and the other capitalist bastions of thought which believed this to be a "giveaway"    Because of the program, economic assistance to Latin America nearly tripled between fiscal year 1960 and fiscal year 1961. Between 1962 and 1967 the US supplied $1.4 billion per year to Latin America. If new investment is included, the amount of aid rose to $3.3 billion per year during this time span while the total amount of aid was roughly $22.3 billion. Sadly, once LBJ got in, the amount of aid did not equal the net transfer of resources. 

2) Perhaps the one move that may have signed JFK's death warrant was when he attempted - via Executive Order 11,110 issued on June 4, 1963 - to challenge Fed control of the money supply. (Which under the Constitution authorizes only Congress to create paper money not a private entity) This EO authorized the creation of some $4.2 billion in U.S. Notes - to replace Federal Reserve Notes. These U.S. Notes were issued by Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, and bore his signature.

After the assassination nearly all the notes were recalled. I was fortunate in being able to obtain two from my brother who still had them- a $2 note with Jefferson on the front, and a $5 with Lincoln. Both display the serial numbers in red ink. Not green, like Fed notes. See e.g.

In effect, JFK's issuance of U.S. Notes was a shot across the Federal Reserve's bow, as well as the banking class. By releasing all those debt-free notes out of the Treasury he not only undermined the Fed's financial hegemony but challenged their national authority and decision -making powers on money matters. Many observers believe that this alone might well have been enough to put JFK in assorted cross-hairs.

On the level of executive orders, it was perhaps the most daring ever issued, and we remind ourselves again (as RE JAMES  and Robert Dallek ought to) that Presidents can wield power in other ways apart from legislation.

3)Issuance of  National Security Action Memorandum 263, to pull out of Viet Nam by 1965. Many still quibble about whether this was actually done or mere smoke and mirrors  - but any energized citizen can find out for himself if he gets off his butt and digs into the document track!  He would find the main body of the memo actually appears in The Pentagon Papers, while the preface letter (to McGeorge Bundy) is what lazy researchers usually cite.  Bottom line is that NSAM 263 shatters another absurd trope put out by this same "liberal" poster that JFK actually was responsible for all those deaths in Vietnam by first sending personnel - oblivious to the fact it was LBJ's "Tonkin Gulf Resolution" in August, 1964 that ushered in the expansion of the war and tens of thousands of deaths.

4) Though JFK was reluctant for sure, since he could foresee the effects would lead to the now dominant GOP "southern strategy" - he nevertheless federalized the Alabama national guard in the fall of 1963, to protect black students trying to attend academic institutions.

In August, 1963 he outraged the extreme right fringe by signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Khrushchev. (They were particularly enraged at the ban on anti-missile systems)   Another useless dolt on smirkingchimp  ('J Madison') asserted that the "generals were always in favor of doing that anyway" - trying to diminish the achievement again, but he's as clueless as his bosom buddy RE James. In fact none of the military or Pentagon wanted any part of it! As McNamara shows in his documentary (Lesson 2) they were well on the way to developing a 100 megaton H-bomb - one of which had already been tested. So why the fuck would they be in favor of a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to outlaw such tests? Don't these people read? Don't they think? Are they this clueless about recent history? 

In addition, the Pentagon and Generals wanted no part of any Treaty that prohibited the development and use of anti-missile  systems, which they believed left the U.S. open to attack with no credible defense strategy.

6) Launching the Peace Corps, in which more than a quarter million volunteers have already served around the world - helping millions of impoverished people while letting them see the best face of America - as opposed to the usual 'war, invasion and bombing face'.These PC volunteers have 
worked in such diverse fields as education, health, agricultural development, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, protecting the environment and developing water resources,.

  I myself served 4 years and an damned proud to have been a part of Kennedy's program, teaching science to rural kids in Barbados - many of those kids having since gone on to productive careers, i.e. as airplane mechanics, electricians, pharmacists, librarians, college lecturers and police- security officers. Making a solid contribution to their nation as opposed to joining a "brain drain" leaving it.

7) Rapprochement with Fidel Castro, starting in late 1962. This has been well documented by National Archives contributor Peter Kornbluh, and paved the way to normalization of relations, including trade. (cf. 'Kennedy and Castro: What Might Have Been', by Peter Kornbluh, in The Baltimore Sun, Aug. 22, 1999, p. 1C)

National Security Archivist Kornbluh shows (by reference to documents he has accessed), it was William Attwood,, a Washington lawyer (who had negotiated the original release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners), who was instrumental. Attwood was charged with becoming the first American emissary to secure Castro’s ear and trust in a year-long rapprochement. In particular, to show good will and good faith, Attwood arranged for $62 million in medicines and food aid as part of the prisoner deal. All this was approved by JFK and likely sealed his death warrant in the Agency.

8) Space- The Apollo Moon Program:   
After the ignominy of the Russian satellite Sputnik, launched on Oct. 4, 1957, the U.S. received a wake up call in respect to its science and technology deficiencies. JFK knew that in order to technologically compete, a single program and focus was needed to capture the nation's imagination and to propel it toward a future where it wouldn't be left behind. Thus the manned space program was launched, and Kennedy declared in 1961 that "before this decade is out we will land a man on the Moon". With this single -minded focus the national resources were summoned through NASA, and he was as good as his word, with the Apollo astronauts setting down on July 20, 1969. Look at most of us who became interested in math or space science, especially physics - at the time - and they will tell you it was Kennedy's challenge of going to the Moon, and manned space exploration in general.

Sadly, if people (including professed liberals)  knew more, became the alert citizens Jefferson hoped for, the manipulators and their slick propaganda and disinfo wouldn't stand a chance in diminishing accomplishments such as those of John F. Kennedy. I leave readers with those famous words, from Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia:

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Verdict Was A Foregone Conclusion

Video records from the body camera - such as this one worn by a Denver policewoman will ultimate be the only way to provide enough evidence to prevent future Fergusons.

With the outrage that erupted in Ferguson, MO last night - after the grand jury verdict was announced- it was as if too many never saw this coming (Officer Darren Wilson not indicted given "no probable cause") but they ought to have if they followed the legal analyses on many different venues. Bottom line, the grand jury had mainly Officer Wilson's testimony (and images of his injuries) to go by and his claims - including:
"...... I never at any point had contol of him...he manipulated me while I was in the vehicle completely...I felt like  a five year old child holding onto Hulk instantly turned to how do I live through this..."

Also, by Wilson's account, he was literally at the mercy of this "giant" black guy the size of a pro football defensive end, and so he had no other option other than to fire -  eight shots at that. Was he lying? We don't know because there were no on the spot visual records to go by and other witnesses who stated that Wilson fired shots at  Michael Brown (while he was down) were dismissed as having lied. Were they? We only have the presented evidence (mainly forensic - in the autopsy of Brown) and as seen this morning on assorted news shows. As CBS Legal analyst observed: "Many witnesses changed their stories after the forensic report became available."

Let's also bear in mind, as the same legal analyst noted on CBS Early Show yesterday, that Missouri gives police enormous discretion on when to use lethal force, if they even think they are in mortal danger. Indeed, as she pointed out, the Missouri law even allowed an officer to fire at the back of a fleeing suspect.

Lastly, there was the makeup of the grand jury itself: 9 whites and 3 blacks, and the fact that all that was required for a dismissal verdict was nine votes. In effect, all the white members had to do is band together (we don't know this actually happened) and the verdict of no probable cause could have been arrived at - without any of the black members votes needed.

All of the above showed me that the verdict, no matter when it arrived, would be "no probable cause". It didn't take a mind reader to see it, or special powers - only understanding the legal choices the jurists had, their composition and Missouri law as it applies to such incidents. This ought to also have been obvious to any of those who flew into a rage last night.

All the preceding discloses that any similar incidents in Missouri - or many other states - will never receive the legal scrutiny they need until police are held to more account - with visual records available that can be admitted into evidence - say for a grand jury.

In other words, arguably Ferguson and its aftermath could all have evidently been avoided. How?

Via the use of a special miniaturized digital body camera worn on the side frames of officers' glasses or sun glasses. The tiny cameras record every last detail in any encounter with the public for any reason, and hence provide a firm and accurate document of the officer's actions and the perp's responses or crimes. Basically, it is insurance to protect police from false allegations of excessive force, and also suspects from overly aggressive police actions. The body camera ensures literal, visible accountability. According to Denver Police Chief Robert White :

"The body camera will clear up those moments of conflict"

And it will also provide supplemental evidence to any forensic findings, as well as officers' own accounts.

Other precincts have already been  authorized to use these cameras as a standard operating procedure.. For example, in Laurel, MD,  crime has dropped 46 percent and the police force has seen accountability for all arrests enhanced by virtue of everything being on  visual record. (In a few cases, as noted in an Aug. 29  Denver Post piece, p. 5A), "people making allegations against the police have withdrawn complaints when they learned their encounters were recorded.")

One instance shown in Laurel, MD involved an officer stopping a speeding vehicle. The entire transaction was recorded including when the officer asked to see identification and the perp floored her accelerator and left the scene - soon later apprehended down the highway.

The benefits from this digital camera system became self-evident. It was no longer a case of the officer's word against anyone else's because he could provide the evidence in the form of the digital recording.

Thus, had Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson been outfitted with such a miniature camera - like the police in Laurel, MD - it is doubtful things would have gotten to the stage they did in Ferguson.  All the events would have been immediately accessible and there'd have been no "fatal span" of time within which witness accounts conflicted.  The grand jury, as opposed to only being exposed to Wilson's account and images of his injuries, could have also seen events as they actually went down. No human witnesses - who might be swayed to lie for the dead victim - would be needed.

Had Wilson had this device and used it at the time of his confrontation, none of the Ferguson turmoil might have ever occurred. But 'coulda, shoulda, woulda' doesn't help anyone now - least of all Brown's family or sympathizers who rioted last night. Meanwhile, George Stephapoulis asked Wilson if he could have done anything different and he said 'No'. But he could. He could have backed off, called for other backup and not pursued in an aggressive fashion.

Clearly, these body camera devices need to be dispensed throughout the U.S. to all police departments,  and I would say as a vastly higher priority than dispensing militarized gear like Humvees.   Unless, of course, we want to relive more incidents like Ferguson.

See also:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Obama's Executive Move On Immigration - Paints GOOPS Into A Corner

As the crazed Reepos continue to scream and froth at the mouth over Obama's executive action on immigration (see Sen. Ted Cruz's latest fulmination on 'stopping this lawless administration and its unconstitutional amnesty') we see that the end result has been a brilliant strategic move - with the public now favoring any kind of action forward on immigration (See: 'Public Favors Immigration Order', The Denver Post, Nov. 23, p. 6A).

Basically, a funny thing happened after the mid-terms: Instead of Obama coming out all meek, self-pitying and weak, he came out like a ball buster and handed the Reeps their nuts with his audacious immigration address and the issuance of an executive order the next day. Never mind this order is in fact relatively modest, i.e. it only sends immigrants to the back of the deportation line - and even then they'd have to have  been in the country at least five years. So one wonders why the Reepos have so easily lost their minds over this.. (Many immigrants,  on learning the limits, are actually now complaining a bit as noted two days ago in a Miami Herald piece.)

Maybe it's because Obama, basically, has painted the GOP into a corner on an issue that could spell a monstrous loss for the Rs in the 2016 presidential election. Why? Because if the little fuckers go too far off the deep end - shutting down the gov't or trying to pull funding from immigration programs or trying to impeach Obama, they WILL lose at the ballot box.

They will antagonize millions of Hispanic voters, for one thing, and this is the same demographic that was critical with Obama winning back in 2012. They will also outrage many sane Americans who now demand some kind of action on immigration - via Obama's executive orders, if not actual legislation.

As the Denver Post article puts it:

"With the public favoring changes in the immigration system, the Republicans' best short term response appears to be purely rhetorical...Beyond that their hope of reversing his policies appears to be either a years long lawsuit or the 2016 presidential election."

But as the article also notes:

"GOP congressional leaders are desperate to squelch talks of a government shutdown or even impeachment."

Why? Because such moves, even if undertaken and unsuccessful, will ensure the demise of any GOP presidential election hope in 2016. They will simply piss off too many voters who will take out their anger via the ballot box by voting for the Dem Presidential nominee.

So basically, like a classical pin move in chess (using one piece, e.g. knight,  to neutralize two of the opponent's pieces) Obama has pinned the Reepos. If they go crazy and shut down the government over this, or over-react and try to impeach him or even refuse to vote on his assorted nominations, they will lose at the polls in '16 and big time.

Obama has thus won by being headstrong and forceful as opposed to taking the mid-term defeat personally (as a rebuke) or as an obligation for him to be a pusillanimous supplicant to the belligerent Reeps. And this alone drives them crazy.

Apart from the above, it is well to take a meta perspective on the whole kerfuffle. Why, exactly, are the Repukes working themselves into a lather over a minor immigration executive order when congress as a whole has abdicated its most important powers for the past 60 years? If you are going to be a Constitutional fetishist, I would think you'd be a purist about it and not pick and choose which constitutional powers you're going to demand while ignoring the most critical. (Or, using rhetorical ploys to explain away the ceding of war powers!)

Thus, in Article I, Section 8 we read the full swath of congressional powers - all prefaced with the words: "Congress shall have the Power to......"

To what? Well everything from to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties and Imposts to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States" to

"coin money, regulate the Value thereof"  and

"To declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal"

But what have we actually observed?

Well, recent congresses (Demo and Reepo)  have done little or nothing in the way of laying Taxes to provide for the general Welfare - specifically our crumbling infrastructure - now featuring some 70,000 bridges on the verge of collapse, as noted on '60 Minutes' last night (about which I will have more to say in a future post).

As for money, Congress (and the Treasury Dept. by extension), has basically ceded the printing of money - bills - to the Federal Reserve. Recall this entity (not in any way associated with the federal government proper) lays interest on every note made and this is passed on to the banks. The Federal Reserve also has the foremost power in the valuation of money,  for example by its implemented policies such as "quantitative easing" and hiking or lowering interest rates.  (QE and lower interest rates makes every dollar cheaper - which the stock market loves - and raising interest rates makes each dollar more dear and which the stock market hates.)

Where's the beef there? I guess maybe congress- especially the Reeps - forgot they had any say to do with money.

Last but not least, is the congressional  power to declare war, missing since World War II. In each of the wars that have occurred since - for whatever reason - Congress has allowed the executive branch to define either a "police action" (i.e. Korea, so not specifically requiring formal declaration) or some "resolution" (Gulf of Tonkin Resolution for Vietnam War, Iraq War Resolution for Iraq War) to finagle congress into ceding its own war powers and declarative power in favor of passive votes on the executive's resolution. And now these wussies are whining about the executive having "too much power" and presidential "lawlessness"? Give me a freakin' break!

Any moron and his pet monkey knows, or should, that war powers have far greater repercussions than almost any other and indeed their execution can influence a nation's debt and future welfare. This ain't rocket science, or astrophysics!

Author Gore Vidal pinpointed this absurd willingness of congress to cede power to the executive  when he noted (Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, 2002, p. 124)

"Since 1950 the United States has fought perhaps a hundred overt and covert wars. None was declared by the nominal representatives of the American people in Congress…they had meekly turned over to the executive their principal great power to wage war. That was the end of that Constitution”. 

So now the Repups are squalling because a President delivered a moderate executive order on immigration? No wonder this country is in the crapper - too many have lost touch with reality-  or the actual touchstones of history showing how the constitutional landscape has changed- and how THEY contributed to it by abdicating too much power to the executive.  How can we put this so they understand? Oh yeah! It's a bit hard to corral all the cows back into the barn after leaving the barn door open! DOH!

Maybe they all need to go back to school, and maybe take remedial history 101.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Top Ten Ways To Test Conspiracy Claims? (Howler Alert!)

A major section of the Skeptics Society pamphlet I referenced yesterday is headed  'Top 10 Ways to Test Conspiracy Theories’ – which like the dime store psychology content (on p. 4),   ends up as just useless  The authors could as well ask readers to use tea leaves.

Anyway, let’s look at what’s on offer:

1)Proof of conspiracy supposedly arises from connecting the dots. But if no evidence supports the connections the conspiracy is likely false.

In principle, this only works if the evidence is somehow manifest– either through some visual (film, photo) material, mathematical computations - such as Richard Charnin’s computations of  JFK assassination witness deaths, or securing once classified CIA files. But in many historical conspiracies either none of these were available  at the time the conspiracy was carried out (e.g. the bombing of Cubana Airliners flight CU-455 off the Barbados coast in Oct. 1976), or were only uncovered in the aftermath (e.g. Iran-Contra, Watergate, BCCI) so the investigator must indeed connect dots.

One of the best examples was Operation Northwoods. In Operation Northwoods the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military planned a campaign of terror, to include the sinking of refugee boats (carrying Cuban refugees) on the high seas, as well as the killing of innocent citizens on American cities’ streets, plus random bombings carried out in Washington, DC, Miami and other places. What was the  motivation? Author James Bamford shows it was to incite an invasion and war against Cuba and enable the U.S. to invade and overthrow Fidel Castro.[1]
But the documents to support suspicions of this (failed) conspiracy were only released years later – though many smelled a ‘rat’. When I first heard of Northwoods, I had trouble processing how any U.S. government agency or entity could remotely conceive of such foul deeds, far less carry them out. Then I quickly recalled the blowing up of Cubana Airlines Flight 455 over Barbados, on October 6. 1976 by Luis Posada, Freddie Lugo and other renegades sponsored in the extremist Alpha 66 enclave by the CIA. 73 innocent victims perished in that terrorist act, the worst one in the western hemisphere prior to 9/11. James Bamford, in his discussion of Northwoods (Body Of Secrets) , further notes that the extent of it included getting England (UK) to side with the U.S. against Castro by also launching attacks against Jamaica and Trinidad, both (then) Commonwealth members.  Does anyone seriously believe, given the vile extent of such plans, they’d have been the least  bit squeamish about assassinating a president who consistently thwarted and humiliated them? If so, the person isn’t paying attention.

 Bamford notes that around the same time, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) issued a report on the problem of “right wing extremism in the military” and warned of “considerable danger in the education and propaganda activities of military personnel”[2]

Bamford (ibid.) stated that the SFRC Report went so far as to warn of a military takeover of the country not dissimilar to that portrayed in ‘Seven Days in May’ the excellent John Frankenheimer film. Meanwhile, James Douglass notes in his book JFK and the Unspeakable,  that on July 27, 1963 Lee Oswald was giving a talk at a Jesuit school in Mobile, Alabama concerning a possible “military coup” in the U.S.,[3] and that lax Americans wouldn’t see it coming until too late.

Bottom line: Many defunct or once active conspiracies like Northwoods can never be subject to the evidence criterion until long after they go forward or fail.

2) The agents behind the conspiracy would need nearly superhuman power to pull it off.

Another widely circulated canard. In fact, all it takes is sheer determination by the principals to see it through and in the process, ensure as many loose ends as possible are tied up before it is launched.  Even then, a certain phase may misfire but the architects can improvise via a ‘Plan B’. For example, by all accounts of most investigators the original plan was to kill Oswald in the Texas Theater to silence him forever. This wasn’t done because he had no gun, didn’t fire any, so provided no excuse to kill him. Then when he was trotted through the Dallas PD announcing “I am just a patsy!” the planners knew they needed a plan B so called on Jack Ruby to provide it – and had him kill Oswald who was being directed through the Dallas PD basement to a new venue.

The plan worked, because so many were stupid enough to buy Ruby’s excuse that he “merely intended to save Jackie from having to testify”. Yeah right! Years later, release of files under the JFK Records Act disclosed in return for offing Lee, Ruby’s back excise and other taxes – totaling over $40,000 – were paid off.

Similarly in the Iran-Contra conspiracy the agents didn’t need superhuman powers only the sheer determination to get those Hawk and TOW missiles to the Iranians any which way they could- devil take the hindmost. The fact the conspiracy was later exposed and the agents brought up on charges doesn’t mean it never existed – only that it didn’t fully succeed.

3) The conspiracy is complex and successful completion demands a large number of elements.

Another canard. In fact, a conspiracy only demands enough complexity or elements to make it work – if even partially. And if it works, as the JFK conspiracy clearly did, who’s to say the elements were excessive? Also, let's bear in mind as long time JFK researcher Peter Dale Scott has pointed out, in the Kennedy case we are actually looking at THREE separate conspiracies but which are often conflated by the media or careless critics. These were: 1) The pre-assassination framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, 2) the actual killing of JFK on Nov. 22, 1963 and 3) the extended cover-up of the facts starting with the Warren Report itself and extending to "Operation Mockingbird" assets preventing subsequent revelations, insights in the media. Oh, and let's not forget the latter day disinformationists like Gerald Posner and Vince Bugliosi - serving the mandate of CIA doc. 1035-960.

Who is also to say that over 100 components –say  to make the BCCI banking conspiracy work, was too much or “too complex”? This is a totally subjective take that need not be vindicated objectively.  In the case of the BCCI banking conspiracy, since it entailed moving money to thousands of "dummy accounts" all over the world, the complexity was implicit. In fact, reams of evidence were culled from that criminal bank's operations in 73 countries and exposed. But whether anyone could comprehend all aspects of its workings - which were deliberately rendered complex- is another matter. (What we do know is thousands of Barbadians lost their savings when BCCI was shut down in that island state more than 30 years ago.)

Surely, if reason is a guide, complexity will plausibly be proportionate to the magnitude of the effects of the conspiracy. Thus, murdering a president or "executive action", would likely tally a number of complex aspects and certainly if success was paramount, exposure of the perps unacceptable. To carry it out effectively, and not do it half-assed, the architects would have to take the time to plan for any and all contingencies and have manpower at every phase to deal with them. This could surely be expedited if key personnel in one or more government agencies were also involved, for example, in eliminating key evidence. (Thus, Hoover dispatching 5-8 FBI agents to collect film from those nearest the JFK assassination site on Elm Street. Recall here that Hoover had a visceral hatred for the Kennedys.)

In the Iran-Contra conspiracy too, WHO is to say that 65-75 agents to effectively carry it out, from securing the hush money, to falsifying manifests to actual delivery was “too much”?  In fact the whole concept of “too much”  is entirely in the mind of the beholder.

4) The conspiracy involves large numbers of people  who would all need to keep quiet about their secrets.

Dispensed easily, along the lines of dispensing (3). Again, who is to say what constitutes “large numbers of people” ? If 75 was enough to make Iran –Contra work to the extent it did was that too much? Hardly! Was 94-95 too much to make the Kennedy assassination work – as it has for over 50 years now – thanks to the many useful idiots in the media and beyond who make up rationalizations to try to explain it away?

As for keeping secrets, killing witnesses is an excellent way to achieve that end which is why Richard Charnin’s book (analyzing JFK witness deaths) and website material is so important to disabuse those who opt to don the pseudo-skeptic robe. In other words, learn before bloviating about what limits you believe attend to the claim!

5) The conspiracy encompasses some grandiose ambition for control of a nation, economy or political system.

Another epistemological misfire.  That’s exactly what the JFK assassination achieved! Control of our national direction and even political system by an entrenched national security state. And besides, the definition of "grandiose" is also subjective and relative. Were the objectives of Operation Northwoods "grandiose"?  That is, setting off bombs in the U.S. - on streets in Miami, Washington D.C. etc. and blowing up planes, ships in order to trigger a war against Castro for the purpose of takeover of Cuba? It sounds "grandiose" but when the actual files were released to do with the nascent plan, there it was in all its grotesque aspect:

This is why it's stupid and non-productive to try to assert what is or isn't a "grandiose" ambition in a conspiracy, other than in a common sense context (i.e. the claim of the UN taking over the U.S. via black helicopters and storm troops clearly violates common sense so one needn't posit (5) to expunge it. All (5) succeeds in doing is impeding the exposure of actual, real world conspiracies - perhaps by keeping people silent (out of fear of looking foolish) when they know something. 

6) The conspiracy ratchets up from small events that might be true to large events that have much lower probability of being true.

Again, WHO is to make this determination?  WHO is to reckon what is a "small event" in relation to what is a "large event" in the context of the conspiracy? In principle the occurrence of  "slush fund" withdrawals by Oliver North, John Poindexter at all ca. 1985-86 might have seemed inconsequential in the scheme of things. Only later was it learned these were used to fund the purchase of Israeli Hawk and TOW missiles to ship to Iran, and then that purchase money used to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.  The import was uncovered only by connecting the dots which the Skeptic authors seem to be hyper--concerned about.  But if no one ever does that, the warp and woof of a given conspiracy never becomes visible! 

In the Kennedy assassination, likewise, assorted cables sent from the CIA station in Mexico City might have seemed like 'small potatoes'. But only in retrospect, as Peter Dale Scott observes, did it become apparent those cables were part of what was used to frame Lee Harvey Oswald - Part One of the conspiracy leading to the assassination and the installation of a national security state.

In a similar vein, it might have appeared a "small event" when in September, 1963, JFK confronted David Bell of AID (a CIA cover organization) about the funds from the Commodity Import Aid Program having “already been cut off”,  essentially assuring a coup would ensue with the Diem government in South Vietnam.   No one at the time would have recognized the implications, and also that JFK had been set up for assassination on the the same date (Nov. 2) the Diems were murdered (see James Douglass' book, JFK and Unspeakable). 

Kennedy was evidently livid and directly asked Bell: " Who told you to do that?"  to which Bell replied, “No one(op. cit). The will to power disclosed here indicated the CIA felt it more powerful than Kennedy himself or his decision-making authority.  If they felt that way, there is nothing that they wouldn’t do to prevent the President from getting in their way.  The incident was confirmed by New York Times journalist Arthur Krock  in his piece  ‘The Inter-Administration War in Vietnam’, The New York Times, Oct. 3, 1963). wherein he wrote:

"If the United States ever experiences an attempt at a coup to overthrow the government, it will come from the CIA

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, JFK assassination conspiracy skeptics!

7) The conspiracy theory assigns portentous and sinister meanings to what are most likely random and insignificant events.

Right, like Kennedy's argument with David Bell (see above) was most likely an "insignificant event" and the beatings of Sylvia Duran (by Mexican police) was just a "random event" - delivered if she didn't recant her account that the Oswald seen at the Cuban Consulate was not Lee Oswald. 

Or, I guess it was an "insignificant event"  when Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo deplaned in Barbados Sewell's Airport on October 6, 1976 and got a taxi, all the while laughing about the bombs they planted - which later went off killing all on board. Later, it was uncovered the CIA paid the two, along with Luis Carriles Posada, to blow up the plane.

Once again, the generalization in (7) is too wide, cuts too wide a track, to be useful in distinguishing the signal from the noise in detecting genuine conspiracies.

8) The theory tends to commingle facts and speculations without distinguishing between the two and without assigning degrees of probability and factuality.

Totally ludicrous! First, in the case of revealed conspiracies and investigations to do with them - the best place to start in examining (8)), we find there is little agreement.  For example, if one accepts the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) finding that a conspiracy occurred in the case of JFK's assassination (with 95% probability) then one must reject many of the "facts" trotted out in the Warren Report. (Which again, was LBJ's creation, not a genuine federal government investigation). 

Further, the HSCA itself is deficient in the presentation of all the facts. In examining the actual autopsy photos it's clear the HSCA conclusion of a rear shot  (from the Book depository) is absurd, no matter who said what on what panel (i.e. Clark Panel).  A mere examination of the bogus Warren autopsy photo (below left) and the real one sets the record straight, and exposes the HSCA's own brand of cowardice: you simply cannot physically have the rear of a skull blown out by a rear shot! Rather the linear momentum of a bullet fired from the FRONT will blow out the rear of a skull!

For reference, the Warren Commissioners used the fake photo without a blown out rear skull, to try to make people believe the shot came from behind, i.e. the Texas School Book Depository. The HSCA - rather than accepting the evidence of the actual autopsy photos, opted to stick with the earlier ones from the WC, and hence arrived at a contradictory conclusion to the evidence.  Note also, the actual rear shot hit Kennedy in the middle of the upper back. (Bullet hole in suit coat to prove it, but the suit coat was destroyed). It thus seems the HSCA was trying to "square the circle" by finding for conspiracy on the one hand yet unwilling to diverge from the Warrenites' misbegotten fake evidence for the head shot on the other!

So, contrary to the presumptions of (8) there is no clear delineation of accepted facts to go by. What we who are serious researchers do is therefore do our own investigations, often using established principles of physics (as I have done- see my assorted FAQs from November, 1963) to arrive at our own conclusions. That the majority of us agree on the basic facts is a remarkable sign that we have reached a level of objective truth which LBJ's fraud and then later the only government investigation haven't. (Again, as to the reasons they haven't see my FAQ Parts 4a, 4b on the Warren Commission, and Part 7 on the HSCA). 

As for the claim that probabilities are to be assigned, don't make me laugh. In the standard theory of probability we are looking at computing the frequency of occurrence of an event. Hence, if it occurs 49 times out of 1,000 the probability of occurrence is 0.049. But in many conspiracies (e.g. Iran-Contra) it is a one off, so how are you going to compute probability? (This, of course, includes each component, such as the probability of preparing the first manifest for shipping Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran, or in the JFK case, the probability that the CIA cables were forged.)

What we can do is what investigator D.B. Thomas did in his 2001 acoustic analysis. He found that for a given configuration for 2 motorcycles at designated locations in Dealey Plaza, 1 for the grassy knoll  shooter location and one for alignment of muzzle blasts with one pair of echoes, the p -value is 0.000012 or about 1 in 100,000 against the null hypothesis, i.e. that the impulses were from random noise. An alternative way to put this is that the odds were 100.000 to 1 in favor of the impulses comprising actual rifle shots and not motorcycle backfires or other noise.

9) The theorist is extremely and indiscriminately suspicious of any and all government agencies or organizations.

Again, laughable as a useful generalization or principle - to ferret out the real from the unreal. By this cartoonish criterion, The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ought to never have been suspicious of the Watergate break-in and the role of Nixon's government.  Had that been the case, the Watergate conspiracy would never have been exposed, and Nixon would never have been forced from office! So much for that one!

Similarly, had no serious investigators been suspicious of the slush funds that came to light in 1986, and the mysterious manifests with Israeli Hawk and TOW missiles bound for Iran, we might never have uncovered the Iran-Contra conspiracy. 

Likewise, had no one been suspicious of David Bell's confrontation with JFK, or David Atlee Phillips' fake cables implicating Oswald in October, 1963, we might never have learned of the NSA-CIA Staff D assassinations program under the oversight of William Harvey. And how it later mutated from taking out Castro (as part of ZR/Rifle) to taking out Kennedy.

The takeaway on (9) then, is that it's actually a perverse way for real n'er do wells in government agencies to get away with literal murder. It's also a way to justify useful idiots like the skeptic authors ensuring they do.

10) The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations, rejecting all disconfirming evidence for his theory and blatantly seeking only confirmatory evidence.

Again, this is only partly applicable - and mainly to the loopy mode of pseudo-conspiracies like the faked Apollo Moon landing,  UN hegemony over the U.S. and aliens kept in vaults at Area 51.  For the real, serious, historical conspiracies, like Watergate, the Kennedy assassination, BCCI, and Iran-Contra it is woefully inapplicable. 

In fact, in the case of the Kennedy assassination, all the "disconfirming evidence" is that which inveighs against the validity of the Warren Commission Report, as I showed in Part 5 of my FAQ from November, 2013. Other disconfirming evidence exists in the HSCA Report, on account of the original head (Richard Sprague ) being released and the CIA being given presumptive control of the investigation - deciding what evidence to admit and what to leave out.  

The moral of the story is simple: For false or pseudo-conspiracies (which I refer to as rubbish conspiracy claims) no special "top ten" analytic principles or criteria are required to expose the gibberish. Common sense, in most cases, is sufficient.  In the case of genuine conspiracies, such criteria more often obstruct than advance the cause of exposing the events.  I showed above how that works.

[1] James Bamford:2001,  Body of Secrets,  Doubleday Books, p. 82.
[2] Bamford, op. cit., p. 80.
[3] James Douglass: 2006, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, Orbis Books, p. 331.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Skeptics Society Conspiracy Phobes - And Why They Discredit Themselves

Cover of new pamphlet purporting to expose conspiracy theories from the Skeptics Society

Having just started reading Richard Charnin's new book, Reclaiming Science: The JFK Conspiracy, I can say I am already delighted on seeing the depth of the analyses to come, and the focus on science, making the book a nice complement to Prof. James Fetzer's Assassination Science. Because science is what we need here to counter the flood of disinformation that first arrived with the Warren Commission Report - not to mention the efforts of all its apologists to defend it.

"Reclaiming Science" is an apt title because it entails reclaiming the content that has hitherto been obfuscated and distorted under the specious science (or what I call pseudo-science) of the Warren Report as well as the apologists like Gerald Posner ('Case Closed') and Vince Bugliosi ('Reclaiming History') who have sought to reinforce that pseudo-science . I showed much of that in my FAQ (Part 5) addressing the bullets and wounds back  in in November of last year, e.g.

Today, the 51st anniversary of the JFK assassination,  is a good opportunity to re-examine the entrenched CT phobics, especially the more sophisticated ones that have surfaced in organizations like  The Skeptics Society. For example, via a little pamphlet (see cover image at top) put out recently - which I received in the post three days earlier. Perhaps 21 years ago I had a letter published in the journal of that organization wherein I warned that expressions of hyper-skepticism could backfire and were counterproductive. This was after the magazine took some initial critical shots at the claim for conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination - revealing like so many others before and since that they hadn't done their homework.

Before proceeding further let us remind ourselves of the definition of conspiracy (e.g. from the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary):

treacherous, surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons

Why this simple definition should cause so many heads to explode - especially in the US of A-   is frankly beyond me. It is elemental and has been demonstrated many times as I will show - hence, it's not as if we're talking or writing about ghosts, poltergeists, elves or fairies.

An easier question to address is: Why are so many would-be skeptical critics broken on the 'wheel' of the JFK assassination? Well, because they treat it frivolously - without the respect it is due  - more often conflating it with nonsense pseudo conspiracies (which shouldn't even be dignified by the name) such as the claim of the "faked Apollo Moon landing" or the UN seeking to take over the nation via black helicopters or the claim government agents are secretly using the Post Office to buy up all the ammo so gun owners can't get any. Each of these, by contrast to the JFK assassination, demonstrates ignorance or manifest paranoia.

Apart from the presumption of frivolity, without due diligence in approaching a controversial  political-historical topic, and with only uninformed, indiscriminate skepticism expressed - the whole exercise becomes one of merely academic pique, or "bullshit" in the parlance of Harry Frankfurt in his masterpiece, On Bullshit. According to Frankfurt:

"Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk (or write) without knowing what he is talking (or writing)  about. Thus, the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak(or write) about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts relevant to the topic."

Such is the case with the contents of the Skeptics Society pamphlet.. What is the error that threads its way throughout the book? While the authors specifically target ALL conspiracy theories - as if these were a form of general mental disorder- they are implicitly attacking the reality of actual conspiracies! (Bear in mind once a conspiracy exists it is no longer "theory".) Logically, then, if ab initio  all conspiracy theories are false, foolish or invalid (meaning other explanations can suffice and the ones advanced are daffy) it means there can be no real conspiracies either!

But we know this to be false, because Watergate was certainly a real conspiracy,  exposed in Nixon's White House Tapes (get hold of them as I have and listen!) as was Iran-Contra. To refuse to label a crime, especially a political one,  a conspiracy -  is therefore to be dishonest in one's approach to historical or political knowledge and education. It is also to be guilty of spreading disinformation,

To fix ideas,  let me offer some perspectives on the Iran –Contra conspiracy which was implemented by Reagan cronies such as Oliver North, John Poindexter, Albert Hakim and Caspar Weinberger. (Reagan always denied any involvement, though it is incredible that such a plan could have unfolded without topmost authority. But, being generous, mayhap Reagan's Alzheimer's had already set in and someone like Poindexter was needed to oversee it!)

All the charges against the above-named characters and others are listed on page xiv of the Introduction to The Iran –Contra Report (1994) published by Random House at the behest of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh. (Note: Weinberger,  “charged with four counts of false statements and perjury,  was pardoned by George Bush” That would be George Senior).

The basic facts to take away concerning the  Iran-Contra conspiracy are these:

- Shipping Israeli Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran from 1985-86 to obtain the release of American hostages held in the Middle East. This was despite an embargo on such sales.

- The money from the sales of these arms was to be funneled into Nicaragua to support the Rightist “Contras’, a violation of the then
Boland Amendment, and basically exposing the Reagan administration’s covert support for paramilitary activities conducted against the Sandinista government.

As noted in Walsh’s Introduction (p. xv):

The Iran and Contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the Contra mission in Nicaragua.  Although this diversion may be the most dramatic aspect of Iran-contra, it is important to emphasize that both the Iran and contra operations, separately, violated United States policy and the law.”

Violation of policy thus was via the violation of the Boland Amendment, named for Rep. Edward Boland (D-MA).  The amendment restricted U.S. aid to the contras and “
prohibited the use of U.S. funds for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.”

But even Rep. Boland likely couldn't have conceived of the dastardly lengths to which the Reaganites would go even before his amendment was in the public domain. I am referring, of course, to the “October Surprise” whereby Reaganites (known at the time also to be strongly supported by the Republican Heritage Council with Nazi links- see, e.g. Russ Bellant’s book: ‘Old Nazis, The New Right and the Republican Party’, 1991, pp. 41-44)) used back channels to make a secret deal with Iran to postpone release of the 52 American hostages in return for arms sales after the election.

Corroborating this, on July 18, 1981 the then USSR's TASS news agency reported the emergency landing near the USSR-Turkish border of an Argentine-registered transport aircraft leased and flown by Israelis, carrying a full load of US weaponry and military spare parts. The US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Nicholas Veliotes, subsequently investigated this occurrence and concluded that the downed aircraft was on its third such flight in a series of shipments of US weapons to Iran which had been authorized by high officials in the Reagan Administration.

Before people start talking “tinfoil hats” let’s examine what was at stake and in particular the federal conspiracy law as it would relate to the later arms-for-hostages dealings of Iran-Contra. As noted on p. 56 of The Iran –Contra Report:

“The federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371, states that ‘it is a crime to conspire to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose’”

This would have been violated under three criminal actions by the perpetrators identified by Walsh (ibid.):

1) “Using government resources, the conspirators conducted an unauthorized covert program in support of the contras.”

2) “North and Poindexter used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators

3) “By secretly pursuing their own ends, the conspirators outraged the Iranians they were attempting to persuade and thus jeopardized the success of the Iran initiative.”

In terms of the scale and scope of the deal, on p. 338 of the Iran-Contra Report we see: “3300 TOWs for hostages”, then on p. 339, we note: “In fact, 1,000 TOW missiles had been delivered to Iran between February 15 and 17, 1986.”

These facts are germane and important because they disclose the extent of the conspiracy as well as the people involved.  But this is the essential nature of all real conspiracies in the political realm - to somehow leverage power to the advantage of those seeking to impose their own agenda. It was applicable in the Iran-Contra conspiracy as it was in the Kennedy assassination conspiracy - the objective in the latter to implement a much larger national security state and permanent war state.

The authors of the Skeptic Society's pamphlet, meanwhile, step into reeking heaps of virtual 'doggy doo' as they go their merry way making wild generalizations about all claimed conspiracies and conflating them indiscriminately. This is in addition to plenty of dime store psychology meted out such as  citing a waste of paper called 'American Conspiracy Theories' in which it is claimed "researchers have found that inducing anxiety or loss of control triggers respondents to see non-existent patterns and evoke conspiratorial explanations."

Proving again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing especially in subjective areas like  psychology and psychiatry (for an excellent exposure of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual and all the psycho-malarkey within it, check out 'The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry')  Such psycho-babble also elicited the scorn and rebuke of my friend Rolf  (formerly a member of the Spezialdienst) when I emailed him a scan of the pertinent material. His rejoinder was that this anti-conspiracy crowd that relies on such babble  "needs their own heads examined".

In the case of the pamphlet, its lone (peripheral) foray into the Kennedy assassination occurs on page 4, under the header, 'Ingredients for Conspiratorial Thinking' (hmmmm.....was  Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh guilty of "conspiratorial thinking" for pursuing Iran-Contra?) Therein, the authors  (Michael Shermer and Pat Linse) babble:

"Conspiracy theories connect the dots of random events into meaningful patterns (patternicity) and then infuse those patterns with intentional agency (agenticity). Add to this confirmation bias, the tendency to look for or find confirmatory evidence for what you already believe- and the hindsight bias (after the fact explanation for what you already know happened)  and we have the foundation for conspiratorial cognition."

Which is fulsome horse pockey. Indeed,  by the clever use of this pseudo-scientific,  dime store psychology template virtually any real conspiracy could be dismissed as nothing more then a combo of :  P (patternicity)+ A  (agenticity) + H (hindsight) + C (confirmation bias) nonsense!   

Think of it! In the case of the Iran-Contra conspiracy,  the shipping manifests revealing the assorted Hawk and TOW missiles  destined for Iran would be likened to "seeing a pattern".  This would then be "infused with agenticity"(sic)  because the missiles ended up with the Iranians - so someone had to be a bad guy in doing it- since the Iranians were bad guys holding American hostages.  The next step would be to accuse  Prosecutor Walsh of "looking for confirmatory evidence of what he already believed", i..e. the guilt of Oliver North, John Poindexter et al. because they "used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators”.  And finally, the coup de grace, Walsh would be accused of "hindsight bias" - advancing explanations after the fact for what he already knew happened. (Of course he knew, he uncovered the evidence in the course of his investigation!)

So, in other words, their bandying about of this pseudo-process is useless because it errs by proposing an excessively subjective and open-ended standard for parsing objective evidence. Hence, tying proof of conspiracy to sophisticated second guessing.

Shermer and Linse then move on to the Kennedy assassination (ibid.):

"Consider the Kennedy assassination: Knowing what we know now, film footage of Dealey Plaza from Nov. 22, 1963 seems pregnant with enigmas and ironies - from the oddly expectant expressions on the faces of the onlookers on the grassy knoll (What were they thinking?) to the play of shadows in the background (Could that flash of light have been on a gun barrel?) Each odd excrescence, every random lump in the visual texture, seems suspicious"

But here the authors invoke too much in the way of red herring, and not enough substance. Sure, there were random flashes and visuals appearing in the setting, i.e. in the Zapruder film as well as the Nix film. High tech investigation of one photo - from Mary Moorman- even disclosed the outline of a shooter behind the stockade fence on the grassy knoll, e.g.

File:Badgeman coloured.jpg
This "Badgeman" photo above, compliments of Richard Charnin - from his blog- in contrast to the woolly speculations of the skeptic duo, was declared authentic by an MIT analysis team - as Charnin observes. (For the likely identity of 'Badgeman' see my Sept. 20th post: 'Switzerland: Destination for the Kennedy Assassins?' )

But even if one would claim to be so bleary-eyed or visually deficient as to see nothing peculiar in the image, or the evident outline of a gunman in the photo (including muzzle blast), the autopsy photos - fraudulent and real - shown below, ought to give pause. These are not based on random flashes or expectant expressions on living faces  but the stark consequences after the rifles were fired.
 These, along with the released CIA files about Oswald, seem to be what the hyper-skeptics have missed.

And perhaps this is why these skeptics who fancy themselves informed and smart enough to take on the JFK assassination,  ought to back away and regard it instead as the "fire breathing dragon of American history" - in the words of one Truthdig journalist who interviewed Tom Hanks for a supposed series he had planned on HBO (later cancelled). Hanks was ultimately gobbled up by this fire-breathing dragon because in the end he was too flippant in his approach to the facts, as well as arrogant in seeking to  "do the American public a service" - because they "have been snookered into believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed."

These lessons,  which occur from time to time,  ought to also steer other presumptuous fools clear of this event in any future forays where they go after ALL conspiracies. Oh, they might wish to stay away from Iran-Contra, Watergate and BCCI too!

Btw, I have no problem - not one, if this pair, Pat Linse and Michael Shermer (or the entire Skeptics Society),  want to go after those who suggest the Apollo Moon landings were faked or that the Air Force is secretly hiding aliens somewhere in Area 51. But if you plan to try to skunk those of us who've seriously investigated the Kennedy assassination - conflating us with the nutsos above-  you had best be loaded for bear!

See also:

Select Solutions to Quantum Statistics Problems

1.Find the Fermi sphere parameters: e F ,  v F  and   T F for He3 at absolute zero, viewed as a gas of  non-interactive fermions. (The density of the liquid is 81 kg/ m 3).


We first find the number of electrons per unit volume. (N/V)

N/ V =  

6.020  x 10 26  atoms/ kmol (81 kg/ m 3)/ 3 kg/ kmol

(Why 3 kg/ kmol in denominator? Because the atomic weight = 3)

Then: N/ V =  1.625   x 10 28  atoms

The Fermi Energy, e =  ħ/ 2m   [3p2 N/ v] 2/3


e =    6.81  x 10 -23  J

To get: v F  , note: e F  =   ½ m (v F )2

v F  =   [2 e /  m]1/2  =   165  m/s

Finally, the Fermi temperature is found based on the fact it is tied to the energy (as the energy increases, the temperature increases.  We have for the thermodynamic temperature: 

Since   T F =  kB t

Then:  T F =    (e F)/ kB   =

(6.81       x 10 -23  J) /  (1.38 x 10 -23 JK-1 ) = 4.93 K 

2. a) Show that (- f / e)  evaluated at the Fermi level (e  = m) has the value (4 kB T) -1. Thus, the lower the temperature, then the steeper the slope of the Fermi-Dirac function.

Hint: Use f(e=  1/ [exp (m - e)/ t + 1]


We have:

f(e=  1/ {exp (m - e)/ t + 1} =   [exp (m - e)/ t + 1] -1

So:    - f / e    = 

 - {- [exp (m - e)/ t + 1] -2 ·  1/ t  (exp (m - e)/ t)}

For e  = m:

- f / e   =  exp (e - e)/ t + 1] -2 ·  1/ t  (exp (e - e)/ t)}

exp  (0) / t + 1] -2 ·  1/ t  (exp  (0)  / t)} = 1/ t  (2) -2

- f / e   =   1/ 4 t   =    1/ (4 kB T)   =    (4 kB T) -1

3. Let emd,  show that: f(d  ) = 1 – f( -d )

Hint: Let f(d  ) =  1/ [exp  (e- m )/ t + 1]


If emd,    then:    d   =  e  -    m

f(d  ) =  1/ [exp  (e- m )/ t + 1]

But:  f( -d  ) =  1/ [exp - (e- m)/ t + 1]

 =  1/ [exp   (m - e)/ t + 1]


1 -    f( -d  ) =  1 -   1/ [exp   (m - e)/ t + 1]

=    [exp   (m - e)/ t]/  [exp   (m - e)/ t + 1]

l exp (- e/ t) /   l exp (- e/ t) +1

Since:  l =   exp (m / t)

Multiply numerator and denominator by using:  [exp (e/ t)]l

l exp (- e/ t)  (exp (e/ t)l) /[ l exp (- e/ t) + 1] (exp (e/ t)l)

=  1/   [1 +   1/ l  (exp (e/ t)]

Or:    1 -    f( -d  ) =    1/ [1 +  exp   -m (exp (e/ t)]

=   1/ [exp  (e- m)/ t + 1]

But:    f( -d  ) =   1/ [exp  (e- m)/ t + 1]

Therefore:      f(d ) = 1 – f( -d )