Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Astounding Hubris of Tom Hanks

Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: 'Do you actually think there's a group of people sitting around in a room, plotting things?' For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers. But where else would people of power get together - on park benches or carousels?"-

Michael Parenti in 'Dirty Truths', p. 174

As the last link in the previous blog notes, Tom Hanks - a comedic actor of moderate skills (see e.g. his latest effort, 'Larry Crowne') and who has dabbled in some historical fiction ('The Pacific', 'Band of Brothers', 'John Adams', etc.) now actually believes the media hype that he is "America's Historian in Chief". Somehow, I don't think so - and I dispute the guy can even pass a basic test on the JFK Assassination such as I will post in the next blog.  But people, especially Hollywood-types, who strike some chords of success with either dramatic series or other efforts...or even multiple Oscars, often do come to believe they are legends in their own minds.

IN Hanks' case, as he told Truthdig in an interview, he intends to "do the American public a service" - because he thinks they "have been snookered into believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed."  Hanks also appears unphased that it is one thing to do a semi-fictional dramatic series like 'The Pacific' (which I actually liked because of my dad's involvement in that theater, see e.g.


and quite another to jump head first into one of the pivotal events of recent American history, and for which many researchers believe Hanks is woefully underqualified to do anything other than maybe a fictional film - certainly not a 13 part non-fictional series that professes to be historically accurate. 

According to the Intro to his interview:

"The Kennedy assassination is the fire-breathing dragon of U.S. history, and Hanks seems singularly hubristic about grabbing its tail."

Well, I'd say "singularly hubristic" about sums it up, especially as he intends to use Vince Bugliosi's half-baked "cinder block" of book, 'Reclaiming History' - as his source material. A work that - as I've shown in the past five blogs - isn't worth one ounce of donkey lickspittle.

Now.....Hanks in his interview professes to be "a Kennedy liberal with old time values" - which is interesting because that is exactly what I am. So why are Hanks and myself at 180 degree opposite poles on the Kennedy assassination? Why is it that I do believe Oswald was indeed framed (he proclaimed "I am just a patsy") and Hanks thinks we're all "snookered"?

I think the separation can be almost entirely explained on the basis that Hanks hasn't done one tenth the research, reading and other investigations that I have actually carried out (and described in detail in my recent book, 'The JFK Assassination: The Final Analysis').  How many years, decades has Hanks spent plowing through relevant materials, including old documents, newspapers, newsreels, clips, tape transcripts and FOIA -released files? Or, did he just commence doing it within a year or so of the publication of Vince Bugliosi's pro-Warren Commission PR book? Meanwhile, I have been at it non-stop  since 1977, including going through all the volumes of the House Select Committee on Assassinations- published in 1979. I've also done my own physics analysis of the shot sequence, including relevant computations of momentum, torque acting on the body and the impulse needed to send a piece of skull flying over the limo trunk.

It is all very well, then, to seek to disabuse a population about their strong belief in Oswald's innocence, or that he wasn't the lone gunman, but what have YOU got to show in terms of your own bona fides? Or, will you just parrot Bugliosi's errors (and maybe invective too)?

Also underscoring Hanks' mammoth hubris is his belief that he is going to "change the minds of the AMerican public" when in fact, barely 13% of them subscribe to HBO where it is to be shown. (Unless the talk now is to change that to a network more accessible).   But what informs that notion anyway? What makes Hanks believe: a) it's his mission to try to change minds, and b) that he thinks he knows more than the rest of us and that it provides justification for clearing out a "conspiracy culture"?

Let's deal with this issue of a "conspiracy culture", because its existence appears to be at the root of Hanks' hubris in seeking to change the public's mind, and Bugliosi's to write his mammoth....errrrr.....Mammoth!

Author Michael Parenti ( America Besieged,  Dirty Truths ) has perhaps done the most to expose the insidious nature of conspiracy phobia that resides in elite American culture, in the media, its halls of powers, and yes amongst many celebs (like Tom Hannks, and Stephen King) who believe their success has hinged on not rocking the boat and ....if the authorities assert such and such is true, or this event occurred this way, they are obliged to believe it.

Two particular chapters, ‘Is Conspiracy Only a Theory?’ in the first book, and ‘Conspiracy Phobia on the Left’ in the second, hold the clue to why even liberals like Hanks run from the c-word. Parenti makes no bones about the fact that “most people suffer from conspiracy phobia” and “they treat anyone who investigates conspiracy as a conspiracy buff or oddball”. He also has a problem with the term “conspiracy theory” since it permits the critics and skeptics to have their intellectual cake and eat it.

If the claimed conspiracy hasn’t been validated to their satisfaction, it’s merely a theory (which they erroneously equate with speculation), but if it was validated, as in Watergate, then ‘Voila!’ it’s no longer theory but an actuality!  But this is essential nonsense. As Parenti observes, it means that “conspiracy can never be proven and if proven it can’t be conspiracy”.

Parenti concludes all conspiracies are thereby relegated to “the realm of the imaginary”. Real conspiracies (proven so), meanwhile, shuck off the c-word label and become another, different breed of historical reality. What, I don’t know, and neither does Parenti. What we do know is given the basic definition from my Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, viz.

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

Now, either something meets this definition or it doesn’t. The definition isn’t rejected because the conspiracy is proven ex-post-facto. If at any time the condition in the definition was met, however briefly, then it was a valid conspiracy! From this, Watergate is and was a conspiracy, so was Iran-Contra. The JFK assassination also was, if even one Texas oilman met with a putative assassin to take Kennedy out, as Noel Twyman reports in his book, Bloody Treason. Or...if two shots were recorded in less time than the bolt action recycling time of Oswald's rifle. (Which is why the HSCA found for "95% probability" of conspiracy.)

This brings us to the role of the media and opinion -pushers in perpetuating an anti-conspiracy mindset, certainly amongst the power-elites and their subsidiaries.  Almost from the time The Warren Report was published, the media have been complicit in impugning any and all notions of conspiracy.  It is almost as if the U.S. is assumed somehow special or untouched by the Machiavellian mindset that produces assassinations, plans, and hidden schemes in other parts of the world. But our history tells a decidedly different story. From COINTELPRO, to Watergate, to BCCI and Iran-Contra we now know that conspiracies are not only real - as real as this computer keyboard I'm using - they are one of the primary ways to get things done. As Parenti even points out ( America Besieged, City Light Books, p. 140):

“Conspiracy is even a legitimate concept in law – the collusion of two or more people, pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal end. Juries find people guilty of conspiracies and people go to jail for conspiracies”
Thus, despite the murmur and sneering of the media, conspiracy does exist as a matter of public legal record. So why do so many people emerge brain –benumbed (or eyeballs rolling) when exposed to the c-word? Parenti is convinced it arises from a concerted and directed attempt to manipulate public perceptions, and I concur.
Edward Bernays was the original maestro. His Crystallizing Public Opinion’ had as its primary goal to drumbeat ‘the masses’ into a homogeneous and consistent consent, but do it without their awareness. The key was to frame the content in such a way the person would believe it to be ‘common sense’, or ‘patriotism’ and then accept it as the logical outcome of his own thoughts and reason. The sheep was still a sheep, but believed s/he was an independent-thinking sheep, one of millions in the vast constellation of sheeple. In many ways then, one could say that Tom Hanks aspires to be the new Bernays!
Bernays objective was also clearly set out:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Enter now the governmental fabrication known as “The Warren Commission”. Despite having no legitimate investigatory powers under any law, it emerges out of presidential decree and appointment and from this comes its gravitas. The first crucial step in any PR feint is the gravitas: think Woodrow Wilson’s “Committee on Public Information” confected by Bernays for the sole purpose of driving American public opinion into World War I participation to ‘make the world safe for democracy’.
For the Warren Commission: Recruit some high sounding names, toss in one or two “rebels” – like Hale Boggs – and you have your Commissioners.  Then call a bunch of witnesses, but downplay that you actually omitted 200 material witnesses who had direct experience of the events of November 22, 1963.  In this regard, the Warren Commission and Report would represent the perfect vehicles for such propaganda manipulation given their patina of gravitas. Despite this, the Warren Commission Report (described by some as “the largest book of fiction in most libraries”) should have garnered no attention or investment of intellect. That it did is due to the media reflexively imbuing it with absolute truth, or at least so much credibility that any alternative investigations would be wasteful and counterproductive.
Meanwhile, Parenti’s Dirty Truths hits closer than many authors as to the actual motivation to eliminate JFK.  To paraphrase in not too many words, JFK had transgressed mightily against an entrenched “Gangster state” comprised of a mix of government, military and corporate interests. The assassination was the Gangster state’s way to remedy the situation since one man couldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of their hegemonic aspirations. Parenti, in a powerful blow for truth-telling (p. 156):

“To know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call into question the state security system and the entire politico-economic order it protects. This is why for over thirty years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder unearthed by independent investigators like Mark Lane, Peter Dale Scott, Carl Oglesby, Harold Weisberg, Anthony Summers”
The unsettling take? Hanks' - a self-professed Kennedy "liberal" - is making his series to protect the politico-economic order of the existing national security state that retook the reins after JFK's demise. He may not even know that he is, opting instead to see himself as some "Don Quixote" on a white horse out to save the American people from being "snookered". But in reality Hanks is a pawn, a tool....just like his pal, Bugliosi.
Now, here's a friendly bit of advice from one Kennedy liberal, to a professed other: If you are really really a Kennedy liberal, and not a poseur, then ditch Bugliosi's "mastodon" and go to a library to get hold of James Douglass' finely researched book: 'JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters'.
Douglass' book, unlike Bugliosi's, is the product of genuinely serious, in-depth research, and also an unsparing regard for the truth above all else. There is no distortion, nor telling lies, as Bugliosi does (as when he claims that author Mark Lane never ever wrote that Oswald was arrested).
As Douglass puts it (p. xvi, Introduction):
“By overlooking the deep changes in Kennedy’s life and the forces behind his death, I contributed to a national climate of denial....Our collective denial of the obvious, in the setting up of Oswald and his transparent silencing by Ruby, made possible the Dallas coverup. The success of the coverup was the indispensable foundation for the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy by the same forces at work in our government – and ourselves.

Hope for change in the world was targeted and killed four times over. The cover-up of all four murders, each leading into the next, was based – first of all –on denial. Not the government’s but our own- and the unspeakable was not far away.”
The choice then is yours, Mr. Hanks. Not as to whether you will save us all from being "snookered" or not, but whether you will become one more element in the Unspeakable (of Denial) about this event, or join the side to which your better angels (as a true Kennedy liberal) ought to be calling you.  You are said to have "purchased all the rights to Bugliosi's book" for your pet project. Why not instead purchase the rights to Douglass' book, and join the side seeking truth ....not more "conscious manipulation of the masses"?

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