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November 23, 2008

Kennedy Assassination
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:10 PM * 239 comments

Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Less than half of the people now alive in America remember the day. I was standing in the bus line at St. Patrick’s Parochial School, ready to go home, when I heard.

Since then there’s been a minor industry centered around proving there was some kind of conspiracy to kill Kennedy. I’ve heard Mark Lane give a live presentation (he showed the Zapruder film; that was the first time I saw it). There’ve been a ton of books, including Lane’s Rush to Judgment. Milton Halpern, the retired NYC chief medical examiner, couldn’t resist putting a chapter speculating about Kennedy in his memoir about his adventures in New York. Jim Garrison, a prosecutor in New Orleans, actually brought a man to trial. (In my opinion, what Garrison uncovered wasn’t a conspiracy to kill Kennedy—I think he ran into the New Orleans gay underground, and found, without realizing it, that prominent businessmen would rather have folks think they were in Dallas shooting the president than that they were in a motel banging their boyfriends.)

Okay. Let us now dispose of most of the Kennedy Conspiracy theories:

1. The CIA did it!
A. No, Kennedy’s dead.

2. There was a second shooter behind the fence at the railway yard!
A. No, that location was under constant observation from the switching tower. There wasn’t.

3. Someone was firing from the Grassy Knoll, firing at the same time as the shots from the Book Depository so no one would hear them!
A. This ignores that sound travels slowly; far more slowly than bullets.

4. Oswald couldn’t possible have known the parade route, which was changed at the last minute!
A. The route was published in the newspaper the day before. How do you think Zapruder and everyone else knew where to stand?

5. No human could load and fire that many times in that short a space of time!
A. The weapon was already loaded long before the first shot. After the last there was no need to reload. There was plenty of time.

6. The magic bullet! It stopped in midair, changed direction, and it was undamaged!
A. It only looks good when photographed from one angle And the timing of which shot went with which bullet strike is unknown. The two bullet hits were from two different bullets.

7. The telescopic sights were misaligned! Oswald couldn’t possible have hit a target!
A. He was using the iron sights. (Lots faster that way, too.)

8. Where did the rifle come from?
A. Oswald bought it, and he brought it to work that day. He carried a long package wrapped in brown paper. He told the folks he was riding with that it was curtain rods. Oswald’s apartment didn’t have curtains and no curtain rods were ever found, but a rifle was.

9. All of Jack Ruby’s strippers died! He must have told them the truth and they were killed to silence them!
A. Being a stripper in Dallas in 1963 was a high-risk occupation for people on the way down. Jack Ruby’s brother lived a long and healthy life. Why assume that Jack told his strippers but didn’t tell his brother?

10. And so forth, and endlessly on.
A. All of the conspiracy theories depend on conspirators making plans that rely on split-second timing in which nothing could possibly go wrong, including random events under no one’s control, else the entire plan would fall apart.

On the other hand, Lee Oswald, acting alone, fits all known facts.

Among the conspiracy theorists, I particularly like the one who found that Oswald, while he was a Marine on Okinawa, got VD and it was recorded that he got it in the line of duty and not due to his own misconduct. The theorist then speculates that therefore Oswald had been assigned to catch VD, making him some kind of Super Spook. The reality is that any time a military person is sick or injured, you have to do a LOD investigation. The usual result is that the person is found to have gotten sick in the line of duty and not due to his own misconduct. “In the line of duty” merely means that the person was either on duty, or on authorized leave or liberty, at the time. If the guy was anything other than AWOL when he got VD, it’s Line of Duty. And the misconduct thing is asking whether the person was violating any lawful order or general regulation at the time of the injury. If there wasn’t an order against getting VD, or if he wasn’t frequenting an establishment that had been placed off limits, or he didn’t get VD while committing rape or adultery, then the finding “not due to own misconduct” is automatic.

So, why so many theories? I call it the Kennedy Conspiracy Delusion. Lots of people (80% by one poll) think there was a conspiracy. I speculate this is because it’s too terrible to believe that no one is in control. Momentous happenings must have momentous causes.

Alas, the world is not so.

Comments on Kennedy Assassination:
#1 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 03:36 PM:

Conspiracy theories are, almost by definition, not subject to being proven or disproven. It's the Men in Black thing - there were witnesses, but their memories were erased!
Based on what I've seen with my own beady little eyes, a complex series of actions by a team of people usually Goes Wrong in at least some little way. I go with the simplest explanation, and that's rarely the one that fits the conspiracy plot line.

#2 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 03:51 PM:

I've been searching for a citation for a quotation for a while now. I think it might be the late much-beloved Robert Anton Wilson. The quotation goes, as well as I can remember it, "The difference between a real theory and a conspiracy theory is that with a real theory there can be evidence for the theory, and evidence against. With conspiracy theory, however, there is only evidence for the theory, and evidence of how powerful and pervasive the cover-up really is."

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 03:56 PM:

My favorite Kennedy assassination theory is from Red Dwarf.

The assassin was Xraarql. Gur perj unq nppvqragnyyl vagreehcgrq gur nffnffvangvba, naq Xraarql raqrq hc ragveryl qvfperqvgrq. Fb gurl oevat uvz onpx va gvzr fb gung ur pna nffnffvangr uvzfrys.

#4 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:01 PM:

It didn't help that the Warren Commission was very quick and very sloppy. Whether it was a coverup or not, it looked like one.

Rush to Judgment brought up a number of interesting issues that should have been investigated at the time. Unfortunately, it also contains every woo-woo crackpot idea that was floating around at the time. Hard to tell them apart, sometimes.

The biggest objection that I see to the "standard" story is Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle. Seems to me, if you're going to shoot the President, you'll want the best hunting rifle you can find and so what if it costs a couple of months' rent. Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano wasn't worth the $12 that he paid for it. Looks to me like he was being pressured ...

If you want conspiracy theories (on JFK and others), then The Illuminatus! Trilogy is for you. (Warning -- if there's anything you find offensive, it's in those books.)

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:10 PM:

Oswald didn't want to shoot the president until maybe the day before. The Carcano was what he had to hand... and it took him a bunch of shots, including a clean miss, before he was done.

#6 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:14 PM:

I was 16 years old, and an avid reader of newspapers, when the San Francisco Chronicle ran a huge spread memorializing the the 20th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination... reprints of their front page, reprints from the columns that all their columnists had written, various people describing their vivid memories of that day.

I sat in the living room of my family's house in San Francisco, on a gold-colored easy chair near a crackling fire, and read every one of those stories. I was born after Kennedy's assassination, but I got really caught up in it... the sense of this enormous historic event that so many people had witnessed, remembered so keenly, and shared the memories with each other.

It's now the 25th anniversary of the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, and I can still vividly remember right where I was.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:16 PM:

This remind sme of the recent episode of MythBusters where they went thru the various proofs that 1969's Moon landing was faked. That included the waving of the American Flag in the vacuum. The M5 gang was able to show perfectly reasonable explanations that didn't involve faking. That probably proves they're in on the conspiracy. I knew there was somthing fishy about that Kari Byron.

One of them was disguised as a woman, but wasn't pulling it off. Like, her hair was red, but it was a little too red, y'know? And the other one, the tall, lanky one, his face was so blank and expressionless. He didn't even seem human. I think he was a mandroid.
#8 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Note the same phenomenon with 9/11, the OKC bombings, the utterly botched Katrina response, and the origin of HIV. In all those cases, people want a bigger, meatier cause than the reality, to match the scope of the damage done. It's not satisfying to look at the horror of the OKC bombing and then accept that it was done by a conspiracy of three moderately-competent wackos. And the same with the others.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:29 PM:

It would have been so helpful had Ruby not shot Oswald. In retrospect, I do wonder how/why the Dallas cops were so lax in controlling the scene of his transfer.

#10 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:41 PM:

I've been wondering about the fall into disrepute of the word conspiracy.

It used to be a respectable word, no? Two or more people planning to commit a crime. If you and me make plans to knock over the corner liquor store, that's a conspiracy. If we get caught before pulling it off, we'll face conspiracy charges. A perfectly respectable word. But if you use it now, people look at you like you're Fox Mulder.

I'm not old enough or well-read enough to be certain, but I think the Kennedy assassination is to blame. The orthodox theory for the assassination holds that Oswald acted alone, which isn't a conspiracy. Most of the heterodox theories hold that Oswald had help of some kind. Therefore JFK assassination heterodoxy is pretty much always conspiracy-based, and since such heterodoxy is pretty popular, the word conspiracy has picked up a connotation of heterodoxy.

#11 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:42 PM:

I was only six years old, and therefore had a limited understanding of what had happened. Finishing a Dick and Jane pre-primer in school that day was almost as important to me.

But I spent a chunk of last night watching unedited footage from the CBS feed from that day on YouTube, preparatory to writing a blog entry about it. Once the footage gets past the chunks of As The World Turns, punctuated by commercials and brief bulletins read by the unseen Uncle Walter behind a plain bulletin title card, it's fairly compelling viewing. The technology just wasn't there yet to do what needed to be done, and the info reported by CBS was slow, sparse, repetitive and sometimes contradictory. But Cronkite and Co. did their best, pulling together whatever they could gather from wire services, the Dallas CBS station and Dan Rather at the hospital. The grassy knoll was mentioned, as were conflicting stories about who had been shooting from which floor of the Texas School Book Depository, and whether that person was dead. Given the chaos of that day, it's not too surprising that conspiracies arose from it.

But it's kind of remarkable how much staying power they have. In 1992, Donald P. Bellisario felt the need to refute them in an episode of Quantum Leap, and somewhere around that time my friend Julie B (who comments here) took me to the scene of the crime. There was a JFK assassination museum and research center nearby, from which I bought a fired rifle casing as a souvenir. The person manning the cash register was incensed when I used that term. "It's not a souvenir," he insisted. "It's research evidence." Uh, whatever. But other than Sam Beckett's fictional involvement, I'm pretty sure Bellisario got it about right.

#12 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Weird mistype in the above; I should have said "whether that person had been caught." (I blame sleep deprivation.)

And the prize for the best comment thread reference to "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" goes to Serge @7. Well played!

#13 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:02 PM:

I'm tempted to derail the thread a bit with a brief meditation on how every generation seems to have its seminal event, its entry in the category of Everyone Knows Where They Were When....

#14 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:22 PM:

But is that really where you were?

The study linked above ("Phantom flashbulbs: False recollections of hearing the news about Challenger", in case the Google Books link doesn't work) was one of the key things that destroyed my faith in human beings.

#15 ::: Prince Aathan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:33 PM:

I was in high school, I remember the event very well. I am not a person that believes that a conspiracy to kill a president can be kept a secret for a half century.
Having said that, Oswald accomplished an act of astounding marksmanship, that is, two shots to the neck and head at a target in a moving car, using a cheap rifle with iron sites (when the pressure was on.)
Next, the whole Ruby thing. I watched him shoot Oswald. He gets up that morning and decides to kill Oswald and knows just how and when to do it...
So each acted alone. Two guys, two guns, what, a buck's worth of ammo between the two? Made a brand new history, didn't they?
To paraphrase Joseph Heller, "Sometimes I think I don't understand, but in this case I KNOW I don't understand."

#16 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:39 PM:

The problem with crazy conspiracy theorists is that when you run across one that's actually real - like the GM/Standard Oil/Firestone conspiracy to force cities to replace streetcars with bus lines, or what the executives at AH Robins did when they found out how dangerous the Dalkon Shield was, or Operation Northwoods - you tend to think, "that's ridiculous, that's a crazy conspiracy." (OK, Operation Northwoods wasn't, strictly speaking, a conspiracy, because it's doesn't meet the overt-act requirement, at least as far as we know.)

Also: to those who haven't read it, I strongly recommend Don DeLillo's astonishing novel Libra. I think it's far and away his best book. His novels tend to be overburdened by abstraction, but that's not the case here: as he once said in a different context, you have to make allowances for the fact that everything you're seeing here tonight is real. The stream of Oswald's consciousness that flows through it is deeply creepy and eerily convincing. (Ruby's is even creepier.) And as with other great tragedies, the fact that you know how it's going to end makes everything in it more compelling.

The crazy conspiracy theory that Libra describes is one that it's not hard to believe in. The only one of Jim's points that it contradicts is the first one - a funny dig, but one that Mohammed Mossadegh and Jacobo Arenz - to say nothing of Ngo Dinh Diem - wouldn't find especially persuasive. A lot of the CIA's special operations failed, but that's the nature of special operations. Good thing, too: the CIA's successes have caused a lot more problems for us than their failures.

(As an aside: In his book about the Iranian hostage crisis, Mark Bowden reports that after Mossadegh, and SAVAK, the CIA loomed so large in the Iranian mind that the students who took the embassy believed absolutely that the CIA was just going to kill them. To this day, some of them are still confused about why that didn't happen.)

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:41 PM:

And 45 years ago today was the broadcast of the first episode of Doctor Who

That, I have a memory of the Police Box in the scrapyard.

#18 ::: Tom Courtney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:46 PM:

I remember sometime after the Warren report, Cronkite did a show on whether Oswald could have done it. One of the objections at the time was that the shot sequence was impossible to pull off.

II recall correctly, Oswald was an expert marksman, and by that I mean achieved an "expert" rating on a rifle range, which, I can tell you from experience, is not stunningly difficult.

Anyway, one of the things Cronkite did was get a couple of folks who had achieved such a rating, and see if they could accurately reproduce the shot sequence with the same type and condition rifle. It took them a little practice, but they could.

NPR had a piece on yesterday implying that Johnson had something to do with it. His descendants should sue.

#19 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:46 PM:

abi@3: that's my favourite as well. It's an oddly plausible theory given the basic setup of the fictional universe, and I liked the way they treated Kennedy himself -- pulling no punches at all about his flaws, but without mocking what was good about him.

#20 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:49 PM:

A few days ago, New York City formally renamed one of our major bridges after the other assassinated Kennedy, 40 years after his death. The NY Times, being who they are, have already run an article referring to "the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, formerly the Triborough." I don't know how long they'll footnote it that way; the Jackie Robinson Parkway in Queens, on the rarer occasions it makes the news, is no longer identified by its previous name.

[It's been a few years since I needed to point out that it is not literally true that "if you were alive when JFK was assassinated, you know where you were when you heard about it." I was alive at the time; my conscious memory does not include learning that Kennedy was dead, any more than I remember learning that FDR was dead. Alive, yes. Using language or building that sort of memory, not yet. And the passing of that as a common statement is also a marker of passing time.]

#21 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:50 PM:

I wonder if part of the attraction for conspiracy theories is that many people don't like the idea of bad events happening for banal reasons. If the worst events can only happen through conspiracies, it means that the world is controllable.

Karen @11,

I hadn't watched those before, only seeing the snippets used in more recent programs. Seeing that hour go by in real-time is useful.

Novalis @14,

Another link--a review paper-- is The Ecological Study of Memory. He also covers flashbulb memories that don't change over time.

[This is one of my favorite studies. I find it comforting that many of those who speak with intense certainty aren't right, just certain. It also helps me understand my own two (that I know of) flashbulb memories which I feel to be true while knowing they aren't.]

#22 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Immediately after posting that, I looked at my email, and found a mailing list post with the subject "45 years on" pointing to a piece of software named JRuby.

#23 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:08 PM:

Where conspiracy theories all fall apart for me is the old "three can keep a secret only if two of them are dead" bit. Even if you're willing to swallow an entire team being involved in Kennedy's assassination, you also have to explain how we've gone forty-five years without anyone snapping up a multi-million-dollar book deal about their recently-departed family member's role on said team.

Same with all the 9/11 and Anthrax conspiracies. I'd be willing to buy one or two people getting the idea that fake terrorist attacks would be a good idea. As far as we can tell, that's what Bruce Ivins's motivation for the anthrax attack was. But whole teams of demolition experts, spooks, and federal agents who were both sociopathic enough to be ok with killing all those people and discrete enough to keep it to themselves? Yeah right.

#24 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:14 PM:

I don't know if I remember the assassination (I was born in the middle of the Missile Crisis, but came from a family where the TV was always on). I can't remember a time before the Zapruder film, but it could be that they showed it a lot when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated? I do remember being taken to see Bobby speak, and thinking he was handsome.

It's interesting, though, that even now, when there has been so much re-evaluation of Kennedy's presidency, people are still so invested in proving a vast conspiracy.

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 06:53 PM:

How did Ruby do it?

First, security then was pretty lax, in general, country-wide.

Second, Ruby was a police hanger-on...everyone knew him. No one thought twice about him being present.

Is there any reason to doubt the motive Ruby himself gave for shooing Oswald, that he'd seen Oswald on TV and he wanted to wipe that smirk off his face?

You keep running into accounts of people who must have been in the conspiracy if there were a conspiracy, being perfectly ordinary. Years ago I read a true-crime book about a case in Texas ... and the chief of police in this small town was the officer who let Ruby into the police garage that day. If there were a conspiracy ... he'd know and at any moment he could just call up Larry King Live and blow the whole thing, but instead, he's down in Texas not making a lot of money, working hard every day. What's his motivation? And if there was a conspiracy that was killing witnesses ... why was he still alive?

That's one big problem I have with conspiracy theories: I look at the people and I ask, one by one, "What's his motivation?"

The other thing about Oswald: That wound he received would be perfectly survivable today, with fast and efficient EMS: Two liters of Lactated Ringers running wide open, high-flow oxygen, and a fast trip to the nearest Level One Trauma Center. We could do this.


Oh, the joke about the CIA in the first question. A long time ago, in another life, I was in an office that would deal (from time to time) with the company. And any time one of us talked with one of them, the person who'd just put down the phone would look up at the ceiling and say, "How do we know that the CIA didn't kill Kennedy?" To which someone else in the office would reply, "Kennedy's dead, isn't he?"

Interservice rivalry. That's what that one is. (But they did a bad job of keeping anything secret, and lots of the things they did were ... well, another of our jokes was: Q. What's the difference between a CIA officer and a narcotraficante? A. The narcotraficante has a job.)

#26 ::: Katherine Farmar ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:18 PM:

My favourite Kennedy conspiracy is the one from the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins, to wit: eight other assassins and attempted assassins of American presidents, led by John Wilkes Booth, persuaded Oswald to shoot Kennedy rather than himself so that their own actions would be given historical significance.

It took me a while to figure out why Oswald was the one the writer seized on: apart from the fact that his act comes exactly in the middle of the assassinations (there were four before him, and four afterwards), his is the only assassination of the nine featured in the show that has no motive attached to it. The sequence in which the other assassins talk to him is preceded by the chilling and powerful "Another National Anthem", in which the assassins recite their reasons over and over again: "I did it because..." But with Oswald, there is no "because", or at least not one that he claimed; he never claimed responsibility, and he died soon afterwards, which gave the assassination an air of mystery.

(The first JFK conspiracy theorist was Oswald himself, who claimed he was a patsy.)

#27 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:28 PM:

There's also the point that since then, the Republicans in particular have shown an all-too-real penchant for conspiracies against the public, and dirty dealing in general. It's easy to see them as part of a longer stretch of evil.

#28 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:38 PM:

I think Jim, and Kathryn @ 21, have it right. The fundamental truth behind all conspiracy theories is that chaos is scary.

Kennedy's assassination traumatized the western world because it was so public and he was so prominent, but we all know that equally pointless and tragic things happen many times every day. And as the world becomes more media-saturated, it's getting harder and harder to just quietly ignore that fact; it's shoved in our faces more and more. Hence the popularity of conspiracy theories in recent decades.

We might not like to admit it, but deep inside most of us there's a small, chaos-fearing creature that would rather believe evil people are running things than that nobody is running things.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 07:55 PM:

Karen Funk Blocher @ 12... Thanks. (Takes a bow, falls into the orchestra pit.) By the way, did you notice that the very day after Kennedy's assassination, Turner Classic Movies showed Capricorn One? Coincidence, or conspiracy? You be the judge.

#30 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:16 PM:

Yeah, the first lesson everyone takes from the silly conspiracy theories is too often "there are no conspiracies." But that's silly--there are a lot of conspiracies that are well-documented, some illegal, some done by people who turned out to be above the law, some legal but very nasty. But conspiracies have to work with the same human nature and organizational problems as everyone else.

There's an obvious data availability bias here, but a lot of conspiracies wound up being unraveled, when they were, by people finding lots of incriminating written documents, or large numbers of people who were both in-the-know and findable basically by looking at an org chart for some legitimate enterprise. That's because you pretty much can't run an organization of even 20 people without some written records, correspondence, meeting minutes ("what *did* we decide at the last evil overlords' meeting, again?"), budgets that require some bookkeeping ("you spent HOW MUCH for a flamethrower?"), organization charts, etc. If EvilCorp, inc. is poisoning the widows and orphans for a profit, a whole set of people have to be being told it's okay to load those barrels (the ones marked "Danger: Poisonous to Widows and Orphans") onto the truck at 10 PM every night, someone has to be dealing with the disappearance of the widow-and-orphan-toxin from the warehouse, someone has to be collecting on their life insurance policies or whatever the scam is, etc. All those people end up being witnesses.

Further, the participants need a method, motive, and opportunity, and you have to answer the question of why nobody talked, why people bothered to do what they were asked to do, what happened when you had to get rid of that lady who was plainly too dumb to be involved in your conspiracy, or that guy who developed the drug problem, etc.

One thing I'm certain of is that the existence of dumb conspiracy theories tells you nothing about the correctness of the official story for some event. The folks making up/buying into the conspiracy theories are (I think) looking for some combination of entertainment and validation of their worldview, a completely different pursuit than trying to understand the world as it is.

In fact, the official story in many cases where some criminal or just plain nasty thing happens is often full of holes. News reports in particular have this tendency to leave obvious unopened questions because the reporter wasn't interested, didn't have a source willing to help him look into some question, or wasn't bright enough to ask the question in the first place.) But finding a cool conspiracy theory is sort-of the opposite of figuring out what really did happen.

#31 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:16 PM:

Two other notable people died the same day as JFK: Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis.

(And there's at least one book out there involving a postmortem conversation between the three of them; I haven't read it myself, but it sounds like an interesting premise.)

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:30 PM:

albatross @ #30, "the reporter wasn't bright enough to ask the question in the first place..."

Hence Deep Throat (now known to be Mark Felt) had to tell Woodstein "Follow the Money."

#33 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:37 PM:

Some conspiracy theories seem to spring from an overactive "Cui bono?" reflex - I'm thinking in particular of the Pearl Harbor one (they'd broken all the codes, they really should have seen it coming) and the 9/11 ones. Both incidents were just so very welcome to their respective administrations that it's tempting to believe they had a hand in them.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:50 PM:

albatross @ 30... ("what *did* we decide at the last evil overlords' meeting, again?")

This reminds me of the SciFi Channel's TV series of a few years ago, The Third Wave, about a sneaky alien invasion. Whenever they'd advertise the show, they'd treat us to a board meeting of the aliens and one of them saying "Our goal - to dominate this species." If I were one of the lesser aliens, I'd raise my hand and ask if it was really necessary to take time off the invasion so that the boss could state the obvious reason why we crossed many light-years to come to Earth.

#35 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 08:53 PM:

I was a sixth grader. When I was in fourth grade, the Cuban Missile Crisis had given the US Army Public Information Office the chance to traumatize the whole of Yelm Grade School by telling us, during the evacuation plan presentation, that we'd probably all be killed before we could get home, anyway. The next year there was the Columbus Day Storm, when all of us spent a night hearing full-grown Dougas Fir trees crashing under winds up to 100mph (the meteorological term for that is "force amplifier" and is the answer to why a tropical cyclonic storm has worse effects in places where that sort of storm is almost unknown). The wind had been blowing in the usual 25-30 mph Pacific Winter Storm pattern for a couple of days on November 23, and we were all pretty edgy anyway when the intercom came on and said that the president had been shot, and that we should all go out into the hall and duck and cover until further notice. There were occassional rumor-mongering announcements, and we were finally- after being kept from lunch, if memory serves- sent home early.

I came out of the day convinced once and for all that grown-ups were really stupid.

#36 ::: DBratman ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:00 PM:

Prince Aathan @15: Not so difficult a shot as it sounds. The car was moving slowly, and directly away from Oswald's position, so the trickiest part of aiming was the trees in the way. Now, a shot from the grassy knoll, which was somewhat in front but more to the right of the moving car, would have been more difficult.

John Mark Ockerbloom @31: I've read it. (Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft.) It consists mostly of Lewis lecturing the other two on the afterlife with a degree of pomposity that the earthly Lewis never quite achieved. My advice: Spare yourself. Hope that you die on a different day.

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:12 PM:

My favorite theory of Oswald's motives is that he was aiming for the Governor (he was, not long before the shooting, denied a job in the Gov's theoretical power to have granted).

The best description I've seen for the, "Magic Bullet" was from a ballistitician who posited one of the guys in the motorcade wasn't completely familiar with his, new, rifle, and accidentaly fired a shot from behind, which hit both Kennedy and the Gov. The difference in starting point (and the non-typical arrangement of the seats in the president's car) made it seem the bullet was behaving all wrong, if we posit Oswald fired it.

Me... I kind of like that idea, it avoids the needful oddities of the conspiracy theories, and ties up the loose ends (the loose end which bothers me most is the rate of fire. I've used a carcano, and it would take me a long time to get to cycling it as quickly as Oswald needed to fire it, and the rifle rises enough that he'd need to regain the, moving, target.

Add one outside shooter and the bullets make more sense. Accident is better (see Occam) than plot to explain an extra shot.

#38 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 09:43 PM:

I was a junior in high school when JFK was shot. I believed it was Oswald acting alone from the beginning, and what I learned in college (1965 - 1969) did nothing to change my opinion.

I majored in Criminalistics* in the School of Criminal Justice, so a lot of our instructors were former police officers. One of them told us that Oswald had been given a standard paraffin test, which confirmed that he had fired a gun recently. Then, someone fished the wax cast out of the trash (Note: The chain of evidence has been broken (to say the least) at this point.) He examined it for the pattern of residue, using a technique that was not yet confirmed, and determined that the pattern indicated that Oswald had fired a rifle.

Now, I've never seen a hint of that act from that day to this. (In fact, I don't even recall a comment to the effect that Oswald had been tested for GSR at all, but it would have been as standard as fingerprinting him, and no one mentions that either.) Nor have I seen any mention of a test for determining residue pattern.

Make of it what you will

* The actual title was "Police Science." But if you put that on a form, it gets abbreviated to "Pol. Sci." which must be "Political Science" and we have a numeric code for that.

#39 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:06 PM:

I suspect there's a certain amount of retroactive effect; Bobby Kennedy also being assassinated, the King assassination, and the general unpleasantness of the 60s political turmoil probably make the idea that there was a conspiracy more plausible now than it would have been at the time.

#40 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:07 PM:

I've been reading Vincent Bugliosi's rather exhaustive work on the Kennedy assassination... its rather dense.

Also rather convincing (at least so far) that Oswald acted alone.

#41 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 10:38 PM:

I was eight when Kennedy was shot, and in one of my one-week-of-school's after a transfer. We'd had recess and when we came back in, the teacher was crying. The office staff started putting black crepe up all over. I got home before Mother and Rick, and they didn't know, so I told them. But it didn't seem very important to me -- I really didn't get into politics until I was 13 and we were stationed here at the Pentagon.

Challenger I remember, too. I'd been in the vault and had come back to the office for my lunch. The TV that normally stayed in the conference room had been moved into the secretarial area (our offices were around that) and the secretaries were crying. I asked what had happened and as someone started telling me, the tape started again. That was very important -- we worked on missiles -- and many of us just sat there with disbelief and then grief on our faces.

#42 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:19 PM:

I heard Cecelia Holland read in October. In the question period afterward, she was talking about writing historical fiction and she said, "We knew more about the Kennedy assassination the day it happened than we know now." I didn't get a chance to ask her to elaborate on that statement, but it sure has stayed with me.

#43 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Graydon@39: That's how I recall it. There was a lot of nasty in that time. I was a pre-schooler when JFK was killed, and do not remember it. I do remember RFK being shot. My family was quartered in barracks in Stuttgart, and I was in the stairwell hanging off the railing, and a playmate said something to the effect of, "Kennedy's been shot, did you hear?" My reaction was, frankly, "What, again?" It would not have surprised me in the least if it was indeed JFK; I was perfectly open to the idea that people might be shot and killed more than once.

It was many years before I got straight the difference between John and Robert.

#44 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Terry @ #37, Oswald may have been "denied a job in the Gov's theoretical power to have granted."

Until I learned the civil service application process I had a really hard time understanding the description of the Garfield assassin Charles Guiteau as "a disgruntled office seeker," which I read in most history books.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Has anyone ever seen Anthony Mann's 1951 movie The Tall Target?

The story of a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln as he travels on the Ohio & Baltimore Railway to his inauguration in 1861. A discredited detective tries in the face of disbelief to foil the plotters, who hate the President's policies.

The detective, played by Dick Powell, is called John Kennedy.

#46 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:01 AM:

I've always wondered — why is it called a "grassy knoll"? I don't think I've ever heard "knoll" spoken in colloquial American English, other than in this phrase.

BTW, I highly recommend Sarah Vowell's book "Assassination Vacation". It's not about JFK, but goes into Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. It's quirky, and I enjoyed it a lot. Garfield's assassin wasn't just a disgruntled office seeker. He had completely parted ways with reality, and was showing up daily to demand a post as ambassador.

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Lighthill, #2: This reminds me of a description I read somewhere (possibly here) about the "Oliver Stone Defense" -- the claim that the complete absence of any evidence for your conspiracy theory is proof of how vast the conspiracy must indeed be.

#48 ::: Clan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:18 AM:

You know, John Peel was there when Jack Ruby was shot. A photo of him at the scene is reproduced in his autobiography "Margrave of the Marshes". I still await the conspiracy theory that explains his role in everything. (Was he MI5? And he was given all that freedom on Radio 1 as a reward for his cooperation? I'd love to know.)

#49 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:29 AM:

janetl @ #46, looking at it, it doesn't fit my definition of knoll; to me a knoll is something small, not quite worthy of being called a hill.

#50 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:24 AM:

I remember being in elementary school, but I wasn't; I was in junior high. I remember walking home, but I didn't; I rode a yellow school bus in 8th grade. So I apparently don't remember where I was when I heard the news, except that I was in some school somewhere. (Changing schools every damn year might have something to do with this; I don't know.)

I do remember RFK, because my memory of that is too bad to be made up. I heard it early in the morning on the radio, and when my mother -- a conservative -- woke up and came into the kitchen, I callously said to her, "Well, you don't have to worry about Bobby Kennedy becoming president any more." She burst into tears while I stood there like an idiot.

I trust my memory on the Challenger, because I was on the phone with a colleague when the news came on the radio, and I passed the information along to her as I was hearing it.

#51 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:36 AM:

Listening to the CBS links given by Karen in #11, Cronkite referenced the "National Indignation Party" as being one ultra-rightwing group that the police had been worried about*.

I looked them up and found this 1961 article in Time Magazine about the U.S. ultra-right. In reading this short article, I again got a sense of history not just rhyming but repeating itself then to now. The Democratic candidates are treasonous, Buckley at the National Review is condemned for being too restrained (in attacking the enemy), there are statements of 'You're either for us or against us,' people not agreeing with them are accused of "being uninformed about [the enemy]."

It's an interesting reminder.

* The group had protested Adelaide Stevenson's talk there two weeks earlier--one reason why Dallas had a large police presence on the 23rd. People at the lunch Kennedy was going to had undergone much more security than was usual.

#52 ::: Stretch ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:46 AM:

Just confirming what others have said about the relative difficulty of the shots from the window of the Book Depository:

As part of an Army Reserve "sneaker range" years ago, I watched (and participated) as a group of 30-odd reservists made a series of shots over a similar distance at a similarly obscured moving target using iron sights. The target was visible from the firing position for 10 seconds. No-one failed to get _at least_ one bullet into the target, half got two (out of three rounds fired). A few of us got all 3, mostly by "anticipating" when the target would appear and already slowly "leading" it (just as Oswald would have been able to do).

We were using semi-automatic 7.62mm assault rifles, make of that difference what you will.

This particular station on the sneaker range was known as "Oswald".

#53 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:35 AM:

My favorite is the "tiger" theory. It came up on the Seattle sketch comedy program "Almost Live" years ago. The premise was a game show where contestants had to explain their JFK conspiracy theory, and the clearest explanation won.

The winning contestant is Bill Nye (yes, the science guy). After two other players run out of time trying to stammer through explanations involving the Cubans, Oswald, the Mafia, freemasons, and the CIA, Bill, on his turn, just looks at the host, says "a tiger got him", and wins the prize.

#54 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:09 AM:

Single Gun Theory - just because.

#55 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:46 AM:

I love the Illuminatus! version. The narrative takes us through the viewpoints of frireny fhpprffvir nffnffvaf, rnpu bs jubz vf nfgbhaqrq/zbegvsvrq/tbofznpxrq gb fcbg frireny bgure nffnffvaf ba gur fprar.

Further hilarious spoiler: Bar bs gurz, jub unccraf gb or Wbua Qvyyvatre, vf frag gb fgbc gur nffnffva ur'f rkcrpgvat, naq ernyvmrf gurer ner jnl gbb znal nffnffvaf va jnl gbb znal qvssrerag cynprf sbe uvz gb or noyr gb ernpu gurz nyy orsber vg'f gbb yngr. Fb ur fubbgf ng gur Cerfvqrag uvzfrys, orpnhfr ng yrnfg gung jnl vg'yy rvgure perngr na vafbyhoyr zlfgrel be n ovmneer urnqyvar.

#56 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:03 AM:

Goddamit, someone is going to mention the bilderberg group in a moment, that the wingnuts claim are "attempting to take over the world and impose a new world order."

Have you seen the attendees lists? Looks pretty much like the Old World Order who have been failing to adequately run things for quite some time.

Folks, the global conspiracy exists, and it's run on the same lines as every other committee.

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:28 AM:

Tom Courtney #18: On LBJ's involvement in the Kennedy assassination there's the MacBird approach which was a slightly more than half-serious spoof. While the playwright might, these days, deny any serious intent, at the time there were people who took its implications quite seriously as an attack on Johnson.

#58 ::: Nicholas Waller ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:44 AM:

Janetl @ 46 - I'm British and I think I only hear "knoll" deployed in terms of JFK in normal speech. However, a few miles away from me is an offical one, a 450 ft high hill calledBrent Knoll, a one-time Iron Age fort that the Romans built on as well.

And I've met Photoshop and ILM chap John Knoll a couple of times.

novaolis @ #14 "But is that really where you were? reminds me of a cartoon I saw around about the 20th anniversary. The guy is in his armchair in his living room watching the anniversary programmes on TV and says "I remember where I was when I heard about JFK being shot. I was right here in this chair watching TV".

I read William Manchester's "The Death of a President" a few years ago, which I found detailed, relentless and gripping. Presumably it is dismissed by the conspiracy crowd as it has no wacky ideas that I recall.

#59 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:54 AM:

I was a chemistry grad student at Berkeley at the time. A guy in the next lab over had a "transistor radio" (remember them?) on; he rushed in to say that Kennedy had been shot and wounded in Dallas. But we didn't hear any further news, and there was a seminar with a guest speaker at 11 a.m., and we were all expected to attend, so we did.

As we listened distractedly to the lecturer, more people began trickling in with the real news, whispering it from back row to front: Kennedy was dead. The speaker, of course, was the last to learn. We broke for the exits, and that was the end of study for the next three days.

We all assumed Johnson was behind it on the cui bono theory. Assassination conspiracies are rare but hardly unknown; in most countries other than the US, they're the norm. And Lincoln was the victim of one.

#60 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Re conspiracy theories in general: Aside from the comfort in believing that someone is in charge that some have pointed out, another factor might be that some people don't understand how social networks work.

Often, important decisions aren't made in the official institutions that are legally in charge, but in personal talks between individual powerful people who know each other more or less well. So, in a way, the world isn't run by official institutions, but by informal social networks.

Now, if someone figures out that many decisions aren't really made in official institutions, but at the same time, he doesn't really understand what social networks are or how they work, he might end up thinking that there must be some other, hidden institutions where all those important decisions are really made (High Council of the Ancient Order of the Sacred Nourishing Soup etc.).

#61 ::: Garret ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:23 AM:

I can't read about JFK without thinking of the annual JFK Memorial Hot Dog Eating Contest a friend of mine runs.

#62 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Re: the difficulty of the shot(s)

Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marine, and had qualified as "expert marksman" on the range. In Death of a President, William Manchester (a former Marine) attests that this would not be a difficult shot for someone with the afore-mentioned training.

If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.

And yes, I remember where I was when I heard the news for JFK, Apollo One, MLK, RFK...

#63 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:36 AM:

I caught only one episode of Lazarus Man back in 1996, but it looked quite interesting.

Shortly after the Civil War, a man pulls himself out of a grave in the South wearing Southern clothing but carrying Northern gold and carrying a US Army revolver. He has no memory save for some gorgeous brunette and being beaten over the head by a man in a derby just before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln. He calls himself "Lazarus" after the man Jesus resurrected until he can figure out who he is and why he was buried alive and left for dead.
#64 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Flashbulb memories are interesting. I wrote down my memories of 9/11 the next morning. I'll have to go back and check, but I think my current memories are still pretty uncorrupted, although I wouldn't swear to anything much past 10 AM, because I was watching TV by then and the number of details and speculations was overwhelming, and what was live and what was recorded earlier gets confusing.

As for Kennedy: my mother remembers that she was in school, some announcement was made over the PA system but it was garbled (as PA systems often are) and everyone was shouting and laughing at the end of the day and ignoring it. She rode the bus home and the bus driver, who was known to be mean, shouted at them "You kids shut up! Don't you know the President's been shot?" and they all laughed, thinking he was just saying that to shut them up. It wasn't until she opened her front door and saw her mother weeping on the couch that she knew it was true.

#65 ::: Dave Robinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:00 PM:

I saw a show the other night that pretty much killed the conspiracy junkies' ideas. They showed not only was it possible to fire that weapon that quickly, but also Oswald's shooting scores. He was a good shot.

#66 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Theophylct@59 writes: "Assassination conspiracies are rare but hardly unknown; in most countries other than the US, they're the norm. And Lincoln was the victim of one."

There were still all kinds of speculation, at various levels of sanity, on the *nature* of the Lincoln conspiracy. One interesting overview of 6 different Lincoln assassination conspiracy theories is here.

DBratman@36: That's too bad about the book. I was hoping it would be more in the "Meeting of the Minds" style. I've only caught a bit of that series, and that was a while ago, but I recall most of the Famous Dead Persons there held their own, rather than just being a straight man that the Authoritative Character can play off.

The latter style goes back at least as far as Plato ("Why, that is most true, Socrates!") but it gets kind of tiresome after a while even if you agree with the authorial stand-in.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Linkmeister 9: In retrospect, I do wonder how/why the Dallas cops were so lax in controlling the scene of his transfer.

Joke from the time:

Q. What did the Dallas Police Chief do when an elephant walked into his office?
A. Nothing. He didn't notice.

#68 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:34 PM:

It's obvious that the JFK assassination was carried out to draw attention away from the suspicious conjunction of Huxley's and Lewis's deaths. I've read Kreeft's book, BTW, and it also suffers from the problem that JFK, being out of his usual milieu (so to speak), doesn't come across as a particular personality.

I'm just barely too young to have remembered the JFK assassination, but of course I distinctly remember 9/11. One of the most striking memories was not seeing a contrail in the sky, but hearing the thundering of military jets in the distance.

#69 ::: Lowell Gilbert ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Another conspiracy-provoking item about the Kennedy assassination in particular was just how badly the investigation was handled in a number of different ways. The most obvious way is the autopsy; people really couldn't believe that it was so clumsy (which it was), but in fact that clumsiness was perfectly normal. The public reaction led to real improvements in procedures, with the public benefit of having the opportunity to watch David Caruso [1] take off his sunglasses well into the twenty-first century.

1. star of a TV show about Crime Scene Investigation

#70 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 12:59 PM:

Lowell Gilbert, anyone who is tempted to judge the investigative techniques of 1963 at their own level would do well to stop watching CSI and take a cleansing regime of Dragnet, where Sergeant Friday is prone to pick up a gun at a crime scene with his bare hands, without marking its position, and the crime scene techs come in well after the body has been removed and the room left unguarded and unlocked for the householders to get the rug cleaned.

Dum di dum dum, dummmmmm

#71 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:03 PM:

A few thoughts. First, everybody calls the Carcano a bad weapon. Maybe it's not the best in the world, but it shoots accurately enough. Second, Oswald was chronically broke, chiefly because he didn't want to work. So he had to buy what he could afford.

#72 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Coincidentally, I was put on a panel about conspiracies at Windycon, a week ago.
Reflecting on what I was likely to have to talk about, it occurred to me how implausible known, real, documented conspiracies have been. This audience will recognize the expression "Iran-Contra", but come on, a global narco-terrorist ring operating out of the basement of the White House? What fiction editor would touch that? And P-2 in Italy, trying to take over the entire country, stealing the Vatican bank after using it as a money laundry, getting away with flamboyant murder (though I personally really doubt that they did poison the Pope, even though the circumstances were suggestive) . . .

Two of the things RAW pointed out are that real conspiracies don't last more than ten years before everybody's stabbing everybody else in the back; and that the more you look for evidence, the more evidence you'll find.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that Oswald acted alone, but there are still oddities, and bizarre coincidences. I hope that it's really just coincidence how many oddly connected people went through Jim Garrison's office.
At the same time, it's a matter of record that "The attempted burglary of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in June 1972 had suddenly brought [Kennedy assassination researcher Mae Brussell's] eight-and-a-half years of dedicated conspiracy research to an astounding climax. She recognized names, modus operandi, patterns of cover-up. She could trace linear connections leading inevitably from the assassination of JFK to the Watergate break-in, and all the killings in between." (Paul Krassner) The first reportage of the White House and CIA connections of the burglars was in The Realist . . .

#73 ::: alkali ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Norman Mailer was interested in Kennedy assassination theories but ultimately concluded that there was no basis for them. He opined that the reason for the theories' popularity is that it was hard to believe that Kennedy, a great man, was brought down by Oswald, a little pisher, and so it is tempting to imagine a great villain in order to restore symmetry.

#74 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:01 PM:

My favorite discussion of the whole mess is in "If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade" by Warren Hinkle. As editor of Ramparts he ran a sort of second home for assassination conspiricists because they worked for free. (He ended up falling down the Kennedy assassination rathole himself, later, but that's literally a different book.) The description of the various nuts he dealt with is amazing (I remember he liked Garrison, who had a sense of humor unlike the rest), but my favorite section is the part where Ramparts tried to buy the KGB files on the Kennedy assassination. (If I remember correctly it ended up being files that had been prepared by a French Intelligence agency that the KGB had gotten hold of.) Someone he worked with got sent a pallet of privately printed books with the info they'd tried to buy after the deal fell apart--I'm occasionally tempted to try for a copy via Interlibrary Loan.

#75 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 02:09 PM:

The best argument I've seen to defeat the conspiracy theories is one they aired within the past couple of years on CBS (I think). A match mover (effects animator who recreates the camera movement, camera angles, and scenery in a shot so that other effects animators can replace faces on heads or put giant creatures into the scene believably) took the Zapruder film and whatever other visual reference was there, along with maps and building plans (as far as I know) and recreated the scene. He had the whole layout of the square, the speed of the motorcade, etc., etc., down to the body movements and positions of the bodies in relation to the film. In the end, he has an animation of the entire incident from the Zapruder camera.

The brilliant thing, though, is that he then creates another camera which he can move around where he likes and find out information that wouldn't be known from the angle that the Zapruder film was shot. Better than that, he took and marked the entry and exit wounds on the models of the people involved and drew lines between them, in order to find the origin of the shot(s) that created them.

The single, straight line went to the depository window.

He also did the motion of a cop on a motorbike because of where he was in the motorcade, but I don't remember the details of that. Something about the cop hearing a shot and where he was when he heard it as opposed to his memory and his statement. I think it was to disprove the grassy knoll concept because he had clear view of it or something.

Really fascinating. Wish I could remember more to find clips of it.

#76 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:14 PM:

On the Carcano - the shooting has been recreated with actual physics - height of the shooter with scaffolding, range and speed - cable drawn trailer with the target mounted - many many many times with assorted criminal justice style students. An overwhelming majority but not all of the not exactly randomly selected but pretty haphazard group makes the shots or better (circa 75%+ IIRC) first try without any specific practice. Obviously there may be less tension than Oswald felt but the performance is under close observation by the other students, previous and next shooter and faculty.

Many of students suceed shooting from the left shoulder, looking over the scope and reaching over the rifle to work the bolt with the trigger hand - and this regardless of whether the student be left handed by nature.

There is by actual test nothing unusual or remarkable about the shooting that in any way conflicts with a Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone hypothesis.

It is certainly true that there is strong reason to believe the Warren Commission Report really was a rush to judgment. One of the members dined out for years on that story - emphasizing that he saw nothing at all in the whole process to contradict the eventual report but that the report as issued was railroaded by his normal academic standards.

For my money Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone that day. For my money Jack Valenti had no suspicion of a conspiracy which for me limits the possibilities. For my money the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone says nothing about the possibility of unrelated conspiracies. I'd find it very very easy to believe some of the Brigade 2506 folks would have supported such an effort - and maybe some survivors of the Alabama guard types would have supported it. At the time I'd have been seriously tempted myself though I have since regretted that.

#77 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 03:30 PM:

I was, of course, vastly amused to see all the supposed "documentary evidence" on display at the conspiracy museum a few short steps away from the plaza. It used to be that you could get away with forging an official document from the early 1960's (and before that) without changing the settings on your word processing software from the default font and kerning.

Good times. Good times.

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Clark 76: For my money Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone that day.

So tell us: how MUCH of your money? What did a single-shooter assassination run back then? :-)

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 04:38 PM:

Peter Erwin @ #78, I am particularly shocked by the part where Governor Connally cuts JFK's throat with a combat knife. Since Connally was seriously wounded himself, that seems unlikely.

#81 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 05:54 PM:

Stretch: The M-14 (which, I assume is the rifle to which you allude) is much easier to manage than the Carcano. Bolt actions, in general, require more practice. I'm prett good with a Model 70 (the Army/Marine Corps sniping rifle). I can cycle the action without taking from my shoulder. I have a harder time keeping a target after firing when using a scope, because of the narrower field of view.

The M-14 also has a lot less recoil, so two out of three is about what I'd expect a decent shot to be able to put onto a man-sized target at 100-200 meters.

My favorite, "it could happen" theory (which is to say the conspiracy theory which has the most ties up loose ends, and gives a reason for the plot; not a theory I actually believe. The phrase, "It could happen," was one I heard a lot when I was working security in ERs, right after someone told a, barely, plausible whopper) is that the Addison's was getting worse and there was no way to remove him, so Bobby says, OK, we shoot him, but only if we put in an amendment making never needful again.

It's no more daft than any other, and gives the plotters a small bit of nobility (which also explains why they didn't talk), while keeping the number in the know small (and so more likely to keep quiet).

Chris Gherrib: I don't think I've ever said it was a bad weapon. For what it is (a Mannlicher, split-pin, bolt-action), it has some good traits, and some poor ones. The action is "sloppy", which means it can be (though not always, which figures into the reputation) cycled quickly. The long period it was in service (production dates are 1891-1945, roughly equivalent to the Moisin-Nagant of the Soviet Union, made famous in the propoganda about Vladimir Yaitseff) means there is a large variability in available models, which colors the reports of those who review it (both of the models I've handled were worn in such a way that, absent a great deal of practice they were relatively slow to cycle). The actual action was based on the German 1888 Commission Model.

Further there were a number of variations. No small part of the reputation comes from the reports of poor performance in the N. African campaigns of Mussolini. Those led to the actual design model Oswald purchased. But problems with the manufacture of ammunition for the new design led to a rebarrelling; which, of course, made for no small amount of variation in the accuracy of the retooled weapons (since it was being done in haste; there was a war on). On the plus side it's a "gain twist" pattern, which means the rate of spin is increased as the bullet moves down the barrel. This is a fundamentally sound design, with a longer lived barrel than in comparable "constant twist" weapons.

The battle-sight for the weapon was 200 meters. Shots at less than that are hard to make, because the issued sights don't, usually, allow for that muuch height (to depress the muzzle). Since a lot of causal/sport shooters are looking for 50-150 meter shots, this adds to the myth of it's basic inaccuracy.

One of the other quirks is that it's a bloc-clip loaded weapon. With issued ammo this isn't a problem, but the clips' lips tended to get a little bent if refilled, which made it much stiffer to operate. With a little more spreading the weapon wouldn't reliably feed. Since most people aren't able to obtain (esp. today) new clips (they are pricey, and the ammo is too, so people scrimp on the clips to get more ammo), that problem becomes ascribed to the weapon itself.

To add further to the problem, the primers originally designed were very corrosive. That (and the need to pay royalties to Nobel) led to a new primer for live rounds, but blanks continued to use it, which means rifles which were used in lots of training probably have worn throats, which will degrade accuracy. Add a ballistically poor bullet design (heavy, and round nosed) and the basic soundness of the design suffered some in practice.

As I recall the recovered bullets, Oswald used that heavy, and problematic, round. That said, one of the more notable charactaristics of the round is that it was very stable (a heavy bullet, and a high rate of twist), and prone to going completely through a person, without tumbling; which is what happened with the shots Oswald got into Kennedy.

#82 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Sorry, I meant to say a "moving, man-sized target".

#83 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:02 PM:

Raphael, #60: Tangentially, your second paragraph is also the reason that the feminist movement made such a hard push to integrate all-male business and social clubs in the late 70s and early 80s. They argued, successfully, that enough important business decisions (including such things as who would be awarded a contract for this or that) were made in these informal surroundings that excluding otherwise-eligible women on the basis of gender amounted to giving the men an end-run around anti-discrimination laws.

alkali, #73: That's exactly why one of the slang terms for a gun is "equalizer". If you've got the shot, it doesn't matter how big he is or how little you are.

#84 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Only tangentially topical: I was shocked today when a local high-school-sports spot on the radio referred to the school's athletic field as "the grassy knoll". WTF?

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Regarding the knoll, I'm disappointed that no Canadian, former or current, brought up Knowlton Nash.

Cyril Knowlton Nash, O.C., O.Ont. (born November 18, 1927), commonly known as Knowlton Nash, is a journalist, author, and former long-serving senior anchorman of CBC Television's flagship news program, The National. He was born in Toronto, Ontario.
#86 ::: cherish ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:55 PM:

A month ago I was sitting in a living room with a group of people, one of whom admitted to having a career in the 70s as an assassin for the US govt Special Forces.

He said one of the first training sessions was a detailed presentation on where SF snipers were hidden there in Dallas (one firing from the sewer) and how they left the world to think whatever it wanted.

Proof? None. But an interesting idea.

#87 ::: snoopy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 06:58 PM:

Somewhere between lone gunman and conspiracy theory involving aliens from Uranus lies the real answer. You can't look at all of the facts and say, 'Yup, one guy.'

Way too many loose ends exist for a neatly wrapped package.

#88 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:00 PM:


Yes, but was Knowlton ever grassy?

#89 ::: Nicholas Waller ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:04 PM:

dolloch @ 75 - I think the match-move/animator you are looking for is Dale Myers; see his website esp the page.

The TV programme his work features in may be Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination - Beyond Conspiracy which has Dale Myers appearing; I guess it could be some other recut version. I remember seeing this in the UK.

#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:13 PM:

cherish 86 one of whom admitted to having claimed to have had a career in the 70s as an assassin for the US govt Special Forces.

FTFY. He may have been telling the truth, I suppose, but when someone says "I used to be a supersecret guy who did a job that could get me executed or at least a long prison term, with no statute of limitations, and that required a degree of discretion that I'm showing I don't have by telling you all this" the most reasonable hypothesis is that they're lying. A rebuttable presumption, even.

Also, if he'd been in the Special Forces he'd probably have named them correctly. There's no "US Government Special Forces."

Ooo, that we know of! There COULD be! But then there could be a sacred green cat named Mota living on Mars, too. Prove there isn't!

snoopy 87: You can't look at all of the facts and say, 'Yup, one guy.'

Well, if all the existing theories except one have been debunked, the one that's still standing is most probably true. True beyond a reasonable doubt, in fact. Nearly half a century of wild speculation, claims and counterclaims, and tinfoil-hat-wearing nutbars babbling incoherently have not come up with an alternative theory that held water better than a cheap wire strainer. With a hole in it.

Occam's razor sez: let's go with this hypothesis, since all the others are total bullshit.

Both of you: hmm, two consecutive first-time posts on the same thread, with single-word, all-lower-case names, and similar viewpoints. You two know each other?

At any rate, welcome to Making Light!

#91 ::: darms ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 07:41 PM:

I was in 1st grade in Fort Worth, TX on 11/23/63. Yes, I think there was a conspiracy but I'm commenting for a different reason. A few years ago I read an article in, I think, the Atlantic Monthly that discussed JFK's health problems and included a disclosure that he secretly wore a back brace in many of his public appearances. The convoluted path of that 'magic bullet' has bothered me a great deal over the decades until I connected that article w/what allegedly happened, something I have not seen anywhere else - if JFK was indeed wearing a few pounds of steel or aluminum to support his back on that fateful day that would be the first reasonable explanation I have encountered for the amazing path of the u-turning bullet alleged to have injured both Gov. Connally & Pres. Kennedy. Was President Kennedy wearing his back brace that day?

#92 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Nicholas - That's the one! Thanks!

#93 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:18 PM:

The other thing I find noteworthy is that the conspiracy theories don't seem to settle down into a coherent alternate. If there was good evidence shouldn't they be cohering around it?

(Bugliosi's book is definitely worth taking a look at. There's a lot of evidence FOR Oswald there.)

#94 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Cherish: I have a knee-jerk disbelief of anyone who tells me such things as they used to be assassins/wet-work guys, and the like. It's not you, it's him.

Xopher: re the SF guy, what you said.

Snoopy: Yes, we can, and most of us do (even me, who happens to think an accidental gunshot [which wasn't the proximate cause of Kennedy's death] ties up the loose ends. I think Oswald was acting alone).

darms: re the brace affecting the bullet path. Nope. Even if he had a steel one on, the most it would do is deflect the bullet to a different straight line. It would also have deformed either the bullet (which doesn't seem, from the photos to have such an impact), or the brace. If it did the latter, there would; probably, have been ragged edges,and tissue damage the autopsy didn't record.

So, if he was wearing such a brace, the bullets 1: probably didn't hit it, and 2: can't explain the "Magic Bullet". The biggest thing people don't understand is about the seats.

They were staggered, both laterally (Connally was inboard of Kennedy) and vertically (connally was sitting higher than Kennedy). That means the straight line most people think the bullet didn't take, isn't the same as the straight line it needed to take to inflict those injuries (and is why that ballistician thinks a negligent discharge from ground level did that piece of damage).

#95 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I read something a little while ago (dammit, I can't rememeber where -- my neurons are conspiring against me) that the more information there is about a particular event, the more likely it is that a conspiracy theory will arise. People dive into all the detail and it's easy to find things that aren't easily explainable and therefore must be evidence of Dark Plans.

Like 9/11. Like Kennedy. Like the moon landing. There are oodles of information about all of those, and some people just love connecting the dots.

And I think there's a personality type that's drawn to it - perhaps someone who isn't comfortable with the randomness that pervades so much of life.

#96 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 08:39 PM:

Damn... my brain is way ahead of my fingers. If the bullet hit the frame in such a way as to not be deflected (that is at right angles, and dead equatorial-center of a flat portion) it would really deform the brace, with lots of lacerating tissue damage, but no obvious damange to the bullet.

If it hit otherwise it might merely have bent/deformed the brace; with a new line of flight, until something else got in the way. In that case I would expect to see some deformation of the bullet.

#97 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:11 PM:

One thing that occurred to me a while ago is that there are at least two witnesses who might well have observed something weird, if there was anything weird to observe: Jacqueline Kennedy (later Onassis) and John Connally. Has any conspiracy theory offered an explanation for why neither of them, in the many years each lived afterward, mentioned anomalies? (I would have trouble believing in a conspiracy that included both of them.)

#98 ::: cherish ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 09:43 PM:

xopher -- hmm, two consecutive first-time posts on the same thread, with single-word, all-lower-case names, and similar viewpoints. You two know each other?

you're suggesting a conspiracy here? ;-)

FWIW, I've commented on several threads over the past two years.

Re: the Guy in the living room: as I said in the comment, "Proof? None. But an interesting idea."

#99 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:08 PM:

cherish, #98: FWIW, I've commented on several threads over the past two years.

Not using your current e-mail address, according to your View All By. Have you changed the address you use for commenting since the last time you said something here? Your name does seem vaguely familiar.

#100 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:10 PM:

Well, it's about time that xkcd was invoked in this discussion.

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:23 PM:

cherish: The problem with, "Proof none, but it's an interesting idea," is that it's a cop-out.

One gets to float an idea (even a bizarre one, which, to be honest, a guy claiming the SF killed Kennedy [who was their patron] most certainly is) and then disavow it.

For me (as a guy who spent eight years in an army which had a lot of people in it who were unhappy with who they had as a CinC, I don't buy it. I esp. don't buy it as an SF plot. No, I don't have proof either, but I'm not arguing for the unprovable either...).

And no, I don't think you a driveby, I place the nom de lumiere, I just think what he told you was nonsense, and he dressed it up with a spurious claim of legitimacy.

#102 ::: firstgentrekkie ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:33 PM:

I was 12 years old, in a junior high algebra class in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Our teacher came in and told us that Kennedy had been shot. My first question was, "Not here, right? In Ft. Worth?" (where the entourage had spent the morning) JFK's death, and later RFK and MLK, changed our country in ways that we are still only beginning to understand. I think that's one of the reasons that Barack Obama's campaign and election has generated such enthusiasm and, yes, euphoria (or O-phoria, as David Brooks has coined), and why Ted Kennedy's symbolic passing of the torch meant so much to me. I feel like we are coming out of a long dark tunnel back into the light. Finally we again have a leader who is both pragmatic and inspirational, who assures us that we are all in this together and we will be okay if we just stick together. In one of JFK's last speeches, the commencement address at American University, he said, "So, let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

Been a long time since we've heard sentiments like that from the leader of the free world.

Was there a conspiracy? As much as I'd like to attach some meaning to this meaningless act, I keep recalling the old adage, sometimes attributed to Robert Heinlein: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

#103 ::: xaaronc ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:38 PM:

This brings to mind Jon Wilde's counterconspiracy (counter-conspiracy?) theory in Ken Macleod's Star Fraction: something about explaining historical events by the conspiracy theories held by the actors, when there is no actual conspiracy.

#104 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 10:45 PM:

Um.... not to be fractious (or at least not overly so)... The president of the US is not the leader of the Free World.

He's the executive of a big power, but that's it. The idea that he's got some magic juju, just because he (and someday she) is sitting in the Oval Office is bad for him, and for us.

It's an arrogation of power we don't have, and a place he can only hold on the sufference of the rest of the world. A bad one (as we just had) can most decidedly cost us the ability to affect the rest of the world (even that "free" part).

I can assure you, Canadians, Brits, Germans (and most decidedly) the French do not see him as their "leader".

Ok, I'll get off my polemical soapbox, but it's always bothered me some, and the past eight years have moved me from annoyed by it to appalled. I am so glad it's not true, because if it were... oh gods the mess Bush would have made.

#105 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:00 PM:

Terry Karney @ 104...
Thank you for putting the sentiment so accurately and eloquently.

#106 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2008, 11:57 PM:

I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, peered out the very window, and said, "Not that tough a shot."

It was Oswald, and Oswald alone.

#107 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Here are a few different "View all by" entries for 'cherish'.

cherish, if you're changing your email because of spambots harvesting addresses, perhaps you can try making an easily-human-detected change to it when you enter it here – check my name in this entry for one attempt.

Any of you seen 'Burn After Reading?' (Not sure if that's on a train line, it will be on a through road.) The ex-Special Forces bloke you mention reminds me of Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney's character) in that. There's a wonderful conspiracy moment involving a black helicopter & Men In Black with earpieces. It is a deeply bleak – unattached in a buddhist kind of way – comedy.

#108 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:20 AM:

I was born a few weeks after JFK's assassination, so of course I have no memory of it. My mom says she was driving to an appointment with her OB when she heard the news on the radio. I don't remember the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King, though by that time I was old enough to form memories of them. I don't think I have what are usually described as "flashbulb memories." I can tell you approximately where and with whom I was when I heard about other big public tragedies, but I don't remember what it was like to get the news.

#109 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 01:53 AM:

Here's a theory I hadn't run into before: JFK was killed for messing with the Federal Reserve!

#110 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 03:10 AM:

Terry, #104: Hear, hear! That "leader of the free world" thing might have had some validity immediately after WWII, but it's been wearing very thin indeed over the past few decades. What we really have been, for a long time now, is the biggest bully in the sandbox -- overthrowing popularly-elected governments at whim to install dictators who would be favorable to our business interests.

That's also part of the "America is the bestest country ever" myth, which only survives because a lot of people never look at objective rankings of the US against other countries. In far too many of the areas which affect quality of life most strongly, we're not only not the best, we're not even in the top 10.

#111 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 05:06 AM:

"But then there could be a sacred green cat named Mota living on Mars, too. Prove there isn't!"

I used to be an interplanetary assassin for the Ylluminati. I killed that cat.

#112 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 05:33 AM:

As a furriner, it was early evening where I was. I was 12, and in my room doing homework. My mother came rushing upstairs carrying a portable radio and shouting, "They've shot the President!". And I looked up and said, "What President?"

I submit this detail as a gloss to Terry Karney's intervention above.

#113 ::: no thanks for revisionism ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:22 AM:

funny to be sarcastic/ironic/facetious, etc...

but your post totally misses the mark.

maybe we can call it a 'magic' post and pretend it kills two birds with one stone.

this is the sort of thing i'd expect to see at 'daily kos' with bright, shiny officers of normalcy enforcing the mantra of 'positive thought.'

#114 ::: firstgentrekkie ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:24 AM:

In my defense, in 1963, JFK *was* the leader of the free world. I acknowledge that's no longer true, in large part because of the mess that BushCo has made of the job.

#115 ::: no thanks for revisionism ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:38 AM:


hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to be made from napalm, agent orange, white phospherous, torture equipment, artillery shells, cluster bombs, bullets, backpacks, bandages, boots, you name it

you think those guys are going to allow one 'prick' like kennedy to stand in their way

pg.110 'Vietnam: the 10,000 Day War'
Dec.3, 1963 kennedy's plan to begin withdrawing forces from vietnam.

didn't happen.

#116 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 07:57 AM:

but your post totally misses the mark.

Can you refute anything in the post?

#117 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:42 AM:

#87: You can't look at all of the facts and say, 'Yup, one guy.'

I can, and I did.

Nothing outside of fiction has all the loose ends tied up in a bow knot.

The problem with the Kennedy Conspiracy Theorists is that they're unacquainted with reality.

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:43 AM:

Weird coincidence that must mean something...

Yeterday morning, I made the hotel reservation for our customary Holidays ride to/from the Bay Area. When I called the hotel in Kingman, they still had my family name in their computer system, but, even though it's an unusual name, they also had an entry for someone else identically named. Not only that, but her first name is the same as one of my sisters's.

#119 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 08:47 AM:

With all due respect, I don't find 3 that convincing. Brief googling suggests (Wikipedia apparently quoting the Warren Commission Report; I didn't bother to check ad fontes) that the bullet from Oswald's rifle was only 60% faster than sound, and traveling over so short a route that the lag was ca 0.08 s. Any proper conspiracy is able to account for the distance difference from the knoll and synchronize the triggers by radio :-)

#120 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:20 AM:

#85 ::: Chris Quinones

Carol, 58: pat greene beat me to the ID, but here is the text of McGinley's poem "The Giveaway." McGinley is a bit underrated these days, I think.

Thanks, both of you!

#121 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:21 AM:

WTF? This was supposed to have been posted on the Open Thread.

#122 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:28 AM:

I'm fairly sure that my flashbulb memory of hearing about Kennedy's assassination is true because it involves my putting my foot in my mouth; if it were a false memory you'd think I'd have edited it to make me look less like a fool.

I was a senior in high school, just coming out of the dining room after lunch. I saw my English teacher, whom I liked, standing there crying. Hes said "The President has been shot". I thought he was joking, because the idea was just unbelievable, and I said, "Right, tell me another one." At which point the fact that he was crying registered, and I realized that he was very serious, that this wasn't a joke, and that the world was not at all what I had thought it was.

The words are probably not accurate after 45 years, but the image of my teacher, who was a very cheerful man, crying in front of dozens of students is, I think, very accurate. And I remember all too well that feeling of having been snarky to someone I liked who was in great distress.

#123 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:06 AM:

hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to be made from napalm, agent orange, white phospherous, torture equipment, artillery shells, cluster bombs, bullets, backpacks, bandages, boots, you name it

you think those guys are going to allow one 'prick' like kennedy to stand in their way

Makes me wonder why the attempts on Nixon were so late and so incompetent.

#124 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Personal for Snoopy:

Local custom is that we use one just one screen name here. Find one you like and stick with it. Otherwise ... well, we have very few banning offenses here. Sockpuppetry is one of them.

#125 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Terry Karney - I've never shot a Carcano so I defer to your expertise.

Regarding the magic bullet - one other thing people forget is that Kennedy's car was on a downslope. "Deally Plaza" is an impressive name for what's really a small strip of grass where two city streets feed into a railroad underpass.

#126 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:40 AM:

123: the trouble with the argument "a large powerful conspiracy had JFK killed in order to keep the Vietnam War going, because then they would make millions from military procurement" is this:

if you are powerful enough to kill the President, and then cover it up so successfully for forty years, why are you not powerful enough to simply persuade a few congressmen to vote for more military spending?

In any case, it's not like Kennedy was some sort of anti-military type. Had he lived, he was planning to make a speech that evening in which he would boast: "In the past 3 years we have increased our defense budget by over 20%; increased the program for acquisition of Polaris submarines from 24 to 41; increased our Minuteman missile purchase program by more than 75 percent; doubled the number of strategic bombers and missiles on alert; doubled the number of nuclear weapons available in the strategic alert forces; increased the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe by 60 percent; added 5 combat ready divisions and 5 tactical fighter wings to our Armed Forces; increased our strategic airlift capabilities by 75 percent; and increased our special counter-insurgency forces by 600 percent. We can truly say today, with pride in our voices and peace in our hearts, that the defensive forces of the United States are, without a doubt, the most powerful and resourceful forces anywhere in the world."

Kennedy's presidency was great news for the defence industry! Certainly compared to Ike - military spending had actually been falling for a lot of Ike's presidency, as Korea came to an end and the Army and Navy were wound down in favour of a cheap, nuclear-driven tripwire/massive retaliation strategy. Kennedy, on the other hand, believed in 'flexible response' - so more of everything.

Persuading Kennedy to spend more on defence would have been pushing on an open door.

#127 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 12:08 PM:

firstgentrekkie 114: In my defense, in 1963, JFK *was* the leader of the free world. I acknowledge that's no longer true, in large part because of the mess that BushCo has made of the job.

Oh, you can't blame BushCo for that. JFK stopped being the Leader of the Free World on November 22, 1963! (Yes, I know, I'm only teasing.)

#128 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:06 PM:

I'll take ajay's word for that speech, but in addition Kennedy ran against Nixon in part on there being a (non-existent) "missile gap" between the US and the USSR. He was defense-industry friendly.

#129 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:13 PM:

Kennedy was a stalwart Cold-Warrior.

#130 ::: no thanks for revisionism ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 02:28 PM:

kennedy might have been 'saner' than some of the other cold warriers. for example those who wanted to nuke cuba during the missile crisis.

he planned to withdraw from vietnam incrementally beginning in dec.1963.

this wouldn't be acceptable to those who (although they had already gotten plenty) saw a goldmine at the end of the napalm rainbow.

#131 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:01 PM:

James, sir, @117,

I cut about half of my earlier post on this thread because it had turned into a boring and inpenatrable knot, but yes to

I can, and I did.

Nothing outside of fiction has all the loose ends tied up in a bow knot.

I spent a whole semester in a history research/seminar class at WSU studying the JFK assassination. It was a debate-style class, with two research papers and two team presentations; we switched sides after midterms, so everyone studied both defenders and critics of the Warren Report. I came out of the experience with a high degree of certainty that no matter how flawed the official investigation, the conspiracy theorists were, as a group, operating under the assumption that any unexplained event was evidence of a cover-up, instead of being evidence that there is always noise and signal loss.

#132 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:11 PM:

SErge@118, there are at least two Paula Murrays in Kansas City, MO. At one point in the mid-90s, we both worked at the same advertising agency. Fortunately she was on the advertising side and I was in PR.

But at one point, the company's owner greeted me in earshot of her, with his usual "Paula Sue, how do you do!"

As soon as he was gone she was out of her cubicle and in front of me going "Your middle name cannot be Sue!" she was kind of angry about it.

I went, "Nope, but he's the owner this company and has called me that ever since I started." and just walked away.

#133 ::: darms ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 04:58 PM:

Terry Karney - thanx for the info. I've long wondered whether the back brace was responsible for this -

While I do believe in a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, I'm not one to get down into the weeds arguing "facts" from (at best) dubious sources, instead I look at "big picture" items like who wanted him dead and what verifiable contacts did they have with parties we know were involved. "Follow the money" is a very good tool.

#134 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Let's look at the Reagan assassination attempt.

John Hinckley's father was one of George H. W. Bush's major contributors, and John Hinckley's brother was scheduled to have dinner with Neil Bush (H. W.'s son) the day after.

If Reagan had died, and if Hinckley had been killed in course of the event (before he could explain that he did it to impress Jody Foster) just imagine the conspiracy theory.

#135 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:00 PM:

James, #134: Now that's depressing... because one of the thoughts that occurs immediately is, what are the odds that it would have tarred the Bush name enough that GWB couldn't have mounted a successful run?

#136 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Speaking of strange happenings, two men named Raymond Lee Harvey and Osvaldo Ortiz were found carrying pistols near Jimmy Carter in 1979.

The books of Charles Fort are filled with even more unlikely coincidences.

#137 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 09:30 PM:

firstgentrekkie #114: In my defense, in 1963, JFK *was* the leader of the free world. I acknowledge that's no longer true, in large part because of the mess that BushCo has made of the job.

Really? I'm not sure which it is, "leader" or "free world" (I suspect the former), but you are using the language heterodoxically and it's confusing. In 1963, JFK was the leader of the United States of America. Alec Douglas-Home was the leader of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Lester B. Pearson was the leader of Canada, Sir Robert Menzies was the leader of Australia, Charles de Gaulle was the leader of France, Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Jawaharlal Nehru were the leaders of India, etc etc etc ad nauseam.

While few here would argue that Bush Jr made a mess of every job he had, there is no such job as "leader of the free world" and never has been. It's a big place.

(this partly political broadcast was brought to you by Wikipedia's list fetish!)

#138 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:19 PM:

That sounds a bit disingenuous to me. JFK was the leader of the free world. Some Cold War era presidents weren't, but most were. It just doesn't matter what other countries or cultures think about it. Names of the leaders of etc. etc. etc. countries are ultimately mere historical trivia. "Leader of the free world" is not a job, it's an ideological bludgeon for crushing commies.

#139 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:24 PM:

Earl Cooley III, probably it's a morning of trying to teach elementary English to Korean third-graders, but I'm having difficulty divining your thesis. I'm sorry to be dense, but could you please elaborate?

#140 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 10:56 PM:

What is most interesting to me is not the question of whether Oswald acted alone, but the fact that 80% (I think that's the number) either believe or strongly suspect that there was a coup here. To me, this is a pretty emphatic statement about how US citizens feel toward the government.

#141 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2008, 11:53 PM:

SeanH @137 and 139, are you aware that the US president is often called "the leader of the free world"? That this is a rhetorical trope going back decades?

Now, you might not agree with this trope. Feel free to disagree with and debunk it; I think it's a somewhat problematic trope myself. But could you at least acknowledge that this is in fact a bit of common rhetoric of several decades' vintage, even if you personally had never heard it before, and not some weird bit of linguistic heterodoxy that's just sprouted in this comment thread?

#142 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:13 AM:

Sorry, my own rhetoric getting out of hand. I am aware that it's a common piece of nonsense; I find it a very offensive piece of nonsense, and was trying to get at the error behind it. It seemed to me that firstgentrekkie was trying to defend it in some substantive way, which was why I got into the exact meaning of the phrase - in order to see what exactly was being defended.

The question still stands: it's obviously wrong, but is the error in "leader" or "free world"? That is, is the claim that POTUS is the 'leader' of many countries around the world in some sense other than "head of government", or is the claim that the United States of America represents the entirety of the free world?

#143 ::: Stretch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:23 AM:

Terry Karney @ 81: Just to satisfy your curiosity, the rifle we were using was the L1A1 - aka the "SLR" - aka the FN-FAL. Recoil is not insubstantial with that weapon.

I was wrong to call it an "assault" rifle though, and regretted that as soon as I'd clicked "post" and realized that by trying to be descriptive, I'd been inaccurate.

#144 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:35 AM:

Stretch, no, it's not. Still less than the Carcano. One of the quirks of most semi-autos is a slight motion back to target because of the return spring.

#145 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:42 AM:

SeanH @ 142:

is the error in "leader" or "free world"?

"Check as many as apply; use both sides of the paper as needed."

Both in the sense that neither claim is true, and in the sense that both usually seem to be implied in the usage.

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 01:42 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 132... "Paula Sue, how do you do!"

That sounds like a song Buddy Holly would have written if he had not died in that plane crash.

#147 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:06 AM:

@130 "this wouldn't be acceptable to those who (although they had already gotten plenty) saw a goldmine at the end of the napalm rainbow."

Every change in the direction of the federal government effects a corresponding change that enriches one group of contractors and deprives another. By the logic, such as it is, of the above, any time a president issues an executive order or signs a piece of legislation there should be shots ringing out.

One of the (many) reasons that there aren't is that the president isn't a king. Interest groups that lose out because of what the president has done can turn to Congress and the courts. And if they can't get any traction there, well, it's a lot of people to shoot. There's a reason that presidential assassins, both failed and not, tend to be loonies: shooting the president doesn't make any sense.

#148 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:20 AM:

SeanH, #142: My take on the "leader of the free world" thing has always been that the US, by virtue of being a global superpower, has a disproportionate amount of influence on the decisions of government in allied nations. Whether that influence is by voluntary agreement (as the phrase implies) or because we're the biggest bully on the playground (my personal interpretation), I think it was really there for several decades following WWII, and has been fading at an increasing rate since about the Reagan era.

#149 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 02:28 AM:

#103 An interesting theory I've heard is that, while there wasn't a conspiracy, in the immediate aftermath people suspected it might have been the Russians and so, not wanting a nuclear exchange, took steps to cover up the conspiracy they thought existed.

This has the advantage of not requiring an actual conspiracy, while explaining the oddity of some of the actions of the players after the event.

#150 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:06 AM:

Although the idea that the US President is, de facto, the "Leader of the Free World" is complete bunkum (as the past few years have amply demonstrated), it is in fact a living meme. Just another piece of American exceptionalism, to be nodded at in passing; I don't think we can do much about it.

But Kennedy was different. I've travelled around the Netherlands, here and there, and two Americans have lent their names to streets here more than all their compatriots combined: John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

And of the two, Kennedy has the numerical edge.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that more Dutch people, proportionately, live on streets named after him than do Americans.

#151 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:55 AM:

I'm not one to get down into the weeds arguing "facts"

Then you're not ever going to get anything right about anything in the world, except by accident.

instead I look at "big picture" items

Yeah, let's ignore all those annoying little "facts" and just look at "'big picture' items"- after all, what could possibly go wrong with that?

like who wanted him dead

Do you want people to go by no evidence other than "who wanted him dead" if anyone you don't like should ever die in an accident or of an unusual disease, or get killed?

and what verifiable contacts did they have with parties we know were involved.

Indirectly, everyone on Earth, except perhaps for some people who live very isolated, has verifiable contacts with everyone else.

#152 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:18 AM:

118. Serge, this sort of coincidence happens. I once went to a restaurant with my wife's family, whose name is extraordinarily obscure, to find that there was another party with the same name already seated. Later on the waiter mentioned tht yet another bearer of the name had just come in to book a table for the next night. We worked out that every adult in the world with that name had been in the restaurant that night except two, and we knew where they were.

#153 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:25 AM:

he planned to withdraw from vietnam incrementally beginning in dec.1963. this wouldn't be acceptable to those who (although they had already gotten plenty) saw a goldmine at the end of the napalm rainbow.

I realise I'm trying to have a rational argument with someone who writes in all lower case, but here goes.

1) US involvement in VN in 1963 was comparatively tiny. 16,000 troops. Less than a division in strength. No one in the US arms industry was getting rich off VN; they were getting rich off US Cold War military spending generally. This was projects like nuclear submarines, nuclear missiles, strategic bombers, supersonic combat aircraft; not a few prop planes and Hueys for a counterinsurgency campaign in the backside of nowhere. The big ticket items not only weren't justified by VN; VN actually represented budget competition for them.

2) Kennedy wanted out of VN, yes. Why would anyone expect Johnson to be any different? If anything, in 1963 he was seen as less of a Cold Warrior than Kennedy. His first priority on becoming president was the Great Society, not Vietnam - he made a number of speeches on civil rights and anti-poverty issues as vice-president, and was generally more up-front on these matters than Kennedy - and he was also one of the prime movers behind the expansion of NASA and the start of the Apollo project, as head of the president's ad hoc committee on science.

The federal budget in the 1960s had three major line items: the military, the Great Society, and Apollo. If anything, replacing Kennedy with LBJ in 1963 should have been expected to shift spending away from the military - including, presumably, the continuation of JFK's intention to withdraw from VN - and towards NASA and the Great Society. If anything, the military-industrial complex should have wanted to keep JFK alive.

Now there's a conspiracy theory for you. Who stood to gain from the death of JFK? Martin Luther King, Harrison Storms and Neil Armstrong, that's who!

#154 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 06:20 AM:

Do you know where Richard Nixon was on 22 November 1963?

He was in Dallas, Texas.

#155 ::: Nicholas Waller ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 06:50 AM:

Andy Brazil @ 149 - "took steps to cover up the conspiracy they thought existed. This has the advantage of not requiring an actual conspiracy, while explaining the oddity of some of the actions of the players after the event."

This, though it is not about conspiracies per se, reminds me a bit of the Coen Brothers' "Blood Simple", where people take dangerously daft courses of action because they're got the wrong end of various sticks.

#156 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:21 AM:

ajay @153:
I realise I'm trying to have a rational argument with someone who writes in all lower case and is not miriam beetle.


#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:21 AM:

chris y @ 152... this sort of coincidence happens


When we moved from Toronto to the Bay Area in January 1989, my wife and I drove all the way across. Outside of Salt Lake City, we pulled over at a gas station, where I found that the attendant had the same French-Canadian family name as one of my Québec City buddies.

How likely is that?
Not very, but it happens.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:24 AM:

Abi @ 153... Especially when one knowns miriam beetle's favorite mode of transportation.

#159 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:40 AM:

The whole six-degrees-of-separation thing strikes here.

How many jumps from the cop who let Ruby into the police garage to the cop who arrested George W. Bush for drunk driving? And how many more to Kevin Bacon?

#160 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:02 AM:

chris y @#152: As far as I know, the only three people in the United States with my last name are me, my mother, and my father. There also appears to be an enclave in Scandinavia, including one guy who's a pop star, but that's it.

Given that the etymology of my name is Lithuanian (though spelled as if it were German), I sometimes wonder how that happened.

#161 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:16 AM:

158: Good Lord. That's miriam beetle? In that case, rest assured I would never try to have any sort of argument with her - not if she has ULTIMA RATIO REGUM on her side. (Or at any rate ULTIMA RATIO COLEOPTERORUM.)

A beetle tank

#162 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:00 AM:

James D. Macdonald #154: Do you know where Richard Nixon was on 22 November 1963? He was in Dallas, Texas.

So was the elder Bush.

#163 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:07 AM:

ajay @ 153

Thanks for making the point about the relative tinyness of spending on Vietnam versus the Cold War. Also consider the relative lifetimes of military programs. A small war like Vietnam, for which a supplier might sell a few millions of small arms and a few hundred thousand tonnes of explosives and such, can provide 2-5 years of peak sales, at most. A contract for a hi-tech warplane can last for 30 years or more* and deliver as much as US $1e10 in current dollars over the contract.

Just to tie a couple of conspiracy theories together in a nice bowtie, a large portion of those 16,000 US troops in Vietnam were US Army Special Forces, a unit, as Terry pointed out, patronized (in the original sense of the word) by Kennedy, and specifically targeted at counterinsurgency missions. I bet there was quite a battle between the conspiracy that wanted to kill Kennedy for wanting to get out of Vietnam and the conspiracy that wanted to kill him for getting the SF in there in quantity.

* The B-52 bomber has been in service since 1955, 744 were built, and current plans are to continue it in service until sometime around 2040. Total cost to construct those planes was in the neighborhood of US $5e9 in 1955 dollars, but the real winners are the vendors who get to supply spare parts for 90 years of service, and upgrades to take advantage of new technology in avionics, engines, and airframes.

#164 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:09 AM:

1. The CIA did it!
A. No, Kennedy’s dead.

And there wasn't a card next to his body that read "CIA was here".

#165 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers)

1a: The Mossad did it.

A: No. Kennedy is dead, not John F. Kennedy, barman of Limerick or John F. Kennedy, accountant of Cahirciveen.

#166 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:28 AM:

I think I can top the coincidence stories:

In the 70's my grandfather took his family out to dinner at a very fancy French restaurant in New York. This particular restaurant was so snooty that they actually imported their waiters from France. My grandfather had spent some time in France during the war, and had gone back a couple times, so his French was passable, and he struck up a conversation with the waiter. It went something like this:

"Where in France are you from?"
"What town in Brittany?"
"Oh, it's a tiny little town, no way you would have heard of it."
"What department is it in, then?"
"Moribhan Department."
"Actually, I spent some time in Moribhan and Cotes d'Armor [the department to the north]."
"Well it's a little town called Plouray."

*stunned silence*

It turns out, the waiter, as a young boy, had actually seen the B-17 my grandfather was co-piloting crash into a nearby field in April of 1944, and knew the people who still had some of my grandfather's parachute hanging up in their barn. [Some, because when you are a French farmer in a period of war-time rationing, and dozens of yards of white silk literally fall out of the sky onto your property, your first thought is not to preserve them for posterity.)


Anyway, to return to the actual subject:

I have to second the mention of Sondheim's Assassins here. The show really does make the case that there's something fundamentally American about taking pot-shots at our elected leaders.

But that's not my favorite fictional Kennedy conspiracy. My favorite is from 100 Bullets:

A jilted Joe Dimaggio taking revenge for the Kennedy-ordered assassination of Marilyn Monroe. (With the assistance of Agent Graves.)

#167 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Not sure if I saw this here or at BoingBoing, but: World Last Name Finder

Apologies if everyone already saw this.

It is extremely Eurocentric, let me just say right now. But it is pretty cool if your last name is of European origin. (One of my friends has a last name that shows only two hotspots: one in a particular part of Italy where her family originated, and one in a particular part of the U.S. where her extended family live.)

#168 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:49 AM:

(That was apropos of the last-name coincidence stories. I realize sometimes my mental links are not clear.)

Also, click to zoom in on the map.

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:57 AM:

According to the movie Bubba Ho-tep, John Kennedy is still alive, in an old-folks home with Elvis, and there's a life-sucking mummy in the basement. Ossie Davis is Kennedy, and Bruce Campbell is Elvis.

#170 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:17 AM:

Serge @ 169 -

I loved Bubba Ho-Tep!

Elvis: No offense, Jack, but President Kennedy was a white man.
JFK: They dyed me this color! That's how clever they are!

#171 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:25 AM:

I've got this mental image of the immediate aftermath of an alternate-universe Kennedy assassination, in which 20+ different assassins from different groups all stand up, scratching their heads and wondering which one of them got him. Dang, there's that KGB guy, did he get him? Or was it me and the other CIA folks? Or the special forces guys over on the corner? Or that mafia hitman I saw up the street? Or the FBI guys up in the bell tower? Or was it the guys from Lockheed? Or those Israeli dudes who were setting up their tripod on the grassy knoll? Or the Cubans who came in last week? Or those Klansmen who were planning to shoot him when they sobered up? Or....

#172 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:29 AM:

165: the Mossad employs Terminators?

#173 ::: Halloween Jack ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Mark Lane's name came up recently in some articles about another hideous anniversary: the 40th of the Jonestown massacre. He was one of Jim Jones' attorneys, and narrowly escaped being killed. Naturally, in his book about the massacre, he says that government agents were involved. I swear, he must check his oatmeal for CIA assassins every morning.

#174 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:24 PM:

ajay #172: Well, let's just say that they have been rather confused about their objectives.

#175 ::: Cowboy Diva ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:33 PM:

LBJ quotes that seemed appropriate, although not necessarily to the conpsiracy theories:

"Here you are, alone with the President of the United States and the Leader of the Free World, and you ask a chicken-shit question like that."

and without attribution:
"The CIA is made up of boys whose families sent them to Princeton but wouldn't let them into the family brokerage business."

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Steve C @ 170...

"Listen here. Listen. I know you're Elvis. There was a rumor, you know, that you hated me. But I thought about that. If you hated me, you could've finished me off the other night"
- John Kennedy.

#177 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Chris W@#166: A friend of mine was on a school trip to the Soviet Union, and was sightseeing in Red Square when she was asked for her papers by a guard--just a routine thing. He looked at her papers, which included her rather unusual surname and her place of residence, and asked, "Monroeville. Is near Penn Hills?"

She said she had images of spy satellites over the Pittsburgh suburbs until he explained: the guy had known her paternal grandfather during WWII and corresponded with him occasionally.

#178 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 01:22 PM:

My personal belief: J.F.K. was shot by a jealous husband. An assassination-interested friend heard this, and said, 'I never thought of him as "Stackerlee Oswald"....'

I am fairly neutral* on the particular conspiracy theory in Libra (non-crazy, less gripping than Tears of Autumn's), but I do like its implication, and one fitting in well with the facts: Oswald was involved with so many different parties and intelligence agencies that when it seemed likely that he had been the shooter, every single one of them woke up and said, 'Did one of our guys tell him to do this? Even if none did, can we prove that?,' and immediately began rocketing tinsel into the atmosphere just in case.

That is to say, none (or maybe just one) of the conspiracies existed, but maybe all of the cover-ups did.

*'[If I should die] tell my wife "Hello."'

#179 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:01 PM:

One of the more ... unique ... movies about the Kennedy assassination was Winter Kills.

I recommend it.

(There was also Executive Action, which I do not recommend, but has an odd place in the world of nutbar conspiracy theories, in that it was being compared to The Exorcist by Wilson Bryan Key.

(One of Key's proofs that The Exorcist contained "subliminals" was that more people coughed during screenings of The Exorcist than during showings of Executive Action. (He counted!)

(He ignored the fact that The Exorcist was released in February to packed houses and lines around the block, while Executive Action was released in August to nearly-empty theaters.)

#180 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:16 PM:

Appropriate to see this: I just finished Macleod's Cydonia, which features a V.R. recreation of a fully-staffed Kennedy assassination site, including all major conspiracy theories' players.

My favourite moment from the Illuminatus! version: after a few of the other shooters fire away, bar bs gur Qvyyvatre dhvaghcyrgf who just happens to be there (no conspiracy!) shrugs his shoulders, says, 'Why not?,' and joins in.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:27 PM:

Caroline, #167: That's cool! I put in my birth name, and discovered that there's a little clump of it mostly in the Netherlands and Belgium (no surprise, it's Dutch) and none anywhere else except in America -- which would be my several-times-great-grandparents and their descendants. Apparently there was only one person with that name who came over here, and anyone here who has it is related to me in some degree. (I know about this because there's an amateur genealogist on that side of the family.)

James, #179: I highly recommend the short story "The Winterberry" in the Resnick anthology Alternate Presidents. It'll break your heart.

#182 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:29 PM:

Oops. After hitting Post, I remember -- that one is probably in Alternate Kennedys, not Alternate Presidents.

#183 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 03:49 PM:

I've got not one but two stories in Alternate Kennedys.

#184 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Caroline @ #167, that finder is enlightening. My branch of the family has been traced back to Albemarle County in Virginia in the late 1700s, yet their statistics show there are more people with that name in Maine than in Va.

OTOH, it shows there are 25 people with that name per million in Hawai'i, which seems wrong. There are about five people with our last name in the Oahu phone book; Oahu has 80% of the Hawai'i population.

Food for thought or further research, I guess.

#185 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Carrie S.@ 177 and Chris W@#166:

I LOVE my in-laws' biggest coincidence story (They have several):

My father-in-law (and m-i-l, and their then-teenaged son who is now my husband) were in a game park in Zimbabwe. They saw one other car, and stopped by to see who was there.

It turns out to be someone my father-in-law went to elementary school with. In a one-room schoolhouse in rural Manitoba.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:23 PM:

Coincidences... I remember an interview with Terry Gilliam where he recounted his camping for the night on a Greek island's beach and then, coming from a nearby tent, he heard people singing "Spamspamspamspam..."

#187 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:42 PM:

Caroline@167: The high concentrations of Doyles in Ireland, England, Canada, the USA, and Australia didn't surprise me.

But the two clumps of moderate concentration in Argentina and India -- where the heck did those come from?

#188 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 05:48 PM:

abi & serge, defending my good name (& typing habits) way up there,

thanks! i was gonna stick my head up after ajay's comment, but i hadn't said anything previously in the thread, but i didn't want to come off too egotistical.

but who needs an ego when you've got your own tank? (i'd never seen a beetle tank before, though. man, those are cute.)

#189 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 06:58 PM:

I was in high school and I remember it vividly. A messenger came in with a note for the teacher, who up to that point I didn't like very much, and as I watched him read it he actually turned white -- all the blood drained out of his face. I'd never actually seen that happen to anyone before. Then he announced that JFK had been shot, but we didn't know if he was dead or not. In the hall after class I heard a boy shouting, "He died!" I was crying in the bathroom with another girl when another teacher came in with an evil little smirk on her face and said, "What are you crying for?" I never forgave her for that and I never will.

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Re coincidences, let's not forget the one we had here not so long ago involving a couple of weddings which turned out to be the same wedding! I'm sure somebody's got the thread bookmarked...

#191 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 08:58 PM:

#190: a couple of weddings which turned out to be the same wedding!

The fluorosphere bends back in upon itself

#192 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:00 PM:

Lee, that does ring a bell.

#193 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Coincidence or conspiracy? My parents grew up in NYC, met in college, and my mother brought him home to meet the family. One summer evening, her cousin also brought her beau to dinner, and it turned out to be an elementary school classmate of Dad's.

As for Irish names in India (Doyle @ 187), perhaps men of that name served in the British Army (as many of my Irish ancestors did)?

This leads me to my own coincidence story: I studied the clarinet in high school, and needed my own teacher to improve my technical abilities (really, I did). My first teacher was from the Bronx, nothing coincidental there; however, when he moved to Florida, he referred us to a guy in town who was named Xiques, pronounced "Hickies". When we met Mr. Xiques, he told us his family was Irish-Cuban. My Irish grandmother heard the name, remembered the family in her hometown that had sent a son to Cuba, and it was Hickeys -- she named all the people in that family, one of whom was my clarinet teacher's grandmother.

From a small town in the mid-center of Ireland to Cuba and then to a small town in the mid-Hudson Valley -- what are the odds?

#194 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 09:40 PM:

I'm glad y'all like the finder! I had fun discovering that my boyfriend's family -- provenance unknown other than "generally German," as his paternal grandfather ran away from home at 14 and refused to speak of his parents -- is almost certainly from one particular German state. My father's name is almost certainly from the south of Ireland.

#195 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Surname finder: fascinating! As predicted, I'm pretty heavily UK, but with a considerable US presence. And within the UK, I'm southern (Dad's family has been London-based as far back as memory goes). Oddly though, in terms of district, the name is most highly concentrated in three areas of New Zealand, and (West) Virginia...

As for my mother's name, no surprise to learn it's Irish (while I have no reason to believe Admiral Halsey is a relative, family lore is solid on William Drennan being ours)...

#196 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2008, 10:46 PM:

The world name finder was great! One of my great-uncles did the research to find out the first Layman of our line was Prussian and came to the US to fight as a mercenary for the Brits in the Revolutionary War. And indeed, they start in Germany/Poland/Belgium, more in the UK, more in Canada, then most here in the US. But even in the US, it's 47/M. Then they mark Appalachia for the most in the US (true, as far as we know).

#197 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Debra Doyle @ 187: [on the World Last Name Finder]The high concentrations of Doyles in Ireland, England, Canada, the USA, and Australia didn't surprise me.

But the two clumps of moderate concentration in Argentina and India -- where the heck did those come from?

India - no doubt from the days of the Empire.
Argentina - Maybe from the Welsh immigrants

Interesting site, that. Searching my own last name, it's correctly shown with hotspots in the Norwegian west country and central mountains. Øvrebø is a pretty common placename wherever a homestead is higher in the terrain. In my case it's easy though - I still live there.

#198 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 04:19 AM:

@179: Richard Condon, who wrote the novel and was involved with the movie, wrote a remarkable article about the making of Winter Kills for Harper's, back in the early 80s. Apparently the movie faced unusual difficulties during production that always seemed to trace back to one group or another that didn't like what the book and movie had to say about the Kennedys: financing problems and union problems, mostly. The financing was unorthodox, too, to the point that one of the movie's producers was found handcuffed to a bed in an Italian hotel room with a bullet in his head.

Unsurprisingly, it's a disjointed movie. But it's great fun. John Huston doesn't so much chew the scenery as suck it all into his maw and annihilate it.

#199 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 08:49 AM:

ChrisW@166: [Assassins} really does make the case that there's something fundamentally American about taking pot-shots at our elected leaders.

Fritz Leiber satirized that attitude in A Specter is Haunting Texas; there was an ]abstract[ window-and-rifle sculpture on the plaza, and the current ruler was held in contempt for hiding out instead of {taking it like a man,letting himself be sacrificed for the good of the crops,...}.

#200 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2008, 09:00 AM:

Debra@187: I suspect you'd see Doyles in a lot of other odd places if the map covered more of them -- probably everywhere the UK wasn't actively shut out or discouraged by lack of opportunities (I'd guess the rate would be low in Russia, Japan, China, the ]Belgian Congo[, ...). Famine-driven emigration can be a powerful distributor, as can empire. (Sometimes all it takes is the scent of opportunity; while prepping for post-ConFiction tourism, I read that a quarter of Swedes have relatives in the U.S.)

Possibly more surprising: my surname is shown as >3x as frequent in New Zealand as in the U.S., where there have been Hitchcocks since the 1630's. I wonder whether it's specific, or other very-Anglo names are similarly more frequent due to colonization patterns?

#201 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Debra Doyle @ 187

But the two clumps of moderate concentration in Argentina and India -- where the heck did those come from?

India is likely the result of the British Empire; descendants of colonial officials or soldiers who stayed on.

Possibly the Doyles in Argentina are the descendants of Confederate States revanchists.

#202 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 01:25 AM:

The surname finder doesn't work terribly well for my birth name, since it doesn't include Finland at all, so Sweden comes out on top. Although the locations, and densities, in Canada are about what I might have guessed.

The fun one was looking at my maternal grandfather's two names. His original surname doesn't show much, either, as it's mostly Poland and eastward, and eastward vanishes off the recorded map. However, the name he changed it to in order to sound more vaguely British is a really good way to pinpoint where my maternal relatives live. There are about three *people* who show up in the world in places my kin have not gone.

The other lines of my geneology all have pretty much the expected results; the English one everywhere that was part of the British empire to some degree (Plus Denmark), the Ukrainian one with a reasonable immigration spread. And all too numerous to identify.

(No point in searching for my married name, as it's unrelated to either my or my husband's actual genealogy)

#203 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 03:02 AM:

My surprise was that my great-grandmother's maiden name (Gaspar) was visible in parts of her native Germany - but was most common in Hungary.

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 05:08 AM:

abi @ 203... my great-grandmother's maiden name (Gaspar)

"We are three wise men."
"We are three wise men."
"Well, what are you doing creeping around a cow shed at two o'clock in the morning? That doesn't sound very wise to me."

#205 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 05:32 AM:

Debra Doyle @ 187: I'd go with CHip's explanation @ 200. The attraction of large amounts of farmland in Argentina was huge, and led to a lot of Irish people moving over in the mid-1800s. See here for some interviews with Argentinians of Irish descent - some of whom (like Jimmy Ballesty) speak English with a pronounced Irish accent. I was at a talk recently where the speaker made the point that the first era of globalisation was ended by WW1, but that's probably an open thread digression.

As for concidences, Ireland is so small that eveyone here experiences them all the time. My favourite one is when I was best man for my friend. When our fathers saw each other, across a car park, their eyes narrowed and they both hunched down a little. It turned out grown up in adjacent parishes, and had played football against each other as teenagers. They both moved away from home for jobs, and hadn't met in 30 years or so. My friend and I'd met at college, and had no idea.

#206 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 03:41 PM:

Serge @ 146: I assumed it was a take-off on "My name is Sue, how do you do? Now you're gonna die!"

CHip @ 199: From memory, I think I have this: "Ever since the death of sainted Jack, the term of the President of Texas has been from inauguration to assassination." Makes you wonder that not a one of them died of natural causes--the rivals can't be that anxious. Possibly a cover-up, where Presidents of Texas dead for various ignoble reasons were posthumously assassinated for the good of the state?

#207 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Halloween Jack at 173 -- surely that's the 30th anniversary, not the 40th. Same week as the Milk-Moscone murders. A bad week to be in the San Francisco area.

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 08:52 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 206... "My name is Sue, how do you do? Now you're gonna die!"

Well, there is a reason why I don't call my wife 'Suzie'.

#209 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2008, 11:51 PM:

Bruce@201: Possibly the Doyles in Argentina are the descendants of Confederate States revanchists.

Possibly; though I suspect it's more likely that Argentina is where some of the ships leaving Liverpool during the famine years were heading. (The Doyle in my ancestry who left County Wicklow for America ended up a private in the Union army; he didn't move to Arkansas until after the war.)

#210 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 10:09 AM:

Oh, my name coincidence story:

There was another person with my first name, middle initial, and last name at my college. We were the presidents of competing political organizations. We got each other's phone calls and press inquiries.

#211 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 12:42 PM:

At this point in life, I expect truth to routinely be stranger than fiction.

So when the whole "Who Killed JFK" issue is settled, hopefully in my lifetime, it'll be something truly bizarre and out-there, like...

2/10 on the bizarro scale:
"Lee Harvey Oswald was working as an agent not of Soviet Russia, as you might have expected, but Turkey. The Turkish military was pissed off that JFK's deal with Chrustjov involved dismantling the missile bases in Turkey."

5/10 on the bizarro scale:
"JFK ordered his own assassination to make sure the space program wouldn't be shot down by political enemies, but would be pursued in honor of his memory."

9/10 on the bizarro scale:
"JFK never existed. The victim was an actor playing a part, and was killed when he threatened to expose the fraud."

#212 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 01:05 PM:

A.R.Yngve @ 211... Or a time-travelling historian takes JFK's place, and sends the original to the Future where he becomes a teacher. (That was in an episode of the 1980s revival of the Twilight Zone, and was based, I think, on a Malzberg story.)

#213 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 02:18 PM:

Actually, John F Kennedy was not assassinated; that all happened to an American president of the same name.

#214 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 03:10 PM:

John Fitzgerald Kennedy did die, but he was cloned and will come back as Joshua Francis Kellogg.

#215 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Serge @212: I'd been thinking of that episode, although I had thought it might of been based on a Haldeman story.

However, this blog on 'The New Twilight Zone' (Postcards from the Zone) shows the story Profile in Silver to have been written by J. Neil Schulman.

The writer shows up in the comments section, and describes a scene that didn't make it into the episode.

#216 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 04:42 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 215... You're right. I guess I was thinking of Malzberg because I remember reading about his novel Scop, which was about a time traveller trying to prevent JFK's assassination.

#217 ::: Lars ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 05:52 PM:

While I expect to get some passionate responses for this, wow! It's rare that I find so many comments by so many (allegedly) knowledgeable people wherein opinions and conclusions are developed, reached, and professed with so little or no investigation into, awareness of, and appreciation for all of the many related events, actions, and decisions that ultimately led to JFK's death.
To deny that there was a conspiracy involved with the elimination of JFK is to remain in fool's paradise!

Dick Nixon, Allen Dulles, G.H. Bush, and many others all had a definable and significant part in affecting a series of events that changed the course of mankind by eliminating JFK. With Kennedy gone, the US and entire world were effectively manipulated and taken in directions not possible had he lived. The forces that perpetrated this coup have continued to affect the world and it's people ever since!

Shoot! How many of you even know who Allen Dulles was? Do you know his expertise? How did he get on the Warren Commission... after being fired by JFK?

Be objective folks! Don't believe everything you're led to believe!

#218 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Oh goodness.

#219 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 07:00 PM:

Heavens. And to think this thread was just approaching another half-life. Will you stick around, Lars?

#220 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 07:43 PM:

How many of you even know who Allen Dulles was?

All of us.


#221 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Of course everyone here knows who Allen Dulles was.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for writing Ad, Vice, and Consent, a dark comedy parodying Nabokov's Lolita, in which Humbert Humbert is a child psychologist working in advertising for Saturday morning cartoons. To console him after his loss of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Mark Lane, an airport near Washington, DC was named after him.

Later, when the Republicans came to power, that airport was towed to Maryland and a new airport named after Ronald Reagan was built, by newly enslaved ex-union members, in its place.

Geez, who do you think we are? A bunch of dummies?

#222 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 08:54 PM:

One of the attractions of conspiracy theories is the feeling they give to followers of being in a privileged, knowledgeable class.

#223 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 09:35 PM:

Serge @216: And I was thinking that The Assassination of John F. Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race was by Malzberg, but it's by J.G.Ballard. In either case, I'm pretty sure it wasn't adapted for TV.

#224 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 10:43 PM:

Rob Rusick @ 223... I had heard of that title too, and I too thought it was by Malzberg.

#225 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Dick Nixon, Allen Dulles, G.H. Bush, and many others all had a definable and significant part in affecting a series of events that changed the course of mankind by eliminating JFK.

Indeed! Had Dick Nixon not cleverly arranged to lose the presidential race in 1960, Kennedy would never have been in that car!

#226 ::: Scott Tracy ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 02:30 AM:

Allen Dulles is the man that said no one reads newspapers
I wonder if anyone here reads the Washington Post

#227 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2008, 07:07 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @221: Hey, sounds good to me!

Actually, if I don't stop to think about it, I get the Dulles brothers mixed up, which has lead to some really embarrassing too-hasty comments on my part over the years . . .

#228 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Speaking of coincidences involving names, which we were at one point, I was just reminded of the most hilarious one I've experienced:

I apparently share exactly the same name -- first and last -- as another woman. (It's not a terribly common last name.) I got the caroline.[lastname] gmail address, whereas she apparently got the caroline.[middleinitial].[lastname] address.

I got a flurry of emails intended for her a while back, when she had a baby. One of them said "You and Keith must be over the moon!"

This terrified me at first, because my boyfriend's name is Keith. I actually wondered for a moment whether I'd been pregnant and hadn't realized it, and then considered the possibility that I was receiving email from an alternate universe.

Instead, it's just a tremendous coincidence.

(I was just reminded of this because I got another email looking for her. Currently I'm having a very pleasant chat with the woman looking for her -- I was able to provide what I believe to be her email address, so that was nice.)

#229 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 10:01 AM:

There was an interview on the radio yesterday with a chap named Lamar Waldron, who apparently has just published a book revealing - based on interviews and recently-declassified documents - that JFK was killed by the Mafia using an assassination plan that Kennedy himself had had developed and had been about to use on Castro. (The Mafia learned the plan through a plant in the White House, and turned it to their own purposes, correctly figuring that their use of it would be covered up to prevent the plan's origin becoming known.)

I was rather struck by a moment that came when he was talking about one of his key never-before-seen recently-declassified documents: an "uncensored" transcript of a 1985 conversation between jailed mob boss Carlos Marcello and "a reliable FBI informant", in which Marcello makes a "clear confession" of having arranged JFK's assassination.

Waldron: I'll read it to you, right out of the FBI file. Here's one of the best parts of it: Marcello simply says, "Yeah, I had the SOB killed, and I would do it again. He was a thorn in my side - I wish I could have done it myself."

Yes, very colourful, I'm sure. But as a clear confession of having had JFK killed, it lacks a certain something...

#230 ::: LookingLucky69 ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2010, 04:36 AM:

I have a completely different conspiracy theory. What if it was the Governor that was sitting in front of him?

I heard a claim that GSR was found on JFK, that only happens if you were up close. The Governor was also a military officer, well ranked, and was likely trained well in the use of a side arm.

It would also explain why he was wounded.If he had fired the gun left handed and close to his side, to make it appear that he was shot. It kind of explains the weird angle.

BUT there is one MAJOR hole. Sound, wouldn't the people in the car have heard the gun go off if the Governor had fired inside the vehicle?

It's a shaky theory, but tell me what you think.

#231 ::: Rmm ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2010, 08:20 PM:

The quantum leap writer, Bellisario's attempt to refute the belief that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy on an episode of that ridiculous show failed. The fact is that most people still don't believe that Oswald acted alone (If at all). Furthermore, the Warren Commission's findings are still rejected by most folks-including me.

#232 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2010, 11:43 PM:

Nevertheless, Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy.

No other hypothesis fits all the facts or passes the laugh test.

#233 ::: Gabriel Soliz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 07:17 PM:

A new look at the JFK Assassination

A new theory suggests a secret oligarchy ordered the hit,

Decades before it even happened,
Before JFK was even elected,
While JFK was still in the Navy,

And that orchestrating the plot,
Was simply a chess match for a world order,
Which included,

The Cuban Missile Crisis,
The Bay of Pigs fiasco,
The racial riots in the south,

That the government was involved,

But somebody from the outside was pulling the strings,

That the motive,
Was based on old hatreds
Stretching back to the Civil War.

Attached is only a taste of the story,

Which the government won’t seem to let me finish.

For more information

contact Gabriel Soliz, 818-804-9663, PO Box 261416, Encino, Calif, 91426


#234 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:04 PM:

Did Mr Macdonald call it, in the post before last, or did he call it?

And "still digging" is a good description for what this fruitcake is doing.

#235 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Skid marks on the sands of time

#236 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2010, 09:12 PM:

Why is the comparison to chess?
It seems to me that 'they' are playing fizzbin.

#237 ::: katherine ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Great article. Thanks for the info, it’s easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a civil service application form, I found a blank form here

#239 ::: Mary Aileen sees old spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2016, 05:37 PM:

#237 is undeleted spam. It's almost quaint; the only payload is a bare (not-html-ified), shortened link in the comment.

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