|“[Jim Garrison] threatens to make Hamlets of all who listen to him—children of a slain father-leader whose killers, for all we know, still in secret possess the throne. He confronts us with the secret murder at the heart of the contemporary American dilemma. His whole terrifying narrative forces down upon us the appalling questions: Of what is our Constitution made? What is our vaunted citizenship worth? What is the future of democracy in a country where a president can be assassinated under conspicuously suspicious circumstances while the machinery of legal action scarcely trembles?” – Carl Oglesby in the afterword of Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins (Paperless Publishing, 1988, 2012).|
In most general terms, all of my writing in recent years has been about humanity’s reluctance to face unpleasant truths. Unpleasant truths confront us all the time on both the personal level and the largest socio-political level, but when facing them and resolving them would require painful change, we pretend we don’t see.
One of the greatest unpleasant truths is that the series of assassinations in the United States between 1963 and 1968 was an unacknowledged coup d’état that has made the present political chaos inevitable. Democracy, to the extent that it existed previously, was overthrown. The assassinations were followed by numerous state crimes that were never prosecuted. These crimes against democracy have had enormous consequences for the United States and the world. A brief discussion of the most obvious crimes follows.
1. Operation Mockingbird
Operation Mockingbird was the CIA program that influenced journalism, academic research, education, advertising, arts and entertainment. It was so pervasive and successful that it became impossible for Americans to see the boundary between independent creative expression and the hand of government agencies in the creative process. This was not an allegation of fringe conspiracy theorists. It was thoroughly exposed in 1977 by Carl Bernstein in his article in Rolling Stone,[i] and a definitive book was written by Frances Stonor Saunders in 2000.[ii] In 2008, Hugh Wilford followed up with his book The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America.[iii]
MK-ULTRA was a CIA program that involved research in mind-control drugs, hypnosis, and behavioral programming. The alleged killer of Robert Kennedy appears to have been subjected to treatments developed in the MK-ULTRA program. Journalist Tom O’Neill put twenty years of research into his book Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties.[iv] He compiled a convincing thick file of evidence that indicates Charles Manson was paroled from prison, and never put back in prison for his numerous parole violations, because he was being handled and manipulated to carry out crimes that would discredit “hippies” and the dissidence of the 1960s. The plan worked. O’Neill established that Manson had connections to key people in the MK-ULTRA program. Manson and his cult followers committed their famous murderous crime spree in Los Angeles in 1969, which did indeed put an end to the counter-culture.
3. The Assassination of Dissidents
No leading figures in politics were assassinated after 1968, but the killing of less famous dissidents continued. As told by Jim Douglass in JFK and the Unspeakable, Chicago police officer Daniel Groth acknowledged in a civil trial in 1983 that he had led the team that assassinated Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in December 1969. Groth was a member of the Chicago Police Department, but he was in the intelligence division, which was connected to the CIA and the FBI. Six years earlier, on November 2, 1963, he had arrested Thomas Arthur Vallee in the foiled Chicago plot to kill JFK on the same weekend as the CIA-orchestrated coup d’etat in South Vietnam. The plot had been foiled by a citizen’s tip to the FBI, and Kennedy had cancelled his trip to Chicago when he got the warning. It was only after that cancellation that Groth easily found Vallee, the designated “lone-nut gunman” in the plot whom he had been following for several hours, and took him off the street. Two members of the sniper team had been arrested, but the record of who they were does not exist. The other two members of the sniper team vanished.[v]
4. State Crimes Against Democracy
University of Florida professor Lance deHaven-Smith, author of Conspiracy Theory in America,[vi] has written about the abuse of the term “conspiracy theory” (first coined by the CIA itself to deflect criticism of the Warren Report) and studied the long list of crimes that he defined as State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD). He became interested in this topic when he noticed crimes being committed in the counting of ballots in Florida after the November 2000 presidential election. He had been sure at that time that such blatant crimes would soon be prosecuted, but the justice system never moved. After that, he started writing about the long list of crimes that started with the assassinations in the 1960s then continued with the crimes and failures to investigate properly in such cases as Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.[vii] We could also add to the list the crimes revealed by persecuted whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange.
I could keep adding to this list, but in general I can just say that for several years I have been interested in the effects of this truth-avoidance in many domains of life. I have studied and written about many of the problems that threaten the lives of our descendants. I have been amazed and appalled by the way our society avoids dealing with its contradictions and its long-term problems, leaving future generations to suffer the grave consequences. I have written about nuclear waste and nuclear weapons, the energy crisis, the contradictions of capitalism, violations of international law, and various other topics, and that writing led me to this topic of the assassinations of the 1960s. That is when things really started to go from bad to worse.
I am also interested in how this issue is dealt with in literature, film, and poetry—domains where it is often easier to see the truth. The Great Gatsby is one excellent example that reveals some connections between art and history, or between imagination and reality.
One of the people in John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s (1917-1963) social circles, a prominent journalist in Washington for many years, was Frances Scottie Fitzgerald (1921-1986), daughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose novels had become cultural icons by the time JFK was in college. In The Great Gatsby we can see an uncanny parallel of the murderous plot against JFK that occurred thirty-eight years after the publication of the novel. Keep in mind that The Great Gatsby is known by hundreds of millions of Americans through their public and higher education and through the four film adaptations that have been made since 1949. The story, which is burned into the American consciousness and known worldwide, describes the way in which “the big lie”—the false historical narrative—is written by the powerful and accepted unquestioningly by police, journalists and a receptive public. The one person in the story who expresses outrage at the injustice is powerless to do anything about it. The result for him is only depression and alienation.
The plot of the novel is similar to what can be seen in the noir cinema that was made in later decades. Another modern film adaptation could be made using the common device in that genre. Instead of the narrator being Daisy’s cousin, he could be a private detective hired by her but who then ends up working both sides by connecting with Gatsby too. But I will put my imagined adaptation aside and simply point out that the false but official history of who killed Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby is analogous to the false but official histories of the assassinations of the 1960s, as well as many other historical narratives that have been falsely embedded in the public consciousness, such as those about the wars in Yugoslavia and Central Africa in the 1990s, to name just two examples.
The plot of The Great Gatsby is well-known, so I will summarize it here just briefly. The “old money” wealthy couple Tom and Daisy Buchanan are portrayed through the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway, as “careless people”–reckless, narcissistic, amoral social parasites. In spite of his great wealth and security, Tom is absorbed in paranoid theories about threats to the white supremacy his privilege was built on. Daisy finds his political views ridiculous and has more liberal sentiments, but her resistance is passive-aggressive. The story revolves around the adulterous affairs of Tom and Daisy. He cheats on her, then, instead of confronting him or leaving him, she passive-aggressively cheats on him with the former lover she knew before marriage, Jay Gatsby. She never contemplates leaving Tom, yet she allows Gatsby to believe that she will, stringing him along for the duration of her summer romance. Nick’s narration is full of withering, understated sarcasm directed at both Tom and Daisy, but like Daisy’s resistance, it is only passive-aggressive.
At the end of the story, Daisy resolves all dramatic tension by committing vehicular manslaughter of her husband’s lover, Myrtle Wilson, then fleeing the scene of the accident. Daisy was driving with Gatsby, in his car, so it is easy for the Buchanan couple to set him up the next day as the patsy. He’s just a low-class gangster upstart, who, despite his self-invented persona as a rich and powerful man, is really still an awkward loner with no family or social connections. Tom manipulates Myrtle’s husband, George, into killing the patsy by letting him believe that Jay was both the killer and Myrtle’s lover. Jay Gatsby’s mentor and protector, criminal underworld boss Meyer Wolfsheim, cuts him off as soon as his personal and legal troubles become a handicap. The day after the accident, his men are at the Gatsby mansion, watching Gatsby closely and cleaning up anything they won’t want the police to find. Gatsby, ever-hopeful and ignoring the clear signs before him that he has lost everything, waits for Daisy to call. Or perhaps he knows everything is lost when he goes for his last late-summer swim in his pool, as Fitzgerald wrote in one of the finest passages of the story:
I have an idea that Gatsby himself didn’t believe it [the call] would come and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true, he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about.
Gatsby is put in the ground at a burial attended by his father and his only friend, Nick Carraway. It is a lonely, forgotten grave, just like that of Lee Harvey Oswald. The Buchanans head off for a tour of Europe while the newspapers solidify the narrative they created. In those two days between his arrest and his murder, did Oswald also feel he was in a “new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about”? Perhaps JFK felt it too in early November 1963 after the Diem assassination in South Vietnam and the Chicago plot had made it clear he was losing his grip on power. He was, somewhat like Gatsby, an easily sidelined outsider who had risen too fast, new-money rich, but not Rockefeller rich. Both paid a high price for living too long with a dream. Gatsby wore a pink suit and tried to relive the past; Kennedy tried to end the Cold War.
The story ends with the narrator depressed, alienated, disillusioned and powerless to denounce the lie—a lie perpetrated by his cousin Daisy and accepted by others in their social circle who know it is not true. It is a lie that any mildly curious journalist or police investigator could uncover, but they and the multiple witnesses to the affair implicitly agree to collude in a conspiracy of silence. The year was 1922, a time when people were eager to put the horrors of World War One and the influenza pandemic behind them. It was time to live again. Roaring twenties. Joe Kennedy Senior had to go make his millions so his boys could go to Washington. People could rebel against alcohol prohibition, but they had no interest in pursuing justice for the gracious host of all their drunken parties that summer at his mansion in West Egg. In this way, The Great Gatsby was a work of fiction that reflected and shaped the reality that formed forty years after its publication.
John Kennedy was also betrayed by an ungrateful people. His flaws and limitations are well-known: He was a rich boy who got the presidency because of his family’s wealth.[viii] He was complicit in war crimes in Southeast Asia during the time he was looking for a way to end the war. His reaction to Soviet missiles in Cuba was what caused the danger of nuclear war. Nonetheless, people should have been grateful that he rejected the anti-communism of his father and the rabid anti-communist Joe McCarthy, who was actually a family friend. He reached out to his enemy, chose not to start a nuclear war when all around him were eager for it, and he succeeded in ending the testing of nuclear weapons in the air we breathe. Yet to the extent that there was any gratitude, it wasn’t enough to deliver justice for his murder. The Beatles were coming and the money from the war machine and the space race was flowing into suburbia. The dead were dead. Life went on. Roaring twenties; swinging sixties.
How ironic it was that one of Scottie Fitzgerald’s columns in The Washington Post in 1967 was a satirical poke at Cord Meyer, lead architect of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird.[ix] Cord Meyer’s ex-wife was JFK’s lover during his presidency. She was murdered in October 1964 under suspicious circumstances after she had spoken out against the findings of the Warren Report.
There are many other novels and films that deal in the same theme of a truth known by a few while the big lie is sold to the masses. In fact, almost the entire output of Hollywood is a constant reminder, in every genre, that we live in a corrupt system that is destroying the natural world and our social relations, and ironically this output generates a massive amount of corporate profit. We don’t suffer from ignorance but rather from knowing too much, from having been entertained too much. We don’t engage with the world or shape our reality. We learn about it and observe it from a distance. This modern phenomenon was explained well by the creators of the Epoch Philosophy YouTube channel as they reviewed Mark Fisher’s book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?[x]saying:
We have replaced human engagement in life, culture and politics with spectatorship. We retroactively learn what it is to be human. We retroactively examine truth, rather than engage in activities that make it so. Fisher writes:
Nietzsche’s most prescient pages are those in which he describes the ‘over-saturation of an age with history. It leads an age into a dangerous mood of irony in regard to itself,’ he wrote in Untimely Meditations, ‘and subsequently into the even more dangerous mood of cynicism’, in which ‘cosmopolitan fingering’, a detached spectatorialism, replaces engagement and involvement. This is the condition of Nietzsche’s Last Man, who has seen everything, but is decadently enfeebled precisely by this excess of self-awareness.
… This learning, this education, this self-awareness, simultaneously pacifies us… This abundance of history creates a weird new form of nihilism. If we know the results of our actions, how time will repeat itself, why do anything at all? This is a nihilism that works perfectly within post-modern capitalism. This is often not a conscious nihilism either. The nihilism of the past, the very Nietzschean anxieties around the loss of culture, the loss of things that make us human, is child’s play to this new form of nihilism today. And in many ways, it isn’t just nihilism. It’s a new pernicious form of it. One that convinces you of the opposite. Fisher showcases this in the film Wall-E, a movie that shows a world made uninhabitable by radical human consumption. It is a movie that actively decries the forms of capitalism we are subjected to and face right now. This movie isn’t just spectacle. It invites us to… gauge the world around us and how we are contributing to global disaster. Because of this, there was a mass outcry from right-wing observers [because the film was] “attacking its own audience.” In many ways, Wall-E is a Marxian-like film, but… the film performs our anti-capitalist activism and education for us. We can consume this film with impunity. This corporate activism does all the work for us and perfectly pacifies us. It pacifies the very innate threat of human destruction into an ideal that we can pervasively enjoy. Whereas in other societies propaganda is needed to cover up repressive acts, the exact opposite is true with contemporary capitalism. Capitalism is strengthened by its own critiques. These corporate anti-capitalist critiques ironically act as a reinforcement and an unconscious pacifying agent.[xi]
Capitalism is strengthened by its own critiques. Perhaps this is why a film like Oliver Stone’s JFK can be made without causing people to overthrow their government, just as the assassination itself failed to do so. The truth does not need to be hidden. In fact, the truth can be constantly shoved in our faces to taunt us about our powerlessness. All we will do is sit on our sofas and slouch back into our cynicism. The depressed gangsters in TV drama The Sopranos used to fatalistically shrug in every episode, asking “Whaddayagonnado, huh, Tony?”
In the assassinations and the political movements of the 1960s, there is the key lesson of how we came close to facing our problems but then turned away, appalled and paralyzed like Nick Carraway, oblivious or complicit, making no demand for justice, like everyone in his social class. We couldn’t look into the darkness, take the necessary actions, and make the necessary sacrifices that this recognition required.
This failure had a profound effect on the entire world. Independence of nations, true sovereignty, and peaceful, equitable development of nations have been thwarted by the forces that carried out these assassinations. If this were simply a matter of a few men dying, there would be no reason to study their murders so intensely. However, because we turned away from confronting “the Unspeakable,” as Jim Douglass calls it, politics became focused on anything but the root of our problems. Political campaigns focus on immediate problems, while citizens maintain a wishful thinking that denies the problems we have all seen. We carry on thinking the past was good and we can live as we did before. Most modern liberal democracies are dominated by a few parties, or just two parties, that operate in the neoliberal framework. They are controlled (either financially or by other means of persuasion such as lobbying) by corporations and differ little in their policies. Voters are free to choose whichever they think is the lesser evil. In the United States, both parties maintain the illusion that a prosperous and glorious past can be restored. Donald Trump wanted to make America great again, and was ridiculed by his opponents for the empty nostalgia of the slogan. However, those same critics promised to restore the glory of the years when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were president (1993-2001 and 2009-2017), when the country was under what they called “adult management” while nonetheless it was carrying out many crimes against international law.
In researching his book, America: The Farewell Tour, Chris Hedges immersed himself in many of the diverse sub-cultures that exist in the United States. He interviewed members of white supremacy groups and attended their events, and did the same with groups he called the “Christian Right”. About the latter he said:
I interviewed dozens and dozens of people who came out of lives of real desperation, people who were followers in these mega churches. I would spend a lot of time in the churches. I was at a pro-life weekend and I saw their despair was real. The first chapter [of my book] is called “Despair” [which is about] the divorces, the sexual abuse, the domestic abuse, the struggle with addictions, the evictions, the underemployment, the jail time, their lives in the real world. I went to their small towns in Ohio, and they do look like everything’s boarded up and the only nice building is the mega church. They couldn’t cope with the real world, so they joined what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” They fled into a world of magic—magic Jesus. In that world, like the world we’re in now, reality and verifiable fact just do not intrude on your world vision… On the issue of creationism, you can’t argue them out of it because they’re terrified of being pushed back into the world that almost destroyed them. So the nucleus of the totalitarian system that is headed our way, especially as we barrel towards another financial collapse, is magical thinking, the permanent lie… Hannah Arendt wrote about this. She said that in any totalitarian system where the permanent lie replaces any discussion based on verifiable fact, it creates a collective schizophrenia. I’m sure we all feel it.[xii]
We may look with pity on the traumatized churchgoers that Hedges describes, people who take refuge in crisis cults of religious superstition, but other segments of American society, even the elite management class who are not living in poverty, also live in the crisis cults of a fading empire, living under many illusions that they prefer to reality. They are terrified of losing their illusions and having to survive outside the hierarchy that they serve. They know that the CIA and other government institutions committed crimes and overthrew democracy a long time ago. Scholars and journalists have done the research and written the books. It is provable beyond doubt, but still they prefer to say that Russians interfered with the sacred American election process and made Donald Trump president.
They prefer to say that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the triumph of democracy when the truth is that Joe was failing to win the supposedly democratic Democratic Party primaries until the party bosses forced his competitors to quit and line up behind him. They did this by forcing the last few primaries to take place in March, when Covid-19 was causing lockdowns. The Democrats, who were critics of President Trump’s reckless management of the pandemic response, didn’t hesitate to make voters risk infection by gathering in large groups at the polls so that Biden could lock in the last states he was likely to win, thus creating the momentum to push the others to drop out and support him. Kamala Harris couldn’t win a single primary race and had to drop out of the contest before the intra-party coup happened. It was only after Joe became the designated presidential candidate that Kamala was chosen—undemocratically (as the VP choice always is)—to be the vice presidential candidate, even though there were several other successful primary contestants, in particular Bernie Sanders, who had more proven popular support of voters. Never before has such a blatant charade been put over on the voting public, and never before has the public agreed to such an extent that the naked emperor is nicely clothed.
Karl Marx referred to the rise of Napoleon in 1799 as the tragic end of the French Revolution and to the rise of his nephew, Napoleon III, in 1851, as the farcical echo of history repeating itself.[xiii] The habit of denial started with the tragedy of the assassinations of the 1960s and resulted fifty years later in the farce we see now: two aging, corrupt presidential candidates, arrogantly selling the dream of the past and leading the empire through its unacknowledged but inevitable decline. To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrator in The Great Gatsby, “He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”
To finish this essay I would like to give the final word to Bob Dylan. In 2020, he released Murder Most Foul,[xiv] a sixteen-minute song that pays tribute to JFK and condemns his assassins (emphasis on the plural). While Dylan first rose to fame on his anti-war songs in the early 1960s (A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, Chimes of Freedom, Masters of War, etc.), he never wrote about JFK until this year, at age seventy-nine. Rob Couteau’s review of Murder Most Foul cuts to what is essential to see in this song: that Dylan was well read in the historical literature of the assassination and that he clearly accused the forces of darkness within government.[xv] The reviews in mainstream media completely ignored the obvious message of the song and focused instead on the song’s pop culture references.
The point that Dylan makes with those references is similar to what I have made here. It was the wave of popular culture—a thousand pop songs and movies—that drowned out reality, distracted the masses and created the false consciousness that we live in now when history has repeated itself as farce after tragedy. In 1960, when evidence appeared that Nixon had lost the presidency because of Democratic Party dirty tricks in Illinois, he was told, “Forget it. They stole it fair and square.” This year we have heard the same phrase said about Joe Biden’s win, but this time the loser is not conceding as graciously as Nixon. JFK-Nixon was tragedy. Biden-Trump is farce.
Thanks to the chaos and anger created by the proven conspiracies long denied, we now live in an atmosphere in which there is no consensus about reality. As often happens these days, I found the best comment on this problem on a Facebook post rather than on a high-profile media platform. This may be why the traditional media platforms have been giving us dire warnings that social media is destroying the social fabric and eating our brains. In fact, the real reason might be not so much that we are going to read nonsense but that we might come across intelligent insight such as what John Ross Rhoads wrote on November 17, 2020:
Almost all of what constitutes “misinformation” and polarized thinking is begat from an environment of distrust, secrecy and corruption. It’s that simple. If people want a society that is honest and trustworthy, they need to understand that all these things are contingent upon the prevailing environment. The social environment and structure in which we live is the catalyst that spawns and grooms distrust and corruption. Look deep into the psychological underpinnings and ramifications of a highly competitive environment and most questions will be answered. Vertical authority is an attribute of competition. Self-adulation and self-loathing are attributes of competition. Social polarization is an attribute of competition. Secrecy is an attribute of competition. Vanity is an attribute of competition. Monopoly is an attribute of competition. Bullying is also. Now, this competitive environment is proving it is key in why our physical environment is collapsing.
The Washington Post won’t tell us such things. Instead, its writers decry the danger of Trump and his “conspiracy theorists” coming to expose secrets of the Pentagon and the CIA in the last weeks of his presidency.[xvi] Former CIA Director John Brennan worried that Donald Trump might release certain classified intelligence, so he suggested that Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet remove Trump via the 25th amendment.[xvii] This panicked reaction is enough to make you think that there might actually be something to hide there. Who knew? Wasn’t it obvious that it would come to this someday?
Epilogue by Luciana Bohne, Facebook, November 14, 2020:
Americans, in general, can’t do tragic, which would make their suffering feel authentic instead of performative. They have a simplified moral universe of good and evil, so they can only imitate emotions, as in melodrama. A tragic people are those who discover that their suffering results from some error of judgment in the past, such as, for instance, thinking that a historic genocide gives them legitimacy and title to the lands they expropriate and make their own. In the tragic plays of classical Greece, a plague would strike the city. The people would plead from oracles to know why the gods were punishing them. They would beg for truth. And they would get the answer: they would find out that they brought the plague on themselves. And this would be a terrible irony, which they would have to live with and atone for. It’s the consciousness of guilt that makes people great, able to be purified from the suffering they have caused by their own hubris—their pride in their faulty judgment—with their own suffering. Without this revolution through suffering, a people can only perform grief, like stock characters in, say, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. To simplify, tragedy indicts. Melodrama exculpates.
Murder Most Foul, by Bob Dylan, EXCERPTS. Hear the song and read all the lyrics in this video.
It was a dark day in Dallas, November ‘63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
… Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
… The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
… Hush, little children, you’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand
… I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age
Then I’ll go to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
… What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl
Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul
… But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
… You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
… Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”
… What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
… Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way
Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well
Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
… And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp
Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me Or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”
Murder Most Foul lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
[ii] Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (The New Press, 2000).
[iii] Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Harvard University Press, 2008).
[iv] Tom O’Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties (Little, Brown and Co., 2019). For those who lack the time to read the book, the author’s three-hour interview with Joe Rogan provides a good overview of it. It is notable that Tom O’Neill emphasizes that in the first years of his research he didn’t want to believe what his research was pointing to. He had held the same prejudice as many journalists against in “conspiracy theorists,” and he knew that he would be smeared with this label if he continued. But he chose to follow the evidence to where it led him.
[v] Jim Douglass, JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters (Orbis Books, 2008) chapter 5. See also main source used by Jim Douglass in this chapter: Edwin Black, The Chicago Plot: The Plot to Kill JFK in Chicago.
[vi] Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America (University of Texas Press, 2014).
[vii] Lance deHaven-Smith on State Crimes Against Democracy, (Video, 22 minutes).
[viii] “Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Gridiron Club, Washington, D.C., March 15, 1958,” JFK Library. JFK used to deflect attention away from this painful truth by joking about it: “I have just received the following wire from my generous daddy: ‘Dear Jack – Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary – I’ll be damned if I am going to pay for a landslide.’”
[ix] Scottie Lanahan, “Are You Playing the Games by the Rules in Washington?” NEWS to Me …, Washington Post, April 2, 1967, p. H2. In Peter Janney, Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace. Third Edition (Skyhorse, 2016), chapter 7. Lanahan was the married name of Frances Scottie Fitzgerald. From Janney’s book: “By then, Cord’s unique brand of narcissistic pomposity had already become legend in Washington—so much so that he was brilliantly caricatured by Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan’s 1967 Washington Post column… Scottie, always imbued with an effervescent, even hilarious perspective…” Coincidentally, the name Meyer appears in both The Great Gatsby and the history of the CIA, in both cases as a leading figure in an organized crime ring.
[x] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (Zero Books, 2009).
[xii] Chris Hedges, interviewed by Chris Lydon, “Chris Hedges on his Latest Book, America: The Farewell Tour, GBH Forum Network, October 8, 2018 (43:32~). See also: Chris Hedges, America: The Farewell Tour (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
[xiii] Karl Marx, “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” Die Revolution 1:1,1852. The full quote from the opening lines of the essay: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
[xv] Rob Couteau, “Stanley Marks and Murder Most Foul!—A Sequel to ‘The Kennedy / Dylan Sensation,’” Kennedys and King, June 6, 2020.
[xvi] Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey and Paul Sonne, “Trump administration upends senior Pentagon ranks, installing loyalists,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020.