All posts by Edward Curtin

Between Yes and No, Heaven and Earth with Albert Camus on a Spring Morning

To give up beauty and the sensual happiness that comes with it and devote one’s self exclusively to unhappiness requires a nobility I lack. However, after all, nothing is true that compels us to make it exclusive.  Isolated beauty ends in grimaces, solitary justice in oppression.  Anyone who seeks to serve the one to the exclusion of the other serves no one, not even himself, and in the end is doubly the servant of injustice.  A day comes when, because we have been inflexible, nothing amazes us anymore, everything is known, and our life is spent in starting again.  It is a time of exile, dry lives, dead souls.  To come back to life, we need grace, a homeland, or to forget ourselves.  On certain mornings, as we turn a corner, an exquisite dew falls on our heart and then vanishes.  But the freshness lingers, and this, always, is what the heart needs.  I had to come back once again.

— Albert Camus, Return to Tipasa, 1954

For a writer to fight injustice to the exclusion of creating beauty and living passionately contradicts the deepest desires of the human heart.  Albert Camus taught us this.  The love of life must inform the rebel’s resistance to injustice.  “It seems to me that the writer must be fully aware of the dramas of his time,” he writes, “and that he must take sides every time he can and knows how to do so.”  But his refusal, his no, does not imply a renunciation but an affirmation, a yes, to the joy and grandeur of life that is everyone’s birthright.

This is the difficult way of true art – the rebel writer’s way – the tension that the writer must live with as he shuttles back and forth between one’s heart’s desires and his commitment to resist evil.  What is the point of fighting for a better world if one does not live as if that world were here now, and one’s living and writing were the revelation of that reality.  Camus somewhere said something to the effect that it is not your writings that I like, it is your writing.  He knew that we are always on the way, and our wayfaring should prefigure the enigma of our arrivals.

It is spring as I write and I am thinking of Camus when that exquisite dew fell on his heart that early morning. No doubt Albert felt a bit of heaven.  I’m feeling it now.  Spring, the time of the resurrection of the living dead.  All around new life bursts and blooms in wild array. A mountain stream races down the hillside, shouting its joy that the earth’s new warmth has freed it at last from its frozen sleep.  In the trees all around the birds have returned and sing exultantly of their homecoming.  Almost before our eyes the flowers push their way up to the light.  They have had enough of the underground, hungrily seeking the sun.  It is a beautiful dawn, and I can smell it.  I feel as though I have awoken from a long and deep sleep.  The morning star welcomed me. The sun rose majestically. And across my window three early flies jitterbug in the first light.  The whole earth is conspiring to explode with life and it is asking for our assent.

But dare the living-dead awaken?  Shall we say yes to this paradise?

“This day you will be with me in paradise.”  That’s what a man, convicted of crimes against the state and dying fast, once said.  Like most memorable statements, it is open to various interpretations.  But suppose, instead of offering one, we assume the existence of paradise, and ask a question that lurks unspoken and forbidden in every heart.

For there are some questions so obvious that we refuse to ask them for fear of having to answer.  To be asked such questions seems an impertinence, an insult to our intelligence, and an assault on our integrity.   Don’t be ridiculous, we think, though we don’t laugh.  Isn’t it obvious, we vaguely mutter, secretly knowing it is nothing of the sort.  We are caught off-guard, something we don’t do to ourselves.  Even our dreams escape us.  We prefer to live in the clouds.

But let’s be daring for once.  Let’s put aside all our usual lies and evasions and not be afraid of the truth.  Let’s ask ourselves a few very simple and annoying questions, the kind children ask their tongue-tied parents, and let’s not squirm away from answering.

What images of death do we live with?

Or, to put it another way, if you believe in life after death, what image of heaven do you entertain?  Not what do you think heaven is, but what do you desire it to be?  If you object and say you don’t believe in life after death, the question is still valid.  For we are, of course , here playing a game of the imagination.  You need only make believe, for the hell of it, that there is life after death. Or life before.

What would you like it to be?  Imagine.  What would you like this life to be?  Maybe that’s the real question.

The trouble with being born, of course, is that we are guaranteed to die and be aware of it most of our lives.  When it comes to dying, we have no choice; death is our fate and against it freedom is a meaningless word.  Living is another matter, though it is not something we generally give much thought, for we can choose not to live when breath is still ours.  We are free to wait lovingly for annihilation by patiently enduring our lives, or we can commit quick suicide.

We don’t have to live, but we must die.  In our bitterness we may curse the fact that we find ourselves alive in the world; we didn’t ask for it.  This is obviously true and equally meaningless. Once we find ourselves alive, death is our destiny, like it or not.  Whether life is a living hell for us or just a dull plod through the years – a “hanging in there,” in those unconsciously evocative words – we hold in our hearts, however buried, images of what we would like life to be like if it were eternal.

That is, we all live with images of paradise, no matter how beclouded or unarticulated they may be.

Now, as I wander out in the early morning lulled by birdsong, I wonder what these images consist of.  What, in our hearts’ desires, do we yearn to become?  What heavens do we wish to inhabit?

For we are now in the school of imagination, what John Keats called the vale of soul-making, and must, like children everywhere, answer the following: Imagine paradise, on earth or in heaven, and describe it in as few or as many words as you wish.  For future reference, learn your answer by heart.

Camus wrote:

Yes, nothing prevents me from dreaming, in the very hour of exile, since at least I know this, with sure and certain knowledge: a man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the details of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.

Yes, to open our hearts.  It is naïve, but not stupid.  It is disturbing.  It is surely easy to hide behind the word mystery, or cynically to reply that the world is what it is, a far cry from paradise, nor will it ever be, here or in some supposed hereafter, any different.  The former is the believer’s dodge, the latter the skeptical “realist’s” way of begging the question.  Both are phony.

Only as we become as little children can we enter into the kingdom of heavenly imagination, and it is the fear of ridicule, our own and others,’ that bars the gate.  It is obvious that what happens after death is a mystery.  Why we come and why we go is something that we’ll never know, all beliefs to the contrary.  We live by pure faith, though, as Thoreau noted, we are determined not to live by faith if we can avoid it.  Which we can’t, ultimately.  Knowledge fails.  And anyway, what we know and what we want are not the same thing.  The images of paradise we hold don’t illuminate death in the slightest; they do, however, enlighten our lives.  After all, it is living that is within our power.  We live in possibility.  If we wish to pursue the ideal images of our heart’s desires, we must first make manifest what they are.

What do you want?  I know it is not easy living with a deep but dark longing.  Perhaps it is the fear of disappointment that keeps us in the dark.  Why, when the whole earth rises toward the light, do we shrink back in fear?  Does beauty crush us?

I remember leaving my mother’s house to go to the hospital where my dear father had just died. It was 5:30 AM on the first of May. Stepping outside, the birdsong and flowering bushes illuminated by the rising sun staggered me. How could this be: life and death in one hour, one moment.  Where now was my father as his son walked through a garden of delight?  Where was that man whom I had kissed a few hours before?

What do I want?

Albert, you wondered too when you created your alter-ego Jacques Cormery in your novel, The First Man, and placed him at his father’s grave site.  It was just a novel, as they say, but you were there and said:

All that was left was this anguished heart, eager to live, rebelling against the deadly order of the world that had been with him for forty years, and still struggling against the wall that separated him from the secret of all life, wanting to go farther, to go beyond, and to discover, discover before dying, discover at last in order to be, just once to be, for a single second, but forever.

Just once and one time only.  Isn’t that it?  No reruns.  No playbacks.  One life.  Eternal.

Then what?

Perhaps our greatest fear is to passionately want something from life and death, “to go beyond” with Albert, to ask for something independent of society’s and others’ wishes, and to dare intuit it into existence.  Society drones: Don’t dare feel it, don’t dare say it, don’t ask for too much.  Narrow it all down, life is much too much, narrow it all down.

Sometimes I think that because so many people have meekly accepted this dictum that they are unconsciously in love with death, assuming that all their problems and the anguish of being placed between yes and no, heaven and earth will then cease.  Oftentimes I think that we are living in the age of nihilism that Nietzsche predicted long ago, a time in which the will to nothingness is most clearly expressed in the sterile pursuit and embrace of things, a “paradise” of consumer goods at the expense of livingness.

“I cling like a miser to the freedom that disappears as soon as there is an excess of things,” writes Camus, grasping in a few words a key link between a just and unjust world where most people are subjected to violence and degradation at the hands of the wealthy and powerful who seek to devour the earth.

Ah, but here we are walking in the spring sunshine, the time for resurrection and for truth.  The whole earth is rising beneath our feet. We can feel it.  The trees are budding forth and leaving toward the stars.  We can see them. We can smell the earth warming in the rising sun.  Perhaps like Camus, the spring smells seize us by the throat, and we find ourselves delirious with love and desire as “the gods speak in the sun and the scent of absinthe leaves,” as we wander through a reborn world.

So why don’t we say what we truly want?  Can we even imagine it?  Or is what we want so pathetic – more things, more money, anything to boost our egos and impress others, improve our appearances, elevate our social standing – that to admit it reveals the hollowness of our lives?  Are our desires so vague and culturally constricted that they must be repressed lest they make us realize how spiritually dead we are when all around us resurrection calls us to awaken to new life?

Suppose rather than hiding behind the lies and evasions that we use to divorce ourselves from the tree of life, we dare to speak from the indivisible root of truth and desire, or true desire, the eternal tree.  For to live truly and to die is to create out of that planting a full flowering, an exposed existence rooted in the earth and reaching to the stars.  Then, heaven will be our destiny, for it will proceed from our passions and usher in a glorious spring.

And yet, as Camus knew, our little imaginary heavens can lull us to sleep when world events call to us to rise up and say no.  Yes, but no, too.  Desire needs will to renew the world.  The lover who luxuriates in the spring sap rising must be a rebel.  “But the true life is present in the heart of this dichotomy….Life is this dichotomy itself,” he tells us.

To live authentically is to live between yes and no.

Dostoevsky, who shared with Camus the belief that we must rebel to save the world, had Karamazov rightly say that if all are not saved, what good is the salvation of only one?

To which he added: “Life is a paradise and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it.”

So it seems on this morning in spring as resurrection fills the air.  And even though this feeling will fade, Camus is right that its freshness will linger, an exquisite reminder of why we must rebel joyously.

You are right, Albert, “We must simultaneously serve suffering and beauty.”

A Marriage of Conscience: Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

“About suffering they were never wrong,” wrote W. H. Auden in the poem “Musée Des Beaux Arts.”

These lines occurred to me last week when all eyes were focused on the brutal British seizure of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

No one should have been surprised by this despicable spectacle carried out in the noonday light for all to see, for the British government has not served as America’s jailer for the past seven years for no reason.  It doesn’t take x-ray eyes to see that the British and the Moreno government in Ecuador are twin poodles on the American leash.  After a phony display of judicial fairness, the British, as required by their American bosses, will dispatch Assange to the United States so he can be further punished for the crime of doing journalism and exposing war crimes.

Assange has suffered mightily for American sins.  The Anglo-American torturers know how to squeeze their victims to make old men out of the young.  Abu Ghraib was no aberration.  The overt is often covert; just a thin skin separates the sadists’ varied methods, but their message is obvious.  No one who saw Assange dragged to prison could fail to see what the war-mongers, who hate freedom of the press when it exposes their criminal activities, can do to a man.  Nor, however, could one fail to see the spirit of defiance that animates Assange, a man of courageous conscience cowards can’t begin to comprehend.

Bought and sold, compromised and corrupted to their depths, the American, British, and Ecuadorian governments and their media sycophants have no shame or allegiance to law or God, and have never learned that you can imprison, torture, and even kill a person of conscience, but that doing so is a risky business.  For even the corpses of those who say “No” keep whispering “No” forevermore.

While the media spotlight was on central London, Auden’s lines kept running through my mind:

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters, how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
Walking dully along

His words transported me from London to a lonely jail cell in Virginia where Chelsea Manning sat brooding.  Chelsea hearing the news about Assange.  Chelsea realizing that now the screws would be further tightened and her ordeal as a prisoner of conscience would be extended indefinitely.  Chelsea summoning all her extraordinary courage to go on saying “No,” “No,” “No.”  Chelsea refusing the 30 pieces of silver that will be continually offered to her, as they have been for almost a decade, and that she has refused in her emphatic refusal to give the Judas kiss to Julian, to whom she is wed in this non-violent campaign to expose the truth about the war criminals.

Auden’s words reminded me not to turn away, to pay attention, to not walk dully along and ignore the lonely suffering of truth-tellers.  How can anyone who claims to oppose the American wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc., turn away from defending Manning and Assange, two brave souls who have already spent nearly 15 years combined imprisoned for exposing the war crimes of the American and British governments, crimes committed in our name and therefore our crimes.

Who will have the bad faith to buy the torrent of lies that the propagandists will spew forth about Assange as they wage a media blitz to kill his reputation on the way to disposing of him?

The jackals in government and media, so-called liberals and conservatives, will be sadistically calling for blood as they count their blood money and wipe their lips.  Only cowards will join this bleating crowd and refuse to go to that lonely, empty place – that cell of conscience – where the truth resides.

All should remember that Chelsea Manning spent more than seven years in prison under the Obama administration for revealing a video about George W. Bush’s war crimes in Iraq; that Assange had to escape the Obama administration’s clutches by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy; and that now that Trump is in office, the reimprisonment of Manning and arrest of Assange are perfectly in accord with the evil deeds of his predecessors.  These men are titular heads of the warfare state.  They follow orders.

Who can sail calmly on and pretend they don’t see the gift of truth and hear the forsaken cries of two lonely caged heroes falling into the sea?  Who can fail to defend such voices of freedom?

An Open Letter to Chelsea Manning: A Free Woman in An American Prison

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity.

— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam.” Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

Dear Chelsea,

Do not lose heart, for as a prisoner of conscience, your inspirational witness sustains so many of your less free brothers and sisters on the outside.  Our hearts and hands reach out to you with love and thanksgiving.  Your courage is contagious, or so I hope, for it resonates in the soul of every person who senses the meaning of the power of individual conscience to oppose state violence and the beauty of those who will not betray a comrade, who will not deliver the Judas kiss demanded by the killers, as you will not betray your brave brother, Julian Assange, also held under lock and key for the “crime” of revealing the truth.

You remind me of another young woman from long ago and far away whose bravery in the face of radical evil is celebrated today as a sign of hope in dark times.  She is Sophie Scholl, the young German college student who, like you, was arrested for releasing documents exposing state atrocities, who, like you, was prompted by a higher power, by her conscience, who, like you, was arrested for releasing documents exposing such crimes against humanity, in her case those of Hitler.

Little seems to change over the years, doesn’t it?  The killers go on killing, from Golgotha in ancient Jerusalem to Hitler’s Germany to Vietnam and Iraq and on to Palestine and Syria today.  Why bother with the list.  History is a litany of bloodbaths.  Where does it all go, this blood?  Does the good earth soak it up?

But in all the darkness, certain lonely voices of resistance have kept the lighted chain of faith alive.  You stand in that line, a living embodiment of a faithful non-violent warrior.  So does Julian.

I am writing this epistle to you on 4 April, the day in 1967 that our brother Dr. Martin Luther King stood tall in the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York City and followed his conscience by breaking with those who urged him to ignore the truth eating at his soul.  The truth that he must not remain silent about the U.S. obscene war against Vietnam.  “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” he said.  Then he added:

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world… This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers…. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

Chelsea, you have heeded Dr. King’s message and you have put to shame those of us who profess faith in “the living God” that informed Martin’s call for a non-violent revolution.

You, like Sophie and Julian, have released documents that tell the truth about the savage actions of our government.

You have suffered for us many times over.  You have stood strong and tall, like Jesus in front of Pilate, and you have shown the road we must all travel out of the darkness that threatens to consume us.

You have shown us by your actions “that silence is betrayal” when it comes to one’s government’s immoral and illegal actions.

And you have shown us by your sacred silence in Caesar’s court that is a U.S. grand jury, that your conscience will never allow you to betray another truth-teller.

You are, Chelsea, the embodiment of faith, hope, and courage.

You are America’s conscience.

While you are in prison, none of us is free.

We demand your freedom and that of brother Assange.

Here is a song of love to boost your spirits.  I hope you can hear it.  Maybe I send it to boost my own,  to help me carry on as you have done.  Maybe it will help us all.

You keep teaching us what it means to be free and walk in faith.

Blessings for carrying it on.

The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s is the Story of Our Times

‘We’re all puppets,’ the suspect [Sirhan Sirhan] replied, with more truth than he could have understood at that moment.

— Lisa Pease, quoting from the LAPD questioning of Sirhan

When Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, the American public fell into a hypnotic trance in which they have remained ever since. The overwhelming majority accepted what was presented by government authorities as an open and shut case that a young Palestinian American, Sirhan Sirhan, had murdered RFK because of his support for Israel, a false accusation whose ramifications echo down the years. That this was patently untrue and was contradicted by overwhelming evidence made no difference.

Sirhan did not kill Robert Kennedy, yet he remains in jail to this very day.  Robert Kennedy, Jr., who was 14 years old at the time of his father’s death, has visited Sirhan in prison, claims he is innocent, and believes there was another gunman.  Paul Schrade, an aide to the senator and the first person shot that night, also says Sirhan didn’t do it. Both have plenty of evidence.  And they are not alone.

There is a vast body of documented evidence to prove this, an indisputably logical case marshalled by serious writers and researchers.  Lisa Pease is the latest.  It is a reason why a group of 60 prominent Americans has recently called for a reopening of, not just this case, but those of JFK, MLK, and Malcom X.  The blood of these men cries out for the revelation of the truth that the United States national security state and its media accomplices have fought so mightily to keep hidden for so many years.

That they have worked so hard at this reveals how dangerous the truth about these assassinations still is to this secret government that wages propaganda war against the American people and real wars around the world.  It is a government of Democrats, Republicans, and their intelligence allies working together today to confuse the American people and provoke Russia in a most dangerous game that could lead to nuclear war, a possibility that so frightened JFK and RFK after the Cuban Missile Crisis that they devoted themselves to ending the Cold War, reconciling with the Soviet Union, abolishing nuclear weapons, reining in of the power of the CIA, and withdrawing from Vietnam. That is why they were killed.

The web of deceit surrounding the now officially debunked Democratic led Russia-gate propaganda operation that has strengthened Trump to double-down on his anti-Russia operations (a Democratic goal) is an example of the perfidious and sophisticated mutuality of this game of mass mind-control.

The killing of the Kennedys and today’s new Cold War and war against terror are two ends of a linked intelligence operation.

Moreover, more than any other assassination of the 1960s, it is the killing of Bobby Kennedy that has remained shrouded in the most ignorance.

It is one of the greatest propaganda success stories of American history.

In her exhaustive new examination of the case, A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease puts it succinctly at the conclusion of her unravelling of the official lies that have mesmerized the public:

The assassination of the top four leaders of the political left in the five year period – President John Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 – represented nothing less than a slow-motion coup on the political scene.

If anyone wishes to understand what has happened to the United States since this coup, and thus to its countless victims at home and throughout the world, one must understand these assassinations and how the alleged assassins were manipulated by the coup organizers and how the public was hoodwinked in a mind-control operation on a vast scale.  It is not ancient history, for the forces that killed these leaders rule the U.S. today, and their ruthlessness has subsequently informed the actions of almost all political leaders in the years since.  A bullet to the head when you seriously talk about peace and justice is a not so gentle reminder to toe the line or else.

“But the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time,” writes Pease, “and too few recognize this.  We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.”  Nothing could be truer.

Lisa Pease has long recognized the problem, and for the past twenty-five years, she has devoted herself to shedding light on the CIA’s culpability, particularly in the Robert Kennedy case. Few people possess the grit and grace to spend so much of their lives walking this path of truth. The extent of her research is dazzling, so dazzling in its voluminous detail that a reviewer can only touch on it here and there. She has written a book that is daunting in its comprehensiveness.  It demands focused attention and perseverance, for it runs to over 500 pages with more than 800 footnotes. This book will remain a touchstone for future research on the RFK assassination, whether one agrees or disagrees with all of her detailed findings and speculations.  For this book is so vast and meticulous in its examination of all aspects of the case that one can surely find areas that one might question or disagree with.

Nevertheless, Pease fundamentally proves that Sirhan did not shoot RFK and that there was a conspiracy organized and carried out by shadowy intelligence forces that did so. These same forces worked with the Los Angeles Police Department, federal, state, and judicial elements to make sure Sirhan was quickly accused of being the lone assassin and dispatched to prison after a show trial.  And the mass media carried out its assigned role of affirming the government’s case to shield the real killers and to make sure the cover-up was successful.

No doubt others will investigate this case further. Yet I think no more research is really needed, for as with these other assassinations, additional analyses will only result in pseudo-debates about minutiae.  Such debates will only serve to prolong the hallucinatory grip the perpetrators of these crimes have on a day of reckoning, suggesting as they would that we do not really know what happened. This is an old tactic meant to delay forevermore such a day of reckoning.

The facts are clear for all to see if they have the will to truth. All that is now needed is a public tribunal, which is planned for later this year, in which the fundamental, clear-cut facts of these cases are presented to the American public.  In the case of Robert Kennedy’s assassination as with the others, a little knowledge goes a long way, and only those who are closed to basic logic and evidence will refuse to see that government forces conspired to kill these men and did so because all were seeking peace and justice that was then, and is now, a threat to the war-making forces of wealth and power that control the American government.

Pease writes:

Anyone who has looked closely and honestly at the evidence has realized that more than one person was involved in Robert Kennedy’s death.  So why can’t reporters see this?  Why can’t the media explain this?  Because the media and the government are two sides of the same coin, and those who challenge the government’s version of history, as numerous reporters have found out, all too often lose status and sometimes whole careers.  Kristina Borjesson published an anthology of such stories in her book Into the Buzzsaw, in which journalists describe how they lost their careers when of them expressed a truth that the government did not want exposed.

Lisa Pease discloses such truths.  I am reporting on her work.  Therefore, the mainstream media, except for an extraordinary reporter or two, such as Tom Jackman of The Washington Post, will likely ignore both of us, but the publication where you are reading this is on the side of truth, and in the disclosure of truth lies our hope.

Since more than one person was involved in the killing of RFK, there was – ipso facto – a conspiracy.  This is not theory but fact.  The fact of a conspiracy.  For more than fifty years, mainstream reporters have been cowed by this word “conspiracy,” thanks to the CIA.  Many others have been intelligence assets posing as journalists, regurgitating the lies. This is a fact.

The official story is that after giving his victory speech for winning the 1968 Democratic California Primary, Kennedy, as he was walking through a crowded hotel pantry, was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, who was standing to his left between 3-6 feet away.  Sirhan’s revolver held eight bullets, and as he was shooting, he was tackled by a group of large men who subdued him.  All witnesses place Sirhan in front of Kennedy and all claim he was firing a gun.

Fact: As the autopsy definitively showed, RFK was shot from the rear at point blank range, three bullets entering his body, with the fatal head shot coming upward at a 45-degree angle from 1-3 inches behind his right ear. Not one bullet from Sirhan’s gun hit the Senator.  In addition, an audio recording shows that many more bullets than the eight in Sirhan’s gun were fired in the hotel pantry that night. It was impossible for Sirhan to have killed RFK.

Let me repeat: More than one gunman, contrary to the government’s claims, equals a conspiracy.  So why lie about that?

What is amazing is that the obvious conclusion to such simple syllogistic logic (Sirhan in front, bullets in the back, therefore…) that a child could understand has been dismissed by the authorities for fifty-one years.  The fact that the government authorities – the LAPD, the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney, federal and state government officials, the FBI, the CIA – have from the start so assiduously done all in their power to pin the blame on “a lone assassin,” Sirhan, proves they are part of a coordinated cover-up, which in turn suggests their involvement in the crime.

The fact that Robert Kennedy was shot from the back and not the front where Sirhan was standing immediately brings to mind the Zapruder film that shows that JFK was killed from the front right and not from the 6th floor rear where Oswald was allegedly shooting from.  That unexpected film evidence was hidden from the public for many years, but when it was finally seen, the case for a government conspiracy was solidified.

While no such video evidence has surfaced in the RFK case, the LAPD made sure that no photographic evidence contradicting the official lies would be seen.  As Lisa Pease writes:

Less than two months after the assassination, the LAPD took the extraordinary step of burning some 2,400 photos from the case in Los Angeles County General’s medical waste incinerator.  Why destroy thousands of photos in an incinerator if there was nothing to hide?  The LAPD kept hundreds of innocuous crowd scene photos that showed no girl in a polka dot dress or no suspicious activities or individuals.  Why were those photos preserved?  Perhaps because those photos had nothing in them that warranted their destruction.

While “perhaps” is a mild word, the cover-up of “the girl in the polka dot dress” needs no perhaps.  Dozens of people reported seeing a suspicious, curvaceous girl in a white dress with black polka dots with Sirhan in the pantry and other places. She was seen with various other men as well. The evidence for her involvement in the assassination is overwhelming, and yet the LAPD did all in its power to deny this by browbeating witnesses and by allowing her to escape.

Sandra Serrano, a Kennedy campaign worker and a courageous witness, was bullied by the CIA-connected police interrogator Sergeant Enrique “Hank” Hernandez.  She had been sitting outside on a metal fire escape getting some air when the polka dot dress girl, accompanied by a man, ran out and down the stairs, shouting, “We’ve shot him, we’ve shot him.”  When Serrano asked whom did they shoot, the girl replied, “We’ve shot Senator Kennedy.”  Then she and her companion, both of whom Serrano had earlier seen ascending the stairs with Sirhan, disappeared into the night. A little over an hour after the shooting Serrano was interviewed on live television by NBC’s Sander Vanocur where she recounted this.  And there were others who saw and heard this girl say the same thing as she and her companion fled the crime scene.  Nevertheless, the LAPD, led by Lieutenant Manuel Pena, also CIA affiliated, who was brought out of retirement to run the investigation dubbed “Special Unit Senator,” worked with Hernandez and others to dismiss the girl as of no consequence.

Lisa Pease covers all this and much more.  She shows how Sirhan was obviously hypnotized, how the trial was a farce, how the police destroyed evidence from the door frames in the pantry that proved more than the eight bullets in Sirhan’s gun were fired, how Officer DeWayne Wolfer manipulated the ballistic evidence, etc.  Through years of digging into court records, archives, transcripts, the public library, and doing countless interviews, she proves without a doubt that Sirhan did not kill Kennedy and that the assassination and the cover-up were part of a very sophisticated intelligence operation involving many parts and players.  She shows how no matter what route Kennedy took in the hotel that night, the killers had all exits covered and that he would not be allowed to leave alive.

While some of her more speculative points – e.g. that Robert Maheu (Howard Hughes/CIA) was “the most credible high-level suspect for the planner of Robert Kennedy’s assassination,” that Kennedy was shot twice in the head from behind, etc. are open to debate, they do not detract from her fundamentally powerful case that RFK, like his brother John, was assassinated by a CIA-run operation intended to silence their voices of courageous resistance to an expanding secret government dedicated to war, murder, and human exploitation.  The U.S. government of today.

When Bobby Kennedy was entering the kitchen pantry, he was escorted by a security guard named Thane Eugene Cesar, a man long suspected of being the assassin.  Cesar was carrying a gun that he drew but denied firing, despite witnesses’ claims to the contrary. Conveniently, the police never examined the gun.  He has long been suspected of being CIA affiliated, and now Pease says she has found evidence to confirm that.  She writes, “It’s hard to overstate the significance of finding a current or future CIA contract agent holding Kennedy’s right arm at the moment of the shooting.”

Yes, it is.  As she rightly claims, the CIA takeover of America in the 1960s is the story of our time.  And our time is now.  None of this is ancient history.  That is so crucial to grasp.  For those who think that learning the truth about the 1960s assassinations is an exercise in futility reserved for those who are living in the past, they need to think again.  Our descent into endless war and massive media propaganda to support it is part of a long-term project that began with the elimination of JFK, Malcom X, MLK, and Robert Kennedy.  They were killed for reasons, and those reasons still exist, even if they don’t physically, but only in spirit.  Their killers roam the land because they have become far more deeply part of the institutional structure of government and the media.

Pease says:

It was horrible that Robert Kennedy was taken from us far too soon.  It is horrible that one man has borne the guilt for an operation he neither planned nor willingly participated in.  It’s horrible the conspiracy was so obvious that bullets had to be lost and switched to hide it.  And it’s horrible that the mainstream media has never dared to tell the people of this country that the government lied to us about what they really found when they looked into this case.  Until the media can deal with the truth of the Robert Kennedy assassination, and until the people can be made aware of the CIA’s role in slanting the truth on topics of great importance, America’s very survival is in jeopardy….We’ve come perilously close to losing democracy itself because of fake, CIA-sponsored stories about our history.  Should America ever become a dictatorship, the epitaph of our democracy must include the role the mainstream media, by bowing to the National Security state, played in killing it.

By writing A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease has done her valiant part in refuting the lie that is now failing.  Now it is up to all of us to spread the word of truth by focusing on the fundamental facts so we can finally take back our country from the CIA.

Then we can say with RFK and his favorite poet Aeschylus:

And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

A Conspiracy Theorist Confesses to his Petty Crimes

Our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual’s attitude to everyday crime.  It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.

— Professor Karen Douglas, University of Kent press release for the research, entitled “Belief in Conspiracy Theories and Intentions to Engage in Everyday Crime,” in the British Journal of Social Psychology

Let me be perfectly clear from the outset.

I am not referring to the conspiracy theories of George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump and other luminaries concerning events such as the attack of September 11, 2011, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the ongoing war on terror, Julian Assange’s alleged ties to Russia, etc.  These people’s conspiracy theories have nothing to do with petty crime, for their handiwork is grand indeed. They are big people. In any case, I don’t know what small stuff they might be up to when not killing so many people all around the world.

I got to thinking about my petty crimes after reading a profound article in The New York Post how the aforementioned Professor Douglas and her comrades at two English research universities have proven – “backed up by science” as the Post’s Rob Bailey-Milado says – that little people like me who have concluded that the U.S. national security state conspired to kill President Kennedy, to take one example, are inclined to take to the dark side and pilfer M&Ms from the candy counter and stuff like that.

“Sure,” Bailey-Milado writes in his elegant style, “we’ve been saying this about our wack-job uncle for years.”  Such a nut case might be a “9/11 denier” or believe “the ancient pyramids were built by aliens” or believe “myths surrounding the Mueller report to the chilling ‘secret’ behind Disney’s ‘Frozen’.”

As we all know, all these nutty beliefs are of equal value and validity, and to even harbor the thought that Bailey-Milado might have the CIA’s 1967 secret Dispatch – Doc 1035-960, showing how to counter and discredit the claims of conspiracy theorists – pinned over his desk or in his mind is to risk further accusations of being wacked-out and in need of examining one’s proclivity toward everyday crimes.  So I won’t go there.  I’m guilty enough.

So bless me, folks, for I have sinned.  Let me confess.

Last week, after reading the Post article and the study itself, I found myself in my local co-op market.  You might wonder where I had been looking for myself when I found myself there, staring into bins of dried fruit, but let’s just say I had been around.  When you’re lost and wacked-out, you never know where you are or why you believe what you believe.

I was trying to decide whether to get the dried pineapple, mango, or figs.  It was a tough choice, sort of like staring at forty different tubes of toothpaste on the store shelf and wondering which to buy or if the one advertised as specially for women would work for a man since men must have different teeth.  The comparison is not exactly apt, I guess, for you can’t test the toothpastes there, but the fruit looked so edible.  So, when no one was looking, I first tried the pineapple, then the mango, and finally the figs.  I thought I saw the store manager see me when I took the fig because I was so enjoying the fruits of my crime that I let my guard down.

When I was leaving the store, I had the odd thought that the cop car in the parking lot was there for me, so I turned and went out via the sidewalk, sighing in relief as I did.  As I was walking home, I thought of my narrow escape and the brilliance of the study that connected my conspiratorial thinking to my criminal activity with the fruit.  I also couldn’t help thinking how the figs had reminded me of my latest conspiracy theory, but one supported by sources as confidential as those referenced by The New York Times or The Washington Post.  In addition, like those devotees of truth and confidentiality, I will never reveal my sources.

Legend has it that Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity while sitting in a garden, watching apples fall perpendicularly to the ground.  However, this is not true. I have learned from my confidential sources that his nickname was Isaac “Fig” Newton and that those who claim the Fig Newton cookie was named after Newton, Massachusetts are involved in a great cover-up.

My sources tell me that when Isaac was a child, he was so fond of figs that his mother had to warn him against eating too many, for as you probably know, figs, like prunes, are filled with fiber and possess a laxative quality.  Isaac was defecating so much and so often that his mother was alarmed.  But a mother’s panic at a child’s toilet habits can be a source of insight years later.

So it was that years later it was Isaac’s experience on the potty that gave him his great insight into gravity.  Reflecting back on his childhood, he realized that shit always went down, never up (there were no electric fans in those days, so no one would say that it went up when “shit hit the fan”). He remembered his mother’s loving words when as a boy he would tell his mom he had to “take a shit,” she would remind him that it was always better to give than take, so he should “give a shit.”

Also, it was Isaac’s chore to take the family potty out behind the house where it was emptied down into a deep hole about six feet under.  Thus, the adult Isaac came to call his discovery gravity, after the grave.  He scientifically proved what everyone already knew: that everything and everyone goes down, eventually.  Not the most uplifting news, I grant you, but I have sources for that also.

So I readily admit I am guilty of this inclination toward low-level “crime,” as Douglas and her colleagues explicate so brilliantly.  No doubt, it is connected to my conspiratorial mindset.  I hope that much is clear.  Sometimes I just can’t resist the forbidden fruit.  Although not an apple, it seems to give me insight into the knowledge of good and evil.

For some reason, I suspect Douglas will not be studying the elite criminals who conspire to invade countries, kill millions, and blame it on others.  Those are crimes against humanity, and are beyond the purview of research aimed at showing how sick everyday people are who suspect that their leaders are big-time criminals.

Snap-Shots along the Road of Life

You road I travel and look around!  I believe you are not all that is here!  I believe that something unseen is also here.

— Walt Whitman, Poem of the Road

Tragic

Jimmy C., age 9, died on the evening of December 28, 19_ _ from a gunshot bullet to the heart.  He was shot by his seven-year-old brother Dennis, while, as The New York Times reported, “the two were playing with a rifle in a neighbor’s apartment in the northeast Bronx.”  The boys were visiting with their mother and found the rifle under a bed.  It was loaded and accidently fired, hitting Jimmy in the chest.

Another boy, age ten, was sitting on a closed toilet seat two miles away.  The bathroom was warm and steamy and the boy was talking to his father, for whom he was named. His father was shaving.  An only son with seven sisters, the boy adored his father, and, enclosed in this intimate setting, he felt embraced by his father’s love and protection.  For a young boy to watch his father shave and to converse with him alone about sports was pure heaven.

His father switched on a small transistor radio so they could hear basketball scores.  A report came over the radio that a young boy had been accidently shot and killed by his brother in the Bronx.  Then the names came. They were his brother’s sons. Heaven turned to hell.  His father, half-shaved, toweled his face and ran from the room.  The boy sat there stunned.  When he emerged from the bathroom, his father had already left to comfort and assist his brother, the father of the dead boy.

The ten year old could remember nothing of what followed.  It all went blank and was never discussed, as if it never happened.  He was haunted by this void.

Bizarre

A professor was sitting with his secret lover in a college cafeteria.  It was winter and their table was deep into the room by tall windows.  There was snow on the ground.  They were talking about a mutual friend named John because he had been looking at them oddly in recent days and they suspected he might have realized that they were lovers.  Suddenly, John entered the dining hall at the far door.  He saw them and started walking toward their table.  As he approached, the professor said, “Well, look who’s here, if it isn’t the devil himself.  We were just talking about you, John.”

The bespectacled John laughed, said hello to the woman, and sat down next to the professor.  He was so close that when the professor turned to talk to him, he was looking into his right eye, as can happen at a close distance.

Suddenly, what sounded like a gunshot rang out and everyone all around turned toward the tall windows.  The professor quickly turned back to John and said, “I’m sorry, John, I didn’t mean to break your glasses.” The right lens in John’s glasses was shattered.  There was no gunshot, only the power of a look.  The three were stunned.  In the days that followed, John went about seeking answers from physicists and opticians.  None could explain it.

Years later, the woman remembered the incident differently, perhaps because she was the odd one out, but the two men were certain that the professor had shattered John’s glasses. Both are still astounded.

John said he was at least glad that the look didn’t kill him.

Spectral

A few years later, a man was wandering around the diamond district in New York City.  It was a Sunday morning and the streets were deserted.  He had come to buy some books at the Gotham Book Mart on West 47th St., whose slogan was “Wise Men Fish Here.”  Many a famous author had frequented the shop over the years – Eugene O’Neill, J. D Salinger, Dylan Thomas, et al.  It was a cultural treasure whose contents are now archived at the University of Pennsylvania.  The man had arrived too early and the store hadn’t opened, so he aimlessly wandered up and down the empty street, finally stopping to gaze into the window of a large, glass-enclosed jewelry store on the corner.  He walked into the entrance way and looked through the window when he spied a ghost-like figure staring at him through the glass windows from the street.  He tried to avoid looking at this spectral figure, but when he looked up the face was stock-still and staring at him through pale spectacles.  His hair was white and his face its equal.  It gave him a creepy feeling and so he walked out toward the street to confront this pale phantom.  When he got to the street, the strange man met him and, raising a tiny camera, shot him.

The victim of this photographic assault said, “Did I give you permission to take my picture?”

The ghost replied, “Well, you have an interesting face, and I shoot a lot of people.”

“Well, you also have an interesting face, but I didn’t give you permission.  What do you do, go around hunting for interesting people to shoot?”

Andy Warhol shrugged, turned, and faded wraithlike down the vacant street.

The man never saw the photo.  Perhaps it remained a negative.

So much of the past recedes as afterimages, while the road into the future opens out before us shrouded in mystery. 

The old question stills applies. Quo vadis?

The Fascinating Spell Cast by Weasels

Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.  Hence one must choose a master, God being out of style.

— Albert Camus, The Fall, 1956

To be fascinated by another person who holds or symbolizes power is very common.  It is often accompanied by a frisson of sexual excitement, whether repressed or acknowledged, explicitly or implicitly projected.  Masters need slaves and slaves need their masters.  The chief, the big man, the fascinating woman, the glamorous celebrity, the rich mogul, the powerful politician, while all standard vintage people without their accoutrements of prestigious (magical) power, magnetically attract many people wishing to surrender passively to the perceived superior power of what Carl Jung called the “mana-personality.”  However, such supernatural power or aura is in the eyes of the beholder, who wishes to be hypnotized and to fulfill his secret wish to be will-less.  As Dostoevsky has written, “Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that great gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.”  A smile, a song, or the projection of unconflicted authority – often that is all it takes for the spell to be cast.

Think of weasels.  They are very vicious and can be found all around the world.  Their cute faces belie their treacherous nature.  They have the ability to fascinate their victims – fascinate means to cast a spell upon or hypnotize (from the Latin, fascinare, to bewitch).  They do this by a stupefying song and dance, a facility that paralyzes those they prey upon before they pounce upon them.

Most people have never seen weasels in the wild, for they are secretive creatures who go about their killing clandestinely.  Whether they kill softly, I can’t say.  I’ve never heard their song, or the screaming of their victims.

Nevertheless, many people have been seduced by human weasels, who also court with a song and dance. These weasels come in all shapes and sizes.  Their faces are almost never as cute as their small fury cousins’ are, but their facial masks conceal similar tendencies and abilities: the talent to immobilize their victims through powerful seductive techniques.

It’s nothing new, of course.  It’s still the same old story, a gory story of the fight to dominate and control that is coterminous with human history or longer. It is an ancient myth that we still live by.  As in days of old, the siren song is often sexual in nature, not sexual in the passionately loving sense, not an encounter between two unknowns seeking to discover each other, but an instrumental sexual enticement wrapped in power, prestige, money, false charm and fake bravado whose purpose is domination.

There is a reason why the news is constantly filled with stories of a sexual nature: R. Kelly, Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Robert Kraft, the “me too movement,” Catholic priests, and so many others without end.  Obviously, sex sells, and the corporate mass media are in the business of selling sexual titillation and political propaganda – two products that are not unconnected.

But there are many real victims here, people who have been used and abused by predators who traffic in human degradation for their sick pleasures.  Some of their victims have been fascinated, while others have been physically or mentally coerced.  Power corrupts, yes, but it also thrives on humiliating and using others, shaming them and destroying their innocence.

Living in a society of screens and spectacles, many people have lost a physical connection to other people.  This is the paradox of a sexually saturated, sadomasochistic mass media society.  Our bodies have become instruments in a spectral show of instrumental rationality and our relationships metamorphosed into shadows on the walls of our electronic devices.  Social life has become mass hallucination.  Everything and everyone has become a means to be used.  It is a society of mutual masturbators afraid to meet the unknown other in sexual intimacy.  Kate Julian chronicles aspects of this sexual recession in The Atlantic magazine, “Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex.”  And it is not just young people.

While the United States has long been a hotbed for sexual scandals and media, FBI, and CIA exposure of the sexual lives of those they wish to destroy, today, when sex is a staple of the media where it is presented and discussed openly as if one were discussing another consumer product, the use of sexual blackmail and sexual muddling as a political tool of the “deep-state” propaganda apparatus is unmentionable, even as its significance is enhanced by electronic spying and the loss of privacy.  Jonathan Marshall puts it this way in “Sex Scandals and Sexual Blackmail in America’s Deep Politics”:

One outstanding consequence has been to elevate the importance of sexual blackmail and public exposure as tactics of covert political intrigues, just as they have been in espionage.  If information is power, the information about adultery, homosexuality, and other private sexual indiscretions by officials is power of a high order indeed.  Individuals and organizations that are adept at collecting and controlling such information – such as law enforcement, spies, private eyes, journalists and lawyers – thus play a key role in the hidden campaigns of the deep state.  One perverse measure of the importance of sex in America’s ‘deep politics’ is the paucity of systematic attention paid to it by political scientists.

Yet sexual blackmail is central to “deep-state” operations and political espionage, even as sexual trafficking and scandals mix with the omnipresent sexual intoxication of popular culture.  Like the term “deep-state” that is now a staple of the corporate mass media as the secret governing forces go deeper while seemingly becoming more exposed and shallow, the use of sex and sexual identity to confuse and confabulate is presented by the media as transparency.  It’s an old trick in new clothes.

Think of Julian Assange, an innocent man in a living hell in Room 101 of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for seven years.  Think sexual blackmail for telling the truth. Read John Pilger.

There are all kinds of weasels, and the spells they cast appeal to the very human desire to be fascinated.  Yet it’s a fool’s game.  Our society of the electronic spectacle of disembodied images and speculative “news” is meant to immobilize those who remain spectators.  It is black magic of the highest order.

So feel your pulse and take a walk in the woods.  If you encounter a weasel there, at least you’ll know it’s doing what comes naturally.  It’s the human weasels, those D. H. Lawrence called the “living dead,” who are out to get us.

As Lawrence warned, “Don’t let the living dead eat you up.”

Counterpunch Shadowboxes and Loses

In a fair boxing match, opponents enter the ring with similarly padded gloves and battle under the bright lights for the world to see.  There are, of course, cases where one fighter cheats, as in the infamous case in 1983 when Luis Resto wore weakly padded gloves and hand wraps hardened with plaster to make them rock solid.  His opponent, Billy Collins, an up-and-coming boxer from Tennessee with a 14-0 record, was permanently and very seriously injured in the fight at Madison Square Garden. His eyes were battered shut and his vision damaged. He never fought again and died depressed the following year at age twenty-two.

In the fight for truth in the public arena, similar subterfuges occur.

To battle honestly in the open forum, to argue to and fro squarely, is often prevented in advance by eliminating an opponent’s voice from the debate.  This is the typical method used by the corporate mass media that stack the deck with sycophants and refuse dissidents a place to voice their ideas.

Then there is the masquerade of fighting an opponent who is really a collaborator and benefactor, whose punches one counters in a game of shadow boxing meant to convince the audience that the fight is real and you are on their side.  Some alternative media use this technique because they are gatekeepers for the power elite.

Sometimes this ruse is so blatant that the fix becomes transparent because the smart-asses who play this game screw up, yet they still expect their real opponents to shut up and walk away because their fixer’s mantra  is “Never apologize, never explain.”  It has always been the code of the rich and powerful.

Some are brawlers, however, and fight back against this bullshit.

The well-known leftist website Counterpunch is an example of the “never apologize, never explain” school.  A number of writers and journalists who have published many pieces at Counterpunch have been banned from this site in recent years without an explanation, Andre Vltchek and C.J. Hopkins being two who crossed an invisible boundary the Shadow had drawn and were never again published by Counterpunch. Others, smelling an odd odor, have walked away. The numbers are growing.

I’ve recently seen Counterpunch shadowbox and the Shadow won.

On January 29, 2019, I published an article highly critical of the CIA (The CIA Then and Now: Old Wine in New Bottles) that was posted at Global Research. Lew Rockwell picked it up the next day.  Dissident Voice also posted it on the 30th.  Then The Unz Review published it on January 31, 2019. Four ideologically diverse websites that saw value in a harsh and complicated critique of the spy agency. Other sites would also publish it in the following days, including Off-Guardian.  After the piece appeared, I received an email from the editor of Counterpunch, Jeffrey St Clair, telling me that he too was going to publish this article on Friday, February 1, for Counterpunch’s weekend edition. I had written a few dozen pieces that Counterpunch had published and had a very cordial relationship with St Clair.  In fact, when I was in Rome in 2018, he had asked me to place a stone for him on Keats’ and Shelley’s graves when I visited the cemetery where they were buried.  I did that, and my wife took photos that I sent to him.  All was copacetic.  Buddies.  High fives!

On February 1, 2019, shortly after midnight Eastern time (12:02 AM), Counterpunch published my piece for their weekend edition where articles remain for three days.  When I awoke at 4 A.M., I saw it.  Then at 8 A. M., when I arrived at the college where I teach, I again saw it.  At 11 A.M., when I had finished teaching a few classes, I looked again and it had disappeared.  Transitive verb: Counterpunch had disappeared it. Eliminated it. Scratched it. Excised it.

All the other numerous articles remained.  Only mine was gone.  At first I thought it was a mistake.  But as the day wore on I wondered.  So I emailed St Clair and asked my buddy what had happened.  As compatriots don’t do, he did not reply.  But I assumed he was busy, as I am, and gets many emails. So I waited.  When I emailed him again, there was no reply.  A third very cordial email three days later went unanswered.

Unlike Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, I am no longer waiting.  No reply is coming, and St Clair isn’t Godot, or on second thought he may be, a chimerical leftist gatekeeper enticing Counterpunch’s followers to wait forever for a revelation that isn’t coming.  Like his mentor and the founder of Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn, who was so fond of excoriating as “idiots” and “conspiracy nuts” anyone questioning the JFK assassination or the attacks of September 11, 2001 – two fundamental issues that only believers in official government conspiracy theories such as Cockburn could dismiss – St Clair seems similarly dismissive of explaining why a writer’s critique of the CIA would deserve to be eliminated after being published.  As if only an idiot would want to know.

However, any reasonable person would ask: Why would he not respond?  St Clair, the editor-in-chief, published the piece and then disappeared it after 10-11 hours?  This is highly unusual, to put it mildly. Unprecedented for the so-called left-wing alternative media. It is the kind of thing when done by the mainstream corporate media would be denounced and exposed as censorship.  Not publishing an article is a publication’s prerogative, of course, but what could cause one to eliminate an article highly critical of the CIA after people had ten or so hours to read it, and since the author and editor had a very cordial relationship up to that point and the editor had days to read it carefully?

One doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that someone objected to the piece.  But who could that be?  If it were St Clair’s managing editor, Joshua Frank, twenty years his junior (the two run the operation), then St Clair could have explained to me why, since we were on good terms.  I wouldn’t have liked it and argued my points, but at least we could have cordially agreed to disagree.  But the Frank possibility makes no sense, for a managing editor would be intimately involved in the publishing process that was completed the previous day in time for the very early Friday A.M. postings.  And in any case, St Clair is in charge.

Clearly an outside reader objected.  The question is: Who is that reader who could exert such control over a publication that promotes itself as one that “Tells the Facts, Names the Names”?  A publication that is considered radically leftist and in opposition to the ruling elites.

Okay, Counterpunch, would you name the name of the shadowy one who won this fight?

No More Bullshit: Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill

Growing up Irish-Catholic in the Bronx in the 1960s, I was an avid reader of the powerful columns of Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill in the New York newspapers.  These guys were extraordinary wordsmiths. They would grab you by the collar and drag you into the places and faces of those they wrote about. Passion infused their reports.  They were never boring. They made you laugh and cry as they transported you into the lives of real people.  You knew they had actually gone out into the streets of the city and talked to people. All kinds of people: poor, rich, black, white, Puerto Rican, high-rollers, low-lifes, politicians, athletes, mobsters – they ran the gamut.  You could sense they loved their work, that it enlivened them as it enlivened you the reader. Their words sung and crackled and breathed across the page. They left you always wanting more, wondering sometimes how true it all was, so captivating was their storytelling abilities.  They cut through abstractions to connect individuals to major events such as the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy and his brother Robert, the Central Park jogger case, Aids, among others.  They were spokesmen for the underdogs, the abused, the confused, and the bereft, and relentlessly attacked the abuses and hypocrisies of the powerful.

They became celebrities as a result of their writing.  Breslin ran for New York City Council President along with Norman Mailer for Mayor with the slogan  “No More Bullshit,” did beer and cereal commercials, and Hamill dated Jacqueline Kennedy and Shirley McLaine.  Coming  out of poor and struggling Irish-Catholic families in Queens and Brooklyn respectively, they became acclaimed in NYC and the country as celebrity reporters.  As a result, they were befriended by the rich and powerful with whom they hobnobbed.

HBO has recently released a fascinating documentary about the pair: Breslin and Hamill. It brings them back in all their gritty glory to the days when New York was another city, a city of newspapers and typewriters and young passion still hopeful that despite the problems and national tragedies, there were still fighters who would bang out a message of hope and defiance in the mainstream press.  It was a time before money and propaganda devoured journalism and a deadly pall descended on the country as the economic elites expanded their obscene control over people’s lives and the media.

So it is also fitting that this documentary feels like an Irish wake with two old wheelchair-bound men musing on the past and all that has been lost and what approaching death has in store for them and all they love.  While not a word is spoken about the Catholic faith of their childhoods with its death-defying consolation, it sits between them like a skeleton. We watch and listen to two men, once big in all ways, talk about the old days as they shrink before our eyes. I was reminded of the title of a novel Breslin wrote long ago: World Without End, Amen, a title taken directly from a well-known Catholic prayer. Endings, the past receding, a lost world, aching hearts, and the unspoken yearning for more life.

Hamill, especially, wrote columns that were beautifully elegiac, and his words in this documentary also sound that sense despite his efforts to remain hopeful.   The film is a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  Breslin, who has since died, tries hard to express the bravado that was his hallmark in his halcyon days, but a deep sadness and bewilderment seeps through his face, the mask of indomitability that once served him well gone in the end.

So while young people need to know about these two old-school reporters and their great work in this age of insipidity and pseudo-objectivity, this film is probably not a good introduction.  Their writing would serve this purpose better.

This documentary is appearing at an interesting time when a large group of prominent Americans, including Robert Kennedy, Jr. and his sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, are calling for new investigations into the assassinations of the 1960s, murders that Breslin and Hamill covered and wrote about.  Both men were in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel when  Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.  They were friends of the senator, and it was Hamill who wrote to RFK and helped convince him to run.  Breslin was in the Audubon Ballroom when Malcolm X was assassinated.  He wrote an iconic and highly original article about the JFK assassination.  Hamill wrote a hard-hitting  piece about RFK’s murder, describing Sirhan Sirhan quite harshly, while presuming his guilt.  They covered and wrote about all the assassinations of that era.  Breslin also wrote a famous piece about John Lennon’s murder.  They wrote these articles quickly, in the heat of the moment, on deadline.

But they did not question the official versions of these assassinations.  Not then, nor in the fifty plus years since.  Nor in this documentary. In fact, in the film Hamill talks about five shots being fired at RFK from the front by Sirhan Sirhan who was standing there.  Breslin utters not a word. Yet it is well known that RFK was shot from the rear at point blank range and that no bullets hit him from the front. The official autopsy confirmed this. Robert Kennedy, Jr. asserts that his father was not shot by Sirhan but by a second gunmen.  It’s as though Hamill is stuck in time and his personal memories of the event; as though he were too close to things and never stepped back and studied the evidence that has emerged.  Why, only he could say.

Perhaps both men were too close to the events and the people they covered.  Yes, their words always took you to the scene and made you feel the passion of it all, the shock, the drama, the tragedy, the pain, the confusion, and all that was irretrievably lost in murders that changed this country forever, killings that haunt the present in incalculable ways.  Jimmy and Pete made us feel the deep pain and shock of being overwhelmed with grief.  They were masters of this art.

But the view from the street is not that of history.  Deadlines are one thing; analysis and research another.  Breslin and Hamill wrote for the moment, but they have lived a half century after those moments, decades during which the evidence for these crimes has accumulated to indict powerful forces in the U.S. government.  No doubt this evidence came to their attention, but they have chosen to ignore it, whatever their reasons.  Why these champions of the afflicted have disregarded this evidence is perplexing.  As one who greatly admires their work, I am disappointed by this failure.

Street journalism has its limitations.  It needs to be placed in a larger context. Our world is indeed without end and the heat of the moment needs the coolness of time.  The bird that dives to the ground to seize a crumb of bread returns to the treetop to survey the larger scene.  Breslin and Hamill stuck to the ground where the bread lay.

At one point in Breslin and Hamill, the two good friends talk about how well they were taught to write by the nuns in their Catholic grammar schools.  “Subject, verb, object, that was the story of the whole thing,” says Breslin.  Hamill replies, “Concrete nouns, active verbs.”  “It was pretty good teaching,” adds Breslin. And although neither went to college (probably a saving grace), they learned those lessons well and gifted us with so much gritty and beautiful writing and reporting.

Yet like the nuns who taught them, they had their limitations, and what was written once was not revisited and updated.  In a strange, very old-school Catholic sense, it was the eternal truth, rock solid, and not to be questioned.  Unspeakable and anathema: the real killers of the Kennedys and the others.  The attacks of September 11, 2001 as well.

When my mother was very old, she published her only piece of writing.  It was very Breslin and Hamill-like and was published in a Catholic magazine.  She wrote how, when she was a young girl and the streets of New York were filled with horse drawn wagons, the nuns in her grammar school chose her to leave school before lunch and go to a neighboring bakery to buy rolls for their lunch.  It was considered a big honor and she was happy to get out of school for the walk to the bakery she chose a few streets away.  She got the rolls and was walking back with them when some boys jostled her and all the rolls fell into the street, rolling through horse shit.  She panicked, but picked up the rolls and cleaned them off.  Shaking with fear, she then brought them to the convent and handed them to a nun.  After lunch, she was called to the front of the room by her teacher, the nun who had chosen her to buy them.  She felt like she would faint with fear.  The nun sternly looked at her.  “Where did buy those rolls?” she asked.  In a halting voice she told her the name of the bakery.  The sister said, “They were delicious.  We must always shop in that bakery.”

Of course, the magazine wouldn’t publish the words “horse shit.” The editor found a nice way to avoid the truth and eliminate horse shit.  And the nuns were happy.

Yet bullshit seems much harder to erase, despite slogans and careful editors, or perhaps because of them.  Sometimes silence is the real bullshit, and how do you eliminate that?

The CIA Then and Now: Old Wine in New Bottles

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

Don McLean, “American Pie”, 1971

The Nazis had a name for their propaganda and mind-control operations: weltanschauungskrieg – “world view warfare.”  As good students, they had learned many tricks of the trade from their American teachers, including Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who had honed his propagandistic skills for the United States during World War I and had subsequently started the public relations industry in New York City, an industry whose raison d’ȇtre from the start was to serve the interests of the elites in manipulating the public mind.

In 1941, U.S. Intelligence translated weltanschauungskrieg as “psychological warfare,” a phrase that fails to grasp the full dimensions of the growing power and penetration of U.S. propaganda, then and now.  Of course, the American propaganda apparatus was just then getting started on an enterprise that has become the epitome of successful world view warfare programs, a colossal beast whose tentacles have spread to every corner of the globe and whose fabrications have nestled deep within the psyches of many hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world.  And true to form in this circle game of friends helping friends, this propaganda program was ably assisted after WW II by all the Nazis secreted into the U.S. (“Operation Paperclip”) by Allen Dulles and his henchmen in the OSS and then the CIA to make sure the U.S. had operatives to carry on the Nazi legacy (see David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, The CIA, and The Rise of America’s Secret Government, an extraordinary book that will make your skin crawl with disgust).

This went along quite smoothly until some people started to question the Warren Commission’s JFK assassination story.  The CIA then went on the offensive in 1967 and put out the word to all its people in the agency and throughout the media and academia to use the phrase “conspiracy theory” to ridicule these skeptics, which they have done up until the present day. This secret document – CIA Dispatch 1035-960 – was a propaganda success for many decades, marginalizing those researchers and writers who were uncovering the truth about not just President Kennedy’s murder by the national security state, but those of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy.  Today, the tide is turning on this score, as recently more and more Americans are fed up with the lies and are demanding that the truth be told.  Even the Washington Post is noting this, and it is a wave of opposition that will only grow.

The CIA Exposed – Partially

But back in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, some covert propaganda programs run by the CIA were “exposed.”  First, the Agency’s sponsorship of the Congress of Cultural Freedom, through which it used magazines, prominent writers, academics, et al. to spread propaganda during the Cold War, was uncovered.  This was an era when Americans read serious literary books, writers and intellectuals had a certain cachet, and popular culture had not yet stupefied Americans. The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary and intellectual elites.  Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters, and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity of the CIA and the famous literary journal The Paris Review.

Then in 1975 the Church Committee hearings resulted in the exposure of abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc.  In 1977 Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire – “The CIA and the Media” – naming names of journalists and publications (The New York Times, CBS, etc.) that worked with and for the CIA in propagandizing the American people and the rest of the world.  (Conveniently, this article can be read on the CIA’s website since presumably the agency has come clean, or, if you are the suspicious type, or maybe a conspiracy theorist, it is covering its deeper tracks with a “limited hangout,” defined by former CIA agent Victor Marchetti, who went rogue, as “spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.”)

Confess and Move On

By the late 1970s, it seemed as if the CIA had been caught in flagrante delicto and disgraced, had confessed its sins, done penance, and resolved to go and sin no more.  Seeming, however, is the nature of the CIA’s game.  Organized criminals learn to adapt to the changing times, and that is exactly what the intelligence operatives did.  Since the major revelations of the late sixties and seventies – MKUltra, engineered coups all around the world, assassinations of foreign leaders, spying on Americans, etc. – no major program of propaganda has been exposed in the mainstream media.  Revealing books about certain CIA programs have been written – e.g. Douglas Valentine’s important The Phoenix Program being one – and dissenting writers, journalists, researchers, and whistleblowers (Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Julian Assange, James W. Douglass, David Ray Griffin, Edward Snowden, et al.) have connected the U.S. intelligence services to dirty deeds and specific actions, such as the American engineered coup d’état in Ukraine in 2013-14, electronic spying, and the attacks of September 11, 2001.  But the propaganda has for the most part continued unabated at a powerful and esoteric cultural level, while illegal and criminal actions are carried out throughout the world in the most blatant manner imaginable, as if to say fuck you openly while insidiously infecting the general population through the mass electronic screen culture that has relegated intellectual and literary culture to a tiny minority.

Planning Ahead

Let me explain what I think has been happening.

Organizations like the CIA are obviously fallible and have made many mistakes and failed to anticipate world events.  But they are also very powerful, having great financial backing,  and do the bidding of their masters in banking, Wall St., finance, etc.  They are the action arm of these financial elites, and are, as Douglass Valentine has written, organized criminals.  They have their own military, are joined to all the armed forces, and are deeply involved in the drug trade. They control the politicians. They operate their own propaganda network in conjunction with the private mercenaries they hire for their operations.  The corporate mass media take their orders, orders that need not be direct, but sometimes are, because these media are structured to do the bidding of the same elites that formed the CIA and own the media.  And while their ostensible raison d’ȇtre is to provide intelligence to the nation’s civilian leaders, this is essentially a cover story for their real work that is propaganda, killing, and conducting coups d’états at home and abroad.

Because they have deep pockets, they can afford to buy all sorts of people, people who pimp for the elites. Some of these people do work that is usually done by honest academics and independent intellectuals, a dying breed, once called free-floating intellectuals. These pimps analyze political, economic, technological, and cultural trends.  They come from different fields: history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, cultural studies, linguistics, etc. They populate the think tanks and universities.  They are often intelligent but live in bad faith, knowing they are working for those who are doing the devil’s work. But they collect their pay and go their way straight to the bank, the devil’s bank.  They often belong to the Council of Foreign Relations or the Heritage Foundation. They are esteemed and esteem themselves.  But they are pimps.

El Diablo

Ah, the devil!  He’s their man. A man of many names, but always an impostor.  These pimps know his story and how he works his magic, and this is what their paymasters want from them: ways to use the old bastard’s bag of tricks to conjure confusion, and sow fear and paranoia.  And to do this slow and easy in ways no one will recognize until it is too late.

For like culture, propaganda relies on myths, symbols, and stories.  Some prefer to say narratives.  But nothing is more powerful.  Controlling the stories is the key to powerful propaganda. The pimps can spin many a tale.

Tell people endless tales of the good guys and the bad, of how the bad are out to get you and the good to save you. Think of the use of symbols in the telling of these stories.  They are crucial.  The word symbol comes from a Greek word to throw together.  Symbols that represent the in-group or the “good guys” are used to create social solidarity within the in-group.  Stories are told to accompany the symbols; stories, narratives, or myths tell of how the good guys are fighting to hold the group together and the bad guys are trying to rip the community apart.  The symbolic and its opposite – the diabolic (to throw apart) – the angels against the devils – el diablo.  Very simple, very old.  The aliens are out to get us.  And el diablo is always the ultimate other, the man in red, the reds, the commies, the Russians, the others, immigrants, the blacks who want to move next door, Muslims, gays  – take your pick.  Satanic rituals.  Black magic.  Witchcraft.

Methods of Propaganda

Infecting minds with such symbols and stories must be done directly and indirectly, as well as short-term and long-term.  Long term propaganda is like a slowly leaking water pipe that you are vaguely aware of but that rots the metal from within until the pipe can no longer resist the pressure.  Drip drop, drip drop, drip drop – and the inattentive recipients of the propaganda gradually lose their mettle to resist and don’t know it, and then when an event bursts into the news – e.g. the attacks of September 11, 2001 or Russia-gate – they have been so softened that their assent is automatically given.  They know without hesitation who the devil is and that he must be fought.

The purpose of the long-term propaganda is to create certain predispositions and weaknesses that can be exploited when needed.  Certain events can be the triggers to induce the victims to react to suggestions.  When the time is ripe, all that is needed is a slight suggestion, like a touch on the shoulder, and the hypnotized one acts in a trance.  The gun goes off, and the entranced one can’t remember why (see: Sirhan Sirhan). This is the goal of mass hypnotization through long-term propaganda: confusion, memory loss, and automatic reaction to suggestion.

Intelligence Pimps and Liquid Screen Culture

When the CIA’s dirty tricks were made public in the 1970s, it is not hard to imagine that the intellectual pimps who do their long-range thinking were asked to go back to the drawing board and paint a picture of the coming decades and how business as usual could be conducted without further embarrassment.  By that time it had become clear that intellectual or high culture was being swallowed by mass culture and the future belonged to electronic screen culture and images, not words.  What has come to be called “postmodernity” ensued, or what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid modernity” and Guy Debord “the society of the spectacle.”  Such developments, rooted in what Frederic Jameson has termed “the cultural logic of late capitalism,” have resulted in the fragmentation of social and personal life into pointillistic moving pictures whose dots form incoherent images that sow mass confusion and do not cohere.  From the mid-1970s until today, this generalized disorientation with its flowing and eternal present of appearing and dissolving images has resulted in what is surely a transformed world, and with it, transformed worldviews.  The foundations have collapsed. Meaning and coherence have become difficult to discern.  Stable personality has been disassociated, memory downloaded, attention lost, the psyche materialized, sexual identity confused, the electronic mind-body interface established, and the electronic and pharmaceutical drugging of the population accomplished.  Really?  Yes.

Did not the intelligence agencies foresee all this?  Did not they see it and plan accordingly?  Did they not notice that about the time their old dirty deeds were being exposed, a movie burst onto the screen that introduced a theme familiar to them and their Nazi friends?  I mean the 1973 hit, The Exorcist, wherein Satan struts his stuff, four years after Mick Jagger strut his across the stage at Altamont, singing “Sympathy for the Devil,” while shortly after a killing took place down in front of him and the 1960s were laid to rest.  But during the 1970s The Exorcist and its theme of the devil’s hold on people came to life and was taken up with a religious fervor by the entertainment industry and promoted by Oprah Winfrey, Geraldo Rivera, and other media luminaries, who went about promoting el diablo’s hold on so many helpless victims.  Occult, magic, and satanic themes became pop staples and would remain so up until the present day.  I would suggest that readers put aside their reservations at what may seem sensational and watch this video.  Then ask yourself: what is going on here?

The CIA as Prophetic

But maybe a better question than did the CIA foresee these developments, would be to ask if it has been involved in the occult and satanic world itself, before and after the social developments of “liquid modernity.”   The answer is yes.  Indeed, all the characteristics of the social and cultural developments I mentioned previously in reference to postmodernity have been a major part of its work before this new world emerged: “the disassociation of stable personalities, memory erasure and the implanting of false memories, materializing the psyche, confusing sexual identity, establishing the electronic mind-body interface, and electronic, hallucinogenic (the CIA introduced and spread LSD in the 1960s), and pharmaceutical drugging,” to name but a few.  In anticipating these developments the CIA was at the very least predictive.  Disinformation, acts of terrorism,  coup d’états, assassinations flow out of a marriage to the Nazis made in hell – Talbot’s “devil’s chessboard” – but they are linked to much more.  Peter Levenda, in Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft, a trilogy on sinister forces in American history, puts it this way:

The CIA, satanic cults, and UFOs, the mythology of the late twentieth century is surprisingly coherent even though the masks change from case to case, from victim to alleged victim.  The CIA, of course, does exist; their mind control programs from BLUEBIRD to ARTICHOKE to MK-ULTRA are a matter of public record.  Their history of political assassinations and the overthrow of various foreign governments is also a matter of record.  Satanic cults – or perhaps we should qualify that and say ‘occult secret societies’ – also exist and are a matter of public record; their attempts to contact alien forces by means of ceremonial magic and arcane ritual (including the use of some of the same drugs and other techniques as the CIA used in its mind control programs) are also well-known and documented.  Some of these practitioners were – and are – well-known men and women who have not denied their involvement (such as rocket scientist Jack Parsons in the 1950s and Army Colonel and intelligence officer Michael Aquino in the 1990s).  The CIA also aggressively researched American cults and secret societies in an effort to discover the source of paranormal abilities and ancient mind control mechanisms. And while the jury is still out on the question of UFOs, there is no doubt that government agencies have attempted to track, to analyze them, and to explain them away.  Again this is a matter of public record, including FBI and CIA documents in addition to military records.

Skeptical readers may find this strange to consider.  That would be a mistake.  The web of connections is there for anyone who cares to look.  For more than fifty years occult themes and rituals have been part of world view warfare.  Drugs, shamanism, black magic, and the occult – staples of the CIA then and now.  It is well known that Hollywood, television, and the media in general have been working closely with the intelligence agencies for a long time. Especially since 2001, films and television programs have glorified the CIA, our “good” spies, and the military. The mystification of reality has found its best friend in the electronic and internet revolution as strange and “subversive” beliefs are dangled like candy for little children.  Good and evil move through the public consciousness like passing sun and shadows.  Weird conspiracy theories “pop up” to titillate and obsess, and to drive out the serious findings of dedicated and disciplined writers and researchers who have discovered the truth about real government conspiracies.  Sowing confusion is the name of this deadly game, and if you find yourself confused, you are in good company.

But many are catching on and realizing that what seems strange but innocent is part of a much larger effort to hypnotize the public to agree to their own destruction through the ingestion of what can only be called black magic.

The eloquent writer and brave American, Jim Garrison, the former District Attorney of New Orleans and the only person to bring a trial in the assassination of President Kennedy, put it this way in On The Trail of The Assassins, the story of his quest to solve the murder of JFK.

I knew by now that when a group of individuals gravitated toward one another for no apparent reason, or a group of individuals inexplicitly headed in the same directions as if drawn by a magnetic field, or coincidence piled upon coincidence too many times, as often as not the shadowy outlines of a covert intelligence operation were somehow becoming visible.

Rub Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, the right way and the CIA emerges into the light.  You can see its shadowy outline with your eyes wide shut.  As it says on CIA headquarters: “You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”