All posts by Edward Curtin

Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy

They say they can’t believe it, it’s a sacrilegious shame
Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?
But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall
How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small.
Tell me every detail, I’ve got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?

— Phil Ochs, The Crucifixion

You are aware of only one unrest;
Oh, never learn to know the other!
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And one is striving to forsake its brother.

— Goethe, Faust

President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  That is a fact beyond dispute, except for those who wish to engage in pseudo-debates to deny the obvious.  I prefer not to, since there is nothing to debate.

But there is everything to mourn, even after fifty-five years, first, of course, for the man himself, then for those who have suffered and died for bearing witness to the truth about his assassination, and finally for the consequences of his murder, because it cut savagely into any pretense of American innocence and set the stage for the nihilistic tragedies that have followed, including the murders of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the ongoing “war on terror.”

Today, JFK’s killers have tightened their choke-hold on the country and on the throats of those wishing to tell the truth.  Their penetration of the corporate mass media is wide and deep, and the narratives they spin can make an innocent soul’s head spin.  Everything is twisted to serve their interests.  With a click of a finger, truth and falsehood rotate like spokes on a rapidly turning wheel – spooks turning spokes in a game of hide and seek meant to confuse and derange the public. Constant befuddlement is the name of this racket.

It’s a melancholy task to contemplate the parts played, consciously or unconsciously, by various actors in this deadly game, not least because one’s own naiveté prompts one sometimes to question or abandon those one once admired and to dive deeply into the twisted minds and hearts of fellow humans.  What follows concerns one such man’s strange story as told by another man, whose story is perhaps stranger, and what their relationships with U.S. intelligence, if any, might suggest about our situation today.

Oh I am just a student, Sir, and only want to learn
But it’s hard to read through the risin’ smoke of the books that you like to burn
So I’d like to make a promise and I’d like to make a vow
That when I got something to say, Sir, I’m gonna say it now

Those are the words of the folk singer, Phil Ochs, from his 1966 song I’m Going To Say It Now. Ochs wrote and performed passionate protest songs during the 1960s that inspired many to speak and act in opposition to the Vietnam War and many other injustices.  He was a fiery, sardonic activist whose music, such as I Ain’t Marching Any More induced many to refuse military induction and to burn their draft cards.  He, not Bob Dylan, was the committed voice of the 1960s radical anti-war folk music world, singing at events and rallies across the country, culminating at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago when the Chicago police rioted and savagely beat anti-war protesters, and Yippies and Hippies gathered in Lincoln Park to listen to Ochs sing defiant songs to keep up their spirits. But Ochs’s own spirit was broken that terrible year of so many deaths, which started his long descent into alcoholism and mental chaos that ended with his suicide in 1976.

I was one of those who was inspired by his music. I still am.  Soulful and satiric, biting and beautiful, stirring and inspiriting, it has a power few can equal.  But I have come to a point where I feel compelled to broach a mysterious story involving Ochs, something that when I first heard it in passing shocked me terribly. No, I thought, that can’t be true; it’s impossible.

But the more I have researched it, the truer it seems – with emphasis on the word “seems” – for there is only one source for the story, a source I don’t doubt but can’t confirm.

But either way, I have come to see the story as emblematic of the treachery and confusion sown by the CIA, its Operation Mockingbird, and its so-called Mighty Wurlitzer that have played so many for fools through its control of the corporate mass media and the production of narratives that run like little movies too perfect to be true, but too true to be false – even when they are.  Screens within screens within screens.  Efforts to fuck up as many people as possible in operation chaos, to derange and cleave them into split personalities within and without, and to mystify as many minds as possible.

I think Phil Ochs was one so mystified. I am wondering if in life and death he was used and abused by radically evil forces, whomever they may be.

According to Phil’s best friend from college at Ohio State, the man who taught him to play guitar, his singing partner, best man at his wedding, constant pal in their days in Greenwich Village, and life-long friend, Jim Glover, Ochs was in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, standing outside the Dal-Tex building in Dealey Plaza when JFK was driven by to be killed. Glover says Phil told him he went there as a “national security observer.”

I had read about this on some off-beat websites, but never in biographies of Ochs, or in the latest documentary about him, There But for Fortune. There seems to be an “official” ban on mentioning Glover’s claim, even though Glover appears in the books and the documentary, has been interviewed by the authors and filmmaker, and is considered by them, as Phil’s old and close friend, to be a reliable source.

Jim Glover, who was one half of the well-known folk duo, Jim and Jean, back in the 1960s, and is now an anti-war activist in Florida, says that he has told Ochs’s siblings and biographers all the details, has also reported it recently and as far back as the early 1990s to the FBI, and has put these claims out on some internet sites and openly spoken about it. These disclosures have resulted in silence from Ochs’s family and biographers.  There have been no efforts to refute it, and so it circulates far outside the mainstream.  Since Glover speaks of it openly and in great detail, and since it is a shocking claim with serious implications, one would think it worthy of response.  But it is only greeted with silence.  It seems perhaps like another example of what Thomas Merton called “the unspeakable” – “the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said.”

So I contacted Glover and asked him about it.  He told me that Phil had told him months before the assassination that he was “working for National Security, something like the C.I.A.”  Then, he later told him he had gone to Dallas with one of the Gambino boys as “a national security observer” and had been standing in Dealey Plaza outside the Dal-Tex building where he was filmed when JFK was shot.  Jim Glover has sent me photos that he discovered decades later that he says are photos of Phil in Dealey Plaza at the exact spot he mentioned and also in the movie theatre where Oswald was arrested.  He thinks they are very conclusive, especially because of the Dealey Plaza location, despite their blurriness.  While I think they are not dispositive, they do look like Ochs in a fuzzy sort of way.

 

The first two photos are outside the Dal-Tex building, after and before the assassination.

Inside the movie theatre where Oswald was captured and taken out the front door, while the second Oswald was led out the back door.

And the last is a photo of Ochs at Ohio State in 1961 for comparison purposes.

Whatever you think of the photos, they are one piece of a larger mystery, a tale stranger than fiction.  They may or may not show Ochs, as Jim Glover is certain they do, but if Ochs’s biographers trust him on other matters, why would they doubt him when he says Ochs told him he was in Dallas that day?  He says they are afraid to entertain the possibility.

So we might ask the question: If Phil Ochs was in Dallas that day, what was he doing there?

Let me reiterate: The murder of President Kennedy is not a mystery, and I am not exploring it.  We know he was killed in a coup carried out by the national security state led by the CIA.  If you want to know why, and if you want to know why this Thanksgiving, November 22, we should give thanks for John Kennedy’s life and witness, read JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass.  It’s the only book you need to read on the assassination.

Phil Ochs is the mystery in Glover’s telling, and I am wondering about him (and Glover), what he thought he was doing getting tangled up with shadowy intelligence operatives, how that awakening knowledge subsequently affected him, how he responded, and what place guilt and fear played in his post-1963 life and death.  I am proceeding as if Ochs went to Dallas at the naïve age of 22 not to harm Kennedy, but as Glover said he said, to investigate the threats against Kennedy that he had heard of in NYC through V. T. Lee of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and others. (This is the same V.T. Lee who received a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald, who was proposing a FPCC chapter for New Orleans in May 1963, where he was performing his theatrical stunts.  Lee warned Oswald not to provoke “unnecessary incidents which frighten away prospective supporters” in a place so hostile to Castro.  But Oswald, of course, did the opposite to establish his fake support for Castro.)

Glover says he also knew of the plots against Kennedy that were widely circulating in leftist circles, and afterwards felt Phil and he were being set up to be implicated in the assassination in case the official cover story fell apart since he and Glover were sympathetic to Castro and Cuba. He says their phones were tapped and they were being surveilled.  At this time Glover and his partner Jean were persuaded, against Ochs’s advice, to go on a Hollywood Hootenanny Tour of southern college campuses, a surreal trip that made stops in Dallas and Houston and seemed clearly connected to the Kennedy assassination as strange people got off and on the multi-bus caravan, talking about Kennedy being killed.  Glover says these included George and Barbara Bush and J. Edgar Hoover, who were picked up by the bus at the Houston airport late in the day of November 22.

You would have to have a fantastic imagination to make this stuff up.  Why would he?   Yet his tale is truly bizarre, revealing the intricate nature of the government conspiracy to kill Kennedy and to create multiple tales of plausible deniability when others failed.

He told me that he doesn’t know who told Phil to go to Dallas, but he is unequivocal that he did.  He said:

I don’t have all the answers.  All I know is what Phil told me to keep us both as safe as possible.  He told me I’ll never lie to you but there are things I can’t tell you.  Knowing I had a big mouth if he told me things you [me] are asking, I might not be alive.  His purpose as I see it was to observe, and being set up if Oswald lived, he could have been used as, ‘See a Castro sympathizer knew and was involved.’  And that would apply to me also [learning what he did on the Hootenanny Tour] and they would stop at nothing to have us both silenced permanently if Oswald or Kennedy lived because we knew too much.

Once, he said, as an example of his big mouth, he was performing at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village and told the audience that Phil had been in Dallas as a national security observer.  He thinks Ochs’s manager, Al Grossman, and Bob Dylan heard it, “because Phil came over and said, ‘Are you trying to get me killed?’”

Phil, he said, was a super patriot and would never have done anything to harm Kennedy, but was tricked into going to Dallas under the assumption that he was working with those trying to prevent the assassination by investigating the plot or trying to infiltrate it and perhaps stop it. But when Ochs returned to NYC later that day,  according to Glover, he was devastated by Kennedy’s assassination and at the realization that he had been used and was now compromised.  That is why he cried so terribly that night and wanted to die.  His youthful innocence had died.

Phil Ochs was a man of two minds and inclinations, not unusual for a coterie of musicians of that era who knew and associated with it each other, had military/intelligence family backgrounds, and were never drafted like so many young men not in college. Like so many of these musical icons – Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, “Papa” John Philips, Stephen Stills, et al (as Dave McGowan chronicles in his book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, where he questions their public personae and the strange ways they gathered from far distances at one time into Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon, at the heart which was a covert military film facility, Lookout Mountain Laboratory)  – Ochs had a military background.  He was a conservative rebel who suddenly transformed from a conservative to a radical at Ohio State in his last year, according to Glover. He attended Staunton Military Academy with Barry Goldwater’s son and John Dean of Watergate fame and was a sergeant in the ROTC at Ohio State where at the least he was aware of military intelligence spying on radical students; he idolized John Wayne, James Dean, Marlon Brando and the American western film mythology of the cowboy and soldier; he loved John Kennedy; he sang powerful anti-war songs and would jokingly say to his audience that now that they had listened to his anti-government songs he was turning them in to the government; he was a drama king who loved heroes and wanted to be one; he was a left-winger who mocked liberals; he was a folk singer who loved Elvis.  In short, he was a man of many contradictions, of highs and lows, hope and despair, driven to stop war and injustice and to become a star in the superficial entertainment culture, etc.  As he fell apart in his last years, it became easy to categorize him with the facile term “manic-depressive” or “bipolar.”

I think that misses the heart of the matter, as if a term explains its reality, as if his paranoia had no basis outside his mind, as if he was just nuts to think the CIA was out to get him, as he did regularly and especially after he was attacked and choked while walking alone on a beach in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, when his vocal cords were ruptured and his voice permanently damaged.

My guess is that he was driven by guilt and fear and that his suicide at age 35 was connected to being in Dallas on the day JFK was assassinated.  I think he died that day too, and that the next 13 years of his life were courageous attempts to quell his guilt for being gulled into going to Dallas and fear that he might be killed for doing so by singing out his rebellious songs in the face of his ghosts. He was a haunted man, and produced haunting songs in response to exorcise his demons, including the songs The Crucifixion and That Was the President, both about John Kennedy.

In his last years he said he was John Train (sometimes John Butler Train), not Phil Ochs, and that John Train had killed Phil Ochs in the Chelsea Hotel on the summer solstice in 1975, the solstice being a significant turning point.  His biographers give various explanations for his adoption of this pseudonym, all of which, I believe, miss the mark.  To say he took the name from his heroes John Wayne, John Ford, John Kennedy, and William Butler Yeats, avoids the key word: Train. It’s as if the word is unimportant or unspeakable, or the name John Train is a common name that “crazy” Phil just made up.

As he was unravelling in fear and trembling, I believe he was referring to a real John Train, a CIA operative, when he metaphorically said “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train….For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.” Train assassinates Ochs.  Then the following spring Ochs assassinates Ochs by hanging himself.

Could it just be a coincidence that there is a real John Train who from the early 1950s onward was connected to the CIA and the covert state in various activities as an asset or an agent?  This John Train, who was one of the founders and funders of The Paris Review, its first managing editor, who together with the CIA’s Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton started the magazine for the CIA under its propaganda front, The Congress for Cultural Freedom.  This John Train, who ran cover corporations for the CIA and was connected to George Herbert Walker Bush through the CIA’s Thomas Devine, who was involved in setting up Bush’s company Zapata Offshore.  This John Train, who was deeply involved with the CIA’s activities in the early 1980s backing the CIA-supported mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan.  This John Train who….1

It is farfetched in the extreme to think that Phil Ochs just plucked the name John Train out of thin air. But the fact that this is asserted by his biographers makes sense when we realize that Jim Glover’s claims are ignored by Ochs’s family, his biographers, and the makers of the documentary about him.  That there is a real CIA-affiliated John Train and that Glover insists Phil told him he was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 seem clearly connected.  But these facts are unspeakable.  I think they need to be explored.

Like Jim Glover, I don’t have all the answers about Phil Ochs.  My guess and my hope is that Phil was used and was not complicit, that he naively thought by going to Dallas he was working with the good guys to protect the president from the killers, and when he witnessed the brutal murder, he felt compromised, and felt so overwhelmed with guilt and fear that life eventually became too unbearable for him.  Clearly this is Glover’s story.  I think it is incumbent on those who don’t believe it to explain why Glover would fabricate such an intricate tale that glorifies his friend as a true patriot,  whom he claims was used by intelligence operatives and who therefore suffered for the rest of his life for trying to protect President Kennedy.

Whatever the truth in this age of “not knowing,” I think his story is a parable for our times.  Whenever you think you’re getting the straight scoop, think again, and then again.  The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird is still singing its siren song to convince us that the crucifixion was a one-time event, when Phil knew otherwise, right from the start and right to the end. I think he tried to warn us and wouldn’t be silenced, even in death.

When I’m Gone

  1. See Joel Whitney’s Finks, Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets, David McGowan’s Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, and Bill Kelly’s http://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2013/05/phil-ochs-at-dealey-plaza.html

Spooks and the Masked Media

Back of the world in which we live, far in the background, lies another world.  The relation between the two is not unlike the relation we sometimes see in the theater between the forestage scene in the regular acting area and a scrim scene projected behind it.  Through a thin gauze we see, as it were, a world of gauze, lighter, more ethereal, qualitatively different from the actual world.  Many people who appear bodily in the actual world do not belong in it but in that other.

— Soren Kierkegaard, “Diary of the Seducer” in Either/Or

From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings, with full knowledge restricted to the Director of Central Intelligence and a few of his chosen deputies.

— Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone

Personality is persona, a mask…The mask is magic…Larva means mask; or ghost…it also means mad, a case of demoniacal possession.

— Norma O. Brown, Love’s Body

There are innocent and guilty actors populating the American stage.

Unlike the naïve children who joyously revel in the costumes they don for Halloween, unaware as they are of the death fears they exorcise, the corporate mainstream media wear their masks year-round, while they consciously abet the United States government, its intelligence agencies, and its allies in exercising their God-given right to inflict death on people around the world, including many innocent children.

To point out the media’s sickening hypocrisy (Greek hypokrites, stage actor) is, in one way, quite easy and facile, but in another quite difficult because of the powerful hypnotic hold people’s “trusted” media have on them.  To even suggest that people’s favorite mainstream media are doing the work of the secret state feels so insulting to people’s intelligence with its suggestion of gullibility that many recoil in anger at the possibility.  A common retort is that it is absurd to suggest that The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, etc. are just disseminating propaganda from behind a mask of objectivity.  And it is that small word “just” that reveals the falsity of the reply.  For obviously these media organizations report truthfully on certain matters.  For if they didn’t, their lies would not work.  But when it comes to crucial matters of foreign or domestic policy – matters that involve the controlling interests of the elites – lies and deceptions are the rule.

Yes, Trump is a narcissistic mana personality who has entranced and mystified his hard core followers. But to think he is the only hypnotist on the stage is childish beyond belief.  The psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi observed that people are so susceptible to returning to an imaginary childhood through hypnotic trances because “In our innermost soul we are still children, and we remain so throughout life.”  Like the little children who go trick-or-treating dressed up as ghosts, witches, or grim reapers, adults too fear death and are easily induced to believe god-like authorities who will quell their fears and ostensibly explain to them who the good and bad guys are.  Like parents with children, the masked media magicians play the good cop/bad cop game with great success.  Obama was a god; Trump, the devil.  Trump is a savior; Obama, a destroyer.  This charade is so obvious that it’s not.  But that’s how the play is played.  At the moment, all eyes are on Trump, who commands center stage. And those obsessively transfixed eyes are staring out of the heads of people of all political persuasions, those that love and those that loathe the man and all he stands for.  And who has created this obsession but none other than our friends in the corporate media, the same people who gave us Obama-mania.

Meanwhile, back stage…. it’s a wonderful life.

There’s Saudi Arabia and the recent news about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi war on Yemen.  You may rightly wonder what that is all about.

And you might remember and be wondering about the poisoning, allegedly by Russia, of those Russian nationals Sergei Scripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been kept in total isolation by the British authorities for eight months.

Do you wonder about where the war against Syria went?  Has it just gone to sleep until after November’s election?  Is that what wars do, take naps?

Do you wonder obsessively about the upcoming mid-term election and all those “former” CIA folks running for office?  “Crucial” elections, the media tell us.  The state of the country is riding on them, right?  Or is it the world?

There is so much to wonder about. The costumes are so creative, the masks mesmerizing. Something’s happening, right?  There is so much to wonder about in Wonderland. Something is happening, as Dylan sings:

You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?” and somebody else says, “Well, what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”
But something is happening and you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

As you no doubt do know, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other corporate media are outraged by the killing of Khashoggi and now by the Saudis’ war on Yemen.  Does their outrage make you wonder how outrage works?

Here from seven years ago:

The extent of America’s war in Yemen has been among the Obama administration’s most closely guarded secrets, as officials worried that news of unilateral American operations could undermine Mr. Saleh’s tenuous grip on power.

That was the NY Times’ Mark Mazzetti on June 8, 2011, two-and-a-half years into the Obama administration.

This is Mark Mazzetti for October 20, 2018, “Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider”:

In one conversation viewed by The Times, dozens of leaders [Saudi] decided to mute critics of Saudi Arabia’s military attacks on Yemen by reporting the messages to Twitter as “sensitive.

The article goes on to describe how the formerly Saudi good guys are getting bad and doing Russian-like stuff like trolling and “swarming and stifling critics on Twitter” in a propaganda and public relations campaign.  Boy, isn’t it shocking and a cause for wonder?  What they wouldn’t do!

And then there’s the Times’ emotional story from October 20, 2018 by Declan Walsh with photos and video from Tyler Hicks – “This is the Front Line of Saudi Arabia’s Invisible War” – that says:

The Khashoggi crisis has called attention to a largely overlooked Saudi-led war in Yemen. On a rare trip to the front line, we found Yemenis fighting and dying in a war that has gone nowhere.

“Largely overlooked” – by whom?  “Gone nowhere” – and where was it supposed to go?

Now what’s happening, Mr. Reader?  Has the worm turned?  Do you wonder? It’s hard to remember to forget or forget to remember, isn’t it?

Would this article – “U.S. stepping up weapons shipments to aid Saudi air campaign over Yemen – from April, 7, 2015 make you wonder what’s happening now?

It begins:  “The United States appears to be slowly but steadily deepening its involvement in the war in Yemen.”

So many things “appear” and disappear, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Yes, the American stage is populated with so many spooky masked media characters, you’d think they were out to scare and trick us, rather than treat us well.

I’m afraid that’s what’s happening in Wonderland, Mr. Jones.

The Apocalypse Not Now

It was balmy and breezy by the bench where I sat outside a public library east of Atlanta, Georgia, brooding about the state of the world.  It seemed like the end times, and I had just attended a fire and brimstone sermon, not perused the mainstream and alternative press. I had just spent a few hours on the internet, noting so many articles that announced that the world as we know it was coming to an end, or maybe just the world.  The American Empire was collapsing, the U.S.A. was a failed state, climate change would soon destroy the world if nuclear war didn’t do it first, etc.  Many of these articles were predicting that soon the elites who run the U.S. would be getting their comeuppance because of hubris and overreach and, like the Roman Empire, the die had been cast and disaster was on the horizon.  Such prognostications were appearing in publications that covered the political spectrum.  All of it was fear-inducing, notwithstanding one’s political beliefs.  Left, right, and center had reasons to be depressed or elated by the claims, depending on one’s politics and existential reality.  And, need I surmise, the writers of these jeremiads were probably writing from a position of personal privilege, not scrounging for their next meal.

And it was a beautiful mid-October day.  The benches by the adjacent church were full of homeless people, their meagre belongings arrayed at their feet.  The susurrant sound of the leaves of the sycamore tree that formed a sacred canopy above me was lulling me to sleep.  In my half-asleep state, I, a northerner, was dreaming I was a Georgian civilian hiding behind the enemy’s lines, those lines being General Sherman’s Union Army’s artillery that was arrayed a few miles to my west and was shelling Atlanta.  And in this reverie I was also aware that, as I wouldn’t have been in 1864, that Sherman would soon leave Atlanta and lead his troops on the savage “march to the sea” that would earn him the appellation as the American father of total warfare that would become America’s tactic from World War I until the present day, a form of warfare that has brought apocalyptic death and destruction to millions around the globe.  Lost and frightened in this half-dreaming state with my eyes closed, I was startled by a thud and dim awareness of a shadow to my left.

Awakening, I saw that a homeless man had sat next to me. We said hello.  “Sorry to give you a fright,” he said, “but all the benches by the church are taken.”  We got to talking.  He told me that he had been homeless for almost two years, that he had originally been from Indiana, where he had graduated from the University of Indiana, and that when he was laid off he was unable to pay his mortgage and had lost his small house.  He looked to be in his late thirties, with a scruffy beard and a very tired face.  His name was Paul.

Among his tattered belongings, I was surprised to see an old paperback copy of a book sticking out of a side pocket of one of his bags.  I knew the title – Raids on the Unspeakable – by the anti-war Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, who died in a very mysterious manner in Bangkok, Thailand fifty years ago this December 10.  Merton’s death was the third that year of prominent and influential anti-war fighters:  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy having earlier been assassinated by forces of the American national security state.  Nineteen sixty-eight had been a very bad year for peace and peace-makers.  It was a year of endless war and strife, a time when everything seemed to be collapsing.  And here we are.

Paul told me he had picked the book out of a box of books that had been set out for garbage pickup.  He said he had read a few of the essays and one in particular had struck him.  It is called “Rain and the Rhinoceros.”  I knew and loved the essay and was startled by the serendipity of our meeting.  He said the reason the essay struck home to him was because he had grown up on a farm in Indiana and had spent much of his youth outdoors.  He loved the natural world, and his mother and grandmother had early introduced him to the “Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Reilly, whose poems he had memorized.  He proceeded to recite a stanza from one of them for me, as I, mesmerized, watched his expressive face light up.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! When I last saw the place,
The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
Whare the old divin’-log lays sunk and fergot.
And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be—
But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin’-hole.

Then his face grew dark again, tired and forlorn.  He said that when he lost his home, the last piece of mail he opened was his water bill, and it was sky high.  He thought it appropriate that since he couldn’t afford a home, he couldn’t afford water, the water of life that should be free.  And that’s what so resonated for him in the Merton essay.  Merton’s opening paragraph, which he opened to show me, goes like this:

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

“When they will sell you even your rain,” he said sadly.  “They sold me a bill of goods.  The American dream!  What a bad joke, here I am, a college graduate, not a drunk or drug addict, and I’m living in a tent in the woods in a ravine by a golf course.  Some nights I think they make it rain on me for fun, as if to say: here’s your free water, you loser.”

He asked about me, and I told him who I was and why I was there.  I mentioned the end-of-the-world articles I had been reading earlier, realizing as I did that I was saying a dumb thing to this this poor guy whose world was in tatters already.

Then he taught me this, as if he were Socrates asking questions.  I paraphrase:

If you were Merton’s “they,” those who rule the American Empire and your oppressed subjects were restless and awakening to their plight, what message would you want to convey to keep the peons from rebelling?  What strategies, short of direct violence, would be most effective in rendering even the relatively well-off middle class passive and docile?  What, in other words, is the most effective form of social control, outside economic exploitation and fear of penury, in a putative democracy when all the controlling institutions have lost the trust of most of the population?

Then, without skipping a beat, he answered his own questions.  You would, he said, tell them that the sky is falling, the empire is collapsing, that the rich rulers are going to get theirs when the system collapses on itself and that this is in the process of happening right now.  So sit back and watch the show as it closes down.  The end is near.

Then he said he had to go.  Lunch was being served at the nearby soup kitchen and if you didn’t get there early, they sometimes ran out of food.

As he walked away, I thought of my vast ignorance and the society of illusions and delusions that I was living in, a constant streaming theater of the absurd.  I wanted to cry for this man and all people, even myself, as he disappeared around the corner.  He seemed to carry his loneliness in the old backpack that weighed him down.  As he turned the corner, he looked back and waved, a smile on his face.  I felt overcome, and when I recovered my bearings, I noticed he had left the book on the bench.  But by then he was long gone.  I opened it to a page that was dog-eared, and read these words of Merton, another solitary man in the woods, his solitude a choice, not, like Paul, an imposed necessity, at least the living arrangement part:

It is in the desert of loneliness and emptiness that the fear of death and the need for self-affirmation are seen to be illusory. When this is faced, then anguish is not necessarily overcome, but it can be accepted and understood. Thus, in the heart of anguish are found the gifts of peace and understanding: not simply in personal illumination and liberation, but by commitment and empathy, for the contemplative must assume the universal anguish and the inescapable condition of mortal man. The solitary, far from enclosing himself in himself, becomes every man. He dwells in the solitude, the poverty, the indigence of every man.

Next to this paragraph was the word “Paul,” written in blue ink.

It was such an achingly beautiful day.  I got up and left the book on the bench, as I too walked away, after writing “Ed” in black ink next to Paul’s blue.

We are all bruised, aren’t we?  But often times those bruised the most have the most to give.

This is Paul’s gift.

Showtime in America: Idiots’ Delight

 The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them.

— Karl Kraus, Half-Truths & One-and-a-Half Truths

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself.

— Mark Twain

All cats die. Socrates is dead. Socrates is a cat.

— Eugene Ionesco, Rhinoceros

If believability is your gauge for discerning truth, you are living in a fantasy world.  But that is the reality of life in the United States today. This is the land of make-believe in which actors and audiences are engaged in a vast folie à deux full of sound and fury signifying a nothingness that passes for intelligence.  Assertions made convincingly enough are the new facts for a population hypnotized by a stage-managed reality show.

The recently closed Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show that mercifully had a short run at the National Comedic Congressional Theater is the latest case in point.  The believeability of the actors was said to be the key issue.  In other words, who seemed to be telling the truth.  Demeanor was determinative.  Facial expressions evidence.  The mass media, those paragons of truth-telling, entertained their audiences for a few weeks by marching out their puerile pundits to tell audiences who of the two primary actors was more believable, while the politicians, not willing to allow their media accomplices to outdo them in truthfulness, donned their masks and performed their usual public service of moral outrage and did the same in their unbiased ways.

There was no child to yell and tell the world that all the king’s sycophants, like the king, were naked – naked liars whose jobs depended on disinformation and deceptions meant to amuse an entertainment-besotted and bored public hungry for a bit of truth in a society drowning in agitprop and propaganda.  A public watching the wrong show.

The words the real Frank Serpico, the honest and brave cop, not the actor, Al Pacino, who played him in the movie Serpico, come to my mind.  He told me that when he was lying in a pool of his own blood on the night of February 3, 1971, having been shot in the face in a set-up carried out by fellow cops, he heard a voice that said, “It’s all a lie.”

“It’s all a lie.”

Those words sum up the spectacle that is American society today.  And while lies are nothing new – didn’t Aletheia, the Greek goddess of truth, flee into the wilderness just last week and say to a wandering searcher, “Among the people of old, lies were found among only a few, but now they have spread throughout all of human society”? – we are living in a time of unprecedented technological media mind manipulation difficult to penetrate.  Harold Pinter called it “a tapestry of lies” in which facts don’t matter.  What happened never happened; what never happened happened.  It’s all about believeability in the national media’s hypnotic show, whose purpose Russell Baker described 25 years ago as being to “provide a manageably small cast for a national sitcom, or soap opera, or docudrama, making it easy for media people to persuade themselves they are covering the news while mostly just entertaining us.”

I know something about believeability.  When I was a young teenager I appeared on a famous game show called “To Tell the Truth.”  Of course, I lied, since lying was the name of the game then, as now.  I was not who I said I was.  When I walked out in front of millions of television viewers and the celebrities who would question my veracity, I knew (although I was an impostor and not the real Robert McGee – son of a U.S. Senator, by the way) how to put on a face to fool the faces that would scrutinize my smallest expressions for any sign of feigning.  Although these celebrities knew the game well, I beat them at the believeability game, I am sorry to say.  My demeanor or mien (facial expression) was in sync with my words, an ability to act that I didn’t know I had.  I was an all-American boy – a student at an elite Jesuit boys’ prep school, the captain of the basketball team, my father (Edward) a lawyer – learning the national pastime of seemingly being “perfectly honest” as I lied.  And it worked, and the $250 that I won – I almost said earned – set me on a path that led to a fork in the road that I took.  When I picked this fork up, it hissed and tried to bite me with its poisonous forked tongue. So I quickly threw it down.  It was then I realized that my thirty pieces of silver ($250) were a betrayal that would haunt me forever if I didn’t try to become a genuine actor.

Soon I would come to realize that my Jesuit schooling was preparing me to be “a man for all seasons.” It had nothing to do with beer and girls. It was all about becoming a member of the ruling class.  In other words, a man with a forked tongue who could speak out of both sides of his mouth to suit the occasion.  Learning this skill would lead me to the social heights where I could smoothly move among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, elites and regular people, defense attorneys and prosecutors, actors and audiences, alleged victims and alleged victimizers, etc.  Nothing would be foreign to me, except myself, for I could become a perfect hypocrite, a double-man, my own doppelganger without a shadow.

I could become another judge-penitent like Albert Camus’ Jean-Baptiste Clement in his novel, The Fall, and take up a double profession, become double-faced and rich in the process.  Perhaps I could join the CIA and “sincerely” follow its motto: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

I could become a professor with nothing to profess but my innocence.  I could become a psychologist and specialize in lie detector tests.  I could learn how to lie while sincerely telling the truth while hooked up to one.  I could be confused and act confused and not know the difference

I could denounce torture while justifying it.  I could pretend impartiality while being partial.  I could claim independence while playing the puppet. I could remember to forget and forget to remember and remember that I forgot the details of what I remembered.

And no matter how I acted or what I did I could always remain a “nice guy.”

I could even say with Clement that I am 100 % innocent, my case is exceptional, as I played the parts of victim and victimizer; could say:

As I told you, it’s a matter of dodging judgment.  Since it is hard to dodge it, tricky to get one’s nature simultaneously admired and excused, they [we] all strive to be rich.  Why?  Did you ever ask yourself?  For power, of course.  But especially because wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-platted automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins.  Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.

I could become such a celebrated actor that I could make you believe my believeability when I put on a tearful face or a devastated face or a confused face or an angry face. I could confess my vulnerability and make you my ally, and I could plead with you in a halting way to sympathize with how I was victimized so long ago or yesterday.  But even if you didn’t believe me, I could feel justified in knowing that I was playing my part in Show Time in America, keeping you amused, and doing my part to advance the interests of those who accepted me for the role.  And I could always deny that I had been selected, and could always maintain I entered center stage of my own volition because I wished to fulfill my civic duty to see justice done.

But I promise, like Clement, I would never reveal who stole the painting of “The Just Judges” that I keep hidden in my cupboard.  Some things must remain hidden.  After all, who wants to know the truth?

But I digress.  I’ll be quiet, and stop with the what-could-have-beens.  The show must go on.  We both know that.  It is what is.  I look forward to reading what will no doubt be a best-selling and most truthful exposé of the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show.  I imagine contracts have been signed, and the mini-series shouldn’t be far behind.

In the meantime, I would like to leave you laughing with a quote that has been disturbing me since I first read it after writing it:

Until we see through the charade of social life and realize the masked performers are not just the politicians and celebrities, not only the professional actors and the corporate media performers, but us, we won’t grasp the problem.  Lying is the leading cause of living death in the United States.  We live in a society built of lies; lying and dishonesty are the norm.  They are built into the fabric of all our institutions, into our psyches.  In America, there’s no business but show business, and we are sham actors, amusing ourselves to death while we spread death and destruction in our war theaters all around the world.  Theaters in which the tragic plays we direct hold no interest for us.  We prefer our Idiots’ Delight.

“It’s All a Lie.”  Maybe that should be the title of the next show.

 

Lost in the Theatre of Data, Dada, and Emotional Manipulation

It is not only information that they need – in this Age of Fact, information often dominates their attention and overwhelms their capacities to assimilate it…What they need, and what they feel they need, is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves…what may be called the sociological imagination.

— C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959

‘Our own death is indeed, unimaginable,’ Freud said in 1915, ‘and whenever we make the attempt to imagine it we can perceive that we really survive as spectators.’  It is thus the very habit of military situations that turn them theatrical.  And it is their utter unthinkableness: it is impossible for a participant to believe that he is taking part in such murderous proceedings in his own character.  The whole thing is too grossly farcical, perverse, cruel, and absurd to be credited as a form of ‘real life.’  Seeing warfare as theatre provides a psychic escape for the participant: with a sufficient sense of theatre, he can perform his duties without implicating his ‘real’ self and without impairing his innermost conviction that the world is still a rational place.  Just before the attack on Loos, Major Pilditch testifies to ‘a queer new feeling these last few days, intensified last night.  A sort of feeling of unreality as if I were acting on a stage….

— Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory

The society whose modernisation has reached the stage of integrated spectacle
is characterised by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalised secrecy, unanswerable lies, and eternal present . . . .

— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Hi-diddle-dee-dee
An actor’s life for me..
Hi-diddle-dee-dum
An actor’s life is fun

— Walt Disney, Pinocchio

It was 100 years ago this November 11th when World War I ended.  This “War to End All Wars,” resulted in the death of approximately 9 million soldiers and 9 million civilians. The brilliant leaders who waged this war – the crème de la crème – men who, in their own warped minds, possessed impeccable logic and rigorous reasoning, expected the war to be over in a few months.  It lasted four years. Like their more current American counterparts before they launched the war against Iraq in 2003, they expected a “cakewalk” or a “slam-dunk” (the former term is racist and the latter a sports term, perfect unconscious verbiage for the slaughter of “lesser” humans).  All these principals were data-demented, they had lined up their little toy ducks in a row and expected a neat and logical outcome.  Or so they said. The new weapons would make quick mincemeat of the enemy. Technology would expeditiously destroy to expeditiously save.  Nothing has changed in one hundred years

Such instrumental logic and its positivistic data reductionism has now deeply infected the popular mind, as common sense has been destroyed by government and mass media propaganda so blatantly ridiculous that only a hypnotized person could believe it.  But so many have been hypnotized and follow the repetitious and overwhelming streaming of each day’s markedly ad hoc “news,” following the Pied Piper to their doom via the wizardry of digital technology.  Raptly attentive to the “politainment” that passes for journalism, they pin ball between alleged assertions of fact cobbled together with tendentious and faulty logic and theatrical displays of emotion meant to manipulate an audience of spectators in the national theatre of absurdity.  It is all show and tell in which the audience is expected to react emotionally rather than think, with images and feelings having replaced concentrated reflection, and facts and evidence having disappeared like a coin from a magician’s hand.

This technological surround-sound theatre has reduced everything to play-acting, with audiences and their puppeteers playing reciprocal parts.  Theodor Adorno analogizes thus:

Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies. The sound film, far surpassing the theatre of illusion, leaves no room for imagination or reflection on the part of the audience, who is unable to respond within the structure of the film, yet deviate from its precise detail without losing the thread of the story; hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality. The stunting of the mass-media consumer’s powers of imagination and spontaneity does not have to be traced back to any psychological mechanisms; he must ascribe the loss of those attributes to the objective nature of the products themselves, especially to the most characteristic of them, the sound film. They are so designed that quickness, powers of observation, and experience are undeniably needed to apprehend them at all; yet sustained thought is out of the question if the spectator is not to miss the relentless rush of facts.

Meanwhile, the real business of murder, mayhem, and economic exploitation continues apace. As one “small” example of a fact relegated to oblivion by our mainstream media, in Gaza this past week, Israeli occupation forces killed Nasser Azim Musabeh (12), Mohammed Nayef Ai (14), Mohammed Ali Mohasmmed Anshasi, (18), Iyar Khalil Al-Sha’er (18), Mohasmmed Bassam Mohammed (24), Mohammed Walid Haniyeh (23), and Mohammed Ashraf Awawdeh (23). But such facts don’t matter since these dead young people were already reduced to invisible people not worthy of a mention.

Rather, pseudo-debates and pseudo-events are created by media and political magicians whose goal is to confuse the audience through information (data) and emotional overload into thinking that they are “freely” choosing what is always the same, to paraphrase Theodor Adorno. It is a conjurer’s act of mind manipulation in support of a repressive political and economic ideology built on false dichotomies.  The political/media empire creates its own “reality” that the captivated audience takes as reality, as their emotions swing from outrage to laughter and their electronic clickers jump them from show to show, from CNN or Fox or the New York Times to Saturday Night Live in the land where there is no business but show business.  “Amusing ourselves to death,” as Neal Postman so aptly put it.  To which I would add: As we put others to death outside the show.

The other day I was in a library and was looking through a large book of World War I photographs from the Imperial War Museum that I found lying on a table.  They were arranged chronologically from the start of the war in 1914 to its end in 1918.  Fascinating photos, I thought.  I went through the book page by page, examining the photos one by one, beginning with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by a young guy, on through the photos of stiff British war-hawk leaders in double-breasted suits, through photos of the trenches and the new weapons until I reached photos of the treaty to “end” it.  By the conclusion, I felt exhausted and knew nothing new. Photos as data.  Click, click, click: How many are enough? It was like spending an hour with the mainstream corporate media, and much of the alternative press. It was like a black and white movie in no motion.  Same old, same old, as a young man I know often says when I ask him what’s new.  Same old data via photographs.  War is hell.  Ditto.   Bodies get blown to bits and decompose in mud.  Ditto.  Heads get separated from necks and blood pours forth.  Ditto.  War is hell.  Ditto.  Great leaders meet and end the carnage.  Ditto.

Ditto Data Dada.  I had to imagine the subsequent pages and years as these great leaders, so disgusted by war, prepared for the next one, and the one following, etc. Ditto, data, dada.

I understood then why the first famous Dadaist piece of art that emerged from absolute disgust with the data driven crazies who started and waged WW I was Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “Fountain,” a porcelain urinal signed by R. Mutt, a message to tell the “great” leaders to piss off.

But Dadaist art, like all avant-garde art, gets quickly sucked into the maw of the entertainment complex, which is another name for the propaganda complex.  As the word media means etymologically – magicians – these sorcerer’s have developed and use every bit of black magic to engineer the consent of the bewildered herd, to blend the words of two of America’s key propagandists from the past: Edward Bernays, Freud’s American nephew and President Woodrow Wilson’s master propagandist for WW I, and the famous journalist Walter Lippman.  Bernays put it straight and succinctly:

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of engineering of consent.  The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process.  It affects almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Last week I attended a production of the play Annie in a community theatre in a liberal town in the northeast.  The show was sold out, and I was there because my lovely granddaughter was performing in the play, one whose story and music I was very familiar with.  The show was delightful and the audience was enraptured by the performances and the wonderful music.  If you are not familiar with the story, it is about an 11 year old orphan named Annie who, in 1933 when FDR has assumed the presidency, is in search of her biological parents.  Together with other orphans in a NYC orphanage, she is treated miserably by a character named Miss Hannigan.  By the play’s end, Annie is adopted by a wealthy man to presumably live happily ever after.  At one point in the play, this wealthy man brings Annie to Washington D. C. to meet his friend, President Roosevelt. He says to FDR, Franklin, you need to do something and get my factories humming again. In this scene, Roosevelt and his cabinet, the wealthy man, and Annie sing the very upbeat song – “Tomorrow” – which Roosevelt loves since it offers hope in the dark time of the great depression.  Everyone sings the stirring song, many in the audience silently singing along and the mood in the theater elevates.  By the play’s end Annie is adopted by the wealthy man, whose name is Daddy Warbucks.

This super-capitalist billionaire with a mansion on Fifth Avenue and a heart of gold has made his riches making weapons for WW I, though this is not spelled out in the show.  I kept wondering what the audience of liberal-minded people were thinking, or if they were, about the strange fact the hero of the show was a man with a war-monger’s name whose factories had produced armaments that had created tens of thousands of war orphans and who was urging the liberal Roosevelt to get his munitions factories up and running again in 1933.  I suspected they weren’t thinking about this at all and that the work of subtle propaganda was being magically induced at an unconscious level.  For how could such a nice, caring guy, who adopts the cute Annie and who sings such tuneful songs, be a killer?

I guiltily thought: I shouldn’t be thinking such thoughts, as I also thought how can I not think them.  Emotionally I felt one thing, and intellectually another.  This was the classic double-bind.

Upon further reflection, I realized that this is how the finest propaganda works.  It splits people in two and works subtly.  Emotionally you are pulled one way, and intellectually another, if you are thinking at all. There are certain connections you are not supposed to make or verbalize, when to oppose the powerful sway of the media’s emotional appeals is considered a betrayal of your humanity and certain victims, such as a cute orphan or acceptable victims, even when that doesn’t follow logically.

But in the Magic Theatre that is American life, false choices are the essence of the show. Democrats vs. Republicans, Clinton vs. Bush, Bush vs. Obama, Obama vs. Trump, liberals vs. conservatives, and on and on endlessly.  It’s Dada, my friends, all theater.  The next election will change everything, right?  “The sun’ll come out/Tomorrow, So ya gotta hang on/‘Till tomorrow/ Come what may.”

Only when we leave the theatre can we see the real play.  But that’s a bold act for which no Oscars, Tonys, or Emmys are handed out.  And outside the theater’s warm embrace, it’s cold, and you feel like an orphan looking for a home, no matter how much blood-money purchased it. But don’t go in; it’s a trap.

The Suppression of Truth in the Land of Lies: An Oxymoron

If you are interested in reading the definitive book that demolishes the official lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001 – 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth – then Amazon has a great deal for you.  While they conveniently do not offer new copies of this book that was published on September 11th, having reported it “out of print” and currently “out of stock,” after never having had it in stock, they allegedly offer 3 used paperback copies from other sellers for sale prices that are quite affordable: $917.04, $1060.20, and $1,500.

If that 4 or 20 cents would bring you over budget, I would be glad to provide either amount.

Don’t these sound like great deals for a book that proves that the justification for the “war on terror” and the slaughter of millions of people is one of the biggest propaganda operations in modern history?  It’s always good to know you have a friend who can conveniently provide you with access to the truth at a fair price.

I must say, however, that Amazon offers a slightly better deal for another book they also never directly sold for some odd reason – Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte – a book that exposes the CIA infiltration of the major media throughout the world.  You can allegedly pick that one up through Amazon’s kind medium services for either $900 or $997.09, but that’s for a hardcover.

One person reports having seen a used copy of 9/11 Unmasked appear at amazon.co. uk one week after its official publication date of September 11 (an odd fact in itself), and when he ordered it, the book never arrived.  When he contacted the seller, he received a message from Amazon saying that the order had been cancelled, but no reason was given.  When the person tried to post a negative review of the seller, Amazon refused to publish it.

These days truth is temporarily out of stock.  No reason given.  People and books just disappear in this land of make-believe.

If it bothers you a bit that Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services, provides the CIA and other intelligence agencies with a “Secret Region” cloud service that complements Jeff Bezos’s other business, The Washington Post, don’t be alarmed.  I have conveyed a question through a certain medium’s mediumship to the deceased Frank Wisner, who is presumably beyond the clouds. He was the CIA’s architect of what he called his “mighty Wurlitzer,” on which he could play any propaganda tune he wanted through the CIA’s penetration through a covert action campaign of the mass media, journalists, student groups, women’s groups, and more.  I have asked him if there is anything untoward about any of these strange arrangements that so many readers of my review of 9/11 Unmasked have complained about: that for some strange reason they have been unable to get the book through Amazon.

As I hopefully await the medium’s response from Wisner, you may get impatient.  In that case you can immediately purchase the book through the publisher, Interlink Publishing, for $20.  It should save you quite a bit of time waiting.

But I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

Amazon Censorship of 9/11 Unmasked?

On September 10, 2018, I published a laudatory review of the new book, 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth. The review also appeared at many sites.  It is the definitive book on the defining event of the 21st century.  The book concludes that the official version(s) of the attacks of 11 September 2001 are false. The review was subsequently reposted at many publications.  There was great reader response and interest in the book, which was due for official release the next day, 11 September.  My review provided a link to the book’s Amazon page that noted the 11 September availability date.

By the next day readers were responding in great number that the Amazon site was reporting the book was “out of print,” when, in fact, it had just been published.  This “out of print” notification lasted until the evening of 13 September when it was changed to “in stock on September 30, 2018.”  By the following morning it was changed to “in stock on September 21, 2018,” only to be changed again between 11-12 PM on September 14 to “in stock on September 24, 2018,” only to be changed again to September 26, 2018, only to be changed again on Sunday, September 16, as I write, to “In stock on September 28.  It is unheard of for a book that has an official release date and that is available straight from the publisher to be listed as “out of print.” Amazon Canada continues to report that the book “has not yet been released.”  And obviously, all the date changes that push the book’s availability back by weeks suggest a clear-cut effort by Amazon to make sure readers cannot obtain the book quickly and in a timely manner from the most popular source, if ever.  Will they soon announce that the book will never be available for national security considerations or because it violates Amazon’s “content guidelines”?  The book’s publisher, Interlink Publishing, is selling the book now and says Amazon has the books.  So why is Jeff Bezos’s company playing this game?  His other major business, The Washington Post, (known as the CIA’s newspaper) is surely not going to review the book, nor would their editorial staff post encomiums to David Ray Griffin, Elizabeth Woodworth, their colleagues in this important research.

Readers should demand that Amazon immediately change their website and accept orders to be shipped today. Whether they are responsible for this game of chaotic discouragement or the intelligences services, who are fully capable of hacking into Amazon, as Edward Snowden has pointed out, I do not know.  But something very odd is happening and Amazon should correct it.

The Fakest Fake News: The U.S. Government’s 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

If you want to fathom today’s world, absolutely nothing is more important than to understand the truth about the attacks of September 11, 2001. This is the definitive book on the subject.

For seventeen years we have been subjected to an onslaught of U.S. government and corporate media propaganda about 9/11 that has been used to support the “war on terror” that has resulted in millions of deaths around the world.  It has been used as a pretext to attack nations throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.  It has led to a great increase in Islamophobia since Muslims were accused of being responsible for the attacks.  It has led to a crackdown on civil liberties in the United States, the exponential growth of a vast and costly national security apparatus, the spreading of fear and anxiety on a great scale, and a state of permanent war that is pushing the world toward a nuclear confrontation.  And much, much more.

The authors of this essential book, David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth, and all their colleagues who have contributed to this volume, have long been at the front lines trying to wake people up to the real news about 9/11.  They have battled against three U.S. presidents, a vast propaganda machine “strangely” allied with well-known leftists, and a corporate mass media intent on serving deep-state interests, all of whom have used illogic, lies, and pseudo-science to conceal the terrible truth.  Yet despite the establishment’s disinformation and deceptions, very many people have come to suspect that the official story of the September 11, 2001 attacks is not true.

With the publication of 9/11Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation, they now have a brilliant source book to use to turn their suspicions into certitudes.  And for those who have never doubted the official account (or accounts would be more accurate), reading this book should shock them into reality, because it is not based on speculation, but on carefully documented and corroborated facts, exacting logic, and the scientific method.

The book is based on the establishment in 2011 of a scientific review project comprising 23 experts with a broad spectrum of expertise, including people from the fields of chemistry, structural engineering, physics, aeronautical engineering, airline crash investigation, piloting, etc. Their job was to apply systematic and disciplined analyses to the verifiable evidence about the 9/11 attacks.  They used a model called the Delphi Method as a way to achieve best-evidence consensus.  This best-evidence consensus model is used in science and medicine, and the 9/11 Consensus Panel used it to examine the key claims of the official account(s).  Each “Official Account” was reviewed and compared to “The Best Evidence” to reach conclusions.  The authors explain it thus:

The examination of each claim received three rounds of review and feedback.  According to the panel’s investigative model, members submitted their votes to the two of us moderators while remaining blind to one another.  Proposed points had to receive a vote of at least 85 percent to be accepted…This model carries so much authority in medicine that medical consensus statements derived from it are often reported in the news.  They represent the highest standard of medical research and practice and may result in malpractice lawsuits if not followed.

This research process went on for many years, with the findings reported in this book.  The Consensus 9/11 Panel provides evidence against the official claims in nine categories:

  1. The Destruction of the Twin Towers
  2. The Destruction of WTC 7
  3. The Attack on the Pentagon
  4. The 9/11 Flights
  5. US Military Exercises on and before 9/11
  6. Claims about Military and Political Leaders
  7. Osama bin Laden and the Hijackers
  8. Phone Calls from the 9/11 Flights
  9. Insider Trading

Each category is introduced and then broken down into sub-sections called points, which are examined in turn.  For example, the destruction of the Twin Towers has points that include, “The Claim That No One Reported Explosions in the Twin Towers,” “The Claim That the Twin Towers Were Destroyed by Airplane Impacts, Jet Fuel, and Fire,” “The Claim That There Were Widespread Infernos in the South Tower,” etc.  Each point is introduced with background, the official account is presented, then the best evidence, followed by a conclusion.  Within the nine categories there are 51 points examined, each meticulously documented through quotations, references, etc., all connected to 875 endnotes that the reader can follow.  It is scrupulously laid out and logical, and the reader can follow it sequentially or pick out an aspect that particularly interests them.

The 9/11 Consensus Panel members describe their goal and purpose as follows:

The purpose of the 9/11 Consensus Panel is to provide the world with a clear statement, based on expert independent opinion, of some of the best evidence opposing the official narrative about 9/11.

The goal of the Consensus Panel is to provide a ready source of evidence-based research to any investigation that may be undertaken by the public, the media, academia, or any other investigative body or institution.

As a sociologist who teaches research methods and does much research, I find the Consensus Panel’s method exemplary and their findings accurate. They have unmasked a monstrous lie.  It is so ironic that such serious scholars, who question and research 9/11, have been portrayed as irrational and ignorant “conspiracy theorists” by people whose thinking is magical, illogical, and pseudo-scientific in the extreme.

A review is no place to go into all the details of this book, but I will give a few examples of the acumen of the Panel’s findings.

As a grandson of a Deputy Chief of the New York Fire Department (343 firefighters died on 9/11), I find it particularly despicable that the government agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), that was charged with investigating the collapse of the Towers and Building 7, would claim that no one gave evidence of explosions in the Twin Towers, when it is documented by the fastidious researcher Graeme MacQueen, a member of The 9/11 Consensus Panel, that over 100 firefighters who were at the scene reported hearing explosions in the towers.  One may follow endnote 22 to MacQueen’s research and his sources that are indisputable.  There are recordings.

On a connected note, the official account claims that there were widespread infernos in the South Tower that prevented firefighters from ascending to the 78th floor.  Such a claim would support the notion that the building could have collapsed as a result of fires caused by the plane crashing into the building.  But as 9/11 Unmasked makes clear, radio tapes of firefighters ascending to the 78th floor and saying this was not so, prove that “there is incontrovertible evidence that the firefighter teams were communicating clearly with one another as they ascended WTC” and that there were no infernos to stop them, as they are recorded saying.  They professionally went about their jobs trying to save people.

Then the South Tower collapsed and so many died.  But it couldn’t have collapsed from “infernos” that didn’t exist.  Only explosives could have brought it down.

A reader can thus pick up this book, check out that section, and use common sense and elementary logic to reach the same conclusion.  And by reaching that conclusion and going no further in the book, the entire official story of 9/11 falls apart.

Or one can delve further, let’s say by dipping into the official claim that a domestic airline attack on the Pentagon was not expected.  Opening to page 78, the reader can learn that “NBC’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski was warned of the Pentagon attack by an intelligence officer,” who specified the illogical spot where the attack would happen shortly before it did.  In Miklaszewski’s words, “And then he got very close to me, and, almost silent for a few seconds, he leaned in and said, ‘This attack was so well coordinated that if I were you, I would stay off the E Ring – where our NBC office was – the outer ring of the Pentagon for the rest of the day, because we’re next.’”  The authors say correctly, “The intelligence officer’s apparent foreknowledge was unaccountably specific.”  For if a terrorist were going to fly a plane into the Pentagon, the most likely spot would be to dive into the roof where many people might be killed, including top brass and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.  To make an impossibly acrobatic maneuver to fly low into an outside wall would make no sense.  And for the government to claim that this impossible maneuver was executed by the alleged hijacker Hani Hanjour, a man who according to documentation couldn’t even pilot a small plane, is absurd.  But the intelligence officer knew what would happen, and the reader can learn this, and marvel.

Or the reader can start from the beginning and read straight through the book.  They will learn in detail that the official version of the attacks of 9/11 is fake news at its worst.  It is a story told for dunces.

Griffin and Woodworth and their colleagues simply and clearly in the most logical manner show that the emperor has no clothes, not even a mask.

Since knowing the truth about the attacks of September 11, 2001 is indispensable for understanding what is happening in today’s world, everyone should purchase and read Unmasking 9/11: An International Review Panel Investigation.  Keep it next to your dictionary, and when you read or hear the latest propaganda about the 9/11 attacks, take it out and consult the work of the real experts.  Their words will clarify your mind.

It is the definitive book on the defining event of the 21st century.

A Diabolic False Flag Empire

The past is not dead; it is people who are sleeping.  The current night and daymares that we are having arise out of murders lodged deep in our past that have continued into the present.  No amount of feigned amnesia will erase the bloody truth of American history, the cheap grace we bestow upon ourselves.  We have, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel address, been feeding on “a vast tapestry of lies” that surrounds us, lies uttered by nihilistic leaders and their media mouthpieces for a very long time.  We have, or should have, bad consciences for not acknowledging being active or silent accomplices in the suppression of truth and the vicious murdering of millions at home and abroad.

But, as Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.”

No one is more emblematic of this noble effort than David Ray Griffin, who, in book after book since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has meticulously exposed the underside of the American empire and its evil masters.  His persistence in trying to reach people and to warn them of the horrors that have resulted is extraordinary.  Excluding his philosophical and theological works, this is his fifteenth book since 2004 on these grave issues of life and death and the future of the world.

In this masterful book, he provides a powerful historical argument that right from the start with the arrival of the first European settlers, this country, despite all the rhetoric about it having been divinely founded and guided, has been “more malign that benign, more demonic than divine.”  He chronologically presents this history, supported by meticulous documentation, to prove his thesis.  In his previous book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, Griffin cataloged the evil actions that flowed from the inside job/false flag attacks of September 11th, while in this one – a prequel – he offers a lesson in American history going back centuries, and he shows that one would be correct in calling the United States a “false flag empire.”

The attacks of 11 September 2001 are the false flag fulcrum upon which his two books pivot. Their importance cannot be overestimated, not just for their inherent cruelty that resulted in thousands of innocent American deaths, but since they became the justification for the United States’ ongoing murderous campaigns termed “the war on terror” that have brought death to millions of people around the world.  An international array of expendable people.  Terrifying as they were, and were meant to be, they have many precedents, although much of this history is hidden in the shadows.  Griffin shines a bright light on them, with most of his analysis focused on the years 1850-2018.

As a theological and philosophical scholar, he is well aware of the great importance of society’s need for religious legitimation for its secular authority, a way to offer its people a shield against terror and life’s myriad fears through a protective myth that has been used successfully by the United States to terrorize others.  He shows how the terms by which the U.S. has been legitimated as God’s “chosen nation” and Americans as God’s “chosen people” have changed over the years as secularization and pluralism have made inroads.  The names have changed, but the meaning has not. God is on our side, and when that is so, the other side is cursed and can be killed by God’s people, who are always battling el diabalo.

He exemplifies this by opening with a quote from George Washington’s first Inaugural Address where Washington speaks of “the Invisible Hand” and “Providential agency” guiding the country, and by ending with Obama saying “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”  In between we hear Andrew Jackson say that “Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number” and Henry Cabot Lodge in 1900 characterize America’s divine mission as “manifest destiny.”  The American religion today is American Exceptionalism, an updated euphemism for the old-fashioned “God’s New Israel” or the “Redeemer Nation.”

At the core of this verbiage lies the delusion that the United States, as a blessed and good country, has a divine mission to spread “democracy” and “freedom” throughout the world, as Hilary Clinton declared during the 2016 presidential campaign when she said that “we are great because we are good,” and in 2004 when George W. Bush said, “Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom.”   Such sentiments could only be received with sardonic laughter by the countless victims made “free” by America’s violent leaders, now and then, as Griffin documents.

Having established the fact of America’s claim to divine status, he then walks the reader through various thinkers who have taken sides on the issue of the United States being benign or malign.  This is all preliminary to the heart of the book, which is a history lesson documenting the malignancy at the core of the American trajectory.

“American imperialism is often said to have begun in 1898, when Cuba and the Philippines were the main prizes,” he begins.  “What was new at this time, however, was only that America took control of countries beyond the North American continent.”  The “divine right” to seize others’ lands and kill them started long before, and although no seas were crossed in the usual understanding of imperialism, the genocide of Native Americans long preceded 1898.  So too did the “manifest destiny” that impelled war with Mexico and the seizure of its land and the expansion west to the Pacific.  This period of empire building depended heavily on the “other great crime against humanity” that was the slave trade, wherein it is estimated that 10 million Africans died, in addition to the sick brutality of slavery itself.  “No matter how brutal the methods, Americans were instruments of divine purposes,” writes Griffin.  And, he correctly adds, it is not even true that America’s overseas imperialistic ventures only started in 1898, for in the 1850s Commodore Perry forced “the haughty Japanese” to open their ports to American commerce through gunboat diplomacy.

Then in 1898 the pace of overseas imperial expansion picked up dramatically with what has been called “The Spanish-American War” that resulted in the seizure of Cuba and the Philippines and the annexing of Hawaii.  Griffin says these wars could more accurately be termed “the wars to take Spanish colonies.”  His analysis of the brutality and arrogance of these actions makes the reader realize that My Lai and other more recent atrocities have a long pedigree that is part of an institutional structure, and while Filipinos and Cubans and so many others were being slaughtered, Griffin writes, “Anticipating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s declaration that ‘we don’t do empire,’ [President] McKinley said that imperialism is ‘foreign to the temper and genius of this free and generous people.’”

Then as now, perhaps mad laughter is the only response to such unadulterated bullshit, as Griffin quotes Mark Twain saying that it would be easy creating a flag for the Philippines:

We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

That would have also worked for Columbia, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and other countries subjugated under the ideology of the Monroe Doctrine; wherever freedom  and national independence raised its ugly head, the United States was quick to intervene with its powerful anti-revolutionary military and its financial bullying.  In the Far East the “Open Door” policy was used to loot China, Japan, and other countries.

But all this was just the beginning.  Griffin shows how Woodrow Wilson, the quintessentially devious and treacherous liberal Democrat, who claimed he wanted to keep America out of WW I, did just the opposite to make sure the U.S. would come to dominate the foreign markets his capitalist masters demanded.  Thus Griffin explores how Wilson conspired with Winston Churchill to use the sinking of the Lusitania as a casus belli and how the Treaty of Versailles’s harsh treatment of Germany set the stage for WW II.

He tells us how in the intervening years between the world wars the demonization of Russia and the new Soviet Union was started. This deprecation of Russia, which is roaring at full-throttle today, is a theme that recurs throughout The American Trajectory.  Its importance cannot be overemphasizedWilson called the Bolshevik government “a government by terror,” and in 1918 “sent thousands of troops into northern and eastern Russia, leaving them there until 1920.”

That the U. S. invaded Russia is a fact rarely mentioned and even barely known to Americans.  Perhaps awareness of it and the century-long demonizing of the U.S.S.R./Russia would enlighten those who buy the current anti-Russia propaganda called “Russiagate.”

To match that “divine” act of imperial intervention abroad, Wilson fomented the Red Scare at home, which, as Griffin says, had lasting and incalculable importance because it created the American fear of radical thought and revolution that exists to this very day and serves as a justification for supporting brutal dictators around the world and crackdowns on freedom at home (as is happening today).

He gives us brief summaries of some dictators the U.S has supported, and reminds us of the saying of that other liberal Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said of the brutal Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, that “he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.”  And thus Somoza would terrorize his own people for 43 years.  The same took place in Cuba, Chile, Iran, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc.  The U.S. also supported Mussolini, did nothing to prevent Franco’s fascist toppling of the Spanish Republic, and supported the right-wing government of Chiang-Kai Shek in its efforts to dominate China.

It is a very dark and ugly history that confirms the demonic nature of American actions around the world.

Then Griffin explodes the many myths about the so-called “Good War” – WW II.  He explains the lies told about the Japanese “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor; how Roosevelt wished to get the U.S. into the war, both in the Pacific and in Europe; and how much American economic self-interest lay behind it.  He critiques the myth that America selflessly wished to defend freedom loving people in their battles with brutal, fascist regimes.  That, he tells us, is but a small part of the story:

This, however, is not an accurate picture of American policies during the Second World War.  Many people were, to be sure, liberated from terrible tyrannies by the Allied victories.  But the fact that these people benefited was an incidental outcome, not a motive of American policies.  These policies, as [Andrew] Bacevich discovered, were based on ‘unflagging self-interest.’

Then there are the conventional and atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Nothing could be more demonic, as Griffin shows.  If these cold-blooded mass massacres of civilians and the lies told to justify them don’t convince a reader that there has long been something radically evil at the heart of American history, nothing will.  Griffin shows how Truman and his advisers and top generals, including Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff, knew the dropping of the atomic bombs were unnecessary to end the war, but they did so anyway.

He reminds us of Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s response to the question whether she thought the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of Clinton’s crippling economic sanctions were worth it: “But, yes, we think the price is worth it.”  (Notice the “is,” the ongoing nature of these war crimes, as she spoke.)  But this is the woman who also said, “We are the indispensable nation.  We stand tall…”

Griffin devotes other chapters to the creation of the Cold War, American imperialism during the Cold War, Post-Cold War interventions, the Vietnam War, the drive for global dominance, and false flag operations, among other topics.

As for false flag operations, he says, “Indeed, the trajectory of the American Empire has relied so heavily on these types of attacks that one could describe it as a false flag empire.”  In the false flag chapter and throughout the book, he discusses many of the false flags the U.S. has engaged in, including Operation Gladio, the U.S./NATO terrorist operation throughout Europe that Swiss historian Daniele Ganser has extensively documented, an operation meant to discredit communists and socialists.  Such operations were directly connected to the OSS, the CIA and its director Allen Dulles, his henchman James Jesus Angleton, and their Nazi accomplices, such as General Reinhard Gehlen.  In one such attack in 1980 at the Bologna, Italy railway station, these U.S. terrorists killed 85 people and wounded 20 others.  As with the bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia today on Yemeni school children, the explosive used was made for the U.S. military.  About these documented U.S. atrocities, Griffin says:

These revelations show the falsity of an assumption widely held by Americans.  While recognizing that the US military sometimes does terrible things to their enemies, most Americans have assumed that US military leaders would not order the killing of innocent civilians in allied countries for political purposes.  Operation Gladio showed this assumption to be false.

He is right, but I would add that the leaders behind this were civilian, as much as, or more than military.

In the case of “Operation Northwoods,” it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff who presented to President Kennedy this false flag proposal that would provide justification for a U.S. invasion of Cuba.  It would have involved the killing of American citizens on American soil, bombings, plane hijacking, etc.  President Kennedy considered such people and such plans insane, and he rejected it as such.  His doing so tells us much, for many other presidents would have approved it.  And again, how many Americans are aware of this depraved proposal that is documented and easily available?  How many even want to contemplate it?  For the need to remain in denial of the facts of history and believe in the essential goodness of America’s rulers is a very hard nut to crack.  Griffin has written a dozen books about 11 September 2001, trying to do exactly that.

If one is willing to embrace historical facts, however, then this outstanding book will open one’s eyes to the long-standing demonic nature of the actions of America’s rulers.  A reader cannot come away from its lucidly presented history unaffected, unless one lives in a self-imposed fantasy world.  The record is clear, and Griffin lays it out in all its graphic horror. Which is not to say that the U.S. has not “done both good and bad things, so it could not sensibly be called purely divine or purely demonic.” Questions of purity are meant to obfuscate basic truths. And the question he asks in his subtitle – Divine or Demonic? – is really a rhetorical question, and when it comes to the “trajectory” of American history, the demonic wins hands down.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one place where Griffin fails the reader.  In his long chapter on Vietnam, which is replete with excellent facts and analyses, he makes a crucial mistake, which is unusual for him.  This mistake appears in a four page section on President Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam.  In those pages, Griffin relies on Noam Chomsky’s terrible book – Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture (1993), a book wherein Chomsky shows no regard for evidence or facts – to paint Kennedy as being in accord with his advisers, the CIA, and the military regarding Vietnam.  This is factually false. Griffin should have been more careful and have understood this.  The truth is that Kennedy was besieged and surrounded by these demonic people, who were intent on isolating him, disregarding his instructions, and murdering him to achieve their goals in Vietnam.  In the last year of his life, JFK had taken a radical turn toward peace-making, not only in Vietnam, but with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and around the globe.  Such a turn was anathema to the war lovers. Thus he had to die.

Contrary to Chomsky’s deceptions, motivated by his hatred of Kennedy and perhaps something more sinister (he also backs the Warren Commission, thinks JFK’s assassination was no big deal, and accepts the patently false official version of the attacks of 11 September 2001), Griffin should have emphatically asserted that Kennedy had issued NSAM 263 on October 11, 1963 calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, and that after he was assassinated a month later, Lyndon Johnson reversed that withdrawal order with NSAM 273.  Chomsky notwithstanding, all the best scholarship and documentary evidence proves this.  And for Griffin, a wonderful scholar, to write that with the change from Kennedy to Johnson that “this change of presidents would bring no basic change in policy” is so shockingly wrong that I imagine Griffin, a man passionate about truth, simply slipped up and got sloppy here.  For nothing could be further from the truth.

Ironically, Griffin makes a masterful case for his thesis, while forgetting the one pivotal man, President John Kennedy, who sacrificed his life in an effort to change the trajectory of American history from its demonic course.

It is one mistake in an otherwise very important and excellent book that should be required reading for anyone who doubts the evil nature of this country’s continuing foreign policy.  Those who are already convinced should also read it, for it provides a needed historical resource and impetus to help change the trajectory that is transporting the world toward nuclear oblivion, if continued.

If – a fantastic wish! – The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? were required reading in American schools and colleges, perhaps a new generation would arise to change our devils into angels, the arc of America’s future moral universe toward justice, and away from being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, as it has been for so very long.

John McCain as Metaphoric Myth

Every notion of progress is refuted by the existence of the Iliad.

— Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, February 8, 1994

The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.

— Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

It’s still the same old story.  The best propaganda places individual stories within a larger framework.  The individual is extolled or damned in the service of the controlling myth.

Senator John McCain is a case in point.  As an individual, he is not important, except as the glorified stories about him and his own confabulations about himself can be used to enhance the controlling myth.  American history is replete with such bloodthirsty, war-mongering individuals, whose lives and stories serve to enhance the American myth of being “God’s New Israel” and Americans being God’s chosen people whose mission is to spread “freedom” and “democracy” around the world with our “terrible swift swords.”

As Bob Dylan put it:

But I learned to accept it/Accept it with pride/For you don’t count the dead/When God’s on your side.

Myths are the invisible narrative skeletons of our outward lives. They are limited in number and keep getting reused in different forms.   All we do hangs upon their bones.  This is true for nations and for individuals.  Myths are what people take for granted and do not question.  Our lives are telling stories, and myth means story.

We tell our lives by living stories.  Then others tell those stories about us when we are dead.

Of course, some control freaks try to manage their myths from the grave, as did McCain, who knew how the game is played, and who got his brothers-in-arms, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to polish his myth as he lay silent before them.

“We Lost a Good One,” blared the New York Times, as McCain was lying in state, and liars of state, Bush and Obama, were preparing to shill for him as they shilled for war and the overthrow of foreign governments for their masters.  Another member of the Club, Joseph Biden, had done his part in the mythologizing a few days earlier when he shed his famous “regular guy” tears as he spoke of his dear friend.  For those outside such a small circle of friends – the millions of passive TV spectators in the society of the spectacle – tears seal the deal, set the myth into an emotional space that just feels right. In mythmaking, feeling is all; facts don’t matter. And the military and religious symbolism, the pageantry and the majesty of the setting, make the eulogies resound more loudly.

It is through symbols, not just words, that the “people” are brought together to celebrate their mythic uniqueness, for the word symbol comes from the Greek, meaning to throw together, and for the in-crowd that is what they do.  We are in this together, one nation under God….while outside, as McCain, Bush, Obama, et al never failed to remind us “folks,” there lurks the diabolic (to throw apart) devils from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Russia, etc. ready to divide us from within and attack us from without.  We are the good “insiders,” they are the evil “outsiders.”  Such verbiage constitutes the essence of cultural myth creation and the core of American Exceptionalism.  It is practiced by the politicians and mainstream corporate media every day.

In speaking about McCain, Bush and Obama did so from within the frame of this great American Myth of Exceptionalism and God’s Chosen People.  McCain, who is a small piece of a much larger myth, was just another name added to the Pantheon.  Bush once said, “Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom.”  And Obama once confessed, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”  One can easily understand why McCain chose them.

Bush eulogized McCain thus: “In one epic life was written the courage and greatness of our country.”

Wasn’t it great to kill millions of Vietnamese and Iraqis?  Only the courageous from the home of the brave can perform such honorable duties, especially from the air.

“He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators,” said Bush, adding:

Whatever the cause, it was this combination of courage and decency that defined John’s calling, and so closely paralleled the calling of his country. It’s this combination of courage and decency that makes the American military something new in history, an unrivaled power for good.

And I too saw Satan laughing with delight, the day McCain died and was then eulogized by Bush.

Moreover, Obama intoned with such eloquence:

And finally while John and I disagreed on all kinds of foreign policy issues, we stood together on America’s role as the one nation, believing that with great power and great blessings comes great responsibility…But John understood that our security and our influence was won not just by our military might, not just by our wealth, not just by our ability to bend others to our will, but from our capacity to inspire others with our adherence to a set of universal values. Like rule of law and human rights and insistence on the God-given dignity of every human being.

Now I wonder what John’s and Barack’s dead victims in Libya and Syria would have to say about their “universal values” and respect for the “rule of law”?  Can the dead laugh sardonically?

The recent spectacle over John McCain’s death is a perfect example of myth creation.  McCain is, however, a metaphor for the larger ongoing narrative that has been going on for centuries and seems to have no end.

McCain’s apotheosis is a made for TV American hero movie, one that he first helped create and one that John Wayne would envy, as blatantly jingoistic and racist as Wayne was in “The Green Berets,” a movie released in 1968, the year after our hero McCain’s dubious involvement in the tragedy of the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier that killed 137 sailors, his being shot down while bombing North Viet Nam, and his subsequent years in captivity.  No doubt Sydney Schanberg’s devastating expose of McCain’s explanation of his years as a POW will play no part in the today’s mythologizing.

If only Wilfred Owen’s words could have been piped into the National Cathedral during the funeral ceremony, maybe the myth-making would have ceased and truth revealed.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. ((Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917 and March, 1918.))

But that is wishful thinking in this land of make-believe, where such poetic obscenities are not allowed in the Cathedral of God’s People.