Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five Lingering Unsolved Mysteries From the JFK Assassination



It has now been 49 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Since then, thousands of books have been written about what is probably the single biggest unsolved mystery of the 20th century. After nearly half a century, it's becoming increasingly clear that we may never fully understand what happened that day.

I myself have long harbored doubts about the government's own seriously flawed version of what happened in Dealey Plaza. The 1964 Warren Commission Report has rightfully been criticized over the years for the inaccuracies and flawed information it contained.

The vast majority of Kennedy assassination books over the decades have concluded that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. However, many conspiracy theories themselves have been debunked over the years. In fact, sloppy work by conspiracy writers has, in my view, damaged the quest for truth in the case.

Authors like Gerald Posner, who have worked to debunk conspiracies, have in turn been harshly criticized by the pro-conspiracy community. Posner's book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK was once praised as a solid rebuttal to the conspiracy writers. But in recent years, Posner has increasingly come under fire and his reputation has taken a beating (even among those who believe Oswald acted alone).

One problem that plagues works like Posner's book (as well as pro-conspiracy works like Oliver Stone's JFK film) is that the case is simply too vast and complex to be adequately addressed in a single work.

After reading numerous JFK assassination books over the years, both pro and con, I still keep an open mind about the case. I'm not 100 percent convinced, either way, although I do lean toward the theory that Oswald did not act alone.

In any case, there are still unresolved mysteries surrounding the JFK Assassination that haven't been adequately explained to this day. Here are five of them.

1. What happened to Mary Moorman's missing fifth photo in Dealey Plaza? Moorman is known for her famous Polaroid photo that captures the JFK assassination at nearly the precise instant the head shot occurred. What is less well-known, though, is that Moorman took other photos that day. One photo she took moments before the assassination reportedly depicted the sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. The photo was reportedly turned over to Secret Service agents shortly after the assassination and vanished from sight. It has never been published and it remains missing to this day.

2. Why was Oswald's handwritten note to FBI agent James Hosty destroyed? Oswald wrote a note to Hosty a week or two before the assassination. Within hours of Oswald's death on Nov. 24, 1963, the note was torn up and flushed down the toilet by Hosty. Hosty had claimed his superior, Gordon Shanklin, had ordered him to destroy the note. However, Shanklin denied this. The lingering mystery, though, is exactly what the contents of Oswald's note were and why the note was destroyed in the first place.

3. Whatever happened to the mysterious "Babushka Lady," who was seen in the Zapruder film of the assassination? Zapruder's film depicts a woman wearing a head scarf who in turn is filming the JFK motorcade at the moment of the assassination. Given that the Babushka Lady is very close to the motorcade, her film would offer invaluable evidence if it could be located today. The problem is, shortly after the assassination, the Babushka Lady and her film vanished from history. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver came forward and claimed she was the Babushka Lady and that her film was confiscated by the FBI. But her story has never been confirmed.

4. What happened in the mysterious death of Oswald's friend, George de Mohrenschildt? A noted member of the Russian emigre community in Dallas, De Mohrenschildt became an unlikely friend of Oswald in 1962. He testified at length before the Warren Commission in 1964. In later years, he became increasingly depressed and distraught and believed the CIA was persecuting him. On March 29, 1977, de Mohrenschildt was contacted by an investigator with the House Select Committee on Assassinations, asking for an interview. That same day, de Mohrenschildt was found dead from a gunshot wound. De Mohrenschildt's death has been called a suicide, but its timing does seem mysterious.

5. Did Joseph Milteer have foreknowledge of the assassination? 13 days before the assassination, right-wing extremist Milteer gave tape-recorded comments to a Miami police informant that eerily predicted key details of the JFK assassination. Milteer claimed that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in the works and described a scenario in which the president would be shot "from an office building with a high-powered rifle." Milteer also predicted that, in the aftermath of the assassination, the police would arrest a patsy "to throw the public off." Amazingly, the Warren Commission gave very little attention to Milteer's interview. Milteer remains a shadowy and mysterious figure to this day. His 1963 tape-recorded remarks can be heard in the video above.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tea Party Played Key Role in Romney's Defeat


Shell-shocked Republicans are continuing to do a post-mortem on why Mitt Romney's bid for the White House was a flop. But in trying to understand their defeat, they really need to point the finger of blame at a section of the GOP itself: the Tea Party.

Since it sprang into action a few years ago, the Tea Party has prided itself on "re-energizing" the GOP base and returning the party to its core principles. And indeed, the Tea Party did inspire a lot of Conservatives who had been dismayed by the likes of big-spending George W. Bush (even though the Tea Party only started making a big fuss when President Obama entered the White House).

The Tea Party made itself into a force to be reckoned within the GOP. It was a force that could no longer be ignored by party leaders. Which meant that the "moderate" Romney was obligated to pick a Tea Party favorite as his VP selection.

Paul Ryan may have delighted the Tea Partiers. But his hard-line extremism scared the hell out of the rest of us. Far from enhancing the Romney ticket, it's clear that Ryan was a liability from Day One.

Ryan's presence on the ticket demonstrates that the GOP still hasn't grasped one of the cardinal rules of U.S. politics. That is: you don't screw with Medicare. No matter how much lipstick the GOP tried to put on Ryan's "voucher" pig, most non-Fox News-watching voters saw it for what it was: the first step toward ending Medicare entirely.

Frankly, the Tea Party should take much of the blame for Romney's failed White House bid. Yes, the movement did inspire a segment of the GOP. But in doing so, it poisoned the overall GOP brand.

In keeping Tea Party figures like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann out of the spotlight during the GOP convention, the GOP tried to downplay the extremist crazies in the party that scared middle-of-the-road voters. Oddly, though, the GOP didn't grasp that it'd be a problem if a Tea Party extremist was given the VP nod.

Tea Partiers have long claimed that they're working to "save" America and return the GOP to its roots. But really, all the movement has accomplished is to damage the Republican brand and to make average voters wary of an increasingly extreme GOP.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama Wins Re-election: Eat It, Citizens United


I'm not sure how on earth President Obama prevailed over the array of powerful and sinister forces arrayed against him. But he did---and he's now going to be our president for the next four years.

It's quite an impressive accomplishment. Consider all the obstacles Obama faced:

1. "Citizens United" which pretty much handed over to rich & powerful corporations the right to buy elections in America. Obama somehow overcame the vast sums of money that the likes of ExxonMobil and Walmart and the Koch brothers were able to throw into Romney's campaign. I'm not sure how Obama prevailed. And I'm certain that, despite this victory, the threat to American democracy that Citizens United poses remains very real and ongoing. "Citizens United" will continue to threaten American democracy until it is repealed.

2. The vast GOP propaganda apparatus of Fox "News," Drudge, Limbaugh and the rest of hatewing radio. Despite their vicious and relentless attacks on Obama, somehow the truth prevailed.

3. Romney's constant flipflops and outrageous lies. Romney is the biggest liar to ever pursue the office of president. Considering that the mainstream media rarely even bothered to counter his lies, it's astonishing that more people weren't deluded into supporting him.

4. Various GOP dirty tricks. From the shenanigans involving voting machines in Ohio to the GOP's suppression of the voting rights of minorities, things turned out infinitely better than what a lot of us progressives had dared to hope for.

Congratulations to President Obama. Here's to another four years.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Fighting Back Against the GOP's Suppression of the Black Vote



The GOP's suppression of the African-American vote is increasing with every election. It could well tip the balance of tomorrow's election to Mitt Romney.

As usual, the site is documenting this sad fact of modern day American life. As the site notes:

"We're making a strong push to mobilize Black voters and our allies leading up to Election Day on November 6. We need people across the country to hear this message, and we need your help to spread the word. Help us get out the vote by sharing this powerful video demonstrating how our community has stood up against suppression efforts decade after decade, election after election."

Click here to get updates from's efforts to fight back against the GOP's suppression of the African-American vote. is also teaming up with Video the Vote to find volunteers to help document voting irregularities on Election Day.

As the site notes: "By recording activity at polling places, you’ll help keep groups like True the Vote and their right-wing allies in check, and provide evidence in case they cross the line."

Go here to sign up.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

How Can Obama Be Bad For Business If Corporate Profits Are at All-Time High?


It's a sign of our nation's bizarre, surreal political discourse these days that most of the most persistent GOP attacks on Obama are not only misleading, they have zero connection to the real world.

One of the GOP's most common attacks on Obama is that he's a "socialist." We also often hear that he's somehow bad for business or hostile to capitalism and free markets.

Here in the Real World, such charges are absurd. The fact is, any candidate for president who was even in the slightest bit "socialist" would never in a million years get anywhere near the White House.

What's equally bizarre is that the Democrats' responses to these GOP attacks are usually pretty feeble. Again and again, the Democrats let the GOP paint them and Obama as "socialist" and the Dems rarely have any kind of forceful response to counter this charge.

There is one major, compelling statistic that completely demolishes the argument that Obama is "socialist" (or even bad for business in the slightest bit).

Consider this: under Obama, corporate profits are at an all time high. Not just merely good. But an all-time high. Oh, and that statistic takes into account the effects of inflation. Corporate profits today comprise the highest share of the national economy that they've ever been (just as workers' wages are the lowest they've ever been, in terms of GDP share).

It's an astonishing statistic. And it just goes to show that, under Obama, nothing has really changed in terms of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The latter has been the most profound and significant aspect of American society for the past three decades. And yet, incredibly, most Americans are blissfully unaware of this momentous change in our nation.

Of course, all of this is (as usual) a lose-lose proposition for us progressives. Not only do we look on as the nation becomes increasingly economically polarized. But we also watch, perplexed, as the GOP hammers Obama as a "socialist." And the Dems, armed with an incredibly strong argument to demolish this claim, sit around and refuse to fight fire with fire. I don't think I've seen a Democratic politician yet who stood up and threw the "Obama is a socialist" argument back in the GOP's face.

Of course, I'm not raising this issue as any kind of endorsement of Romney. The fact is, it's clear that under President Gordon Gekko, the economic polarization would continue (and even intensify).

It's understandable that Democrats wouldn't be eager to remind Americans of how, under Obama, corporate profits are at an all-time high, while wages are at an all-time low. But still, this is an important statistic that the Dems need to dust off from time to time to forcefully counter the GOP's absurd argument that Obama is somehow a "socialist."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Benghazi Attack "Scandal" Blows Up In the Face of Fox "News"


If you ever frequent the likes of Fox News or the Drudge Report, you'll notice that these "news" outlets, along with the rest of the right-wing noise machine, have been going batsh*t crazy lately with their Benghazi "scandal" coverage. Fox "News" has devoted Watergate-level saturation coverage to this "scandal" daily. And Drudge has linked to every right-wing nutcase site that had a new Benghazi conspiracy "story."

Well, it now turns out that (surprise, surprise!) this "scandal" is totally bogus and nothing more than a figment of the wingnuts' imagination. (Just like other bogus scandals that the wingnuts have invented to try to tarnish President Obama, such as the "Fast & Furious" and the birth certificate "stories").

ThinkProgress is among the sites that are debunking the Benghazi "scandal" today. As the site notes:

A slew of new reporting this morning debunks Fox News reports claiming that the Obama administration withheld assistance during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. With these revelations, the combined conservative narrative as led by Fox News — that the Obama administration failed to respond adequately during the attack and that mainstream media has not covered Benghazi enough — is in further disarray.

The Los Angeles Times’ version of the CIA’s role focuses the most heavily on pushing back on Fox’s spin:

“At every level in the chain of command, from the senior officers in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could,” a senior intelligence official said in a statement. “There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support.”

Fox reporter Jennifer Griffin claimed in an “exclusive” report last week that the CIA denied Tyrone Woods, one of the four Americans killed in the attack, permission to help repel the assault. Griffin’s reporting spun off into a bevy of conspiracy theories on the far right. The Pentagon, White House, and CIA had all previously denied refusing requests for support.