Saturday, September 8, 2007

Collision Course

In Washington, turf warfare can be blood sport. Colin Powell versus Dick Cheney in the W years. Nancy Reagan versus Don Regan in the 1980s. Henry Kissinger versus everyone in the Nixon and Ford days. But eclipsing these power feuds is the titanic clash between Robert Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover. This grudge match entailed much more than personality or policy. It was, in a way, a fight over the meaning of justice in America.

In “Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America,” Burton Hersh, a journalist and historian, chronicles a struggle that began years before Bobby Kennedy became attorney general in his brother’s administration and — in nominal terms — Hoover’s superior. The story is familiar. While Jack Kennedy thrived in the 1950s as a sex-crazed, drug-dependent, ailment-ridden party-boy politician, Bobby, the family’s complicated sourpuss, hooked up with the redbaiting Joe McCarthy, then spun off as a crusading and corners-cutting scourge of labor corruption. He pursued mobsters and was obsessed with Jimmy Hoffa. But there was a problem. Bobby’s father had built a fortune the old-fashioned way — by hook and by crook. As a banker and bootlegger, Joseph Kennedy had nuzzled with the not-so-good fellas Bobby wanted to hammer.

There was another problem as well. Hoover, the entrenched F.B.I. chieftain and pal of McCarthy, was not so keen on catching mobsters. He even denied the existence of organized crime and kept his agents far from its tracks, partly because, Hersh contends, Hoover knew too well that the mob had infiltrated the worlds of politics and business. Hunting the thugs could have placed Hoover and the F.B.I. on a collision course with the powerful. Communists were easier prey. So when Jack became president and appointed his ferocious brother attorney general, combat was unavoidable.

As Hersh describes it, this duel of leaks, blackmail and power plays occurred against the backdrop of Kennedy excess and pathos. The stakes were higher than the individual fortunes of Hoover and Bobby Kennedy. America was racked with crisis: the civil rights movement was challenging the nation’s conscience, a war was growing in Vietnam and an arms race was threatening nuclear war. Bobby may have had presidential prerogative on his side, but Hoover could wield files full of allegations about Jack and others. How this pas de deux played out helped define the nation at this transformational moment.

It was quite a story, with a supporting cast that was A-list — Martin Luther King Jr., Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Sam Giancana, Gloria Swanson, Lyndon Johnson, Roy Cohn — history as a Don DeLillo novel. But sad to say, Hersh, who years ago wrote a much-regarded book on the origins of the C.I.A., fails his material.

“Bobby and J. Edgar” is little more than a recycling of previously published books. Hersh lists 54 people he interviewed, but about a quarter of them are authors and journalists who have tilled the overworked Kennedy field. The rest offer little that is new. Worse, Hersh appears to regard all sources as equal. If an assertion, particularly a sleazy one, has ever appeared in a book, that’s apparently good enough for him. Some eye-popping tales of Kennedy sex and corruption have indeed been confirmed by reputable authors. (Yes, Jack shared a mistress with Sinatra and the mob man Giancana. Yes, Bobby bent to Hoover’s request to wiretap King.)

But mounds of Kennedy garbage have also been peddled over the years, and Hersh does not distinguish between the proven and the alleged (or the discredited). Did Bobby really tag along on drug busts in the 1950s and engage in sex with apprehended hookers? Well, one book said he did. Covering the death of Marilyn Monroe, Hersh maintains that she and Bobby were lovers and that the Mafia had Monroe killed hours after Bobby was in her company in order to frame him. For this, Hersh relies on two unreliable books, one written by Giancana’s brother and nephew, the other by a deceased Los Angeles private investigator. Monroe’s death remains an official suicide, and as Evan Thomas notes in his biography of Bobby, “all that is certain” regarding his interactions with Monroe is that he “saw her on four occasions, probably never alone.”

But it’s when the book reaches Nov. 22, 1963, that it truly jumps the rails. The assassination of John Kennedy is the black hole of contemporary American history, and Hersh doesn’t escape its pull. He repeats the well-worn claims of the it-wasn’t-just-Oswald partisans and brings nothing fresh to the autopsy table. Citing one book of uncertain credibility, he claims former President Gerald Ford publicly confessed he had covered up F.B.I. and C.I.A. evidence indicating that Kennedy “had been caught in a crossfire in Dallas” and that two Mafia notables “had orchestrated the assassination plot.” An Internet search I conducted turned up no confirmation of such a momentous confession.

Hersh fares better when it comes to the bigger picture. Hoover and Kennedy, he notes, possessed profoundly contrasting views of midcentury America. For Hoover, Hersh writes, “America amounted to a kind of Christian-pageant fantasy of the System” that was threatened by “Commies and beatniks and race-mixers ... hell-bent to eradicate this utopia.” Kennedy saw “gangsters” undermining unions, corporate America and, yes, even politics. Here was the nub of their quarrel: subversion versus corruption. Though Hersh goes soft on Hoover toward the end, his book renders a clear judgment: Bobby Kennedy was closer to the mark than his rival. That he did not live long enough to better Hoover and, more important, prove the point compounds the tragedy of his sad death.

David Corn, the Washington editor of The Nation, is the author, with Michael Isikoff, of “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.”


Hajji said...

Ah...THEM wuz the daze...

Hollywood Crooks hangin' with Washington Crooks, gummint spooks puttin' the screws to the AG, the Prez...the TRUTH.

Gettin' "Quagmired" in illicit forays into third-world countries for nothing but to show a little muscle, spend a little taxpayers' dough and pad "the 'ol coffers" with kickbacks from the military/industrial complex.

Depose a few dick-taters who didn't STAY bought while partying like a rockstar suckin' booze and pills and powder from the ever-flowing public teat.

Bust some Hippie heads for them teachin' the world to sing in "perfect harmony".

Persecute the fags and queens and all manners of queers while wearin' silky, stained drawers from Victaudria's Seekreeshuns.

Innocent times, those...sigh...


capt said...

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." : Texas Governor George W. Bush, April 9, 1999, on the US intervention in Kosovo

Conquered states that have been accustomed to liberty and the government of their own laws can be held by the conqueror in three different ways. The first is to ruin them; the second, for the conqueror to go and reside there in person; and the third is to allow them to continue to live under their own laws, subject to a regular tribute, and to create in them a government of a few, who will keep the country friendly to the conqueror: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

"It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil.": Fredrich August von Hayek - (1899-1992), Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences 1974 - Source: The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), p. 146.


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

ROUNDUP: First Lady Laura Bush resting after neck surgery

US First Lady Laura Bush underwent outpatient surgery Saturday to treat a nerve problem in her neck, the White House said.

The procedure, a posterior cervical foraminotomy, was performed to relieve pressure near the spine on pinched nerves in her neck. The operation was successful, said press secretary Sally McDonough of the Office of the First Lady.

She returned later Saturday to the White House, the presidential residence, where she was "resting comfortably," McDonough said.

The surgery took two and a half hours at nearby George Washington University Hospital.

Afterward, the first lady spoke by telephone with her husband, US President George W Bush, who was flying home aboard Air Force One from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney. He later made a stop in Hawaii and was due to arrive Sunday morning at the White House.


*****end of clip*****

I hope the first lady recovers quickly.

I would have had a different opinion as to the source of her “pain in the neck.”


capt said...

Donald Rumsfeld to join Hoover Institution at Stanford

President Bush's former defense secretary, who resigned in 2006 amid escalating criticism over the war in Iraq, has been appointed to a one-year stint as a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, joining fellow conservatives George Shultz and Newt Gingrich.

"Don has had immense experience in public service, and has much to contribute to society as a result," said the institution's director, John Raisian. "I am pleased that he will spend time during the coming year in thinking, writing and advising on important matters of public policy."

While he's at Stanford, Rumsfeld will participate in a task force examining national security and world peace in the post-Sept. 11 era, Raisian said.

Some Stanford faculty and students said they were outraged by Rumsfeld's appointment, saying he lacks the academic credentials to be at the Hoover Institution and criticizing his central role in the Iraq war.

"I'm appalled," said Stanford history Professor Barton Bernstein. "He is a profoundly immoral man. The Hoover Institution has long been a refuge for right-wing Republicans, but what makes this unusually disgraceful is Rumsfeld's involvement in a war started for reasons unprovable, unproven and demonstrably wrong."

Rumsfeld was unpopular in the hometown of UC Berkeley in March, when the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to support prosecuting him for war crimes.

Rumsfeld might soon be joined at Stanford by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said in recent interviews that she's looking forward to returning to Stanford to teach in 2008. Rice is on leave from Stanford, where she served as provost for six years until she joined the Bush administration in 2005.

E-mail Carolyn Jones at


*****end of clip*****

Rummy, George Schultz and Newt teaching world peace?

If irony killed we would all be dead.


capt said...

Vote on MSNBC Poll HERE

Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment? * 537255 responses

Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial.

No, like any president, he has made a few missteps, but nothing approaching "high crimes and misdemeanors."

No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching.

I don't know.

capt said...

Latest Bin Laden Video Is a Forgery: All References to Current Events Are Made During Video Freeze

Osama Bin Laden's widely publicized video address to the American people has a peculiarity that casts serious doubt on its authenticity: the video freezes at about 1 minute and 36 seconds, and motion only resumes again at 12:30. The video then freezes again at 14:02 remains frozen until the end. All references to current events, such as the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, and Sarkozy and Brown being the leaders of France and the UK, respectively, occur when the video is frozen! The words spoken when the video is in motion contain no references to contemporary events and could have been (and likely were) made before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The audio track does appear to be in the voice of a single speaker. What I suspect was done is that an older, unreleased video was dubbed over for this release, with the video frozen when the audio track departed from that of the original video.

The video may be downloaded as a 677 mb MPEG file HERE.


David B. Benson said...

Bizarro, but big. How do we know this isn't some spoof on somebody's part?

capt said...

Meet The Press: Senator Joe Biden Will Not Vote To Cut Funding For Iraq Occupation

This morning on Meet The Press , Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden walks in lockstep with right-wing talking points on Iraq funding. When asked by host Tim Russert if he would vote to cut off funding for Iraq if President Bush refuses to accept a withdrawal date, Biden moves directly to the “cutting off funding means you don’t support the troops ” mentality pulled straight from the pages of the RNC playbook. Instead of speaking the truth, that it means appropriating funds to begin a safe and smart withdrawal from the country, not abandoning out troops, Biden instead says he won’t vote to cut off funding and chooses to chastise Democrats who support it.

It’s infuriating to say the least to see Biden falling for the White House framing– not one single Democrat in Congress wants to leave our soldiers stranded in the middle of the desert with no food, water, ammo or protection–and cutting off Bush’s funding would not do that–and Senator Biden should know better.

Download (WMV)

Download (MOV)

Biden’s big push in this interview is sending MRAPS (which should have been the vehicle of choice from the beginning ) to the troops. The problem is, he’s willing to betray the American people and cave to President Bush and his minority party in order to get them. This mentality is what has led to our prolonged presence in Iraq, the fatally flawed surge strategy and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops and countless Iraqi citizens. Senator Biden, you can put all the protective equipment into the spending bill you want, but you then must stand firm with the troops and the American people and fight for a timetable to get them out of harm’s way and bring them home.


*****end of clip*****

Say it ain’t so Joe.


capt said...


"How do we know this isn't some spoof on somebody's part?"

Which one is the (considered) spoof? The OBL tape or the idea that it freezes during the critical parts? I have not looked for it but one way to resolve part of the issue would be if there is a copy of the tape without the freeze.

I have not believed an OBL in several years - the timing and content is just too convenient to be a coincidence.


capt said...

"I have not believed an OBL in several years"


I have not believed an OBL RELATED TAPE in several years


David B. Benson said...

Capt --- "I have not believed an OBL ..."


David B. Benson said...


capt said...


Hard to understand me when I leave out whole phrases.

Not to mention it's hard to write when I talk like a caveman in real life.



capt said...

The same freeze is on the 26 minute version of the video on YouTube:


So the freeze is there and not part of a spoof.


capt said...

Osama bin Laden: The Newest Fake


In this closeup of the latest "Osama", seen in a clip from the 9/11/07 video, not the obvious line at the top of the beard under the mouth. Notice also that while the real Osama has a straight beard, this "Osama's" beard is very curly, thin enough to show the shape of his face, and more than anything looks like 'crepe' hair used by theatrical makeup artists.

Dying one's beard is strictly forbidden under Islamic law. Any devout (Sunni) Muslim would be aghast at an image of a purported spokesperson with a dyed beard. It's okay to tint it with henna (only), but in that case gray hair appears orange. Pakistan is full of guys sporting huge orange beards, but there is no market whatsoever for Grecian formula, at least not among the Wahhabis.


capt said...

Americans Keep Dying

Dead Soldier's Grandma Calls His Death 'Senseless' (TX)

Soldier (GA) Was Expecting First Child Next Month

Soldier (MI) Killed on His Last Combat Mission Before Retirement

Soldier From Las Vegas (NV) Dies of Self-Inflicted Gunshot

Houston (TX) Marine, Son of Illinois Teacher Dies in Iraq

Martinez (CA) Airman Killed in Noncombat Incident in Afghanistan

Remembering a Fallen Son (VA), Killed in Afghanistan

The Saddest Story of the Week, Ohio Soldier Laid to Rest

Utah Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Wanted to Be a Good Example to Others

Former East Texas University Student Killed in Iraq

Kentucky Guardsman Is Killed in Iraq

Decorated New Jersey Soldier Killed by Grenade in Iraq

Minnesota Soldier's Life Centered on Serving

Michigan Soldier Killed in Iraq Was 'One of the Best'

Family Mourns Soldier (FL) Killed in Afghanistan

Family, Friends Share Memories of Guam Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Emporia (KS) Soldier Killed by Bomb in Iraq

North Carolina Mountain-Born Soldier Dies In Iraq

Soldier From Vancouver (WA) Killed in Afghanistan

Cedar Rapids (IA) Soldier Dies From Wounds Suffered in Iraq

David B. Benson said...

Capt --- That's what I meant by a spoof. A fake.

capt said...

"Peoples of Egypt, you will be told that I have come to destroy your religion. Do not believe it! Reply that I have come to restore your rights!" Napoleon Bonaparte, 1798

"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Your wealth has been stripped of you by unjust men... The people of Baghdad shall flourish under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws." General F.S. Maude, commander of British forces in Iraq, 1917

If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law: Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

Will the Real Osama Stand Up?

It took a few minutes to sink in – the new tape of Osama Bin Laden that was shown and analyzed on MSNBC’s Keith Oberman show on Friday, September 7, 2007. Perhaps the most striking thing was his black beard. From all accounts, what sets OBL apart from others, even his most devout followers, is his devotion to Islam*. While Islam allows the trimming of the moustache, it calls for fully growing the beard in full. Henna, a known dye, is permissible in Islam as not only does it have medicinal qualities, but it may be used to enhance beauty – in women. How likely is it that OBL who is a strict adherent of fundamental Islam, would dye his beard and trim it to appear in front of a camera in order to meet the expectations of the ‘Western terrorist specialists’?

What was said was even more suspicious. OBL was said to have been surprised that the democrats were not able to bring the troops home. The intended message by ‘OBL’ was that Democrats may have House majority, but they are as impotent as they have always been and clearly the Cheney/Bush team are the emperors running the world.

I was even more shocked to hear him endorse books by two American authors, one of them being Noam Chomsky’s “American Imperialism”. Here my head started spinning. It was far graver than Mr. Bush addressing the APEC audience OPEC. American Imperialism was authored by non other than Michael Scheuer, a superhawk who was the top CIA agent for years tracking OBL. Chomsky wrote “Hegemony or Survival; America’s Quest for Global Dominance” 2004. oops – Is the word ‘intelligence’ an oxymoron in this country or what?

Given the benefit of the doubt, or lost in translation, I have to wonder how ‘OBL’ being on the run and being pursued by the world’s greatest military, the only superpower, and while hiding in a cave with a bounty of $50m on his head, got the book in the first place? Perhaps if we followed DHL to some place in Bora Bora, we may catch him dying his beard while reading Chomsky. My guess is that this was a smear campaign to connect Chomsky to al-Qaeda. Here is a brilliant intellectual who speaks to the truth and spills the beans on American foreign policy, what better way to destroy his reputation than to have America’s number one enemy, the leader of al-Qaeda, endorse his work?

And finally, there is the fear factor. As a judge slams down parts of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, it would seem that Mr. Bush has found a way to remind the American public that they should remain petrified. Nothing intimidates a nation better than fear, not even ignorance. Mr. Bush said the message was " a reminder of the dangerous world in which we live ". CIA director Michael Hayden, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Friday, warned that al-Qaeda was plotting new attacks on the US. " Our analysts assess with high confidence that al-Qaeda's central leadership is planning high impact plots against the American homeland," he said. “[I]

Fear will allow more liberties to be taken away. Not only will there be justification for the troops to remain in Iraq, as planned, but there will be justification for another war – Iran. The options are in the air – the nuclear armed B-52 bombers, all that is needed is a panicked populace. There was never a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. With persistent lies, this White House committed genocide in Iraq. With the same lies, they are planning genocide next door.

* Osama Bin Laden framed his anti-US arguments in the language of Islam, but what he was, and continues to voice, is anti-colonist sentiments. The banner of Islam broke the geographical boundaries to fight and imperial power that had sprawled all over the Moslem world.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France, and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing her education in Middle East studies and Public Diplomacy. Soraya has done extensive research on US foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program. She can be reached at


David B. Benson said...

And such a badly done fake as well.


capt said...


No doubt, but Bunnypants believes this tape cements his position - big surprise.

The new strategy is . . .

STAY THE COURSE (because everything is going so swell)


capt said...

Israeli Jets Run Iran Attack Drill

JERUSALEM - Israeli warplanes may have been testing air routes for a possible attack against Iran when they were fired on by Syrian forces, experts said yesterday.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency Thursday quoted a military official as saying that Israeli jets broke the sound barrier flying over northern Syria earlier in the day, then "dropped munitions" onto deserted areas after being shot at by Syria's air defenses.

Israel's air force may have been testing an air path to Iran, in case it decides to carry out an attack against that country's nuclear facilities, analysts said.

The corridor of northern Syria over which the aircraft allegedly flew is the closest straight line from the Mediterranean Sea, where Israel has easy access, to Iran.

Israel says it prefers to let the international community confront Iran's nuclear ambitions, but a lone Israeli attack is not out of the question.

"Of course Israel wants to let the Americans do that," said Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

"But if we are left alone, the Israeli army is preparing to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat - if the political level allows it to - and this could have been a part of that."


capt said...

Inflation attacks the newsstand

Total Fed Credit (TFC) was down another $1.7 billion last week, continuing on its trend that I rudely characterize as, "a worrying lack of growth in money and credit if you are going to keep inflation going up and up and up forever until we are all destroyed by such monetary idiocy!"

TFC, of course, is the source of magic that produces out-of-nowhere credit in the banks, which the banks lend, which increases the money supply, which increases the prices of whatever in the hell it was that was bought with the damned borrowed money, and after a few iterations of the system increases the prices of everything else, like food, as the money sloshes around hither and yon, and the next thing you know I am screaming at the stupid little cashier at the grocery store because she thinks I am freaking MADE out of money or something!

This week what set me off was, of course, inflation. And not just inflation in general, as in the joke used by Adrian Ash at in his essay "USD R.I.P" that was told by comedian Max Kauffman in the '50s; "Among the things that money can't buy is everything it used to." Hahaha! Very clever!

But even Mr Ash sees the futility of attempting levity, as he notes, "But US consumers have since lost their sense of humor. The dollar has dropped another 86% of its purchasing power since then."

No, the particular thing that set me off in a rage was that she said Barron's rose in price from $4 an issue to $5! A 25% jump! Overnight! Naturally I assumed that the stupid cashier deliberately overcharged me, the little vicious brat, who is probably a willing participant in some FBI plot against me or another. Like for instance, the way government agents snuck into my kitchen sometime last week and sabotaged my blender! After 16 years of working perfectly, all of a sudden the blender just stops working? Just like that? For no reason? Ha! Government sabotage, I tells ya!


*****end of clip*****

The Mogambo Guru is always a good read.


David B. Benson said...

Hmmm --- The Iraqi war (yes, I know, auk-you-pay-shun) meter just went past the $450 billion mark.

Talk about inflation!

capt said...

Democrats Spot a Spine

capt said...

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
~Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 - 1882)

I always admired atheists. I think it takes a lot of faith.
~Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Seoul Mates, 1991

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
~Eric Hoffer (1902 - 1983)

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
~Frank Lloyd Wright (1869 - 1959)

If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
~G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world.
~Georges Duhamel (1884 - 1966)

I'm a born-again atheist.
~Gore Vidal (1925 - )

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays.
~Henny Youngman (1906 - 1998)

capt said...

New Thread