Something a Little More Pleasant



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I have been challenged to write about something less dire and depressing than my usual fare.  I understand the request from a mostly loyal reader.  My focus is terribly bleak and my outlook even worse.  My quest seems to be to dig deeper and deeper into the mire of hatred and human failure and expose the secrets we invent to justify the misery we blame on everyone other than ourselves.  Yeah, regular readers have heard this all before in one way or another, covering just about every subject both past and present, as well has my vague prophecies for a future that might literally not exist.  Yes, I want to write about something more hopeful, about certain aspects of beauty that can often overwhelm us and put our dark thoughts into a brighter place (the lovely photo of the field of poppies above is meant as a joke for the one person who made the request,and it is very specific to our dialogue.  I hope tomorrow to give you a rather dense history of the use of the poppy throughout time, superficially expressing hope before sinking into the horror of drug cartels).  But I can’t quite muster it, at least not today.  No, one of my primary subjects has drastically arisen again and I feel the need to comment.


I have been a collector of conspiracy theories since I was in high school, more than thirty years ago.  These alternative stories on “the way things actually are,” provide an interesting backdrop to the so-called “official versions” that drone through textbooks and the meekest sort of fact collection history.  Of course most conspiracy theories are silly, the deranged ranting of someone both so angry and so out-of-touch with reality that they can only find comfort in the supernatural, or in visions of totalitarian evil so well organized and intense (often since the dawn of time) that it is a wonder that this brave individual has managed to peek into the veil clouding our assumptions.  Or . . . or are they merely just another agent, spreading misinformation in order to throw the rest of us off the trail of the truth?


There are, inevitably, some real conspiracies, some hazed in the darkest shadows of nightmare, the questions unanswerable and an industry of possibilities sprouting up around such never-ending mysteries.  The JFK assassination comes to mind, certainly a sketchy event with an improbable solution offered, something either being covered-up or simply lost in the panicked confusion over the death of a controversial President.  Certainly there were people pleased with this murder, and of course there are those who responded with increasingly exaggerated assertions about their political opposites, pointing fingers and blaming without anything beyond questions to back up their beliefs.


And yet the JFK assassination is no longer a historical constant (like 9/11 to our subsequent generation, although that is a story I do not wish to get into today, with other priorities on the narrative.  To say nothing else I only wish to ask a question: for those “Truthers,” people who consider George W. Bush to be among the most profoundly stupid and incompetent leaders in United States history, how did he mastermind this attack if he couldn’t even understand the working natures of those who supposedly benefitted?).  The JFK assassination has grown into a massive cottage industry, theories proliferating from every side of the spectrum.  It has generally been accepted today that more than just Lee Harvey Oswald was responsible for the crime (and to those who claim Oswald was not involved at all–come on!  Of course he was one of the shooters!  There are few people in recent US history with a more questionable background than this low-level conspirator).  And yet should you trove a section on theories of who is responsible you will find a collection that crawl across the political spectrum and beyond.  Here are just a handful of examples (and by handful I minor a very tiny selection):

Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK?: Lane, Mark

Appointment in Dallas: The Final Solution to the Assassination of JFK: Hugh C. McDonald

Who Really Killed Kennedy?: 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination

Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination: Waldron, Lamar; Hartmann, Thom

Triangle of Death : The Shocking Truth about the Role of South Vietnam and the French Mafia in the ...

Deadly Secrets : The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK: Warren Hinckle; ...

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ (Paperback): Roger Stone

You might recognize a few names of the authors–notably Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone, who have roles in the Russia/Trump conspiracy.  More on this later, not so much on the Russia thing, but on the fact that serious conspiracy theorists revolve around the President of the United States in the present tense.


There are compendiums offering a variety of theories collected, confusing the matter further.  These books are more “popular history” tomes of their specific genre:

Crossfire: Jim Marrs

Not In Your Lifetime: The Assassination of JFK (Paperback): Anthony Summers

JFK Assassination : The Facts and the Theories: Carl Oglesby

Each of these has a different conclusion.


Other theories focus on single individuals and how their stories expose the hidden truth:


The Man Who Knew Too Much : Richard Case Nagell and the Assassination of JFK: Dick Russell

And of course there are the conspiracy debunkers, those who themselves become a part of the plot, presumed “disinformation agents” who promote a lie to deceive the public.  These range from suddenly questionable government officials to partisan hacks pompously trying to clear up the mystery.  Sometimes they even refuse to doubt the government, no matter how questionable the assertions:

The Warren Report: The Official Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: The ...

Conspiracy of One: The Definitive Book on the Kennedy Assassination: Moore, Jim

Case Closed : Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK: Gerald Posner

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Bugliosi, Vincent

Some attempt to strip the culture of the mythic element and try to prove or disprove reality with a handful of numb debates:

The JFK Assassination Debates : Lone Gunman Versus Conspiracy: Michael L. Kurtz

or scientific evidence:

Assassination Science : Experts Speak Out on the Death of JFK: Fetzer, James H.

Reclaiming Science: The JFK Conspiracy: A Mathematical Analysis of Unnatural Deaths, Witness ...

And, of course, there are the raving lunatics attempting to tie everything bad that has ever happened together into one grand conspiracy:

The Reality of the Illusion of Reality (Paperback): Bret Burquest

For Nobody's Eyes Only: Missing Government Files and Hidden Archives That Document the Truth ...

Jfk & Ufo: Military-Industrial Conspiracy and Cover-Up from Maury Island to Dallas (Paperback):...

The Obexlanders: And the Assassination of JFK (Paperback): TES

Kennedy's Last Stand: Eisenhower, Ufos, Mj-12 & Jfk's Assassination (Paperback): ...

And so the purported “truth” of conspiratorial thinking ultimately complicates the matter, creating even more division in the culture as the very essence of reality gets subsumed under cynicism, paranoid rants and a complete lack of trust in what appears before our eyes.  In fact, should the “actual truth” ever be exposed, with all the ideas that have overwhelmed the discussion, it would be written off as “just another theory.”


Which brings me to Jeffrey Epstein.  A pedophile, a hideous scumbag whose wealth enabled him to get to know a great many powerful people, his suicide in a prison cell after the final capture for his crimes has exploded into a spiraling mythology that, on the most part, makes no sense at all.  Sure, there are suggestions and considerations about what may have happened simply on the basis of who the man knew: the current President, a former President, multi-millionaires and billionaires of industry and international prominence.  The fact that Epstein was involved in such horrible things of course manages to rub off all over his associates, on the most part unfairly.


Do I think that a sleazebag like Bill Clinton was fucking thirteen year olds in Epstein’s home?  No.  Do I believe he screwed some of-age prostitutes there?  Possibly.  Donald Trump?  Not a pedophile.  Certainly a whoremonger.  Were either of these two powerful men aware of Epstein’s proclivities?  That is a question that should perhaps be explored, but it seems pretty doubtful.  For all of the wicked and vindictive cruelty of both men, I do not believe that either Clinton or Trump would tolerate child rape.


And yet the conspiracy theories abound.  Clinton, you know, say several of his froth-mouthed opponents, had Vince Foster (another suicide) murdered to cover up some crime, and some claim that Hillary Clinton was running a sex-trafficking factory out of a pizza joint in New York City.  And while the second theory is absurd, one side’s paranoid hatred of the Clinton’s give rise to these ideas, plus the fact that we happen to have a history, we humans everywhere in the world, of watching our leaders murder inconvenient people.


Which brings us once again to Jeffrey Epstein.  Some think Clinton must have done it, tying it into other conspiracies and deeper ideas, falling into a concentric abyss with no bottom.  They even understand the reasons (and have no sympathy for Epstein whatsoever), about what sort of dirt this monster might have to say (whether truthfully or not has never been relevant).  Donald Trump, one of the most prominent conspiracy theorists in the history of the world, is ravenously promoting this theory–the Clintons–what did they know?  What did Epstein know about them?  I have the Justice Department at my beck and call.  I am President.  I can tell them what to turn up and what to fabricate.  This is what conspiracy theorists do, you see.  When reality does not fit their perspective, they invent what they believe to be true and pile on until their version of reality gathers a following.


As for Trump’s involvement,

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it seems unlikely that the man would even waste his time murdering Epstein; not because there is nothing incriminating, but simply because he has evolved into such an expert at draining the truth of all substance that he has no reason to bother.  Of course, one of the chief attributes of a conspiracy theorist is their ability to “get them before they get you” if they actually have the influence to pull this off.  Something mysterious becomes very easy to blame on somebody else, further dividing the people.


If we really want to consider the death of Jeffrey Epstein I ask you to take a deep breath for a moment and try to put yourself in the man’s head.  This is something a character sketch writer such as me tries very hard to do, even if the mind is as poisoned as creature like this.  Okay: you are unbelievably wealthy and have lived a perverted life as you pleased.  You could get away with anything.  You even went to prison before, although spent a single day a week there, the other six in your magisterial spread in New York, claiming to still be working at your amazingly profitable industry, for some reason not even cut off from the greedy motherfuckers still willing to work with you.  You have it made.  You finish your time in jail and go right back to it, running underage prostitutes, fucking them as you please, finding other pedophiles, part of the NAMBLA cult, and profiting off of this too.  Rich people with children as sex objects no doubt are willing to pay a lot.


Anyway, suddenly your charmed life is over.  You know it too.  You will never have what you used to love.  All of your toys, every fantasy you tried to fulfill . . . gone.  You have no future outside of prison.  The hatred the whole world now directs towards you–especially in prison, the guards indifferent to your first suicide attempt, the taunts and the fear imposed causing you, ultimately a weakling whose wealthy arrogance sustained you prior to the fall, now overwhelming you.  You look at the corners of your cell.  You understand that you may never see daylight again.  Certainly, since the DA has no sympathy and cannot be bribed this time, you are going to be trapped in a terrible, terrible place, filled with murderers and rapists and drug kingpins and Nazis and every single one of them might one day rape you.  You know that someone will rape you and this has never been one of your fantasies.


What would you do?  Perhaps not kill yourself, sure.  But I understand it.  You do too.  Quit politicizing everything.  Jeffrey Epstein killed himself and the only reason he succeeded is because no one there to keep an eye on him cared whether he lived or died.  Do any of you?






So Many Disasters to Choose From


There are a lot of things that should scare us:

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Of course there are plenty more valid things to add to such a list, but many people are far too distracted, mythologized, and prefer to see the world as something more fanciful than it actually is:

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There are tragedies every day of varying degrees, ranging from individual

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to global

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and yet people seem to react similarly.  Or, otherwise, they ignore the truth until it comes home to bite them, personally.

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we say–and so many people truly believe it!

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Here’s a hard truth, stated in several different ways:

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It would be easy to claim that all of us are selfish and that we are the cause of the rise in misery, in murder, in chaos and disease, but if we were to actually study human history we would see that this is merely a constant.  People have always been consumed by fear and hatred.  We have always resented one another and violently reacted when someone states something we do not believe.  All religions have persecuted other believers.  All political ideologies have oppressed their rivals.  Wars come not just out of a quest for land and wealth, but from a profound and insane desire–a need to control the idea of an uncertain future.  Arrest those unlike you, paint them as monsters, impose fear as the law of the land.  Identify the enemy, no matter who or what it is–

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There are endless examples of such petty hatred, such a childish blame game to evade responsibility for our own impact on the larger world.  Some people honestly believe that “my voice doesn’t matter.”  That is only true if you believe it.  It is only true that the enemies are Jews or Muslims or Blacks or Whites or Catholics or Atheists or Gun-tottin’ Rednecks or Gender-denying Liberals or any of the other labels we like to plaster upon one another if you believe it to be true.  To paint an entire group as some sinister cabal, all aligned with one another in order to specifically undermine the one thing most important to you is insanity.  It’s crazy.  It is fundamentally absurd.  And yet we have coddled ourselves into such a paranoid stupor, no longer truly experiencing the world, and merely listening to the angry blather of other people who profit from their cowardly rage.  And we see these images above.  They cloud through the mists of our deeply suppressed prejudices and plant a new seed, blossoming into a bold tree, reliving the horrors of the past again and again and again.  We never learn.  They say that “those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.”  This statement in itself is an example of history.  All this rampaging anger and fear and distress is nothing new.  I wonder if this is just who we are, the defining characteristics of humanity: uncertainty, doubt, dread, fear.


There are so many things for us to be afraid of.  Know what the first one on anyone’s list should be?  Yourself.




Okay, A Brief Few Things To Say


I mentioned recently that I injured myself.  It’s pretty bad.  I tore some ligaments in my left foot and broke a few bones to boot.  It hurts.  It hurts a lot.  But, despite my initial whining, I am not a whiner.  The timing is terrible because my family and I are preparing for our late summer vacation, just prior to the resumption of school.  (My wife is a teacher, I am a former high school teacher, and our children are right in the center of middle school).  We are going to Canada–to Niagra Falls and the Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal prior to returning to New York, upstate, for a white water rafting adventure.  We have been looking forward to this for half a year and my stupid injury interferes with everything.  But fuck me, let me suffer, plenty of things are more important than temporary pain.


That’s the real point, isn’t it?  My own example of stupidity is frankly a representation of our own selfish meaning over the terciary pain we overwhelm the world with as an example of selfish suffering.


I am a political writer, essentially, the sort of person who tries to relate every single incident in the world, both large and small, into the vicious nook of drawn sides and angry oppositional hatred.  This is what I do here, there, elsewhere, everywhere in every aspect of my life.  My professional predicament paints me as a novelist, general fiction writer, poet (to my boyhood chagrin, regardless of the fact that critics tell me I’m good at this;  I write screenplays and teleplays and reviews and essays, and my current major projects are both the authorized biography of a celebrity and a complicated history book on a subject I have never seen undertaken before.  This is my life, my work, and I sit here currently in the very early morning while prime time news programs blare in the background being rebroadcast, and I float here in painkilling jail, not trusting myself for professional work and yet insisting I write this ranting, ongoing blather because so many people, thankfully, over this past week, have somehow decided to see what I’ve had to say, agreeing with or despising my point-of-view.  Soon there will be some newly valid material (I am hoping in the later morning, too much happening in the world to avoid having a study to speak for me).  Thank you so much for your recent sinking into the darkness over this past more than a year.  I suggest the few historical pieces on US presidents (notably on Grover Cleveland and FDR, early drafts from a forthcoming book), and I hope I can maintain your interest as I resume shortly.  There is a great deal more to say beyond my silly, pain-killer based nothingness.  No more about me.  Let us return to a larger world that actually matters . . .


Bad Timing: An Injury


Hi.  This is unfortunate for me as my readership over this past week is higher than I have ever achieved (at least on this wordpress site).  And then, two days ago, I suffered a somewhat serious injury that will consume clear thinking for the next several days (pain killers and all).  I managed to break my left foot right across I guess the knuckle line in front of the toes.  It hurts.  A lot.  And my inability to walk is further frustrating, perhaps the biggest distraction to something social or historical or political, or merely just satirical.  So I am taking a few days.  My older pieces here are lately getting quite a number of hits.  Thank you.  There are many more I hope might interest you.  I should return with something new this weekend.  In the meantime: fight animal abuse, focus on climate change and rally to pass some serious new laws on gun regulation.


The Equation Guns=Cowardice


Before I go off into this I need to state that the premise of this commentary means that I am a coward myself.  I own guns.  I actually enjoy guns.  I sometimes go to shooting ranges and fire these monsters off.  Let’s all admit that it’s a great deal of fun.  And while I am not a hunter (I could never hunt, my love for animals in most cases being far more intense than my love for fellow humans), I understand that in certain situations it might be worthwhile to own a gun (militarily, primarily, and this is ultimately where my allegiance lays).  But gun ownership in the United States has devolved substantially into a sort of sexual perversion.  Nothing is a better example than the consecutive mass shootings in my nation on August 3-4, 2019.


One of these, in El Paso, Texas, saw twenty people murdered on the basis of race, or at least caught in the crossfire of this intention.  The second, in Ohio, at the moment I am composing this, sees nine more dead.  In both instances there are plenty more victims, injured in varying degrees, some of whom will hopefully not die of their critical injuries.


People wonder why the United States sees so much gun violence and I suppose this is what my commentary this morning is going to be about.  I called guns the tool of cowards and I absolutely mean this.  In recent moments I have commented in counterpoint to a number of conversations on these toxic social media platforms that the people proposing the bullshit NRA arguments such as “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” are a bunch of fucking cowards.  The usual reply is about how they have either military experience, or think about their families or pretend like they are patriots, or how they can’t wait to kick my ass, or are even outright liars who simply like to stroke their toys in place of their terminally limp cocks.  Yes, I am a prick about this to several people who might have legitimately believable justification, but I try my damnedest to point out the flaw in such beliefs.


Listen, two horrible people killed many people out shopping (or merely in school, future saint or asshole not yet fully established), or at the workplace, or in some other random place of the most diverse humanity (race and religion ignored, except when it isn’t).  There are more than two of them.  In the last two days there have been at least two of them, probably unaffiliated, if not perhaps for the same reasons.  The animalistic side of people is clearly on display and will continue to be splattered all across the news because the news is a TV show in search of ratings, a cartoon form of entertainment that turns the immediate horrors of the day to day into spectacle, and mostly ignores the long-term horrors that continue to affect everyone (think about lead poisoning or opiods or climate change or religion.)


I will be brief, because it is very early in the morning here (it just turned 5 AM), and I have not yet gone to bed.  Here is why I say that masturbatory gun owners (and I refuse to call you folks anything else) are cowards.  People such as this see the world as an alien place, one in which there is no trust and where everything is either corrupt or corroded.  They sit there behind their shades, staring outside at all hours, shivering and clutching their guns, expecting something like these nearly daily horrors to happen to them.  And you know what makes such terrible things happen?  Fear.  Isn’t it clear what terrorism actually is?  It is not about the violence.  It is not about the death.  It is about the terror.  It terrorizes people.  It causes society to break down, turn into the petty arguments we can see and hear every day, whether partisan or based upon varying social realities.  And so we clutch our guns, wondering who exactly it is trying to get us.


All these terrible incidents, these horrors that continue to debase everything we once upon a time believed in, are distractions, hideous crimes that happen so often that we start equating them into social issues, which in turn transforms them into political divides, and then all of the sudden each side is blaming the other for the problems and then bang-bang-bang-bang-bang!  Let’s kill the enemies and revert somehow back to the once upon a time that never truly was and we can be safe, we can be safe, we can be safe just so long as we have the murderous weapons to assure this.


A common argument of the gun radicals is that it is people who kill, not the guns themselves.  Of course this is true, but it disregards the reality that not all of the people loading up on weapons should be allowed to collect them.  It isn’t about personal safety.  To them it is about the moment when they define the enemy.  Anyone who believes that the whole rest of the world is out to get them has no right owning a weapon.  And yet these yahoos rant and chant about protecting their families, or idiotic statements like “Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”  Some fucking idiot actually responded this to a seemingly decent person calling for gun control.  Not bans, like far right wing shitheads like to conspiratorialize, but control.  Keeping guns out of the hands of irrational radicals, regardless of the cause.  And this moron, this self-righteous douchebag–this is the sort of coward I am talking about.  This is the shoot first ask questions later criminal; this is the sort of person who sees a threat in everything and therefore clutches their gun close to their chest, somehow believing that this will protect them against a world where everything, in every form or shade or idea, is out to get them.  That somehow ownership itself makes them instantly brave.


This is why so many gun owners and all enthusiasts are cowards.  Because they refuse to understand society.  Because, in their ignorance, they find it far easier to see the rest of the world as a threat.  These are the monsters who shoot up a Wal-Mart, or a shopping mall; a school, a place of business, or just some passerby in the street.  These are the real cowards we need to euthanize.  Paranoid gun owners.  They are the problem with the United States of America in this particular moment–not the only one, but the most significant thing we should be looking out for.