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Robert Harper

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About Robert Harper

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    Rotterdam, Netherlands
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    JFK, the arts, Bach

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  1. Robert  Harper

    Kennedys and the Bushs.

    Joe, I have been enriched reading many of your personal posts.When I don't respond, it just means I've been reading a lot. Particularly meaningful to me has been your ability to step outside your immediate and influential upbringing to be able to see and understand the essence of JFK. I've been away for a bit, but when I saw this thread, all I could think of was a comment from Sparky Anderson when managing the Reds in the 1976 World Series: "Munson is an outstanding player and he would hit .300 in the National League, but don’t ever embarrass anybody by comparing him to Johnny Bench.” That sort of sums up my take on any comparison with these two New England families. One might have a "dynasty" of 12 years in the White House, but they could have 20 terms in the White House and not have what the other family had in 1000 days and then for a few years afterwards.
  2. Robert  Harper

    Bill Decker and John Tower

    I think this is very important as a study in character. The Clintons, surely, are living proof that money is more valuable than integrity in political life. I don't think IKE cared, although he had friends build the home at Gettysburg, it can't really be said that he saw the government position for its money or power. Nixon, LBJ, Ford, Bush I and II and Obama all owed people and institutions. Carter, we've discussed on a current thread didn't. Neither did JFK. I thought Trump was going to be in that circle of disinterested and impartial figures, but I simply roll my head each day when trying to grasp what Trumpness means.
  3. Robert  Harper

    Youtube and conspiracy theories

    Of course, such should start within a family unit. As for the government, I think the system I see here in Holland is much better than that of America's. I grew up where my parents paid for parochial schools and were heavily property-taxed to pay for the schools. Didn't seem fair to me then and still doesn't. My father agreed with the existing principle, when I once brought it up since, he felt that the separation of government and religion was properly maintained by such. At a press conference JFK was asked aboutthe Court decision banning prayers in schools and he suggested that perhaps the children could pray more at home. He didn't use the decision - or the timing - to attack the "godlessness" of the move. I was well into my 30's before I found out that In God we Trust was only added to coins and other stuff during the early 1950's when communism = no God. Here, the concept of religion as an integral part of character formation is recognized; so is interest in language, mechanical arts, and theater as well as proximity to where one lives. What are the families priorities? It's a voucher system; every child gets one, every school accepts it; all schools are monitored for academic standards; and all students take the same tests. It's accepted that religion can be a part of schooling as can yoga; there is no need to penalize those who wish a focus. California provides tenure to school teachers after 3 years of teaching. Can you imagine? Many are C students at best. Summers off.Pension. Health care. You want a school that mentions religion? Pay for it yourself, has been the American way. Once religion = philosophy in the minds of people, they can see that a voucher system can work and that the most important teachers - those for ages 5 through 10 - can be paid well if good or fired if bad.
  4. Robert  Harper

    Encountering the Ghost of JFK in Dallas

    I think of the compliments from this Forum, as Portia did of mercy or as Jesus did of charity - that they are "doubly blest" since they "blesseth him that gives and him that takes." It is precisely because I read this Forum for so long, that I joined to comment on it. It is now 6 months since I posted my first thoughts and I continue to learn and appreciate the work, thoughts and memories of those who contribute here.We share a sense of what really would make America great again, and it involves concepts like those expressed in the words repentance and atonement. The recent posts by Messrs. Bauer and Kelly about experiences with their father figures was evocative and emotive. That JFK is at the center of each is also very telling. During these past 6 months, I have parceled out some personal information when it seemed appropriate. My recent - perhaps most definitive personal information, was on Ron Bulman's thread on RFK Jr's book. This information built the structure of the Commencement Address I gave at my alma mater in 2007-- as it did my life. I think it is as appropriate here: As one of nine children myself - whose ancestors also came from Wexford County and who also lived in Massachusetts and New York and Washington DC growing up, I might add that he evokes a sense of the authentic.
  5. Robert  Harper

    RFK Jr. Defends Joe Kennedy

    I second that. He writes clearly and is unsentimental in tone. He lets facts speak for themselves. He is particularly good on the family dynamics - activity, loyalty, pursuit of excellence, the gospels. Reading of the routines of family life had a personal impact, because of its specificity. You cannot be ignorant of the principles involved, when your Mother attends daily Mass and often says the rosary. Any couple that stays together and raises a family of 9 is loved by their children.It is obvious such was the case with the Kennedy family and Robert Jr. captures small gems of that living. As one of nine children myself - whose ancestors also came from Wexford County and who also lived in Massachusetts and New York and Washington DC growing up, I might add that he evokes a sense of the authentic. On film, when JFK rises a bit from his seat, and tips his hat to his father as he passes him in the stands on Inauguration Day, he's doing what most sons of such fathers would do I imagine. I have not encountered too many depictions of the activity of a busy, interesting family life in modern culture. Off the top of my head, only Susan Minot's book Monkeys or Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, come to mind. Once you know how the CIA used the media - and still does - it's not hard to see them orchestrate a diminishment of the father or the son.The recent biography by David Nasaw of Joe Sr. dismissed the bootleg stories, and his grandson echoes that. He was a bright and driven young guy from the family's 3rd generation in America, who became the country's youngest bank president at age 25. He was picked to head the SEC because FDR knew that this newcomer could outfox the foxes on Wall Street. He and his wife stayed together for life and raised 9 children, who were guided to the production of value in all areas of life including public service. The Bush family may have created a longer serving dynasty, but they can't come close to the fabric of the Kennedy dynasty. This son of sons of Ireland, gave value to psychic income as well as to the other kind of income; they understood both sides of Adam Smith - that the marketplace and the moral sentiments are - or should be - intertwined in any transaction.
  6. For the 50th in Dallas, my wife and I traveled there for our first visit. The destination was Dealey Plaza. Riding through the city, from the airport, in a cab late at night, when we were coming up Main on the way to the Hotel Lawrence, I got goosebumps when I realized this was it. The next day we were pleased to see that the sign on the TSBD - as a Federal Heritage Building - mentions the "alleged" killer Oswald, unlike the plaque the City put up during this time at the Tippet kill spot which declared LHO a killer. We boycotted the 6th Floor "museum" since we have visited museums all over the world, and places that censor themselves are usually not worth a visit. I tried to hop up on the "pedestal" where Abraham Z stood, and couldn't do it. I suppose I could have worked at it, tried it with back facing it and hoist myself up, grab unto the top and pull, if facing it. Thing was, it wasn't easy - and Rick McTague confirmed that condition on a recent thread. I think that started my wondering about Abe and why he ended up there and why he didn't flinch when shots were fired and why the police didn't get his film instead of Time/Life - who paid a million bucks (w/inflation) for it. Anyway, the City took the asinine point of view that people would come there in 2013 to "celebrate JFK's life" rather than try to understand his death. We filled out government forms to "get a ticket" but didn't. They had the area screened off and we heard the videos of JFK from outside the enclosure of the chosen ones. The City did place a long and graceful brass/silver plaque along the top of the grass on the "knoll" which doesn't bombard you visually or disrupt the setting of the spot. It has a line engraved which JFK had hoped to speak at the Trade Mart that day, ending with "For as it was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Well, I don't know about the Lord's opinion on keeping Dallas, but his or her watchman never woke up. As a city with major universities and cultural centers, it is foolhardy - to say the least - to ignore the death and repercussions of JFK's murder. It is also foolhardy to try and defend the Dallas police or DA office at the time of the killing. The "museum" should be a place of seminars and discussions and provide the settings that hotels and colleges have had to do for 50 years. Its bookstore should be packed with hundreds of titles - and not only those with an imprimatur of dubious authority. The ugly fact, and I am loath to even say it, is that the planners of this killing, won. Probably said to each other,"it'll take them 50 years to figure this one out." Whatever structural forms were in place, it allowed this to happen. The system in place allowed this to happen. 55 years later there are unanswered questions. This wasn't the Philippines where Aquino steps off a plane, is shot by guy who is then shot by a military guy, all in about 10 seconds. Or Egypt, where guards step aside, and a security firm hired by the CIA are in control while soldiers open fire on Sadat. The USA program was ingrained with the concept of "plausible deniability" personified by Bush I in Dallas and running the Iran/Contra affair. They got away with it. The military autopsy, the phony "investigation" and the meek media coverage. The group that "won the war" wanted to keep their "defense" going--the OSS to the CIA; an Air Force Department, a NSC, new buildings,more employees, more power. It felt it had to own publishing houses and control the flow of information to the people. It felt answerable to no one when it started experimenting on human beings without their consent. A "world view" was established and pursued. NSA grew. Debt grew. Within 10 years of JFK's murder, Nixon - with Dealey Plaza survivor John Connally as his Secretary of the Treasury - took the USA off the gold standard, shuffling the world economic system in the process; the military, the intelligence services and the banking establishment each got what it wanted; and over a million people were killed - unnecessarily - by ignorance, corruption and greed, in southeast Asia. There is no question that the latter is one of the lessons of Dallas and thankfully scholars like Prof Newman are not letting people forget that. It was just 30 years previous to this that the American oligarchy tried to recruit Gen Butler, to take over the Executive Branch. This two time Medal of Honor winner said that war was a "racket" to protect big business. The answer to that one? Change the armed forces to a "voluntary" system. Now war could return to being a racket without parents marching in the streets for taking their sons and having them kill and be killed for reasons unknown, but presented as a need of "national security." Preemptive bombings and hotel room assassinations, torture, and use of military tribunals and prolonged detainment - concepts rejected by JFK -- became the new normal. And this is denied in Dallas. Why? A book I just read - published in 2016 by M.D. Brosio - aptly evokes this combination of experiences one encounters in Dallas. It is called The JFK Memorial and Power in America. When we visited this City memorial to JFK, it was empty, had a lot of concrete, and was somewhat depressing to visit. Things associated with JFK had a grace or style or poetry about it, whether it was a book or a painting or a library. We didn't get any of that sitting in there for a few minutes and left. The photo by Robin Hill - who photographed Philip Johnson's famous "Glass House" in Connecticut, originally drew me into the book. I have attached an image of the cover of the book. The memorial sits across the street from the Renaissance Old Justice Building, of red stone. On that roof is displayed symbols traditionally associated with power: the turret of the Castle, the obelisk-the symbol of power and renewal and the wyvern - a two legged, eagle taloned, bat winged creature with a deadly stinger at the tip of the tale. Since 1849 such figures - called "dragonets" guard the seven gateways to London. The first half of the book informs about the 3 generations of Cabell Dallas mayors, describes the denial of construction funding by the city, county or State. and the raising of the seed money by the children of the schools in Dallas. The Memorial opened in 1970 and no member of the Kennedy family attended. The second half deals with the perspective I first associated with Professor Gibson's book Battlling Wall Stree,t which has been echoed and enlarged by Peter Dale Scott, James Douglass and David Talbot, among others. It also evokes the shadows of the imagery displayed on the building by the shifting sun. A loner or "the mob" or Castro couldn't pull that killing and that cover-up, off. Lots of favors had to be called in; lots of loyalties had to be tested, military orders predominated, national security evoked. They had done it before; they simply did it here this time. Entrenched interests do not always play nice. The influence of the Rockefeller family and its associations; the power of the financial community, and the strategy of the military and diplomatic leaders was one of confrontation,not accommodation. Brosio realizes that one can appreciate a work of art after encountering it; that learning the history behind the planning of a memorial or the reflection after exposure, can enrich the aesthetic encounter. Normally, I'd say that if it doesn't grab you when you first encounter it, it likely won't do anything to you afterwards. But that hasn't always been the case. Wallace Stevens wrote in a poem that he didn't know which to prefer: the "beauty of inflection/or that of innuendo; the blackbird whistling/or just after." It took the Whitney museum's special show of Jackson Pollock to enable me to "get" him, while the MET show on Andrew Wyeth did the same. It took a class discussing Joyce's Ulysses to open that up for me and many hours of listening to Philip Glass to "get" him. After reading this book, I can imagine re-visiting the memorial, whereas in 2013 the thought of doing so, was anathema to both of us. The Memorials architect, Philip Johnson, was chosen by Jackie Kennedy and seconded by Dallas resident Stanley Marcus. Johnson had flirted with fascism when younger; he knew the appeal of mass hysteria to authority; he was groomed in the camp that believed anything - including Nazis - were preferable to a Communist. He also was deeply embedded in the Rockefeller culture - as was George McBundy and Dean Rusk and Walt Rostow and Henry Kissinger - through his long association with the Museum of Modern Art. When Brosio writes of Johnson's own take on the Memorial--on its stillness, its suggestibility, its use of light and shadows, its particular use of those 3 symbols of power on the top of the adjoining building, we get a sense of what JFK's death might have meant in a world of good and evil with a thirst for domination and power. We can place a vehicle on Mars, but we can't untangle the 1960's killing machines? American justice took a punch in 1963 and it hasn't gotten up off the floor since. The revulsion and apathy of people; the sense of corruption and hypocrisy; the loss of idealism and the lubrication of the system by the 1% for the 1% continues. This American awakening of sorts, occurred in Dallas and Los Angeles and Memphis over a 5 year period, and Philip Johnson wants you to encounter that and think about it. In that respect his Memorial is comparable to Maya Lin's Vietnam Memorial a stark and hidden gem that can sneak up on you as you're looking for it. My first thought upon running into it, was that it was a version of a JFK Memorial itself; it would not exist had he not been killed.
  7. Robert  Harper

    Trump and the Unspeakable?

    In the first post of this 2 part thread, I presented for discussion, the idea that departments within the Executive Branch itself could undermine a presidency.(The FBI, the CIA, IRS or the DOJ for eg). The second part offered the potential for harm from other branches of the government, as well as other governments. The common thread was "the unspeakable" - that which refers to a thing which is not mentioned. When Trump was in Russia and was critical of the FBI, it was unprecedented. Eisenhower didn't blame the CIA when the U-2 flight was shot down for instance. On the other hand, the testimony of these FBI agents - Comey, McHale, and Strozk - was quite frankly, embarrassing. The days of the autocrat J. Edgar at the "seat of government" may be over, but all three of these guys acted like they really wanted to be on Oprah or have a show like Oprah's. The occasion produces two formerly "unspeakable" topics: criticism of the intelligence service by a president while in another country; and the behavior of intelligence agents in the country, that display bias and unprofessional behavior. These issues are just within the Executive Branch; other Branches of government and other governments might chime in. Stay tuned America. The topics and the description of topics which are spoken about, varies. The founder of PaPa Joe's Pizza, apparently used a "bad word" and all hell broke loose. Stockholders revoled, resignations, stories in the WSJ. You can upset a whole world economic system and push literally millions of people out of their homes and you won't lose your job or your freedom and no one will pursue you; matter of fact they will insure you. But. Say a word that you "shouldn't say" and what happens? As if words were "things" rather than "signs" of things. The lawyer for misbehaving politicos is now representing President Trump's one-time lawyer,Michael Cohen: "Lanny Davis said that the tape's release sends the message: I am no longer the previous Michael Cohen that you knew — taking a bullet for Donald Trump, saying anything to defend him, being a good soldier. ..." The metaphor Mr Davis chose to create is a bad one because it posits a disproportionate relationship, in addition to minimizing the "real" blood and the "real" loss of husbands and fathers and followers in his analogy. Robert and John and Martin took a bullet. Michael Cohen wasn't even near one. Davis sounds like that other protector of power, Jack Valenti, who after listening for 10 minutes during the 1964 tape recently posted, created metaphorical flourishes of blood and guts and animals and scavenging to the discussion. The media will pick up the cliche and ignore the underlying "unspeakable" - the failure to address the truth of uncomfortable or hidden issues. I don't like that on a hunch, one branch of government can pursue crimes against members of another branch of government. Each branch patrols itself and the people can impeach any of them. I'm with Scalia's 1987 dissent on this one -- the Dept of Justice is the department to investigate crime. One branch hiring a whole team of lawyers and accountants and paralegals and office space and printing facilities and getting another branch to justify it and going into the office of the lawyer of the sitting Executive of yet another branch, strikes me as harmful to the concept of the lawyer/client privilege, to say nothing of the Constitutional rights to due process and against self incrimination and the larger issue of separation of powers. I suspect encountering the unspeakable is going to happen more and more in the coming months, but paying off a floozy - wherever it came from and however it was given - shouldn't be the cause of constitutional ruptures. I can't imagine any scenario where the USA could defend itself against using propaganda with the Russian people. I posted awhile back about the Frances Saunders book and the CIA paying for publications and for promoting issues and authors. If anyone - kid in a garage or the KGB - violated the voting process in the USA then the USA defense system that allowed - allegedly - some Saudi students the ability to pierce a 500 billion dollar defense system, has displayed the same incompetence with its technical capability and perhaps the people aren't getting their money's worth with the defense that can't defend and takes away liberties as it does so. I bet more people know who "Stormy Danial" is than who know who Jack Ruby was.
  8. Robert  Harper

    Trump and the Unspeakable? Part II

    How many people know what a recent NYT story proclaimed: A UN bloc of 135 countries, 80% of the world’s population, has chosen the State of Palestine as its next leader. The US and Israel object. The United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9 on Thursday to denounce the U.S. President’s December 6th claim that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, despite explicit US threats against those nations by both Donald Trump and the US Ambassador to the United Nations. The US vowed to cut aid to any nation that voted in favor of the resolution, which is likely what led to the 9 votes against and the 35 abstentions to the resolution. But how the US would be able to cut aid to nations like Jordan and Egypt, which are allies with the US in its Mid-east policy. The French ambassador to the United Nations, François Delattre, noted the impact of the U.S. claim about Jerusalem, and its impact on the Israel-Palestine peace process, saying, “It is more important than ever to rally the international community around the agreed parameters of the peace process, and this of course includes the United States, as everyone is aware of its particular role and influence on this issue.”
  9. Robert  Harper

    LBJ Did It To Stay Out Of Jail?

    Just to add a bit of context to this recording: from the New York Times Feb 9 1964 WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI)—A witness in the Baker investigation said today he believed that an adverse file on his Air Force career had been physically pulled out of the F.B.I.” and turned over to President Johnson. The assertion was made by Don B. Reynolds, the insurance agent who brought Mr. Johnson's name into the Senate Rules Committee's inquiry into the business affairs of Robert G. Baker, former secretary to the Senate Democratic majority..... A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation denied the statement. A Justice Department spokesman said the White House had made no request to the Attorney General's office for any such information Mr. Reynolds said he believed “beyond any doubt” that his file had been removed from the F.B.I. and turned over to Mr. Johnson while Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was absent on a recent mission to the Far East..... Concerning his activities as an Air Force officer and in the Foreign Service, Mr. Reynolds conceded that he had made “some stupid mistakes” in the past. But he said that this should not be allowed to detract from his testimony in the Baker case. He called his testimony “well documented” Mr. Reynolds, in his published testimony, said he had sold Mr. Johnson $200,000 worth of insurance in 1957 after the then Senate Democratic leader had suffered a heart attack. from Kennedy Assassination Chronicles Vol. 7., Issue 1, Spring 2001: THE JANUARY 23, 1964 PRESIDENTIAL PRESS CONFERENCE A press conference (not televised live) was held in the White House Fish Room, with President Johnson appearing at 5:04 PM. The expected topic was a policy statement on the situation in Panama. Instead, he addressed the gift of the stereo set. He gave his own spin on things, saying that Bobby Baker gave him the set; Baker was an employee of the Senate, and not his personal employee.(41) Just before LBJ left the room, he said, “I hope this covers it rather fully. That is all I have to say about it and all I know about it.” (42) This press conference was LBJ’s “solution” to the Reynold’s problem. Abe Fortas and Clark Clifford advised LBJ to answer Reynold’s charges, but not let Walter Jenkins testify. They felt allowing Jenkins to testify could lead to a full scale crisis. The President said nothing at all about the purchase by Reynolds of air time at a cost of $1208.(43) On January 25, 1964, LBJ tried to give another spin on the Reynolds’ testimony. Johnson clumsily attempted to equate the gift of the stereo set, attributed to Bobby Baker (but from Reynolds) to a miniature TV received by Barry Goldwater from his office staff. Derogatory information, taken from confidential Air Force files, was leaked to the press, exposing Johnson to serious criticism.(44) Baker would have good reason to stonewall the Senate committee. Yet another reason was that Abe Fortas, a good friend of LBJ’s, and who would be appointed to the Supreme Court by LBJ, was Bobby Baker’s attorney at the hearings. Johnson seemed convinced that Reynolds could have been a severe blow to his political future, as indicated by his call to Abe Fortas about Don Reynolds testimony before leaving Dallas that tragic Friday afternoon. Baker himself writes a sad ending to the story: “One Sunday evening I was consulting with..LBJ was already nervous because of the Billy Sol Estes scandal and the resignation of a Texas friend, Fred Korth, who’d quit as secretary of the navy following conflict-of-interest accusations. So I’d not expected to hear much from him. In fact, from the moment I resigned in October of 1963 until I visited him at his ranch to see a dying man, almost nine years later, we spoke not a word and communicated only through intermediaries.”(50)
  10. Robert  Harper

    LBJ Did It To Stay Out Of Jail?

    Maj. Lennox P. McLendon, the North Carolina lawyer who guided the Senate Rules Committee investigation into the financial affairs of Robert G. Baker
  11. Robert  Harper

    Carter: the POTUS nearest to JFK?

    Wonderfully put - although I'd change the "30-plus years ago" to " 55 years ago."
  12. Robert  Harper

    LBJ Did It To Stay Out Of Jail?

    I don't know how this tape even survived. The way these President Libraries operate, well, I still often think of Rex Bradford's discovery a few years ago that LBJ's telephone conversation with J Edgar the weekend of the murder lasting 14 minutes had been erased. I'm pretty convinced that both the long tape erasures of LBJ and Nixon relate to JFK's killing. In any case, I have listened twice to this tape and am still trying to follow who says what. But right off the bat, a few observations: This is just weeks after the killing and this group is there to talk about the payment of a stereo by Don Reynolds? I don't think so. I think that is the immediate upcoming thing to deal with , but to have your future Supreme Court Justice and the National Security Adviser there to "handle" that? Of course after awhile, you can tell Jack Valenti's voic -e it uses the language of biblical proportions of blood and slaughter and the lusting for blood animals that LBJ's "enemies" . I think this is a test run of being asked questions about anything regarding LBJ. Moyers, Fortas, Valenti --better be on the same page. The first time I recall even encountering the name of George McB in the JFK case was whne reading Prof Gibson's book Battling Wall Street. Hearing him here, now, with this group, is creepy. Also there is a mention of "Homer" who is Homer Thornberry another crony. He resigned from Congress in order to be the Judge in the Nagel case, which blew my mind when I read it on Spartacus. Additionally, he was the Judge that LBJ put up for the Supreme Court when he also put Fortas (who was already on the Court) as Chief Justice. So Fortas is the one who "convinces" Hugo Black to void a lower Court order and help LBJ cheat to win in 1948 and 20 years later, he's the first nominee since 1795 to resign during hearings for Chief Justice. Thornberry gives up a seat in Congress to oversee a case involving Oswald and he was among those who attended the Bobby Baker shindigs with LBJ.These are the guys that LBJ has around him weeks after the murder. They are talking in hushed tones about the sale of advertising?
  13. Robert  Harper

    Records release regarding intercepted messages

    Thanks for this great post. I also just recently read in the released documents a letter written by his mother. When I attended the 50th in Dallas, i only asked one question from the audience and it was who knows what happened to Eugene Dinkin? His story has always haunted. He was one of the Cassandra's of the tragedy. Unlike another who was a heroin addict, drug runner and prostitute, Dinkin was a graduate of the University of Chicago. His mother sounds pretty together also. Poor guy went running places to tell who he thought might pay attention. (Recall the MSU teen gymnasts who just wanted AN adult to step forward?). Last info I could find was that Dinkin had filed a lawsuit against the government, but I never could find anything else. The clip provided about the Canadian military figure - I think on this thread - was also chilling because it was so believable.
  14. Robert  Harper

    Carter: the POTUS nearest to JFK?

    Thanks for info to both of you. Paz, I've decided not to actually edit the title of Carter's very readable book, but will allow your comment to survive, as it properly informs the readers, but also allows me to flash my Freudian slip.
  15. Robert  Harper

    Warning to Jimmy Carter.

    After all these years and after all the words read on the JFK case, this is the first time I encountered this information about the attempt and the use of those names. I'm still trying to absorb the recording of LBJ and cronies put up by Joe Bauer and my head is still spinning. Happened when I first read Harvey and Lee, so I have to deal , with this later, but thanks for the info, all.
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