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Coincidence or Conspiracy?


Tim Gratz
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Sometimes it is difficult to conceive of an event as simply a coincidence. It is easy in the JFK case to view events as part of or proof of a conspiracy when they might be only coincidences.

As proof that strange coincidences do happen, last night I switched from news coverage of the tragic bridge accident in Minneapolis to watch "CSI Miami". In the opening minutes, a large yacht crashed into a bridge in Miami, collapsing the bridge and sending cars crashing in to the water. The scenes looked just like the actual news scenes from Minneapolis. It was eerie.

So this just proves that odd coincidences can indeed occur.

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Guest Mark Valenti

As an example:

David Ferrie knew LHO as a kid in New Orleans.

Years later, Ferrie was a key team member for Carlos Marcello, who was being hounded by RFK.

We know Ferrie made a crazy car trip to Texas on the day of the shooting (or was it a day later, can't remember).

It all seems so blatantly conspiratorial, but could it have been mere coincidence?

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A great example, Mark. You are correct, Ferrie's actions do seem suspicious, as does his link to Marcello. But it might be nothing but coincidence.

I think that a pre-assassination association between Oswald and Ruby would be MORE than a coincidence, however. Do you agree with that?

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Guest Mark Valenti
I think that a pre-assassination association between Oswald and Ruby would be MORE than a coincidence, however. Do you agree with that?

I do agree it would be, but I do not believe there is a direct link between them.

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Guest Mark Valenti
I think that a pre-assassination association between Oswald and Ruby would be MORE than a coincidence, however. Do you agree with that?

I do agree it would be, but I do not believe there is a direct link between them.

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I think that a pre-assassination association between Oswald and Ruby would be MORE than a coincidence, however. Do you agree with that?

I do agree it would be, but I do not believe there is a direct link between them.

Mark,

"...but I do not believe there is a direct link between them."

Other than the fact that one killed the other?

The was a paperback book published called "Coincidence or Conspiracy" by B. Festerwald and Michael Ewing, written in a unique style - profiles of individuals, which presented the basic facts and the outstanding issues on each.

The links, direct or indiret, between Oswald and Ruby are many and varried.

Beginning with both Ruby and Oswald's interests in Cuba, both of them knowing Robert McKowen, both of them involved in gun purchases, the evidence contained in Mary Simm's box, the reports from Mrs. M. Hover and the testimony of a half dozen witnesses make it clear that there were associations between Ruby and Oswald before the assassination.

BK

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I think that a pre-assassination association between Oswald and Ruby would be MORE than a coincidence, however. Do you agree with that?

I do agree it would be, but I do not believe there is a direct link between them.

1. LHO had direct contact with Robert Ray McKeon

1A. Jack Ruby had direct contact with Robert Ray McKeon

2. Jack Ruby visited an acquaintance (Lorenzo (Larry) Borenstein) at his art gallery at 519 Royal ST., New Orleans, LA, reportedly to buy a couple of art works.

2A. 520 Royal St. is the main office of WDSU Broadcasting Corp. (Formerly the "Royal St. Corporation)

2B. 521 Royal St. is the main office of what was the radio/tv headquarters of WDSU-TV.

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Just a tad bit more "coincidental" than a CSI story about a bridge in Miami and a TV news story about a bridge in Minnesota.

P.S. Most everyone in south Louisiana is aware of the fact that Stucke (as in Dorothea Stucke, and the name "Stucky" as in Bill Stucky, are in fact the same names, just like "Purves and Purvis").

Also, many have long known of the "Stucky" of south Louisiana who was of a French Ancestry, and a hero who gave his life while serving with the "Jedburgs" in WWII. The French language ability of many south Louisiana natives was an added reason to recruit such persons for these early OSS Teams that were entering occupied France.

P.P.S. Then of course, there is the "coincidence" of Ruby's close acquaintance Lewis McWillie and his encounter and fisticuffs (fist to nose) of a FPCC member in the Miami airport, and LHO's little "re-run" down in good ole New Orleans, LA.

Which was quite poorly acted out by the way.

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Guest Mark Valenti

1. LHO had direct contact with Robert Ray McKeon

1A. Jack Ruby had direct contact with Robert Ray McKeon

A good prosecutor could turn McKeown's testimony into Swiss cheese. It's full of qualified statements, vague meanderings and half-remembered facts. Clearly McKeown spent time with criminals, but I found nothing believable in his testimony about Ruby and Oswald.

2. Jack Ruby visited an acquaintance (Lorenzo (Larry) Borenstein) at his art gallery at 519 Royal ST., New Orleans, LA, reportedly to buy a couple of art works.

2A. 520 Royal St. is the main office of WDSU Broadcasting Corp. (Formerly the "Royal St. Corporation)

2B. 521 Royal St. is the main office of what was the radio/tv headquarters of WDSU-TV.

This is an interesting coincidence but it does not cement a direct link between Ruby and Oswald. At best, it's indirect and in reality, it feels like a stretch to say there's a link at all.

P.P.S. Then of course, there is the "coincidence" of Ruby's close acquaintance Lewis McWillie and his encounter and fisticuffs (fist to nose) of a FPCC member in the Miami airport, and LHO's little "re-run" down in good ole New Orleans, LA.

These anecdotes surrounding the periphery of the JFK case never quite string together because they are most likely just disparate events, imo. That's why they just sit there, decade after decade, with researchers longing to find some key that will make them all make sense.

As much as I am fascinated by your research regarding LHO and his heritage, I do not agree with you on this one.

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Guest Mark Valenti

"...but I do not believe there is a direct link between them."

Other than the fact that one killed the other?

Well, they both had thumbs and toes too, that's hardly a conspiratorial direct link.

The was a paperback book published called "Coincidence or Conspiracy" by B. Festerwald and Michael Ewing, written in a unique style - profiles of individuals, which presented the basic facts and the outstanding issues on each.

I'll try to track that one down, I haven't ever read it.

Beginning with both Ruby and Oswald's interests in Cuba

Given the times, anyone with an interest in gambling, prostitution or booze in an institutional way would have been at least mildly interested in what happened to Cuba. As would anyone with an interest in the political events of the day. It doesn't provide a direct link, which is the kind I was denying.

both of them knowing Robert McKowen,

See above.

both of them involved in gun purchases

Hmm...them and millions of others. No direct link.

the evidence contained in Mary Simm's box, the reports from Mrs. M. Hover and the testimony of a half dozen witnesses make it clear that there were associations between Ruby and Oswald before the assassination.

Not to mention the testimony of Beverly Oliver, which I don't believe either.

There are many concentric circles surrounding the JFK murder, some of them have "associations" but to beat the dead horse once again, I haven't seen evidence of a direct link between LHO and Ruby.

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There are many concentric circles surrounding the JFK murder, some of them have "associations" but to beat the dead horse once again, I haven't seen evidence of a direct link between LHO and Ruby.

Well, it can't be both - a coincidence and a conspiracy, it was either one or the other. How many coincidences make a conspiracy?

Certainly the six degrees of separation is a demonstratable thesis, but when it gets down to two degrees, alarms should go off. Ian Fleming's axium was "first time hapenstance, second time coincidence, third time - enemy action."

In retrospect, everyone seems to agree the assassination had something very much to do with Cuba and Castro, as even staunch lone-nut advocats (Russo/Mel A) acknowledge.

So just focusing in on the Cuban aspects of Oswald, your accused assassin, and Ruby, his executioner, you eleminate all the other bull - and at places these two lines of inquery intersect, you zoom in and see what you've got.

When I zoom in on McKowen and see that he's visited by Castro, Ruby and Oswald (or impersonator), then bingo, that means something, at least to me.

When I go to McKowen's ranch I find all kinds of interesting things, the least of which are pre-assassination connections between Ruby and the Patsy, a side trail. Proving they knew each other would certainly constitute evidence of conspiracy, but the real goal of the game is to figure out who killed Kennedy, right?

I'll ride the consentric circles, you beat the dead horse.

BK

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Sometimes it is difficult to conceive of an event as simply a coincidence. It is easy in the JFK case to view events as part of or proof of a conspiracy when they might be only coincidences.

As proof that strange coincidences do happen, last night I switched from news coverage of the tragic bridge accident in Minneapolis to watch "CSI Miami". In the opening minutes, a large yacht crashed into a bridge in Miami, collapsing the bridge and sending cars crashing in to the water. The scenes looked just like the actual news scenes from Minneapolis. It was eerie.

So this just proves that odd coincidences can indeed occur.

Tim,

A better example is Michael Paine, sitting at lunch with a fellow Bell Hell worker, talking about the president being assassinated while the president being assassinated.

Now that's ESP.

And I'm sure his step-dad Art Young would agree.

BK

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Guest Mark Valenti

Well, it can't be both - a coincidence and a conspiracy, it was either one or the other. How many coincidences make a conspiracy?

To answer that all you have to do is examine the list of coincidences between the murders of JFK and Lincoln. And of course, we have "researchers" who claim a connection between them because after all, how many coincidences make a conspiracy?

In retrospect, everyone seems to agree the assassination had something very much to do with Cuba and Castro, as even staunch lone-nut advocats (Russo/Mel A) acknowledge.

It's true that conspiracy theorists connect those dots, that's not "everyone" - that's just those who see that particular connection. There's also the contingent who sees a connection between the JFK murder and the Masons, the oil depletion tax allowance, the Vietnam War, the military industrial complex, the impending "firing" of LBJ from the ticket, etc. etc. etc. You are cherry-picking your favorite connection but it's not yourself and your fellow Cubanists you have to convince. Claiming a direct link between Ruby and Oswald is meaningless if it's not demonstrable to people who don't happen to instantly believe it. You need cold, incontrovertible facts, not third-party hearsay. No Grand Jury would ever vote to indict based on that. Decades of research by intelligent people have turned up fascinating insight into how things worked in the early 60's, but nary a direct link to the JFK murder.

So just focusing in on the Cuban aspects of Oswald, your accused assassin, and Ruby, his executioner, you eleminate all the other bull - and at places these two lines of inquery intersect, you zoom in and see what you've got.

That's what researchers have been doing for decades. What do we have as a result? A LOT of research on the CIA, on soldiers of fortune, on egocentric military types and a cadre of demented publicity seekers who want to inject themselves into a historical event. We've got grainy photos of Cuban revolutionaries with their arms around each other, endless tales of gun-running and jungle training. None of that - NONE of that - puts a shooter on the ground in Dealey Plaza. It's merely a fascinating subject of research with suggestive but ultimately empty payoffs.

I'll ride the consentric circles, you beat the dead horse.

No offense, and I mean that sincerely, but I think you're the one participating in a moribund equestrian event as regards a Ruby and LHO direct link.

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Sometimes it is difficult to conceive of an event as simply a coincidence. It is easy in the JFK case to view events as part of or proof of a conspiracy when they might be only coincidences.

As proof that strange coincidences do happen, last night I switched from news coverage of the tragic bridge accident in Minneapolis to watch "CSI Miami". In the opening minutes, a large yacht crashed into a bridge in Miami, collapsing the bridge and sending cars crashing in to the water. The scenes looked just like the actual news scenes from Minneapolis. It was eerie.

So this just proves that odd coincidences can indeed occur.

Tim,

A better example is Michael Paine, sitting at lunch with a fellow Bell Hell worker, talking about the president being assassinated while the president being assassinated.

Now that's ESP.

And I'm sure his step-dad Art Young would agree.

BK

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Sometimes it is difficult to conceive of an event as simply a coincidence. It is easy in the JFK case to view events as part of or proof of a conspiracy when they might be only coincidences.

As proof that strange coincidences do happen, last night I switched from news coverage of the tragic bridge accident in Minneapolis to watch "CSI Miami". In the opening minutes, a large yacht crashed into a bridge in Miami, collapsing the bridge and sending cars crashing in to the water. The scenes looked just like the actual news scenes from Minneapolis. It was eerie.

So this just proves that odd coincidences can indeed occur.

The case for conspiracies

As JFK proves, the theories are usually much more interesting than the truth.

By Meghan Daum

Los Angeles Times

August 4, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-...inion-rightrail

Since the May release of his 1,612-page book, "Reclaiming History," criminal prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has been appearing on everything from C-Span to "The Colbert Report" telling the world that JFK's death had nothing to do with a government conspiracy. By most accounts, he's made a pretty airtight case.

Bugliosi, famous for prosecuting Charles Manson and for coauthoring the book about the case, "Helter Skelter," has spent 20 years examining just about every theory ever put forth about the assassination. "It's my view that it's impossible for any reasonable, rational person to read this book without being satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Oswald killed Kennedy and acted alone," Bugliosi told the New York Times in May. Since then, overwhelmingly favorable reviews have suggested that the days of the grassy knoll-Mafia-missing bullets conspiracy theories might at last be over.

Despite the sense that Bugliosi's is the final word, for some people the simple explanation remains less compelling than the labyrinthine alternatives. It was notable that Tuesday, the print edition of the New York Times published a two-page ad, an "open letter" from one Paul Kuntzler, declaring that "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered by vice president London [sic] Baines Johnson in a widespread, incredibly complex and brilliantly planned conspiracy. . . ." The letter went on to implicate Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Arlen Specter, the United States military, the Ford Motor Co., Life magazine and something Kuntzler called "big Oil of Midland, Texas," among many others.

Who is Kuntzler? Since he included his telephone number at the bottom of his letter, I called him to find out. As you might imagine, I learned more than can possibly fit in this space, but the basics are these: He's 65, a former exhibits and sales director of the National Science Teachers Assn. and once a prominent D.C.-based gay activist. He first became interested in the JFK assassination in 1991 after reading Jim Marrs' book, "Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy" (this was also, incidentally, the year of Oliver Stone's film "JFK," which Kuntzler calls "98% accurate").

In 2004, Kuntzler's longtime partner, Stephen Miller, died of complications from AIDS and left him Miller Reporting Co., which had transcribed documents that Kuntzler believes are relevant to the assassination. Following the company's demise (Kuntzler referred to "millions in estate taxes"), he sold the building that housed it, using the money to pay off his credit card debts (including $25,000 he spent organizing an assassination panel discussion last year) and spent $186,000 on the New York Times ad. Altogether, Kuntzler estimates he's spent a quarter of a million dollars on what he calls "the last opportunity for the American public to have confirmation on what happened on Nov. 22, 1963."

"I don't have much money left," he added. "I expect that once the truth comes out, I'll go on a speaking tour. If not, I'll have to take out another mortgage on my house."

After I talked to Kuntzler, I called Bugliosi, who listed for me many of the same points he made on C-SPAN and "The Colbert Report," including his belief that the Stone film is "one continuous lie, [other than] he did have the correct date and the correct victim."

"I didn't read [Kuntzler's letter] carefully," Bugliosi told me. "But I went through it enough to see that he was regurgitating all the old hoary theories that even those in the mainstream community have rejected. He's not even reading mainstream conspiracy dogma."

We then spent some time talking about why, despite the conventional wisdom that the simplest explanation is usually the best explanation, the human mind seems so naturally drawn to the complexities and innuendoes of conspiracy theories. Bugliosi admitted that they are usually more interesting than the truth. In the case of President Kennedy, he said, they point to a kind of collective inability to accept that such a monumental, historical event could be caused by a single, ordinary person.

"It gives more meaning to his life and death," Bugliosi said, "to believe dark forces are responsible for his death. Jackie herself said we don't even have the satisfaction of him being killed for a cause."

That makes sense. But speaking of simple explanations, what about the fact that every once in a while a conspiracy theory comes along that has some truth to it? Take, for example, this particular moment in this particular nation. You don't have to believe in fake moon landings or even stolen elections to sense that we're experiencing one of the most secretive periods in recent political history. When it comes to the current state of things, smelling a rat isn't necessarily contingent on living in your mother's basement and wearing T-shirts that say things like "Inside Job!" It's simply a matter of paying attention.

Then again, there's such a thing as paying too much attention. "If you're a parent and your child gets interested in the JFK case, it's toxic," Bugliosi told me. "It's caused divorces, bankruptcies and suicides."

"My mother and my sisters received copies of the ad via FedEx," Kuntzler told me. "They knew how much I was spending. Well, actually, I haven't told my mother yet."

mdaum@latimescolumnists.com

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