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Murray Rothbard's 1992 essay "The JFK Flap"


Guest Robert Morrow
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Guest Robert Morrow

In 1991 when Oliver Stone's movie JFK came out, the establishment media blistered the movie... and here is the key point- FROM ALL SIDES OF THE IDEOLOGICAL SPECTRUM. Six months before JFK came out, the MSM media was making nasty comments about Oliver Stone and JFK. Yeah, there were all wrong. The reason they did that was because the JFK assassination was a bipartisan murder and a bipartisan cover up with criminals at the highest levels of both major parties doing the killing and the cover up. 4 US presidents are soiled with the JFK assassination (imho): Lyndon Johnson - murderer, George Herbert Walker Bush - CIA murderer of JFK, Richard Nixon - who at the least knew the truth and covered it up, Gerald Ford - Warren Commission con artist who covered up the murder.

George Will (CFR), Charles Krauthammer (CFR), Jack Valenti (CFR) all made very caustic comments about the film at the time, basically saying it was an outrage, trash and a pack of lies. Jack Valenti is the guy who used to share his wife with LBJ and whose "daughter" Courtenay "Lynda" Valenti is actually the biological daughter of Lyndon Johnson ("my little heartbeat"). If you look up "sycophant" or "bootlicker" in the dictionary, there is a picture of Jack Valenti.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard147.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JFK_(film) (Wikipedia is lone nutter controlled and is considered a disinfo site)

From Wiki:

"The film [JFK] became embroiled in controversy even before it was finished filming, after The Washington Post national security correspondent George Lardner showed up on the set. Based on the first draft of the screenplay, he wrote a scathing article attacking the film. Upon JFK's theatrical release, many major American newspapers ran editorials accusing Stone of taking liberties with historical facts, including the film's implication that President Lyndon B. Johnson was part of a coup d'état to kill Kennedy. After a slow start at the box office, Stone's film gradually picked up momentum, earning over $205 million in worldwide gross. JFK went on to win two Academy Awards and was nominated for eight in total, including Best Picture."

The J.F.K. Flap by Murray N. Rothbard

This essay originally appeared in the May 1992 issue of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report.

The most fascinating thing about JFK, as exciting and well-done as it is, is not the movie itself but the hysterical attempt to marginalize, if not to suppress it. How many movies can you remember where the entire Establishment, in serried ranks, from left (The Nation) through Center to Right, joined together as one in a frantic orgy of calumny and denunciation. Time and Newsweek actually doing so before the movie came out? Apparently, so fearful was the Establishment that the Oliver Stone movie might prove convincing that the public had to be thoroughly inoculated in advance. It was a remarkable performance by the media, and it demonstrates, as nothing else, the enormous and growing gap between Respectable Media opinion and what the public Knows in its Heart.

You would think from the shock of the Respectable Media, that Stone's JFK was totally outlandish, off-the-wall, monstrous and fanciful in its accusations against the American power structure. And you would think that historical films never engaged in dramatic license, as if such solemnly hailed garbage as Wilson and Sunrise at Campobello had been models of scholarly precision. Hey, come off it guys!

Despite the fuss and feathers, to veteran Kennedy Assassination buffs, there was nothing new in JFK. What Stone does is to summarize admirably the best of a veritable industry of assassination revisionism of literally scores of books, articles, tapes, annual conventions, and archival research. Stone himself is quite knowledgeable in the area, as shown by his devastating answer in the Washington Post, to the smears of the last surviving Warren Commission member, Gerald Ford, and the old Commission hack, David W. Belin. Despite the smears in the press, there was nothing outlandish in the movie. Interestingly enough, JFK has been lambasted much more furiously than was the first revisionist movie, Don Freed's Executive Action (1973), an exciting film with Robert Ryan and Will Geer, which actually did go way beyond the evidence, and beyond plausibility, by trying to make an H.L. Hunt figure the main conspirator.

The evidence is now overwhelming that the orthodox Warren legend, that Oswald did it and did it alone, is pure fabrication. It now seems clear that Kennedy died in a classic military triangulation hit, that, as Parkland Memorial autopsy pathologist Dr. Charles Crenshaw has very recently affirmed, the fatal shots were fired from in front, from the grassy knoll, and that the conspirators were, at the very least, the right-wing of the CIA, joined by its long-time associates and employees, the Mafia. It is less well established that President Johnson himself was in on the original hit, though he obviously conducted the coordinated cover-up, but certainly his involvement is highly plausible.

The last-ditch defenders of the Warren view cannot refute the details, so they always fall back on generalized vaporings, such as: "How could all the government be in on it?" But since Watergate, we have all become familiar with the basic fact: only a few key people need be in on the original crime, while lots of high and low government officials can be in on the subsequent cover-up, which can always be justified as "patriotic," on "national security" grounds, or simply because the president ordered it. The fact that the highest levels of the U.S. government are all-too capable of lying to the public, should have been clear since Watergate and Iran-Contra. The final fallback argument, getting less plausible all the time is: if the Warren case isn't true, why hasn't the truth come out by this time? The fact is, however, that the truth has largely come out, in the assassination industry, from books some of them best-sellers by Mark Lane, David Lifton, Peter Dale Scott, Jim Marrs, and many others, but the Respectable Media pay no attention. With that sort of mindset, that stubborn refusal to face reality, no truth can ever come out. And yet, despite this blackout, because books, local TV and radio, magazine articles, supermarket tabloids, etc. can't be suppressed but only ignored by the Respectable Media, we have the remarkable result that the great majority of the public, in all the polls, strongly disbelieve the Warren legend. Hence, the frantic attempts of the Establishment to suppress as gripping and convincing a film as Stone's JFK.

Conservatives, as well as centrists, are smearing JFK because Stone is a notorious leftist. Well, so what? It is not simply that the ideology of the teller has no logical bearing on the truth of the tale. The case is stronger than that. For in a day when the Moderate Left to Moderate Right constitute an increasingly monolithic Establishment, with only nuanced variations among them, we can only get the truth from people outside the Establishment, either on the far right or far left, or even from the highly non-respectable supermarket tabloids. And it is no accident that it is an open secret that the heroic "Deep Throat" figure in JFK is Colonel Fletcher Prouty, who is certainly no leftist. And one of the outstanding Revisionist writers is the long-time libertarian Carl Oglesby.

One particularly welcome aspect of JFK, by the way, is its making Jim Garrison the central heroic figure. Garrison, one of the most viciously smeared figures in modern political history, was simply a district attorney trying to do his job in the most important criminal case of our time. Kevin Costner's expressionless style fits in well with the Garrison role, and Tommy Lee Jones is outstanding as the evil CIA-businessman conspirator Clay Shaw.

All in all, a fine movie, for the history as well as the cinematics. There are some minor problems. It is unfortunate that the founding Kennedy Revisionist, Mark Lane, felt that he had to leave the movie-making early, with the result that the film does not bring out the crucial testimony of Cuban ex-CIA agent Marita Lorenz, who has identified right-wing CIA operative E. Howard Hunt, Bill Buckley's pal and control in the CIA, as paymaster for the assassination. (See the brilliant new book by Lane, Plausible Denial.) According to Lane, heat from the CIA during the filming led Stone to underplay the CIA's role by spreading the blame a little too thickly to the rest of the Johnson administration.

As the case for revisionism piles up, there is evidence that some of the more sophisticated members of the Establishment are preparing to jettison the Warren legend, and fall back on an explanation less threatening than blaming E. Howard Hunt or the CIA: that is to lay blame solely on the Mafia, specifically on Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, and Jimmy Hoffa, none of whom are around to debate the issue. A convincing attack on the Mafia-only thesis was leveled by Carl Oglesby in his Afterward to Jim Garrison's book of a few years back (which formed one of the bases for JFK) On the Trail of the Assassins. The Mafia simply did not have the resources, for example, to change the route or call off military or Secret Service protection.

Many conservatives and libertarians will surely be irritated by one theme of the film: the old-fashioned view of Kennedy as the shining young prince of Camelot, the great hero about to redeem America who was chopped down in his prime by dark reactionary forces. That sort of attitude has long been discredited by a very different kind of Revisionism as tales have come out about the sleazy Kennedy brothers, Judith Exner, Sam Giancana, Marilyn Monroe, et al. Well, OK, but look at it this way: a president was murdered, for heaven's sake, and good, bad, or indifferent, it is surely vital to get to the bottom of the conspiracy, and bring the villains to justice, if only at the bar of history. Let the chips fall where they may.

One happy result of the film was the conclusive Stoneian argument: if everything is on the up and up, why not open up all the secret government files on the assassination? It looks as if the pressure for opening will win out, but once again, phony "national security" will prevail, so we won't get the really incriminating stuff. And some of the crucial material is long gone, e.g., the famed Kennedy brain, which mysteriously never made it into the National Archives.

Reprinted from Mises.org.

Murray N. Rothbard (19261995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of modern libertarianism, and academic vice president of the Mises Institute. He was also editor with Lew Rockwell of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and appointed Lew as his literary executor. See his books.

Edited by Robert Morrow
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When the "JFK" film came out, I hadn't seriously looked into the assassination.

My attitude was, The House Assassinations Committee confirmed there was a second

gunman like lots of people had thought, but they couldn't determine who it was, so

golly, I guess we may never know, eh?

I had, however, a long interest in history and had already done some historical

research on other topics.

The very vocal backlash against the film really astonished me.

So much effort was being spent to denounce a Hollywood film, for not being

historically accurate -- ABSOLUTELY JAW DROPPING!!!

For folks with some familiarity with history and with popular films, Hollywood

has been consistently playing fast and loose with history since the silent era!

That after 90 years of this, that there was a sudden denunciation for "JFK" got

my attention.

Robert Morrow wrote:

: "Wikipedia is lone nutter controlled and is considered a disinfo site"

Again, I think it is better described as that the most visible assassination related

Wikipedia articles are dominated by a small group of lone nutter mid-level functionaries

who have been successful in gaming the system.

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Well said, Daniel. I think the Agency was fairly offended that someone (Stone) had the audacity, indeed had the ability, to play the game better than they do.

Stone employs some very skillful devices in his films that occasionally waft the "signature of trade craft" seamlessly therein. It is an art, to be sure.

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Most historical films are inaccurate for the simple reason that they wouldn't make any money otherwise, and for the sake of sparing the audience the inconvienience of slipping into a coma. I'm sure most normal people would guess that the famous shootout scene in The Untouchables didn't really happen. Does that matter?

I'd argue that JFK is different in that it was filmed, marketed and sold as a true story. The audience were led to believe that it was accurate, when the reality is that it is almost one continuous lie. Think about the implications of that fantastic lie. Does that matter?

As Bugliosi said, Stone got two things right in that film. The date and the victim.

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Most historical films are inaccurate for the simple reason that they wouldn't make any money otherwise, and for the sake of sparing the audience the inconvienience of slipping into a coma. I'm sure most normal people would guess that the famous shootout scene in The Untouchables didn't really happen. Does that matter?

I'd argue that JFK is different in that it was filmed, marketed and sold as a true story. The audience were led to believe that it was accurate, when the reality is that it is almost one continuous lie. Think about the implications of that fantastic lie. Does that matter?

As Bugliosi said, Stone got two things right in that film. The date and the victim.

One bullet killed the President. But not one man.

Oliver Stone?

No, Robert Redford.

This film is being marketed and sold as a true story. Like Stone's JFK, it is the story of a murdered President and the conspirators. Is it historically accurate? Certainly some will debate that.

http://www.conspiratorthemovie.com/the_conspirator_about_the_film.php

As Jim DiEugenio and many others have demonstrated, Bugliosi simply was not credible when it came to a lack of conspiracy in President Kennedy's murder.

Stone's movie did what he intended, convinced millions that there was likely a conspiracy. This led to a renewed interest in Kennedy's murder, a resurgence in conspiracy research, and ultimately the formation of the ARRB - all of which lead to more books and more research.

Bugliosi's book wound up on the remainder shelves where it belonged and had little effect on national opinion. Bugliosi marginalized himself with a one-sided and flawed analysis.

Stone's film was a blockbuster commercial and artistic success. Bugliosi's book became the commerical and historical failure that it was destined to be.

Edited by Michael Hogan
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So therefore, [one] of the best scenes in the film, the famous "I am Spartacus!" chant, [is fictional].

Spartacus is thought to have died in battle - his body was never identified by the Romans, since he dressed like his men. Plutarch, writing more than 150 years later, either originates or repeats from earlier accounts the famous "I am Spartacus" chant.

Plausibly, it happened, since some 6,000 rebel slaves were crucified, and not one is recorded as having saved himself (or the lot) by giving up Spartacus' body. But Plutarch is not a historian according to twentieth-century standards or beyond, and is instead concerned with biography as moral example.

The Romans, however, were famous for making inflated legends of their vanquished enemies, including Hannibal, for in doing so they could exaggerate their own power and cunning. It's hard to see, though, what ennobling a slave revolt would have done to further Roman society - we did rather the opposite in this country.

The recent and controversial miniseries The Kennedys reminds us that JFK loved Kirk Douglas's Spartacus.

Edited by David Andrews
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Guest Robert Morrow

If Spartacus' body was never found, and it was not, then he almost had to have fallen in battle, right?

But if it was never found, then Spartacus could not have volunteered himself to Crassus, and then had Antoninus say "I am Spartacus". And of course the last sword fight was completely fabricated.

But let me address Pauly Boy.

First he says that most historical films would be boring if they did not use wide dramatic license. Really? For one, the actual course of Spartacus' slave rebellion as it happened is much more dramatic and exciting then what is traced in the film. ANd in my view, if the script would have followed that outline, the movie would have been even better. The things Spartacus did with his rag tag army against dozens of Roman Legions is really remarkable. To name one, Spartacus actually broke down a siege wall made by Crassus to keep him bottled up in the toe of Italy. If I recall correctly, this was the first time this had ever been done.

As for Siegel,whatever one thinks of the man, no one can say his life was dull. I mean are you serious? I believe that the script was falsified because Beatty and Bening wanted their characters to be more glamourized and romanticized. They didn't want to be in a Scorsese type picture. Only Robert DeNiro is so honest an actor as to not care much if his character is a pig.

But to get to Pauly Boy's recitation of VB's claiming of Stone's film to be nothing but a lie, well if you read my review of RH, I think I turned the tables on VInce.

But further, very briefly, let us summarize the opening scenes of the film:

1. Garrison and his staff learn that Kennedy has been shot in Dallas. Meanwhile Banister and Martin have their little rabble rousing at 544 Camp Street, with Martin getting pistol whipped.

2. Ruby is shot, and Garrison sends out word to trace Oswald in New Orleans.

3. Ferrie is brought in for questioning. JG thinks he is lying, and turns him over to the FBI. The FBI lets him off without batting an eyelash at his cock and bull story.

4. Garrison forgets about the case for awhile. He then has his curiosity reignited by Sen. Long. He buys his own copy of the WC and is shocked at how bad the investigation really was.

5. In the WC volumes he finds the flyer on which Oswald had stamped 544 Camp Street. He visits the location and discovers that it once housed Banister's office. He then finds other witnesses who saw Oswald there. This convinces him that Oswald was not really a communist. He was a government agent acting as an agent provocateur.

Now I don't know how much Pauly Boy knows about the Garrison inquiry, I mean I hope its more than Mike Williams. But that is pretty much the way it happened. And I have only gone through about the first 25 minutes of the movie.

Sure, Stone did use some dramatic license. Some of it I would have advised him against. But when compared to other films, Stone used less of it.

There is a double standard I think. Simply because Oliver crossed the taboo line by going after a subject the MSM and Power Elite does not want broached in any serious way. He paid the price for that.

Jim, was it Sen. Long or was it really HALE BOGGS who reignited Garrison's interest in the JFK case? From the way I see it, the great success of Jim Garrison was broadcasting to the world the Lee Harvey Oswald was US intelligence, that the government knew about it and was lying, and Garrison's statements where he is OPENLY telling his fellow Americans in 1968 that the CIA murdered John Kennedy. And he is calling LBJ an accessory after the fact and asking the question Qui bono?, another way of pointing a finger at Johnson.

I think with 20/20 hindsight it is obvious that Garrison did not have enough evidence to take Clay Shaw to trial; I probably would have voted with the rest of the jury. But Garrison hit bullseye when he said it was a coup d'etat.

Do we have any public statements about what the jurors thought about there being a conspiracy in the JFK assassination? Meaning - did they acquit Clay Shaw, but were convinced that there was indeed some sort of a conspiracy?

Edited by Robert Morrow
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Now I don't know how much Pauly Boy knows about the Garrison inquiry, I mean I hope its more than Mike Williams.

I've read enough to realise that Garrison is just another zany cog in the conspiracy machine. When he did bother to address real evidence instead of pluck dubious ideas (or lies) out of thin air he got that wrong too.

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4. Garrison forgets about the case for awhile. He then has his curiosity reignited by Sen. Long. He buys his own copy of the WC and is shocked at how bad the investigation really was.

Jim, was it Sen. Long or was it really HALE BOGGS who reignited Garrison's interest in the JFK case?

See pages 24-26: http://books.google.com/books?id=GyskeQlVFfkC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=garrison+hale+boggs&source=bl&ots=b-YNNuGu0E&sig=qlsHRQK6OgvmSc6FWA49cK4pFyY&hl=en&ei=UC-oTdK_BIm2tgeRmrHdBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&sqi=2&ved=0CFgQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=garrison%20hale%20boggs&f=false

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There is a double standard I think. Simply because Oliver crossed the taboo line by going after a subject the MSM and Power Elite does not want broached in any serious way. He paid the price for that.

"There's a thousand and one vultures out there. They want to rip my guts out." (Oliver Stone on the press)

The December 1991 issue of Texas Monthly contained an interesting article on Stone and JFK. The article begins on page 128.

http://books.google.com/books?id=nCsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA158&dq=garrison+trail+of+the+assassins&hl=en&ei=xzGoTf2THI3AgQfcrZD0BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=garrison%20trail%20of%20the%20assassins&f=false

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If Spartacus' body was never found, and it was not, then he almost had to have fallen in battle, right?

But if it was never found, then Spartacus could not have volunteered himself to Crassus, and then had Antoninus say "I am Spartacus". And of course the last sword fight was completely fabricated.

...he says most historical films would be boring if they did not use wide dramatic license. Really? For one, the actual course of Spartacus' slave rebellion as it happened is much more dramatic and exciting then what is traced in the film. ANd in my view, if the script would have followed that outline, the movie would have been even better. The things Spartacus did with his rag tag army against dozens of Roman Legions is really remarkable. To name one, Spartacus actually broke down a siege wall made by Crassus to keep him bottled up in the toe of Italy. If I recall correctly, this was the first time this had ever been done.

As for Siegel,whatever one thinks of the man, no one can say his life was dull. I mean are you serious? I believe that the script was falsified because Beatty and Bening wanted their characters to be more glamourized and romanticized. They didn't want to be in a Scorsese type picture. Only Robert DeNiro is so honest an actor as to not care much if his character is a pig.

Remember - films are structured on deals and source material and the compromises between them. Hire hot actor Tony Curtis to play Antoninus, a character that the important leftist novelist Howard Fast invented to show the less brutal side of Roman slavery, and you have to give this character significant drama and screen time. If Howard Fast invented the sword fight, and Spartacus's self-sacrifice, then he did that in what he felt was the service of dramatizing elements of slavery, revolt, and heroism. And then Kirk Douglas as producer - or the studio - agreed that this would be good for Curtis and for the box office. So he paid blacklisted good lefty Dalton Trumbo to put it in the script.

An aside - People interested in the development of left-wing ideals in Hollywood, and in novels and in plays up to the Kennedy years, should check up on the careers of writers like Howard Fast (Spartacus) and Clifford Odets (Waiting for Lefty, The Sweet Smell of Success), and also Bertolt Brecht's career in America. Like Trumbo, all these fellows had run-ins with anti-communist congressional committees.

NB, Robert De Niro personally wrote important changes into the Raging Bull script, telling the studio that he refused to play Jake LaMotta as "a cockroach," as he felt Jake had been originally written. There was even more domestic violence in the earlier draft that De Niro read.

Edited by David Andrews
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Guest Robert Morrow

The reason I mentioned Hale Boggs is because (at least privately) he soured tremendously on the Warren Report farce which he signed onto. I was wondering if Hale Boggs himself, and not just Sen. Long, was the one who alerted Jim Garrison that something was rotten in the state of Denmark re: the Warren Report joke. Of course, it should have really been called the Allen Dulles Commission.

Hale Boggs said that J. Edgar Hoover lied his eyes out to the Warren Commission.

Hale Boggs came to completely reject the Warren Report:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKboggs.htm

According to one of his friends: "Hale felt very, very torn during his work (on the Commission) ... he wished he had never been on it and wished he'd never signed it (the Warren Report)." Another former aide argued that, "Hale always returned to one thing: Hoover lied his eyes out to the Commission - on Oswald, on Ruby, on their friends, the bullets, the gun, you name it."

Edited by Robert Morrow
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  • 1 month later...
Guest Tom Scully

********************************************* Moderation Notice ************************************************************************

Now, the day Garrison showed the Zapruder film, Phelan really had his work cut out for him. So what did he do? He pulled out a stick of chalk, rolled in a chalk board and, perhaps for the first time anywhere, he proceeded to map out the "jet effect" for those assembled. No ____ ......

Jim DiEugenio, you have posted an expletive prohibited per a rule of this forum, in the post partially quoted, above.

Please , at your earliest convenience, self-edit this word so as to make it conform to the language in the rule. After the edit,

it must nor be obvious to a reader that an expletive had been originally used, or was represented.

I am sure you prefer to edit your own posts, if any editing is to be done, and that you want to avoid moderation of any

of your posts to the point of temporary invisibility.

I suspect you support avoidance of implementation of software blocking on this forum, of a list of banned words placed

on a censorship list. Please support my continuing effort to persuade the majority of the moderating team that creation of

an arbitrary list is unnecessary.

**********************************************************************************************************************************

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