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Vincent Bugliosi weighs in on JFK assassination


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The way I see it, it's just a 1600 page way to start the fireplace. There were (and are) so many problems with the evidence in this case that it's not funny. Never in the history of homicide has there ever been a case where EVERY SINGLE PIECE of evidence was questionable.

There are serious problems with the chain of possession of the evidence. It's hardly likely that ANY jury could convict based on the doubt of the evidence.

What has transpired has been Conspiracy Theory vs. Coincidence Theory. The difference is that the Conspiracy Theorists like myself look at the evidence from a viewpoint of probability, while the Coincidence Theorists look at the evidence from a viewpoint of possibility.

I don't know how many times I've heard people say what happens when you shoot this melon or that. I usually reply that it would be proof if Kennedy had a melon on his shoulders, but other than that, those kinds of tests are useless.

They look at possibility, we at probability.

Like their Single Bullsh*t Theory. They look at it as a possibility, we laugh at it as a improbability.

I once wrote a summary on why the crime could not have been committed by one person, using the re-enactment shooting tests as examples. None of the MASTER riflemen could duplicate the crime, even though they had been given every advantage that Oswald didn't have.

One woman e-mailed me and said, "Just because the experts couldn't do it, that doesn't mean Oswald couldn't do it." To which I replied, "Madam, if the experts couldn't do it, then NO ONE could do it, including Oswald."

These are the kinds of misconceptions plaguing the Coincidence Theorists. Everything is a possibility to them.

I don't plan to buy Mr. Bugliosi's book. For that kind of money, I can buy a LOT of toilet paper.

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Guest John Gillespie

Geeze, Now I'm begining to doubt if Charlie Manson is guilty, and maybe the Supreme Court didn't get the election ruling wrong after all.

Good one.

- Vincent Bugliosi Summation at Manson Trial. This is a pretty good read, with Manson's interspersed commentary quite telling and humerous. I now believe there is more to the so-called Mason murders, and that he and the family were probably part of a MKULTRA op gone berserk.

If Bugliosi's "vicarious liability rule" used to convict Manson is applied to the Kennedy assassination, Ruth and Michael Paine were just as guility as Oswald, if in fact Oswald was the assassin.

BK

I've read the above, as well as "Outrage" and am disappointed to the point of shock. Ah, well, go figure. As for MK/ULTRA and the Manson thing I, too, would like a deeper delve along the lines of Jim Hougan's work on Jim Jones/Jonestown massacre. Here, allow me to attach...

Regards, Cogent One,

JG

HOUGAN.Jones2.doc

Hougan.counterpunch.doc

Edited by John Gillespie
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Guest John Gillespie

"I have been thinking this for a while now. Didn't Squeaky Fromme, supposed follower of Manson, pretend to try to shoot Ford? Of course there was no bullet in the chamber and she seemed to know it, which only makes it more interesting..."

____________________________

She told Police that she forgot she lent them to someone named Sara...

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The way I see it, it's just a 1600 page way to start the fireplace. There were (and are) so many problems with the evidence in this case that it's not funny. Never in the history of homicide has there ever been a case where EVERY SINGLE PIECE of evidence was questionable.

There are serious problems with the chain of possession of the evidence. It's hardly likely that ANY jury could convict based on the doubt of the evidence.

What has transpired has been Conspiracy Theory vs. Coincidence Theory. The difference is that the Conspiracy Theorists like myself look at the evidence from a viewpoint of probability, while the Coincidence Theorists look at the evidence from a viewpoint of possibility.

I don't know how many times I've heard people say what happens when you shoot this melon or that. I usually reply that it would be proof if Kennedy had a melon on his shoulders, but other than that, those kinds of tests are useless.

They look at possibility, we at probability.

Like their Single Bullsh*t Theory. They look at it as a possibility, we laugh at it as a improbability.

I once wrote a summary on why the crime could not have been committed by one person, using the re-enactment shooting tests as examples. None of the MASTER riflemen could duplicate the crime, even though they had been given every advantage that Oswald didn't have.

One woman e-mailed me and said, "Just because the experts couldn't do it, that doesn't mean Oswald couldn't do it." To which I replied, "Madam, if the experts couldn't do it, then NO ONE could do it, including Oswald."

These are the kinds of misconceptions plaguing the Coincidence Theorists. Everything is a possibility to them.

I don't plan to buy Mr. Bugliosi's book. For that kind of money, I can buy a LOT of toilet paper.

Gil,

Good to see a name from the past. I hope you will start posting regularly again- I respect your views a great deal.

Vincent Bugliosi is a truly odd character. His book on the O.J. case was really excellent, imho, but was marred by a final chapter devoted exclusively to his dogmatic atheism, which really had no connection at all to the book he was writing. To those who haven't read it, you should do so. It provides some insight into the workings of his mind. Bugliosi was once the darling of RFK assassination critics. He conducted some solid research into the RFK case during the '70s, and many of us were rooting for him to win his race as California Attorney General, as he'd promised to reopen the RFK investigation if elected. He didn't win that election, and drifted away from RFK assassination research. He next appeared as the "prosecutor" in Showtime's "The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald" in the late '80s, revealing himself to be a hard-line LNer. I don't really know what to make of this complex man, but agree completely with you that his book is certain to be worthless, seeing as how he is trying to defend an impossiblity. I also won't be buying it.

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The way I see it, it's just a 1600 page way to start the fireplace. There were (and are) so many problems with the evidence in this case that it's not funny. Never in the history of homicide has there ever been a case where EVERY SINGLE PIECE of evidence was questionable.

There are serious problems with the chain of possession of the evidence. It's hardly likely that ANY jury could convict based on the doubt of the evidence.

What has transpired has been Conspiracy Theory vs. Coincidence Theory. The difference is that the Conspiracy Theorists like myself look at the evidence from a viewpoint of probability, while the Coincidence Theorists look at the evidence from a viewpoint of possibility.

I don't know how many times I've heard people say what happens when you shoot this melon or that. I usually reply that it would be proof if Kennedy had a melon on his shoulders, but other than that, those kinds of tests are useless.

They look at possibility, we at probability.

Like their Single Bullsh*t Theory. They look at it as a possibility, we laugh at it as a improbability.

I once wrote a summary on why the crime could not have been committed by one person, using the re-enactment shooting tests as examples. None of the MASTER riflemen could duplicate the crime, even though they had been given every advantage that Oswald didn't have.

One woman e-mailed me and said, "Just because the experts couldn't do it, that doesn't mean Oswald couldn't do it." To which I replied, "Madam, if the experts couldn't do it, then NO ONE could do it, including Oswald."

These are the kinds of misconceptions plaguing the Coincidence Theorists. Everything is a possibility to them.

I don't plan to buy Mr. Bugliosi's book. For that kind of money, I can buy a LOT of toilet paper.

Gil,

Good to see a name from the past. I hope you will start posting regularly again- I respect your views a great deal.

Vincent Bugliosi is a truly odd character. His book on the O.J. case was really excellent, imho, but was marred by a final chapter devoted exclusively to his dogmatic atheism, which really had no connection at all to the book he was writing. To those who haven't read it, you should do so. It provides some insight into the workings of his mind. Bugliosi was once the darling of RFK assassination critics. He conducted some solid research into the RFK case during the '70s, and many of us were rooting for him to win his race as California Attorney General, as he'd promised to reopen the RFK investigation if elected. He didn't win that election, and drifted away from RFK assassination research. He next appeared as the "prosecutor" in Showtime's "The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald" in the late '80s, revealing himself to be a hard-line LNer. I don't really know what to make of this complex man, but agree completely with you that his book is certain to be worthless, seeing as how he is trying to defend an impossiblity. I also won't be buying it.

I can't believe that publishers still pay money to this guy.

He tried a "can't lose" case 37 years ago, and still acts as if he is significant today.

I recently re-read Helter Skelter and found it lacking in interesting detail regarding the Manson Family.

I have done a good bit of reading on the Manson Family and murders, and The Family, by Ed Sanders (formerly of the Fugs 1960s rock/folk group) is outstanding and dwarfs Helter Skelter from an informational standpoint.

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One of my "tests" for the credibility of this book will be to open up the index and look for the name of Dr. Joseph Dolce.

He was the wounds ballistics expert who took Oswald's rifle and 100 rounds of ammo and showed that the single bullet

theory was false. He pointed this out to Specter as the absurd Single Bullet Theory was being created.

Naturally, since he destroyed their cockamamie idea he wasn't called to testify in front of the Warren Commission since

he would have blown apart the scheme.

Later he tried to tell this to the House Select Commission but they ignored him.

His views were recorded for the superb documentary Reasonable Doubt and he pointed out there that even at low velocity

the bullets he tested were severely deformed. As he pointed out SBT is not credible and he proved it with experiments.

So this is a government official often ignored by many writers on this case. If Bugliosi doesn't deal seriously with Dolce and the WC memorandum from April 64 recording his views, I need not read further.

And that would be disappointing. Bugliosi seems to have some decent work trying to break open the RFK cover up in the civil trial with that strange man of the cloth hanging around with Sirhan Sirhan prior to the shooting of Kennedy.

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The way I see it, it's

I can't believe that publishers still pay money to this guy.

A very important question, and I think worth looking into. The publishers.

U.S. News & World Report, I think sometime back at the time of the HSCA (Circa 1976-78), reported of a Washington D.C. meeting of living Warren Commission attorneys who gathered to prepare their response to the new investigation(s), and quickly amased a $30 million war chest that I believe was used for psych-ops.

Among the projects they supported, via lucrative payouts through one Harold Evans at Random House, publisher of Posner and the Bug and I believe, but am not sure - Mailer and the Darkside guy, Sly Hurst.

I also suspect Mad Max Holland's JFK work is supported by the CIA or Mockingbird via Miller Center, a foundation front and a German venitian blind company that supports him with grants.

While at the London Sunday Times, Harold Evans helped expose Philby, Burgess and McLean as KGB doubleagents, but when it comes to JFK they can only see LHO as a lone-nut and are blinded by any inferences to the Great Game.

I'd like to hear from Evans, why he shelled out so much money for crap when fewer millions could have helped solve the crime?

BK

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  • 2 months later...

What we've all been waiting for: Thomas Mallon's review of of Bugliosi's new book:

It seems Bugliosi has made one big breakthrough: He demolishes Lee Oswald's explanation for his presence on the second floor when Baker encountered him.

QUOTE ON "If there was no second gunman, there was, Bugliosi proves, a second

soda machine in the book depository, which undermines Oswald's claim

of having gone, minutes after the assassination, from the first floor

to the second in search of a bottle of pop. (Moreover, his preferred

brand, Dr. Pepper, was in the first-floor machine, not the second.)QUOTE OFF

Bugliosi has surpassed even the great Jim Moore (CONSPIRACY OF ONE) with the Dr. Pepper theory. I will have to buy the book to confirm that Bugliosi found a living witness to testify that a/ there was in fact a soda machine on the first floor and

b/ that the machine was in working order and was in fact stocked with Dr. Pepper at 12.30 P.M on November 22nd, 1963.

APPEARING IN "THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY" (June 2007 Issue);

REVIEW WRITTEN BY:

THOMAS MALLON (Author of "Mrs. Paine's Garage")

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200706/mallon-JFK

===================================

"The most exhaustive book yet written about the Kennedy assassination

should lay the conspiracy theories to rest once and for all-but it

won't."

===================================

"Vincent Bugliosi, the assistant district attorney who put Charles

Manson away and later produced the most merciless book on O.J. Simpson

('Outrage'), has in one way or another been working on 'Reclaiming

History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy' for 21 years,

ever since he acted as the prosecutor in an elaborate mock trial of

Oswald that was filmed in London and included Ruth Paine among its

"witnesses." Bugliosi got a conviction and never really left the case.

The result is a text far larger and heavier than any that Oswald may

have handled in the hours before he pointed his gun out a sixth-floor

window of the book depository. Indeed, 'Reclaiming History', whose

first draft was handwritten on legal pads, is longer than the Warren

Report, William Manchester's 'The Death of a President', and Gerald

Posner's 'Case Closed'-combined.

After putting the book's two sets of footnotes (which run 1,128 pages)

onto a CD-ROM, the publisher, W. W. Norton, managed to get the

principal 1,664 densely typeset pages into a single volume, no doubt

by calling on the same compressive binding skills that allow the

company to produce its massive well-known literary anthologies.

'Reclaiming History' is a magnificent and, in many ways, appalling

achievement, a work that, for all the author's liveliness and

pugnacity, is destined to be more referenced than read. Bugliosi

insists that, in the face of America's widespread and misplaced belief

in the existence of a conspiracy against JFK's life, "overkill in this

book is historically necessary."

This undue elaboration includes, one supposes, the work's primer on

the civil-rights movement (as context for Kennedy's own activity in

that realm); its long history of the Mafia that Jack Ruby was not part

of; nine pages on the Bay of Pigs invasion that did not motivate Fidel

Castro to kill Kennedy; and four paragraphs on the oil-depletion

allowance, whose reduction, unsought by Kennedy, did not drive the

Texas oilman H. L. Hunt to murder the president.

If there was no second gunman, there was, Bugliosi proves, a second

soda machine in the book depository, which undermines Oswald's claim

of having gone, minutes after the assassination, from the first floor

to the second in search of a bottle of pop. (Moreover, his preferred

brand, Dr. Pepper, was in the first-floor machine, not the second.)

Bugliosi also corrects one account claiming that in 1969, it took a

New Orleans jury only 45 minutes to acquit Clay Shaw, the man Jim

Garrison framed for Kennedy's murder. (It took the jury 54 minutes.)

And Bugliosi writes that my own book {"Mrs. Paine's Garage"}, while

correctly assessing a piece of his strategy in the London mock trial,

has him "beaming with delight" over Paine's testimony, whereas in fact

he responded with only "a measured smile."

Bugliosi has a confidence that makes Schwarzenegger, or Popeye, seem

diffident. He finds that "plain incompetence ... from the highest levels

on down, is endemic in our society," and he takes up arms against the

"pure myth" that one cannot prove a negative. "I am never elliptical

and always state the obvious," he declares, not without charm.

He has great hopes for "the stature of this book," which would derive

chiefly from its ability "to turn the percentages around in the

debate," a reversal that would leave 75 percent of Americans believing

Oswald acted on his own and only 19 percent thinking there was a

conspiracy to kill Kennedy. "My only master and my only mistress are

the facts and objectivity," Bugliosi declares, as if once more being

sworn in at the DA's office in Los Angeles.

In at least one way, he's up against both sides, CT and LN,

simultaneously. When Gerald Posner published 'Case Closed' in 1993-two

years after belief in a Kennedy-assassination conspiracy had its

widest and wildest dissemination with the release of Oliver Stone's

'JFK'-the book received a tremendously positive response, at least in

the mainstream media.

It may not have shifted those percentages, but its argument that

Oswald acted alone-of which the author became convinced only midway

through his labors-had a kind of weird freshness, given that the

Warren Report, for most of the 30 years since its appearance, had

attracted fewer defenders than the tax code. So, isn't Bugliosi

writing 'Case Still Closed', however many steroids he may have pumped

into the original orthodoxy?

Not at all, he argues. For starters, one needs a law-enforcement

background, not just Posner's lawyerly one, to make sense of

everything. Posner may have accomplished a few things-such as helping

to knock down the actuarially risible belief that there have been a

hundred or so "mysterious deaths" among people who supposedly knew too

much-but by Bugliosi's lights, Posner's methods are sometimes as

slippery as the CTs'. He accuses his LN predecessor of distortion and

credit-grabbing, especially when it comes to rehabilitating the single-

bullet theory (Bugliosi prefers calling it a "fact").

In a passage that reads like a memo to his own publisher, arguing for

the novelty of what he's doing, Bugliosi writes that his is "the first

anti-conspiracy 'book'," since all Posner's does is take an "anti-

conspiracy 'position'," devoting a mere "8 percent" of its measly 607

pages to knocking down conspiracist notions.

There's no question that Bugliosi succeeds in scorching the CT terrain

with ferocious, even definitive, plausibility. He also, by the time

his admirable 2,792 pages are through, drowns himself in a kind of

ghastly historical irony.

Before he can begin dispatching the CTs' frauds and follies, Bugliosi

must deal with Lee Harvey Oswald himself, who remains a ghost in even

the more fantastic machines of the conspiracists. Across 275 pages of

biography, and another 316 of narrative devoted to the climactic "Four

Days in November," Bugliosi's Oswald, for all his deprivations and

dyslexia, emerges as an intelligent, ill-humored, and remarkably

strong-willed young man, one who lapped up ideology and had delusions

of attaining power but was otherwise lacking in ordinary appetites "or

any of the myriad personal characteristics or eccentricities that are

so very human."

Oswald spent his childhood tagging along on the aggrieved

peregrinations of his mother, Marguerite, who would one day take

offense when her son was denied burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

But Bugliosi's sympathies, which can be surprisingly tender and

thoughtful, extend even to her and to the attempts she made to provide

for her sons in a world she believed was dead set against her.

Marguerite can, in fact, be viewed as the mother not only of Oswald

but of CTs everywhere.

The author gives proper centrality both to Oswald's near-success in

killing the far-right-wing General Edwin Walker in the spring of 1963-

an assault much more carefully planned than Oswald's strike against

Kennedy-and to his humiliating rebuff, that September in Mexico City,

by the Soviet Embassy and the Cuban consulate, when he tried to secure

a visa for travel to Havana. In the weeks before the assassination, he

was a man running out of flamboyant gestures.

Bugliosi says that he doesn't read fiction, but he favors what might

be called a novelist's view of Oswald over any unified prosecutorial

theory of the case and perpetrator.

The same Oswald who played with his children and Paine's after

rewrapping his rifle the night before the assassination would 18 hours

later fire an extra shot into the head of Officer Tippit, who had

already fallen helpless to the pavement; the same Oswald who killed

the leader of the free world could complain a day later about the

denial of his "hygienic rights" (he wanted a shower).

These were the "personal characteristics or eccentricities" that made

him "so very human," and Bugliosi, to his credit, is never rattled or

deterred by their violent juxtaposition.

Bugliosi notes that incompetence is "so very common in life," so it's

not surprising that he finds some "investigative sloppiness" to have

occurred even in an inquiry headed by a chief justice of the United

States. But occasional clumsiness-amid far more exhaustiveness and

skill-does not equal cover-up (the usual CT charge) by the Warren

Commission, whose august members shrank from fighting back when their

report came under attack.

Bugliosi also analyzes Kennedy's much-flawed autopsy and finds that

its "main conclusion" still stands. He even praises the Dallas police

who, but for the matter of allowing Oswald to be killed, succeeded in

swiftly compiling a mass of evidence against him. Captain Will Fritz,

who'd once helped hunt down Bonnie and Clyde and who conducted much of

Oswald's interrogation, emerges as a kind of low-key hero.

Toward the assassination's host of investigators, Bugliosi displays a

forbearance of human frailty and simple mistakes. What he doesn't

abide are lapses in logic, against which he displays a prosecutor's

natural preference for cross-examination over direct.

Once or twice his own logic flags, and he explains away some

exculpatory-seeming fact as part of Oswald's attempt to construct an

alibi; but much more typically, for dozens-no, hundreds-of pages at a

time, he exhilarates the reader with rat-a-tat annihilations of

others' false premises and shaky inferences.

He makes clear, for instance, that Kennedy's Parkland doctors, whose

memories of their work on the president are much loved by many CTs,

are bad witnesses; on November 22, 1963, they were making a futile

attempt to resuscitate the president, not to do ballistic analysis.

(What's more, they were largely young and inexperienced, because most

of their senior colleagues were in Galveston at a medical conference.)

Similarly, and with all due respect, Governor Connally, who never

believed the single-bullet theory, was hardly in a position to be a

careful observer while that bullet was working its way through him.

And to take one more example: On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald

helped delay his own transfer from the Dallas city lockup to the

county jail by requesting a different shirt, thereby giving Ruby time

to arrive at the police station and kill him-an unwitting consequence,

Bugliosi reasons, "unless Oswald was a party to the conspiracy to

murder himself."

Worse than gaps in reasoning, however, are instances of bad faith,

which make Bugliosi livid. He will toss the bones of compliments to

any number of CTs-Walt Brown has a "good mind," Harold Weisberg is a

"decent rascal," and Penn Jones Jr. was "motivated by patriotism"-but

Lord help those he finds manipulating quotations, telling outright

lies, or depending on portions of the Warren Report when they're

otherwise trashing it.

Oliver Stone, always the ne plus ultra of disingenuousness, is by

Bugliosi's reckoning guilty of a "cultural crime" committed through a

thousand manipulations, among them the use of a smoke machine to

generate a puff of rifle smoke from the Grassy Knoll that 'JFK'

presents as being visible to people in Dealey Plaza.

In the course of all his refutations, Bugliosi frequently writes as if

he were delivering the world's longest jury summation. He asks the

"folks" who are reading to "please get this," or to sit tight and

"wait awhile" for an important point he's making.

He eventually runs out of sarcastic formulations for what he's up

against-the "room temperature" IQs required to believe stuff that's as

crazy as the idea that "alligators can do the polka"-but in the end it

is the weight of Bugliosi's analysis, not his rhetoric, that crushes a

long list of libels and suppositions: the sightings of a "Second

Oswald"; the "acoustic evidence" (from a police Dictabelt) that some

believe recorded four shots instead of the Warren Report's three; the

CT assertion that Kennedy's head immediately moved backward (it

didn't) when he was fatally shot from the front (he wasn't).

These last matters are at least potentially fundamental. And yet, in

order to make this "the first anti-conspiracy 'book'," Bugliosi-who

writes that "any denial of Oswald's guilt is not worthy of serious

discussion"-spends a vast acreage of print debunking the fringiest and

most lunatic theories, marshaling facts to prove that Kennedy's corpse

wasn't altered ("the conspirators would have needed at least three

separate teams of plastic surgeons waiting in hiding"); that the

Zapruder film wasn't tampered with; that the president wasn't

accidentally shot from behind by a Secret Service agent; and that the

shiny "Badge Man," who in one photograph appears to be perched on the

Grassy Knoll, is probably a Coke bottle. (Not Dr. Pepper?)

All this disputation may add heft, but it's not likely to give

'Reclaiming History' the "stature" that Bugliosi seeks for it. Its

effect, peculiarly, is to magnify much of the nonsense on this subject

that has cluttered the public mind for more than 40 years.

The writing and preservation of history is no less replete with

paradox than history itself. James L. Swanson, author of the recent

book Manhunt, about the search for Lincoln's assassin, nicely argues

that the restored Ford's Theatre is ultimately more a monument to John

Wilkes Booth than to Abraham Lincoln. Similarly, in knocking down the

conspiracists' shantytown of constructs, Bugliosi has had to save the

village in order to destroy it, and his book, if it has the longevity

it deserves, will be a kind of eternal flame running on the very gases

it thought it had capped."

=============

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll
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On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald helped delay his own transfer from the Dallas city lockup to the county jail by requesting a different shirt, thereby giving Ruby time to arrive at the police station and kill him-an unwitting consequence, Bugliosi reasons, "unless Oswald was a party to the conspiracy to murder himself."

Shades of the brilliant Gerald Ford, who in an article with David Belin pointed out that Ruby would not have had time to get there if Harry Holmes had not happened to show up to ask Oswald some questions. Never mind that they were waiting for Ruby to get there, despite Holmes, shirts, or whatever else transpired in the meantime. Yet the reviewer calls this one of Bugliosi's "annihilations" of CT theories. Are we really supposed to believe that Bugliosi can't see through his own argument here? If a witness in some trial came up with such "logic," prosecutor Bugliosi would annihilate his testimony. Even more sickeningly, the reviewer points out, right after this Oswald shirt business, that one thing that makes Bugliosi "livid" is "bad faith." Bugliosi must really detest himself.

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What we've all been waiting for: Thomas Mallon's review of of Bugliosi's new book:

It seems Bugliosi has made one big breakthrough: He demolishes Lee Oswald's explanation for his presence on the second floor when Baker encountered him.

QUOTE ON "If there was no second gunman, there was, Bugliosi proves, a second

soda machine in the book depository, which undermines Oswald's claim

of having gone, minutes after the assassination, from the first floor

to the second in search of a bottle of pop. (Moreover, his preferred

brand, Dr. Pepper, was in the first-floor machine, not the second.)QUOTE OFF

Bugliosi has surpassed even the great Jim Moore (CONSPIRACY OF ONE) with the Dr. Pepper theory. I will have to buy the book to confirm that Bugliosi found a living witness to testify that a/ there was in fact a soda machine on the first floor and

b/ that the machine was in working order and was in fact stocked with Dr. Pepper at 12.30 P.M on November 22nd, 1963.

APPEARING IN "THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY" (June 2007 Issue);

REVIEW WRITTEN BY:

THOMAS MALLON (Author of "Mrs. Paine's Garage")

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200706/mallon-JFK

===================================

"The most exhaustive book yet written about the Kennedy assassination

should lay the conspiracy theories to rest once and for all-but it

won't."

===================================

"Vincent Bugliosi, the assistant district attorney who put Charles

Manson away and later produced the most merciless book on O.J. Simpson

('Outrage'), has in one way or another been working on 'Reclaiming

History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy' for 21 years,

ever since he acted as the prosecutor in an elaborate mock trial of

Oswald that was filmed in London and included Ruth Paine among its

"witnesses." Bugliosi got a conviction and never really left the case.

The result is a text far larger and heavier than any that Oswald may

have handled in the hours before he pointed his gun out a sixth-floor

window of the book depository. Indeed, 'Reclaiming History', whose

first draft was handwritten on legal pads, is longer than the Warren

Report, William Manchester's 'The Death of a President', and Gerald

Posner's 'Case Closed'-combined.

After putting the book's two sets of footnotes (which run 1,128 pages)

onto a CD-ROM, the publisher, W. W. Norton, managed to get the

principal 1,664 densely typeset pages into a single volume, no doubt

by calling on the same compressive binding skills that allow the

company to produce its massive well-known literary anthologies.

'Reclaiming History' is a magnificent and, in many ways, appalling

achievement, a work that, for all the author's liveliness and

pugnacity, is destined to be more referenced than read. Bugliosi

insists that, in the face of America's widespread and misplaced belief

in the existence of a conspiracy against JFK's life, "overkill in this

book is historically necessary."

This undue elaboration includes, one supposes, the work's primer on

the civil-rights movement (as context for Kennedy's own activity in

that realm); its long history of the Mafia that Jack Ruby was not part

of; nine pages on the Bay of Pigs invasion that did not motivate Fidel

Castro to kill Kennedy; and four paragraphs on the oil-depletion

allowance, whose reduction, unsought by Kennedy, did not drive the

Texas oilman H. L. Hunt to murder the president.

If there was no second gunman, there was, Bugliosi proves, a second

soda machine in the book depository, which undermines Oswald's claim

of having gone, minutes after the assassination, from the first floor

to the second in search of a bottle of pop. (Moreover, his preferred

brand, Dr. Pepper, was in the first-floor machine, not the second.)

Bugliosi also corrects one account claiming that in 1969, it took a

New Orleans jury only 45 minutes to acquit Clay Shaw, the man Jim

Garrison framed for Kennedy's murder. (It took the jury 54 minutes.)

And Bugliosi writes that my own book {"Mrs. Paine's Garage"}, while

correctly assessing a piece of his strategy in the London mock trial,

has him "beaming with delight" over Paine's testimony, whereas in fact

he responded with only "a measured smile."

Bugliosi has a confidence that makes Schwarzenegger, or Popeye, seem

diffident. He finds that "plain incompetence ... from the highest levels

on down, is endemic in our society," and he takes up arms against the

"pure myth" that one cannot prove a negative. "I am never elliptical

and always state the obvious," he declares, not without charm.

He has great hopes for "the stature of this book," which would derive

chiefly from its ability "to turn the percentages around in the

debate," a reversal that would leave 75 percent of Americans believing

Oswald acted on his own and only 19 percent thinking there was a

conspiracy to kill Kennedy. "My only master and my only mistress are

the facts and objectivity," Bugliosi declares, as if once more being

sworn in at the DA's office in Los Angeles.

In at least one way, he's up against both sides, CT and LN,

simultaneously. When Gerald Posner published 'Case Closed' in 1993-two

years after belief in a Kennedy-assassination conspiracy had its

widest and wildest dissemination with the release of Oliver Stone's

'JFK'-the book received a tremendously positive response, at least in

the mainstream media.

It may not have shifted those percentages, but its argument that

Oswald acted alone-of which the author became convinced only midway

through his labors-had a kind of weird freshness, given that the

Warren Report, for most of the 30 years since its appearance, had

attracted fewer defenders than the tax code. So, isn't Bugliosi

writing 'Case Still Closed', however many steroids he may have pumped

into the original orthodoxy?

Not at all, he argues. For starters, one needs a law-enforcement

background, not just Posner's lawyerly one, to make sense of

everything. Posner may have accomplished a few things-such as helping

to knock down the actuarially risible belief that there have been a

hundred or so "mysterious deaths" among people who supposedly knew too

much-but by Bugliosi's lights, Posner's methods are sometimes as

slippery as the CTs'. He accuses his LN predecessor of distortion and

credit-grabbing, especially when it comes to rehabilitating the single-

bullet theory (Bugliosi prefers calling it a "fact").

In a passage that reads like a memo to his own publisher, arguing for

the novelty of what he's doing, Bugliosi writes that his is "the first

anti-conspiracy 'book'," since all Posner's does is take an "anti-

conspiracy 'position'," devoting a mere "8 percent" of its measly 607

pages to knocking down conspiracist notions.

There's no question that Bugliosi succeeds in scorching the CT terrain

with ferocious, even definitive, plausibility. He also, by the time

his admirable 2,792 pages are through, drowns himself in a kind of

ghastly historical irony.

Before he can begin dispatching the CTs' frauds and follies, Bugliosi

must deal with Lee Harvey Oswald himself, who remains a ghost in even

the more fantastic machines of the conspiracists. Across 275 pages of

biography, and another 316 of narrative devoted to the climactic "Four

Days in November," Bugliosi's Oswald, for all his deprivations and

dyslexia, emerges as an intelligent, ill-humored, and remarkably

strong-willed young man, one who lapped up ideology and had delusions

of attaining power but was otherwise lacking in ordinary appetites "or

any of the myriad personal characteristics or eccentricities that are

so very human."

Oswald spent his childhood tagging along on the aggrieved

peregrinations of his mother, Marguerite, who would one day take

offense when her son was denied burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

But Bugliosi's sympathies, which can be surprisingly tender and

thoughtful, extend even to her and to the attempts she made to provide

for her sons in a world she believed was dead set against her.

Marguerite can, in fact, be viewed as the mother not only of Oswald

but of CTs everywhere.

The author gives proper centrality both to Oswald's near-success in

killing the far-right-wing General Edwin Walker in the spring of 1963-

an assault much more carefully planned than Oswald's strike against

Kennedy-and to his humiliating rebuff, that September in Mexico City,

by the Soviet Embassy and the Cuban consulate, when he tried to secure

a visa for travel to Havana. In the weeks before the assassination, he

was a man running out of flamboyant gestures.

Bugliosi says that he doesn't read fiction, but he favors what might

be called a novelist's view of Oswald over any unified prosecutorial

theory of the case and perpetrator.

The same Oswald who played with his children and Paine's after

rewrapping his rifle the night before the assassination would 18 hours

later fire an extra shot into the head of Officer Tippit, who had

already fallen helpless to the pavement; the same Oswald who killed

the leader of the free world could complain a day later about the

denial of his "hygienic rights" (he wanted a shower).

These were the "personal characteristics or eccentricities" that made

him "so very human," and Bugliosi, to his credit, is never rattled or

deterred by their violent juxtaposition.

Bugliosi notes that incompetence is "so very common in life," so it's

not surprising that he finds some "investigative sloppiness" to have

occurred even in an inquiry headed by a chief justice of the United

States. But occasional clumsiness-amid far more exhaustiveness and

skill-does not equal cover-up (the usual CT charge) by the Warren

Commission, whose august members shrank from fighting back when their

report came under attack.

Bugliosi also analyzes Kennedy's much-flawed autopsy and finds that

its "main conclusion" still stands. He even praises the Dallas police

who, but for the matter of allowing Oswald to be killed, succeeded in

swiftly compiling a mass of evidence against him. Captain Will Fritz,

who'd once helped hunt down Bonnie and Clyde and who conducted much of

Oswald's interrogation, emerges as a kind of low-key hero.

Toward the assassination's host of investigators, Bugliosi displays a

forbearance of human frailty and simple mistakes. What he doesn't

abide are lapses in logic, against which he displays a prosecutor's

natural preference for cross-examination over direct.

Once or twice his own logic flags, and he explains away some

exculpatory-seeming fact as part of Oswald's attempt to construct an

alibi; but much more typically, for dozens-no, hundreds-of pages at a

time, he exhilarates the reader with rat-a-tat annihilations of

others' false premises and shaky inferences.

He makes clear, for instance, that Kennedy's Parkland doctors, whose

memories of their work on the president are much loved by many CTs,

are bad witnesses; on November 22, 1963, they were making a futile

attempt to resuscitate the president, not to do ballistic analysis.

(What's more, they were largely young and inexperienced, because most

of their senior colleagues were in Galveston at a medical conference.)

Similarly, and with all due respect, Governor Connally, who never

believed the single-bullet theory, was hardly in a position to be a

careful observer while that bullet was working its way through him.

And to take one more example: On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald

helped delay his own transfer from the Dallas city lockup to the

county jail by requesting a different shirt, thereby giving Ruby time

to arrive at the police station and kill him-an unwitting consequence,

Bugliosi reasons, "unless Oswald was a party to the conspiracy to

murder himself."

Worse than gaps in reasoning, however, are instances of bad faith,

which make Bugliosi livid. He will toss the bones of compliments to

any number of CTs-Walt Brown has a "good mind," Harold Weisberg is a

"decent rascal," and Penn Jones Jr. was "motivated by patriotism"-but

Lord help those he finds manipulating quotations, telling outright

lies, or depending on portions of the Warren Report when they're

otherwise trashing it.

Oliver Stone, always the ne plus ultra of disingenuousness, is by

Bugliosi's reckoning guilty of a "cultural crime" committed through a

thousand manipulations, among them the use of a smoke machine to

generate a puff of rifle smoke from the Grassy Knoll that 'JFK'

presents as being visible to people in Dealey Plaza.

In the course of all his refutations, Bugliosi frequently writes as if

he were delivering the world's longest jury summation. He asks the

"folks" who are reading to "please get this," or to sit tight and

"wait awhile" for an important point he's making.

He eventually runs out of sarcastic formulations for what he's up

against-the "room temperature" IQs required to believe stuff that's as

crazy as the idea that "alligators can do the polka"-but in the end it

is the weight of Bugliosi's analysis, not his rhetoric, that crushes a

long list of libels and suppositions: the sightings of a "Second

Oswald"; the "acoustic evidence" (from a police Dictabelt) that some

believe recorded four shots instead of the Warren Report's three; the

CT assertion that Kennedy's head immediately moved backward (it

didn't) when he was fatally shot from the front (he wasn't).

These last matters are at least potentially fundamental. And yet, in

order to make this "the first anti-conspiracy 'book'," Bugliosi-who

writes that "any denial of Oswald's guilt is not worthy of serious

discussion"-spends a vast acreage of print debunking the fringiest and

most lunatic theories, marshaling facts to prove that Kennedy's corpse

wasn't altered ("the conspirators would have needed at least three

separate teams of plastic surgeons waiting in hiding"); that the

Zapruder film wasn't tampered with; that the president wasn't

accidentally shot from behind by a Secret Service agent; and that the

shiny "Badge Man," who in one photograph appears to be perched on the

Grassy Knoll, is probably a Coke bottle. (Not Dr. Pepper?)

All this disputation may add heft, but it's not likely to give

'Reclaiming History' the "stature" that Bugliosi seeks for it. Its

effect, peculiarly, is to magnify much of the nonsense on this subject

that has cluttered the public mind for more than 40 years.

The writing and preservation of history is no less replete with

paradox than history itself. James L. Swanson, author of the recent

book Manhunt, about the search for Lincoln's assassin, nicely argues

that the restored Ford's Theatre is ultimately more a monument to John

Wilkes Booth than to Abraham Lincoln. Similarly, in knocking down the

conspiracists' shantytown of constructs, Bugliosi has had to save the

village in order to destroy it, and his book, if it has the longevity

it deserves, will be a kind of eternal flame running on the very gases

it thought it had capped."

=============

Have I posted my review of Mallon's Garage?

BK

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So Bugliosi writes: "any denial of Oswald's guilt is not worthy of serious

discussion."

Should I be flattered?

I wrote: "Anyone with reasonable access to the evidence in the case of the assassination of JFK who does not conclude that the murder was conspiratorial in nature is cognitively impaired and/or complicit in the crime."

Given the length of Bugliosi's new book, we are left little choice but to conclude that his access to the evidence indeed has been reasonable.

We must recognize Bugliosi as the enemy. We must not content ourselves with demolishing his sophistic arguments. We must treat him with plain contempt and relentless ridicule.

Charles

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And why would the Atlantic Monthly enlist a lone nutter to review a lone nutter book? Just to add insult to injury? To ensure that none of Bugliosi's bad faith argumentation would be questioned or exposed?

And to think that I actually subscribed to that rag for a year. It's hard to know where to look for any honor nowadays in the media.

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'William Kelly' wrote:

'J. Raymond Carroll': quote What we've all been waiting for: Thomas Mallon's review of of Bugliosi's new book:

[...]

It seems Bugliosi has made one big breakthrough: He demolishes Lee Oswald's explanation for his presence on the second floor when Baker encountered him.

=============

Have I posted my review of Mallon's Garage?

dgh: not that I know of, when I found out who reviewed daBug's current work, I intended to ask you if you've read Mallon's: Mrs. Paines Garage. If its handy I'd like to see it here, thanks Bill.

DHealy

BK

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And why would the Atlantic Monthly enlist a lone nutter to review a lone nutter book? Just to add insult to injury? To ensure that none of Bugliosi's bad faith argumentation would be questioned or exposed?

And to think that I actually subscribed to that rag for a year. It's hard to know where to look for any honor nowadays in the media.

And the rag is giving as much space as possible to the subject, actually interviewing the reviewer of Bugliosi's tome:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200705u/kennedy-assassination

"...

Q>Leaving aside one’s ultimate reading of the assassination, it seems to me that there are a lot of coincidences and strange factors at play, a perfect storm of politics, crime, socioeconomics and psychology, both group and individual. What do you think about this?

A>There are coincidences in the assassination for the same reason that there are coincidences in life. The vast, vast, vast majority of what may look like contradictions, ironies, mysteries—the vast majority of them are explicable. I think that is a real strength of Bugliosi’s book. Whatever you think of the scale of it, he does set out to provide factual explanations of things. You can’t explain everything, and if you could, something would be wrong. It would be too neat.

But one of the things that I think is true about the real and conspiratorial mind is that when somebody’s really got it bad, and is a really heavy-duty conspiracy theorist, they tend to believe that the plot was hatched farther and farther back and farther and farther away from Dallas. They think you have to go all the way back to the 1940s, or that it has its real roots in something that took place over in Europe. And I think that’s a mark of the conspiracist inclination, to go ever farther away geographically and temporally."

Is he on message or what?

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