Thursday. Lunch down the way near Jack London Square after a visit to Beverages and More where MRE bought a package (packet) of English tea, he being an Englishman and requiring such to keep his demons at a distance. Coffee doesn't seem to do the trick, neither does Chinese tea, for some odd reason, but English tea is required to survive the day. Interesting. That's there anything out there at all that allows you to survive the day, let alone something that comes in a box for less than $10.
I received a copy of David Talbot's BROTHERS - The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years today from Amazon. I read a portion of it describing Robert Kennedy's thoughts and actions just after the assassination of his brother on Salon.com, which made me want to read more. Talbot, by the way, was both founder and founding editor of Salon.
Everyone remembers where they were, if they were, when John Kennedy was killed. I also remember where I was when I learned Robert Kennedy was dead in California (in the army, stationed in Korea, standing outside the Camp Casey PX; hearing it from a young soldier who stopped me as I entered and asked if I'd heard.)
There are many many theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and I've always assumed you and I will never know in this life the who or why. In reading the excerpt from Talbot's book I realized more clearly what might have been possible had Robert Kennedy become President, what might have been uncovered if he'd been able to launch an investigation as President of the United States. The excerpt indicated Robert Kennedy thought it was a rogue anti-Castro group inside the CIA working with the mafia, although he'd assumed he himself would have been the more likely target.
Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald, was evidently an enforcer for Sam Giancana and had received money at various times from Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss and mafia ally Robert Kennedy was after in his role as Attorney General. The CIA had enlisted the help of Giancana during this period in its various attempts to kill Castro, all this while the FBI, which reported to the Attorney General, was headed by J. Edgar Hoover who believed the mafia didn't exist.
My model of the universe doesn't include an idea that you can really “know” the “truth” about anything: the reasons for, the relevant chain of events that resulted in whatever it is you're trying to understand, this being particularly true when your information comes third hand through the press. This applies to matters large and small. Big time power plays with its gloves off, plays at times, from what little I see in my myopic condition, with unimaginable passion and viciousness. The national political scene the Kennedys entered was evidently a zoo without cages: tooth and claw, ego and greed, sugar coated (God, flag and country) to make it palatable.
Believing you “can't really know” a thing doesn't mean you don't try. (I repeat this to myself, to myself, to myself.) The more you hear “this information is privileged” or “we need to keep this from the people to protect the national interest” you know you're in trouble. The “national interest” is too often partisan interest, personal interest, a cover for whatever criminal or embarrassing item you're trying to take out of the cookie jar.
The thing that gives me heart is yes, things are bad, but they've always been bad. I was in high school when Kennedy was elected. Did I see in him the end all and be all of all things President? I bought into his support for South Vietnam and his initial deployment of forces to support their government, but then I went to college and took Political Science courses that examined recent Vietnamese history and realized (most keenly, I must admit, when the draft board called) Vietnam wasn't as advertised. The publication of the Pentagon Papers was similarly instructive.
So, later in life, sitting here pontificating, I tell myself I see a dim, but somewhat clearer picture of the national stage in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave and, although I'm happy to think it less corrupt than most alternatives, it's still a pretty brutal playing field. The Kennedys believed John F. Kennedy was killed by powerful groups within the United States: elements of anti-Castro Cubans in Miami allied with the mafia and groups within the CIA. True or not, you have to give pause when you hear the Kennedy family held that belief (or, at least, from reading the beginning of Talbot's book, that's what I'm hearing him say). You have to seriously entertain the idea it's true and, for whatever reason, no one in power has ever been willing to really examine the question. Puts Karl Rove and his “you're a traitor if you don't fall in line” political operations in perspective. A “Swift Boat” blitz of John Kerry still falls short of having him killed.
You still sure you want to read this book?
I'll know pretty quick. It's sitting on my bed next to the book case filled with other books like it I've cracked for a couple of chapters and then put aside. Some things never change, I guess.