KWM: Letter from Skip Obscure / Letter from Mack Beltch

Chapter Twelve

Letter from Skip Obscure

Regarding Oswald, I’d tell the questioner that it’s extremely unlikely Oswald killed anyone that day. About a minute after the assassination, he was seen on the first floor of the book depository in the lunchroom. He was calm and composed and not out of breath as he would have been had he made a mad dash down from the 6th floor after supposedly killing JFK, wiping his weapon clean of fingerprints and then carefully hiding the weapon. The elevators were out of service at the time. Interestingly, Oswald’s alleged weapon, the Italian Manlicher-Carcano was sent to the FBI lab that Friday and no fingerprints were found. The weapon was then sent back to Dallas, where…voila…a palm print was located. Oswald was dead by this time and it can be safely assumed the print was taken from his corpse. The undertaker reported that government agents had visited the body and after they left, he found ink on Oswald’s hands that hadn’t been there before. Also of note, Dallas Police found another rifle on the 6th floor, a 7.65 German Mauser, which promptly disappeared, sort of like JFK’s brain disappearing from the National archives. Oswald was, at best, a marginal marksman; his weapon was deficient in that the scope was off center, and there was an Oak tree in his line of fire. As Stone’s movie so vividly points out, if it was Oswald up there by himself, he had a clear shot at JFK as the caravan came down Houston St. He could have got off three or four unobstructed shots.  But he supposedly waited till the motorcade turned onto Elm Street and the Oak tree was in his way before firing. Obviously, the assassins waited till JFK was on Elm Street because then they had him in the focus of a triangulation of gunfire, the fatal shot being fired from the grassy knoll in front of the president. Some 50 witnesses said the shots came from the grassy knoll. Also some 59 witnesses said the limo came to a halt or a near halt after the shooting began. This is evidence that 1) the Secret Service was in on the conspiracy and 2) the famed Zapruder film was tampered with, because nowhere on that film do you see the limo stop or come to a near stop. Obviously scenes were edited out by the CIA that would have revealed the conspiracy…….so basically, the forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony exonerates Oswald. Interestingly, the Warren commission never established a motive. The general government impression handed down to the people is that Oswald was a lone nut who killed JFK for the glory of it, to make a name for himself. Of course, if that was the case, one must ask why he continued to deny his involvement portraying himself as a patsy.

Regarding a synopsis on the JFK assassination, you’re on target when you say that finding out the “who” on JFK’s death “will amount to the same thing as finding out who is behind the war on Iraq.” JFK became a threat to the IGUS– Imperial Government of the United States (Vietnam, détente with the Soviets, rapprochement with Castro, closing military bases) so he had to go. His assassination was an object lesson for future presidents, the message being–DON’T CROSS THE IGUS OR WE’LL ARRANGE A MOTORCADE FOR YOU.

Chapter Thirteen

Letter from Mack Beltch

The alternative to the question is complex; re: Kennedy himself it is posited that he underwent some sort of profound political revelation in part as a result of the traumatic experiences of both the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion of Castroite Cuba in April 1961 and then which came from that the adventurous attempt by Soviet premier Khrushchev to place nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba in the summer and fall of 1962.  That crisis ended with the Soviet agreement to withdraw the missiles in conjunction with the concurrent assurance by the Kennedy administration that no more direct assaults like the Bay of Pigs would be countenanced by the American government.

President Kennedy then proceeded to authorize negotiations to end testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere and consequently a treaty with the Soviet Union was signed and ratified.  Kennedy also turned his attention to a worsening situation in the republic of Vietnam (south Vietnam) in which an obviously corrupt government increasingly appeared unable to prevent an insurgency supported by the communist government of north Vietnam, or the democratic republic of Vietnam. Various close aides to the president have stated that he announced to them his intention to withdraw most US troop support from the south by sometime in 1965, i. e. during the first year of his second term. Kennedy expected to be re-elected in 1964 but he wished to avoid a right-wing confrontation, a “who lost Vietnam?” issue, so he would retain troops (there were about 16,000 by Nov 1963) but he did initiate a planned withdrawal of 1,000 by the end of 1963 as a gesture of intention. (This was not done after his death.)

Kennedy it seems anticipated what would be named “detente” in the Nixon administration to come but in the early 1960s this sort of thinking was extremely controversial and challenged the dedication of the so-called (by President Eisenhower) “military-industrial complex” to destroy world-wide communist power and influence while making a considerable amount of money doing it.  There was indeed dissent within the Kennedy government among not only the military but notably within the espionage-state police apparati, i. e. the Central intelligence agency and the Federal bureau of investigation, the latter led by the staunch and powerful cold warrior J. Edgar Hoover.

Kennedy was also very young to be president—in his mid-forties and only Theodore Roosevelt had been younger and TR became president at 42 because President McKinley was assassinated. This meant that JFK was viewed suspiciously, perhaps enviously and probably dismissively as someone without the necessary gravitas or even as what the 70-year-old Eisenhower once deemed him “that smart-ass kid.”  Moreover some in the still-paranoiac “carry-over” environment of the Joe McCarthy 1950s actually seemed to see Kennedy, increasingly more liberal on the issue of Negro civil rights, an advocate of old-age medical insurance paid by the government and interested in some kind of federal anti-poverty program, as somewhat “radical,” certainly as more and more a political danger to the cold war establishment. Since his rising political and personal popularity by late ’63 made his re-election the next year likely it is thought that some sort of numerically small but high-level and authoritative conspiracy to eliminate him via assassination was concocted by summer-early fall ’63 and brought to fruition in Dallas, Texas on Nov 22, 1963.

On the “micro” level following the 1964 release of the federal government’s “Warren report on the assassination” a number of amateur and particularly the “sub-official” investigations of New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison brought forward many individual “witnesses” who contended that the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was not the “lone gunman” or even a gunman, that he may well have been in the employ of those espionage-police forces as a “covert agent” designated to be a “patsy” or “fall guy” while the actual killers were probably professionals with covert US military connections; and the entire assassination scenario at the “ground level” would have been run by a combination of military-CIA with some necessary cooperation (probably without “full” awareness of what or even who was the “object”) from local law enforcement and even from organized crime.

Of course the most shocking occurrence—aside from the murder of the president in broad daylight on a city street—was the killing of Oswald himself literally before live television cameras by a Dallas “nightclub” owner later discovered to have had close associations with organized crime as well as with corrupt police. This happened only two days after Kennedy’s death and so strong suspicions arose that Oswald was “silenced” before he “talked,” i. e. before he revealed his own secret associations.

Oswald is an odd figure; a boy from a nondescript lower-class background who grew up with a single mother but joined the marine corps and was stationed in Japan in the vicinity of a U-2 spy plane base.  Also LHO studied Russian though he was supposedly a radio operator and not in “naval intelligence” (the corps being technically an adjunct to the navy); he even received a “hardship” discharge from the marines (his mother was said to be ill) and shortly after he traveled to the Soviet Union, actually defected, remained in that country for some months, marrying a Soviet police colonel’s daughter and yet was able to change his mind and return to the United States with his Russian wife! All this during a period of increasing cold war tensions.

Oswald’s reputed “acquaintances” with some notorious figures with CIA-FBI credentials and his “fronting” as a pro-Castro self-styled “marxist” especially in New Orleans (along with Miami a major “center” of covert anti-Castro activities coordinated and sanctioned by the US government) where he came post-mortem to the attention of the district attorney (see above) all further combine to call into question the Warren commission’s official portrait of him as an alienated outsider looking for a Wilkes Boothian kind of permanence in history.

And beyond the “mystery” of just who was “Lee Harvey Oswald” there are many many dissenting (from the Warren version) eye-witnesses to the shooting of Kennedy who have sworn that “shots” (in particular the final “kill shot” to JFK’s head) came from other directions—that last one from behind a fence adjacent to a railroad yard on a grass-covered rise just off the street and in front of the presidential motorcade. Some of the witnesses have been officially “discredited” as bizarre publicity seekers or as mentally ill perhaps but interviewed on film and tape many in fact come across as sincere and rather convincing despite that some do have “questionable” backgrounds in the netherworld of borderline crime and vice. However most are really “ordinary” citizens extraordinarily convinced of what they saw and heard.

There is so much minutiae dealing with the witness accounts that it requires books to recount them but it may suffice to observe that even the general little-read public has become skeptical about that official Warren thesis but then there are unfortunately perhaps so many “alternative histories” that it’s difficult to “know” exactly what is credible although one can recommend the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK as a very good “primer,” even compilation of the most important and credible “alternative” aspects though Stone does take some liberties for the usual Hollywoody “dramatic purposes.”  To “believe” in the Oswald as “lone nut” theory now seems naive; whether all the suppositions about Oswald that dissenters propose are “true” might be naive too in a way but clearly the strangeness of Oswald’s brief but packed adult life (he died at 24 years) deserves attention. He is not so easily categorized.

That Kennedy had strong doubts about the cold war during the last year of his life also has acquired more and more historical credence and along with that the possible motivations within the power structure to get rid of him and replace him with a president more pliable. No one can know what would have actually happened if JFK had lived but many are convinced that the course of the Vietnam war under the Johnson administration was not what a man as ambitious and intelligent as Kennedy would have wanted as his presidential legacy. 

If one believes in Kennedy’s “change of heart/direction” and as well that the witnesses are telling at least the truth as they experienced and that Oswald is not so blithely dismissed, that his life is far too odd to wave away its contradictions, then “who killed Kennedy” and why have to remain significant historical questions that need far more attention from the “historical establishment” if you will.  That a Kennedy assassination conspired by those “at the highest levels” was arranged could also illuminate much of the subsequent history of the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st explains perhaps why the subject is still so “verboten” at  those “mainstream” levels?…

Editor’s note: I started The Collidescope so that I could give a home to work that is true to itself rather than diluted by the artless concerns of marketing and audience pandering. The aesthetic of the journal reflects my own tastes, of course: writing that tinkers with the mechanics of language, that itemizes etymology, orchestrates melody, writing that is logistically illogical and acts as the ouija board of voiceless dreams. Rick Harsch’s writing embodies all this and more. I never thought that I’d be serializing an amazing novel from an amazing author. I’m both honored and excited. So dear readers, be sure to bookmark The Collidescope and check back every Sunday for new installments of Kramberger with Monkey: A Comedy of Assassination by Rick Harsch.

Let’s start by rewriting the goddamn author bio: Rick Harsch is 60 years old. He was run down and mauled by the literary scene in the late 1990s, his Driftless Trilogy coming out like three gusts from a pistol preceding a flag that says BANG. The pistol is plastic. The flag is tissue. He moved to Slovenia in 2001, 9 days after the attacks on NY and D.C., an innocent man about to find out that condition stretched all the way to naïve. He wrote a lot, but only last year was his fiction welcomed in the US again, with Voices After Evelyn and Skulls of Istria. Everybody says they are great. Not many people have bought them. This year he is getting two books published by River Boat Books, his magnum (finally a magnum) opus, if it is, called The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas, and a travel/sports book called Walk Like a Duck: a Season of Little League Baseball in Italy.

The book being serialized here by the young overmuscled writer George Salis is called Kramberger with Monkey. If you see fit, you can read these short chapters and see how a writer handles extreme adversity, as my fictional mouthpieces keep getting knocked off as the book goes along. It’s especially inconvenient when a death forces me into the second person. I’m used to being fourth. If you have time, please write and tell us whether or not you think the book should be bloodier.

One thought on “KWM: Letter from Skip Obscure / Letter from Mack Beltch

  1. These two chapters are not fictions. I solicited them while writing the book, from Mike Welch and Chip DeNure. I took great care, of course, to disguise their names so that even the people closest to them would never suspect it was they who wrote such crap.

    Liked by 1 person

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