Monday, April 30, 2007

What Steel?

Before the recent bridge collapse in Oakland becomes "proof" that a fuel explosion can melt steel, let's examine the reporting, shall we?

Every article and broadcast about the calamity contains the lie that the burning gasoline caused "steel beams" to melt, which in turn caused the freeway to collapse. This reporter dutifully repeats the claim even as the accompanying video footage shows no molten steel. But as these pictures show, there were no steel beams.

In this picture, you can even see the unmelted rebar and steel guardrails.

This section of freeway is near the portions of the Bay Bridge and Cypress Street Viaduct that were badly damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Post-earthquake investigations revealed that the lack of steel reinforcement in the mostly concrete roadway led to the widespread damage. This photo shows damage to the Cypress Street Viaduct after the earthquake. The freeway in Sunday's collapse is constructed of the same material. See any steel?

Here's what happened Sunday: The burning gasoline caused the asphalt to crack, which in turn caused the weight to shift, making it impossible for the built-in rebar supports to carry the weight. The rebar bent and the roadway collapsed. Notice, too, that a portion of the freeway collapsed, causing part of the structure to topple sideways. It did not collapse straight to the ground in a free-fall, and the undamaged part remained standing. Also, no nearby buildings inexplicably caught fire and collapsed either.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Science is Interesting

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy

by Paul Krassner

The FBI has labeled me “a raving, unconfined nut.” I prefer to think of myself as an investigative satirist. Irreverence is my only sacred cow. When I was writing the script for a fake Doonesbury strip that slogan would grace the cover of The Realist, even though the masthead stated, “Fact Checker: None,” I verified with a source in Mafia circles that Frank Sinatra had once delivered a suitcase full of money to Lucky Luciano in Havana after he was deported.
Recently I met a 25-year-old woman who told me about “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book,” not knowing that I had written it. She believed that the act of “neckrophilia” had actually occurred. What I had originally intended as a metaphorical truth has become, in her mind, a literal truth. Thanks to current realities, that piece of satire is now a credible urban myth. When I moved from New York to San Francisco in 1971, I wanted to publish something in the 13th anniversary issue that would top “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book.” I had observed a disturbing element being imposed upon the counterculture--various groups all trying to rip off the search for deeper consciousness--and I felt challenged to write a satirical piece about this phenomenon.
Scientology was one of the scariest of these organizations, if only because its recruiters were such aggressive zombies. Carrying their behavior to its logical conclusion, they could become programmed assassins. I chose Sirhan Sirhan--in prison for killing presidential candidate Robert Kennedy--as a credible allegory, since Sirhan was already known to have an interest in mysticism and self-improvement, from the secrets of the Rosicrucians to Madame Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophy.
In a list of upcoming features for the anniversary issue, I included “The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy.” Then I began do do my research. I even developed a source within the Scientology organization. The goal of Scientology was to become a Clear--that is, a complete zombie--moving up to higher and higher levels by means of auditing sessions with an E-Meter, essentially a lie detector. John Godwin wrote in Occult America that the E-Meter “made lying difficult for the impressionable.”
I decided to try one at the San Francisco Center. The stares of the Scientology practitioners seemed to be tactical, their smiles unfelt. In confronting their guilts and fears through the medium of a machine, they had become machine-like themselves, and they responded like automatons. I took hold of the E-Meter’s tin cans, one in each hand.
“Wow,” I said, “I just felt a surge of energy go pulsating through me.”
“Paul,” my auditor replied, “they’re not even attached yet.”
“Well, such is the power of auto-suggestion.”
There was no charge for the personality test by which prospective Scientologists screened themselves into “the world of the totally free.” It consisted of 200 questions on topics ranging from fingernail-biting to jealousy.
In World Medicine, David Delvin reported that when his answers were processed, he was told, “You’ve got quite a bit of agitation and you’re moderately dispersed, but we can help you to standard tech....So, you see, it’s all very scientific--thanks to the fact that our founder is a man of science himself.”
Dr. Delvin confessed, “I hadn’t the heart to tell him that his super-scientific system had failed to detect the fact that I had marked the ‘Don’t know’ column against all 200 questions in the test.”
Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s original thesis in his book Dianetics (which became a bestseller because Scientologists had infiltrated the New York Times and learned which bookstores the Times based its list on) was that traumatic shock occurs not only during early childhood, but also during the pre-natal stage. In Neurotica magazine, G. Legman took off on that concept with his own cult, Epizootics, “demonstrating the basic cause of all neurosis in father’s tight-fitting jockstrap.”
Not to be outdone by parody, Hubbard in 1952 turned Dianetics into Scientology, which traced trauma back to previous lives--not necessarily incarnations that were spent on this planet, either. In fact, Scientologists were forbidden to see the movie 2001 in order to avoid “heavy and unnecessary restimulation.”
By what? When Hal the computer says, “Unclear”?
In 1955, Hubbard incorporated Scientology as a religion, based in Washington, D.C. This would enable its ministers to gain entry into hospitals and prisons, not to mention getting tax exemption. He issued the Professional Auditors Bulletin, a handbook for luring prospects into the Scientology fold.
One example was the “illness research” method, taking out a newspaper ad, such as: “Polio victims--a charitable organization investigating polio desires to examine several victims of the after-effects of this illness. Phone [telephone number].” Hubbard explained, “The interesting hooker in this ad is that anyone suffering from a lasting illness is suffering from it so as to attract attention and bring about an examination of it. These people will go on being examined endlessly.”
Another example, under the subhead “Exploiting,” was the “casualty contact” method, “requiring little capital and being highly ambulatory.” All it needed was “good filing and a good personal appearance.”
Hubbard elaborated:
“Every day in the daily papers, one discovers people who have been victimized one way or the other by life. One takes every daily paper he can get his hands on and cuts from it every story whereby he might have a pre-Clear. As speedily as possible, he makes a personal call on the bereaved or injured person. He should represent himself to the person or the person’s family as a minister whose compassion was compelled by the newspaper story concerning the person. The goal is to move the customer from group processing to individual attention at a fee.”
In 1962, Hubbard wrote to President John F. Kennedy, claiming that his letter was as important as the one Albert Einstein had sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the atomic bomb. Hubbard insisted that “Scientology is very easy for the government to put into effect,” and that “Scientology could decide the space race or the next war in the hands of America.” Kennedy didn’t respond--the bloody fool, daring not to answer a question he hadn’t even been asked.
The E-Meter was presented as a panacea that could cure such “psychosomatic” problems as arthritis, cancer, polio, ulcers, the common cold, and atomic radiation burns. In October 1962, the Food and Drug Administration was investigating Scientology, so Hubbard wrote that the E-Meter is “a valid religious instrument, used in Confessionals, and is in no way diagnostic and does not treat.” Nevertheless, in January 1963, the FDA raided Scientology headquarters, seizing 100 E-Meters. Scientology claimed that this violated their freedom of religion, and Hubbard wrote to President Kennedy again. He wanted to meet with him so that they could “come to some amicable answers on religious matters.” Again, no response.
Then Hubbard wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, “even though you are of a different faith,” asking for protection of the Scientology religion. Bobby didn’t respond, either. And there it was--my satirical angle--Hubbard’s motivation for programming Sirhan Sirhan to kill Bobby Kennedy would be revenge. Hmmmmm. Had I accidentally stumbled into a real conspiracy when I thought I was merely making one up?
In Scientology, Kennedy could have been declared an “Enemy,” subject to “Fair Game,” a penalty described in a Hubbard Policy Letter whereby an Enemy “[m]ay be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
In October 1968, four months after the assassination of Senator Kennedy, Fair Game was “repealed,” due to adverse publicity. “The practice of declaring people Fair Game will cease,” Hubbard stated in a Policy Letter. “Fair Game may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations.”
While Sirhan Sirhan found himself awaiting trial, he was given several psychological tests. In one of these, he couldn’t provide a simple yes-or-no response to only two specific statements: “At one or more times in my life, I felt that someone was making me do things by hypnotizing me.” And, “Someone has been trying to influence my mind.”
During the trial, psychiatrist Bernard Diamond used post-hypnotic suggestion to program Sirhan into climbing the bars of his cell. But there were two different accounts of that experiment.
In Psychology Today, Dr. Diamond stated: “He went over toward the guards and climbed the bars like a monkey. I asked him why. He answered in that cool way he affected, ‘I am getting exercise.’ Then I played the tape to prove to him that he had been under hypnosis to do just that. But he denied it and complained that I was bugging him.”
However, in his book RFK Must Die, Robert Kaiser--who was also there--wrote: “Sirhan had no idea what he was doing up on the top of the bars. When he finally discovered that climbing was not his own idea, but Dr. Diamond’s, he was struck with the plausibility of the idea that perhaps he had been programmed by someone else, in like manner, to kill Kennedy....”
When Scientology was kicked out of Australia, the official inquiry concluded: “It is only in name that there is any difference between authoritative hypnosis and most of the techniques of Scientology. Many Scientology techniques are in fact hypnosis techniques, and Hubbard has not changed their nature by changing their names.”
At a Scientology meeting in Chicago, someone asked, “I understand that Scientology has been banned in England and Australia. Why was this done?” The reply: “Cool! I’m glad you asked that. You see, the kind of person who attacks Scientology is frightened of anything that offers real enlightenment to mankind. In Australia, the man who attacked Scientology was a so-called psychiatrist who was performing lobotomies with ice picks.”
Even L. Ron Hubbard admitted the need for a “canceller,” which was a contract with a patient stating that whatever the auditor said would not be literally interpreted by the patient or used in any way. So, immediately before patients were permitted to open their eyes at the end of a session, they were supposed to be told, “In the future, when I utter the word Cancelled, everything which I have said to you while you are in a therapy session will be cancelled and will have no force with you. Any suggestion I have made to you will be without force when I say the word Cancelled. Do you understand?”
When the word was used, it was not further amplified. Just that single word, Cancelled, would be uttered. Hubbard warned, “The canceller is vital. It prevents accidental positive suggestion. The patient may be suggestible or even in a permanent light hypnotic trance.” Moreover, in his book The Job, William S. Burroughs stated: “Hubbard has refused to publish his advanced discoveries. There is every indication that the discoveries of Scientology are being used by the CIA and other official agencies.”
Ironically, using the Freedom of Information Act, Scientology obtained secret CIA documents which proposed mind-control experiments where hypnotized subjects would have an uncontrollable impulse to “commit a nuisance” on Groundhog Day on the steps of City Hall, in order to find out whether an unwilling subject could be quickly hypnotized, then be made to undergo amnesia by “durable and useful post-hypnotic suggestion.” The CIA also collaborated with the U.S. Army’s “special operations division” in bacteriological and chemical “open air” tests in the streets and subway tunnels of New York City.
My ultimate fictional connection between Sirhan and Scientology was inadvertently suggested by Burroughs in Evergreen magazine: “Take a black militant and put him on the E-Meter. Tell him to mock up a nigger-killing Southern sheriff chuckling over the notches in his gun. The needle falls off the dial. He mocks up the sheriff again. The needle falls off the dial. Again, again, again, for two hours if need be. No matter how long it takes, the time will come when he mocks up the sheriff and there is no read on the E-Meter.
“He is looking at this creature calmly with slow heartbeat and normal blood pressure and seeing it for what it is. He has as-ised [Sheriff] Big Jim Clark. As-ising does not mean acceptance, submission, or resignation. On the contrary, when he can look at Big Jim with no reaction, he is infinitely better equipped to deal with the external manifestation, as a calm man fights better than an angry one. If you can’t bring yourself to see the target, you can’t hit it. When the needle reads off you are off target.”
I began to work on “The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy,” based on the actual case history of a friend who had been on the crew of Hubbard’s Sea Org, a paramilitary fleet of ships. Crew members wore maritime uniforms and had to sign an unusual contract:
“I do hereby agree to enter into employment wth the Sea Organization and, being of sound mind, do fully realize and agree to abide by its purpose, which is to get Ethics in on this Planet and the Universe and, fully and without reservation, subscribe to the discipline, mores and conditions of this group and pledge to abide by them. Therefore, I contract myself to the Sea Organization for the next billion years.”
Give or take a few centuries.
Anyway, my friend decided to leave Scientology, but he had surrendered his passport and, remaining true to his experience but simply changing his name, I wrote:
“When Sirhan tried to get his passport back, he was required to stand in a corner, handcuffed, not allowed to speak to anyone, and given food only on someone’s whim. Sirhan finally recanted, admitted that he didn’t really want his passport returned, and he was forgiven. Hubbard apparently didn’t bother to check the weather before pushing off. The ship sailed into a storm. Sirhan was at the helm. He couldn’t stay on course, and Hubbard yelled at him. Sirhan shouted back--‘Here, take the fuckin’ wheel yourself!’--and he walked away. Hubbard threw a temper tantrum and began to cry.
“Sirhan was nervous. He was afraid he would be declared a ‘Suppressive Person,’ with whom no Scientologists were allowed to associate. He could be ‘restrained or imprisoned.’ Moreover, the ‘homes, properties, places and abodes of Suppressives are all beyond any protection.’ When Sirhan considered how he had acted toward Hubbard, he realized that he might even be guilty of Treason: ‘May be turned over to civil authorities. Full background to be explored for purposes of prosecution.’
“But Sirhan was declared guilty neither of being a Suppressive Person nor of Treason. Rather, for punishment, he was forbidden to bathe or brush his teeth for the entire two-month cruise. When he got caught using soap and toothpaste, he was transferred to another job in London.
He spent seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to midnight, at a salary of ten pounds per week, dictating 200 letters a day, urging dropouts to re-enroll in Scientology. Like all Scientologists, he received periodic security checks while he was working his way through the advanced courses. These were conducted by an Ethics Officer with an E-Meter. There were 150 questions. Here are some samples:
“Have you ever mistrusted your E-Meter? Do you think selling auditing is really a swindle? Have you ever written, then destroyed critical messages to L. Ron Hubbard? Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard? Have you ever had sex with any other student or staff member? Have you ever used Dianetics or Scientology to force sex on someone? Have you ever raped anyone? Have you ever been raped? Have you ever been involved in an abortion? Do you have any bastards? Have you ever been sexually unfaithful?
“Have you ever practiced homosexuality? Have you ever practiced sodomy? Have you ever had intercourse with a member of your family? Have you practiced sex with children? Have you ever used hypnotism to practice sex with children? Have you ever practiced cannibalism? Have you ever slept with a member of a race of another color? Have you ever practiced sex with animals? Have you ever killed or crippled animals for pleasure? Have you ever had anything to do with pornography? Have you ever masturbated?
“Have you ever lived or worked under an assumed name? Have you ever been a newspaper reporter? Have you ever blackmailed anybody? Have you ever been blackmailed? Have you ever embezzled money? Have you ever forged a signature, check or document? Have you ever hit and run with a car? Have you ever murdered anyone? Have you ever hidden a body? Have you ever attempted suicide? Have you ever peddled dope? Have you ever been in prison? Do you think there’s anything wrong with invading a pre-Clear’s privacy? Have you permitted a pre-Clear to have secrets from you?
“Have you ever used hypnotism to procure sex or money? Have you ever been a prostitute? Have you ever taken money for giving anyone sexual intercourse? Have you ever had anything to do with Communism or been a Communist? Are you in communication with someone who understands more about Scientology than does L. Ron Hubbard? Do you know of any secret plans against Scientology? Have you ever coughed during Scientology lectures? Have you ever done anything your mother would be ashamed to find out? Do you have a secret you’re afraid I’ll find out? What unkind thoughts have you thought while I was doing this check?
“And--Sirhan’s favorite--‘Have you ever tried to act normal?’
“All that information could certainly be utilized as a source of blackmail. Hubbard had based Scientology’s secret file system on that used by Nazi spy chief Richard Gehlen. The Ethics exam includes the following disclaimer which an auditor is supposed to read aloud:
“‘While we cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this check will be held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that no part of it nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in court by reason of answers to this security check.’
“However, one auditor swears that he has often seen pre-Clears’ files with information circled, along with notations like, ‘We can use this.’
Indeed, one man had confessed to skimming $25,000 a year from his business, but when he attempted to quit Scientology and get back $40,000 worth of future auditing he’d signed for after getting little sleep for four days, he was told that if he pursued his claim, they would reveal his tax-cheating to the Internal Revenue Service.
“Nevertheless, Sirhan wrote to a friend, ‘Scientology works.’ He was back with the Sea Org. ‘I was put through some processes called Power and the darn things helped me get rid of so much tension, so much unreality, that I am still gaining from it. The funny thing is that I don’t know why it is helping, and I guess that the more I study, the more I will find out about this technology that gets results. I am a month away from reaching the Clear level, and there are now six levels above that, and two more to come after that.
“‘It is all so incredible, but I am finding out who I am, where I fit in, what a group is, and most of all that I can go through something very, very difficult without running away or leaving it. I am on to something that will make me me and that is what I have always wanted. But I am not the master of my fate any longer until I’m out of this scene, which is getting more cloak and dagger every day. I am growing through the restrictions I and this ship have placed on me.’
“Scientology’s secret files held an awful lot of extremely intimate details about Sirhan’s life, things he had admitted over the years in order to get ‘a clean needle’ reading on the E-Meter, and they could certainly get people to do all sorts of things for fear of being exposed, but he wasn’t concerned about that....”
Then, in the course of my research, a strange thing happened. I learned of the actual involvement of Charles Manson with Scientology. In fact, there had been an E-Meter at the Spahn Ranch where his “family” stayed. Suddenly, I no longer had any reason to use Sirhan Sirhan as my protagonist.
Reality will transcend allegory every time.
Manson was abandoned by his mother and lived in various institutions since he was 8 years old. He learned early how to survive in captivity. When he was 14, he got arrested for stealing bread and was jailed. He was supposed to go to reform school, but instead went to Boys Town in Nebraska. He ran away from Boys Town and got arrested again, beginning his life-long career as a prison inmate and meeting organized crime figures who became his role models. He tossed horseshoes with Frank Costello, hung out with Frankie Carbo, and learned how to play the guitar from Alvin “Creepy” Karpas.
Eventually, he was introduced to Scientology by fellow prisoners while he was at McNeil Island Penitentiary. He needed less deconditioning than his cellmates, who had spent more time in the outside world. One of his teachers said that, with Scientology, Charlie’s ability to psych people out quickly was intensified so that he could zero in on their weaknesses and fears immediately. Thus, one more method was now stored in his manipulation tool-chest.
When Manson was released in 1967, he went to the Scientology Center in San Francisco. “Little Paul” Watkins, who accompanied him there, told me, “Charlie said to them, ‘I’m Clear’--what do I do now?’ But they expected him to sweep the floor. Shit, he had done that in prison.”
In Los Angeles, he went to the Scientology Celebrity Center. Now this was more like it. Here he could mingle with the elite. I managed to obtain a copy of the original log entry: “7/31/68, new name, Charlie Manson, Devt., No address, In for processing = Ethics = Type III.” The receptionist--who, by Type III, meant “psychotic”--sent him to the Ethics office, but he never showed up.
At the Spahn Ranch, Manson eclectically combined his version of Scientology auditing with post-hypnotic techniques he had learned in prison, with geographical isolation and subliminal motivation, with singalong sessions and encounter games, with LSD and mescaline, with transactional analysis and brainwashing rituals, with verbal probing and the sexual longevity that he had practiced upon himself for all those years in the privacy of his cell.
Ultimately, in August 1969, he sent members of his well-progammed family off to slay actress Sharon Tate and her unborn baby, hairstylist and dealer to the stars Jay Sebring, would-be screenwriter Voytek Frykowski and his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger. The next night, Manson accompanied them to kill supermarket mogul Leno LaBianca and his wife.
In 1971, my old friend, Ed Sanders, founder of the Fugs--the missing link between rock and punk--was covering the Manson trial for the L.A. Free Press and working on a book, The Family, about the case. I wrote to him for permisson to print any material that might be omitted from his book because the publisher considered it in bad taste or too controversial. Otherwise, I told him, I would have to make up those missing sections myself.
Sanders put a notice in the middle of one of his reports: “Oh, yes, before we ooze onward, I am not, nor shall I be, the author of any future article in The Realist titled ‘The Parts I Left Out of the Manson Story, by Ed Sanders.’” He assured me that this was “a joke,” but also, understandably, it was a safeguard.
I had known Ed for ten years. He was always on the crest of nonviolent political protest and outrageous cultural expression, such as Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts. In 1961, he got arrested with others for trying to swim aboard the Polaris nuclear submarine. The next year he published a parody catalog listing actual relics, such as Allen Ginsberg’s cold-cream jar containing one pubic hair. He sent the catalogs to universities and sold the items at outlandish prices. But now his courage and determination had taken a different path, and I flew to New York to pore through his Manson files. Sanders was a data addict, and his research notes were written in the form of quatrains. He had become an investigative poet.
When I returned to San Francisco, a young man with a child on his shoulders came to my house and rang the bell. I opened the door, and he served me with a subpoena. The Church of Scientology was accusing me of libel and conspiracy, simply for having announced the title of an upcoming article, “The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy”--which, ironically, I no longer planned to publish. They were suing me for three-quarters of a million dollars. I published their complaint in The Realist:
“[This] was published for the purpose of exposing plaintiff to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, obliquy, and did cause it to be shunned and avoided, intended to injure plaintiff in the further proselytizing of the religion of Scientology and to heap embarrassment and humiliation upon it through the distribution of the aforesaid statement throughout the State of California, the United States of America and the world at large....
“[The statement] was intended to be understood by the general public and readers, and was so understood by them, charging, asserting and imputing that the plaintiff is not involved in a religious movement, but rather some form of unlawful or unethical activity and that the plaintiff employs criminal methods in furthering its religion....
“As a direct and proximate result of the foregoing, plaintiff has suffered pecuniary loss in that many members, prospective members and persons in the general public have not made or have decreased the amount of their fixed contributions, offerings and donations to plaintiff because of the defamatory statement....Plaintiff does not know at this time the exact amount of the pecuniary loss resultng from the foregoing, and plaintiff prays to leave to amend this allegation and insert the true amount of the loss when the same becomes known to it....
“Defendants have conspired between themselves and with other established religions, medical and political organizations and persons presently unknown to plaintiff. By subtle covert and pernicious techniques involving unscrupulous manipulation of all public communication media, defendants and their co-conspirators have conspired to deny plaintiff its right to exercise religious beliefs on an equal basis with the established religious organizations of this country. These conspirators have utilized what has now become their modus operandi of hiring strangers to write libelous documents for them and then trying to hide behind them. Publication of said statement and the proposed article is one act in furtherance of that conspiracy.
“Said conspirators and diverse other parties, members of the established social, religious and economic society of America today, have a conspiratorial party line whereby they harass, ridicule, defame and malign any new organizations, religious, social or economic, regardless of their merits, when it appears that they are about to become a threat to the established orders‚ source of funds or membership. Said conspirators thereby seriously protect their established order and economic well-being for their own selfish, economic, social and ideological reasons and thereby prevent dissemination of new ideas and freedom of speech....”
By publishing their complaint, I allowed Scientology to reveal more about itself than anything I could have imagined about Sirhan. My attorney, James Wolpman, filed a petition to remove the suit to a federal court because of the constitutional question it raised concerning freedom of the press. It reached the interrogatories stage, with questions such as, “Have you ever spoken with or received communication from Sirhan Sirhan, his immediate family or his duly authorized agents or attorneys?” I refused to answer, on the grounds that it was privileged information.
Scientology eventually offered to settle out of court for $5,000, but I refused. Then they said they would drop the suit if I would publish an article in The Realist by Chick Corea, a jazz musician and Scientologist, but that wasn’t quite the way I made my editorial decisions, and I refused again. Scientology finally dropped their lawsuit altogether. However, their records show that they had other plans for me. Under the heading “Operation Dynamite”--their jargon for a frame-up--a memo read:
“Got CSW from SFO to not do this on Krassner. I disagree and will pass my comments on to DG I US as to why this should be done. SFO has the idea that Krassner is totally handled and will not attack us again. My feelings are that in PT, he has not got enough financial backing to get out The Realist or other publications and when that occurs, will attack again, maybe more covertly but attack, nonetheless.”
Later on, I flew to Kansas City to participate in a symposium at the University of Missouri, where I would link up with Ken Kesey. He had written to me from Mexico about this event with Henry Kissinger, B.F. Skinner and Buckminster Fuller. I in turn was supposed to contact Ed Sanders, who proceeded to compose a song about Kissinger. However, the Student Activities Office had sent Kesey a copy of the previous year’s program. This year’s program was honoring the memory of Robert F. Kennedy. So Sanders had to compose another song:
If Robert Kennedy still were alive
Things would be different today Richard Nixon would still be on Wall Street
Selling Pepsi in Taiwan...
The war would be over today
And J. Edgar Hoover would be watching gangster movies
In an old folks home....
Before singing it at the university, he announced, “In the course of my research in Los Angeles, it became evident that Robert Kennedy was killed by a group of people including Sirhan Sirhan.” In The Family, he had written, in reference to the Process Church of the Final Judgment, to which Manson had ties:
"It is possible that the Process had a baleful influence on Sirhan Sirhan, since Sirhan is known, in the spring of ’68, to have frequented clubs in Hollywood in occult pursuits. He has talked several times subsequent to Robert Kennedy’s death about an occult group from London which he knew about and which he really wanted to go to London to see.”
Since the London-based Process Church had been an offshoot of Scientology, this looked like it could be a case of satirical prophecy. I was tempted to return to my original premise involving Sirhan, but it was too late. I had already become obsessed with my Manson research. I was gathering piece after piece of a mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle, without having any model to pattern it after. It was clear that members of the Manson family had actually but unknowingly served as a hit-squad for a drug ring. Furthermore, conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell put me in contact with Preston Guillory, a former deputy sheriff, who told me:
“We had been briefed for a few weeks prior to the actual raiding of Spahn Ranch. We had a sheaf of memos on Manson, that they had automatic weapons at the ranch, that citizens had complained about hearing machine-guns fired at night, that firemen from the local fire station had been accosted by armed members of Manson’s band and told to get out of the area, all sorts of complaints like this. “We had been advised to put anything relating to Manson on a memo submitted to the station, because they were suposedly gathering information for the raid we were going to make. Deputies at the station of course started asking, ‘Why aren’t we going to make the raid sooner?’ I mean, Manson’s a parole violator, machine-guns have been heard, we know there’s narcotics and we know there’s booze. He’s living at the Spahn Ranch with a bunch of minor girls in complete violation of his parole.
“Deputies at the station quite frankly became very annoyed that no action was being taken about Manson. My contention is this--the reason Manson was left on the street was because our department thought that he was going to attack the Black Panthers. We were getting intelligence briefings that Manson was anti-black and he had supposedly killed a Black Panther, the body of which could not be found, and the department thought that he was going to launch an attack on the Black Panthers....”
And so it was that racism in the Sheriff’s Department had turned law enforcers into unintentional collaborators in a mass murder.
After the panel at the University of Missouri, Ed Sanders and I went to the cafeteria for lunch. Ed ordered a full vegetarian meal and then couldn’t eat any of it. I had never seen him so shaken. It was because the Process people had been hassling him. He said he was having trouble sleeping. Occasionally he mumbled things to himself as though they were marginal notes describing the state of his depression.
I recalled that, in the summer of 1968, while the Yippies were planning a Festival of Life at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, some zealots from the Process cult visited me in New York. They were hyper-anxious to meet Tim Leary and kept pestering me for his phone number. The Process, founded by Scientology dropouts, first came to the U.S. from London in 1967. Members were called “mind benders” and proclaimed their “dedication to the elimination of the grey forces.”
In January 1968, they became the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a New Orleans-based religious corporation. They claimed to be in direct contact with both Jesus and Lucifer, and had wanted to be called the Church of the Process of Unification of Christ and Satan, but local officials presumably objected to their taking the name of Satan in vain.
The Process struck me as a group of occult provocateurs, using radical Christianity as a front. They were adamantly interested in Yippie politics. They boasted to me of various rallies which their vibrations alone had transformed into riots. They implied that there was some kind of connection between the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and their mere presence on the scene. On the evening that Kennedy was killed at the Ambassador Hotel, he had been to a dinner party in Malibu with Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.
Bernard Fensterwald, head of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, told me that Sirhan Sirhan had some involvement with the Process. Peter Chang, the district attorney of Santa Cruz, showed me a letter from a Los Angeles police official to the chief of police in San Jose, warning him that the Process had infiltrated biker gangs and hippie communes.
And Ed Sanders wrote in Win magazine:
“[W]ord came out of Los Angeles of a current FBI investigation of the RFK murder, the investigation growing, as the source put it, out of ‘the Manson case.’ Word came from another source, this one in the halls of Government itself, that several police and investigatory jurisdictions have information regarding other murders that may have been connected to the Robert Kennedy shooting; murders that occurred after RFK’s.
“A disturbing fact in this regard is that one agency in the Federal Bureaucracy (not the FBI) has stopped a multi-county investigation by its own officers that would have probed into such matters as the social and religious activities of Sirhan Sirhan in early ’68, and into the allegations regarding RFK-connected murders.”
In 1972, Paulette Cooper, author of The Scandal of Scientology, put me in touch with Lee Cole, a former Scientologist who was now working with the Process Church. I contacted him and flew to Chicago. Cole met me at the airport with a couple of huge men whose demeanor was somewhat frightening. They drove me to a motel, where I checked in, paying cash in advance.
Cole arranged for a meeting with Sherman Skolnick, a local conspiracy researcher. He was in a wheelchair. Two men, one with a metal hook in place of his hand, carried him up the back stairway to my motel room. Cole kept peeking out the window for suspicious-looking cars. The scene was becoming more surrealistic every moment.
Early the next morning, the phone rang. It was Skolnick: “Paul, I’m sorry to wake you, but you’re in extreme danger.” I was naked, but with my free hand I immediately started putting my socks on. “That fellow from last night, Lee Cole, he’s CIA.” My heart was pounding. I got dressed faster than I had ever gotten dressed in my life, packed my stuff and ran down the back steps of the motel without even checking out. At another motel, I called Cole. He denied being with the CIA. We made an appointment to visit the Process headqarters.
“And this time,” I said, giving my best imitation of Clint Eastwood bravado, “you can leave those goons of yours at home.”
The Process men were dressed all in black, with large silver crosses hanging from their necks. They called each other “Brother” and they had German shepherds that seemed to be menacing. The Brothers tried to convince me that Scientology, not the Process, was responsible for creating Charles Manson. But what else could I have expected?
Lee Cole’s role was to provide information on Scientology to the Process. To prove that he wasn’t with the CIA, he told me stuff about Scientology. For example, he described their plan to kidnap former boxing champion Joe Louis from a mental hospital, so that Scientology could get the credit for curing him. Back in San Francisco, I asked journalist Roland Jacopetti to check that one out, and he discovered that Scientology actually did have such a plan, although it had been aborted.
Not that belonging to the CIA and Scientology were mutually exclusive--infiltration is always a two-way street--but I called up Sherman Skolnick in Chicago, and he apologized for scaring me the way he did.
“You know us conspiracy researchers,” he chuckled. “We’re paranoid.”
In January 2003, Sirhan Sirhan lost a Supreme Court appeal, part of his effort to get a new trial in the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. The justices refused without comment to consider whether Sirhan's case could be impartially reviewed by some California courts. Sirhan claims that his lawyer at the trial in Los Angeles was working with the government to win his conviction.
On that same day, Attorney General John Ashcroft endorsed giving religious organizations government money for social services, which many critics contend would be a blatant violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Of course, the Church of Scientology, which has high hopes for inclusion in this ripoff of taxpayer funds, is trying very hard to act normal.
This article is excerpted from One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, available, along with the infamous Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, at

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Parallax View

The American Heritage Dictionary defines parallax as “An apparent change in the direction of an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight.” In The Parallax View, Warren Beatty plays a reporter who investigates the assassination of a Bobby Kennedy-type political candidate after witnesses to the shooting-including Beatty's girlfriend-start turning up dead. Beatty infiltrates a corporate-run assassination team and finds evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy. Meanwhile, of course, the hit has been pinned on a deranged patsy for easy public consumption. Well, needless to say, things don’t turn out too well for Warren.

Our species’ proclivity for unsolved assassinations and dirty tricks has instilled in me the habit of taking second and third looks at various newsworthy events, such as Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech. In other words, I try to find the parallax view. Sometimes there is no parallax view, meaning, sometimes things are just as they appear and events are being reported correctly by the M$M. Or, as Freud put it, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But other times, taking the parallax view produces inconvenient questions.

There are various arcs of consciousness, which, except for the occasional intersection, coexist unnoticed by one another. The average person’s arc of consciousness consists of friends, family, roommates, jobs, etc. It progresses gradually over a lifetime more or less unhindered. Occasionally, however, this arc of consciousness is pierced by another in the form of some earth-shattering event, like an assassination or act of terror. After a while, things settle down and the average person’s arc of consciousness returns to normal. The important thing to remember, though, is that after things settle down, the arc of consciousness that produced the earth-shattering event continues at its own gradual pace. Looked at properly, things like the Kennedy and King assassinations, Watergate, Iran Contra, the September 11th Attacks, are all part of the same arc of consciousness, not the isolated incidents that the public perceives them as.

Well, when you get in the habit of looking for the parallax view—that is, when you accept the fact of multiple arcs of consciousness—two things can happen. One is that you start second- and third-guessing everything, even your own perception of reality, and you inch closer and closer to insanity. The other is that you find tiny tidbits of affirmation from seemingly rational individuals who have come to the same conclusions that you have. In this case, you experience a revelation about how truly fucked up the world is and you…inch closer and closer to insanity.

Well, as Hawkeye put it, going crazy is a sane reaction to an insane world.

A Few Words In Defense of our Country

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chimps More Evolved Than Humans - No, Really?

I've been half joking about this for years. Now research proves me right yet again. (wink.)

Chimps always seem so much happier than humans, except when they're hunting monkeys, but even that looks kind of fun compared to our methods of hunting. Devo was right -- we're de-volving.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Bullshit Dept

Saturday, April 14, 2007

...and pull your pants up.

Childhood in America has changed a lot since I was a kid. When I was growing up, childhood was viewed as training for adulthood; children were adults-in-waiting. Today’s kids are helpless retards who need to be completely shielded from the reality of dirty words, mind-altering substances (unless it’s Ritalin) and human sexuality, while being simultaneously showered with material excess and the ridiculous notion that they are somehow special. When I was a kid, I was thrilled to receive a $12 pair of Converse All-Stars; today, kids are shooting each other over $170 Air Jordans. I often joke that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I think this is a result of my upbringing, which instilled in me a sense of curiosity, anticipation and delayed gratification that seems to be absent from today’s youth, many of whom seem much older and jaded than I am even as they struggle to perpetuate their childhood. I’m not trying to use myself as the archetype of the Successful American Adult—far from it—it’s just that I marvel at how we can view school shootings and melting glaciers and corporate corruption as anything but the inevitable result of our approach to child rearing.

Maybe it’s because my siblings were all older than I was, but as a kid, I always wanted to be older. The older kids always got to do stuff that I couldn’t do, and the achievement of each level of freedom brought eager anticipation for the next. But that anticipation was accompanied by the knowledge that additional responsibilities would be the cost of enjoying the new freedom. The hypothesis (which worked most of the time) was that this system of gradually increasing freedoms and responsibilities would prepare the child for adulthood. There were lawns to be mowed, paper routes to take over from older kids, part-time jobs, and a whole menu of chores and duties the completion of which signaled your readiness for the next level of freedom.

We seem to have replaced that adult-in-training process with one that shields children from nearly every daily reality until they are in their mid-twenties, at which point they are supposed to magically become adults. Many of these overgrown children then decide to have kids of their own as if to clarify for the public that they are now adults—children having children. So they suddenly find themselves at thirty longing for childhood because adulthood came in one huge chunk instead of bit by bit. The divorce and alcoholism and workaholism and materialism and workplace violence and greedy, self-absorbed nihilism that is the unavoidable result of this process inadvertently scars the kids, even as the parents endeavor in futility to shelter them from reality. So, instead of gradually increasing levels of freedom and responsibility, parents offer their kids wild fluctuations between fantasy and reality. And their children—exposed only to reality’s bad parts—eagerly await the freedom of adulthood, which they view as perpetual childhood. And the cycle continues.

The news is full of divorce. The only reason the divorce rate is down slightly from its 1980 peak is that many young couples are choosing cohabitation over marriage, and breakups of these relationships are not factored into the divorce rate. But the fact remains that our culture views romantic entanglements as temporary conveniences rather than lifelong commitments, and spouses blame each other for the fact that adulthood always turns out to be too full of reality. My hometown paper, the Star Tribune, recently ran a three-part series on divorce. Part two chronicles this woman’s reason for leaving her husband of 23 years. “I loved my husband, but I was not in love with him,” she explains. This is something a teenage girl says to her boyfriend when she wants to date someone else, not something we should expect from a grown woman with two grown children.

Marriage is full of shitty diapers and shitty jobs and shitty school boards and crooked mortgage companies and buying the minivan when you really want a Porsche and endless sacrifices and compromises and emergencies. And at the end, all you get is a sore back, arthritic fingers and death. But it can also be a beautiful enterprise in which both partners share triumph and defeat together, because no matter what happens, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, they have each other. This used to be the American Dream, and the American Dream used to be good enough for most Americans. But that American Dream has been replaced with a phony and unattainable cornucopia of fake tits and relentless luxury where women are madly, deeply in love with handsome, opinionless men who never raise their voices or smell bad. Here’s a secret: Fake tits only look good on TeeVee; up close they’re kind of gross, and that man you’re with is going to have hair growing out of his ears in about twenty years.

America’s collective refusal to accept reality at almost every level has resulted in a corrupt, ruined planet; and as reality gets worse and worse, we concoct more and more elaborate methods for denying it, the most tragic of which is an endless cycle of abuse whereby each generation is less prepared for adulthood than the last. Children are not stupid; they’re simply inexperienced. They can handle all of the realities of life and death as long as those realities are presented to them in a logical and gradual manner.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."

Kurt Vonnegut: 1922-2007

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
“It is done.”
People did not like it here.

New York Times Obituary

Associated Press

In These Times interview with Vonnegut

...and of course, BDM from last June

Monday, April 09, 2007


Sunday, April 08, 2007

First Freedom First

First Freedom First
The Equality Alliance Mission
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
American Civil Liberties Union

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"The God I Believe In Isn't Short of Cash, Mister."

The Wall of Separation

As frequent BDM visitors already know, church-state issues are a favorite topic of mine. Indeed, my second post as a blogger hammered the topic right between the eyes. So, since I already rant on this topic regularly, and since I have a lazy streak in me a mile wide, my contribution to the blogswarm will be a blogger-cop-out-linkfest. Click here and here and here to read previous BDM entries on the topic.

Sometimes, when a debate topic gets batted back and forth for a century or so like this church-state issue has, it’s easy to lose sight of who said what and what did they really mean when they said it and so forth. Luckily for us, those ponytail-sporting radicals we refer to as the Founding Fathers were pretty good writers and not as lazy as yours truly. The ringleader of these proto-Yippies, Tommy J., clarified the separation clause thusly:

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. (emphasis mine) Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.
Th Jefferson Jan. 1. 1802.

Many religious zealots claim that Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists Association doesn’t count because he dashed it off quickly in a shameless attempt to pander to a political bloc. But as this site demonstrates, Jefferson put a great deal of effort into the letter, composing multiple drafts, editing, removing, adding and replacing lines. He clearly intended it as a political statement clarifying his wishes for the future of Americans’ approach to religion.

It is interesting to note that Jefferson was addressing his remarks to Baptists, who at that time feared the emergence of the Church of England as a national religion. Jefferson’s predecessors, Washington and Adams, had declared days of fasting and thanksgiving to commemorate various events. As president, Jefferson put an end to this tradition.

Thank God.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fuck Bill O'Reilly