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November 23, 2003: "The total lack of evidence sometimes proves as convincing as a written record."

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"The total lack of evidence sometimes proves as convincing as a written record."  - Barr McClellan
Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K.
Barr McClellan
Hardcover: 480 pages, Publisher: Hannover House USA. Copyright: October 2003
ISBN: 0963784625
Well, this book is now out.  I covered what it was about in September 21, 2003 Reviews - before its release.  Of course that piece was mainly about how the book came about.  Now you can read it.  The History Channel last weekend ran a segment on it in their multi-episode retrospective on the Kennedy assassination, forty years ago.  My friends are all talking about the allegations it contains.  A good friend, an attorney on Wall Street, thinks there may be something to the ideas McClellan proposes.
As I said last month, McClellan is charging that a previous President from Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  He worked for the law firm that handled Johnson's business affairs and said of Johnson, after her left the firm: "I knew LBJ well.  He was very brutal.  I'd seen him in person.  I'd been in Austin many years, and I knew a good bit about him."
McClellan contends that when Kennedy was killed "everyone suspected there was a conspiracy, but they didn't know how it worked. This is the inside story."
McClellan is, curiously, connected to the current administration.  Barr McClellan has a son.  He's Scott McClellan, the thirty-five-year-old Texas fellow who took over from Ari Fleischer as White House spokesman in July.  Does this mean something?  Spin your own theory.
Scott McClellan's mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is divorced from his father, is a also political figure in Texas, where she is now the state's comptroller.  Before that, she was the mayor of Austin.   That may have helped her son get the job as the spokesman for George W. when he was governor of Texas, and now he's his spokeman at the White house. 
And Scott McClellan's brother Mark is the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in Washington.  The father, Barr, is now just a writer and business consultant now living in Gulfport, Mississippi, but he loves Texas politics, and he sometimes produces mystery dramas at local theaters.
So the White House press secretary's father has published a bestseller about Texans ganging up and assassinating the president.  He claims the thirty-sixth President of the United States (Johnson) had the thirty-fifth (Kennedy) assassinated because of the thirty-sixth's lust for power and money. 
Okay.  How is the Republican conservative right seeing the book? 
I came across one review in Townhall, a pro-Administration site providing daily links to the major conservative columns.  Some Relevant Facts About the JFK Assassination by Phil Brennan - Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Brennan buys this contention: "There's an explosive new book that lays out a very detailed - and persuasive - case for the probability that the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  I say persuasive because the author, Barr McClellan, was one of LBJ's top lawyers, and he provides a lot of information hitherto unknown to the general public - much more of which he says is buried in secret documents long withheld from the American people."

Brennan says that in normal circumstance he would tend to view this latest explanation of who was behind the killing of JFK as exactly that - just another theory among dozens.  But the circumstances are not normal.  Poll after poll establishes that "an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the official verdict of the Warren Commission is simply not borne out by what little is known publicly about the case."
That's interesting logic.  Vox populi, vox Dei.  "The voice of the people is the voice of God."  Yeah, right.  People believe there is a conspiracy.  There aren't enough facts to deal with to show anything, one way or the other.  QED (Quod erat demonstrandum) - there must be a conspiracy.  Because folks think so.
Brennan says one must consider "the incredible inconsistencies in the FBI and Secret Service investigations, which reek with the stench of cover-up...."  Thus "one can't escape the conclusion that if LBJ did nothing else in dealing with the aftermath of the assassination, he sure as hell clamped a lid on any evidence that contradicted the official finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman acting solely on his own initiative."
Well, that says it all.  LBJ didn't look for what he should have.
Of course the rest of what Brennan writes is about how much he knew of Johnson's shading dealing and how easily he himself could have brought Johnson down.  Thus McClellan "must be onto something."
Why must he?  I don't see it.
Well, from Publishers Weekly you get this:
McClellan's overwrought conspiracy theory claims that Lyndon Johnson - motivated by power lust, fear of being dropped from the Kennedy ticket, and the need to cover up various scandals - masterminded Kennedy's assassination with the help of his evil "superlawyer" Ed Clark.  But his evidence is meager and murky, even by the standards of Kennedy conspiracy scholarship.  The main exhibit is a smudged partial fingerprint from Oswald's sniper's nest that may or may not belong to a Johnson associate, depending on which fingerprint expert you ask.  Otherwise McClellan relies on what he heard during his years at Clark's law firm....
L.D. Meagher writing for CNN - Review: All right, who really killed JFK? - Thursday, November 20, 2003  - says McClellan is "unfettered by careful analysis."  No kidding!
Instead, McClellen "... is making a bid for entry into the circle of conspiracy theorists that advance the so-called "deep politics" model, which blames corruption at the core of virtually all American institutions for misdeeds ranging from the killing in Dallas to Watergate to Iran-Contra. He claims "inside information" that lays bare the JFK plot, spearheaded by the head of his former law firm, long-time Johnson associate Edward Clark.  Alas, McClellan offers only the barest hints of what "inside information" he gleaned, apparently from conversations with yet another of his former partners who had no role in the events at Dallas. Instead, he fabricates scenarios he never witnessed and invents conversations he was not party to in order to weave his yarn."
Meagher concludes: "Anything resembling evidence is relegated to sometimes-incomprehensible footnotes, and a jumble of photos and documents included as an appendix.  And what evidence there is would be laughed out of any court in the world."
I am uneasy.
In a broader way, there is something else here that bothers me - the Texas connections to the current White House and its spokesman, the author's son... and something about believing things are so because there is no evidence that says they are not so, or that says they are so, so they must be kind of, sort of, maybe "so." 
"The total lack of evidence sometimes proves as convincing as a written record."   McClellan claims that. 
Isn't this what we are now told about the evidence that would, post facto, justify our invasion, take-over and occupation of Iraq?  No Weapons of Mass Destruction were found in Iraq, and I thought I heard Rumsfeld say that just shows how deceptive Saddam Hussein was - so they must have been there.  Because we didn't find them.
As my late father used to say, What is this happy horseshit?