Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

February 28, 2009

Mary Meyer Lives! And her Secret Diary?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:41 pm

Well the controversy over her death lives. And the details of her life still has those who know about this alluring and engimatic mistress of JFK buzzing.

I just saw the new film An American Affair starring Gretchen Mol as the transparently obvious standin in for the beautiful socialite, painter, divorced wife of CIA big shot Cord Meyer, perhaps the most serious love affair among JFKs many one night stands (or less)– and victim of an officially unsolved murder close to a year after the president’s assassination.

I have mixed feelings about it. Mol is miscast, she suggests Marilyn Monroe; Mary Meyer was a Vassar thorobred, Kate Beckinsale has the look, the to-the-manor born manner. And the movie has a James Angleton figure burning Mary Meyer’s diary when anyone who thinks Angleton didn’t make a copy before the diary was burned by Mary Meyer’s friends doesn’t know Angleton.

I know there are depths to this story only scratched by my initial reporting (along with Philip Nobile)–reprinted in The Secret Parts of Fortune. But our belief that the acquittal of the chief suspect–yes, a lone gunman–didn’t mean he wasn’t guilty was affirmed by Nina Burleigh’s scrupulous subsequent reporting. And I know my friend Charlie Finch has a lot more to say on the subject, but I’ve yet to be convinced it was a CIA hit or connected with the JFK assassination as the movie would have you believe. But myth sems to outrun history these days and it makes a better story I guess.

And the movie does succeed, at least in my case it did, in reviving the powerful emotional impact the assassination had. Like many who live through it–no matter what dark secrets were subsequently revealed–in some way I still haven’t recovered.

I Love the Confidence of People…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:41 pm

who will cling to their supposed ability to read the minds of religious fanatics, in order to tell us we have nothng to worry about. It seems to me that what we are witnesssing in this commenter is either fear or ignorance:

“Ron you have in the recent past advanced a theory about Iran inevitably using nuclear weapons against Israel.

Your subsequent posts have tried to justify your gloomy prediction.

What you don’t take into account is the ability of Israel to defend itself.

If Iran bombs Israel the Isrealis (sic) will retaliate with lethal force.

Even the Iranian ruling clique  while  capbable of sending others on suicide missions don’t themselves want to suffer such a fate.’

So this commenter apparnetly just knows how “the Iranian ruling clique” thinks and–surprise!–they think just like us rational types in the West, just like him. (I’m assuming it’s a male speaking, the know-it-all tone suggests so). So we and the Israelis can rely on his assurances, having read the minds of “the Iranian ruling clique” that they’d never do anything that seems crazy to his Western point of view.

This requires an ignorance or willed blindness to the apocalyptic strain of Iranian Shiite theology–the ideology of the “Twelvers”, the believers–very influential in Iranian ruling circles–that it will rquire apocalyptic nuclear warfare or its deadly equivalent to bring the Twelfth or Hidden Imam out of the well in the Holy City of Qom where he has taken refuge for centuries.

It requires ignorance of the statement of former Iranian president Rafsanjani on the matter, as far back as 2002–that Iran would welcome a nuclear exchange with Israel because although Iran would suffer great “damage” Israel would no longer exist, “there would be nothing left on the ground”. (quite specifically genocidal and not defensible as merely a euphemism like “wipe Israel off the map”. No a trade off, a few million artyred iranians, a billion and a half Muslims left alive, Israelis exterminated. Of course no rational person would think like that, but that’s the point.

Israel can’t “defend itself” by retaliating against an Iranian nuclear attack, it can only revenge itself posthumously with submarine based rataliatory missiles because Israel would be no more.

. It would be nice to pretend that old fashioned deterrence obtained, but it worked with the Soviet Union precisely because their leadership had a sense of self preservation, were not apoclalyptic religious fanatics. Things would be so much more comfy and all if that were the case with Iran. People always like to believe there are easy answers and talk in know-it-all tones that there’s nothing much to be concerned about. It makes life easier for them and in a way I envy their willed ignorance. Ignorance is bliss, they say. . But at a certain point this degree of ignorance on this matter is inexcusable.

February 27, 2009

Pessimism from the Ultimate Realist

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:09 am

Whatever you think of Henry Kissinger–warmonger or tragic Metternichian realist–he always has a plan. Today however he presents his “plan” for Afghanistan, and the grim joke is that, search it however long you want, there’s no real “plan’ in there.

The Washington Post must have come to him and said “you ust have a plan for Afghanistan Mr. Secretary” and how could he say “no, it’s hopeless.” But his survey of the landscape makes it clear it’s hopeless. The Taliban have taken over or will be in the process of taking over much of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They’re an even bet to get hold of, on behalf of al Qaeda, Pakistan’s sixty plus nukes. it’s just a matter of time before all helll breaks loose.

I admire Obama and Petraeus’ optimism, but I’ve always felt the flaw in both parties, in Americans in general, was the lack of a tragic sense of life–the dark vision that says, no. there isn’t always a solution to every problem. Some of them will get worse and worse no matter what you do. That’s the way Afghanistan and Pakistan look to me.

And that doesn’t even take into account the extremely dark view of the Iranian satellite launch my friend Craig S. Karpel persuasively advanced here.

Things are going from bad to worse in the midst of a world wide economic collapse. (Don’t try to blame Obama for that).

Anyone out there have some reason for optimism?

February 25, 2009

Jarvis Watch (5): Google is not God, Jeff

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:17 am

Don’t get me wrong, I like Google, but I had to laugh at the karma of it all. Just as Jeff Jarvis’s book What Would Google Do? hits the stores with it’s implicit message that Google is Jesus, the Savior, God, or one of those guys, Google proves how human and fallible it is with a massive fail of its e mail at the height of the business day, and then a massive vulnerability to a “phishing” expedition to all those who are logged into Google chat.

It’s almost like someone is trying to make a fool of Jarvis, although it would be hard to do a better job than he’s done himself.

February 20, 2009

The Solution to the Geronimo Skull and Bones 'Mystery'

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 2:03 pm

It never seems to end. But, as someone who was the first to write about Skull and Bones in a major magazine (September ’77 Esquire, reprinted in my collection The Secret Parts of Fortune — see right side rail of this blog) and the first to expose — on videotape! — a key part of the pathetically childish Bones initiation ritual, I once again feel called upon to set straight one of the most persistent Skull and Bones urban legends. That would be the Geronimo’s skull theft story which according to this Times story has now morphed into a lawsuit, the product of a cross breeding of cupidity and stupidity.

The original cupidity and stupidity can be attributed — surprise — to George Bush’s grandfather Prescott Bush, a member of the Yale secret society who boasted, according to a letter unearthed a few years ago, that he had, along with some other idiot Bonesmen, stolen what they were told was the skull of Geronimo.

Since it is one of the dimwit customs of this supposedly elite society that (while ruling the world of course) they commit petty thefts of license plates (with their “secret” magic number 322 in them) and unearth skulls of alleged “crooks,” it was a matter of great pride for thick-skulled Prescott and his brilliant buddies to bring home to the Bones “tomb” in New Haven a skull they had allegedly unearthed when they were stationed at an Army base near Indian territory toward the close of the First World War.

In fact, as I have reported (in The Secret Parts of Fortune), there was, for a long time, a skull reposing in a glass case on a base of turquoise chips, inside the entrance to the Bones “tomb,” a skull labeled “Geronimo.”

But that didn’t make it Geronimo’s skull! When the rumor got out in the late ’80s, the Apache tribe that claimed Geronimo as their ancestral chief even had a meeting with the slow witted brother of George H.W. Bush, who clownishly offered the Apaches the cranium of what — judging by its size — was the skull of a small dead child, not a grown Indian chieftain. He was hosing the “inferior” people (just who was inferior was pretty much established by this meeting).

February 17, 2009

Col. Ralph Peters: Escape the Afghan Quagmire Before It's Too Late

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:41 pm

I’ve always felt Col. Ralph Peters was one of the better military analysts on Iraq. He saw the failure of pre surge policies, backed Petraeus and Odierno and the new counter insurgency methods which (along with more than a bit of bribery) brought at least the potential for stability to Iraq. He’s no shrinking violet when it comes to the intelligent use of force where it can serve our interests and attainable ends.

All the more reason for us to pay attention to his stunning–and to me persuasive–argument in todays New York Post–that we shouldn’t become “Pakistan’s U.S. POW’s” in Afghanistan. That it’s time to get out now.

It’s sad and tragic that it may be too late, Obama’s spokesman, later in the day, announced an additional 17,000 troops being sent to join the 30,000 already sending Americans home dead and wounded in an unwinnable tribal war undermined by our our “ally” Pakistan whose intelligence service, the sinister ISI created the Taliban, and who just freed the single most dangerous man on the planet (no, not Osama bin Laden, but nuclear proliferator A. Q. Khan).

It’s sad and tragic that the dynamics of the Presidential campaign, with Obama feeling he had to prove he could be “tough” to counterbalance his waffling on the surge in Iraq, “adopted” Afghanistan as his war.

But Peters piles up enough reasons in his column for one to feel we have to stop this quagmire committment before it turns into Vietnam. It’s sad and tragic that some liberal bloggers like Matt Yglesias, deceived by the success of the counter intelligence strategeies of the surge (which they refused to believe in while it was working in Iraq) now think it’s going to be Obama’s magic weapon in Afghanistan. Surge tactics, Peters, convincingly argues, are not transferable.

He says get out, and get out now and if the Afghans misbehave outside their miserable borders, we have ways of punishing them. It’s a powerful argument. Read the whole column and if you have a better plan for staying in, tell us what it is. Tell the families of the G.I.’s who will be killed and torn to pieces in service of it.

February 13, 2009

What Philip Kerr Says About Argentina and His Novel

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:54 am

First of all I am grateful for his swift response to my inquiry, and I am no less an admirer of his work. I owe him and readers an apology for my hasty misconstrual of his “Author’s Note”: as Kerr’s remarks in an e mail below make clear the 200,000 figure is from the effects of the secret, sinister anti-semitic “Directive 11” and the Argentine government’s wartime denial of refuge to Jews, not to the post war work of Nazi war criminals and their sympathizers in the Argentine government although his novelistic speculation is based on the ersistence of strories to that efffect.

The exposure of long denied “Directive 11”, the work of historians like Uki Goni was something new and shocking to me and the fact of its forgottenness after exposure makes Kerr’s novel all the more important. As does his revelation of the presence of death camp designers such as Hans Kammler in Argentina which give some credence to stories circulating about the work of Nazi war criminals in Argentina –as Kerr puts it speculation “about the possiblity of a concentration camp for Jews in Argentina’s remote forests”.

Kerr adds something chillling in his “Author’s Note”: “According to Uki Goni Argentine governmment ministers demanded ‘ a solution to the Jewish problem’ in the country. But the existence of such a camp has, Kerr notes, not “been confirmed”. Which is why he wrote his novel. To explore the not-unthinkable possiblility. And to spur the investigation into the shameful reality of Argentine complicity with Nazis and Nazi practices that made it thinkable.

Here’s what Kerr e mailed me via his publisher:

1) Directive 11 was a secret edict signed into being by the Argentine government in 1938. It stopped Jews coming to Argentina. There were lots of Jews who wanted to go to Argentina because Argentina already had a very large Jewish population. The Junta was certainly anti-Semitic in that it felt there were too many Jews in the country. Plus the Junta were greater admirers of the Nazis. When Uki Goni suggested in his book that 200,000 Jews died as a result of the Junta’s policy in relation to the Jews, what he means – and by extension what I meant – was that 200,000 European people who wanted to go to Argentina between 1938 and 1940 were prevented from going there and, as a result, died in European death camps. That’s a very different thing.

I do not mean that 200,000 were murdered in Argentina. And nowhere do I say this.  Other countries refused Jews, of course. But certainly the Argentine government was the only government that refused to repatriate Jews who were actually their own nationals, knowing full well what would happen to them in Germany.

2) The Argentine Government kept Directive 11 a secret. Especially after the war when they began to curry favour with the USA. All documentation was destroyed in 1955. Truth be told even the Argentines themselves probably don’t know what really happened between 1938 and 1945.

3) Goni mentions that there were rumours in Argentina of some kind of concentration camp in the jungle for illegal Jews during or after the war. I wanted to make use of that idea in my novel. In other words my novel treats this rumour as the ‘What If’ basis for the story. What if it had been true? What if there had been a Directive 12. But I make it clear in the author’s note that no such camp has ever been confirmed as having existed.

4) However, I felt this was a fair ‘What If’ scenario because of Argentina’s human rights record then and afterwards when thousands of its citizens disappeared for political not racial reasons. There were indeed plenty of prisons and camps were political opponents were kept. Most of them were never seen again. Many of them were indeed thrown out of airplanes.

Another reason I felt it was a fair ‘What if’ scenario was because Argentina was one of the few countries in the world where, for a while, thousands of Nazi war criminals lived quite openly. As many as eight thousand. And of course, it’s almost certainly true that large sums of Nazi money ended up in Peron’s hands.

5) Hans Kammler the architect of the death camps, and the Nazi missile program boss was indeed the second most powerful man in  the SS at the end of the war. It seems likely that he was one of the ‘scientists’ who went to the USA as part of the paperclip program. I have no evidence for saying that he went to Argentina beyond the fact that almost everyone else went there including Mengele and Eichmann.

6) I dare say there will be many Argentine people who might get upset by what’s in my novel. And they should remember that it is only a novel.
However, it does also seem to me now that it is an inevitable corollary of having had thousands of SS war criminals in your country that other people such as myself should speculate as to what they might have got up to while they were there. We can say that each country had its tame Nazis, but this was nothing on the scale of the numbers that were in Argentina. When Israeli agents kidnapped Eichmann from Argentina, the official government line was that he wasn’t in the country at all. Nor was Mengele.

And let’s not forget the public reaction in Argentina following Eichmann’s kidnap was not to say how could a man like that be here in our country, but to spark a wave of anti-Semitism. From the announcement that Eichmann was in Jerusalem until the trial had ended,  in 1962, it was not safe to be a Jew in Buenos Aires. There were several anti-Semitic riots. Many Jews in the city were kidnapped and murdered. One girl had a swastika carved on her body before she was murdered.

In 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was attacked; 29 people were killed and hundreds injured. A Jewish community centre was bombed in 1994.

This was not a country that was ever comfortable with its Jewish population.
I might say it still isn’t. As recently as 2005 the US government issued a memorandum expressing concern about anti-Semitism in Argentina.(see
http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism.)

Hope this helps to make things clear.
Phil

February 11, 2009

Explosive New Book Unearths Argentina's Forgotten Holocaust

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:04 am

It may be no accident that the Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop, recently re-instated from excommunication to justified cries of outrage, made his home in a seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It was a fortuitous coincidence that the controversy broke out just as I was finishing the galleys of what I believe should be an explosive new book by the British writer Philip Kerr called The Quiet Flame. Kerr’s novel, out in March from Putnam/Marian Wood books, takes the form of the fifth in his series of novels about a Hitler era Berlin homicide detective Bernie Gunther whose Berlin Noir trilogy and its follow up The One From the Other I’ve praised before.

But this one is different. it’s an investigative detective story, based on forgotten facts which brings to light a terrible buried episode in the history of Nazi criminality:

The long covered-up Holocaust which escaped Nazis are alleged to have perpetrated with the complicity of Juan Peron’s government in Argentina in the years immediately after the war when, according to Kerr’s research, up to 200,000 refugee Jews may have been murdered by escaped Nazi war criminals.

It’s long been forgotten amidst facetious jokes about Nazis, even Hitler, having escaped to South America, that hundreds of thousands of Jews escaped there during and after the war as well. And it’s almost been obliterated from the historical record that the Nazis in South America may well have continued doing what the Nazi in Europe did with such horrific proficiency.

In an afterword to his novel Kerr credits his revelations in this novel of the collaboration of the Peronist government–and the Perons–in this crime, revelations almost entirely new to me, to the study of The Real ODESSAby Uki Goni, (ODESSA was the post war Nazi escape network) who points to the existence of a secret Argentinian “Directive 11” which, Kerr says was “signed into existence by the Argentine Foreign Minister Jose Maria Cantilo on July 12, 1938 [and] condemned as many as two hundred thousand European Jews to death. It’s existence is denied by some to this day.”

I hope Kerr’s novel, executed with his usual trans-generic brilliance will open up a debate among historians over the truth and denial of this charge, about the fate of these forgotten victims of the Holocaust, aparently murdered by one of our “allies” and why this crime has been allowed to have been erased from history and memory. We will all owe Kerr a debt for not allowing it to have been, as they say in Argentina “disappeared”.

*I couldn’t have made it more clear that Kerr based his novel on the investigation into “Directive 11” and its consequences by historian Uki Goni. Yet I notice more than one commenter seems to have ignored this. It is, unfortunately as this link demonstrates all too real.

***Further clarification: on re reading Kerr’s “Author’s Note” it’s clear that the 200,000 figure refers only to those condemned to death by Directive 11. Condemned to death in Europe by real Nazis because they were denied the refuge they sought in Argentina by Directive 11. To some, apparently this kind of death in some way doesn’t “count”, although it clearly counted as a guilty secret for the Peronists and their successors who denied the existence of Directive 11 until, as the link above demonstrates, an irrefutable long lost copy was found. As for deaths at the hands of Argentina’s Nazis, local and imported, Kerr’s “Author’s Note” states that speculation about the “existence of a concentration camp for Jews in Argentina’s remote forests” persists but he doesn’t give a number. I’ve written him to ask for more details.

UPDATE; See the next post for Kerr’s response and correction.

February 9, 2009

In Defense of the Suburbs (from Revolutionary Road)

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:40 pm

Poor Kate Winslet she’s had to appear in two films this year which portray her as living in a concentration camp. In one it was literal–in The Reader she was a concentration camp guard, although we don’t see her locking women and children into a burning church so as to “keep order”; we only see her after the war in prison, learning that reading is fun! (see my further thoughts about “The Worst Holocaust Movie Ever Made” here.

But in Revolutionary Road her husband Sam Mendes, the British director, portrays her as the prisoner of what Mendes clearly views as another, metaphorical kind of concentration camp: the American suburbs of the 50s.

It’s of a piece, though more vicious, than his portrayal of the American suburbs in American Beauty. Just missing that torn plastic bag of beauty that distinguished that disdainful attack on American suburbia.

If it weren’t such a waste of such great actors this latest simpleminded, simplistic attack on the suburbs (They’re boring! People are conformist! They have no souls! When they’re not merely stupid they’re grotesque looking!) wouldn’t be worth paying attention to. What a daring, bold statement to attack the suburbs at this late date. Maybe back in its antiquated day Richard Yates’ novel Revolutionary Road was revolutionary. But the movie Mendes made of it seems not merely past its sell-by date in its vinegary sourness, but utterly lacking in originality–as dull, conformist, and soulless as its supposed subject.

February 2, 2009

The Hysterical Over-reaction…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:14 pm

…to my last post on Obama’s critique of the greedhead bonus thieves who stole from their shareholders and gave capitalism a bad name, indicates that many of those who consider themselves conservatives don’t have the first idea of what conservatism is.

Obama didn’t call for new laws or penalties for for the swinish financeers (the typical liberal solution). What he did was use moral suasion and call for self restraint, two conservative values. The inability to recognize this by those who consider themselves conservatives is a sad libel on true conservatism, and robs it of intellectual respect if they are its representatives. They identify themselves as ignorant and value-less. They substitute for rational conservative values a crazed hatred of a Democrat because he is a Democrat. You make yourself lackeys–virtual spittoons–for the bankers even the New York Post calls “pigs” on its front page.

I went out of my way to point out that both parties are responsible for the economic carnage we face, those who didn’t see that either lack reading comprehension skills (among other intellectual equipment) or are so blinded by partisan hatred they can’t see what’s in front of their eyes. I feel sorry for them and the damage they do to their cause.

And alas, I have to bring this up. I don’t think the ugly crazed hatred for Obama’s mild remarks is free in all cases from a kind of “how dare a black man talk to us this way!” attitude. You may howl with rage about it, but cumulatively I feel it’s there. Not in all the comments but in some and in sum. How pathetic when your inability to read what I wrote accurately, or phrase your disagrement without the vile and cowardly malice of those who hide behind anonymity, mark you in many–not all, but many–cases as inferior and too dim to recognize how you clearly you flaunt your inferiority.

Instead of more spittle-flecked comments, try reading a good book, if you have the reading skills. I recommend starting with David Copperfield. It will help you deepen your human as opposed to hate-filled responses to life. Further of the latter will only prove my point.

p.s./update;

My favorite dumb comment about the bonuses: the idiot greedheads who brought bankrutcy to theirown insitutions and may still cause the entire economy to colllapse “deserved their bonuses because of their wise investment strategies.”

Seriously!

My favorite supportive comment:

“As often happens I have to wonder if many of those commenting actually read the article! It’s very simple, the big wigs can have their billions in bonuses but not with our tax money. Why is that difficult? Why does it have to turn into another Obama is a poopoohead whine fest? It’s hypocritical to b*tch about hypocrisy while supporting the problem.”

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