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From the man who brought you Gordon Gekko...

From the man who brought you Gordon Gekko...

Forty-three years ago, two men enrolled at Yale University. One of them dropped out a year later, volunteered to fight in Vietnam, then made a movie about his experiences entitled Platoon. His name is Oliver Stone. The other dodged combat and went on to become the 43rd President of the United States. His name is George W. Bush.

If all this sounds like the premise of a Hollywood blockbuster, then it is – sort of. The movie is W., a Bush biopic that – and here’s the twist – is directed by Stone. It will be released in America a mere 19 days before the 2008 presidential election and is the Times Gala film at this year’s Times BFI London Film Festival.

Of course, with Stone being a peacenik Buddhist liberal and Bush being a militaristic evangelical Christian Republican, the result isn’t expected to be in any way flattering to the departing leader of the free world. Then again, the pair have an awful lot more in common than you might think…

Oliver Stone's latest film W has just been released in the US. It covers the period from George W Bush's student days at Yale to 2004, the last year of his first presidential term. Its reception has, to put it mildly, been mixed. For example, the New York Times’ Manolah Dargis has this to say:

The megamillion-dollar question that hovers over Oliver Stone’s queasily enjoyable “W.,” his Oedipal story about the rise and fall, fall, fall of George W. Bush is: why? Neither a pure (nor impure) sendup of the president nor a wholesale takedown, the film looks like a traditional biopic with all the usual trappings, including name actors in political drag — Josh Brolin plays the frat boy who would be king, while Richard Dreyfuss creeps around in a Dick Cheney sneer — alternately choking on pretzels and spleen, and reciting all the familiar lines and lies. History is said to repeat itself as tragedy and farce, but here it registers as a full-blown burlesque.

Mr. Stone’s take on the president, as comic as it is sincere, is bound to rile ax-grinders of every ideological stripe, particularly those who mistake fiction for nonfiction. History informs its narrative arc from Texas to Iraq, but it should go without saying that this is a work of imagination, a directorial riff on real people and places complete with emotion-tweaking music cues, slo-mo visuals and portentous symbolism. It says nothing new or insightful about the president, his triumphs and calamities. (As if anyone goes to an Oliver Stone movie for a reality check.) But it does something most journalism and even documentaries can’t or won’t do: it reminds us what a long, strange trip it’s been to the Bush White House.

Not surprisingly, Jeb Bush doesn’t like the film one little bit:

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, criticised Stone's depiction of the father-son relationship and the perceived psychological motivation of his brother.

"The Oedipal rivalry is high-grade, unadulterated hooey," he told the Washington Times.

Jeb Bush, who, according to Stone's film, was regarded by his parents as the son with more promise, asked why the director and Stanley Weiser, who wrote the W script, had not spoken directly with family members.

"I didn't receive a call," Mr Bush said.

It was unclear whether he had actually seen the film, which stars Josh Brolin as resident Bush and was released on Friday in the US.

I haven’t been able to find out when W is due for release in Australia, but I can hardly wait.

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Reserve Bank blinks

"The Reserve Bank cut its key interest rate more than expected as it attempts to prevent Australia's economy stalling.

The central bank lopped three-quarters of a percentage point - or 75 basis points - off its key cash rate, reducing it to 5.25%, the lowest level since December 2003."

There's a big recession coming, isn't there?

It gets better

Apparently Monica's dress, the infamous one with the stain illustrating Bill's projectile competence, was actually an old favourite of Edgar's.


James Sinnamon: "Eliot Ramsey, one moment you introduce “evidence” which supposedly demolishes the compelling case that Oliver Stone put in JFK that elements in the US state were complicit in President Kennedy’s murder."

James, they call them "script writers' and 'actors' becauser it's make believe.

Anthony Nolan, maybe Oliver Stone should run the FBI? Or otherwise Woody Allan?

Please explain why Warren Commission report isn't "make believe"

Eliot Ramsey: "... they call them "script writers' and 'actors' because it's make believe."

OK, then. Tell us what, in Oliver Stone's JFK, you maintain is "make believe" as opposed to a realistic dramatic recreation of the events relating to President Kennedy's assassination and the subsequent cover-up based on the evidence.

And while you are at it, you might also care to explain to the rest of us why don't consider the Warren Commission report "make believe".

JFK: it was an accident - they thought he was ML King


Hoover personally directed the FBI investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The House Select Committee on Assassinations issued a report in 1979 critical of the performance by the FBI, the Warren Commission as well as other agencies. The report also criticized what it characterized as the FBI's reluctance to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the president.


In his 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover, Anthony Summers quoted a witness who claimed to have seen Hoover engaging in cross-dressing and homosexual acts on two occasions in the 1950s. Summers also said that the Mafia had blackmail material on Hoover, and that as a consequence, Hoover had been reluctant to aggressively pursue organized crime.

MI5 ... Burgess, Philby, McLean ... always look for the bent ones because they are usually bent in many ways. 

Where were you when Bambi's mother got shot?

James Sinnamon, I don't have to "discredit Oliver Stone's JFK" as history or reporting. It's a Hollywood movie, nothing else. A bit like Bambi.

Trivialisation of discussion of President Kennedy's murder

Eliot Ramsey, one moment you introduce “evidence” which supposedly demolishes the compelling case that Oliver Stone put in JFK that elements in the US state were complicit in President Kennedy’s murder.

When that blows up in your face you attempt to trivialise the discussion with unoriginal and unfunny jokes.

Your motives for participation in this discussion seem disingenuous to me.

Another article affirming Oswald's innocence

Another good article which refutes accusations against Oswald is The Warren Commission’s Case Against Oswald by Leo Sauvage from The New Leader of 22 November 1965, pages 16–21. Curiously, I found it on The Academic JFK Assassination Site which claims to be a comprehensive resource which presents conclusive evinence that shows that there was no conspiracy. A short article which summarises the thesis of the site is Chance, Not Conspiracy, in the Death of JFK by Emeritus Professor Kenneth A Rahn who set up the site. All the weird coincidences that led to the murder of the President and, so soon after, the murder of the man accused of that murder and the chief witness are put down to chance by Professor Rahn.

Curiously, no mention of the earlier alleged attempt by Oswald to murder General Walker is made in this article in spite of the fact that the Warren Commission and, on this forum, Eliot Ramsey used this to depict Oswald as a person predisposed to murder the President. Almost certainly Professor Rahn would have judged that having to account for yet another 'coincidence' would most likely have stretched his coincidence explanation beyond the breaking point.

It is safe to assume that in spite of its facade of academic objectivity and the impressive array of useful material, some of which disputes the Warren Commission findings, the principle purpose of that site is to misinform.


James Sinnamon: "More substance needed to discredit Oliver Stone's JFK."

How about more substance in support of Oliver Stone's JFK?

That's how it always is with the Truthers. They feel free to concoct any fanciful account of events they choose, then challenge others "disprove" it.

I would have thought 26 volumes of reporting by the Warren Commission represented a fairly substantial body of research as opposed to some Hollywood script.

Why don't you "prove" that Oswald didn't shoot Kennedy?

Clutching at straws in attempt to discredit Oliver Stone

Eliot Ramsey, you have clutched at one straw in an attempt to discredit Oliver Stone's JFK in a seeming attempt to dissuade people from going to see his current movie W.

If JFK is as bad as you insist that it is, why won't you tell us what else is wrong with it?


F Kendall: "So, there is a chink in his scepticism."

It;s a bit like the 'real history' folks. They're skeptical about everything except themselves and their own intuition. Never a good start.

James Sinnamon:  "Jim Garrison describes the posthumous framing of Lee Harvey Oswald..."

Of course. It's a bit like the moon landing.

More substance needed to discredit Oliver Stone's "JFK"

Eliot Ramsey, I assume that you are not attempting to avoid discussion of the evidence by the use of the well-worn ploy of likening a the rejection of the Warren Commission "single assassin" finding with a belief that man never landed on the moon. If so, I think you need to explain yourself a little better.

Remember, it was you who attempted to discredit Oliver Stone's movie JFK by pointing out that no mention of Marina Oswald's statement implicating her husband in the attempted assassination of General Walker over seven months earlier. I then provided what seemed to me to be good reasons for Stone not to have make any mention of it in a movie covering such a broad subject area. Those reasons were that the statement was obtained form Marina Oswald under duress as described by Jim Garrison in On The Trail of the Assassins and that there was no corroborating evidence.

The only corroborating 'evidence' was given to the Warren Commission:

A final point---not addressed by Garrison but needs to be refuted---is the Warren Commission's assertion that Oswald had attempted to kill Major General Edwin A. Walker on April 6, 1963 using the same Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that the government claimed was used to kill Kennedy.39 The Commission made a feeble attempt to link the bullet found in Walker's house to the Mannlicher-Carcano, but eventually this was discredited. At one point, the Warren Report referred to the testimony of FBI ballistics expert Robert A. Frazier. The following is an excerpt from the Warren Report regarding Frazier's attempt to link the Kennedy murder weapon to the Walker shooting incident:

Frazier testified, however, that he found no microscopic characteristics or other evidence which would indicate that the bullet was not fired from the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle owned by Lee Harvey Oswald.

In crimes where a gun is fired, law enforcement investigators normally look for evidence linking the bullet found at the crime scene to a weapon owned by the suspect. When the FBI investigated the Walker shooting, they were apparently satisfied to make their allegation first—that the bullet came from Oswald's weapon—then conclude that the allegation was correct because no evidence was found to refute it. This rationale—which was stated in the Warren Report—is so ridiculous that it deserves no further comment.

In addition, the government's allegation that Oswald shot at Walker's house with a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle---allegedly, the same murder weapon that killed Kennedy---was further weakened by critics, such as Garrison and others, who demonstrated that the Mannlicher-Carcano was not the murder weapon used in the assassination.(www.jfkmontreal.com/other_garrison.htm)

I would suggest that if you still want to insist that Oliver Stone's JFK is no good then you will need come up with something a little more substantial.

Rupert Sheldrake

is interesting, also.


Despite Phillip Adam's scepticism, he endorses biodynamic farming:  that is the practice of enriching the soil with manure - filled cow horns buried for x amount of time, moon planting, etc.   He says that that the practice (is absurd, or something like that), defies science, but that it works.  (His wife uses it on their farm).

So, there is a chink in his scepticism.

Yes, Scott.  Supernature is an excellent read. 

Truthers make me laugh

James Sinnamon, hello. Reagrding the "allegation that Oswald had attempted to assassinate General Walker some seven months earlier".

It should be pointed out that the "allegation" is from a witness to events in the Oswald household on the night in question, a personal friend of Oswald's wife Marina, indeed, her biographer, and I am not aware that Marina herself has ever disputed it.

Awkward, hey?

Oswald framed for attempted assassination of Walker

It is Eliot Ramsey who is not giving us the complete picture. Jim Garrison describes the posthumous framing of Lee Harvey Oswald for the attempt on General Walker's life in his book On the Trail of the Assassins.

The evidence from Marina Oswald was obtained under duress after she had been held incommunicado for weeks. She later recanted the evidence.

Once people have read the full story, they will probably understand why Stone would have chosen not to mention it in his film which had so much ground to cover.

Michael de Angelos, I emailed Phillip Adams over a week ago to ask him why he had pronounced Jim Garrison to be a fraud and Oliver Stone to have been duped by him and I am still awaiting his response.

Stone's case in "JFK" remains overwhelming

I think it is easy to understand why, in a movie covering such a vast topic as the JFK assassination and the subsequent cover-up that Stone would have omitted an allegation that Oswald had attempted to assassinate General Walker some seven months earlier.

Even if it were to be found that that allegation had substance and had not been fabricated after the event, I don't see how the overwhelming case presented by Stone would have collapsed on that basis alone.

Michael de Angelos: I also have a copy of the 9/11 Commission report and agree with you that it is rubbish. However I have been told that discussion of the 9/11 controversy is strictly off limits on Webdiary, so I urge anyone who wishes to discuss this question to seek out other forums on which discussion of 9/11 is allowed or to contact me.


Fiona: James, Webdiary's editorial policy on 9/11 is clear, as is the rationale for that policy. To remind you:

Webdiary will not publish comments or host discussion on the following matters:

1. Denial of the existence of the holocaust.
2. Allegations that a Western power or powers were behind the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001
3. "False flag" theories.

Why these three? It isn't just because of the content, but also because experience of these debates tells us that in fact no debate is possible: the two (or more) sides endlessly repeat the same arguments to which the other side isn't listening. There are plenty of sites around devoted to these subjects where the interminable repetition is welcome: go debate them there. When you're there, remember that the complete lack of any evidence just shows how well the conspiracy is working. Obviously it can be difficult to draw the line, particularly when debating 9/11, and that can lead to some inconsistencies between editors, but that's life.

The problem with Phil

As much as I love Phillip Adam's writings, he is one of those odd people - a self-confessed sceptic.

These are (to me) amongst the oddest on this planet. They don't believe in anything unless it's "proved". There is no "after-life" or all the variations on that belief, because it can't be proved. It would be easy to demand the opposite, that they themselves prove there is nothing apart from that which can be proved. It's as valid to ask a person to provide proof there is no God, as it is to ask someone to prove his/her/its existence.

If a scientist took that position nothing would advance. They begin from a point of the impossible and just a belief, or a 'theory' from which they then must then set out to prove it possible.

I had the good fortune to met Uri Geller in Sydney about 10 years ago - one of the most derided persons on the planet as to his abilities. The occasion was, of all things, in Lady Mary Fairfax's house at a large charity event. Uri, after Lady Mary summonsed a butler to bring the best silver, bent every spoon in front of us. If it was trickery he would have to be the most expert illusionist in the world.

What convinced me, after Geller warned odd things would happen in the room, were the people sitting on either side of me - one a girl whose watch went crazy and the hands started spinning backwards, and the other, a wine merchant, who found as he went to his car his keys had been bent completely backwards. He walked home.

As to the JFK assassination it was all summed up by Oswald as he declared to the cameras for posterity: "I'm a patsy", as no doubt, whatever conspiracy was underway, the truth finally dawned upon him .Why a small time gangster would then chose to assassinate Oswald in front of cameras for the world to see more or less confirms that, at the moment, the truth died forever.

Why would someone bother to read the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Report? Like the 9/11 report, it would merely anger one.

Agree with James Randi regarding Uri Geller

I realise now that I had not properly read Michael de Angelos's original post. My apologies.

Actually, Michael de Angelos, I am with Phillip Adams and James Randi against Uri Geller. Until I see such paranormal phenomena with my own eyes and can assure myself that no trickery was used, I will have to assume that it is more likely that there are other explanations which conform to the already known laws of physics for what you observed. These may include that the person who told us her watch suddenly started turning backwards and the man who said his keys became bent were working in collusion with Uri Geller (even though I would have to admit that it would seem like a lot of trouble to go to for a magician's act).

If the bending of spoons were able to be performed in circumstances that could be observed in a scientifically controlled way (and Uri Geller were able to collect that $1,000,000 reward on offer from James Randi) and if that phenomena could be repeated, then scientists would have to either come up with new laws of physics or alter the existing laws of physics in order to better explain those observed phenomena.

That said, it appears that in regard to one other well known event, which, as we have all just recently been reminded, discussion of which is off-limits on Webdiary, James Randi has taken a stance which, as I see it, rejects the laws of physics.

That confused me for a while.

Scott: get hold "Supernature" (Amazon's a good place to start) by Lyall Watson. Plenty of other stuff by the same author and pretty freaky too.

The Stars and Stripes

This forum clearly demonstrates the interest of our people in the upcoming US Presidential election. Why?

Since the turn of the 20th century, America has built itself into an al- powerful global player. During that time, under the guise of self defence, the US administrations, with flag waving paranoia, convinced the people that they really had the best possible living conditions in the world. Supported by their media.

And then they became involved in profitable, job creating wars to maintain that illusion. Supported by their media.

I do not believe that the American psyche has changed - like the Muslim, Catholic, Fascist, Communist and Jewish teachings. Their subservience is considered as loyalty.

So, the pending American Presidential election has two objectives in my mind.

One, to hopefully remove the stigma of the extreme capitalism of the Bush Republican Party and, to put in its place a radical example of their so-called democratic principles by electing a black man.

As though another capitalist party with a non-white leader would really make a difference.

If that succeeds, and I believe that it will because it is planned, the only purpose is to change the world's perception of a better and more reliable leader of the world. Until he is dispensable. Supported by the media.

And two, also orchestrated by the powers that be, the insatiable use of the world's resources will continue under the aegis of spreading democracy.

I can only hope that Kevin Rudd's Federal Australian Labor government recalls and reinstates the same policies of independence as even Malcolm Fraser advised.


A good read

James Sinnamon: "It seems likely that Phillip Adams had been persuaded of this by people in the US who are regarded iconic leftists including Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn."

Cockburn and Chomsky have probably actually read the Warren Commission Report.

Mind you, Chomsky isn't particularly liked by Truthers of all stripes.

This little incident involving Oswald on the April 10 before the assassination has always been a bit tricky to get around...

A single shot is fired through the window of Ret. General Walker's study, just missing him. Oswald does not return home that night until about 11:30, according to Priscilla Johnson McMillan (a friend of Marina's and author of Marina and Lee). McMillan says that according to Marina, "Lee came in -- white, covered with sweat, and looking quite wild in the eyes. And he said, 'I shot Walker.'" Oswald explained to Marina that he had jumped on a bus, buried the rifle and then he'd taken another bus. And he said when he took the bus, "There they lose the scent." When the radio broadcasts that a boy on the spot had seen one or two cars in the alleyway behind Walker's house, Oswald laughed, according to Marina. He exploded in laughter and said, "Americans are so spoiled. They think you always have to have a car, whereas I got away on my own two feet.

Was that mentioned in Stone's movie?

No, didn't think so.

Even funnier than those who swear the Warren Commission Report is "wrong", but who haven't read it, are people who claim to have read it  but who, when pressed on the matter, failed to notice that it's 26 volumes long!!

"W" not to be missed, even if it is only half as good as "JFK"

I saw Oliver Stone's JFK when it was first released in 1991 and found it to be very persuasive and moving, that is, until Phillip Adams, on Late Night Live a few years later, told his listeners that Jim Garrison was a fraud and that Oliver Stone had been duped by him. It seems likely that Phillip Adams had been persuaded of this by people in the US who are regarded iconic leftists including Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn.

For some background to this view the article Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky vs. JFK: A Study in Misinformation. Chomsky and Cockburn entirely accept the Warren Commission view that Oswald, acting alone, murdered Kennedy, even though a 2001 study confirmed that there was conclusive accoustic evidence that a second shot having been fired from the famous grassy knoll. Chomsky and Cockburn also maintain that there is nothing suspicious about the subsequent murders of Malcolm X, MLK or RFK. Kennedy's speech for open Government and against secret societies made shortly before his murder would seem to have provided one clear motive for his murder. Some of it is worth posting here:

"The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.


"It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation--an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people--to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well--the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

"No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.


"Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. ..."

Who amongst us could possibly disagree with Solon or, indeed, with any of these words? The speech can also be found on this YouTube broadcast. Many years too late, I have since I have come to the conclusion that Adams was wrong and that JFK was every bit as good as it first appeared to be. If W is even half as good as JFK, it is not to be missed. A trailer can be found here.

Not quite, Eliot

Oliver Stone's JFK did accurately show events that happened at the time. He concentrated on one aspect, the case of Jim Garrison who pursued a court case as shown in Stone's film , perhaps with some dramatic tweaking. Does anyone not believe there was a conspiracy with JFK's death? But which one and involving who, I doubt we will ever know.

He is a film maker and a pretty clever one at that. He keeps us guessing -does he believe he's giving us the truth or just entertainment?

Douglas Adams

In the biography of Douglas Adams, a footnote says that a strong rumour of the time was that John Belushi's character (or exploits) in the cult Animal House was based on George W Bush.

Hyperstupidity bound to appeal

"...but it should go without saying that this is a work of imagination..." 

I'm sure it will be at least as accurate historically as Olly's other great political flick, 'JFK':

Oliver Stone's JFK is the most infamous historical film to take outrageous liberties with the known facts and disproved theories surrounding an actual historical event only to have the director defend the elusiveness of truth within his cinematic history lesson via claims of postmodern theoretical constructs.

Could utter crap on the scale of Oliver Stone's films be possible even without a public already conditioned into a state of lemming like credulousness by the blogosphere?

Because, it seems a bit of a stretch to think cinema complexes are filled night after night after night with the acolytes of Derrida and Marcuse and Paul de Mann and their ilk, doesn't it?

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