Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert better be looking in their rearview mirrors. They have a rival approaching. And he is even better than Colbert at impersonating the dimwitted, obnoxious, incredibly biased host that has made him famous. Why? Because he's not acting. His name is David Von Pein and he is now proceeding at warp speed in his attempt to go beyond even Colbert's famous caricature.
If the reader will recall, the last time we addressed Von Pein he was trying to patch up his beloved Reclaiming History. He has to. For he had ballyhooed Vincent Bugliosi's giant tome in almost embarrassing accolades. Even before it was published.
To digress, it should be noted that Von Pein also does this with almost any TV show supporting the Commission. Then after the show is broadcast, he issues what is essentially a press release within hours of the air date. He notes that the show was excellently done and that it just wrecked some central tenet of the Commission critics. He has done this with almost every other Discovery Channel debacle to come down the turnpike. Then, when more credible, honest, and serious observers begin to poke holes in the production, he gradually gives ground. Until finally, he will maintain perhaps one tenet of the program as valid. He did this with the horrendous Inside the Target Car. When every point he had accepted about that atrocity was effectively speared, he finally backed off to defending just one of them. This was the simulated shot from the front with the head exploding; which he maintained as showing the head shot could not have come from the grassy knoll. To do this, he ignored a central point made by Milicent Cranor and myself: that what this actually indicated was the "replica skulls" used by host Gary Mack were anything but. Associate producer Mack essentially admitted this in his online discussion of the show when he said that the bullets they used did not fragment. Therefore the "replicas" did not provide the proper resistance, since in the Kennedy case the bullets did fragment. Von Pein can't admit this since it vitiates both the experiment and his upholding of it. (Click here for our critiques of that phony sideshow )
The above pattern was paralleled with Reclaiming History. Before the book was published, Von Pein said it would lay out and silence the people he despises most in this world i.e. those who find serious fault with the Warren Commission. When the volume was issued, with great alacrity, he issued his usual press release. He praised all aspects of the work. He could find no real fault in the volume's nearly 2,700 pages. When certain critiques began to point out the clear and myriad problems with the book – which he somehow had overlooked – he began to give ground. Until finally, today, he has been placed almost completely on the defensive.
For example, Von Pein responded to the first part of my Reclaiming History series by questioning my analysis of whether or not Oswald could have ordered the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle that is in evidence today. I spent several paragraphs in part one of my critique showing that in view of all the evidence, it is highly unlikely that he could do so. I also posed a serious question about the transaction: the mail order company sent him the wrong rifle. Both the length and the classification were wrong. Although Oswald ordered the 36-inch model classified as a carbine, the Commission says he received the 40-inch model classified as a short rifle. Further, the House Select Committee on Assassinations discovered that Klein's only placed scopes on the 36-inch model. Yet the 40-inch model in evidence has a scope on it. (Click here for that discussion.)
Von Pein said he would admit all this, but he then provided a link to the mail order allegedly sent in by Oswald. Which is classic Colbert/Von Pein. Because this technique ignores all the evidence I produced in Part One to show how hard it is to believe that Oswald sent in that money order. To name just a couple of points: 1.) It does not appear the money order was ever deposited, and 2.) Why would Oswald buy the money order at the post office, yet walk over a mile out of his way to mail the envelope? All the while being unaccountably absent from work.
To understand Von Pein, one has to go back to his online, forum appearance on the JFK Lancer site back in 2003. Even though moderator Debra Conway warned of submitting "trolling threads" there, Von Pein couldn't help himself. In July of that year, he proclaimed Oswald guilty through what he termed a "mountain of evidence." He then asked, how much of this overwhelming tidal wave of proof would it take to convince a person out of the notion of conspiracy? Quite a thunderous build up eh?
But as with Chaplin's cannon, the explosion fired the shell about two feet away. For Von Pein's "mountain of evidence" consisted of the mildewed litany of discredited Warren Commission data. Which, of course, is not a mountain. It's more like the San Andreas Fault. He began with the above noted specious notion that Oswald owned the rifle; and he ended with the equally specious notion that Oswald could have run down from the sixth floor to the second in time to be seen by Marrion Baker and Roy Truly right after the assassination. Some of the gems in between were that Oswald definitely killed Officer Tippit and that he also attempted to kill General Edwin Walker. My favorite point was this: "the Single Bullet Theory has still not been proven to be an impossibility." I guess he thinks that if it's not impossible, that means it happened. (As we shall see later, with CE 399, it is impossible.) Von Pein even wrote that at Z frame 224, both Kennedy and John Connally were reacting to the same bullet. Which Milicent Cranor, in her previously posted article "Lies for the Eyes", showed to be a howler. In reality Kennedy is reacting and Connally is not. With a straight face, at the end of this "mountainous" listing, Von Pein wrote, "For aren't hard facts and evidence always more believable than wild speculation and conjecture?" (Posted 7/17/03)
As one respondent noted to Von Pein, with the work of Josiah Thompson, Sylvia Meagher, and Mark Lane, his list had been pretty much demolished by 1967. Yet he was reviving it as if it were new. Further, while listing it, he did not note any of the serious problems that those writers had pointed out. Von Pein was, of course, starting a classic "troll thread". One that is deliberately meant to provoke others. "Trolling" was defined by Tim Campbell in his 2001 article on the subject as such: "An Internet troll is a person who delights in sowing discord on the Internet. He ... tries to start arguments and upset people ... To them, other Internet users are not quite human but are a kind of digital abstraction ... Trolls are utterly impervious to criticism ... .You cannot negotiate with them ... you cannot reason with them ... For some reason, trolls do not feel they are bound by the rules of courtesy or social responsibility." Conway duly posted this article, seemingly to warn Von Pein.
But this did not even slow Von Pein down. For, as Campbell noted, trolls are non-negotiable and impervious to criticism. In his Colbert vein, Von Pein tried to say he was making arguments that were founded in common sense and logic. (Post of 7/21/05) A few days later, the uncontrollable urge to lash out at the billions who would not accept the Single Bullet Fantasy again possessed Von Pein. He submitted a truly Colbertian post. It pictured a gift basket of books for a Commission critic. It consisted of book covers entitled – among others – Paranoia, Face Your Fear, and A Paranoid's Ultimate Survival Guide. No joke. (Post of 7/26/05) This points out the other side of Von Pein, which is also echoed in Reclaiming History: When you cannot win your argument on the facts, you resort to smearing your opponent. And Von Pein did this not just with the general comment above, but also to individuals. As Todd Teachout noted, Von Pein made comments to members like "You are disgusting!" and "The goofy gas must be getting to you ... You're talking more like a moron with every post." As Todd ultimately noted, the obvious intent was "to not engage in a discussion of issues here, but to attempt to stifle a discussion of the issues." (Post of 7/22/05)
Which was undoubtedly true. And finally, a few days later, Conway announced that she was banning Von Pein from her forum. After his belated expulsion, there followed a two-day celebration. On a small scale, it was somewhat comparable to V-E Day. But before leaving the subject of Von Pein at Lancer, it must be noted that it was there that he began to manifest his almost incontinent devotion to Reclaiming History. In fact, he began to bandy it about as a way to counteract evidentiary points in the case i.e. the avulsive hole that so many witnesses saw in the back of Kennedy's skull. What made this odd is that he was doing it in 2005. Reclaiming History would not be published until two years hence. Quite an omniscient feat. One person questioned Von Pein's reasoning from a different angle. He said that it was not logical for Von Pein to build up Bugliosi's book because the author would be working with the same database everyone else was. Von Pein replied that although this may be true, Bugliosi was somehow that much smarter than everyone else and that should make the critics quiver in fear. For Reclaiming History would spell the end of their cause. Pretty hefty expectations for a book yet to be published.
As I said, Conway eventually did the right thing and ejected him from the forum. But Von Pein had to have understood that he was breaking the posted rules of the site. For it clearly stated that members were not to use abusive language. Another rule was not to spam or harass or exploit the other members. (The gift basket of "paranoid" titles would qualify as such in my book.) But the rule that Von Pein violated with reckless abandon was the one about doing mass posts and therefore flooding the board. As Gene Stump pointed out, Von Pein did 263 posts in his first 12 days! (Post of 7/28/05) As Teachout indicated, the game for Von Pein was to dominate the forum with his antique discredited "facts", so that instead of doing constructive work, everyone would be debating things as silly as the Magic Bullet. When that didn't work, Von Pein's smears and insults would be used in hopes of dividing and polarizing the place so that no actual discussion on the evidence was possible. Because anyone who believed the Commission in error could be reduced to being something less than human: a sick and paranoid conspiracy buff. (In large part, Bugliosi adapted the last technique in his book.)
Once ejected from Lancer, Von Pein migrated over to John Simkin's Spartacus forum. Pretty much the same thing occurred there. He was eventually ejected because of his abusive language plus his failure to post a photo of himself. Simkin required the latter to prevent trolls from entering the forum under assumed names. Which, of course, raises some interesting questions about Von Pein's failure to do so.
After this second ejection, Von Pein came to his senses. He realized he could not comport normally with the great mass of the public who didn't buy the fantasy of the Single Bullet Theory. He now made his way to the place where he belonged all along: the John McAdams dominated Google group, alt.conspiracy.jfk. Why is this important? Because historically speaking, McAdams was the first person on the Internet to exhibit critical thinking skills so stilted, comprehension skills so unbalanced, cognitive skills so impaired, all combined with a basic dishonesty about these failings, to the degree that he almost seemed the victim of a neurological disease. Any strong indication of conspiracy in the JFK case, no matter how compelling, could not permeate his brain waves or synapses. McAdams hates being an outcast or labeled as a propagandist – even though he is. So he constructed a sort of hospice for people like himself who normal thinking people could not tolerate. Actually two of them. One is on his own site and one is a Google Group.
The important thing for Von Pein is that since McAdams controls the halfway houses, almost anything goes as long as it supports the Warren Commission. Here, Von Pein could now use his previously noted wild man tactics with impunity. Another place that Von Pein frequents is the IMDB forum on Oliver Stone's film JFK. There, to those not familiar with the facts of the case, he tried to discredit the film as a work of "fiction". Or those who have not read the accompanying volume to the movie entitled JFK: The Book of the Film.
But it is from alt.conspiracy.jfk that Von Pein has continued what will probably be his lifetime goal: To protect and to serve Reclaiming History. After all, Von Pein bought into the book two years before it was published. He proclaimed to all that Bugliosi would grind the likes of Sylvia Meagher, Gary Aguilar, and Philip Melanson into hamburger. To put it kindly, Reclaiming History did no such thing. In fact, as Von Pein was advised, one of the most surprising things about the book is how little new is in it. For the most part, Bugliosi just recycled all the old Krazy Kid Oswald arguments and put them between two covers. In so doing he largely relied upon that same hoary and discredited cast of characters: Michael Baden, John Lattimer, Larry Sturdivan, David Slawson. He even trotted out Gerald Ford. As I noted, though Von Pein was warned about this probability, he thought Bugliosi would pull a rabbit out of the hat. He didn't. Because there is none to pull.
Reclaiming History was remaindered in about a year. And it has been effectively attacked by a slew of writers: Rodger Remington, Gary Aguilar, Milicent Cranor, Michael Green, Mark Lane, Josiah Thompson and myself among them. So Von Pein is placed in the position of any troll. He has to defend what he said by protecting his hero from the justified and effective attacks on his work. In this regard, he has gotten so desperate that he communicates with Bugliosi's secretary on a regular basis. She even asked him to host a cable TV program and take on "any and all conspiracy nuts." Apparently, Rosemary Newton is unaware that Len Osanic personally invited Von Pein to debate me on his Black Op Radio program. I also asked him to do so. He failed to take up the challenge at either opportunity. Understandably, he would rather wage his crusade from inside the friendly confines of McAdams' hospice (which I have elsewhere nicknamed The Pigpen) This is not very brave but – as we shall see – it is probably smart on his part. As Gil Jesus has noted, it's from there that Von Pein can issue some of his most bizarre proclamations, like "What does 'back and to the left' prove? Anything?" Or this other dandy: "Let's assume for the sake of argument that there were/are several different Mannlicher Carcano rifles with the exact same serial number on them of C2766 ... my next logical question (based on the totality of evidence in this Kennedy murder case) is this one: So what?" (Jesus post at Spartacus forum 9/13/08, quoting Von Pein) Only from The Pigpen could such wild nonsense be allowed.
And only there could the following go by without being harpooned. In August of 2009, Von Pein queried Rosemary Newton again. He wanted her to ask Bugliosi if CE 399 – the Magic Bullet – would have been admitted into evidence at trial. He also wanted to ask if the judge at the 1986 simulated posthumous Oswald trial in London had done so. In the Introduction to Reclaiming History, Bugliosi tries to insinuate that the televised trial that he (unwisely) chose to participate in was very close to an actual trial. And that it followed the standard rules of evidence. The author sidestepped the crucial fact that since the trial was in London and the core evidence is at the National Archives, things like the alleged rifle, the shells, the autopsy evidence, and CE 399, were not there to be presented in court This would not be the case at a real trial. But not only that, even though all three autopsy doctors were alive in 1986, none of them were at the trial. Could one imagine all this happening in a real, contested, high-profile trial? I can't. In actuality, the London production did not even approach a real trial. And since all the above was lacking, the rules of evidence – by necessity – could not be followed. To point out just one failing: Any defense lawyer worth his salt would have demanded CE 399 be presented in court for the jury to view. We shall see why shortly.
In spite of the above, on August 22nd of 2009, Bugliosi replied to Von Pein's query about the admittance of the Magic Bullet into evidence. Significantly, the prosecutor led off by saying that the purpose of the "chain of possession requirement is to insure that the item being offered into evidence by the prosecution, or the defense, is what they claim it to be." (Keep in mind, Bugliosi himself said this.) He then answered the first question with, yes CE 399 would be admitted. And his answer to the second question was that the judge at the London trial had admitted the bullet into evidence without seeing it! Yep, that's what happened. A question that Von Pein/Colbert didn't ask was: "Vince, what kind of evidentiary hearing could you have if the actual bullet wasn't there? That would mean that the jury could not examine it. It's the shock of seeing that bullet and then listening to both the damage it inflicted and its flight path that has convinced tens of millions of Americans that Oswald didn't do it."
In his reply, Bugliosi also referred to pages 814-815 of Reclaiming History as proof that CE 399 was not fired elsewhere and then planted at Parkland. If you look up those pages you will see why Von Pein is Von Pein. For on those pages, Bugliosi is referring to the Neutron Activation Analysis test. The one which the scientific world, the FBI, and the court system has now deemed as discredited. A test which, because of the work of Bill Tobin, Cliff Spiegelman, Eric Randich and Pat Grant, will likely never be used in court again. The test which even Robert Blakey has called "junk science". (For why, click here and here). In other words, only in the world of John McAdams, Von Pein, and Reclaiming History, are we to still use this "junk science" for bullet-lead forensic purposes. After this, Bugliosi begged off and thanked Von Pein profusely. As he should.
In Von Pein's previous reply to my brief noting of his treatment of the rifle issue, he protested my terming him a "cheerleader" for Reclaiming History. He said he was actually a cheerleader for the truth. But if that was the case then why didn't Von Pein/Colbert ask Bugliosi any of the following about CE 399?
"Vince, in Six Seconds in Dallas – which you have read closely – the author makes a convincing case that CE 399 was not found on Kennedy's stretcher or John Connally's. Nor was it on the floor. It was on the stretcher of a little boy named Ronald Fuller. If so, how did it get there?" (See pgs. 163-64)"Vince, in that same book, the author interviewed O. P. Wright, the guy who turned over CE 399 to the Secret Service. He said that the bullet he discovered was not a copper coated, round nosed, military jacketed bullet like CE 399. But a lead colored, sharp-nosed, hunting round. How could that be? And by your own definition of the chain of custody test, i.e. insuring that the item is what it is claimed to be, in light of Wright's testimony, how would CE 399 be admitted into evidence?" (ibid p. 175)"Josiah Thompson talked to Wright's widow many years later. She was the head of nursing at Parkland. She said other nurses turned up other bullets that day. Did you talk to her? Why wasn't this investigated by Arlen Specter and the Commission?" (See my review of Reclaiming History, part 1, Section 4.)"Why did the FBI lie in a memo about showing CE 399 to Wright? Gary Aguilar and Josiah Thompson found out that they did not do so. Does this have anything to do with Wright's name not being in the Warren Report?" (ibid)"In your book, in the End Notes on p. 431, you write that Elmer Lee Todd's initials are on CE 399. John Hunt checked on this at the National Archives. Todd's initials are not on the bullet. So it appears the FBI lied again. Did you not check this fact?" (See my Reclaiming History review, part 7, Section 3.)"Todd wrote down the time he received the bullet as 8:50 PM. But Robert Frazier wrote down that he got the bullet at 7:30 PM. Yet the FBI says he got it from Todd. How could such a thing happen? Is that dichotomy in your book? I don't recall it." (Ibid)
"Vince, were all these issues addressed at that London trial? I don't recall them being brought up. In a real trial don't you think they would have been?"
"If you had been Oswald's defense lawyer at trial, wouldn't you have used this information to powerful effect to show that CE 399 was not the bullet found at Parkland, and the FBI knew it? Why would you not have? Its tremendously exculpatory stuff. I would have liked to have seen the DA's face as you wrecked his case with it."
Von Pein asked the author none of these questions. So much for him being a cheerleader for the truth. You can't do that unless you find the truth. To find the truth you have to ask the right questions and honestly follow the answers. (Which is probably why Von Pein has been known to disable comments on some of his You Tube channels.)
Von Pein/Colbert would not pose the above questions for they would indicate that 1.) The London TV proceeding that Bugliosi participated in was nothing but a show trial, and 2.) Bugliosi ignored almost all these very important questions in his book. (And concerning question number five, it doesn't appear that Bugliosi visited the National Archives to examine the key piece of evidence that he says was admitted, sight unseen, in London.) This kind of leaves Von Pein holding the bag. I mean he has been trying to sell Reclaiming History as the Holy Grail to the JFK case for about five years. To put it mildly, it hasn't panned out as he claimed. He can't admit that. Since because of his unwise advertising campaign, he now has egg all over his face. So he sends out an SOS to Bugliosi. And what does he get? More egg. Maybe he'll get an omelet next time.
Zealot that he is, he still shills for Reclaiming History. But only from his safe haven at the McAdams' controlled comedy central forum. There he is largely protected from the spears and arrows of the real world. Jon and Stephen, with interviews like the one described above, Von Pein is in training. Don't look now, but he's gaining on you.
See als Part 2.