Quora question: Why do many African Americans have original names?

October 21, 2017

My response:

Remember that slaves were given Anglicized names that denied their African heritage and helped force assimilation into a culture they did not choose to enter.

I can still recall Black Activist Malcom X saying that the reason he called himself “X” was because no Black person had any idea of their cultural history. “X” was a way of denying the slave owner’s privilege over Blacks, and liberating himself from the tyranny of racism.

In much the same way, Black parents today give their children unique names that defy conventions used by White slave owners. They are meant as a way to inspire pride in oneself as a Black person rather than someone bound by generations of indentured servitude.

You may find remnants of these names are homophonous to some African names, but combine elements of other European cultures, like the French.

Note also that the names for Black people themselves have evolved—from Colored to Negro to Black to African-American to the more inclusive People of Color, as not all Americans with ancestral roots to Africa are, indeed, Black.

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Quora question: Is it a good strategy to lie about the past like China is doing?

October 21, 2017

My response:

Ask the same question of yourself, a loved one, or your current president. Would you trust an inveterate liar, or someone who believes that telling the truth is the same as not being caught in a lie?

President Trump’s unending string of half-truths, misstatements and outright fabrications are at the heart of the nation’s discord.

Years ago, the United States government continually lied to its people about the state of the Vietnam War. Were it not for the revelations contained in the Pentagon Papers, how much longer would the war have gone on? How many more lives would have been lost?

China re-imagines the events of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, casting the peaceful protesters as counter-revolutionaries, even though the protests were witnessed by millions on television.[1]

Think about it for a moment, and this becomes a rhetorical question.

[1] How China has rewritten the history of Tiananmen Square


Quora question: What kind of work does a junior engineer civil in the central water commission?

October 21, 2017

My response:

You’ll have to excuse me, but for some odd reason your question calls to mind the movie Chinatown, written by Robert Towne.

I keep thinking about poor Hollis Mulwray, married to Evelyn and soon to be deceased at the hands of her father/lover, Noah Cross. He was the Water Commissioner for Los Angeles County; Mr. Yelburton was the Deputy Commissioner.

I can imagine your junior civil engineer in the Water Commission checking the condition of sewer pipes, ducts and reservoirs—and possibly wondering why water is being diverted from the town late at night and dumped into a dry river bed…


Quora question: How soon in the future will racial stigmas be forgotten?

October 21, 2017

My response:

Not in your lifetime. It has been 152 years since the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished of slavery; 57 years since that initial sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina; yet race-based inequality—in wages, unemployment, education, policing, prison sentences, health and mortality rates, even the government’s response to natural disasters—still dominates the nightly newscasts and fills the morning newspapers.

The existence of the extreme right is a testament to the persistence of racism in America. This racial stigma is America’s inheritance; it provides the subtext for our interactions and shapes our expectations.

It is a self-sustaining prophecy. Any lack of progress by Blacks is seen by Whites as justification for their prejudice, and thus ensures that fewer legislation proscribing racial inequality will be forthcoming.

Racial taxonomy devolves into a pseudo-science explaining the so-called intellectual deficiencies of Blacks. This presumption of inferiority is an original stain not easily removed, and its dehumanization of the human being becomes the pretext for neglect and cruelty.

The idea of a utopia free from racial stigmatization safely distances ourselves from recognition of the present. It ignores the panic that ensues when entitled Whites perceive that Blacks are encroaching upon their space, real and intellectual, thus denying the manifest destiny of racist America.

This is not the vision for this country shared by past generations who were shaped by the horrors of war, fascism and ethnic cleansing. Our forebears were also bolstered by their collective understanding that what has been best for this country and its growth—economically, scientifically and morally—rested on its leadership recognizing and embracing the diversity of its cultures and their unique contributions.

The current administration has retreated from this ethic, having found support largely across the economic spectrum of Whites whose tenuous claims to their identity rest upon squalid notions of White supremacy and specious arguments that support their hatred.

The responsibility for ridding society of this cancer lies with each individual. I am not referring solely to demonstrations, marches or speeches. Search your soul and ask those hard questions that arise when prejudice mars your judgment and preempts empathy. Change will follow.


Quora question: Could a coup d’etat succeed in the USA? I believe it to be a more plausible scenario than a state successfully seceding. Do you believe JFK’s assassination was a coup d’etat?

October 20, 2017

My response:

I have answered many questions on this topic. I’ll post my answer to What is the most plausible conspiracy theory regarding the Kennedy assassination? Yes, it is detailed, but I believe any serious inquiry into the death of President John F. Kennedy deserves an equally serious response:

“There are many theories regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—some plausible, some so far-fetched that they beggar belief.

People looking for quick, easy answers to President Kennedy’s murder overlook the perspicacity researchers and essayists have brought to the fore, particularly the earliest critics like Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher, Penn Jones Jr. and the essayists whose scathing critiques of the Warren Commission’s report put a little-known, conservative Catholic publication, Ramparts, on the map.

Regardless of whether one accepts the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President Kennedy, or one believes the House Select Committee on Assassinations who proffered that there was a conspiracy to murder the 35th president, I only suggest that one read the voluminous material written on the subject, particularly the earlier works.

To answer this specific question, however, I will rely on my own analysis in the form of answers to a few of the many questions posed to me on the subject. My response here is lengthy, to be sure; but to ask a serious question on a subject that has flummoxed the public for over half a century, one should at least be prepared to devote some time to the effort.

A) How could Oswald be identified so quickly as a suspect after the Kennedy assassination?

My response: I have answered a question similar to this, If Oswald wasn’t Kennedy’s assassin, why did he leave the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination without letting anyone know? I shall post that answer below as I feel it applies some perspective to your question as well as refuting some of the answers posted here.

“You are under the mistaken impression that no one other than Lee Harvey Oswald left the Texas School Book Depository at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination. According to the Warren Commission’s own report, the following persons who worked at TSBD also left the building without notifying building supervisor Roy Truly:

  • Danny Arce, 18, left at 1:00 pm, accompanied by the police, to go to City Hall.
  • Carolyn Arnold, 20, left at 12:25 pm and did not return.
  • Virgie Rachley, 18, left at 11:45 am and returned at 12:40 pm but was denied entry.
  • Jack Carson, 56, president of TSBD, left at 12:10 pm and did not return.
  • Betty Drago, 27, left at 12:20 pm but found the door locked when she returned. She stayed outside TSBD until 2:30 pm before going home.
  • Buell Wesley Frazier, 19, famously gave Oswald a lift to work that day. He left TSBD between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, about the same time Truly claims he made his roll call.
  • Charles Givens, 38, returned to TSBD after the shooting but was refused entry by a Dallas policeman. An APB was put out for him, and he was later interviewed at City Hall by Captain Will Fritz. Truly was aware of Given’s absence, having seen him prior to the assassination. Truly also saw Oswald prior to his encounter with him in the second-floor lunchroom. Using that logic, Oswald should have been exonerated as well.
  • Gloria Holt, 18, left at 12:10 pm and did not return.
  • Stella Jacob, 20, left at noon and did not return.
  • Judy Johnson, 20, was standing outside TSBD when the shooting began. She remained in the area until 2:00 pm then went home.
  • Dolores Kounas, 32, left at 12:15 pm and stayed outside until 3:00 pm.
  • Sharon Nelson, 19, left at 12:20 pm and never returned. She lived at 409 East 9th Street, near the site where Officer J.D. Tippit was gunned down.
  • Roberta Parker, 55, left at a time unknown, and said she wasn’t allowed back in until 3:30 pm.
  • Bonnie Richey, 20, left the building at 12:20 pm and never returned.
  • Lloyd Viles, 41, left at 12:15 pm and returned at 2:55 pm.
  • Vida Whatley, 45, left at 12:15 pm to go shopping. She tried to re-enter TSBD at 1:00 pm but was denied entry by the police. She went home.
  • Bonnie Ray Williams, 20, accompanied Arce to the police station at 1:00 pm.”

B) Is the JFK assassination all lies?

My response: I have answered several questions of this ilk. I shall provide two of those questions and my responses to them below.

  • Who assassinated President Kennedy and why?

My answer: Ignore the dogma presented here on Quora. Anytime anyone tells you they have the definitive answer on a subject that has engendered controversy for over half a century, a red flag should go up in your mind.

I answered a similar question, Was the Kennedy assassination a conspiracy? I shall post that answer here and hope it suffices.

“There are many books that have been written on the subject, both pro and con regarding the single assassin theory. Review the findings of the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations; search through scholarly websites, such as the Mary Ferrell Foundation; and especially, search for the earliest works on the assassination—those written from 1965 to 1968—and decide for yourself.”

  • Who were the three tramps that were arrested right after JFK’s assassination?

My answer: As an answer to your question, what follows, in part, is the story of Roderick A. MacKenzie. I ask that you tread very carefully here. Read it with a healthy dose of skepticism but also with a mind cognizant of the literature published on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Then decide for yourself.

Roderick A. MacKenzie III, 77, is a former mobster and forger of police and government identification cards; he is also the author of a self-published book, The Men That Don’t Fit In: The Factual History of a Rogues Life from 1934 to 1967 (2010, Now Available – The Men That Don’t Fit In (PDF) – Paranoia Magazine), in which he claims he was employed by Chicago Mafia chieftain Sam Giancana to run a Dallas, Texas safehouse on Holland Avenue when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

MacKenzie claims he didn’t know The Big Event was going to happen [my words, as the JFK assassination was referred to by CIA contract agent and mercenary Gerry Patrick Hemming] ; yet soon after it did, he realized the “precarious position” he was in. So he disappeared.

MacKenzie also claims that his “handler” was a member of the Defense Intelligence Security Command (DISC), Jake Miranda, who sent him to CIA’s “Flaps and Seals” school at Fort Detrick, Maryland. (The Secrets Inside the CIA’s Off-Limits Spy Museum) The school specialized in making phony documents—a skill MacKenzie was already well acquainted.

MacKenzie’s criminal past and connections to organized crime are well documented. He claims to have been employed by Permindex, a Swiss-based company about which the Italian newspaper Paese Sera wrote a story alleging that individuals connected to the company worked for CIA and had been involved with the OAS (Secret Army Organisation) in plots to assassinate French President Charles DeGaulle. [CIA’s only comment on this was to verify that Clay Shaw had volunteered information to the Agency’s Domestic Contacts Division. In the late 1960’s, Shaw had been accused by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison of having been involved in the assassination of JFK.] (The Lie That Linked CIA to the Kennedy Assassination and Clay Shaw, Perjurer)

MacKenzie claims to have been in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie, whom he describes as “queers,” and Jack Ruby, whom he was told by Chicago Mobster Johnny Roselli and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, was a “switch hitter,” i.e., bisexual.

According to MacKenzie, his role at the safehouse was essentially that of a janitor; he cleaned up the place. By mid-November MacKenzie claims he was told by Roselli to move out of the safehouse to the Cabana Motel for a few weeks, though to come by the safehouse daily to keep it clean.

What MacKenzie claims he later saw at the safehouse was “a war room for an Army.” The place was littered with maps of Cuba, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, the southwestern United States and Gulf of Mexico area. He assumed a hit on Fidel Castro was forthcoming. He says he never gave a thought to it being a hit on the President, and, in fact, he claims that no one at that time and on his level even knew Kennedy was coming to Dallas. [Odd, since news of President Kennedy’s trip to Dallas had already been widely publicized in the newspapers and on radio and telelvision.]

Around the time of the Pepsi Convention in Dallas on November 21, MacKenzie says he was informed by Roselli that “cleaners” would hit the safe house on the 22nd, and he was told to stay away. The cleaners, MacKenzie explains, “are sent into a situation when it has to be wiped clean of any past, and as often as not those involved in the past of the operation are terminated as well.” After the cleaners accomplished their task at the safehouse, MacKenzie was told by Roselli that he could move back in on November 25th.

“The night of November 21st was a very busy night at the Cabana Motel,” according to MacKenzie. “It was noisy, with many Spanish-speaking people hanging around in the parking lot.” MacKenzie claims he saw Frank Sturgis, aka Frank Fiorini, hitman and future Watergate burglar; Richard Nixon; Sam Giancana; and hitwoman Ruth Ann Martinez emerge from vehicles in parking lot.

MacKenzie describes the JFK hit as “a classic, well thought-out hit by a very large cast of characters.” He explains, “They brought just about everyone who was anyone in the business of nastiness and criminality together to witness or unwittingly be part of it. I was one such person. We were all disposable, as well, and did not know that either.” Following the assassination, MacKenzie spent a day drinking with Malcolm “Mac” Wallace, the man whom he claims “had directed the killing teams for Lyndon B. Johnson and his Texas Mafia with the help of the other Mafia.” MacKenzie describes Wallace as “quite talkative, in a conspirator way.”

MacKenzie went on to identify several individuals purportedly associated with President Kennedy’s assassination as having visited or stayed at the safehoues: Jack Rubenstein (Ruby); Mac Wallace; Corsican assassin Jean Souetre, aka Michel Roux, aka Michel Mertz; Jake Miranda; J.D. Tippit; Percy Chauncey Holt; Charles Harrelson, Charles Rogers and several other French or Corsican hitmen.

MacKenzie claims that the three so-called tramps were Charles Harrelson, Percy Chauncy Holt and Mafia hitman Charles Frederick Rogers. They were an additional hit team positioned under the bridge and above the railroad area in case the president was not shot. He also details the entire command structure and layout of the hit team in Dealy Plaza. This can be found in his book and from a search online.

2) You may get dogmatic responses with the latest simulcra attesting to the single assassin theory, despite the fact that you posited a subjunctive situtation. I hope you will go to the answers that befit your question and do as you like with the others.

Beyond the narrowcasting of those with an agenda, I ask that you look at the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the second major government investigation of the JFK assassination, after the Warren Commission. Its second Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey, and its lead investigator, Gaeton Fonzi, have both reasserted the Committee’s conclusion that “President Kennedy was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy.” (Table of Contents (HSCA, JFK Assassination)

A confluence of organized crime, anti-Castro Cuban exiles and rogue elements of the intelligence community were, according to the HSCA, involved in the plotting, execution and cover-up of President John F. Kennedy’s murder. The release of formerly classified documents by the Assassination Records Review Board reveals that CIA withheld key evidence sought by the Committee (The Assassination Records Review Board Report).

Blakey asserts that CIA obstructed their investigation and withheld crucial information on Lee Harvey Oswald, his activities in New Orleans and in the months before he went to Dallas, and, in particular, Oswald’s attempts to infiltrate an anti-Castro group, the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil or DRE.

Blakey believes a CIA-Mafia plot to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro was then turned on President Kennedy. The anti-Castroites held tremendous antipathy toward President Kennedy for failing to provide air cover during the failed Bay of Pigs affair (despite warnings from several CIA analysts that the operation was doomed from the start and that there would be no uprising by the Cuban people against Castro).

The Mafia thought they had a deal: their help to get Kennedy elected in exchange for a complaisant Justice Department. The month after the election, though, John Kennedy announced that he was making his brother Robert Attorney General. Speaking from the steps of the Department of Justice, Robert made it clear that he intended to use the office to wage war on organized crime.

By early 1962, using new laws and specialized intelligence, the Attorney General had top gangsters on the run. Three hundred and fifty mobsters were indicted in that year alone, topping the total number from the Appalachia meeting in 1957 through 1961. The Attorney General pressed for the deportation of any mafiosi who could be shown to be illegal aliens; New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello had been flown out of the country to Guatemala—though he subsequently returned. There were new efforts to expel Mafia underbosses Frank Costello and Johnny Rosselli (THE CLAIMS THAT MAFIA BOSSES TRAFFICANTE AND MARCELLO ADMITTED INVOLVEMENT IN ASSASSINATING PRESIDENT KENNEDY).

Rosselli and Chicago Mafia don Sam Giancana had hoped for special treatment because both had been involved in CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and—as Giancana put it—considered they had been “working for the government.” FBI wiretaps make clear Giancana simmered with rage. After the deal-making of the election—when his efforts had helped deliver Illinois for Kennedy—he felt he had been double crossed.

“The Mob typically doesn’t hit prosecutors or politicians,” said Robert Blakey. “You are all right…just as long as you do not `sleep with them’; that is, you do not take favors, either money or sex. Once the public official crosses the line, he invites violent retribution.” (see: FBI WATCH Making Cruelty visible)

There was a comment Trafficante had made in 1975, while being taped during an FBI surveillance operation. “Now only two people are alive,” the FBI microphone had picked up Trafficante saying—in conversation with Marcello—“who know who killed Kennedy.”

In 1994, Frank Ragano, an attorney who long represented Trafficante, Marcello, and Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa made remarkable claims in a new memoir, “Santo, Carlos, and Jimmy.” He wrote that the three had often spoken of their wish to see both Kennedy brothers dead. In July 1963, Ragano claimed, Hoffa had sent him to New Orleans to ask Trafficante and Marcello to kill the President. When he passed on this message, Ragano wrote, the mobsters’ response led him to think the idea “had already seriously crossed their minds.” (THE CLAIMS THAT MAFIA BOSSES TRAFFICANTE AND MARCELLO ADMITTED INVOLVEMENT IN ASSASSINATING PRESIDENT KENNEDY).

After the assassination, a gleeful Hoffa had supposedly exclaimed, “I told you they could do it. I’ll never forget what Carlos and Santo did for me.” Marcello supposedly said, “When you see Jimmy, you tell him he owes me and he owes me big.”(Coup d’Etat—The Overthrow of an American President by Barry Jones, Anaphora Literary Press, 2014)

There is a theory extant that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was involved, particularly with regard to the cover-up. I dismiss this theory as I feel the FBI’s unwillingness to investigate the crime is due more to bureaucratic ennui and an effort to conceal former FBI agent Guy Bannister’s involvement—though Hoover’s close associations with known mobsters and right-wing extremists H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison bear more than passing scrutiny.

The notion of the far right-wing’s imvolvement has been considered. Racists with ties to the militant right-wing groups the Minutemen and the John Birch Society, like Joseph Milteer, whose prediction of the precise scenario in which President Kennedy would be murdered was captured on a police intelligence surveillance tape (Joseph Milteer — Foreknowledge of the JFK Assassination?); General Edwin Walker, whom Robert Kennedy forced to resign from the Army (Did Lee Harvey Oswald Shoot at General Edwin Walker?); and oil barons like H. L. Hunt and Clint Murchison, who stood to lose millions of dollars with Kennedy’s proposed removal of the oil depletion allowance, have also been implicated. (see: Oil Depletion Allowance)

It is plausible that fascist individuals or groups may have had advance knowledge of the assassination, but there is no evidence directly linking them to the shooting.

As for whether Oswald was in that sniper’s nest on the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, I will offer just these five items from both the Warren Commission’s report or hearings, and that of the HSCA:

  • The rifle contained no identifiable fingerprints, WCH, vol.4, p.258.
  • Of the 19 book cartons by the window in the southeast corner of the sixth floor, only two contained Oswald’s fingerprints or palmprints, and only one of those prints had been deposited within three days of the assassination, WCR, pp.138–144 [emphasis mine].
  • One palmprint remained unidentified, and presumably belonged to an employee or assassin who was not Oswald, WCH, vol.26, p.799. Note: This print was later compared to a 1951 print of Malcolm Wallace, a Lyndon Johnson associate. A 14-point match by latent print examiner Nathan Darby confirmed the print belonged to Wallace.
  • Arnold Rowland saw two men on the sixth floor of the TSBD at about the same time as Carolyn Arnold saw Oswald elsewhere in the building, WCH, vol.2. p.171.
  • And finally, Joseph Milteer’s prediction that Kennedy would be shot “from an office building with a high–powered rifle … they will pick up somebody within hours afterwards … just to throw the public off,” HSCA, appendix vol.3, p447.

C) Technically, are any shooters seen in the footage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination?

My response: The answer provided by Ms. Stockton is incorrect. There were several home movie films of the assassination and the immediate aftermath in Dealey Plaza. Here are the names of the people who shot those films:

  • Abraham Zapruder
  • Marie Muchmore
  • Orville Nix
  • Mark Bell
  • Robert Hughes
  • Charles Bronson
  • Malcolm Couch
  • Dave Wiegman, Jr.
  • Jack Daniel (shot as the president’s limousine sped away from Dealey Plaza)
  • Jack Martin
  • Tom Alyea (shot as officers searched the sixth floor of TSBD)

Many of the films can be seen on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website(1). The others may be found on YouTube.

Several researches have parsed these films and obtained images, reflections and stills that are of note. Watch them and decide for yourself.

(1) Main Page

D) What is the true story behind the death of President John F. Kennedy?

My response: I have answered many questions on this subject. At this time, I shall only make four points:

  1. Be wary of anyone who avers that they have the definitive answer on this conundrum. Two government investigations into the murder of President John F. Kennedy have reached far different conclusions.
  2. Over the past two generations, dozens of books and articles have been written on the subject. I suggest that you first search out the earliest works, 1965 through 1970, as they are without revisionism. In particular, read the articles written in Ramparts, a 1960’s literary quarterly written for “the mature American Catholic.”(1) The contributors to this small magazine were among the first to question the Warren Commission Report with a solemn and scholarly approach.
  3. As I have stated, I have attempted to answer various forms of this question on Quora. Read my answers as well as proponents and critics of both the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
  4. Come to your own conclusions.”

(1) Books of The Times


Quora question: What are some ugly truths of life?

October 20, 2017

My response:

  • Your elliptical trainer will get more use as a coat hanger.
  • Canadian bacon is just a thick slab from the fat rump of a pig bred in New Jersey.
  • Pigeons that are referred to as “flying rats” are actually descendants of doves defeated in the last election.
  • New York-style pizza gets its unique taste from New York City water, where the minerals produced by decomposing bodies add a distinctive flavor.
  • A red stop sign is a suggestion.
  • Prison pants—those worn far below the waist—are not intended for anyone who has gone commando.
  • Candlepin bowling does not involve wax candles.
  • Maximum effort is the quickest way to a hernia.
  • The roadway sign “Drawbridge” is not a command.
  • You will take a taxi that has a credit card reader but, at the end of your trip, be told by the cabbie that you have to fork over the cash because the machine doesn’t work.

Quora question: Do you like George W. Bush?

October 20, 2017

My response:

I was heartened to hear President George W. Bush eloquently speak out on issues currently dividing the country. He defended immigration and free trade; embraced diversity; decried racism, White supremacists and nationalism; and reiterated America’s role as hegemon for freedom and equality throughout the world.

This was quite the polar opposite of Donald Trump, whom Mr. Bush did not mention by name, though it was clear whom he was addressing when he said, “We know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed; it is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”[1]

Mr. Bush clearly fired a shot at Trump’s use of social media to express his moral deficit: “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry and compromises the moral education of children.”[2]

Despite Mr. Bush’s failures as president, his reemergence on the national stage now is a welcome sight.

[1] Without Saying ‘Trump,’ Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes
[2] Ibid.


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