David Von Pein:
Hosting Comedy Central Soon?
By James DiEugenio
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. (Click
here for that review.) 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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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.