Reviewing The Warren Commission’s Findings, Conspiracy Theorists who Reject Them and — while I’m at it — an Asinine Little Movie, “The Assassination & Mrs. Paine”

By Ernest Kearney —  Sadly, violence is all too often mistaken by the weakest among us as strength.  Then, should they turn to violence, they’ll blame the world or fault society for driving them to it.   That is a lie.  Violence, and the illusion of power it offers, may entice the weak, but it is their own desperate craving for self-delusion that impels them.   

On Friday, November 22, 1963 at 12:30 P.M. a small sad weak soul tortured by a stifling sense of his insignificance, lashed out at the world he saw as the source of his own impotency, from the sixth floor corner window of the Texas Book Depository.

Fifty-nine years ago, the Dallas where John F. Kennedy would die, was a landscape of jarring political extremes, with billboards calling for impeachment of Earl Warren, Bible-thumping preachers equating liberalism to communism, and a rabid media given to fear mongering rather than news reporting. 

Dallas was a city of anti-Semitic vandalism, the nation’s last major bastion of segregation, with radio programs broadcasting polarizing right-wing rants.  The city had no gun control.  None.  It was America’s murder capital, where more homicides occurred each month than in all of Great Britain.  It was home to H.L Hunt, Edwin Walker, and a twenty-three-year-old ex-marine named Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina, his young Russian wife whom he had brought back with him from the Soviet Union. 

It was home to Abraham Zapruder, the fifty-eight-year-old dress manufacturer who, with his new 8-millimeter camera, filmed the moment when Oswald’s final bullet found its target. 

It was home to Robert Oswald, who stood by his brother after his arrest, buried him after his murder, and who never doubted that his little brother was solely responsible for the shooting of JFK.[1]

And it was home to Ruth Paine.

Her father was a physician, her mother an ordained Unitarian minister.  She, herself, was a Quaker convert known for her charity work (as a regular visitor to the Parkland Hospital where she donated blood), a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and of the Dallas branch of the League of Women Voters. She was also a committed pacifist.  Almost everyone who met Ruth Paine was impressed by her sincerity, candor and comportment.  

Ruth Paine was thirty-years-old in 1963. She and her husband had amicably separated.  Paine met Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife Marina at a party.  Paine, like Marina, was the mother of a young child, and Paine’s interest in learning the Russian language would lead the two to meet again.  Thus it was, nine months before the assassination that Ruth Paine would enter the world of Marina and Lee Harvey, to find herself inexorably laced into the fabric of history. 

Eventually, Paine learned that Marina was pregnant with her second child, and that Lee, frustrated with Dallas was again talking about leaving America.  Until he had a plan for their future, he wanted Marina to return to Russia alone, which she had no desire to do.  Paine was sympatric to the young Russian mother, friendless in a strange country, and asked Marina if she and her baby would like to come live with her.  Some wouldn’t understand inviting a practical stranger into their home, but Quakers are called to “witness,” to put their faith into action.  Through this practice, they hope to live rightly.  

Some months later, after travelling to Mexico in a failed attempt to find a means of entering Cuba, Lee returned to Dallas and was again unemployed.

While having coffee with friends of Paine’s, Marina vented her worries over her husband’s inability to find work.  One of the friends mentioned they were hiring at the Texas Book Depository.  Once home, Marina begged Paine to call the Dallas warehouse and inquire if they still needed workers.  Paine called and was told they did.  The next day, Oswald went in to apply and was hired. 

To be closer to his new job, Oswald moved into a cramped apartment on his own.  Weekends he stayed at Paine’s home with his wife and now his two daughters.  When Oswald asked whether he might be able to store some belongings in her garage, Paine saw no harm in it.  She was unaware among the items Oswald brought into her garage was a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle concealed in a blanket. As a Quaker, Paine would not have permitted a firearm under her roof.

This is the woman Max Good, director of The Assassination & Mrs. Paine, would have you believe participated in the murder of John F. Kennedy.

Good’s misguided, bias and thoroughly maladroit documentary succeeds in assembling a collection of “Assassination Researchers” who quite admirably demonstrate the flawed reasoning, inadequate logic and intellectual shortcomings that sullies the community of conspiracy theorists (Also known by the initials “CT.”) as a whole.

Frankly, I’m looking forward to skewering the theories they offer, weighing the validity of each argument, and passing judgment on the individuals espousing them.  And along the way I’ll review Good’s film. 

I’m aware 61 percent of Americans believe there was a conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination.

Well, 11 percent of Americans also believe the moon landing was faked,

Thirty-six percent believe 9/11 was an inside job (30 percent don’t know what year 9/11 occurred in,)

Thirty-five percent believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice,

Twenty-eight percent can’t find the Pacific Ocean on a map,

Fifty-one percent of Republicans believe that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya,

Thirty percent believe in astrology,

And 50 percent believe that Fox News is a trustworthy news program.[2]

Good kicks off his documentary in the standard manner.  Old footage from Kennedy’s arrival at Love Field, the airport north of Dallas, of the presidential motorcade being greeted by enthusiastic throngs crowding the city’s streets, clips of Ruth Paine from various interviews.

Good’s voiceover relates Paine’s connection to the Oswalds and how he came upon that history, eventually finding and approaching her to propose the film we’re about to watch.

Then the first of many conspiracy theorists and self proclaimed “Assassination Researchers” recruited for The Assassination & Mrs. Paine. splatters onto the screen, Jim DiEugenio, who over the course of Good’s film will contribute a running commentary that displays a dazzling lack of cognitive depth.

Ruth and Michael Paine,” DiEugenio guardedly notes, “are very important in the Warren Commission.  They were asked a total of 6,000 questions.   Ruth herself was asked about 5,000 which is the most questions any single witness was asked by far.”  Suspicion seemed to shadow his words as he finished. 

So, after first proclaiming Ruth Paine is “very important in the Warren Commission,” DiEugenio switches over to judging it suspicious that the Commission asked her 5,000 questions.  Considering Paine’s proximity to key events and her relationship with the Oswalds, I would find it suspicious if the Commission hadn’t.

Good inquires of Paine how she felt about her lengthy appearance before the Commission, she replies a tad playfully:

They asked a lot of questions.  But I did not feel there was suspicion of me by anyone on the Warren Commission: because they were really looking into it thoroughly.  The suspicion comes from people who are looking for plots.”(Underscore Added.)

In truth the number of questions asked of Paine is irrelevant.  It wouldn’t matter if the Warren Commission had asked her one question, one hundred or one bazillion billion DiEugenio would have cocked an incredulous gaze at any answer. 

Vincent Bugliosi, the former Los Angeles D.A. who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson for the Tate-LaBianca murders, sums up the sins of the conspiracy theorists and writers succinctly:

                        “[They] twist, warp, and distort the evidence, or simply ignore it.”       

This is true of DiEugenio and the same can be said of The Assassination & Mrs. Paine

In its investigation the Warren Commission presented over 3,000 exhibits from Kennedy’s autopsy photos to Marina’s Russian cookbook, and took the testimonies of over 552 witnesses.[3] They filled 27 volumes documenting and indexing that evidence to demonstrate how the Commission arrived at their conclusion that Oswald was the lone gunman solely responsible for his actions.

The Disciples of the Conspiracy Cult, such as Good and his contingency of “researchers,” however, suffer collectively from “Factual Nearsightedness.”  Any finding or ruling, anything connected to or originating from the Warren Commission is immediately and irreparably tainted in their eyes, no evaluation or review required.

In their long history of chasing boogie men and playing hop-frog with facts, the ranks of the Conspiracy Cult have accused 44 separate organizations, groups or nations of plotting the assassination: military-industrial complex, Mormon church, Poland, and extraterrestrials[4]; they’ve incriminated over 200 individuals as co-conspirators: Aristotle Onassis, Abe Fortas (former supreme court justice,) and Joe DiMaggio; and pointed to over 200 possible assassins, other than Oswald, who pulled the trigger: Woody Harrelson’s father, Jackie Kennedy (gun in her pill box hat,) and Franklin Folley (Frank Sinatra’s drummer.)  [5]

But despite over a half century of hurling allegations with the reckless abandonment of a Keystone Cops pie fight, what hard evidence, what irrefutable proof have the sleuths of the CT Cult presented substantiating their claims of a conspiracy? How many credible witnesses have they produced corroborating their certainty of multiple shooters?

None.  And don’t expect any in Good’s film.    

All the conspiracy cultists have ever had to offer, and all Good furnishes are “opinions.”

The Warren Commission withheld –

 “Numerous leads were –

Some researchers believe –

Opinions.  Opinions express beliefs, feelings, impressions, scorn, duplicity, bias.

Opinions are not facts.  Facts express truth.

Opinions are argued or defended.  Facts are tested.

Good’s film is bloated by one and devoid of the other.

Throughout, Good attempts a lackluster effort at applying an appearance of balance to his “documentary,” shifting from those who support the findings of the Warren Commission to those who vehemently deny its conclusions and demonize those involved with it.

But Good’s efforts at projecting a semblance of equilibrium are plainly disproportionate.  The defense of the historical record is dispensed in statements, while the challenges and accusations of the revisionists are delivered in extended segments. 

From the outset, Good’s position as to the assassination is abundantly clear, and his favoring of the “home side team” embarrassingly obvious. 

Priscilla Johnson McMillian author of Marina and Lee, succeeds in putting forth perhaps the most judicious observations in the film:

I think the conspiracy theories did more harm to the country than the assassination.  They undermined trust, not only in government but our institutions.

Good, however, oblivious to the relevance of McMillian’s[6] remarks, proceeds to do just that,

At points the appearances of the Commission’s supporters are of such brevity as to render them hollow.

Good slips-in Author and Historian Max Holland’s first appearance –

To understand the assassination is an enormous investment of time.  Analyzing  where the information is coming from, who’s saying it, whether it was corrected later –

Good cuts away here before Holland has managed to finish his thought.    

Holland’s abrupt departure leaves one unsure of his position on the issue at hand, allowing for the impression that he is of a like mind with DiEugenio who follows him; which, as one of the Warren Commission’s staunch advocates, Holland is absolutely not.

DiEugenio touts himself and his fellow “researchers:”

For people who have dedicated themselves to this, the inescapable truth about the Kennedy assassination is that the testimony, the evidence do not add up to the conclusion the Warren Commission came to.

DiEugenio has now convinced me that unlike Holland, he understands nothing, has invested no time and is likely incapable of analyzing the graffiti found in the men’s room at a Greyhound bus station.  As to his claim that a rejection of the Warren Commission’s findings is “inescapable” for anyone who researches the assassination….

In 1968, Attorney General Ramsey Clark established a panel of four medical experts with the responsibility of reexamining Kennedy’s autopsy photos and records.  They concurred with the Warren Commission’s conclusion, that two bullets fired from the rear had killed JFK.

In 1975 the Rockefeller Committee was mandated by President Gerald Ford to determine whether the CIA had any involvement.  The Committee found “no credible evidence of any CIA involvement” agreeing with the Warren Commission’s conclusions.

In 1976 a select committee under Senator Frank Church, with the board mandate to investigate both the CIA and the FBI for improper and unlawful activities foreign and domestic, was set up.  The Church Committee’s final report emphasized it had uncovered no evidence “to justify that there was a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy”; again, confirming the findings of the Warren Commission.     

Also in 1976 the lower chamber of congress established the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA.)   The HSCA caused a firestorm when its final report stated there were possibly as many as five shots fired in Dealey Plaza[7], pointing to a “high probability of a second shooter.” This finding was based on a sub-committee acoustics study of a recording from a Dallas police radio transmission.

The CT folks had a field day.  Unfortunately for them, in 1982 the National Research Council recruited a panel of 12 scientists and physicists from MIT, Bell Labs and other institutions to reexamine the recording which HSCA based that finding on.  The NRC using state of the art sound spectrogram equipment unavailable six years earlier, concluded the “shots” were incontrovertibly recorded echoes and by the time they appeared on the tape the Presidential limo would have been on its way to Parkland with JFK slumped in the back seat.  Other than the discredited assumption of a “second shooter,” HSCA confirmed every finding of the Warren Commission praising its “high level of professionalism, dedication and integrity.”  It went on to describe the criticism directed at the Warren Commission as “biased, unfair and inaccurate.” 

The Death of a President was a classic from the first day it appeared on a book store’s shelf in 1967.  Its author, Historian William Manchester, fully concurs with the Commission’s findings.

Gerald Posner’s Case Closed, was the first notable effort to address the interpolations, errors and deceptions of the conspiracy theorists.  Posner faults members of the Commission for not publicly answering the challenges to their findings but backs the report’s conclusions.

Finally you have the towering masterpiece of the assassination’s history, Reclaiming History by Vincent Bugliosi.  Twenty years of research produced a volume of 1,612 pages, and a companion CD-ROM that contains 958 pages of endnotes and 170 pages of source notes.  Bugliosi’s achievement is the definitive study of the JFK assassination and undoubtedly will remain so.      

In his forward Bugliosi spells out his guiding principle in writing the book: “My only master and my only mistress are the facts and objectivity.”  Bugliosi not only affirms the Commission’s conclusions, he demolishes every one of the prevailing conspiracy theories in the process.  

Inescapable?”  Hardly.

I could proceed through Good’s film frame by frame correcting all the mistakes within it, while demonstrating beyond question the theories it puts forth as either invalid if not deceitful. However it would be more efficient if I just tell you what Good has gotten right:

  1. Ruth Paine knew the Oswalds
  2. The assassination occurred  on November 22, 1963
  3. It took place in Dallas, Texas
  4. Kennedy is dead

That’s it.  From this point on I shall tackle only the most egregious elements of Good’s film, that way I can avoid making this long review even longer and keep my overworked editor from bemoaning she employed a writer with such a low tolerance for those who falsify historical facts.


Good reheats the CT’s favorite motive for Kennedy’s assassination, his intention to end the country’s participation in Vietnam and bring the troops home. 

Though in private conversations JFK expressed his dissatisfaction with the military’s progress in Vietnam, there is no evidence whatsoever he planned on withdrawing the troops or ending the war.  Kennedy was a Cold War Warrior, an adherent of the Domino Theory, and during his presidency he had increased the US presence in Vietnam from 650 advisors to 17,000 combat troops. 

In a television interview with Walter Cronkite on September 2, 1963, two months before Dallas, when asked about the struggle in Vietnam, Kennedy voiced his determination to continue assisting the regime of South Vietnam against the communist north.  He goes on to say:

But these people who say we ought to withdraw from Viet Nam are totally wrong.  Because if we withdrew from Viet Nam the communists would control Viet Nam…and all of southeast Asia….  I think we should stay….I don’t agree with those who say we should withdraw, that would be a great mistake, a great mistake.” 

Olivia B. Waxman writing for the Los Angeles Times offers an astute observation.  Lyndon Johnson, coming to the Presidency after the assassination, retained most of Kennedy’s advisors and — working from the counsel they provided him — Johnson went on to escalate America’s involvement in Vietnam.  Even Robert Kennedy remained hawkish on the war up until 1968.


The Vietnam motive is central to Oliver Stone’s 1991 JFK, and that movie serves a central role in Good’s film.  True to form, prior to presenting Stone, Good briefly pops up his detractors.

Jack Valenti, who was in Dallas with the presidential motorcade and later served as the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, flatly condemns JFK, “This was a package of unfathomable lies, packaged together though with a cinema artist’s great skill.

As expected, Good allocates the longer segment for news footage of Stone’s appearance before the congressional Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) in 1992.  The ARRB’s mandate was to facilitate the release of the government files that dealt with the assassination.  Congress had enacted the ARRB partially to counter the public’s perception that the government had undertaken a cover-up of the assassination which was the central premise of Stone’s JFK, hence the director’s appearance.

Prior to Stone’s segment, Ruth Paine was among the critics of his film.  Paine’s justifiable complaint was the movie’s portrayal of her and her husband:

There we were, but it was not us.” Paine expressed surprise that Stone didn’t try to reach her, adding with an amused grin, “I guess he was nervous about me.” [8]

In the subsequent segment of Stone’s testifying before the hearing, he brings up his disappointment, in preparing for JFK, at being unable to read the testimony of Ruth Paine.[9]  When asked by a committee member if he tried contacting her, Stone claims she would not talk to him.

I’m sure the intent behind the juxtaposition of these two scenes, was Good’s desire to show Ruth Paine in a lie. 

If I am correct in my assumption, then it is yet another indication of the shallowness of Good’s judgment for it is unquestionably Stone who is being untruthful.  I believe this is easily determined by looking at the evidence, in this case of past behavior. 

In the years since the assassination, Ruth Paine has made herself extraordinarily available, granting interviews to NBC, ABC, PBS but also The Village Voice, Santa Rosa’s The Press Democrat, Sonoma Index-Tribune, 10 Tampa Bay WTSP, Canadian TV and scores of other media outlets; she has agreed to interviews on every anniversary of the assassination, spoken to authors William Manchester, Gerald Posner, Thomas Mallon, Vincent Bugliosi, addressed dozens of live audiences, appeared in the British production of On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald[10]  and testified in Jim Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw.

Paine has willingly participated in dozens of documentaries even those she knew were intended for the conspiracy buff market.  If Stone had, actually, contacted her to request a meeting, why would Paine have refused when she even agreed to meet with Good? 

For me, Ruth Paine’s conduct puts the lie to Oliver Stone’s words. 

The plot of JFK is the story of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) as he struggles against a corrupt system and shadowy figures to expose the forces behind the assassination of John Kennedy.

The primary source for Stone’s film was Garrison’s published account of his investigation and trial, On the Trail of the Assassins.  But far from being a noble crusade for the truth, the actual story of Garrison’s arrest in 1969 of New Orleans businessman and playwright Clay Shaw as a participant in the Kennedy assassination is a disturbing tale of the abuse of power. 

Far from being the heroic character Costner portrayed, Garrison and his book, like Stone’s JFK, is a patchwork of lies. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s what other members of the CT community have to say about Garrison and Stone’s film:

In False Witness, noted Assassination Researcher Patricia Lambert’s book on Shaw’s trial, writes,Whenever reality failed to suit his needs, Garrison simply changed it.”  Lambert lists the lengths, threatening and bribing witnesses, Garrison turned to in building his case against Shaw. 

David Lifton author of Best Evidence calls Garrison, “…one of the biggest frauds to come down the pike.

Michael L. Kurtz, author of Crime of the Century wrote, “As a historian, I find the distortions of Jim Garrison and Oliver Stone appalling.

Stone’s JFK twists, misrepresents and disregards the truth leaving audiences unaware of the actual facts.  The most noteworthy fact Stone obscures in JFK is that two years after his arrest, and following a month long trial, Clay Shaw was found innocent of the charges Garrison brought against him.  It took the jury 45 minutes to reach their verdict.[11]   

In JFK, Stone puts a scene of the jury foreman telling Garrison (Costner) that the jurors believe his case for the assassination.  This is false.  In reality, the foreman told author James Kirkwood, that the verdict would have come in sooner, but several of the jury needed to go to the restrooms.  


 “Back and to the left” the catechism of the CT Cult.

In Good’s film Assassination Researcher, Dr. Gary Aguilar[12] derides the Zapruder film showing Kennedy’s head going back and to the left.  “Hey wait a minute,” Aguilar protests, “if he’s shot from behind why is he going to the left?

The implications of “back and to the left” motion, which Stone relies on heavily in JFK too, is that the Zapruder film shows Oswald could not have been the shooter and so the final shots did not originate from behind the motorcade.  

The Zapruder film shows nothing of the kind. 

You think it would be enough that a parade of ballistic experts and medical authorities —even Luis W. Alvarez a Nobel Prize winning physicist— have repeatedly explained that a bullet entering a skull at the speed of sound transfers little resistance to the head. But on exiting, the bullet draws in its wake brain matter and skull fragments that create a jet blast effect propelling the head in the direction of the shooter.  According to Dr. George D. Lundberg former editor of the Journal of American Medical Association, “The conspiracy buffs have totally ignored this central scientific fact, and everything else is hogwash.”

The Zapruder film provides two additional clues on this matter.  One is evident, the other attested to an examination of the individual frames.  After the first bullet has hit JFK he is gasping, reaching for his throat and Jackie Kennedy turns and leans in towards her husband.  When the second bullet strikes JFK, destroying his right upper forehead as it exits and his head explodes in her face, Jackie Kennedy pushes her husband away.

Finally, when viewed frame by frame there is a noticeable forward movement of JFK’s head on frames 312 and 313 as the third and final bullet entered the back of his skull prior to its exit with the explosion force that threw him back.

For those who remain skeptical of the so-called “magic bullet” or where the shot originated from I recommend you check out the first season of the crime series Forensic Files and view the second episode The Magic Bullet.  (Available on YouTube.)

There’s also ABC News The Kennedy Assassination – Beyond Conspiracy, perhaps the most in-depth media investigation of JFK’s death.  Dale Myers, a computer animation specialist, constructed a 3D model of Dealey Plaza and the assassination on which events can be replayed.  (Available on YouTube.)


Ruth Paine is not the subject of The Assassination and Mrs. Paine, she is its target and victim.  Yet during all of its filming, Paine remains considerate and amiable if vaguely amused by the suspicions directed at her. 

Peter Dale Scoll, another “Assassination Researcher,” speculates that the motive for Paine’s involvement with Marina and Lee Oswald was that she was a CIA operative.  As a preamble to his suspicions, Scoll comments: 

“It’s only a theory, but we have to take it very seriously….

This statement is a startling display of the distorted mindset of those in the cult of conspiracies.  One takes a theory “seriously” when there is proof that validates it, when there is evidence supporting it. 

Until you have such proof or evidence, a theory is merely a guess.   

It’s only a theory, but Peter Dale Scoll is an oversized lobotomized hamster.”  Let’s take that seriously. 

David Lifton, one of the more odious high priests of the conspiracy cult, assails Paine for Oswald finding work at the Texas Book Depository (TBD):

[Paine] makes a phone call on Monday, [Oswald] goes in for the interview Tuesday and he starts work on Wednesday.  The people on this plot has done site selection in advance.  They’re planning to murder President Kennedy.  Oswald is going to get a job in this building, that’s the set-up.

The flaws with Lifton’s statement are ridiculously stark. 

 First, “Monday-call, Tuesday-interview, Wednesday-start work?”  In my own employment history I’ve experienced this exact same pattern of events.  And I’m sure a good number of those reading this have as well.  Lifton is so blindly determined that Paine adheres to his dogmatic faith in a conspiracy that he has lost his common sense.

Lifton also ignores the documented facts behind Oswald’s employment at the TBD, which is difficult to account for except as a deliberate deception, or, coming from this self-promoted “expert” on the assassination, a sign of incompetence.


The job at the Texas Book Depository was first mentioned by Linnie Mae Randle, a friend of Paine’s who she and Marina were having coffee with.  Randle’s brother, Wesley Frazier had recently found work there, and Randle only mentioned this because Marina expressed her worry over her husband’s unemployment.

Marina testified that she implored Paine to call the TBD to see if there were still job openings, which Paine did.

She spoke to the warehouse superintendent, Ron Truly, who informed her there were jobs but that Oswald would need to apply in person.  Told this, Oswald went the next day and was interviewed by Truly who later testified before the Warren Commission that he found Oswald well-mannered and was impressed that Oswald addressed him as “sir.” 

Oswald was hired on October 15th and began work at the TBD on the 16th.  But Kennedy didn’t

even announce to his staff he was considering travelling to Dallas until November 4th, and the decision wasn’t finalized until November 14th .

So if Ruth Paine was operating as an agent for the CIA then they must have equipped her with a crystal ball, and if there was a conspiracy to have Oswald hired at the TBD then you’d have to add Randle, her brother Wesley, Marina and Truly as in on the plot.


On October 4, eleven days before going to be interviewed at the TBD, Oswald applied for a typesetter job at the Padgett Printing Company.  The plant superintendent, Theodore Gangl was prepared to hire Oswald, but before doing so he called Robert Stovall one of Oswald’s references and former employer.  Stovall described Oswald as an “oddball,” and told Gangl, “If I were you, I wouldn’t hire him.”  Gangl didn’t.  If he had, Oswald wouldn’t have applied at the TBD.  So, if there was a conspiracy, Gangl and Stovall were part of it.

We’re up to six conspirators.

After arriving at Love Field, Kennedy had two choices for where he could go to delivery his speech: The Trade Mart northwest of Dealey Plaza which would permit a Presidential Motorcade to pass through Dallas (and by the TBD) or the Women’s Building, located in the southern part of the city a short drive from Love Field.

Kenneth O’Donnell had been Bobby Kennedy’s classmate at Harvard and became a close friend to the Kennedy family.  He came to Washington after JFK’s election and was regarded as his “right-hand man.”  O’Donnell was in charge of coordinating the Dallas trip.  On November 5,  he chose the Women’s Building as the site for JFK’s speech. 

However, this did not suit Texas Governor John Connally.  The Women’s Building was a one floor structure with limited seating and poor air-conditioning.  On the other hand the luxurious Trade Mart was brand new and boasted a much larger seating capacity which Connally expected to fill with his supporters.  Connally was adamant that the Trade Mart be the site of the President’s speech.

When O’Donnell brought this to Kennedy’s attention he was instructed to accommodate Connally.    

On November fourteen, O’Donnell announced the site of the President’s speech was being changed to the Trade Mart.

Now to our list of conspirators – Randle, her brother Wesley, Marina, Truly, Gangl and Stovall – we need to add O’Donnell, Connally (who was seriously wounded by Oswald,) and Kennedy himself.

So if you give credence to the Conspiracy Theorists that’s nine plotters – ten if we add Paine – who conspired to put Oswald in that sixth-floor window of the Depository, including two who would suffer the consequences of his act.

Apply this formula to every subterfuge the CT Cultists insist occurred:

The Warren Commission suppressed and concealed the truth.  There were thirty-four lawyers and law students that were on the committee, general counsel, assistant counsels and staff, add them to those who saw that Oswald was hired by the TBD and we now have a conspiracy of forty-four.

Jack Ruby was a mob hitman?

Add another twelve.  We’re up to fifty-six.

The Zapruder film was doctored? 

That will involve the Dallas Eastman Kodak Company employees Phillip Camberlain, and Richard Blair who developed it, Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels who took it to them and of course Abraham Zapruder who shot it.  That’s sixty. 

See the problem?  To accommodate all the convoluted rationale the CT Cults employ to support their claims, what we wind up with isn’t a “conspiracy”; it’s the Rose Bowl at Full Capacity.       

In the years after the events in Dealey Plaza, Ruth Paine would divorce Michael though they would remain friends.  She raised their two children by herself, returned to complete her master’s degree, and worked as a public school psychologist.

She doesn’t see herself as a very political person, yet as a Quaker she continued “witnessing.”

Her opposition to the proportion of the American budget poured into the military would lead her to distribute literature on tax-resistance in front of post offices every fifteenth of April.

The period of Ruth’s greatest political activism was during the Reagan years.  Seeing the suffering the American embargo against the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government was inflicting on its common people, she and other Quakers began shipping supplies to that country.  “ProNica” was organized, a group dedicated to training the communities of Nicaragua on health, education and women’s empowerment issues.  Ruth, with her background, felt she could contribute and began travelling to war torn Nicaragua. 

The ninth time Ruth was in Nicaragua, ProNica encountered another relief organization of American Christians.  One of their volunteers learned who Ruth was, and her Christian faith proved no match for the babblings of the conspiracy theorists she had read.

The woman waited for an ecumenical meeting, which both groups were attending, then publicly attacked Ruth, screaming aloud for all to hear that Ruth was a CIA agent, she killed Kennedy.  That there was not, nor never, had been evidence supporting the woman’s accusations didn’t stop her from making them.

Ruth Paine’s ninth trip to aid the people of Nicaragua would be her last. 

Paine’s batrachian faced denouncer appears in Good’s “documentary” and proudly retells her odious little saga, before remarking without the least bit of ironic self-awareness:

                                    “It’s so easy to justify what you do.”[13] 

Forgive me for subjecting you to such a lengthy review of such a paltry waste of film stock but I am outraged.

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine has nothing whatsoever to do with the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  It is one hour and forty minutes of character assassination at twenty-four frames a second.

I am outraged there is not a shred of proof, a breath of evidence, a shadow of support for any of the accusations, suspicions or assumptions spewing from it.

Outraged by the insipid praise I’ve read written about this insufferable film, outraged that in the era of #MeToo, women wrote much of it, outraged that this film will be seen by others, believed by some.

Yes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not if you don’t know why you have that opinion.

Read Manchester’s book, or Posner or Bugliosi’s if you’ve got the stamina.  Watch an excellent film on the subject, Peter Landesman’s Parkland (2013.)[14]

Then if you want to believe there was a conspiracy, more power to you.  But don’t buy into the swill you’re being spoon fed here.

The Cult of Conspiracy cannot tolerate Ruth Paine because in the face of their doubts and lies she stands confidently in the truth, because in a world they see manipulated by sinister forces, she not only sees goodness but she acts with goodness.

They hate Ruth Paine because they fear she is stronger than them.  And they’re right.

I find this a despicable movie, and I find a number of those in it despicable.

But the worst offender is Max Good the director who like all CT Cultists advocates: Innocent until I decide guilty.

At a point in his film there is mention made of the CIA, and Good breaks in with:

Some researchers believe that Ruth may have been recruited.

(And here we go once more…)

Does Good offer proof – identify these “some researchers” – present their evidence – ?

No.  No.  No.

So what these “researchers” do or do not believe is meaningless hearsay nothing more.

Good’s utter inability to distinguish what qualifies as information as opposed to scandalmongering, is stunning.  He’s constantly skeptical of Paine throughout this film, refusing to consider the possibility of her sincerity, yet he has no hesitancy in embracing the most outlandish speculation or claim of his motley collection of “researchers.” In this, Good is seen not as an independent mind capable of evaluation, but as a sponge absorbing whatever is poured on him.

Good shows a montage, various interviews of Paine being asked the same questions over and over, and her giving much the same answers over and over. Good speaks over the various clips:

There are those who feel they can just tell Ruth Paine is lying.  That it is written all over her face.  Some say she’s too articulate.  That she must              be a CIA agent repeating rehearsed lines.

Or maybe she’s telling the truth? 

Once I worked among police and learned that what convinces them of a suspect’s guilt is if his story charges.  How unfortunate for Paine she doesn’t fumble in her replies or forget whether it was Lee Oswald or his wife that lived with her, then Good and his unnamed sources might believe in her innocence.

But no.  If she were inarticulate or vacillated in retelling her story, the Conspiracy Cultists would point to that as proof she was an operative in a secretive cabal.    

Professor Linda Zagzebski writing on “intellectual vices” pinpoints the symptoms of this cognizant cancer: “Gullibility, carelessness, obtuseness, insensibility to details and rigidity of thought.

This pretty much sums up those of a “conspiratorial persuasion.

In defending their Inviolable Canon of anyone but Oswald, they are impervious to contradictions, invulnerable to opposing facts.  They raise questions, supply no answers, sneer at facts unless drawn from their imagination, they quibble, hair-split and are fluent in the tortuous tongue of illogic. 

You find within the Conspiracy Cult the “truest” of all “True Believers.”

At the conclusion of this “documentary,” Good hasn’t broken Ruth Paine, she’s not before him sobbing, confessing it was her atop the grassy knoll.

Now it’s a classic showdown Good seeks.  Paine enters a room, sits directly across from him and his camera, and he fires off his questions:

Were you involved in the murder of JFK?” “Are you a CIA agent?” “Were you assigned to watch Oswald?

During this, Good employs an underhanded and rather cheap framing device; he splits the screen; two images of Ruth Paine sit side by side, a clownishly clumsy cinematic assertion by Good that she’s two-faced and he is unmasking her duplicity.

All that Good has unmasked to the eyes of discerning viewers is his epic failure as a documentary filmmaker. 

Indulgently, Ruth Paine answers all Good’s questions with the same candor she’s shown all these many years.  But with a slight difference here as she looks across at the nice young man she’s invited into her home.  A smile glides softly on her lips.  A somewhat sadden, somewhat disappointed smile.

Ruth Paine is the touchstone to that tragic history of fifty-nine years ago.  She has succeeded where most of us would have failed or fled; enduring half a century of accusations and slanders, a martyrdom to history.  We live today in a time plagued by delusions.  News is fake, elections rigged, pandemics orchestrated, decent Nazis, baby’s blood drunk in pizzerias, a clown hailed as a leader and our vision of the future smeared with suspicion and fear. 

Follow the contagion back, trace the virile strain to its infectious source you arrive at the Kennedy conspiracy theorists – Patient Zero. 

At the finish of his hopeless interrogation, a plainly flustered Good entreats Paine’s reason for indulging all who question her?  Ruth Paine with quiet sincerity replies –

One of the things that I have felt very strongly is that it was important for me to answer questions and to say what I knew, because I am interested in truth.

A pity Good wasn’t.

In the whirling gales of groundless assertion and hasty assumptions in the furious folly of cynicism and denial Ruth Paine remains the calm rational eye of the storm.

* * *

[1] Not only did Oswald’s older brother believe he was guilty of Kennedy’s assassination, so did John Pic his half-brother.

[2] From various polls conducted by the Washington Post, Pew Research Center, Gallup and YouGov 

[3] One of the most pernicious myths of the CT Cult is that of the “suspicious deaths” of witnesses “who knew too much.”  The general list includes 107 names, but if scrutinized one wonders what there is to be suspicious of?  Example: Oswald’s mother is on the list.  Marguerite Oswald who vocally maintained Oswald’s innocence until her death of ovarian cancer at 72 on January 17, 1981 – 18 years after the assassination?  Earl Warren is on the list.  He died “mysteriously” in 1974 at 82.  Ah, the assassins use “old age” to kill their victims.  Very clever.  Of course the great absurdity of this list is that 98% of those on it gave testimony to the Warren Commission that is now on the public record.  Aren’t you supposed to kill witnesses who “know too much” before they testify?

[4] Mary Ferrell, believed to have had the largest collection of Kennedy assassination related documents in private hands claimed having materials that showed Martians and Venusians were the masterminds behind JFK’s murder. 

[5] All three of these lists are partial.

[6] In The Assassination and Mrs. Paine, McMillian herself is eventually accused of being a CIA agent.  Perhaps Max has watched too many M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.

[7] The HSCA’s final report agreed with the Commission’s findings that Oswald’s first shot missed, then fired twice more both bullets striking Kennedy and killing him.  The HSCA concluded the two shots fired by the unidentified shooter both missed.

[8] In the film JFK the characters “based” on Ruth and Michael Paine were re-christened Janet and Bill Williams.  This was done from Stone’s concern of being sued by the Paines.  Apparently Stone feared his “facts” wouldn’t stand up in court.

[9] I reviewed my copy of the Warren Report and could find no reference to any testimony by Ruth Paine being redacted.

[10]  In 1986 LWT a British television company produced On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald.  An unscripted event conducted as a trial in an American courtroom before a authentic jury, with real lawyers and as many of the actual witnesses as they could persuade to participate.  Noted trial lawyer Gerry Spence was recruited to defend Oswald,

with Bugliosi the prosecutor.  They filmed twenty-one hours of the court room procedures.  Ruth Paine was Bugliosi’ star witness.  The jury’s verdict found Oswald guilty. 

[11] To learn the staggering inaccuracy of Stone’s JFK visit Be sure to check out Dave Reitzes’ scene by scene debunking of the film

[12] As expert medical opinion is all but unanimous in that the shots killing Kennedy came from behind him, I was curious what sort of medicine Aguilar practiced.  He’s an eye doctor.

Ernest Kearney - author
Ernest Kearney – Author

[13] Matthew 7:1-3

[14] Read my review of Parkland and JFK

* * *

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

Latest comment
  • I sent this to my friend Ruth Paine this evening. she just sent me an email. She has read it in its entirety and she appreciates it very much..Ruth and I are good friends, and we traveled to Dallas together last month for a talk that she gave in Irving.. You might have noticed that I made a short appearance in the film,,of course in support of Ruth. please Free to contact me for any reason.


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