Joe Stead – The Ramblings of an old Codger. Volume Forty One – February 2004.

I am contemplating changing server from Compuserve to AOL. Whatever I decide to do I must in due course move on from Compuserve who seem to be stuck in the Ice Age, living with the dinosaurs. It’s a pity because Compuserve have nice clean pages easy to read and work with whereas the front page of AOL looks such a horrible mess that I can hardly bring myself to use it. Perhaps people with AOL would give me their opinions. For now you can still contact me at >

So Mr Bush is now considering putting men onto Mars! Well that’s a very sensible idea I must say! It all brings back to mind the two line song with which Pete Seeger opened an LP about 30 years ago. “Here we are knee deep in garbage – firing rockets at the moon.” It’s little wonder the poor undernourished neighbours of planet earth rail against us westerners.

Here are a few comments made recently by the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

“The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam and his willingness to terrorize himself.”
-Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 29th 2003

“We ended the rule of one of history’s worst tyrants, and in doing so, we not only freed the American people, we made our own people more secure.”
-Crawford, Texas, May 3rd 2003

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world’s worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world’s worst weapons.”
-South Bend, Indiana, September 5th 2002

“I was proud the other day when both Republicans and Democrats stood with me in the Rose Garden to announce their support for a clear statement of purpose: you disarm, or we will.”
-Manchester, New Hampshire, October 5th 2002.

“We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.”
-Trenton, New Jersey, September 23rd 2002

“Our country puts $1billion a year up to help feed the hungry. And we’re by far the most generous nation in the world when it comes to that, and I’m proud to report that. This isn’t a contest of who’s most generous. I’m just telling you an aside. We’re generous. We shouldn’t be bragging about it. But we are. We’re very generous.”
-Washington, D.C., July 16th 2003

“We had a very good cabinet meeting, talked about a lot of issues. Secretary of State and Defense brought us up to date about our desires to spread freedom and peace around the world.”
-Washington, D.C., August 1st 2003

“Nothing Saddam Hussein has done has convinced me – I’m confident the secretary of defense – that he is the kind of fellow that is willing to forgo weapons of mass destruction, is willing to be a peaceful neighbour, that is – will honour the people – the Iraqi people of all stripes, will – values human life. He hasn’t convinced me, nor has he convinced my administration.”
-Crawford, Texas, August 21st 2002.

“These people don’t have tanks. They don’t have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out.”
-Portsmouth, New Hampshire, November 1st 2002

“I’m the master of low expectations.”
-Aboard Air Force One, June 4th 2003

So that’s clear then.

Well I guess we all have our own ideas. I met one American whilst away (whilst pointing Percy at the porcelain to be exact) who summed up the Iraq problem in one sentence. “Better to fight them over there than fight them over here.” We were in a restaurant where they put the daily paper on the wall for customers to read whilst urinating. Another 10 Americans had been killed in Baghdad the day before. I didn’t bother to engage him in conversation any further. President Bush has convinced him and countless other American patriots that Iraq harboured terrorists prior to the war and nothing I might say would change his mind.

I suppose that all nations have had leaders that were liars. Whilst we have Blair and America has Bush, Iraq had Saddam Hussein who certainly topped the Bill in that respect. But it’s not an excuse to go out and attempt to kill him. “Well your honour, I know I’m up for murder, but he lied to me see, he sat there in the pub and told me a downright lie. So I got my knife out and stabbed him right there half way through his pint of Timothy Taylor’s.”
“Sorry son you’re going down – 20 years” Unless you are in Texas of course and then a whole new bunch of rules come into play depending on colour – and I don’t mean the beer.

I would like to think that it is a credit to the human race that we are not in a worse mess than we are. But in actual fact we are in a world war and not, I regret to say, even in the middle of it yet. It’s not the kind of war out forefathers were used to either. In those days nations had equal power. Today we have the most powerful nation on the earth led by a lunatic with no other leader anywhere powerful enough to control him other than by reason; which would be ok if only he listened to it.

Now whilst some of the above might make you smile, here are a few facts gleaned from The Independent Newspaper of Tuesday January 20th that might give you a bit more cause for thought. For some of you then, this will be old news, but for others – especially my American and foreign readers, well it makes very interesting reading – especially if you supported, or still support, the war.

Facts about George Bush

1. Number of Americans who have died in the war since it started. 501 and counting
2. Number of funerals or memorials George Bush has attended 0
3. Number of coffins returning home that George Bush has allowed to be photographed 0
4. Number of American troops either killed, injured, wounded or become so ill as to require evacuation 29,000
5. Number of people worldwide who took to the streets to protest against the war 10,000,000
6. Approximate number of Iraqi’s killed since start of war 16,000
7. Approximate number of Iraqi civilians killed since start of war 10,000
8. Estimated cost to Americans for the war $100,000,000
9. Percentage increase in the number of desertions from the US army 36%
10. Percentage of Iraq’s urban areas that had drinking water before the war 92%
11. Percentage of Iraq’s urban areas that have drinking water today 60%
12. Percentage of Americans who believed in early March 2003 that Saddam Hussein was involved on the attack on the twin towers a staggering 45%
13. Percentage of Iraqi workforce unemployed before the war 55%
14. Percentage of Iraqi workforce currently unemployed 80%
15. Number of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay 700
16. Number of previous Presidents to ignore the Geneva Convention 0
17. Number of solo press conferences Bush has had since he came to office 10
18. Number of children convicted of capital offences and executed in America 3
19. Number of prisoners executed in Texas whilst governor of Texas 152
20. Number of Americans who have lost their jobs during his administration 2,400,000
21. Number of new jobs created during December 1,000
22. Number of new jobs promised during December 130,000
23. Number of Americans without health insurance 43,600,000
24. Number of acres of land opened to road building, logging and drilling 58,000,000
25. Number of public health and environmental laws Bush has attempted to downgrade or weaken 200
26. Amount of each citizens share of the National Debt $23,920
27. Average wealth of his personal cabinet $10,900,000
28. Rank of the US in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per capita 1st
29. Percentage of Americans who approved of the way George Bush was handling his job when asked on 26 September 2001 – 90%
30. Percentage of Americans who approved of the way George Bush was handling his job when asked on 16 January 2004 – 53%

Well done George! By the way anybody disagreeing with these statistics should write to The Independent Newspaper at 191 Marsh Wall, London, E14.

Now Geoff Bartley is an acoustic blues guitarist and a singer-songwriter who lives in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts and he booked me to appear at his club in Boston whilst I was touring there in the autumn with my wife Nora. He is known for his elegant blues-influenced guitar style and the archetypal imagery in his songwriting. Several of his songs have been recorded and performed by other artists in the U.S., Canada, and Ireland. He has also won four guitars at the National Fingerpicking Championships held every September in Winfield, Kansas. In addition to his own shows, Geoff has played second guitar and sung vocal harmony for Tom Paxton at venues and festivals in the northeast U.S. and elsewhere since 1994.

Geoff writes ……….

I really enjoyed your show for us at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA on Monday November 10th. Hope your gigs and travels have been profitable and safe, respectively. Your song and poem about Lady Diana inspired me, so you have only yourself to blame. I have now written a song in a similar vein “Who killed JFK?”
I have many thoughts and reservations about this song, so please forgive me for going on too long here. For one thing, I worry about its accuracy. For another, Dylan painted all the speaking individuals in his "Davey Moore" in an innocent posture. All speaking individuals and groups in "JFK" are (like your song about Princess Di) painted in a guilty posture, and this robs JFK of a lot of its power and irony... the song ends up being too dark, too heavy, and too accusatory. Also, it's too l-o-n-g! If I were going to sing this again in front of a paying audience, I'd probably sing only 5 or 6 key verses.
Crowd reactions indicate to me that most people... at least the over-forty crowd that typically attend my shows... would rather forget about the assassination, and that they are convinced the truth will never be known.
I am not an authority on the Kennedy assassination, but I have done a lot of reading and feel that the song gives an accurate overview of the individuals, groups, and forces that were at work in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, November 22nd, 1963. Indeed, I submit that these forces have become more powerful, more covert, more institutionalized, and more international in scope in the forty years since Dallas.
The Kennedy assassination remains a highly charged issue. So much evidence has been lost or destroyed that we will probably never know the whole truth. My purpose in writing the song is to remind readers that it is naive to assume that the forces responsible for JFK's murder are no longer at work today. Nations must be vigilant. We as citizens must also be vigilant.
A democracy can be said to contain the seeds of its own destruction because it can allow virtually any group to ascend to power. It can be successfully argued that big business and organized crime have systematically taken control of the U.S. government, that they had effectively taken control by the Civil War, and that they have only consolidated their power ever since.
It is estimated that since 1900, U.S. government, military, paramilitary, and intelligence communities have been involved in or directly responsible for 60,000 assassinations around the world. We are a violent species. Human history is written in blood. As coarse, raw, and violent as the killing in Dallas was, it was nevertheless business as usual.

Who Killed JFK?
(Recited, or sung to the tune of Who Killed Davey Moore? by Bob Dylan)

Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?
“Not us”, said the CIA, explaining all the facts away
“Too bad he’s dead but hear my words: that traitor got what he deserved
The man betrayed the Bay of Pigs: our men came home in body bags
And if conspiracy you fear, why does each witness disappear?
No, it wasn’t us that made him fall. You can’t blame us at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not us”, said the brass and bullet boys, fat from sales of lethal toys
“Lethal toys from dusk ‘til dawn: the lifeblood of the Pentagon
Among our ranks include Big Oil who hunt U.S. and foreign soil
We crave the tank, the sub, the bomb, and billions made in Vietnam
But it wasn’t us that made him fall. You can’t blame us at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not us”, said the U.S. mob, smugly pleased with the ugly job
“His daddy, Joe, the Teamsters, us, gave him the White House; what’d he do
for us?
Got Bobby breathing down our necks, so what the hell did he expect?
If he wanted to play the big boys’ game, he shoulda remembered from where
he came!
We’re not glad he took a fall, but you can’t blame us at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not us”, said the Ku Klux Klan, enraged by Martin Luther’s plan
“Send Freedom Riders to our land and see who takes the upper hand!
Jack had no business with Jim Crow: down here it’s us who run the show
James Meredith at Old Miss U.: no Black boy tells us what to do!
It’s a terrible thing, a president dyin’, but down in Dixie we ain’t cryin’!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not us”, said the Cuban exiles, of failed invasion guerilla-style
“We might have taken Cuba back until Jack stabbed us in the back
We lost connections in D.C. and lots of U.S. M-16s
With CIA approval stamps in Mississippi training camps
But it wasn’t us that made him fall. You can’t blame us at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said the Cuban mob boss, nursing multi-million loss
“Camelot can turn to dust for everything he’s done to us!
The Beard’s a commie through and through, but who’s got balls Red White and
To hell with Pax Americana: I lost casinos in Havana!
But it wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said Nixon, glancing low, for fear his shifty eyes would show
“Friends of mine lost lots of dough when Congress let Havana go
Covert assault was how we met the Caribbean commie threat
And though it’s true I planned the strike when I was VP under Ike
It wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said J. Edgar Hoover, prancing in his pink pullover
“I’m into blackmail not assassination and who to better serve the nation?
I had the goods on JFK, his drugs and women night and day
I had the tapes, I had the file, Dealey Plaza makes me smile
Yes I’m glad to see him go, but it wasn’t me who laid him low.”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said Khruschchev, “Why blame me? I never wanted World War Three!
The Berlin Wall, the missile stink, Jack’s the one who made me blink!
Why look for devils from my hand while deadly forces stalk your land?
And if you doubt these words I say ask Nixon, Haig, or LBJ
It wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said Chief Justice Warren, “To cloud the truth I was foresworn
Higher orders bade me fasten Party Line: One Lone Assassin
Tainted tales in our report subverted justice of the court
But lies we told brought quick relief to a nation sick with grief
It wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said Castro struggling so to let poor Cuba breathe and grow
“You say if henchmen sought my end that two can play that game my friend
But when the choice had to be made, JFK did not invade
I never wanted him to bleed: ‘live and let live’ was my creed
It wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

“Not I”, said Oswald, first name Lee “I was just the patsy, see?
It’s there on graphic, grainy film: a forward shooter made the kill
I didn’t fire a single shot: what other suspects have you got?
I never knew the plan that day, Jack Ruby killed me anyway
No, it wasn’t me that made him fall. You can’t blame me at all!”
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

Then the ghost of LBJ a poor boy from the Texas clay
Spoke of grief in broken tones, of sudden blood and shattered bones
“I bear this burden on my head and fight the ghosts that haunt the dead
A ling’ring look, a wink, a nod; be careful when you’re playing God
Power makes men look away from the light of God and the light of day
A president whose line is drawn: even he can be a pawn
So take fair measure of your days when your sons look up and say
‘Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?’
Who killed JFK? How come he died and who’s to blame?

Lyrics © by Geoff Bartley 2003 and 2004 All Rights Reserved
Recited, or sung to the tune of Who Killed Davey Moore? by Bob Dylan

It was a challenge to try to communicate the subtle shades of meaning the event requires in just the four lines that comprise each verse. For example, investigations and trials of U.S. mob figures in the years since Dallas have revealed no information suggesting that the U.S. mob actually pulled a trigger in Dallas. Contrary to what I expected, the U.S. mob emerges as rather "patriotic". This intelligence is fortified by the fact that JFK was the first Roman Catholic elected to the White House. That's why I wrote "We’re not glad he took a fall” in the third verse in which the U.S. mob is speaking, despite the fact that several mob figures wanted both Jack and Bobby dead because of the Attorney General's attack on organized crime. Louisiana crime boss Carlos Marcello in particular hated Bobby because Bobby had deported him to Guatemala twice before Dallas.
Another example of an attempt to show divergent, even conflicting, shades of meaning appears in the final verse in which Lyndon Johnson is speaking. Despite all the evidence that LBJ knew of the plan to kill Kennedy, was a part of it, then subsequently directed and controlled the cover-up, there is also evidence that wider international groups stood to gain from the death of JFK and an LBJ presidency, and that their purposes were served by individuals and events propelled into motion by LBJ and others connected to him. For this reason, I extended this verse, and included the line "A president whose line is drawn: even he can be a pawn" in which the president is LBJ.
For more information, do a Google search on a guy named James Jesus Angleton, who was CIA Head of Counterintelligence during the twenty years between 1954 and 1974. Bear in mind, as I do, that not everything one reads is true.
One of the most compelling and authoritative books written on the assassination is the bestseller Best Evidence by David Lifton. Lifton is a UCLA graduate engineering student who spent fifteen years unraveling the medical evidence surrounding the shooting. Lifton concludes that Kennedy's body was medically altered to eliminate evidence of shots being fired from in front once it arrived at Bethesda (Maryland) Naval Hospital. Tampered medical evidence and photographs were main pillars supporting the false conclusions presented by the Warren Commission.
~ Geoff Bartley, Framingham, Massachusetts, January 22, 2004.
For further information and CD details, please visit
"Who Killed JFK?" has not been recorded.
New lyrics © by Geoff Bartley 2003 All Rights Reserved

This is the first ever publication of a quite remarkable piece of writing and I am honoured to know that I inspired it.

Feb 12th (Joe) All Saints Church, Bishops Stortford
Feb 16th (Joe) The Barge, Gillingham
Mar 5th (KM) Bacca Pipes Folk Club, Keighley – Special Peter Bellamy CD release
Apr 19th (Joe) The Green Dragon, St Helens, Lancashire.
May 1st (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester.
May 2nd (KM) Sweeps Festival – Rochester.
May 12th (KM) The Cross Keys, Uppermill.
May 14th (KM) The Grove, Holbeck, Leeds
May 15th (Joe) Bradford Day/Dance – Life and Times of Paul Robeson (Lunchtime)
Jun 2nd (Joe) Sowerby Bridge Concert Hall - Life and Times of Paul Robeson 10am!
Aug 20th (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea
Aug 21st (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea
Aug 22nd (KM) Hull Festival of the Sea
Nov 11th (KM) Topic Folk Club, Bradford
Nov 24th (Joe) Sandholme Fold Res Home, Hipperholme – Life+Times P Robeson
Dec 14th (Joe) Barwick in Elmet Probus Club- Valparaiso Round the Horn 10am!

FUNNIES (Not always PC)

1. Dave works hard at the factory and spends most evenings playing snooker or indoor football. His wife thinks he is pushing himself too hard, so for his birthday she takes him to a local lap dancing club.
The doorman at the club greets them and says, "Hey, Dave! How's it going ?"
His wife is puzzled and asks if he's been to this club before. "Oh no," says Dave. "He's on my snooker team."
When they are seated, a waitress asks Dave if he'd like his usual and brings over a Budweiser. His wife is becoming increasingly uncomfortable and says,
"How did she know that you drink Budweiser?".
"She's in the Ladies' Snooker League, love. She plays on the same night as we do "
A stripper then comes over to their table, throws her arms around Dave, starts to rub herself all over him and says "Hi Davey. Want your usual table dance, big boy?"
Dave's wife, now furious, grabs her purse and storms out of the club.
Dave follows and spots her getting into a taxi. Before she can slam the door, he jumps in beside her. He tries desperately to explain how the stripper must have mistaken him for someone else, but his wife is having none of it. She is screaming at him at the top of her lungs, calling him every 4-letter word in the book.
The taxi driver turns his head and says, "Looks like you picked up a real bitch tonight, Dave."

2. A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband is not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of him. He appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee. "What's the matter, dear?" she whispers as she steps into the room, "Why are you down here at this time of night?"
The husband looks up from his coffee. "Do you remember 20 years ago when we were dating, and you were only 16?" he asks solemnly. "Yes I do," she replies.
The husband pauses. The words are not coming easily. "Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?"
"Yes, I remember," says the wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him.
The husband continues. "Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, either you marry my daughter, or I'll send you to jail for 20 years?"
"I remember that too," she replies softly.
He wipes another tear from his cheek and says, "I would have gotten out today."

3. David received a parrot for his birthday. The parrot was fully grown, with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren't expletives were, to say the least, rude. David tried hard to change the bird's attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, anything he could think of to try and set a good example.
Nothing worked.
He yelled at the bird and the bird yelled back.
He shook the bird and the bird just got more angry and more rude.
Finally, in a moment of desperation, David put the parrot in the freezer. For a few moments he heard the bird squawk and kick and scream. Then suddenly there was quiet. Not a sound for half a minute.
David was frightened that he might have hurt the bird and quickly opened the freezer door. The parrot calmly stepped out onto David's extended arm and said:
"I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I will endeavour at once to correct my behaviour. I really am truly sorry and beg your forgiveness."
David was astonished at the bird's change in attitude and was about to ask what had made such a dramatic change when the parrot continued,
"May I ask what the chicken did?"

Keep smiling, keep singing.
Joe Stead