Friday, October 31, 2003

Nellie Connally and the three bullets

Nellie Connally, the wife of former Texas Gov. John Connally and the last surviving occupant of the limousine that was carrying President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, has finally published a book detailing her experience.
One key point she makes in her book which is discussed in this NY Times article is her insistence that three shots struck targets inside the limo on Nov. 22, 1963.

“After shots rang out — and Mrs. Connally is adamant that three bullets, not two as officially established, found their mark — the president was dead, her husband gravely wounded as she struggled to stanch his blood, and the course of history forever altered.”

The problem with this statement is that the Warren Commission official version of events states that only two shots struck the limo occupants and a third shot missed. I will discuss the significance of this in a moment. The NY Times article summarizes it thusly:

”The Warren Commission and subsequent investigations have concluded that the first shot, fired by Lee Harvey Oswald from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, went wild, that the president and the governor were both hit by a second bullet, and that President Kennedy alone was hit by a third shot.

Mrs. Connally is not dissuaded by this information, as well she should not be.

"Well they're wrong," Mrs. Connally said this week at the beginning of a publicity blitz for the book... "I was there, they weren't. When they argue with me, all I have to say is, `Were you in that car?' The answer has to be no because there wasn't anybody else...
“All I'm saying is there were three shots and I know what happened with each shot," she said.”

But Mrs. Connally says despite this she still believes the conclusion reached by the Warren Commission is correct.

“She said, however, that she was not a conspiracist and that she believed — and that her husband's own exhaustive study of records as Treasury secretary proved — that Mr. Oswald was the lone gunman.
"A $15 gun and a scrambled-egg mind caused all that horror," she said.”

Unfortunately, it is more complicated than that. There is a very good reason why the Warren Commission determined that only two bullets struck the limo that day. Any other outcome would discount the lone gunman theory on which the Warren Commission staked its entire investigation.

Thanks to the Zapruder film, there is a very clear frame-by-frame timeline of when the first and last shots struck their targets to within a fraction of a second. There is not enough time between the moment when Kennedy is clearly reacting to the shot that struck his throat and the moment when Gov. Connally is struck for a gunman using a bolt-action rifle to have fired two separate shots. Since the Warren Commission began its investigation with the predetermined conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots using a bolt-action rifle from the sixth floor of the Book Depository building, they had to come up with some way to shoehorn this inconvenient Zapruder evidence into their lone gunman theory. That is when Arlen Specter, the future Republican senator from Pennsylvania, came up with the infamous “Magic Bullet” theory in which Kennedy and Connally were supposed to have been struck by the same bullet (and Connally had a delayed reaction to his wounds).

The third bullet, they determined, had been fired before Kennedy was hit the first time and completely missed the motorcade. They had to account for at least three bullets because that is how many empty shell casings were neatly piled up for them to find on the sixth floor of the book depository. Plus, we know at least one bullet missed because there was a curbside mark where a bullet had struck next to the motorcade and a bystander who suffered a cut on his face from flying concrete fragments.

The “magic bullet” theory, and by consequence the lone gunman theory, is a bunch of bull. There is lots of evidence that disproves the theory without having to rely on Mrs. Connally’s recollection. The most obvious might be that the bullet fragments pulled out of Gov. Connally’s wrist and the fragments that were left in weighed far more than the amount of mass that was missing from the “pristine” magic bullet that was conveniently found on a cot at the hospital. You also have the testimony of the doctor’s who worked on Kennedy who descibed the wound in his throat as an entry wound (shortly before obscuring it by performing a tracheotomy). They also said the wound in his back was an entry wound that had no point of exit into the chest cavity. The “magic bullet” theory depends upon the back wound and neck wounds being connected and the neck wound being an exit wound.

I don’t presume to know what really happened on that day nearly 40 years ago. But I am pretty clear about what DID NOT happen and I am thoroughly disgusted that we as a nation continue to prop up this fiction about a lone gunman. Of course, I also understand that it is more comforting for people to assume that the perpetrator of this heinous crime was caught and punished rather than living with the knowledge that the conspirators - whoever they were - got clean away with the crime of the century.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Straight from Bubba

South Knox Bubba is trying to sort out the Bush Admin’s take on the Iraq situation:

"We've invaded and occupied a third-world (rat) hole to protect America from a clear and present danger which turned out to be some blender parts buried in some guy's back yard and some moldy okra in some guy's refrigerator?
We have hundreds of thousands of troops, civil authorities, and workers there to secure and rebuild it, and we have them under 7X24 martial law enforced by a huge international coalition of the most powerful military forces in the world, and we can't secure anything?
We are told that it's because terrorists are pouring across the borders and killing our soldiers and relief workers and civilians daily, which is, of course, OK because it's all part of the brilliant "bring it on" "fly paper" afterthought strategy which is clearly working because they are so frustrated by our success?
We're going to pretend there are no dead soldiers coming home in boxes and make the wounded and maimed pay for their own hospital expenses and then reduce or eliminate their veteran's benefits?
When we leave in six months, we're going to turn it over to a bunch of babbling religious fanatics and nomadic desert war lords who weren't able to overthrow a brutal, oppressive regime run by a madman and a handful of his goons, in a country that has been around and run this way since more than two thousand years before the first shot was fired at Concord, at which point democracy will commence to flourish, and they will rid the Middle East of terrorism and protect the United States from al Qaida?
Then we're going to send the multi-billion dollar bill to the American taxpayers and tell them and their children and their grandchildren and their grandchildren to make the checks payable to Halliburton?
That's our plan?
OK, then."

The only plan the Bush team is concerned with right now is getting their guy (re-)elected next year. Last year, the Bush team was intent on taking the country’s focus off the poor state of the economy and taking out Saddam seemed like a great way to do it. Now that we’ve gotten some good economic news finally, I expect they will try to shift the nation’s focus away from the mess in Iraq and back to the domestic front.

The Blogroll

My personal blogroll on the left side of the page has slowly been expanding these past few months. As a rule, I have tried to limit its growth to just those sites that I tend to read on a more or less regular basis.
One of the best things about blogging is the opportunity it gives to network with people who have similar interests and to create a community for having discussions and debates about current events.
I think it is especially important to start locally and branch out from there. There are only a couple of other political bloggers in San Antonio that I am aware of and I am slowly getting to know other Texas bloggers in Houston, Austin and Dallas.

The blogs that I have listed to the left are all relatively high-quality sites that tend to be updated regularly (with a few exceptions).
The vast majority are of the liberal persuasion reflecting my own ideological preferences, however, I also link to a number of conservative sites where I have found the quality of debate to be challenging and where contrary opinions are respected. I like blogs that allow readers to post comments, although that is not a requirement. I don’t like blogs that are hard to read (black text on purple backgrounds) or that take a long time to upload. I tend to be prudish about foul language and will avoid sites that can’t seem to find other ways to express themselves.

The blogs that have been kind enough to add my site to their own blogrolls are marked with an asterisk after their name. It is flattering to have someone add your site to their blogroll and I am more than happy to reciprocate with a link on those rare occasions when someone has added my site before I have added theirs.
I am constantly finding new candidates for addition and probably need to find a better way to organize the ones that I have. Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Greatest American President since Lincoln

Yes, I'm talking about Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Wall Street Journal today has an op-ed piece by Conrad Black, the Canadian publishing magnate, who has recently written a book about Roosevelt called Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom.
The article, entitled 'Capitalism's Savior,' gives a good summary of Roosevelt's remarkable accomplishments which makes every other U.S. president in recent times seem pale in comparison - and that includes both Clinton and Reagan.

It's too bad that the WSJ requires a separate subscription to access its online content (even editorial pieces) so the best I can do for those without access to a paper copy is provide a few excerpts:

"When he entered office in 1933, unemployment was at 33 percent, there was almost no public-sector relief for the jobless, 45 percent of family homes had been - or were in imminent danger of being - foreclosed, and the Chicago Grain Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange and the banking system had collapsed. Almost no one was engaged in agriculture on an economically sustainable basis and the nation's food supply was apt to be severly interrupted at any time."

"Most authentic historians credit Roosevelt with swiftly reviving the American banking system, guaranteeing bank deposits, minimizing the number of bank failures and substantially alleviating the Depression. Yet, as with most other historical achievements, the revisionists have been hard at work. Jim Powell of the Cato Institute argues in a new book that FDR actually prolonged the Depression!"

"Most would accept that FDR's system of raising farm income by having farmers vote by category to reduce production in exchange for subsidies and sustainable prices was a success. I know of no serious criticism of the Roosevelt administration's refinancing of home mortgages; low-yield loans to farmers with crops and animals as collateral; the Tennessee Valley Authority and the vast extension of rural electrification; the GI Bill of Rights, which produced a benign, posthumous socioeconomic revolution; the concept of Social Security, including unemployment insurance; and most of the public works and workfare schemes of the New Deal..."

"Roosevelt spared the country the extremes of left and right that plagued every other great power in the '30s. He left the U.S. twice as wealthy as it was when he assumed the presidency. As economics, the New Deal deserves a passing grade, but as crisis management it was a huge success. And in the 1930s, Roosevelt was almost the only leader of an important country who was not either a barbarous dictator, an appeaser of barbarous dictators or an ineffectual ditherer. For these reasons, as well as his genius as a war leader, he is rightly judged the greatest American president since Lincoln."

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Maggie's Farm Updated

From The Right Christians I found this new version of Bob Dylan's classic "Maggie's Farm"

Georgie Dubya
To the tune of "Maggie’s Farm" by Bob Dylan

I ain't gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more.
No, I ain’t gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more.
Well, I wake up in the morning,
Fold my hands and pray for peace,
But there’s three more dead in Baghdad
And still no WMDs.
It's a shame the way he lied us into war.
I ain't gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more.

I ain't gonna vote for Georgie’s brother no more
No, I aint gonna vote for Georgie’s brother no more
Well, he crowds kids into classrooms
And cuts their teachers’ pay,
Then claims he’s all for schooling,
Says marriage ain’t for gays.
And he steals your vote, especially if you’re poor.
I ain't gonna vote for Georgie’s brother no more.

I ain't gonna vote for Georgie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna vote for Georgie’s pa no more
Well, he said, “Appoint Colin.”
He said, “Select Dick.”
But he didn’t tell Dubya
Whose policy to pick.
Nobody knows who’s supposed to run the store.
Ah, I ain't gonna vote for Georgie’s pa no more.

I ain't gonna buy books by Georgie’s ma no more
No, I ain't gonna buy books by Georgie’s ma no more
Well, she preaches to all us servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
Her “beautiful mind” can’t be bothered by the horrors of war.
I ain't gonna buy books by Georgie’s ma no more.

I ain't gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more
I aint gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But Ashcroft wants to force you
To be just like him
They say sing while you slave but I just get bored
I ain't gonna vote for Georgie Dubya no more.