Part 2. The Remedy
What’s the deepest, darkest secret in America?
The assassination of President Kennedy?
Polls show most Americans don’t believe the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Count me among them -- solidly, forever.
I was an expert marksman twice, with an air rifle and a 22. An air rifle is much more difficult; you have to compensate for the wind.
I scored a bunch of 50s in my day; no“cheater” needed on the targets. Translation for nongun readers: I could put five bullets in your eyeball from a long way off.
A buddy once took me dove hunting with a shotgun. Never again. Shotguns are for sissies. All those pellets; the poor bird doesn’t stand a chance. Where’s the “sport” in that? In addition, if you eat the bird for dinner, you risk a trip to the dentist. Finally, a shotgun makes a lot of noise, disturbs the neighbors. Solution?
I used to hunt quail with an air rifle. Never bothered a neighbor. Never a nasty pellet in the meat to break your teeth. How? You, too, can perform the same astronomical, gastronomical magic trick. Aim, time the movements of the bird’s head. Breathe out slowly. Don’t blink.
In contests I was, like Marciano, undefeated. F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents, go to the N.R.A. headquarters: it’s all there. At 14, I was a better shot than you’ll ever be.
I did a lot with guns. One thing I could not do, however, is take Lee Harvey Oswald’s crap mail-order, $19.95 (plus postage and handling), 1940 Italian 6.5mm Carcano rifle and do what The Warren Commission claimed he did.
I watched on TV a re-creation of what Oswald saw through the scope. No way ...
Both “backyard photos” taken by his wife suggest Oswald didn’t know how to hold a gun. What makes you think he knew how to shoot one? As a Marine, he barely scored a lowly “marksman.” I can take a kid off the street, and in a week have him do better.
Get Real. Oswald couldn’t even shoot himself in the foot. He shot himself in the elbow, and was promptly court-martialed.
Get serious. Oswald could not have killed Kennedy.
If he didn’t, then who did?
Another shooter on the grassy knoll? Maybe. I heard a story from a law enforcement officer about a guy with a rifle running along some railroad tracks. The police tried to catch him, but he got away.
Here’s what I think went down:
Another shooter was in the room with Oswald. The second gunman was the Real Deal. His Carcano rifle -- if that is what he used[i] -- had been refurbished, the scope replaced or honed in, the bullets reloaded to make sure they would fire (otherwise, a noteworthy achievement).
End product: a perfect scam. Any and all ballistic studies would show that the bullets came from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building where Oswald, wannabe communist and perfect arrogant stooge, was working.
Real Deal did the real deal, then vanished forever.
If that is what happened, Oswald, who claimed he was innocent, told the truth. Well, partly so. Ballistic tests would show a bullet or two came from his rifle. Moreover, to be a credible suspect, he had to have gunpowder burns. His rifle, his bullets, powder burns: Ferchristsakewhatnhellmoreduhyawant?
It may be easier to find Real Deal than you think. He was a lot better rifleman than me. And that’s the point. Where did he learn to shoot like that? I can tell you one thing: he didn’t learn it at home.
If I were working for the F.B.I., the second thing I would do is get a list of all the N.R.A. expert and distinguished riflemen alive at the time. That group is small. I would work down from there. Somewhere, Real Deal left a paper trail; there may even be a newspaper photo of him as a kid admiring a medal, the proud winner of a local rifle contest. I say kid because to achieve the level he did, Real Deal had to put in many years of disciplined shooting, yet still be young enough in 1963 to dash down six flights of stairs and run out of a building before the cops closed it off.
How many years? From experience, I estimate Real Deal invested well over a decade in target practice -- about the same time it takes a beginner piano player to learn Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
I said that examining the N.R.A. list was the second thing I’d do. The first: go to the mail order house and get a list of everybody who bought one of their Carcanos F.B.I., did you get that list? If you didn’t, was it because you were afraid of tipping your hand, of showing by your inquiry that you knew a second rifle was involved?
While we’re at it, F.B.I., was Real Deal the man on the railroad tracks?
Real Deal, if you’re reading these words:
The way I figure it, you’re 76 years old. Ever think of learning “Rhapsody in Blue”? You can afford a piano. You’ll need lessons -- a piece of cake for a disciplined guy like you. There’s still time. And, you’ve got a lot of time on your hands. Among other things …
Real Deal, you aren’t the only one to believe that because you got away with something for almost 50 years, you could do so indefinitely.
What saved you wasn’t the C.I.A. or F.B.I. which, according to conspiracy theorists, employed you. I doubt either agency used your services. For why a conspiracy of more than a few people is likely to be discovered, read Machiavelli, The Prince and The Discourses. For why I don’t think the C.I.A. could pull off such a scheme, see this blog’s post of August 8, 2011. If you still aren’t convinced, search Google “Exploding cigar, CIA, Fidel Castro.” (Don`t skip over The Guardian.)
You smell something rotten in Dallas? So do I. I suspect that, like the solutions to most magic tricks, the explanation of the JFK cover-up is so simple it has been overlooked. The American government could not -- cannot even today -- tell the world that one of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassins got away, that the government has no idea who he is. An unface and noninformation would contaminate forever the F.B.I.’s 10 most wanted list.
Did that inability to admit the truth in 1963 generate behavior and attitudes -- lies, contempt, fear, apathy -- that ushered in the beginning of the end of the American polity? I suspect the opposite is equally true. One thing is certain:
Both protect Real Deal. Can you imagine the political fallout if, after all these years and all those official investigations and declarations, the F.B.I. or C.I.A. announced tomorrow that they arrested the …
Call it what you will, it still remains the same. Real Deal is now too big to fail.
No, Dear American Reader, the Kennedy assassination isn’t the deepest, darkest secret in America. The reason is, you know about it. You couldn’t have escaped all those TV programs even if you wanted to. Same goes for the newspaper and magazine articles that won’t go away. You may have even read Mark Lane’s book, seen Oliver Stone’s movie.
There is another secret which is even deeper, darker.
99% of Americans don’t even know it exists. Even more unbelievable: millions of people outside the U.S. not only know about it, they participated in it.
January 8, 1961. Mean anything to you?
Not a single light turned on?
The war in Algeria for independence from France had raged for seven years. Thousands of dead and wounded. Till-death-do-us-part hatred, Dante inferno prisons, butchery, treachery, torture, murder: you name it. The war was threatening to drag on and on … and on …
On the day you never heard of, French President Charles de Gaulle held a national referendum. He asked, do you want independence for Algeria and an end to the war? 75% voted yes.
Four months later, de Gaulle’s government started negotiations in Evian, France with representatives of the FLN, Algeria’s independence movement. On March 19, 1962, a settlement was reached. Four months later, on July 3, President de Gaulle declared Algeria to be an independent nation.
A referendum on a war? Let people -- many of whom would fight, die, be mutilated -- make a nation’s policy? In the 1960s the equivalent in the U.S. would have been letting the people vote on the Viet Nam war. Today, it would be holding referenda on the war in Afghanistan.
You want to know why, Dear American Reader, you didn’t know about the 1961 French referendum? It is because Charles de Gaulle set an example -- and examples are contagious.
Leadership is why people still talk about Charles de Gaulle. Lyndon Johnson? Who he? In the past 20 years, I heard the guy’s name mentioned once, when Ladybird died.
France, Switzerland, Ecuador: many countries have national referenda. The United States is not among them. The closest thing we have for expressing the will of Americans on specific questions is the Constitutional amendment process. Unfortunately, as a vehicle for conveying public opinion, history shows that process is at best clumsy, at worse naïve.
My previous post states that
the American polity, i.e., a hybrid of oligarchy and democracy moderated by a large middle class, -- the best form of government according to Aristotle -- died in 2008-2009. R.I.P.
Billions of freebee Bush-Obama dollars to the American rich demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt to any sensible person that we now have an oligarchy …
If you want to revive the polity, you must revive the democratic component. To revive the democratic component, you must weaken the oligarchy; such is the correlation of forces. Any approach that does not take that weakening into account is nonsense.
That post addressed the subject of how to weaken the oligarchy. Here the subject is how to revive the polity’s democratic component.
That revival requires a Constitutional amendment providing for referenda. No national referenda, no democracy; no democracy, no polity: it’s that simple. The amendment would not be the final remedy, however. Referenda are a necessary but insufficient condition.
The oligarchy trembles, foams at the mouth, pounds on the desk at the mere suggestion of letting the people have a direct say in their nation’s destiny. That is why so many of you learned about de Gaulle’s Algeria referendum for the first time here, two minutes ago, 50 years after it took place.
Many readers will be understandably concerned about giving the people the ability to decide national policies. Alexis de Tocqueville framed the issue this way:
“When the War of Independence ended, America found itself divided between two opinions. These opinions are as old as the world itself, and one finds them assuming different forms and called by diverse names in all free societies. One opinion wants to restrain the power of the people, the other wants to extend it indefinitely.”[ii]
We have in mind neither of the opinions Tocqueville mentioned. There is a third. It answers the question of expanding the power of the people this way: yes, but. Yes, an extension, but not indefinitely.
France, Switzerland, Ecuador: I lived in all three countries. I listened to countless hours of countless discussions about their national referenda. A few initial concerns:
(i) The threshold for allowing referenda on the ballot must be high enough to stop frivolous measures from cluttering up, depredating the process. (The Swiss frequently complain they have too many questions to decide).
(ii) The president, congress and the senate should have the power to initiate referenda. So, too, should the people. The requirement of a relatively high number of signatures from registered voters in all 50 states is probative.
(iii) A time limit, say one year, should be stipulated in order to allow for sufficient public dialogue as well as to establish the constitutionality of the substance and wording of proposed referenda. No federal court can be trusted to make this decision. (For the creation of a commission to determine constitutionality, see the prior post, Part 1).
(iv) A measure rejected by the voters should have to wait a specified time before being reintroduced.
(v) Make referenda legally binding. That slams the door on elected officials who would distort or discard a successful referendum.
A truckload of issues must be addressed. Before pursuing a United States Constitutional amendment, referenda in other nations as well as in our states which already have them, e.g., California, must be exhaustively studied.
What it comes down to:
Want to vote on the war in Afghanistan? I do. I’ll bet most Americans think the same way. In fact, I know they do. So, let’s do it.
You aren’t so sure about what Americans want? To clear up any lingering doubt, I challenge Gallup and other pollsters to ask questions about a national referenda amendment. The presidential election year is just around the corner; now is the perfect time to raise the issue.
Sounds too good to be true? It is.
Reality Therapy Time. No, we can’t amend the Constitution to create a national referendum process, any more than pollsters can seriously ask about it. As noted, we no longer live in a polity, much less a democracy. America’s system is now an oligarchy.
It’s easy to prove me wrong. In fact, there’s nothing I’d like better. All you have to do is institute the referenda amendment. Where is it? Or change the Supreme Court. Where is it? Or create a commission to decide the constitutionality of laws. Where is it? Like the war in Algeria, the list goes on and on … and on …
There is nothing new whatsoever in the principles and practices advocated in this post. They were summarized clearly, succinctly, almost 200 years ago, in a little-known note. Alexis de Tocqueville:
“The remedy is above all else, outside constitutions. In order for democracy to govern, there must be citizens, i.e., people who are interested in public affairs, who have the capacity and the desire to participate in them. One must always return to this fundamental point.”[iii]
The remedy. We have arrived at the heart of the Second American Revolution. An increase in the (i) capacity and (ii) desire to participate on the part of the people: may any political candidate, public office holder, party, law, government agency or policy be judged accordingly.
A note to numerous Doubting Thomases:
You think the American people are irresponsible. You know something? I completely agree with you. It is easier to despair, however, than to answer. And there is an answer. It is as seldom used as it effective: to make people be responsible, give them responsibilities. In this case, make them citizens fully, truly.
A note to the American oligarchy:
Desperate, vexed, panicked by possible contagion, you tried to suppress any knowledge by the American people of the Algerian referendum. You succeeded for over 50 years, including the Viet Nam and Iraq wars. You were hoping to continue the suppression indefinitely. You failed.
[i] The Carcano isn’t the only weapon which can fire 6.5x52 bullets: http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/archive/index.php/t-176238.html and http://www.carbinesforcollectors.com/greekrifles1.html. If you don’t like those options, go to the nearest Vo-Tech school, enroll in Machine Shop 101, and make the barrel yourself. (I took that class, and later worked as a tool-and-die maker).
[ii] « Lorsque la guerre de l’Indépendance [en Amérique] eut pris fin […], la nation se trouva divisée entre deux opinions. Ces opinions étaient aussi anciennes que le monde, et on les retrouve sous différentes formes et revêtues de noms divers dans toutes les sociétés libres. L’une voulait restreindre le pouvoir populaire, l’autre l’étendre indéfiniment.» Alexis de Tocqueville, De La Démocratie en Amérique I, in Œuvres, Volume II, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Gallimard, Paris, 1992, p. 196. (II, II).
[iii] « Le remède est surtout en dehors des constitutions. Pour que la démocratie puisse gouverner il faut des citoyens, des gens qui prennent intérêt à la chose publique, aient la capacité de s’en mêler et le veuillent. Point capital auquel il faut toujours revenir. » Alexis de Tocqueville, Notes et variantes, op.cit., p. 1,019.
There is nothing idealistic, much less utopian, about Tocqueville’s remedy. All of France had a glimpse of what could be during the months preceding the national vote on the proposed constitution for the European Community. Several books debating the subject made the best-seller list; almost daily, I witnessed a continuing, exciting dialogue.
Because of the death of the polity under Obama-Bush, America never will have a comparable experience.