Sunday, November 27, 2022

Telling you nothing is certain


     Lies are often irrational, but seldom purposeless. They have a point, a function, as little squirts of oil intended to lubricate the path forward for those to whom the truth is rocky and an impediment. 
     They are grease, camouflage, an octopus's inky cloud, disguising the continual getaway that is life for the dishonest. 
     But lies also aggregate, accumulate, take on weight and substance. Grain by grain, the mountain is constructed. Taken together, they form a terrain, a landscape where anything is open to doubt, to questioning. Where the simplest fact becomes an arduous climb up a steep slope of argument. Where nothing is certain. And in that topsy turvy world, embracing the lie becomes the sign of an open mind, while pointing to the truth is seen as self-deception. 
     Lies corrupt. What began with a septic stream of confabulation coming from the mouth of Donald Trump has animated his growing army of imitators. Deceit rolls likes gas across the countryside, until we catch whiffs of it in the most unexpected places.
     Tuesday I was driving in the car, and a CBS radio feature on the 59th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy came on the air. It was standard stuff, neutral, historical — Dallas, the news breaking, a stunned nation. But one phrase leapt out. The crime was "blamed on Lee Harvey Oswald." Not "committed by..." I heard that and felt a chill. The "unfairly" was unvoiced, but present. Why say it that way otherwise? Who was to say Kennedy died that day at all? Another CBS report called Oswald the "accused" gunman. 
     No, no, no. Oswald shot Kennedy, acting alone. There was no trial, true, but an enormous investigation, the Warren Commission, whose report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. And to see how far we've slipped into the ditch of conspiracy theories, even typing "Oswald shot Kennedy, alone," felt somehow daring. Which I suppose is true, when the world becomes a forest of fabrication. As far as anything can be true. As has been observed many times, the function of lies is not to get the public to believe that any particular fib is true, but that nothing is true. 
     Sure, lots of people get lots of mileage arguing the blizzard of conspiracy theories that have grown up in the past 59 years. Anything that generates the mass of data that the Kennedy assassination — or Pearl Harbor, or Sept. 11 — produces will churn out enough "evidence" to support an array of alternate imaginings and hypotheses. So many variants that they inadvertently undermine their initial premise. Just as UFOs can't really be cylinders and saucers and cubes and orbs, glowing or dark, silent and shrieking, the vast armada reported by the credulous and the deceived, so JFK couldn't have been killed by the mafia and the Russians, the CIA and LBJ and Jimmy Hoffa. First you realize that all of it can't be true, then, duh, that none of it is.
    Denial is not fact-based — the Holocaust, Sandy Hook, Lee Harvey Oswald. Rather it is malice-based, bald attempts to carve reality into a shape more pleasing to the carvers. That is why it has to be so actively resisted. Not just because lies are bad on their face — they are. But because these particular lies are so particularly bad. 
    This is so disappointing. I expect CBS to have a little more integrity than that. Obviously they do not.


  1. The older I get, the less trusting I have become. Unless I see something with my own eyes I have to decide whether or not to trust the sources (except when at the Chicago Magic Lounge).
    Also, as I age I’m learning that the history taught in school wasn’t necessarily the whole truth, and sometimes not the truth at all.
    I’m pretty sure Jack Ruby shot Oswald.

    1. I saw live on TV early in the morning. Of course, it could have been staged....(not)

  2. My question lately is how do we decide it is what we believe? I used to think if our belief had consequences that would sway the vote, but in recent years I’m not sure that is true.

  3. Look, Oswald shot Kennedy. They found the gun.
    The question is WHO paid Oswald to do it, and then sent Ruby to "cancel the debt"?
    I'm gonna guess the Outfit. And that's a world where stuffy Earl Warren and his do-gooders in gray flannel gear to tread, and would not report on if they had.
    So ultimately, it's pretty simple (as Occam's Razor demands). Just another unsolved Mob hit.

    1. Bingo. Chicago-born, Chicago bred. I knew the nicknames of "The Boys" before I knew the nicknames of Chicago's ballplayers. I had a connected uncle in the trucking business, while his brother (my old man) offered his services to the side of "law and order"...and I went to school with the sons of mobsters, one of whom followed in his father's footsteps. Right into a car trunk at O'Hare...just like his daddy.

      The Mob is now mostly a shadow of what it once was, but in the Sixties, it was a whole different story. Yeah, Oswald was a loner nutjob, but he was a nutjob who could shoot straight, so he was hired as a hit man. A patsy who was just a Kleenex...used once and then thrown away.

      My Ohio-born wife has read a great deal about the death of Kennedy, and she laughs at me when I still maintain it was a Mob "hit"...payback for some of the things that Bobby (and others) had done to the Outfit. But that's when I always smirk at her and say: "You didn't grow up in Chicago."

    2. After decades of people looking into the matter, the answer to the question is "Nobody." Do you also believe that the mob was interested in having Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker killed? But then allowed him to live another 30 years after Oswald tried to shoot him? Occam's Razor indicates to me that a nut who bought a rifle so that he could shoot people, and had already shot at a completely unrelated person, didn't need to be paid by the mob to decide to shoot the president when he was driven right by the building where the nut worked. It was stunning that a distraught and volatile Jack Ruby was able to place himself so close to Oswald that day. Occam's Razor indicates to me that stunning things happen all the time without the mob being involved.

      One needn't rely on the Warren Commission, however. "Case Closed" by Gerald Posner, and "Reclaiming History" by Vincent Bugliosi are each quite thorough and persuasive.

    3. Here's a puzzler. If the mob wanted payback against Bobby Kennedy in 1963, why didn't they arrange a hit against HIM, which they could have easily arranged without the trouble (and risk) of hiring an unconnected, obviously unstable dolt in freaking Dallas?

    4. Long story short...Oswald, a militant Marxist, had a beef with Walker, stemming from Walker's involvement in the deadly rioting by at Ole Miss, six months earlier.

      Walker was one of the riot's ringleaders, was a white supremacist and a die-hard segregationist, and was arrested. As a former high-ranking Army officer, he also had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Lefty Oswald hated his right-wing guts and wanted to see him dead. Know the feeling, especially over the last seven years.

    5. Yes, I'm aware of that. Lefty Oswald, a militant Marxist with delusions of grandeur and a rifle to go with them, wanted to see Walker dead. Later the same year, partly because of Kennedy's attitude and actions toward Cuba, partly because he had quite a vantage point for the motorcade passing by, and mainly because he was a nut with delusions of grandeur, he wanted to see Kennedy dead. The mob had nothing to do with any of that.

  4. Oswald fell into it. He was there by chance. Kennedy was in a hundred parades. It was a just a matter of time

  5. The Warren Commission formed to investigate the Presidents assassination didn't do a great job.
    There was a second commission in 1979 the house select committee on assassinations.
    They did better.
    Much of the material collected by the Warren Commission was not released til December of 2021. The 250,000 records have been entered into the archives. There are still some 2500 set to be released this year.
    None of this material indicates that anyone other than Oswald was the lone gunmen

    The lack of transparency on the part of the government contributed to the conspiracy theories.


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