Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who killed JFK?

After 50 years, it really doesn't matter who killed JFK, or why.

Yet, the assassination did have a profoundly negative effect on this country that lingers today.

Widespread distrust of the government may not have begun on Nov. 22, 1963, but the assassination became a watershed moment when many Americans felt they could no longer trust their government.

Vietnam, assassinations of RFK and MLK, and then Watergate further diluted whatever trust most Americans had, not only in their government but also in their society in general.

Most Americans have long believed that JFK was murdered by multiple gunmen. That doesn't make it true, but that is what most Americans believe.

And, with good reason.

From Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgment" through Josiah Thompson's "Six Seconds in Dallas," both published in the 1960s, through the House Select Committee on Assassinations of the 1970s, the American public concluded that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy of some sort.

They didn't need Oliver Stone's "JFK" film to convince them.

It was always a long-held belief by most Americans that more than one person shot Kennedy, because the assassination sounded fishy from the beginning.

The armchair analysts like to say that those who believe there was some sort of conspiracy just can't fathom the idea of a lone nut taking out the most powerful man in the world.

On the contrary, it is quite believable that one man, acting alone, can commit such a terrible crime. It's happened before and will happen again.

I do think Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in some fashion from his perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, but it's hard to believe he was the sole shooter in Dealey Plaza.

Here are a few facts that many Americans knew in the mid-1960s that led them to conclude something was wrong with the official Warren Commission account that Oswald acted alone:

1) Oswald was a U.S. Marine in the late 1950s. He was a low-end marksman, not a sharpshooter. He had top secret clearance in Japan and California as a radar specialist with knowledge of the U2 spy plane. A month after he gets an early discharge in 1959, during the height of the Cold War, he defects to the Soviet Union. Within a few months of his defection, Gary Powers' U2 spy plane is shot down. Oswald marries a Russian woman in the Soviet Union, but is disgruntled with his life there. He returns to the U.S. in 1962 with his wife, Marina, and their new daughter. He settles in Dallas, but then goes to New Orleans to become a one-man, pro-Castro protester. He also visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City.

You would think, given the era of the Cold War that gave us the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile crisis, that a former Marine, who defects to the USSR then comes back to the U.S., would be under constant surveillance. We learned years later that the FBI destroyed its paperwork about tailing Oswald.

2) The Abraham Zapruder film clearly shows Kennedy's head being partially blown off by a shot from the right front of the vehicle, from the infamous "grassy knoll" and not from Oswald's perch in the book building behind the motorcade. Many witnesses, including bystanders, Dallas police officers, Gov. John Connally, who was seated in front of Kennedy and was wounded by the "magic bullet," and Secret Service Agent Clint Hill believed the fatal shot came from the grassy knoll.

Parts of JFK's skull and blood were blown to the left rear of the vehicle indicating a shot from the right front.

The Zapruder super-8mm film, above, is painful to watch, but seeing is believing. Kennedy's fatal shot came from the right front in frame 313.

3) On Nov. 24, Oswald is gunned down on live TV at the police station by Jack Ruby, a strip-joint operator with known connections to the Mob, as well as the Dallas police.

How convenient that the only suspect in the JFK assassination is silenced before anyone can get any information out of him. Naturally, the Dallas police never recorded, nor took notes, of Oswald's interrogations at the police headquarters. It's worth noting that Dallas, at that time, was ground zero for hatred of JFK. Here's another story providing more context for that hate.

Those facts alone would make even the casual observer question what the heck happened in Dallas in 1963. Those same questions persist in 2013.

And, there are plenty of other issues, from the magic bullet theory, where one bullet passed through Kennedy and Connally and is left in good condition, yet the bullet that blows half of Kennedy's skull off is scattered into bits. This suggest different types of bullets struck Kennedy meaning different guns were fired, by different men.

Or, the fact that Oswald, who clearly was a misfit and craved the limelight, would say to reporters that he was a "patsy." Why wouldn't he claim credit if he did it?

Or, the botched autopsy.

For more information than you could possibly imagine, check out this website, which contains multiple links to other websites.

And, here is a listing of TV programs slated to air in November.

All of the conspiracy theories out there, and there are almost too many to count, are no more crazy than the one dished up by the Warren Commission.

 But, that is the official version of events. Oswald acted alone.

I believe the Mob had Kennedy killed, but we'll never know the truth. Of all the murders in this country, the ones by the Mafia are the ones seldom, if ever, solved. I mean, who killed Jimmy Hoffa and where is he buried? Mobsters rarely talk about their killings.

The JFK assassination is now just a curiosity for history buffs. It's easier to believe Oswald did it alone than to imagine something far more sinister was at play.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vote yes on room tax, but ...

Room taxes should be low at this joint
And, it's a big but.

By state law, no doubt written by the lodging lobby, 70 percent of the room tax collected in the state goes back to lodging industry so that it can promote itself.

Wouldn't it be great for all businesses if most of the taxes they pay are refunded back to them in some way?

Yes, but it would be lousy for the livability of this state.

Also, in this election, the other 30 percent would go to police and fire departments, no doubt to shore up their PERS accounts, and to the arts.

That's right, no money for road repair, which is the primary impact that tourists have on the region.

The two room tax measures on the ballot, one for Bend and one for Deschutes County would incrementally increase the daily room tax at motels and hotels.

In Bend, it would rise from 9 percent to 10 percent and then to 10.4 percent. In the county it would rise from 7 percent to 8 percent.

Naturally, the local motel and hotel operators are up in arms. They, and no one else, believe that tourists plan their vacations or trips around the amount of room tax they'll have to pay.

Talk about ignorance. The money collected benefits them.

Also, it shows what a shady industry the lodging business is when it needs the government to collect dues for its own promotional campaigns.

Of course, people are opposed to this modest increase in taxes the same way they are to incremental tax hikes to beer, alcohol, wine, cigarettes, etc.

In fact, by having lower taxes on vices in Oregon, it means that taxes on property and income continue to climb.

We have no sales tax so government funding will always be a problem in this state.

Anyway, it would be surprising to see these measure pass.

If they do, perhaps the tourism promotion entities will showcase our fine potholes. They're some of the best in the west.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

OSU-Pumice Pit ripoff deepens

A couple of news items this week point out the fact that OSU-Cascades (aka Pumice Pit), and Oregon taxpayers, are getting fleeced by the powers that be on Bend's west side.

Not only are taxpayers paying big bucks for junk land to build a four-year university in Bend, but we are overpaying for that privilege.

The daily newspaper reported that the pumice pit's real market value is $1.6 million, but OSU is willing take it for about just under $8 million. What a deal!

The other piece of land for the campus has a real market value of $2.9 million, but why pay so little if you can get it for just under $5 million. 

Wow, with deals like that, even Gomez Addams would be proud.

First off, no one else would buy the pumice pit, even for $1.6 million. That land is not suited for a storage shed, much less a college campus.

The folks who are pulling off this scam have another one in the works for the expansion of NorthWest Crossing, not too far from OSU-Pumice Pit.

West Bend Property is putting in a 32-acre park at the new addition of NorthWest Crossing. This land is also a former pumice mine. Obviously, this land is not suited for even one house.

And, the developers want the local park district taxpayers to subsidize this park by buying 12 acres of the land, at, most likely, well over real market value.

Look, even the good folks who own this land would never build anything on it, but want the park district to be liable for any small buildings it erects there.

Afterall, taxpayers are stuck with nearby Summit High School, whose ball fields were built on the same pumice mine and we had to shell out an additional $7 million to fix.

So, if we can connect the dots, here they are:

1) Developers are unable to build on land that was a pumice mine.

2) Developers sell pumice land, at grossly inflated prices, to the local school district, park district and OSU so that they'll build on this unbuildable land.

3) Taxpayers can look forward to years of spending millions correcting problems to structures built on a pumice mine.

4) Developers will gladly fix these problems, at prevailing rates, of course.

Ironically, these same folks who constantly complain about government spending on the poor, are doing their best to make sure that government millions are wasted on them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The times they are a-teabagging

As we enter this stupid space between default and "kicking the (debt) can down the road,"
the U.S. has demonstrated to the world that we let a few, crazy elected people hold our country, and the world, hostage.

No one knows, outside the Tea Party cranks, why they are willing to blow up the world economy.

They say they want to defund Obamacare. Of course, they lost that fight long ago.

But, if they want to get rid of the tax on medical devices, the individual mandate, and the "belly button" tax on most insurance plans, then go ahead.

That's classic Republicanism: don't ask Americans to pay for anything because all taxes are evil.

At the same time, these hypocrites claim that our mega-trillion national debt is the greatest threat in the history of the world when what they're proposing would radically accelerate that debt.

And, they can't pin all of this debt on President Obama.

According to Forbes, the smallest government spender since President Eisenhower is, in fact, President Obama. 

Of course, teabaggers live in a fact-free world.

They believe that most Americans are solidly behind them in their fight to defund Obamacare. Well, the real polls show the exact opposite. 

Again, no need for Teapublicans to face reality.

There is always Fox News to tell them how great they are.

Since all of this is going so well for teabaggers, they're renewing their push to impeach President Obama.

And, if that fails, there is always, secession.

Without The Daily Show or The Colbert Report on this week, we're left with the "comedy" of Teapublicans.

Don't about a buzz-kill.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Republicans: Political terrorists

On one hand, Republican lawmakers have history on their side in pushing the nation to the brink.

Two years ago, President Obama caved to GOP extortion over the debt ceiling and Republicans just assume he'll do so again.

On the other hand, President Obama warned Republicans that this was no way to govern this country and he wouldn't buckle again despite having a gun aimed at his head by Republicans.

Well, let's hope he doesn't cave.

Republicans failed to block the Affordable Care Act when it was passed and have failed dozens of times to repeal it since.

So, they would rather see the government stop functioning while letting the country default on its massive debt than see "Obamacare" succeed.

This is political terrorism, pure and simple.

Since Republicans do not hold the most power in Washington, they must compromise to govern at all.

But, with the Tea Party tail wagging the GOP dog, compromise, to them, is the dirtiest word in the English language.

So, when the weak don't have the power and do not want to work with the other side to forge common ground, they resort to hostage-taking.

The only policy that Republicans advance to do anything, from waging war to educating our students, is to cut taxes.

Well, thanks to this policy, which the Democrats have joined at times, we have a ridiculous national debt.

Of course, waging war while simultaneously cutting taxes, was not only counter-intuitive but also as destructive to our economic well-being as any war in this country could be.

If the Republicans want to rattle the world economy more than they did with the financial collapse of 2008, well, let them.

It worked so well for them.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

University of Oregon almost a private school

Iconic logo will soon signify zero state support for UO
Word out of Eugene is that the state will only pay about 5 percent of the total cost to run the oldest "public" university in the state.

That 5 percent state funding is down from around 70 percent from 30 years ago.

So, in order to make up the difference, UO, like most colleges around the country, raises tuition and fees on an annual basis.

Oh, and Oregon accepts almost as many out-of-state students as in-state students because their tuition is about four times as much.

Like most states, Oregon has been in the grip of the "trickle-down" economics of the last 30-plus years, which says low taxes mean more opportunities for all.

Well, we know for sure that there are less opportunities for in-state students to attend one of its "public" universities after all that trickling down.

That is one of the goals of modern American economics: Reduce opportunities for the less fortunate while increasing them for the uber-rich.

It's essentially the opposite of what occurred in the 1950s, when high tax rates funded a society with far greater access to a college education than today. Okay, at least for poorer white folks.

Today, we have a national obsession with never-ending "education reform" so that our students can compete better in the new global economy.

So, naturally, cut funding annually for education and demand better results.

Hmmm. How come that rationale doesn't pertain to the military-industrial complex?

Speaking of spending, the state legislature today voted to slash the retirement accounts of public employees while also passing a tax "hike" that includes more tax cuts than increases.

At this rate, state funding for higher education should hit 0 percent in a couple of years.