November 22, 1963. If you were around back then, you certainly know the significance of that day. Or do you?
We all know that our 35th president was assassinated in Dallas. It's an event that haunts us even today -- nearly fifty years to the moment. It's indelibly imprinted on we survivors -- where we were and how we heard the news.
Yet two other greats died that same day. Within hours of the president. Their loss is hardly mourned, certainly nearly forgotten that it occurred at the same time.
But virtually no one on 22 November 1963 realized—and relatively few realize even now—that that day also saw the departure of the two other major figures, who were also world-shapers in their very different ways.
The two greats that were lost were as far from politics as you can imagine. These two, both men, were visionaries perhaps greater than JFK. Their words were read and their books sold thousands more copies than anything Kennedy wrote, Profiles in Courage included. Their literary works still are great sellers today.
These authors who's passing was glanced over at best, were totally ignored in the big picture despite the fact that they would have made front pages if they had died a day earlier. What is it they say, "Timing is everything?"
The two "ghosts" were C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World).
Philosophically and sociologically, they were titans. Their passing deserved a bit of recognition but sadly, a more instantly shocking sense of despair overtook this country. The presidents murder understandably overshadowed the more peaceful and orderly passing of these two pillars of future thought.
Death had moved remorselessly westward to claim his scalps. Lewis died first, in his brother’s arms, a few minutes after tumbling with a crash from his bed at the foot of the stairs at the Kilns, his house outside Oxford, at 5.30pm. He was just a week shy of 65. One hour later—12.30pm in Texas—the 46-year-old President was shot. At the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Huxley’s second wife Laura, leaving his bedside with his request for an LSD injection, found the doctor and nurses in shock watching the news of the assassination; Huxley died, aged 69, at 5.20pm local time, just under eight hours after Lewis.
So perhaps in a few weeks, after we've tired of all of the Kennedy conspiracy specials and commemorations, we'll take a moment and hearken back to two of life's most interesting writers. As this post began, things in life (and death) seem to happen in three's. So here's three quotes from the other two missing greats.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way.'
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Wise men of wordsmiths. Come November 22nd, I'll remember their 50th anniversary of passing. Join me?
JFK is the gift that keeps on giving. There's more Kennedy conspiracy theories than Rand Paul excuses for plagiarism. And interestingly as time marches on, the theories get even more and more convoluted. Reelz Channel the other night, in a special called JFK: The Smoking Gun determined that there was a second shooter in the assassination. But it wasn't someone on the grassy knoll.
It was George Hickey, a Secret Service agent riding in the car behind Kennedy. Reelz claims Hickey panicked and a gun he was unfamiliar with accidentally discharged, hitting and actually killing Kennedy. Supposedly he was rushing to restrain Jackie Kennedy when this happened.
Wow. Here's the trailer:
Now, I'm certainly not casting any aspersions on Reelz or anyone else who wants to believe in conspiracies and revisions to history. Especially if their versions are true. That's the interesting part of life -- finding out things you believe for years are not always as they appeared to be.
This time, I'm not so sure. But this was a big week for new revelations on historical mythology.
Joining JFK this week with new revelations on their demise is the ever popular King Tut. It seems scientists this week have come up with a real coffin burner.
Working together with car-crash investigators, a team of British scientists says that the legendary pharaoh Tutankhamen died after being run over by a chariot while on his knees.
Well, aren't we lucky. Both deaths have warranted documentaries. Okay. But who's is more interesting? Before you decide, you have to know this about King Tut. His mystery didn't stop with his being laid to rest. Oh, no. the young pharaoh had to outdo the Kennedy myths.
The new findings, which also include an explanation as to why the remains of the Egyptian king were burnt, will be presented in a documentary that airs in the U.K. on Sunday, the Independent reports.
Studying a piece of Tutankhamen’s preserved flesh, the team found that the body spontaneously combusted while sealed inside its coffin, a chemical reaction between embalming fluids and linen that resulted from a botched mummification.
Holy Smokes!!! Spontaneously combusted?
Is this really science or just a new way to sell an old story? A PR person's wet dream. I don't know, but I can't wait to see what's next. Add these two stories to the movie about Abe Lincoln being a Vampire Hunter and perhaps anything's possible.
Ever wonder what the true skinny was behind the JFK assassination? Was there really a second gunman or was Lee Harvey Oswald really the guy who pulled off this amazing tragedy all by himself.
What would you think if there was proof of a second gunman? And what if this guy worked for the government and was actually one of the secret service agents assigned to protect the president. And what it if was his bullet that was the fatal blow to the president?
Sounds like a case for Jack Bauer on 24.
Well, that's the 411 on the killing of JFK, according to an upcoming special for the Reelz Channel.
A new documentary alleges that a Secret Service agent was the second (and accidental) shooter in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
At the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles on Sunday, producers and investigators behind Reelz Channel's new documentary "JFK: The Smoking Gun"made the claim that George Hickey, a Secret Service agent riding in the car behind Kennedy, accidentally shot the president on Nov. 22, 1963. The film follows veteran police detective Colin McLaren in his four-year investigation of the assassination and points at Hickey, who died two years ago.
Just when you thought things relating to the fifty year old case were finally over, this new story crops up. It's really got to make you ask yourself what took so long to get this angle out there?
At this time, there is no promo available for the Reelz Channel special, but there is some film that supposedly bears this all out, using the Nix and the Zapruder footage. If you have the stomach for it, here it is:
What is it with Republicans telling utterly tasteless, often appalling "jokes"?
Often, "humor" is nothing more than an excuse for some racist or misogynistic bottom feeder to express his hostility and then excuse it by saying it was just in good fun.
The most recent "joke" happened at a Massachusetts Republican Party St. Patrick’s Day breakfast and was "met with scattered laughter". Why it even got that response is beyond comprehension. Via Blue Mass Group:
Among the speakers was the Sheriff of Plymouth County, Joe McDonald. He did venture into the tasteless. Here’s what he thought was funny - a joke about assassinating President Obama. ...
McDonald offered a joke about Barack Obama being visited in a dream by three past presidents, who offered advice on how to improve the country. Lincoln’s advice: “Go to the theater.”
Apparently, Sheriff Joe (what is it with vile Republicans named Joe?) thinks nothing of suggesting that President Obama should be assassinated. What do you want to bet this idiot calls himself "pro-life"?
After getting criticized for his sharp wit and flawless judgment, Think Progress is reporting that he's doubling down. Not only is he standing by what he said, he's justifying it by claiming that the joke is 150 years old... and then compared his critics to Nazis:
“The irony of it is, it’s perfectly OK for them [liberals] to make those jokes about President Bush or someone from the other side of the aisle. I can imagine what some of this place comes from not 2013 United States, it’s more like Nazi Germany in 1938.” [...]
“The basic concept of it has been around since the Andrew Johnson administration..."
See, if a joke has been around long enough, it stops being offensive. Who knew?
Think Progress noted, "as a public safety official who has taken an oath of office, he is held to a higher standard that some unnamed liberals or political activists of the 1860s."
That would work out better if Sheriff Joe held himself to any standards to begin with.
More details here.
The administration's legal justification for drone strikes, outlined in a Justice Department paper that became public Monday night, states that an "informed, high-level official" can approve a strike against an Al Qaeda official, including an American citizen, even without evidence that the targeted person is planning a specific operation."
"An 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require … clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future," says the policy paper [...] [T]he paper says a capture operation can be ruled out by a determination that the risk to American troops is too great. In almost every case, such operations have in fact been ruled out, U.S. officials say. [...]
But the broad authority asserted in the paper to kill Al Qaeda figures even when they have not been tied to an impending attack contrasts with the narrow way the drone strike program has been described by administration officials. [...] The policy paper makes it clear, however, that the U.S. doesn't need evidence tying a militant to a specific plot to mark him for death. [...]
The decision to order a lethal strike falls either to the president or his designee, an "informed, high-level official," in the words of the paper. No court or third party has a right to review it, the paper says.
"The administration's concept of 'imminent threat' appears to require neither imminence nor a specific threat," said C. Dixon Osburn, director of Human Rights First, a Washington activist group. "Accepted principles of international law require both."
After I posted Mark Karlin's The U.S. is “now a nation where a handful of people decide who shall live and who shall die” along with a video from the Rachel Maddow Show in which she reacts to the newly revealed "white paper" memo from the Obama administration, I experienced a Moment of "Here we go again." I was immediately labeled an "emo-prog":
A tag dreamt up by self-proclaimed liberals to preemptively blunt any criticism of Obama, even when the same standards were applied to actions undertaken by the previous President.
Apparently questioning the authority of a president-- no matter who he is-- when it comes to secrecy and using drones to kill Americans is very emo-proggy. And apparently, the people who use that infantile term don't like to answer questions like, "What if a President Paul Ryan were to have these same powers? Whose to say the powers wouldn't be abused?" or, "Consider how you'd feel if you were to substitute the name Bush for Obama."
Instead they insist that we should trust President Obama because he means well and is intelligent and caring-- which he is, but that's irrelevant. Under his watch, these drone attacks are still occurring, so no matter how great a guy he is, there are legal and moral issues to consider.
There are also really, really bad precedents to consider.
These same Obama supporters also refuse to respond to my link to this: AUDIO: President Obama literally asked us to “hold him accountable.”
My point: It is okay, mandatory in fact, to question authority, especially when that authority invites you to hold him accountable. Especially when deliberately killing Americans is involved. Especially when Congress isn't. Again, the Times:
... an "informed, high-level official" can approve a strike against an Al Qaeda official, including an American citizen, even without evidence that the targeted person is planning a specific operation...
...The decision to order a lethal strike falls either to the president or his designee, an "informed, high-level official," in the words of the paper. No court or third party has a right to review it...
Here is more analysis and a lot of questions from Rachel, including questions about the president's choice of John Brennan to be the next CIA director:
"These things are based on facts. Facts that I cannot tell you. So I cannot reference them because I cannot tell you them, but they are facts."
"Right. Exactly. They go into how you conduct your offensive operations. That's the thing we want to know about."
"Now a bipartisan group of 11 U.S. Senators has written to President Obama asking him to release what is still secret about why the administration and the president think that it is legal to kill Americans this way. Quote: 'It is vitally for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of this authority so that Congress and the public can decide whether this authority has been properly defined and whether the president's power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards.'"
The issue here is who's a bad guy and how do you figure it out? If this is the means by which we're going to decide not that you're going to be arrested and tried, but the means by which we will decide whether the president can order you dead, then on what basis is the president making that decision? How do they determine who is a bad guy? Or as Oregon Senator Ron Wyden put it in a question, a written question to the president's CIA nominee John Brennan, 'How much evidence does the president need to determine that a particular American can be lawfully killed?'"
"Following naturally on from that, and this is the one that keeps me up at night, does the president have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender before killing them?"
"If you're an American citizen and the president is going to kill you, do you have the right to give yourself up instead so you don't get killed? And how do you know you should do that if the president's decision that he is going to kill you is a secret decision that nobody ever tells you? And are we right also in only imagining this kind of thing happening in places like Yemen or Pakistan"
Quoting again from Senator Wyden here, 'Are there any geographic limitations on the intelligence community's authority to use lethal force against Americans? Do any intelligence agencies have the authority to carry out lethal operations inside the United States?' Good question."
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