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Lone gunman? November 22, 2005

Today’s the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Being just 25 months old at the time, I have little recollection of it other than vaguely recalling that I was immediately skeptical of the lone gunman theory.

I had not even thought about the anniversary until I heard Don Imus this morning talking to Tim Russert about it.

Russert talked about his vivid memories of the day. He was an in eighth grade at the time in a Catholic school in Buffalo and remembers being taken out of school to pray. He said he had a paper route at the time and the paper usually arrived at his home at 4 p.m. On that day, they were a couple hours late and neighborhood people lined up waiting.

Then he started talking about Dealey Plaza in Dallas, where the president was killed. He was amazed at how small it was and talked about how slow the limousine would have had to be going to negotiate the turn. Then he said it: &uot;giving Oswald a perfect shot from the depository.&uot;

I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Oswald? How can any thinking person still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman with the &uot;magic bullet theory,&uot; the inability of Marine sharpshooters to duplicate the feat in the allotted time, and on and on.

Apparently Imus couldn’t believe it either. He asked, &uot;You believe Oswald acted alone?&uot;

Russert said he did, that everything he read pointed to it and that there’s no way a conspiracy that big could be kept hidden.

Granted, I’m a conspiracy buff, and gullible. I’m inclined to believe about anything I hear or read, but in this case, there’s no question. Perhaps the conspiracy was not at large as Oliver Stone postulated, involving the CIA, FBI, Army Intelligence, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, the New Orleans City Council and on and on, but there’s no way you can ever convince me there weren’t at least two or three shooters, probably three.

Russert’s an idiot.

I’ve written quite a bit lately in the print edition about the &uot;Southern Strategy&uot; for growth presented to Suffolk City Council last week and I’m about done. Driving home last night I thought of one other point I wanted to get out there.

Councilman Charles Brown criticized the plan presented Wednesday because it only allowed around 1,300 homes to be developed south of downtown instead of the 20,000 or so he was obviously counting on. Brown suggested there was a racist element in the planning department’s proposal to limit growth there, saying the plan &uot;leaves behind people of color.&uot;

At first, I assumed Brown was merely grandstanding. There are black people throughout Suffolk and we will all benefit from a controlled, smart growth strategy.

But then it struck me: If I were black, I’d be dubious of something called a &uot;southern strategy&uot; as well. The term is most commonly used in reference to the Republican party’s plan after passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1964, in which Republicans embarked on a 30-year campaign to play upon the racism of some southern whites to gain electoral domination of the region.

It was subtle, from President Ronald Regan announcing his candidacy at a county fair in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964, to George H.W. Bush’s use of the Willie Horton ad, to George W. Bush’s appearance at racist Bob Jones University. The message was clear: &uot;We’re with you.&uot;

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman recently apologized on behalf of the party for the strategy, but there’s no arguing it was successful and a stroke of political genius, completely shifting the balance of power in the U.S.

So if I were Suffolk City Council, I think I’d find a better name for the bad plan to add houses in south Suffolk if I wanted to get blacks on board.