Whodunnit xxix: Dueling Narratives

John Sparrow has written, “In order not to believe in the probable there is so much of the improbable one has to believe in.”

Or look at it this way.
In one view of the world, Lee Harvey Oswald takes his rifle to work and kills President Kennedy. He rushes to his rooming house, changes clothes, picks up his revolver, and, when stopped by Officer Tippit, kills him. He attempts to hide inside a movie theater, where he is arrested.

In another, for two months prior to the assassination, one or more CIA-connected people impersonating Oswald, who is himself CIA-connected, visit embassies in Mexico City, write a letter ro another, and drop in on a gun shop, rifle range, car dealership, and airport in Dallas, to create an after-the-fact impression he was preparing to kill the president.
In mid-October a CIA-connected woman masquerading as a friend of Oswald and his wife. induces him to take a job at the book depository.
On November 20, two Cuban or Italian men, who don’t resemble Oswald, drive with a heroin addicted stripper named Rose Cheramie from Miami to Dallas, planning to kill the president, before continuing on to Houston to pick up 10 kilos of heroin and a small child and move to Mexico.
On November 22 at 11 am, Jack Ruby, who had been involved in a long homosexual relationship with Oswald, drops a man carrying a rifle off from his pick-up truck at the grassy knoll. (It is unclear if he is one of the men from Miami.)
At 12:30 pm, Kennedy will be shot. Either one or two shots are fired from the grassy knoll. The shooter of the one shot will have an accomplice. (It is unclear if these are the two men from Miami or if either was the man Ruby dropped off.) These men, along with the man or men in the book depository (see below) will be among those who contribute to Kennedy being shot 6 to 8 times from at least three directions. (Which directions and by how many shooters is unclear.)
In the book depository, a man with a rifle is leaning out of a 4th or 5th floor window with a man in a brown suit coat beside him. And/or a man in a sport coat fires four shots from a window on the 5th or 6th floor. And/or a man in a tan sport coat and glasses fires three shots from a window on the 7th floor. This man will enter a green Rambler driven by a young Negro. This may or may not be the same man who is either Oswald or his twin seen entering a green Rambler driven by a husky Latin (but probably not since Oswald was not wearing a sport coat or glasses). Whichever Rambler had Oswald or his twin in it was also owned by the CIA linked woman contrary toe fact that state records say she did not own such a vehicle. (It is unclear if any of the men on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th floor were those from Miami.)
Oswald or his twin flees the scene in the Rambler, while the other leaves by bus. The real Oswald makes his way to his rooming house where he retrieves his pistol. He is picked up by a police car (or a “counterfeit” police car) and driven to the Texas Theater to await his CIA-handler. Meanwhile an Oswald impersonator (It is unclear if is the one from the Rambler or bus) kills Officer Tippit, thereby branding the actual Oswald as a cop-killer, so the Dallas police will kill him. The imposter leads the police to the theater. After the actual Oswald is subdued (though not killed, even though he has pulled his pistol, providing ample cause), the impersonator is whisked out the back door to travel, first by red Falcon and then by jeep, disembarking with a companion who has been picked up along the way, for a cargo plane which has been diverted from its flight pattern to pick them up on a highway under construction, in order to fly them to Roswell, New Mexico, to join the flying saucers. (What happened to any other Oswalds and any other shooters is unclear.)
After that it became a simple matter of substituted body parts, doctored films and X-rays, military-controlled autopsies, compromised Chief Justices and Senators, and lay people bribed with offers of $500 or cast into mental hospitals or murdered or scared into temporary silence by attempts on their lives with knife and gun and dynamite and automobile.

Whodunnit xxviii: Six Top Reasons Oswald Killed Kennedy (and one why no one else was involved)

Bugliosi actually provides over eighty, but I’m picking the best and indulging in a bit of consolidating.
1. Oswald rented a room in Dallas, and would join his wife and daughter in the house in Irving where they resided on Friday nights. But the day before the assassination, Oswald joined them Thursday instead. He stored his rifle in this house’s garage, but when the FBI visited the following day, the rifle was not there. He had left his wedding ring and most of his money behind though.
2. Oswald told the fellow who drove him to work Friday morning that the long, brown paper-wrapped parcel he was carrying contained curtain rods, though his room already had curtain rods, and no curtain rods were found at the book depository after Oswald left, not carrying his parcel.
3. A rifle that Oswald had mail-ordered and which had been shipped to his PO box, was found on the sixth floor of the book depository, along with three casings of bullets which had been fired from it. Bullets that struck Kennedy had been fired from that rifle.
4. Oswald’s left and right palm prints and an index finger print were found on boxes from which the sixth floor “sniper’s nest” had been built. He was the only warehouse employee placed on the sixth floor near the time of the shooting, and of the 16 warehousemen, only he disappeared following the shooting.
5. Ten people either saw Oswald shoot Officer Tippit or saw him run from the shooting with a pistol in his hand. And two more saw him sneak into the Texas Theater.
6. While in police custody, Oswald refused to take a lie detector test, denied owning a rifle, and said a photograph of him holding a rifle, which his wife said she had taken, had been doctored. And paraffin tests confirmed he had recently fired the revolver.
7. It is hard to keep a secret, and this one would have involved members of the executive branch and Attorney General’s office, the joint chiefs of staff, the CIA, captains of industry, the FBI, Dallas Police Department, Secret Service, and the Warren Commission and its staff. Yet in 52-years not one credible person has come forward to admit participating in the murder or the cover up. Nor has one person said they were approached to participate and declined to do so. And if they were scared into keeping silence, you would expect that, after others who claimed fear had silenced them for five or 30 years, before they went public with their stories and books and went unharmed, you would think one among these still-silent would have been willing to clear their conscience, or save their reputations, if not fill their bank accounts.

Whodunnit xxvii: Head Snap

A final piece in the conspiracists’ shot-from-the-front scenario is that the Zapruder film shows Kennedy’s head snapping sharply to the rear. “(C)onclusive,” says Salandria. To Talbot, the films “reveal more” than the entire Warren Commission report. (Douglass, though, is oddly silent on the films. While his book gives more than four pages to Rose Cheramie and over five to Robert Vinson, he only mentions the films once, and then in an endnote, where he sets forth a belief they were altered to (a) hide the exit wound at the rear of Kennedy’s head and (b) eliminate frames which showed that the Secret Service had stopped the limo to give the assassins an easier target. In the same footnote, he takes the opportunity to cite an authority who believes “Kennedy was shot 6-to-8 times from at least three directions…”, which is as specific as Douglass gets to a theory of who actually shot Kennedy from where.)

Okay, no argument, Kennedy’s head snapped backwards. But what does that mean, exactly? According to experts quoted by Bugliosi, the snap was a neuromuscular response consistent with a bullet striking the rear of his head. And Bugliosi’s analysis of the Zapruder films shows that Kennedy’s head first went forward slightly (2″ approx.) before jerking more strongly to the rear (8 ½”). Given the weight of the bullet as opposed to the weight of Kennedy’s head, this is about the movement forward you would expect prior to the neuromuscular response taking over.
As for the reality of such a response, I haven’t tried this myself, but the next time you’re in line at a movie theater, flick the back of the head of the person ahead of you with your index finger, and see if that head moves towards you or away.
I’m betting “towards.”

Whodunnit xxv: The Magic Bullet (b)

The autopsy face sheet prepared at Bethesda did provide enough inconsistencies and errors to fuel the conspiracists’ fire about a “magic bullet.” These fires continued to burn even after the doctors who’d prepared the sheet explained that it was a rough approximation and not intended as accurate. They continued to burn even though the seven doctors who reviewed the medical record for the Warren Commission, and eight of the nine doctors who, using enhanced photos and X-rays, evaluated for the HSCA agreed that one bullet did all the claimed damage. And the fires were not extinguished even though 3-D computer modeling, applied and re-applied as it improved in 1976, ‘82, ‘92, and 2003, concluded that Kennedy and Connolly’s wounds were in alignment with a single shot fired from a southeast corner window on the sixth floor of the book depository.
The conspiracists cling to their belief based on claims that x-rays have been doctored and photos altered and that someone else’s body parts were substituted for Kennedy’s, as well as a blindness to – and distortion of – the plainly observable. To make their case, they place Connolly directly in front of and on an equal level with Kennedy, when photographs show the governor on a jump seat, below the president to his left, and turned to his own right when struck. Photos show Kennedy’s back – but not his head – inclined forward, establishing a posture consistent with an entry wound in his rear and exit wound in his throat just where the Warren Commission put it. And no disrespect to Salandria’s great-grandfather, but Kennedy’s jacket was clearly bunched up over his shoulders at the time the shot was fired.
One other thing, if the same bullet didn’t hit Kennedy and Connolly, who shot the governor? Since he was struck in the back, the shooter had to have been behind the limo. From the time between the visible reactions of both men established by the Zapruder film, Oswald couldn’t have gotten off separate shots to hit each man separately. No one claimed to have seen a second rifleman behind the car. And what happened to the bullet which hit Kennedy if it didn’t end up in Connolly? The FBI swept the car and didn’t find a trace of it.
Oh, that’s right, we can’t trust the FBI not to have pocketed it – except when it comes to trusting its initially voiced separate-bullet theory. And as McAdams points out, the Warren Commission was thinking separate bullets hit Kennedy and Connolly as late as April 1964, so how could the FBI have been hiding evidence in late 1963 to bolster a theory that hadn’t yet been arrived at?

Whodunnit xxiii: Autopsy (b)

But before we leave the autopsy, there’s the tale of Lt. Cmmdr. William Pitzer of the Audio-Visual Department of the Naval Medical School, who, Douglass says, filmed it. This story is based on the recollection of Pitzer’s wife, recounted in a book published forty-one years later, that he had left home at 4:30 p.m. the afternoon of the assassination for work, taking his camera, and did not return until the following afternoon. He never told her where he’d been, but Dennis David, a hospital corpsman, in Douglass’s reconstruction, provides the details. David said that, a few days after the assassination, Pitzer showed him film of Kennedy’s body shot during the autopsy which showed an entrance wound in the throat. No one else is known to have seen this film.
On Oct. 29, 1966, Pitzer was found dead in his studio from a gunshot to the head. FBI and naval investigators concluded he had committed suicide. (He was in a troubled marriage and having an affair.) David believed Pitzer was killed to keep him from releasing the films. Now David has credibility problems. He’d suggested in 1988 that he had been present when Pitzer had filmed the autopsy, though he’d said in 1977 he hadn’t been in the room; and he’d not mentioned until 1997 that he had actually seen the footage. (Another problem was that no one at the autopsy recalled seeing Pitzer there; and the official list of those in attendance did not include his name. Douglass gets around this by saying that since the room contained a closed circuit TV camera, Pitzer may’ve been monitoring the scene elsewhere, and got his films from there. But then why did he need his camera when he left home, huh?)
Oh, maybe, that was because Pitzer filmed Kennedy’s corpse, not at Bethesda, but at Walter Reed Hospital, where it had been taken first so that the bullet wounds could be surgically altered. This theory shows up in one of Douglass’s endnotes; and its source is again Dennis David based upon his recalling a sighting of a mysterious gray casket being delivered to the rear of Bethesda a half-hour before the official bronze one, supposedly bearing the president, arrived at the front door.
(Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe when Pitzer left home without saying where he was going, it was to ball his mistress, and the “work” and camera was a cover-story. Anyone think of that?)
Readers will not be surprised to learn Douglass believes David about Pitzer. After all, Douglass has Daniel Martin to rely on too.

Martin was a Born Again, ex-Special Forces officer, who surfaced in the early 19990s after having seen a documentary in which Pitzer’s death was discussed. This reminded Martin of a CIA-influenced training program for assassins he had attended in 1965 at Fort Bragg. There, he had not only learned that the Company had probably killed Kennedy, but he and a fellow Green Beret, David Vanek were solicited to kill Pitzer. Martin refused; but after learning about Pitzer’s fate, he assumed Vanek had accepted the job, and when his efforts to locate Vanek were unsuccessful, he assumed the CIA had killed him to assure his silence.
According to Victor Bugliosi, two conspiracists, Robin Palmer and Allen Eaglesham, spent a decade trying to verify Martin’s story. When Vanek was located, he denied knowing Martin, or being at the training session he described, let alone killing Pitzer. Douglass notes this but adds, “Vanek was apparently well-versed in CIA-cover stories.” (Right! Like “I never heard of the guy.”) Douglass does not say that, following these denials, Martin became evasive, contradictory, and refused to confront Vanek on the phone. Palmer and Eaglesham concluded Martin was a liar and warned the conspiracy community against him.
Douglass seems not to have heard this warning.

Whodunnit: xviii: Truth vs. Agenda (b)

Another thing in Salandria’s speech that struck me was his assertion that, while Air Force One was in flight back to Washington from Dallas, the presidential party received word “‘there was no conspiracy…(and) of the identity of Oswald and his arrest…’” Salandria gives as his source Theodore H. White’s “The Making of the President, 1964.” From my reading of “Making,” White was not on Air Force One, and since his book is not foot-noted, how and when he learned of ths announcement is unknown. (It occurs in his text immediately following Johnson being sworn-in as president, which took place before the plane’s departure at 2:47 CST. It landed at 4:58.) Salandria, for no reasons I saw, concluded that the announcement came from presidential assistant McGeorge Bundy in the White House Situation Room, and that it was “conclusive evidence of high-level U.S. governmental guilt” since there was no proof yet pointing towards Oswald’s guilt and “overwhelming, convincing evidence of conspiracy…” In Salandria’s end notes this “overwhelming, convincing evidence,” existing between 2:47 and 4:58 p.m., turns out to be a news story the following day in a Dallas newspaper quoting the District Attorney as saying “‘preliminary reports indicated more than one person was involved…’” (“(P)reliminary” indications hardly indicate “overwhelming, convincing evidence” IMHO. Plus the conspiracy the D. A. had in mind – see below – isn’t the one Salandria thought was being covered up.) Still it is refreshing to see him, at least for the time being, not implicating a governmental agency in the cover-up.
Aside from raising again the question of why the conspirators would want to conceal Oswald’s leftist links, since they were hoping to start a war or two with the Reds, the Air Force One announcement is puzzling in many ways. There must have been dozens of people aboard, but with one exception (see even further below) none of them seem to have heard what White reported. Second, the responsibility of charging anyone with anything lay, not with the federal government, but with Dallas authorities so unless McGeorge Bundy controlled the local D.A., whom Salandria has just praised, what happened was out of his hands. Third, before the plane was in the air, both the Dallas police and the FBI suspected Oswald had killed Kennedy. They had eye witnesses to his killing Tippit; they knew of his links to Cuba and Russia; they knew he worked in the Book Depository where shell casings had been found; and his wife had told them he owned a rifle. Finally as late as 10:20 p.m., radio stations in Dallas were reporting he would be charged with killing the president “as part of an international Communist conspiracy,” following a leak from the assistant D.A. who expected to be assigned the case. So the blanket Bundy had supposedly thrown over the news didn’t seem to have been working.
In support of the announcement White said was made, Salandria offered that Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary, who was on a different plane with several cabinet members headed toward Tokyo, reported in his book “With Kennedy” that he heard a similar one. Salandria doesn’t quote what Salinger said he heard or at what time he heard it. The Berkeley Public Library didn’t have that book, so I couldn’t check. It did have Salinger’s “P.S.: A Memoir,” which mentions several cables (or calls) received during that flight, none of which resemble the one White reported. Salandria also said that Robert Manning, an assistant secretary of state, who said he was on Air Force One, “reported having heard the same account of Oswald being designated as the presumed assassin.” But note that (a) the White statement didn’t say Oswald had been named as an “assassin” and (b) the Manning statement, as reported by Salandria, didn’t say there was no conspiracy. Finally Salandria end-notes Manning’s account to an oral history published in 1993, 30 years after Kennedy was killed. Perhaps Manning was White’s one and only source. Or perhaps he was interviewed by the oral historians close to their publication date. I’ll pause for a moment while I ask you to remember where and when it was that you heard that Al Queda had been accused of carrying out 9/11 and exactly how that news was worded.
And that was less than 15 years ago.

Whodunnit xvi: The Katzenbach Memorandum

A heavily smoking gun to which believers in a conspiracy cover-up point is a memorandum, written by deputy attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach, on Nov. 25, 1963, to LBJ aide Bill Moyers. It read, in part, “(T)he public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; (and) that he did not have confederates who are still at large.” It also recommended that “speculation” or “hearings of the wrong sort” be headed off. Four days later, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Katzenbach recommended a seven-man committee – the future Warren Commission – investigate the case.
Both Douglass and Salandria quote the “satisfaction” sentence as proof the commission was created to sell the public the Oswald-bill of goods, and prevent the truth of the NSS conspiracy from being discovered. Talbot, who also quotes this language, takes a more nuanced view. He is favorably disposed toward Katzenbach because he would (a) state a belief that the FBI and CIA hid facts from the committee and (b) allowed that someone besides Oswald might have been involved. (Katzenbach believed that Oswald fired the only shots but might have been backed by others. His bet was on anti-Castro Cubans. This helps Talbot’s call for the release of more records, but does nothing for the JD/VS-school which considers Katzenbach a criminal co-conspiritor.)

Significantly, neither JD, VS or DT quote the very first sentence of the memorandum: “It is important that all of the facts surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination be made public.” Nor do they quote its call to have “a complete and thorough FBI report on Oswald and the assassination” made public as quickly as possible. Katzenbach would testify to the HSAC that he had wanted all the facts on the table. If, as the FBI was saying, Oswald acted alone, that case had to be made. If Oswald was part of a conspiracy, left or right, that case had to be made. The public worldwide had to know “the true facts had been revealed…”
Now you don’t have to believe Katzenbach, but it seems at least intellectually dishonest for the conspiracists to quote selectively in order to hide an interpretation counter to their own from being arrived at. Of course, if it wasn’t hidden, the conspiracists would have had to explain why the not-yet-created committee would decide to follow a “satisfy-the-public-with-Oswald” directive rather than an “all-the-facts” one.
Additionally if, as JD?VS believe, the NSS had falsely marketed Oswald a Marxist Kennedy-killer in order to inflame public opinion sufficiently to justify an invasion of Cuba and/or nuking of the USSR, why would it want a commission to cut off speculation that the Red Menace was at work? Or was there a second peacenik conspiracy, including the FBI and Lyndon Johnson, trying to stymie the CIA/Joint Chiefs/industrialist one? (Douglass seems to suggest something like this, At one point he has J. Edgar Hoover telling Pres. Johnson that the CIA had “doctored evidence” linking Oswald with the Soviets. Johnson seeking to avoid “global war” did not take the CIA-dangled bait, but he also elected to avoid confronting the CIA, hoping equally to avoid “a war within the U.S. government.”)

Whodunnit x: The Man in the Green Rambler (a.)

My favorite single law school class occurred during Evidence. The professor had us take out pen and paper. He asked us to write down his age and height and weight. He asked us to describe, without turning, what was on the wall above the door through which we exited daily. So we had him 40-to-60. We had him 5’6″ to 5’11”, from 140 to 180 pounds. Most of us knew there was a clock on the wall. No one knew there was a thermostat. Three of us remembered a non-existent painting, which, as the professor put it, “In case of a fire, you would be prepared to come into court and place a value on it.” And that was us a group of keen-eyed, aggressively competitive second-year law students paying direct attention. Imagine if someone had shot him from a nearby building before he spoke.
Memories are chemicals. They fade in or are augmented by the passage of time or other events or how we wish or expect things to be. They are shaped by wishes to conform and please and live up to expectations and out of fear. They are influenced by wishes to enhance one’s role in situations or desire for financial or other gain.
I mention all this before I discuss eyewitnesses.

It seems central to James Douglass’s theory that, following the shots that killed President Kennedy, a man closely resembling Lee Harvey Oswald coming from the rear of the Texas Book Depository Building entered a green Rambler station wagon and left the scene. It seems clear there was a Rambler. (John McAdams says photos confirm its presence.) It could be a man entered it, but it was not likely it was Oswald. (A former landlady identified him as entering a bus not far from the TBD, and a transfer in his pocket after his arrest established the time he was aboard.) For JD’s case, this man was an Oswald impersonator who, as I understand it, then killed Officer Tippit and led police to the Texas Theater where Oswald was caught.
JD leads with Dallas police sergeant Roger Craig. Craig says that 10 minutes (JM and VB have him saying 15 minutes) after the shooting, he saw a man coming toward Elm Street from the rear of the TBD, where he was picked up by the Rambler, driven by a husky Latin male, which was headed west. (VB says Craig said the driver could have been Negro.) RC later confronted this man (or, rather, someone who looked like him, the actual LHO), while he was being questioned in the office of Craig’s superior, Capt. Will Fritz, at which point O linked the Rambler to Ruth Paine, a friend of his and his wife, whom JD had previously semi-linked to the CIA.
There are problems with Craig’s credibility. For one, Fritz denied Craig was ever in his office with Oswald. (JD chooses not to believe Fritz because, for one thing, he did not follow up when presented Rose Cherabi’s tale.) For a second, as VB points out, it seems odd for LHO to have admitted any involvement in the killing, since otherwise he steadfastly denied any role in it. (And since LHO left in a bus, it would mean he knew an impostor was leaving by Rambler.) Third, JM says both the DPD and FBI confirmed that Paine owned a Chevvy wagon, not a Rambler. (JD chooses not to believe the FBI since the agent reporting that, he alleges, destroyed other evidence. He does not mention the DPD.) Fourth, Craig also placed himself on the sixth floor, where the shooter’s rifle and cartridge hulls were found, but his description of the rifle and placement of the shells conflicts with other accounts. Fifth, in 1971, Craig gave an account which had Tippit being shot at 1:06, which would have meant LHO could not have shot him, which is fine for JD, but most others say the shooting occurred at 1:15, when LHO could have; but in 1968 he had believed that the shooting had occurred at 1:40. (JD does not mention this.) Finally, Craig would later write an unpublished book which recounted five attempts on his life, including being shot at, run off the road, and having his car dynamited. He would later commit suicide – or, according to some theorists, be killed. VB has pointed out it is surprising that a conspiracy that killed a president would have such difficulty killing Craig – or why it would need to, since he had already given his evidence. (JD mentions none of this, but he does buttress Craig’s report of the Rambler man with the accounts of other witnesses.)
Stay tuned.

Whodunnit (ii): the murder of JFK

Thanks to a libris, I now have the four books I mentioned last blog. So let me provides some vital statistics. (All weights include index and footnotes, except for the Bugliosi which has its fns in a CD rom I didn’t get.)

In the black (pro-Warren) corner, Posner’s volume (1993), the veteran of the bunch, weighs in at 637 pp. His partner, the massive — think Andre the Giant — Bugliosi (2007) has 1632. In the white (anti-Warren) corner, the Talbot (2007) is a slim 417 pp, and the Douglas is a nearly as trim 510.

Before joining me in standing while Marilyn Monroe sings the national anthem, let me make a few observations. Posner, being published first can address none of the other books. Reviewing the other indexes though, I see Bugliosi mentions Posner several times, not generally complimentarily, but neither of his opponents, perhaps understandably since their publication dates were close to his. Talbot mentions Posner but not to rebut any points he made. Talbot says that Posner’s book became a best seller because it was favorably reviewed by the mainstream media since its conclusion let the same media “off the hook” for its complicity in the cover-up. (Any implications of his own book becoming a “bestseller,” as its softcover edition proclaims, are not drawn.) Douglas mentions neither Posner nor Bugliosi. The failure of Talbot and Douglas may be due to the fact to the close proximity of the publication dates of their books, but Bugliosi’s book stemmed from his having prosecuted Oswald in a 21-hour British television trial, broadcast over several days in several countries, in July 1986. (A condensed American version was shown on SHOW in November.) Gerry Spence was the defense attorney. The jury convicted Oswald, after six hours deliberation. This would seem to have warranted some mention.

Maybe it did in some later writings by Douglas and Talbot. I haven’t checked, but I am aware of an article in Talbot in “Slate” (11/6/13) where he places Douglas’s book atop a list of the seven “best books” about Kennedy’s killing. (His own is Number Six.) Neither Posner nor Bugliosi made the list but are dismissed as “hardcore lone gunmen” theorists.

I ought to say I am no impartial referee. I believed Oswald did it up until around the time of Oliver Stone’s movie on the subject. (Like most Americans, I had read none of the books on the subject.) Then I conceded it was as likely as not that other people were involved. Since then I have swung back to my original opinion.


As I finish the last writing project to which I’m committed, I’m looking at a new one. I approach it cautiously, due to its nature and because this decision coincides with my going off one of my meds, and the last time I dropped it, some regrettable e-mails and impaired relationships resulted. But I aim to uncover who killed Kennedy.

My plan is to lay out, point-by-point, the arguments in two books which believe the Warren Commission got it wrong and weigh them against the answering points, if they exist, in two books that agree with the Commission. In one corner are James Douglas’s “JFK and the Unimaginable” and David Talbot’s “Brothers.” In the opposite ate Gerald Posner’s “Case Closed” and Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History.” I chose the Douglas because it is so highly thought of by my good friend and respected political thinker M that he will no longer discuss its subject — or much else of substance — with me; and I chose the Talbot because it is highly thought of by good friend and respected political thinker B, who not only still puts up with my thoughts but is sometimes influenced by them.

I don’t expect to convince anyone of anything. But I expect to inform myself, not only about the ostensible primary topic, but about how people — including myself — think and reason and inform themselves about what they choose to believe.

Stay tuned. This will take a while.