By Vincent J. Salandria and E. Martin Schotz        February 21, 2001

        There are lessons for progressives to learn from an analysis of
        President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the hijacking of
        the Presidency by the Supreme Court during this past fall's election.
        The killing blow to JFK was delivered by a U.S.military-intelligence rifle team.
        The deathblow to Al Gore's bid for Presidency came in the form of a precedent-denying
        opinion of five reactionary members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

        First, consider the assassination of President Kennedy. It was motivated by our
        national security state's perceived need to block JFK's plainly signaled turn toward peace.
        During the missile crisis, Kennedy negotiated us out of that planet-threatening cold war
        confrontation rather than bomb and invade Cuba, which was the desire of his hawkish
        foreign policy advisers, the joint chiefs, the CIA and the Congress.

        In an op-ed piece in the February 4, 2001 "New York Times" Sergei Khrushchev,
        son of Nikita, speaks to what followed from the resolution of that crisis. He states that
        a "great deal changed after the crisis." He tells of the establishment of a direct communication
        link between Moscow and Washington.  He fails to mention the above-ground-nuclear
        test ban treaty, the end of the Berlin confrontation, Kennedy's initiation of secret negotiations
        concerning the normalization of relations with Cuba and his ordering of the beginning
        of an American withdrawal from Vietnam.

        Sergei Khrushchev further tells how in 1963 his father
        "...made an official announcement to a session of the U.S.S.R.
        Defense Council that he intended to sharply reduce Soviet
        armed forces from 2.5 million men to half a million and to stop
        the production of tanks and other offensive weapons." Sergei
        Khrushchev adds that his father wished to have money freed
        up by arms reduction to use "in agriculture and housing
        construction." Sergei Khrushchev said that in another six
        years, if Kennedy had not been killed and his father a year
        later had not been removed from office, "they (Kennedy and
        Khrushchev) would have brought the cold war to a close
        before the end of the 1960's."

        In 1963, the year of his death, Kennedy made his famous
        American University speech in which he passionately spoke of
        peace: "...not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by
        American weapons of war [but] a genuine peace, the kind of
        peace that makes life on earth worth living... not merely peace
        for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely
        peace in our time but peace for all time. I speak of peace
        because of the new face of war Total war makes no sense...
        Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union... Let
        us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war... And is not
        peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights...
        we shall also do our part to build a world of peace in which
        the weak are safe and the strong are just."

        So, while Kennedy was in the process of turning toward
        peace, the national security state, the giant U.S. war-making
        apparatus, murdered him. The war machine killed Kennedy
        before he was able to help the American people to understand
        fully the direction and reasons for his turn. The protraction of
        the cold war made possible by the Kennedy assassination
        resulted in the allocation of additional vast wealth and resources
        to our military-intelligence complex. Even now, some thirty-eight years
        after Kennedy's death and with no credible enemies in sight, nothing
        stands in the way of the U.S. warfare state continuing to receive
        in excess of 300 billion dollars a year.

        Immediately following Kennedy's death, and continuing to the
        present, all governmental, media, and university centers of
        power in our society have participated either actively or
        passively in covering up the true nature of the conspiracy to
        assassinate the President. At the time of the assassination
        these institutions failed to pursue the truth of the President's
        murder because they quickly perceived a common interest in
        avoiding the whirlwind of political turmoil that would have followed
        public awareness of the truth. The public tranquility, which
        was orchestrated in the wake of Kennedy's assassination,
        allowed the criminal US war against Vietnam to be escalated.
        Only gradually over ten years did public outrage and disorder
        gradually rise to the point where the US military adventure in
        Vietnam could be terminated and at a cost of millions of Vietnamese
        lives, thousands of American lives and the subsequent assassination
        of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and other
        less prominent protest leaders. And this only begins to add up the true
        cost of the establishment,s much prized domestic tranquility.

        In the Bush's selection over Gore, these institutions have
        reacted similarly, apparently believing that the need for
        domestic tranquility ultimately over-rules all other
        considerations. Once again we are witness to military
        escalations in the wake of an illegal seizure of the Presidency.
        The acquiescence of the establishment in the present case has
        been manifest as the media and academic institutions dutifully
        followed the lead of Gore and the Democratic Party
        establishment in their refusal to call the Florida vote what it
        was, a fraudulent election in which there was clear evidence of
        a conspiracy by state and local officials to elect Bush by
        suppressing a significant portion of the African American vote.

        Gore and the Democratic Party establishment declined to raise
        the extensive illegalities in the election process as an issue.
        Instead, they attempted to keep the people off the streets and
        channeled the struggle against the Bush forces through the
        narrow avenue of questioning faulty voting machines counts.
        This strategy deprived the struggle of all its true political significance.

        Gore and the Democratic establishment accepted the cynical
        action of the Supreme Court majority, which collaborated with
        the Republican conspiracy to steal the election. In accepting
        this theft of the election the Democratic establishment made
        such larceny acceptable just as surely as in accepting the
        obviously fraudulent and criminal Warren Report the
        establishment made President Kennedy's assassination
        "acceptable" as a means of determining our nation's policies.

        In the presidential campaign corporate America contributed
        heavily to both parties. Two per cent of the electorate, out of
        disenchantment with the corporate control of the two major
        parties, voted for Ralph Nader whose chances for election
        were nil. Al Gore, with only rare digressions into populism,
        clung in his campaign to the political "center." By clinging to
        the "center "Gore managed to make the two political parties
        barely distinguishable to the electorate. As a result a large
        segment of the voting public was unable to perceive the issues
        at stake, thus transforming the election into a choice between
        the public personas of Bush and Gore.

        The Republicans neutralized the African American and Jewish
        voters in Florida by various Republican disenfranchisement tactics.
        These consisted of: the Florida election officials purging the voting rolls
        of legitimate voters through racial profiling, denying of votes to African
        American college students, directing voters to polling stations where they
        were not registered, assigning malfunctioning voting machines to precincts
        where the poor predominated, providing inadequate or non-existent poll
        assistance, and erecting police road blocks near polling stations

        Notwithstanding this wide and obvious Republican Party
        criminality, the Democratic Party strategists responded by
        going into battle with both hands securely tied behind their
        backs. They adopted in their court battles a narrow legal
        theory, which was confined to asking the courts to order the
        lawfully required hand vote recount. This circumscribed
        Democratic legal strategy left un-addressed the extensive and
        criminal disenfranchisement of Florida voters, and by
        necessary implication, our nation's voters.

        The Democratic Party refused to support the NAACP's
        dignified Florida demonstrations, which protested the
        conspiracy against the African American vote. Instead it relied
        on our court system to serve as a bulwark to the precious right
        of our citizenry to determine who should be President. The
        Supreme Court majority emulated Earl Warren in demonstrating
        disdain for democracy. These five Supreme Court members,
        like Earl Warren, agreed to legitimize an illegitimate President.
        The Supreme Court majority opinion, which selected Bush as
        President, fashioned a legal opinion that achieved a degree of
        rationality that rose no higher than that of the Warren Report.

        Among the lessons to be learned from these two instances of
        the imposition of two illegitimate Presidents are:
        (1) the judiciary will not on its own protect our democracy;
        (2) the only force that will insure our democratic rights is the
        force of the people who understand the issues, are willing to
        organize, and are willing take to the streets, if necessary, to
        disturb domestic tranquility when their rights are not respected;
        (3) that the current Democratic Party's leadership is, like that
        of the Republican Party, a leadership dominated by corporate
        interests and consequently is unwilling and unable to organize
        people to defend their rights against assaults orchestrated by
        the military-intelligence-industrial complex, the radical right and
        the conservative business forces;
        (4) that so long as the two major political parties are dominated by
        corporate America, which is committedto maximizing profits ahead
        of the needs of the people for justice and peace, democracy in this
        nation will continue to erode to extinction.

        The fight is not over. The theft of the presidential election
        ought to put the American people on notice. The recent
        bombing of Iraq should ring a bell. If we are serious about
        defending and broadening our democracy, we must organize
        and act. We much organize to protest militarism, to address
        the need for a clean environment, quality public education,
        universal health care and a reasonable living standard for every
        citizen. In order to accomplish this it will be necessary for
        federal discretionary funds to be directed towards these ends
        not towards tax benefits for the rich, not towards our
        obscenely immense military budget, not toward the
        manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons, and not toward
        the fraudulent "national missile defense system.

        African Americans, Hispanics, Catholics, Jews, trade unionists
        and the poor must again join together to form a force capable
        of effectively pursuing the vision for which President Kennedy
        died. They must lovingly and peacefully join together to
        demand for themselves and their children a less violent future
        and a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of
        this nation. The domination of the Democratic Party by the
        corporations must end, and the Democratic Party must attend
        to the needs of this vital democratic coalition. For the
        Democratic Party to fail to do so will mean it must be
        abandoned as a vehicle for progressive change in this society.
        These are the lessons we take from the murder of President
        John F. Kennedy and the recent Republican theft of the Presidency.

          Vincent J. Salandria
           E. Martin Schotz

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