Wednesday, August 7, 2019

How LBJ Got His Way

Friends, this week's Newsmaker Show is the usual tour de force. In our "This Day in History" segment, Brian and I talk about the Battle of Guadalcanal in WWII, Operation Desert Shield in 1990, and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 that laid the groundwork for U.S. belligerence in the Vietnam War. I give old LBJ his due: he was crude and dishonest, but he had a peculiar knack for getting his way politically, and in the process he changed the world -- for better or worse.

In terms of current events, Brian and I discuss the horrific mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the state of play of the British-EU negotiations over Brexit, the controversy over the alleged murder of an Italian Carabinieri officer by two American teenagers, the issue of police/community relations, and more!  Check it out.


  1. Gulf of Tonkin; I do believe you briefly discussed this at one time in class. Wasn't there some sort of report that was declassified awhile back? I think (trying to remember) the report stated that the USS Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, however, there were no Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4 and stated the first incident as August 2. Also, Johnson never stated this ---he always stated that the Vietnamese fired first. I can see where people say there are conflicting reports. Now, if you were to speak to my dad, he has a completely different take on it-he served in the Army as a door gunner in Vietnam. All I know is, Johnson was guilty of omitting of facts on this matter. Apologies to Brian, I like Sen. Kennedy of LA. and do not liken him to Johnson. We need more men like Sen. Kennedy; down to Earth and straight to the point.

    Something is fishy with the story about those boys killing the police officer in Italy. Grant it, if they are found guilty, throw the book at them, period. I'm afraid I really can not form a opinion at this time about this case, I'm just saying something isn't right. I just can't put my finger on it. I can not stress this enough when traveling out the U.S.A.--you don't have the same rights or at times Due Process. I wish my stupid self at 18 had that advice when I/we were/was in Tijuana, if it wasn't for base command in San Diego...Just saying...but Mexico is a different ball of wax--they are pretty lawless. I guess it would be a funny story to tell my grandchildren, only it wasn't funny at the time. But, what those boys are facing, its nothing compared to the drunken escapades of a stupid 18 year old.

    Being married to a former Military Policeman, it is shameful how the police are treated, period. I can not wait to read your article on hate. Thanks for keeping your blog real and relatable.

  2. Dr. Waddy and Linda: So much to comment on: Linda, yeah, when we were homeported in Diego lots of guys got in trouble in TJ. They always warned us in far east ports that we had no American rights there and there were always guys who didn't believe it;guess the U.S. isn't so terrible after all. Also think Johnson was determined to prevent the Commies from taking South Vietnam just as Truman resolved not to let them nickle and dime us, Hitler style, in Korea. He was looking for a pretext and he would have gotten it one way or another. He was justified in seeing stopping it there as necessitated by the lessons of WWII, of which he was a vet. And we would have won if he had left strategy to the military as Bush I did in Kuwait, if he hadn't let those leftover Kennedy intellectuals micromanage AND IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR TREASON AT HOME.

    Guadalcanal: I think it was the U.S. military's greatest campaign. The U.S. met the very formidable Japanese on roughly equal terms and outfought them, straight up. Yes, they inflicted two of the worst defeats the Navy ever experienced but the Nav also hit back eventually just as hard. And the Marines! They were at the top of their game and bested Japanese elite troops time and again. All of this, on land, sea and the air under terribly corrosive climatic and morale busting conditions. Its often claimed that the U.S. beat the Axis by simply outproducing them; that was a decisive factor no doubt but there are plenty of examples of our men fighting the terribly hard fighting Germans and Japanese, hand to hand and face to face and Guadalcanal is the shining example. I once stood only several feet away from Mitchell Paige, who won the Medal of Honor as a Marine on Guadalcanal and it was a humbling and redeeming thrill.

  3. Dr. Waddy and Linda: Desert Shield and Storm: The combination of a brilliantly, personally and voluntarily restrained President Bush and his very able commanders, Generals Powell and Schwartzkopf, both Vietnam vets, and the diplomatic competence of President Bush and his State and Defense subordinates, generated enlightened use of our military power with minimal loss to our troops. Plus, the President kept the traitorous MSM off the backs of our forces. The lessons of Vietnam had been learned and courageously applied despite the earnest efforts of the left to sabotage, Vietnam style, yet again. Oh they harried the President with their sleep destroying loud speakers outside the White House but he was a WWII hombre and he showed them up!

  4. Dr.Waddy and Linda: LBJ, what a fascinating subject. "Vice President Cornpone" huh? Yeah, that's just what I would expect to hear from an often silly Martha's Vineyard type east coast swell about one brought up in rural Texas and the maelstrom of Texas politics. Johnson was vindictively crude; apparently he subjected several of his leftover Kennedy admin. Ivy Leaguers to the toilet sitting treatment, with them in the room with him. They were said to be traumatized, to his delight.He once said to a young correspondent "are yu f---ing with me boy? Ah'm the President of the U.S.!" On the other hand, I am convinced that though he was a confirmed good old boy, he was sincerely regretful of the wrongs done blacks and committed to doing all he could to effectively right those wrongs. I'm sure of it. I think it contributed to his early retirement because he was emotionally devastated by his widespread excoriation. He thought he had done much good.

  5. Dr. Waddy and Linda: The travails visited upon the police now are utterly undeserved and serve only the ends of criminals, who are ecstatic about it and gloat with glee. Having worked in a law enforcement environment and being tasked, even as a civilian, with charging criminals with violation, I empathize with the police. It is a terribly demoralizing experience to confront criminals face to face, do your duty and then see the criminals supported by higher authority, often to your very great disadvantage.

    Dems (almost all of them not crime victims) blithely support such injustice. I could see them standing in front of our troops in WWII, saying "how dare you direct such brutality to those simply defending their ideals, how dare you?!"

    Policing is an extremely tough job, without even the enervating sabotage of apologists for savages, which encourages and enables those subhumans. Naturally the police, human beings after all, are on edge when they enter settings in which this is rife. Tell me, do those oppose them undergo similarly humiliating, self effacing training in restrained response to attack that police and corrections officers endure? No, they don't.

  6. Linda, I think you hit the nail on the head re: the Gulf of Tonkin incident. We WERE misled, but really the incident was beside the point. The important question was: would be fight alongside our South Vietnamese allies or not? We could have justified abandoning South Vietnam to its fate, honestly, but we would have found ourselves fighting communism somewhere else, in that case, and perhaps that somewhere else would have been even less desirable. You can't win a Cold War without sacrifice, in the final analysis. I agree with Jack that victory in Vietnam was within our grasp -- but more importantly OVERALL victory in the Cold War was served by our efforts in southeast Asia.

    Jack, you know Guadalcanal a lot better than I do. It would have been so easy for the US to wait, say, until 1943 to undertake offensive action against the Japanese, but we took the bull by the horns, and as you say we toughed it out.

    Jack: great point about the Pentagon's adroit management of the media in the Gulf War. They did indeed learn some lessons from Vietnam. I think media benevolence is a largely a factor of the length of the conflict, though. We kicked the snot out of the Iraqis. The media didn't have much time to bellyache. When we went back to Iraq in 2003, and the war dragged on and the casualties mounted, the media pulled the same tricks they used in the Vietnam era and turned public opinion against the war effort. So in my view we are still very vulnerable to media deceptions.

    Jack, I'm curious -- why are you so convinced that Johnson's dedication to civil rights was inspired by idealism rather than political calculation?

    I share your sympathy for the police, Jack. I'm not sure I could show the kind of self-control that they must exercise, sadly, on an almost daily basis in the face of hostility and abuse. I know I wouldn't want to. I expect our newfound "enlightenment" when it comes to emptying prisons and excusing minor offenses means that the police are encouraged to tolerate almost forms of disrespect. Of course, when the public sees them mocked and abused -- and unable to respond -- that will only cause the reputation and honor of the police to sink even lower. A negative feedback loop could be created that may bring us closer to anarchy, at least in the most mismanaged cities. I hope we come to our senses quickly!

  7. Dr. Waddy: You are so very right in saying that our efforts in SE Asia DID support our final victory in the cold war and I'd love to see that message given to every traumatized Vietnam vet. Reagan did in part when he said "our cause in Vietnam was noble"Our efforts were not wasted. We went a long way toward showing the Soviets we were determined not to let their poison spread.

    Several things make me think LBJ was sincere: First, his decisive support for the 1964 Civil Rights Bill; being a master of legislation, he could have soft pedaled it. He needn't have worried much about the Presidential race in 1964 (unless Rockefeller had been the nominee and that was unlikely). Second, his public remark on Afirmative Action: " you cannot take the shackles off a man who has been bound all his life and then say 'go ahead, now you're free to run the race with everyone else'" That was a wonderfully compassionate and perceptive thing for him to say. No, I don't like Affirmative Action as it worked out but LBJ was right. Third, when Truman integrated the Armed Forces in 1948 he famously told a meeting of segregationists in Congress (in effect)"this second class citizenship must end". I THINK Johnson supported him. That had to be difficult for men of the South like them then. Fourth: Johnson retired early and died perhaps early probably due to stress. Perhaps he thought he had earned enough political capital with the Great Society to prosecute an unpopular war he believed (rightfully) had to be waged. Too, the appalling hostility of so many of the boomers had to be a profound shock to a WWII vet;" couldn't they see what good he was doing at home? Didn't they realize how hard it was for a man of his associations to turn against so many of them?"

  8. D. Waddy: Also, if my experience in corrections is a guide, far from being encouraged to let abuse run off their backs, police and corrections officers are ordered to do so, often by civilian trainers with leftist axes to grind. I know, I experienced such indoctrination first hand when Mario Cuomo was Governor. Trainees were warned that not only could they lose their jobs but that they could be jailed and exposed to the tender mercies of their previous charges. An assumption of "guilty until grudgingly acknowledged innocent" was very obvious in these sessions.

    Too, there is the now commonly seen phenomenom of higher level supervisors, some of whom have never experienced life in the trenches and of those who HAVE, but have forgotten or who rationalize"well, I paid my dues and so can they" , pooh - poohing the concerns of those who have daily direct contact with the jungle. After all, they have supervisors too (like Cuomo and his toadies) and well, "I'm not going to blow years of baloney to defend some street cop or cell block officer, nah". Now there are supervisors with principle and backbone and they will go to the wall for a courageous subordinate because they know what its like, but they can be understandably hard to find.

  9. Dr. Waddy: When I was working there, the Corrections Dep't Employee Handbook contained a passage, all in caps, to this effect "CHARGES OF HARASSMENT OF INMATES BY STAFF WILL BE DEALT WITH VERY SERIOUSLY." No such obviously emphasized admonishment existed in the Inmate Rule Book; yes, it did address the issue, but in a routine and unconcerned manner. This obvious and blatant bias is one which , I think that police and corrections officers must endure to this day in such lala land settings as NY and CA.

    When I was in the military and I assume this obtains today, I was informed I now lived under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which was different in many ways from the rights I enjoyed as a civilian. Similarly, but of course for a reason shamefully different from military service, convicted criminals should be placed under a separate code of justice. Our society has made a grievous error in declaring them eligible for all the legal protections available to the lawful, over the last overidealistic 50 years and especially at the behest of leftist radicals who see criminals as a "revolutionary" class.Since the '70's we now have the results of a fully accomplished experiment in this dreamy principle before us and the results are obvious!We have but enabled the lowlife and the very sociopath to take cynical advantage of our well intentioned justice system. This is, after this revelation, absolute madness!

  10. D. Waddy: In respect for the innocent and criminally injured, we must resolve to establish a separate and draconian criminal code for those convicted so and we must seriously limit their ability to task those who have arrested them and who have confined them. That is only common sense. Those who seek to evade police scrutiny must do so in two ways: first, obey the law. Second, stand in opposition to those who would cynically seek their protection from law enforcement;tleftistshey have nothing but contempt.Third, offer overt respect to the police; they will respond; they don't want trouble, at least they want to go home at night! They do not harbor consummate hatred for minorities, so many of their valued colleagues are minority members. Believe me, believe me, those in their ranks who do hold unassailable antipathy to all minority groups are viewed as reckless and dangerous by their fellows. Give them a chance and reject the demagogues and the leftists who would, as soon as they could, round you up and put you on Rikers Island as soon as you were of no more value. Read the history of the Russian and Chinese"revolutions".

  11. Hear hear re: the nobility of our cause in Vietnam, but it's important to get the message out that we weren't just well-intentioned -- we actually accomplished part of our mission in the Cold War. We were effective, in other words, at killing communists and draining vital Eastern Bloc resources. That's yet another reason that Vietnam vets should feel proud.

    Interesting perspective on Johnson. I don't honestly know much about him. I suspect you're right that he genuinely believed in civil rights...BUT is he not on record saying some very belittling things about blacks and other minorities? Those were the times he lived in, though. I suppose we can forgive a few slip-ups. I wonder, though, whether he didn't also calculate that civil rights would redound to the benefit of Democrats. Did he foresee the loss of the Solid South? I doubt it.

    Jack, I'm sure many a police or corrections officer feels he can't rely on his superiors to have his back. The whole issue is clouded nowadays by the ubiquity of video evidence. A short, edited clip of an officer doing something superficially "insensitive" or abusive, if it gets serious media play, can be enough to torch his career. And what political appointee or bureaucrat will stand up to that extreme heat and support his subordinate(s)?

    I agree with you that extending the full legal rights of law-abiding citizens to the incarcerated is absurd. Lionizing the incarcerated is equally wrong. We learned these lessons briefly in the 80s and 90s -- even Joe Biden saw the light -- so it's depressing that we now have to fight the same battles all over again.

  12. Dr. Waddy: I don't doubt that a practical schmoozer(and who was more successfully practical than Johnson?)of the 40's and 50's participated with apparent relish in the social conventions of his setting and his day. But he did come through for the Civil Rights movement. It might well have been hard for even a canny operator like Johnson to picture the Solid South going to Republicans, such was the antipathy toward the party of Lincoln in the South. Maybe he thought the South would go its own way in Presidential politics - the Wallace candidacy could be seen as bearing that out - but would retain its Congressional dominance. I thought maybe I read that after signing a significant civil rights bill he said "I've just cost my party the southern vote for a generation" (?) I'll check it out.

  13. Dr. Waddy: According to Google he said the following to Moyers after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act: "We've just lost the South for a generation."

  14. Dr. Waddy: I trust they would never do it - they are far too professional and dutiful- but I would not blame the police for going on strike in those cities which, even officially, display and tolerate obvious contempt for them.One of the real wrongs of the leftist onslaught on our men returning from Vietnam was that the public and especially the major veterans' organizations as far as I could see, were not out there physically separating those men from those expectorating low lifes. The police are in a situation closely analogous to that NOW. And the public needs to stand up for them! And that means getting up on their hind legs and HOWLING when the police are trashed, NOW. That means demonstration of physical support for our police in places like Portland. It means mass, organized support, communicated in no uncertain way, to our lawmakers. It means overt support for officers facing ruin for having done their duty. The criminals have organized and mobilized support; we must provide the same to the police. A creditable defense against charges, no matter how grave or apparent, is assumed in our legal system to be sine qua non:" without which, nothing". Those who task the police outside of court in order to influence judicial consequences, must be met by the majority surely convinced of the absolute necessity of police protection from the cynical criminal element which games our far too naive and idealistic justice and correction system ,and shown in unmistakable conviction, our support for the good guys. Yeah, the good guys.

  15. Well said, Jack! Good point that the public needs to be vocal in support of the police. Some demonstrations to that effect would be welcome. Could be a good subject for my next article...

    A very interesting and prescient quotation from LBJ about losing the South, except that he was wrong about the timeline: the Dems continued to dominate the southern states for the next generation, at least outside of Presidential elections, but the floor dropped out of most state-level Democratic parties in the 1990s. From then to the present, the GOP has ruled the South. When will that rule come to an end? Maybe never. We'll see.

  16. Dr. Waddy: Very good points: I only speculated on what I supposed to be LBJ's expectations for the future.Senator Zell Miller of Georgia courageously declared at , perhaps the '04 Dem convention " my party has left me!" in reaction to the obvious and gutless surrender to Hillary Clinton by the spineless Dems.

    I think Southerners see their proven, generous and staunch patriotism completely disdained and opposed by the Dem party and understandably invest their hopes in the Republican party as the practical vehicle to the realization of true justice in their region. White Southerners do, I am fully convinced, welcome Black prosperity as long as it does not UNJUSTLY task them. They know that the North, even until today does not comprehend the price demanded of them and does not appreciate it!

  17. Dr. Waddy: Please, I urge you, hold forth on the subject of support for the police, which I believe to be vital. Thanx!