Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘LBJ

Snow Day Links

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* Rip Torn apparently tried to rob a bank. What? Not a hoax, not an imaginary story.

* ‘Godfather used Facebook to run empire from jail.’ Let’s hope the FBI doesn’t know about my Twitter account.

* Counternarrative watch: There seems to be little to endear citizens to their legislature or to the president trying to influence it. It’s too bad, because even with the wrench thrown in by Republican Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts, this Democratic Congress is on a path to become one of the most productive since the Great Society 89th Congress in 1965-66, and Obama already has the most legislative success of any modern president — and that includes Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson. The deep dysfunction of our politics may have produced public disdain, but it has also delivered record accomplishment.

* Yglesias has a quick primer on still another way our institutions make legislation terrible.

* And this all-white basketball league sounds like a great, totally not racist idea. “There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.” Naturally, this made Colbert.

Monday Night

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Monday night.

* Nathan Fillion says Dr. Horrible 2 is moving ahead.

* The History News Network has your first JFK post of the season.

What McHugh claimed to have witnessed next was shocking. “I walked in the toilet, in the powder room, and there he was hiding, with the curtain closed,” McHugh recalled. He claimed that LBJ was crying, “They’re going to get us all. It’s a plot. It’s a plot. It’s going to get us all.'” According to the General, Johnson “was hysterical, sitting down on the john there alone in this thing.”

Of course, opinions on LBJ differ.

* And speaking of the Kennedy assassination: how great was last night’s Mad Men? Knowing they would eventually have to do an assassination episode, I worried they wouldn’t find the right approach—but I think they pretty much nailed it. I like too that it came an episode early; like most people I was thinking it would be next week. Pandagon and Ta-Nehisi Coates have their usual Mad Men posts up, if you’re interested; I usually read the Television without Pity forums too.

* Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC): Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened. … I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room — this very room — and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.

* And Steve Benen has your chart of the day: filibusters since the 1960s. That last spike is since Democrats recovered control of Congress in 2007.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 2, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Great Moments in Presidential Inaugurations – 1

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The shittrain began on November 22nd, 1963, in Dallas—when some twisted little geek blew the President’s head off … and then a year later, LBJ was re-elected as the “Peace Candidate.”

Johnson did a lot of rotten things in those five bloody years, but when the history books are written he will emerge in his proper role as the man who caused an entire generation of Americans to lose all respect for the Presidency, the White House, the Army, and in fact the whole structure of “government.”

And then came ’68, the year that somehow managed to confirm almost everybody’s worst fears about the future of the Republic … and then, to wrap it all up another cheapjack hustler moved into the White House. If Joe McGinnis had written The Selling of the President about good old Ike, he’d have been chased through the streets of New York by angry mobs. But when he wrote it about Nixon, people just shrugged and said, “Yeah, it’s a goddamn shame, even if it’s true, but so what?”

I went to Nixon’s inauguration. Washington was a sea of mud and freezing rain. As the Inaugural Parade neared the corner of 16th and Pennsylvania Avenue, some freak threw a half-gallon wine jug at the convertible carrying the commandment of the Marine Corps … and as one-time Presidential candidate George Romney passed by in his new role as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, the mob on the sidewalk began chanting “Romney eats shit! Romney eats shit!”

George tried to ignore it. He knew the TV cameras were on him so he curled his mouth up in a hideous smile and kept waving at the crowd—even as they continued to chant “Romney eats shit!”

The mood of the crowd was decidedly ugly. You couldn’t walk 50 feet without blundering into a fistfight. The high point of the parade, of course, was the moment when the new President’s car passed by.

But it was hard to be sure which one it was. The Secret Service ran a few decoys down the line, from time to time, apparently to confuse the snipers and maybe draw some fire … but nothing serious happened: just the normal hail of rocks, beer cans, and wine bottles … so they figured it was safe to run the President through.

Nixon came by—according to the TV men—in what appeared to be a sort of huge, hollowed-out cannonball on wheels. It was a very nasty looking armored car, and God only knows who was actually inside it.

I was standing next to a CBS-TV reporter named Joe Benti and I heard him say, “Here comes the President…” “How do you know?” I asked him. It was just barely possible to detect a hint of human movement through the slits that passed for windows.

“The President is waving to the crowd,” said Benti into his mike.

“Bullshit!” said Lennox Raphael standing beside me. “That’s Neal Cassidy in there.”

“Who?” said Benti.

“Never mind,” I said. “He can’t hear you anyway. That car has a vacuum seal.”

Benti stared at me, then moved away. Shortly afterward, he quit his job and took his family to Copenhagen.

When the Great Scorer comes to list the main downers of our time, the Nixon Inauguration will have to be ranked Number One. Altamont was a nightmare, Chicago was worse, Kent State so bad that it’s still hard to find the right words for it … but there was at least a brief flash of hope in those scenes, a wild kind of momentary high, before the shroud came down.

The Nixon Inauguration is the only public spectacle I’ve ever dealt with that was a king-hell bummer from start to finish. There was a stench of bedrock finality about it. Standing there on Pennsylvania Avenue, watching our New President roll by in his black-armored hearse, surrounded by a trotting phalanx of Secret Service men with their hands in the air, batting away the garbage thrown out of the crowd. I found myself wondering how Lee felt at Appomattox … or the main Jap admiral when they took him out to the battleship Missouri to sign the final papers.

Hunter S. Thompson on the 1968 inauguration, from his book on the 1972 election, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

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January 20, 2009 at 4:45 am

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Permanent Democratic Majority

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No Democratic incumbent has been voted out of the Senate in the last two cycles, the first time this has been accomplished since the direct election of senators was established in 1908. MyDD asks the obvious question: can the Dems three-peat? The prognosis is good, as only Nevada’s Harry Reid seems especially vulnerable and his state just went blue.

Meanwhile, Salon has tough talk for the GOP.

The painful truth for conservatives is that the dogs aren’t eating their dog food — and every national trend indicates that they will never eat it again. Which means the GOP faces a wrenching choice: remain true to its increasingly irrelevant and rejected ideology and fade into political insignificance, or remake itself as essentially a more moderate version of the Democratic Party.

In the coming years we will witness a war between conservatism’s pragmatists and its true believers. If the pragmatists win, America will have finally arrived at the era of broad political consensus that pundits erroneously forecast after Lyndon Johnson’s demolition of Barry Goldwater in 1964. If the true believers win, we may witness a Palin candidacy in 2012 — and a likely electoral landslide that will bury the GOP so deeply it may never dig out.

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November 11, 2008 at 3:30 am

‘“Somewhere in the Universe a Gear in the Machinery Shifted’

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The rout of the Republican Party, and the accompanying gains by Democrats in Congress, mean that Barack Obama will assume office with vastly more influence in the nation’s capital than most of his recent predecessors have wielded.

The only exceptions suggest the magnitude of the moment. Power flowed in unprecedented ways to George W. Bush in the year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It flowed likewise to Lyndon B. Johnson after his landslide in 1964.

Beyond those fleeting moments, every president for more than two generations has confronted divided government or hobbling internal divisions within his own party.

The Democrats’ moment with Obama, as a brilliant campaigner confronts the challenges of governance, could also prove fleeting. For now, the results — in their breadth across a continent — suggest seismic change that goes far beyond Obama’s 4 percent margin in the popular vote.

The evening recalled what activist Eldridge Cleaver observed of the instant when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and a movement followed: “Somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.”

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November 5, 2008 at 5:27 pm

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Obama and the Left

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Klonsky, whose disgust for mainstream politics led him to launch a new, Maoist Communist Party in the 1970s, today supports Barack Obama so enthusiastically that until recently he was blogging on the Illinois senator’s campaign website. And boycotting this November’s election, Klonsky maintains, would be a “tragic mistake.” He notes that Barack Obama isn’t Hubert Humphrey, 2008 isn’t 1968, and the strong movement he served back then is “relatively weak” now. “My own support for Obama is not a reflection of a radically changed attitude toward the Democratic Party,” Klonsky recently explained to me. “Rather, it’s a recognition that the Obama campaign has become a rallying point for young activists and offers hope for rebuilding the civil rights and antiwar coalitions that have potential to become a real critical force in society.”

A ‘Who’s Who of 1968 radicals’ supports Barack Obama, says Daniel J. Flynn, author of A Conservative History of the American Left. Of course, Flynn says that like it’s a bad thing…

Michael Klonsky is hardly the only ’68 radical supporting Obama this year. In 1968, when Mark Rudd organized the student strike that shut down Columbia University, the SDS chapter that he chaired ridiculed Kennedy and McCarthy as “McKennedy,” claimed that “neither peace candidate offers an alternative to the war policies of Lyndon Johnson,” and suggested “sabotage” as an alternative to voting. Rudd succeeded Klonsky as national SDS leader, presiding over the organization’s metamorphosis into Weatherman and performing “a liaison function” for the plot to bomb a Fort Dix soldiers’ dance that instead killed three Weathermen, including two of Rudd’s Columbia SDS colleagues. Today, Rudd renounces bombs, embraces ballots—and supports Obama. “Probably the biggest difference between Columbia SDS people in 1968 and in 2008 is forty years,” Rudd explained in an e-mail. “Most of us have lived with compromise our whole lives. As kids we were raving idealists who thought that ‘The elections don’t mean shit’ was a slogan that meant something to somebody. It didn’t.”

Then there’s Carl Davidson, who was one of SDS’s three elected national officers in 1968, when the organization first urged young people to refrain from voting. His disillusionment with traditional politics became so pronounced that, in the post-sixties hangover that followed, Davidson joined Klonsky in rejecting traditional politics for fringe Marxist movements. More recently, he helped organize the 2002 rally in which Obama first spoke out against the Iraq War and now serves as the webmaster of Progressives for Obama. “The last thing we need is a simple repeat of 1968, which saw Nixon and the new Right as an outcome, as well as the defeat of [Humphrey],” Davidson contends. “One thing I’ve learned. Social change is not made by elections, but it certainly proceeds through them, not by ignoring them or chasing the illusion of end runs around them.”

Written by gerrycanavan

October 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

"I’m Not a Racist" Is Off-Message

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Following up on last night’s post about the recent, ugly race-baiting in the Democratic primary, Clinton was on Meet the Press this morning and put on the defensive on this from Russert’s first question. (Video.) She handles the questions well, at least at first, but of course she does—the entire point of the race-baiting strategy is to be attacked over it, deny everything, and get sympathy from white voters as a result. As I said last night, it’s a dangerous game, but that’s the one they’re playing, and in America in 2008 it could still pay off.

Because the Obama camp (rightly) hasn’t hit back as hard on this as the Clintons might have hoped, they’ve even had to go ahead and voluntarily flagellate themselves. It’s a strategy of playing the victim to tap into white anger and anxiety over race and racism, and it’s just too early to tell whether or not it’s going to work.

UPDATE: Via TPM, the Obama response to her appearance on Meet the Press is pitch-perfect:

Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson. I didn’t make the statement. I haven’t remarked on it and she I think offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King’s role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act. She is free to explain that, but the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous.

I have to point out that instead of telling the American people about her positive vision for America, Senator Clinton spent an hour talking about me and my record in a way that was flat out wrong. She suggested that I didn’t clearly and unambiguously oppose the war in Iraq when it is absolutely clear and anyone who has followed this knows that I did. I stood up against the war when she was voting for it, at a time when she didn’t read the intelligence reports or give diplomacy a chance.

For this to be a winning skirmish for Obama, it needs to be about positivity and unity, not about his race, and I think this statement hits exactly the right note on that. I’m also gratified that it points out the central contradiction in the Clinton attack on Obama’s war record—even if you agree with everything the Clintons are saying, which most people won’t and which no one should, the best you could conclude is that he was just as wrong as they were. (UPDATE UPDATE: See also Ezra Klein.)

The Clinton response to the Obama response is here. I’m unimpressed—it’s like they decided to go out of their way to prove Obama right.

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January 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm

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