Category: History

Senator Ron Johnson Fails Again

It should surprise no one that tea bagger senator, Ron Johnson, is a fan of Ayn Rand. He recently gave an interview with the Rand-inspired, Atlas Society, where he made, as you would expect from someone like Johnson, a lot of stupid comments. However, one particular thing he said hasn’t achieved as much attention as it probably should have (skip to 6:37):

For those of you who can’t watch clips at work:

“It’s a real concern,” Johnson said, when asked if he saw examples of the private sector “shrugging”—that is, wilting under the pressure of government regulations. “As I talk to business owners that maybe started their businesses in the ’70s and ’80s, they tell me, with today’s level of taxation and regulation, there’s no way I can start my business today.”

Sigh.

See, this is why it’s difficult to have a grown up conversation with these folk. This is yet another example of a far right douchebag trying to argue his case by once again rewriting history.

So taxes in the 70s and 80s were much more business friendly than under Chairman ObaMAO’s regime? Let’s take a look, shall we? Here’s a list of the historical corporate tax rates from the non partisan Tax Policy Center. A quick glance shows that the top rates ranged from 49.2% in 1970 to 40% through 1987, with the last few years of that decade going at 34%. How does that compare to the anti freedom environment we have today? Currently, the rate is a whopping 35%!

Well, that appears to somewhat undermine Johnson’s complaint. But Let’s continue. What about the capital gains tax rate? The rate seemed to range from 20% on the low end, to as high as nearly 40% in those two decades. Up until the the beginning of this year, the rate under the entire first term for Obama was a crushing….15%?

Hmm.

So how do you suppose Johnson squares this circle? I would imagine that he rationalizes in by one of two ways. One theory is that Johnson may belong to that group of people who subscribe to the belief that numbers worked differently back in the old days before the stupid liberals recruited the homosexuals to write our arithmetic textbooks.

Alternatively, as Johnson has demonstrated quite recently, it could be that he simply just doesn’t care about getting his facts in order.

In West Virginia, a Changed Political Landscape

2012 Presidential Election in West Virginia
2012 Presidential Election in West Virginia

Less than a month after being re-elected to the House of Representatives for the seventh time in West Virginia’s second congressional district, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced that she plans to run for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D). Senator Rockefeller was first elected to the United States Senate in 1984 and has been re-elected with relative ease since then.

West Virginia spent much of the twentieth century being a stronghold for Democrats. In the seventeen Presidential elections from 1932 to 1996, West Virginia only voted for the Republican candidate three times. The last time a Republican was elected to the United States Senate for a full term in the state was when they elected W. Chapman Revercomb in 1942. Of the six elected positions in the executive branch, five of them are Democrats. Senator Joe Manchin was also recently elected to a full term with more than 60% of the vote.

But things have changed in West Virginia over time.

Continue reading

“Power is where power goes”

It’s a phrase LBJ lived by. It’s not an analogy or a metaphor or anything tricky. It’s straightforward: If you want to be powerful, you go where the power is. It’s one reasoning why LBJ ultimately accepted Kennedy’s request to be the vice president on the Democratic ticket.

In my last post, I gave a rather glowing praise of LBJ, but never has a president been either completely good or completely bad. To provide a more critical eye to LBJ, I’ll post some snippets I’ve learned about him from reading The Passage of Power. I’m between a fourth and a third of the way through the book, so I might do this a couple more times, but I do highly recommend the novel. It’s a very good read about, aside from maybe Nixon, America’s most complicated president in modern history.

  • Johnson loved power, almost to a dangerous level. There’s a reason why Kennedy – smartly, as I now see it – never enlisted Johnson, though the most skillful politician of his time, for assistance in legislative matters. Johnson would have used any such opportunity to run the whole show, creating the impression that the President was following the lead of his Vice President. Additionally, right after his inauguration as Vice President, Johnson tried to expand the office’s power through two ways: First through the Senate, by trying to become the caucus leader of Senate Democrats, and secondly through the Kennedy administration, by trying to convince Kennedy that he should have an office next to his in the White House, and being able to review national security documents to advise the president. He also liked to flaunt his power whenever he had it. Once while he was Senate Majority Leader, Johnson kicked Humphrey very hard in the shin on the Senate floor for failing to carry out an order of his fast enough.
  • LBJ was a manipulative man. When he wanted something, he would use any means to get it, even if it meant toying with people’s emotions. After his ways to expand the officers of the vice president failed, Johnson would hardly talk at all in staff meetings Kennedy invited him to. Eventually he started to genuinely feel horrible and useless, for a while he faked it. In these meetings he would look very grim, his long face sunk with despair. No matter how he was really feeling, he rarely answered questions that weren’t more than one syllable replies. He would also have to be asked to repeat his answers because he was often very quiet.  This “feel sorry for me” method never worked on Kennedy, who was more annoyed with Johnson’s attitude than anything.
  • Johnson had mistresses, like Congresswoman Helen Douglas.
  • During the Cuban Missile Crises, Johnson, while not completely on the side of the warhawks during the ExComm meetings, thought Kennedy was being too weak in his dealing with the Russians, and at one point advocated bombing the missiles being built in Cuba. Most of the time, Johnson just complained about how Kennedy was handling the situation while offering no advice of his own. After reading the section about the Cuban Missile Crisis, I’m now *very* glad Kennedy was president. He, along with his brother, was one of the few people in the oval office arguing for a more pragmatic approach, and give Khrushchev to back down. He stuck to his guns. What would Johnson have done in that situation? Or Nixon? I’m a little apprehensive to think about it.