Saturday, March 16, 2013

Last Call

Recently released and formerly classified phone calls made by Lyndon Johnson show the remarkable depths to which Richard Nixon sunk to in order to sabotage the 1968 Paris peace talks that could have ended the Vietnam War.  Nixon effectively committed treason in order to destroy Johnson and his vice-president, Hubert Humphrey, by assuring the Vietnam War would rage on for years. 

It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.

He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.

At a July meeting in Nixon's New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.

In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris - concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.

Nixon sank those talks by saying the South Vietnamese would get a better deal under him, so they agreed to walk away from the table completely instead of brokering for peace.  Johnson knew about it, but realized that in order to reveal Nixon's treason, that he would have had to also reveal that the FBI was bugging the South Vietnamese Ambassador, which in and of itself could have threatened any peace deal.

In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: "We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move."

He orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved.

When he became convinced it was being orchestrated by the Republican candidate, the president called Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate to get a message to Nixon.
The president knew what was going on, Nixon should back off and the subterfuge amounted to treason.

Publicly Nixon was suggesting he had no idea why the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks. He even offered to travel to Saigon to get them back to the negotiating table.

Johnson felt it was the ultimate expression of political hypocrisy but in calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador's phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.

So they decided to say nothing.
In the end, Johnson and Humphrey decided that Humphrey could win the 1968 election without revealing Nixon's treason.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Nixon won a sharply divided country, taking 301 electoral votes, with the Democrats crippled and split by Johnson's handling of Vietnam and the rise of the Dixiecrats and George Wallace in the South.  The country elected "anti-war" candidate Nixon, who promptly made the war horrifically worse and got re-elected on that, then destroyed the country with Watergate.

If that sounds familiar, it echoes 2000 in my mind.  What would the country have been like if Humphrey or Johnson had been President and not Nixon? 

Funny how that works.

Taxing Your Imagination Yet Again

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center calls shenanigans on Paul Ryan's "balanced in ten years" budget, to the tune of adding $5.7 trillion to the national debt.

In its study, the center concludes that Ryan's budget would add $5.7 trillion to the deficit — because of proposals to simplify the income tax code to two levels of 10 and 25 percent, repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, repeal certain tax increases from the Affordable Care Act, and cut the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

It's "hard to imagine" Ryan's budget plan working out to be revenue neutral, the TPC's Howard Gleckman wrote in a blog post accompanying the study.

But if Ryan plans to implement those tax cuts and still make good on his promise to balance the budget, other taxes would have to be raised by $5.7 trillion. 

According to the study, the Ryan budget's tax cuts would also proportionately benefit upper-income earners. Here's a look at each income bracket's percent change in after-tax income looks in chart form:

Ryan budget tax cuts

To recap, the richest 1 percent would get a 17.4% tax cut, and the richest 0.1% would get a 20% tax cut, or about $1.2 million extra.  Meanwhile, in order to balance this budget, Ryan and his GOP friends are going to have to raise nearly $6 trillion in taxes over ten years on somebody.

Guess who?

If you've been paying attention, you already know the answer.

Republicans Love Wage Slaves

Gallup, earlier this month:

Seven in 10 Americans say they would vote "for" raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour if given the opportunity, while 27% would vote against such a bill. The proposal, made by President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union speech, is backed by over 90% of Democrats and self-described liberals, and by over two-thirds of independents and moderates. Republicans are evenly split on the proposal, while conservatives tilt slightly in favor.

House of Representatives, yesterday:

House Republicans unanimously voted down a measure Friday that would have raised the federal minimum wage, from its current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 by 2015.

Huge businesses like McDonald's and Wal-Mart can't possibly afford to raise the minimum wage in this economy!  

Even as American corporations are raking in record profits, the largest among them are shifting larger amounts of money away from the United States and into offshore tax havens that allow them to pad their bottom lines even more, according to multiple analyses of legal filings made since the beginning of 2013.

The Wall Street Journal found that the 60 largest companies moved $166 billion offshore in 2012, shielding 40 percent of their earnings from American taxes and costing the U.S. billions in lost revenue.

American workers are overpaid and lazy anyway, right?

Real average hourly earnings were up 0.1% from February 2012 to February 2013, but the average workweek was down from a year ago, so average weekly real earnings were down 0.2% from a year ago.

In other words, workers have seen no wage growth over the past year, which again is one reason why so many people are down on the economy even as most of the major stock indexes all strike record highs.

To recap, Republicans are complaining that there are too many jobless people who believe it's easier to not have a job and live off the government teat, and then turn around and say $10 an hour would destroy the economy, because it's too high an hourly wage.

To recap again, House Republicans say they believe in the dignity of hard work and the American dream of upward mobility.  And then every single one of them voted to keep Americans at $7.25 an hour.

Hey Republican voters, do you know anyone who makes less than $10 an hour?  Do you consider that person to be lazy, stupid, or parasitic?  Might want to think about that.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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