When the rot set in — LBJ

When the rot set in — LBJ. By Doomberg on Substack.

Elected to Congress in his late twenties, Johnson was known for handing out literal bags of cash to politicians in pursuit of the legislative goals of his powerful commercial sponsors …

In 1948, Johnson stole the Texas Democratic primary race for US Senate from his opponent Coke Stevenson. The official tally shows Johnson besting Stevenson by 87 votes out of nearly a million cast, but the election was shrouded in scandal by the sudden appearance of 202 additional votes in Precinct 13 of Jim Wells County, of which 200 were for Johnson. Amazingly, those last 202 votes were cast in alphabetical order. Johnson proudly made a mockery of his dishonesty, openly referring to himself as “Landslide Lyndon” as he continued his ascension up the US political power ladder.

When Johnson entered Congress, he was dirt poor and obsessed with money. He remained an elected federal official until his term as President ended in 1969 — an unbroken string spanning more than three decades — and yet managed to retire with a fortune that would be valued well in excess of $100 million today.


LBJ was the big beneficiary of JFK’s assassination, and now we find out that the still-hidden documents implicate the CIA in the assassination.


What separates Johnson’s story from other tales of political venality is the vast impact of his legacy. The average US citizen’s trust in government peaked at 77% during Johnson’s time as President and has drifted lower ever since, sitting at just 20% today.

He also uncorked an orgy of government spending, both in support of the war in Vietnam and in pursuit of his ambitious domestic agenda. Bigger government means bigger opportunities for grift, and Washington DC’s insatiable and bipartisan appetite for both was irreversibly accelerated by Johnson. Measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, US Federal Government spending has nearly doubled since the 1960s.

Normalization of behavior like Johnson’s has led to a continuing debasement of US politics to the point where scandals that would have previously ended careers are now routinely blown off as standard operating procedure. Today, members of Congress openly and flagrantly trade stocks based on inside information, having gone so far as to carve out an exception that legalizes an activity that is still a crime for the rest of us.

Government regulators routinely end up as well-compensated employees of the very companies they are meant to oversee, creating giant and obvious conflicts of interest in the process, and selective use of the powers of government against political opponents is now commonplace.

An entire cottage industry of rent-seeking enablers — lobbyists, attorneys, and consultants — dot the interface between the private and public sectors, making it impossible for entrepreneurs to thrive without paying a healthy vig to this state-sponsored mafia.

And so the bureaucratic, secret-police-backed state began. First item of business — throwing open the immigration gates in 1965, so the USA becomes more like the third world, and thus easier to control.