Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Texan looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power

by J. Evetts Haley

book review by Ralph Cinque

Historically, this is an important book.  It sold 7.5 million copies, making it one of the most successful political books of all time. They had a saying in Texas that the only book that ever sold better in this state was the Holy Bible. 

Haley was one-of-a-kind. He considered himself a bonafide historian, and he had a Masters degree in History from UT Austin. He wrote over a dozen books, most of them about the history of the Old West, including biographies of colorful Western characters. He was also a member of the John Birch Society and a rabid anti-Communist. He didn't mention Senator Joseph McCarthy in the book, but I bet he approved of him wholeheartedly.    

But, Haley made his money at cattle ranching. He came to own three large spreads in Texas and New Mexico. He called himself a "cowman." I guess that was in distinction to cowboys. And he was very active politically, running for Congress in 1948 and for Governor of Texas in 1956.  He was always a fringe candidate and never came close to winning. But, how he found enough hours in the day to do all that he did in his life, I just don't know. He lived long too from 1901 to 1995. He endowed the Haley Library and History Center in Midland, Texas, which continues to this day and charges no admission- all on his dime.  

A Texan Looks at Lyndon was self-published by him in 1964. The book lists the publisher as Palo Duro Press, but it was really just him. In case you don't know, Palo Duro refers to Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the U.S. after the Grand Canyon. It's a little south of Amarillo, close to the town of Canyon, which is where Haley lived. 

Now to the book: First, I'll address what Haley addressed last: LBJ's role in the JFK assassination. It was a total, utter failure! Haley got it all wrong. His theory of the crime was that Oswald did it. and did it alone, that is, the shooting. Haley mostly supported the official story. But, according to him, Oswald had people egging him on, and they were Communists! Because, after all, Oswald was a lousy rotten Communist. So, it wasn't the Ultra-right who killed Kennedy; it was the Ultra-left! That's how Haley saw it. 

But, Haley didn't provide one speck of evidence against LBJ. He did not tie him to Oswald. He didn't show that Johnson had foreknowledge. He just said that LBJ was covering up the Communist conspiracy in the assassination because, like JFK, he was a spineless coward who catered to Communists. 

This book did no damage to LBJ about the assassination. None whatsoever. I say, as I've said before, that when people propose alternate theories that are wrong, it only helps to strengthen the official story, which is what this book does.  

So, you can just forget about that aspect of the book and call it an absolute dud. However, Haley reported other nefarious acts and crimes of LBJ, including murders he was involved in, for which Haley did get concrete.  There is plenty of damaging stuff in here- enough that it should have destroyed LBJ. Why didn't it? I'll tell you at the end, but it's the same reason Hillary's crimes aren't going to destroy her either.

Haley went into LBJ's political corruption including his stealing the 1948 Senate election from former Governor Coke Stevenson. Keep in mind it was just the Democratic primary not the general election. But, Haley explained that in those days, Texas was part of the "Solid South" that always voted Democratic. They hated Republicans.  It went back to the Civil War because Lincoln, who waged war on the South, was a Republican, and it was Republicans who imposed "Reconstruction" on the South, which should have been called "Retribution." So, the general election was just a formality- the Democrat always won. The Democratic primary was the real and only contest.      

You probably heard that it was very close, and what put Johnson over the top were late results from a Hispanic county in South Texas that went something like 800 to 18 in favor of LBJ.

Stevenson cried fraud and took it to court. His lawyer's provided solid evidence that dead people from the local cemetery voted- in large numbers. Also, people who were not home, out of the county, and out of the country voted. A woman who was in Mexico at the time was recorded as having voted- for Johnson, and they brought her in to testify in court that she was down in the Yucatan on Election Day. 

Johnson's lawyers did not contest any of Stevenson's concrete evidence; they just said that it was a Democratic party matter, and the Democratic party had certified the results, and it was not the role of the state to interfere. The Texas court ruled in favor of Johnson, but Stevenon appealed it to federal court, which reversed the decision. Then, Johnson took it to the U.S. Supreme Court which gave it back to him. And that's how Johnson got to be a U.S. Senator. 

I don't think anyone today doubts that Johnson stole the election through outright fraud. 

There is a lot in the book about Johnson's business dealings and how he acquired such vast wealth. And, I found out why "Lady Bird" had to become known as Lady Bird. It was because she had to have those initials- for business. They formed a company, the LBJ Company. Supposedly, it stood for her initials- not his. He wasn't even listed on the Board. However, when people dealt with the LBJ Company, they knew very well whom they were dealing with.

Haley covered their acquisition of the radio station in Austin, how they got the FCC to hassle the current owner with all kinds of rules, regulations, and restrictions, all of which made the business unprofitable, and all of which got lifted as soon as Lady Bird took over.  Profits soared for her, almost immediately. The station is still going today. It's called KLBJ, although I don't know what role the Johnson family has in it any more, if any. 

And it was just like that with other businesses as well; they built a vast financial empire. Haley made the very astute point that as soon as he became President, LBJ had his wife's company and all its assets placed in a blind trust and managed by someone else. But why, Haley asked, wasn't it fitting for him to do that when he was Vice President? Or Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate? Or even just Senator? 

Isn't it troubling when a guy spends his whole entire life in "public service" as LBJ did and becomes fabulously, unimaginably rich in the process?      

Now, let's talk about murders. Haley covered several that were connected to LBJ. First, there was the murder of John Kinser, the owner of a miniature golf range in Austin, who was shot to death by Malcolm Wallace, LBJ's henchman. There was no doubt that Wallace did it; he admitted it. He didn't testify at trial, but his lawyer, who was LBJ's lawyer, said that Kinser had slept with Wallace's wife. That was never established, but what was established was that Kinser had been sleeping with Josefa Johnson, LBJ's sister. About the carnal part, LBJ couldn't care less. What worried him is that the alcoholic Josefa had a loose mouth- she was chatty when she drank. So, he was afraid that in the pillow talk she may have told Kinser things about him that would come back to haunt him (LBJ). 

The jury found Wallace guilty of first degree murder, and 11 out of 12 voted for the death penalty; the remaining asked for life imprisonment. The judge in the case, a friend and political consort of LBJ's, cast all that aside and made the sentence 5 years and then reduced it to time served. Wallace walked out a free man. The epilogue was that Josefa Johnson also wound up dead, officially of a cerebral hemorrhage, but many believe that Wallace killed her too on LBJ's order. It's what Billie Sol Estes believed. No autopsy was performed, and the death certificate was signed by a doctor who never viewed her body.  

So, did LBJ kill his own sister? Many people think so, and I'm one of them. 

Haley covered the Kinser case in all its sordid details, and he also covered the Henry Marshall case. Marshall was the Department of Agriculture official in Texas who uncovered a lot of the Estes fraud in connection with the cotton allotments. Marshall supposedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his own rifle - 5 times. So, he shot himself 4 times with intent to kill, wounding himself each time, but was still able-bodied enough to pull the trigger a fifth time. That's the story. Did I mention that it was a rifle?        

A Texas inquest eventually admitted that Marshall was murdered, and they implicated LBJ. However, it was long after LBJ had died, and in Texas, like most places, we don't prosecute dead people. But, they seemed to indicate that if Johnson had been living, he would have been charged.

Haley also covered how Johnson forced himself on the Kennedy ticket, how Kennedy had already decided upon Senator Stuart Symington as his running mate. He'd asked Symington; Symington had accepted; it was a done deal. But Johnson, (with Hoover in the background backing him up) threatened to expose JFK's myriad medical problems including Addison's disease, and his sexual affairs, and Johnson made other threats as well, such as opposing JFK's legislative proposals in the Senate- if Kennedy left him there. 

Then, Haley also covered the Bobby Baker scandal and LBJ's campaign finance scandals, including the one involving Brown and Root, where they funneled money to LBJ and took huge tax write-offs in the process. Today, that company is known as Halliburton.

Here's something cute from the Estes case. Did you know that there were suspicious deaths in that case too? One was an Ag Department official in Washington who disappeared, and his young secretary made a fuss about it. The way they dealt with her was by having a judge declare her mentally insane; and then committing her permanently to an insane asylum. Cute.  

As I said, there is a lot of damaging stuff in this book The worst things, of course, were the murders. That's because murder is murder- whether it's the President of the United States or anyone else. Haley provided no evidence that LBJ was involved in JFK's murder, but he provided compelling evidence that he was involved in other murders. 

So, why didn't people care? Why didn't this book do more damage to Johnson than it did?

It's because nobody in high places cared. If Johnson had killed someone with his bare hands, they wouldn't have cared. After the assassination, Johnson had an important role to play, and that was to cover up the truth and protect the real killers. And, they knew that he would. Look at all they had on him. He was their partner in crime. 

And it's the same way with Hillary today. If she had gone to Benghazi and shot the US ambassador with her own gun, they wouldn't care. They need her now to stop Trump from gaining the White House. Period. All that came before is forgiven.

When A Texan Looks at Lyndon came out, it wasn't completely ignored by the mainstream media. They said it was a vicious attack by a rabid Bircher, etc., but today, a book like this. say about Hillary, would just be ignored. Times have changed. 

As I said, they didn't care then about Johnson's crimes. But, what bothers me most is that it's no different today; they still don't care. Mainstream historians and the mainstream media still do all they can to preserve Johnson's reputation. They try harder to preserve Johnson's reputation than they do Kennedy's. Much harder. 

So yes, this book is of historical importance: it's the first hit piece against LBJ, and it came out right during the 1964 campaign. It's just a darn shame that Haley was completely blind to the realities of the JFK assassination. He was a smart man, and he should have seen that Oswald was just a patsy and nothing more, that he didn't shoot or shoot at anybody.

Oh, one last thing: Something else Haley does in the book is praise to the high heavens Major General Edwin Walker, the guy that Oswald supposedly shot at before Kennedy. He described Walker as a great American, perhaps the greatest, who was standing up bravely against all the Communist sympathizers in this country, which, according to Haley included both Johnson and Kennedy. Walker and Kennedy were at opposite political poles.  There isn't a stitch of evidence that Oswald shot at Walker, and the whole case is based on nothing but Marina reciting a fanciful tale about it.  But, why would Oswald want to kill both Walker and Kennedy if they were so polar-opposite politically? It makes no sense, but then again, nothing about the case against Oswald does.   

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