Nixon and the Vietnam War

This has been known for a while:

Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative.

So now it’s proven. And shades of President Obama and the Russian hacks:

Johnson’s closest aides urged him to unmask Nixon’s actions. But on a Nov. 4 conference call, they concluded that they could not go public because, among other factors, they lacked the “absolute proof,” as Defense Secretary Clark Clifford put it, of Nixon’s direct involvement.

Oh, for all those ‘Democrats are the real racists’:

They contain other gems, like Haldeman’s notations of a promise, made by Nixon to Southern Republicans, that he would retreat on civil rights and “lay off pro-Negro crap” if elected president.

Racism strikes back

So, here’s Steve King:

“This whole business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes interjected.

“Than—than western civilization itself that’s rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of western civilization.”

Gee, Steve, language almost definitely started in Africa, writing is thought to have originated in Sumer (that’s in the Middle East), and agriculture also is thought to have first originated in the Middle East. Those are the bases for all civilization and none originated in Europe, which is why civilization itself is thought to have first originated in the Middle East.

This is about as racist a comment as it gets.

Math and the American Heritage Education Foundation

Like everyone else, I get a lot of spam in my email boxes. Sometimes they can be fun. Case in point:

Dear Teachers and Citizens,
A unique Social Studies/U.S. History reference text book is now available!
The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) announces a new resource/text that reveals the connection between America’s historical founding ideas and the Bible..
The Miracle of America: The Influence of the Bible on the Founding History and Principles of the United States of America for a People of Every Belief
By Angela E. Kamrath, American Heritage Education Foundation
This would be the group that wrote a history book for Houston strongly based on a work by W. Cleon Skousen, a far right crazy in the mold of the John Birch Society (for example, he believed Eisenhower was a Communist dupe).
It seems their mailing list is about as accurate as their history: they send an email about a high school history book to a college math teacher. Hey, maybe I’ll use it for a probability course?

Kent State

46 years ago today, four students were killed at Kent State University. In commemoration, here’s Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young:

I really wanted to put up the version by Devo, but I can’t seem to find one. The history of the band (two of the band members were at Kent State at the time and one knew two of those who were killed–it’s basically why the band was formed) makes the song a bit more powerful. Here’s a different song by them that gives a bit of the same feeling:

Hmm, something seems to be missing

So there is now scientific evidence that there was genocide (via here) in the Americas:

The first largescale study of ancient DNA from early American people has confirmed the devastating impact of European colonisation on the Indigenous American populations of the time.

Led by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), the researchers have reconstructed a genetic history of Indigenous American populations by looking directly into the DNA of 92 pre-Columbian mummies and skeletons, between 500 and 8600 years old.

Published today in Science Advances, the study reveals a striking absence of the pre-Columbian genetic lineages in modern Indigenous Americans; showing extinction of these lineages with the arrival of the Spaniards.

“Surprisingly, none of the genetic lineages we found in almost 100 ancient humans were present, or showed evidence of descendants, in today’s Indigenous populations,” says joint lead author Dr Bastien Llamas, Senior Research Associate with ACAD. “This separation appears to have been established as early as 9000 years ago and was completely unexpected, so we examined many demographic scenarios to try and explain the pattern.”

“The only scenario that fit our observations was that shortly after the initial colonisation, populations were established that subsequently stayed geographically isolated from one another, and that a major portion of these populations later became extinct following European contact. This closely matches the historical reports of a major demographic collapse immediately after the Spaniards arrived in the late 1400s.”

Now, what happened?

The indigenous people would go on to become great civilizations like the Aztecs, Inca and Maya, as well as countless other small tribes. The arrival of the first European explorers, however, brought new diseases such as smallpox, typhus and the flu, which they had never been exposed to. After the epidemics had finished their deadly rampage, the number of indigenous people was reduced to a mere handful. Those who survived were quickly absorbed into European bloodlines.

So, they weren’t killed by Europeans? It was all the diseases? The writers must be conservatives.

Clinton apologizes for saying Reagan had some good points

As is typical, Hillary Clinton said some nice things about Nancy Reagan but she went too far and had to apologize:

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s,” Mrs. Clinton, who was attending Mrs. Reagan’s funeral in Simi Valley, Calif., told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan – in particular, Mrs. Reagan – we started a national conversation, when before nobody would talk about it. Nobody wanted anything to do with it.”

Mrs. Clinton wasted little time apologizing.

“While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I misspoke about their record on H.I.V. and AIDS,” she said in a statement about two hours after her interview had been shown on MSNBC. “For that, I’m sorry.”

As the article notes, the Reagan administration was horrible on AIDs. This will probably hurt her a bit, but it might be good for Democrats since it will remind people that the favorite president of almost all Republicans was nowhere to be found when the US faced one of the worst public health disasters of recent times. In fact, the President’s press secretary literally laughed at questions about it.

Ben Carson is one crazy person

Here’s Ben Carson from a commencement speech (the video is here) he made back in 1998:

“Now, my own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson continued. “Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big — when you stop and think about it, and I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time — to store that much grain.”

“And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for a reason. And various of scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they had special knowledge and that’s how they were —’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.

“That’s really the key. People may not even be able to explain what it is that you’re accomplishing, but they don’t have to be able to explain it when God is there. All you have to be able to do is to accept his presence and his total understanding of everything and link yourself with that. What a difference that makes. It makes you calm.”

“I remember once, a few years ago, there were about eight or nine panelists. They were all Nobel Prize-winners. And the question came up: how did life originate? And after all their machinations, they finally came to the conclusion that life emanated as a result of a bunch of promiscuous biochemicals getting together. That was the best that they could come up with.”

“I recently had a discussion with a well-known physicist. He was talking about the Big Bang Theory and how all this obviously culminated into this wonderful, extraordinarily organized solar system that we now have, which you can set your watch by, where scientists can predict 70 years away when a comet is coming. That’s an incredible amount of organization to have originated from just a large explosion.”

“Well of course he has no answer for that. They never have an answer for any of these things,” he concludes, broadening his story into a universal. “And see that’s the wonderful thing about having a relationship with God. God has already told us what happened, so we don’t have to come up with fanciful theories so that we can take the place of God. We don’t have to do that.”

So, Ben Carson has no clue about history (or archaeology), no clue about evolution, no clue about the physics, but, hey, he believes in God so he’s good. And he’s leading in polls for the Republican nomination. Makes me proud to be an American.

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