Category Archives: Lyndon Johnson

The Libertarians Are Wrong: The Civil Rights Act Was Necessary by Gregory Hilton

The first lunch counter sit-in took place on February 1st, 1960 at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. On that day four black college students sat down at the "white's only" counter. They encountered verbal and physical violence. Ketchup, soda, salt and other things were poured over their heads. Today an eight foot section of that lunch counter is on permanent display at the Smithsonian museum.


Should business owners have the right to discriminate against people because of their race, creed or color? Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) believes the activities of the federal government during the civil rights era were not necessary. He feels business could have been forced to change without federal intervention. Paul’s viewpoint is not unique and it represents standard libertarian policy. They would have told the civil rights demonstrators to wait, and things would change eventually.
There is some merit to this argument in that a few businesses bowed to economic pressure, but the federal government was needed. Martin Luther King’s book, “Why We Can’t Wait,” is an answer to the Congressman. King said blacks had been waiting for over a century since the emancipation proclamation, and little substantive action had occurred.
The solution demanded action from the federal government. King helped to launch the civil rights movement and tells the story of bus boycotts, lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to change the policies of business owners. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act resulted in significant positive change, and Rep. Paul is wrong.
These laws were necessary. They banned segregation in schools and public spaces and made it illegal to discriminate in housing and hiring processes. It is naïve to think southern states would have voluntarily stopped discrimination.
The Congressman is a firm advocate of states’ rights. Strom Thurmond and George Wallace agree with him. They both said they were not racists, but they ran for president as “States Rights” segregationists. They wanted civil rights to be decided by the states, not the federal government.
Private organizations and clubs can discriminate. Businesses however are public, and therefore the Civil Rights Act applies. A business can not deny the equal rights of a consumer. Jim Geraghty of National Review says “Libertarianism aims to protect individual rights but segregated lunch counters negate individual rights.”
Business can’t be divorced from the community in which they operate. For that reason, no one would say that they shouldn’t be required to follow certain health standards, building codes, safety regulations, zoning laws and child-labor laws — all ways in which businesses are regulated in the public interest.
The Civil Rights Act simply extended that principle to another problem of grave public concern.
Simply put, what you do privately or in your own home is your own concern, including who you invite as guests and who you choose to marry.
It has no relationship to the laws or regulations that govern running a business open to the general public. And when you’re running a business, declining to serve a customer because of the way he or she behaves or because of the person’s reputation, has no relation to refusing service on the basis of that person’s race.
Furthermore, there were actually laws on the books in southern states mandating segregated private facilities at that time. It wasn’t the business owners, but their customers, who were demanding it. The Supreme Court case of Plessey v. Ferguson involved a state statue criminalizing transportation of Blacks and Whites in the same train car.
Congressman Paul says the Civil Rights Act is a violation of the Constitution and it reduces individual liberties. He was one of only 33 Congressmen to oppose the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. A 2008 interview on “Meet The Press” featured the following exchange with the Congressman:

Q: In a speech you gave in 2004, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, you said: “Contrary to the claims of supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.” That act gave equal rights to African-Americans to vote, to live, to go to lunch counters, and you seem to be criticizing it.
A: Well, we should do this at a federal level, it’d be OK for the military. Just think of how the government caused all the segregation in the military until after World War II.
Q: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act, if it was today?
A: If it were written the same way, where the federal government’s taken over property–it has nothing to do with race relations. It has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights.

Those who wanted legal segregation to continue were able to obtain it by saying the federal government should stay out of private businesses. Today it is accepted that businesses which serve the public should not be able to discriminate. In the past it was not possible to solve this issue on the local level.
Unfortunately it was necessary for President Eisenhower to send the 101st Airborne Division from Kentucky to Little Rock, Arkansas. President Kennedy sent federal troops to the University of Mississippi and he had to take over Alabama’s National Guard. There are times when federal action is required to make sure there is not any roll back in civil rights policies. Blacks had waited long enough for civil rights, and the Libertarian arguments should be rejected.

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Back by Popular Demand: More Presidential Trivia by Gregory Hilton

QUESTIONS
1) A woman taking a tour of the White House was unexpectedly introduced to the President. He asked her to stay for tea and proposed marriage two months later. Who was her husband?

2) Why did Secret Service agents always want to avoid shopping trips with Mamie Eisenhower? For the same reason they did not want to accept gifts from Mrs. Eisenhower. They were not reluctant to watch her favorite soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” and to tell her about the plot when she was called away.

3) Why did Lynda and Luci Johnson carry flashlights in their bathrobes? Luci converted to the Roman Catholic faith while she was in the White House. Lynda had the first White House wedding in 53 years.

4) During her time as First Lady, how many states west of the Potomac River were visited by Jacqueline Kennedy?

5) Why did President Johnson’s 1965 party in honor of the U.S. Congress, which included several Hollywood stars, begin at 2 am?

6) Vice President Alben Barkley was elected in 1948 but he was not President Harry Truman’s first choice. Who was originally asked to be Truman’s running mate?

7) White House servants noted several significant differences between Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Can you name one of them? It had nothing to do with FDR’s disability.

8) Which President attended 6 Inaugural Balls, but despite pleas from the crowd never danced at any of them? He is the only President who always visited the basement level kitchen after formal events to thank the staff. The answer is not FDR who was unable to dance.

9) Which President never joined any church until after his election? He later said many important decisions were made “on his knees,” and in recent years he has been criticized for combining church and state.

10) President and Mrs. James Monroe enjoyed entertaining and there were frequent Wednesday evening parties at the White House. How did they avoid party crashers?

11) Dwight Eisenhower had never heard of Mrs. Thomas Preston when she was seated next to him at a dinner party. They discussed life in DC and he asked her where she had lived in the nation’s capitol. Mrs. Preston was a resident of the White House for 8 years when she was First Lady. Who was her husband?

12) Why was Ronald Reagan sworn in as Governor of California at midnight?
ANSWERS
1) Woodrow Wilson. The first Mrs. Wilson died in 1914 and he was introduced to Edith Bolling Galt when she was taking a tour of the family quarters in 1915. She was waiting by the elevator when the President emerged after his tennis game. The second Mrs. Wilson died on the morning of December 28, 1961 at the age of 89. It was the day she was scheduled to officially open the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River.
2) Mrs. Eisenhower always asked her agents to buy presents for their wives when she was shopping. She could be rather insistent, and she wanted to see what they had purchased. Her gifts were often intended for their wives, and she frequently asked the agents to buy something that would go with it. For example, she would give the agent a bracelet and ask him to buy his wife a ring to accompany her gift. It was expensive for the agents to provide security for Mamie Eisenhower!
3) The Johnson girls carried flashlights because their father insisted on keeping all the overhead lights turned off. It was part of his economy drive, but household costs still increased significantly under LBJ. The big factor was that the White House was no longer able to use bootleg liquor. This was liquor which has been confiscated by the federal government.
4) Mrs. Kennedy frequently took a White House helicopter to her rented “Glen Ora” estate in northern Virginia for horseback riding in 1961. The family built their own estate, “Wexford,” in 1962, but President Kennedy only visited his home on three weekends. He preferred Camp David.
Ironically, Ronald Reagan spent more time at Wexford than John Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy also visited nearby Middleburg and other Virginia hunt country destinations. Until she left for Dallas in 1963, those were the only times she crossed the Potomac River. She never ventured west of northern Virginia prior to that fateful day.
5) The party started late because Congress was in session and LBJ did not want to begin until the House had passed the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act which banned billboards on interstate highways.
6) Truman’s first choice for Vice President was Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who turned him down because he thought the President would lose the 1948 election. Douglas had also been FDR’s first choice in 1944.
7) The Truman’s not only remembered names of all the servants but they insisted on introducing the staff to all of their guests. When the waiter brought tea to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, he was introduced to the royal couple. The Truman’s dined together and were often in the same room in the evening hours. That does not appear unusual, but no one could remember Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt being in the same room.
8) Richard Nixon. He did dance at his daughter’s wedding.
9) Dwight Eisenhower, who was responsible for adding “In God We Trust” to the currency.
10) A party crasher would not have had a problem in meeting President Monroe. The butler’s were told to admit anyone who was suitably dressed.
11) The first husband of Mrs. Thomas Preston was President Grover Cleveland. The dinner is described in “At Ease: Stories I Tell to My Friends” by Dwight Eisenhower.
12) Mrs. Reagan’s astrologer, Joan of San Francisco, said midnight would be the best time for an Inauguration.
13) This 1927 photo was taken during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge.

The 2010 GOP Victory: Will This be Another 1966 or 1994?

This was another great day for the Republican Party, and it was filled with surprises. Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) unexpectedly ended his re-election campaign, and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) shocked everyone by announcing he would not seek re-election. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is expected to make a similar announcement on Wednesday. The front runner in the Michigan gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D), also withdrew when confronted with disappointing polls. Continue reading