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Nixon Lied, People Died



America’s Last Liberal President (TM), everyone!

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.


Haldeman’s notes return us to the dark side. Amid the reappraisals, we must now weigh apparently criminal behavior that, given the human lives at stake and the decade of carnage that followed in Southeast Asia, may be more reprehensible than anything Nixon did in Watergate.

Look, Nixon may have killed large numbers of people for cynical political purposes, but he only vetoed some of the good legislation congressional supermajorities put on his desk, so I’d put him well to the left of Hillary Clinton.

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  • Murc

    Can we indict Kissinger now, please?

    Christ. The Justice Departments of the last seven Presidents should be fucking ashamed of themselves collectively. Especially the ones run by Democrats.

  • Gator90

    [The notes] 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.

    Ah, sweet liberalism…

  • Xenos

    At this point I would not be surprised if evidence was found to the effect that someone like Oliver North deliberately sabotaged the Desert One mission.

    The Bushes appear to be the only Republican presidents in my lifetime who did not resort to treason to get the office.

    • efgoldman

      The Bushes appear to be the only Republican presidents in my lifetime who did not resort to treason to get the office.

      Except W, Darth and Rummy lied us into a war in the Iraqi desert which has caused several thousand American deaths, hundreds of thousands (now perhaps millions) of Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian deaths, led to the destruction of Syria, destabilization of the entire middle East, and direct Russian military intervention in the Middle East.

      Heckuva job, Bushie.

      • JBC31187

        And Bush the Elder was involved in Iran-Contra as well, or am I mis-remembering? Still lightyears beyond this hot mess.

        • Emily68

          H.W. was either out of the loop or he wasn’t. I’m getting close to age 70 and I hope to live long enough to find out which it was.

          Any historians out there know the status of H.W.’s presidential & vice-presidential papers? Are they all available? Is anyone going through them? I’m hoping the answer is YES to both questions.

          • (((Malaclypse)))

            Occam’s Razor says that, as an ex-head of the CIA, during what was arguably the height of the dirty tricks era, he’d have been deeply involved.

            • JBC31187


              I guess the takeaway here is, Bush the Elder Republicans were willing to learn from their mistakes.

              • (((Malaclypse)))

                Disagree. Bush the Elder somehow said to himself, “I know what happened when we meddled in Iran in 1954, and the late 70s, but this time it will work out well.”

                EDIT: The scary part about this is that, despite being this foolish, he still was the least awful Republican president in the past half-century.

                • JBC31187

                  I think the first Iraq war went well, all things considered. America gave our friend Hussein the green light, he made some loud noises, we went in and chased him away. The balance of power was maintained in the region. Of course, the problem was now every would-be nation building dipshit thought that all our wars would be that simple.

          • Wamba

            HW was IN the loop. I’m going off memory from the 80’s but I followed it closely at the time and IIRC Bush was shown to have been present at something like 17 meetings where the diversion was discussed. But he was given the benefit of the “doubt” and most accepted his claim that despite being involved in all those discussions he was somehow still out of the loop.

            Bush also destroyed a diary that had been subpoena’d that I’m betting showed he knew more than he said. And then he pardoned 6 of his co-conspirators, thus sealing the cover-up. And of course the newspapers, notably the execrable New York Times, went along for the ride.

            The Bush family has been a disgrace to our democracy for a long time. But, you know, Hillary mishandled some emails so both sides do it.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          An old family friend in the Marines was tasked to provide security to the CIA flights bringing drugs into the US. And he told us, long before 2000, that he saw Bush Junior on the tarmac when the planes landed, on multiple occasions.

          If Junior was involved, then it’s a goddamn guarantee that Senior knew about it.

    • McKingford

      Eh – I think the working theory is that GHW Bush was the go-between with Iran in the months leading up to the 1980 election to scuttle any chance of freeing the hostages under Carter’s watch.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    I simply do not understand the “progressive” desire to blame the entire Vietnam War on Nixon and completely eradicate any responsiblity for it from LBJ. The massive escalation took place at the orders of the “progressive” God LBJ not Nixon. The presentation of the Vietnam War by today’s “progressives” as completely the fault of Nixon with LBJ being completely innocent is very bad revisionism.

    • Murc

      I simply do not understand the “progressive” desire to blame the entire Vietnam War on Nixon and completely eradicate any responsiblity for it from LBJ.

      There isn’t one. This is a foul lie.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        It is the orthodox position of LGM.

        • Murc

          No. It isn’t. You cannot prove that, because it is not true.

          It isn’t like you to lie so brazenly and transparently, Otto. I am, frankly, disappointed.

          • (((Malaclypse)))

            What I find baffling is that it is and was easily disproved, and he still doubled down. It’s positively Trumpian in its brazenness.

        • tsam

          No. I have as much hate for Johnson as respect, which I think lines up with most people here. He just ends up on lists of progressive accomplishments because he had quite a few big ones.

          • delazeur

            I have gone into detail here about my feelings w/r/t LBJ (a mix of deep respect and deep disrespect) and had people jumping at my throat for being insufficiently reverent. I don’t remember which commenters it was and I don’t know that it is representative of the commentariat as a whole, but it is definitely a view that is represented here.

            I also think Lemieux is a bit toward the reverence-for-LBJ side of things, even if he recognizes the folly of Vietnam. For example, he has often defended LBJ’s record of conservative votes and claimed (without strong evidence, IMO), that Johnson was really a liberal despite them.

            • tsam

              Well I didn’t see any of those, but I know that there were 58,000 families here that lost someone, and an uncountable number dead/maimed/displaced over there. There has been an awful lot of talk about Johnson’s motives, ranging from containing communism to refusing to be the first president to lose a war. None of the discussed motives justified that war any better than W’s excuses and lies. Johnson is one of those figures I’d use to describe an enigmatic figure. I would think that most liberals give deference because the CRA and VRA were the most progressive laws we’ve ever passed. (At least I think they are)

        • (((Malaclypse)))

          It is the orthodox position of LGM.

          Someone needs to bookmark this, in case anybody ever decides anything you ever say can be trusted. Because you are a fucking liar.

          • humanoid.panda

            It is the Orthodox position of LGM

            Is a line that has the makings of a great line of merchandise.

          • Hogan

            And at long last, a straight-up troll.

        • Scott Lemieux

          It is the orthodox position of LGM.

          Cites omitted. I’ll provide them!

          As Murc says, just a flat-out lie.

        • We’re very sorry that your preferred political party is stocked full of traitors, sociopaths, war criminals, hypocrites, Nazis, and chicken-buggerers. It would indeed lead to some lashing out on your part. Maybe it’d be better for your mental well-being if you just admitted that your preferred political party is a bucket of hot poop, and then tried to make something good of your life.

          • I don’t think Jotto prefers the Republicans. I think he considers them “progressives” too, because they don’t like the Palestinians, and in his universe the only defining quality of “progressivism” is opposition to ethnic nationalism.

        • Hogan

          Oh just give that tired shit a rest.

        • veleda_k

          Well, we have to do something when we’re not proclaiming the perfection of the Dutch.

      • JMP

        It’s J. Otto world, inhabited entirely by strawmen created in his imagination.

    • I am not aware of anyone who blames the entire Vietnam War on Nixon, given that he did not even take office as president until 1969. The portion of the war from 1969-1975, though, can be fairly blamed on him due to his scuttling of the peace talks. To be fair, it’s not guaranteed that the war would have ended without Nixon’s interference, but this latest evidence certainly makes that seem likely.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        There has never ever been a signle LGM post noting any resposnibility for the Vietnam War by LBJ. All posts on LBJ here have been to praise him as some sort of God. All posts on the Vietnam War here have solely blamed Nixon.

        • Murc

          LGM has also never made a post explicitly denouncing the Flat Earth theory. They are, therefore, obviously in favor of it.

          • efgoldman

            They are, therefore, obviously in favor of it.

            Well I certainly am. It simplifies things.

            • tsam

              It proves that Pearl Harbor was an inside job. No way planes can fly THAT FAR back then

              • Hogan


        • jamesepowell

          I don’t have the time to go through the entire archives, but I’m almost certain you are wrong about this.

          My recollection is hazy, but recall more than one. If I were to search I’d be looking at some of the discussions that began with Robert Caro and moved onto the war.

          Also too, just about anytime LBJ is discussed anywhere, the war becomes part of it.

        • Gator90

          I would think that LBJ’s culpability with respect to the Vietnam War is so obvious, and so commonly known, that nobody would feel any need to point it out. I’m sure bloggers and others who write about his domestic achievements assume their readers to be well aware of said culpability.

        • ProgressiveLiberal


          This doesn’t mean, of course, that LBJ is exculpated from any responsibility from Vietnam. First of all, if he gets credit for policies that were in large measure a product of his political coalition he has to get blame for the bad ones (especially when it comes to foreign policy, where the president’s authority is greatest.)

          Now shut the fuck up. Happy new year.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          Wow. Obviously, Vietnam is a major black mark, but even if foreign policy was the sole criterion for evaluating presidents it’s hard to see how this could make Johnson worse than Bush, given that Iraq was just as much a fiasco but wasn’t already underway when Bush took office.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          I’m honestly not sure who Michael Kazin is arguing with here. I don’t know who thinks that LBJ should be given a pass for Vietnam, and Kazin doesn’t cite anybody who thinks this either

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          You forgot to add “with notably rare exceptions” btw.

        • postmodulator

          There has never ever been a signle LGM post noting any resposnibility for the Vietnam War by LBJ.

          This is an unequivocal and provable lie.


          Your disgraceful and precisely worded lie should, I hope, permanently destroy your credibility on all topics. I doubt very much that you are capable of feeling embarrassment, but I assure you that it is what you currently should be feeling.

        • Scott Lemieux

          There has never ever been a signle LGM post noting any resposnibility for the Vietnam War by LBJ.

          See above about this flat-out lie.

        • tonycpsu

          This is really how you’re choosing to begin 2017? By clinging to an easily-debunkable falsehood? Come on, man.

        • I never thought I’d see the day that Jotto delivered trolling so weak and obvious that it got dunked on by ProgressiveLiberal.

          • Clearly the whole pas à deux is some kind of false flag operation. But whose?

    • Xenos

      Am I allowed to blame Niton for escalating and expanding a war that he promised to bring to a prompt end, while ensuring that a peace process was treasonously undermined? I would not want to actually take a position on this unless to is ok with this Otto feller here.

      You could call this moral test Otto feller-ation.

    • Paul Campos

      This took ten seconds with the search function:

      Particularly given that it’s already been a subject a broader discussion this year, I should acknowledge that I was wrong to say that “Iraq was just as much a fiasco” as Vietnam. Vietnam was indeed even worse in terms of its bad effect on the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and the United States than the Iraq war was on the people of Iraq and the U.S., no question. My other point, that LBJ bears less personal responsibility for the Vietnam disaster than Bush does for Iraq, I stand behind. As Erik put it, “Vietnam might be worse than Iraq, but anyone with a realistic shot of becoming president in 1964 was going to do the same thing–from either political party. And we saw that when Nixon took over. It was an elite consensus decision. Iraq was a purely partisan war forced on the American people (not to mention the Iraqi people) by a wing of the Republican Party.” I would add to that the support for Vietnam within the governing coalition was much deeper — most major organized labor leaders, for example, strongly Vietnam, but the Chamber of Commerce wasn’t going to undermine Bush’s domestic agenda if he didn’t go to war in Iraq. Public support for Vietnam was almost certainly stronger as well. Anybody who could have become president in 2000 would have invaded Afghanistan (unless that president could have prevented 9/11), but the Iraq catastrophe was driven by dynamics specific to the Bush administration.

      This doesn’t mean, of course, that LBJ is exculpated from any responsibility from Vietnam. First of all, if he gets credit for policies that were in large measure a product of his political coalition he has to get blame for the bad ones (especially when it comes to foreign policy, where the president’s authority is greatest.) And while I think it’s exceedingly implausible that any American president would have withdrawn from Vietnam in 1964 whether they would have escalated it to the same extent is much less clear (and the counterfactual doesn’t look good for LBJ since it’s hard to imagine anyone being much worse.) It doesn’t swallow the credit he should get for passing the best domestic agenda of any 20th century president (yes, including FDR), but it’s major part of his legacy.

    • Colin Day

      LGM criticism of Victor Davis Hanson

      As they say in 9th grade algebra, “please show your work, Victor.” How, pray tell, would an American “victory” in Vietnam have altered the uncontroversial facts that Johnson and McNamara deceived Congress about the events in the Gulf of Tonkin; that Johnson oversaw what was (to that point) the most devastating and least productive bombing campaign in the 20th century; that within two years of escalating the American War, Johnson’s closest advisers were incapable of discovering any measure of “victory” outside of raw body counts; that by 1969 the Johnson administration displaced nearly half a million peasants whose “hearts and minds” the US was supposed to win;

    • DrDick

      That would be because, like much else you deride us for, it exists only in your severely troubled mind.

  • Gator90

    Who on earth is actually revising history in the manner you describe?

    Edit: Meant to direct the above question to Mr. Pohl.

  • Lurks

    Google is your friend. A search for “johnson” “vietnam” “blame” and site:http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com brings up 232 hits for me, with quite a few statements by Mr. Lemieux himself assigning various degrees of culpability on Johnson.

    • Ramon A. Clef

      Yes, but Otto’s claim is that there hasn’t been a single post of this sort. If there are 232 of them, he’s correct.

      • efgoldman

        Otto’s claim is that there hasn’t been a single post of this sort. If there are 232 of them, he’s correct.

        Maybe The Google doesn’t work in Whereverstan Jotto finds himself this year. Or maybe he’s still hung over from too much vodka last night.

    • rea

      Some of us were actually there in ’67 and ’68, opposing the war.

  • Breadbaker

    Indeed, Johnson’s escalation of the war pretty much ended his ability to get progressive legislation through or adequately to fund the programs he had put in place (remember his 10% surtax to pay for the war; it seems so quaint compared to how Bush II financed his).

    And of course made it easier for Nixon to succeed him. Because he had a secret plan to end the war (I know there’s no evidence he said that exactly, but Bogart never said “Play it Again, Sam” either)

    • efgoldman

      I know there’s no evidence he said that exactly

      I hear it in my head in his voice, but it’s been a long time, and it was the 60s…

    • LFC

      remember his 10% surtax to pay for the war

      Actually I don’t, but if there was one it was an inadequate means of financing. LBJ and Congress ran up deficits to pay for the war, which might or might not have been bad in itself, but it’s pretty much what Bush II did to fund the Iraq war, though Bush II, given his earlier tax cuts, did it on a larger scale.

      Btw, at my blog (site still up, though I’m no longer posting there), I wrote a post a couple of years ago on the 1965 Vietnam escalation decisions:


      • delazeur

        Has there been a major war in the last 300 years that wasn’t paid for with deficit spending? I’m genuinely curious, because it seems almost universal.

        (Obviously, though, “major war” is sufficiently subjective that this question does not have on right answer.)

  • Nobdy

    I’d put him well to the left of Hillary Clinton.

    On the only issue that actually matters, e-mail server management, Nixon was absolutely flawless, making him arguably the greatest president of all time.

    And before anyone claims that Nixon’s e-mail management skills were only non-controversial because it was the 1960s and nobody had e-mail, the Autodin system went online in 1962, so on a strictly technological level it would have been possible for Nixon to run an insecure e-mail-like server, but he didn’t.

    I am vaguely aware that Nixon was involved in some kind of Watergategate scandal, but Watergategate had nothing to do with email per se so it was forgivable.

    • Fats Durston


    • tsam

      Ha! This looks like a resume for the NYT editorial board! Or OP-ed staff I guess I should say

    • Scott Lemieux

      “Welcome to our national political desk.” –Liz Spayd

  • GeoX

    Nixon was a bad guy, no question. And yet…I’d vote for him in a second over any of the dead-eyed sociopaths that currently make up the gop. That’s not really a point in anyone’s favor, though.

    • Yep. That bar’s been set pretty damn low in recent years.

      • The thing that terrifies me is: Bush Jr. made Reagan look presidential, and Trump makes Bush look positively statesman-like. I’m therefore almost certain that in ten years, I’ll catch myself saying “but at least Trump was a normal politician, unlike X”, and I really don’t want to know what that will even look like.

        • With the exception of Bush Sr. every Republican President in my life has made the previous one look like a hippie.

          • efgoldman

            every Republican President in my life has made the previous one look like a hippie.

            Next up: A real orangutan, rather than a symbolic one. Writing his/her convention acceptance speech right this minute.

            • Hey, I would take an orangutan over Trump in a hot second. Pretty sure orangutans don’t tweet, for one thing.

              • JBC31187

                Never mind the orangutan, I’d take theocrat Pence over Trump right now. At least he seemed to remember that Putin hacking the US infrastructure is a bad thing.

                • TopsyJane

                  One of the many bad things about Trumpism is that it makes pols like Pence into what Saul Bellow used to call contrast-gainers when they’re around him.

          • tsam

            It makes me wonder if there is a bottom of this rabbit hole without a bunch of them getting killed or going to prison. If anything good comes of the ShitGibbon presidency, maybe it will be that the whole world unites in full nuclear disarmament, now that we have a better idea of just how dangerous those goddamn things are.

            • JBC31187

              I don’t mind them going to prison or getting killed (we used to shoot traitors, didn’t we?), it’s the rest of the country I’m worried about.

          • With the exception of Bush Sr. every Republican President in my life has made the previous one look like a hippie.

            I forget who wrote it (I want to say Rick Perlstein, but that doesn’t feel right), but someone pointed out that modern conservative politics is like a ratchet. Since conservatism can never fail and can only be failed, each new incarnation has to be harder right than the last. This is how you get someone like John Kasich – whose abortion position would’ve been considered national electoral poison twenty years ago – described as a moderate.

            And, yes, it can definitely get worse. Repealing child labor laws? Fetus (well, zygote most of the time, but they don’t know that) funerals? These and more are gonna be standardized before long.

        • ProgressiveLiberal

          I hope the “in 10 years” part is correct

        • EliHawk

          Tbe weird thing is the loser candidates that come between them are the ones that would buck that tide. McCain and Romney both would have been better (in terms of being Presidential/states-many, though Romney would have been more hard right domestically) than Bush, for example. Yet in the end, the only Republican that slinks through is the one that is objectively far worse.

          • JBC31187

            Because Trump is anti-establishment.

            Trump is definitely a creature of the modern Republican party, and his “policies” and his cabal are all drawn from the Republican id. But I think Trump is unique in Republican presidential candidates over how little he gives a shit about having a functional country, or having a coherent policy, or even just keeping America number one. His Republican base probably knows they’re getting fucked over by the GOP; they just hate black people and queer people and Muslims and Mexicans too much to switch sides. The dumbasses who lean left (or who just like having healthcare and clean drinking water) who voted for Trump want to “send a message”to the establishment, and they thought this walking tire fire was the perfect messenger boy.

        • guthrie

          Or “At least Trump won an election, even if with some outside help”.

        • vic rattlehead

          2024: President-elect Richard Spencer.

          “Say what you will about President Trump, but he only enabled and riled up the white nationalists…”

    • efgoldman

      Nixon was a bad guy, no question.

      He was, and dipshit should never have pardoned him. But he was a genuine, highly skilled, experienced politician – he served in the house, senate, and two terms as Ike’s VP. He also, unlike today’s chickenhawks, enlisted in the Navy during wartime, although I don’t think he ever saw combat.
      Doesn’t change the fact that he was a rat bastard, and the ratfucker di tutti ratfuckers, though. Where do you think his buddy Roger Stone learned it?

      • vic rattlehead

        He was a slimy POS but he was intelligent and a skilled political operator. He knew that being President was more than just crushing your enemies (although it was certainly that!) but required actually putting some fucking work into it. He also understood diplomacy. Trump probably thinks that means showing off where you went to college “This is my classy Wharton diploma, see?”

    • DrDick

      He is most certainly to the left (marginally) of any of the Republicans since Reagan ran. He is still undiluted evil incarnate.

      • GeoX

        If other Republicans are worse, how can he be “undiluted evil incarnate?” In that case, we’d have to invent new words to describe the current crop.

  • You’ve reminded me that not long after Clinton cinched the nomination, Crooked Timber had a short piece about her (don’t remember by whom) which ultimately concluded that she was a uniquely dishonest politician, matched in American history only by Nixon.

    That was around the time I finally stopped taking them seriously about politics.

    • Ithaqua

      I’m guessing that was Corey Robin, who I no longer read about American politics, and read with a bag of kosher salt handy about anyone else’s politics.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I missed that, but if so…just wow.

      I do remember dsquared saying that there was no possible good faith disagreement anyone could have with Doug Henwood’s anti-Clinton screeds.

      • PohranicniStraze

        That would be the same dsquared who gets his precious fee-fees hurt if people say not-nice things about the financial sector.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      it’s never been enough to say Clinton was wrong about something or that someone has better ideas, she had to be “dishonest” or “inauthentic” on top of it. It’s as if those people knew she wasn’t all that wrong

    • Ithaqua

      Here’s a link to the Corey Robin piece, which is not as bad as I remembered, but of course may not be the one you’re thinking of either.

      • My recollection was of something more definitive, but it’s possible that I was just so shocked by the comparison – and by the fact that Robin explicitly likens Clinton to Nixon on the grounds of “authenticity problems” – that I exaggerated it in my head. It’s still a pretty mind-boggling comparison, especially since Robin is searching the entirety of American history for a politician to compare Clinton to, and this is what he comes up with.

        • Scott Lemieux

          That analysis…does not hold up well (not that mine at the same time would either!), but I don’t think it suggests that Clinton is a liar like Nixon.

        • XTPD

          Especially when The Atlantic noted the similarities between HRC and LBJ back in early 2015. (I’ve always thought of the Clinton’s as what’d happen if you split LBJ into two people, myself).

        • I remember it as something like “Nixon was the last liberal president, and Hillary will be the last Reaganite one.” He went kind of out of the way looking for traits to fuel the analogy, but I agree it came across as “Hillary is as bad as Nixon, and actually worse, because Nixon was a liberal and she isn’t really.”

  • james101

    Alger Hiss knew he was a liar.

  • You don’t generally think of Lyndon Johnson showing restraint, but boy was that a bad time to do so. I guess he didn’t have much choice given how (justifiably) unpopular he and the war were at the time, but damns.

    Does this mean that the Bushes are the only Republican presidents since Eisenhower who weren’t elected by playing footsie with foreign powers? I guess we already knew that, but it’s still pretty damning.

  • Yankee

    A massively powerful central government that puts All Power in the hands of ambitious, manipulative, hard-driven people selected by a semi-opaque demagogic process is obviously the best way to assure the dignity and decent prospects of all. Maybe.

    • Mellano

      “Yes! YES! This is what we’ve been SAYING!” exclaimed the Vindicated, Principled Opposition to Barack Hussein Obama’s Imperial Presidency

      • Yankee

        Whereas we on the Left understand that the problem with BHO is that he wasn’t Imperial enough by half. Arrow Theorem, you just want your guy to win, right? Highlander, like that.

    • Origami Isopod

      Let’s just devolve everything to the local level. All tiny systems of government are guaranteed to be completely free of corruption or oppression: e.g., feudal estates in the middle ages.

      • Breadbaker

        We can’t do that. There were states that legalized abortion before Roe after all.

      • Yankee

        All social organizations are corrupt, or soon will be if they control anything of value. The point is that small things are more maneuverable than big things: Lotus Super Seven vs. Cadillac ElDorado except on U.S. 50 in Nevada.

        Anyway the Big Thing is broken and it is time for one of our millennially recurring major overhauls. Take it all apart and clean it. Save what good stuff there is. Think new thinks.

      • wjts

        All tiny systems of government are guaranteed to be completely free of corruption or oppression: e.g., feudal estates in the middle ages.

        I think this may not be entirely correct, but I’d have to check my collection of Brother Cadfael paperbacks to be sure.

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