Lyndon Johnson on Technology



Obsessive need for information; fanatic about facts

It was obsessive, LBJ's need for information. It was unending and unceasing and the more information the president had, the more he wanted. He was never satisfied. I never saw him approach any problem where he was not in possession of a trunk-full of information, far more than any other man in the room, and oftentimes on subjects in which the official to whom he was talking was supposed to be expert. He was simply and clearly a fanatic about facts. He could never get enough information.
Source: A Very Human President, by Jack Valenti, p.163 , Dec 1, 1976

1968: created national public broadcasting system

The president declared himself in favor of public broadcasting and the design of the first federally-financed public broadcasting apparatus. On March 6, 1968, the Senate Commerce Committee met to hold confirmation hearings on the newly appointed fifteen members of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, created by President Johnson to fund a national public broadcasting system.
Source: A Very Human President, by Jack Valenti, p. 84&127 , Dec 1, 1976

LBJ's FBI never wiretapped MLK

In early 1975, press reports surfaced about former agents of the FBI claiming they were ordered to wiretap Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy at the convention to relay vital information to LBJ. My only comment on this is the reporting must have been done by extra-sensory perception. I saw every piece of paper that crossed the president's desk. I was with him so much I heard almost every phone conversation he had during these convention days. I can certify without a doubt that I never saw or read one sliver of anything that resembled a wiretapping report from the FBI or anyone else. I don't know whether or not the FBI tapped King and Kennedy at the convention, but I am willing to declare it would have been a minor miracle for any of these reports to get to the president without me knowing about it.
Source: A Very Human President, by Jack Valenti, p.202 , Dec 1, 1976

New Department of Transportation, including Highway Safety

[We must] arrest the destruction of life and property on our highways. I will propose a Highway Safety Act of 1966 to seek an end to this mounting tragedy.

It is the genius of our Constitution that under its shelter of enduring institutions and rooted principles there is ample room for the rich fertility of American political invention. We must change to master change. I propose to take steps to modernize and streamline the executive branch, to modernize the relations between city and State and Nation

A new Department of Transportation is needed to bring together our transportation activities. The present structure--35 Government agencies, spending $5 billion yearly--makes it almost impossible to serve either the growing demands of this great Nation or the needs of the industry, or the right of the taxpayer to full efficiency and real frugality.

Source: Pres. Johnson's 1966 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 12, 1966

$90M spent by US Information Agency is not wisely spent

The US Information Agency had never been popular with the Congress [although to me, USIA was the] voice of our foreign understanding.

[For 1957] I had asked for $144 million for the USIA--$31 million more than the year before. The appropriations subcommittee under the chairmanship of Sen. Lyndon Johnson was talking about slicing that to $91 million.

When the Senate subcommittee brought out its report, the USIA got about what Johnson had said: $90.2 million; it also got the acid advice that it "should concentrate on improving its personnel" and the recommendation that the Agency should return, as before 1953, to the State Department. Johnson left no doubt about his views: "There is not one scintilla of evidence in the more than 1200 pages of hearings which would justify the assertion by a judicious, prudent man that the $90 million we have recommended will be wisely spent." I was disappointed by this irresponsible diminution of an agency on the front line in the cold war.

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.136-138 , Jan 1, 1965

Rural Electrification raised farmers' incomes

The "power trust" was a favorite target of the New Deal. Johnson joined wholeheartedly in the fight against it. He was a fervent advocate of the recently established Rural Electrification Administration.

Johnson argued, "There is no reason why the farmer should not have electricity at cheap prices now. He needs it to help him with his work, make his home a better and more comfortable place to live, and to give him the opportunity available to city folks."

One result of his fight for extension of electric service to rural homes was the establishment of his own district of the biggest rural electrification project in the world. In 1939 the Central Texas empire of public-owned electric utilities had become a reality with the execution of a contract for purchase by the Lower Colorado River Authority of properties owned by a private company in a 16-county area. Rates paid by farmers for electric power were slashed 25%. Their use of electricity zoomed and the resulting benefits were plain.

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 31-33 , Jun 1, 1964

1957: Pushed UN for international cooperation on Space Age

Johnson, the leader, literally led the US into the Space Age. When Soviet Russia sent Sputnik whirling into space in the fall of 1957, Johnson's Preparedness Subcommittee immediately launched a searching investigation to find out why the US was lagging behind.

Johnson called for the permanent Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee. The Majority Leader early gave heavy emphasis to the importance of international cooperation in the use and exploration of space. He presented the American position on the subject in an appearance at the UN in NY. The New York Herald Tribune editorially congratulated Johnson for his "forceful affirmation" of US policy, saying his "eloquent performance undoubtedly made a deep impression on the uncommitted nations."

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 149-150 , Jun 1, 1964

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