Part I. Reagan Without Tears -- a REMEMBRANCE from the RADICAL LEFT
and some LETTERS TO THE EDITOR on the articles from ordinary people who also remember a lotta TERRIBLE REAGAN stuff! IT comes back to them now!
THIS IS VERY USEFUL READING FOR
POLITICAL ACTIVISTS and their CHILDREN
as THE RONNIE MYTH is a classic example of HERO WORSHIP manufactured by both MEDIA & RIGHT WING
PARTY to make a HERO DADDY figure who can be the BOAT PROW that BERTHS an oligarch agenda!
This guy wreaked HORRIFIC LAWS (STRIPPING HUMANITY OF LIFE, FOOD, LAND and jobs, deregulated the GAMBLING BANKS, turning WALL STREET INTO A CASINO) murdered Nicaraguans wholesale yet he was worshipped as A LOVING PATRIARCH and ALL THAT as kindly handiwork! This was a pro actor portraying a prexy! Nothing more.
"Let’s not forget what the Gipper REALLY did to America"
by Marc Cooper
"If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin."
Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, June 16, 1994
Few can work up Dr. Gonzo’s level of anti-Nixon vitriol in dispatching Ronald Reagan to the next realm. Nixon is remembered by the American people as Tricky Dick. Reagan has been enshrined as lovable Uncle Ronnie.
POSTER’s NOTE: This is the man who gutted the AMERICAN ECONOMY, and WALL STREET itself, by untethering it. with his COMPETITVE BANKING ACT of 1987, Bankers were freed up to become gangsters, his bogus law, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=34677 cut the nuts off the STEAGALL GLASS prohibitions FDR created, sending the thieves of Wall Street into pillage and plunder mode, throwing US ECONOMY into the garbage so that the week NANCY is dying, the stock market just sunk to half normal digits! BLAME RONNIE!
Indeed, none of us know for sure when Reagan came down with Alzheimer’s, but we have certainly experienced the collective amnesia of the American media in these last few days. A mawkish Tom Brokaw, an artificially somber Paula Zahn, a nattering Judy Woodruff gushing over the love affair Ronnie had with Nancy (a tinkling piano punctuating the CNN soundtrack), a babbling Wolf Blitzer (who made the idiotic remark that Reagan employed "perfect timing" in dying on D-Day) and a fatuous Jeff Greenfield stumbled over one another vying to slobber their accolades over the corpse of the fallen leader: Reagan was humble, he was funny, he had a twinkle in his eyes, he charmed his most fervent opponents, he leaped from tall buildings, and . . . yes . . . he single-handedly ended a four-decade-old Cold War. Reagan court biographer Lou Cannon, however, came up with the single most astounding statement in the Washington Post’s instant obit: "Mr. Reagan’s commitment to freedom was matched by an abhorrence of nuclear weapons." Some of us remember Reagan in very different terms. The single moment that most stands out in my mind was the early evening of March 23, 1983. Not a significant date for most. But that afternoon I was driving a dangerous highway back to the capital of San Salvador from the war-embattled eastern province of Morazan. I switched on the AM radio in my rented van and found the scratchy, static-laden frequency of the Voice of America. It was carrying a live broadcast of a much-heralded Reagan speech on national security - a speech in which he not only painted Central America as a dire, imminent threat to America and its people but also unveiled his sweeping Strategic Defensive Initiative, known popularly as Star Wars. I had just come a few days earlier from a week in Guatemala, where a U.S.-supported and visibly deranged army general by the name of Efrain Rios Montt - who shared Reagan’s view that the locals were a threat to world peace -was carrying out a scorched-earth campaign against hundreds of rural Mayan communities, killing thousands of indigenous and scattering even more to the winds. The devastation I saw was heartbreaking, almost biblical in the scope of destruction. I had also recently been in what Reagan called in that speech "Marxist" Nicaragua - the second poorest country in the hemisphere. Most of its 3 million people couldn’t scare up three squares, it had few roads, little infrastructure, and what was there rarely worked. Up along the Honduran border I saw subsistence Nicaraguan farming communities bury their young in rolling, rocky pastures as Reagan’s "contras" - the right-wing army led by officers of the former Somoza dictatorship that Reagan funded and compared to "our Founding Fathers" -took their toll. The ruling Sandinistas, given to revolutionary bravado, left much to be desired by democratic standards. But to posit, as Reagan did, that they threatened the security of the United States makes George W. Bush’s similar arguments about Saddam look, in comparison, downright compelling.
These scenes were rolling through my head as Reagan spoke that night. But I was mostly obsessed with what I saw right before me as I headed west on the Pan-American Highway: El Salvador. Here the Reagan administration was spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year (eventually a couple of billion) to bankroll what was without any question one of the most murderous regimes in the world. In the name of crushing a small leftist insurgency, the U.S. stood by as literally tens of thousands of civilians were arrested, tortured, and often mangled and mutilated, before being dumped in one or another killing field. What was so astounding, so galling, as I listened to that speech wasn’t that Reagan was defending our support of what essentially was the wrong side. It was rather the obviously false, I would say delusional, premise of his argument. The unrest in Central America, he argued, was nothing but a direct product of Soviet (and Cuban and Nicaraguan) regional subversion. I’m not going to rehash that argument 20 years later other than to say it was a downright and simplistic lie. But now Reagan was going a step further. After imposing a Cold War matrix on local regional conflicts, he was now proposing - via Star Wars - to project that Cold War into outer space. As darkness set down on that Salvadoran highway and Reagan finished his speech vowing to spend billions more to erect a space shield against a hardly credible threat of Russian attack, I felt like I was driving ever deeper into an endless, black void. This anecdote hardly qualifies as even an asterisk in Reagan’s official biographies. Central America is long forgotten as an American political issue. And Star Wars morphed into a slightly less irrational National Missile Defense program that too many Democrats have stupidly backed. Reagan’s detractors have plenty of other waypoints to chart their memories. A half-dozen years ago, after National Airport was renamed for Reagan, writer David Corn came up with 66 points by which to remember the Great Communicator. A few of them bear repeating as the media deification of him extends through his funeral games: "The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable . . . redbaiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt . . . ‘constructive engagement’ with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy’s astrologer . . . Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig ‘in control,’ silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, ‘mistakes were made.’ Michael Deaver’s conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger’s conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger’s five-count indictment . . . 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran-contra. ‘Facts are stupid things,’ three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, S.D.I., Robert Bork, naps, Teflon."
The list goes on. But make no mistake. Ronald Reagan deserves admiration for his tenacity and his political skill, if not for the outcome he produced. He took the fringe Goldwater movement and carried it into the mainstream of the GOP, thereby remaking his own party and, with it, American politics. He catapulted nutballs like Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority into positions of national legitimacy and trashed his own party’s Main Street traditions of fiscal responsibility. His two biggest political promises - to break up big government and to use military power to bring "freedom," as Lou Cannon surmises, to the rest of the world - were but empty bluster. Tripling the national debt, doubling the deficits, cutting taxes while bloating the military, he left government at the end of his tenure 30 percent bigger than he found it. And for all his saber rattling, he cut and run in Lebanon after 239 Marines were killed in a ‰ car bombing, and the only country he directly confronted with U.S. troops was the hapless Disneyland-size island of Grenada. As Josh Green pointed out in a Washington Monthly piece last year, "A sober review of Reagan’s presidency doesn’t yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today." He never seriously followed through on promises to outlaw abortion. He eventually raised taxes. He ignored any notion of a balanced budget. His assault on entitlements never fully materialized, and in 1983 he actually helped rescue Social Security. And on foreign affairs, he eventually ignored the radical misjudgments of many of his closest advisers, who were clueless to the meaning of Gorbachev, and found a way to accommodate the Soviet reform leader. Reagan’s eventual compromise with Gorbachev on arms control should not be overblown. When Gorbachev arrived on the scene promoting glasnost and perestroika, there is little if any evidence that anyone in the administration, including the Gipper, could fully grasp the import of the moment. Myriad were the public White House and State Department statements brushing aside the notion of any real change in the "evil empire." It was Gorbachev who took all the risks - monumental risks that paid off richly for his people but stranded him personally in a historical Siberia. Reagan, surrounded by many of the same neocon counselors who populate Washington today, came late to his entente with the Soviet leader. By the time Reagan made his take-down-this-wall speech in Berlin, the revolution unleashed by Gorbachev was well under way and the fall of the wall was as much as inevitable. Reagan had been calling for the demolition of the wall (as many had) since the day it was built. He just happened to make that speech at a time when Eastern Europeans, inspired by what they saw in Moscow, not Washington, finally felt freedom was in their reach. Most frightening is today’s conventional wisdom that Reagan was "correct" in forcing the Soviets to spend themselves out of existence in an escalating arms race. The Soviets were quite bankrupt all on their own without Reagan’s assistance. Soviet spending on arms was flat during the 1980s, deflating one of the most enduring myths surrounding Reagan’s "vision." Reagan’s arms spending spree should more wisely be seen as reckless economics and old-fashioned brinkmanship. History has yet to judge if we, along with the Russians, have also bankrupted ourselves by pouring billions into tanks and planes while starving schools, hospitals and domestic infrastructure. Worse, what was the corollary to the Reagan policy of spending the Soviets into oblivion? If the Soviets had not collapsed (under what was mostly internal, not outside, pressure), what course would Reagan have taken? Were we to continue our spending binge and arms escalation ad infinitum? Or would we have been tempted to stage a pre-emptive attack to take down our rivals once and for all? Remember "with enough shovels"?
What Reagan did accomplish, however, should not be underestimated. While his own actions were not necessarily consistent, he firmly established a new tone and ethos in national politics. The mask of equanimity was ripped off American politics, and the winners in our society were finally given permission to publicly gloat. All of a sudden it was socially acceptable to denounce the poor, to blame the victims, to celebrate and even promote inequality. It was hip to be mean. The golf shirt, martini and cigar replaced the lunch bucket and a cool Bud as the icons of American workaday culture. Reagan’s legacy is best embodied not by the mistaken notion of him as a Strangelovian, bomb-dropping cowboy, but rather as the obedient radio and TV pitchman for General Electric. Fifty years from now, Reagan will be remembered not for lobbing a few missiles at Qaddafi or for funding the contras, but rather for presiding over the most radical transfer of wealth, upward, in the 20th century.
Breaking the federal Air Traffic Controllers Union, as Reagan’s first act in office, flashed a glaring green light for the trickle-down notions of social justice that still dominate our body politic two decades later. While Reagan didn’t shy from more centrist and pragmatic options when it befitted his own political survival, he nevertheless implanted the rhetorical and ideological sidelines of an economic and political playing field that has been shifted far to the right. Reagan didn’t accomplish this shift all on his own. Nor was it a mere result of the clever, calculated and conspiratorial machinations of his colder-blooded handlers, ranging from Mike Deaver to "Mommy" Nancy. To a great degree, Reagan’s rise also reflected what had been an accelerating drift in the national Zeitgeist. Ronald Reagan would have been an impossible construction if it had not been for the stark failures of American liberalism - failures crystallized in the limp politics of Jimmy Carter. Reagan was carried to power as blue-collar "Reagan Democrats" from decaying cities and frayed suburbs defected in legions to the GOP. And they weren’t simply angry white men lured by cheap campaign demagoguery. Their hearts and souls were, instead, wooed and seduced by a candidate and a movement that was unabashedly bold and daring, that brimmed with new (and mostly bad) ideas, that was - at least in American terms - revolutionary, and that foamed with an oxygenated optimism of the sort that has become a dead language for liberals. On Ronald Reagan’s death, it is a lesson in politics that seems ever more urgent for the left to adopt - lest it wants its great-grandchildren 50 years from now still to be supine before the manufactured mythology of the Gipper."
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WAKING FROM THE TRANCE! Populist Remembrances of R.R. written AFTER WSWS published Ronald Reagan An Obituary by David North, which you can read at THIS SITE
THE W.S. GOT great LETTERS FROM JES PLAIN FOLKS WHO ALSO REMEMBERED A LOT OF BAD STUFF that happened back in the EIGHTIES. It suddenly COMES BACK TO THEM!!
DEAR WSWS "Regarding Ronald Reagan’s death: David North’s obituary said what was needed more comprehensively than any other of the dozens of essays I’ve read on this pathetic man’s passing into historical oblivion. My years as a social worker turned me into what the philosophers call a "hard determinist"; I believe that individual people cannot truly be blamed as if we are initiators of what we do, even as we cannot be acclaimed on the basis of that same version of human action. To me, in other words, Reagan was more a symptom than a cause.
But there is no denying that people do what they do, no matter how much philosophers and social theorists may dicker about the causes, and Mr. North has enumerated beautifully the horrible changes that Ronald Reagan wrought, directly and intentionally, as president.
My social worker years also made me an eyewitness to thousands of New York City area working class people rendered homeless during this period. They were forced off the Social Security disability benefits they had rightfully earned by Reagan’s changes to federal real estate taxation that encouraged speculative "churning" in the region’s multifamily rental real estate markets, condominium conversions of rental housing, the ruthless ending of rent control implemented by real estate interests as they bought up local politicians. They were also forced into homelessness by the purges of the Social Security rolls and the massive Reaganite attacks on benefits for the poor.
Reaganism was around—in the books of Robert Ringer, such as Winning Through Intimidation, in the malignant utterances of right-wingers at the National Review and the howls of protest from the rich and privileged—long before Reagan took office. His charisma facilitated the blossoming of a peculiar "flower of evil," a profound warping of American civilization whose main features were relentless, anxious self-adulation, greed and destructiveness, at home and abroad.
The Reagan Era—more than another chapter in capitalist misrule—is still with us as seen in our country’s recklessly criminal leadership, its militarism, its pervasive cultural glorification of rapacity and institutionalized avarice. As David North so eloquently points out, it has yet to play out all the damage done to the United States. (IT CERTAINLY CREATED the tidal wave of crazy, starving HOMELESS!)
The coming years in America will be ones of crisis and a move toward a police state, a rehearsal for which is now under way by US occupation forces in Iraq. Of that I have no doubt whatsoever.
Thanks to David North for producing an obituary that may well prove a prophetic prelude to future history.
NEXT: SAM SMITH
Of George Bush's many sins, one has remained unnoted. He and his aides are so absurdly inept at most of what they do that they have diverted attention from the fact that America's collapse began well before Bush came into office and has continued under his command with considerable aid and comfort from the most respected, celebrated well paid subcultures of our society. In the end, Bush is but a painful caricature of a much deeper reality, part of which is that if we had not already been in a state of cultural, political and intellectual disintegration, he never would have been elected in the first place.
Just one year into Bush's regime, I spoke at a punk concert and offered some thirty examples of civil liberties that had eroded during the life of anyone only 25 years of age. I also noted that the earnings of everyone under 25 - black, white, latino, male and female - had declined over the past twenty years, about 5% for the most part - with the earnings of black and white males under 25 down 17 to 21%. A typical young white male was earning $97 less a week in real dollars than two decades earlier. And this was all before Bush got his hands on the country.
It has become easy and fun to blame it all on Bush - and certainly he has contributed more than his share to the nation's problems - but as we may discover when he leaves, he has had plenty of predecessors as well as many accomplices who will remain in power.
A fair judgment would be that America began falling apart about twenty years before Bush took office. The man in charge at the time was Ronald Reagan, who took two centuries of American history and turned it into a corny cowboy movie that he could understand but had little relationship to reality. Yet, like Bush, he could not have done it alone. The purported best and brightest told us it was true.
And they have yet to tell us the truth about the Reagan years that spawned the deadly philosophy that greed is good, nothing big needs to be regulated and the market will save us all.
It is useful - if a bit tardy - to review the Reagan facts rather than the legend, for it shows how the most mundanely accurate analysis might have led us in a different direction. For example, a study published in the Congressional Record in March 1984 looked at the first three years of the Regan administration and compared to the three that preceded it. The study found
- Real GNP growth down 59%
- Industrial production down 97%
- Housing starts down 27%
- Domestic auto sales down 26%
- Business failures up 189%
- Civilian unemployment up 389%
- Real disposable income down 32%
- Prime rate up 35%
- Federal budget deficit up 215%
- Farm income down 326%
Also during the Reagan years:
- Four members of the Reagan cabinet came under criminal investigation
- The Reagan administration had secret plans for an unconstitutional takeover of the federal government under an ill-defined national emergency. Members of the government created by the coup were selected and included Richard Cheney.
- Reagan's policies led to the greatest financial scandal in American history up to that point: the Savings & Loan debacle which cost taxpayers billions of dollars. ""
- Reagan made major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and school lunch programs. Just as he did as Gov of Calif where he removed many from diagnostic medical procedures involving surgery.
Reagan fired 13,000 air traffic controllers in a devastating blow to government union members from which the labor movement never recovered.
- ""The AIDS crisis exploded (with 20,000 deaths) before Reagan could even bring himself to address the issue six years later. In his authorized biography he is quoted as saying that "maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."
- Reported the Washington Post: "The administration in 1984 secretly sold arms to Iran -- which the United States considered a supporter of terrorism -- to raise cash for Nicaraguan contra rebels, despite a congressional ban on support for the Latin American insurgency. An independent investigation concluded that the arms sales to Iran operations "were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan [and] Vice President George Bush," and that "large volumes of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several Reagan Administration officials."
After a major tax cut, there was a long recession and unemployment that hit ten percent.
This was the foundation upon which the present disaster has been built - policy drawing upon fantasy, theological rigidity, fiscal myth and a faith in "free markets" actually created by hidden subsidies, thousands of lobbyists, runaway Pentagon purchases and manipulation of the law to favor banks and corporations rather than ordinary Americans.
By the time the truth was too painful to ignore - nearly three decades later - the myth had recruited major media from Fox and the Wall Street Journal to NPR and the Washington Post. It had been given the blessing of innumerable academics who developed complex justifications for primitive, simplistic and false assumptions. And even Democrats - from Clinton to Obama - paid regular homage to economic principles whose only true beneficiaries were the very few at the very top.
It became the core ideology of an American establishment that would turn out to be the worst and the dumbest. As Harold Meyerson pointed out recently, even the robber barons of the 19th century used European capital to build American industry such as railroads and steel. The contemporary establishment has taken American assets and turned them into a massive liability.
Yet a Rasmussen poll taken after the start of the Bush financial crash found that 59% of voters still agreed with Reagan's inaugural declaration that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Even 49% of Democrats agree with only 34% demurring.
This is not Karl Rove's fault. This is the result of nearly three decades of indoctrination in anti-social, anti-democratic and economically fallacious absurdities by almost every major instructional institution in the country including Harvard, and the PBS News Hour. Listening to the post crash coverage I heard words I had not found in the media for years, words like FDR, New Deal, government intervention and Keynes. Where had these phrases been all this time? Why was it only now respectable to mention Franklin Roosevelt again?
And why has the media and academia given so much encouragement to the myth of free markets while ignoring real things that have gotten worse since Reagan took office? Things like:
- Minimum wage as % of average wage
- Real income
- Real income bottom 60% of Americans
- Bottom 99% share of total income
- Income gap between rich and poor
- Workers pay as a percent of CEO pay
- Older families covered by pensions
- Workers covered by defined benefit pensions
- Annual personal savings rate of families
- Elder bankruptcies
- Housing foreclosures
- Child poverty rate
- Severe poverty rate
- Percent of Americans employed
- Pensions that include health care benefits
- Number of families without health insurance
- Number of public hospitals
- Number of corporations controlling most media
- Student loan debt
- Increase in wealth of wealthiest ten senators (up 13 times)
- Percent of workforce unionized
Four years before the Bush crash, Michelle Singletary wrote in the Washington Post:
"Authors Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi conclude that earning two incomes doesn't guarantee financial security:In the past 25 years, the number of families in bankruptcy has increased 400 percent, and housing foreclosures are up 350 percent."
You can find these stories if you look hard enough; what you can't find is these stories being told in more than one or two places at a time during which those in the worst and dumbest establishment continued to peddle the wonders of the free market.
The self-defined best minds of our society have engaged in an act of such reckless negligence that it would have produced a criminal indictment if they had been behind the wheel of a car. But because they were only driving the politics and economy of a few hundred million citizens, they get to keep their jobs, their op ed pieces and their preferred place in society.
In the 1960s, a large number of Americans declined to permit such a fraud to continue, choosing instead to not only rebel against those who had done the damage but to remove their podiums, undermine their status, knock down their pedestals, discredit their reputations and hold them in ridicule.
And for awhile America gained breathing room to make things better; for a while we could dream, smile and get things done. But it's far more than just a matter of rounding up the usual suspects. If we settle for justice against Paulsen and Bush, for example, then we'll be no better off than we were in Iraq after getting rid of Saddam.
For any rebellion to succeed, for America to rebuild itself, it must shatter the immunity of the status quo in all its vicious dimensions. We have three decades of false teaching, journalistic myth and political corruption to disassemble. And we need something to take its place just as the civil rights movement needed freedom schools to replace generations of lies about blacks and whites.
America has been deceived, defrauded and defeated by the worst and the dumbest. The first step in recovery is to let them know in every way that the party's over.* * *
"The obituary of Reagan summed up the political impact of
one of the worst American leaders we have witnessed. Reagan was clearly
committed to defending the indefensible, attacking the vulnerable and appealing
to the worst instincts of his supporters. However, in any discussion of his
crimes and misdemeanors some mention should be given to the infamous Laffer
An absurd economist, Laffer argued that slashing income tax would swell state coffers by unleashing the dynamism of entrepreneurs. This suited the oligarchy Reagan represented and the result was a predictably huge fiscal deficit. This policy, based on dogmatism and stupidity, and with terrible social consequences for ordinary Americans as you rightly stress, seems to epitomize Reagan’s politics as much as his murderous foreign policies you also mention.
* * *
I liked your obituary on Reagan. It’s a lot closer to reality
than anything else I’ve seen. I remember even the right-wing newspapers here in
Florida were bashing Reagan at the end of his second term. You would never know
that happened from what the fascist media are saying now. But I think you left
out some other significantly horrible things this man (or his handlers) did.
There was the savings and loan scandal which he
manufactured by cutting
regulators and regulations. Also the destruction of the Bill of Rights caused
by the insane "war on drugs," and along with it the increase in
incarceration rates. Then there was the intentional importation
of crack cocaine by the CIA to fund the "contra" wars and provide
fodder for the "war on drugs" assault on the population. And finally
the consolidation of the media and the rise of 24-hour propaganda outlets like
CNN took place during the Reagan years. This last item I believe to be the
really significant thing though: no more free press. How can one have a
democracy when all the information is propaganda? We live with the results now,
a police state where the only "assistance" given to the public is in
the form of jails and more jails. Where to get welfare, a mother must clean
freeways all day, so the state can fire union workers. Slavery is back, wealthy
white-collar robbers, murderers and thieves are rewarded or pardoned, while
poor people are given life terms in prison for petty theft to support corporate
slavery. The environment is in serious decline and with global warming it is
going to get much worse. Forget about health care insurance, doctors cannot be
trusted anyway anymore. You can’t trust your neighbors or have friends because
the incredible level of propaganda has turned what would be nice friendly
reasonable people into virtually insane, dangerous nut cases, with no concept
of right or wrong or community. These are bad times indeed, corruption and
dishonesty have spread into our entire society, "our" government is
completely dysfunctional, and the big change began with the Reagan
* * *
Philip Roth in one of his novels writes about terrorist as the substitute for Communist. Carried further one can see Axis of Evil as substitute for Empire of Evil and Reagan as Big Brother now morphed into George Bush who will save us from destruction. What comes to mind is a scene from the film 1984 based on George Orwell’s novel. When the protagonist, along with his fellow man, is forced to watch an endless repetition of hypocritical propaganda, such as—we are at war with Europa, not Euasia then the next day it is Eurasia we hate not Europa—and all of this orchestrated against a backdrop of Big Brother, we the audience understand that what is important, and consequently the point of the film, is that hate and/or love can be triggered, mobilized, and directed at will. In this case by Big Brother. I remember how shocked members of my generation were when Ronald Reagan became president, a third-rate film actor without any foreign policy experience. However, I have not heard one word of criticism during this week’s media blitz, a blitz like none other—an outpouring of love—according to the media, of almost mythical proportions that dwarfs anything expressed for President Kennedy or even Princess Diana. Indeed, the total mobilization of the American media is an awesome spectacle.
* * *
Thank you for your article on Reagan’s death. After the
shocking, undeserved praise Nixon received upon his death, I expected the same
from Reagan’s passing but, like you, I still find it stunning. I work at the
University of Texas and we’ve just been told that the entire 50,000-student
university with all its faculty and staff will be shut down for a day of honor
and mourning this week. I’ve just had a normally apolitical, pop-culture-obsessed
coworker casually exclaim that Reagan is more popular than Kennedy. It does
increase the feelings of isolation and disconnection from others that many of
us feel. Reagan was already being mythologized in the early ’90s
here in the US. During that decade, I was surprised several times by the response
of various, otherwise liberal and activist Americans in their 20s when I would criticize
Reagan: "But he was the most popular president in history!" "He
saved the country!" "He destroyed communism!" etc. And this was
from people who considered themselves "liberal" and
activist-oriented. They’d just been taught in school that Reagan was a paragon
of virtue and the decline in education funding and increase in
anti-intellectualism that Reagan oversaw ensured that they didn’t know how to
do research to question what they’d been taught. One of the Reaganites’ greatest propaganda coups was to call his
radically destructive policies "conservative," implying that they’re
marked by wise caution and are time-honored. Here in the US, the use of that
term for Republican policies continues to fool the young.
Reagan’s disastrously cruel policies were anything but cautious and
time-honored. As for his popularity, I remember that when Reagan was a
presidential candidate in 1980, his marketers were proclaiming him the
"most popular presidential candidate in history." Even then, I
wondered how they could know such a thing was true. Many Americans, though,
seem to have believed it, whether it was true or not. As you know, nothing he
did was beneficial to society or anything else, quite the opposite. I still
feel that he should have been writhing in a lot more pain than he suffered,
considering all the death and suffering he deliberately caused. Especially
since the long-term social changes he brought in—increased societal
bellicosity, anti-intellectualism, destruction of social programs,
homelessness, massive incarceration for nonviolent crimes and conscious racist
sentencing, unabashed anti-environmentalism, active pursuit of Armageddon, the
rise to power of Christian fundamentalists, etc—were all deliberate and
intended to continue long past his regime.
* * *
I take issue with only one point in Mr. North’s obituary of Ronald Regan. I strongly feel the most hated president since Hoover is George W. Bush II! Then Ronnie Reagan, then the old Bush, BUSH I. Great work Mr. North.
* * *
A good recap of the Reagan years. The union-busting was
reenacted in Britain at the time under Thatcher. To take on the miners she
brought in McGregor who wanted "tanks" to be used. Thatcher declined
at the time as it was not politically possible in Britain because it might have
meant the TUC would have called a general strike. There was also the curious
assassination attempt by the psychotic Hinkley whose father was very close to
Bush Sr.. The great lift at that time was when every school in the USA broke it
gently to the youngsters "That someone has shot the President of the
USA." Almost all of the youngsters broke into wild cheers. The teachers
were supposedly stunned—though it’s doubtful. In addition to your listing of
RWR’s fiscal crimes against the middle and lower-middle classes, you might add
the myth of the "tax cut" as
exemplified by his ending tax deductions for fees and interest on credit cards, auto loans, and other long term debt. Only mortgage deductions remain, thanks to intense lobbying from the real estate sector.
He disgusted me then—all 16 years of him as I also suffered through his cruel tenure in California—and now. He was mendacious and mean-spirited—stupid and delusional. I loath him."
My own experiences may count for something. I had occasion to think of them today. One of my oldest list pals wrote me, after getting this file from me, Y sudden REGAINING REASON ON REAGAN! Cuz when he died, I wept….more than for my own father. Then I read thee articles and rememberd all the evil the man let get by him. SO this lady writes me, 7 yrs she gets my posts. She said that I was heartless, that I must be a very very sad person! Boy she got that right. REAGAN created my sorrow, too! She asked frostily to be deleted from my list. I answered with a POME
Deleted you will be my dear
if reading truth on Ron gives strife.
My rage at Reagan's personal!
he took away my life!
A mother of four babies,
I was of torn heart a-dying
UCLA Cardilogy said Catheterize,
or in your grave you’re lying
I hadn't yet been scheduled --
(Diagnostic procedure/healing balms)
When Ronnie took away health care
from all us welfare moms!
Along with libraries schools
and a lot of basic ghetto needs.
That CREEP worked for the CORPORATES
who the entire population bleeds!
I never had my valves closed up.
Today heart's faint, lips blue
So much to write that our land evolve
Writing I will never do.
Please take up my fallen pen
and occupy my place
So cute governors aren't elected
and oligarchs win each race.
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