Dick Armey

Ronald Reagan and the Right Wing Conservative Fantasy


Was He an Enemy of Freedom & Traitor to American Values?

A Rich Ronald Reagan Fantasy Life

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Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Presented by: The Religious Freedom Coalition of the SouthEast

Ronald Reagan

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Contents

Part I The Failure of Ronald Reagan

Part II          Introduction to the Right Wing Conspiracy

Part III        The Religious Right and the Christian Reconstructionists

Part IV        Christian Reconstructionism, Christian Ayatollahs, and Racism

Part V          Republican Gomorrah

Part VI        Ayn Rand - The Republican Mascot

Part VII       Republican Bigotry and Media Stupidity

Part VIII     Republican Scandals and Culture of Corruption

Part IX        Republican Criminals

Part X          Day in the Life of Joe Middleclass Republican

Part XI        The 12 Worst (and most powerful) Christian Right Groups

Part XII       The Anatomy of the Religious Right

Part XIII     The Family

Part XIV     The Tea Party

Part XV       The Koch Brothers and KochAmerica

Part XVII     Does Rupert Murdoch Own Too Many Sources of Information

Part XVIII   Fox News and the Dumbing Down of America

Part XV        Want to know the truth about statements made by Democrat and Republican Politicians?  Click on the following web sites to check on what is true and what is false.

 

 

Sources for the following article came from truth-out.org, salon.com, wallstreetjournal.com, huffingtonpost.com, and wikipedia.com


Republicans Fail the Reagan Litmus Test

Posted: 06 Jul 2011 04:00 PM PDT

 

On July 4, U.S. officials, foreign dignitaries and conservative luminaries gathered outside the American embassy in London to unveil a $1 million statue of Ronald Reagan. As it turns out, the timing was more than a little ironic. Because even as the Gipper was honored in Britain, it's increasingly clear he would have no place in today's Republican Party.

From Grover Norquist's anti-tax promise and the Republican Study Committee's "cut, cap and balance" pledge to the draconian anti-abortion oath of the Susan B. Anthony List, hardline conservative litmus tests are proliferating at a dizzying pace. And Ronald Reagan would have failed them all.

If a reanimated Ronald Reagan suddenly appeared in 2011, there is little question his GOP descendants would brand him a Republican In Name Only (RINO) and cast off him off into the wilderness. (As California Rep. Duncan Hunter put it, "a more moderate/former liberal like Ronald Reagan...would never be elected today in my opinion.") Here's why:

  1. Reagan tripled the national debt
  2. Reagan raised taxes 11 times
  3. Reagan expanded the size of government
  4. Reagan supported the "socialist" Earned Income Tax Credit
  5. Reagan negotiated with terrorists in Tehran
  6. Reagan sought to eliminate nuclear weapons
  7. Reagan gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants
  8. Reagan approved protectionist trade barriers
  9. Reagan signed abortion rights law in California
  10. Reagan eventually debunked AIDS myths Republicans continued to perpetuate

1. Reagan Tripled the National Debt

As most analysts predicted, Reagan's massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-settings deficits. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous "rosy scenarios."

Forced to raise taxes twice to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It's no wonder Stockman lamented last year:

"[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."

And that would be a big problem for Utah Senator Mike Lee and the Republican Study Committee now pushing the government-gutting "cut, cap and balance" plan. With its draconian limit on federal spending at 18% of GDP, President Reagan would have broken that promise every year he was in office. And the supposed great tax-cutter would have been in violation of the Constitution's new balanced budget amendment eight years running.

2. Reagan Raised Taxes 11 Times

As ThinkProgress noted, the inedible image of Ronald Reagan the tax cutter is "false mythology." (It is also worth noting that it was President Obama and not Reagan who delivered the largest two year tax cut in American history.) While Governor Reagan doubled California's state spending and signed the biggest tax hike up to that point, as President he raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan "a dear friend," told NPR, "Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration -- I was there."

His hagiographer Grover Norquist may be the man behind the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project to "to encourage the naming of landmarks, buildings, roads, etc. after the Gipper." But as he did with Oklahoma reactionary Tom Coburn, Norquist would have to conclude that the tax-raising Reagan "lied his way into office."

3. Reagan Expanded the Size of Government

Marking Reagan's 100th birthday earlier this year, Sarah Palin told the Reaganauts assembled by the Young Americans for Freedom, "We need to stop spending and cut government back down to size." If that's the case, her role model should be Democrat Bill Clinton and not Republican Ronald Reagan.

As USA Today pointed out five years ago, measured as a percentage of gross domestic product, average annual federal spending dropped far more under Bill Clinton (-1.8%) than Ronald Reagan (-0.6%). And as Slate's Michael Kinsley explained ten years ago in marking Reagan's 90th birthday:

Federal government spending was a quarter higher in real terms when Reagan left office than when he entered. As a share of GDP, the federal government shrank from 22.2 percent to 21.2 percent--a whopping one percentage point. The federal civilian work force increased from 2.8 million to 3 million. (Yes, it increased even if you exclude Defense Department civilians. And, no, assuming a year or two of lag time for a president's policies to take effect didn't materially change any of these results.)

Under eight years of Big Government Bill Clinton, to choose another president at random, the federal civilian work force went down from 2.9 million to 2.68 million. Federal spending grew by 11 percent in real terms--less than half as much as under Reagan. As a share of GDP, federal spending shrank from 21.5 percent to 18.3 percent--more than double Reagan's reduction, ending up with a federal government share of the economy about a tenth smaller than Reagan left behind.

As the Gipper's biographer Lou Cannon aptly summed it up, "Reagan was no Tea Partier."

4. Reagan Supported the "Socialist" Earned Income Tax Credit

Both during and after the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican candidates and commentators blasted Barack Obama's proposals to offer Americans expanded tax credits as "socialism", "welfare" and worse. If so, they should also be directing their ire at Ronald Reagan.

While virtually all working Americans pay the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes (levies increased by President Reagan), many don't pay federal income tax thanks to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in 2005, the EITC was not only very successful in lowering poverty, the provision "has enjoyed substantial bipartisan support. President Reagan, President George H. W. Bush, and President Clinton all praised it and proposed expansions in it."

While many of his conservative heirs now express disdain for the working poor, Ronald Reagan championed the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. As the American Prospect recalled in 2006:

Almost 20 years ago, as he signed into law the tax bill expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, President Ronald Reagan hailed it as "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress."

5. Reagan Negotiated with Terrorists in Tehran.

Criticizing President Obama as weak on Iran, Sarah Palin declared in December that "just as Ronald Reagan once denounced an 'evil empire' and looked forward to a time when communism was left on the 'ash heap of history,' we should look forward to a future where the twisted ideology and aggressive will to dominate of Khomeini and his successors are consigned to history's dustbin."

That would be the same Ronald Reagan whose policy consisted of giving the mullahs in Iran a cake, a Bible - and U.S. arms.

The Iran-Contra scandal, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And as the New York Times recalled, Reagan's fiasco started with an emissary bearing gifts from the Gipper himself, including "a Bible with a handwritten verse from President Reagan for Iranian leaders" and "and a key-shaped cake to symbolize the anticipated ''opening'' to Iran.'"

The rest, as they say, is history. After his initial denials, President Reagan was forced to address the nation on March 4, 1987 and acknowledge he indeed swapped arms for hostages (video here):

"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."

6. Reagan Sought to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

In late 2010, hard-line Republicans opposed President Obama's new START treaty calling for joint reductions in the American and Russian nuclear stockpiles. Sadly for GOP hawks, it was Ronald Reagan and not Barack Obama who declared, "my dream is that we become a world free of nuclear weapons."

And as the Washington Monthly recalled in 2003, Reagan's idealism startled and shocked his advisers and allies:

Driven by this dream, Reagan embraced Mikhail Gorbachev and initiated a series of negotiations that ultimately alarmed everyone in his administration. Hardliners like Patrick Buchanan, Richard Perle, and Caspar Weinberger reacted in horror to the very idea of engaging the Soviets in such talks, warning against the "grand illusion" of peace. "Reagan is a weakened president, weakened in spirit as well as clout," echoed New Right leader Paul Weyrich in The Washington Post. Administration pragmatists like George Shultz and Robert McFarlane, who supported negotiations but believed in deterrence, were shocked by how far Reagan took them. At the Reykjavik summit, he and Gorbachev almost agreed to the "zero option" to eliminate both sides' thermonuclear arms. Reagan's unwillingness to give up his cherished missile-defense program doomed the agreement, though the talks did yield the signature arms-reduction pact of his presidency, the 1987 INF treaty.

7. Reagan Gave Amnesty to Millions of Illegal Immigrants

Codifying the growing xenophobia within the Republican Party, the 2008 GOP platform insisted:

"We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people's rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government's past failures to enforce the law."

Which is why, as ThinkProgress again helpfully highlighted, conservatives are now so eager to hush up RINO Reagan's history on immigration:

Reagan signed into law a bill that made any immigrant who had entered the country before 1982 eligible for amnesty. The bill was sold as a crackdown, but its tough sanctions on employers who hired undocumented immigrants were removed before final passage. The bill helped 3 million people and millions more family members gain American residency. It has since become a source of major embarrassment for conservatives.

8. Reagan Approved Protectionist Trade Barriers

Ronald Reagan believed in free markets and free trade. Except when he didn't.

In 2004, Alan Tonelson praised what he called Reagan's "trade realism":

Reagan's tactics were flexible. In autos, machine tools, and steel, his administration subjected foreign producers to so-called voluntary export restraints. In semiconductors, Reagan officials negotiated an agreement to secure a specific share of the Japanese market for U.S. companies, and then imposed tariffs on Japanese electronics imports when Tokyo briefly refused to keep a promise to halt semiconductor dumping.

But it was Reagan's decisive intervention to save legendary American motorcycle maker Harley Davidson which drew the ire of conservatives at the time, if not now. The libertarian Cato Institute groused about the 49.4% import tariff on foreign motorcycles Reagan authorized in 1983:

Last spring, the import duties on large motorcycles were raised drastically. By any economic criterion, the new tariff is counterproductive, and the Reagan administration was fully aware of it. The decision is thus an interesting case study in the political economy of protectionism.

9. Reagan Signed Abortion Rights Law in California

Despite his paeans to the pro-life crowd, RINO Reagan did very little to advance their radical anti-abortion agenda. As ThinkProgress summarized his record on reproductive rights:

As governor of California in 1967, Reagan signed a bill to liberalize the state's abortion laws that "resulted in more than a million abortions." When Reagan ran for president, he advocated a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother, but once in office, he "never seriously pursued" curbing choice.

Remember that Reagan put Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, who in Planned Parenthood v. Casey advocated the "undue burden" standard for protecting women's access to abortion services. For the folks at the Susan B. Anthony List now waging war on reproductive rights, Reagan would have been beyond the pale.

10. Reagan Eventually Debunked AIDS Myths Republicans Continued to Perpetuate

Not wanting to anger his allies on the Christian right when it came to what they deemed the "gay plague," Reagan remained silent on the exploding AIDS epidemic throughout most of his presidency. And when he did speak up in 1985 (as he did at the urging of staffer and future Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts), Reagan ignored both basic science and basic compassion in setting back the cause of truth and public health:

"I'm glad I'm not faced with that problem today [sending children to school where another student has AIDS] and I can well understand the plight of the parents and how they feel about it...And yet medicine has not come forth unequivocally and said 'This we know for a fact, that it is safe.' And until they do I think we have to do the best we can with this problem. I can understand both sides of it."

The next day, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and the chief scientists at the National Institutes of Health called a news conference to correct President Reagan's tragic error and confirm that AIDS was a blood-borne sexually transmitted disease not spread by casual contact. In what would be the first high-impact celebrity intervention among Republicans, it took a plea from Elizabeth Taylor to get Ronald Reagan to deliver a speech at the 1987 meeting of amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research:

As dangerous and deadly as AIDS is, many of the fears surrounding it are unfounded. These fears are based on ignorance... The Public Health Service has stated that there's no medical reason for barring a person with the virus from any routine school or work activity. There's no reason for those who carry the AIDS virus to wear a scarlet A. AIDS is not a casually contagious disease. We're still learning about how AIDS is transmitted, but experts tell us you don't get it from telephones or swimming pools or drinking fountains. You don't get it from shaking hands or sitting on a bus or anywhere else, for that matter. And most important, you don't get AIDS by donating blood. Education is critical to clearing up the fears. Education is also crucial to stopping the transmission of the disease.

Fourteen years later, then Senate Majority Leader and physician Bill Frist declined to say whether he thought HIV-AIDS could be transmitted through tears or sweat, as a disputed federal education program championed by some conservative groups had suggested.

And so it goes. Reviewing the state of the Republican Party, conservative columnist David Brooks lamented today that "the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party" which "has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative." Given its required pledges and near-sacred oaths, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen aptly called the GOP simply the "Grand Old Cult."

A cult, it turns out, that would eject its former icon, Ronald Reagan. And by so doing, today's Republicans would fail the Reagan Litmus Test.

(For more debunking of the right-wing mythology surrounding Ronald Reagan, see these recent articles from the Washington Post, CNN, ThinkProgress and CBS. For the definitive account of the conservative revisionist history project, see Will Bunch's excellent book, Tear Down This Myth.)


The era of big spending and massive deficits

Ronald Reagan's first budget director talks about the long-term fiscal consequences of the 1980s


His Early life

Ronald Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois. His father was a alcoholic, and his mother a enabler. His first job was that of a lifeguard, on the Rock River. Over the course of seven summers, Reagan was credited with saving 77 lives, only 66,923 less than were murdered in El Salvador and Honduras by death squads he supported during his Presidency. Granted, some of those people also had it coming.

In 1948, Ronald Reagan divorced his Oscar-winning wife Jane Wyman, and replaced her with the less talented, but more pregnant Nancy Davis.

Reagan famously adored and depended on his wife Nancy, but was somewhat less enamored of their children, particularly Ron, Reagan’s namesake son.

His Hollywood Years

Reagan started his show business career in radio. In the 1930’s, he was the announcer for the Chicago Cubs, bringing them the incredible good luck that would lead to championship after championship in the ensuing century.

After passing a Warner Brothers screen test, he enjoyed a B-movie career that, if you were a film historian, you might describe as “David Spadey” or “Spadian.”

What Did He Do During World War II

In November of 1941 after completing an Army home-study course, Ronald Reagan enlisted and was placed in active duty, but got disqualified for overseas service because of astigmatism, which can be faked by squinting really hard.

Instead he was moved into the Army Air Force 1st Motion Picture Unit” in Culver City, California.

Reagan Politics

Despite being America’s most famous conservative, Reagan actually began life as a New Deal Democrat. He began to turn away from the Democrats, however, when they aligned themselves with the burgeoning civil rights movement. "I didn't leave the Democratic Party", Reagan later claimed, "The party left me.” (Probably at a Whites Only water fountain.)

Reagan began his political career as a liberal Democrat, admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and active supporter of New Deal policies, but in the early 1950s he shifted to the right and, while remaining a Democrat, endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960. His many GE speeches—which he wrote himself—were non-partisan but carried a conservative, pro-business message; he was influenced by Lemuel Boulware, a senior GE executive. Boulware, known for his tough stance against unions and his innovative strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism: free markets, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. Eventually, the ratings for Reagan's show fell off and GE dropped Reagan in 1962. That year Reagan formally switched to the Republican Party, stating, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me."

Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, saying "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so". He later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. He strongly denied having racist motives. When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, "we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."

Reagan endorsed the campaign of conservative presidential contender Barry Goldwater in 1964. Speaking for Goldwater, Reagan stressed his belief in the importance of smaller government. He revealed his ideological motivation in a famed speech delivered on October 27, 1964: "The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing." This "Time for Choosing" speech raised $1 million for Goldwater's campaign and is considered the event that launched Reagan's political career.

Reagan first began his civil service to famous, wealthy people as the president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 40’s and 50’s. Naturally, this made him a prime candidate for governor of California, which he won entirely on an anti-hippie, anti-hobo platform.

California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, and nominated him for Governor of California in 1966. In Reagan's campaign, he emphasized two main themes: "to send the welfare bums back to work," and in reference to burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, "to clean up the mess at Berkeley." He was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget.

Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968 as part of a "Stop Nixon" movement, hoping to cut into Nixon's Southern support and be a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican convention. However, by the time of the convention Nixon had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.

Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People's Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as "Bloody Thursday." Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks in order to crack down on the protesters. When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked, "It's just too bad we can't have an epidemic of botulism."

Early in 1967, the national debate on abortion was beginning. Democratic California state senator Anthony Beilenson introduced the "Therapeutic Abortion Act," in an effort to reduce the number of "back-room abortions" performed in California. The State Legislature sent the bill to Reagan's desk where, after many days of indecision, he signed it. About two million abortions would be performed as a result, most because of a provision in the bill allowing abortions for the well-being of the mother. Reagan had been in office for only four months when he signed the bill, and stated that had he been more experienced as governor, it would not have been signed. After he recognized what he called the "consequences" of the bill, he announced that he was pro-life. He maintained that position later in his political career, writing extensively about abortion.

Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected in 1970, defeating "Big Daddy" Jesse Unruh. He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle. One of Reagan's greatest frustrations in office concerned capital punishment, which he strongly supported. His efforts to enforce the state's laws in this area were thwarted when the Supreme Court of California issued its People v. Anderson decision, which invalidated all death sentences issued in California prior to 1972, though the decision was later overturned by a constitutional amendment. The only execution during Reagan's governorship was on April 12, 1967, when Aaron Mitchell's sentence was carried out by the state in San Quentin's gas chamber.

In 1969, Reagan, as Governor, signed the Family Law Act which was the first no fault divorce legislation in the United States.

Reagan's terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. By campaigning on a platform of sending "the welfare bums back to work," he spoke out against the idea of the welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of less government regulation of the economy, including that of undue federal taxation.

Reagan did not seek re-election to a third term as governor in 1974 and was succeeded by Democratic California Secretary of State Jerry Brown on January 6, 1975.

After losing Presidential nominations in ’72 and ’76, Reagan finally beat rivals Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush to become his party’s candidate in 1980. He kicked off his campaign by giving a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place three civil rights workers had been famously murdered in the ’60’s, advocating “states' rights.” Instead of starting a riot, everyone just elected Reagan President. Times had changed.

Reagan’s campaign capitalized on his opponent Jimmy Carter’s perceived weaknesses (recession, unemployment, inflaon, soaring gas prices, hostages in Iran, Billy), and he won 91% of the electoral vote. At 69, Reagan became the oldest person  ever elected President.

His Stint as President

As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics," advocated reducing tax rates to spur economic growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, deregulation of the economy, and reducing government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming it was "Morning in America." His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-air. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," he supported anti-Communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals.

• Ronald Reagan appointed the Supreme Court’s most famous woman, Sandra Day O’Conner, and its most famous misogynist, Antonin Scalia.

• He survived an assassination attempt in 1981, while Press secretary James Brady, got shot in the head.

• In 1984, Reagan controversially led Operation Urgent Fury where the United States invaded Grenada after he became concerned that the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg would fall into communist hands.

• In the early 80’s, President Reagan illegally sold arms to America’s once and future enemy, Iran. Reagan used the profits to fund the Contras, Nicaraguan rebels. They, in turn, used the money to kill more Nicaraguans. Reagan then pretended not to remember what he did. His role in this act inadvertently led to the worst show ever created: Equal Time with Paul Begala and Oliver North.

• He was nicknamed "The Great Communicator" for his uncanny and unique ability to communicate to the average person the need to kick single, black mothers off welfare.

What is His Legacy

His famed supply-side economic policies have been variously referred to as “Reaganomics,” “trickle down economics,” “voodoo economics” and “can you spare some change, sir?”

Reagan is also credited with ending the Cold War by people who don’t understand that he more or less showed up while it was already ending and shouted, “Everybody into the hot tub!”

His inaction during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic also led to the “trickle down” of autoimmune disease.

His Death

Towards the end of his life, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. While embryonic stem cell research promises to yield a cure for the deadly illness, it was de-funded by Reagan’s conservative heir, George Bush. Ironically, or not ironically, the former President died of Alzheimer’s complications before the Democrats took back Congress and re-funded stem cell research.

Reagan's personal diaries were published in May, 2007.


Right Wing Fantasy

We know we should be immune to this by now, but we still find ourselves awestruck by the incredibly detailed, insulated fantasy world that the American conservative "movement" has created for themselves. No lie is too big to be told, no fact is too firm to be bent around ideology, no myth is too absurd to defend to the knife. The ability to spew deliberate nonsense into the credulous ears of Fox-watching right-bent voters - and to be utterly without shame while doing it - is the core of this "movement's" political muscle, and has been for a number of decades now.

Fantasy about Reagan.

The late president's 100th birthday opened the floodgates for an ocean of nonsense to be dumped on the American people.

He was a great leader, the conservative's conservative, a small-government hero who deserves a place on Mt. Rushmore.

Really?

Ronald Reagan's "supply side" economic model was the gateway drug that led inexorably to the collapse of the American economy two years ago, and yet his conservative acolytes - as well as far too many Democrats who should know better - still cling to that economic model as if it were holy writ.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes massively, and grew the federal government enormously, while sending the country spiraling into a morass of debt we are nowhere near recovering from, and yet his worshippers continue to tout him as the perfect "small government" man.

Ronald Reagan and his people sold shiploads of weapons to Iran even as they supported Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in his war against the Islamic Republic. Ronald Reagan and his people basically created the Taliban, al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan as a means of carrying on the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union, and yet today his conservative followers cling to a "War on Terror" as their sword and shield.

Didn't hear any of this during the Reaganapallooza, did you? No surprise. Why let the following facts:

Reagan was a terrible president who bears a great deal of responsibility for today's national problems.

Reagan was a terrible president who exploded the debt and the size of government.

Reagan was a terrible president who supported known terrorists and rogue nations with money and materiel even as they were killing Americans.

Get in the way of a perfectly good story line.

That's the kind of comfort bubble these people live in, and it must be a nice place to be, because they refuse to be budged out of it one centimeter. The Reagan worship we witnessed is merely a iteration of an ongoing phenomenon: the creation of a parallel story line - nay, a parallel universe - to satisfy the already-calcified opinions of the far-right GOP base.

A perfect example of this is the Tea Party "movement," which is nothing more or less than a creation of the "news" media. There is no Tea Party; the term is a re-branding of that same GOP base, and nothing more. By way of vast corporate cash infusions from entities like the Koch brothers, these Tea Party dupes were fooled into believing they are a force for the common man, for the worker, for truth and justice and the American way, and even managed to get some of their so-called representatives elected to Congress in 2010...but it didn't take long for the mythology to start unraveling.

"Earmarks are bad" was the 2010 campaign refrain, but the very breathing second these Tea Party House members hit their seats in Congress, earmarks suddenly became no big deal, and now they are hardly discussed outside of the cloak room.

"Job creation?" Nah. The newly-minted GOP House majority instead went to work trying to redefine what rape is in order to attack abortion rights, before backing off amid a storm of outrage and protest.

"Push to repeal the health care bill", which, like the attack on abortion, is about throwing red meat to the base instead of actually getting anything done.

In Stark Reality, the gulf between right-wing rhetoric and actual activity has not gone unnoticed:

The GOP majority is bringing only a handful of bills to the floor, and none would be characterized as major legislation. Four of the five measures will be considered under a procedure generally reserved for non-controversial legislation; the fifth is a resolution that merely instructs committees to review federal regulations for their impact on job growth.

Democratic leaders contend it doesn't amount to much.

"Members return Tuesday from a week and a half of recess for another light legislative agenda in the House of Representatives," Kristie Greco, spokeswoman for the assistant Democratic leader, Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), wrote in a note to reporters over the weekend. "Perhaps if House Republicans had a jobs agenda, the schedule would be more robust."

Greco scoffed at the resolution on federal regulations, saying the GOP planned to spend 10 hours debating a bill that "instruct[s] oversight committees to conduct oversight."

Adding to the criticism, a group of 10 Democratic committee leaders on Monday sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) denouncing the resolution as superfluous and a waste of time.

"The floor schedule that the Republican majority has pursued and intends to pursue this week will create no jobs," the Democrats wrote. "Indeed, spending two days, and taxpayer dollars, on a resolution calling on our committees to perform oversight functions that they are already authorized to conduct distracts from our efforts to create jobs."

Not everyone on the right is in love with the fiction that permeates and props up the "movement." Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, decided recently to abandon his re-election bid to keep his post. Why? "I have tired," he wrote in a memo to party officials, "of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying 'uniting conservatives' is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state." He was even more blunt with the Washington Post: "I have loved being chairman, but I'm tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party's role is."

Unfortunately for the rest of us, people like Mr. Wadhams are the exception that proves the rule. The rich fantasy life enjoyed by the right - Reagan was great, the Tea Party is a "movement" for the little guy, and the new GOP House majority will be a force for good - continues unabated. 

 

 

 

Ronald Reagan

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