The power of well-produced propaganda never ceases to amaze me. Look at any election cycle in the US. The falsehoods spewed about in plain view will be repeated enough times to get the most low-information voters to the polls (perhaps just one percent) to swing any election. By the time the truth comes out, the election is over.
But…the more insidious propaganda…and even more incomprehensibly believed…is the long-term, continuous revision of history that will infect our children and students for a generation or longer and perhaps throw a wrench into the machine of the sometimes healthy political swings from right to left and vice-versa.
Do we not build monuments to slave-owners like George Washington, who knew there was an anti-slavery movement (from at least 1740) calling slavery an abomination to God and humanity, who owned two hundred people, destroyed their lives, stole their labor and unconscionably sold their children into more slavery?
Washington even reneged on his promise to free many of his slaves after his death, but instead sold them off to settle his bad debts. George, among others, only decided to break away from Britain after the British Parliament introduced a resolution to ban slavery and enforce the stopping of illegal land grabbing in Ohio (under the Treaty of Ghent…which put a hold on Washington and his real estate cronies). Yes, true or false long-term propaganda works. And progressives better learn to confront these ugly distortions.
Ronald Reagan was one of America’s worst presidents, ever. But, the “conservative” movement has not only completely “white-washed” and rewritten the legacy of Ronald Reagan…they have completely bamboozled so-called progressive journalists and so-called historians. I know most people absolutely abhor reading history. It’s why humankind continually repeats the same mistakes over and over. Or, as Mark Twain said, “History may or may not repeat, but it certainly rhymes”. But who would expect so many journalists to fall for and repeat complete hogwash over Reagan’s legacy. Progressives must stop coddling Reagan as the “better” Republican just because so many of today’s Republicans truly sound like escaped mental patients. Reagan was no better.
Witness the economic collapse in 2008. Some of us knew (and screamed about it ten years ago) that it was all pretty much a repeat of conservative agenda from 1920 to 1932 …three consecutive terms of conservative Republican presidents (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover)…twelve years of big business deregulation…twelve years of average wages going straight down while the salaries of executives multiplied…all during America’s greatest increase in worker productivity up to that time. As Arthur Schlesinger wrote in 1955 (Economics of Republicanism, The Roosevelt Years)…”The average worker simply could not afford to buy the very items he created”. The problem with crony capitalism (or the casino conservative perversion of capitalism) is that you eventually run out of stealing other people’s labor. (Thatcher, a conservative, had it backwards, as usual).
Disparity of wealth can destroy any economy…and will eventually destroy the nation, if not reversed in time. America has been raped and pillaged by organized crime called the corporate right-wing, in any other country they are called “fascists”. And they are not much different than the corporate gangsters who installed Mussolini in Italy in 1922. Why would they be? Except, for the fact that the corporate thugs in Italy organized a “march on Rome” to install their favorite tool as Donald Trump suggested via Twitter after the last election. Corporate fascists in any era are exactly the same and Reagan turned over this great experiment in democracy over to them. For that, his name deserves to be thrown onto the trash-heap of history.
It was Ronald Reagan who convinced the nation that the utterly preposterous notion of “trickle-down” could work. Let’s turn millionaires into billionaires and they might let you clean their toilets or make them drinks. Your dingy boat will be lifted too. Right…when a businessman makes a profit, he automatically wants to give you a job…not funnel it away into some off-shore tax evasion scam or stocks in companies that have out-sourced your job or buy more champagne for his next party. He wants to give YOU a job…because he cares about YOU.
Reagan was the con-artist of the century. He was a trained actor. He “acted” like a President well, but took orders from Wall Street and his corporate owners. He would “lead” where they told him to “lead”.
It was Reagan, who, for political purposes of weakening unions, opened up the US border to millions of illegal, super low-wage, almost slave labor…and immediately gave them amnesty to enrich his contributor cronies and undercut unions.
It was Reagan, who propped up or helped install murderous, political-enemy-torturing dictators all over the world. Count Reagan’s buddies as Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, Somoza, Marcos, Noriega and at least ten others like them. A politician just had to mention they hated labor movements and Reagan sent taxpayer money there. Reagan, as President, destroyed more democratic movements than any other American president.
It was Reagan, who abdicated his executive role and dismantled the Sherman Act to allow corporations to acquire and merge to the point of “too big to fail and jail”. Now, six media conglomerates control 95% of American media. Six banks control sixty-five percent of American assets. Reagan gave us precisely right-wing central planning. THIS is the true legacy of Ronald Reagan.
And folks, the worst is yet to come. We’ve completely forgotten how, as Reagan was running for president, Reagan’s campaign manager (ex CIA chief Bill Casey) was seen in Paris talking to Iranian officials during the hostage crisis. We didn’t understand at that time that there was a deal to keep the American hostages in Iran until the election was over. Only a fool does not believe this to be tantamount to accessory to treason. Reagan could have, most probably should have, died in jail.
If Reagan was willing to trade arms to terrorist murderers to bolster his election chances, that man’s “conscience” or lack of, would allow him to do just about anything. It’s the nature of the sociopath. And just as the conservatives want you to forget Reagan’s criminal doings, people like Grover Norquist have raised millions from conservative groups to bribe cities and townships across America to rename their roads and libraries “Reagan”. Reagan was so “great”, bribery is needed to convince public officials without conscience. It’s not as if they are compromised like MSNBC, who can’t tell the truth about Reagan because Ron Reagan Jr is a talking head there.
What is most galling is the complete naivete` of the journalists who claim to be presidential authorities who repeat the same nonsense coming out of right-wing propaganda houses like Heritage Foundation or the National Review. Just the other day, one bumbling “journalist” claimed that President Obama used Reagan as “inspiration” instead of Kennedy. Not exactly. Not even close. Obama said Reagan was “transformative” because he changed America’s direction (like the destruction of our middle-class) and that statement was during a Presidential election (running against a Clinton) where he was trying to downplay the “Clinton era” good-times. A real journalist would know that.
Another half-lucid “writer” on the same national television show said that Reagan might beat out Kennedy to enter the “great” category with FDR and Lincoln, because of his “contribution” to end the “Cold War”. Really? Exactly what was Reagan’s “contribution” that he might supercede Kennedy who actually stood up for freedom at home and abroad and never needed fraudsters to re-invent his legacy and pay off townships to aggrandize one of the worst presidents of all time?
Was it Reagan’s “drunken-sailor” spending that quadrupled our debt that conservatives have been using for twenty years to bamboozle the unread, low-information types to believe that somehow Reagan tried to outspend the Soviets into bankruptcy? Really? Ah...so Obama is spending to defeat Al Qaeda...in a real war, not some exaggerated "cold war". Think Dems will use it...doubt it.
That’s the problem with “historians” who know nothing of economics. One can not really understand history without knowing something about economics as one can not know economics without knowing something about politics as one can not know politics without studying history. Got it? Good.
The conservative lie-machine wants you to think that Republicans spend to defeat our enemies while Democrats spend for the sheer fun of it. Problem is, any serious student of history, knows the Soviets were bankrupted by 1983, well before Reagan threw our tax dollars down the toilet funding dictators around the globe with billions. And none of Reagan’s incompetent spending mattered. The Soviets never responded. Not one dime’s worth. Why?
As mentioned, the USSR was already bankrupt from spending not only billions in Afghanistan, but had already spent about twenty two percent of their GDP on military hardware and adventurism for twenty years. Did I mention the Soviets chief export, oil…crashed to one of its lowest points in history in 1983? Why you ask would the Soviets spend like that?
Because Harry S. Truman stood up when Communists invaded North Korea and so implemented the “Truman Doctrine”.
Because Kennedy and Johnson stood up when Communists invaded South Vietnam.
Because Jimmy Carter stood up (with arms to Afghans) when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.
Conservatives want you to forget all that. They know people hate to read history. They also want you to forget the Solidarity movement, the Pope, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, the entire reform movement in the USSR and the price of oil. They want you to forget everything that really brought down a group of Soviet leaders whose military-industrial complex and adventurism bankrupted their nation.
The easiest lies to counter are when conservatives say, “Just ask former Soviets officials if Reagan was influential”. Right…ask the same people who destroyed their own nation with profligate military spending if they or someone else was to blame.
Reagan slept-walked his way into the limelight when the Soviets, crumbling from forty years of Democratic presidents showing the Soviets they would not let them fulfill a plan of world domination. AND… “Let every nation know…we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship…to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”…as John Kennedy forcefully told the Soviets on inauguration day.
To give Reagan half the credit the conservative lie machine spews is disgraceful, disrespectful and a slap in the face to every soldier that died in Korea, Vietnam, and the countless intelligence agents who risked their lives over the forty years it took to defeat a dictatorship of a first world power.
We forget how the Europeans were having a dialogue with reformers like Gorbachev while Reagan, about three to four years behind the times was calling the Soviet leadership “the evil empire”. We forget those same Europeans had to drag Reagan to the Russian border to make him walk across that border to make Reagan believe he wouldn’t be shot.
We forget Reagan’s cowboy mentality that, if anything, Reagan’s out of touch ignorance and belligerence caused the “threatened” Soviet hard-liners to coalesce, regroup and conspire after Reagan left office to stop Gorbachev’s reform agenda of Glasnost and Perestroika to eventually cause a coup that if successful would have had the Cold War start back at square one. Reagan set back the end of Communism by at least five years. Thank the likes of Boris Yeltsin who stopped the coup that Reagan spurred, in its tracks.
It was only when Reagan got caught red-handed selling arms to terrorists, letting his subordinates set up a secret government in the White House basement to deliberately break the law, did he spend any real time abroad as presidents often do when they think they are about to get impeached. Of course, Reagan didn’t get impeached as the Democratic Congress declared, “The country can’t go through another Watergate” after seeing poll numbers telling Congress to forget about “scandals”. Too bad it was a real scandal. And we wonder why GW Bush and Dick Cheney knew they could get away with war crimes.
At that point, Reagan the trained actor, hearing his CIA reports of the Berlin Wall coming down, jumps on the stage and challenges Michael Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”. Conservatives never seem to use the entire phrase…as it loses their propaganda impact of a bold stance instead of the simple request it was.
”General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
The fact is…it was not “tear down this wall” that influenced or inspired the Soviets. The real words were “tear down that wall”. And in fact were uttered by Frank Zappa to the Kremlin when they asked him what to do to improve their image. Zappa was well known for his anti-authoritarianism in Communist countries as well as his stance against the corporate monopolist cabal in the West with it’s own version of (right-wing) central planning that now completely resembles the Soviet version.
Frank Zappa was a cultural icon across Eastern Europe at the time and widely respected by their youth and academia. A common phrase in Soviet police stations was “I’m going to beat the Zappa out of that kid”. There are more statues of Frank Zappa in Eastern Europe then the ones SENT by American conservatives to inflate Reagan’s mythical “contribution”.
In fact, one could Google “Frank Zappa Tonight Show Berlin Wall” to see who really convinced the Soviets to “tear down that wall”.
Reagan, a ninth inning relief pitcher who walked on the mound as his team was winning ten to zero deserves our disdain, if not outright contempt…and not an iota of admiration. Just because conservatives don’t have an FDR or a Kennedy or a true modern hero of any kind is no reason for progressives to pity their opponents and pervert history along with conservatives. If you want to use a modern Republican as a model, use one of our best, like Eisenhower…not one of our worst.