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Several years ago, a former neighbor, Joe Abraham had an idea.  He wanted history taught backwards.  Instead of starting with past events and coming to the present, he suggested starting with current events and working backwards.  As a professional historian, this method just didn’t feel right.  My training at USL and LSU had always focused on the move from old to new.

I’ve come to realize that “Dr. Joe” had a good point.  Most people look at history and ask, “How did we get here?”  In 2011 this question is always on my mind.  How did we, as Americans, end up with a powerless government?  How did the country, which had put millions of people to work during the Great Depression, had defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, had built the world’s first middle class society, had put a man on the moon, and had cleaned up a polluted environment, descend into bickering and helplessness?

For nearly fifty years the United States had built a world class society from the bottom up.  How did Americans forget Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 call to collective experimentation and action?

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.

FDR embraced 400 years of American history.  Good government and experimentation could make life better for the average person.   America’s collective amnesia wasn’t an accident.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan turned his back on FDR and led a conservative revolution.  He wanted to restore traditional America.  During his inaugural address, Reagan declared “government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”  With this Big Lie, Reagan set America down the path to self-destruction--stagnating benefits, mounting public and private debt, and an ever increasing culture of cynicism, alienation and fear.  Reagan’s dream, however, wasn’t based on traditional American values.  Americans have always been critical of government, but he encouraged Americans to despise it.  He presented an image that resembled one found in a carnival fun house--distorted and good for laughs.  We have come to see, however, that the results of the conservative revolution are no laughing matter.

Reagan’s Big Lie has made modern conservatives fail to appreciate America’s true cultural heritage.  Our founding fathers were Renaissance men, looking to the lessons of the classical world for guidance.  One of the most important Greek ideas was arête, striving for excellence.  Greek gods expected every individual to develop his/her own mental, physical and spiritual abilities.  Self-development enabled the individual to better serve the community.  The goal was not self enrichment, but community service.  In fact the Greeks also developed a negative counterpart to arête called hubris.  Hubris is false pride.  The Greek gods punished individuals who believed they achieved success on their own, hoarding their riches and neglecting their neighbors.

These Greco-Roman values found a “rebirth” in the Fifteenth Century Italian city-states. Renaissance scholars challenged the primacy of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church.  Since the fall of Rome, the Church had stressed the importance of theology and the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and love. The Church’s focus was literally “out of this world.”   Society and individuals were instructed to seek eternal life.  This world, the material world, was of little consequence.  Medieval Europeans used the dream of salvation to escape from the drudgery of everyday life.  Salvation provided an excuse for pope and monarchs to do little about poverty, or worse, as an excuse for self enrichment.

Renaissance civic humanism challenged medieval conceptions of virtue and the nature of scholarship.  Civic humanists argued that scholars had to be actively engaged in this world, not cloistered away in a monastery.  Intellectual development was not a private matter, divorced from current events.  Rather, scholars needed to put their knowledge to use and improve their community.  Consequently, humanists studied oration, the key tool used by politicians.  It was the public servant, not the cleric, who mattered most.  Politicians needed to identify social problems and use persuasion to unite a community behind the general welfare.   Rhetoric encouraged civic participation and moved a community forward.  Humanists rejected brute force and blind obedience, preferring civil debate and compromise.

The Italian interest in ancient sources sparked a Christian humanist movement in Northern Europe.  Christian humanists searched the archives of Europe for the earliest copies of scripture and letters by Church fathers. These scholars came to realize that Christianity had much to say about improving the conditions in this world; it wasn’t simply a dream of eternal life. Christian humanists shifted the emphasis from the sinful, or broken, nature of man to the dignity of man.  In the beginning God had created man in his image and designed all of nature to support the multitude of humanity.  The message of Jesus provided a tool to restore those original conditions.  In Utopia Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) argued society ought to be organized around the dignity and worth of everyman, providing each person an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of his own labor.  He ridiculed the use of political and religious authority to divert resources from the average worker to princes and bishops.  Everyone who worked and played by the rules could expect a decent life.  Political leaders had the responsibility to create these conditions because they would not happen by accident. Christian humanists showed that good government could play a positive in society and do more than control a sinful population.

This reevaluation of religious and political traditions led to the greatest cosmological revolution in world history.  For thousands of years humans thought the sky was “the heavens.”  God and the angels lived in the perfect world up there; humans lived in the broken world down here.  Instead of assuming that tradition held all the answers, Renaissance scholars decided to see for themselves.  Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) took a mundane instrument, the telescope, and pointed it at the second Biblical “great light,” the moon.  He found no heavenly body; he found a rock.  Next, he looked at Venus and documented its solar phases.  Finally, he studied Jupiter and found moons.  According to theologians, none of these discoveries were within the realm of possibility.  All of them contradicted a literal interpretation of scripture.  Galileo’s direct observations opened the door to the systematic challenged of the theological domination of the scholarship.

Another Renaissance scholar, Francis Bacon (1561--1626), took what his contemporaries had discovered and developed a new comprehensive system for solving problems.  Today we call it the scientific method.  Bacon took the Renaissance to the next level.  Instead of simply replicating classical thinking, he identified its weaknesses and corrected them.  The key to the Baconian revolution was openness to new ideas.  Gone was the slavish adherence to tradition. Humans needed to look at the world around, use their reason, identify patterns and reach their own conclusions.  Simply relying on traditional knowledge was not good enough anymore.

Most people know about Francis Bacon’s contributions to science but relatively few know about his contributions to social philosophy. In New Atlantis, Bacon presented a society dramatically at odds with seventeenth century Europe.  In this fictional island community—“New Bensalem”—the leaders commit themselves to discovering ways to improve the basic conditions of life.  Unlike the Medieval kings and popes, King Solaman encouraged exploration.  He established Solaman House, ordering it to find natural causes and knowledge that could make the environment more productive.  Bensalem's scholars also left the island looking for riches.  Their riches, however, were not spices, gold, silver or jewels for the aristocracy, rather these explorers sought knowledge of "sciences, arts, manufacturing, and the inventions of the world; and withal to bring unto us books, instruments, and patterns in every kind.”  For Bacon knowledge was the power to reshape and repair the broken world around us.

As Bacon’s new methodology bore fruit in the natural sciences, Eighteenth century philosophes, or social critics, turned to the Baconian method to solve persistent community problems.  If human observation and reason could answer “heavenly” questions, could they answer “earthly” questions”?  Bacon had imagined the success of Bensalem as the product of a righteous monarch, but one century later John Locke (1632—1704) dismissed heavenly intervention in creating governments.  Rather, Lock developed the idea of a “social contract” to address the problem of tyranny.  Without governments, Locke argued, individuals struggled to protect their life, liberty and property from the greed of their neighbors.  Individuals joined together to create laws that enabled humans to live longer, to experience greater choice and to improve their material well-being.  The purpose of government was to serve man, not gods.

One of the most revolutionary aspects of the Bacon’s new scientific method was its ability to prophesize.  After correctly identifying a behavioral pattern, this new generation of scholars claimed that they could predict the consequences of reforming social institutions.  Adam Smith (1723--1790), a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, took the first real steps into the realm of political economy, a science concerned with the general welfare of the community.  It supplied actual legislators with policy solutions to promote happiness. Happiness required laws which secured the right of property and checked the unnatural inequality in its distribution.  Smith attacked the common eighteenth-century practice of using political power to redistribute wealth from the farmers to the merchants.  This practice left the vast majority of the population impoverished while enriching a chosen few.  The Scottish professor predicted that removing government favoritism would restore a more natural and equitable distribution of wealth. Smith’s hypothesis, known as laissez-faire, provided the first testable solution to the problem of widespread poverty.  If Smith were correct, then a limited government would promote the general welfare.  If Smith were wrong, then a limited government would continue to benefit a small elite or facilitate society’s decent into chaos

By the late nineteenth century it was painfully obvious to a growing number of Americans that an unregulated market produced great harm.  Before the Great Depression the federal government let corporations grow relatively unchecked. It was a free market paradise. No minimum wage. No workers' compensation plans. No unemployment tax. No bookkeeping rules. No environmental laws. No safety regulations. If the free market myth were true, then this era should have been the greatest time in American history. It wasn't.  The Great Depression and the New Deal brought this corporate paradise to end. President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew unregulated capitalism hurt average Americans. He embarked on a new economic experiment, using the government to limit the power of corporations. They had to open their books to investors. Companies had to deal honestly with labor unions. They had to pay taxes. Businesses had to pay their workers better. Did the American economy crash? No. In fact regulated capitalism laid the foundation for the post war economic boom.

After World War Two the federal government took an even larger role in the economy. It provided veterans with housing, education and health benefits. The federal government built the interstate highway system. It invested in aerospace, nuclear and computer technologies. Federal regulations required the automobile industry to improve safety and fuel efficiency. Industries were forced to stop polluting our air and water.  The Federal government finally started enforcing the 14th Amendment, protecting every citizen from the tyranny of state discrimination.  The free marketeers screamed in protest. Liberals were destroying America. Socialists were punishing the successful. Capitalists would go on strike and bring the economy to a standstill. Luckily, no one listened to these Chicken Littles. The sky didn't fall. In fact regulated capitalism produced the world's largest middle class.

Ironically, as the fruits of 400 years of improving government allowed more Americans to live longer and healthier lives, to enjoy greater personal liberty and to pursue happiness like never before, two radical groups of contrarian critics laid the ground work for Reagan’s conservative revolution—the Austrian School of Economics and the disciples of Ayn Rand.

In the closing days of World War Two, an Austrian immigrant, Friedrich Hayek (1899–1992), published The Road to Serfdom in England.  Hayek argued that, when governments develop economic policies, they unintentionally pave the way to tyrants like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.  Conservatives in the United States, not only found a simplistic explanation for the rise of European totalitarianism, both Nazism and Communism, but also a tool to attack the foundation of New Deal policies.  Hayek himself, however, intentionally sacrificed history and philosophical accuracy to make a simple point–the British Labour Party, by maintaining war planning after the end of World War Two, were creating the conditions for totalitarianism.  His warning went unheeded both in the United Kingdom and the United States.  Ordinary citizens remembered the dark days of the depression and saw government activity improve the world right before their eyes.  No rhetorical magic could undo real progress.

Success did not deter the most radical reinterpretation of western values, however.  Ayn Rand (1905–1982) rejected not only the Renaissance conception of civic virtue but also the Christian call to altruism.  Rand was an ideological fundamentalist, demanding pure individualism. She denounced the modern Welfare State as immoral; it was a form of theft, stealing from the creators and giving to the moochers.  Each person was the creator of their own morality and owed allegiance only to themselves.  To place another above oneself was the greatest act of social destruction.  Rand elevated Greek hubris to a virtue and denounced arête as a vice.  In Atlas Shrugged she predicted a hero, John Gault, would refuse to sacrifice himself on the altar of Social Justice and trigger a worldwide economic, political and social collapse.

These radical social philosophies remained in the shadows until the 1970s.  The Civil Rights movement, the failed war in Vietnam, the Arab oil embargo and Watergate all opened the door to an anti-government fever.  In this atmosphere Ronald Reagan stepped forward and presented his Big Lie.  During the 1976 Republican Presidential debate Reagan retold a moving story that was part of his standard stump speech.

There’s a woman in Chicago. She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.  (New York Times, 15 Feb, 1976)

Reagan pushed all the right emotional buttons at a time when average Americans suffered.  There is only one problem with Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” story.  It wasn’t true.  Factual truth, however, didn’t matter to Reagan or conservative voters.  Anyone criticizing Reagan was simply a “heretic.”  Reagan told conservatives what they wanted to hear.  They “knew” it in their gut: “government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”  Hayek was proved right.  Rand was proved right.  The government was taking money from hard working Americans and giving it to “those people.”  If conservatives didn’t stand up, then America would descend into godless communism.

Reagan’s Big Lie restored the primacy of mythology over observation and reason.  Conservatives wanted politicians to act based on gut feelings rather than empirical evidence.   This lie shut down experimentation and paralyzed American government to this day.  Facts don’t matter.  History doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is the conservative faith that government is the problem.  If we want to solve our problems, we need to confront and defeat this self destructive mentality.  We need to reclaim our commitment to solving problems using evidence and reason.   The belief that government should solve problems stretches back to the Renaissance and helped make the western world exceptional.  As we’ll see, trust in government helped build America.

Tue Nov 22, 2011 at 8:59 PM PT: I've added Part II for anyone who would like to hear the end if the story.  I plan on working back to the beginning of American history in future diaries.  http://www.dailykos.com/...

Originally posted to Glenn Melancon on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (195+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, JeffW, kevinpdx, semiot, Marie, Bill Roberts, Neon Mama, teachme2night, Rick Aucoin, Diana in NoVa, oldcrow, Preston S, Panurge, wblynch, MKHector, buckstop, just want to comment, porchdog1961, CT yanqui, TriciaK, Dragon5616, Bob Duck, frisco, Josiah Bartlett, llbear, VictorLaszlo, dle2GA, TampaCPA, purplepenlady, SherwoodB, Paddy999, mollyd, maybeeso in michigan, Loudoun County Dem, WoodlandsPerson, Miss Jones, Regina in a Sears Kit House, xaxnar, Arrow, CrystalClear, 207wickedgood, TexasTwister, mungley, ozsea1, trashablanca, Zutroy, pixxer, ORDem, artr2, chickeee, Panacea Paola, penguins4peace, amk for obama, ask, John Yossarian, CSPAN Junkie, rasbobbo, GreyHawk, carpunder, Prospect Park, plankbob, vets74, mofembot, tovan, Nimbus, Eric0125, orrg1, rb608, FrY10cK, Hammerhand, blue jersey mom, MartyM, vacantlook, Thinking Fella, tmmike, platypus60, Snud, Executive Odor, Unforgiven, bluebelle7, WV Democrat, Oye Sancho, roadbear, copymark, COwoman, qannabbos, MKSinSA, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, fumie, 123man, NM Ray, gsbadj, Neosho, NMRed, Gowrie Gal, RebeccaG, googie, drnononono, molecularlevel, BigOkie, ClickerMel, Yellow Canary, California06, rmabelis, hazzcon, ChemBob, roses, whenwego, dmhlt 66, middleagedhousewife, Hillbilly Dem, DerAmi, gatorcog, Eric Blair, pat bunny, Youffraita, marleycat, Pohjola, jzso, confitesprit, Flint, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, Brooke In Seattle, banjolele, hooktool, karmsy, TomP, Cedwyn, The Jester, Tinfoil Hat, dash888, Pescadero Bill, La Musa, Seamus D, MPociask, unclebucky, gundyj, BlueInARedState, LynChi, caul, ZedMont, lezlie, elengul, KMc, stunzeed, Russgirl, tom 47, Joe Bob, TexDem, ER Doc, NYC Sophia, ivorybill, Keone Michaels, Sun Tzu, djohnutk, dotsright, sostos, NormAl1792, Dave925, lcrp, redlum jak, Robinswing, cotterperson, sawgrass727, Ronald Singleterry, greatferm, kaekee, Garfnobl, Fireshadow, Plox, petulans, Kinak, lost, Larsstephens, yawnimawke, where4art, Bernie68, radmul, Mathazar, bread, DanC, ColoTim, bluesheep, MKinTN, stlsophos, prfb, science nerd, lotlizard, kurt, sardonyx, terabytes, Oh Mary Oh, FarWestGirl, GDbot, laidbackbilly
  •  Right; However the Modern Rightwing Movement (47+ / 0-)

    organized right after Goldwater's debate, so a lot was going on behind the scenes for a long time before they got lucky with Reagan.

    I was already seeing spooky kinds of organization in fundamentalist churches in the 70's as a guest musician.

    Not very much has been left up to trends and chance since Goldwater.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:50:30 PM PDT

    •  Reagan was their ultimate sockpuppet... (17+ / 0-)

      ...probably already in the throes of Alzheimers by the time of his first inauguration.

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 12:56:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No-no-no-no-no. You're falling for tactics (30+ / 0-)

        that aim to get you to underestimate Reagan. One result of this flaw is that you/democrats concede territory in the right-brain emotional functions. You think that your mastery over the left-brain dolt (at connecting facts) will carry over to elections.

        No-no-no.

        Voters go to elections the same way they go to everything else. They "buy" candidates and develop "brand loyalty" out of the right-brain functions. Ad Biz pros make their livings by working right-brain, not by transferring real information -- there's Consumer Reports for that. Ads get hundreds of billions; CR is tiny.

        Fighting for the right-brain is where you win or lose. Consider this simple recasting:

        "Democracy is not the solution for our problems. Democracy is our problem."

        Never heard a Democrat say that. Never heard anyone point out that Reagan's signature campaign slogan implied that we overthrow our constitutional democracy, that we as the posterity of Washington and Adams and Jefferson should turn our backs on them.

        Reagan and his people were willing criminals when they figured they could get away with it.

        Reagan had people bribing a foreign government prior to his election, arranged for the Iran embassy hostages to be "in the air" at exactly the time of his Inaugural Address (which he announced to the crowd -- I was there and heard it quite distinctly), had people bribe the leadership and attorneys of PATCO to facilitate destroying that union, got 243 Marines killed on a stupid non-mission in Lebanon, walked back the Civil rights Division of DoJ, and was quite deservedly proud of juking the Reagan Democrats (a.k.a. Macomb County Democrats) with his personal collection of blue-collar oriented lies. Lots more....

        Bush/Cheney were worse.

        Democrats need to get a lot meaner, if you're going to beat these $$$$-whores consistently. For example, absence of meanness was what allowed the 2010 debacle. Bush/Cheney had wrecked the country and Obama/Democrats let them off the hook. Not a single right-brain hammer toss.

        That's what's stupid. Alz-töricht-heimer's ??? Ya thunk ?

        Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

        by vets74 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 03:56:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right. Sad fact is that the only way any- (6+ / 0-)

          body can take and hold the high ground is to adopt the stance of telling like it is, unequivocally, all the time. This means confronting right wing lies as often as possible. It means the president speaking plainly about the GOP only being concerned that the wealthy get more and the poor get less. It means the members of congress get off their butts and present legislation, resolutions and be willing to stop all business to confront the right wing trash machine.

          When you're in a debate and somebody draws a knife, you've got a fight on your hands. You can't keep debating. In the same way, Obama tried negotiating and consensus building, but the right wing only wants to destroy him; so he's got to admit he's in a fight and raise his verbal dukes, or continue to get the shit pounded out of him. Members of congress and senators need to suck it up and begin to fight for everyman; or else admit who they really are and join the GOP.

          The people in this country are thirsty for leadership. They want it from the democrats, but they'll take it from whoever offers, and for decades it's been the right wing offering.

          That's really how totalitarians take power. The forces of democracy fail to stop them by showing real leadership.

          •  Prosecuting criminals has to be in there too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VigilantLiberal, terabytes

            For the life of me, I don't understand the failure to enforce banking regulations.

            This would best be attached to cleaning out the 1,000,000+ residence overhang -- dwellings that are being held in bank inventories.

            Result: a one-time drop to house prices followed by normalization of new home construction -- an added 2% to 3% for employment.

            Microeconomics ain't rocket science.

            Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

            by vets74 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 04:37:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The perpetuation of criminal activity by the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              vets74, Glenn Melancon

              failure to prosecute criminals, and by repeatedly letting offending institutions off the hook for the crimes, is perhaps the most damaging thing that has happened since the so-called Patriot Act.

              By allowing corruption at the very heart of the machinery that is supposed to generate capital for productive investment to actually thrive, useful investment will be limited, more people will suffer for longer and the economy will remain a hollowed out shell. We may actually be in for a slide that lasts longer than the decade being projected as a result.

              •  Patriot Act = Repeal the Fourth Amendment. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VigilantLiberal

                What else ?

                And "generating capital for productive investment" is indeed the core of the problem. The U.S. economy operates on a rough 4%-Gets-4% Rule.

                4% personal savings going back into on-shore American investment GETS you to a 4% unemployment rate.

                The Bush years saw The Fed and the Federal budget force savings down below 2% for all of 2001-2008.

                So of course we have extended, deep unemployment. Savings are back up, somewhat, for 2009-2011, but it's one helluva hole to dig out of.

                St. Louis Fed for the research docs......

                Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

                by vets74 on Fri Sep 02, 2011 at 06:41:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well said. It occurs to me that one cannot (0+ / 0-)

                  really call ours a capitalist economy any longer, since there seems little willingness on the part of Wall Street to actually invest in real, productive assets. Instead the emphasis is on index funds, CDS swaps and other financial instruments that don't contribute to productivity at all.

                  I'm not sure what you call this, but it isn't capitalism any longer.

    •  Goldwater was to "honest" (24+ / 0-)

      Goldwater thought  that he could be relatively honest with the American public.  He opposed Social Security, the TVA and the Civil Rights Bill.  Reagan, on the other hand, knew that he had to lie to the American people.  The lie helped him win over moderates who would not have accepted his extreme agenda.  So, yes, Goldwater was the grandfather but Reagan told the Big Lie that dominates the Conservative movement.

    •  Reagan stumped for Goldwater -- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, vets74, Dave925

      It's how he built his GOP creds.  And he was a really good speaker back then.  Had the 1980 Reagan run for Governor of CA in 1966, he would have lost.

    •  Reagan was a huge find for the Republicans... (18+ / 0-)

      He made it possible for them to put "a human face" on a very cynical and mean-spirited philosophy.  

      They knew very well what they had and so they threw everything they had into mythologizing their "hero" and all of his phony 'accomplishments.'

    •  Reagan was an old war horse by the 1960's; he'd (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925, rgjdmls, newjeffct

      already left movies and entered politics, and campaigned relentlessly against FDR and the New Deal from 1935 onward. He refused to serve in the military during WWII, and instead made propaganda films for corporations wanting to change the tax code in their favor IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR!

      By the early 1970's he was known as the loudest critic of Jerry Brown, the governor of California. His governorship helped pass the propositions that still keep California in budgetary paralysis.

      By the time he was elected President, he was quite well known but misunderstood. Everybody thought he was a disciple of Goldwater, but in reality he was a nihilist willing to assert anything to enrich the wealthy and end the middle class.

  •  Wait -- which lie was the big one? (17+ / 0-)

    There were so many...

    Reagan’s Big Lie restored the primacy of mythology over observation and reason.

    Yup. That's his legacy, and it's going stronger than ever.

    "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

    by teachme2night on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 01:30:49 PM PDT

  •  Hi (3+ / 0-)

    Do you have source material you could link to, so that we might "read around" the themes in the Diary?

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 03:07:44 PM PDT

  •  u.s history third semester (4+ / 0-)

    i have felt for awhile that you could understand most of what you needed to know about america if you started studying with the end of world war two. this occurs normally around april?  mccullough's truman should be required reading in high school.  the military budget in 1940 was about 1 billion (1000 billion today) and the u.s. was isolationist enough to stay out of a european war. ten years later, the u.s. is the only super worldpower, getting involved everywhere, spending more and more. fighting communism shaped america to what it is today.

    or make the beginning or end of world war two the entire second semester, and cover all the rest in one.

    i liked your diary, good job.

  •  your premise is built on a lie as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    or at least an incomplete context, you state :

    "Reagan declared “government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” "

    What he actually said, referring to the economic doldrums of the time: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."

    •  Nice try but Conservatives quote "this" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1
      •  never quote (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1
      •  so? (0+ / 0-)

        don't shoot the messenger ...

        •  Not shooting you (6+ / 0-)

          Just telling you that Reagan wasn't big on nuance.  When he spoke of states' rights he appealed to the most racist elements in American society.  

          The quote I used initiated a war against all public institutions from Social Security to public schools.  Remember, Reagan was one of the first "main stream" politicians to push vouchers for public schools.  Southerners understood this to mean resegregation.  

          Play any game you want, but Reagan ignored the "this" before I ever did.

          •  nah, just trying to pout the quote (0+ / 0-)

            in context- which you did not. You can derive whatever meaning you want, but your use of the quote was inaccurate. That is the point I was making.

            •  the context is simple (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ozsea1, Mgleaf, hannah, vacantlook, ChemBob, Dave925

              Reagan initiated a sustained attack on public institutions that is destroying the very fabric of our communities.  According to conservatives the only legitimate collective action is taken by a small group of CEOs.  Shareholders don't matter.  Voters don't matter.  Public servants don't matter.  

              Create whatever distract you want; I will keep my eye on my wallet.  Modern conservatism is founded on the very principles modern society wanted to displace.  The General Welfare is a good thing, not a bad thing.

              •  dude I am just talking about a quote (0+ / 0-)

                that you took out of context, that is all. Your interpretation of history is up to you, but the quote itself is not. But to further the pint, you think ALL conservatives think " the only legitimate collective action is taken by a small group of CEOs". even my grandmother? My neighbor? My kids teacher? That's a might big swath...

                •  If your grandmother wants the government out (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ozsea1, DerAmi

                  If your grandmother wants the government out her Medicare, then yes, she is helping a small group of CEOs.

                  If your neighbors vote to privatize social security, then yes, they are helping a small group of CEOs.

                  If your kids teachers vote to destroy public education, then yes, helping a small group of CEOs.

                  When they vote for conservative politicians, they are voting to slit their own throats.  

                  Once again, play whatever nuance that you want, but don't ask me to condone middle class suicide.  

                  •  well none of those things are accurate (0+ / 0-)

                    about the people I mentioned, so your weeping generalization is false as well. I am not asking for nuance but truth and intellectual honesty. "ALL" anythings do not think just alike.

                    peace

                    •  Then why are they voting for "conservatives"? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ozsea1, biggiefries
                      •  because (0+ / 0-)

                        your descriptions are not accurate across all politicians and elections. Are ALL conservative politicians trying to privative SS? End medicare? Destroy public ed? No.

                        But more to the topic, which you have managed to change, the quote was  incomplete and used out of context, which you seem incapable of admitting. That is really my only concern/point here. Honesty.

                        •  That is really my only concern/point here. Honest? (0+ / 0-)

                          Really? Then post your real name and occupation.

                          •  no thanks (0+ / 0-)

                            but my occupation is in higher ed and i prefer to keep my name, like most people in online forums, private. Again we are way off point aren't we? It is just that I see that quote ALL the time and it is usually, like your use, incomplete. i think it is worth being accurate and honest when using small things like that to make a bigger point. Perhaps you do not and that is your prerogative.

                          •  Not really off point (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ozsea1, Tinfoil Hat

                            You are trying to create a distraction from the fact that Reagan lead a war against the American middle class.  You have tried every little technique you know to divert attention from the failed policies of conservative politicians.  When other see your "not to be picky but " comments in the future, they will know where you are coming from.  I have found your persistence and your avoidance of the real issue incredibly beneficial.  Thank you.

                          •  just the opposite, I simply (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sparhawk

                            stated the full quote, then you jumped onto his view on states rights, racism, public institutions,  etc. Much of which I agree with.  I just stated the full quote and made a case for accuracy & honesty. Not sure why you can't deal with that. I'd do this with any quote by anyone taken out of context. But I see, you're a politician, so perhaps that explains it. Take care.

                        •  Most conservative politicians are trying to (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          jennylind

                          privatize SS.  Almost all of them are trying to end Medicare.  Many of them are trying to destroy public ed.  More to the point, the conservative movement is trying to do all those things, and the conservative movement runs today's Republican party.  Your neighbors and relatives might not want those things, but that's what will happen if the Republicans have the chance to do it.  They've already shown that with the vote on the vote on the Ryan plan.  And just listen to Rick Perry's rhetoric, and he's the front runner for the Republican nomination.

                          Of course, if he makes it to the general election, he's unlikely to run on that rhetoric.  After all, the Republicans running in 2010 didn't run on the Ryan plan.

                          •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

                            'After all, the Republicans running in 2010 didn't run on the Ryan plan."

                            And I doubt they will in 2012 either. And if they do they will lose, and if their opponents tie them to it I suspect they will lose as well.

                      •  Because people who are not into power (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        howd, srkp23, Tinfoil Hat, rgjdmls

                        do not realize that other people are.  Nor do they realize that power, to be felt, has to hurt and that therefore, the agenda of those who lust for power must be to deprive people of their human rights.

                        Inoffensive people never think that not giving offense is the very characteristic for which they are attacked.

                        The term "innocent victims" is a puzzlement, until one realizes that bullies, in addition to being insecure and incompetent, are cowards who attack people who are least likely to fight back.  It is the tactic of the terrorist and the kidnapper.  Since the injury to the victims is incidental and abuse, rather than death, is the objective, any resistance the victim might offer plays into the abuser's hands.  The victim ends up injuring him/herself.

                        That's why the only proper response is an intervention by an outside agency.  Not an attack or a fight; an intervention.  Abusers have to be hauled up short.  Sometimes they have to be distracted so the victims can be gotten out of the way to safety.

                        So, who are the abusers in this scenario and who are the victims?  The abusers are the traditional elites, trying to conserve their power and the victims are the American people who presume to govern.  Equality and self-government do not sit well with the traditional elite, in large part because, like their forebears, the plantation owners and the traders, they have few if any creative talents and have to rely on coercion to thrive. They are down on education, because they cannot learn.  What they rely on is exploitation, extraction, extortion, exportation and excuse. That's why I call them the x-men.

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzZQ8LTE2c

                        by hannah on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 05:35:45 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ozsea1

                      Your comments do fit a pattern, "not to be picky but "

                      http://www.dailykos.com/...

                      Diaries published: 0
                      Comments posted: 2770

                      How many are "not to be picky but "?

    •  Do you have a link for this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glenn Melancon

      Not that it matters because "In this present crisis,.." doesn't change the basic premise for the diary.

      Besides, what "crisis" exactly was he talking about? Was it a glib and back-handed reference to the civil rights movement?

      The only pertinent aspect of that sentence is the "government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."

      Accuracy in this instance is mere distraction.

      •  yes (0+ / 0-)

        here

        No, it DOES change the premise. Reagan did not discount government pr se, but rather was linking certain regulations, tax policies and lack of effort on behalf of the economy as the cause of the malaise/stagflation. misery of the time.

        Believe his positions as right or wrong, but the diarist was disingenuous in his selective editing. THAT is my point.

        "

        Accuracy in this instance is mere distraction.
        " ? What the heck does THAT mean?
        •  Next line Reagan invoked the language of hayeck (0+ / 0-)

          "From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"

          This is the heart of the argument made by Hayek in the Road to Serfdom.  Hayek also tried to make himself sound reasonable, but he too resorted to simplicity, rejecting the "grey" or moderation you want from Conservatisim.   modern conservatism is based on a radical individualism that distorts the western tradition.  

          •  Perhaps. (0+ / 0-)

            However it is still an inaccurate use of the quote. I hope you teach with more accuracy and integrity than your diary here.

            And it seems to me he was saying that self rule is much more superior to elite rule. Like so many here say as well.

            •  You simply hate that I exposed Reagan's big lie (0+ / 0-)

              I am proud to live in modern America. As a man, I am glad that I was born after the New Deal proved that government can play a positive role elevating suffering in the world. If I were black or a women, I would not have liked it very much before the 1960s. Legal and informal racism striped them of their dignity and freedom. I am proud that we have cleaned up the environment while at the same time taking care of the seniors and the disabled. I am proud that we have food safety laws, financial regulations and a general sense that selling a product means selling a safe and effective product. Modern America has done a much better job taking care of the least among us than Ancient Israel or 19th Century America ever did.  Conservatives simply can't accept this fact.  Twist.  Lie.  Try to nuance your way around it.  It doesn't matter.  Good government has made life better and conservatives want to return to a mythical gold age.  When the lie is exposed, Americans will never go back.

              •  we totally agree (0+ / 0-)

                And I never said anything to contrast your statement above. I am not a conservative nor a reagan apologist and if you can find an instance of me twisting or lying then by all means call me on it.  I am simply troubled that you (a professor no less!) would use a quote in a disingenuous fashion, get corrected and not own up to it. If you can't see that then we have no need to discus anything else. I just hope you teach with more honesty and integrity than your diary suggests.

                •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

                  That is why you troll around posts trying anonymously to tease apart posts, creating doubt.   If you want to convince me that I am wrong about you, then simply say who you are and link to any public comments in favor of modern America.

                  Trying to smear me as a historian will not deter me.  Character assassination is a great tool, but you have no bullets.  You have offered nothing to suggest that Reagan thought the government was a legitimate tool to advance worker's rightS, civil rights or public health.

                  •  nice straw men you have there (0+ / 0-)

                    Can you actually read? Reason?  All I EVER said was your quote isn't complete and therefore should be used in context. That you cannot deal with the truth is your problem, but stop lying about me to over your insecurities.

                    And yeah i got bullets- you have been caught in a (multiple times)  deception :-)

                    •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

                      I provided you with the context, over and over again.  "this" is irrelevant.  Reagan didn't limit his attack on Modern America to "this crisis.".  This statement by Reagan is the defining statement of his political philosophy.  Most Conservatives will tell you that themselves.  You, however, want to create a distraction.

                      You want me to trust that you are a liberal providing constructive criticism and not some troll.  You want me to believe that you are concerned about historical accuracy and not trying to hide the radical nature of modern conservatism.  I say to you, sure.  I'll "trust but verify" who you are.  

                      •  heh (0+ / 0-)

                        i don't want you to necessarily believe anything. I just wonder why you can't accept a correction w/o jumping into other issues and questioning my intent. Simple yes or no question for you: did you or did you not use an incomplete quotation?

                        •  No, you accused me of lying. (0+ / 0-)

                          You didn't say, "hey, why did you leave out this"?  You didn't say the quote was incomplete.

                          You said that I "lied" and left out the "context.". You wanted to prove that I was dishonest and was misrepresenting the conservative movement.   I showed you over and over that the context and the interpretation of the statement was consistent with conservatives self image.

                          If you can't accurately describe something that simply requires me to scroll up, how am I supposed to trust you?

                          •  read this and then we can be done (0+ / 0-)

                            unless you can answer a simple question. I said:

                            " your premise is built on a lie as well (1+ / 0-)
                            or at least an incomplete context, you state :"

                            Why can't you answer a simple yes or no question?

                            Later....

    •  Ironic because government became the solution (0+ / 0-)

      with significant increases in spending on defense build up.

      West. No further west. All sea. -- Robert Grenier

      by Nicolas Fouquet on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 12:23:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary + (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, vets74

    I've actually been thinking about this a good deal. Where does the government-is-the-problem meme come from? I think part of it is the reaction to Statism that came after WWII. This was apparently Hayek's impetus. And I also think it had a good deal to do with the Neocon anti-communism.

    What I think this misses is that it focuses to exclusively on one type of power - government power. But we're finding out now is that the more we limit government power, the more we increase corporate power and that is just as destructive, just as much of a danger as Statism.

    It reminds we of an incident from the American Revolution. Our founders were reacting to the power of monarchy and they believed more democractic (rule-by-majority) government was better. Accordingly, they created The Articles of Confederation, which had all kinds of problems. When James Madison wrote Federalist No. 10, he argued that there could be a tyranny of the majority - monarchy was not the only danger. When power becomes too concentrated, it is always an enemy to liberty. And that's true if it's the State or if its oligarchs.

    The more we cripple the State, the more oligarchical we'll become. I'm not sure, at this point, that it can be reversed.

    Thousands of years ago the question was asked: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. ~ Eugene V. Debbs

    by PlutocracyFiles on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:27:57 PM PDT

    •  Concentrated Power: Why We Need Regulated Capitali (6+ / 0-)

      Our founding fathers knew that concentrated power hurts society. They wrote a constitution that divided political power into three branches. This system has served us well for over two hundred years, protecting us from tyranny. The founders didn't foresee today's vast concentration of economic power and the destruction it could bring. We, however, can. We should have known the danger it poses to us all.

      Before the Great Depression the federal government let corporations grow relatively unchecked. It was a free market paradise. No minimum wage. No workers' compensation plans. No unemployment tax. No bookkeeping rules. No environmental laws. No safety regulations. If the free market myth were true, then this era should have been the greatest time in American history. It wasn't.

      The Great Depression and the New Deal brought this corporate paradise to end. President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew unregulated capitalism hurts average Americans. He decided to limit the power of corporations. They had to open their books to investors. Companies had to deal honestly with labor unions. They had to pay taxes. Businesses had to pay their workers better. Did the American economy crash? No. In fact regulated capitalism laid the foundation for the post war economic boom.

      After World War Two the federal government took an even larger role in the economy. It provided veterans with housing, education and health benefits. The federal government built the interstate highway system. It invested in aerospace, nuclear and computer technologies. Federal regulations required the automobile industry to improve safety and fuel efficiency. Industries were forced to stop polluting our air and water.

      The free marketeers screamed in protest. Liberals were destroying America. Socialists were punishing the successful. Capitalists would go on strike and bring the economy to a standstill. Luckily, no one listened to these Chicken Littles. The sky didn't fall. In fact regulated capitalism produced the world's largest middle class.

      Unfortunately, the oil crisis of the 1970s opened the door for the Chicken Littles to gain power. Slowly and methodically the corporation elite reasserted their hold on political power. The geniuses on Wall Street started selling snake oil again-Free Trade, electricity deregulation and the grand daddy of them all, banking deregulation. They told us that the "market" would regulate itself and no one would be hurt. Boy, were they wrong. American jobs moved overseas. Electricity prices went through the roof. In 2008 American families lost $11 trillion worth of assets, setting them back by four years.

      Now what do we do? Do we turn to the arsonist and say, "Are you an expert firefighter too?" No, we don't. Can the free market and more deregulation magically fix the current financial mess? No, it can't. We need to return to sensible regulations that check excessive corporate power.

      There is overwhelming bi-partisan support for this approach. Trade deals need to be fair, protecting American workers and the environment. We need affordable consumer technology to produce energy locally and allow for greater efficiency. Healthcare insurance needs to be affordable for all Americans. Stockholders need a greater say in executive pay and long-term planning. Finally, hedge funds need to disclose their secret deals that threaten us all.

      Change will not be easy. It never is. Chicken Little will be screaming the whole time. The sky will not fall. We're Americans. We've been in situations like this before. If we learn from our past successes and failures, we can effectively limit corporate excess and create sustained economic growth. Our founding fathers would be proud that we too learned the lesson that concentrated power hurts society and that we found a way to dilute it.

      •  And depressions were even more severe in the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Glenn Melancon, howd, Tinfoil Hat

        19th Century. And more frequent.

        Andrew Jackson hated Biddle and the National Bank. So he killed it. And killed any/all bank regulations at the same time. The resulting depressions in the mid- late- 1830s were doozeys.

        Similar bank-centered depressions cost America more than 1% overall annual growth for 1865-1911.

        Btw: $17-trillion got smash-and-grabbed from the Middle Class to the Top 1% by net wealth in the period 1981 to 2011.

        -- Reagan tax giveaways
        -- Big Bubble I (1994-2000)
        -- Bush tax giveaways 2002, 2003
        -- Big Bubble II (2003-2008)

        Mortgage indebtedness was increased from $4.9-trillion to $10.6-trillion from 2003-2008.

        Thanks, George Bush... you asshole.

        Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

        by vets74 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 05:15:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Still waiting for (4+ / 0-)

    the trickle-down theory to work...

    I'll be waiting a while...

    A hungry man is an angry man. (Bob Marley)

    by montanamatt on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 06:39:52 PM PDT

  •  Dear Glenn Melancon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasTwister, penguins4peace, vets74

    Thank you for the great diary. Ayn Rand was sick in her head (plus becoming a "smoocher" herself at the end of her life when she became old and feeble and needed government help) and Reagan lacked brain cells. His handlers handed him the scripture and he read from it. He was a great actor who played the part of a great president. I don't think he was a bad guy at all. He just didn't bother to think for himself.

    I am however going to respectfully disagree with some of your ideas. One is where you dis "gut feelings" while trusting "empirical evidence" as ultimate in Western civilization. I don't believe this is true. There are many examples to American philosophy that recognize human intuition as paramount, one being the transcendntalists who also defended "self-reliance." There is no denying the contributions of the classical scientific method of course especially in its role helping to free scientific pursuit from the clutches of the church. But we must also remember that early 20tieth century brought a new science (quantum mechanics) that put strong doubts on the infallibility of human reason and rationality. The "objective" universe of the empirical science became "subjective" when the line between the observer and the observed disappeared.

    To make it short, I believe empirical science has its place, and so does the "gut feelings." At least we now know that our reason's ability to explain our world is limited.

    I am all for government since in our country the government represents the people and it serves the people. But I don't think trust in government alone helped to build America. It collaborated with "trust in self."

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:15:22 PM PDT

    •  Hi Zenox (5+ / 0-)

      There is no doubt "But I don't think trust in government alone helped to build America. It collaborated with 'trust in self.'"

      My problem is with the black and white nature of Conservative not-thinking.  See above for my comment "Concentrated Power: Why We Need Regulated Capitalism"

      Collective action must be judged by the results it produces.  This is the greatest failing of the Obama administration.  Yes, it has implemented several ground breaking laws, but in this time of crisis, did it produce the necessary results?  Most of us know "in our gut" that it is not enough.  

      On the other hand, what is the conservative solution?  To do even less.  Subtraction is not addition.  Can humans grow and prosper if you strave them?  How can starving the economy of demand create growth? How can adding to the labor supply, by cutting government jobs, help the millions of Americans who are already competting for scarce jobs?

      "Guts" are trained to evelauate the world.  They are not instinctual.  In other words, not all guts are developed equally.

      •  Thanks for the response (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        penguins4peace

        All points agreed again with the exception of Obama admin actions and their results. We are a "results" oriented society, no doubt, and like our fast food and fast internet, we want them yesterday. My guts however tells me that things are well in terms of their momentum, if not with their current "location." That too is science of course and if we could but be a bit patient we would see that the momentum triumphs over location.

        "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

        by zenox on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 08:48:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No it does not (0+ / 0-)

      There might be some reasons for doubting the infallibility of human reason and rationality. Among these might be brain damage, unquestioned ideology, religiosity, being at the lower end of the IQ spectrum, and the refusal to consider evidence, but quantum mechanics does not raise this doubt. The predictions of quantum mechanics are quite reliable even if it is difficult to impossible to "envision" the outcomes based upon our 4-dimisional experience. The discovery that something like quantum mechanics exists is actually a huge vindication of our ability to use logic and reason.

      But we must also remember that early 20tieth century brought a new science (quantum mechanics) that put strong doubts on the infallibility of human reason and rationality.
  •  Reagan's Talent (19+ / 0-)

    Ronald Reagan was not an intellectual giant, not a deep thinker, nor a skilled manager. Ronald Reagan was a skilled huckster.

    He was a pitchman, and a damn good one, telling entertaining lies in a way that made people want to believe them. He was the front man for the apostles of selfishness and greed. He was a marketer selling the crack cocaine of conservatism. And his greatest accomplishment was getting the Democratic Party to legitimize and internalize his message.

    Until America has a political movement willing and able to call out the conservative movement's real goal for what it is - the cannibalization of America for private gain - the power of money will continue to set the agenda.

    The whole idea of an American government of, by, and for the people - all the people - has been subsumed by an anarchic insistence that we're all on our own, and no help is coming. The ideal of community has been replaced by the barred fortress, where every man's hand is against the other, and someone can win only if someone else loses. The world as zero sum game in other words, where the only goal worth striving for is to be the one to walk away with all the marbles.

    This is the world Ronald Reagan ushered in, with a chuckle and a grin, building on the divide and conquer strategy of Nixon. This is the world the Democrats opened the door to when they forgot that you can't have social justice if you walk away from economic justice. This is the world where stupid is the new smart - because there's no way to function within it if you look too closely at the lies it's based on, the denial of reality.

    The really sad, infuriating, tragic thing is that we know better, we've done better, and we could do better - but we don't. Why do we trip, when we could be flying?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 09:00:20 PM PDT

  •  This premise is nonsense (0+ / 0-)

    Reagan's big lie succeeded because Democrats let it. Rather than calling him out, they chickened out, and they've been chickening out ever since. The result is a crop of Republicans who make Reagan look like FDR.

    This isn't about the primacy of mythology over observation and reason. It's about what happens when you don't stand up to lying bullies. They take everything you give them. And Democrats have given them the country.

    •  How do you account for recent poll numbers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howd

      that showed twice as many people self identify as conservatives vs. liberals? The one I saw had it as 41 to 21 percent.
      I put the blame squarely on the corporate, status quo mainstream media, which dilute and twist but mostly ignore our side of the story. The myth of the liberal media is pervasive. And unfortunately, our message doesn't fit on a bumper sticker like theirs does.

      I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me.

      by plankbob on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 03:44:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've said this often (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      "Reagan's big lie succeeded because Democrats let it. Rather than calling him out, they chickened out, and they've been chickening out ever since."  

      Notice, however, the article is not about Republicans or Democrats.  It's about an assualt on our vules and traditions.  Yes, Conservative Democrats, particularly those in Texas, joined the muging of the middle class.  THey should have stood up.  They knew what was right.  They had the evidence, but the refused to tell the story of our success.  Instead they choose mythology over reason.  

  •  Reagan was (0+ / 0-)

    Leo Struass and Milton Friedman FREAK

    everything Reagan said was a lie so he could implement Shock Doctrine Capitalism for the rich;

    Reagan was one big lie........

    If eavesdropping on anything you say, write, or do could increase someone's wealth or influence you are a potential target. http://www.xtimeline.com/timeline/History-of-National-Security-Agency--NSA-

    by anyname on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 04:36:49 AM PDT

    •  Reagen was a simpleton, a tool of the corporate (0+ / 0-)

      forces now destroying this country.

      •  I agree with you. I lived in CA (0+ / 0-)

        when he was governor, and he ruined the state university and college systems, among other things. Definitely anti-intellectual, anti-education - he hated the protesting students at UCB - I witnessed some of the brutality. He didn't have an intellectual bone in his body, and certainly no clue about economics theory, but was manipulated as surely as Bush was by Cheney.

        A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

        by translatorpro on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 07:31:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  at youtube (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob

    you can find Reagan's General Electric speeches against Medicare; and lots lots of stuff just google - he was a paid shill by corrupt corporations against universal health care for Americans:

    conservatives lie about everything they love myths and legends built entirely on lies

    http://www.larrydewitt.net/...

    Oeration Coffeecup: Ronald Reagan’s Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare

    But long before he addressed the nation in 1964, Reagan had been traveling the country making versions of “The Speech” before conservative audiences of various types.

    After taking the job of spokesman for General Electric in 1952, Reagan started traveling the country making speeches before audiences of approving corporate executives, chambers of commerce, and the like.

    By the early 1960s “The Speech” had acquired its mature political form. In fact, much of it was crystallized in his AMA speech against Medicare.

    With Reagan’s 1961-62 campaign against Medicare, a symbolic line was crossed, the line separating business booster from political operative

    If eavesdropping on anything you say, write, or do could increase someone's wealth or influence you are a potential target. http://www.xtimeline.com/timeline/History-of-National-Security-Agency--NSA-

    by anyname on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 04:50:48 AM PDT

  •  From Credit to Debt in One President (4+ / 0-)

    Under Reagan, the US went form the world's largest creditor to the world's largest debtor.

    When today's right wing build's a temple to him, it will be made of borrowed fool's gold.

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 05:26:57 AM PDT

  •  Emotions deny reality, as much as not. (0+ / 0-)

    So does music. That's why it works.

    Thing is, lots of people go for country music or for Wagner or for "boot up yer ass" nationalistic tunes.

    Millions of people worldwide watch "Million Dollar" singing and dancing competitions, where they would never tune in to listen to accomplished professionals do any of it. Apart from the framing bullshit, they'd much rather watch Judge "Omniscient" Judy.

    Wanna try to be the Mozart of politics ???

    Well, you can't be president. Mozart died at 35.

    Better bet, you learn to do country. Darius Rucker betta be yer model, heah !

    Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

    by vets74 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 05:30:07 AM PDT

  •  The twin legacies of Reagan are lying and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snud, fumie

    criminality.  He is a fitting patron saint for the present day Republican party.  Other presidents had lied but usually made attempts to hide it and usually paid a price for lying.  Reagan just looked into the camera and made up shit.  The corporate media was sitting on dozens of proposed mergers and played ball to get their consolidation.

    It should also be remembered that Reagan was a criminal.  He evaded prosecution and that is the other pillar of his legacy.  He came into power in a blaze of treason with his secret and criminal negotiations with the Iranians behind Carter's back.  to this day the corporate press tiptoes around the "Iran-Contra" scandal as if it were something too complex and controversial for polite company.  

    Liberals should say it and say it often.  Reagan was a liar and a criminal.  

    The Long War is not on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. It is on the American people.

    by Geonomist on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 05:34:19 AM PDT

  •  actually we NEED emotion & passion, we got the (0+ / 0-)

    college "educated" egg heads already.

    the righties have the entire spectrum of messaging -

    they obviously have the mouth breathing nitwits like palin, bachman, rush, beck ...

    and they have the george wills making the big lies sound all thought out and all complicated for people who aren't into mouth breathing.

    ALL we have is the all thought out and all complicated stuff, and, what is worse and what is completely politically fucking stupid

    our side actually squelches our fire breathers and our drum beaters!

    want to get inspired & passionate ?? get your box of kleenex & watch "I have a Dream" and have a good cry.

    To King's credit, he motivated people with the positive, but, there was a LOT of non-happy-happy sesame street to motivate people -

    aside from the crushing realities of their existence as African Americans, or as grunt laborers -

    people weren't motivated to sit on the factory floor or walk across those color lines just cuz of happy-happy sesame street blather.

    the great fix the world isms fail for the same reason that the whiny snivelly liberals have gotten their asses kicked by a lying fuck like raygun -

    they and we RELY on people thinking and pausing and being selfless and being noble ...

    how dumb.

    people like drums and they like fire and they like shows - give it to 'em.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 06:07:44 AM PDT

    •  No doubt, but (0+ / 0-)

      As several people have pointed out, as a leader, you need to know what side of history you are fighting for.  King knew.  He wasn't advocting free market fairy dust like Rand Paul.  He knew real Civil Rights required GOVERNEMENT ACTION.  LBJ knew real ecnomic justice required GOVERNEMENT ACTION.  Modern America is not the product of "organic" development.  It was designed by smart people who know how to moblize society and to make it better.   Rhoteric without social justice is meaningless.

  •  really enjoyed this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tacet, Jlukes

    i fell for the lie back in that time. i was raised a republican, therefore i could easily accept this message from a republican...but after many years of distractions (marriage, children, job changes, finally graduating from college) i realized that i was in the "dupe" branch of the republican party. today it is easy to accept the premise of your diary.
     and i almost feel like the ass that i am told i am, but you got "descent" and "decent" mixed up in the diary...sorry, but the editor in me just can't sit idly by.
    regards.

  •  Thank you, Glenn Melancon. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jzso

    Your name rang a bell so I looked at your website - and really liked what I read there. I wish you had won. On the other hand, we now - hopefully - have some really interesting, thought-provoking diaries to look forward to. Now following you, so I don't miss any.

    Cheers.

    A proud supporting member of Native American Netroots

    by translatorpro on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 07:37:46 AM PDT

  •  (Maybe future) candidate? (0+ / 0-)

    Fighting for Texas families
    Former Candidate for US Congress, TX 4th (maybe future)

    Totally future.

  •  Cause and effect is history, not effect and cause. (0+ / 0-)

    BHO is president.  Economy is on skids.  BHO was the cause????  BHO is president.  Washington is more polarized and politisized than ever. Hope and change from the politics/policies of the past swept him into office.  Democrats capture Congress in 2006.  Two wars rage on for longest period in american history.  Democrats win back Congress on war fatigue.

    Some...spoke with strong and powerful voices, which proclaimed in accents trumpet-tongued,"I am beautiful, and I rule". Others murmured in tones scarcely audible, but exquisetly soft and sweet, "I am little, and I am beloved"." Armandine A.L. Dupin

    by Kvetchnrelease on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 07:48:37 AM PDT

  •  Impoverished majority? (0+ / 0-)

    " Smith attacked the common eighteenth-century practice of using political power to redistribute wealth from the farmers to the merchants.  This practice left the vast majority of the population impoverished while enriching a chosen few."

    Um, wasn't the vast majority already impoverished?

    BTW, Smith also discussed what would be named the business cycle—he was under no illusion that free markets were a one-way trip to prosperity.

    •  Smith believed that poverty was unnatural (0+ / 0-)

      So, yes the vast majority of people were already impoverished for a very long time.  Politicians had been redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top for a very long time.  The path to prosperity required the elimination of economic privileges.  It was necessary but but not sufficient.  Not until the late 19th did a fully developed positive role for government develop.

      •  Smith's nature (0+ / 0-)

        While it's true that Smith uses the term "natural" to refer to certain operations of the market and to things like a natural price, I believe that you would have a hard time stating Smith's definition of nature in these contexts.

        Not the least of these difficulties is that while Smith identifies the origin of society in nature, he clearly does not believe actual societies or markets are themselves natural. Even more to the point, he does not hold that the natural is identical to the moral—a moral society comes into being through choice. Opulence may be according to nature; poverty may well result from interference in the free workings of the market, but I think that to call it "unnatural" goes beyond Smith's meaning.

        •  To Quote, George Bernard Shaw (0+ / 0-)

          "Two peoples separated by a common language."

          I have no problem with your words of caution, but here is my understanding.  

          There are two types of poverty.  One is experienced in a state of nature, when each man must secure his property against the greed of every other man.    The other is a social construct when a privilege few use political power to manipulate the market place for their own private benefit at the expense of the Wealth of the Nation.  

          "Since the downfal of the Roman empire, the policy of Europe has been more favourable to arts, manufactures, and commerce, the industry of towns; than to agriculture, the industry of the country."

          http://www.econlib.org/...

          That "favoritism" was unnatural, or unreasonable.  The wide spread suffering in Eighteenth Century agriculture was a direct result of this favoritism.

        •  Here is Smith (0+ / 0-)

          "What-ever regulations, therefore, tend to increase those wages and profits beyond what they otherwise would be, tend to enable the town to purchase, with a smaller quantity of its labour, the produce of a greater quantity of the labour of the country. They give the traders and artificers in the town an advantage over the landlords, farmers, and labourers in the country, and break down that natural equality which would otherwise take place in the commerce which is carried on between them." I.10.74

          http://www.econlib.org/...

        •  Source of rural poverty (0+ / 0-)

          "In China and Indostan accordingly both the rank and the wages of country labourers are said to be superior to those of the greater part of artificers and manufacturers. They would probably be so every-where, if corporation laws and the corporation spirit did not prevent it."

  •  How well I remember Reagan's "salad days" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Melancon

    as governor of Calif. All my dad's friends believed and repeated the legend of the "Welfare Queen" who drove her Cadillac to the office to pick up her check.

  •  Wow.... a phenomenal summary on reality. (0+ / 0-)

    I am envious of your ability to capture the essence of what Republicanism is, and how worldwide it has been fucking up peoples lives for centuries.

    It needs to be ended, for good, for the sake of the human race.

  •  This is really good. (0+ / 0-)

    It is a very clear explanation of complicated events which many of today's voters either don't remember or never understood in the first place.

    You should try to publish this as an Op-Ed where it will get an even larger audience.

    Tipped and rec'd.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 08:24:41 AM PDT

    •  They don't teach us that in grad school (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I really have no idea how to get an op-ed published.  It's a bit long for a "letter" to the editor.  As I stated earlier, it pretty basic stuff.  I simply put it together.

      I do have more parts of the American story to tell.  At the "end" I plan on doing an ebook.  The comments are helpful as other add to the narrative.

  •  Wow. The history of Western (0+ / 0-)

    Civilization since the Greeks, in 1,000 words. Thanks for the synthesis. Actually, I'm sure many more historic strands than you've been able to account for, have gone to weave the contemporary socio-political landscape. But you were working within certain constraints.

    Anyway, about Galileo. According to the religious historian Karen Armstrong, the church had actually approved the heliocentric model of the solar system, on which Galileo made his reputation, before he came into their sights as an adversary. His bad standing with the church, indeed, may have resulted more from his bombastic, provocative demeanor than from his scientific work. He likely hastened, and became the focus of, an already-inevitable conflict between science and religion.  

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 08:51:53 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      "the church had actually approved the heliocentric model of the solar system"

      This I think is a bit of a stretch.   If memory serves me, Galileo had personal conversations with his "friend" the pope and believed he was "safe."  The Church itself had not taken an official stand one way or another, the idea was simply too new.  You are correct, however, that he got himself into hot water by insulting many of those who would sit in judgment over his ideas.  The Pope eventually choose to protect the institution from his "threat."

  •  Totally disagree. Not a big lie. (0+ / 0-)

    Reagan was simply a politician who knew something:

    Reagan’s Big Lie restored the primacy of mythology over observation and reason

    That was a Big Truth.  Mythology and Narrative is exactly the stuff of politics and nation building.

    That's what we haven't learned even with Obama.  Especially with Obama.  Even though he's espoused the Reagan myth.

    Mythology is EVERYTHING. It was in 2010 (that's why folks are experiencing the cruel crash to the reality of Obama's political compromises). And it will be in 2012.  And unfortunately Obama has played out his mythic capital already.

    Reagan was brilliant in that end.  Unfortunately his talents were applied to the wrong agenda.  Happens.

    NO CE/CW. NO UNION BUSTING

    by Aeolos on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 08:55:59 AM PDT

    •  Governing and Elections are not the same (0+ / 0-)

      I would agree that narrative and stories are essential to campaigns.  They help people "connect."

      The problem that I have with Reagan is that he governed using mythology.  Governing requires experimentation and finding solutions that improve the general welfare.  Reagan's policies undercut the foundation of our middle class society.

      So, yes, Obama's greatest problem is governing using the mythology of "compromise."  Compromise is a tool to achieve a goal; it is not an end in itself.  The President seems to belief his goal is to get a compromise and that he will be rewarded for it.  No, the goal is to improve our community.  The results have to be real not mythological.

  •  From TX-32: Nice to see you again, Glenn (0+ / 0-)

    our "next-door neighbor".

    Will no one challenge Pete "Taliban" Sessions (TX-32), and help the national Democratic Party at the same time?

    Pete is the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Chair, and spends his time, money (well, not actually HIS), and efforts trying to defeat Dem. Congressional members and candidates.  He gives support and money to GOP House members and candidates.  The result is the House we have.

    What's Obama supposed to do with THAT?

    Beat Pete.

    Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 09:14:08 AM PDT

  •  Only way to change a meme is to challenge it: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Melancon

    It must be confronted.  We must elect those who will challenge it.

    We need a party whose leadership will offer challenge to the conservative (radical capitalism) meme.  Not leaders who adopt the very language of those opposed to our values.

    Mr. Shared Sacrifice = the Pied Piper of Austerity. Such a beautiful performance, I can hardly resist clapping.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 09:19:44 AM PDT

  •  Reagan played a part. Hired by corporate America. (0+ / 0-)

    Really.  It seems pretty much that simple to my simple mind.  

    Ronnie had more handlers and "delegated" more than any president in history.  Who actually pulled his strings and how many other surrogates away from him they were who  were in charge who knows and who will say?

    To me, that is the real unda story of Reagan.  The vast right wing conspiracy that subverted humanism and put the "exploiter class" in charge past few decades.  Reagan was their shield and public relations man.  

    He did a hella job didn't he?

  •  Ayn Rand? (0+ / 0-)

    Ayn Rand is like masturbation.  Once you have real sex you realize that the real thing is much preferable.  I liken folks that take to Ayn Rand like school boys that suffer from Portnoy's complaint..

    Ayn Rand is for sophomores.

  •  Glenn-a tangential question, if you don't mind... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newjeffct

    It's always seemed to me that the elephant(s) in the room when conservatives proudly self-identify or swagger with their criticism is their abysmal record throughout world and American history.

    These are the same folks who foretold the collapse of the auto industry if automobile safety laws were legislated or the collapse of American garments industry if children were taken out of the factory.

    Each time, their dark, foreboding, king-serving defense of the historically indefensible never became reality and America ended up better for having ignored them.

    As an actual historian, do you concur? How is it that folks with that kind of awful, arguable evil track-record keep getting taken seriously?    

    What's next for the Republicans? Tying Nell to the railroad tracks?

    by Heller Highwater on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 10:11:02 AM PDT

    •  Sorry that I missed this earlier. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think that it is tangential at all.  The answer is paradoxical.  Rene Descartes (1596-1650) laid out several rules for rational problem solving (see below).  The last is to consider all the possibilities.

      When conservatives make a claim, the first reaction of a rational person is to consider the possibility that they may be right .  While you are doing that, the conservative has moved on to another "bold" assertion.  As a result, the debunking never appears along side the "certainty" of the conservative.  Humans prefer people who speak with certainty and authority, two qualities which liberals find frightening.  

      The solution is to recognize the modern conservative's game plan.  Words are simply tools to achieve a goal.  The goal is the destruction of the public good for private gain.   They can dress it up and put lipstick on it, but it's still greed.  Be prepared to say IMMEDIATELY that they are simply wrong.  No Nuance.  No bickering.  No self-doubt.  Never, ever, let them see you sweat.

      Does this answer your question?

      Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
      - The first rule was never to accept anything as true unless I recognized it to be evidently such: that is, carefully to avoid precipitation and prejudgment, and to include nothing in my conclusions unless it presented itself so clearly and distinctly to my mind that there was no occasion to doubt it.

      - The second was to divide each of the difficulties which I encountered into as many parts as possible, and as might be required for an easier solution.

      - The third was to think in an orderly fashion, beginning with the things which were simplest and easiest to understand, and gradually and by degrees reaching toward more complex knowledge, even treating as though ordered materials which were not necessarily so.

      - The last was always to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I would be certain that nothing was omitted.

      http://www.thingsrevealed.net/...

  •  Unhistory (0+ / 0-)

    I've shared the opinion of your friend for some time. History (or unhistory as I call it) should be taught backwards.

    We live life forwards, but we live life from the familiar to the unfamiliar. When we get back beyond our experience period, we are in an unfamiliar time. So historians spend a great deal of time saying: "This is what it was like at the beginning of the period I'm going to cover." Then they go on to talk about the changes. The intro  is always -- is inescapably -- imperfect.  So the understanding of the changes is imperfect.

    Does one American in 100 understand what politics was like before the introduction of the Australian ballot?

    How many people understand that the spinning wheel was one of the great labor-saving devices in history? (And, yes, I mean the spinning wheel and not the spinning jenny.)

    Corporations are people; money is speech.
    1984 - George Orwell

    by Frank Palmer on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 10:39:27 AM PDT

    •  yes, teaching history is harder than it looks (0+ / 0-)

      I try to teach and write in "self contained units."  i don't "mention" things or drop names; I try to provide concrete examples, like the one's you mentioned, and how they changed the world around them.  Getting 18 years to appreciate the "Australian Ballot" usually causes their jaws to drop.  Their is so much that we simply take for granted.  Those battles, however, took years to overcome tradition.  Today, we expect McDonald's political solutions.  I order,; the politician delivers.

      •  But I still want you to go backwards (0+ / 0-)

        Start from where we are now. What was it like when phones all pluggged into walls? What was it like when people moved by rail not cars? What was it like when women didn't vote?

        etc. etc. etc.

        Corporations are people; money is speech.
        1984 - George Orwell

        by Frank Palmer on Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 12:36:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My first reaction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Melancon

    to this post was I needed to read it, if only to answer the question, "which one?"

    Reagan's entire career was built on lies, and just to list them would be a posting longer than Glenn's entire diary.

    He was called the "great communicator," but it's easy to talk when you are telling people what they want to hear.

    He was called tough in foreign policy, but his entire policy comes down to bribing our enemies and giving them weapons, and wimping out of the middle east after the Beirut barracks bombing, thus feeding the idea that if you hit us, we will back down.  This has long been a central idea of Al Qa'ida.

    He said regulations were bad for business, then proved how well that idea worked by deregulating S&L's, then having to bail them out.

    He said he would balance the budget, then tripled the debt.

    His economic policies led to a president with record approval ratings after winning a stunning military victory losing reelection in 1992 -- because the economy was doing so badly.

    And every one of his policies continues today.  Bush doubled down on every one of them, leading to the multiple disasters in foreign, economic, and fiscal policies.

    The wonder is, the parties -- both of them -- and the media continue to pass out the corporate KoolAid, and continue to sell the same failed policies.

    Facts don't matter.  Never were there truer words.

    "... there is no humane way to rule people against their will." Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

    by Noziglia on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 11:15:43 AM PDT

  •  arete= (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glenn Melancon

    We do not do these things because they are easy; we do them because they are hard!

    Because they are hard.

    Nowhere do I understand that national security is a substitute for the law.---Thomas Drake You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.--Winston Churchill

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 02:25:25 PM PDT

    •  Exactly :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SouthernLiberalinMD

      When I taught High School, I had this quote on the wall.  Leadership. Pure. Simple. America at it's best.

      My personal web page has a NASA rocket and an American flag.  Thanks for the video.

      •  You're welcome. (0+ / 0-)

        My god, if it would help, I would stand on a soapbox and give this speech on every corner in the U.S.  This is the spirit of America.  We still have it.  How can we show it forth?  That is the question.

        Nowhere do I understand that national security is a substitute for the law.---Thomas Drake You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.--Winston Churchill

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Sep 01, 2011 at 02:35:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "We still have it. How can we show it forth?" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLiberalinMD

          Don't surrender to cynicism and fear.

          We must realize that our job is harder than the job of Conservatism.  All they have to do is destroy.  We have to build.  Conservative politicians only have to make government a problem.  Liberals have to experiment and find solutions that work, knowing that most people will take success for granted, knowing that every small misstep will bring out the Chicken Littles.  Hold your head up high and know in your heart and mind that Liberals built modern America while conservatism yelled from the sidelines, "Hell no you can't."

  •  Another victory for the Big Lie today. (0+ / 0-)
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