Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Reagan at 100

Ronald Reagan would have 100 today. As Will Bunch details in his book Tear Down This Myth, the real Reagan was more practical and open to compromise than the Saint Ronnie that Grover Norquist and other far-right zealots have sold to America (and themselves). Reagan was admirable in a few ways – his commitment to nuclear disarmament was sincere (and right-wingers attacked him for it at the time).

However, he was still a horrible president overall, always the triumph of image over substance. His economic programs funneled a massive amount of money to the richest Americans, hurt the middle class, hurt the poor even more, and tripled the national debt. We're still bearing the effects, and at this point, every national Republican promotes the same "voodoo economics" of plutocracy and fiscal irresponsibility. And Reagan accomplished this by appealing to the racial fears and spite of white voters, who then voted against their own interests.

In addition to that, there was the Iran-Contra Affair, which should have sent most of his administration to jail. Then there are all the cultural issues – despite being an actor, one of Reagan's first actions was to try to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, a small, criminally under-funded agency that does a great deal of good despite its size. To this day, conservatives keep on trying to kill the arts, and at this point, I don't think they even remember the reason (not that there ever was a good one); it's a culture war thing, and they do it just to be dicks. (Yeah, de-funding the Folger Shakespeare Library (and Theater) in D.C., and Poetry Out Loud, which celebrates poetry-loving students across the country, is really the work of angels, guys.)

I want to take a closer look at supply-side economics later this year, but for now, let me link "Attack of the Plutocrats", and Thom Hartmann's excellent piece "Two Santa Clauses, or How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years."

Tengrain is doing a great roundup of Reagan posts: "The Feast of Saint Ronnie."

I'll add (or highlight) some other pieces:

Wonkette: "One Hundred Years of Reagantube: Remembering Reagan In Dumb Videos." This is a very good collection, and also sums Reagan up aptly by saying: "Let’s remember the empty suit who led us to a Promised Land of Fox News, Tax Cuts for Multi-Billionaires and the deliberate dismantling of what had been the world’s smartest, most prosperous society in the History of the World."

Distributorcap NY: "Easter in February."

David Corn: "66 Things to Think About When Flying Into Reagan National Airport." (This one's an old piece, but useful.)

Patt Morrison did a show on Reagan, and while it's mostly hagiography, it's not entirely bad. Bonus points, though, if you can spot the disingenuous bullshit of William Niskanen of the Cato Institute. (Perhaps more on this later.)

Give Us This Day Our Daily Dread: "100 Years of Folksy Fascism."

Will Bunch: "What happens when Americans worship a bronze idol" and "Reagan to Rush Limbaugh: "You know nothing of my work"".

If you wrote a post on Reagan for today, head on over to Tengrain's, and leave it in the comments.


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