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However, if future historians are fair (and that is no sure thing), the reevaluation of Ronald Reagan

should start with a reassessment of the “failed” presidents from the 1970s—Richard Nixon,

Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. All may deserve more credit than they got for trying

to grapple with problems that now bedevil the country.

 

 

Books by Robert Parry

 

Lost History / Secrecy & Privilege / Neck Deep

 

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Ronald Reagan's 30-Year Time Bombs

By Robert Parry

 

The time element of “30 years” keeps slipping into American official reports and news stories about the origins of crises – the latest in “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” – but rarely is the relevance of the three-decade span explained, and there is a reason.

The failure to close the circle in saying who started the nation off on the path toward these disasters is because nearly everyone shies away from blaming Ronald Reagan for almost anything.

The overpowering consensus in Washington is that its political suicide to criticize the 40th president of the United States, whose centennial birthday on Feb. 6 will be celebrated elaborately.

It’s much safer to behave like MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and simply accept that Reagan was “one of the all-time greats.”

But the truth is that Reagan’s current historical reputation rests more on the effectiveness of the Republican propaganda machine—and the timidity of many Democrats and media personalities—than on his actual record of accomplishments.

Indeed, many of today’s worst national and international problems can be traced to misjudgments and malfeasance from the Reagan years—from the swelling national debt to out-of-control banks, from the decline of the U.S. middle class to the inaction on energy independence, from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

All of these disasters are part of the Reagan Legacy. Yet, possibly the most insidious residue from the Reagan Years was the concept of manipulating information—what some Reagan officials liked to call “perception management”—as a means of societal control.

In that endeavor, Reagan’s team took aim at two key entities—the CIA’s analytical division and the Washington press corps—with the realization that if the information produced and disseminated by those two groups could be controlled then the insider community of Washington and the broader American public could be managed.

That enabled the Reagan administration to exaggerate the threat posed by the Soviet Union (after Reagan’s CIA chief William Casey and his deputy Robert Gates purged many of the CIA analysts who correctly saw a decaying empire eager for accommodation with the West).

Similarly, well-financed right-wing operatives and administration officials worked to marginalize mainstream journalists (the “liberal press”) who raised troublesome questions about Reagan’s domestic and foreign policies.

The impact of these information strategies had deadly consequences even years later, such as when President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney essentially dictated the intelligence “analysis” on Iraq’s WMD  to the CIA and the Washington press corps fell in line behind the march to war.

Even today, President Barack Obama complains that his options for addressing the nation’s growing problems are limited by what he calls the Reagan “narrative,” demonizing government. [See “Obama’s Fear of the Reagan Narrative.”]

A Central Narrative

The Reagan Legacy also lives on as the central narrative of the now-empowered Republican Party and its Tea Party allies. The answer to domestic problems is always to cut taxes, slash government regulations and trust the private sector, while the cure for international threats is to talk tough and to take down governments that won’t obey.

For Republicans, virtually all issues must be shoved into the straitjacket of Reagan’s orthodoxy, while the Right’s powerful media continues to build false narratives for public consumption thus guaranteeing that alternative approaches are met with unrelenting hostility.

This strategy works, in part, because progressives lack a sufficient messaging apparatus to counter the Reagan narrative and Democratic politicians know that they risk retaliation if they challenge too directly the pleasant conventional wisdom about Reagan.

So, instead of a blunt recognition of Reagan’s responsibility for crises, the 30-year reference slides in as if something mysterious about the early 1980s explains how later catastrophes originated. There is no who-done-it in these mysteries; Reagan must be kept enshrined as the genial ex-actor who revived the American spirit after those trying days of the 1970s.

However, if future historians are fair (and that is no sure thing), the reevaluation of Ronald Reagan should start with a reassessment of the “failed” presidents from the 1970s—Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. All may deserve more credit than they got for trying to grapple with problems that now bedevil the country.

For instance, Nixon, Ford and Carter won scant praise for addressing the systemic challenges from America’s oil dependence, environmental degradation, the arms race, and nuclear proliferation—all issues that Reagan essentially ignored and that now threaten the future of America and the planet.

These presidents also followed a generally moderate course on economic policies, finding bipartisan approaches to challenges like inflation and budget deficits, which were a tiny fraction of today’s numbers.

Nixon—despite his ugly paranoia and noxious bigotry—helped create the Environmental Protection Agency; he imposed energy-conservation measures; he opened the diplomatic door to communist China. Nixon’s administration also detected the growing weakness in the Soviet Union and advocated a policy of détente (a plan for bringing the Cold War to an end or at least curbing its most dangerous excesses).

After Nixon’s resignation in the Watergate scandal, Ford continued many of Nixon’s policies, particularly trying to wind down the Cold War with Moscow. However, confronting a rebellion from Reagan’s Republican Right in 1976, Ford abandoned “détente.”

Ford also let hard-line Cold Warriors (and a first wave of young intellectuals who became known as neoconservatives) pressure the CIA’s analytical division (the so-called “Team-B Experiment”), and he brought in a new generation of hard-liners, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

After defeating Ford in 1976, Carter injected more respect for human rights into U.S. foreign policy, a move some scholars believe put an important nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union, leaving it hard-pressed to justify the repressive internal practices of the East Bloc.

Carter also emphasized the need to contain the spread of nuclear weapons, especially in unstable countries like Pakistan.

Domestically, Carter pushed a comprehensive energy policy and warned Americans that their growing dependence on foreign oil represented a national security threat, what he famously called “the moral equivalent of war.”

However, powerful vested interests—both domestic and foreign—managed to exploit the shortcomings of these three presidents to sabotage any sustained progress. By 1980, Reagan had emerged as the Pied Piper luring the American people away from the tough choices that Nixon, Ford and Carter had defined. [See Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Sunny Disposition

With his superficially sunny disposition—and a ruthless political strategy of exploiting white-male resentments—Reagan convinced millions of Americans that the threats they faced were: African-American welfare queens, Central American leftists, a rapidly expanding Evil Empire based in Moscow, and the do-good federal government.

In his First Inaugural Address in 1981, Reagan declared that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

When it came to cutting back on America’s energy use, Reagan’s message could be boiled down to the old reggae lyric, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Rather than pressing Detroit to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars, Reagan made clear that the auto industry could manufacture gas-guzzlers without much nagging from Washington.

The same with the environment. Reagan intentionally staffed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department with officials who were hostile toward regulation aimed at protecting the environment.

Reagan pushed for deregulation of industries, including banking; he slashed income taxes for the wealthiest Americans in an experiment known as “supply side” economics, which held falsely that cutting rates for the rich would increase revenues and eliminate the federal deficit.

Over the years, “supply side” would evolve into a secular religion for many on the Right, but Reagan’s budget director David Stockman once blurted out the truth, that it would lead to red ink “as far as the eye could see.”

While conceding that some of Reagan’s economic plans did not work out as intended, his defenders—including many mainstream journalists—still argue that Reagan should be hailed as a great President because he “won the Cold War,” a short-hand phrase that they like to attach to his historical biography.

However, a strong case can be made that the Cold War was won well before Reagan arrived in the White House. Indeed, in the 1970s, it was a common perception in the U.S. intelligence community that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was winding down, largely because the Soviet economic model had lost the technological race with the West.

That was the view of many Kremlinologists in the CIA’s analytical division. Also, I was told by a senior CIA’s operations official that some of the CIA’s best spies inside the Soviet hierarchy supported the view that the Soviet Union was headed toward collapse, not surging toward world supremacy, as Reagan and his foreign policy team insisted in the early 1980s.

The CIA analysis was the basis for the détente that was launched by Nixon and Ford, essentially seeking a negotiated solution to the most dangerous remaining aspects of the Cold War.

In that view, Soviet military operations, including sending troops into Afghanistan in 1979, were mostly defensive in nature. In Afghanistan, the Soviets hoped to prop up a secular pro-communist government that was seeking to modernize the country but was beset by opposition from Islamic fundamentalists who were getting covert support from the U.S. government.

Though the Afghan covert operation originated with Cold Warriors in the Carter administration, especially national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the war was dramatically ramped up under Reagan.

Reagan and CIA Director Casey also were willing to trade U.S. acquiescence toward Pakistan’s nuclear arms program for its help in shipping weaponry to the Afghan jihadists (including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden). [See “Reagan’s Bargain/Charlie Wilson’s War.”]

Making Matters Worse

While Reagan’s acolytes cite the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan as decisive in “winning the Cold War,” the counter-argument is that Moscow was already in disarray—and while failure in Afghanistan may have sped the Soviet Union’s final collapse—it also created twin dangers for the future of the world: the rise of al-Qaeda terrorism and the nuclear bomb in the hands of Pakistan’s unstable Islamic Republic.

In other words, Reagan’s over-reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan created even worse long-term threats to U.S. national security. And, instead of crediting Reagan with “winning the Cold War,” it could be argued that he extended it unnecessarily—at great cost in lives and money.

Reagan’s actions elsewhere in the world also damaged long-term U.S. interests. In Latin America, for instance, Reagan’s brutal strategy of arming right-wing militaries to crush peasant, student and labor uprisings created a legacy of anti-Americanism that has resurfaced in the emergence of populist leftist governments.

In Nicaragua, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega (whom Reagan once denounced as a “dictator in designer glasses”) returned to power. In El Salvador, the leftist FMLN won the last presidential election. Indeed, across the region, hostility to Washington is now the rule, creating openings for China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and other American rivals.

In the early 1980s, Reagan also credentialed a young generation of neocon intellectuals, who pioneered a concept called “perception management,” the shaping of how Americans saw, understood and were frightened by threats from abroad.

To marginalize dissent, Reagan and his subordinates stoked anger toward anyone who challenged the era’s feel-good optimism. Skeptics were not just honorable critics, they were un-American defeatists or—in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s memorable attack line—they would “blame America first.”

Under Reagan, a right-wing infrastructure took shape, linking media outlets (magazines, newspapers, books, etc.) with well-financed think tanks that churned out endless op-eds and research papers. Plus, there were attack groups that went after mainstream journalists who dared disclose information that poked holes in Reagan’s propaganda themes.

In effect, Reagan’s team created a faux reality for the American public. Civil wars in Central America between impoverished peasants and wealthy oligarchs became East-West showdowns. U.S.-backed insurgents in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan  were transformed from corrupt, brutal (often drug-tainted) thugs into noble “freedom-fighters.”

With the Iran-Contra schemes of 1984-86, Reagan also revived Richard Nixon’s theory of an imperial presidency that could ignore the nation’s laws and evade accountability through criminal cover-ups. That behavior would rear its head again in the war crimes of George W. Bush. [For details on Reagan’s abuses, see Robert Parry’s Lost History and Secrecy & Privilege.]

Wall Street Greed

The American Dream also dimmed during Reagan’s tenure.

While he played the role of the nation’s kindly grandfather, his operatives divided the American people, using “wedge issues” to deepen grievances especially of white men who were encouraged to see themselves as victims of “reverse discrimination” and “political correctness.”

Yet even as working-class white men were rallying to the Republican banner (as so-called “Reagan Democrats”), their economic interests were being savaged. Unions were broken and marginalized; “free trade” policies shipped manufacturing jobs abroad; old neighborhoods were decaying; drug use among the young was soaring.

Meanwhile, unprecedented greed was unleashed on Wall Street, fraying old-fashioned bonds between company owners and employees.

Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.)

Many other trends set during the Reagan era continued to corrode the U.S. political process in the years after Reagan left office. After 9/11, for instance, the neocons reemerged as a dominant force, reprising their “perception management” tactics, depicting the “war on terror”—like the last days of the Cold War—as a terrifying conflict between good and evil.

The hyping of the Islamic threat mirrored the neocons’ exaggerated depiction of the Soviet menace in the 1980s—and again the propaganda strategy worked. Many Americans let their emotions run wild, from the hunger for revenge after 9/11 to the war fever over invading Iraq.

Arguably, the descent into this dark fantasyland—that Ronald Reagan began in the early 1980s—reached its nadir in the flag-waving early days of the Iraq War. Only gradually did reality begin to reassert itself as the death toll mounted in Iraq and the Katrina disaster reminded Americans why they needed an effective government.

Still, the disasters—set in motion by Ronald Reagan—continued to roll in. George W. Bush’s Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget and the Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor contributed to a massive financial meltdown that threw the nation into economic chaos.

The majority report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blamed the banking crisis, in part, on “30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation.” (Not surprisingly, the four Republicans on the commission refused to sign on, seeking to lay greater blame on government policies for encouraging home ownership.)

GOP Icon

Republicans continue to enforce the notion that Reagan is an untouchable icon, that his memory and his policies must be revered. After the GOP gained control of Congress in 1994, the party rushed to name as many public sites after Reagan as possible, seeking to elevate their hero to the stature of martyred leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

In that endeavor, the Republicans often had the help of Democrats who saw honoring Reagan as an easy gesture of political bipartisanship, apparently unaware of—or unwilling to contest—the larger GOP strategy of solidifying the status of Reaganism as much as Reagan.

For instance, early in Campaign 2008, when Barack Obama was positioning himself as a bipartisan political figure who could appeal to Republicans, he bowed to the Reagan mystique, hailing the GOP icon as a leader who “changed the trajectory of America.”

Though Obama’s chief point was that Reagan in 1980 “put us on a fundamentally different path”—a point which may be historically undeniable—Obama went further, justifying Reagan’s course correction because of “all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn’t much sense of accountability.”

While Obama later clarified his point to say he didn’t mean to endorse Reagan’s conservative policies, Obama seemed to suggest that Reagan’s 1980 election administered a needed dose of accountability to the United States when Reagan actually did the opposite. Reagan’s presidency represented a dangerous escape from accountability – and reality. [See “Obama’s Dubious Praise for Reagan.”]

Obama and congressional Democrats have continued to pander to the Reagan myth. In 2009, President Obama hailed Ronald Reagan while welcoming Nancy Reagan to the White House and signing a law creating a panel to honor Reagan’s 100th birthday on Feb. 6, 2011.

“President Reagan helped as much as any President to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics—that transcended even the most heated arguments of the day,” Obama said.

It may take many more years before a mainstream politician or a journalist who cares about future employment dares speak truthfully about Reagan and the grievous harm that his presidency inflicted on the American Republic and the people of the Earth.

28 January 2011

Source: ConsortiumNews

Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press on the Iran-Contra story and uncovered Oliver North's involvement in it as a Washington-based correspondent for Newsweek. In 1995, he established Consortium News as an online ezine dedicated to investigative journalism. From 2000 to 2004, he worked for the financial wire service Bloomberg.

Major subjects of Parry's articles and reports on Consortium News include the presidency of George W. Bush, the career of Army general and Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell (with Norman Solomon), the October Surprise controversy of the 1980 election, the Nicaraguan contra-cocaine investigation, the efforts to impeach President Clinton, right-wing terrorism in Latin America, the political influence of Sun Myung Moon, mainstream American media imbalance, United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the presidency of Barack Obama, the influence of Sarah Palin, as well as international stories.

Parry has written several books, including Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & "Project Truth" (1999) and Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2004), and Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush Wikipedia

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Bill Moyers and Bruce Bartlett on Where the Right Went Wrong—14 February 2012—Bill Moyers talks with conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who wrote "the bible" for the Reagan Revolution, worked on domestic policy for the Reagan White House, and served as a top treasury official under the first President Bush. Now he's a heretic in the conservative circles where he once was a star. Bartlett argues that right-wing tax policies -- pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists -- are destroying the country's economic foundation.

Bill Moyers: Heather McGhee speaks of how the neoliberal economic experience of the last 30 years—including cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle down—has left her generation of Millennials standing under a spigot someone forgot to turn on. After a few drips and drops, it went dry. So did the very notion of equal opportunity for all. And today we’re living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax system—so distorted by loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions favoring the already rich and powerful that it no longer can raise the money needed to pay the government’s bills.

Among the people who saw this crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution. Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House and a top official at the Treasury Department under the first George Bush. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential.

That’s because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon. The subtitle says it all: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

For his heresy Bartlett was sacked by the conservative think tank where he worked. Undaunted, this card-carrying advocate of free markets and small government has been a prolific writer for popular and academic journals and has just published a new book: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform—Why We Need It and What It Will Take. It’s a layman’s guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high. I talked to Bruce Bartlett soon after he had finished his new book.

Bill Moyers: You've made the point that America's top earning one percent had an effective 33.1 percent federal income tax rate in 1986, and an effective rate of only 23.3 percent in 2008. And you say if the top one percent had kept paying at the 1986 effective rate, quote, "the federal debt today would be $1.7 trillion lower." That's a lot of money.

Bruce Bartlett: Well, that's right. And when I say effective rate that means the taxes that they paid divided by their income. So that tells you what the revenue is that the government gets from taxing them. And clearly, they were doing okay at the beginning of that period. And that was Ronald Reagan's administration. Up until 1986, the top marginal rate, the top statutory rate was 50 percent. Now it's 35 percent. And all the pressure is on to lower that even further. And this just doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. When people say, 'Oh, we can't raise taxes on the rich. They'll go on strike, they'll move to another country.' But within recent memory, it hasn't been that long ago that we had rates that were substantially higher. And these people did just fine.OccupyAmerica

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Scorpions

The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices

By Noah Feldman

As a conservative Supreme Court flexes its muscles against a Democratic president for the first time since the New Deal, a series of recent books has explored the constitutional battles of the Roosevelt era and their contemporary relevance. Harvard law professor Feldman's Scorpions focuses more on the battles of the 1940s and 1950s, and it is distinguished by its thesis that the "distinctive constitutional theories" of Roosevelt's four greatest justices, all of whom began as New Deal liberals—Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Robert Jackson—have continued to "cover the whole field of constitutional thought" up to the present day.

Feldman argues that Black, the liberal originalist; Douglas, the activist libertarian; Frankfurter, the advocate of strenuous judicial deference; and Jackson, the pragmatist; achieved greatness by developing four unique constitutional approaches, which reflected their own personalities and worldviews, although they were able to converge on common ground in Brown v. Board of Education, which Feldman calls the last and greatest act of the Roosevelt Court. The pleasure of this book comes from Feldman's skill as a narrator of intellectual history.

With confidence and an eye for telling details, he relates the story of the backstage deliberations that contributed to the landmark decisions of the Roosevelt Court, including not only Brown but also cases involving the internment of Japanese-Americans, the trial of the German saboteurs, and President Truman's seizure of the steel mills to avoid a strike. Combining the critical judgments of a legal scholar with political and narrative insight, Feldman is especially good in describing how the clashing personalities and philosophies of his four protagonists were reflected in their negotiations and final opinions; his concise accounts of Brown and the steel seizure case, for example, are memorable.

And he describes how the rivalries and personality clashes among the four liberal allies eventually drove them apart: Hugo Black's determination to take revenge on those who offended his Southern sense of honor led him to retaliate not only against Jackson and Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone but also against the racist Southerners who had disclosed his former Ku Klux Klan membership to the press.

Not all readers will be convinced by Feldman's thesis that the judicial philosophies of the Roosevelt justices continue to define the Court's terms of debate today: on the left and the right, there are, for example, no advocates of Frankfurter's near-complete judicial abstinence or of Douglas's romantic libertarian activism. And in the political arena, the constitutional debates of the 1940s and '50s seem less relevant today than those of the Progressive era, when liberals first attacked the conservative Court as pro-business, and conservatives insisted that only the Court could defend liberty in the face of an out-of-control regulatory state.

But Feldman does not try to make too much of the contemporary relevance of the battles he describes: this is a first-rate work of narrative history that succeeds in bringing the intellectual and political battles of the post-Roosevelt Court vividly to life.—Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, is the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, Publishers Weekly

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A Tale of Two Moralities

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state—a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net—morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.—NYTimes

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Reagan's Real Legacy—By Peter Dreier—4 February 2011—During his two terms in the White House (1981–89), Reagan presided over a widening gap between the rich and everyone else, declining wages and living standards for working families, an assault on labor unions as a vehicle to lift Americans into the middle class, a dramatic increase in poverty and homelessness, and the consolidation and deregulation of the financial industry that led to the current mortgage meltdown, foreclosure epidemic and lingering recession. These trends were not caused by inevitable social and economic forces. They resulted from Reagan’s policy and political choices based on an underlying “you’re on your own” ideology. . . .

Reagan’s fans give him credit for restoring the nation’s prosperity. But whatever economic growth occurred during the Reagan years mostly benefitted those already well off. The income gap between the rich and everyone else in America widened. Wages for the average worker declined and the nation’s homeownership rate fell. During Reagan’s two terms in the White House, the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 an hour, while prices rose, thus eroding the standard of living of millions of low-wage workers. The number of people living beneath the federal poverty line rose from 26.1 million in 1979 to 32.7 million in 1988. Meanwhile, the rich got much richer. By the end of the decade, the richest 1 percent of Americans had 39 percent of the nation’s wealth. . . .

Reagan’s fans give him credit for restoring the nation’s prosperity. But whatever economic growth occurred during the Reagan years mostly benefitted those already well off. The income gap between the rich and everyone else in America widened. Wages for the average worker declined and the nation’s homeownership rate fell. During Reagan’s two terms in the White House, the minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 an hour, while prices rose, thus eroding the standard of living of millions of low-wage workers. The number of people living beneath the federal poverty line rose from 26.1 million in 1979 to 32.7 million in 1988. Meanwhile, the rich got much richer. By the end of the decade, the richest 1 percent of Americans had 39 percent of the nation’s wealth. . . .

The declining fiscal fortunes of America’s cities began during the Reagan years. By the end of his second term, federal assistance to local governments had been slashed by 60 percent. Reagan eliminated general revenue sharing to cities, cut funding for public service jobs and job training, almost dismantled federally funded legal services for the poor, cut the antipoverty Community Development Block Grant program and reduced funds for public transit.

These cutbacks had a disastrous effect on cities with high levels of poverty and limited property tax bases, many of which depended on federal aid to provide basic services. In 1980 federal dollars accounted for 22 percent of big city budgets. By the end of Reagan’s second term, federal aid was only 6 percent. The consequences were devastating to urban schools and libraries, municipal hospitals and clinics, and sanitation, police and fire departments—many of which had to shut their doors. Many cities still haven’t recovered from the downward spiral started during the Gipper’s presidency.TheNation

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Jeremiah Wright with Bill Moyers   Interview with Jeremiah Wright 

Ronald Reagan Worst President Ever?— By Robert Parry—20 February 2012—Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.)

Many other trends set during the Reagan era continued to corrode the U.S. political process in the years after Reagan left office. After 9/11, for instance, the neocons reemerged as a dominant force, reprising their “perception management” tactics, depicting the “war on terror”—like the last days of the Cold War—as a terrifying conflict between good and evil.

The hyping of the Islamic threat mirrored the neocons’ exaggerated depiction of the Soviet menace in the 1980s—and again the propaganda strategy worked. Many Americans let their emotions run wild, from the hunger for revenge after 9/11 to the war fever over invading Iraq.

Arguably, the descent into this dark fantasyland—that Ronald Reagan began in the early 1980s – reached its nadir in the flag-waving early days of the Iraq War. Only gradually did reality begin to reassert itself as the death toll mounted in Iraq and the Katrina disaster reminded Americans why they needed an effective government.

Still, the disasters—set in motion by Ronald Reagan—continued to roll in. Bush’s Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget and the Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor led to a massive financial meltdown that threw the nation into economic chaos.—ConsortiumNews

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#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

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#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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My Father at 100

By Ron Reagan

February 6, 2011, is the one hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth. To mark the occasion, Ron Reagan has written My Father at 100, an intimate look at the life of his father-one of the most popular presidents in American history-told from the perspective of someone who knew Ronald Reagan better than any adviser, friend, or colleague. As he grew up under his father's watchful gaze, he observed the very qualities that made the future president a powerful leader. Yet for all of their shared experiences of horseback rides and touch football games, there was much that Ron never knew about his father's past, and in My Father at 100, he sets out to understand this beloved, if often enigmatic, figure who turned his early tribulations into a stunning political career.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian

 Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

posted 31 January 2011

 

 

 

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Related files:   He Also Walked on Water  Putting the Country First     The Reagan Doctrine of National Suicide   Reaganite Denounces Bush    Ronald Reagan's 30-Year Time Bomb