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Author Topic: Ronald Reagan Dies
RickyB
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Just a little side comment: I reject the idea that being POTUS is a "sacrifice". Anybody who even gets close to the job wants it badly and regards it as the crowning achievement of a career.

If they do a good job, they should be thanked for it, but let us have none of this "sacrifice" business.

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Everard
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Daruma-
Its not revisionist history. Its fact. The average income in the United States went DOWN under reagan. Sure, inflation got back under control, and thats a good thing. Productivity went back up, and thats a good thing. The economy started roaring, but it didn't HELP most people, because they couldn't afford any more then they had been prior.

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Doug64
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quote:
He may have not written the words and phrases verbatim, but he certainly inspired the vision for his speech writers to follow.
One person being interviewed about Reagan said you could always tell when Reagan had reached the end of his prepared responses and was winging it, because his aides would start looking terrified.
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OhPuhLeez
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[Big Grin]
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WarrsawPact
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Here's an instructive interview from 1975 with Ronald Reagan:

"Inside Ronald Reagan": A Reason Interview

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Colin JM0397
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The myths continue.

Regan, in fact, wrote several of his own speeches and had a razor sharp memory and wit.
Reagan's writings are key to the man
quote:
The sheer quantity of his own writing is astounding. His handwritten speeches include 682 radio commentaries from the late 1970s on a wide range of policy issues, domestic and foreign; major addresses from his 1980 campaign; and many major speeches of his presidency, among them his first inaugural address, his Feb. 5, 1981, address to the nation on the economy, and his speeches on Lebanon and Grenada, on the downing of the KAL 007 airliner, and on the Reykjavik summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
quote:
The economy started roaring, but it didn't HELP most people...
Ev, you've quickly gone from being a rational person to just another ideologue. In comparison to the mess that was the late 70's, you're claiming most people weren’t better off in the 80's?
[Roll Eyes]
As a real live communist, I expect you to disagree with everything the man stood for, but your feeble claim that things didn’t improve under his administration is, well, feeble.

[ June 08, 2004, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: jm0397 ]

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Omega M.
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Would anyone care to comment on Ted Rall's recent column on Reagan?
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Colin JM0397
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Here's some balance for that lovely piece above.
President Reagan Changed Me

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Ron Lambert
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It does require a sacrifice to serve as president. When anyone becomes president, he is aware that this is the most important thing he will ever do, and that means everything else in his life must take second place. Marriage, family, personal convenience, personal freedom, everything is subordinated to this one thing that matters most. He and each member of his family are not allowed to go anywhere without significant Secret Service deployment, and every excursion must be planned in advance and cleared by the Secret Service.

He also becomes the target for every anti-American hatemonger, and terrorist in the world, and for every domestic disaffected person who wants to blame him for all their troubles, and for every ideological extremist who want to make a name for himself or herself at his expense. He is the victim of petty sniping, unjust mischaracterization, ridicule of everything he stands for, and of course must face the unceasing organized opposition of the other major political party. He is the focus of every ambitious journalist's desire to make a name for himself or herself, and must constantly be on guard against being set up by journalists with their own agenda, trying to put words in his mouth. Every aspect of his life, present and all the years in the past all the way to childhood, are examined under a magnifying glass by investigators hoping to find any hint of impropriety, on his part or even on his parents' or siblings' part.

We think of the glory and honor and power and prestige of being president, but very few of us would want to live that way. A few days taste of it would separate the shallow egotists from those who truly desire to serve their country and earn an honored place in history.

It does require enormous ego to desire to be president, and to jump through all the hoops required to campaign for the office. But ego alone will not endure the sacrifice required of anyone serving as leader of the world's only superpower, as symbol of Western Civilization, and as lightning rod and whipping boy all at once for all who are envious and bitter and opposed to what he stands for.

This is why, no matter how much I may disagree with a president's policies, or criticize the ineptitude of his managerial style, or look with horror at his failures to set a good moral example, I still must regard the president with respect, and speak of him respectfully as President Bush, or President Clinton, or President Carter, or President Reagan, and never stoop to calling him names or expressing open contempt.

I will always speak of President Reagan with respect, because he was the most important and most influential president in my lifetime--and I remember them all the way back to Eisenhower. Undisputedly, he was the most loved president since Eisenhower.

Those who did not love him, for whatever reason, are in the small minority. And even if they did not love him, they should have respect for the vast majority who did.

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RickyB
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I disagree, but no good will come of continuing to dispute, as each of us has made his point. However, you wanna hear what I consider REAL sacrifice? And this is a man I absolutely detest personally - Dick Cheney. All the hard work, all the scrutiny, giving up a (really successful and wildly lucrative) career in business - that I'm willing to call sacrificing for one's ideals.

But Prez? No. Anybody who considers it a sacrifice shouldn't take and shouldn't be given the job.

Oh, and undisputedly most loved? I dunno. Kennedy's in the running, I think. No one else, I'll grant you that. Probably no one else since Teddy. However, I can't dispute this point with you, since you were there for JFK and I wasn't.

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Adam Masterman
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Undisputedly the most loved?

quote:
Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan had roughly equivalent degrees of popularity during their presidencies, with Clinton's often higher, including when both left office
source: http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2004/06/07/reagan/index1.html

He was more popular than Carter and Bush I, but lets keep this within reason. He had his detractors, just like Clinton, and apparently in about the same amount.

Adam

[ June 08, 2004, 12:37 PM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Everard
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Jm-
Calling it feeble doesn't make it untrue.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/incineq/p60204/p6098tb3.html

Basically, in inflation adjusted dollars, the bottom half of incomes dropped until the late 80's. 1978-1979 were better income years for bottom teir earners then anything until 1988.

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Ron Lambert
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I said that Reagan was the most loved president since Eisenhower. I still affirm that, but I will allow that Kennedy is the only other president who came close. He was the most loved president internationally.

As for President Clinton, he may have been loved by democrats, but he was not anywhere close to being in the same league with Reagan. Eisenhower, of course, was the hero of the World War II generation. Reagan is the hero of the Cold War generation.

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Ivan
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I agree with Ron here. I've seen people ideologically opposed to Reagan come up and speak wonderful things about him. I just couldn't see Republicans doing the same for Clinton.

I also believe that being President is one of the hardest jobs ever. Regardless of who you outsource jobs to, the buck stops on your desk. I'm reminded of an espidode of The West Wing where Martin Sheen askes someone why he has to make the decision to assassinate a known terrorist rather than bring him to justice properly. The response is "because you won", imply the election.

When you are the President, every American life is your responsibility. It's as easy (or as difficult) as that. It's a HUGE responsibility, and I would consider it quite a heavy burden to bare.

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Daruma28
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The Presidency is not a sacrafice? Take a look at any pictures of Clinton and Dubya in the first year of their terms. Than look at any picture in the third year of their respective first terms.

Do you notice how their hair turns almost completely gray? (I didn't mention Reagan or Bush Sr., since both took office at much older age than either Dubya or Clinton.)

Being the President of the USA is literally to have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

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Daruma28
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Dick Morris sums up Reagan's biggest accomplishment and deserved status in history very succinctly today...


Reagan Deserves Giant Status

Dick Morris
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Ronald Reagan understood that the key to winning the Cold War was economic attrition, just as Woodrow Wilson realized that victory in World War I would go to the side that could replace its manpower losses.

By adding America’s population to the combined totals of Britain and France, the U.S. entrance into World War I doomed Germany to defeat. It just didn’t have enough men.

Similarly, when Ronald Reagan upped the U.S. defense budget from 4 percent to 7 percent of our gross domestic product, he doomed the Soviet Union.

To match the American defense buildup, the Soviets had to devote between a quarter and a third of their economy to the arms race, an economic impossibility.

When Reagan added the threat of Star Wars to the mix, the Russians were lost.

But, in a deeper sense, this architecture of victory was based on the philosophical principle that free people could and would produce more than slaves.

By understanding the absence of incentive in a communist society and the virulent catalytic impact of the profit motive in a free one, Reagan realized that freedom would triumph.

He grasped that once the domestic constraints of regulation and high taxation were removed and the limits of arms control circumvented, capitalism would leave a planned economy in the dustbin of history, as Trotsky put it.

Where should Reagan rank among presidents?

If FDR deserves top rank for winning World War II and Lincoln gets it for the Civil War and Washington for the Revolution, why should Reagan’s Cold War victory gain him less?

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Ron Lambert
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Franklin D. Roosevelt was before Eisenhower, but he was certainly just as much a World War II hero, even though he died before the war ended, and is criticized by many for the deals he made with Stalin at Yalta that many say gave away eastern Europe to the communists. But FDR is also credited by many of that generation with ending the Depression. I think he would still have to be ranked among the most loved and revered presidents of all time. I know I would not dare say anything bad about FDR in front of my 85-year-old mother.

[ June 08, 2004, 04:24 PM: Message edited by: Ron Lambert ]

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Sancselfieme
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Reagan, IMO, was both one of the best and one of the worst Presidents ever. It's a crying shame that nowhere in that monolithic defense budget could he have devoted a little more money to intelligence so that we could have seen the fall of the USSR coming even before everyone decided economic attrition must be the only way. I think it would have been apparent that internal political pressure was building up for a showdown in the USSR CP and that the attrition was *not* necessary to waiting them out.

On the other hand Reagan's economic reforms were sorely needed in the form of the massive tax cuts he made. That was probably his greatest accomplishment.


Unfortunately, he went too far, and as a result Reagan began the greatest phenomenon of political-whoring to coorporations that ever existed in America. Under him regulations on what businesses could do via lobbying and via government influence decreased massively and coorporations became increasingly involved in governmental affairs. Because of this today no citizen or private social interest group can match the lobbying powers that coorporations hold. Thatcher was guilty of doing this exact same thing across the pond. For a good read about this try Oxford prof. Doreena Hertz's latest book The Silent Takeover : Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy

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Daruma28
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quote:
Because of this today no citizen or private social interest group can match the lobbying powers that coorporations hold.
Unions? Interest groups (from both sides of the aisle) like the AARP, NRA, NOW, ACLU, ABA?

Corporations have no more influences than any of these groups....

I just love this typical rant of the evils of corporations.

Corporations are like any other group of human beings: some are good, some are great, some are apathetic, some are nefarious. Using the bad apples to declare the whole bunch evil and the system wrong is just standard rhetoric of the anti-capitalist/socialist-leaning idealogues.

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Van Aaron
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quote:
I think it would have been apparent that internal political pressure was building up for a showdown in the USSR CP and that the attrition was *not* necessary to waiting them out.
That's not apparent to me today, and it sure wasn't apparent to anyone at the time.
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Daruma28
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My how the Reagan critics forget the holy grail of foreign policy they espoused as the only possible way to deal with the USSR....

Remember that word, Detente?

Truth is, as Thomas Sowell said in his column today: "The Soviet bloc had in fact expanded through seven consecutive administrations of both Republicans and Democrats. The first territory the Communists ever lost was Grenada, when Ronald Reagan sent in American troops."

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Sancselfieme
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What about Afghanistan, that doesn't count? I guess Thomas Sowell isn't much of a historian.


Daruma, perhaps you should read the word private and tell me if that applies to any of the public ogranizations you mentioned. I suppose their private in the loosest sense of the word in that their not publicly funded, but true private organizations do not accept any public membership and they usually do not disclose internal workings like those do.


Van Aaron, I'm sorry it wasn't apparent to you, it was somewhat apparent to most Kremlin watchers since the lunacy of Brezhnev and the splits occuring since then.

[ June 08, 2004, 05:41 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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So you are saying that the deployment of Pershing missles to W. Europe and the proposed SDI had NO EFFECT on the arms race or it's effects on the Soviet's inability to keep up the pace economically?

BTW - almost all "private" corporations accept public membership. Ever heard of the Stock Market? [Wink]

[ June 08, 2004, 05:59 PM: Message edited by: Daruma28 ]

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Sancselfieme
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The missiles did, but they weren't necessary.

Like I said, you can equivocate all you like, but I think we all know the difference between a "private" group that becomes so large or economically-driven that its primary interest becomes itself rather than its initial social purpose. :wink:

[ June 08, 2004, 05:56 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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No equivocation here...you are just applying your own ideology as the standard for judgement - one that is basically negative towards corporations.

Corporations were never, ever intended to serve a "social purpose." They were always intended to be entities of free market capitalism with it's primary interest in creating profits for their shareholders.

You can sit here and deride corporations all you want while you benefit immensely from all the different advances in technology and modern necessity and convenience pioneered and made ubiquitous to the average person in our society by those very same big, bad evil coporations.

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Zyne
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Daruma's joke of the week:

quote:
BTW - almost all "private" corporations accept public membership. Ever heard of the Stock Market?
Almost all? Uh huh.
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Van Aaron
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quote:
Van Aaron, I'm sorry it wasn't apparent to you, it was somewhat apparent to most Kremlin watchers since the lunacy of Brezhnev and the splits occuring since then.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Sure, the Soviet Union had managed to expand its power and influence through sixteen years under Brezhnev before Reagan took office, but Reagan still could have figured out that the entire empire was about to collapse. He could have saved us a lot of money by not building up our military, and he only would have had to gamble with the lives of a few billion people.
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Daruma28
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Alright Zyne...at least almost all of the typically "big, evil corporations" the socialist-minded usually refer to...
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Sancselfieme
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quote:
No equivocation here...you are just applying your own ideology as the standard for judgement - one that is basically negative towards corporations.

Corporations were never, ever intended to serve a "social purpose." They were always intended to be entities of free market capitalism with it's primary interest in creating profits for their shareholders.

You can sit here and deride corporations all you want while you benefit immensely from all the different advances in technology and modern necessity and convenience pioneered and made ubiquitous to the average person in our society by those very same big, bad evil coporations.

This is second time you have mis-matched replies to my points in this thread. It's beginning to look purposeful.

OF COURSE coorporations aren't created for social goods and interests, I wasn't talking about them that way. Of course you seemed to realize this when you tried establishing some of those other private groups -- to quote you --

quote:
AARP, NRA, NOW, ACLU, ABA?

You obviously knew I wasn't referring to business coorporations since you mananged to list those earlier on. Way to try to skew the topic.

I will say this, I don't think coorporations are evil, but lets not be naive here. A coorporation's primary concern is to turn a profit, by nature of that alone they should not be allowed half the lobbying power and influence they have over government, most of which was given to them by Reagan and Thatcher.

It's easy to just say I'm demonizing coorporations and it's harder to actually face the facts and look at the primary motives of coorporations and ask yourselves if they're the ones you want shaping governmental policy.

I think coorporations have a great propensity to do good in the world -- when properly restrained by government policy.

[ June 08, 2004, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
I think coorporations have a great propensity to do good in the world -- when properly restrained by government policy.
I'll agree with you their to a certain extent.

My original intent was to simply point out that coporations have no more influence on politics than do all those private special interest groups and unions.

In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I do believe groups like the NRA et al spend FAR more in lobbying the government than most corporations do, as they are "non-profit" organizations with different tax rules and laws for lobbying politicians.

The AARP has far more lobbying power than any corporation in America. If this were not true, Pfizer would have spent more than enough money to kill presecription drug entitlements (An AARP driven initiative/vote buyoff by Bush...)

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Sancselfieme
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It's true that most special interest groups (social policy oriented) spend more than coorporations, however, because of the nature of coorporations and their important place in the economy and the weight they know they can bring with their economic leeway and loose regulations, they don't have to actually spend as much lobbying to have 10 times the lobbying power of others. The government knows where its business taxes come from, they know what business can do to constituencies of representatives that don't behave the right way, etc.

[ June 08, 2004, 07:23 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Colin JM0397
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Sorry, this is way long for a post, but this is the absolute best commentary on Reagan I've read yet. From an investment group I get email from:
quote:
Gary North's REALITY CHECK

Issue 350 June 8, 2004


[This is written by the only living writer who voted for William Penn Patrick in California's 1966 Republican gubanatorial election because Ronald Reagan's conservatism was too soft core.]

RONALD REAGAN'S EXTRAORDINARY TIMING

Ronald Reagan died on Saturday, June 5, 2004. Of all days on which he could have died, this was the best possible day for his reputation's sake. Even in death, his timing was perfect.

Saturdays are low-news days. Businesses and governments are shut down. Most people are enjoying a day off. Weekend editors are always looking for Sunday's lead story.

Last Saturday was different. Every editor had selected the lead story for Sunday: the 60th anniversary of D-Day. President Bush was at Normandy. With 1,000 World War II vets dying every day, and with three-quarters of them gone, this would be the last major memorial of D-Day
in which vets would participate. D-Day was the defining day of the war.

Then the news came from California: Ronald Reagan was dead. Across America, Sunday's lead story changed. The headline and two subheads of the "Arkansas Democrat Gazette" are representative:
Former president Reagan dies

Arkansans remember his optimism
America mourns lost leader

Under his photo was this quotation:
"I've always stated that the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth is a government program." (April 9, 1986)

There it was, in one quotation: his humor and his message. Combined, they inflicted utterly unexpected losses on the political establishment of 1912-1980. Not a defeat, but serious losses.

We are now seeing what America has never seen before and will likely never see again: the entire nation is saying a fond farewell to a President who did not die in office. This mourning is not grief. It is more like relief. When Lincoln was assassinated and Franklin Roosevelt died and Kennedy was assassinated, they were in office. The outpouring was grief more than mourning. Only one non-sitting President has ever generated the emotional response that has now begun and will last until Reagan's funeral: George Washington. But his legacy was that of "father of his country" more than it was his role as President.

Ronald Reagan had begun his death as no other president had: the day, ten years ago, that he was told he had Alzheimer's. That was a death sentence. By the time he died, he did not know who he was or what he had done. There was nothing left of him worth writing about.

In the years between his retirement and the
announcement of his Alzheimer's, anyone who had anything negative to say against him had his opportunity. On Saturday came the announcement of the fulfillment of the fait accompli. The critics by then had nothing left to say.

There is something else which no one else will say in print, so I will. I am a card-carrying member of the NASC: the National Association of Scribblers and Chatterers. We
make our livings with words. Take away our ability to write and speak, and we are nothing. Our definition of who we are disappears. So, we live in fear of Alzheimer's. Diagnose us with any other disease, with the exception of the worst of all ways to die by disease, hydrophobia, and we think, "I can at least die in dignity with this." But Alzheimer's strips us of the two things that matter to us: our ability to write and our ability to speak. There is a tendency for writers to stop criticizing any victim of Alzheimer's. Ronald Reagan received Kings-X on the day that he wrote his letter of goodbye. Charlton Heston is receiving it now.

So, the critics had already said their two cents' worth on June 5. Reagan's day had long since turned into night. In a sense, we were all standing outside 668 St. Cloud, Bel Air, California, waiting for the announcement.

The announcement came on the day before the memorial of the day of days for his generation. This gave the TV networks time to make final edits on the videotapes that they had no doubt prepared years ago, and broadcast them on a Sunday, which above all other days, is the special day for the TV networks' news departments: talking head morning. This day, they got their Nielsen ratings. Normally, no one tunes in until golf or NASCAR.


REAGAN'S RATINGS: UP, DOWN, UP

Of all professional actors in man's history, Reagan got the ratings. He got the ratings because of his extraordinary sense of timing. We have never seen anything like it. You and I will not see anything like it again.

Historians search for continuity and discontinuity in life: that which is predictable and that which isn't. They look for grand patterns and quirky turning points. If everything were governed exclusively by a grand pattern, we could not explain why any fact is unique. After all, every fact is just one cog in a grand machine. But if everything were governed exclusively by unique facts, then this world would be all cogs and no machine. Whirl would be king.

Whirl was not king in the life of Ronald Wilson Reagan. He started out as a sports broadcaster during the Great Depression. He had done some acting at tiny Eureka College. He had tried to get a job at Montgomery Ward in 1932 to run the sports department: $12.50 a week. He did
not get that job. A door closed. In the worst year of the Great Depression, closed doors were a way of life.

He then decided to get a job as a sports announcer. He had played football in college. He had acted on stage. Why not sports announcing? In the Great Depression, sports
were second only to the movies as revenue-generating entertainment activities. Radio was the cheapest technology of escape on earth.

He got an announcing job at a small station in Iowa. He learned his trade rapidly. He had the innate ability to do what few people can do: instantly convert into words the unique yet structured events on a field, so that his words,
coming out of a box, enabled listeners to imagine what was going on. In the 1930s, this skill was central to sports lovers' lives.

Within months, his career jumped several notches when the small-town station he worked for merged with a large station whose signal covered the Midwest. He became a major regional sports announcer. He made his way up the broadcasting ladder until he was announcing the games of the Chicago Cubs. (The Cubs took as much optimism to believe in then as they do now.) That job eventually took Reagan to baseball training camp on Catalina Island -- "26
miles across the sea," as an implausibly popular song said two decades later. It was close to Hollywood. Through a series of improbable events -- as always -- Jack Warner made the decision to hire him in 1937.

There were three categories of films in Hollywood prior to the cineplex: the A-picture, which was what people paid to attend, the B-picture, which was what kept them in the theater long enough to get hungry, and the C-picture, usually a Western, which drew kids into the theaters on Saturday mornings. The C-pictures were produced mainly by small independent companies, not the main studios. They called the C-pictures B-pictures, but this was misleading.

The B-picture let the studios present new faces in front of audiences to see if some newcomer could become a potential star. There was no scientific, statistical study of audience reactions until the early 1940s, so Reagan entered the industry when studio heads guessed. He was a second banana in A pictures before World War II, and a leading actor in B-pictures after the war.

Then, over time, his popularity with fans waned. His last starring role of substance was in "The Winning Team" (1953), co-starring a bankable star, Doris Day. It was in fact a B-picture, though my favorite Reagan film in my youth. It was the story of baseball pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, who came back from double vision and alcohol to become a star again. That role, as it turned out, was the model for Reagan's career.

Reagan was a political liberal in these years. He had also been elected repeatedly to the Screen Actors Guild. He had influence even though he had a small viewing audience. He was a member of the United World Federalists.

As an SAG official, he gave speeches. He gave anti-"neo-fascist" speeches -- which was a safe topic in Hollywood. Then, at a men's club at Hollywood Beverly Christian Church, which he attended, a pastor came up to him after the meeting. He suggested that Reagan make clear
in his speeches that he also opposed Communism. That brief comment was to change his career and change our world. He told the pastor he would look into this. He did. He mentioned the possibility of the threat of Communism at another meeting. There was no applause. A woman who had been in the group wrote to him and pointed this out to him. She told him the group was a Communist front. He later said, "I began to wake up to the world."

He began reading about Communism. He learned that there was a small group of Communist sympathizers in Hollywood, mainly among script writers and the crews. In 1946, there was a Hollywood strike that led to bombings and physical violence. Reagan opposed it. He began mentioning Communism more and more. He began getting anonymous threats to his life. He began wearing a shoulder holster,
at the suggestion of the FBI.

Years later, a reporter asked Sterling Hayden, perhaps the most left-wing non-Communist major actor in Hollywood, what had stopped the Communists in the industry. He said it had been Ronald Reagan. He called him "a one-man battalion of opposition."

http://www.ronaldreagan.com/hollywood.htm

It was as the President of SAG that Reagan was approached by a starlet named Nancy Davis, who came to him when her name appeared on a list of Communist actors. It was not her, she told him, but someone with the same name. Could he straighten it out? He asked her for a date. His
first wife, Jane Wyman, had divorced him. There is no doubt that Nancy Reagan became his shield and supporter for the next half century.

As his ratings slipped in one market, they rose in another. From second banana in the 1930s to headliner in B-movies in the late 1940s to SAG President: every time one door closed, another opened.

In the mid-1950s, he left the movies. He had been hired by General Electric to be its spokesman. He introduced the GE Theater on TV. He began reading about the free market. Slowly, his ideology shifted. He began to shed his politically liberal outlook. He mastered the
art of speaking in front of crowds of workers, mainly GE workers. He once estimated that he spoke to 250,000 of them.

The "Reagan Democrats" of the 1980s were preceded by the GE blue collar capitalists of the 1950s. They liked him. They liked hearing him. He liked speaking to them. That would never change.

Ed Rollins, Reagan's campaign manager, revealed in an interview that all through his presidency, Reagan would schedule secret meetings with average workers. This was known to few of his staff and none of the press corps. He would talk with average people, one on one, trying to find out what they were thinking.

We Americans love to believe this can happen to all of us. We want to believe that it's a pattern that gives meaning to the unpredictable, painful events in our lives.
We want to believe that personal perseverance pays off, that closed doors are the prelude to open doors. In all of American history, no president's pre-political career better illustrates this faith in action.

Reagan had faith in a providential world. With the exception of his failed first marriage, which for a time seemed to crush him, he never lost this faith. The "Morning for America" theme that marked his presidency was born here.

There was something else. He was not a great actor. He knew this. He was in his share of turkeys. He got his share of bad reviews. He learned to shrug them off. Much later in his career, he told people that this experience had prepared him for his job as President. Criticisms had little effect on him.


CHARIOT OF FIRE

If you have seen "Chariots of Fire," you know the story of an athlete who had a door closed to him, but who went through another door. Eric Liddell, Scotland's greatest athlete, 1920-24, refused to run his best race,
the 100-meter dash, in which he was considered the most likely British runner to beat the Americans at the 1924 Olympics. The race required that he run a heat on a Sunday, and he was a strict sabbatarian: a Congregationalist. Scottish Protestants for centuries had a kind of theological monopoly: strict sabbatarianism. They did not work for money or play sports on Sundays.

Liddell switched to the 400-meter dash. This took place months before the Olympics, unlike the movie's version. He trained for a longer distance event than he preferred to run. He won the gold medal in the 400, setting the world record (a one-turn 400-meter track helped), won the bronze in the 200, and opened the door for teammate Harold Abrahams to win the gold in the 100. It made a great movie.

What has this to do with Reagan? A great deal. There was an American Eric Liddell. No one has made a movie about his life. His name is Donn Moomaw. In 1950 and again in 1952, he was a 1st team All-American linebacker on the UCLA football team. He was drafted by the NFL. He turned down the offer. It would have required him to play on Sundays. Instead, he went to Princeton Theological Seminary. Soon after graduation from seminary, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He returned to his
old stomping grounds, close to UCLA, when he was called to become the minister of one of the two choicest plum congregations in the conservative evangelical wing of the Presbyterian Church: Bel Air Presbyterian. (The other was Hollywood Presbyterian Church.) Moomaw believed in, and
his career testified to, a providential world in which a closed door, or an open door that we should not go through, leads to another, better open door.

Ronald Reagan became a member of that church in 1964. Moomaw found himself as Reagan's spiritual counsellor just as Reagan's political star began to rise: in the year of "The Speech" for Goldwater, in the last days of the Goldwater campaign. That speech elevated him into the candidacy for governor about 18 months later. In an interview in "Christian Life" magazine (May 1968), Moomaw told the writer, William Rose, that Reagan had spent hours with him in prayer.

The following event is now long forgotten:

When he stood in the rotunda of the capitol in Sacramento for the oath of office during the first minutes of 1967, he surprised the assembled
guests and the television audience by declaring his intentions to conduct his office according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and to seek God's help in the discharge of his office. . . .

Today, after 16 months in office, the Governor says, "While prayer always has been a part of my life, I have spent more time in prayer these past months than in any previous period I can recall."

The writer was able to get an interview with Reagan. He asked Reagan directly if it was true that he had committed his life to Christ, as rumors had said.
"Yes! Yes!" came the reply. "I've always believed there is a certain divine scheme of things. I'm not quite able to explain how my election happened or why I'm here, apart from believing it is part of God's plan for me."

Then, with his pleasant smile turning into a grin, he said, "There are some days I ask 'Why am I here?' more than others."

Reagan believed in a providential world in which men are not cogs but which is not random. He did not believe that men make their own destiny in the way that spiders spin webs.

According to those around him in Washington, Reagan had no inflated ego. Rollins said on camera that Reagan was the only politician he ever knew who had this quality.
Yet others have said that Reagan kept his own counsel, that he was guided by some inner vision that he failed to explain to those around him. I think both statements are true. He saw himself as God's tool. George W. Bush has taken a lot of heat for saying something similar, but he has not lived what appears to be a charmed life. He was born rich, lived wild, got sober, got religion, and got elected. Reagan's life is a story of rags to riches, of closed doors that always opened -- except for the final one, Alzheimer's. Reagan's life, like his never-ending success with his audiences, is an enigma to most biographers.

He was called the Teflon President, and he was. So was Clinton. But there was a huge difference: Reagan believed that he was called to something higher than getting elected. He, unlike every other President, came from success in another field, the field of movies and TV and entertainment, which seem to be a pinnacle of success in the thinking of most people: a never-never land. As he told Mike Wallace, he was dragged, kicking and screaming, into politics. Ronald Reagan did not need politics. The voters knew that. Even the press knew that. It made a huge difference in how people perceived him and assessed him.


THEN CAME 1979

The year 1979 was the greatest disaster year since 1939. The disaster was worldwide, and it appeared to be systemic. It had to be changed. By 1989, it had been. Completely. Unpredictably. The political landscape was different.

In 1979, Soviet Union troops invaded Afghanistan. Their tanks rolled down the road system that the Soviets had built, and the United States government had financed, in the mid-1960s. The Soviets' decade-long road to military and political disaster had begun.

In Great Britain, the economy was in shambles after years of Labor Party rule. The coal miners, whose trade union was run by a near-Communist, looked like they could shut down the newly elected Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.

In the United States, inflation was rampant eight years after Nixon had announced that the U.S. Treasury would cease redeeming central bank-held dollars for gold, thereby ending the Bretton Woods monetary agreement of 1944. He had floated the dollar, which immediately headed
down. President Carter in 1979 somehow persuaded the hapless Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, G. William Miller, to resign. He put the 6'7" cigar-loving Paul Volcker in Miller's place. Volcker, pressured by the other Board members, ceased inflating the money supply in
October, 1979. Within six months, this decision would drive the American economy into a major recession and the highest interest rates in American history.

A year later, Reagan was elected President with this line: "Are you better off under Carter than you were four years ago?" He suggested a measure of economic pain: the rate of inflation plus the rate of interest. It was hard to argue with those numbers!

Across the Pacific Ocean, China's Deng Xiao Ping was facing a growing population that was in turn facing near-starvation conditions. The Chinese economy was locked in permanent stagnation at a subsistence level. There would
be too many mouths to feed. So, Deng did the impossible. He introduced capitalist ownership to agriculture, all in the name of Communism.

By 1989, that world was ancient history.

THE EVANGELICALS SIGN UP

In August, 1980, there was a huge political rally held in Dallas at Reunion Arena. That event is rarely mentioned today. Only a few references to it, mostly mine, appear on Google. That was the meeting at which the New Christian Right -- Falwell, Robertson, et al -- and the new activist conservatives first got together. Phylis Schlafly was there. So was Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation. I even spoke. It was the largest crowd I ever
addressed.

About 13,000 attendees showed up on the final night, when Ronald Reagan spoke. Jimmy Carter had been invited. He refused to come. Third party candidate John Anderson had been invited. He refused to come. So, Reagan shared the podium that night only with evangelist James Robison, in his fire-breathing period. There are few men who can hold a large audience the way Robison used to, and his main rival in this regard, black pastor E. V. Hill, also had spoken earlier that week.

For three days, pastors and previously non-political fundamentalist laymen listened to political activists tell how it is done and why it must be done. The two groups agreed by the end of the convention: Ronald Reagan was their man. That opinion never changed.

If you want to date the public origin of the
Republican Party's evangelical swing vote, date it with that assembly. Reagan made it happen.


THE UNRECORDED MEETING IN 1980

Nine years to the day before Reagan died, an obituary appeared in the "Washington Times." No one noticed. No one except me.

The writer was the former editor of the newspaper, Arnold de Borchgrave. The deceased was his cousin, Alexander de Marenches, who had been the head of France's spy system for years. De Borchgrave then did what I have never see any other ex-reporter do: he admitted that his reputation as a scoop-master had been based on the fact that Marenches had repeatedly tipped him off to imminent hot spots. De Borchgrave would get on a plane and be there when the place exploded.

He told of a meeting that he, Marenches, and Reagan had, before Reagan's inauguration but after his election. Marenches told Reagan that the Russians were bogged down in Afghanistan. If Reagan would supply Stinger missiles to
Afghan troops, this would force the Russians to fly their support planes too high to provide effective support to ground troops. Second, he told Reagan that if the Russians lost that war, the Soviet Union would disintegrate. Third,
he referred to the USSR as an evil empire. Reagan, de Borchgrave said, accepted Marenches' analysis.

Reagan adopted the term, "evil empire," much to the consternation of the State Department. It took five years for the Reagan Administration to implement the Stinger plan, because of infighting between the State Department and the CIA. As soon as the Afghans got Stingers, Soviet air-support tactics shifted, and within four years, the Soviets had been defeated. Within three years of the Soviet Army's exodus, the USSR had ceased to exist.


THE RHETORIC OF THE 1980S

Mrs. Thatcher was not only very smart, very
determined, and a first-rate economic thinker, she was also eloquent. There were no "uhs," "ums" or "you knows" in her Parliamentary debates and on-camera interviews. One does not think of Mrs. Thatcher saying,
"like, I mean."

Reagan was the finest stump speaker in the history of the American Presidency. His stump was in front of TV cameras. Teddy Roosevelt called this a bully pulpit. Little did he know.

Between the Thatcher and Reagan, the terms of debate in English-speaking politics shifted. By 1990, it was no longer wise politically to be known as a liberal outside of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. In one decade, it had all changed. The New York publishing houses started publishing books by conservatives.

This had its effects across the Pacific, when the New Zealanders elected a Labor government that turned out to be pro-free market.

Critics on the right -- I was one of them --
complained that there was no roll-back of the Federal government's bureaucracy. The Department of Education survived. So did the Department of Energy. Reagan vetoed almost no spending bills. The Federal deficit soared. He
invariably handed to Congress budgets that were larger than Congress sent back to him to sign.

Thatcher had similar problems in Great Britain. But she ramrodded a full-scale privatization of government-owned monopolies, and this was a great benefit. The British economy did recover under her leadership.

The two of them talked the talk even when they didnot walk the walk. Talk matters. It matters tremendously.

Each of them was replaced by a man of no strong economic or ideological opinions. I remember a cartoon from an English newspaper that had a giant pair of high-heeled shoes, with tiny John Major standing in them. I can even remember a taped extract from a speech on the floor of Parliament by a Labor Party member. He was emotional. He said to the assembled body, "Maggie, they can't hold a candle to you," or words to that effect. He was right. Nobody since then, on either side of the Atlantic, has held a candle to them.

Everyone knew in 1989 that everything had changed. Especially Gorbachev.

OLD MEN

The USSR was ruled by a bunch of old men in 1980-85. Three of them died in office -- Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko -- before Gorbachev rose to power.

Reagan was as old as they were. But there was an enormous difference. Reagan looked young.

My friend Angelo Codevilla, a master of the details of foreign policy, the ghost writer for Gen. Dan Graham's original "Star Wars" book, and then the senior Republican staffer at the time on the Senate military committee, once told me of the effect in the Kremlin of TV broadcasts of
Reagan at his ranch. Reagan was out there riding his horse, chopping wood, mending fences. These film clips were not for network consumption. He was the working head of that ranch, which he loved.

Codevilla told me at the time: "Think of the Kremlin's leaders. They are old men. Here is this man, as old as they are, who seems to be a cowboy. He has energy. He is riding around on a horse. It scares them."

Reagan was physically strong, really strong. He lifted weights. His upper torso was large. For a man his age, he was built like a night club bouncer. This probably saved his life when Hinckley shot him. The bullet was stopped by muscle just an inch from his heart.

Then came the PATCO strike. The air traffic
controllers' union walked out. Reagan stood his ground, just as Thatcher would three years later with the coal miners. PATCO was a union working for the government. Legally, it could not strike, but it did. Codevilla said that the Russian leaders watched this event very carefully. Reagan fired all workers who did not return to work within 48 hours, and he replaced them without any major problem for airline traffic. The Russians knew they had a problem.

That problem ultimately bankrupted their already shaky economy.

KEEP THEM LAUGHING

Reagan had an estimated thousand jokes that he could recite from memory. He understood that humor can disarm a critic. He mastered this skill as no President ever has, although Kennedy was close in his press conferences.

In 1981, Bill Adler's book was published, "The Reagan Wit." It was a collection of one-liners and quips going back several decades, but concentrating on his political years. It went to the printers in May, after Reagan had visibly recovered from his gunshot wound.

When he was shot, he retained his humor. He told the doctors at the hospital, "I hope you are all Republicans." The doctor's answer was perfect: "Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans." On that day, the whole country was
Republican. He told his wife, "Honey, I forgot to duck." He endeared himself to the nation.

When he came out of the hospital a month later, his public approval rating was so high that the House of Representatives, then controlled by Democrats, could not resist when he submitted a bill to cut marginal income tax rates by 10% for three years in a row.

Timing? A fraction of a second, a fraction of an inch, and he would have died.

Six weeks later, the Pope was shot, also by a man carrying a .22 instead of a .38. The Pope had just bent down to see a emblem of Our Lady of Fatima on a little girl's dress. His shift in position saved his life. (On this, see Malachi Martin, "The Keys of This Blood", 1990,
p. 46.)

People speak of luck. They also speak of fate. Both are impersonal. Reagan spoke of providence. It is not impersonal.


CONCLUSION

Reagan's career is surely consistent with how Americans like to think of America. As Adlai Stevenson once said, "Any American can be elected President. It's one of the risks you take." He, too, was a master of the quip. But he ran for President against a general who had
come up from nothing and nowhere, not as Stevenson had grown up, the grandson of a Vice President. (His grandfather also was a quip-master. Someone asked him, "Has Mr. Cleveland consulted you to that extent?" He replied, "Not yet. But there are still a few weeks of my
term remaining.") Eisenhower had been a very careful planner of his own career. Reagan just seemed to fall into things, one by one. Good or bad things, he always came out smelling like a rose -- until Alzheimer's.

Yet even Alzheimer's was a blessing -- not to him or his immediate family, but to the rest of us. It allowed us to prepare, through the long goodbye that Alzheimer's is, to say goodbye this week. We have not as a nation said goodbye in this way to any retired President.

Why Reagan? Because he was a common man with uncommon abilities: speaking and acting. He was not long-winded. He did not pontificate. He did not bloviate. He always got to the point. People identified with him because of
his jovial demeanor and his gifted rhetoric. They trusted him because he talked straight. And then he was struck down by a disease that we all fear.

Dan Rather narrated a half-hour Reagan special on Saturday. He closed with words that were audibly emotional. Rather is surely no Reaganite conservative. Yet the effect of Reagan's Presidency, and I think also his personal demeanor and unflagging good will, spread even into the news rooms, where political cynicism reigns supreme. Most of us really do want to believe that it is morning for America, especially today, in the midst of obituaries trickling in, day by day, from Iraq. Like yeast, Reagan's personal influence took time to rise.

Reagan took us from what looked like military armageddon to the last days of the cold war. He never got the budget balanced. It is doubtful that any President ever will -- not without a prior default, either openly or through inflation. But he talked the talk even when he did not walk the walk. He walked enough of the walk to deliver us from a great evil. He turned Communism into a joke -- the same way he handled every other bad thing he ever encountered, even Alzheimer's. He said, "The good thing about Alzheimer's is that you meet new people every day." Anyway, this quip has long been attributed to him. It sure sounds like him. Even if it is apocryphal, it is a tribute to how we think of him.

Reagan did not view the world as a machine, a game, or a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. He viewed it a place where men are called upon to do the best they can. That is what he told David Frost, twice, separated by two
decades. On his gravestone, he wanted it said that he did the best he could.

The best he could do will still be in the history textbooks in two hundred years, maybe even Russian history textbooks. Mr. Gorbachev never did tear down that wall, but he refused to intervene when the people did. That was enough. The wall came tumbling down.

If we stay the course, maybe we can tear down some more.


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Zyne
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Daruma wisely stated:

quote:
Alright Zyne...at least almost all of the typically "big, evil corporations" the socialist-minded usually refer to...
[Smile]

Well, I, for one, hate the bulk of the the midrange, family-held companies as much, possibly more, as the mega corps. My observation has been that founders tend to run their companies cleanly and fairly, that the next generation of kids tends to do okay, but that grandchildren or later direct or collateral heirs tend to be capitalist pigs out to suck their workers and the system dry.

I'll put together a real post later on the history of corporations, but I do take issue also with your assertion that companies were intended to be entities of free market capitalism. IIRC, the first corporations were chartered by the English crown, so that the entity could outlive its owners (something that a partnership or proprietorship could not do). That was the sole and exclusive legal need met by incorporation or company charters. Also, I seem to recall that it was the universities that were the first corporations.

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RickyB
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Ron, Adam just proved that yyou're not very familiar with the domestic numbers. Why should we assume you know the story internationally? Clinton was extremely popular around the world. Reagan was too, but Muslim nations could not stand him. Clinton dod not have an entire sixth of the world pre-disposed against him.

Note that we're talking strictly about popularity. It can be argued that Reagan was unpopular with Muslims nations for reasons that do him great credit, but that's irrelevant to the popularity contest.

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Daruma28
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Zyne,

From what I was indoctrinated with in business school [Wink] is that the reason corporations were formed was due to entrepreneurs that were sued for various liability reasons losing their life savings and property. The corporation allowed people to create an entity that was liable without risking your life's work.

Hence, if someone sues Microsoft, they cannot take away Bill Gate's house, only the assets of the corporation.

In the case of MS, this is not a really good example....but if you look at the small to mid-range corporations, the enabling of corporations in our system provided incentives for people to invest in business which in turn contributed to the innovation and technological advancement we take for granted today.

Of course you are espousing marxist rhetoric, which I get the impression you are quite beholden to....but it's a free country, so you have the right to believe that corporations are just racketeering organizations for capitalist pigs....no matter how wrong and skewed that view is. [Big Grin]

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Dan Allen
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quote:
Originally posted by Sancselfieme:
What about Afghanistan, that doesn't count? I guess Thomas Sowell isn't much of a historian.

Sure it does; but the Russians were actually winning there until we started giving Bin Laden stingers...
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Ron Lambert
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RickyB, you have a habit of using the words "proof" and "proven" very carelessly.
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RickyB
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Do you have a link to support your contention? Adam supplied one. What are you basing your assertions on?
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Ron Lambert
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Daruma28, you quoted Thomas Sowell when he said: "The Soviet bloc had in fact expanded through seven consecutive administrations of both Republicans and Democrats. The first territory the Communists ever lost was Grenada, when Ronald Reagan sent in American troops." I believe the overthrow of the communist, Allende, in Chile came before that. Most people concede the CIA may have been involved somehow in Allende's alleged suicide where he allegedly shot himself several times.

Of course, taking those two sentences by Sowell in context together, he was actually implying that the spread of the Soviet bloc was not turned back in any nation until Grenada. I would argue that while Grenada was communist, it was not part of the Soviet bloc. The communists in Grenada were sponsored by the Castro Cubans, who in turn received much funding from the Russians.

I am not sure I agree with Sowell's assessment that the Soviet bloc expanded through seven U.S. administrations. The "Iron Curtain" set up by the Soviets tended to be a jail for them and a barrier to further expansion as much as a barrier to keep the West out and prevent their captive populations from escaping; once it was set up, the communists never advanced any further in Europe.

The Soviets did make a grab for West Berlin, but they failed when the Berlin Airlift showed our determination not to let any more of Europe fall to the Soviet Union.

The policy of "containment" originated by President Truman and maintained by all the presidents who followed, was aimed primarily at containing the Soviet Union from expanding its empire, particularly in Europe. Discouraging communism in other places was important, and it is why we fought in Korea and Vietnam; but Europe was our primary concern.

As for Asia, it was the Chinese who advanced into Tibet, and supported the North Koreans in their attempt to take over South Korea (which the U.S. stopped them from doing). The North Vietnamese received support from the Soviet Union (at least more so than from the Chinese, who they actually fought a little later on); but while the fall of Vietnam was an advancement of communism, I question whether it is really accurate to say it was an advancement of the Soviet bloc.

I would conclude that the generations-long U.S. policy of containment was successful. Perhaps it is too bad that China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam were not part of the Soviet bloc; because then they might have fallen too when the Soviet Union went kaput.

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Ron Lambert
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RickyB, the statistics Adam cited were irrelevant and do not prove a thing. I was a mature and well-informed adult during the Kennedy presidency, and unlike you or Adam, I know what I am talking about. I am not going to reply to you any further, because you are just trying to pick a fight.
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