Friday, February 29, 2008

Up from Conservatism

True Conservatism is a worthy opponent!
by Charlie Leck

I have been working on this essay about true conservatism for months. It seems a bit silly to think that I, a self-admitted liberal, could write such an essay. That's precisely why I've been struggling. With the death of William Buckley in the last few days, I knew I had to move on with the task.

I was about to turn 19 years of age and I was soon to leave for college. It was 48 years ago. I was just starting to develop an interest in politics. I was very confused about what it meant to be a Republican, which my father claimed to be because he liked Ike, or a Democrat. I was asking myself some serious questions. What did it mean to be a conservative? What was a liberal? I'm not kidding when I say that I had no real idea.

A cousin of mine, two years younger and about 6 grade levels brighter, gave me a copy of a newly released book by William F. Buckley, Jr., Up from Liberalism. I have no idea why she gave it to me. She urged me to read it. I tried. I couldn't. It got shoved away on a bookshelf and it has survived all these years and stands now on the shelves in my study. The foreword to the book was written by John Dos Passos. I had no idea who he was in 1959. Now he is one of my favorite writers. As Vonnegut might have said, "That's the way it goes."

In about 1972, a good friend convinced me to read the Dos Passos trilogy, which included the 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen-Nineteen (1932), and The Big Money (1936). This is not the place to break down these novels. The point I want to make is that when I read these I certainly would not have gotten the idea that Dos Passos was, in any way, a conservative. So when I carefully read Buckley's book ten years ago, I was mighty confused about why Dos Passos was associated with it. Let me answer that very simply. Dos Passos saw the conservative political movement as an attempt to conserve something – to preserve the principles upon which the nation was founded. Is that what true conservatism is? Let's delay the answer to that question.

"The radicals of the period of the first of the century's great wars were trying to conserve something too. We were pretty conscious of the fact that we were trying to conserve the independence of the average citizen which we felt the power of organized money was bent to destroy. This was the underlying theme of the Populist agitation, of the Progressive and Socialist and Farmer-Labor parties. Through the referendum and recall and primary elections and labor unions and cooperatives we thought that something like the old townmeeting type of self government could be revived. The aim of all the diverse radical movements of that politically fertile period was somehow to restore the dignity of the man who did the work. Staid Single-Taxers, direct action IWW's and bombthrowing anarchists had the same eventual goal. They believed that if every man could be assured of the full product of his labor, the Kingdom of Heaven would be installed on earth. Their quarrel was about ways and means." [John Dos Passos, foreword to Up from Liberalism by William F. Buckley, Jr., 1959, page viii).

There, you see? Dos Passos was the radical when he wrote his trilogy in the 30s. So where was he in 1959?

The argument that Dos Passos puts forward is that the great crash of the economy in 1929 did not lead to a takeover of power by the working man. He calls the crash the abdication of business and that gave birth to the new bureaucracy. "The radical theorists from the colleges crowded into Washington." The managerial class was born. Roosevelt personified it, managing both the massive labor unions and the community of big businesses. When the second Great War came to an end in 1945, massive government took over and "towered" over both the working man and big business. He sees the period as the birth of militant liberalism.

Enter William F. Buckley, Junior.

When the brilliant Mr. Buckley talks about conservatism, he is talking about preservation. He writes in the introduction to the book that the nation "is in danger of losing her identity – not on account of the orthodoxy that we are being told in some quarters threatens to suffocate us; but for failure to nourish any orthodoxy at all." These are the presuppositions he works from as he begins to develop his thesis.

His thesis then is that "conservatism is the only apparent rallying point." His objectives in the book were to "discredit doctrinaire Liberalism and plead the viability of enlightened conservatism." Buckley also argues that the differences between liberals and conservatives are completely negotiable even though the liberal community doesn't think so."

This conservative ideal, the grand concept of preserving what the founding fathers intended for the nation was the principle upon which Buckley and people like the famous Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, built the conservative movement of the early 1960s. Buckley says that conservatism is not "a crassly materialist position, unconcerned except with the world of getting and spending money." Remember, Buckley is speaking about classical conservatism.

Buckley's great fear (and the fear of the classical conservative) is a loss of freedom by attrition. His view (in 1959) was that the society in which he lived was moving head-long toward totalitarianism; that is, government's absolute control over virtually everything. It is nearly 50 years since he wrote of that fear. I don't think we're there and I don't think we've even inched in that direction although, in fairness to Buckley, the following, according to him, would be evidences of a diminishment of our freedom: "…the progressive income tax, the ban on religious teaching in public schools, the union shop, the FEPCs, the farm laws.."

In the end, it turns out, it is "the welfare state" that Buckley fears the most. Buckley warns that there is a significant difference between government services that provide dollars to the people, to do with as they wish, and providing services for him (by which he means things like "…federal aid to education, housing, rural electrification, small business,… insurance programs…" like health and accident insurance.

Here we must look at William Buckley to really understand where he is going with his strong argument against liberalism. First of all, it is quite easy to document that William Buckley was deeply in fear of communism and its worldwide outreach. Remember, Up from Liberalism came to the market in 1959. Most of the nation was living in absolute fear of communism. That fear had made the McCarthy movement possible. It is also easy to document that Buckley was a great supporter of what Senator McCarthy was trying to do when he began his hearings meant to expose suspected communists active in our government and society. It wasn't until late in the 60s that Buckley could admit that he had been wrong about McCarthy and that his great fear of communism was misplaced. By the time Vietnam came along, Buckley could see the foolishness of the McCarthy endeavor and of communism itself.

Pure conservatism, as Buckley envisioned it, is a worthy and significant political movement – that is, the kind of conservatism that Buckley defines in the book we are writing about in this essay. Buckley had no appreciation for the kind of right wing conservative movement that was introduced into politics by the likes of Richard Nixon. The current right-wing, Christian evangelical movement of today's Republican Party is something that Buckley could have done without completely.

None of this is meant to say that Up from Liberalism was not an alarming book. It was. Clearly stated, the purpose of the book was "to bring down the thing called liberalism, which is powerful but decadent; and salvage a thing called conservatism, which is weak but viable."

I would never have known it as a young man, but now I do; that is, Buckley's understanding of, and definition of, liberalism is all wrong. He claims that liberals believe that the human being is perfectible and also that "social progress predicable." Nonsense! Liberalism believes quite the opposite, but, nevertheless, moves toward the hope that man can be better and less self-centered and that society can be fairer and more just than it is.

In 1959, Arthur Schlesinger accused Buckley of being more interested in preserving his reputation "as the conservative enfant terrible than with any serious attempt to understand what contemporary liberalism is all about." I think this was more true of Buckley than any of us know.

A great deal of Buckley's 1959 book is a rant against Social Security – a still popular tirade among contemporary conservatives – and it becomes weak in its logic the longer it goes on. Finally, his most serious complaint is with the compulsory nature of social security, even with the understanding that "very few people, if given the opportunity, would opt for exclusion." He finally concedes that government could go ahead and give this money to folks, but it should hold the line on welfarism, which provides services to people.

Buckley also reveals a mild dose of ignorance in the book when he continues to defend government's denial of the vote to black Americans – an idea he later in life confessed was stupidity. Buckley would also oppose the civil rights legislation of 1964 and it wasn't until twenty years later that he finally acknowledged it was worthy and needed law. He also finally matured into the knowledge that his book (1954) defending McCarthyism was wrong and so was his illogical fear of communism. It is so odd to me, in reading this early Buckley book, that he was so willing, for the sake of rooting communists out of our government, to throw out all the constitutional protections he so reveres today.

Fortunately, Buckley matured over the years and, in the end, staked out a solid and defensible conservative position. Do not confuse Buckley with the John Birch Society, Newt Gingrich, Carl Rove or George W. Bush. He liked none of them nor did he care for their politics. According to Sam Tanenhaus, Buckley has said that "if the United States had been a parliamentary system, President Bush would be subject to a 'no confidence' vote." And Buckley was so uncomfortable with the war in Iraq that he wrote many columns in the National Review that clearly opposed it.

"He initially supported the war because he was impressed by the case Vice President Dick Cheney made that Saddam harbored weapons of mass destruction. Once this was proved to be untrue, Buckley told me that if Cheney had known the actual truth, then President Bush would be a candidate for impeachment." [Sam Tanenhaus]

We cannot forget, even though we would like to do so, that conservative Republicans have ruled the nation for 20 of the last 32 years. They remain a powerful force of political possibility in every state in the union. If credit is to be given to any single person for being the motivating force behind this movement, it would have to go to William Buckley who, as the founding editor of the National Review (with the credo, "It stands athwart history, yelling Stop"), formed his movement of conservative youth at his Connecticut home in 1960, and was the basic educator of political conservatives from that time until his death two days ago. As Dan LeRoy wrote in 2005:

"With the death of President Ronal Reagan last year, Mr. Buckley became the major living symbol of the modern conservative movement he helped found."

Russ Limbaugh has called Buckley "the godfather of the modern conservative movement." For the first time in my life, I may be in agreement with Mr. Limbaugh.

In 1965, embarrassed by the decisive defeat of Barry Goldwater in his run for the presidency, Buckley anointed himself, in humor, the conservative candidate for Mayor of New York City. His platform, printed in the National Review, contained some surprising proposals.

-To fight crime, either lock up teenage felons or make their parents legally responsible for them
-Legalize drugs for adults
-Cut off welfare to everyone except invalids and mothers looking after children 14 years of age or younger
-No more busing to achieve racial balance

The Sam Tanenhaus account of Buckley's run for Mayor in 1965 is one of the most delightful and interesting political accounts I have ever read. After reading it, one puts it down with the realization that William Buckley truly had gonads. Truly!

What really broiled Buckley was a haughty attitude he sensed among liberals – an attitude that allowed "the reflexive equation of liberalism with virtue" (as Sam Tanenhaus has described it). Buckley believed, right to his death, that liberals did not use logic and the intelligence that God gave them to arrive at their convictions, but that they were driven by petty emotions and the desire to do good.

In its 28 February obituary, the New York Times says that Buckley "was a magnet for controversy." Indeed, he was! Many of his contemporary men of letters were in constant and angry disagreement with him – men like Mailer, Styron, Vidal, Capote and Baldwin.

Had I read Up from Liberalism when it was given to me in 1959, I would not have understood it. I would not have realized how critical sarcasm and hyperbole and outrageous humor were to Buckley. Might it have changed my life if I had read it then? Would it have turned me away from the liberal ideology with which I fell in love? I doubt it very much. I think I would have been as shocked then by William Buckley's basic unfairness about the plight of people of misfortune as I am when I read him and listen to him today.

Let's give him all this, however: He was a man of humor and of serious letters; he had a great stage presence; and he spurred serious dialogue.


An excellent source for information about Buckley and his brand of conservatism: George H. Nash: The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America.

An on-line source of most of Buckley's writings: Hillsdale College web site.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bloomberg Rings a Bell

This is meaningful, but what does it mean?
by Charlie Leck

New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, perhaps the most powerful politician in America, has sounded an alert that should get our attention [see his guest commentary in the NY Times].

"In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House."

If you don't think Bloomberg can push this election one way or the other, you don't understand just how wealthy and influential he is.

I happen to like the New York City Mayor. He makes sense on a lot of issues. He was formerly a Democrat and switched over the to the Republican Party. In fact, he's an independent. He's also a very creative thinker and this commentary in this morning's newspaper is a call for the candidates to think outside the box.

It will serve you well to keep your eye on Michael Bloomberg.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

She is my Hill

Poem to Jean
by Charlie Leck

I dreamed very vividly last night about my sister. In the dream, I created a poem for her. I kept reciting the poem, over and over. I awoke about 2 o'clock and the poem kept playing itself, again and again, in my head. So I jumped up and wrote it down as best I could remember it.

My sister, throughout my life, has been more of a mother figure to me. She was there, with my mother, on the dark night in the Bronx when I was born. My father was out, trying to find a doctor who would come and help. A birth-bond was created when I slipped out into life and it has always been very strong.

Now she fights valiantly against disease. She's a tough hombre and has no thought of going off easily. The pain is intense, but her heart remains loving and generous. She continues to give more than she receives.

This poem is for her.

She is my hill
from which
I see things around me more clearly

It is not a mountain top
but merely
a gentle, little hillock
that rises slowly and kindly
through green and gracious countryside

A mere slope ascends
that is effortlessly scaled
on a day at the height of spring
in only a moment
that seems like many pleasant, carefree years

She is my hill
from which
I see and understand my life
and all things more clearly
and dearly

It is a gentle
little hill
that looks upon and over
all the world and every village
where common people live
and love

I see
from here
all things more clearly
and dearly
and wisely
with love and tenderness
and understanding

I would not
have seen this world
so beautifully
so clearly
so dearly
had this little hillock not been here
for me to so easily ascend
on a lovely
pleasant day in May

She is my hill
from which
I see things around me more clearly
and dearly

My dear sister is such a special person in my life. I love her so dearly. How I wish I could take her pain from her and give her dozens more years to live.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NY Times on the Hot Seat

This was not great reporting, but the story’s not over!
by Charlie Leck

The New York Times article on John McCain’s possible encounters with ethics questions was itself quite a phenomenon. It bears looking at. There are some good questions. Why the article? What about its timing? What did the article really say and what was its central thesis? How was the article misunderstood? What was the reaction to it by other journalists?

Some worthwhile blogs about the current John McCain and New York Times hullabaloo:

John Dean at Find Law
Mr. Dean writes that the denials of inappropriate sexual behavior by Senator McCain and Ms. Iseman are very weak. Why haven’t the two directly challenged the times and demanded a retraction? Why hasn’t Ms. Iseman indicated she will bring legal action against the NY Times for damages? Has the NY Times got more information than they’ve already given us and both the Senator and the lobbyist are not wanting the other shoe to fall?

The Brian Williams Blog on MSNBC Nightly News Web SiteWhen News is the NewsWilliams makes a good point in this blog: New is not supposed to be the news! One of the responsibilities of journalism is to avoid being itself the headline.

Also check out the Brian Williams story on ABC News, refuting McCain’s claim that he is the only one in the campaign not receiving special interest money.

The New York Times is criticized by its own Public Editor
for messing up a really very good story about John McCain.“The pity of it is that, without the sex, The Times was on to a good story. McCain, who was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee in 1991 for exercising “poor judgment” by intervening with federal regulators on behalf of a corrupt savings and loan executive, recast himself as a crusader against special interests and the corrupting influence of money in politics. Yet he has continued to maintain complex relationships with lobbyists like Iseman, at whose request he wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to urge a speed-up on a decision affecting one of her clients.”

Martin Andrade wonders if the NY Times has more – if anothershoe is going to drop!
This is a thought I’ve had also. I read the NY Times story through one time very quickly. Troubled by it, I read it twice again and very carefully both times. If this is it – if they don’t have more information and sources than this – we have to call it a shoddy piece of journalism. Here’s some wild, unsupported speculation. The NY Times has got the goods. And, don’t forget that this is not only a story about possible sex for legislative favors, but it is also about John McCain’s regular dalliance around the edges of congressional ethics questions. With Martin Andrade, we’ll have to wait to see! Here, however, as Andrade points out, is the Catch 22 trap in which the NY Times is caught:

“If the Times has more and are waiting for another day to catch McCain in a lie then they are practicing political strategy rather than journalism and deserve denunciation; If this is it, if this is everything the NYT has on this "scandal" then the Times deserves ridicule.”

Right-Wing religious/political zealot, Gary Bauer, calls this Yellow Journalismof the worst kind and I am going to agree with him (which I find rather hard to believe) unless the NY Times is going to come up with some good reason for making this a front page story (or even a story at all).

Many bloggers are demanding that the NY Times explain just what motivated them to publish this story. I’ll add that they need to provide the explanation quickly. Nothing less is at stake than the publication’s reputation as a great newspaper.

Jane Hamsher, of Firedoglake,points out that this is pretty much a question of John Weaver’s word against that of John McCain. We need to hear more from Weaver. I’m not concerned about the sex charges that might result from learning more about this matter; I’m worried about McCain’s vulnerability to lobbyist influence. If all this stuff turns out to be true, McCain is toast both in the Senate and in the presidential race.

Tom Elia, blogging at the News Editor, is correct in what he says below UNLESS the NY Times really does have another shoe to drop:“30 years from now, when enough time has passed for the necessary historical perspective, and people wonder how the New York Times wrecked its journalistic reputation, this article will be one of the major pieces of evidence.”

The Mahablog calls all this the McScandal. I like that!

Brave New Films has a different tilt. They want to point out who the major friends of John McCain really are.

Now, when all is said and done, the problem the NY Times had with this article is two-fold. One: The public is made up of loads of very poor readers. It reads what it wants to. Nearly everyone read this NY Times story to say that John McCain had an affair with a much younger woman. The story was really about John McCain’s regular tendency to play a little too loosely with questions of ethics in terms of his general relationship with lobbyists. Two: The NY Times was a little too enchanted with the possibility that there may have been a sexual relationship involved in this cozy relationship with a lobbying firm. They tried to prove it for months, but they couldn’t. The egos around the newsroom simply wouldn’t let go of the possibility, however, and they ran with it as innuendo. Not good journalism.

The best summary of the whole debacle comes from Phil Hoskins in a Capitol Hill Blue blog.

“This week “straight talking” John McCain was exposed as the liar he is and true to form, the result was a circling of the right-wing wagons to support him. It isn’t the issue of whether he snuggled up with his lobbyist gal pal that is important but rather his poor judgment when it comes to lobbyists.”
My final take on this is that the investigative reporters have been turned loose. They smell blood and they are going to try to prove something that the NY Times couldn’t or didn’t bother to do – that is, prove the NY Times story is correct.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No New Nukes

Urge Administration to Abandon New Nuclear Weapons
by Charlie Leck

This email came to me in the last 24 hours from the Union of Concerned Scientists and I consider it an important one. As they requested, I've sent off an email expressing my concern. Perhaps you would like to also.

Despite the fact that the United States still maintains hundreds of nuclear-armed missiles on high alert, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently published its newest proposal to upgrade the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

First announced as “Complex 2030” in 2006, “Complex Transformation” would return the U.S. to a Cold War cycle of designing, developing, and producing new nuclear weapons. Fortunately, a mandatory environmental review allows you to submit comments on this ill-advised draft plan.Write today and tell the DOE that we don’t need the capacity to build NEW nuclear weapons; we need to take the lead in moving closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.Please make your letter personal by adding in your own thoughts and concerns. Every letter makes a difference, but customized letters have the greatest effect!

Tell me more

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where is the Minnesota we loved so much?

It's not spending, Governor; it's investing!
by Charlie Leck

There are not many guys I admire politically or as a solid citizen as much as I admire Curt Johnson, the former head of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council, the former Chief of Staff for Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, and the current President of Citistates Group. And, he's a Republican.

Curt Johnson never let partisan politics get in his way. Minnesota is always first in his mind and in his heart. He can talk across the aisle better than any man I ever knew. I sat in many meetings with him and I was always impressed by the way his mind captured things that others missed. He can summarize a problem and move it toward solution better than anyone with whom I ever worked.

So, I'm blogging only very briefly this morning. My purpose is to send you to a column written by Curt Johnson in today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune (22 February 2008). It hits hard on a theme about which I've written a lot. Here in Minnesota, we must start investing again in order to keep our state healthy and prosperous.

Read the column by Curtis Johnson.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

A fan of the NY Giants, my old man, loved baseball
as much as any man I ever knew.

Remembering Papa: At the same time, it was the
greatest and most terrible experience of my life
by Charlie Leck

My old man, from the time he was a boy, until late in the 1950s, was a wildly loyal baseball fan of the New York Giants. Of the detailed memories I have of him, those revolving around his love for baseball are most keen. He often spoke of his young years, when he would go to the Polo Grounds, to watch the Giants, on nearly every day that they played there. He had an early shift job that allowed him to go from work by trolley to the ball park. By the time he started going there, this was actually the third stadium known as the Polo Grounds. The original Giants baseball team played on a field at 111th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues that was called the Polo Grounds. They built and opened a stadium on Coogan’s Bluff, further north on West 159th Street in 1891. They named it the Polo Grounds after their original location. It burned down in the spring of 1911 and a new stadium was built to replace it and was ready in time for the Giants and Philadelphia Athletics to play the 1911 World Series there in October.

The new stadium, though oddly shaped like a horseshoe, was an absolute wonder and my father enjoyed reminiscing about it. The box seats were set off in rectangles of Italian marble. On the larger railings there were ornate American eagles and on the roof, 30 feet apart, flew blue and gold flag-like banners. The Polo Grounds opened as the finest ball park in America.

I didn’t see the historic ballpark until approximately 40 years after its opening. I will never forget the night, though I can’t put an exact date on it. I think it was in 1950 because Willie Mays was not yet playing with the team. The Giants were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates in a night game. We took a bus from our little town out in rural New Jersey. The bus was chartered by a group of local fellows and the mood driving into the city was a very light and joyful one. I sat next to my father and beside a window that was partially opened. I remember the wind blowing through my hair and I remember the sounds and sights of the city as we neared it. I had a ball glove on my left hand and I continuously pounded my right fist into it, feeling a great sense of anticipation.

However, everything turned to absolutely knee-buckling excitement when we walked through one of the concourses of the stadium and turned on to a ramp that led us up into the grandstands. As we neared the end of it, looking down from this upper deck, I saw the greenness of the grass. I was nine years old and had never seen grass so beautiful and so vividly green. My heart pounded and I struggled to stay calm. My father must have sensed it. He was gripping one of my small shoulders in his big, strong hand, steadying me.

Oh how I enjoyed that game. I wasn’t a Giant fan. A big brother, to whom I looked up with great respect and admiration, was a fan of the Saint Louis Cardinals. Because of that, so was I and I was sure Stan Musial was the greatest baseball player who ever lived. So, I had no horse in this particular race and I just sat back and enjoyed it when I wasn’t jumping up and down enjoying it.

Geez! I’ve just realized that you probably are not getting or enjoying any of this if you’re not a baseball fan; yet, I want you to understand that this little essay isn’t about baseball. It’s about a little kid and the range of experiences and emotions he can have in one little day.

Ralph Kiner hit a thunderous home run for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, it seemed thunderous to me, anyway. Even sitting high in the upper deck, I could tell it was towering. The fences at the Polo Grounds, down the lines, were not very far away, so it may not have been as gigantic as a kid remembers it. No matter! It was the most extraordinary shot I’d ever seen. It was my first big league ball game and I wanted it to be perfect.

I have no idea which team won. I remember the incredible grass and the beautiful reddish-brown dirt of the infield. I remember the bright white lines that ran down to the corner bases and on out through the outfield to the foul poles. I remember the long staircases that led up to the big clubhouse straight out in centerfield. I remember the big packs of Chesterfield cigarettes that were affixed to the balustrade between the lower and upper decks in left field. The flags were waving and flapping and the lights made the entire field look as if the sun was shining brightly.

I didn’t want to leave. I wanted the ballgame to go on forever. I had never sat next to my dad for such a wonderful, long time. It did end, though, and then there was the awful, frightening ride home.

It’s possible that I was the only kid on the trip. It was a group of grown-up guys who had swigged some beers during the game and had plenty of beer in the bus for the ride home. They were staggering when they boarded the bus and they were in a real partying mood. My dad alternated between trying to shelter my eyes and ears from what I was hearing and what I was seeing.

Guys were urinating out the windows, targeting automobiles that we were passing. Some fellow upchucked and the odors got stronger and stronger as we drove through the New Jersey night. My father needn’t have worried so. I had already heard most of the cuss words they used. It’s just embarrassing for a kid to hear them in the company of his father and for the father in the company of his kid.

A fist-fight broke out. Someone ended up on the floor. I grew pretty terrified. Why must something so exciting end with such terror? Guys were struggling to separate the combatants and someone fell back against my father and he slammed into me and I into the wall and window of the bus. I wasn’t hurt so much as I was frightened and I couldn’t stop crying. My wailing was more embarrassing for my father than all the previous discomforts. I tried to stop. He kept asking me to, but I was gulping for air and needed someone to slap my back to help me catch my breath.

Finally I calmed. Someone had berated the grown men for their terrible behavior. They quieted down somewhat and I was relieved when we rumbled down Main Street and the bus slowed as it turned into the parking lot at the Fire House.

It was only a block’s walk home from there. It was a warm night and the twinkling stars were spangled against the black sky. My dad had an arm around me and one hand rested again on my shoulder. Things were wonderful once more.

The Giants left New York in 1957 and so did the Brooklyn Dodgers. My old man was one sad dude and he was angry too. In the sixties, the old Polo Grounds ballpark was torn down. It was destroyed by the same wrecking ball that battered down Ebbets Field in Brooklyn only a few months before.

Remember the old and sentimental Frank Sinatra song about the ball park that is no more? This might be a good place to print the lyrics.

And there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green
And the people played their crazy game with a joy I'd never seen
And the air was such a wonder from the hot dogs and the beer
Yes, there used a ballpark right here

And there used to be rock candy and a great big Fourth of July
With the fireworks exploding all across the summer sky
And the people watched in wonder, how they'd laugh and how they'd cheer
And there used to be a ballpark right here

Now the children try to find it
And they can't believe their eyes
`cause the old team just isn't playing
And the new team hardly tries

And the sky has got so cloudy
When it used to be so clear
And the summer went so quickly this year
Yes, there used to be a ballpark right here
Ah, he could be singing about both the Polo Grounds and old Ebbets Field out in Brooklyn on Bedford Avenue, where the Dodgers played when I was a boy. My dad took me there, too, to a Dodger game against the old Boston Braves and I got Sam Jethro’s autograph and it was a really wonderful night. As a teenager I got into New York often. My grandparents still lived there. While my grandpa was alive he, too, would take me to some ball games. I went out to the Bronx, to Yankee Stadium, a few times also; however, I didn’t like the American League and I didn’t like the Yankees, so I didn’t go there often.

Bob Neyer, of ESPN, wrote parenthetically of a possible disease that may trouble me as well as him.

“It occurs to me that perhaps I’m afflicted with some sort of curse that leaves me more fascinated with the dead – dead ball parks, dead ballplayers – than with the living.”
I would give anything to walk into the Polo Grounds again and see grass that green one more time. I know the truth, however, and grass shall never be that green again for me and I know I will never again see nor hear those exciting sounds and sights – except, of course, when I close my eyes and hear the mighty crack of the ball against Ralph Kiner’s bat and I see the ball rise up into the lights and I watch it flying against the dark sky. Then it descends into the waiting crowd of people and it is lost forever.

Now I am an American League fan. I watch and love the Twins. We’re getting a brand-new ballpark here in Minneapolis. I’ve seen the big model of it and it looks like it will be great. I can’t wait for a night game in a real ball park, where you can see the ball rising into the dark sky, heading for the fans sitting in the outfield seats. No more domed stadium with plastic grass and a Teflon roof. How exciting for an old guy. It’ll turn me into a kid again.

But a kid’s first big league ballgame is the greatest one he or she will ever attend. It’s magical and I shared it with my old man. We didn’t have many moments like that one and now, myself an old man, I cherish the sweet memory.

“And there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green
And the people played their crazy game with a joy I'd never seen
And the air was such a wonder from the hot dogs and the beer
Yes, there used a ballpark right here.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

No Stealing

The people's voice must be heard and understood
at the Democratic National Convention!
by Charlie Leck

The NY Times ran an extensive and thorough story about
this explosive problem on Saturday, 16 February 2008.
[check out the NY Times story]

We must make sure the will of the people all across the land is heard in the upcoming national convention. You can make sure it happens! Do what you must do! Instructions will follow!

The Democrats are going to have an excellent candidate for President in the November election. We can be sure of this.

There is a danger, however, that a lot of people who generally vote for Democrat candidates will not, by choice, vote in the coming election.
I can hear the rumblings already among my friends. Emails are coming in to me from all around the country. Many of you have urged that I write this particular blog as a warning to the national party and to our local party big-wigs and elected officials. To set the stage, here's the opening of a column by Mark Sirota at The Huffinton Post.

"Looks like Hillary Clinton's campaign machine is getting its superdelegates (aka party insiders) to start softening up the public for a potential trampling of democracy that may mark the Democratic National Convention. This morning we have two superdelegates from different parts of the country landing headlines in their local papers saying they are fully prepared to ignore voters and trample democracy -- as long as that lets them help Clinton potentially steal the Democratic Nomination."
[clear here to read entire column]

Christ Bowers at Open Left writes his strong opinion about the possibility of the Super Delegates taking over the convention.

"Here at Open Left, I have made my position in these debates perfectly clear. First, superdelegates should respect the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. Second, I also do not think it's not accurate to list superdelegates in overall delegate totals at this time. They have been known to switch their support in the past, and have historically supported the party's popular vote winner. Indications are that history will repeat itself, considering that Rep. John Lewis became the third super delegate in the past seven days to switch his vote. Also, when recently asked if super delegates would overturn the popular will of primary voters and caucus goers, Democratic superdelegate Elaine Kamarck replied 'superdelegates are cowards - we would never do that.'"

In a guest-commentary column in the NY Times, Ted Devine reviews the reasons the category of delegates was created.

"Democrats created these superdelegates after the 1980 election with several purposes in mind.

"Party leaders had been underrepresented on the floor of the 1980 convention, which was the culmination of a bitter contest for the nomination between President Jimmy Carter and Senator Ted Kennedy that left our party deeply divided and contributed to the party's loss of the presidency that year.

"Many party leaders felt that the delegates would actually be more representative of all Democratic voters if we had more elected officials on the convention floor to offset the more liberal impulses of party activists.

"But the superdelegates were also created to provide unity at the nominating convention.
"They are a critical mass of uncommitted convention voters who can move in large
numbers toward the candidate who receives the most votes in the party's
primaries and caucuses. Their votes can provide a margin of comfort and even
victory to a nominee who wins a narrow race.

"The superdelegates were never intended to be part of the dash from Iowa to Super Tuesday and beyond. They should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.
"The party's leaders and elected officials need to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama, the two remarkable candidates who are locked in an intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"…After listening to the voters, the superdelegates can do what the Democratic Party's rules originally envisioned. They can ratify the results of the primaries and
caucuses in all 50 states by moving as a bloc toward the candidate who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters — not the inside game of the delegate hunt, but the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where hope can battle with experience and voters can make the right and best choice for our party and our future. [click here to read the entire commentary by Ted Devine]

If the people sense that their voice has been suppressed and their wisdom shunned, they will cast off from the party.
If, in the selection process, the approximately 800 Superdelegates at the National Convention don't have the common sense to give complete consideration to how the people across the country have voted, there will be those of us who will declare that the party does not deserve our vote.

Even as I write, party leaders, like Howard Dean and former Vice President Al Gore are holding emergency meetings to figure out a way to head off this looming collision.

"The issues party leaders are grappling with, they said, include how to avoid the perception of a back-room deal that thwarts the will of millions of voters who have cast ballots in primaries and caucuses. That perception could cripple the eventual Democratic nominee's chances of winning the presidency in November, they said."
[NY Times story by Don Van Natta, Jr. and Jo Becker, 16 Feb 2008]

Why must the party constantly tear itself apart
These rumblings frighten us! It must just be a rule of thumb for the party that it has to tear itself apart before every national election – doing so right in the clear view of the opposition party. The Republicans take great delight in our public immolations.

This business of the party tearing itself apart is not a joke or over-statement. I've seen it happen all too often. Ezra Klein, a blogger at The American Prospect, states it perfectly.

"Put another way: If Hillary Clinton does not win delegates out of a majority of contested primaries and caucuses, her aides are willing to rip the party apart to secure the nomination, to cheat in a way that will rend the Democratic coalition and probably destroy Clinton's chances in the general election. Imagine the fury in the African-American community if Barack Obama leads in delegates but is denied the nomination because the Clinton campaign is able to change the rules to seat delegates from Michigan, where no other candidates were even on the ballot, and from Florida, where no one campaigned. Imagine the anger among the young voters Obama brought into the process, and was making into Democratic voters. Imagine the feeling of betrayal among his supporters more generally, and the disgust among independents watching the battle take place on the convention floor. Imagine how statesman like John McCain will look in comparison, how orderly and focused the Republican convention will appear.

"This demonstrates not only a gross ruthlessness on the part of Clinton's campaign, but an astonishingly cavalier attitude towards the preservation of the progressive coalition. To be willing to blithely rip it to shreds in order to wrest a nomination that's not been fairly earned is not only low, but a demonstration of deeply pernicious priorities -- namely, it's an explicit statement that the campaign puts its own political success above the health of the party and the pursuit of progressive goals, and one
can't but help assume that's exactly the attitude they would take towards governance, too."
read the entire Ezra Klein blog]

Florida and Michigan are out!
No changing rules in the middle of the competition! Hear us on this. The voting members of the Democratic Party in Michigan and Florida were NOT given the opportunity to hear from all the candidates and to express their choice. Having been told ONE THING many voters chose not to go to polls because their votes would not count. Now we cannot tell them ANOTHER THING and give those delegates to any candidate following such a faulty election process. It is this kind of "stuff" that our party has always opposed and stood up against. We would show our hypocrisy if we pull any shenanigans with these two states. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken out strongly about not playing late, little tricks with the Florida and Michigan vote. She's definitely worried about a grass roots bolt from the party.

Howard Dean must stand for fairness!
Of all people, sir, we expect this of Howard Dean. He must not let us down on this one or we will deposit him on the towering dumping pile of failed Democratic Party chairpersons.

Is Hillary "carving her way to the nomination through the heart of the Democratic Party?"
That's what Josh Marshall says in his Talking Points blog of 15 February 2008.

"This also points to an argument I tried to make in today's episode of TPMtv. The Clinton camp's superdelegate gambit is not only audacious. Far more than that, it is simply unrealistic. The superdelegates who are gettable for Clinton by loyalty, conviction or coercion are already got. And enough's been seen of both candidates for
everyone to be more than acquainted with them. The ones who remain -- who make up roughly half the total -- are waiting to see who the winner is."

The people must demand nothing less than absolute fairness!
All of us, who toil on the bottom level of the party, must demand fairness. Here are some ideas about what YOU can do to get involved in this important problem. Be clear and forceful on this. Don't sit back and be apathetic! Do the following…

Sign the petition against allowing the Super Delegates who would steal the nomination from the people!
You can go to Democracy for America and sign its petition to the Democratic National Committee to prevent Super Delegates from deciding this convention. I've already done it. Democracy for America is pushing a strong effort against the Super Delegates along with Move On, which also has a petition one can sign.

Send your story about why you support Barack Obama to the Super Delegates!
The Obama campaign is asking supporters to send their stories about why they support Obama to the Super Delegates. They've made it easy. Log on to this special page and send your story to the Super Delegates.

Then, you can send letter or emails to the following or give them a call and leave a strongly worded message about your feelings (if you need some ideas, a copy of my message is at the end of this blog):

Howard Dean, Chairman
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Howard Dean:

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Email Speaker Pelosi:

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Email Senator Reid:

Lottie Shackelford, Vice Chair
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Ms. Shackelford:

Linda Chavez-Thompson, Vice Chair
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Ms. Shackelford:

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
302 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3244 (phone)
202-228-2186 (fax)
Email Senator Klobuchar:

Don't let the Democratic Party big-wigs steal this nomination from the people!
Here's the message I sent.

Dear Chairman Dean:

Those of us at the grass-roots of the Democratic Party are beginning to worry that our voices in the nomination process are not going to be heard. Rumors abound that the big-wigs and super-bosses will really make the decision at the convention without giving consideration to the way the people voted all over our nation. You should be aware that many of us will boycott the November election if we sense that our voices are ignored. The primaries must not be treated as if they didn't count.

We are also concerned about changing the rules in Michigan and Florida after the competition has started. That would be unfair. Not all our candidates campaigned in those states because of the restrictions imposed by the party. Many people did not
vote in those primaries because they thought their vote would not count. These
delegates must not now be turned over to any one of the candidates.

Please assure us that you are listening to the voices of those of us who make up the foot soldiers of the Democratic Party.

Charles H. Leck

15 Copeland Road
Maple Plain, MN 55359-9537

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Decline of Education in America

Our work force is falling further and further behind in the global race!
by Charlie Leck

I'm not a fan of David Brooks, the columnist for the New York Times. He's just not very consistent in his writing and I sometime wonder if he remembers where he was a few days ago. Nevertheless, in his column of 15 February 2008, he wrote something that makes sense.

"In the 19th century, industrialization swept the world. Many European nations expanded their welfare states but kept their education systems exclusive. The U.S. tried the opposite approach. American leaders expanded education and created the highest quality work force on the planet.

"That quality work force was the single biggest reason the U.S. emerged as the economic superpower of the 20th century. Generation after generation, American workers were better educated, more industrious and more innovative than the ones that came before.

"That progress stopped about 30 years ago. The percentage of young Americans completing college has been stagnant for a generation. As well-educated boomers retire over the next decades, the quality of the American work force is likely to decline."

Brooks is right-on about this! He recommends that the neo-conservatives grab this as their theme for the coming election, advising that the Republicans will catch the Democrats flat-footed on the issue.

Where has Mr. Brooks been? Recall my doubt about him knowing where he was a few days ago! Barack Obama has been talking about this problem for months. This has been a liberal issue for years. The problem has been that Republicans don't want to spend the money to rejuvenate the American educational system. It needs a top to bottom, complete overhaul. That will cost money. It will mean taxes and it will mean taking away those obscene tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans were given by George Bush and his cronies in Congress.

You want evidence that Americans are now dumber than dumb? Go to You Tube and watch this clip of Kelly Pickler (American Idol) appearing on "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?" Well, my goodness! Enough said!

We don't really need to build a case to convince anyone that the American educational system needs a drastic revision. How about a President who will put real, professional, creative and top-notch educators at the top of the Department of Education? This is one department with which we can't play politics. Not that Margaret Spellings, the current Secretary, isn't a qualified person, because she is. She gotten herself handcuffed, however. She's handcuffed by her own personal conservative stance on taxes and spending. She's also handcuffed by a President who won't ask Congress to give her the tools she needs.

If David Brooks thinks this could be the watershed issue for the Republican Party, he must be daffy. The ideas you outline in your column, Mr. Brooks, will take some pretty handsome spending. Listen to John McCain on spending these days! The conservatives are going bankrupt this nation by not spending. American industry and commerce needs a highly educated work force. Don't expect the largest corporations to lobby for spending money in this area. They don't need the American work force. They see that China and India are far outpacing us in teaching the sciences, technology and math to their students. This is a global society now (The World is Flat) and the massive corporations are global and don't depend on America.

America needs to compete. Our workers need to compete against the work forces in China, India, Japan, Korea and a host of other places. Where are we in this education race? Face facts! We are way down at the bottom of all the industrialized, economically significant countries in the world. A continuation of conservative leadership will only drive us further down toward the bottom. They're going to keep pushing No Child Left Behind and they'll keep leaving lots of little kids behind in the American classroom because they don't provide the funds to make their program work. Barack Obama has taken a courageous high-road on education. He says he's going to be open to all possibilities – even vouchers (if he sees evidence that they'll work).

Obama was even willing to talk openly about merit pay in a speech directly to the NEA.

"I think there should be ways for us to work with the NEA, with teachers' unions, to figure out a way to measure success,… I want to work with teachers. I'm not going to do it to you; I'm going to do it with you."

"In the 21st century, countries that out-educate us now will out-compete us tomorrow… The work you do and the difference you make has never been more important to the future of this country."

Obama's approach is going to cost us. You can't get quality without paying for it. The neo-cons mantra about cutting spending and cutting taxes is utter stupidity. We cannot have high quality education at the prices we're devoting to education today. The neo-cons want to keep cutting taxes on people who can well afford to help us pay for better education and these same people are the ones who should help us pay for it. We have to think of this increased spending as an investment for the future. A nation that does not invest in itself is doomed.

Obama made the speech to the National Education Association (NEA), in which he mentioned those things quoted above, in July of last year. A short time after the speech, Alexander Russo, writing in Education Week, declared that Obama had handed the NEA endorsement to Clinton. Well, here's fact Jack! Teacher's Magazine is saying that educators across the nation overwhelmingly support Barack Obama.

Stephen Dubner, writing on my favorite blog, Freakonomics, applauds Obama on education and especially on paying teachers what they're worth.

If you're concerned about education in America and you're still undecided on a presidential candidate, go to the issues section on Obama's web page and check out what he says about education.

Here's a new, hot book to which you might want to pay attention: Jacoby, Susan: The Age of American Reason [Pantheon Books, New York, 2008]

This book paints a vivid and accurate picture of American's declining position in the race for industrial greatness. Jacoby, in particular, points to the fact that our educational system is failing our students. Even though students are spending more and more time in school and advancing further in school, they are not learning at the rate and level of the other advanced nations of the world. The impact this has on our economy and our ability to compete in a global commercial war is enormous.

Read more about the book on Susan Jacoby's web site.

Read the Salon.Com review of Jacoby's book.

Read a New York Times review of Jacoby's book.

Another intriguing book, which I am yet to read, is Against Happiness by Eric Wilson. I'm on the waiting list at the library for this one and I'll let you know about it after I've read it.

CHANGE OF SUBJECT Have any of you seen the documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side? It's supposed to be extraordinary. If you have seen it, tell me about it.

Last weekend we saw the movie, The Great Debaters. We loved it! It's a smashing and wonderful story! We only read good reviews before we went off to a discount theatre to watch it. I certainly was surprised to learn what I did about little James Farmer. You will be, too.

Watch Out for Hugh Downs Infomercial

Book gets terrible reviews
by Charlie Leck

I'm seeing ads everywhere for the medical books being recommended in infomercials by Hugh Downs. Watch out! It's apparently a big rip off. I almost bit on one of the ads but decided to read a few reviews. Everything I've read is awful, like this one...

12/9/2007 - Denise of Connecticut, USA writes:
"I actually feel sorry for Hugh Downs, bless his heart. I think he was duped by the people in this informercial. He had such an illustrious career and should have known better than to back a book full of info you could get simply by searching the net. There are various other books with info like this too that should be shut down! Prevention Magazine is the only place to get real info, and they've been spouting all this for over 40 years. Shut down this infomercial ASAP!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

President Bush is lying through his teeth
and it really gets me angry!

by Charlie Leck

The current primary campaigns are the best thing that
ever happened to George W. Bush. They’ve distracted us
and we’re not paying attention any more. We’re
forgetting what a terrible, low-down President he is and
this is something that must, for the sake of both history
and the future, never be forgotten. Therefore, I urge you
to go to the
U-Tube website of DelanoCries and listen to
his extraordinary song,
Freakin’ Circus Fascist Nightmare Blues.

watch Keith Olbermann’s video rant about President Bush,
calling him a “bald-faced liar” in no uncertain terms. This is
a video from the end of last year, but it is oh so appropriate
here. Olbermann says “George Bush has no business being
President!” How can you not love a guy like Olbermann?

Forgive me, Al Franken, for using the title of your terrific
book as the title of this current blog. If you suit me over this,
I’ll take back my valuable endorsement.

The Justice Department admits water boarding is illegal.
An official of the Justice Department, Steven Bradbury,
says his department considers the torture method illegal
under U.S. law. See the story on Capitol Hill Blue
[Feds admit waterboarding illegal]
February 14, 2008 - 8:29am

I just about went through the roof a couple nights ago when I turned on CNN to watch the evening news. There was a clip of President Bush, lying through his teeth again and it really pissed me off. It was actually a Fox video, from which CNN was playing only a snippet.

I’d had a pretty decent day. The highlight was wonderful lunch at Longfellows, a nice little cafĂ© that sits right on the west bank of the Mississippi River, looking across to Saint Paul. I had a delicious breaded walleye sandwich on a foccacia bun and the best cold-slaw I ever tasted. My lunch partner is a great guy, with a good mind and a spectacular radio-voice. He sprays food everywhere when he gets excited and I lost my appetite somewhat before I finished my sandwich. That was okay. It was fun to listen to his enthusiasm. Yet, all was spoiled in the evening when I heard the President saying of Barack Obama: “…he’s going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad.”

Now here’s the deal. Bush hadn’t just misunderstood Obama. He wasn’t just taking what Obama said out of context. He wasn’t just twisting it a bit for political campaigning purposes. As Olbermann says of our President, “He’s a bald-faced liar!”

Putting Bush’s comments more in their context, this is how he put it in his own extremely ineloquent way:

"I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I
remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad. I
think I commented that in a press conference when I was asked about that."

The bumbling, stumbling lie came near the end of the first part of a three part interview with one of Fox’s make-believe journalists, out at Camp David.

Go to Nico Pitney’s column on the Huffington Post to watch the portion of the interview where Bush makes the ludicrous remarks. Pitney quotes what Obama really said.

“In fact, Obama has not advocated either for attacking Pakistan or embracing Ahmadinejad. Obama has said that the U.S. should be willing to strike against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan if the country's president Pervez Musharraf refuses. Obama also said during a debate last year that he was willing to meet with leaders of Iran and other U.S. rivals without preconditions, although he did not commit to doing so.”

Look it here! There is no way to soften the truth about George W. Bush, As Olbermann said better than anyone else ever could, this man has no business being President. There is no moral high ground when it comes to this President. He is only a low-down snake-in-the-grass. Bring on Huckabee, McCain, Obama or Clinton. I’ll take any of them and be mighty relieved.I simply want a President who is more than a marionette whose strings are pulled by corporate moguls. Please!


The above sucks as a message on Valentine’s Day. In fact, I left some chocolate and an original card on the kitchen counter this morning for my wife to find. If you wish to read the poem, go to this personal web page.

Coming soon (but not necessarily in this order):
  1. Blog on why Photoshop is getting a bum rap!
  2. Blog on my old man’s love for baseball and the grand old Polo Grounds
  3. A Blog I call "God is!"
  4. Blog on the danger of the big-wigs running the nomination process at the coming Democratic National Convention

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Real Ronald Reagan

I’m delivering this blog much later than I promised;
however, I can only use the excuse that it was much
more complicated than I believed it would be and
runs to well over 5,000 words even after it was
seriously and carefully edited. Ronald Reagan was
one of the strangest presidents in U.S. History in that
he bungled so much and got blamed for so little, thus
becoming known to the press as the “Teflon President.”

The Ghost of Ronald Reagan and his
greatest sin returns to haunt us!

by Charlie Leck

I have a good friend who is as frantic as I about our need to get progressive leadership back in control in Washington. A couple of months ago he told me that his only worry about the 2008 elections was John McCain. I, looking at the polls and at McCain’s slim campaign resources, told him that he had nothing to worry about.

How things change!

Now McCain is actually our big worry. Even at his age he seems to have abundant energy. He flipped the entire Republican primary situation on its head and is charging toward a giant, whopper-sized victory and the Republican endorsement.

Filled with new enthusiasm and certain the nomination is his, McCain has already put his general election strategy into play. He will portray himself as one of the nation’s great, patriotic heroes and the next coming of Ronald Reagan. “I am a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution,” John McCain keeps calling himself. McCain has the temerity to say that we are currently betraying Ronald Reagan’s principles about tax cuts and restraint of spending. The documentation following in this essay will show that Reagan actually did neither, but, quite remarkably, the opposite.

The name of Ronald Reagan is going to be invoked again and again. Writing in the LA Times, Michael Kinsley has written that this year’s “Republican primaries have turned into a Ronald Reagan adoration contest.” Kinsley reminds us, as I will get more specific about later, that Regan’s legacy is that he left us with taxes running at 999 billion dollars and a deficit of 153 billion dollars.

Democrats are going to be running against Ronald Reagan. They might as well get ready for it. Old time, conservative Republicans adore the memory of Ronald Reagan. The young are going to be sold a bill of goods about, not who he really was but, how Ronald Reagan is perceived today.

Here’s the Ronald Reagan the Republican Party will portray. Within days of his election hostages were released by Iran – hostages that Jimmy Carter could not get released for over a year. The great Berlin wall came tumbling down upon his Moses-like command: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” The Soviet Union (“the evil empire”) began to crumble under Reagan’s stern watch and eventually dissolved. The labor movement became mostly ineffective because of Ronald Reagan. Deregulation of industry, commerce and government made the Anti-Trust laws virtually obsolete under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. The nation’ military strength was at the constant ready and Reagan demonstrated that he had a steady and ready-finger always upon a hair-trigger.

John McCain will declare himself the disciple of Ronald Reagan. It could be a road to victory if the Democrats don’t find a way to bust the myth and reveal Ronald Reagan for whom and what he really was.

My friend was right-on when he expressed his fear about John McCain as the Republican Party candidate. He is formidable. Because of his age, he will only be a one-term president, if he is elected, but even that could be disastrous for a nation already in trouble.So, my goal here is to present an honest history and a truthful portrayal of the man who was a second-rate actor and a third-rate president. You can see that I’m letting you know right up-front where this depiction is going.In 1989, Murray Rothbard, relieved that Reagan was leaving office, wrote candidly.

“Reagan’s heirs and assigns are a pale shadow of the Master, as we can see from the performance of George Bush. He might try to imitate the notes of Reagan, but the music just ain’t there. Only this provides a glimmer of hope for America: that Reaganism might not survive much beyond Reagan.”
Unfortunately, Rothbard was incorrect. The followers of Reagan are legion within the Republican Party. In the coming election, we will hear far more about Ronald Reagan from the Republican candidates than we will about our original founders and the constitution they so wisely crafted. Most people are simplistic in analyzing Reagan and those people will be easy fish for the Republican campaigners.

Oscar Buchmueller, an old, fatherly fellow for whom I worked for a year, doing an internship while I was in graduate school, was a fellow student with “Dutch Reagan” at Eureka College (a school that some observers have called “that Illinois barber school.”) Oscar’s eyes would light up when he spoke of his old pal. My, oh my, but Oscar was proud. He had been proud enough during those years when Ronny was such a star out in Hollywood; but, wow, when his fellow-alumnus became Governor of California, Oscar was busting his buttons. I never got to talk to Oscar during the years that Reagan was President, but I can imagine that he was beside himself. The interesting thing, though, is that Oscar couldn’t tell me too much of significance about his buddy. He was a terrific football player. He worked on a little college or town radio station (I can’t remember which) and got involved in dramatics. Oscar was a fairly deep thinking, contemplative guy. He couldn’t say the same about Dutch!

Go to the Internet and find the Eureka College web pages about Ronald Reagan’s time at the school. Reagan graduated in 1932. You’ll find all kinds of wonderful stuff that carefully avoids any discussion of academic achievement or class work.

After graduation, Reagan did some radio sports broadcasting in Davenport, Iowa, and in Des Moines (1933-1936), before moving on to Hollywood in 1937. After a screen test with Warner Brothers, he was given a seven-year contract.

Let’s get a lot of the petty stuff out of the way before moving on to Ronald Reagan’s terms as Governor of California and President of the United States.

Reagan was a two bit actor. I know of no one who will disagree with that. His list of movie credits is less than distinguished: Hollywood Hotel (1937) Love is on the Air (1937); Accidents Will Happen (1938); Boy Meets Girl (1938); Brother Rat (1938); Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938); Sergeant Murphy (1938); Angels Wash Their Faces (1939); Dark Victory (1939); Knute Rockne – All American (1940); An Angel from Texas (1940); The Santa Fe Trail (1940); King’s Row (1942); Stallion Road (1947); The Hagan Girl (1947); The Voice of the Turtle (1947); Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); Storm Warning (1951); The Last Outpost (1951); The Winning Team (1952); She’s Working Her Way through College (1952); Law and Order (1953); Tropic Zone (1953); Cattle Queen of Montana (1954); Tennessee’s partner (1955); and Hellcats of the Navy (1957).

During the Second World War, Reagan served in the Army Air Corp as a Captain, making pilot training films.

During his career, Ronald Reagan received no (zero) nominations for Academy Awards; yet, there is something about his movie career with which any evaluation of his life and political work must take into account. Reagan was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in 1947. It was the beginning of McCarthyism and J. Parnell Thomas was chairing the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). A host of actors, writers, producers and directors were being named by the committee as people unfriendly to the “causes” of the United States. The list is startling. Over a few years period, approximately 320 people were “black-listed” from the entertainment industry. Reagan, as president of SAG, refused to support actors such as Larry Parks, Joseph Bromberg, Charlie Chaplin, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Gale Sondergaard, Jeff Corey, John Randolph, Canada Lee and Paul Robeson. The careers of most of them were ended as the result of defaming charges by HUAC. It was a cowardly act on Reagan’s part. He not only failed to come to their aid, but he openly and actively supported McCarthyism. He was shamefully protecting his own career; for, he knew that anyone who confronted the committee would likely end up on its terrible list.

Reagan was the kind of man who always chose the most convenient way and not the courageous way to leadership. He was a Democrat throughout the 30s and 40s and a huge admirer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt because his own parents had been so significantly assisted by the programs of the New Deal. After the second Great War, he switched to the Republican Party in order to back the popular general, Dwight David Eisenhower. He was a staunch supporter of Richard Nixon in the 1960 election and of Barry Goldwater in 1964. His active and visible support made him a friend of the business leaders of California. Using a promise of tax relief and the tactics of a dramatic and ugly smear campaign, Reagan defeated incumbent Governor Pat Brown in 1966. His governorship saw dramatic budget cuts and state employee hiring freezes. Student fees in California’s state universities rose dramatically. Students organized protest rallies and Reagan sent in the state police to deal with these rabble rousers. During a second term he instituted tighter requirements for welfare assistance. He squeezed the lower and middle classes very hard, but never delivered on his promise of tax relief. In fact, during Ronald Reagan’s terms as Governor of California, taxes rose to a level that had never been seen in any state in American history.

During his campaign for the presidency, Reagan made the same promises to America that he made to California. He promised lower taxes and smaller government. The facts show that the size of government during Reagan’s term grew enormously. Conservatives have controlled the reins of government in America for 16 of the last 24 years. Yet, government is bigger and more expensive than ever. Reagan promised more efficient government. During his term, the efficiency of government, when measured against dollars in and service out, decreased dramatically. Reagan promised to get U.S. debt under control. Our debt increased to record numbers and he left us with what was then the largest budget deficit in U.S. History.

Reagan was an extraordinarily good speaker (the Great Communicator), if not a magnificent one. He governed up an enormous amount of blunder with a fabulous amount of bluster. He actually knew very little about foreign affairs and international policy. He knew very little about Washington politics and he knew less about the manner in which the federal government worked. When he was asked a truly significant and thoughtful question at a press conference, he looked like a deer in headlights as he nervously pondered a reply. His handlers resisted every attempt Reagan made to go “off script.”

The one thing that Ronald Reagan knew for sure was that he hated Communism. He took communism on in ways that no president before him would have dared. At times he was open and candid about it, but he was mostly covert and devious in his attacks. The Great Communicator was not willing to criticize any anti-Communist government even if they were highly undemocratic. He had a series of UN resolutions criticizing South Africa vetoed. He was unsuccessful in vetoing the Congressional Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.

As an example of Reagan’s anti-communist craze, take the unbelievable invasion of Granada as a prime case study.

The invasion of Grenada was called “a lovely little war” by some correspondent. Even such a broadcast news service at Public Broadcasting called the war “an unmitigated success” for Ronald Reagan. To most Americans it was an inconsequential event and nearly the entire country accepted the spin Reagan’s administration put on the action. There was no one to contradict the Reagan version because the administration had blacked out the media and they weren’t included in the invasion force. Only history and the facts are left to contradict Reagan’s version.

More than 20 years later, we know some of those facts and we can look at the adaptation the White House gave us with a jaundiced eye. Reagan claimed that the island was under the control of hard-line communists who were cooperating with Cuba to hold and store modern military weapons that would be eventually transferred to dangerous rebels in Central and South America. Reagan claimed there were vast numbers of military personnel on the island and that 800 American students at a medical college there were in great danger.

Let’s start with the last claim first. The President told the American people that the Grenada airport had been closed and that the students couldn’t get out. Indeed and in fact, the airport wasn’t closed. There was no military presence at the airport and customs procedures were being carried on. Airline service to other Caribbean islands had ceased because U.S. officials were putting pressure on those islands to do so – all in preparation for the invasion. Officials at the medical college sent numerous messages to Reagan and to the press that the students were not in danger and no attempt to save them should be attempted. Over 500 parents of students contacted the White House to say their children were safe and they would only be put in danger by U.S. military action.

Nevertheless, the President sent the marines in. They met very little resistance. It turned out there were few Cuban military personnel. Most were construction workers. Unfortunately, 19 Americans died in the invasion and a number of others were injured. Today we know that most of those were as the result of friendly fire or accidents. Only 100 of the students left the island with their saviours. The others saw no reason to go.

Reagan’s spin-meisters went to work, however, and told of the huge warehouses of modern, dangerous military weapons that had been uncovered. Today we know better. A small warehouse, half-filled with outdated and nearly useless military surplus weapons was stormed. Even these absurd weapons were further away from gorilla bases in South America than they would have been in Cuba.

When the military coup that raised Reagan’s hackles had taken place, Cuba and Fidel Castro had condemned it with great strength and stopped both diplomatic and commercial relations with the little nation. There was certainly no growing and dangerous communist relationship there.

Reagan had also claimed that Cuban construction workers were building a military airbase, bomb-resistant fuel tanks, sheltered bays for military aircraft and fortified control towers. In fact, the invasion discovered that it was a British contractor, underwritten and approved by the conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was doing the work. Very few Cubans were on the work force. Most were Finns, Canadians and locals. They were not building military facilities, but only modernizing and enlarging the airport.

In reality, Reagan ordered the invasion because of his paranoia about communists. The little nation was certainly no threat to America. Some think the invasion was staged to take attention away from the horrible bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that had killed 241 military personnel. Reagan’s popularity and approval rating suffered as a result of that attack. It rose remarkably again after the invasion of little Grenada.

A more likely theory holds that Grenada was too good an example of the success of a Black Power movement. The rebels in Grenada had claimed to have been inspired by the Black Power movement in America. That may have worried Reagan.

America’s humiliation in Vietnam was still fresh and Reagan had been angered by Richard Nixon’s half-hearted approach to that war. Grenada was an easy victory on which both Reagan and the military could hang its hat.

Never mind that it was a violation of International Law. Democrats did not distinguish themselves at the time of the invasion. Both Walter Mondale and Joseph Liebermann spoke strongly in support of the action. It was a Republican Senator (Lowell Weiker) who raised the biggest stink about the action, pointing out that it was an unconstitutional power that the President was exercising.

Reaction around the world was completely negative. It took a U.S. veto to negate a United Nations Security Council condemnation of the military action. The General Assembly’s vote against the action passed with an overwhelming majority.

Philip Zunes, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco, wrote of the invasion’s aftermath:

“In Grenada during the ensuing months, the mass organizations were dismantled, the labor unions were re-organized, over half of all medical personnel were expelled, investment and tax codes were revised to favor foreign investment, and cooperatives and states enterprises were sold to private interests. Billboards that had inspired the population to work for justice, equality, development, and national sovereignty were quickly replaced by those designed to inspire them to buy American consumer products.

“The quality of life for most islanders deteriorated in the period following the invasion despite infusions of American aid. This was most apparent in the health care field, where not a single pediatrician remained in this country where 60% of the population was under 25, nor was there a single psychiatrist to care for 180 mental patients (Seventeen patients and one staff member were killed when the U.S. bombed the mental hospital during the invasion.)

“The U.S. invasion of Grenada prompted witch-hunts throughout the Caribbean for those with leftist sympathies. Countries that thought they had the right as sovereign nations to receive economic and military assistance from whomever they pleased realized they had to reconsider. The day after the invasion, for example, Suriname closed down the Cuban embassy in its capital and expelled its diplomats.

“Upon taking over the island, most foreign doctors, teachers, and other civilians were summarily arrested and expelled by U.S. officials. Shortly after the invasion, U.S. forces raided and ransacked the Pope Paul Ecumenical Center due its "subversive activities" of aiding the poor. Hundreds of Grenadans were held for months without charge. Some suspects were shackled and blindfolded in violation of Hague convention standards on the treatment of prisoners of war. The island's only radio station was taken over by the U.S. Navy. The right of free assembly was seriously curtailed, the press was censored, and writ of habeus corpus was abolished.

“Over the next several years, U.S. forces loosened their grip and allowed for popular elections. Grenada has joined other small Caribbean islands under the leadership of a conservative and corrupt elite. The current center-right government, for example, has engaged in some major irregularities in awarding contracts for public works projects to foreign investors with criminal ties and has set up offshore banking operations with little oversight. Although Grenada's economy has been expanding, poverty is widespread, and it appears that the country has little choice but to follow the neoliberal orthodoxy dictated by Washington and its allied international financial
This Reagan action and the current war in Iraq are remarkable reminders that Congress must reign in Presidential power and restore the power of Congress to exclusively wage war. You can be guaranteed that such a restoration will never take place under the leadership of John McCain.

Reagan’s “biggest crimes” during his tenure in office, according to William Blum, were his powerful military actions to suppress social and political change in Central America and Afghanistan.

The support Reagan gave to Pol Pot in Cambodia was not much more palatable to most of us than his interference in Central America. Though Pol Pot’s thugs were murderous and dangerous, they weren’t communists. That was Reagan’s rationalization.

Now, let’s tackle the portrait of Ronald Reagan that John McCain will paint during his campaign and see how much of it is fictional.

Ronald Reagan ended the cold war and brought down the Berlin wall
This will probably be the major claim that John McCain will make and he will try to equate himself with Reagan. Well, the truth about this claim is “yes” and “no.” Objective historians will need to give Reagan some credit about the cold war claim, but little or no credit when it comes to the end of Soviet control over East Germany and other satellite nations.

The Soviet Union was nearly bankrupt when Ronald Reagan came into office. The situation in Russia and the other nations that made up the great union was terrible. Of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev had flattering things to say, but he wouldn’t go too far. “He was an extraordinary political leader,” Gorbachev told a group of listeners, who “decided to be a peacemaker” at just the right time. “Our interests coincided,” the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party said.

However, Gorbachev brushed aside the idea that Regan won the Cold War?

“That isn’t serious! That isn’t serious! …I think we all lost the Cold War, particularly the Soviet Union. We each lost ten trillion dollars. We only won when the Cold War ended.” The General Secretary knew he was in “an arms race that is beyond our capabilities, and we will lose it because we are at the limit of capabilities.”
It has to be admitted that Reagan poured money into the arms race at a pace with which the Soviet Union couldn’t possibly keep up. The domestic result of that in America was national debt astronomically higher than we’d ever seen before or ever imagined possible.

The effect and influence of Ronald Reagan’s famous, but fanciful, Star Wars Plan was devastating on the Soviet Union. Was Reagan bluffing? I think so! We were not in good enough financial condition to have implemented such an idea. However, the bluff worked. Gorbachev blinked. He was prepared to talk turkey with the President of the United States.

And, it’s pretty clear now that Reagan was bluffing and that he actually hated nuclear weapons. When he met with Gorbachev, face to face, in Reykjavik in 1986, Reagan shocked the General Secretary by seeing the Soviet ante of a 50 percent cut in strategic arms, and upping him by proposing a total disposal of all nuclear weapons. Declassified minutes from the Soviet Union show that this is factual and that it was an extraordinary historical moment. Reagan was flying solo and his nearby advisors and councilors were shocked. Yet, Reagan didn’t back down. He proposed that the Soviet Union join us in building the Star Wars Defense system to prevent either nation from reviving a nuclear program. In the end the whole idea fizzled out, but Gorbachev was rocked and had discovered Ronald Reagan was not the man he had suspected.

Gorbachev, in 1986, knew already that communism was dead and the Soviet Union was crumbling. It was not Ronald Reagan who was bringing down the great bear, but it was internal economics.

“We were a country with the richest resources on Earth,” Gorbachev said, “and we couldn’t provide toothpaste for our people.”

Though the great Soviet leader didn’t think Reagan had ended the Cold War, he did have great respect for his adversary. He praised Reagan for “restoring America’s self-confidence!” The Watergate scandal and the defeat in Vietnam had America in a depressed mood. “For him,” Gorbachev said of Reagan, “the American dream was not just rhetoric. It was something he felt in his heart. In that sense he was an idealistic American.”

William Blum, in his book, Killing Hope, claims something quite different. He says that Ronald Reagan did not end the cold war, but that he actually prolonged it. His argument is quite convincing. Reagan was certainly NOT responsible for the destruction of the Wall, but the arms race is quite another matter.

Blum shows that it was the failing of the Soviet’s own system of economic and government that did it in. The movement away from Communism is not something that happened suddenly or quickly, but the great empire moved slowly, but steadily, toward a great social change. The slow, steady movement began with the death of Stalin.

Harold Marcuse, a professor of history at the University of California (in Santa Barbara) has strong opinions about whether Ronald Reagan had anything to do with bringing down the Berlin Wall.

“Oh please,… in reality, it was the peoples of eastern Europe, the Poles, Germans, Czechs, Hungarians, etc. whose persistent pressure on their governments forced them into opening toward the west. To suggest that Reagan was the ‘true’ originator of Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika is utterly absurd.”
Reagan’s speech in front of the wall was perfectly timed, but was not motivational in bringing it down. The stage had already been set for that in Eastern Europe.

We must remember it was also Reagan who was given some of the blame for the rise of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It was this President who sent Donald Rumsfeld to Hussein to seek his assistance in our problems with Iran. Reagan it was who supplied Hussein with the weapons (Helicopters and chemicals) and funds to fight against the Soviet Union. Reagan also approved of the decision to arm the Mojahedin in Afghanistan. It was this group that eventually became the Taliban.

There is neither time nor space enough here to review all the details of the Irangate Scandal. (Here’s a link if you want to read about this many-faceted and corrupt, illegal action by the Reagan administration.) Against the will of Congress, Reagan used the profits from those deals to supply fund to the anti-Communist forces in Nicaragua. The key element is this entire scandal is that Reagan had promised the American people that he would “never yield to terrorist blackmail.” As a result of this pitiful bit of corruption, two Reagan aides were forced to resign (Donald Regan and John Poindexter). Donald Reagan was only one of the chiefs of staff that the President would lose during his tenure. Michael Deaver, a deputy chief of staff, was also forced to resign and face criminal charges for taking a very apparent bribe from the South Korean government while he served the Reagan administration.

Don’t forget, also, that Reagan had his Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, abruptly resign in June 1982 over the President’s handling of the Falkland Island War involving Britain and Argentina.

[Revision of 13 Feb 2008] A reader sent a column by Fred Kaplan that was published on Slate that argues quite well that the extraordinarily unusual personality combination of Gorbachev and Reagan actually did, together, end the cold war. Click here if you'd like to read it.

Ronald Reagan reigned in Federal Government
This McCain claim will be one of the most absurd. Reagan was deeply committed to weakening federal government. Deregulation was the key word during his administration of our land. Though Ronald Reagan made the feds weaker in terms of their relationship to the states, he actually caused the cost of government to soar. There were 230,00 more civilian government workers when Ronald Reagan left office than when he took the oath.

Even though we were facing a 100 billion dollar deficit, in 1981 Reagan convinced Congress to pass a three-year tax reduction package. He followed this with cuts in domestic spending. Military spending rose at a rate beyond the rate of those cuts. He had increased defense spending by 35 percent, including ludicrously expensive programs like Star Wars (the Strategic Defense Initiative) and the MX missile program. The gap between the rich and poor was widened. The nation moved into a deep recession. This was called Reaganomics.

John McCain is starting to accuse the Bush administration of turning its back on Reaganomics. In fact, George Double-U was a faithful follower of the Reagan system. He cut taxes on the wealthiest of all Americans and, at the same time, increased spending.

Even Reagan’s promise to deregulate government and get it off people’s backs was a bogus one. Jimmy Carter actually set in motion the deregulation of oil and gas, the airline and trucking industries and abolition of the Civil Aeronautics Board. They were all timed to phase in during Reagan’s first year and, therefore, he got credit for all of those actions.

Let’s remind John McCain that Reagan went into office promising to eliminate the Department of Education. During Reagan’s years its budget actually doubled. The cost of farm programs also more than doubled. Federal entitlements increased by more than 100 percent. I’m sure a lot of these increases were necessary and good, but candidate McCain ought to be called on his unbridled praise of Caesar.

Let McCain’s memory be refreshed. Reagan signed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1882. TEFRA was the large increase in taxes in U.S. history. In the same year, Reagan supported higher taxes on gasoline and increased taxes on the trucking industry. In 1983 he raised Social Security taxes by 165 billion dollars and, a year later, he signed his Deficit Reduction Act to raise another 50 billion dollars.

The Republicans will herald the 1986 Tax Reform Act that only shifted 120 billion dollars in taxes over five years from personal income taxes to various, hidden business taxes.Immigration and Ronald ReaganThe Republicans will holler and shout during this campaign, as they have during the primary debates, that Ronald Reagan “would say no way” to amnesty for illegal immigrants. In fact, in 1986, President Reagan signed a law that authorized the most recent act of legal amnesty.

Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator
True, Reagan could give a great speech; however, in analysis, the Reagan’s speeches were little more than grand rhetoric that lacked substance. More than one historian of American politics and many political scientists have pointed to the Reagan era as the one that ushered in a lower standard for intellect in American presidents. Reagan taught people, like George W. Bush, how to use a simple “aw shucks” approach to important decision making.

Enough with all the questionable praise that John McCain will heap upon Ronald Reagan. Let me deal here with one of the most shameful acts any candidate for the presidency of the United States has ever committed. You need to be reminded that, during the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan campaign in 1980, Iran was holding a sizable number of American hostages. Carter was working on a substantive plan to have them released. Word of this was leaked to Ronald Reagan and one of his campaign managers, Michael Deaver (who, as we mentioned above, would later resign in shame from the administration). Deaver, in later years, would tell the NY Times about it.

“One of the things we had concluded early on was that a Reagan victory would be nearly impossible if the hostages were released before the election… There is no doubt in my mind that the euphoria of a hostage release would have rolled over the land like a tidal wave. Carter would have been a hero, and many of the complaints against him forgotten. He would have won.”
For a candidate to interfere in foreign relations and international negotiations in order to benefit his election prospects is an unheard of sin in American politics. It should be criminal! Nevertheless, according to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst in the 1980 Reagan campaign, just such a sin actually was committed.

“William J. Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.”

So much for not “dealing with terrorists” – a promise Reagan was making during his campaign. He reneged on that promise immediately when he saw that it was the difference in his election or not.

And so much for those 5 or 6 months of the hostages’ lives, as they were forced to remain longer than necessary as prisoners of the Iranian government.

This is a sin for which Ronald Reagan should never be forgiven.

Try to remember some of these things when John McCain gets himself really wound up and begins gushing about the Ronald Reagan legacy and the mantel that he intends to pick up. Save us from that!

In the general election, Reagan easily defeated an ambushed and hand-cuffed President Jimmy Carter by receiving 56 percent of the votes cast – a landslide victory.


See the essay by a staunch libertarian: Rothbard, Murray: Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy [ at ]

See: Spartacus School Net { ]

See: Los Angeles Times of 8 February 2008
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