Posts Tagged ‘Reagan’

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Operation Condor: Cross-Border Disappearance and Death

 

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The Obama regime is attempting to spin US support to death squads and dictators as pressing for them to protect human rights!  While Kissinger and the CIA were the ones coordinating the death squad approach to human rights in South and Central America…

“In particular, they provide insights into the Carter administration’s efforts to urge the Argentine dictatorship to abide by the rule of law, release individuals illegally detained, and account for those who had disappeared while in the custody of the state.”

-Office of Director of National Intelligence

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Snag Films

 

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The lack of budget and slick effects hampered this Philip K. Dick film, but the story is interesting and topical. What’s more Phil wrote himself into the movie.

Snared in the rising fascism of the Reagan era, the paranoia and political persecution of dissidents are strong threads running throughout this one. The former McCarthyism red scare paranoia influenced this assault on free association in the land of the free. Dick was personally targeted, and this appears to be his response to an out of control security state, going after sci-fi writers and dissidents of the new “conservative” social order.

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In a purely personal moment, the actress playing the lead neo-nazi bitch looks a lot like my own stepdaughter. And yeah, I can see it.

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Dick brought a lighthearted treatment to this serious descent into totalitarianism. The situations are not new, but the alien contact twist certainly tosses in a monkey wrench. The ending was a bit weak, and this may have relegated it to the desperate-indie bin. With a stronger finish, it could have had the bucks it needed to succeed. C’est la vie.

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The City of Conversation: Remembrances by Steve Jonas

May 28, 2014

The Planetary Movement

My wife and I recently saw a new play entitled “The City of Conversation,” at the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City.  The play is centered on the adult life of a once-famous “Washington Hostess,” a power-broker of sorts for whom there were several real-life models.  In the days before the Reagan/Gingrich/Tea Party GOP, when there was true give-and-take between the Democrats and Republicans, on some level at least, these women played an important role in bringing leading members of both parties together for informal negotiations, out of the public eye.  The brilliance of the play is that it intertwines public and personal lives, the political and the emotional, and how they interact, in this particular telling leading to no good outcomes on the latter side.  Historically, in three acts, it is set in 1979, 1987 and 2009.  But it does reach back to the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon era as well.

This column is not a review.  It is rather a collection of some of the remembrances that I had during the play, which covers the period of my adult political life.  Some are related directly to the substance of the play; many are not, but the play brought them up into my consciousness.  And so let me share some of them with you.

There was President Kennedy’s little-remembered “American University” speech of June, 1963.  In it he essentially proposed taking Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev up on his earlier proposal to try “Peaceful Co-existence” as the basis for relations between the US and the USSR.  With that speech, perhaps even more than with his not-too-well hidden intent to withdraw US forces from Viet Nam after the 1964, JFK signed his own death warrant.

Many of us who fought hard against the War on Viet Nam from the beginning of the escalation (I was marching in 1965 when people would come up on the street and ask “what’s the Viet Nam War?”), wondered just why it was that LBJ gave up on the Great Society, only to get sucked into the “Big Muddy.”  Had he not, he would have gone down in US history as one of the greatest Presidents of all time.  Only recently did a Johnson tape come to light in which he offered his prime reason: He was afraid that if he didn’t escalate, the Republicans would call him a “commie.”  And we are still living with the droppings of the Era of McCarthyism.

Just before the 1968 election, the Democratic candidate, Sen. Hubert Humphrey wanted to declare that he would end the Vietnam War right after election, just as Dwight D. Eisenhower had done with the Korean War. For reasons that have never been clear, the by-then totally lame-duck Johnson told him, “No!” and for equally unclear reasons Humphrey listened to him.  In the meantime, the GOP candidate Richard Nixon was secretly negotiating with the right-wing South Viet Namese government which Johnson was trying to steer towards a settlement at the “Paris Peace Talks” to scuttle these talks (which they did).  Johnson knew about the treason but decided to do nothing with the information.

Sen.  George McGovern’s 1972 Democratic candidacy, featuring the slogan “Bring America Home,” was doomed from the start when the right-wing Democratic establishment, the predecessors of the Democratic Leadership Council, led by Washington State’s Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the “Senator from Boeing,” refused to support him.  McGovern was portrayed by Nixon as a weak-kneed, lily-livered liberal.  Not once did George McGovern, whom I later came to know (he wrote the Foreword to my first political book, The New Americanism) ever mention that during World War II, when Nixon had a nice desk job in the US Navy, McGovern, was flying 35 missions (volunteering for an extra 10 over the required 25) piloting one of the “flying coffins” (because it was so difficult to escape from when hit by enemy fire) B-24 bombers.  George, who had survived the famous Second Ploesti Raid (Romanian oil fields, vital to the Nazi war effort), didn’t have a chance.

On Nixon, I recall that when in 1972 I saw the first article in the New York Times about the Watergate break-in (front page, but a single column, “below the fold”), at which time there was not the least hint that Nixon had anything to do with it, having known of “Tricky Dick” as he used to be called, since he ran his first red-baiting campaign against the unsuspecting California Congressman Jerry Voorhis in 1946.  I said to myself, “Nixon’s behind this one.”

Ronald Reagan, counseled by the famous political consultant Lee Atwaterbrought racism into the mainstream of Republican politics.  In March, 1980, he symbolically opened his Presidential primary campaign in the tiny town of Philadelphia, MS.  It just happened to be the site of the murder of the three civil rights workers during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964 (one of whom, Andy Goodman, I had known a bit at high school).

Reagan also was the first to make abortion rights a political issue.  Starting down that track from the beginning, he made the resignations of George and Barbara Bush from their long-time Board memberships with Texas Planned Parenthood a condition of giving the Vice-Presidential nomination to Bush.  On energy policy, one of Reagan’s first acts as President was to shut down, on January 21, 1981, the Federally-funded alternative energy research program that President Carter had started, as well as ordering the removal of the solar panels that the former president installed on the roof of the White House.  The Global Warming Denial Movement is a direct descendant of the Reagan Presidency.   Just imagine where this country could have been in the alternative energy technology movement had that program stayed in place.  But Big Oil was as much behind Reagan as it is behind the present whole of the GOP/TP.

And oh yes, in the 1980 election Reagan’s victory was called a “Landslide.”  Actually, he got 50% of the vote, Jimmy Carter got 43% and a third party candidate (for whom I had worked), former Congressman John Anderson, got 7%.

On “Iran-Contra,” during his Presidency Reagan broke the law by supporting the right-wing rebels in Nicaragua, such support being specifically prohibited by an Act of Congress.  (He also broke the law by secretly dealing with the Iranian “terrorists,” with whom, during the 1980 Presidential Campaign, much like Nixon he committed treason by bargaining with them not to release the US Embassy hostages until after the Presidential election, thus making sure that Carter would continue to be saddled with the continuing crisis.)  “Iran-Contra” eventually got to a joint Congressional Committee.  Ted Kennedy and other liberals were kept off the Committee by Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, the Democratic fixer for the GOP, who would in the future play a similar role on the “9/11 Commission.”  It is interesting to note that current Democratic “fixer,” Cong. Steney Hoyer, has arranged to keep such liberal lights as Cong. Alan Grayson off the newly minted House “Benghazi” (Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi) Committee.  Hamilton also arranged for Col. Oliver North, who was at the center of the Iran-Contra plot, to be given Congressional immunity.  Otherwise, he would have been forced to take the Fifth, which likely would have rightly led to Reagan’s impeachment.

The appearance of two gay men in the third act of the play (2009) made me think back to the first AIDS Crisis, which broke about in the middle of the Reagan Presidency.  Reagan, so strongly indebted politically as he was to the “Revs.” Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who had immediately labelled AIDS as, “God’s punishment for the sins of homosexuality,” of course Reagan had known many gays during his days in Hollywood, including the “Male Archetype” Rock Hudson, who happened to have been one of the early victims of the dread disease, couldn’t bring himself to mention the word (AIDS) for more than two years after it had been coined.

Finally, you might ask, why so many negative memories and so many that feature Republicans and Ronald Reagan.  Only because it is the Republicans,and the policies with which they have been running our country, whether in the majority in Washington or not, and gradually running it into the ground, for the bulk of my adult life.  And, it was Ronald Reagan, the “failed B-movie actor,” as he is described by the leading liberal at the beginning of the play, who set the pattern on so many levels for what the Republican Party and our nation have become today.

Yes indeed, Sean, “What would Reagan do?”  One only has to look at the record.

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Kieran Kelly recommended this Salon article — which is actually a revisionary look at the films of Harold Ramis.*

Baby boomer humor’s big lie: “Ghostbusters” and “Caddyshack” really liberated Reagan and Wall Street
Harold Ramis was a master of subversive comedy. But the politics of “Caddyshack” and rude gestures have backfired

* I am not in complete agreement with anyone concerned.  While the films could be criticized for their targets and execution, I don’t think the writer makes his case.  The terminology used displays some dissonance, and he rejects a nuanced, complex reading of the films.

“And that makes for a pretty liberal film, right? I mean, who else makes fun of country club grandees except for us lefty authority-questioners?

Well, free-market conservatives do.”

Here the writer steeps his clumsy criticism in the pop left/right knee jerkism we’ve come to expect out there in the mainstream.  Presenting his false argument about “authority-questioners”, it’s almost condescending.  Authority isn’t a virtue.

The reason these movies stand out and endure is because they have complexity.  They aren’t meant to tell you want to think, but to give you the opportunity to do so.  Without that complexity and challenge, there’s no classic.

Perhaps the article’s best dig is:

“The kind of liberation the rude gesture brings has turned out to be not that liberating after all, but along the way it has crowded out previous ideas of what liberation meant—ideas that had to with equality, with work, with ownership.”

Here, the author, Thomas Frank, almost makes his point.  But the dissonance, in light of what he argued previously, sinks his argument.  How he can lay all of this on Ramis and Company, in the context of a farcical comedy, is unclear.   But work and ownership, Frank says, are intrinsic to his idea of liberation.

Like the Ghostbusters?

Frank just decried the idea of the small business startup, but now he’s in favor of work and ownership.  Well make your mind up, Frank.

“Here the martinet is none other than a troublemaking EPA bureaucrat; the righteous, rule-breaking slobs are small businessmen—ghost-hunting businessmen, that is, who have launched themselves deliriously into the world of entrepreneurship.”

Yes, work and ownership.  In fact bureaucracy and the EPA itself can have problems, misdirected activities, harm.  That’s the nature of power and authority, and in this case unaccountable power: the EPA man is not the one facing jail.  Reading too much into this EPA angle may be biasing any fair interpretation of the film.

The EPA bureaucrat made a unilateral decision that was disastrous while choosing ignorance over the consequences of said decision.  It is that kind of reasoning that is the true target, not the Environmental Protection Agency or the concept of reasonable regulations.  That’s the distinct difference that received no mention.

In some ways I agree with Frank that these films chose some easy targets and largely symbolic middle fingers.  That would make them less effective, in the political context, not more.  Trying to pin the Reagan era on Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and friends is too much of a stretch to be taken seriously.  The photo (above) that Salon chose to go with seems a tad dishonest in its complete dissing of Ramis and his widely beloved works.

Unthinking lefties are as unpalatable to me as unthinking right wingers, and perhaps were to Ramis too.  We must confront these challenges and the myriad opposing ideas, even in comedy, if we’re to stand the test of time.

Iran-Contra

Illegal psyops, disinformation, lying, CIA and National Security Council (NSC) deceptions against the American people were deleted from history by the corrupt Congress in the 1980s. The lost chapter has been posted. See article:

CIA Media Disinformation and US Proxy Wars: Fallouts of Iran-Contra’s “Lost Chapter”
By Robert Parry

The Lost Chapter