Does Fox News Think That Ronald Reagan Tried To Panic The Markets?

This weekend’s edition of Fox News Sunday had a segment wherein the host, Chris Wallace, interviewed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. In the course of the interview Wallace addressed the government shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling crisis with this phony premise:

“This week both you and the president seemed to be trying to panic the markets about both raising the debt ceiling and the government shutdown, saying that they should be more concerned.”

Fox News

In fact, President Obama merely observed what every credible economist has said about the prospect of the United States defaulting on its financial obligations. It would throw the world economy into turmoil and inflate the U.S. debt by billions due to higher interest rates. Just the threat of taking such an irresponsible step would panic the market without Obama having to say a word. And Obama is not the only one who thinks so. Here is what the GOP’s sainted Ronald Reagan had to say about it back on September 26, 1987:

Reagan: Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world.

The hypocrisy of the Tea Party Republicans pretending to care about impacting the financial markets is monumental. Their own words (not to mention their actions) have been far more threatening than anything Obama has said. They have been saying for five years that Obama and his Marxist policies would bring the nation to ruin. They said he would destroy the economy and the country; that ObamaCare would bankrupt the nation and lead to civil war; that asking the rich to pay a little more in taxes, rather than putting the burden on the poor and middle class, would crush the recovery; that anything the President ever proposed would be a job killer and a disincentive to investment.

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Those predictions were about as accurate as last year’s Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy. The stock market is higher now than it was before the recession. The unemployment rate has dropped from 10.1 to 7.3 percent. And ObamaCare has proved to so popular that the demand crashed the government servers. Given the right’s record on forecasting the future, how can anyone take them seriously? Even the words of their idol, Reagan, don’t seem to diffuse their rabid Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Dead GOP Scandal Society

Fox News has been engaged in a protracted campaign of manufactured scandal mongering for most of President Obama’s term in office. They have attempted to connect Obama to numerous imagined controversies via innuendo and relentless repetition. But despite their best efforts, Fox, and their accomplices in the Republican Party, have utterly failed to produce evidence of any malfeasance on the part of the White House.

However, that fact has done nothing to impede their obsessive quest to tarnish the Obama presidency. And now Fox Nation has posted a hysterical article that is so brazen in its prejudice that it’s hard to comprehend the level of stupidity required to have produced it.

Fox Nation
See Fox Nation vs. Reality for dozens of examples of Fox’s disregard for truth.

It seems impossible to believe that even the Fox News audience could buy into the graphic messaging in this item. But after learning that more Louisiana Republicans blame Obama, rather than George Bush, for the dreadful response to Hurricane Katrina, anything is possible, including the Fox Nationalist’s attempt to draw a line from the criminally corrupt administration of Richard Nixon directly to Bill Clinton and Obama.

The cognitive failure necessary to produce the item above requires some obvious historical omissions. Ronald Reagan’s presidency was marred by scandals that included improper negotiations with the Iranian captors who were holding Americans hostage. Later, his program of selling arms to Iran in order to raise money to assist fascist rebels in Nicaragua resulted in prosecutions and convictions of top aides like Oliver North, now a Fox News host and contributor. Other scandals swept through Reagan’s Environmental Protection Agency and his Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The administration of George W. Bush was also awash in scandal. The most horrific, of course, was his deliberate deception regarding weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to invade Iraq. That totally unnecessary war cost the lives of more than 4,000 American soldiers, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. It also cost billions of dollars that Bush purposefully kept off the budget.

Then there was his unlawful firing of U.S. Attorneys for political reasons; and the outing of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative, as revenge against her husband, Amb. Joe Wilson, for not going along with Administration lies; and the aforementioned Hurricane Katrina, wherein Bush’s negligence resulted in horrendous suffering and nearly 2,000 deaths in the Gulf Coast; and warrantless wiretapping; and the near meltdown of the U.S., and world, economy.

The scandals of those administrations that Fox Nation conveniently skipped over were far more serious than anything alleged in the Obama years. They involved numerous fatalities and criminal convictions, none of which have been associated with Obama. Yet somehow the Fox Nationalists managed to post a graphic tarring Clinton and Obama with the stain of Nixon, rather than Nixon’s Republican comrades. I would ask “How stupid do they think their audience is?” But clearly the the answer is pretty goddam stupid. And sadly, they’re probably right.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Obama’s Imaginary Bulldozer Rolls Over Saint Reagan

The Fox Nationalists are working overtime to scare up horror stories about FrankenObama and his dastardly schemes. The latest episode features President Obama plotting to erase the memory of Ronald Reagan from the history of all mankind. As might be expected, they are lying.

Fox Nation

In order to facilitate this nonsense. Fox scoured the InterTubes to find a posting at the “Moonie” Washington Times by a reader. He was not a part of the newspaper’s editorial staff whose credibility is already in tatters. He was merely a member of the community who posted an entirely speculative comment.

The allegation that Obama was planning to bulldoze Reagan’s childhood home to make way for his presidential library is false on many levels. First of all, the apartment building in question was not a significant place in Reagan’s early life. He lived there for less than a year when he was four years old. The city’s Landmark Commission had ruled it not to be of any historical value. Secondly, the building is being razed by the University of Chicago’s medical school to expand their facilities, not anyone associated with Obama. Thirdly, Obama could not possibly have ordered the demolition on behalf of his library because he has not even decided where to build it. Certainly Chicago is on the short list, but so is Hawaii.

None of this matters, however, to Fox Nation because the phony perception of Obama trampling the memory of Reagan was just too good to pass up – or to fact check.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The ‘King Obama’ Delusion

Apparently there were not already enough paranoid fantasies about President Obama circulating amongst right-wing conspiracy theorists. All that socialist, Muslim, Kenyan, Manchurian stuff is getting old and losing its capacity to invoke fear. So now these psycho Chicken Littles have a new nightmare to ponder:

Fox Nation

At Fox Nation they are all worked up about a bill just introduced by a Democratic congressman. Rep. Jose Serrano is proposing to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution that mandated that presidents could serve no more than two terms. To the Fox Nationalists that means that Obama is plotting to convert America into a monarchy with him on the royal throne.

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, “Nobody has ever gone broke underestimating the intelligence of America’s Fox News viewers.” But the overarching stupidity of this misadventure truly boggles the mind. And that’s even if you set aside the fact that they are implicitly admitting that Obama would be reelected forever if he were permitted to continue running. Darn that democracy.

However, Constitutional amendments generally take years implement, They need to be passed by two-thirds of both houses of congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. If the Fox Nationalists think that’s going to occur at all, much less while Obama is still in office, they are in serious need of intravenous Xanax. What’s more, this amendment has been offered by Serrano in every congress since 2001, shortly after George W. Bush was elected. Was this Serrano’s attempt to crown Bush, or did he have secret knowledge that in the future an African without a birth certificate would inhabit the White House?

Republicans have also proposed repealing the 22nd, including Rep. Guy Vander Jagt in 1986, thinking it would allow Ronald Reagan to seek a third term. And speaking of Reagan, he was so supportive of this idea that he said he “would like to start a movement” so that people could “vote for someone as often as they want to do.”

Term limits were never a good idea. They are an undemocratic and artificial constraint that insults voters by treating them like children who cannot manage their own affairs. The problem with longevity in political office is the result of self-serving, gerrymandered districts and the fact that elections are dominated by wealthy special interests. If these corrupting influences were removed from the process, voters could be trusted to elect people who represent their interests and to remove those who do not.

And the beauty of democracy is that the idiots who buy into the nonsense that Fox Nation peddles would be overwhelmed by responsible citizens with reason and common sense, attributes that Fox works so hard to eliminate from the electorate.

Fox News Editorial Hypes Reagan-Blessed Email Service

Don’t send that email! Your “liberal” email account is undermining your values and your country. That’s the allegation in a Fox News editorial by Michael Reagan.

Fox News Liberal Email

“If you use a Gmail or Yahoo e-mail address and are pro-life, support gun rights and oppose ObamaCare, you are funding activities aimed at trashing your own beliefs.”

The charges by Reagan are based on his assessment of campaign donations to Democrats and Republicans by employees of Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. It is a wholly invalid analysis because it represents the views of individuals who happen to work for those companies, not the views of the companies themselves. Reagan begins with the example of Yahoo’s CEO who bundled donations for the Obama campaign. The bulk of her fundraising actually involved personal acquaintances, people who had nothing to do with Yahoo. [Note: we know who is bundling for Obama because the campaign reports it on their web site. Mitt Romney refuses to reveal the identities of their bundlers]

Nevertheless, Reagan flatly and falsely states that “the proceeds of those [companies] are often used to support the liberal political agenda.” He offers no evidence to back that up. So the question arises as to what his motivation is to make these phony claims. And the answer is just a few paragraphs down:

“Conservative friends and associates are often surprised when I ask: ‘Why are you supporting liberal candidates and causes with your free e-mail?’ They react with disbelief, but that is precisely what is happening.

We devised as an alternative to the big e-mail providers so customers will know that they are subsidizing candidates or causes with which they disagree, but so they may also feel that their private messages stay that way.”

There you have it. It’s nothing but a bald-faced marketing pitch for Reagan’s own commercial enterprise aimed at frightened and paranoid conservatives. He is seeking to line his pockets with the profits from a service that charges $40.00 a year for something most people currently get for free. And Fox News is permitting their editorial pages to be hijacked by this advertisement for a private business that is operated by their own employee. Using op-eds for personal gain is strictly forbidden by legitimate news organizations. So I guess it’s OK for Fox to do it.

In addition to the violation of journalistic ethics, it is also notable that Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Saint Ronald, has chosen to soil the Reagan name by acquiring the domain and using it for such a brazenly self-serving commercial purpose. You would think that a URL as valuable as that would be put to use to advance the legacy of the former president and/or the principles he held. Then again, what principle is more representative of the Republican Party than personal greed at any expense?

Gimme A Break: Fox News Is Suddenly Concerned About Being Respectful

Making headlines today at Fox News is story that serves as a shining example of why the world’s champion hypocrites bow before the greatness of Fox.

It seems that Fox News has suddenly taken an interest in promoting civility and respect for national leaders. Well, as long as they are dead Republican candidates for sainthood.

Fox News Bird Brains

Apparently a couple of gay White House guests were compelled to express how they feel about President Reagan, a man who let nearly his entire two term terms in office expire (not to mention thousands of Americans) before he even uttered the word “Aids.” It’s not surprising that some people may have strong feelings about that. Fox, however, thinks that their candid, and indisputably rude, redress of grievances was intolerable and worthy of a front page rebuke.

That’s funny, because Fox doesn’t have any problem with being shamelessly rude when debasing Democrats, including the country’s first female Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Fox Nation Says Pelosi Is Stupid

Both of those items above were posted today. A few weeks ago, Fox used the same photo to call our current president stupid.

Fox Nation Says Obama Is Stupid

So it is clear that Fox is terribly concerned about people behaving with dignity and exercising decorum, particularly with regard to the offices of our highest leaders. And in keeping with that sentiment, Fox Nation demonstrated their news judgment today by posting this at the top of their web page:

Fox Nation - Obama Trips

Yep, that’s surely the most important breaking news story of the day, and a properly respectful manner in which to treat the President. Plus, it saves a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on actually covering the speech that Obama delivered moments later.

Damn – It’s Getting Hard To Keep Up With The Crazy On Fox Nation

In attempting to monitor the outrageous bias and relentless dissemination of propaganda that appears on the Fox News web site, Fox Nation, sometimes the burden is overwhelming. The editors at Fox Nation are just too fast and too furiously committed to their mission of deceiving their glassy-eyed readers, that keeping up becomes an Olympian task.

Just yesterday the stream of craziness was so intense that I am forced to compile them all here in abridged form.

Let’s begin with the most repulsive and unsubstantiated item. The Fox Nationalists post things like this fairly often just to keep the impression of a lawless administration active in the minds of their readers.

Fox Nation Totalitarianism

Next up, an absurd an irrelevant item about a man that President Obama met only twice in his life, as a child. But if Fox can make a connection about him to the President, even if the allegation is tenuous, they will jump at the opportunity.

Fox Nation - Obama's Soviet Father

There actually is no enemies list as referenced in this headline. The article is about an FEC complaint filed by the Obama campaign to force Karl Rove’s blatantly political PAC to be treated under the law as any other PAC. Which means that they would have to disclose their donors. Arguing against this is to advocate to maintain a system that permits secretive billionaires to buy elections.

Fox Nation Enemies List

After disingenuously complaining about intimidation tactics in the item above, the Fox Nationalists persist in their intimidation campaign against Media Matters. With no new news whatsoever, Fox & Friends devotes yet another segment to slandering the group and its founder David Brock.

Fox Nation - Media Matters

This one is pretty funny. The Fox Nationalists post an item taking Bill Maher to task for making a comedic animal reference with regard to the Republican Party. And in doing so they call him a pig (as they have done many times before). Also note the comment that is typical of the Fox Nation community whenever the opportunity arises to hurl a racist insult at the President.

Fox Nation - GOP Apes

And we’ll close with my personal favorite. The Fox Nationalists posted this item asserting that Obama is not the only president to have been interrupted by reporters in the middle of an address. However, the video they offer as proof shows Reagan being interrupted only after he finished his prepared remarks and was turning the podium over to someone else.

Fox Nation Reagan Interruptus

Bear with me, folks. I’m trying to keep up. but it isn’t easy. The Fox Nation editors are masters of deception and they have abundant resources. They are also a closely guarded secret. Unlike every other news enterprise, Fox will not reveal who is responsible for the content on Fox Nation. They have no masthead and have ignored inquiries as to the identity of their staff. I suspect it’s a class of remedial 13 year olds at an evangelical reeducation camp in the basement of News Corp headquarters.

Whose Side Are You On, Reagan Or Labor?

FYI: The headline of this article is a trick question.

In the long-running debate over government spending, Republicans have repeatedly brought up unrelated issues connected to worker’s rights and collective bargaining. GOP governors across the nation are attempting to use the economic crisis to break unions and rollback the gains that working Americans have achieved over decades of organizing with massive popular support.

However, these regressive politicians who are doing the bidding of their wealthy, corporate benefactors, have a stark disagreement with one of their professed heroes:

Let me repeat that:

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”

That’s right. None other than the sainted Ronald Reagan recognized how valuable unions are to America. This comment is more than a passive bit of pandering to working class constituents. It is an unambiguous affirmation that unions are not just a tangential group of negotiators for farmers or factory workers, but a vital institution that is a necessary component of freedom.

This should not come as too much of a surprise when considering that Reagan was the first, and only, union president (Screen Actors Guild) who ever ascended to the presidency of the United States.

Nevertheless, GOP governors have been bad-mouthing unions and their members for months (years, really). They refer to them as thugs and conjure up Mafioso imagery. They have embarked on a coordinated campaign to smear and discredit the very organizations that are standing up for our nations citizens and families, most of whom are working people, not wealthy hedge fund managers. It’s dishonest and dangerous and intended to harm average Americans.

Speaking of dangerous, the GOP governors who are mounting these attacks are represented by the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA). That’s the organization that Rupert Murdoch gave a million dollars to last year. Well, I would stay away from their web site. Norton Internet Security, a leading Internet software company that monitors web safety, reports that the is “Unsafe” with six live computer threats.

Republican Governor's Association

The irony is delicious. The Republican governors web site is unsafe, a threat even, just as are the policies of their members.

[Update} This morning the RGA’s site status by Norton changed to “Untested.” That’s still not particularly comforting. However, it is also not nearly as accurate. The GOP’s policies have been tested and they do not work. We’ve had Bush’s tax cuts for the rich (I mean “job creators”) in place for ten years. Where are the jobs?

Whose Side Are You On? Reagan Or Hitler?

The conservative extremists seeking to attack working Americans and bust unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and really everywhere, need to understand with whom their philosophy is shared. Then they need to decide if that is acceptable.

So choose a side:

“We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike” ~ Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933


“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” ~ Ronald Reagan, September 1, 1980

It doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult choice to me. I was not a supporter of Ronald Reagan. In fact, I think he did considerable harm to the country. But he was the first and only union president to be elected to the presidency of the United States. The fact that his conservative credentials are so well established makes his views on unions all the more significant and non-partisan.

Unfortunately, the knee-jerk right-wingers who profess to idolize Reagan either dismiss his support for collective bargaining or they are too ill-informed to know about it. With regard to the latter, that would be an intentional result of the media they favor. Do you think that Fox News would ever broadcast these quotes? With regard to the former, it is still intentional in that they are willingly hypocritical and obedient to the special interests who have fooled them into thinking that the welfare of billionaires is superior to their own. Just look at what they regard as Shared Sacrifice:

At some point the rank-and-file Tea Baggers need to wake up to the fact that they are being used. Corporations want to end collective bargaining so that they have a free hand to exploit and abuse their workers. The politicians, who are bankrolled by those same corporations, want to disrupt fundraising and support for progressive candidates and policies.

None of this is accidental. And the people who will get hurt the most are those who are following the conservative disinformation blindly with the pathetic impression that it makes them patriotic. They should ask themselves if they are really advancing the cause of freedom. They should ask Ronald Reagan.

Iowa GOP Seeks To Strip Ronald Reagan Of US Citizenship

In a Declaration from “We the People” of Iowa the Iowa Republican Party declares that…

“…the federal government has grown too large, too intrusive and too oppressive to the point that government now stifles the productivity, the freedom, the ingenuity and the very spirit of the American people. We declare that all three branches of government have been governing outside their well-defined bounds as stated in Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution of the United States.”

Consequently, they demand that…

“…the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government return to govern within their constraints clearly defined by the Constitution given to us by the founders in 1787 and further refined by the Bill of Rights in 1789.”

Notice that they did not demand a return to any of the amendments other than those in the Bill of Rights. So under their restoration of the original intent of the Founders, slavery would still be legal and women could not vote.

But what elevates this declaration from curiosity to idiocy, and beyond that to absurdity, is this charming little provision tucked away in the platform:

“7.19 – We call for the reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th Amendment, not the 13th Amendment in today’s Constitution.”

Th 13th Amendment to which they refer is not the one presently in the Constitution that abolishes slavery. There was a 13th Amendment introduced prior to that that was never ratified. It proposed that…

“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”

The purpose of including this plank in the platform was to make a statement regarding President Obama having won the Nobel Peace Prize. Setting aside for the moment that the Nobel is not awarded by a “foreign power” and thus would not have triggered the provision, if it were applicable it would mean that every American Nobel winner (scientists, writers, etc.) would have had their citizenship revoked as well. What’s more, it would strip the citizenship of Americans honored by the British Crown with honorary knighthoods, including Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Steven Spielberg, and the sainted Ronald Reagan.

Since these crackpots haven’t been able to prove that Obama isn’t a citizen because he wasn’t born in the U.S., they are now trying to revoke his citizenship, and that of hundreds of other dignified Americans, including many that are their heroes.

Just how crazy are these lunatics? Let’s take a look at a couple of other planks in their platform. Section 4.26 says that “We oppose teaching multicultural based curriculum.” Section 7.10 says that “We affirm that desecrating the American or state flags is not constitutionally protected free speech, and should be punished accordingly.” That was immediately followed by Section 7.11 that says “We oppose any regulation or law that would restrict the freedom of speech.”

And if you need any further evidence of the madness in the Iowa GOP, the platform declaration also contains an enumeration of values that were taken straight from Glenn Beck’s web site for the 912 Project. Eleven of the twelve values on Beck’s site are in the Iowa GOP platform. The missing one is “charity,” which the Iowans replaced with “common sense.” That is a telling substitution. Six of nine of Beck’s principles are in the platform as well.

With the Iowa GOP deciding who can and cannot be a citizen, and Beck providing divine inspiration and spiritual guidance, there are, as Beck would say, “dark days ahead” for the Republican Party.

Michael Steele: The Era Of Apologizing Is Over

In a dramatic announcement on the passing of an historical epoch, Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steele, has declared that the Era of Apology is over. That’s right, the Apologiac Age has come to a close, according to Steele:

“The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over. It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican navel gazing is over. We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future.”

While it is encouraging to hear that Republicans will cease to gaze at their navels, that doesn’t explain how their new tunnel blindness with regard to the past will help them to win the future. It also doesn’t advance the argument that the Apologiac Age is truly over.

One argument against Steele’s hypothesis is that experts have been unable to identify the beginning of the Era of Apology. Despite rigorous searches, no apologies have been uncovered for any of the most profound failures of the last administration:

  • Missing all of the warning signs prior to 9/11.
  • Waging a preemptive war of aggression based on weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.
  • Permitting thousands to die in New Orleans due to incompetence and neglect.
  • Politicizing the Justice Department by hiring and firing attorneys based on partisan affiliation.
  • Diluting Constitutional rights through warrantless searches and the suspension of habeas corpus.
  • Violating domestic and international laws against torture.
  • Causing the collapse of the economy via deregulation, collusion with corporate cronies, and irresponsible spending and taxation policy.

The absence of any evidence that an Apologiac Age ever began inveighs heavily against the contention that it has now concluded. Conservative Apologiac theorists like Steele may seek to support their claim by pointing to the frequent apologies made by Republicans (including Steele) to Rush Limbaugh for having referred to him as an entertainer, or otherwise something less than the Republican Overlord. Or they may cite the apology made by Steele himself when, addressing the Wall Street bailout, he said we need to “own up, do the, ‘My bad,’ and move forward.” However, none of these apologies actually represent the Republican Party accepting responsibility for the tragedies it inflicted on this nation, and the world.

Moving forward was a primary theme in Steele’s Apologia speech. He seemed to be especially sensitive to the notion that Americans might linger too long on the failures of the GOP’s recent past. His message was simply to stop looking back. After all, he said, Ronald Reagan would never look back:

“Ronald Reagan always insisted that our party must move aggressively to seize the moment. He insisted that our party recognize the truth of the times and establish our first principles in both word and deed [...] So in the best spirit of President Reagan, it’s time to saddle up and ride.”

Steele, it must be noted, had to look back over twenty years to come up with that advice from Reagan against looking back. For Steele, looking back twenty years is enlightening, but looking back at the the last eight years is just rehashing the irrelevant. And everyone knows that if you’re looking to the future, the most inspiring analogy is one that includes saddling up your horse.

Steele is intent on peddling his theory on the end of Apologia. He even borrows Barack Obama’s inspirational message of change. But Steele is quick to point out that his version of change “comes in a tea bag.” Historians, I am sure, will spend countless hours trying to figure out what that means. And this may be the underlying brilliance of Steele’s strategy. If no one knows what you’re talking about, they can’t make much of an attempt to dispute it.

Thus, the introduction of the end of the Era of Apology, an era that never began, should quite sufficiently confuse the people, the Party, and most importantly, the press. At least for another week or two.

In Honor Of Ronald Reagan’s Birthday

Ronald Reagan would be 98 years old today were he alive. So on this special occasion, I thought it would be appropriate pay tribute with an excerpt of the new book by Will Bunch, “Tear Down This Myth.”

Reagan: Tear Down This MythIt was Ronald Reagan himself who, as the spotlight faded on his presidency in 1988, tried to highlight his eight-year record by reviving a quote from John Adams, that “facts are stubborn things.” The moment became quite famous because the then-77-year-old president had botched it, and said that “facts are stupid things.” The tragedy of American politics was that just two decades later, facts were neither stubborn nor even stupid – but largely irrelevant.

Any information about Iran-Contra or how the 1979-81 hostages were released (Rudy Giuliani had falsely claimed during the 2008 race they were freed when “the Gipper” looked Iranian leaders in the eye) that didn’t fit the new official story line was being metaphorically clipped out of the newspaper and tossed down “memory hole” – the fate of any information that would have undercut Reagan’s image as an all-benevolent Big Brother still guiding the conservative movement from above.

A more factual synopsis of the Reagan presidency might read like this: That Reagan was a transformative figure in American history, but his real revolution was one of public-relations-meets-politics and not one of policy. He combined his small-town heartland upbringing with a skill for story-telling that was honed on the back lots of Hollywood into a personal narrative that resonated with a majority of voters, but only after it tapped into something darker, which was white middle class resentment of 1960s unrest.

His story arc did become more optimistic and peaked at just the right moment, when Americans were tired of the “malaise” of the Jimmy Carter years and wanted someone who promised to make the nation feel good about itself again. But his positive legacy as president today hangs on events that most historians say were to some great measure out of his control: An economic recovery that was inevitable, especially when world oil prices returned to normal levels, and an end to the Cold War that was more driven by internal events in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe than Americans want to acknowledge.

His 1981 tax cut was followed quickly by tax hikes that you rarely hear about, and Reagan’s real lasting achievement on that front was slashing marginal rates for the wealthy – even as rising payroll taxes socked the working class. His promise to shrink government was uttered so many time that many acolytes believe it really happened, but in fact Reagan expanded the federal payroll, added a new cabinet post, and created a huge debt that ultimately tripped up his handpicked successor, George H.W. Bush. What he did shrink was government regulation and oversight — linked to a series of unfortunate events from the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s to the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s.

Happy birthday you greedy, lying, war-mongering, phony, SOB.

John Bolton Blames America First

nullThere is a Society of Conservative Demagogues (SCD) who specialize in spewing a sort of Patriopathic™ zeal that is really not much more than low grade sanctimony. They are descended from Crusaders and Witch Burners and the defective souls who have convinced themselves of their own infallibility. Their contemporary Cardinals are TelePundits preaching from their TelePulpits of the heathens (i.e. Liberals) whom they dismiss as traitors. They rally the faithful (i.e. fearful) with liturgies expounding on the Infidels whom they say always blame America first.

Yesterday, a charter member of the SCD helped to prove the old saying, “If you hate something enough, you become it.”

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton made the rounds at Fox News to offer his assessment of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and to point his accusatory finger at the U.S. of A.

On Hannity & Not Hannity (video): “I think by acceding to Benazir Bhutto’s desire to get back into the game in Pakistan, seeing her as somebody who is an alternative to Musharraf we, in effect, helped precipitate this dynamic which has led to her tragic assassination.”

On Fox News (video): “I think that in part the United States is responsible for this by pushing Musharraf, trying to cut a deal with Benazir Bhutto, by encouraging her to go back in the country, by trying to act like we could have a democratic election campaign in a situation of great instability”

I never heard Bolton express such an aversion to democracy with regard to Iraq where there is a fair measure of instability as well. While Bolton blamed America, Bhutto blamed Bolton’s pal, Musharraf. He continued his analysis by recommending a “timeout” that would “require a period of martial law.” What a great way for the U.S. to promote freedom throughout the world.

The conservative taunt of “Blame America First” appears to have originated with Ronald Reagan’s UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, in a speech before the Republican nominating convention for Reagan’s second term:

“…the San Francisco Democrats didn’t blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States. But then, they always blame America first.”

Four years later Reagan himself used it at the RNC’s anointment of George H. W. Bush to tarnish Democrats for…

“…policies of tax and spend, economic stagnation, international weakness and accommodation, and always, always, always, blame America first.”

In the interim it has been employed by everyone from House Minority Leader John Boehner to Culture Warrior Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly even adopted Kirkpatrick’s swipe at “San Francisco Democrats”, which at the time was a reference to where the Democratic National Convention was held the same year, not a regional insult as is intoned by O’Reilly.

However, you never hear rightists complain when one of their own resorts to blaming America. For example, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson wasted no time in assigning the blame for 9/11 to a broad swath of American citizens and institutions:

Falwell: I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way…I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’

Robertson: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

But I’m sure this will all be rectified when O’Reilly returns from vacation and lets John Bolton know that such irresponsible rhetoric will not be tolerated and that America-haters like Bolton should either straighten up or shut up. That’s right…I’m as sure of that as I am that O’Reilly will kiss Keith Olbermann full on the mouth the next time he runs into him at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem.

The pseudo-rectitude of the “Absolve America Always” crowd flies in the face of our nation’s traditional values. This country was founded by rebels who felt so passionately about the right to dissent that they enshrined it in the very first amendment to the Constitution. And true Americans will always prefer to align themselves with those who condemn torture and tyranny, as opposed to those who condone it in the name of patriotism.