I: The Cult of Reagan Idolatry
He was always a fraud! There wasn’t a legitimate bone in the man’s body, he was a failed movie star who hit the political jackpot when he slithered into the Republican party and onto the ultimate stage of national politics. From the beginning Ronald Reagan was a phony, a bad B movie actor who found his place as a pitchman for the conservative movement. Reagan was a rat bastard and a fink who sold out his Hollywood peers to the anti Communist rage of the McCarthy witch hunts of the fifties and used his tenure as leader of the Screen Actors Guild as a springboard to launch his political career.
His presidency was the result of an America struggling against itself to come to terms with societal contradictions brought on as a result of the civil rights movement, the counterculture of the sixties, Vietnam and Watergate and none other than William F. Buckley himself put it best when he used the following description in a column regarding Saint Ronnie: .. “a bumpkin with oratorical gifts pandering to American self-esteem”. Reagan was a man who put forth a strong daddy image and was able to reduce complex issues to their simplest terms, the better for a populace slowly undergoing the chronic dumbing down perpetuated by the cable and satellite television explosion of the 1980s.
Now as the entire big con game becomes more apparent, we can all thank Ronald Reagan and the slavish devotees to the grand myth for the era of sloth, stupidity and scumbags that produced a generation of toxic sh*t that has set America back a century and set the nation on a course towards insolvency. The ugly lie of Reaganism must be exposed, stripped naked and laid out on an autopsy table, a bit of skillful use of a scalpel utilized to peel back the rotten flesh and expose the diseased organs. In less graphic terms, the legend itself needs to be debunked. The signs of desperation in the Republican ranks are encouraging as well as the books that are beginning to be written, books like Will Bunch’s Tear Down This Myth, the first of what I hope will be an attempt to strip away the revisionist history of the past three decades or so and allow for a national rejuvenation along to a return to true American values of economic fairness, equality and compassion that have been buried under a mountain of manure.
In order to roll back the creeping tide of fascism that has become so much a part of all that is American in early 2009 it is of utmost importance that Reaganism be recognized as the product of right-wing crackpots who in a mere quarter century have gutted this country in the name of voodoo economics and promoted an authoritarian dogma that served as a springboard for the rule of the Bush-Cheney-Rove Axis of Evil and the corruption of every relevant institution that has been staffed by fascism enabling cronies, zealots, crooks, grifters, con-artists, jack booted thugs and flim flam men. Such is the system as it exists today and as we now slowly begin to sift through the wreckage it is the mutated capitalist strain virus of Reaganism that infected the body, destroyed the immune system once known as checks and balances and then metastasized further into the global financial system which is now in freefall and widespread unrest threatens to bring down entire governments.
The 1980’s and the coming of Reagan’s cutthroat neoliberalism gave rise to the mantra of Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” in a decade where corporate raiders became role models and unfettered Wall Street uber capitalism became the driving force of our social order. It was the great national regeneration decade and that fabulous and almighty leader was our champion, the iconic president who would make things right, who would deal harshly with those bastards in Iran unlike his milquetoast predecessor, who would restore the national glory and make us that shining city on the hill.
It was morning in America again.
A couple of ambitious young Republican gangsters Grover Norquist and Jack Abramoff who would contribute largely to the decimation of America long after the hallowed Ronnie had left the building. The story of these two scumbags who would along with a cast of thousands turn the entire government into a spoils system with a ruthless cadre of fixers to ensure compliance is told very well by author Thomas Frank (What’s the Matter With Kansas?) in his latest book called The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. I excerpt the following from Frank’s lengthy piece in a recent issue of Harpers Magazine similarly entitled The wrecking crew: How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing:
The story begins in 1980, the year of the “Reagan Revolution,” when there appeared on the national scene a phenomenon that bewildered political observers: legions of politicized, energetic college students who were conservatives rather than liberals or radicals, as had been typical in the two decades previous. And not only were their politics deeply square but the idol of this unlikely youth craze was the oldest president ever. Reagan’s entire Pennsylvania campaign, for example, was run by a lad of twenty. In 1984, the aged actor won 60 percent of the college-student vote. The historical turnabout was irresistible, and Reagan Youth became one of the great journalistic clichés of the period, powering hundreds of newspaper columns and at least one beloved TV sitcom.
These sons of Reagan had a strong sense of generational self-awareness, and they loudly told the world how they had come by it. In the midst of the interminable Iran hostage crisis, a crowd of them at one college campus were supposedly so moved by a showing of Patton that they demonstrated spontaneously in favor of a nuclear attack on that country, shaking the ivory tower with chants of “First strike now!” Another well-known story of the era was how a bunch of privileged kids at Dartmouth College, a traditional fortress of privilege, decided that embracing the traditional politics of privilege and mimicking the traditional manners of the privileged were actually acts of great daring, exposing them to persecution by tyrannical liberals. Then there was Jack Abramoff, a College Republican leader in the Boston area who gained, according to the John Birch Society’s Review of the News, a “reputation as one of the most innovative of the national Conservative youth leaders” after he mounted such a massive grassroots push for Reagan in 1980 that he almost single-handedly shifted Massachusetts into the Republican column.
Abramoff, a burly fellow from Beverly Hills, came to Washington in 1981 to assume the chairmanship of the College Republican National Committee. Back in the Vietnam days it had been leftists who fought the power, he explained to reporters. But “now we’re the campus radicals.” His newly energized College Republicans (CRs) fanned out across the nation, instructing clean-cut kids on how to use the tactics of the Sixties left for their own causes. A snapshot of Abramoff using a bullhorn to rally a conservative throng was proudly reproduced in the CRs’ Annual Report for 1983, just across the page from a photo of Ralph Reed, who was then Abramoff’s right-hand man, pumping his fist at the head of a swarm of angry, sign-waving conservatives. In both instances the young men had gone into action wearing neckties.
It was Abramoff’s friend Grover Norquist, then a recent graduate of Harvard Business School, who came up with a plan for changing the very nature of the College Republicans. Norquist made a study of the CRs, developing a scheme to transform them from “a resume-padding social club,” as one account puts it, into “an ideological, grassroots organization.” Abramoff made Nor-quist the College Republicans’ executive director, and the two put Norquist’s theory into action. They purged the “old guard.” They amended the group’s constitution, establishing a structure that made the Washington office more powerful, and rewarded proselytizing on campus.
What the rising conservative sensibility of those years treasured above all else was “confrontation” with the left. It called for a quasi-military victory over liberalism; it would have no truck with civility or fair play; and it made heroes out of outrage-courting lib-fighters like Reagan’s communications director Pat Buchanan, the organizer Howard Phillips, and the young Jack Abramoff.
The first and most noticeable characteristic of this new militancy was an air of swaggering truculence. There are, of course, bullies from every walk of life and every political persuasion, but on the right bullying holds a special, exalted position. It is no accident that two of the movement’s greatest heroes—Tom DeLay and Oliver North—had the same nickname: “the Hammer.”
Jack Abramoff filled this bill perfectly. He had reportedly been something of a bully in high school and had now grown into a “hard-charging” and “dynamic” leader, in the assessment of conservative magazines, an ass-kicking weight lifter who could quiet the commies with his fists if they got out of line. The gangster fetish of his later years is by now familiar to the whole world—his constant references to The Godfather, his black trench coat and fedora, his Meyer Lansky memorabilia, the murderer argot that will no doubt serve him and his friends well during their prison years.
Abramoff himself derided the moderates he had ousted from control of the CRs as “wishy-washy country-clubbers” and insisted that he had transformed the organization into an “ideological, well-trained, aggressive, conservative” outfit. “Fighting the Left with a goal of victory” became the official, stated purpose of his College Republican cadres, according to an essay Abramoff wrote for the group’s 1983 Annual Report. The CRs were “fighting America’s last stand,” he blustered; they would “defund the enemy wherever possible,” one of his lieutenants added. According to the journalist Nina Easton, CR officers had their underlings memorize the gory opening monologue from the movie Patton, only with the word “Demo crat” standing in for the word “Nazi.” Other young rightists of the period went a step further. J. Michael Waller, the editor of the Sequent, a student paper at George Washington University, actually took breaks from red-baiting professors in order to zip down to Central America and hang out with the Nicaraguan Contras and the death-squad faction in El Salvador.
War was the order of the day, from President Reagan’s fight with the air-traffic controllers right down to the college campus, where Abramoff became famous for his declaration: “It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently.” War plus revolution, actually. Abramoff liked to describe his CRs as “the sword and shield of the Reagan Revolution,” and in 1984 the young firebrand used his moment at the rostrum of the G.O.P. convention in Dallas to lecture the assembled small-business types on revolutionary theory.
II: Adrift in the Land of the Angry White Male
It was always absurd, this idea of a savage campaign against “elites” being led by a poofy wordsmith like Rush Limbaugh, a Harvard fatty like Grover Norquist, a dickless academic like Newt Gingrich, and a diaper-dumping oligarch like George W. Bush. They were just another band of mischievous aristocrats who played at being the voice of the common man - these new wingers sold themselves as the champions of the fucked-over little guy, in this case the terminally frustrated boobus Americanus, who for decades had been made to sit idly by while ethnics stole his job, evil liberals mocked his religion and his simple way of life, and media “elitists” shut out his views and sent porn and married queers into his living room via the television set.
In their rise the brink of conquest the Republican party became masters at harnessing backlash politics or the politics of resentment as a basis for duping befuddled and angry Americans into voting against their own economic self-interests out of a need for revenge against minorities and the great liberal conspiarcy of the cultural elites. The dark master Richard Nixon was of course a criminal mastermind and practically wrote the book on the politics of divsion. Tricky Dick excelled in using red-baiting, race-baiting and whatever divisive tactic would allow him to rise to power. The best study of Nixonian tactics is in Rick Perlstein’s brilliant Nixonland where it is also noted that Ronald Reagan built his own political career on a similar strategy. It was during Reagan’s reign as Governor of California during the tumultuous period of societal unrest during the 1960s that Reagan became a right-wing hero. His denunciations of the hippies, "look like Tarzan, walk like Jane, and smell like Cheetah" and the hated University of Cal-Berkeley, "a hotbed of communism and homosexuality" made him into a rising star. When the now infamous Powell Memorandum laid the blueprint for the think tanks, the media takeover and the preservation of the status quo it was only a matter of time until the actor Reagan could be rolled out as the smooth talking frontman for the product of oligarchy and imperialism.
Of course the hippies would have to be demonized, turned into cartoon characters as would the effete snob liberals who would stand in the way of the new fascism and it's avuncular face, that of the great communicator, the strident anti-communist warrior king. The failure of the Vietnam war would be blamed on the liberals and the media and the seeds of white populist resentment would be sown as the farm crisis decimated the American heartland and a porcine loser named Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was plucked from obscurity and transformed into a modern day Father Coughlin. Evangelical Christian churches would be subverted by well financed, politically connected fanatics to wage the culture wars and to become the foot soldiers of the Reagan (and later Bush) Revolution. The hostility level had to be cranked up in order for the Republicans to succeed in remaking America in the image of the same jokers who once glorified the uber fascist Benito Mussolini by featuring him on the cover of Fortune Magazine while singing the praises of the efficiency of his business model. There was the ugly and some might say outright treasonous takedown of Bill Clinton over his sexual dalliances which provided rocket fuel for the extremist reactionary right's hate machine, and on the morning of September 11th 2001 that fuel became nuclear.
But I digress....
The conditions on the ground in early 2009, the beginning of the era of Barack Obama and the end of the lie of Reaganism are those of unmitigated fury as the right confronts the greatest threat to the supremacy of their cancerous capitalism since the days of the hated Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The battlefield is overrun by the defenders of failed dogma and by the well paid servants who stand to lose their meal tickets. Already, in the early weeks of the Obama administration the Republicans have squealed like stuck pigs, outraged at the massive jacking up of the debt to somehow staunch the bleeding and to create jobs for the jobless. Of course they never gave a rat’s a**hole when Lord Bush was robbing from their grandchildren to build the police state infrastructure, wage illegal wars of aggression where trillions of dollars were sucked down a black hole inhabited by the slime creatures that are blood barters and war profiteers.
One would figure that the Republican fascist party would have been somewhat humbled after their mangy asses were taken to the woodshed by voters back in November but that would be naïve. Hitler never stopped after his failed beer hall putsch and neither will the devil-spawn of McCarthy, Nixon Reagan and the Bush family. Despite a silly and childish attempt at crafting some sort of bi-partisanship by the Obama administration they were shanked in the back by a dirty pack of double-dealing, jack-booted, America hating vermin who damn near succeeded in derailing the stimulus. Not that it won’t fall anyway after the king of capitulation Harry Reid and his fellow Democrat assclowns in the Senate allowed the poison pill of hundreds of billion dollars in those wonderful tax cuts that have worked so well at destabilizing the country by destroying the middle class to be inserted into the goddamned thing. The most unsurprising kick in the balls to Obama came from media darling and reputed ‘maverick’ John McCain (you may remember him as Sarah Palin’s running-mate) who spat on the new president’s outstretched hand. Of course McCain is also the self-admitted former war criminal who dropped napalm on civilians and then when his plane was shot down in Nam went on to make propaganda pieces for those dirty communists. But yet in this land of the dumb it is Jane Fonda who is still vilified decades after that filthy illegal murderous war ended with America slinking off after igniting the entire region, killing millions and allowing a rogue faction of the intelligence sector to establish a massive drug trafficking network, some of the profits of which would fund Reagan’s bloody little soirees into Central America to prop up despots and their vile torturing regimes.
The Republican party has long been a haven for reactionary thugs, neo-Nazis, out and out fascists, perverts, pederasts, braggarts, loudmouths, authority worshippers and the same sort of immoral degenerates, the dregs of society that Hitler used to much success in populating the ranks of his Sturmabteilung (SA). It worked out so well that Der Führer had to ultimately undertake an intervention to prevent them from turning on him that is famously known as the Night of the Long Knives. In any sort of normally functioning political system a similar purge would have occurred in a failed reactionary party after having their clocks cleaned but America post-9/11 is anything but a normally functioning society. If nothing else the remnants of the disciples of the false god Reagan have dug in even deeper, real dead enders, like the Japanese who had to be literally burned out of their caves and tunnels even after defeat was a certainty. One gets an idea of just how demented that this particular party is when one member, Pete Sessions of Texas proudly compared his party to the Taliban when being interview about strategy during the Obama era. What the f*ck is up with that? Didn’t the Taliban become the enemy after that oh so glorious and politically serendipitous day of 9/11/01? Isn’t America at war with the Taliban for allegedly aiding and abetting the great bogeyman Osama bin Laden? Did Sessions really just come out and say that he and his party are studying the methods of terrorists? Such a thing would have been cause for an extraordinary rendition under the Bush-Cheney junta, perhaps closing Gitmo is premature because we have an admitted fifth column waging war against America from within and being far more successful than al-CIAda could have ever hoped to be in even their wildest of wet dreams.
And there is also opportunity in undermining Obama and allowing the economy to continue to deteriorate so that he can be blamed in 2010. A rising star is a guy named Eric Cantor, a bespectacled little snake whose role model is none other than Newt Gingrich is a rising power in the neo-Confederate rump that is still beholden to the preservation of the Reagan temple of greed and has emerged as a particularly virulent critic of President Obama’s attempts to save capitalism from itself. Hanoi John along with his loyal sidekick Lindsey ‘five rugs for five bucks’ Graham, (the South Carolina Senator least likely to surprise anyone were he found in the men’s room of a rest area off of I-95 with a co*k in his mouth ala Larry Craig). "If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed" hissped Graham in his Gomer Pyle singsong, a longtime component of the three headed monster of McCain-Lieberman-Graham (although the wandering Jew has been somewhat chastened after his fall betrayal and his unconscionable holding onto his prized seat as Der Chairman of Der Kommitee of Heimat Security). You have to love the way that the fascist Republican party is now crying like a pack of Sarah Palin's clubbed baby seals...wasn’t this the criminal syndicate that once boasted as a national leader a slimy little greaseball from Texas named Tom DeLay who once allegedly said on bi-partisanship “f*ck that, it’s time for all out war?”.
The losers of November’s election were out hitting the Sunday morning horseshit circuit in force decrying the lack of deference from Obama and the supine twits in Harry Reid’s Senate when it came to honoring the spirit of Reaganism, what’s next, they exhume the old bastard’s rotting corpse and haul it around like some ghoulish sequel to Weekend at Bernie’s? The house still sets the rules too, the media is still bought and paid for, this much is already evident with this beautiful little example: Obama's use of fear card may backfire. So Obama is now a fear-monger despite not one f*cking peep about the eight year reign of terror by the Bush regime during which Americans were conditioned to see swarthy Arab terrorists in every dark corner, under their beds and as a result turned into the world’s largest coward colony courtesy of apocalyptic conjecture about smoking mushroom clouds, manipulation of the infamous threat level matrix for political means and the canonization of Jack Bauer, a man who would rip the testicles off of a toddler with a pair of pliers in front of it's mother for god and country. Obama is going to have a rough time taking on the consolidated fascist media colossus and the highly paid celebrity whores who pass themselves off as journalists. Operation Mockingbird is alive and well and even more dangerous now that the entire national media is owned by a handful of corporations with interlocking directorates. Now there has been talk about reinstating the Fairness Doctrine which might not be a bad idea in leveling the playing field against the sort of fascists that former Roosevelt Vice President Henry A. Wallace once so accurately pegged:
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism.
But any reinstatement of such rules in the current era of systemic rot and deterioration would only be selectively enforced to keep out those who question the state and the system itself. You will never see the Fairness Doctrine used to offset Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and any number of other demagogic clones. While this is a popular idea with many liberals it is only going to be eventually turned on them and other alternative media voices including bloggers who dare to question the legitimacy of the oligarchic status quo. But the media is a huge problem and the onslaught of propaganda pumped out to prevent even a diluted bucket of horse piss of a stimulus package illustrates that any sort of return of the government from its current role of protector of corporate interests and the wealthy will be fought tooth, fang and claw in a destructive battle of attrition that will continue to transform families and friends into warring factions that can be exploited by the same ruthless scum who have rigged the tables so successfully, some could say too successfully.
How this is all going to end up is impossible to tell, the American eugenics project to create the perfect Idiocracy, a reverse master-race has any sort of reformer like Obama facing some seriously nasty odds, just think of the Detroit Lions hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after next year's Super Bowl and you get the general idea. Frank Rich of the damned liberal New York Times wrote a piece this weekend entitled They Sure Showed That Obama that would tend to create some optimism in those readers less cynical than I. It was this line that killed me though and only further underlines the ongoing demographic problems facing Obama and anyone else who tries to change the system. Rich refers to: The beefy, beer-drinking, deer-hunting white guys — incessantly interviewed in bars and diners — would never buy the skinny black intellectual. Herein lies the problem, despite what may have happened during the election this is a nightmare block of the population and not one to be trifled with because old prejudices die hard and as always liberals have shown a proclivity in overestimating their ability to reach those who within their thick, Neanderthal skulls have banned logic and reason. I'll put in a plug for a big favorite of mine, the moral beacon in this sick land of denial and dumbness and that would be for the brilliant writer Joe Bageant and his book Deer Hunting With Jesus, trust me, it's a must read.
Now I may not be a hunter (personally I think it’s f*cking slaughter) but I am one hell of a beefy, beer-drinking white dude, a military veteran and have 11 tattoos as well if that is any sort of an added qualification to the shithack D.C. conventional wisdom. Despite that I am smart enough to not be hoodwinked by a bunch of pampered, elitist, chickenhawk charlatans trying to bait folks like American Me into voting against my own economic self interests. sh*t, my grandfather was a Romanian immigrant who joined a union to go work at a meat packing house (but only after at age 15 he filled his pockets full of ball bearings in order to qualify for the job's required weight), fought in World War II in the Pacific in some of the most vicious of cleanup operations and as an FDR democrat hated the sleazy, fascist snake oil salesmen that were Republicans. Thank God that he died before that fraudulent piece of sh*t Ronald Reagan was President but my grandmother who survived him by nearly thirty years cursed the Gipper and that punk assed borderline retard George W. Bush until her dying breath. The point is that most people from that particular era (never mind the 'greatest generation' hogwash) weren't so easily duped, and their ability to own a home, raise a family, take vacations on one income are a testament to they way that things used to be in this country before the rats and chiselers hijacked the system.
So as one of the manly men who are largely supposed to buy into the anti-elite propaganda peddled by the fifty-million dollar a year degenerate child f*cking dope addict I have always taken great offense at just how f*cking stupid that the average American beer swilling, swinging dick angry white male can be. Hell, I love drinking beer (and lots of it), shooting guns (although not at unarmed animals), watching football, driving fast, hating the insipid tyranny of political correctness and ogling nekkid women but I also don’t get suckered into that anti-intellectual horseshit that makes one of those clueless, testosterone and alcohol fueled dopes who are as mad as hell but too f*cking dumb to realize that they should be really mad at the millionaire lardasses like Limbaugh who are very well paid to dupe these knuckle-draggers into consistently voting AGAINST their own economic well being. Listen dudes, there is nothing macho in being stupid and unless y’all get a clue your sex lives will continue to be comprised of drinking a twelve pack of cheap malt liquor and whacking off over the latest issue of Penthouse or whatever other fuckrag that you pick up at your local convenience store's jack rack. Stop fantasizing about coming on Sarah Palin’s t*ts, stop reveling in the falsehood that everyman Joe the Plumber is a working class hero and pick up a book once in awhile, the mind that you save may be your own.
And maybe, just maybe the inhabitants of this land of shame, sin and sorrow can finally shrink the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. In a time when even the maestro Greenspan openly admits that he fucked up big time then I suppose that anything is theoretically possible.