Scandals, Reagan Regime

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Reagan Legacy

There is so much mythology about Ronald Reagan that it's pathetic. The myth and the man were two different realities. I don't mean to disrespect the dead, but I do want the truth to come out. 1. Shortly after his election, the truth did come out -- he had made a deal with Iran's Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini to release the "hostages" that had been taken in exchange for weapons that were trans-shipped through Israel. Thus, the negotiations of President Carter to free them were deliberately made to fail, with Reagan's help.

I lived in Washington for most of those eight years, and for most of them would have replied with an unhesitating "yes." (To this day I refuse to call my local airport "Reagan," since before the name change it was Washington National, which means, thanks very much, that it was already named for a perfectly good ex-president.) Even now I can easily remember the things that outraged me: his easy manner when lying and his sometimes breathtakingly reactionary views. These extended from the whitewashing of the SS graves at Bitburg to his opinion that Americans fighting for the Spanish Republic had been on the "wrong" side, to his discovery that apartheid South Africa had always been an ally of the United States. Then there was the abject scuttle from Lebanon and the underhanded way in which Reagan tried to blame it on the Democrats. Perhaps worst of all was an apparent fusion of two things: his indulgence of fundamentalist and millennial priestly crooks like Jerry Falwell and his seeming flippancy about nuclear war. He once maintained that intercontinental missiles could be recalled after being launched, made on-air jokes about blasting the Soviet Union, and fatuously intoned "May the Force be with you" after announcing his plan for a Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars." The coincidence between his superstitious interest in "End Times" theology and his insouciance about nuclear matters seemed dire in the extreme. And then there was Alexander Haig as secretary of state, and Oliver North as confidant, and the wife with the astrologer …

  1. Reagan's average approval rating during the eight years that he was in office was nothing spectacular - 52.8 percent, according to Gallup. That places the 40th president not just behind Kennedy, Clinton and Dwight Eisenhower, but also Lyndon Johnson and George H.W. Bush, neither of whom are talked up as candidates for Mount Rushmore.
  2. Reagan signed measures that increased federal taxes every year of his two-term presidency except the first and the last. These included a higher gasoline levy, a 1986 tax reform deal that included the largest corporate tax increase in American history, and a substantial raise in payroll taxes in 1983 as part of a deal to keep Social Security solvent. While wealthy Americans benefitted from Reagan's tax policies, blue-collar Americans paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes when Reagan left office than when he came in.
  3. Reagan aide Paul Bremer, later George W. Bush's point man in Baghdad, even argued that terrorism suspects should be tried in civilian courts. "A major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are - criminals - and to use democracy's most potent tool, the rule of law, against them," Bremer said. In 1988, Reagan signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which stated that torture could be used under "no exceptional circumstances, whatsoever."
  4. Reagan famously declared at his 1981 inauguration that "in the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." This rhetorical flourish didn't stop the 40th president from increasing the federal government's size by every possible measure during his eight years in office. Federal spending grew by an average of 2.5 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, while Reagan was president. The national debt exploded, increasing from about $700 billion to nearly $3 trillion. Many experts believe that Reagan's massive deficits not only worsened the recession of the early 1990s but doomed his successor, George H.W. Bush, to a one-term presidency by forcing him to abandon his "no new taxes" pledge. The number of federal employees grew from 2.8 million to 3 million under Reagan, in large part because of his buildup at the Pentagon. (It took the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton to trim the employee rolls back to 2.7 million.) Reagan also abandoned a campaign pledge to get rid of two Cabinet agencies - Energy and Education - and added a new one, Veterans Affairs.
  5. Reagan's contributions to the culture wars of the 1980s were largely rhetorical and symbolic. Although he published a book in 1983 about his staunch opposition to abortion (overlooking the fact that he had legalized abortion in California as governor in the late 1960s), he never sought a constitutional ban on abortion. In fact, Reagan began the odd practice of speaking to anti-abortion rallies by phone instead of in person - a custom continued by subsequent Republican presidents. He also advocated prayer in public schools in speeches, but never in legislation.

Reagan Regime scandals

More Executive branch appointees were indicted and convicted of felonies during the Reagan Administration than any other administration.

More than likely the Bush 43 regime will push Reagan to second place in the 'Most Corrupt' rating.


Five myths about Ronald Reagan's legacy.

We all know that Ronald and Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers, but apparently the 40th president was also well-versed in the writings of occult scholar Manly P. Hall, most famous for his 1928 tome The Secret Teachings of All Ages. Over at the Washington Post, former BB guestblogger Mitch Horowitz, author of the excellent "Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation," explores the Reagan-Hall connection. From the Washington Post:

Reagan voted 'greatest American'. Former US President Ronald Reagan has been voted the "greatest American" of all time by his fellow citizens.

Reagan Budget Head Stockman Is Charged With Fraud


March 27, 2007 NEW YORK -- David A. Stockman, a chief architect of President Ronald Reagan's economic revolution turned Wall Street money man, was indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and obstruction of justice.

Stockman, 60, who faces the prospect of three decades in prison, is accused of defrauding investors and banks during his stewardship of Collins & Aikman, a large Southfield, Mich., auto-parts maker that descended into bankruptcy in 2005.

First elected to the House of Representatives at age 30, the boy wonder grew in stature when he was named Reagan's first director of the Office of Management and Budget. In that post he became the highly visible point man for the "trickle-down" economic doctrine of the 1980s. But his private conversations about the budget with a journalist instigated a falling out with Reagan, who took him, he said, to the "woodshed." Disillusioned with Washington, Stockman eventually left for the world of investment banking in New York.

Stockman turned himself in at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on Church Street in lower Manhattan shortly before 10:30 a.m., when investigators removed his blue-and-gold tie as a security precaution. Two hours later, he appeared in court wearing a navy pinstriped suit, tasseled loafers and a pair of tortoiseshell glasses. In a firm voice, Stockman pleaded "not guilty." He was released on a $1 million personal recognizance bond.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia said that Stockman and a team of handpicked executives entered into secret agreements with suppliers, created false documentation to fool auditors and lied repeatedly about a cash squeeze to ensure that banks would continue to finance their operations. Stockman also misled company investigators examining deals between Collins & Aikman and a business owned by a board member, according to the grand jury indictment.

"Stockman did not only have money at stake," Garcia said at a news conference. "His reputation was on the line as well."

Prosecutors charged three other former Collins & Aikman officials, including a former finance chief and a former controller. Four other employees have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against their onetime supervisor.

Outside the courthouse, Stockman presided over an impromptu news briefing, calmly discussing his efforts to move to a motel and work 16-hour days to save the company in the midst of an unprecedented cash crunch. "I took from my pocket to help," Stockman said. "I didn't line my pockets in any way."

By all accounts, Stockman operated Collins & Aikman with both hands on the wheel, fielding questions from reporters and analysts, negotiating directly with key clients, hoisting a canvas sack filled with fiscal projections and installing trusted subordinates into top posts at the auto firm, which once equipped more than 90 percent of all North American vehicles with dashboards, floor mats and other parts.

He is pursuing his defense in the same driven, detail-oriented way. Stockman blasted the charges against him as "hypertechnical" disputes about accounting policies and business judgments in an environment where board members still run scared from lawsuits after scandals at Enron and WorldCom. Stockman and prominent New York defense lawyer Elkan Abramowitz met twice with law enforcement officials in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the government from bringing the case after nearly two years of investigation.

At their news conference Monday, investigators pointed to what they called "purposeful lies" by Stockman and his team, all with an eye aimed at digging Collins & Aikman out of an ever-deepening financial hole. Ron Walker, inspector in charge of the Postal Inspection Service's New York division, said Stockman and his allies engaged in "increasingly desperate attempts to lie to lenders . . . to get them to throw good money after bad."

Stockman blamed his May 2005 ouster from the company and the multiple federal probes that followed as a "reckless spasm" of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accountability law. He argued that his case could not be more different than accounting scandals five years ago. "This wasn't any kind of joyride," he said. "This was Detroit" at a time when auto suppliers and the Big Three car makers were struggling to survive.

Stockman is almost certain to take the witness stand when the case goes to trial no earlier than next year, in part because he already has provided sworn testimony to securities regulators. Abramowitz told reporters Monday that the idea of a guilty plea "never came up."

A former babysitter for then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Stockman enjoyed a meteoric rise. He served two House terms as a Republican from Michigan and, at 34, was appointed the youngest Cabinet secretary in a century. Stockman's eventual exit from government in the mid-1980s made him hugely wealthy. The long-haired workaholic with the oversized eyeglasses wrote a book about the perils of political life and the struggles of truth-telling in Washington. Eventually he joined the Blackstone Group, a lucrative private investment partnership that brought him tens of millions of dollars.

But he remains best known for his bold projections as Reagan's first OMB director. Reagan chastised his young budget chief for expressing doubts to a Washington Post editor about massive defense spending, tax cuts and the resulting deficits at the same time he was selling the plan to the public and the Congress. The article threw Washington into uproar.

Stockman and his advisers hasten to point out that he and his Greenwich, Conn., investment firm, Heartland Industrial Partners, lost more than any other investor when Collins & Aikman veered off course. Heartland poured $360 million into the auto business, and Stockman lost $13 million more. Moreover, Stockman said he and Heartland continued to buy stock throughout his tenure at the company, on more than 150 trading days between 2002 and 2004, without unloading shares on the open market.

Linda Chatman Thomsen, enforcement director at the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed related civil charges against Stockman on Monday, said that Heartland had received $45 million in fees and services over Stockman's tenure, half of which she said Stockman personally collected. Government lawyers are seeking forfeiture of more than $1.35 billion, a portion of the $1.6 billion in outstanding debt and financing the company received from such banks as Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan Chase, lead prosecutor Helen V. Cantwell said.

In the end, Collins & Aikman, founded in 1843, will not survive intact. The company, which will pay no criminal or civil fines in connection with Monday's court filings, shed more than 11,000 employees. Current officials are selling off the company in pieces, a process that may be complete long before the Stockman case goes to trial.

Iran Contra

#26: Michael Ledeen: Improving on Mussolini

Ledeen has been called the driving philosophical force behind the neoconservative movement and (by me) "the most influential and unabashed warmonger of our time." A resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (#7), contributing editor at National Review and former Pentagon, State Department and White House consultant under Reagan (when his Israeli intelligence contacts were used to help broker the illegal Iran-contra affair), Ledeen is often quoted by top Bush officials, including Cheney, Rumsfeld and former Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. But they don't quote quotes like these--at least not in public: In March 2003, Ledeen, a leading and longtime proponent of the invasion of Iraq--and of Iran, Syria and no doubt other countries yet to be named--told a forum that "the level of casualties [in Iraq] is secondary" because "we are a warlike people...we love war."

He has written that "Change--above all violent change--is the essence of human history"; "the only way to achieve peace is through total war"; and "The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people." He was quoted approvingly by National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg as saying, "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

In April 2003--one month into the Iraq war--Ledeen gave an address titled "Time to Focus on Iran," and declared, "the time for diplomacy is at an end." Ledeen's attacks on Iran, even when Iran was assisting the US, "helped keep the Bush administration from seeking any rapprochement with Tehran," wrote William Beeman of the Pacific News Service in 2003. "Were it in Ledeen's hands, we would invade Iran today."

Most Americans have never heard of Michael Ledeen, Beeman noted, but if the US "ends up in an extended shooting war throughout the Middle East, it will be largely due to his inspiration."

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