Reflections of Ronnie : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I'm surprised none of our usually eloquent writers have posted anything on the passing of one of the 20th century's greatest Presidents. I'll take a crack at it then.

I think one of the things that gave President Reagan a 45 state victory the first time, and a 49 state victory the second was the sense he would restore the United States to greatness. He believed the USA was the greatest nation in the history of the earth, and he said it unashamedly. That agreed with a lot of people who had been beaten down by a steady stream of anti-American rhetoric and failure.

Many people felt that during the mass stupidity of the 60's and early 70's we crossed a line. We gave up victory in a war, a President had been shot, his successor retired in disgrace, and his successor resigned before he could be convicted of crimes. Our kids were taking drugs, and there were riots in our cities. Things such as abortion, homosexuality, and feminism had become acceptable, and many of the Great Society programs were creating new problems rather than solving old ones. Playboy magazine had launched what became a wave of pornography, girls no longer protected their reputations as virgins, and our military was rife with drugs and racial problems.

In the late 70's we saw the downward spiral continue. Gasoline prices took off along with inflation. The Iranians took our embassy personnel hostage and we were powerless to do anything about it. The Russians invaded Afghanistan and again, we were helpless. Our military personnel were working second jobs to feed their families, and war game after war game showed that if the Warsaw Pact invaded the NATO countries we'd lose. There was trouble at our doorstep too. In Latin America communist insurgents were taking over, and we were the chumps.

We knew deep down that this just wasn't right. Just a few years before we were on top of the world, having beaten the Axis powers. We saw that it was mostly our own moral degeneracy that had caused this, and here was a man who we sensed would really do something about it.

And he did.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2004


While I never voted for Reagan as President, (I supported my fellow Baptist Jimmy Carter in 1980), I am indeed grateful that his commitment to the PeaceKeeper (MX Missle) and Star Wars were effectively used as negotiating leverage to win the Cold War. Russia and the old Eastern Europe would not have disintegrated if not for a charismatic figure like the 40th Prez of the US. Contrary to what all of the liberal soothsaayers were predicting Reagan did not take the country into war ('83 Lebanon fiasco and Grenada notwithstanding). His old CIA chief Bill Casey died too soon to learn the real truth about Iran-Contra. While Reagan's strenghts were in foreign affairs, much like Nixon, he did eliminate the macroeconomic problem of stagflation, i.e. the simultaneous occurence of rising unemployment, anemic GDP growth and accelerating inflation inherited from the Carter Presidency. Government was shrunk somewhat, personal income taxes were cut and his first OMB Director, David Stockman, later explained the budget was indeed a Trojan Horse. Reagan did sign, albeit with a little arm twisting, the legislation which made Martin Luther King's Birthday a national holiday. Funny, I was hoping to read a Reagan tribute by Harold or Parson Ray Allen :-) QED

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2004

I got this from a buddy today. Excellent read! It's by Stanley Kurtz.

A Lesson in Backbone Reagan stood fast against deformations of the liberal spirit. When Ronald Reagan became president I was a liberal; by the time he left office I was conservative. A visit to the Soviet Union in 1979, about a year before Reagan took office, set me up for the change. The trip proved that everything my sixth-grade teacher had taught me about Communism was true. The Soviets did a few mass-scale projects, like subways, very well. But I could see with my own eyes the pathetic food supply and the shoddy wares and services produced by a system bereft of competition. Most of all, from the moment I arrived at Moscow's airport, where a book was confiscated from my bag (Hedrick Smith's, The Russians), I got a taste of life under a dictatorship. In my interactions with individual Russians, I saw (and felt) the fear and the cramped spiritual conditions of life in a police state. Never was I so relieved as when I landed back in Germany and laid eyes on an American soldier.

After this Soviet interlude, and just around the time Ronald Reagan took office, I moved to Berkeley, where I began to question the direction of contemporary liberalism. I remember the fabulous daily scene on campus, with rock bands blasting, students feasting on fare from an incredible variety of restaurants, and Marxists leafleting on the plaza. Having just encountered a living socialist state with a shamefully poor food supply, and having seen the dangers individual Russians courted in their attempts to get hold of forbidden rock music, I wondered if these Berkeley radicals understood the implications of the ideas they were playing with.

LIBERALISM'S DEFORMATION It wasn't just the crazies in Berkeley. Back then, Tom Wicker, James Reston, and the other liberal voices at the New York Times seemed obsessed with the supposed irrationality and danger of Ronald Reagan's anti-Communism. I scanned their writings for any substantive discussion of the character of the Soviet regime. But somehow op-eds about the Soviets always turned into pieces about Ronald Reagan, about the madness of a man who dared to call our foes an evil empire. And what did liberals really think of the Soviet Union? They didn't want to know.

Reagan was never the out-of-control cowboy of liberal imagination. He was strong enough to take steps toward peace. For example, he unilaterally lifted Jimmy Carter's post-Afghanistan embargo on American gain sales to the Soviet Union. Yet Reagan would not forget — or allow us to forget — the harsh reality of the Soviet regime. Jimmy Carter famously changed his view of the Soviets after their invasion of Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan would not have been surprised.

When Reagan was shot, I remember being on campus and hearing people cheer. That disturbed me deeply. A couple years later, Communists staged a coup in Grenada. Soon they were building an airport that could accommodate military transports ferrying Cuban arms to Marxist insurgents throughout the hemisphere. When Reagan invaded, I cheered. But Berkeley was the site of the largest American demonstration against Reagan's intervention.

I've already written about the famous fracas over the visit of Reagan's U.N. ambassador, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, to the Berkeley campus. It wasn't surprising that radicals tried to shout her down. What shocked was that even faculty members started arguing that "oppressors" have no free-speech rights (this, in the birthplace of the free-speech movement). That was the beginning of campus "political correctness," before the phenomenon even had a name. Obviously, some terrible deformation had developed within liberalism — a rejection, in the name of freedom, of the very principles of liberty, along with a mental migration from America itself. Meanwhile, the real victims of oppression, the brave dissidents within the Soviet Union, saw Reagan and Kirkpatrick as heroes.

REAGAN'S MOST IMPORTANT FOREIGN-POLICY DECISION The big anti-Reagan cause during my time in Berkeley was the so- called nuclear-freeze movement, which was far more powerful in Germany and Western Europe than in the United States. Reagan's willingness to defy the movement and deploy Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe was a critical step in containing, and eventually ending, Soviet power. After Reagan successfully deployed the missiles and won reelection, the freeze movement died.

But as Reagan's last secretary of state, George Shultz, once said, the most important foreign-policy decision Ronald Reagan ever made was to fire the striking air-traffic controllers. (For a wonderful account of the PATCO strike, see Peggy Noonan's biography of Reagan, When Character Was King.) That incident, early in Reagan's first term, embodied his character, had an enormous and unanticipated effect on his foreign policy, and even foreshadowed the challenge we face right now.

Reagan had cut his political teeth as president of the Screen Actors Guild. As a union man, he had genuine sympathy for strikers — and for the right to strike. And PATCO (the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) was one of the few unions that supported Reagan's presidential bid. No one denied that the controllers had an unusually stressful job, and one that was absolutely essential to the economy. So Reagan had every reason to work with PATCO when it asked for a raise.

Reagan offered an 11-percent wage increase — significant during a period of budget cuts — but PATCO would settle for nothing less than a 100-percent raise. The union knew Reagan's sympathies, knew it had endorsed his presidential bid, and knew that a strike would likely paralyze the economy. National security was also at stake, since the network of American bombers ready to head for the Soviet Union at the hint of a nuclear attack depended on the controllers.

THE WORLD WAS WATCHING Of course, that's why critical federal employees like air-traffic controllers aren't allowed to strike. Every PATCO member had signed a sworn affidavit agreeing not to strike, and Reagan had made it clear to the controllers that under no circumstances would he accept an illegal strike. PATCO thought he was bluffing, so with the economy hanging in the balance, 70 percent of the controllers walked out.

Reagan scrambled to put together a working air-traffic-control system. Between the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Department, private controllers, and the non-striking PATCO employees, a system was created that kept military and civilian aircraft aloft. When Canadian controllers shut down Gander Airport in sympathy with PATCO, the president authorized Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis to tell them to open the airport, or the United States would never land there again. The Canadians folded. The French made threatening noises, but the British stuck by the United States. In the meantime, Reagan worked behind the scenes, with Ted Kennedy and AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland, to make sure the Democrats didn't turn the strike into a partisan issue. Both Kirkland and Kennedy thought that PATCO's demand for a 100 percent raise was out of line. They agreed not to go beyond a bit of public grumbling.

So the president bit the bullet and fired the striking controllers. That set the tone for labor negotiations with national, and even municipal, governments for years to come. More important, the whole world was watching Regan's conduct during the strike. This was obviously a man who would hang tough under pressure, and risk serious costs to back up a decision he believed to be necessary and right. The Soviet's took note.

WHY I JOINED REAGAN How little has changed in 23 years time! The Soviet Union is no more. Yet the New York Times still rings with fearful doubts about a supposedly out-of-control cowboy who dares to call our foes evil. Before Iraq, I scanned antiwar opinion pieces for some hint of what liberals really thought of Saddam Hussein's vicious regime. They still didn't want to know. Our campuses are now firmly under the control of the sort of graduate students and faculty members who shouted down, or excused the shouting down, of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. The pacifists and Green-party activists who led the nuclear-freeze movement have completed their long march through the continent's institutions and are now calling the tune in much of Europe. Britain is more or less with us, while Canada and France stand nervously aside. The Democrats and organized labor still tend to divide on issues of war. How extraordinary, yet how utterly unsurprising, that so much of the past should carry through to today.

Ronald Reagan led the way. He showed what could be done, not only in the face of Soviet belligerence, but against the more profound threat of the West's own weakness and blindness. When the children of '68 made their bid for cultural control of Germany, the resistance of their elders melted away. Those who had lived under Hitler felt too discredited to stand against the moral self- righteousness of the new generation. But in America, it was Ronald Reagan, during his time as governor of California, who stood fast for his generation against the deformations in the liberal spirit that had their home in Berkeley. That, in part, is why he was elected president. That is also why the Left has always hated him.

Ronald Reagan stood boldly against a cultural and political tide that threatened — and still threatens — to turn the West against itself. Amazingly, he succeeded. Ronald Reagan stood down the Soviet Union, despite Europe's fears, despite America's wobbly liberal elite, and despite the rise of an increasingly totalitarian campus Left. And Reagan's victory was our victory. In the narrow sense, that means Reagan's triumph signaled the ascent of America's conservatives. Yet in a larger sense, Reagan stood for the classic liberal values at the heart of the American tradition. That is why his broader coalition succeeded — and that is why I joined.

Ronald Reagan is gone now, although we have never needed him more. His enemies could not defeat him. Even that bullet couldn't cut him down. This tower of a man finally yielded to the ravages of age and disease, which defeat us all in the end. Yet, with a storm in the Middle East, and clouds on the horizon in Korea, if we take Ronald Reagan's brave life as a much-needed lesson in backbone, the final victory will have been his.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2004

May the Lord bring restoration to his family. The last 10 years must have been extremely difficult for him and them. Although I would never be as maudlin as you guys, I send my sincere condolences to this family for the loss of a loved one is often difficult. May he rest in peace.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2004

This excerpt from a column by Desiree Cooper reminds me of the real Ronald Reagan.

"The 40th president of the United States survived John Hinckley's bullet, but more miraculously, his rosy reputation has survived the mean-spirited reality of his tenure as president. Yes, he was charming and affable. He was a straight shooter, but often doddering -- a trait, which for reasons I can't explain, we found comforting in the Leader of the Free World.

Yes, the Soviet Union fell during his reign, as much from the weight of its own failures as from engaging in an expensive arms race with the former Hollywood movie star.

But does "trickle down" mean anything to anyone who's not potty training? Reagan and his since-discredited voodoo economics fueled the "greed is good" 1980s, giving tax cuts to the rich, and overseeing the pillaging of savings and loans institutions while cutting food stamps, demonizing "welfare queens," and racking up a $2.6-billion national debt. He was the Marie Antoinette of American politics, a man who championed the wealthy and let the poor scrabble over crumbs.

Schoolchildren -- that is, what was left of school after Reagan's attacks against federally-supported programs like Head Start and his charge to abolish the Department of Education -- were surprised to learn that trees cause pollution, nuclear war was winnable and ketchup qualified as a vegetable, according to their pink-cheeked president.

Reagan was the man who painted racism, sexism and classism red, white and blue. During the Reagan years, inner cities where choked off from economic prosperity, leaving 33 percent of African Americans in poverty while the white poverty rate fell to 10.5 percent. Black adult males had the same unemployment rate as white teenagers.

He was unrelenting in his attacks on affirmative action, wanted to allow states to bail out of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and, out of his 385 lifetime judicial appointments, only seven were black.

My mother always warned me not to speak ill of the dead, but no one ever said anything about correcting revisionist history. One need only to look at the ever-widening chasm between the rich and poor, urbanites and suburbanites, blacks and whites, the healthy and the ill to know that Reagan may be gone, but his brand of cruel conservatism survives."

May God's grace and mercy keep him from reaping what he hath sown.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2004

Sounds like a Berkely radical.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2004

The Truth often hurts RP

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2004

70% out of wedlock births.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2004

What does that mean RP? Well I'm glad you asked. I've heard that in some segments of our society 70% of the kids are born out of wedlock. I've heard that from numerous sources, including Focus On the Family, one of the finest Christian ministries out there.

Why many is the time on this very board I've seen people report their churches are made up mostly of the elderly and single mothers. You're right, truth hurts and that's a truth that really hurts me as an American. That's just wrong. It shouldn't outta be that-a-way, and it's one of the products of the 60's and early 70's.

First we removed the stigma that went with sexual immorality. Free love and all that. Then we subsidized all the children that were bound to come from it with welfare. That blunted the "starvation motivation". In other cases we simply killed the children with legalized abortion. Again, many Americans saw this was just wrong. It shouldn't outta be that-a-way.

We saw in Ronald Reagan a man who stood for something good we'd lost. We knew these problems are complex, and he couldn't fix everything. He made many mistakes, but he stood for a greater America - one that didn't have a 70% out of wedlock birthrate. We knew he'd at least show his disapproval, and he'd make a start. We knew he would't dally with his interns, and he wouldn't let other nations push us around. The man had backbone, and he had character. Who would even dream he'd end the Cold War?

I don't know that he was saved. My suspicion is he wasn't. But we Christians saw he stood for something we agreed with more than the feckless though born-again Jimmy Carter.

I remember during the administration of the elder Bush my boss was complaining about those #@!%^ republicans. I said "Bob, who did the democrats offer as an alternative? Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis." He said, "Well I can't argue with you there. The democrats haven't offered us a #%&!$ choice."

I sure hope ol' Bob got saved somewhere along the way. He was a nice guy.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2004

I lived through both of Ronald Reagan's terms in office. Ronald Reagan was a decent man, a decent president and a friend to many. May God rest his soul.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2004

Ron your survival is just further evidence of God's grace. Not Reagan's policies.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2004

It was God's grace AND Ronald Regan that we as Americans are still living in a free society in spite of the rampant liberalism of the Left that's trying to send this nation back down the path to Hell.

-- Anonymous, June 10, 2004

Allow me to present an observation; I looked very carefully at the mourners in line and those filing past the coffin in Orange County, Simi Valley California. The only people of color that I saw were police and/or miltary. I did not pay much attention to that , given the location. However, I am seeing the same mix as thousands of people file past the coffin in Washington, DC. On CSPAN, I watched for about 30 straight minutes and counted FIVE identifiable African Americans filing past, not counting the Honor Guard. Two of the 5 were wearing some sort of ID badges around their necks so they might have been Govt workers. My point is as the media and politians keep emphasizing how Pres Reagan was a President of the people, the message is lost on a significant segment of "the people", the African Americans in particular and Folks of Color in general. Compared to funerals of other Presidents there were none present. I say that this is a significant point that has not been laid out by the media or anybody else. President Reagan was never identified as a champion of minorities but considered by many as the opposite. The absence of non- whites speaks volumes especially since it is not an oragnized effort or boycott to keep us away. We pray for him and the family and ask God to heal the land. I am sure someone will play this position off as Left sour grapes but I would be careful of that. Black folks seem to be voting with their feet by not joining the throng of admirers.

-- Anonymous, June 10, 2004

Brother Bob McCain says of the people paying respects to President Reagan:

"The absence of non- whites speaks volumes especially since it is not an oragnized effort or boycott to keep us away."

If what you say is true, what does it say and about whom does it speak? Does it say that non-whites are not aware of his contributions; or don't care; or don't understand? Surely the end of the cold war was beneficial to all Americans; when the country prospers economically, all Americans are better off; we as black Americans must realize that our future is the tied inextricably with that of all other Americans. If the cold war had been lost, we lose; if the war in Iraq is lost, we lose.

Looking at President Reagan's background, we have a lot in common, "surviving and suceeding against all odds".

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2004

I would also ask Brother Bob to document with facts some incidents where there were "organizeds efforts to keep us away" from something.

The absence of a particular group does not by itself say anything except they are not there.

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2004

President Reagan was a great man and president.

Kirk Wheeler

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2004

Rev. Paris said: “I would also ask Brother Bob to document with facts some incidents where there were organized efforts to keep us away" from something”

When I wrote my last posting, I had in mind the Boycott Fever, boycotting those who do not agree with you, of folks like the ones that boycotted everything French because the French did not agree with US on Iraq. Bill O’Reilly, for example. However, over the years there have been many boycotts by Blacks. We were asked to boycott companies that refused to hire us, refused to serve us, or sold inferior food in our neighborhoods. We were asked to boycott Polaroid for their business in South Africa, Identification Photos. I am a Polaroid retiree and that effort came from within our company.

Now that President Reagan has been laid to rest, I can now respond to the issue. Thank you, Rev Paris for your question. It brought to mind that I had some unforgiveness that I did not realize. I have taken care of that. I forgive Mr. Reagan for what he did and did not do. Colin Powell said in his book that Reagan was insensitive to Civil Rights and examination of the record will bare that out. 1. To gain Southern White votes he opened his campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. invoking the code words, State Rights. This was a clear slap in the face of minorities. 2. If it were up to Reagan, South Africa would still be under Apartheid. Bishop Tutu who called Apartheid “evil, un-Christian” was rebuffed by the administration. The President vetoed sanctions but was overriden. A substantial number of South Africans died at the hands of police and military while Reagan’s “constructive engagement” was in place. 3. Reaganomics put a heavy burden on poor folks. Homelessness increased. Employment did come back but in the meantime, there was a heavy toll. I remember a brother of my best friend who had lost his job, there was no help for him to support his family, and he committed suicide. His obituary read, “First local victim of Reaganomics”. That was the perception. He had served in the Air Force for 8 years.

All in all, time has erased the record of the man, revised and glamorized. Pres Bush said the Pres Reagan was a champion for democracy and freedom. That statement should have an asterisk and a note explaining, “except for minorities and non-white countries.” I personally have forgiven. As Isaiah says, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” Isaiah 43:18.

God Bless Bro. Bob

-- Anonymous, June 15, 2004

Well said Bro. Bob. Very insightful yet compassionate. Thank you.

-- Anonymous, June 17, 2004

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