Monthly Archives: February 2007

Reagan’s Legacy

In the “Good Old Days” Americans felt that we can do anything we put our minds to. The government, in Lincoln‘s immortal words, was “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Invoked at Gettysburg to justify for the Civil War – so “this Government, of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth” was the American ideal from FDR to Nixon; perhaps from Washington to Nixon.

We knew were the good guys. We won World War II, we defeated the Nazis, we were taking on the Soviets, and we knew we would win. When Kennedy said ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ he knew, we all knew, that if Eastern Europe was ruled from Moscow, we were threatened. We wanted to make the world a better place.

We landed on the moon. Not once, but six times between Apollo 11 landing in the Sea of Tranquility, Mare Tranquillitatis, on July 20, 1969 when Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took that “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” and Apollo 17, in Taurus Tittrow, Dec. 11, 1972.[1]

But today our national ideal is the opposite. Today, rather than we can do anything, we believe that government is incapable of everything. Some people actually believe that NASA staged the moon landings. A Conservative pundit would say, “Brown was incompetent as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. How can you expect otherwise? He’s a government employee. Ditto for Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense.
President Reagan said “the 10 most frightening words are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”[2] If you hold this view, how can you run an agency like FEMA? How can you expect any response to a Katrina-like event other than the actual response to Katrina? How can you run the Department of Homeland Security? Or the Department of Defense? Or the Executive Branch?
Rather than “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” our government has become “of the special interests, by the special interests, and for the special interests.”

This is the legacy of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Lenin would be pleased. Stalin would smile. And Putin is laughing.



[1] NASA. www.spds.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/apollo.html . See also Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Apollo and other sites. For a good overview see the Universities Space Research Association, USRA. www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/apollo_landings.html For great images, and sound, www.panoramas.dk/moon/mission-apollo.html.

[2] March 22, 1988, Remarks to state and local Republican officials on Federalism and Aid to the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance. http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1988/032288d.htm.)



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Filed under Apollo 11, Kennedy, Lincoln, Ronald Reagan

State of Duh Union

L. J. “Gonzo” Furman.

Washington. President Bush found his stride. He has a terrific career ahead of him on late night cable tv news, or Comedy Central. He may not have the physical presence of Will Ferrell, or the ‘kick them when they’re down’, ‘laughing at you not with you’ sensibility of Steven Colbert or David Letterman, but his timing and deadpan style rivals Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Jay Leno and the other great news anchors of late night television. His ‘State of Duh Union‘ was brilliant. Bush, with his zany sidekicks, Dick ‘I-Shot-The-Lawyer’ Cheney and Karl ‘I-Don’t-Care-If-It’s-A-Felony, I’m-Not-Quitting’ Rove should star in ‘The Compassionate Conservative’ on cable with ‘The Daily Show and ‘The Colbert Report’.

With energy policy Bush started by playing it straight: ‘Energy policy is a matter of national security.’ Solar energy and wind power produce electricity without pollution, and at lower cost. But this is boring so Bush didn’t talk about this. He did say that we should double the amount of petroleum the government stores in reserve and drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge. Some say the petroleum reserves are a government handout to the oil industry. Because the government buys oil, and then locks it up never to use it, until an emergency. And in an emergency, we need more than we have in reserve, so the government buys more, usually at higher prices. Does this sound like a good deal for the taxpayers or a handout to the oil industry?

Now Bush wants to double the reserves, and drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge. We can combine these goals by using the Arctic Oil as the Reserves. Normally, to create the reserves we take oil out of the ground, ship it, refine it, spill some, then put it in tanks, never to use it.

So why not keep the oil up in the Artic Refuge for the reserves and just leave it in the ground, without the drilling, refining, spilling and storage steps. The government should just pay the oil companies to leave the oil in the ground. Of course the oil companies are supposed to be paying the government royalties on the oil they extract, but the accountants can sort out the details. The important thing is to have the oil in reserve and increase return on investment for the oil companies.

Then there’s health care. The President wants health insurance premiums to be tax deductible. So wealthy people who pay more for health care, because they can, can write off the cost of their insurance. This is fair to wealthy people. Poor people, who are poor because they have no money, don’t need to write off the cost of their health insurance premium. They don’t pay for health insurance. (They don’t have it, but that’s beside the point.) They don’t pay income tax. President Bush is only trying to give wealthy people the same advantages that poor people have.

The President also wants to tax health care benefits. This sounds great. If I am hospitalized, then I will pay income tax on the money the insurance company paid the doctors and the hospital. If I am making about $65,000 per year, and my wife has a baby, and the hospital charges about $35,000, then I’ll be taxed as if I made $100,000. When my kid goes to the doctor I’ll pay more taxes. Who needs a raise? I can just go to the doctor. Then when I feel like a million bucks the government will feel like I’m worth a million bucks too.

The President wants to reduce the number of uninsured by shifting federal money away from hospitals. I see how this will reduce the number of uninsured – they will die.

The President wants to let poor children transfer to private schools. Private schools charge tuition. I thought that poor children are poor because they have no money. I must be missing something.

Bush wants to give his plan for Iraq a chance. I admire that. When I want a game of chance I go to Atlantic City or Vegas. I lose, but what the hell. When Bush wants a game of chance he goes to war. That’s tough. And he calls himself a compassionate conservative.

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Filed under Arctic Reserves, Emergency Reserve, Health Care, Oil, state of the union.

Scooter Libby, Leaker or Hero? The People v The Media

by L. J. “Gonzo” Furman

Dateline: Washington, DC. It’s not Scooter Libby who should be on trial, it’s the media elite: The Washington Post, Meet the Press, The New York Times, Time Magazine.

According to “classified” and “top secret” documents that I believe may exist although I have no basis for these beliefs, the White House plan was to test the media. And, except for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and Comedy Central’s the Daily Show and the Colbert Report; the mainstream media failed the test. Weekend Update and The Daily Show stayed true to their mission: to criticize the White House at every turn. The Colbert Report, in allowing Stephen Colbert to say whatever popped into his mind, also passed the test. While they can no longer be considered “news media,” the Fox network and the New York Post fulfilled their role as cheerleaders for the White House. But the Washington Post, Meet the Press, the New York Times, and Time Magazine, which did not challenge the White House, failed in their mission.

Spokespeople for the media elite, in a news conference that “never happened” said “First of all we have to deliver shareholder value. Second, it’s a new world. There are many new outlets for the news, and we are making room for them, giving them a chance. There is this ‘Internet’ thing, and all those independent ‘bloggers.’ We want to help them by getting out of their way, and we did that by letting them run with this story.”

Spokespeople for Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report said “Thanks. We thought we were making jokes. Does this mean we can get Press Badges? Can we get Pulitzers? And do we get free pizza and concert tickets?” Then they said “But seriously, we are entertainers. We don’t need concert tickets. We give concerts. You guys are journalists, investigative reporters. You’re supposed to investigate.”

The truth is that the White House operates on many levels. When he publicly expressed doubt that “we’ll find out who the leaker is” President Bush challenged the press to investigate. In revealing the identity of Valerie Plame as a covert agent for the CIA, the White House also acted on its plan to show that the CIA was ‘kinder and gentler.’ Plame is happily married to Joseph Wilson. She is therefore a housewife, sort of like the Angelina Jolie character in the film “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” So in identifying Plame as an agent of the CIA the White House is showing the world the kind of people we have in the CIA. “Listen,” they are saying, “sometimes we apprehend bad people and bring them to places where tough people might ask them tough questions, but we are the good guys. We’re soccer moms. And by the way, we “apprehend” bad guys. We don’t “kidnap” people.”

Regarding the observation that identifying Plame as a CIA agent on “Non-Official Cover” put her life in danger, and also put anyone and everyone she ever worked with in danger, including “assets” in Europe and the Middle East, a spokesperson for the White House, in a telephone conversation that “never took place” said “life is dangerous. People get killed crossing the street. You better not print this. You know what I mean?”

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Filed under CIA, Gonzo, Media Elite, Perjury, President Bush, Scooter Libby, Trial