Archive for Ronald Reagan

Jamming “Faith” into Government

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, Social with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by chouck017894

Back in 1979 the US citizens paid little attention to the clamoring of the Religious Right, a movement which in effect was something like a voodoo resurrection of the religio-social movement that had once attempted to force Prohibition upon all U.S. citizens.  Like that earlier movement, the rallying bluster was the old saw that the nation’s morals were leading us to hell.  What the nation needed in 1979, said one egocentric chubby preacher from Lynchburg, Virginia, was for the nation to take up his “conservative” values.  His equally chubby ego drove him to seek national attention, and he dedicated himself to imposing upon the nation his self-serving “conservative” moral code.  He was just one among several who sought to use religious posturing as a political stepping stone.

The right-wing Republicans have a long history of opposing almost any ethical forms of regulations and controls as had been wisely set in place in an attempt to keep a level playing field for all citizens and businesses.  Even Republican President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) found it necessary to break up monopoly trusts to protect true democratic principles.  But slowly and surely the heavily financed GOP crowd kept chipping away at the principled regard for the little man in favor of the conniving schemers and greedy corporations.  The resulting economic collapse of 2008-2009 and the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout is directly traceable to the GOP’s devotion to end the controls and regulations that once protected homeowners, small businesses, taxpayers and the national budget.

In this continuing GOP indulgence in economic sins, the United States can truly be termed a “Christian nation,” for the whole concept of that faith is that someone else will pay or has paid the end-price for you.  Was it simply bald coincidence that as right-wing religionists squirmed their way into national political influence in the late ’70s and early ’80s that the democratic principles upon which the US rose to greatness began to noticeably slide downhill?  As noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data (p 408), “Reagan’s first official act after assuming office as President of the United States in 1981 was to terminate oil price controls, asserting that it would boost America’s oil exploration and production.”  That certainly did not prove to work as advertised.  Also noted on the same page, “But in the years of Reagan’s reign the “Conservatives” never managed to find the waste, fraud and abuse that they had claimed had been the hallmarks of liberal government.  Subtle shifts (in government) did occur, however, and with Ronald Reagan’s election the war on poverty which had been led by the Democrats was quickly and quietly shifted into a war on the poor.  That war is still being conducted by the GOP.

In 1992 the extreme right-wing religionists announced publicly, “We want…as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.”  By 1995 the US Congress was manipulated into stripping away the rights of victims who sought to recover their losses from dishonest and abusive big businesses!  That was the caliber of Christian offering by a religiously inspired Congress.  And by 1996 the Christian Right had indeed managed to craftily seize control of the GOP at the Republican Convention.  Through the next few years Christian evangelical fanatics wormed their way into Congress, the Judiciary, and the Executive Branches—all the while corruption and unethical behavior flourished, reaching its apex in 2000 with the highly questionable manner in which born again George W. Bush managed to be installed as president.

During the drafting of the Welfare Act earlier in 1996, the then-senator from Missouri, John David Ashcroft (R-MO), advanced the deceptive idea of “charitable choice.”  The reference label was something of a misnomer, to say the least, for the covert intention of the proposed program was to provide a wedge that would permit government funds to be siphoned away to Christian religious groups and ministries.

Within weeks after G. W. Bush swore upon two Bibles at his inauguration in 2001 that he would uphold and protect the Constitution, he was leading the charge in support of his colleague’s anti-democratic “charitable choice” policy.  And John Ashcroft was rewarded by being installed as Attorney General in GWB’s administration.  Very quickly they were seeking ways to distribute federal tax money to ministries, pretending that it was to provide social services through religious institutions, services which were already being provided for through secular grantees and government agencies.  The “charitable choice” policy was a cunning move to alter existing laws in such a manner that it could utilize the federal government to directly support Christian conversions—a move that was/is in direct opposition to religious freedom for all that is granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Using tax dollars to fund any faith system or ministries implies that it represents government’s social welfare, and that is in itself unconstitutional.  Add to the brew that “charitable choice” as the Bush insiders attempted, intentionally tries to evade the protective safeguards that were established to protect citizens against religious coercion and abuses.  Incorporating religious organizations to distribute publicly funded aid was already being made occasionally, and this was done by contracting separate entities of religious institutions to handle that distribution.  This allowance retained safeguards that protected the civil rights of the disadvantaged, and insured the integrity of the representing groups, which “charitable choice” sought to emasculate.

Although “charitable choice” did actually become part of the welfare law in 1996, there were constitutional concerns that caused democracy’s wiser representatives to hesitate in implementing the policy.  Many in Congress rightfully saw it as a disguised way of forcing every taxpayer to subsidize the Christian faith system whether they believed in it or not—clearly a means concocted to sabotage the principle of separation of church and state.

But G. W. Bush liked to think of himself as a god-chosen “leader,” and seemed hellbent on applying “charitable choice” to practically every aspect of government funding.  “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus said, so Bush and company decided to make as many poor as possible for Jesus.  The resultant unending “charity” hoopla made the wise sentinels of democracy tremble, alarming civil rights and civil liberty groups, the educational and social service communities, and even the more rationally balanced religious communities.

Providing social services through civic-minded religious groups to the disadvantaged is a noble endeavor if it remains free from proselytizing. Only then can it be said to be a heart or a spiritual offering, and the creative source certainly recognizes the difference.  But the faith-based “charitable choice” initiative as repeatedly attempted by the so-called “conservatives” and the piety pretenders is a policy that is concerned with neither democratic principles nor religious liberty: It is concerned solely on stealing material advantages for their special interests.

Consequences of Trusting Republican Leadership

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, Government, history, life, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by chouck017894

In the timeframe of the 1980s, Democrat President Jimmy Carter, a self-admitted “born again” Christian (Baptist) was soundly defeated by more extreme right-wing religionists.  It signaled the ominous rise in the United States of overt mysticism, born-again Christianity and fundamentalist religions lusting embrace of the more malevolent views of life, love, and sex that once produced the Dark Ages in Europe.  In Carter’s place the right-wingers managed to get a Hollywood B-actor, Ronald Reagan, sworn in as president—a man who did not exactly fill the character mold that the pious-pretending right-wingers preferred, but he was a well-known showman and unquestioningly took direction from handlers.

Reagan moved into the White House by spouting the mantra that he would do away with all the waste, fraud, and abuse of government that his handlers had allegedly found.  He quickly retired that nag to the glue factory, and with “conservative” daring soon inflated the national deficit to the tune of two trillion dollars, and gratefully gave tax breaks to the well-heeled supporters whose only real loyalty was to their wallets.  Reagan’s first official act after assuming office as President of the US in 1981 was to terminate oil price controls—assertedly to boost America’s oil exportation and production.  His vice president, George H. W. Bush, who happened to be an oil man, was enthusiastic.  But in the eight years of Reagan’s reign the “conservatives” never managed to find the waste, fraud and abuse of government that they had claimed were the hallmarks of liberal government.

Subtle shifts, such as the removal of oil price controls, were unleashed with heartless abandon.  With Ronald Reagan’s election the war that had been waged on poverty was quickly shifted into a war on the poor.  And that violation upon the poor and the downtrodden (such as the AIDS victims) would steadfastly continue throughout the later Bush (1) administration.

But the election of Ronald Reagan need not have put democracy at risk: Unfortunately the man jimmied into position as his running mate was not only connected to the Central Intelligence Agency (director 1976-77), but also had questionable connections to the Saudi Arabian royal family.  (Suggested reading on these clandestine connections, see House of Bush, House of Saudi by Craig Unger.)  In 1980-81 Khalid bin Mahfouz, banker for the royal house of Saud, began investing enormous amounts of money in the United States ($500 billion over the next 20 years).  Bin Mahfouz developed a 75-story skyscraper in Houston, Texas for the Texas Commerce Bank, which the James Baker family had initiated.  And James Baker was then made Chief of Staff of President Reagan.  The Saudis then had full access to the White House from then on.

Reagan, under the direction of his right-wing handlers and scheming oil billionaires, began the more brazen subversion of the US Constitution by violating the Congressional ban on aiding Central American rebels and secretly negotiating with Islamic terrorists.  This gave rise to illegal arms shipments to the religious fanatic Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime in Iran, which in turn led to budget-exploding deficits in the US that crushed the social safety nets for the poor, the infirmed, the mentally ill, the children, and education.  The Reagan administration’s transgressions against democracy established an imperialistic ascendancy that has continued into the 21st century.

Through the 1980s in the US, even as millions of Americans contracted the HIV virus and were dying of AIDS, Reagan and his handlers remained indifferent, and his religious cohorts were braying that only gays, addict and Haitians were being infected.  In other words, such people were not worthy of the “decent society” that the Reagan in-crowd pretended to represent.  Meanwhile thousands of people—not just gays, addicts and Haitians—were dying of AIDS—in effect murdered by Reagan government indifference and intentional neglect.

Also during Reagan’s reign the influx into the USA of high-purity cocaine hit the inner cities like a tidal wave.  Later it would become known that the CIA (of which the Vice President had been connected) acted as a cog in establishing a pipeline into the US, and proceeds from the drug sales were then diverted to Nicaragua’s Contras.  Even the US Congress was considering whether more of the US citizen’s tax money should be siphoned away to the Contras to subsidize the Contra’s terrorist campaign against the state of Nicaragua.  The Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua had been supported by the US for over forty years, and the vicious regime was overthrown in 1979 in a popular revolution.  Sadly, the Sandinista democratic government the people installed in Nicaragua would eventually fall due to US interference, and thus poverty, disease and oppression was bestowed by god-trusting US politicians, which allowed the big businesses and the casinos to move in to take charge.  The Reagan administration then declared that democracy had prevailed!

The Nicaraguan tragedy was only one of the Republican administration’s covert operations carried out around the world—all with Reagan’s apparent blessing.  US intelligence agents actually struck a deal with Iran to provide missiles to Iran—delivered by Israel—for release of American hostages held by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon.  Previously Reagan, in his handler’s prepared notes, had ridiculed President Jimmy Carter as being “soft” on Iran during the takeover of the US embassy in Iran by student militants in 1979.  With incredible haste Reagan, as soon as he took office, cut deals with the Islamic fundamentalists, virtually kissing their butts, by sending them sophisticated weaponry.  Funds from these shipments were then diverted to the formerly mentioned illegal support for the Nicaraguan Contras.  This criminality then mushroomed into the Iran-Contra scandal, and the sudden public attention helped to reduce some of the slaughter being carried out in South America.

The hideous Iran-Contra dealings should have been enough to bring charges against Reagan of criminal liability, but even though Reagan knew what was going on (presupposing that Alzheimer’s had not yet set in) and was aware of the murderous consequences of his actions, Ronny “Teflon” Reagan oozed away from his responsibility due to public naiveté.  It would set up an appalling legacy that would still infect US national politics in the 21st century.

It was with Reagan-Bush that the religious radicals began testing their muscle in government, and it opened the door wide for self-serving religious factions to take over the Republican Party in 1996.  During the Reagan years 1981-89, Reagan’s hardline rhetoric calling Russia an “evil empire” smacked of behind-the-scenes religious influence.  Remember, the word “evil” is seldom used except in religious perspective.  It is telling, also, that many religious fronts, such as Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (based in South Korea), had funneled millions of dollars into the Republican drive for the presidency.

With such heavily financed propaganda specialists as the right-wing fanatics attract, it is almost accepted as holy truth that Reagan was the principal reason for Soviet Russia’s collapse.  The abrupt change that happened in Russian politics has been widely credited in the US to Reagan’s positive actions.  But neither Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall nor the Reagan Doctrine served as any catalyzing force for that collapse.  The truth is that the reform that took place in the Soviet Union was due to Mikhail Gorbachev’s work.  In the US it is little understood that Gorbachev held idealistic values for his people: He was actually seeking new moral values in restructuring political leadership which included more openness and democratic principles.  That is especially difficult, apparently, for Republicans to understand.

If Reagan’s role is assessed without the rose-tinted glasses that Republican propagandists use, all Reagan’s theatrical rhetoric actually made Gorbachev’s work considerably more difficult than it should have been.  And the Reagan-Bush “leadership” did nothing to improve world or home conditions.

Republican Rarities

Posted in Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by chouck017894

Once upon a time, before the 21st century, the Republican Party had some worthwhile persons in their ranks who had at least a nodding acquaintance with responsibility to the nation’s citizens.  Of course there were considerably more of them before the religious right managed to infiltrate and pollute principles of even handedness, justice and honesty that was exemplified by the most noble Republican of them all, Abraham Lincoln.  For sure, there is no Republican in Congress today that could come anywhere close to filling  Mr. Lincoln’s shoes.

And there was Teddy Roosevelt who, despite his predilection for shooting up any defenseless animals, went out of his way to protect the nation against unscrupulous tycoons.  Roosevelt was sworn in as President in 1901 after President McKinley was assassinated.  One of Roosevelt’s first notable acts as president was to ask Congress to curb the powers of large corporations–called “trusts.”  His aggressive opposition to “trusts” during his two terms as President earned him the nickname of “trust buster.”

Calvin Coolidge, Republican President 1923-29, succeeded Warren G. Harding, and helped restore public trust in democratic government after the corruption and scandals of the Harding administration.  Coolidge observed: “No person was ever honored for what he received.  Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”  Doesn’t sound much like today’s Republicans, does it?

A bit closer to our own times, and something of a part-time prophet, was Senator Barry Goldwater.  By the 1980s, with Ronald Reagan acting as president, there was a growing involvement of the religious right using less than noble means to commandeer the GOP and so-called conservative politics.  In 1981 Goldwater was more than a little alarmed at what religious radicals were doing, prompting him to give a speech about American politicians being bullied by religious organizations, and he would “fight them every step of the way.”  Unlike the radical right Republicans we see today in the early 21st century, Goldwater was a passionate defender of personal freedom and recognized that hard-line religions were an encroachment on individual liberties and personal privacy.

After his retirement in 1987, free to speak with total candor, Goldwater stated his alarm that the Republican party had been taken over by “a bunch of kooks.”  There were indeed a mounting number of abrasive “kooks,” among them Jerry Falwell, a fundamentalist Baptist pastor engaged in evengelical Christian-oriented political lobbying.   The nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court was publicly opposed by Falwell who said, “Every good Christian should be concerned.”  Goldwater went on public record to say, “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”  And Goldwater’s assessment of the  Reagan/Bush involvement with the Iran-Contra affair was summed up as,  “…the goddamned stupidest foreign policy blunder this country’s ever made.”

With the “kooks” in control of his Party, Goldwater was irritated at the shallowness of their alleged conservative patriotism. In the 1990s he was appalled at the waste and hypocrisy in their rabble-rousing over the Clinton Whitewater “scandal.”  And he had no truck with the military ban on homosexuals who wanted to serve their country.  He mused publicly on the point, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”  He would later say to the right wing element, “You are extremists, and you have hurt the Republican Party much more than the Democrats have.”

If Goldwater were still alive, or Teddy Roosevelt, or Calvin Coolidge, they would be numbed to see those Republican extremists on TV as they systematically betray the citizens they are supposed to represent.