Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Note To The Right Wing: The Party's Over

Back in the late winter of 1980, I was taking a sociology course at Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY - OCCC, as we used to call it. My professor was a learned gentleman named Doctor William Byrne. One day during class, he made a statement that at the time I thought verged on the ridiculous:

"In the next quarter of a century, this country is going to move so far to the right, you won't even recognize it"

The last time I ever saw Doctor Byrne was on election night 1980. I was working as a reporter for W-ALL Radio, covering the election results at the Orange Inn in Goshen which was where the Orange County Democrats were staked out. The Dems got badly stomped that year and it was almost like an Irish wake from what I can remember (we were all pretty loaded). When CBS News' Walter Cronkite made the official announcement, that Ronald Reagan was the next president of the United States, the good Doctor sadly shook his head and gravely walked out into the cold November night. Oh please! I thought to myself, It's not the end of the world! I wasn't crazy about the prospect of a Reagan Presidency either but how bad could he be? Really bad, it turned out. If you're still alive, William Byrne, and even if you're not, I tip my hat to you. You obviously could see something that I was blind to. In many deep and symbolic ways, that night really was the end of the world - the world as we knew it.

The Reagan Revolution and the subsequent right-wing lock on our national political dialogue - which has gone on for almost twenty-six years now - has nearly destroyed what was once a nice country to live in. Think about what it was like to be an American in 1980! Sure it was a "bitch of a year" as Thomas Merton once referred to another calamitous year: We were in the midst of a crisis with Iran that threatened the lives of fifty-plus American diplomats being held hostage by that nation's leaders; there were severe fuel shortages that occasionally led to long lines at the pump; Jimmy Carter could be a fairly lackluster, uninspiring leader and his famous "Malaise" speech that summer didn't endear him to anyone.

On a personal note, I didn't fare too well in 1980 either. On the morning of December 8th, I lost my coveted radio job. Could 1980 get any worse, I thought? It could and it did. That night, at 10:30 PM, some homicidal little geek shot and killed John Lennon outside of his apartment building in New York City. No ifs, ands or buts about it: 1980 sucked.

Yet aside from all of these nasty distractions, it was fun being an American in 1980. You didn't have to be rich to lead a comfortable life and home ownership wasn't the impossible dream that it has become for so many of us (Full disclosure: I rent). Where I live, a house that went for fifty-thousand in 1980 now goes for nearly half a million. Twenty-six years ago, racial tensions - although undeniably real - were barely palpable in most places. There was actually hope -real, tangible hope - that we were well on the way to being a color blind society....

...."Color blind society". It just hit me that I haven't even heard that term in years....

Although the America of 1980 was beset with some very real societal problems, our humor wasn't so vile, our politics weren't so mean and we the people weren't so angry. What happened to us?

Ronald Reagan happened to us.

Is it a stretch to blame most of our problems on dear old Ronnie? You be the judge: For twenty-six long years, the Republican Party waged a virtual war on a middle class that in 1980 was thriving. This economic assault on America's working men and women would not have been successful but for Ronald Wilson Reagan. Two and a half decades after he took the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol Building on January 20, 1981, the middle class is on the road to extinction. This dreadful situation would never have occurred had the American people not foolishly turned their backs on the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.

Well, be of good cheer, kiddies! The Reagan Revolution is over. Two and a half years after the Gipper finally bought the farm, his political philosophy and the tsunami of mindless extremism that came with it is finally coming face to face with the grim reaper of national discontent. As I always said they would, the people are awakening from the right-wing coma they've been snoozing under since that day, so long ago, they naively sent a feeble-minded, failed, "B" movie actor to the oval office - to the White House. The very first action of the current president, within minutes of being sworn in, was signing an executive order sealing the papers of the Reagan administration indefinitely! They don't want us to know the truth about Ronald Reagan. Fear not. Eventually we'll know everything. One cannot hide from history.

It must never be forgotten that Ronald Reagan was merely a friendly, amiable mask with a twinkle in its eye and a fine Irish smile. Remove that mask and you have the hideous, disgusting smirk of George W. Bush - that's the real face of the so-called "Reagan Revolution". Most of the things that Bush has done to you, Reagan tried to do to you and would have done to you had he had control of both houses of Congress. We had to wait till January of 2001 for that to happen.

Some say that the GOP is merely in a slump and that they'll have their mojo back by time the next election cycle comes along. Don't be too sure of that. The Democrats now have the power of the subpoena and much will be revealed in the next two years with regard to the machinations of the Bush White House and their corrupt lap dogs in the House and Senate. Unless the Republican Party reforms itself, George W. Bush might very well be remembered as the last republican president.

Think about that for a minute: from Lincoln to Bush. You just can't fall any further than that!

Pray for peace.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

This is off-topic but I just had to share it with you: it was announced on MSNBC minutes ago that the top three stories to capture the attention of the American public in 2006 were (in order of importance, mark you):

1. The death of Steve Erwin
2. The death of Anna Nicole Smith's son
3. The war in Iraq.

Britany Spears' love life was a close fourth.

And guess what? Many of these people are registered to vote. Be afraid be very afraid.


At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Tom, and thank you for your comments on Reagan. At times I wonder if I am the only one who rememebers what a disaster he was. You are absolutely right when you say that was the beginning of the end for the middle class. The unfortuate thing is that Bush is simply an extension or continuation of Reagan, taken to a more extreme level, and the frightening thing is that the people who stand to lose the most from his policies are the ones who continue to support them. I guess the thick of skull and slow of wit never learn.

I am old enough to be able to look back on the 60s, 70s and 80s with nostalgia. True, there was the war in Vietnam that divided the country, but as you said, it was a good time to live. That has not been the case since the Reagan revolution. And the frightening and disgusting thing is that the people who stand to be hurt the most by these halfwitted leaders are the ones who support them.

You are very correct when you say that Bush is simply a more powerful extension of Reagan. Let us just hope that the Democrats can get their act together and put a stop to the total madness that is destroying this country. It should be obvious to even the dullest person that the Republicans are interested only in power and wealth for the wealthy.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom- Another masterpiece! Yet disappointed but not surprised with your PS.

Tom- How did Bill Clinton fare in your mind? I believe he did not see the disaster of the middle class demise coming? He may have contributed to it?

Be Well,

Dr. Rick Lippin

At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I needed Dramamine when Nancy was slurping on the coffin while Ronnie was lying in state. I percieved it as a parody of Carolyn Kennedy when she slipped her hand beneath the flag on JFK's coffin. The picture that always came to mind when Reagan's name was mentioned was the spectacle of an American President laying a wreath at a NAZI CEMETERY in Bitburg Germany. There was no excuse for that even tho he was half dingy from Alzheimer's when he did it. The Reagan Revolution was indeed revolting.

At 4:21 AM, Blogger sumo said...

Ronnie was synonymous with failure as far as I am concerned. And there were plenty of people that knew it and did everything they could to keep it quiet. Nancy would make anyone vomit...she's such a moral joke. Let's take a page out of Nancy's book when in the White House freeloading...let's just say no!...to anymore mental midgets in the White House. If they don't perform...get rid of them.

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Palooka's Revenge said...

Excellent article Tom.

But, with all due respect, I beg to differ on one point. The Reagan era rides on.

I don't know how many know it but our 40th president was into the occult. More preciesly Nancy was into the occult and Ronnie was into Nancy. In fact astrologer Joyce Jillson picked Bush as Reagan's running mate... "One of my jobs," wrote Jillson, "was to review the charts of all Vice Presidential candidates. I told Reagan that George Bush was the only choice. The rest is history."

And pretty appaling history at that!

Now, occultists are not the only ones who believe in the underworld and the overworld but, being such, they are open to the idea that, despite the fact that billions witnessed the gipper committed to the crypt, the black knight rides on.

I think they might be onto something!

Something bizarre sure happened to Thomas Freidman over there on that golf course in Bangalore to trigger his self-proclaimed epiphany that morphed into his latest best seller, The World Is Flat.

I think it was Ronnie! For some us, not only is re-incarnation accepted we suggest that certain "energies", in this case of the departed, can "align" and enter into energies of the living that have like-minded "agendas".

I admit the idea is woo woo but it can be quite scientific actually when you think of it in terms of the the interactions of the electro and the magnetic which are basic properties of energy dynamics

"The golden straightjacket is the defining political economic garment of globalization... tailored by Margaret Thatcher. Ronald Reagan sowed on the buttons."

Thats the Freidman metaphor for Reaganomics, the free-market, free-trade, government-free, dog-eat-dog free-for-all known as supply side economics. Neither Freidman nor Reagan invented it. Its father is Robert Mundell who is also the godfather of another form of the golden apple... errr straightjacket, the Euro.

What Freidman didn't tell us is that his utopian flat world is also tilted so sooner or later everything slides nicely to one end.

Guess who's standing there with their pockets open?

asnd guess who's on the slide?

Don't believe it? Observe global economics today. Observe the tilt. Observe the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have nots. Study it and the elements and dynamics in play. It will take you into geo-politics, china, india, russia, the imf, the world bank, petro-dollars, 3rd world countries, privatization, corporatization, out sourcing, open boarders, illegal aliens, trade deficit, budget deficit and foreign funding of it, so-called social security reform, and a whole lot more. even the iraq war.

Suddenly we can begin to see how it all makes sense. Not that it "makes sense" because there is nothing sensical about it. What we're able to do is begin to see how it all fits together and to understand the sinister method to the madness running this country... running this world.

And then we can begin to realize just how much trouble we're really in.

The black knight still rides and the possee is growing.

Circle the wagons!

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Ouuuuuch! re: the top 3 news stories. Bread and circuses, indeed. Although, I wonder if it's more a case of "war saturation", you know? Maybe people have started to just block things out, because they're so frustrated that they feel like thier opinions and actions don't matter. I've heard that from many, actually. Still doesn't make things any better, though! :(

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

palookas revenge comments are too pessimistic. Witness the rise of leftest leasders e.g.- Chavez and others.The megatrends of free enterprise and globalism cannot(should not?) be stopped but it will be a long time in US before we see the likes of RR and the Bush Clan again. "Ken Lays" out there- beware. Your enablers are finished for the forseable future. The proverbial pendulum has swung.

Dr. Rick Lippin

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Palooka's Revenge said...


You and I agree; we are witnessing the demise of middle class America.

You suggest that "The megatrends of free enterprise and globalism cannot(should not?) be stopped".

I might be inclined to agree with you were it that I could agree with the use of the word "free" in association with the words "enterprize" and "globalism". We've got enough history in the books now to know that the system is NOT free if we have any concept of the true meaning of the word.

We also can agree that the pendulum has swung. It is headed back seeking the balance point. And I could make a fine and eloquent argument that the greater forces seeking balance are doing so BECAUSE of the imbalance caused by the glaring power-over agendas inextricably woven into those megatrends.

Yet I would still not be recognizing the true causal factors for the imbalance in the first place. In other words; just what is empowering those power-over agendas?

You suggest the Bush clan, et al. We could agree amd patronize one another all day long on that one yet we would still not be addressing the causal factor either.

A wise man once said, government is a reflection of the people. Too bad no one listened and we have to learn our lessons in hard and painful ways.

Too pessimistic? If only it were so. Unfortunately it is possible I am not pessimistic enough. It is possible we are on the cusp a social, political, and economic correction the like of which we have never seen before. Not even in 1929.

I am in the building business and I am a student of history and observation. I see signs. There are cracks in the fabric of things everywhere. Cracks screaming at us. We've had a massively inverted yield curve for several months in a row now and declining housing starts. In 60 years whenever these two indicators have surfaced together they were followed by correction of the imbalance in our economic health. Generally in the form of recession. Consumer driven recession in a 75% consumer driven economy spells big trouble. Historically, when these show up, the higher the ratio of debt driven spending the greater the magnitude of the correction.

They have NEVER missed. And never before have we seen imbalance as we see it now. When a major player in global economic health such as the U.S. finds itself exporting its cash for goods and services to sustain and then finds itself in the position of the only way to get its currency back is to borrow it back from the foreign entities or sell off our assets.

Trouble began 50 years ago when we became a net importer of oil. This percentage has risen to over 70% today. Inventive, and often not so pretty, actions were taken to bring those dollars back. This has much to do with Iraq, a war, by the way, financed with massive debt so Bush and the repubs could continue to say, "read my lips, no new taxes."

How we get petro dollars back is a long story. The bottom line is a system of muscle manifesting a myriad of sorrid stories that have resulted in the literal highjacking of so-called trade partner nations. Petro dollars go to those nations for their resource but then, one way or another, move back to New York and then return as LOANS. Most U.S. consumers don't know this story because they could care less as long as the lights come on and the SUV tank is full. But the victum nations know.

This back and forth flow of petro dollars is massive. Yet it is now overcome by an even more massive trade deficit of non-oil goodies. In 1985 our trade deficit with China was zero. We bought 3.9 billion of their goods. They bought 3.9 billion of ours. Today we no longer trade with China. We just buy. 197 billion worth in '04. China bought 35 billion from us. In 05 our deficit with China alone broke through 200 billion.

We all know what China and our other negative trade partners are doing with all that cash. Buying America. Middle class America is being sold right out from under us. Our jobs. Our manufacturing hardware. Even our infrastucture is for sale.

You and I agree; we are witnessing the demise of middle class America. Yet you argue that "The megatrends of free enterprise and globalism cannot(should not?) be stopped". I might be inclined to agree with you were it that I have a problem with the use of the word "free". We've got enough history in the books now to know that the system is NOT free if we have any concept of the true meaning of the word.

But all that amounts to is argument for pessimism about the future right? None of that knows how thats going to turn out. But you and I do agree that None of us really knows what the going to be

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Palooka's Revenge said...

Dam... the price we pay for not previewing!!

The second half of the above comment was a drafted comment I abandoned due to length of the argument.

My applogies.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Bob said...

Hmm... a twenty-six year "right wing lock" could never be possible with the Clinton presidency in there. Are you proposing that Clinton leaned to the right?


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