Category Archives: Politics

How Bill Clinton prepared us for Trump

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Trump and fascism

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How America can rediscover progressive politics

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Clinton and killer blood

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Boycotting the new Confederates

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Dealing with Brexit

Sam Smith – Regular readers of the Review have likely observed that we are a strong believer in the rational devolution of power with some major exceptions such as human rights and voting laws that should be universal. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have single payer healthcare or public education, but that those at the top don’t become so obsessed with their power that they claim the right, say, to determine what goes on a kindergarten classroom or delivered into your arm.

This unfortunately, however, has been a major trend in government in recent decades and is an important – albeit largely unnoted – factor in the rise of problems such as the Trump campaign and Brexit.

The shift is not only ideological but cultural. A gradocracy of the advanced educated  – in law, economics, and corporate values – has pretty much washed Washington clean  of socially intelligent  politicians and officials who knew how to deal with people as well as facts, communities as well as numbers, and cultural variations as well as indices. Thus we face immensely complex and culturally insensitive legislation dealing with issues that most Americans regard as personal, such as in healthcare and education.

The result, sadly, is a constituency for dealing with the problem in the least constructive manner – either turning it over to an egomaniac like Trump or coming up with a destructive solution like Brexit.

But the fact that these solutions are not the right ones does not mean the problem doesn’t exist. And that the answer lies not In choosing sides but in coming up with better ideas. For example, what if Britain and the EU negotiated an agreement in which it would participated in some but not all off the latter’s provisions as a sort of associate member of the union? What if the EU learned something from the mistakes that led to Brexit and changed its own character?

There’s a tremendous irony in all this that I stumbled upon in a 2007 issue of the Progressive Review, namely that the EU supposedly modeled itself in part on a long time Catholic devolutionary principle of subsidiarity that I have long supported, but – as with America’s federal government – decided eventually that repeatedly giving itself more power was the answer.

Here is a 2007 Wikipedia account describing subsidiarity and the EU’s use of it:

 The word subsidiarity is derived from the Latin word subsidiarius and has its origins in Catholic social teaching. It is found in several constitutions around the world (see for example the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution).

It is presently best known as a fundamental principle of European Union law. According to this principle, the EU may only make laws where member states agree that action of individual countries is insufficient….

Subsidiarity was established in EU law by the Treaty of Maastricht, 1992.  The present formulation:

“The Community shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty and of the objectives assigned to it therein. In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community. Any action by the Community shall not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of this Treaty.”

This extraordinary description suggests how rapidly subsidiarity has been replaced in the European Union and helps to explain a similar phenomena in American politics in which the once devolutionary progresives of the 1960 have been replaced by a manic faith in regulations, process and institutions  that make the values of community and culture irrelevant.

What follows are some items along these lines that might help in understanding factors in the unpleasant that conflicts we today.

Benjamin Wiker,  New Catholic RegisterIt is clarifying to shift our attention from trying to make accurate predictions about Britain’s future, to a consideration of principles that are more enduring than opinion polls and media pundits. In this instance, we should be looking at the most Catholic principle of subsidiarity, one which favors Brexit.

From the Catechism (1883-1885), which is itself quoting from St. John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus (48):

Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which ‘a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.’

There are a few points well worth making here.

To begin with, the dual problem with the modern state is that its overwhelming historical tendency has been to absorb “power” from below, and to impose secular agendas from above. The modern state thereby violates the principle of subsidiarity in two ways: (1) by taking away legitimate “power” from more fundamental social, moral, and economic levels of human communities, such as the family, the neighborhood, and the village, and (2) by harnessing that stolen power to secular ideas and policies that destroy these more fundamental social, moral, and economic levels, and the faith along with it.

Modern nation states are bad enough in this regard, but adding over and above that a European super-state, the European Union, and the violation of subsidiarity is even more egregious: not just the family, neighborhood, and village get subsumed into the higher order community, but now also the nation.

… But it isn’t just the family and the fundamental moral order that gets quashed from above. When political power concentrates at the top, it makes it far, far easier for Goliathan economic powers to seize control, and manipulate the economic order to their own enormous advantage. In the US, we know that concentration of power in the national Congress has meant that Big Banks end up defining public policy by giving Big Money to Congress. It’s easier and cheaper to buy a handful of congressmen in influential committees than it is to bribe a far greater number of people on the state and local level. All the more so with EU’s absorption of national power into the uber-state. It’s no accident that one of the main opponents of Brexit was Goldman Sachs.

Natalie Nougayrède, Guardian – In 1992 Denmark rejected the Maastricht treaty with a 50.7% majority. That set its European partners scrambling for a solution: opt-outs were granted on economic and monetary issues, on common defence and security policy, on home and justice affairs, and on the question of European citizenship. The following year, after that package had been presented, another referendum was held, with this time a 56.7% yes answer. In 2001, Irish voters said no to the treaty of Nice (by 54%). EU statements were then made that Ireland needn’t join a common defence policy and could refrain from other enhanced cooperation. In 2002, a new Irish vote produced a 63% majority in favour. In 2008, again Ireland rejected (by 53%) a new European text, the Lisbon treaty. A special document called “the Irish guarantees” was then produced, allowing for a rerun of the Irish referendum in 2009, with this time 67% of the electorate approving. But what was possible then is not necessarily possible now.

David T Koyzis, First Things – In many respects this principle [of subsidiarity] corresponds to the tenth amendment to the United States Constitution which provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” It should be possible for local identities to survive within a larger federal union. The American founders certainly thought so and staked their country’s future on it.

Of course, it could be argued that Washington has moved well beyond the powers originally enumerated in Article 1, section 8, encroaching on the prerogatives of the several states in ways not intended by the founders. Across the pond we hear similar arguments that Brussels has violated the spirit of subsidiarity, with the larger dream of unity taking on a life of its own at the expense of the hugely diverse interests of the member states. Hence E.U. leaders were shocked when French and Dutch voters rejected their proposed European constitution just over a decade ago. And now they are similarly incredulous that any country would want out of the Union altogether, when its benefits seem so obvious to them.
Yet this tale of discontent need not be the whole story. It may well be that future federations will more resemble the Holy Roman Empire or the pre-1848 Swiss confederation than the United States of America or Australia. Canada and Spain have already led the way towards a more asymmetrical federalism in which provinces or regions relate to the federal or central government in different ways.

The notion that all component units of a federation must be treated the same is itself an abstraction that may be hindering just governance. If one of your children requires braces on her teeth, you wouldn’t think of getting braces for all of your children for the sake of equality of treatment. Similarly, if one state or province aspires to greater autonomy than the others in certain policy areas, granting this in no way undermines just governance and may in fact facilitate it. While formally possessing the same powers as the other provinces as set out in section 92 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867, Québec in practice exercises certain powers, for example, over language, that the other provinces are content to leave to Ottawa. While Spain is formally a unitary state, Madrid has devolved powers unevenly to its regions, with Euskadi (the Basque region) and Catalunya retaining more autonomy than others.

If we abandon the peculiarly modern quest for strict equality of treatment, it should be possible for the E.U. to function with its member states unevenly integrated into the whole. A two- or three-tier Union would be the result. France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries might be the most tightly integrated federal core of the Union, with no internal border controls restricting the free movement of persons and goods. Other states could remain members of the Union but opt out of some of its integrating features, including the euro zone and the Schengen Agreement. These would retain greater autonomy vis-à-vis Brussels, keeping their own currencies and central banks, along with other markers of independent nationhood.

Such an arrangement may seem terribly untidy and chaotic, but the reality need not be so. If subsidiarity means that as many decisions as possible are made at the lowest levels closest to the people affected, then an unevenly decentralized European Union may, after all, best conform to this principle. If the British people prefer that London (or Edinburgh, Cardiff, or Belfast) take responsibility for matters that the core members prefer to delegate to Brussels, then there is no reason why this should not be permitted. Great Britain could remain part of the E.U. while, fully in accordance with subsidiarity, claiming as much independence as it needs and can handle.

A bare majority for Brexit is hardly a ringing endorsement of such a momentous move, which threatens to fragment the United Kingdom itself. Better, it seems to me, to opt for both independence and continued membership in the E.U., even if it means abandoning the artificial symmetry characterizing the classic modern constitutional federation.

Fun ways to steal elections

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The Vince Foster Case

101 Peculiarities Surrounding
the Death of Vincent Foster

Richard L. Franklin

Please bear in mind that the purpose of this catalog is rather modest. I merely want to highlight what I see as a large number of gross “peculiarities” surrounding the Foster case. I hope to convey to the reader some sense of the sheer weight of over 100 discrepancies and unanswered questions. Also bear in mind that the number “101” is itself a modest number. As a practical matter, I was forced to omit dozens of striking anomalies.

As you read this long list, consider that Vince Foster’s death was almost immediately labeled a suicide by the U.S. Park Police. Normal procedure in the case of a violent death is to treat it as a homicide until all doubts are resolved. Despite this, a homicide investigation was never launched. Even before the death scene or the body had been inspected, a suicide confirmation process was under way. In her sworn Senate testimony, senior Park Police officer Cheryl Braun said, “We made that determination [of suicide] prior to going up and looking at the body.” From that point on, all police and FBI efforts were directed toward collecting evidence that would support the suicide verdict. No effort has ever been made to seek or collect evidence supporting a possible homicide. Instead of seeing a proper homicide investigation, we have seen Foster’s death become mired in a morass of lies, confusion, and conflicting evidence. Faced with this labyrinth, I knew that any hope of putting together a challenge-proof list of over 100 items was unrealistic. Is it possible there are errors in this catalog? Certainly. Nonetheless, I am confident 90% of these assertions will hold up with time. For any rational person, the weight of 90-plus discrepancies must still remain staggering.

1. The man who discovered the body in Ft. Marcy Park says he was curious about the cause of death and looked closely for a gun. He emphatically says there was no gun in either hand. The FBI put great pressure on this witness to change his testimony. Why? Did he interrupt the staging of a suicide that was only completed after he had left the scene?

2. The powder-burn patterns found on both Foster’s hands apparently came from powder discharged from the front of a gun cylinder. If he had been gripping the handle, his hands would have had stain patterns consistent with powder discharged from the rear of the cylinder.

3. The gun was still in Foster’s hand. It is unusual for a .38 caliber weapon to remain in a person’s hand after discharge. Propelled by its powerful recoil, a .38 normally is thrown a considerable distance, sometimes as much as 15 feet. It is true a spasmodic reflex sometimes freezes the fingers around the gun; however, when the gun was removed from Foster’s hand, his fingers were still flexible, indicating such a reflex never took place.

4. There was no blood or tissue on the gun. Normally, the force of such a powerful explosion within the mouth blows back a large amount of blood and tissue.

5. No fingerprints were found on the exterior of the gun. The FBI claims this was due to a lack of sweat on Foster’s hands. Consider that the temperature that afternoon passed 95 degrees, and the temperature-humidity index reached 103 (this estimates the effect of temperature and moisture on humans, with 65 considered the highest comfortable level). Furthermore, a man about to fire a gun in his mouth is likely to be sweating excessively. If the FBI explanation is scientifically true, one has to conclude it is exceedingly rare to find prints on any weapon.

6. The FBI lab found two fingerprints underneath the removable hand grips. These prints did not belong to Foster. No effort was made to identify these prints through the FBI’s computerized data bank. (The FBI did try to find samples of prints belonging to Foster’s father.)

7. The gun was made up of parts from at least two guns. Consider that professional killers often use guns made from several guns to make them untraceable. These are known as “drop guns.”

8. There is no evidence this gun belonged to Foster. Nor is there any evidence this gun fired the fatal shot.

9. When Lisa Foster went to look for her husband’s silver gun in its normal place, she found a strange gun. No member of the Foster family recognized this gun. Did somebody make a swap? If so, who made the exchange? And for what purpose?

10. The gun in Foster’s hand, as shown in an ABC color photo, is clearly black. Members of Foster’s family all agree Foster’s gun was silver. The FBI showed Foster’s widow a silver gun and told her it was the gun found at the scene. Why did the FBI make this substitution?

11. It remains clouded as to what happened to Foster’s silver gun. We know it could not have been the black gun found in Foster’s hand. Was it the silver gun the FBI showed to Lisa Foster? Does the FBI have any proof this gun belonged to Foster? Is it possible the black gun in the ABC photo was merely a “place-holder” gun planted in Foster’s hand until Foster’s own gun could be retrieved?

12. No matching bullets for the crime-scene gun were found on Foster or at his home. The only bullets found in his home were .22 caliber. This suggests Foster’s silver gun was a .22, not a .38. FBI reports do not identify the caliber of the silver handgun in their possession. Why not?

13. The gun contained two cartridges, one spent and one unspent. They were stamped with a code indicating they were high velocity (extra powerful) rounds. This is inconsistent with the fact there was no pool of blood or large exit wound.

14. The rush to deliver a suicide verdict repeatedly corrupted normal police procedures. The gun was an 80-year-old Army Colt Special. Despite the age of the gun, the Park Police did not test it to see if it would actually fire. Six days after the investigation was closed, they asked the BATF to test the gun. The test results were announced five days later, or a total of 11 days after the case had already been closed.

15. Medical technician Richard Arthur was one of the first to reach the death scene. Arthur emphatically says he saw an automatic pistol in Foster’s hand. His description of the weapon is very precise and correctly matches the profile of an automatic. He adamantly swears it had a barrel with straight lines as opposed to a tubular shape and a hand grip that was “square in shape.” If his testimony is correct, it suggests an automatic was replaced with a revolver sometime after the
police arrived.

16. Gun powder residue on Foster’s glasses and clothing did not come from the gun found in his hand.

17. Foster’s glasses were found 19 feet from his head at the bottom of the embankment his body was found on. The Park Police have theorized that his glasses “jumped” to the bottom of the slope when the gun went off. High underbrush covered most of the slope. The police explanation suggests his glasses were propelled through 19 feet of this dense growth. Consider that his head would have been slammed backward against the embankment as his glasses flew toward the ditch. What force could have thrust his glasses 19 feet in the opposite direction? No tests were conducted to test this implausible theory. An earlier theory was that he threw his glasses into the ravine prior to killing himself. The presence of gun powder on his glasses refuted this odd explanation.

18. Five homes are located an average of 490 feet from the crime scene, yet nobody in the neighborhood heard a shot. The residence of the Saudi Arabia ambassador is 700 feet from the crime scene. Guards at the residence heard no shot. Presumably the sound of a shot would greatly alarm trained bodyguards. This anomaly is neatly accounted for if (1) a silencer was used, or (2) Foster was shot at another location.

19. The Saudi bodyguards and the neighbors living near the crime scene were not interviewed until months later. This was a gross disregard of police procedure. Evidence trails grow cold quickly, memories fade, people move, and witnesses become recalcitrant.

20. Authorities claim the bullet exited the rear of Foster’s skull. This bullet has never been found. Why not? A bullet smashing through a skull loses most of its force and rarely travels far. Is it because the bullet never exited the rear of Foster’s skull? Bear in mind there is substantial eyewitness testimony indicating no such exit wound existed.

21. Several people who were at the crime scene say there was little or no blood under Foster’s head. A .38 caliber weapon firing a high-velocity slug normally makes a large exit hole and produces a huge pool of blood. Following a fatal shot to the brain, the heart keeps pumping until it runs out of blood. This action can last as long as two minutes, thusly expelling a massive quantity of blood. The lack of blood raises two questions: (1) Did Foster die elsewhere? (2) Was the shot to the head administered after he was dead? A careful consideration of these possibilities was precluded by the frantic rush to support an official suicide verdict.

22. X-rays of Foster’s skull have either vanished or never were taken. Dr. James Beyer, who did the autopsy, has made contradictory statements as to whether he took X-rays. This controversy remains unresolved.

23. Foster’s head was moved after his death and before crime-scene photos were taken. Was this done intentionally? Or was it merely the product of an inept crime-scene investigation? The FBI report indicates the head was moved while the blood was still wet. This claim is intriguing because it suggests the head was moved before investigators arrived.

24. In his written report, paramedic Corey Ashford listed the death as a homicide. Did he do this because he thought it was obviously a homicide? Or was he only following proper police procedure by initially treating a violent death as a homicide?

25. Only a few trickles of dried blood were found on Foster’s face.One of these trickles had run uphill in defiance of gravity. This fact alone should have alerted the Park Police to the possibility Foster’s body had been moved from another location or the body had been tampered with after death.

26. The Army Colt .38 Special has a high sight and a bulky ejector-rod head. These items normally do significant damage to the teeth and mouth when the gun barrel is explosively expelled from the mouth. Foster’s teeth were not chipped, nor was his mouth damaged. The good condition of his mouth has never been explained by the FBI or Park Police. Is it possible a silencer was used? Consider that a silencer is a smooth, round extension that has no sight or ejector rod.

27. No blow-back of blood or tissue was found on the gun, on Foster’s hand, or on his sleeve. Most homicide experts believe this is physically impossible given the power of the Colt .38. How does one account for this discrepancy? A much-discussed theory is that Foster was killed with a .22 caliber pistol. Consider that this small weapon is a favorite of professional killers. There are four good reasons for this: (1) it makes far less noise than a larger weapon; (2) rather than blasting through a person’s head, its less powerful bullet tends to ricochet within the skull, doing lethal brain damage; (3) it does this deadly work without generating a blowout of the brain case, a pool of blood, or splattered brain parts; (4) there is almost no blow-back of atomized blood droplets to mark the assassin’s clothing with DNA.

28. No skull fragments were found at the scene, even though a .38 fired into the mouth normally inflicts severe damage as the slug blows out the back of the brain case. Park Police officer John Rolla observed, “There was no blowout. There weren’t brains running all over the place. . . I initially thought the bullet might still be in his head.” This is consistent with the theory a .22 was used to kill Foster. Why have Rolla’s observations been ignored?

29. All the paramedics who handled Foster’s body said they did not see an exit wound in Foster’s head. Corey Ashford helped lift Foster’s body into a body bag. While doing so, he cradled Foster’s head against his stomach. Ashford’s white shirt remained immaculate following this contact. Nor did he have to wash his hands. He says this is highly unusual in gunshot deaths, which are normally extremely messy.

30. Dr. Julian Orenstein, the doctor who certified Foster’s death at the morgue, says he did not see any exit wound in Foster’s head. The fact is all the people who initially handled the body say they did not see an exit wound. Consider that none of these people had a vested interest in the operative suicide conclusion.

31. Dr. Donald Haut, the medical examiner who visited the death site, has steadfastly supported the suicide conclusion. He told the FBI he saw an exit wound. He also stated it “was consistent with a low velocity weapon” (jargon for a small gun such as a .22). In other words, it was a small wound with little blood. Later he repeated his comments about a lack of blood to reporter Chris Ruddy. Haut later denied this in an interview with CBS reporter Mike Wallace. Why did Haut change what he had previously said on two separate occasions? Even more puzzling, why would he deny this when he knew Ruddy had tape recorded his comments?

32. A medical technician at the death scene says he saw a small, circular wound on Foster’s neck, just below the jaw line. He says it “looked like a small-caliber entrance wound.” (For reasons stated below, one has to consider the possibility this was an exit wound.)

33. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, a respected British reporter, claims he has seen a photo of this wound. He says the wound was on “the right-hand side, about halfway along the jaw and about an inch below the jaw.” He describes it as “a clearly visible wound about the size of a dime… It has the appearance of a small-calibre gunshot wound.” He later said in a radio interview that the “wound on the neck is the origin and source of the blood that comes down the neck and trickles down the collar.”

34. According to Hugh Sprunt, a highly respected Foster researcher, “White House sources… did indicate to the media very shortly after the death that two different guns were involved in the shooting a .22 and one a .38.” Park Police notes of 7/26/93 also mention this, adding that the information came from the FBI.

35. Dr. John Haut signed a document dated July 20, 1993, entitled “Report of Investigation of Medical Examiner.” In the words of Hugh Sprunt, “Page two says ‘Self-inflicted gunshot wound mouth-neck’ and there appears to be an alteration on page one from ‘Perforating gunshot wound mouth-neck’ to ‘Perforating gunshot wound mouth-head.'” It is probably more precise to say whiteout was used on page one to cover what appears to be a four-letter word, possibly “neck.” The word
“head” was typed next to this. Looking at this document, one notes that “head” is slightly higher than the rest of the typing. In other words, the document was removed from the typewriter and later re-inserted to alter it. Why? Consider that a .22 caliber slug fired into the mouth often ricochets and exits through soft locations such as the neck. “Mouth-neck” on a report indicates the gun was discharged in the mouth and the slug exited through the neck.

36. According to the FBI, no “coherent soil” from the park was found on Foster’s shoes. Investigators for the independent Scalise Report had two men walk the trail to the death site wearing shoes similar to Foster’s. In both cases, their shoes picked up microscopic dirt from the trail. CBS reporter Mike Wallace did the same experiment and also picked up dirt. In CBS’ televised report on Foster’s death a report that strongly endorsed the suicide conclusion, Wallace neglected to mention this private test. Why did he and CBS conceal this important fact?

37. A tow truck driver says he was sent to the Ft. Marcy Park to remove a car on the evening of Foster’s death. He says the driver’s window was broken, and there was blood on the dash and seats. No in-depth investigation of this odd story has ever been done by the FBI or Park Police. Did the premature suicide conclusion block another obvious path of investigation?

38. Also consider that hairs and multi-colored carpet fibers were found on Foster’s clothing, including his underwear; yet the seat of Foster’s car was never checked for matching hairs or fibers.

39. More significantly, the floor of Foster’s car trunk was not checked for carpet fibers matching those on his clothing. Is it possible his body was transported in the trunk of his car? Is it possible Foster’s body was wrapped in carpet before being transported to Ft. Marcy Park? Once again, the premature suicide verdict seems to have prevented such obvious hypotheses from being explored.

40. The White House discounted the abundance of carpet fibers on Foster’s clothing, claiming they came from his recently re-carpeted home. This was never substantiated by taking samples of carpet fibers from the Foster home for comparison.

41. If a person dies in a supine position, blood settles to the back of the body where it creates lividity marks. If the body is moved, gravity may pull blood to other parts of the body where it will imprint new marks. It was imperative for the police to strip Foster’s body and check its entire surface for lividity marks before taking it to the morgue. This was never done. As usual, the premature suicide verdict eliminated a vital police procedure. And once again, vital forensic evidence was lost or destroyed.

42. The driver’s seat of Foster’s Honda was pushed forward to a position appropriate for a person about 5′ 8″ tall. Foster was nearly 6′ 5″ tall. It would have been extraordinarily difficult for Foster to have driven his car with the seat in this position. Despite this, authorities have persisted in saying Foster drove his car to Ft. Marcy Park. The possibility somebody else drove Foster’s car has been steadfastly rejected.

43. On the afternoon of Foster’s death, at least four eyewitnesses saw an older-model brown car in the exact spot where Foster’s car would later be found. Foster’s car was a light-gray recent model. It materialized in place of the brown car sometime after 6 p.m. In other words, Foster’s car apparently arrived after his body was found. The tardy arrival of Foster’s car was further confirmed by a detective who felt the hood of the car. It was still warm.

44. At least four witnesses saw a briefcase lying on the front seat of Foster’s Honda after the police had arrived. Medical technician George Gonzalez described it as “a black briefcase-attach, case.” This briefcase has vanished. The contents of the briefcase might have shed light on what Foster was doing just prior to his death. Many items of evidence were immediately turned over to the White House. Was Foster’s briefcase among these items?

45. Foster’s pager was found at the scene. Somebody had apparently erased its memory. The Park Police turned it over to the White House within hours of finding it. It is blatantly illegal to give away key evidence, especially to associates of the victim. Coworkers of murder victims are pro forma suspects in homicide investigations. Any officer turning over physical evidence to potential suspects would normally face serious charges. Instead, praise and promotions were heaped on the Park Police by a grateful White House. Cheryl Braun, for example, was promoted to sergeant.

46. All the crime-scene photos taken with a 35 millimeter camera were “overexposed” or have vanished. Furthermore, most of the Polaroid photos of the crime scene have vanished or are blurred. This includes shots of Foster’s back taken by officer John Rolla. Rolla’s photos presumably would have confirmed (or refuted) the lack of a blood pool and a large exit wound, anomalies mentioned by several witnesses.

47. Miquel Rodriguez, an early member of the independent counsel’s office, was suspicious of the “original” Polaroid of Foster’s neck. His FBI staff repeatedly told him it was the original, and that was all they had. With the help of an accomplice, Rodriguez uncovered a hidden file of photos containing the actual original. He took the original and the blurred copy to outside photographic experts who determined that somebody had taken a photo of the original and then altered it to hide what appeared to be a small-caliber neck wound.

48. Mark Tuohey was head of the Office of Independent Counsel in Washington. He took Rodriguez aside and warned him he was not to challenge the findings of the Fiske Report. In other words, Rodriguez was given explicit orders not to challenge the suicide verdict.

49. Rodriguez told Kenneth Starr he wanted to summon FBI agents before the grand jury to compel sworn testimony concerning their handling of evidence. He also wanted to bring in private experts to evaluate evidence. Starr refused both requests and told him to wrap up the investigation as quickly as possible. When Rodriguez balked,Starr forced him to hand in his resignation.

50. Shortly thereafter, Starr dismissed the grand jury that had been getting information from Rodriguez and formed a new one. The new jury was not made privy to the thousands of pages of facts that Rodriguez had presented to the previous jury.

52. James Beyer, the deputy medical examiner, did the autopsy. At the time, Beyer was under considerable public suspicion for having previously labeled two obvious homicides as suicides. Since Foster’s body was found in Ft. Marcy Park, the autopsy fell under Dr. Beyer’s jurisdiction. Those who wanted a quick suicide verdict could not have hoped for a more compliant medical examiner than Dr. Beyer. If finding the body in Ft Marcy Park was a coincidence, it surely was a
convenient coincidence.

53. The X-rays are missing. Dr. Beyer told a Park Police investigator X-rays had not revealed any bullet fragments in Foster’s head. He later claimed he never took X-rays. Which statement is true? More tothe point, which is false?

54. Contrary to reports in the media, nothing that could plausibly pass for a suicide note was found. The note found by Bernie Nussbaum’s aide looks more like a list of reasons for returning to Arkansas, something Foster had been seriously contemplating. In fact, his wife says she had encouraged him to write such a list.

55. This alleged “suicide” note had been torn into 28 pieces. All but one of the pieces were found in one of Foster’s briefcases. This happened after the briefcase already had been searched twice by Bernie Nussbaum in the presence of Park Police. The missing piece was from the lower right-hand corner, the precise spot where Foster’s signature would presumably have appeared. Consider these facts: (1) a person’s signature is the most difficult item to forge; (2) forged suicide notes are often torn up in an effort to make it more difficult to verify the handwriting; (3) homicide experts believe a late-appearing suicide note must always be viewed with suspicion.

56. No fingerprints were found on the note despite the fact Foster allegedly had torn it into 28 pieces. Only Bernie Nussbaum’s palm print was found. Why would Foster wear gloves to tear up this list? And why would he tear it up in the first place? And what was Bernie Nussbaum doing handling critical evidence? Why did it take a week for the note to surface? How could Nussbaum have missed seeing the 27
pieces after having searched the briefcase twice?

57. Three handwriting experts independently concluded the note is a forgery. One of the experts, Reginald Alton of Oxford University, is arguably the most eminent handwriting expert in the world. He judged the forgery to be the clumsy work of an amateur.

58. When these experts held a press conference to announce their findings, the forum was almost completely boycotted by the mainstream media. These findings were a stunning development with dramatic implications. Why was this story almost totally ignored by the American media?

59. The handwriting “expert” for the Park Police had previously declared the note authentic. This “expert” has had no training in handwriting analysis and only does it as a hobby. Furthermore, he used only one sample of Foster’s handwriting, a clearly inadequate exemplar to work from. Trained experts prefer 20 to 30 exemplars, with 10 being a bare minimum.

60. When Foster’s wallet was found on the seat of his car, it contained a note with the names and phone numbers of three psychiatrists. When they were contacted, they said they did not know Foster and had never talked to him. Miquel Rodriguez and others in the Office of the Independent Counsel noted that the numbers jotted down on the note were visibly different from the way Foster wrote numbers.

61. The Park Police Department was immediately assigned to the investigation. Normally an investigation into the violent death of one of the highest officers of the federal government is handled by the FBI.

62. However, it now seems clear the entire time the Park Police worked on the case, the FBI was secretly involved. Did the WhiteHouse direct this subterfuge? If so, for what purpose?

63. The White House fired William Sessions, the head of the FBI, the day before Foster’s body was found. He was fired on charges of misusing minor perks. It was the first time in history a president had fired a head of the FBI. Sessions would later declare his firing had “seriously compromised” the Foster investigation.

64. The Park Police lead investigator assigned to the case had never handled a homicide case. Once again, the premature suicide conclusion compromised the investigation by directing it away from a homicide investigation. Was it the lead investigator’s job to rubber stamp a preordained suicide verdict?

65. The White House did not comply with police requests that Vince Foster’s office be immediately sealed following his death.

66. Later that night, police officers would passively sit outside Foster’s office, while White House aides freely went in and out. Since Foster’s office was technically part of a crime scene, this was a gross violation of police procedures.

67. White House aides were seen ransacking Foster’s office. A Secret Service agent saw Maggie Williams moving Foster’s files to her office. No efforts were made by the Park Police to recover this potential evidence. Why was this criminal interference with a police investigation tolerated?

68. Foster’s administrative assistant, Deborah Gorham, has testified that Foster’s file index, the document listing everything contained in his files, has vanished. Several other documents and letters, known by Gorham to have been in Foster’s safe, have also vanished.

69. Ms. Gorham testified that Bernie Nussbaum demanded the combination to Foster’s safe after he learned of Foster’s death. Technically, Foster’s safe was part of a crime scene. It is possible it contained critical evidence.

70. It is not known whether Foster’s appointment book was in his briefcase or his office. In any case, it has vanished. It would be considered important evidence in a homicide investigation. This is especially true in the case of Foster, whose whereabouts for the five hours preceding his death are unknown. Unaccountably, the disappearance of the appointment book has been ignored. As usual, the premature suicide conclusion insulated the investigation from a striking anomaly.

71. At the crime scene, Park Police officer John Rolla searched Foster’s pockets for personal effects. Officers Cheryl Braun and Christine Hodakievic watched while Rolla carefully searched Foster’s front and back pockets. Rolla found nothing. Foster’s wallet and credit cards were found in his Honda, but his car keys were missing. One of the most remarkable aspects of the crime-scene investigation is that the absence of the car keys never dampened the operative suicide conclusion.

72. Later that evening, Braun and Rolla went to the morgue to search Foster’s pockets a second time. Presumably they were ordered to so. Upon arriving, Braun immediately found two key rings in Foster’s right front pocket. One ring had four keys. How did Rolla miss them the first time? Two key rings with six keys inside a front pocket should have presented a bulky outline. Even a simple police “pat down” should have been enough to discover the keys. Who ordered Braun and Rolla to
the morgue to look for the keys a second time? Why was this order given?

73. Foster was easily identified using the photos on his White House pass and his driver’s license. The White House was then notified. White House aide Craig Livingstone was ordered to the morgue to “identify” the body. He called special counsel William Kennedy and asked him to meet him at the morgue. The reason for this rush to the morgue remains murky. The body had already been positively identified and two officers had already been dispatched to notify the Foster family. Kennedy was waiting at the morgue when Craig Livingstone arrived. Why couldn’t Kennedy do the identification alone? What was Livingstone expected to bring to the “identification”?

74. What transpired at the morgue is unclear. Livingstone and Kennedy must have asked for access to the body. It seems probable the two men did gain physical access, possibly an illegal act. Since civilian access to the body during a police investigation would have been improper, morgue supervisor Christina Tea must have balked. Did she call the Park Police commanding officer for an okay?. What would the commanding officer do in such a situation? Call the White House? Normally, family and friends must view a body from behind a glass window in a separate room. This regulation apparently was bypassed by Livingstone and Kennedy. Why couldn’t they have made the “identification” in the usual manner?

75. The chronology of activities is noteworthy. Shortly after Kennedy and Livingstone left the morgue, officers Rolla and Braun arrived and found the missing car keys. Bear in mind that Foster’s car keys were essential to the suicide hypothesis. When the keys suddenly appeared, the suicide verdict was rescued from a serious, if not fatal, discrepancy. Some observers have referred to this as the “magic keys” incident.

76. There are good reasons to doubt the White House claim it did not learn of Foster’s death until 8.30 p.m. At about 6.15 p.m., White House aide Helen Dickey called the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, to tell the governor Foster had killed himself. The call was received by trooper Roger Perry. He has said in a sworn affidavit (which subjects him to perjury charges) that he received the call about 6.15 p.m. Washington time. He states Ms. Dickey was crying. She told him Foster had shot himself in the White House parking lot. Perry says he promptly called several people to tell them the news. Among them was trooper Larry Patterson and former state police commander Lynn Davis. Both these men have signed affidavits attesting to these calls. Time estimates vary, but all three men agree the calls took place during rush-hour traffic in Little Rock. As a final note, consider that Ken Starr has never interviewed Helen Dickey.

78. That evening, at 8.30 p.m., Bill Clinton was waiting to be interviewed by Larry King. As Clinton was being prepared in the White House by a makeup artist, he chatted with Mack McLarty. According to the makeup artist, a male aide entered the room and told Clinton, “They found a note in Foster’s office.” This seems to contradict Clinton’s claim he was not told about Foster’s death until after his 9 p.m. interview with Larry King. Robert Fiske deposed the makeup artist, but her sworn statement was not included in the Fiske Report, one of many peculiar gaps in his porous report.

79. Patrick Knowlton drove into the parking lot at Ft. Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, the day of Foster’s death. He was looking for a place to relieve himself. As he was about to leave his car, he saw a dark-skinned “Hispanic-looking” man who glared at him. Knowlton says the man stared at him with such ferocity he felt intimidated and hid his wallet under his seat. He says he had an odd feeling the man was warning him to stay away. After Foster’s death was announced, Knowlton reported this to the Park Police. In the spring of 1994, an FBI agent finally interviewed Knowlton, nearly one year after Foster’s death. The agent later wrote a report quoting Knowlton as saying he would be unable to identify the man he had seen. Knowlton says this report was false. On the contrary, he had told the agent he remembered the man’s face extremely well and was confident he could identify him. Why did the FBI lie about Knowlton’s statement? Why wasn’t Knowlton invited to look at police photos?

80. Knowlton would later describe the man to a sketch artist for the London Telegraph. This sketch was published in England, but the FBI unaccountably ignored this key evidence. Instead, the FBI launched a campaign of harassment and intimidation of Knowlton. Teams of agents harassed him 24 hours a day. He was followed constantly. Agents on the street used threatening gestures. Cars filled with four agents followed him. His phone rang in the middle of the night. Agents knocked on his door at 3 a.m. A journalist, a private investigator, and many of Knowlton’s friends have witnessed this harassment. Knowlton is currently suing the FBI. Why has the FBI gone to such great lengths to intimidate Knowlton?

81. The Fiske Report makes no mention of Patrick Knowlton. Kenneth Starr refused to interview him until the artist’s sketch appeared in the London Telegraph. When Knowlton was brought before the grand jury, Starr’s prosecutor grilled him with great hostility, treating him as though he were a liar and a charlatan. (Note: The Fiske Report is riddled with lies and omissions. The following ten items (82-91) are examples of this malfeasance.)

82. The Fiske Report says, “Experienced FBI Laboratory Technicians in Washington performed extensive analyses of the physical evidence identified during the investigation.” Not true. The FBI never did any analysis of the hair and fiber evidence.

83. The Fiske Report says, “In addition to conducting interviews, this Office examined documentary and photographic evidence including… documents removed from Foster’s office at the White House and turned over to either the Clinton’s private attorney or the Foster family attorney.” This is ingenuous. For all we know, he may have seen only a handful of innocuous documents. Furthermore, he makes no reference to the documents that were placed in the private living quarters of Hillary Clinton.

84. The Fiske Report says, “The only vehicular entrance [to Ft. Marcy Park] is from the Parkway.” Not true. Fiske unaccountably tries to gloss over the existence of a back road. This road comes 300 feet closer to the body site than the lot where Foster’s Honda was parked. If Foster’s body had been transported to the park, the killers would probably have used this back road because of its privacy and proximity.

85. Besides ignoring this back road, Fiske pays little heed to the condition of the ground leading to Foster’s body. The relatively steep slope (about 45 degrees) drops down to a ditch. As described by a witness, the underbrush from the body down to the ditch and up the other side of the ditch had been trampled down. Foster could not have flattened this amount of underbrush without climbing up and down the slope several times. In other words, the swath looked like it had been created by several people climbing the slope. This trampled path led toward the old road that Fiske has not acknowledged. Once again, the operative suicide verdict precluded a reasonable theory: namely that Foster’s body had been brought in via the old road and carried over this trampled path by several men.

86. Fiske interviewed a couple that had been in the parking lot. His report states, “Neither individual heard a gunshot while in the Park or observed anything unusual.” This contradicts what the woman told the Park Police. She told officers she had noticed two men hovering around a Honda with its hood up. Was this Foster’s car? How can this be dismissed as not being “unusual”?

87. The Fiske Report only briefly refers to Foster’s car keys, saying, “The keys to the car were located in Foster’s pants pocket.” This is clearly misleading.

88. The Fiske Report tried to make a case for Foster being deeply depressed before his suicide. Fiske says, “Although no one noticed a loss of appetite, it was obvious to many that he had lost weight.” There is no basis for this claim. Based on Foster’s medical records, Foster actually gained six pounds during the time frame in question. Fiske saw these medical records. Why did he invent a weight loss?

89. In order to promote the suicide conclusion, Fiske and others have argued Foster was deeply depressed. This runs contrary to statements by all of Foster’s friends and professional associates. None detected any signs of depression, and they were all stunned by his suicide. Fiske brazenly altered or twisted the statements of all those
witnesses who said they saw no signs of depression in Foster.

90. Many depositions are conspicuous by their absence. For example: Fiske did not depose Maggie Williams, who was seen carrying boxes of documents from Foster’s office. He did not depose Helen Dickey, who made a 6.15 p.m. call to Little Rock to report that Foster had been found dead in the White House parking lot. Fiske did not depose Craig Livingstone to determine why it was necessary for him to drive to the morgue to join Kennedy for an alleged “identification.” And so forth.

91. The Fiske Report gives the impression that thorough forensic work was done in the original investigation. Some idea of how thorough this work was comes through in Dr. Beyer’s deposition. Consider the following questions and Beyer’s answers: Q: I would assume that most autopsies would be pretty standard but wonder if there is a way to determine if the autopsy on VF was SOP. You used the expression concerning the gunpowder on both hands, that it was interpreted “grossly” as gunpowder.A: “Grossly” noted the appearance of gunpowder. Q: But you didn’t make any more specific identification than that? A: No, sir. Q: Doctor, is it your testimony that your office would not make a determination as to, or make an analysis as to time of death absent a specific request from law enforcement personnel? A: If they wanted assistance, we would furnish it to them. In this particular case, I have no record that it was asked. Q: Did you have the fingernails scraped for debris? A: They didn’t ask for that examination to be done.

92. Beyer’s testimony that the autopsy was “standard” is simply false. When autopsies are done at the request of the police, it is standard procedure for the police department to have investigators present to serve as witnesses and to answer any questions the medical examiner may have. Under White House pressure, Beyer circumvented this by suddenly moving the autopsy up 24 hours. This enabled him to work on the body for an undetermined amount of time with no witnesses present. By the time police investigators arrived, Beyer had removed Foster’s soft palate and tongue and had driven a metal rod throughFoster’s skull to “illustrate” the official “exit wound.” A mysterious “assistant” had been working with Beyer. Beyer refused to identify this assistant to the police. As a final thought, consider that all those who originally handled the body never saw an exit wound in the back of Foster’s skull.

93. Sundry contradictions are found in the medical reports. Dr. Anh Hyunh, who did the blood toxicology, stated in the official repor tthat no Trazodone (an antidepressant) or Valium-derivatives were found in Foster’s blood. Subsequently, the FBI did a report for the Senate Whitewater Committee in which it was stated that Trazodone and Valium-derivatives had been found in Foster’s blood. This would help confirm Fiske’s claims that Foster was depressed, but it directly contradicts the report of Dr. Hyunh, the official toxicologist. Did the FBI falsify evidence to support the depression thesis? We now know from testimony by Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, formerly of the FBI labs, that the labs have a history of tampering with evidence.

94. The FBI reports that have been made available have been drastically censored. Large sections are entirely blacked out. In many cases, one asks why. For example, when Foster’s body was rolled, Officer John Rolla made an observation that was noted in the original report. His remark has been blacked out. Why did the FBI feel it was necessary to delete this? Better yet, why censor any forensic details from a report on a simple suicide?

95. According to Foster’s secretary, approximately six hours before his death, Foster mailed a letter to his mother. He has often been described as a “southern gentleman” with extremely genteel manners. He was especially courtly toward women. He seemingly had a healthy relationship with his mother. Despite this, his letter to his mother, sent only hours before he allegedly killed himself, does not contain a single expression of feeling. There is no hint whatsoever this would
be his last communication with his mother.

96. There is much in Foster’s behavior during the days preceding his death that indicates he had no intention of killing himself. Only days before his death, he called James Lyons, a friend and trusted advisor in Denver. He told Lyons he needed him in Washington. They made plans for Lyons to fly to Washington on Wednesday, July 21 (the day after Foster allegedly killed himself). Foster called Lyons again on Sunday
to confirm their Wednesday appointment. It seems clear Foster was planning on meeting Lyons. It also seems highly unlikely he intended to kill himself the day before the arrival of his friend.

97. All indications are that Foster deeply cared for his sister Sharon Bowman. Sharon still lived in Arkansas. She traveled 1,000 miles to Washington to visit her brother, only to arrive the day of her brother’s death. Consider that Vince had talked to Sharon and promised her an exciting personal tour of and lunch at the White House. It seems apparent he was looking forward to seeing his sister. Yet he supposedly killed himself on the day of her arrival. Such an incredibly cruel way to miss his date with Sharon is not consistent with the affection Foster felt for her.

98. For four years, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph relentlessly pursued the countless discrepancies of the Foster case. During his investigations, his Washington apartment was broken into, and his four computers were taken. Was this primarily to steal his hard drives? His car was later broken into and his briefcase was taken.

99. The late Jerry Parks owned a detective agency in Little Rock. According to Jane Parks, his widow, he had often done mysterious jobs for Vince Foster. She says that shortly before he died, Foster telephoned Jerry. She overheard Jerry’s half of the conversation. She says her husband became highly agitated. He begged Foster not to do something Foster was intent on doing. After Foster died, Jerry became extremely fearful and started carrying a gun. He was gunned down gangland style within a month of Foster’s death. According to Jane, shortly thereafter, teams of FBI agents ransacked the Parks’ house. They removed all office files, film negatives, tape recordings, and loppy disks. Jane says these searches happened repeatedly. Apparently, none of the searches or confiscations was legal.

100. According to Secret Service logs, at 7 p.m. the day of Foster’s death, an entry alarm went off in Foster’s office. To my knowledge, this has never been explained or even referred to in official reports on Foster’s death. According to Secret Service logs, at 7.10 p.m. that evening, a group listed as “MIG” logged into the White House. Aide Patsy Thomasson arrived at the same time. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard believes MIG stands for Maintenance and Installation Group, a group of experts who handle such things as safes and surveillance equipment. MIG and Patsy Thomasson left together. No official explanation has ever been given to account for these comings and goings. Patsy Thomasson was one of the White House aides who reportedly searched Foster’s office. Did MIG assist her by opening Foster’s safe? Did MIG disable the entry alarm?

101. To my knowledge the following story has never been investigated. Debra von Trapp was a member of George Bush’s staff during his presidency. She served as a computer surveillance expert. She worked with a team that has been described as Bush’s “plumbers unit.” In this capacity, she often worked with an FBI agent. According to von Trapp, [this agent] sounded drunk and extremely excited when he called her California home from Washington, D.C., at 11 p.m., July 20, 1993 (the day of Foster’s death). She says she records all phone conversations. This is a partial transcript of her alleged exchange with [the agent].

AGENT: “We did him! We did him!”
DT: “Did who?”
AGENT: “Vince Foster.”
DT “What do you mean?”
AGENT: “We did him!”
DT: “Well, where did you do him?”
AGENT: “Well, we did him somewhere else, but we dumped him in a queer
park to send Clinton and his queer wife a message!”

Although von Trapp wrote a long letter to Kenneth Starr detailing this and other allegations, to my knowledge, he never deposed her or [the agent]. Nor did he request the tape recordings of the alleged phone conversation. Nor did he check the phone company records to verify the phone call. Why not? Some Fostergate researchers suspect Ms. von Trapp is a disinformation agent trying to cloud the debate. I spent several hours interviewing Ms. von Trapp and did not hear anything that would support those suspicions. My strongest impression was that she was genuinely frightened. In any case, whatever one concludes about her credibility, it remains rather odd that she has never been deposed before a grand jury.

In the original of this report I did not include an item that now looms more significant. The Clintons had ordered that one of the White House offices be completely recarpeted shortly before the death of Vince Foster. The day following his death, a crew of workmen arrived at the White House and completely ripped up and removed what was a nearly brand new carpet. They hastily piled the carpeting into a van and quickly left. The final destination of that carpet and why it was so hastily removed during the chaos and trauma following the death of Foster are mysteries I’ve never been able to solve.

However, it strikes me as entirely possible this carpeting was evidence of a crime committed within the White House. Was the carpet bloodstained? Did it contain other forensic clues? In short, is it possible Vince Foster was actually murdered within the White House. The fact that two key videotapes, which would have shown Foster leaving the White House on the day of his death, are both missing. What did they show? Is it possible the tapes showed a large, bulky object being hastily removed and placed in the trunk of a vehicle?

I did not include these speculations in my original list of 101 precisely because they are just that — speculations. I’m tacking them on well after my first publishing of this report. I still have no clear answers as to where Foster was murdered. I do, however, now lean toward the possibility he was killed in the White House. . . .

This list is tentative and remains open to corrections and debate. I can be contacted at: usereason@earthlink.net

The Ronald Reagan myth

 “Ronald Reagan must be the nicest president who ever destroyed a union, tried to cut school lunch milk rations from six to four ounces, and compelled families in need of public help to first dispose of household goods in excess of $1,000…1f there is an authoritarian regime in the American future, Ronald Reagan is tailored to the image of a friendly fascist.” – Robert Lekachman

HOW THE REAGAN REVOLUTION DAMAGED THE AMERICAN ECONOMY

THINGS PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT REAGAN

Steve Kornacki, Salon – By the summer of 1992, just 24 percent of Americans said their country was better off because of the Reagan years, while 40 percent said it was worse off — and that more Americans (48 percent) viewed Reagan unfavorable than favorably (46 percent). .

REAGAN GAVE BIRTH TO TODAY’S FISCAL CRISES

Robert Brent Toplin, History News Network – Ronald Reagan promised to take government off the backs of enterprising Americans. He told voters that government was not the solution to the nation’s problems; it was the problem. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language,” said Reagan, are, ” ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” His speeches contained numerous warnings about the chilling effects of bureaucratic regulation. Government leaders think, he said, “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”. . . The main problem with Reagan’s outlook was a failure to recognize that government regulation can serve business interests quite effectively. Many of the regulatory programs started by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s aimed to promote fairness in economic competition. That legislation required greater transparency so that investors could more intelligently judge the value of securities in the stock market. The reforms mandated a separation of commercial and investment bank activities, since speculative investments by commercial banks had been one of the principal causes of the financial crash. Roosevelt’s New Deal also created a bank insurance program, the FDIC, which brought stability to a finance industry that had been on the verge of collapse.

These and other improvements of the 1930s worked splendidly. For the next half century American markets operated with impressive stability. There were periods of boom and recession, but the country’s financial system did not suffer from the kinds of shocks that have upset the American economy in recent years. The turn away from rules that promote fair business practices fostered dangerous risk-taking. An early sign of the troubles occurred on Reagan’s watch. When the requirements for managing savings and loan institutions became lax in the 1980s, leaders of those organizations invested money recklessly. Many institutions failed or came close to failure, and the cleanup cost more than $150 billion. Yet blame for that crisis did not stick to the Teflon President. Recent troubles in the American economy can be attributed to a weakening of business regulation in the public interest, which is, in large part, a consequence of Reagan’s anti-government preaching. In the absence of oversight, lending became a wildcat enterprise. Mortgage brokers easily deceived home buyers by promoting sub-prime loans, and then they passed on bundled documents to unwary investors.

Executives at Fannie Mae packaged both conventional and sub-prime loans, and they too, operated almost free of serious oversight. Fannie’s leaders spent lavishly to hire sixty Washington lobbyists who showered congressmen with campaign funds. Executives at Fannie were generous to the politicians because they wanted to ward off regulation. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, brokerage firms became deeply committed to risky mortgage investments and did not make their customers fully aware of the risks. The nation’s leading credit rating agencies, in turn, were not under much pressure to question claims about mortgage-based instruments that were marketed as blue chip quality. Government watchdogs were not active during those times to serve the interests of the public and the investors. . . Reagan’s views of the relationship between government and business helped to put the nation and the world into a good deal of trouble. It is time to recognize that the former president’s understanding of economics was not as sophisticated as his enthusiastic supporters often claimed.

GREAT THOUGHTS OF RONALD REAGAN

 “A tree’s a tree.  How many more do you need to look at?” — Ronald Reagan (Governor of California), quoted in the Sacramento Bee, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park, March 3, 1966

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.” –Ronald Reagan (Republican candidate for president), quoted in the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, February 15, 1980

“It’s silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas.” –Ronald Reagan (candidate for Governor of California), interviewed in the Fresno Bee, October 10, 1965

“…the moral equal of our Founding Fathers.” –President Reagan, describing the Nicaraguan contras, March 1, 1985

“Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.” –Ronald Reagan, quoted in Time, May 17, 1976

“…a faceless mass, waiting for handouts.” –Ronald Reagan, 1965.  (Description of Medicaid recipients.)

“Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” –California Governor Ronald Reagan, in the Sacramento Bee, April 28, 1966

“We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night.  Well, that was probably true.  They were all on a diet.” –Ronald Reagan, TV speech, October 27, 1964

MORE

LAST FOND MEMORIES

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY LARRY SPEAKES
October 15, 1982
The Briefing Room
12:45pm EDT

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement – the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?

MR. SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?

Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Q: No, I don’t.

MR. SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.

Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President –

MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)

Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

MR. SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.

Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any –

Q: Nobody knows?

MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.

Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping –

MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no – (laughter) – no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.

Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?

MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.

Q: Didn’t say that?

MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)

Q: Because I love you Larry, that’s why (Laughter.)

MR. SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)

Q: Oh, I retract that.

MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.

Q: It’s too late.

OH, THAT EXPLAINS IT

GEORGE W. BUSH: ‘I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone …’

REAGAN LIE DETECTOR

Reagan conducted one of the most absurd invasions of American history, targetting the tiny island of Grenada.

As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan informed on fellow actors to the FBI.

The Reagan admininstration was one of the most corrupt in American history, including by one estimate 31 Reagan era convictions, including 14 because of Iran-Contra and 16 in the Department of Housing & Urban Development scandal. By comparison 40 government officials were indicted or convicted in the wake of Watergate. 47 individuals and businesses associated with the Clinton machine were convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes with 33 of these occurring during the Clinton administration itself. There were in addition 61 indictments or misdemeanor charges. 14 persons were imprisoned.

Using a looser standard that included resignations, David R. Simon and D. Stanley Eitzen in Elite Deviance, say that 138 appointees of the Reagan administration either resigned under an ethical cloud or were criminally indicted. Curiously Haynes Johnson uses the same figure but with a different standard in “Sleep-Walking Through History: America in the Reagan Years: “By the end of his term, 138 administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations.”

Four members of the Reagan cabinet came under criminal investiation, as compared with five in the Clinton cabinet. Three top officials of the Harding administration were in indicted in the Teapot Dome scandal.

The Reagan administration had secret plans for an unconstitutional takeover of the federal government under an ill-defined national emergency. Members of the government created by the coup had been selected and included Richard Cheney.

Reagan’s decision to send troops to Lebanon cost 241 lives. As the NY Times noted recently, “Mr. Reagan’s decision to send marines to Lebanon was disastrous and his invasion of Grenada pure melodrama.”

During the Reagan administration the number of families living below the poverty line increased by one-third.

Reagan’s policies led to the greatest financial scandal in American history: the Savings & Loan debacle which cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Julian Bond, president of the NAACP: “He was a polarizing figure in black America. He was hostile to the generally accepted remedies for discrimination. His appointments were of people as equally hostile. I can’t think of any Reagan policy that African Americans would embrace.”

Reagan made major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and school lunch programs.

Reagan fired 13,000 air traffic controllers in a devasting blow to government union members from which the labor movement never recovered.

Washington Post: “Reagan, during his 1980 campaign, blamed trees for emitting 93 percent of the nation’s nitrogen oxide pollution — giving rise to jokes about ‘killer trees.'”

The national debt tripled under Reagan

The AIDS crisis exploded (with 20,000 deaths) before Reagan could even bring himself to address the issue six years later. In his authorized biography he is quoted as saying that “maybe the Lord brought down this plague,” because “illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

Washington Post: “The administration in 1984 secretly sold arms to Iran — which the United States considered a supporter of terrorism — to raise cash for Nicaraguan contra rebels, despite a congressional ban on support for the Latin American insurgency. An independent investigation concluded that the arms sales to Iran operations “were carried out with the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan [and] Vice President George Bush,” and that “large volumes of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several Reagan Administration officials.” . . . Lawrence E. Walsh, the independent counsel who ran the inquiry, said there was “no credible evidence” that Reagan broke the law, but he set the stage for the illegal activities of others. Impeachment, Walsh said, “certainly should have been considered.”

His administration was responsible for numerous brutal actions in Latin America, including massacres in El Salvador and the war against Nicaragua.

The claim that Reagan won the Cold War is pure rightwing propaganda. The Soviet Union had long been far weaker than many American leaders knew, or wished to acknowledge, thanks to CIA gross overestimates of its economy. The Soviet Union was brought down by a number of factors including the inherent weaknesses of dictatorship and ethnic divides that eventually forced its breakup.

William Blum: “[George Kennan], the former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of ‘containment’ of the same country, asserts that ‘the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish.’ He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. ‘Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union.'”

After a major tax cut, there was a long recession and unemployment that hit ten percent.

Bill Press – “It was Reagan who first proposed a missile defense system — immediately dubbed “Star Wars” by skeptical reporters — in a March 23, 1983 speech from the Oval Office. However, as Frances Fitzgerald reveals in her brilliant history “Way Out There in the Blue,” Reagan didn’t get his plan from the scientists or the generals. The Pentagon wasn’t even notified of his speech ahead of time. Reagan stole Star Wars directly from — the movies.

In 1940, appearing in the Warner Brothers thriller “Murder in the Air,” Reagan played an American secret agent charged with protecting a super weapon that could strike all enemy planes from the air. Seed planted in Reagan’s brain. Then in 1966, Alfred Hitchcock released a Reagan favorite, “Torn Curtain,” in which American agent Paul Newman works on developing an anti-missile missile. In words that must have made Ronnie tingle, Newman’s character asserts: “We will produce a defensive weapon that will make all nuclear weapons obsolete, and thereby abolish the terror of nuclear warfare.” Sound familiar? Reagan used almost the exact words in selling missile defense from the office, 17 years later.

The real costs of Reaganism

DEMOCRATS HUGGING REAGAN MYTH

REAGAN LIES UPDATE

Recovered history
REAGAN’S SECRET COUP PLANS

PROGRESSIVE REVIEW – With few exceptions, the media ignored what well could be the most startling revelation to have come out of the Iran/Contra affair, namely that high officials of the US government were planning a possible military/civilian coup. First among the exceptions was the Miami Herald, which on July 5, 1987, ran the story to which Jack Brooks referred. The article, by Alfonzo Chardy, revealed Oliver North’s involvement in plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to take over federal, state and local functions during an ill-defined national emergency. . .

According to Chardy, the plan called for ‘suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to the Federal Management Agency, emergency appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law.’ The proposal appears to have forgotten that Congress, legislatures and the judiciary even existed.

In a November 18, 1991 story, the New York Times elaborated:

“Acting outside the Constitution in the early 1980s, a secret federal agency established a line of succession to the presidency to assure continued government in the event of a devastating nuclear attack, current and former United States officials said today.”

The program was called “Continuity of Government.” In the words of a report by the Fund for Constitutional Government, “succession or succession-by-designation would be implemented by unknown and perhaps unelected persons who would pick three potential successor presidents in advance of an emergency. These potential successors to the Oval Office may not be elected, and they are not confirmed by Congress.

According to CNN, the list eventually grew to 17 names and included Howard Baker, Richard Helms, Jeanne Kirkpatrick James Schlesinger, Richard Thornberg, Edwin Meese, Tip O’Neil, and Richard Cheney.

The plan was not even limited to a nuclear attack but included any “national security emergency” which was defined as:

“Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”

This bizarre scheme was dismissed in many Washington quarters as further evidence of the loony quality of the whole Iran/contra affair. One FEMA official called it a lot of crap while a representative for Attorney General Meese described it as ‘bullshit.”. . .

At least one high government official took the plan seriously enough to vigorously oppose it. In a August 1984 letter to NSC chair Robert McFarlane, Attorney General William French Smith wrote:

“I believe that the role assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the revised Executive Order exceeds its proper function as a coordinating agency for emergency preparedness . . . This department and others have repeatedly raised serious policy and legal objections to the creation of an ’emergency czar’ role for FEMA.”

FEMA was clearly out of control. Another memo, written in 1982 to then FEMA director Louis Giuffrida and given only tightly restricted circulation even within the agency, made this astonishing assertion:

“Over the long term, the peacetime action programs of FEMA and other departments and agencies have the effect of making the conceivable need for military takeover less and less as time goes by. A fully implemented civil defense program may not now be regarded as a substitute for martial law, nor could it be so marketed, but if successful in its execution it could have that effect.”

The memo essentially proposed that the American people would rather be taken over by FEMA than by the military. When those are the options on the table, you know you’re in trouble.

The head of FEMA until 1985, Giuffrida also once wrote a paper on the Legal Aspects of Managing Disorders. Here is some of what he said:

“No constitution, no statute or ordinance can authorize Martial Rule. [It commences] upon a determination (not a declaration) by the senior military commander that the civil government must be replaced because it is no longer functioning anyway . . . The significance of Martial Rule in civil disorders is that it shifts control from civilians and to the military completely and without the necessity of a declaration, proclamation or other form of public manifestation . . . As stated above, Martial Rule is limited only by the principle of necessary force.”

Those words come from a time when Giuffrida was the head of then-Governor Reagan’s California Specialized Training Institute, a National Guard school. It was not, for Giuffrida, a new thought. In 1970 he had written a paper for the Army War College in which he called for martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants. Among his ideas were “assembly centers or relocation camps” for at least 21 million “American Negroes.”

During 1968 and 1972, Reagan ran a series of war games in California called Cable Splicer, which involved the Guard, state and local police, and the US Sixth Army. Details of this operation were reported in 1975 in a story by Ron Ridenour of the New Times, an Arizona alternative paper, and later exhumed by Dave Lindorff in the Village Voice.

Cable Splicer, it turned out, was a training exercise for martial law. The man in charge was none other than Edwin Meese, then Reagan’s executive secretary. At one point, Meese told the Cable Splicer combatants:

“This is an operation, this is an exercise, this is an objective which is going forward because in the long run . . . it is the only way that will be able to prevail [against anti-war protests.]”

Addressing the kickoff of Cable Splicer, Governor Reagan told some 500 military and police officers:

“You know, there are people in the state who, if they could see this gathering right now and my presence here, would decide their worst fears and convictions had been realized — I was planning a military takeover.”

REAGAN’S HEART OF DARKNESS

DERRICK Z. JACKSON BOSTON GLOBE – In the weeks leading up to his appearance on Capitol Hill, [Desmond] Tutu said in speeches that it seemed that the Reagan White House saw “blacks as expendable” in South Africa. . . On Capitol Hill, Tutu became a public relations disaster for Reagan. Tutu started off the hearing by saying apartheid itself “is evil, is immoral, is un- Christian, without remainder.” I was there, and all breathing stopped, without remainder. Tutu continued:

“In my view, the Reagan administration’s support and collaboration with it is equally immoral, evil, and totally un-Christian. . . . You are either for or against apartheid and not by rhetoric. You are either in favor of evil or you are in favor of good. You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can’t be neutral.”

DEATH FEST DAY 4

JESSE WALKER, HIT & RUN – You can count me among those who find the Week-Long Death Festival more appropriate for the expiration of a North Korean dictator than an American president. But as long as we’re all still talking about Reagan, can I pipe up and say I never was one of those people who found his speeches “inspiring”? If the best thing Reagan ever did was to pardon Merle Haggard, the worst was to saddle us with Peggy Noonan.

Yes, I’m getting grumpy. At least I’m not as grumpy as Col. Qaddafy, who had this reaction to Reagan’s death: “I express my deep regret because Reagan died before facing justice for his ugly crime that he committed in 1986 against the Libyan children.” (Hey, if you lost an infant daughter to an American bomb, you might not like the fellow who ordered the raid either. Though when it comes to evading justice for your crimes against Libyans, Qaddafy’s the expert)

TEFLON UNTO DEATH

JOE STRUPP, EDITOR & PUBLISHER – The death of Ronald Reagan has become yet another reminder that news organizations often turn sentimental at the death of a former leader, no matter what legacy he or she leaves behind. . .

The overwhelming praise for a president who plunged the nation into its worst deficit ever, ignored and cut public money for the poor, while also ignoring the AIDS crisis, is a bit tough to take. During my years at Brooklyn College, between 1984 and 1988, countless classmates had to drop out or find other ways to pay for school because of Reagan’s policies, which included slashing federal grants for poor students and cutting survivor benefits for families of the disabled.

Not to mention the Iran-contra scandal, failed ‘supply-side economics,’ the ludicrous invasion of Grenada, 241 dead Marines in Lebanon, and a costly military buildup that may have contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union (there were plenty of other reasons too) but also kept us closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, besides leaving us billions of dollars in debt.

And should we even mention the many senior Reagan officials, including ex-White House aide Michael Deaver and national security adviser Robert McFarlane, convicted of various offenses? What about Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger indicted but later pardoned by the first President Bush?

DEATH OF A SALESMAN

TOM CARSON, VILLAGE VOICE – Ronald Reagan is the man who destroyed America’s sense of reality – a paltry target, all in all, given our predilections. It only took an actor: the real successor to John Wilkes Booth. In our bones, we had always been this sort of bullshit-craving country anyhow, founded on abstractions: not land (somebody else’s), not people (Red Rover, Red Rover, send Emma Lazarus right over), not even shared history (nostalgia isn’t the same thing, and try pulling that Civil War Shinola anywhere west of the Rio Grande). Just monumental words and wordy monuments, with two convenient oceans between them and circumstance; from Nat Turner’s status as three-fifths of a man-even though we ended up hanging all of him-to Reagan’s child Lynndie England (b. 1983, the year we invaded Grenada and lost 241 Marines in Lebanon), any shortfall could be blamed on something lost in translation. But it was Reagan, whose most profound Freudian slip was the immortal “Facts are stupid things,” who beguiled us into living in the theme park full-time.

ERIC PIANIN AND THOMAS B. EDSALL WASHINGTON POST – The lavish praise obscures that much of Reagan’s record through eight years in office was highly controversial and intensified social and political divisions. . .

“For many Americans, this was a time best forgotten,” said Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP and a longtime civil rights activist. “He was a polarizing figure in black America. He was hostile to the generally accepted remedies for discrimination. His appointments were of people as equally hostile. I can’t think of any Reagan policy that African Americans would embrace.”

The former actor and California governor offended blacks when he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign by promoting “states rights” — once southern code for segregation — in Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of three civil rights workers 16 years before. Early in his first term, Reagan ordered some of his toughest budget cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children and other “means tested” programs that were critical to large numbers of lower-income black families. Until a public protest forced Reagan to back away, his Agriculture Department sought to cut the school lunch program and redefine ketchup and relish as vegetables.

 SAM SMITH – Ronald Reagan has carried out his last con. The first occupant of the White House to make politics just another form of show business is being buried as a hero despite having been one of the worst presidents America ever had.True, he was not as corrupt as Nixon or Clinton, nor as gleefully imperial as George Bush the Lesser, and the damage he did was largely unintentional, the fatal mischief of a small minded man granted too much power.But the result was to begin the decline and fall of the first American republic by convincing its leaders, media, and citizens that the main thing they needed for happiness was a free, unfettered market accompanied by sufficient faux cowboy rhetoric. That there was never any empirical evidence for the absurd economic assumptions didn’t matter; his charm sufficed where logic failed.A quarter century later we are left with a middle class with substantially greater problems, a lower class far more ignored, an ecology far more damaged, a much larger gap between rich and poor and between CEO and employee, Medicare and Social Security in danger, and a culture of greed and narcissism that has buried ideals of democracy, community, and cooperation.

The nausea-inducing elevation of Reagan into someone he never was is another triumph of rightwing spin being swallowed whole by a media that not only doesn’t know the facts, it doesn’t even think it has to, for it, too, has become just another part of show business.

PHIL GASPER, COUNTERPUNCH – Reagan refused to mention AIDS publicly for six years, under-funded federal programs dealing with the disease and, according to his authorized biography, said, “Maybe the Lord brought down this plague,” because “illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

DAVID CORN, NATION – The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, public housing cutbacks, getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, “homeless by choice,” Manuel Noriega, falling wages, “constructive engagement” with apartheid South Africa, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, drug tests, the S&L scandal, silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Ed Meese (“You don’t have many suspects who are innocent of a crime”), massacres in El Salvador, $640 Pentagon toilet seats, William Casey, Iran/contra, Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.

JUAN COLE – I remember seeing a tape of Reagan speaking in California from that era. He said that he had heard that some asserted there was hunger in America. He said it sarcastically. He said, “Sure there is; they’re dieting!” or words to that effect

GLENN KESSLER WASHINGTON POST – Reagan’s spending cuts barely nicked the fastest-growing parts of government, his tax cuts reduced revenue so much that later in his tenure taxes had to be raised repeatedly, his regulatory approach was criticized for leading to the savings and loan crisis and his unbalanced budgets to a near-tripling of the federal debt in eight years.

BILLMON – The legacy of Reagan’s policies in the Middle East, meanwhile, are still being paid for – in blood. The cynical promotion of Islamic fundamentalism as a weapon against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the alliance of convenience with Saddam Hussein against Iran, the forging of a new “strategic relationship” with Israel, the corrupt dealings with the House of Saud, and (perhaps most ironic, given Reagan’s tough guy image) the weakness and indecision of his disastrous intervention in Beruit – all of these helped set the stage for what the neo-cons now like to call World War IV, and badly weakened the geopolitical ability of the United States to wage that war.

MICHAEL BRONSKI, Z MAGAZINE – The most memorable Reagan AIDS moment was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagan’s were there sitting next to the French Prime Minister and his wife, Francois and Danielle Mitterrand. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners, Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS, but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterrands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States-more then 70,000 of them had died.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, SLATE – Ronald Reagan claimed that the Russian language had no word for “freedom.” (The word is “svoboda”; it’s quite well attested in Russian literature.) Ronald Reagan said that intercontinental ballistic missiles (not that there are any non-ballistic missiles-a corruption of language that isn’t his fault) could be recalled once launched. Ronald Reagan said that he sought a “Star Wars” defense only in order to share the technology with the tyrants of the U.S.S.R. . . Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they’d both unite against an invasion from Mars. Ronald Reagan used to alarm other constituencies by speaking freely about the “End Times” foreshadowed in the Bible. In the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps. . .

GREG PALAST – In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis. People don’t die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn’t like the government that the people there had elected.

THE BIGGEST REAGAN LIE

THE BIGGEST REAGAN lie is that he won the Cold War by terrifying the Soviets with Star Wars, upping defense expenditures, and generally being such a tough guy. The myth, though basically just GOP campaign spin, has been widely promulgated in current news coverage. The facts of the matter are quite different.

FOR EXAMPLE, two years before the breakup, the Progressive Review ran an article by Thomas S. Martin – Devolution, Soviet Style, that reported that “Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika, or restructuring, has opened a Pandora’s box of separatist and devolutionary movements in the Soviety Union. The article went through the union, state by state, and spoke of the “the last desperate cry of Soviet statism.” Thanks to the American right’s distortion of the issue, Americans to this day have little idea of what really was happening in the Soviet Union. Besides, it’s part of the delusional American creed that good things in the world only happen because we will them.

ARCHIE BROWN, BBC, 2001 – The Soviet Union on the eve of Gorbachev’s perestroika (reconstruction) had serious political and economic problems. Technologically, it was falling behind not only Western countries but also the newly industrialized countries of Asia. Its foreign policy evinced a declining capacity to win friends and influence people. Yet there was no political instability within the country, no unrest, and no crisis. This was not a case of economic and political crisis producing liberalization and democratization. Rather, it was liberalization and democratization that brought the regime to crisis point. . .

SOUTH ASIA ANALYST GROUP – The Congressional Quarterly Researcher wrote on December 11,1992: “After the Soviet break-up, economists were amazed at the extent to which the CIA had overestimated the performance of the Soviet economy, leading many to speculate that the numbers were hyped to fuel the arms race.” Mr. Allan Goodman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, described the CIA’s economic intelligence performance as “between abysmal and mediocre.” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said after the Soviet break-up: ” For a quarter century, they (the CIA) told the President everything there was to know about the Soviet Union, excepting the fact that it was collapsing (due to a bad economy). They missed that detail.”

FAREED ZAKARIA, NEWSWEEK – During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B–which included Paul Wolfowitz–produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated. In retrospect, Team B’s conclusions were wildly off the mark. Describing the Soviet Union, in 1976, as having “a large and expanding Gross National Product,” it predicted that it would modernize and expand its military at an awesome pace. For example, it predicted that the Backfire bomber “probably will be produced in substantial numbers, with perhaps 500 aircraft off the line by early 1984.” In fact, the Soviets had 235 in 1984.

BILL BLUM, KILLING HOPE – It has become conventional wisdom that it was the relentlessly tough anti-communist policies of the Reagan Administration, with its heated-up arms race, that led to the collapse and reformation of the Soviet Union and its satellites. American history books may have already begun to chisel this thesis into marble. The Tories in Great Britain say that Margaret Thatcher and her unflinching policies contributed to the miracle as well. The East Germans were believers too. When Ronald Reagan visited East Berlin, the people there cheered him and thanked him “for his role in liberating the East”. Even many leftist analysts, particularly those of a conspiracy bent, are believers. But this view is not universally held; nor should it be. Long the leading Soviet expert on the United States, Georgi Arbatov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for the Study of the U.S.A. and Canada, wrote his memoirs in 1992. A Los Angeles Times book review by Robert Scheer summed up a portion of it:

“Arbatov understood all too well the failings of Soviet totalitarianism in comparison to the economy and politics of the West. . . Arbatov not only provides considerable evidence for the controversial notion that this change would have come about without foreign pressure, he insists that the U.S. military buildup during the Reagan years actually impeded this development.”

George F. Kennan agrees. The former US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and father of the theory of “containment” of the same country, asserts that “the suggestion that any United States administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish.” He contends that the extreme militarization of American policy strengthened hard-liners in the Soviet Union. “Thus the general effect of Cold War extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union.”

Though the arms-race spending undoubtedly damaged the fabric of the Soviet civilian economy and society even more than it did in the United States, this had been going on for 40 years by the time Mikhail Gorbachev came to power without the slightest hint of impending doom. Gorbachev’s close adviser, Aleksandr Yakovlev, when asked whether the Reagan administration’s higher military spending, combined with its “Evil Empire” rhetoric, forced the Soviet Union into a more conciliatory position, responded:

“It played no role. None. I can tell you that with the fullest responsibility. Gorbachev and I were ready for changes in our policy regardless of whether the American president was Reagan, or Kennedy, or someone even more liberal. It was clear that our military spending was enormous and we had to reduce it.”. . .

ORDER

ARCHIE BROWN, BBC, 2001 – The Soviet Union on the eve of Gorbachev’s perestroika (reconstruction) had serious political and economic problems. Technologically, it was falling behind not only Western countries but also the newly industrialized countries of Asia. Its foreign policy evinced a declining capacity to win friends and influence people. Yet there was no political instability within the country, no unrest, and no crisis. This was not a case of economic and political crisis producing liberalization and democratization. Rather, it was liberalization and democratization that brought the regime to crisis point. . .

The Soviet economy was in limbo in the last two years of the Soviet Union’s existence – no longer a command economy but not yet a market system. Significant reforms, such as permitting individual enterprise (1986), devolving more powers to factories (1987), and legalising co-operatives (1988), which were to become thinly disguised private enterprises, had undermined the old institutional structures and produced unintended consequences, but no viable alternative economic system had been put in their place. . .

SOUTH ASIA ANALYST GROUP – The Congressional Quarterly Researcher wrote on December 11,1992: “After the Soviet break-up, economists were amazed at the extent to which the CIA had overestimated the performance of the Soviet economy, leading many to speculate that the numbers were hyped to fuel the arms race.” Mr. Allan Goodman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, described the CIA’s economic intelligence performance as “between abysmal and mediocre.” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said after the Soviet break-up: ” For a quarter century, they (the CIA) told the President everything there was to know about the Soviet Union, excepting the fact that it was collapsing (due to a bad economy). They missed that detail.”

KEVIN BRENNAN – Sovietology failed because it operated in an environment that encouraged failure. Sovietologists of all political stripes were given strong incentives to ignore certain facts and focus their interest in other areas. I don’t mean to suggest that there was a giant conspiracy at work; there wasn’t. It was just that there were no careers to be had in questioning the conventional wisdom.

A good example of this was the nationalism that helped to bring about the downfall of the USSR — something that was overlooked by Westerners. You see, the USSR used to claim that socialist amity had made nationalism irrelevant. Nobody quite bought that, but Sovietologists did think that the Soviets had managed to mostly eliminate nationalism, because after all they never saw any evidence of it. How could they? Anyone who wanted to pursue a career in Soviet Studies had to be able to get into the Soviet Union to do their research, after all. Without doing research, you didn’t get tenure, and the Soviets made sure you didn’t get to do research on that topic by simply denying you access to the country. Even if you thought it might be a bigger problem then the Soviets let on, you’d never be able to prove it. So you found other things to work on, and eventually you got onto other topics that kept you busy.

There were other kinds of institutional biases as well, such as those that led to the now-infamous “Team B” Report:

“During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B–which included Paul Wolfowitz–produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated.

“In retrospect, Team B’s conclusions were wildly off the mark. Describing the Soviet Union, in 1976, as having “a large and expanding Gross National Product,” it predicted that it would modernize and expand its military at an awesome pace. For example, it predicted that the Backfire bomber “probably will be produced in substantial numbers, with perhaps 500 aircraft off the line by early 1984.” In fact, the Soviets had 235 in 1984.

“The reality was that even the CIA’s own estimates–savaged as too low by Team B–were, in retrospect, gross exaggerations. In 1989, the CIA published an internal review of its threat assessments from 1974 to 1986 and came to the conclusion that every year it had “substantially overestimated” the Soviet threat along all dimensions. For example, in 1975 the CIA forecast that within 10 years the Soviet Union would replace 90 percent of its long-range bombers and missiles. In fact, by 1985, the Soviet Union had been able to replace less than 60 percent of them.” – Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

In short, Team B . . . brought a substantial set of preconceived notions about the nature and functioning of Soviet Russia to the task of evaluating the CIA assessments and any data that contradicted those conceptions was summarily discarded. No doubt it was easy enough to justify–after all, the data was flawed, just not flawed in the way that Team B assumed. So they went looking for things that would let them discount the data, and found them in the rhetoric of their opponents. It’s an error in judgment that Wolfowitz seemed destined to repeat.

HOW THE MEDIA USED TO COVER REAGAN

HOWARD KURTZ, WASHINGTON, POST – Most reporters liked the Gipper personally — it was hard not to — but often depicted him as detached, out of touch, a stubborn ideologue. Sam Donaldson, Helen Thomas and company would do battle in those prime-time East Room news conferences that Reagan relished, and he would deflect their toughest questions with an aw-shucks grin and a shake of the head. Major newspapers would run stories on all the facts he had mangled, a practice that faded as it became clear that most Americans weren’t terribly concerned.

The media dubbed him the Teflon president, and it was not meant as a compliment. Reagan was, quite simply, a far more controversial figure in his time than the largely gushing obits on television would suggest.

He took a pounding in the press after his first tax cut when a deep recession pushed unemployment to 10 percent and drowned the budget in red ink.

He was widely portrayed as uninformed and uninterested in details, the man who said trees cause pollution and once failed to recognize his own housing secretary.

He was often described as lazy, “just an actor,” a man who’d rather be clearing brush at his California ranch and loved a good midday nap.

JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE – The elaborate Reagan state funeral may well prove a satisfying goodbye for Nancy, relatives, and close friends. For the Bush re-election campaign managers, it comes as an unexpected gift. This shouldn’t surprise us in an era in which D-Day is compared to the war on terror, Bush Junior (by inference) to Eisenhower, and the occupation of Baghdad to the liberation of Paris. . .

The Democrats who voted for Reagan abandoned the sour, nitpicking Jimmy Carter for the cheerful Hollywood figure, but they also did what the political pros and historians still don’t get. Led by the determined cadres of the “New Right,” they supported a candidate and a plan for a new America with an ideological agenda. That agenda called for doing the unthinkable: grabbing control of Congress and smashing the New Deal, while leaving a token “safety net” in its place. It was in the early days of Reagan that the homeless began to appear in growing numbers on the streets of American cities, an early sign of the slow process of turning over the functions of the federal government to companies through such ideas as privatization. Reagan practically initiated the concept of turning social welfare over to charitable foundations. All of this was accomplished with the glue of anti-Communism, a shared bond that tied otherwise quarreling factions together—the libertarian-minded Republicans, the anti-feminist crusaders, the Christian fundamentalists. Under Reagan, the government borrowed the concept of guerrilla warfare from the winning side in Vietnam and used it to win a victory over the Sandinistas. Reagan escaped the Iran-Contra scandal without a scratch. For some, Reagan spelled the turning point in the death of the first American republic.

Reagan aided Guatemalan genocide

The strange rise of Obama

2009

One  of the unanswered questions about Barack Obama is how a young politician of such little achievement got so far so fast – from state senator to president in four years. Bill Blum provides new light on the subject. To understand this phenomenon, it is important to recognize that if a young Obama was vetted or otherwise used by the CIA, it was not all that unusual. From the 1950s on, the agency repeatedly interfered in the education of the talented young by recruiting or co-opting them for its own purposes. Yale’s Skull & Bones Club, for example, was a classic case of a recruitment camp for future intelligence types. The purpose – for the short run – is more information, and – for the long run – a supply of US future government officials whom the agency trusts and can use. And it often begins with a bright college student an insider thinks might fill the bill. . . .

Bill Blum, Anti-Empire Report – The question that may never go away: Who really is Barack Obama? In his autobiography, “Dreams From My Fathers”, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer.” The odd part of Obama’s story is that he doesn’t mention the name of his employer.

However, a New York Times story of 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960. The British journal, Lobster Magazine — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji. In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls. After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington’s nuclear desires, was reinstated to power.

In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society — it’s valid to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.

Colony Net, 2008 –In an effort to shore up his foreign policy credentials during the primary campaign, the junior senator from Illinois – then in a tight primary contest with Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania – bragged about the time he had spent in Pakistan. He argued that Clinton’s foreign policy “experience” consisted only of quick photo ops, while he had spent “quality time” with “real people.” Not only that, he had actually gone on a partridge-hunting trip near the Pakistan city of Larkana. His partridge-hunting apparently impressed the gun owners of Pennsylvania very little, inasmuch as Clinton won that primary by 10 per cent.

Eager to impress the Pennsylvania crowd with his “foreign policy experience” and knowledge of guns, Obama thus let slip the fact that he’d been to Pakistan. (It is believed that he made two trips to Pakistan.) There must have been more to that trip than meets the eye, however, because the candidate has said virtually nothing about it since. You won’t find anything on the Obama campaign site. . .

Astute readers may have begun to wonder how a struggling young college student with a divorced, middle-class mother managed to fund a three week trip to Pakistan. . . But Barry Obama-Soetoro was off shooting partridges in Pakistan, hosted by a young man named Muhammed Hasan Chandio. Chandio’s family owned a substantial amount of land in the region, and Obama apparently met him while both were students. (Chandio is currently a financial consultant in New York, and a donor to the Obama campaign.). . .

Another of Obama’s hosts in Pakistan was Muhammadian Mian Soomro, Obama’s senior by about 11 years, son of a Pakistani politician and himself a politician, who became interim President of Pakistan when Pervez Musharraf resigned in August of 2008. Soomro has said that “someone”� personally requested that he “watch over” Barack Obama, but will not name that individual . . .

A trip to Pakistan is no doubt more than a jaunt to a Florida beach. Few Americans would consider traveling there now, thinking it to be a dangerous place. In 1981, when one of Obama’s possible two trips there occurred, it was less safe. Because of the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, millions of Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan, which was under martial law. The Afghan “mujahedeen” fighters had bases in Pakistan, and they moved back and forth to fight the Soviets. . .

In the early 1980s, Pakistan was one of the destinations Americans were prohibited from visiting – it was on the State Department’s list of banned countries. Non-Muslims were not welcome, unless they were on official business, formalized through the embassy of the country of origin. The simple truth is that no young American would have a reason to or be able to visit Pakistan in 1981, unless he was on official government business of which the State Department was aware. . .

Adding to the mix is the fact that Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother, had visited at least 13 countries in her lifetime, and had worked for companies that required travel to Pakistan. Her employers appear to have included the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation, Women’s World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. Note that USAID and the Ford Foundation have (allegedly) been used as covers for CIA agents. . . .

The story of Business International also includes its 1960s joint meetings with members of SDS at the prodding of Carl Oglesby. Not everyone was happy at the idea – including Bernadette Dorn – and probably for good cause.
Obama also was one of eight students selected to study sovietology by Columbia professor Zbigniew Brzezinski who, if he wasn’t a CIA official, was as close as you can otherwise get. Brzesinski is now a member of Obama’s inner circle.

If the Obama Pakistan story sounds somewhat familiar, it may because the Review was one of the few places that reported one of Bill Clinton’s similarly interesting trips:

“1960s: Bill Clinton, according to several agency sources interviewed by biographer Roger Morris, works as a CIA informer while briefly and erratically a Rhodes Scholar in England. Although without visible means of support, he travels around Europe and the Soviet Union, staying at the ritziest hotel in Moscow. During this period the US government is using well educated assets such as Clinton as part of Operation Chaos, a major attempt to break student resistance to the war and the draft. According to former White House FBI agent Gary Aldrich Clinton is told by Oxford officials that he is no longer welcome there.”

HOW THE OBAMA FAIRY TALE BEGAN

Paul Street Z Mag – Conventional wisdom holds that Obama entered national politics with his instantly famous keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. But, as Ken Silverstein noted in Harper’s in the fall of 2006, “If the speech was his debut to the wider American public, he had already undergone an equally successful but much quieter audition with Democratic Party leaders and fund-raisers, without whose support he would surely never have been chosen for such a prominent role at the convention.

The favorable elite assessment of Obama began in October of 2003. That’s when “Vernon Jordan, the well-known power broker and corporate board-member who chaired Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team after the 1992 election, placed calls to roughly twenty of his friends and invited them to a fund-raiser at his home. That event,” Silverstein noted, “marked his entry into a well-established Washington ritual-the gauntlet of fund-raising parties and meet-and-greets through which potential stars are vetted by fixers, donors, and lobbyists.”

Drawing on his undoubted charm, wit, intelligence, and Harvard credentials, Obama passed this trial with shining colors. At a series of social meetings with assorted big “players” from the financial, legal and lobbyist sectors, Obama impressed key establishment figures like Gregory Craig (a longtime leading attorney and former special counsel to the White House), Mike Williams (the legislative director of the Bond Market Association), Tom Quinn (a partner at the top corporate law firm Venable and a leading Democratic Party “power broker”), and Robert Harmala, another Venable partner and “a big player in Democratic circles.”

Craig liked the fact that Obama was not a racial “polarizer” on the model of past African-American leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Williams was soothed by Obama’s reassurances that he was not “anti-business” and became “convinced…that the two could work together.”

“There’s a reasonableness about him,” Harmala told Silverstein. “I don’t see him as being on the liberal fringe.”

By Silverstein’s account, the good “word about Obama spread through Washington’s blue-chip law firms, lobby shops, and political offices, and this accelerated after his win in the March [2004] Democratic primary.” Elite financial, legal, and lobbyists contributions came into Obama’s coffers at a rapid and accelerating pace.

The “good news” for Washington and Wall Street insiders was that Obama’s “star quality” would not be directed against the elite segments of the business class. The interesting black legislator from the South Side of Chicago was “someone the rich and powerful could work with.” According to Obama biographer and Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell, in late 2003 and early 2004:

“Word of Obama’s rising star was now spreading beyond Illinois, especially through influential Washington political circles like blue chip law firms, party insiders, lobbying houses. They were all hearing about this rare, exciting, charismatic, up-and-coming African American who unbelievably could win votes across color lines. . . [his handlers and] influential Chicago supporters and fund-raisers all vigorously worked their D.C. contacts to help Obama make the rounds with the Democrats’ set of power brokers. . .

According to Mendell, Obama now cultivated the support of the privileged few by “advocat[ing] fiscal restraint” and “calling for pay-as-you-go government” and “extol[ing] the merits of free trade and charter schools.” He “moved beyond being an obscure good-government reformer to being a candidate more than palatable to the moneyed and political establishment.” .

“On condition of anonymity,” Silverstein reported two years ago, “one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player.’ The lobbyist added: ‘What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?'”