Cruz Plays Pretend on Reagan


Sen. Ted Cruz may be new to the senate, but he’s apparently well-schooled in the mythical version of Saint Ronald Reagan. FactCheck takes a look at a recent statement by him that stands history completely on its head in claiming that Reagan reduced spending and debt.

Cruz: [Obama is] one of only two presidents, post-World War II, to face double-digit unemployment. And for the last four years economic growth under President Barack Obama has averaged 0.8 percent, less than 1 percent. There is only one other period post-1950 where we have had four years of less than 1 percent economic growth. That’s from 1979 to 1983. Coming out of Jimmy Carter following the same policies of out of control spending, out of control debt, out of control taxes, out of control regulation. That’s the only other period. President Reagan came in facing that stagnation and he implemented policies the exact opposite of Barack Obama’s.

In fact, it’s interesting: 79 to 83, economic growth was 0.8 percent. Today, it’s 0.8 percent for the exact same period because Obama didn’t learn the lesson from Reagan that if you want to turn the economy around you cut taxes, you reduce spending, you reduce the debt, and you don’t send regulators like locusts to destroy small businesses and jobs.

FactCheck points out the obvious:

But Cruz is simply wrong to claim that the “lesson from Reagan” was that “you reduce spending, you reduce the debt” to turn the economy around. Reagan increased both. Historical budget figures from the Congressional Budget Office show that clearly.

Federal outlays (total spending) rose by 40 percent under Reagan’s first four budgets (fiscal year 1985 vs. Carter’s last budget for fiscal 1981). That was two-and-a-half times faster than the rate of inflation, which rose 16 percent during the same period, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

And far from cutting debt, Reagan borrowed more heavily than previous presidents. In Reagan’s first term, debt owed to the public increased by nearly 91 percent by the end of fiscal year 1985, compared with what it had been at the end of Carter’s fiscal 1981.

Republicans like to claim that this is only because the Democrats controlled Congress and prevented Reagan from cutting the budget, but that is absolutely false. I went back some years ago when someone made that claim and added up all of Reagan’s proposed budgets and compared them to the budget passed by Congress. Guess what? When you add up all those budgets, Reagan’s proposed budgets were higher than the ones that Congress sent to his desk to sign.

Ronald Reagan is no longer a real person for Republicans, he’s an empty vessel into which they pour all of their ideological commitments and pretend that he embodied all of them.

Comments

  1. dickspringer says

    The percentage increase in the national debt under Reagan was about five times that under Obama.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Ronnie Ray-gun is now an aircraft carrier actually ain’t he?

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Those flippin’ revisionist historians!!!11elven XI!

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Huh? A typo and a fantasy cricket team in one.

  5. jaxkayaker says

    Al Franken’s chapter on Reagan in “Lies and the lying liars who tell them” lays it out nicely and humorously.

    I note also that Obama cut the payroll tax his first year in office.

  6. jameshanley says

    Ronald Reagan is no longer a real person for Republicans, he’s an empty vessel into which they pour all of their ideological commitments and pretend that he embodied all of them.

    Isn’t it always that way with our messiahs and prophets?

  7. Phillip IV says

    Ronald Reagan is no longer a real person for Republicans, he’s an empty vessel into which they pour all of their ideological commitments and pretend that he embodied all of them.

    Much of their thinking is of this quality, by now. You want to see how your ideology held up in the past? Easy – start with your ideology, derive from it what must have happened in the past, and assume that that was the reality. History professors disagree? Doesn’t matter – they’re all communists, so it’s only to be expected that they distort the historical record.

    Didn’t you know that Reagan said that the worst thing you could say to a farmer was “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”? That proves beyond doubt that he shrunk government and reduced the deficit during his tenure, all facts and figures to the contrary are made up.

  8. David C Brayton says

    Wow! Reagan’s economic policy was supply side economics–you spend your way out of a recession. Cruz truly has mastered Orwell’s Doublespeak.

  9. says

    Phillip IV,
    That’s exactly why farmers are totally self-sufficient and exhibit fronteir grit and personal responsibility.
    Ignore the billions in government payments behind the curtain.

  10. says

    “Guess what? When you add up all those budgets, Reagan’s proposed budgets were higher than the ones that Congress sent to his desk to sign.”

    Look how much money he saved!

  11. mikeyb says

    Cruz is a mental midget trying to be the next Nixon or Joe McCarthy. Another example of the great leaders that arise from the collective wisdom of Texas. Sam Houston where are you when we need you.

  12. says

    Republicans have no need for real people. Real people have this annoying habit of being complex and nuanced. Their actions are sometimes hard to explain in terms of simple ideology. Sometimes they’re even comtradictory. The real Reagan, who compromised his conservative principles almost daily, doesn’t fit into their black and white ideology. They need the imaginary god of tax cuts and spending cuts.

    The flip side of this is their constant need to rail against the imaginary Kenyan Marxist rather than deal with Obama the centrist who adopts ideas republicans used to endorse.

  13. says

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

  14. mikeyb says

    Also, I lived through the Reagan era. He was a B-actor with a completely naive simplistic black and white view of the world that was an embarrassment for a grown man to have. He was embroiled in controversies throughout his presidency. Even Margaret Thacher despised him. He lauched Reaganomics which has resulted in the current unfinished destruction of the middle class. In short he was a thoroughly terrible president who lived in his own private fantasy, even if he did have a great sense of humor, practically his only virtue. And yet by comparison to almost all republican leaders since, he should be on Mount Rushmore.

  15. Michael Heath says

    I do observe one modern-day politician who has learned from the successes of the Reagan Administration while using Reagan’s failures as a lesson on what not to do. That’s Barack Obama.

    With one exception. President Reagan was capable of both taking a firm stand based on his ideology while simultaneously abandoning such to make a deal. Where the deals were almost always better for the national interest than the ideological position Mr. Reagan espoused. President Obama has been largely unsuccessful at making deals; in spite of his willingness to abandon his ideals for the sake of compromise. However, I attribute that cause to a Republican partly monolithically and fiercely committed to obstructing the president.

    History will likely focus much attention on Barack Obama being our first black president; I think the far bigger story is the descent of the Republican party into stupidity, delusion, anti-intellectualism, madness, fierce loyalty to fundamentalist ideology, and nihilistic obstructionism.

  16. dean says

    the lesson from Reagan that if you want to turn the economy around you cut taxes, you reduce spending, you reduce the debt, and you don’t send regulators like locusts to destroy small businesses and jobs.

    Since, given Reagan’s constant avoidance of the truth, this is precisely the kind of lie he himself would be telling about his presidency, cruz probably feels he’s in good company.

  17. says

    mikeyb,
    Reagan also publicly advocated for a nuclear-free world and signed a U.N.(!!!!!)* torture treaty.
    He also joked about launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R . and supported brutal torturers in Central America.
    So basically a typical Repube hypocrite.

    * You know who else signed a U.N. treaty against torture? Hitler! (Not meant to be a factual statement).

  18. Michael Heath says

    mikeyb writes:

    Also, I lived through the Reagan era. He was a B-actor with a completely naive simplistic black and white view of the world that was an embarrassment for a grown man to have. He was embroiled in controversies throughout his presidency. Even Margaret Thacher despised him. He lauched Reaganomics which has resulted in the current unfinished destruction of the middle class. In short he was a thoroughly terrible president who lived in his own private fantasy, even if he did have a great sense of humor, practically his only virtue. And yet by comparison to almost all republican leaders since, he should be on Mount Rushmore.

    I lived through the Reagan presidency as well, where I reject your argument as an accurate description of Mr. Reagan’s legacy as an absurd strawman. If we used the structure of your argument against any political leader they’d all come out smelling like a turd. So does my rejection of your argument while also living through Reagan’s presidency make us even? Do we cancel each other’s argument out? No, both arguments are by definition fallacious.

    Instead I’ll stick with the facts and reportages of historians and economists who specialize in that era and the Reagan presidency. They happen to report a very different narrative than your own, largely because students of history will not be satisfied with strawmen nor will fellow historians cite or collaborate with builders of strawmen.

  19. says

    It’s pretty much absurd to blame the economic slowdown from 1979-1983 on Carter. Also, it’s a classic case of cherry-picking an endpoint. There was plenty of econoomic growth for the first few years of the Carter administration. There was also high inflation. But the rich despise inflation.
    Carter appointed Volcker to be the chief of the Fed and Volcker increased interest rates through the roof. That pretty much put the kibosh on inflation. Also started the recession that lasted most of Reagan’s first term.

    The problem is that this entire argument is several levels beyond people like Ted Cruz. Reagan worshippers, like many people, have this idea that the economy booms or busts based on the moral fortitude of the head of state. It’s an advanced economic theory, if you are living in the days of King Arthur. That’s why the deliberately ignore any down time under a Republican President while engaging the most absurd statistical interpretations when a Democrat is President. Thus we are treated to countless arguments about the price of gas that pick as their endpoint the date of Obama’s inauguration, at which point said price was on a several year low, and was certainly not at a level indicative of where it had been for most of the Bush presidency.

  20. says

    @19

    Your argument appears to be bereft of actual content. You accuse mikeyb of using a “strawman” (thereby demonstrating that you have no idea what a straw man actually is) and then assert, assert, assert that he was wrong.

    I’m trying to find something to criticize in your defense of Reagan, but you never bothered to make any actual point. Meta alone doesn’t constitute an argument.

    A straw man, BTW, is when person X makes an argument and person Y responds to that argument by completely misrepresenting what person X says. So basically, person Y beats the crap out of an argument that is easy to beat up. But it’s irrelevant since the “straw man” is not what person X said.

    If you accuse mikeyb of making a straw man, just who is he responding to? What argument is he mischaracterizing?

  21. patricksimons says

    You have to wonder if any of the people who continue to worship at the altar of Ronald Reagan have ever looked at the man’s actual record. The more I read of Reagan the more convinced I become that the only part he played in his own administration was to get in front of the cameras and play a president on television. Cruz’s pathetic attempt to hang unemployment on the president conveniently ignores the fact that G.W. Bush came to office with 4% unemployment and left with unemployment inching toward 12%.

  22. mikeyb says

    So Reagan, the patron saint of deregulation, shifting the tax burden from corporations and the super rich to the middle class, lover of every right wing dictatorship around the world, cracking down on the evils of smut, through the Meese commission, just to name a few things should be our great hero. The great anti-communist who ran up huge deficits to accelerate the arms race, created Star Wars worshipping at the feet of Edward Teller. The guy who literally believed in the book of revelation, consulted astrology, yet never went to church. He rode into the White House on a white horse, looked down atop the city on the hill, with the pope collectively ended communism, while not speaking out about aids, like a John Wayne movie, then rode off into the sunset. The Reagan apologists are made up of a lot of people who cashed in on all the tax breaks and defense contracts ala Reagonomics, and all the cronies who got jobs in future administrations. Reagan then and now is more of a myth than an actual person.

  23. says

    I remember a time when we had three sorts of pols.

    There were the stupid ones.

    The thieving ones.

    And the “Few good men”*, those who actually believed in genuine “public service” and were possessed of moral scruples.

    We still have three kinds.

    Alas and alack:

    There are the stupid ones; the thieving ones and the stupid thieving ones.

    * The last one was sighted at about the same time as the last Passenger Pigeon died at the Cincinatti Zoo

  24. Michael Heath says

    patricksimons:

    The more I read of Reagan the more convinced I become that the only part he played in his own administration was to get in front of the cameras and play a president on television.

    Which specific biographies (you claim the plural here) argue a conclusion that President Reagan was a mere actor within his own administration? Perhaps Lou Cannon’s title without having actually read the contents of his book.

  25. Michael Heath says

    rickdesper writes to me:

    Your argument [my post @ 19 that’s critical of mikeyb’s post @ 15] appears to be bereft of actual content.

    Than I suggest re-reading it more slowly. It’s remedial logic.

    rickdesper writes:

    I’m trying to find something to criticize in your defense of Reagan, but you never bothered to make any actual point. Meta alone doesn’t constitute an argument.

    And this is a problem with partisans, they can’t see beyond their own tribalism. I wasn’t defending Ronald Reagan, I was attacking the quality of mikeyb’s argument.

    rickdesper writes:

    Your argument [my post @ 19] appears to be bereft of actual content.

    I suggest a book on critical thinking.

    rickdesper writes:

    You accuse mikeyb of using a “strawman” (thereby demonstrating that you have no idea what a straw man actually is) and then assert, assert, assert that he was wrong.
    […]
    A straw man, BTW, is when person X makes an argument and person Y responds to that argument by completely misrepresenting what person X says. So basically, person Y beats the crap out of an argument that is easy to beat up. But it’s irrelevant since the “straw man” is not what person X said.

    There is a long tradition within modern liberalism, taken by a relative handful of this population though they’re well and long-represented in this specific forum, that no reference to Ronald Reagan which is either neutral or positive can go unattacked. Such attacks are almost always godawful arguments as we see from mikeyb @ 15. mikeyb’s opponent in this case are those historians, economists, or bloggers who refer to Reagan without sufficiently castigating him.

    My motivation is to squash such fatally defective arguments where my attempts to do so nears 100% of the time such arguments are made in this forum in regards to Ronald Reagan. I presume becaue he brings out the worst in some liberal overly zealous partisans. Such bad arguments are made in this forum at a rate which also approaches 100% of the time Ed posts a blog about Reagan and when Ed’s central theme isn’t to condemn or criticize Mr. Reagan.

    Actually I have a bug up my ass about bad arguments in general which people who read the comments in Ed’s blog regularly should know full well. That can be easily established on a whole host of issues, even when the person defectively attacks someone I despise, like George W. Bush.

    rickdesper writes:

    If you accuse mikeyb of making a straw man, just who is he responding to? What argument is he mischaracterizing?

    Well – I noted those people specifically @ 19, which you seem to not be able to comprehend. Perhaps because it’s because those experts’ conclusions are inconvenient to zealous partisans. I’ll quote myself @ 19:

    . . . historians and economists who specialize in that era and the Reagan presidency.

    rickdesper writes to me:

    Your argument [my post @ 19 that’s critical of mikeyb’s post @ 15] appears to be bereft of actual content.

    My motivation and the content of my post @ 19 given mikeyb’s post @ 19 can be illustrated by way of an analogy. An argument by someone who accepts the theory of evolution as explained by evolutionary scientists is not, “bereft of content“, if the critic points out the flaws in a poor argument by a YEC challenging evolutionary theory. Even if the critic doesn’t make a case for evolution. That’s an entirely different argument.

  26. mikeyb says

    This convoluted response is hilarious. There simply is no equivalent on the left of the sycophantic worship of Reagan. I might admire some things about Clinton and Obama, but I certainly see plenty of faults there too. And what great thing did he exactly do? He compromised once in a while because he had to, to a largely democratic congress, whoopty doo. Even the supposed credit he gets for ending communism are built on layers of presuppositions, myths and unprovable assumptions. Reagan lived largely in his own fictional world, how else can you explain how his chief biographer Edmund Morris had to write a fictionalized biography “Dutch,” to try comprehend Reagan – with a fictional character who observes Reagan’s life from a distance – even if results in yet another form of hagiography – there was no there there to explain the man otherwise. Anyway I did credit Reagan with humor, something lacking in most presidents, and most people.

  27. dingojack says

    Michael – “Actually I have a bug up my ass about bad arguments in general which people who read the comments in Ed’s blog regularly should know full well…”

    Well then, in order to relieve your anxiety, I would suggest you should stop making those bad arguments. I’m sure it would calm you down, and allow you to exercise some rational thought in relation to Reagan.

    Hope that helps,
    Dingo

  28. says

    Also,

    Cruz: “[Obama is] one of only two presidents, post-World War II, to face double-digit unemployment.” (emphasis mine)

    Quote. No comment. None should be needed.

  29. dingojack says

    Gee, I wonder who was US President when the US had it’s only post-WWII foray into double digit (U3) unemployment? Perhaps Michael Heath could tell us.
    Dingo

  30. Michael Heath says

    mikeyb writes:

    This convoluted response is hilarious. There simply is no equivalent on the left of the sycophantic worship of Reagan.

    Red herrings now? It’s irrelevant whether your point here is true or not when it comes to how fatally defective your own argument is; or my assertion that when it comes to the mere mention of neutral or positive claims of Ronald Reagan, that compels some liberals to react by claiming that he was all bad all of the time. That is an observation we encounter every single time Ed posts a blog about Reagan where the observation isn’t about a negative attribute or result from Reagan. You validate and illustrate that behavior here.

    mikeyb writes:

    And what great thing did he exactly do?

    Well, as I’ve previously pointed out twice now; historians and economists who are experts in that period do report some accomplishments. So I suggest studying up. I have no desire to defend Reagan’s accomplishments here because I’ve already learned that zealous partisans of either political persuasion who demonstrate the behavior you do here are simply incapable of considering facts inconvenient to their worldview. They’re no better than YECS being confronted by facts reported by someone literate in the theory of evolution. In the past couple of years science has not only confirmed this behavior regarding certain topics, like politics and people considered to be opponents of one’s tribe, but the presentation of such facts which falsifies the worldview of the ideologue has them increasing their commitment to their false worldview.

    mikeyb writes:

    Reagan lived largely in his own fictional world, how else can you explain how his chief biographer Edmund Morris had to write a fictionalized biography “Dutch,” to try comprehend Reagan . . .

    Edmund Morris’ biography is considered a a spectacular flop. It’s an un-readable mess; in spite of the unprecedented access a president gave to an independent biographer. That flop was Mr. Morris’ responsibility, not Mr. Reagan’s.

    The most respected biographer of Ronald Reagan is Lou Cannon, who was a newspaper journalist who covered Reagan when he was both governor of CA and president of the U.S. The fact you can’t even get this well-known perspective about Reagan’s biographers correct illustrates your ignorance regarding the history of Mr. Reagan.

  31. Michael Heath says

    Me @ 26:

    “Actually I have a bug up my ass about bad arguments in general which people who read the comments in Ed’s blog regularly should know full well…”

    dingojack responds @ 28:

    Well then, in order to relieve your anxiety, I would suggest you should stop making those bad arguments. I’m sure it would calm you down, and allow you to exercise some rational thought in relation to Reagan.

    You’ve been around long enough to know it’s extremely bad form to rebut a blogger or a commenter without blockquoting that which you rebut. Please quote exactly where my content here falls in the realm of bad arguments and then explain why. Good luck with that.

    dingojack @ 30:

    Gee, I wonder who was US President when the US had it’s only post-WWII foray into double digit (U3) unemployment? Perhaps Michael Heath could tell us.

    This is really sad; because it illustrates that your own defective thinking causes you to fail to even understand the topic being discussed. Even after I described it to someone else whose own ideology blinded them from what my argument was while they and you wrongly imagine another argument is instead happening. I’ll repeat that description here from 26:

    And this is a problem with partisans, they can’t see beyond their own tribalism. I wasn’t defending Ronald Reagan, I was attacking the quality of mikeyb’s argument.

    So dingojack, sometimes the arguments don’t fall into two camps convenient to zealous ideological tribalists who can’t think critically on certain topics. Who instead defectively and falsely attempt to frame all arguments to be either for or against the tribes and their players. Sometimes arguments are about a different topic, like the quality of an argument in terms of its structure.

    My pointing out the defectiveness of mikeyb’s arguments here reveals nothing about my own perception of Reagan’s qualities and performance. Instead it merely reveals I can discern structurally defective arguments against a person some liberals irrationally hate and can’t even coherently describe as mikeyb repeatedly does in this thread. Where he relies on the most remedial logical fallacies available to make his case.

  32. Michael Heath says

    Me @ 32:

    My pointing out the defectiveness of mikeyb’s arguments here reveals nothing about my own perception of Reagan’s qualities and performance.

    This isn’t true where I’d like to retract this. I do provide a tell on my perception of Reagan by way of my previously referencing what historians and economists who are experts on Reagan conclude, i.e., @ 19, 26, and 31. My own perception is in line with those experts when they reach a consensus.

    I also find my position on Mr. Reagan ironic relative to some zealous liberal ideologues who avoid or deny the conclusions by experts on Reagan. Their denialism of what experts report on the subject of Reagan parallels AGW denialists. In both cases the denialist is motivated by their political ideology and fealty to their ideological tribe to avoid or deny what experts understand.

  33. Ichthyic says

    I think the far bigger story is the descent of the Republican party into stupidity, delusion, anti-intellectualism, madness, fierce loyalty to fundamentalist ideology, and nihilistic obstructionism.

    leave it to Heath to live in denial of the fact that the downward spiral of the GoP started with Nixon, but became full steam ahead under his never say die hero Ronnie.

    Ronnie was nothing more than a puppet to authoritarianism (hence his eager and willing participation with McCarthy), and the Neocons realized he’d make a great puppet for their plans to empower their ideology and rationalization of greed, which was even a twisting of Strauss’ nightmarish ideology! It’s why they made him Gov of CA, and it’s why they spent so much effort making him king.

    The re-election of Reagan itself was the death-knell of sane politics in general, not just the GoP.

    Old news to anyone who actually can objectively examine the history.

  34. Ichthyic says

    My own perception is in line with those experts when they reach a consensus.

    the only objective consensus of a positive nature regarding Ronald Reagan was that he mostly was a nice guy .

    everything else is you projecting onto history.

  35. Ichthyic says

    but then, how many times have your arguments been rebutted here in the past, Heath?

    HOW MANY?

    every time, it’s been shown that the articles you reference are either biased, or irrelevant to the statements you make, or are just flat wrong.

    and yet… you continue to have a rosy picture of the man. It’s amazing.

    You really should forget about trying to relate history, Heath. Your head is just too messed up about it. Stick to the present, your brain seems to work just fine and groovy there.

  36. Ichthyic says

    where I reject your argument as an accurate description of Mr. Reagan’s legacy as an absurd strawman

    also, Heath, FFS learn what the term STRAWMAN means.

  37. Ichthyic says

    Red herrings now?

    stop it. You don’t know your logical fallacies from your ass crack.

  38. Ichthyic says

    I have no desire to defend Reagan’s accomplishments here

    ROFLMAO

    LIAR goddamn fucking liar. Just like your hero Ronnie.

  39. Ichthyic says

    …. You know what?

    I’m going to apologize for getting so angry at you Heath. You obviously can’t help the way you are. You’ve been saying the same things for years now, with no change, regardless of any attempt to show you where you are wrong, have interpreted history incorrectly, or just have a basic misunderstanding of the facts.

    You get my sympathy, in fact.

    It’s obviously as pointless trying to get you to renounce your revisionist history as it is trying to get a creationist to reject a literal genesis.

  40. slc1 says

    Re Ichthyic @ #34

    Ronnie was nothing more than a puppet to authoritarianism (hence his eager and willing participation with McCarthy),

    Actually, during the McCarthy era, Reagan was still a liberal Democrat. He didn’t actually turn conservative until his marriage to Nancy Davis, under the influence of her father, who was a right wing Goldwater conservative in Arizona. His going along with McCarthy and HUAC in naming names of (mostly) former Communists in the motion picture industry was an attempt to cover his ass; as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, he had done nothing to reduce their influence. The problem was, as I indicated, that most of the individuals named were former Communists who had left the party after the Molotov/von Ribbentrop pact. It should be pointed out that many leftists joined the party in the 1930s as it was the only significant organization pushing progressive issues such as civil rights for blacks, among other things, which explains its attraction for leftists who were ignorant of the atrocities perpetrated by Stalin. My dad used to refer to these individuals as parlor pinks. By the time the blacklists started up, there were very few folks in the motion picture industry who were still members of the Party.

    Just as a matter of information, I went to junior high school (middle school to folks in the East) with the son of blacklisted screen writer, Paul Jarrico. Jarrico was a B list screen writer who had been a member of the Party in the 1930s but, like most of the parlor pinks, had left the Party after the aforementioned Pact.

  41. Michael Heath says

    Ichthyic writes:

    leave it to Heath to live in denial of the fact that the downward spiral of the GoP started with Nixon, but became full steam ahead under his never say die hero Ronnie.

    A short post pointing out that I don’t in general read or respond to Ichthyic’s posts for several reasons, one being that he grossly misrepresents reality in general along with what I write. Which he does here once again; i.e., Ronald Reagan is not a hero of mine. Instead I merely accept reality as it is rather than how some liberals wished it were or falsely describe the past. I stopped reading his posts here at that point given his lack of ability to present a factual set of premises to promote his conclusions.

    From that period a hero of mine that comes to mind is Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Mr. Volcker was appointed by President Carter and re-nominated once out of two opportunities by President Reagan. Volcker applied economic theory that provided a legacy and case study on how to defeat inflation; which we’ve now enjoyed controlling since his tenure.

    What was especially impressive about Mr. Volcker’s success was that the recession he faced was not a typical recession but instead one with both inflation and economic contraction. (The last recession wasn’t typical either since it was combined with a financial crisis from which the housing industry has yet to recover coupled to state-level austerity mandates that aggravate a recession and stalls recovery.) The overriding lesson here is to consider what the experts assert, independent of partisan objectives, and apply with fealty and pragmatic nuance.

  42. dingojack says

    Micheal,Michael, Michael – I’ll suggest a nice cup of tea, a Valium (or two) and a nice lie down.
    Firstly – search “Michael Heath’ & ‘Reagan’ for any number of examples of blind hagiography (verging on rimming).
    Secondly – RE: double digit inflation. Yes Michael it’s all about you isn’t it? There’s no way I was talking about anything else but your precious little self, is there?
    Thirdly – I’d suggest reading a little more widely on your BFF, it might surprise you to find what a dangerous old fool that man truly was.
    Dingo

  43. Michael Heath says

    Ichthyic writes:

    leave it to Heath to live in denial of the fact that the downward spiral of the GoP started with Nixon, but became full steam ahead under his never say die hero Ronnie.

    Posted too quickly above. It’s also an outrageous lie that I deny the contributions of Nixon and Reagan regarding the descent of the GOP. If Ichthyic was being truthful instead of defaming me with an outrageous lie, he’d have quoted where I did that. He can’t because I haven’t.

    I am confident my understanding of those contributions are wildly different than what Ichthyic asserts; where again, I’ll stick with what the experts report on their performance than what Ichthyic argues.

  44. slc1 says

    Relative to the Hollywood blacklist, it should be pointed out that being put on the list was not necessarily because of Communist affiliations in the 1930s. Many of those blacklisted were placed on the list for refusal to name names before HUAC. Example, the producer/director pair Adrian Scott and Edward Dmytryk. Both were party members in the 1930s but Scott named names and was not blacklisted. Dmytryk refused to name names and was blacklisted. Needless to say, their relationship went into the crapper afterwords.

  45. Michael Heath says

    Me @ 26:

    “Actually I have a bug up my ass about bad arguments in general which people who read the comments in Ed’s blog regularly should know full well…”

    dingojack responds @ 28:

    Well then, in order to relieve your anxiety, I would suggest you should stop making those bad arguments. I’m sure it would calm you down, and allow you to exercise some rational thought in relation to Reagan.

    I respond @ 32:

    You’ve been around long enough to know it’s extremely bad form to rebut a blogger or a commenter without blockquoting that which you rebut. Please quote exactly where my content here falls in the realm of bad arguments and then explain why. Good luck with that.

    dingojack acts like a YEC or AGW denialist @ 43. I.e., he can’t defend what he asserts but clings to it anyway:

    Micheal,Michael, Michael – I’ll suggest a nice cup of tea, a Valium (or two) and a nice lie down.
    Firstly – search “Michael Heath’ & ‘Reagan’ for any number of examples of blind hagiography (verging on rimming).

    Well first, I’m perfectly calm. Whereas your spelling my name two different ways in one line suggests the fevered projection of a zealous partisan whose allowing his amygdala to control his thinking. And again, if what you claim about me is true you’d be able to demonstrate such behavior. You can’t because it simply doesn’t exist; do you really want to include yourself in the liar category? Because that’s what you demonstrate here, twice now.

    dingojack writes:

    I’d suggest reading a little more widely on your BFF, it might surprise you to find what a dangerous old fool that man truly was.

    Well again, I’ve never claimed Reagan as a hero, so more lies to defend your fantasized version of reality. Secondly, this is rich given I’m the one in this thread whose been correcting the record when others misrepresent history. E.g., somebody claiming Edmund Morris’ biography is the go-to one on Reagan while I pointed out that Lou Cannon’s volumes are considered the most authoritative. That coupled to my noting Morris biography distinguishes itself amongst authorized presidential biographies as a spectacular failure. Mr. Cannon’s non-authorized volumes are very critical of Reagan, one of his titles I previously alluded to provides a gigantic hint it’s not hagiography. So it’s ironic that you demonstrate your own ignorance regarding the history of Reagan in a way that shows who is depending on biased sources and who is actually depending on dispassionate historians, economists, and other experts.

  46. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    Re Ichthyic

    Gee, Ichthyic has now joined me on the MH shit list. Welcome.

    He became a member of that list long before you did. If you want to get off it simply stop lying. It’s easy to stop, don’t make a factual assertion unless you’re confident you can validate it.

  47. says

    “Relative to the Hollywood blacklist, it should be pointed out that being put on the list was not necessarily because of Communist affiliations in the 1930s”

    I can’t at the moment furnish the link that I wanted to (I need to get out and beat the neighborhood kids to the Easter Eggs!) but this one:

    http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/blacklist.html

    is illustrative of the “Blacklist”.

    The link I wanted to use is the one that has reference to the machinations of the Hollywood moguls who were only to happy to rat out any film industry people who were pro-union or who were trying to secure equitable shares of film revenues for all actors, instead of just the stars and the executives.

  48. slc1 says

    Re democommie @ #60

    Well Ronnie the rat was certainly pro union in the late forties and early fifties. He was president of the union at the time. That theory doesn’t explain why Adrian Scott wasn’t blacklisted while Edward Dmydryk was.

  49. martinc says

    Up to Carter, my opinion on US Presidents is informed by what I read, as I was born in 1965. From Reagan onward, my opinion was formed directly from what he did, as reported in the Australian press.

    Reagan seemed to me at the time to be intellectually incapable of fulfilling the role of leader of the free world. Frankly he seemed dangerously unhinged in some ways, and I think it is extremely fortunate that he came to power in the US at a time when the man who came to power in the USSR – Gorbachev – was busy pretty much single-handedly and unexpectedly successfully dismantling the apparatus of the Soviet Union, including its control over Eastern Europe, and bringing the Cold War to a fizzling end. If a man like Reagan had been opposed by one of the usual Soviet posturing-and-screaming morons from decades earlier, there might well have been a nuclear war. I found Reagan frankly frightening.

    I try not to be partisan on rating Presidents. As I am to the left of the American political center (like 90% of the non-American free world), saying “all the Democrat Presidents were great, all the Republican ones were terrible” does sound partisan, but basically I’d have to go back to Eisenhower to find a Republican President I thought achieved much. Bush the Elder was a time-server and standard politician who didn’t break much, so I’d give him a conceded pass. Nixon was a criminal, although strangely he achieved things in foreign policy, despite his personality seeming to mitigate against that.

    However there is little legacy from Nixon to Reagan. Nixon was a brutally strong leader with no morals. Reagan was a weak leader, whose failures were in the knowledge and competence areas. He had an ideology that he pushed doggedly regardless of evidence that it was not working. He started the drift of America from a large middle class into a wealthy group and a struggling group. He may not have been solely responsible for that, but his policies certainly exacerbated it. And his weakness as a leader allowed things to happen on his watch, such as Iran/Contra: things that happen when lieutenants of a weak leader take matters into their own hands.

    The worst part of Reagan’s legacy in my opinion, however is not really attributable to him. It was that when things blew up, the Republican movers and shakers started to use a strategy of simply pretending they hadn’t been caught out. They denied the facts. They began to realize that the public weren’t good at separating the truth from fiction, even when the truth was known. It’s THAT idea that has been the Republican legacy of Reagan, and it reached full flower with the disastrous presidency of Bush the Younger. The strategy informs the current Republican view of Reagan himself as well: a false image of a fiscally sound budget-cutter who achieved economic success.

    I respect Michael Heath’s opinions a great deal, but I don’t know why he holds Reagan in high esteem. Reagan was at best a pleasant bumbler. The trouble with leaders like that, as we have seen with GWB, is that the idealogues beneath them get carte blanche to implement bizarre policy free of the scrutiny that would normally accompany those types of ideas coming from the president himself. That, coupled with the massive ramping up of the reality-denial strategy possible with Fox News on board, has propelled the Republican Party into its current position where ideological ranting has trumped rational analysis. It’s hard to see the way back for the Republicans.

  50. slc1 says

    Re martinc @ #52

    Nixon was a criminal, although strangely he achieved things in foreign policy, despite his personality seeming to mitigate against that.

    He also some notable achievements on the domestic front; for instance, the
    EPA was started on his watch. This was because he turned over his domestic agenda to the much unfairly maligned John Ehrlichman, who was something of an environmentalist, when it was kosher for a conservative to be an environmentalist. Notable conservative environmentalists included James Buckley (brother of Bill) and James J. Kilpatrick, editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

    It’s kind of sad in a way, that Nixon’s personal demons and paranoia prevented him from being a president of considerable achievement, as, his achievements got lost in Watergate, just like Lyndon Johnson’s achievements got lost in Vietnam. With all his failings, he wasn’t nearly as bad a president as George W. Bush or James Earl Carter, the two worst in American history.

  51. says

    slc1:

    You are as entitled to your view of Carter being one of the worst presidents in U.S. history as Michael Heath is of his opinion of Ronald Reagan as being, on average, a decent president (I disagree with both opinions), but you need to tell me what you base that opinion on so I can see what that basis is.

    Carter took over a badly broken country; economically and psychologically, the U.S, was a fucking train wreck. He was naive; he was hubristic and, yeah, he was a hypocrite in a number of his policies but one of the two worst presidents in U.S. history? Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Woodrow Wilson were all worse than Carter, imo, as presidents and as human beings. Their failure to address problems that were difficult but eminently solvable led to much suffering both here and abroad.

  52. slc1 says

    Re democommie @ #54

    Woodrow Wilson was a terrible racist but, aside from that, he is generally rated fairly highly as a president. Comparison of Hoover with Carter (and Grant for that matter) demonstrates the problem of electing people with engineering backgrounds to high office. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to make good presidents (Eisenhower was an exception but his experience in WW 2 keeping Britain and the US more or less pulling together perhaps provided him with the necessary political skill to overcome his engineering background) .

    Carter was inept, incompetent and and incapable . His handling of the situation in Iran was abominable. We are still paying for his failure to realize that the Ayatollah Khomeini was an anti-American theocratic fascist and to prevent his replacing the Shah; this failure has doomed the Iranian people to 30+ years of misgovernment and the US to where we are today, contemplating a military strike on that country to prevent their acquiring nuclear weapons. He inherited a bad situation from Ford and made it worse. The appointment of MH’s hero, Paul Voelker, was probably the only good thing he did domestically as the Fed’s tight money strategy finally broke the back of double digit inflation. As my dad put it, he was a leader who didn’t lead.

    His single accomplishment was the Egyptian/Israeli “peace” treaty, which is being paid for by some 5.2 billion/year as bribes to the two parties to behave themselves. It may be that the 2.2 billion allocated to Egypt may now not be sufficient to keep the Muslim Brotherhood, which has hijacked the Egyptian revolution, in line.

  53. says

    “Ronald Reagan is no longer a real person for Republicans, he’s an empty vessel into which they pour all of their ideological commitments and pretend that he embodied all of them.”

    So he’s basically just like Jesus.

  54. says

    Re: Woodrow Wilson.

    This:

    http://theprincetontory.com/main/pushing-wilson-off-his-pedestal/

    is by a Princeton student.

    He mentions, among other things, that Wilson was responsible for sending troops to a number of Central and South American countries during his presidency. He also mentions Wilson’s racism which was anything but benign (it essentially gutted the U.S. civil service’s nascent racial equality practices. Wilson was a well educated prude and a fucking shitheel.

    Speaking of inheriting a bad situation and making it worse, Hoover took over with an economy in a very precarious situation and through a combination of wrongheaded decisions and dithering presided over the start of the worst cycle of the Great Depression. While he wasn’t, imo, a bad man, he was a terrible leader at a time when anything less than a great leader was a recipe for disaster. In that regard he was similar to Carter although I think Carter was a better leader than he was.

    Calvin Coolidge, fondly mis-remembered by millions in my generation as “Silent Cal”, the laconic homespun president from Vermont actually spent the biggest part of his adult life (at least until his retirement from public life) in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Coolidge was essentially disinterested in the plight of the nation’s farmers and, while stating often that he was pro-working man, the act that propelled him into the national concisousness was the firing of the Boston Police Dept.’s rank and file for going on strike. This action, while decisive, was also avoidable. As governor of the state (the MA State House is IN Boston, he cannot have been unaware of the labor unrest prior to his “decisive” moment. But it’s his apparent lack of concern about the worsening U.S. economy–which led to the “cascade” effect of bank failures–for which I consider him a very bad president.

  55. says

    Speaking of Iran, you may thank the Dulles brothers, Wild Bill Donovan and the rest of the DoS/OSS/CIA cowboys for helping to overthrow Mossadegh and securing Reza Pahlavi as a satrap for AIOC in the first place. Everything since flows from there and, surprise, it’s all about the Benjamins.

  56. Synfandel says

    “…out of control regulation.”

    I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that concept.

  57. spartan says

    dingo said:
    Secondly – RE: double digit inflation. Yes Michael it’s all about you isn’t it? There’s no way I was talking about anything else but your precious little self, is there?

    WTF dingo, are you even reading what you’re typing? Here’s you shortly before the above, emphasis mine::

    Gee, I wonder who was US President when the US had it’s only post-WWII foray into double digit (U3) unemployment? Perhaps Michael Heath could tell us.

    So who exactly was making “re: double digit inflation” about ‘precious little’ Michael now? Would a mirror help? Perhaps you should take your own advice about tea and valium or maybe you’re just a little hungover from the holiday weekend, this isn’t the usual dingo-quailty argumentation in my opinion.

  58. Michael Heath says

    demcommie writes:

    You are as entitled to your view of Carter being one of the worst presidents in U.S. history as Michael Heath is of his opinion of Ronald Reagan as being, on average, a decent president (I disagree with both opinions), but you need to tell me what you base that opinion on so I can see what that basis is.

    Carter took over a badly broken country; economically and psychologically, the U.S, was a fucking train wreck. He was naive; he was hubristic and, yeah, he was a hypocrite in a number of his policies but one of the two worst presidents in U.S. history?

    As I’ve noted before, as time goes on historians are increasingly finding President Carter was far more successful than the common wisdom of the time concluded. Mr. Carter deserves a better legacy than he has now. In addition, I’m convinced that President’s Reagan’s legacy will deteriorate over time as people finally begin to acknowledge the devastation that will be wrought by climate change, where Reagan had a key hand in our “business as usual” approach given his carrying out energy policies the complete opposite of those that President Carter wisely and presciently attempted to pass.

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