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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Winds Of Freedom

Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010, at 2:46 PM

(Photo)
"...they gave the last full measure of devotion"
It is a beautiful day; the spring winds are whipping and furling the flag of our country and the sunshine is bright, bright with hope. The long days of winter are finally over. The various shades of gray that have wrapped winter in its grasp have been removed with the first sounds of robins and the blooming of the Easter lilies. I love spring for it always brings renewed visions of life...and the liberation of the human soul from the lifeless clutches of winter.

I am an American and refuse to be placed in the prison of titles like conservative or liberal; Republican or Democrat. I say that I am an American unashamedly...I am humbled and grateful that I have been raised in this great nation, a nation that has offered freedom and hope for so many.

As a pastor I am limited by law from trying to influence people to vote for one side or another. However, but I am not limited to help people appreciate the fact that this nation was founded by men and women who understood and appreciated the love of freedom and saw it as a gift not from the government but from God. Countless times I have stood at attention with my hand over my heart and repeated these words, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I went today to vote at my local precinct and as I did I thought about this great privilege of freedom. I can go behind the white cotton screen and vote for whoever I wish. I can vote, I can choose, I can participate in government, a government of the people.

Abraham Lincoln said in his moving speech at Gettysburg that freedom didn't come cheap, it cost the lives of many brave sons and daughters. He stood overlooking that field which thousands had died, their blood staining the grass, and then spoke these noble words, "from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

I am not sure what the future of these United States will be in the coming days and years. I am, for the first time in my life, pessimistic about what my sons, daughters and grandchildren will face. The great America, the proud America, that accomplished so much and has given so much to so many, does not appear to be the same one that I grew up loving as a child and as a young adult. It seems that to be proud of America is almost sinful in many people's eyes. Instead of building up our nation there are many now who wish to disembowel it of the virtues that have so ennobled it. From the history books of my school years I was taught about the achievements and strengths of our nation. Now the books have rewritten history, casting a dark soiled stain on the garment of the one who stands guard over the harbor of New York where my forefathers came seeking freedom and opportunity

I recently read the farewell speech of President Ronald Reagan. During his years in office he tried to once again inspire people with patriotism; with love and devotion for country. Let me remind you of a few words he spoke on his final day in office, January 11, 1989 at 9:02 P.M.

"Well, back in 1980, when I was running for President, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that "The engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they're likely to stay that way for years to come." Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is what they call "radical" was really "right." What they called "dangerous" was just "desperately needed."

"...I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation--from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense."

"Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So, we cut the people's tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before. The economy bloomed like a plant that had been cut back and could now grow quicker and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history: real family income up, the poverty rate down, entrepreneurship booming, and an explosion in research and new technology. We're exporting more than ever because American industry became more competitive..."

"Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace, we'd have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So, we rebuilt our defenses..."

"The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world..."

"Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: "We the People." "We the People" tell the government what to do; it doesn't tell us. "We the People" are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which "We the People" tell the government what it is allowed to do. "We the People" are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past 8 years."

"But back in the 1960's, when I began, it seemed to me that we'd begun reversing the order of things--that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government was taking more of our money, more of our options, and more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, "Stop." I was a citizen politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do."

"I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts."

"An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties."

"But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs [protection]."

"So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important--why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant...If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual."

"And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen, I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do."

"And that's about all I have to say tonight, except for one thing. The past few days when I've been at that window upstairs, I've thought a bit of the "shining city upon a hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."

"And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home....And so, goodbye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

I love the America that President Reagan spoke about. I want that nation back. I want back a nation that was founded on the eternal principals of freedom and the values of human dignity and worth. I want back a government "of the people, by the people and for the people". I want that nation back for my children and grandchildren. I want that nation back...I want our nation to once more be seen and spoken of with honor and respect. I refuse to point a finger in blame; I just ask that those who lead, lead us back into the future.

May those spring winds of freedom blow once again across our nation.


Comments
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Phil your blog was great as was President Reagon; and Bon Scott I enjoyed your words of wisdom also.

-- Posted by sassie on Wed, Apr 14, 2010, at 10:46 PM

AGREE 100% GoAT.....Just amazing.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Mon, Apr 12, 2010, at 10:22 AM

Just have to say - That is one of the most poignant, moving photos I've ever seen.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Apr 11, 2010, at 7:45 PM

Speaking of Freedom, our rights or freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, Constitutional Amendments 1-10, are not given to us by the Constitution but are given to us by Almighty God (see Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution).

The freedom to assemble and the freedom of speech will be exercised by the Sikeston T.E.A. Party Saturday 11am-3pm at American Legion Park. For more info, call 573-703-1701 or email sikestonteaparty@yahoo.com

There will be some excellent speakers! I'm going and our son and daughter in law are too!

-- Posted by swift on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 3:50 PM

A friend of mine that had a small roofing company saw this guy on the street corner holding a sign that says "I will work for food". My friend says to him come with me I have something you can do.

He took him to where he had a pile of shingles at a site he had just worked at. He told the man if you will load these on my truck I will pay you $100.00 and will buy you a steak dinner. It was about 4 and a half to 5 hours worth of work. The guy told him, are you crazy, I can get money from people who feel sorry for me standing on the corner holding this sign. Liberal thinking at it's finest. This was about 20 years ago so 100 bucks for 5 hours worth of work wasn't a bad deal.

Gotta take care of the guy who doesn't want to work.

-- Posted by mythought on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 12:43 PM

He/she knows that mythought. Almost everyone that "actually" worked for a living did do better during those years. Actually seems like a left sided naysayer who thinks government programs are the way to go. Well, many years of history proves that wrong....I understand that not everyone is going to like every president. And all presidents have their flaws. But it remains a fact that under President Reagan, the defense system was strong, jobs were out there to be had, and the economy boomed.

I'm Bon Scott, and I love capitalism and cold beers.

-- Posted by BonScott on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 7:56 AM

Actually,

I prospered during the Reagan years and I am just a common everyday worker.

-- Posted by mythought on Fri, Apr 9, 2010, at 7:25 AM

In regards to ending the Cold War, author and teaching fellow at UCLA Christopher Bates, writes:

Reagan's vision for his foreign policy centered on the Soviet Union. In 1980, he took a hard line on the Cold War and committed the United States to a military buildup. Over time, however, Reagan's position softened as the Soviet economy crumbled, and he ultimately promised cooperation with his counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev. This led first to a series of summit meetings, then to arms limitation treaties, and ultimately to the end of the Cold War.

It is in Reagan's role in ending the Cold War, the most enduring crisis of the post-World War II era, that his strongest claim to greatness lies. More than any other factor, what separates the great presidents from the rest is their response to national crises.

Thank you and good night.

-- Posted by layne staley on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 10:51 PM

It looks like Actually lifted his/her response from Robert Perry's blog at commentshttp://www.opednews.com/articles/3/Ronald-Reagan-Worst-Presi-by-Robert-Parry-090605-584.html. Actuality, if you are going to respond at least sight your source.

-- Posted by radrev on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 8:12 PM

As we read through the annals of history we discover that all of our leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, were flawed people. We are flawed people, we were born that way; imperfect at times in character and thought, in deed and desire.

President Reagan was flawed, imperfect, yet he held to a high ideal that bound us together, the ideal that as Americans we have something that is special and unique to many parts of the world; our democracy and freedom. He trimphed not as a politician but as a statesman.

Whenever we start to tear away at our leaders, mock them, ridicule them, and demean them, we are really doing the same to ourselves. We are all members of this nation and we are the people who elected our leaders to office. If we elected the wrong leaders then it reveals that we are flawed as well. However, this is still our nation, and they are still our leaders. If we wish to reverse our course of action we can do so at the ballot box.

We have to right to free speech, we are not stifled, and the voice of dissent is a golden voice. When we disagree, we can raise our voice, we can picket, we can carry signs and take to the airways, internet and the newspapers to have our voices heard. However, when we resort to calling names, hurling insults, and making blanket statements intended to debase a group of people whom we see as inferior to ourselves, then our arguments are lost (however cogent we think it may be) in our pettiness and juvenile behavior. People who believe in their positions do not have to resort to such behavior; it is those who are unsure or know that their arguments are flawed who act with this type immaturity.

-- Posted by radrev on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 7:57 PM

You say Regan acted as President in Reagan's second term. How is this so? Wasn't he Secretary of Treasury in his first term?

-- Posted by BonScott on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 6:14 PM

Actually is about as wrong on his analysis as you can get! Even though I am a paleo-conservative, I would have to say that FDR was a great president in how he handled WWII. He served 3 full terms and was not able to complete his 4th. Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century. After all, he won the presidency twice with landslide victories. Why take up so much space to make a negative comment on a very positive blog?

Pastor Phil, this article is great! One the church leaders of our denomination used to say he was neither Republican or Democrat but was a Christian. You stated that philosophy but with different words.

-- Posted by swift on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 5:55 PM

Before I get into a debate with you Actually, I need to ask a few simple yes or no questions.

Would you classify yourself as a "liberal"?

Do you work for the government?

Are you a dues paying union member?

Are you on any government programs?

I need to know these things before I waste my time debating with you. Thanks for your help.

-- Posted by BonScott on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 5:52 PM

Also, just another bit of food for though. CEOs got about a 600 or so % increase in wages, while the middle class worker saw about a 1% increase in wages, thanks to the Reagan Administrations. Are you conservatives really so blinded by religion and the myth of supply-side economics that you don't care that the richest 1% of our country now have more combined wealth than the other 99% put together? Do you really feel that if we don't tax the rich, money will "trickle" down? Are you really so short-sighted that you want to feel good and hear this kind of garbage? When has it happened? How are all of you doing financially? Are you doing as well as those on Wall Street? How did deregulating the banking industry go? How about Bush and Paulsen pulling the biggest sham in American history, not including the Iraq War heist. Are you people serious?

I challenge Layne Staley, Shannon Hoon, and Bon Scott to read the information I posted, and refute it. If they want to know where it came from, they can find that on-line. If they want to know where the statistics came from, they can find that on-line as well. You can also find statistics like these: thanks to Reagan we saw a 300% increase of incarcerations in this nation, and a 300% increase in the sale of anti-depressants, and so on. Please, explain to me how the deregulation of the banking industry and the myth of supply-side economics worked out for the people of America. Please explain to me how Senators like Chris Dodd were able to get pristine loans, while the American people were sold toxic loans that would eventually lead to the loss of their homes and finances. Where did it all begin? Please tell me I can give yo a hint! Look at the Reagan Administration. Look at the W. Bush Administration. Look at his treasury department. Full of Goldman-Sachs executives. You're right Detroit went to hell in a hand-basket. It happened because the UNIONIZED workers in Gemrany built better cars than us. We had a great auto industry before Japan and Germany were able to recover from WWII. Tell me about the great things that happened under Reagan, but don't leave out the costs.

I'll be waiting. I'm sure you will have plenty of time to read this stuff and prove me wrong, because none of you have to work. Thanks to Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, nobody has to. Everybody is just living off the fat of the land.

-- Posted by Actually on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 2:41 PM

By the way, I don't know what you exactly want me to say about Detroit. Reagan and his short-term goals destroyed industry in America. Job losses for short-term profits. Look at the profits the auto industry had in the 80s versus the number of job losses they had. So, what is you want me to say about Detroit? Look at Flint, Michigan pre and post Reagan administration. Same with Detroit. Are you trying to help me prove that Ronnie dismantled industrial America? Also, if you all think Reagan ended the Cold War, you're just flat wrong. You should actually read about how the Cold War ended. Better yet, maybe visit Berlin and hear it for yourself. Reagan had about as much to do with ending the Cold War as I did. He was just in office when Russia fell apart, which led to the decline of Berlin. It is really easy to understand, just read any history book. I don't really need to try explaining it to you, because I know you three guys all band together so you don't seem like dumbasses to the rest of the town of Dexter. I just thought I'd help enlighten you a bit as to why we are in the mess we are in today. It is simple. Deregulation of Wall Street. Reagan started the crack in the dam, and the Bush (both) and Clinton Administrations help tear the whole shebang down. Also with the help of Congress and the Senate. Both parties. It all started with Reagan though. I know you don't want to believe that a terrible actor turned corporate poster-boy could be bought and then manipulated while facing a life-ending disease, but it happened.

-- Posted by Actually on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 2:28 PM

A) This wasn't a straight ripped article.

B)The challenge remains: refute what the article claims.

C) Carter inherited a triple-whammy of Johnson-Nixon-Ford presidencies. The latter wasn't even voted for by the people. Then again, all I said about Carter was that he told America to clean up our way of thinking. We didn't like that, so we elected an actor.

D) The facts in the article remain. You can read them. You can refute them if you feel it can be done.

Bottom line: Reagan's chief of staff was a Merrill Lynch chief of staff. Had the policies of the Reagan administration not been put into practice, the financial situation the nation now faces may have been circumvented. So, if you can disprove the facts that I posted, please do so. If you can't, continue doing the usual G.O.P. politicking, and just talk.

-- Posted by Actually on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 2:20 PM

That's the point of the blog, to once again take pride in who we are and what we have accomplished as a nation instead of focusing on our faults. It is the same kind of rhetoric from "Actually" that is destroying us. The rhetoric of hate, division and cynicism are designed to create class warfare and envy. Instead of "E pluribus unum", or "out of many one" we are watching a dismantling of the richness of our society. Instead of being a "band of brothers" we are hearing "...am I my brother's keeper?" We cannot cave into the same kind of spiteful rhetoric but instead set in motion a conversation that elevates people, applauds the efforts of those who are making a difference, and paints a picture of what can be accomplished it we go back to our common roots....

-- Posted by radrev on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 1:56 PM

This is absolutely a great article, am I the only one who realized that this was about America's lack of pride in country? It wasn't about whether Reagan was or was not a good president. Common sense, people, that and common decency have flow out the window! I, too, for the first time in my life, am concerned about my children and grandchildren growing up and facing this so uncertain future!

-- Posted by quietpatriot on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 12:28 PM

Jordan was one of the worst basketball players ever.

Ryan wasn't that great of a pitcher.

Bradshaw wasn't a really talented QB.

Knight was a horrible college basketball coach.

Ford trucks suck.

Our Constitution isn't that important.

Reagan one of the worst leaders ever.

All opinions I am entitled to. I have the freedom to think this way. Would others be justified in calling me a dumba** for mouth vomiting this? I believe so.

LOL thinking about Actually searching the net for more "proof" to back such a mentally challenged point of view.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 7:41 AM

I promised myself that, as a non resident, I would steer clear of your political discussions, much as I enjoy the rapier wit and sharp comments. However the mention of Reagan reminds me of an item I read some years ago.

Reagan was about to address a gathering when a member of the audience yelled, "tell 'em all you know Ronnie, it won't take long."

Ronnie responded, "I'll tell 'em all we both know - it won't take any longer."

-- Posted by wartz on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 3:25 AM

If Actually could break his rant down to include when Reagan was running the country and when he wasn't, that would be helpful to counter his lengthy argument. I've wasted enough time reading the post.

How can you seriously put Reagan down as the one of the worst U.S. Presidents ever? He did end the Cold War and also put policy in place that drastically improved our economic condition for years to come. His leadership will continue to be appreciated by myself and many. Thank you Phil for the blog post!

-- Posted by layne staley on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 12:12 AM

Still waiting 'Actually'....And by the way, over 500,000 million people have left the city of Detroit in the last 50 years. I wonder why that is? It couldn't be the unions and all of the government programs could it? No way, that stuff works every time.

-- Posted by BonScott on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 10:47 PM

That is some of the most laughable crap I have ever read. Carter leaves with inflation out the roof, 70% tax rate for the producers of the country, gas lines, and a laundry list of horrible policy. Reagan did much more than make people feel good. Revenues increased by 45% while taxes were slashed, not cut. I think he "tore down a wall" or something too. No big deal. He sucked so bad that the election in '84 was described as a ummm...what do you call a butt kicking, beatdown, embarrassingly huge margin of victory...oh yeah, a landslide.

Isn't it hilarious how a Republican President never is the President. Dick Cheney ran the country for Bush and Regan ran the country for Reagan.

I am amazed at the amount of dumbness it takes to retype all of this garbage, or even copy and paste.

Find ANY liberal blog (many of these won't even attempt to go there) that ranks Reagan as one of the worst Presidents in history and you will find pinheaded morons interested in nothing substantive. Look at any non-partisan site and you find Reagan at or near the top.

Please, someone find this article so Actually can be exposed for

stealing thoughts from a moron.

Phil: What an outstanding blog. And just think, Ron didn't have to have a teleprompter!

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 9:45 PM

radrev, your article was great, as I said in my first post. I was referring to the post of 'Actually'. Sorry for the confusion.

Now to you 'Actually'. You still haven't answered my question. Where did you find the article that you posted? You made some sort of reference to Detroit. Do you know how Detroit is doing right now? BANKRUPT!! And don't try to blame it on the private sector capitalist. Oh, and by the way, Los Angeles is broke too. Guess who's political diagram they are using, Obama's.

I wasn't really old enough to care about politics when Reagan was in office but here's what I do know...Our military and defense system was strong and supported, our economy boomed, and unemployment was low. If you ask me, I would take that all day long.

-- Posted by BonScott on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 3:31 PM

Talks in circles? Full of opinions? Why don't you actually try to refute what the article says. I'd be glad to see you try. Maybe you didn't want to read it all because you don't want to read all of the things that made Reagan one of the worst presidents ever. As this blog makes apparent, Reagan was good at making people feel all warm and fuzzy. That's about it. The only people who prospered during the Reagan years were the crooks who ruined this economy today. Again, Reagan wasn't even president in the second term. Don Regan was. Reagan was just a talking head. Maybe if America had listened to Jimmy Carter in 1979 when he said we were too materialistic and were losing our humanity, things would have changed. Instead, we chose to hire a Hollywood spokesman for President, because he said things that made us feel nice. Too bad words and actions are entirely different things.

-- Posted by Actually on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 1:17 PM

I am flattered that you thought my post may have come from a journalist but it is completely mine. Of course the speech I quoted from is from President Reagan and is public record and you can read it in its complete form at http://www.presidentreagan.info/speeches.... I may talk in circles and that proves that I am not a journalist. I just spoke what was on my heart without apology and I have the right to my opinion. I am concerned about the direction about this country but I am compelled to honor and pray for my president regardless of who he/she is. Ultimately I trust sovereign God to lead and guide those in leadership.

-- Posted by radrev on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 9:45 AM

Wow, I thought I might read all of that, but it became apparent that it came from some type of journalist. Where did you find this article Actually? The article talks in circles and is full of opinions. Let me know how the state of the country and this administration is working out for you Actually. I'm curious.

-- Posted by BonScott on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 8:03 AM

Reagan was probably one of the worst ever. He didn't even run the country during his second term. Don Regan and Oliver North did. As governor of California and president of the United States, he enacted policies that, in the main, greatly expanded the role and size of government. As governor, he oversaw the largest tax increase in Californian history. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown cut back the tax rate when he came to office. As president, Reagan expanded the federal government by about 90% (In his First Inaugural Address in 1981, Reagan declared that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."). All in all, Reagan allowed the welfare state to enlarge and the military budget to explode, causing monstrous budget deficits and government growth that dwarfs government growth under Clinton, even when Clinton had a Democratic Congress. Reagan's tax cuts notwithstanding (some of which he reversed), the state grew fat and its growth will inevitably be financed through inflation or tax increases (unless the state defaults). Reagan also bombed Libya, put the "war" in War on Drugs, allowed the continuation of Selective Service registration (despite his campaign promise to end it), helped the Khmer Rouge terrorize Thailand, imposed brutal trade sanctions on Nicaragua, funded the murderous brutal Contras, sold missiles to Iran, gave assistance to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and lied to the American people. That he did all these things in the name of "freedom," "capitalism," "small government," and "liberty" renders his legacy, in my opinion, all the more insidious. If bad Reaganesque policies continue to have a pass because of their superficial rhetorical selling points, American liberty will have suffered, not strengthened, because of him. Most of the honest praise has focused on his rhetoric, much of which, was very appealing, and certainly more eloquent than what we expected to hear from the White House during the Bush days. There's a growing realization that the starting point for many of the catastrophes confronting the United States today can be traced to Reagan's presidency. There's also a grudging reassessment that the "failed" presidents of the 1970s -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter -- may deserve more credit for trying to grapple with the problems that now beset the country. With his superficially sunny disposition -- and a ruthless political strategy of exploiting white-male resentments -- Reagan convinced millions of Americans that the threats they faced were: African-American welfare queens, Central American leftists, a rapidly expanding Evil Empire based in Moscow, and the do-good federal government. When it came to cutting back on America's energy use, Reagan's message could be boiled down to the old reggae lyric, "Don't worry, be happy." Rather than pressing Detroit to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars, Reagan made clear that the auto industry could manufacture gas-guzzlers without much nagging from Washington. The same with the environment. Reagan intentionally staffed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department with officials who were hostile toward regulation aimed at protecting the environment. George W. Bush didn't invent Republican hostility toward scientific warnings of environmental calamities; he was just picking up where Reagan left off. Reagan pushed for deregulation of industries, including banking; he slashed income taxes for the wealthiest Americans in an experiment known as "supply side" economics, which held falsely that cutting rates for the rich would increase revenues and eliminate the federal deficit. Over the years, "supply side" would evolve into a secular religion for many on the Right, but Reagan's budget director David Stockman once blurted out the truth, that it would lead to red ink "as far as the eye could see." While conceding that some of Reagan's economic plans did not work out as intended, his defenders -- including many mainstream journalists -- still argue that Reagan should be hailed as a great President because he "won the Cold War," a short-hand phrase that they like to attach to his historical biography. However, a strong case can be made that the Cold War was won well before Reagan arrived in the White House. Indeed, in the 1970s, it was a common perception in the U.S. intelligence community that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was winding down, in large part because the Soviet economic model had failed in the technological race with the West. That was the view of many Kremlinologists in the CIA's analytical division. In that view, Soviet military operations, including sending troops into Afghanistan in 1979, were mostly defensive in nature. In Afghanistan, the Soviets hoped to prop up a pro-communist government that was seeking to modernize the country but was beset by opposition from Islamic fundamentalists who were getting covert support from the U.S. government. Though the Afghan covert operation originated with Cold Warriors in the Carter administration, especially national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the war was dramatically ramped up under Reagan, who traded U.S. acquiescence toward Pakistan's nuclear bomb for its help in shipping sophisticated weapons to the Afghan jihadists (including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden). While Reagan's acolytes cite the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan as decisive in "winning the Cold War," the counter-argument is that Moscow was already in disarray -- and while failure in Afghanistan may have sped the Soviet Union's final collapse -- it also created twin dangers for the future of the world: the rise of al-Qaeda terrorism and the nuclear bomb in the hands of Pakistan's unstable Islamic Republic. Trade-offs elsewhere in the world also damaged long-term U.S. interests. In Latin America, for instance, Reagan's brutal strategy of arming right-wing militaries to crush peasant, student and labor uprisings left the region with a legacy of anti-Americanism that is now resurfacing in the emergence of populist leftist governments. In Nicaragua, for instance, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega (whom Reagan once denounced as a "dictator in designer glasses") is now back in power. In El Salvador, the leftist FMLN won the latest elections. Indeed, across the region, hostility to Washington is now the rule, creating openings for China, Iran, Cuba and other American rivals. In the early 1980s, Reagan also credentialed a young generation of neocon intellectuals, who pioneered a concept called "perception management," the shaping of how Americans saw, understood and were frightened by threats from abroad. Many honest reporters saw their careers damaged when they resisted the lies and distortions of the Reagan administration. Likewise, U.S. intelligence analysts were purged when they refused to bend to the propaganda demands from above. To marginalize dissent, Reagan and his subordinates stoked anger toward anyone who challenged the era's feel-good optimism. Skeptics were not just honorable critics, they were un-American defeatists or -- in Jeane Kirkpatrick's memorable attack line -- they would "blame America first." Under Reagan, a right-wing infrastructure also took shape, linking media outlets (magazines, newspapers, books, etc.) with well-financed think tanks that churned out endless op-eds and research papers. Plus, there were attack groups that went after mainstream journalists who dared disclose information that poked holes in Reagan's propaganda themes. In effect, Reagan's team created a faux reality for the American public. Civil wars in Central America between impoverished peasants and wealthy oligarchs became East-West showdowns. U.S.-backed insurgents in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan were transformed from corrupt, brutal (often drug-tainted) thugs into noble "freedom-fighters." With the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan also revived Richard Nixon's theory of an imperial presidency that could ignore the nation's laws and evade accountability through criminal cover-ups. That behavior also would rear its head again in the war crimes of George W. Bush. [For details on Reagan's abuses, see Robert Parry's Lost History and Secrecy & Privilege.] The American Dream also dimmed during Reagan's tenure. While he played the role of the nation's kindly grandfather, his operatives divided the American people, using "wedge issues" to deepen grievances especially of white men who were encouraged to see themselves as victims of "reverse discrimination" and "political correctness." Yet even as working-class white men were rallying to the Republican banner (as so-called "Reagan Democrats"), their economic interests were being savaged. Unions were broken and marginalized; "free trade" policies shipped manufacturing jobs abroad; old neighborhoods were decaying; drug use among the young was soaring. Meanwhile, unprecedented greed was unleashed on Wall Street, fraying old-fashioned bonds between company owners and employees. Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.) Many other trends set during the Reagan era continued to corrode the U.S. political process in the years after Reagan left office. After 9/11, for instance, the neocons reemerged as a dominant force, reprising their "perception management" tactics, depicting the "war on terror" -- like the last days of the Cold War -- as a terrifying conflict between good and evil. The hyping of the Islamic threat mirrored the neocons' exaggerated depiction of the Soviet menace in the 1980s -- and again the propaganda strategy worked. Many Americans let their emotions run wild, from the hunger for revenge after 9/11 to the war fever over invading Iraq.

Arguably, the descent into this dark fantasyland -- that Ronald Reagan began in the early 1980s -- reached its nadir in the flag-waving early days of the Iraq War. Only gradually did reality begin to reassert itself as the death toll mounted in Iraq and the Katrina disaster reminded Americans why they needed an effective government. Still, the disasters -- set in motion by Ronald Reagan -- continued to roll in. Bush's Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget and the Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor led to a massive financial meltdown that threw the nation into economic chaos. Ironically, George W. Bush has come in for savage criticism, but the Republican leader who inspired Bush's presidency -- Ronald Reagan -- remained an honored figure, his name attached to scores of national landmarks including Washington's National Airport.Despite the grievous harm that Reagan's presidency inflicted on the American Republic and the American people, it may take many more years before a historian has the guts to put this deformed era into a truthful perspective and rate Reagan where he belongs -- near the bottom of the presidential list.

-- Posted by Actually on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 3:01 AM

WOW great blog!!! ( as usual) But i think it may be too late for this country.It seems that no one talks about how great this country is anymore. Maybe its because we're on a downhill spiral and who knows where we will end up. Probably learning to speak Chinese soon. But thats another issue.

-- Posted by XDEXTERRESI on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 6:24 PM

AWESOME!!!

-- Posted by greer958 on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 4:40 PM

Great article Phil. It amazes me how some people can say that Ronald Reagan was bad for our country. God Bless.

-- Posted by BonScott on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 3:01 PM


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Phil Warren is a local pastor and has lived in the Dexter community for the last 12 years. He has six children and four grandchildren and his wife Cindy is a local teacher. He enjoys photography, reading, writing and golf. He also loves coaching in the local park leagues. Phil spent his early years growing up in the hills near Wappapello Lake. He moved to Granite City, IL. during his grade school years. Phil worked 13 years at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis and has pastored since 1986. He also served in the U.S. Army as a military policeman and was stationed at Ft. Campbell KY. and Seoul, Korea. He attended college at SIUE and Oakland City College.
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