4.01.2010

Got Change for a Reagan?

Somehow “got change for a Reagan” just doesn't flow. It doesn't feel right coming off the tongue. No rhyme, no rhythm, no lyricism. Not like “all about the Benjamins.” Say that and everybody knows you're talking about a $100 bill. Ask for change for a Reagan and you get that WTF you talkin' about look coming back.

Staunch conservatives in the Republican party have all but canonized Ronald Reagan since he left office. The furor has increased dramatically since he died. They've named highways after him. They've changed the names of airports to remember him. We've got all kinds of Ronald Reagan parks, recreational facilities and government buildings.

These conservatives say Reagan was one of the greatest presidents ever. Well, not exactly. I will give him a good grade as head cheerleader, during a time when America needed a cheerleader. However, his policies are directly responsible for what is plaguing the country now. Great presidents make change for the better, not bring change that almost destroys the nation, initiating the debt that is going to kill us as a country.

Reagan did not end the Cold War, nor did he bring about the downfall of Communism in the old USSR. Those events happened while he was president, but he didn't have anything to do with it. He tried to mount an economic blockade of Russia and succeeded in launching the biggest arms race in history.

One night during the State of the Union Speech, he dreamed up the Star Wars Defense System. It didn't exist and right after the speech, the generals were laughing about it. I was there, a working reporter. However, by the next day, they were on board with what Reagan had said. They've been trying to create it ever since. The most expensive weapons system ever, totally and completely useless.

Reagan said a lot of nasty things about social services and programs. He cut some of them. He cut some taxes. However, during his tenure social spending actually increased and taxes only decreased by about a percent or so. In other words, government grew under the man from California. He promised to balance the budget and to eliminate the deficit. He campaigned on that in 1980. But four years later the deficit doubled under his watch and wasn't eliminated until Clinton took care of it.

He busted the Unions, fired the air traffic controllers, and got the deregulation ball rolling to the point that it has rolled over us today, nearly flattening America. Reagan also left us with this other war, the war on drugs, and we all know how well that one is going these days.

And then there is that little thing called Iran/Contra. I'm not going to rehash it. You can read about it here. But honestly, for his part in Iran/Contra, Reagan should have been removed from office and jailed right along with Ollie North, and John McCain's buddy, the general in Arizona whose name escapes me at this moment. Reagan flat out lied about the crimes as well as what he knew and when he knew it. His crimes were infinitely more serious than a blow job in the oval office. Yet he skated without a scratch.

They don't call him the Teflon President for nothing.

Honestly, I don't give a damn who's on my money as long as it still spends and buys me what I want. However, Reagan is not a role model nor was he principled in performing his duties as President. The guy who is now on the $50, Ulysses S. Grant gets short shrift by historians. But he wasn't as bad or as ineffective as they would have you believe.

Grant, beside winning the Civil War, also fought for Black people on a number of fronts. That's the main reason why white America never took him seriously. Don't get very far in America by standing up for Black folks. I like him right up there next to Lincoln. In fact, I am in favor of keeping him right where he is on the money.

Besides, if you want to change the face on money, then maybe old Ben Franklin should be retired, because he was a straight up sex perv. There were even dead bodies, ten of them, found in his house in England. He never spent a day in jail either. Good ole Ben, maybe historians should tell the real story about him, too.

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