Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

Cheeps and Chirps for Oct. 31, 2018

October 31, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2018

 

Chirping from the hip.

• Politics, Supreme Court edition

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On politicians and (possible) pyramid schemes

April 7, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 7, 2016

I referred on Tuesday to a post by Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan that asked “Do Any of the Republicans Running for President Actually Want to Win?” I happen to disagree with some of Ryan’s takes. For instance, I think that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) very badly wants to be president — although I also believe that he’s keenly aware of the fact that his fervently courting evangelical audiences and throwing red meat to them will eventually redound to his benefit, whether or not he’s ever elected to another office.

Ryan wrote that “this entire election makes a lot more sense if you think of it like a political sequel for The Producers.” She continued:

Mel Brooks’s 1967 farce-musical tells the story of a pair of down-on-their-luck men who realize that they can make more money producing a musical that’s a flop than they can producing one that succeeds. Money raised by backers, reason Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (as played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), will make them rich, and if the show closes after only a night, they get to keep all of the money themselves rather than paying investors their share of profits. To maximize its offensiveness, they hire a Nazi to write it, the worst director on Broadway to direct it, and an [sic] semi-lucid man to star in it. Much to their horror, Springtime for Hitler is a smash hit.

Politicians left, right and center have long been associated with all manner of grift, but the link seems to be especially deep when it comes to conservative politicos. Back in the fall of 2012, the left-leaning historian Rick Perlstein, author of books about presidents Nixon and Reagan, argued that “the reflex of lying [is] now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA” and asserted that “conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.”

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Reassessing an American cowboy: Thoughts on Reagan’s unexpectedly complex legacy

April 1, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 1, 2016

This week, I stumbled upon “Reconstructing Ronald Reagan,” a 2007 article that Russell Baker wrote for The New York Review of Books. Most of the piece is devoted to a review of John Patrick Diggins’s biography, Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom and the Making of History, and especially the book’s argument that the nation’s 40th president was strongly influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the 19th-century Transcendentalist movement. A secondary concern of the essay, however, is Reagan’s foreign policy legacy: Baker also writes about the books Transforming America: Politics and Culture During the Reagan Years by Robert Collins, The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror by John Arquilla and (much more briefly) the 900-page volume Reagan: A Life in Letters.

Two things struck me about Baker’s article. One was that, writing in 2007, the author could not help comparing the Gipper’s administration with that of the president at the time, George W. Bush, and the comparisons are not kind. A sample:

One hears people formerly contemptuous of [the actor-cum-politician] comment that, having seen Bush, they now rank Reagan with the immortals. It is easy to dismiss this as cynical joking, yet here is the eminently respectable Diggins discussing “the Gipper” in the same paragraph with Lincoln and anointing him as one of American history’s “three great liberators.”

The other thing is that historians give a great deal of credit to Reagan, a fervent anti-communist, for his willingness to engage in diplomacy with the Soviet Union. It turns out that the 40th president had a signal interest in decreasing the likelihood of an apocalyptic nuclear war.

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U.S. budget deficits: Numbers past, present and future

November 12, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 12, 2015

Earlier this week, I wrote about an analysis from the Tax Foundation that indicated that the tax-reform plans of seven Republican candidates each might increase the deficit by more than a trillion of dollars over a 10-year period. I want to explore the details a little further.

Allow me to set the stage with a brief history of federal budget deficits. The first time the U.S. budget was in the red for more than $75 billion was in fiscal year 1981, when it hit $79 billion under a plan enacted in what turned out to be the last year of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The first time the federal deficit exceeded $100 billion was the very next year, under Ronald Reagan, when it reached $128 billion. Between 1983 and 1995, the budgetary gap ranged from a low of roughly $150 billion to a high of $290 billion.

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Gov. Scott Walker takes radically different positions when it comes to interpreting Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Constitution

September 5, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 5, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a fascinating interview with CNBC reporter John Harwood this week. I was struck by many of the things the Midwestern Republican and aspiring presidential nominee said, but perhaps the most interesting comments revolved around deciphering the meaning of texts.

Take this exchange:

HARWOOD: Ronald Reagan, as you know, strongly opposed the passage of Medicare, said it was an infringement of liberty, socialized medicine. Was he right about that?

WALKER: Well, we’re not going to take Medicare away. He gave that speech, as I remember, three years before I was born. So I can’t judge what he meant at the time. I’m just going to tell you, for people at or near retirement, we’re not touching Social Security. We’re going make sure that they have an intact Medicare system. For my generation and younger, yeah — needs to be some sort of reforms. We live in a 401(k) society.

The meat of Walker’s answer — near-term retirees needn’t worry, but wholesale changes must be made so the program remains viable for younger workers — consists of wholly generic Republican talk about popular social welfare programs. But the most intriguing part of the governor’s reply involves his preamble.

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What would a Tea Party utopia really be like for women, disenfranchised voters and the poor? Don’t look to Slate’s Reihan Salam for answers

June 20, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 20, 2014

Reihan Salam, a conservative writer who became a regular Slate columnist this spring, has tried to picture how the United States would look if it were ruled by the Tea Party. He calls this conservative fantasyland Teatopia.

Most of Salam’s piece revolves around subsidiarity, which boils down decentralizing government. If the federal bureaucracy of Salam’s vision — which the author describes as a thought exercise, instead of as a future that he would necessarily endorse — isn’t exactly small enough to drown in a bathtub, it might at least be spare enough to fit in one:

Tea Party conservatives … favor voluntary cooperation among free individuals over local government, local government over state government, and state government over the federal government. Teatopia would in some respects look much like our own America, only the contrasts would be heightened. California and New York, with their dense populations and liberal electorates, would have even bigger state governments that provide universal pre-K, a public option for health insurance, and generous funding for mass transit. They might even have their own immigration policies, which would be more welcoming toward immigrants than the policies the country as a whole would accept.

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The joker was a jurist: Considering the matter of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia

April 23, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 23, 2014

Two.

That’s the number of times this month that Antonin Scalia, the longest-sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice, has publicly suggested rebellion against the U.S. government.

The first instance took place in early April, at a Brooklyn Law School event. In a roundup of legal news, Joe Patrice restated the the episode this way: “Justice Scalia was asked, ‘Why should society be bound by laws that were passed only by white male property owners?’ If you guessed he’d eschew a substantive response in favor of a condescending sarcastic quip, you’re right!”

What was the quip? Let’s go to an April 8 Wall Street Journal article about Scalia’s visit to the school, which closed with an anecdote about the question that Patrice had highlighted. The justice, in reporter David Shapiro’s telling,

hesitated for a few seconds, longer than he had all evening. “That’s a reasonable position,” he smiled. “You people wanna make a revolt? Do it!”

Something not dissimilar happened last week, when Scalia delivered a lecture at the University of Tennessee law school. In response to a question, Scalia stated that the income tax is constitutional, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”

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The man from Paint Creek might be more competitive the second time around

September 26, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 26, 2013

For months, there have been whispers and rumblings that outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry may mount a second campaign for president, following his roundly criticized effort of late 2011. The latest such story came Saturday courtesy of Politico’s Anna Palmer, who wrote, “Perry certainly appears to be laying the groundwork to make a potential run possible.”

The excellent American Prospect contributing editor Paul Waldman saw Palmer’s story and jumped on it. Color Waldman skeptical — make that extremely skeptical — that the Texas Republican is capable of redeeming himself from his infamous “oops” moment during the Nov. 9, 2011, debate in Rochester, Mich.

You should read all of Waldman’s story, but here’s the nut:

[I]t’s true that lots of people were more successful in their second run than their first. Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, and Bob Dole all got their party’s nomination in their second try. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all made it to the White House after failing the first time they ran. Is Rick Perry the equal of any of them? I’d say no, but he surely thinks so. Which means we might be able to look forward to a whole new set of hilarious gaffes.

I’m no Perry fan, but I think Waldman may just possibly be misunderestimating — to borrow a word from a previous Texas governor — the man from Paint Creek.

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