Monday, February 28, 2011

Fool Me Twice

Rancho Del Cielo, Santa Ynez Mountains

No home improvements?

Ronald Reagan's death and his recent "100th birthday" have predictably gotten his fan base all in a twist about amping up the spin and mythmaking that he was such a master of. They've been successful in naming everything they can find after him and are working on putting his mug somewhere on our currency. But so much of his story during his lifetime and continuing on to what looks like an eternal half-life is hidden, or untrue.
Not in the least willing to let go of their rich socialite circle of friends and the ego-reinforcing limelight when their movie careers shriveled in the Fifties, "Nancy" (actually born Anne Frances Robbins) kept the rigid social schedule going while Ronald supplemented his television income with being corporate shill for G.E. in the Fifties and the American Medical Association in the Sixties. They bought the beautiful 688-acre ranch in upper Santa Barbara County for $527,000 in 1974 -- the last time they would actually pay for something themselves, a concept Nancy loathed. The point of having a billionaire social/political circle is to use them pay for your extravagant digs and lifestyle, while they think they are using you. Until 2008, no one lost out on holding then reselling good-looking California real estate; Nancy got $4.5 million for it by selling to the conservative grooming academy Young America's Foundation. And the friends circle put them in a suburban estate during the Governor years since Nancy also loathed the Victorian state-owned mansion. The best deal they swung, though, was upon leaving the presidency and returning to California: 666 St. Cloud St. in Bel Air, all 7,192 square feet of it, was purchased in 1987 for $2.5 million by 20 friends organized into an entity called Wall Management Services (it's worth $6.2 million now). The "666" address and the fact that Ronnie's first, middle and last names are six letters each spooked Nancy so much that the address was quickly changed to 668. Scooping up the sweet deals was nothing new; the Reagans got G.E. to equip their previous 1950s home in Los Angeles with $100,000 worth of electronic goodies, gratis.
While in the White House, our aged show girl accepted free clothing and furnishings, even including her weekly hair dye jobs, worth a total of about $3 million. Being consistent in their anti-government stand, of course, they did not report any of this to the IRS, which objected but did nothing.
Image is all in Hollywood and politics; lying about the details is standard in both also. Ron claimed he never had plastic surgery or dyed his hair, but the great mane was indeed dyed from 1968 on: when his head was shaved for surgery, it grew back gray. He looked quite old in 1975 but remarkably smoother and younger beginning with the 1976 presidential primary effort.
Many have noted that RR, that master storyteller, spun yarns of his WWII service based not on the facts but on plot points of movies he had been in. He had actually spent those years as an officer narrating Army Air Force training films in Culver City and going home each night. Ironic that the taxpayers paid to train the Great Communicator so well.
He even faked turning on the switch to light the National Christmas Tree from the White House; a hidden park ranger did it! It's all about the photo op -- like Dubya buying a ranch after he decided to run for President, so he could be photographed wearing a cowboy hat and cutting brush just like Ron. It worked, too.
Surpassed in ugliness by all this opportunism and chicanery was his campaign for the American Medical Association against "socialized medicine" (i.e., Medicare or any semblance of it). His 10-minute stump speech was recorded on LP in 1961 to be played to groups and to stimulate a letter-writing campaign to Congress. Not so much that he was paid to front for yet another wealthy corporate squid, what smells about this is that the content is all lies -- which are still being repeated endlessly, from the usual "it will curtail freedom" to a claim that the government will dictate what your employment will be and that you will have no choices. A completely false quote attributed to early 20th century socialist Norman Thomas is a nice touch. Like the twisted spin heard on Fox News years later, just make it up! When challenged in the 1980 presidential debates about it, Ron lied about opposing Medicare and Social Security. Mr. Reagan's expertise in the intersection of medicine, insurance and government was further demonstrated when he was governor and closed all the state mental hospitals, promoting local treatment centers instead. As he knew, the state legislature never funded these and the thousands turned out created the now epidemic homeless problem that did not exist before his brilliant move.
"Authority is just a method of control; it has no inherent wisdom." -- Joe Strummer


  1. Are we remembered by who we are or how we presented ourselves?

  2. It depends on how well and how long your propaganda machine spins a plausible myth, if you're on the world stage.
    The rest of us may be fooled, or play the fool, but our actions are pretty much what we will be remembered for, if at all.