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The Unfortunate Truth About Ronald Reagan -- Neither a Great Nor Good President

Prof. Sam Harmod

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1. Shortly after his election, the truth did come out -- he had made a deal with Iran's Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini to release the "hostages" that had been taken in exchange for weapons that were trans-shipped through Israel. Thus, the negotiations of President Carter to free them were deliberately made to fail, with Reagan's help.

2  Within months after taking office, Reagan closed all government-run mental hospitals in the United States. Those of us in Washington, D.C. witnessed hundreds of homeless people on the streets from the hospitals; people who could not talk clearly, people who had been under medical care for various mental disorders -- veterans, the elderly, both men and women, and children. We saw these poor souls sleeping on ventilation heating grates while it was freezing out and others didn't know what to do but to use newspapers as cover for their bodies because many were not even given winter coats before being pushed out of the hospitals.

3.  It was Reagan who pushed through a tax break for corporations that was to help create jobs. However, since there was nothing in the bill to keep the money in the USA, the corporations built plants overseas and employed non-US workers. This was the beginning of the American jobless situation.

4.  Reagan also changed the definition of "unemployment." Pre-Reagan, if you worked half time or less, or if you were in the military, you were not counted as "employed." Under Reagan, if you worked half time or more, or were in the military, you were "fully employed."  He also changed the law that said if you were out of work for more than two years, you were no longer counted as "unemployed" -- YOU WERE NOT COUNTED AT ALL. Thus, it appeared as if unemployment was not as bad as it really was. And, no president has corrected this lying statistic to this day.

5.  Reagan also created the famous Iran Contra scandal, where he helped the "contras" in Nicaragua fight against the  Nicaraguan democratic movement. This same group of people who were special agents for Reagan and his CIA director William Casey, dealt in narcotics, illegal arms sales to Iran and sent weapons and money to foment problems in all of South and Central America.

6.  Reagan is the president who attacked the democratically elected government of Granada under the guise of its being a communist ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro; none of which was true. Granada, under President Bishop was a socialist island, with only a local sense of community with the other countries of the Caribbean, but was no military ally of Castro. Also, Reagan and his liars said there was an airport that could take Russian and Cuban jets, which was not true. Some of us who were part of the Third World Journalists, went to Grenada; the airport was barely able to take a two-engine propeller plane, let alone a jet of any sort, especially a fast-flying fighter plane that would need a long runway! In this attack on Grenada, Reagan killed the whole government as well as the 15-20 policemen who kept order on the Island because Grenada had no special armed forces to fight against the American invasion. Incidentally, several Americans were killed during accidents on landing and parachuting into the island. Ironically, after the invasion and takeover of Grenada, Reagan and his foppy non-combat general, Alexander Haig, stood together and declared, "America is back!" As if killing Grenada wiped out our defeats in Korea and Viet Nam.

7.  When Reagan and Haig went to China, they came back and extolled how much they had achieved. When I looked into it with some other independent journalists, we found out that Reagan gave them F15 and F16 fighter planes, and in return, the Chinese gave them big smiles. But Reagan and Haig stood tall and proud next to the shorter premier of China, never realizing that he had taken their pants and they didn't even know it. Sadly, the same is true these days, none of our presidents have been intelligent or wise enough to realize how wise the Chinese are, and how well they know how to bargain. There is an old adage that I've seen to be true, "For bargaining, no one can outdo the Chinese. The Arabs have a golden tongue, and the West may be taller but do not understand others." With Reagan and the Chinese, it was true; it is also true of Obama these days. Recently, when the Premier of China came to Washington, it was another example of the wise man playing with boys, but the boys had no idea how foolish they looked to those of us with a background in negotiation and world affairs.

8.  In defense of Ronald Reagan, as was the case with George W. Bush and now Barack Obama, Reagan was just a front man for others. When he first came to Washington, it was apparent to some of us who covered the White House and State Department that Reagan had some early signs of senility. A famed White House correspondent with whom I was friends told me that in conversations after news conferences, Reagan -- without the teleprompter -- would lose his train of thought after two or three sentences. Thus, later, when asked about the Iran Contra illegal activities, he said, "I am not aware of these things, I had nothing to do with them."  I feel he was probably telling the truth. The "things" of which he was unaware were most likely Bill Casey and Ollie North's secret escapades about which Reagan was kept in the dark, and he probably had no idea they were going on because by that time his senility was full-blown. Incidentally, Ollie North was never in battle, and when he wore his Marine uniform to the Congressional hearings, it was illegal. He was not to wear his uniform unless it was for an honor or when on active duty (neither was the case) and all the medals and ribbons he wore on his chest were questionable to many Marines; none were for combat. So much for the "heroic Olllie North," one of the great Americans Reagan liked.

9.  Incidentally, as a side note, let it be known that Reagan was not a great speaker, not the "great communicator" as George Will labeled him. Many of Reagan's speeches were written by George Will, and Reagan read them on the teleprompter, and then Will praised the alleged Reagan speeches (written by Will) in the Washington Post and on ABC-TV weekend and even weekday news programs. Thus, even the myth of Reagan as "the great communicator" was a lie perpetrated by Will and his media colleagues who were right-leaning politically. Interestingly enough, Will was always talking about ethics, but when the truth of his secretly writing speeches for Reagan and then praising them in the Post and on ABC-TV, he was never fired, but was allowed to carry on as if he had done nothing wrong in any ethical or professional way. Ironically, when Helen Thomas recently spoke out with the truth, people like Will and others jumped on her for being wrong and unprofessional!

10.  Reagan also did nothing to hold Menachem Begin to the promises he made to President Carter for peace in the Middle East; instead, he gave even more funds and weapons to Israel. Israel used these weapons in the Middle East and also sold many of them, and copied and sold more, to South Africa and its apartheid regime. Reagan did nothing about this, and never said a thing against the apartheid regime of South Africa, but declared them to be a stable force in Africa. Thus, all the work that had been done by Presidents Eisenhower and Carter in the Middle East and Africa was washed down the drain by Reagan and his cronies.

I hope you have a better idea of the truth of Ronald Reagan now, and will not be taken in by the myths that are being perpetrated about him. No, he was no Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a man who helped rescue the country, and even as David Stockman, the head of Treasury under Reagan, has admitted, it was Reagan who helped create America's downward slide which put America into over a trillion dollar debt -- the first time in American history we had a large national debt, and one that has grown and grown since that time.

Reagan was the kind of man that President Dwight D. Eisenhower feared would one day be in the White House. Sadly, his fears were born out with the arrival of the actor Ronald Reagan, a man who did not write his own speeches, could not keep his mind together for more than two sentences, who was a fool in international politics and destroyed the America we all loved and believed in. Thus, it is unsurprising that another idiot, Sarah Palin, would say we should take on more of Reagan's ideas and ways.  

If we take on any more than we already have, may God help us.

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Author's Bio: Sam Hamod, Ph.D. is a graduate professor; he has taught courses in creative writing, politics, religion, mass media and intercultural relations. He has one of the very few PhDs awarded by The Writers Workshop of The Univ. of Iowa, has published 12 books of poems, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has 3 more books under contract, including his memoirs, "At the Broadway Lounge: A Muslim Life in America." His M.A. and B.A. are from Northwestern University, and he went to Law School at The Univ. of Chicago. He is the former Director of The Islamic Center in Washington, DC; he founded and edited THIRD WORLD NEWS in Wash, DC; has taught at Princeton, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Howard and Valparaiso. He also served as an advisor to the State Department and worked on the "peace process" between Palestine and Israel in Wash, DC. He founded in 2000. He has lectured and read his work all over America, the MIddle East, Europe and Africa.

Feb. 5, 2011