Götterdämmerung literally means “The Twilight of the Gods.” Part The First:
It seems so long ago, when the nation was in thrall to Terri Schiavo and GOP hate operatives waffle-stomped the national rhetorical landscape with bloodthirsty abandon. When Dick Cheney was going to march down to the Senate to break a tie vote on doing away with the filibuster and no one dared criticize our “War President,” the “Decider.”
Ragnarok (“Doom of the Gods”), also called Gotterdammerung, means the end of the cosmos in Norse mythology. It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters. Three such winters will follow each other with no summers in between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end.
The wolf Skoll will finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati will eat the moon, plunging the earth [into] darkness. The stars will vanish from the sky. The cock Fjalar will crow to the giants and the golden cock Gullinkambi will crow to the gods. A third cock will raise the dead….
It began with Richard “Loki” Nixon and his merry band of thugs, ardent haters all — Cold War Commie haters left over from the McCarthy days. Do we remember that Nixon burst onto the national stage with HUAC, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee? He specialized in busting commies, including the Alger Hiss case, a true “witch hunt” if ever there was one. One of our cyclical national paroxysms, Nixon rode the wheel of hate into the Vice President’s spot, famously dissimulated about his DAUGHTERS’ cocker spaniel, and his wife’s “respectable Republican cloth coat.”
The scandal? Accepting illegal campaign contributions.
Notice anything there?
Endings are always contained in beginnings. Nixon’s downfall was via his paranoia (bugging and wiretapping “enemies” which was, finally, just a paranoid expansion of his original “acceptable” hate demographic of commies and pinkos). And brown paper bags filled with campaign cash collected under the table. Robert Vesco, anyone? And his Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned over taking bribes when he was governor of Maryland. Nixon surrounded himself with Teutonic thugs, as has been noted, Haldeman, Erlichmann, Kissinger*, et al.)
[* For some reason, even though Henry's wanted for war crimes, just like Radovich and Milosevich, he never travels anywhere that he might be arrested and extradited, and the U.S. media still pretends that he's a respected "elder statesman." Gack!]
Like George W. Bush, the traits Nixon expressed early came to fruition later. Character matters because fundamental character doesn’t change — as anyone who’s been to a high school reunion can attest. The surprise is not in what happened to people, but in how natural a progression it was from how they were when we knew them.
Nixon loved to play underhanded, slimy politics, and he left his stamp on the party. There have only been two Democratic presidents since he defeated Hubert Humphrey in 1968′s Democratic Party meltdown (which featured the George Wallace “American Party” the Dixiecrats of 1948, in essence, the year that Nixon appeared on the political stage, a demographic that went Republican in subseqent elections.)
Oh, and the Nixon campaign for senate in California against Helen Gahagan Douglas is still legendary for its underhanded, gutter sleaze.
And Alger Hiss? Wikipedia:
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Alger Hiss petitioned General Dmitry Antonovich Volkogonov, who had become President Yeltsin’s military advisor and the overseer of all the Soviet intelligence archives, to request the release of any Soviet files on the Hiss case. Interestingly, both former President Nixon and the director of his presidential library, John H. Taylor, wrote a similar letter, though the actual contents of those letters are not publicly available.
Russian archivists and researchers responded by reviewing their files, and in late 1992 reported back that they had found no evidence that Alger Hiss had ever engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union or any evidence that Hiss was a member of the Communist Party. However, Volkogonov subsequently revealed that he had spent only two days on his search and had mainly relied on the word of KGB archivists. He stated, “What I saw gave me no basis to claim a full clarification. John Lowenthal [Hiss's lawyer] pushed me to say things of which I was not fully convinced.”
General-Lieutenant Vitaly Pavlov, who ran Soviet intelligence work in North America in the late 1930s and early 1940s for the NKVD, provided some corroboration of Volkogonov in his memoirs, stating that Hiss never worked for the USSR as one of his agents. [...]
Gee. What did you expect?
For a brief time, Jerry Ford ran the White House, and he and his wife Betty were pro-choice, pro-ERA.
And then the GOP went completely over to the dark side.
Which brings us to the 1980s.
A lot of people in Hollywood told me the apocryphal story about Ronnie Reagan, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild (as he would later claim on the campaign trail, “I’m a former union president,” as if that proved he’d be friendly to labor, the infamous “Reagan Democrats”). The story goes like this: Ronnie, at the end of his movie career — which is generally when actors become SAG presidents, if you’ll check — was woodshedded by Lew Wasserman — the legendary agent-turned-scheissmeister head of Universal-MCA — and told in no uncertain terms: Ronnie, you’re finished. But if you play ball with us, we’ll give you corporate speaking gigs and your own TV show. You always wanted to play a cowboy? We’ll make it a cowboy show.
And, thus, Death Valley Days was born, brought to you by Twenty-Mule-Team Boraxo. The U.S. Borax Corporation sponsored Ronnie’s show, and I would only ask you to think: how much did U.S. Borax advertise before or after Death Valley Daze? And, you’ll also note that Ronnie pretended to be a cowboy ever after, staging photo ops of he and Nancy horseback riding in Cowboy drag.
And Ronnie made a lot of money furthering corporate interests, honing his speaking skills at a thousand paid appearances before Fortune 500 companies.
When he was elected governor of California in 1966, and again in 1970, he wrecked the best school system in America, ordered out the national guard to stifle dissent and generally exhibited a talent for doing evil without it staining his public image.
And that’s what the Reagan Administration became: a pageant. A show. Ronnie could gin up the cornball and pretend that we were all living in a Hallmark™ Greeting Card painted by Norman Rockwell, and that he was the central figure in the tableau, drying the toddler’s tears, and walking on water.
Gold water, that is.
Ronnie sold the snake oil of Goldwater libertarianism. Government is evil. Regulation is evil. Laws are to be ignored if practical considerations overcome them. (That last wasn’t taken from Goldwater, but, rather, from Nixon. Libertarianism is probably all right, if practiced by a Barry Goldwater, but is a license to lie, cheat and steal if practiced by Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Ralph Reed, Howie Rich and their ilk. Or: Libertarianism is fine if you’re Goldwater, but hardly anybody is.)
Reagan started his Administration before the election, when his agents (Bill Casey and George H.W. Bush) agreed to sell the Iranians spare parts for all that expensive American war materiél that previous administrations had sold to the Shah of Iran. Now they were in a war with Iraq that would last for the next eight years.
On the day that Reagan was sworn into office, after 444 days of captivity, the embassy hostages were released in a literally Reaganesque bit of stagecraft.
The treason didn’t stop there. And, while it’s all been documented, the MSM has willingly agreed to assist in the whitewash of the disastrous Reagan Residency. By multiplying the national debt exponentially, he set the course for our $10+ trillion national debt. By literally destroying the air traffic controllers’ union (that old “Union President”), he endangered every commercial flight in the US for the years that it took us to train an ENTIRELY new set of traffic controllers. And his example has set the fashion for the disastrous union busting of the past 28 years.
Reagan liked to play ‘war’ and U.S. covert aid and assistance was given to the “Contras” in Nicaragua, because the elected Sandinista president of the country, Daniel Ortega, was an avowed “Marxist.” Nobody was more surprised when Daniel Ortega was voted out of office a few years later. Instead of trusting democracy, our old Cold War hate beat so true with the Reaganistas that they decided they had to intervene in Nicaragua, whether congress approved (it did the first year) or not (congress forbade any aid to the “Contras” — mostly old Somoza soldiers and loyalists — in the following years).
Anastasio Somoza García and his sons Anastasio Somoza Debayle and Luis Somoza Debayle
Nicaragua has seen many interventions by the United States. It has also experienced long military dictatorships, the longest one being the rule of the Somoza family for much of the 20th century. The Somoza family came to power as part of a US-engineered pact in 1927 that stipulated the formation of the National Guard to replace the small individual armies that had long reigned in the country. Somoza deposed Sacasa and became president on Jan. 1, 1937 in a rigged election. … Nicaragua experienced high economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s largely as a result of industrialization, and became one of Central America’s most developed nations despite its political instability. Due to its stable and high growth economy, foreign investments grew, primarily from U.S. companies such as Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse and Coca Cola….
These bold “libertarians” then did just what you’d expect: they used the cash under-the-table payments from the Iranians to finance the Contras, laundering the money through Swiss bank accounts.
When those funds began to dry up, the CIA started smuggling cocaine up from Peru and Columbia, using General Noriega’s Panama as the trans-ship point.
Meanwhile, having deregulated the nation’s Savings and Loan industry from its mandated task of only making home loans, every S&L in the country invested massively in commercial property. The glut was as embarrassing as the collapse of the S&Ls was devastating to the economy.
In the wake of all this speculative fever, greed and mendacity, Reagan went to the U.S. Congress and got a “bail-out” plan that allowed the wealthy to purchase S&Ls for pennies on the dollar, while We, the People footed the bill. It was, to that point, the greatest single transfer of wealth in human history.
Ronald Reagan kept trying to play Errol Flynn in Robin Hood, but, really, he was the Sheriff of Nottingham.
In 1986, for the last off-year election, the “War on Drugs” was shoved forward as the first post-Communist Menace means of controlling the national hate debate. I will never forget that Nancy Reagan was trotted out to warn about the horror of drugs, and launch the “War on Drugs” and by September of 1987, I watched the national newscasts showing us footage of surplus U.S. A-4 jets firing surplus U.S. Sidewinder missiles into pristine mountain villages in Peru.
“A drug factory,” the announcer intoned, but I had to wonder, how did we come from the metaphorical “War on Drugs” to a LITERAL expenditure of U.S. ordnance in blowing human beings into smithereens in a REAL war? Had the Johnson Administration taken the same tack with the “War on Poverty” (which we were winning, until Ronald Reagan made it his mission in life to destroy it) then the police would have ended up a year later by driving the streets shooting poor people.
The loss of civil liberties, the intrusion into your bank account, your personal history, your privacy and everybody else’s was staggering. And we didn’t make a dent in drugs. But we set out on the road to our current status as the greatest jailer in the world — both by percentage and sheer numbers — as “manditory sentencing,” “manditory minimums” and “three strike” laws rose to the top of the GOP agenda.
(Gee, that’s “freedom from government.”)
And, Ronnie did away with the “fairness doctrine” that had produced many a “qualified opposition” editorial in rebuttal of yet another clueless broadcast station editorial. In that same year, 1986, Rush Limbaugh began his fake debate show, wherein only speakers speak that which Rush allows, and only then for as long as he allows them to. (Thus feeding a generation of dumbasses with the idea that their bumper sticker arguments were automatically and self-evidently victors in the rhetorical arena, since they’d never heard an actual debate.)
When Reagan left office, the sleaze hit an early peak in 1988 with the Willie Horton ads and character assassination used by George H.W. Bush on Michael Dukakis, in a bizarre surrealist campaign wherein the “Pledge of Allegiance” and “card-carrying member of the ACLU” were used to avoid any substantive discussion of any substantive issues. Whatsoever.
George H.W. Bush was elected, and, at Christmas, 1989, invaded Panama, deposed Noriega (who seems to have been threatening to squeal about the cocaine thing) and managed to get into a grand multi-national coalition war with Iraq over its invasion of (monarch-ruled) Kuwait.
And then, the Clinton years. The Republicans never accepted the election, and for eight long years, Clinton was hobbled, body-checked, cracked back on. Which was when we learned what the legacy of the Fall of the House of Nixon was.
(Tomorrow: The senses-shattering conclusion! Nuff said! h/t ComiCon.)
[Note: Illustrations are by Arthur Rackham, from his 1912 illustrations of Richard Wagner's "The Ring." The late spaniel "Checkers," however, was not a character in Wagner's opera cycle, and is not, therefore a Rackham illustration. Thus, he attains his own, separate photo credit.]