|To: Glenn Petersen who started this subject||6/24/2004 12:25:30 AM|
|More on Media and the Arts |
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|To: calgal who wrote (211)||6/24/2004 12:25:54 AM|
|Ronald Reagan: From Liberalism to the Light |
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
America has lost one of the greatest presidents. The nation also lost one of the greatest conservative thinkers. The Left Coast Report reflects upon the Hollywood star, the towering leader and the American icon.
A Special Edition of
THE LEFT COAST REPORT
In 1937 a young radio broadcaster drove to the West Coast in pursuit of a Hollywood dream. A friend introduced him to an agent. As good fortune would have it, the 26-year-old would land a screen test.
Only in a Hollywood fantasy would a kid from the Midwest get signed to a major movie studio on his first try. But in a whimsical script-come-to-life moment, Warner Brothers signed the budding actor to a seven-year deal for $200 a week.
At the time, the studios produced hundreds of films a year. The reliable young actor would fit into the system perfectly. His first movie role was as a radio announcer in “Love Is on the Air.” During the following three years he would make about 20 more films.
The ‘Hemophiliac Liberal’
When he first signed the contract with Warner Brothers in 1937, Reagan was a New Deal Democrat and a union activist.
In his first memoir, he described himself politically as “a near-hopeless hemophiliac liberal,” adding, “I bled for ‘causes.’”
Before America’s entry into World War II, Warner Brothers cast him in a cluster of movies that had patriotic themes.
Reagan joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served in the motion picture unit in Hollywood, where he worked on training films and documentaries. He began to question the role of government when he was exposed to the burdensome Civil Service rules that were imposed at the time. He would later write, “I think the first crack in my staunch liberalism appeared in the last year and a half of my military career.”
Reagan became disillusioned with some of the groups he had joined over the years. He came to the conclusion many organizations that were operating in Hollywood were communist fronts.
Conference of Studio Unions, a breakaway labor group that Reagan believed was a communist front, led a series of strikes against the studios in 1946. With Reagan's backing, the Screen Actors Guild ultimately crossed the group’s picket lines.
The strike experience played a part in Reagan’s changing worldview. “I guess I was also beginning a political transformation that was born in an off-screen caldron of deceit and subversion and a personal journey of discovery that would leave me with a growing distaste for big government,” Reagan would write. “I didn't realize it, but I'd started on a path that was going to lead me a long way from Hollywood.”
Reagan’s involvement in SAG increased. He took the reins as the group’s president in 1947. He served as the leader of the union for five additional one-year terms.
“Ronald Reagan presided over the Screen Actors Guild at one of the most challenging moments in our union's history, as the rise of television significantly impacted the compensation and working conditions for the nation's screen actors,” SAG President Melissa Gilbert said in a recent statement. “He leaves behind an enduring legacy to this industry, as he does to the country as a whole.”
During the shooting of a film “The Hasty Heart,” Reagan learned additional lessons from the experience of living in the U.K. for several months. In one of his memoirs he wrote, “I saw firsthand how the welfare state sapped incentive to work from many people in a wonderful and dynamic country.”
Most people don’t realize how prolific an actor Ronald Reagan was. In a remarkable Hollywood run, he appeared in more than 55 films over two decades. Critics have not been particularly kind, though, when commenting about his acting ability and have frequently overlooked some of his most outstanding portrayals.
In “Kings Row,” Reagan played a man whose legs were amputated by a malicious, revenge-seeking surgeon. It was in this film that his character uttered the words that would eventually become the title of Reagan’s first memoir, “Where's the Rest of Me?”
He would later write that the illusion of the actor having no legs was so compelling, while he lay there performing he felt anxiety. He considered it his best role. In “Knute Rockne: All-American,” he played the dying young athlete George Gipp. Reagan had gone after the role using pictures of himself dressed in his college football uniform to try to persuade producers to give him the part.
In one of the most famous lines in cinematic history, as the dying Gipp, Reagan said, “Ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.” The line would become a theme.
After a 20-year career, Reagan left film and moved to television, where he was a host of the “General Electric Theater” series from 1954 to 1962 and “Death Valley Days” from 1965 to 1966.
As host of “General Electric Theater,” Reagan gained a high degree of visibility, with vast numbers of people tuning in each week.
He appeared at General Electric across the country on behalf of the company. He would often make more than a dozen speeches in a single day. The experience turned out to be campaign training ground for Reagan.
Although Reagan was a registered Democrat, he supported Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. And he supported Richard Nixon in 1960. His Democrat political affiliation began to make less and less sense. Finally, he switched parties at a public meeting in 1962.
In 1964 he campaigned avidly for Barry Goldwater’s run for the White House. Reagan dazzled Republican National Convention attendees with his speaking ability.
He was persuaded by a group of Republican leaders to run for governor of California in 1965. The following year he won the governorship and headed for Sacramento. He served two terms.
Reagan won the Republican nomination for president in 1980 and became the nation’s 40th president. He went on to restore America’s dignity, revitalize the economy and win the Cold War.
The Man of Faith
Ronald Reagan named the Bible as one of his favorite books. He called it “the greatest message ever written.”
While speaking to a crowd at Kansas State University in 1982, he reminded folks of “admonition of the Man from Galilee to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
On Oct. 13, 1983, then President Reagan spoke to some of the female leaders of Christian religious organizations and said, “The Founding Fathers believed that faith in God was the key to our being a good people and America’s becoming a great nation.”
In addressing the convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in January 1984, Reagan referred to the Blessed Hope: “He promised there will never be a dark night that does not end.” He added, “By dying for us, Jesus showed how far our love should be ready to go: all the way.”
Reagan’s words offended the New York Times. “You don’t have to be a secular humanist to take offense at that display of what, in America, should be private piety. It's an offense to Americans of every denomination, or no denomination, when a President speaks that way,” the paper groused.
The Times told Reagan he was “the President of a nation whose Bill of Rights enjoins Government from establishing religion, aiding one religion, even aiding all religions.” There was no mention of “free exercise.”
Immediately after the space shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, as comforter-in-chief Reagan soothed us with poetic grace: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”
At the dedication of his presidential library on Nov. 4, 1991, Reagan elaborated upon the attribute with which he is most often associated. He remarked that he has “been described as an undying optimist, always seeing a glass half full when some see it as half empty. And, yes, it’s true — I always see the sunny side of life. And that’s not just because I’ve been blessed by achieving so many of my dreams. My optimism comes not just from my strong faith in God, but from my strong and enduring faith in man.”
The Left Coast Report gives thanks and prays that, for your strong faith, unflagging hope and abundant love, God blesses you eternally, Ronald Reagan.
The Left Coast Report is put together by James L. Hirsen and the staff of NewsMax.
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|To: calgal who wrote (215)||7/1/2004 3:58:24 AM|
|From: Glenn Petersen|
|Before Ronald Reagan, there was William F. Buckley Jr.|
June 29, 2004
National Review Founder to Leave Stage
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
In 1954, when Ronald Reagan was still a registered Democrat and host of "General Electric Theater," the 28-year-old William Frank Buckley Jr. decided to start a magazine as a standard-bearer for the fledgling conservative movement. In the 50-year ascent of the American right since then, his publication, National Review, has been its most influential journal and Mr. Buckley has been the magazine's guiding spirit and, until today, controlling shareholder.
Tonight, however, Mr. Buckley, 78, is giving up control. In an interview, he said he planned to relinquish his shares today to a board of trustees he had selected. Among them are his son, the humorist Christopher Buckley; the magazine's president, Thomas L. Rhodes; and Austin Bramwell, a 2000 graduate of Yale and one of the magazine's youngest current contributors.
Mr. Buckley's "divestiture," as he calls it, represents the exit of one of the forefathers of modern conservatism. It is also the latest step in the gradual quieting of one of the most distinctive voices in the business of cultural and political commentary, the writer and editor who founded his magazine on a promise to stand "athwart history, yelling 'Stop,' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it."
In explaining his decision, Mr. Buckley said he had taken some satisfaction in the triumph of conservatism since then, though he expressed some complaints about President Bush's unconservative spending and some retrospective doubts about the wisdom of invading Iraq. But his decision, Mr. Buckley said, had more to do with his own mortality.
"The question is choose some point to quit or die onstage, and there wouldn't be any point in that," Mr. Buckley said, recalling his retirement from his television program "Firing Line" a few years ago. "Thought was given and plans were made to proceed with divestiture."
With characteristic playfulness, Mr. Buckley said that he had not disclosed the timing of the hand-over. He plans to give the trustees his shares at a private party tonight at an Italian restaurant near the magazine's East 34th Street office. "It is kind of a big event in my life," he said, sipping a glass of wine over lunch at the same restaurant last week. "I thought I might as well put a little bit of theater in it. When I leave this building a week from now, I will probably feel a little bit different."
Mr. Buckley, whose syndicated column will continue to appear in the magazine, said he did not expect changes in the contents of the magazine. Richard Lowry, the editor, will continue in that job. Mr. Rhodes, president of National Review, will become chairman of the newly formed board of trustees. The trustees will include Evan Galbraith, an executive of Morgan Stanley who was ambassador to France under Mr. Reagan, and Daniel Oliver, who was chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under Mr. Reagan and whose son, Drew Oliver, was an assistant editor at the magazine.
By virtue of his relative youth, Mr. Bramwell is the most notable of the five trustees. "I wanted somebody who is very young and very talented," Mr. Buckley said. "One likes to think in the long term."
A former officer of the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union, Mr. Bramwell began writing for National Review two years ago as a Harvard law student. At a recent ceremony at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, he presented Mr. Buckley an award for contributions to the conservative movement along with an admiring, perhaps even Buckleyesque, appraisal of Mr. Buckley's literary style.
"By ironic periphrasis, arch understatement and surprising deployment of familiar and of course unfamiliar words, Buckley convinced his opponents that he knew something they did not, and what's more, that he intended to keep the secret from them," Mr. Bramwell said as he presented the award. "Thus did he waken their minds to the possibility that liberalism is not the philosophia ultima but just another item in the baleful catalogue of modern ideologies."
Not everyone shares this assessment of Mr. Buckley's work. Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, called Mr. Buckley's sometimes baroque style "genially ridiculous."
Mr. Wieseltier added: "It is a kind of antimodern pretense, but of course he is in fact a completely modern man. His thinking and his writing have all the disadvantages of a happy man. The troubling thing about Bill Buckley's work is how singularly untroubled it is by things."
But Mr. Buckley's voice has always been singular. He was not much older than Mr. Bramwell when he founded National Review. The son of an oilman, Mr. Buckley was already famous for his first book, "God and Man at Yale" (1951). Conservatism in the United States was close to its 20th-century nadir, marked by Dwight D. Eisenhower's defeat of the conservative Robert Taft for the 1952 Republican nomination.
The first issue of National Review appeared in 1955. As Mr. Buckley tells it, he became chief editor in part because deferring to a young man was unthreatening to many venerable contributors. "It was easier to allow them to accept a 29-year-old than to select among themselves who will be boss," he said.
William J. Casey, who later became director of central intelligence under Mr. Reagan, incorporated the magazine. Mr. Buckley retained ownership of all the voting stock. National Review has never made a profit, Mr. Buckley said. It makes up any shortfalls each year with contributions from about 1,000 to 1,500 donors, and every other year it sends a solicitation to its subscribers in an effort to add names to the "A list" of regular donors. Mr. Buckley will continue to write the fund-raising letters, he said.
As for conservatism today, Mr. Buckley said there was a growing debate on the right about how the war in Iraq squared with the traditional conservative conviction that American foreign policy should seek only to protect its vital interests.
"With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," Mr. Buckley said. "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
Asked whether the growth of the federal government over the last four years diminished his enthusiasm for Mr. Bush, he reluctantly acknowledged that it did. "It bothers me enormously," he said. "Should I growl?"
Still, he professed more than a little pride at the country's rightward drift during his years in control of National Review. "We thought to influence conservative thought, which we succeeded in doing," he said.
Correction: July 1, 2004, Thursday
An article on Tuesday about William F. Buckley Jr.'s decision to give up control of his magazine, National Review, misstated the location of a ceremony at which he received an award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It was the National Building Museum in Washington, not the Heritage Foundation.
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|To: Glenn Petersen who started this subject||7/5/2004 1:47:50 AM|
|What July Fourth Means to Me |
Editor's note: When he was president, Ronald Reagan wrote the following piece for Independence Day in 1981. Aide Michael Deaver later wrote: "This 4th of July message is the President's own words and written initially in his own hand."
For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.
I remember it as a day almost as long-anticipated as Christmas. This was helped along by the appearance in store windows of all kinds of fireworks and colorful posters advertising them with vivid pictures.
No later than the third of July – sometimes earlier – Dad would bring home what he felt he could afford to see go up in smoke and flame. We'd count and recount the number of firecrackers, display pieces and other things and go to bed determined to be up with the sun so as to offer the first, thunderous notice of the Fourth of July.
I'm afraid we didn't give too much thought to the meaning of the day. And, yes, there were tragic accidents to mar it, resulting from careless handling of the fireworks. I'm sure we're better off today with fireworks largely handled by professionals. Yet there was a thrill never to be forgotten in seeing a tin can blown 30 feet in the air by a giant "cracker" – giant meaning it was about 4 inches long. But enough of nostalgia.
Somewhere in our growing up we began to be aware of the meaning of days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.
There is a legend about the day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.
The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, "They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever."
He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.
Well, that is the legend. But we do know for certain that 56 men, a little band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.
What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly enough.
John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find his wife dead, his children vanished, his property destroyed. He died of exhaustion and a broken heart.
Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships, sold his home to pay his debts, and died in rags. And so it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston and Middleton. Nelson personally urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.
But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea. Five million farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep, 3 million square miles of forest, field, mountain and desert, 227 million people with a pedigree that includes the bloodlines of all the world. In recent years, however, I've come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation.
It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.
Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government.
Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.
We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.
Happy Fourth of July. Ronald Reagan President of the United States
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|To: calgal who wrote (217)||7/5/2004 1:49:52 AM|
|Gipper's Gift |
John L. Perry
Monday, June 7, 2004
By his death, Ronald Reagan has bequeathed a bountiful blessing upon George W. Bush – the inescapable comparison of their character that the leftists cannot besmirch.
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