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Thoughts on Baseball, Art, and Other Altered States

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Tom Rogers and the Philip Morris Tollway

Coyote Waits
Native American folklore says that Coyote will outlive us all and be the last survivor on earth

Hallucination Engine Revisited
The Psycho-dynamic Obsolescence of General Motors

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Ronald Reagan Remembered
It will be monumental.

There will be uncounted TV specials; memorial books, magazines and DVDs; Official Seal of the 40th President ashtrays; country western “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” tribute albums; websites featuring commemorative T-shirts, mugs, medallions and bomber jackets. AFC will almost certainly present a movie marathon — Hellcats of the Navy, Bedtime for Bonzo, Kings Row, Naughty But Nice, Brother Rat. Nick at Night: reruns of Death Valley Days.

Yes, inescapably, Ronald Reagan, will die soon. But on the upside, our myth-making machinery had plenty of prehumous prep time. Broadcast, print and internet media have backloaded content for the most anticipated death of this young century since…well…last century.

You don’t need to go further than the “embargoed until Reagan’s death” pages at Knight Ridder — publisher of 31 daily newspapers across the United States — or the CNN online Reagan memorial (here at Smoking Gun) to see the impact his demise will have.

No doubt, after these bits of prerecorded history are loosed on the American public, a long line of teary-eyed politicians will trumpet Reagan’s extraordinary accomplishments. If all goes as planned, Republicans will get a huge boost in the polls. There will be proposals in Congress for a Ronald Reagan national holiday. Reagan-named buildings, parks, and highways will sprout nationwide.

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project is already working to name at least one notable public landmark in his honor in each state and all 3067 U.S. counties. My mind reels at the possibilties.

Conveniently blocked from our collective memory by the edifice of manufactured glory will be Reagan’s support for Saddam Hussein, Reagan's Nicaraguan terrorist “Freedom Fighters,” Reagan's violation of the Boland Amendment, Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan's Beirut disaster, Reagan's arms for hostages deal, Reagan's denial of the AIDS epidemic, Reagan's wreath-laying at Bitburg, Reagan's close ties with Ferdinand Marcos, John Poindexter, James Watt…SOMEBODY STOP ME!!

All of these unsavory Reaganisms will be trivialized, sanitized or censored not unlike the CBS mini-series The Reagans. And well they should be. For as Reagan once said, “Facts are stupid things.”

In that spirit, he also said:

"A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

"Growing and decaying vegetation in this land are responsible for 93 percent of the oxides of nitrogen."

"I've said it before and I'll say it again. The U.S. Geological Survey has told me that the proven potential for oil in Alaska alone is greater than the proven reserves in Saudi Arabia."

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?"

"It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas."

"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal."

"What we have found in this country, and maybe we're more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

"Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."

"We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet."

"Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close."

God willing, Reagan will have a hell of a close.

— Nathan Callahan, November 19, 2003


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