Ronald Wilson Reagan

an anagram for "insane anglo warlord"

In 1984, Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America, was doing a soundcheck for an interview and said the following:

"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."
"And the weapons of mass destruction? Whatever happened to them? I'm sure we'll find some. They're being flown in right now in a C-130."
-- Ron Reagan Jr

October Surprise

Material that will not be in the orgy of praise of Reagan's life in the media:

"On October 19, 1980, Bush was dealing with Khomeini!"
1980 October Surprise (Reagan/Bush deal with Iran to >delay< hostage release until after the election)
several articles on the October Surprise

A web search on "Octopus" and "Danny Casolaro" will also add to reviews of three books about October Surprise
Honegger, Barbara. October Surprise. New York: Tudor, 1989. 323 pages.
Parry, Robert. Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery. New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1993. 350 pages.
Sick, Gary. October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. New York: Times Books - Random House, 1991. 278 pages.

Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley and George Bush: a subtle coup d'etat
Kerry, Bush and Cheney are cousins

Bush and Kerry aren't just "blood brothers" in Skull and Bones -- they are distant cousins, too. (How many people can trace THEIR ancestry back to the 1600s? Unless your ancestors were nobility, it is unlikely that you can identify your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.)
John Forbes Kerry and George Walker Bush are ninth cousins, twice removed. See this website for family ties between Kerry, the Bushes and previous US presidents. It suggests that we have an American nobility similar to European aristocracy, something that we are taught does not exist in this country.
Bush is also the 9th cousin of John Hinckley, Jr., who was accused of shooting Ronald Wilson Reagan in 1981. (The Hinckley and Bush families were business partners in Texas - see for the connections between the Hinckley and Bush families) Kerry is Hickley's 10th cousin, once removed - and there are no known business ties between the Kerry and Hinckley clans.

On March 31, 1981, the day after John Hinckley had attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, The Houston Post ran an article headlined, "Bush’s son was to dine with suspect’s brother."
The article began “Scott Hinckley, the brother of John Hinckley Jr., who is charged with shooting President Reagan and three others, was to have been a dinner guest Tuesday night at the home of Neil Bush, son of Vice President George Bush, the Houston Post has learned.”
NBC’s John Chancellor also reported the "bizarre coincidence."
On that day the Post said Neil Bush admitted to being personally acquainted with Scott Hinckley, having met him on one occasion in the recent past. He also said he knew the family and was aware of its large contributions to the Bush campaign for president in 1980. Both were oil men based in Denver. Scott Hinckley was vice president of Vanderbilt Energy of Vanderbilt Energy Corporation and Neil Bush worked for Standard Oil of Indiana. John Hinckley Jr., the shooter, lived off and on with his parents in Evergreen, Colorado, near Denver.
Neil Bush told the Post he didn’t know if he knew John Jr. or not. His wife Sharon said, “From what I know and have heard, [the Hinckleys] are a very nice family ... and have given a lot of money to the Bush campaign. I understand he [John Jr.] was just the renegade brother in the family. They must feel awful.”

[yet another family that does business with the Bush dynasty who has a "renegade brother in the family" - just like Osama - it is time to connect the dots]

Special: The Truth About Vox
Sander Hicks,  January 31, 2003

VOX: As we know, ex-CIA chief George Bush was v.p. at the time, a heartbeat away from the top slot. Well, in the early hours after the attempt on Reagan it was revealed that Scott Hinckley, the brother of would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr., was scheduled to dine that evening at the home of Neil Bush, the son of then-Vice President George Bush. NBC's John Chancellor had the information, but received orders not to mention the dinner date. He defied orders with his newscast, an astonished look on his face. I remember, I saw it as it happened. When I looked for developments and follow-ups to the story, there were none. Zippo. Never mentioned again on the television medium, ever. Newsweek included the fact under some small article about 'Kooky Conspiracy Theories,' a sidebar mentioned at the end of their reporting on the attempt.
HICKS: So you think this was a major story that Newsweek and the networks missed?
VOX: There's an expression, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Well there's an inferno raging about this one! The most fishy moment in Bush family history. It was further revealed that Papa Bush and Hinckley's father were friends and fellow oilmen in Texas and Colorado. Hinckley claimed to have supported Reagan, so no suspicion there right? Wrong. Not only did that turn out to be a lie, it turns out that he financed Bush's bid for the nomination against Reagan! But there's more. It was revealed that while George Junior [George W. Bush] was running for Congress in Lubbock, Texas. with his brother Neil as manager, guess who else lived in Lubbock? John Hinckley Junior. When probed as to whether the Bush boys had ever met Hinckley during their Lubbock days, our current president said that it was 'conceivable' that they had met. Do you know what that means? That's politician-speak for 'they met.' What should have been the biggest, most investigated story of the Eighties was wiped clear from the face of history.

FACTS & FEARS It's a lot to absorb, but in fact a lot of what he says checks out. Newsweek did write a story mentioning that Hinckley's brother was scheduled to dine with Neil Bush on the day of the Reagan assassination attempt. John Chancellor did mention the same fact on the air. Vox's website was not the only one reporting the Bush/Hinckley family link. Nathaniel Blumberg, dean of the University of Montana School of Journalism and founder of the Montana Journalism Review, has also reported this on his home page,

"I have never been a conspiracy theorist; I am an analyst of press performance with credentials extending over four decades," Blumberg explains. In his view, the Neil Bush/Hinckley story "was censored by NBC News and the other organs of the national news media [for] 10 years. And even in the several months of extensive coverage of Neil Bush's part in the massive Savings and Loan fraud, no mention was made of his role in the continuing cover-up of the most significant story in the 1980s."
John Judge November 2000 Interview - Part II
November 18 & 26, 2000

.... in any other country, if we were looking disdainfully (as we do) at other countries, if the head of the CIA became the president and there was a scandal, everybody would see it for what it is. But here, being that the CIA is considered somehow "benign" or "patriotic", but only if you refuse to look at what it does -- unless you're very rich -- then it helps you out. For ordinary people, it does horrendous things in the name of America.
In the period when Reagan came in, I believe Bush took over. He was vice president and rose to power, I believe, on March 31 1981 when Reagan was nearly assassinated. The person placed as the patsy, not the person that actually shot Reagan but the person placed as the patsy in the case, was John Hinckley. His family ties were to oil. Through that oil connection, Neil Bush -- George Herbert Walker Bush's son, who worked in oil -- knew Scott Hinckley who also worked in oil. Neil had been involved with Scott in many oil operations -- both working for oil speculation and oil companies.
The two families lived close to each other. They knew each other socially and financially. When the Hinckley oil company started to fail in the sixties, Bush's Zapata Oil financially bailed out Hinkley's company. It went from being Vanderbilt Oil to Vanderbilt Energy or Vanderbilt Resources in the 60s after Bush intervened. The Hinckleys had been running an operation with six dead wells but then they were making several million dollars a year after the Bush bailout. I always thought this was some sort of a money-pass front where they were laundering money through on this phony oil operation but actually operating some type of an intelligence pay-off.
The father in that family, John W. Hinckley Sr., was also the president of the board for World Vision. World Vision is a far-right evangelical missionary operation that does missionary and "good work" operations in countries where there is a political purpose for it to be there. From it's inception, it was rabidly anti-Communist and it focused on refugee populations of people running from countries that had been taken over by Communism. This was from the fifties on.
World Vision had a hand in the movement of the Cubans into the United States and other refugees of revolutionary regimes. When you're a refugee you're cut loose, basically, and pretty much fair game to be manipulated by whoever is willing to give you a hand because you don't have a home or any place to stay and somebody has got to accept you.
World Vision was able to recruit out of these mercenary populations, people who could be politically turned to their intelligence purposes. World Vision served as a penetration force -- not as visible as the military actually going in or the CIA going in -- going in as missionaries and working among the people.
This link between missionary and intelligence for capitalistic infiltration operations goes way back. It was part of the internationalism with the Rockefellers. It's talked about in a book called Thy Will Be Done[4] about Rockefeller, Venezuela, and Latin American Oil, the Summer Linguistic Institute, World Vision and others. But they operated in this way for a long time.
They were paid by the CIA for a long time during the Vietnam war and went into SE Asia -- Cambodia and Laos. Throughout Vietnam they were given U.S. military equipment to use. They still maintain a budget under USAID, which was just (Agency for International Development), which was just a pass-over in order to give the CIA more cover. They ran operations through USAID. The current cover replacing that is the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), which is supposed to be how we're exporting democracy around the world.
But of course, we're exporting exactly the kind of corrupt democracy we have here, which is rigged and manipulated elections and press manipulation in order to keep in power or put in power the people that we want to be in those countries for the purpose of having our investments protected and milking what we can out of the resources and the labor available in any of those countries.
World Vision was part of that scheme and they did some nasty things. They ran the refugee camp in Sabra-Shatilla where the fascist Phalange were allowed in to kill the Palestinians. Moe Dalitz, a Cleveland syndicate mobster, had building operations and construction stuff going on in Miami that the anti-Castro Cubans were hired to take part in. They meld them in -- and so they recruit from them, whoever they can.
They ran the Cuban and Thai refugee camps in the United States. Mark David Chapman -- who eventually shot John Lennon -- worked at the Thai refugee camps out in Arkansas that World Vision operated there. They ran these camps brutally, forcing people into political education against Castro, refusing to feed people, beating people -- by many reports -- and bringing in Alpha 66 and Omega 7 people (the worst of the killing teams -- or murder squads -- of the anti-Castro Cubans in the United States) to run the camps in Florida, Fort Chafey in Arkansas and other places where the Cuban exiles were. These people came in and there were eventually riots in the Cuban refugee camps against their treatment there. This according to legitimate refugee charity workers and organizations that I have spoken to.
The chairman of the board for some period was John W. Hinkley Sr.. The son worked at Fort Chafey at the Thai refugee camps. There were pictures of him after the Reagan shooting running in his World Vision T-shirt around the edge of the camp. He was tied-in but he was not going along with the program at the same level as Scott was. Scott was already doing the wheeling and dealing and was tight with Neil Bush. Bush's daughter was making the dating arrangements for Scott Hinkley and helping to set him up for dates.
They knew each other socially quite well. The press said that they were to have dinner -- Scott Hinkley and Neil Bush were to have dinner on March 31 1981. But they cancelled the dinner after the news of the shooting. The press said that that was ironic. It gives a new meaning to the word `irony'. Because if Robert Oswald, Lee Harvey's older brother and Lynda Bird Johnson were going to have dinner the night of the JFK assassination, somebody would figure out it meant something.
What it means is that Bush was part of the planning of the take over -- and it was a take over, I believe. There were elements that matched the Kennedy assassination. Richard Bartholomew, a researcher in Texas, told me that he himself talked to Strategic Air Command bomber pilots who, like the pilots I talked to that were in the air the hour of the Kennedy assassination, told him that on March 31 they had no code books aboard.
The black box, the presidential communication box for national emergencies -- the "nuclear football" as they call it, disappeared in Dallas after the Kennedy shooting and did not fly back on Airforce One with LBJ and didn't get back to him for many hours.
Similarly, Rodriguez, an Army Colonel that was in charge of carrying it with the president, at the time of Reagan's shooting, ducked, hit the ground during the shooting, got up and ran in the other direction and came back hours later with a Secret Service Agent trying to get the control card out of Reagan's wallet that was under the control of the FBI. FBI Agents had taken his clothes as they were clipped off in the emergency room. At that point an FBI Agent called William Sessions, the Director. But he wasn't at the Agency. He was in the situation room where the big fight had emerged between the Reagan loyalists and the Bush loyalists. Sessions told him to hold on to the card.
Sessions told the guy who had taken the football with him?
No, he told the FBI Agent who had the card. The nurses were taking Reagan's clothes off, cutting them off, whatever they had to do and in his wallet was the card that activates the box. The FBI had control of that back at the hospital. The guy in control of the box itself ran off and came back with a Secret Service Agent trying to get the card, as well. The FBI guy said `Wait a minute. I have to call headquarters.' Sessions told him `No, don't give up the card.' That's the level at which the battle was going on.
And Sessions would be with Bush or Reagan?
Sessions would have been loyal to Reagan, I believe.
Rodriguez was loyal to Reagan?
Well, Rodriguez was obviously playing the other side. Rodriguez was running off with the box.
He didn't stay with the Commander-in-Chief?
That's right. He broke rank. And then, whoever in the Secret Service -- the Secret Service helped to set-up Reagan too. Reagan was told not to wear his vest that day -- his protective vest. I'll bet he wore it after that.
The patterns are always the same. You have a patsy that takes the blame. You have a second gunman that never comes to light. And you have an ascendance of power. That's what I think happened after that point: that Reagan was basically allowed to function but Bush was President.
That dynamic is born out by other instances including the Contragate scandal where the Tower Commission determined in testimony of all the top people, McFarland and the people at the highest levels, that one day, July 15, 1985 was this day they all name as the key day when the President of the United States signs a Finding allowing the shipment of TOE missiles to Israel . . . I went back and looked that day up -- that all of them had named in the Tower Report -- to see what Reagan was supposedly doing that day. Because Reagan later said that he could not remember signing that. In fact, on July 15, 1985 Reagan was in an eight-hour prostate operation all day and Bush was acting President of the United States for those eight hours.
It was clear to me that Bush had signed the Finding. That it was a covert operation that Reagan didn't know anything about and wasn't allowed to know anything about. When the stuff started to break, they had to then shred the signed papers and get Oliver North and the boys in there to do the shredding because it would have shown Bush's signature all over it. Bush was actually calling the shots for Contragate.
.... it is very significant, I think, that Reagan was taken somewhere else and then turned around. I think the timing of the turn around relates to a huge fight that they later admitted broke out in the situation room at the White House in the emergency between the Reagan loyalists and the Bush loyalists in the administration.
There was a clear split along those lines because Reagan represents the southern California (what they used to call) `Irish Mob Money' out there and the southern rim economy -- the military-industrial complex and Bush is somewhat of a cross-over coming out of Yale and the upper class schools but also having his money in the south. There are different loyalties.
Remembering Reagan


By Greg Palast,
*Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But
in this case, someone's got to.
Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.
In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named
Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one
surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.
People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan,
big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to
Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had
Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up
and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they
buried the mother of three.
And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American
marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped
dog -- then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war
was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down
Cubans building an airport.
I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer
dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to
million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government
loot. It used to be called bribery.
And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about
"family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.
The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan
projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values"
my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and
anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness,
bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get
another million.
"Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the
Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.
And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled
away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our
elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger
with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster
of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.
Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter
wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy
tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to
Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages.
Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah --
no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart.
Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash
from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners
of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.
I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the
bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby
orders this demonstration to disperse" … and then came the teargas and the
truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.
In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their
kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even
Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us
were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with
Texas, anyway?
Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets.
In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was
that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.
Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead.
Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.


June 11, 2004
Ronald Reagan -- An environmental and natural resource legacy
Darren Samuelsohn, Marty Coyne, Dan Berman and Alex Kaplun, Greenwire reporters

For a president who cut a rugged outdoorsman's image, Ronald Reagan's legacy
to the natural environment may be best depicted in the surface mines of
northern Utah or the vast network of oil and gas rigs pumping petroleum from
the Louisiana and Texas coasts.
Reagan, who died last Saturday at 93, was often cast in the likeness of
Theodore Roosevelt, the nation's most conservation-minded president. But the
nation's 40th president was in fact an industrialist in cowboy's clothing.
He believed that for the United States to remain a vibrant and prosperous
democracy, it must not pile its abundant natural resources into a regulatory
Reagan's presidency -- often bookended by historians with the rise of
"Reaganomics" and the close of the Cold War -- was in fact equally defined
by a leveling of the playing field between those who saw the federal
government as a protector of the environment and those who saw it as an
enabler of resource extraction.
To overlook Reagan's environmental legacy, with its bold strokes and
sometimes rough edges, would leave an important part of the story about the
'80s decade untold. Just as important is the fact that Reagan's convictions
about the government's role in the environment, and the battles that ensued
as a result of his policies, remain deeply ingrained in the policy and
political debates of today.
Watt and Gorsuch controversies
To view Reagan's legacy as simply railing against environmental priorities,
while tempting to his critics, would be to oversimplify his administration's
goals as well as its accomplishments. As with other aspects of Reagan's
legacy, it does not lend itself well to simple characterization, but rather
remains subject to changing interpretation as the years pass.
Nevertheless, from the earliest days of the administration, when Reagan
appointed two polarizing figures to his Cabinet in Interior Secretary James
Watt and U.S. EPA Administrator Ann Gorsuch, environmentalists and Capitol
Hill Democrats began resisting the president's environmental direction.
Controversial and in some ways inexperienced, the two figures would
establish reputations as uncompromising revolutionaries.
Reagan himself also provided ammunition for critics through his sometimes
controversial statements, such as citing carbon-emitting trees as a greater
contributor to air pollution than industrial plants and declawing nuclear
power critics by surmising that a year's worth of radioactive waste from a
single plant could fit inside a desk drawer.
But Reagan also led an administration that tripled the National Park Service
budget, added 10 million acres of wilderness to the nation's cache, removed
lead from gasoline and implemented a Superfund law passed by a lame-duck
Congress right before his inauguration. As such, Reagan's supporters say,
his accomplishments are too often overlooked and misinterpreted.
"I don't think it's fair to say Ronald Reagan was an opponent to
environmental protection," said Phil Angell, chief of staff to former EPA
Administrator William Ruckelshaus from 1983 to 1985. "I think they saw that
there might be a better way to achieve the goals."
Washington-based industry lobbyist Marc Himmelstein said Reagan took the
environmental issue and established his own approach. Recalling a quote from
former Republican National Committee Chairman and current Mississippi Gov.
Haley Babour, Himmelstein said: "You didn't need an environmental lobbyist
when Ronald Reagan was president. He was the best one in town. He knew what
he was for. He knew what he was against. And he didn't want to hear
political diatribes."
With that confidence of vision, Reagan left much of the policymaking to his
Cabinet secretaries and their chiefs, reflecting a hands-off approach that
came to define his broader management style. Beyond his own administration,
however, Reagan championed the cause of state autonomy over regulatory
matters, resulting in a broad shifting of federal environmental
responsibility to state agencies, many of which were ill equipped to receive
The "Reagan Revolution," as it came to be known, coincided with an uneasy
public, however, one that had endured the environmental insults of Three
Mile Island and Love Canal. The nation also had grown increasingly aware of
toxic chemicals and their threat to the environment through the publication
of "Silent Spring," the 1962 book by former Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist Rachel Carson.
The public had strongly backed environmental policy initiatives during the
early 1970s, including the passage of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and
National Environmental Policy Act. But Reagan saw his landslide victory in
the 1980 election as a mandate for a different approach, one that often flew
in the face of an emerging environmental movement that had supported his
opponent during that campaign, President Jimmy Carter.
If the public doubted a seachange in environmental policymaking, Reagan made
his intentions clear with the appointments of his two top environmental
aides, Watt and Gorsuch. Not long after taking office, some career EPA
officials feared for their job as word leaked that Gorsuch and some of her
political appointees had drafted a list of staff unsympathetic to the new
Republican administration, presumably to push them out of the agency.
But Gorsuch had her own problems, resigning in 1983 after receiving a
contempt citation from Congress for failing to cooperate with an
investigation. Her assistant administrator for solid waste issues, Rita
Lavelle, was then sentenced to six months in prison for lying to lawmakers.
Phil Shabecoff, a former New York Times reporter and the founder of
Greenwire , noted in his 1993 history of American environmentalism, "A
Fierce Green Fire," that the EPA scandal "proved to be the most serious
political threat" for the Reagan administration during its first term.
Watt was no less controversial, pushing early in the Reagan presidency for a
general shift of public lands management from strict conservation to greater
commercial and recreational use. Watt also argued that states, not the
federal government, should have primary authority over land, water and other
natural resources, something environmentalists strongly resisted. Moreover,
Watt sought to reconcile the conflicting mandates that Congress gave to
public lands management -- "preserve and develop."
Environmentalists, long supportive of the government's role in preservation,
now worried about the new administration's push in the other direction, and
they leveled their sights on the Interior secretary.
Sources who have followed environmental policy since the Reagan years say
Gorsuch and Watt, who also resigned in 1983 after describing his
department's racial, ethnic and religious diversity in a way that offended
some people, took the environmental debate in a direction that destroyed
nearly two decades of bipartisanship on the issue.
"The Gorsuch-Watt years were so caustic and damaging to the agenda that the
Reagan administration had," said Jerry Dodson, former counsel to then-House
Health and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). "Those
that followed learned from that."
Ruckelshaus, the founding EPA administrator under President Nixon, was
recruited back to his former agency in large part to boost agency morale and
restore trust among the public and media, which had grown increasingly
critical of the Reagan administration's environmental stance. "I think it's
fair to say the mood swung from despair to jubilation," Ruckelshaus
recounted in a 1993 interview with EPA's history department. "The people
felt their long nightmare was over, and it was a nightmare."
A nascent environmental movement, meanwhile, rallied to draw new members to
its cause, an effort aided by the vilification of Gorsuch and Watt. While
new environmental groups sprouted nationwide to rally support for everything
from habitat protection to nuclear nonproliferation, older, more established
groups such as the Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation saw major
infusions of both members and money. Their rise in strength and
sophistication resulted in what is now one of the dominant lobbying sectors
in Washington today.
A regulation breaker, not a lawmaker
Unlike his immediate predecessors, Carter, Ford and Nixon, Reagan's
environmental legacy is rooted not in the drafting of laws and regulations
-- a function of government he found abhorrent -- but rather in the use of
his immense charisma and stumping ability to shift the terms of debate on
policy issues. This was especially true of debates on natural resources,
where Reagan chipped away at the notion of an America spoiled by excessive
resource extraction and consumption. Rather, he linked the tapping of
resources -- for energy, for agriculture and for recreation -- to the
pursuit of the American ideal.
"What Ronald Reagan did was say there's all these resources there, there's
no reason to turn down our heat and wear sweaters like Jimmy Carter," said
Brant Short, a speech communication professor at Northern Arizona University
and author of a chapter on Reagan's environmental legacy to be published in
an upcoming book from Texas A&M University Press.
With his presidential endorsement of increased development of oil, gas and
coal on public lands, Reagan effectively placed the environmental movement
outside the sphere of White House policymaking. For their voices to be
heard, environmentalists had to build their membership base and then seek
out sympathetic allies in Congress, where for reasons both political and
practical Democrats became the party of choice for environmental groups.
Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth and a lobbyist on
environmental issues for more than 30 years, noted that Reagan was highly
effective at shifting Americans' view of government from that of a benign
institution to one bent on squelching American enterprise. "There was a
dramatic contrast to the idea that government was there as a protector, but
instead [that] 'regulations are evil, government is evil' -- that was given
new currency, which is now taken to the extreme," Blackwelder said.
Reagan's brand of antiregulation conservatism also helped steer the larger
Republican Party toward a laissez faire philosophy with respect to business
activity, state regulation of local matters, and the use of public lands for
commercial enterprise.
"He questioned federal land policies, especially as it relates to economic
impact on Westerners," noted William Perry Pendley, president of the
Mountain States Legal Foundation, a private property advocacy group founded
in 1976 by Watt, the former Interior secretary. "He was the first president
who came in and started going in the other direction and say, 'Maybe we've
gone too far on some of these issues'" from a regulatory standpoint.
As Reagan's ideas took greater hold over the GOP, including many in
Congress, the environmental community's tilt toward the Democratic Party
strengthened, a trend that came to full fruition by the end of the 1980s and
has held through three subsequent administrations.
"I look back on the Reagan presidency as the beginning of the erosion of the
bipartisan agreement on the environment," said Debbie Sease, national
legislative director for the Sierra Club. "Up to that point, there was not a
huge distinction on environmental records between the Democratic and
Republican administrations."
Particularly for Westerners, whose environmentalism was measured by a deep
awareness that the land was inextricably linked to economic activity, Reagan
seemed to understand that there was more at stake than clean air and clean
water. If the nation was to power its homes, to eat meat, to maintain its
high quality of life, the West and its industries could not be tied up in
regulatory red tape.
"I think Reagan was unique insofar as he was a Western governor and first
president who had an understanding of the interrelationship between the
federal government and the West," Pendley said.
Other Western governors and state legislatures were already at odds with the
federal government over control and use of public lands in their states. The
Sagebrush Rebellion -- named for the plant that covers much of the interior
West -- arose in part to resist environmental laws passed during the Nixon
and Carter administrations that required "multiple use" management on Bureau
of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands. No longer charged simply
with growing the nation's food or fueling its industries, Westerners became
saddled with endangered species management and forest ecosystem health,
concepts that seemed nebulous and difficult to follow.
Legislatures in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming went so far as
to pass bills providing for state control of certain public lands
administered by BLM and the Forest Service out of fear they would be
declared off limits by the federal government.
As Reagan's first Interior secretary, Watt, a native of Wyoming, knew he was
riding a revolutionary idea. Among other things, he was charged with
spearheading dramatic increases in oil, gas and coal development on public
"I was probably the first secretary of Interior who ever worked for a
president that understood the department," Watt said earlier this year at a
seminar sponsored by the University of Colorado and Center of the American
West. "I was given clear charges by the president. I was to bring about
massive change in the way our federal lands and Western waters were being
managed so that all of Americans could benefit and enjoy them. ... Not an
elite group, but all Americans.
"We never, of the Reagan team, never thought of these battles as
environmental battles," Watt added. "There was the type of government we
were going to have."
Jim DiPeso, policy director with Republicans for Environmental Policy, said
that for all Watt's problems as a political figure, his virtue was "that you
knew exactly what his opinion was" on matters of policy. But, DiPeso added,
"He had a uniquely inept way of pushing his agenda forward from a public
relations standpoint."
Even after Watt left Interior in 1983, the department's pro-development
policy continued, said J. Steven Griles, who served under Reagan as Interior
assistant secretary for lands and minerals management.
"In terms of the energy industry, we had efforts in the '80s to make energy
available to the American people to insure we were using as much domestic
energy as possible," said Griles, now the Interior Department's
second-in-command behind Secretary Gale Norton.
"The energy that we're using today that's fueling a lot of the clean coal
plants is a result of President Reagan's coal leasing program that went into
effect," Griles said. "That program is not only producing a lot of coal in
the West, but it's also producing low sulfur coal that meets environmental
But Reagan also saw some defeats on the public lands front, including a
congressional moratorium on some offshore oil and gas leasing and the
refusal of Congress to sanction oil development in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. More than two decades later, ANWR development remains one
of Congress' most politically charged energy debates between Republicans and
Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the administration.
"If that had occurred in 1987 when President Reagan asked for it, it would
be online today, and in the opinion of experts, it would be producing 1
million barrels a day -- right now," Griles said.
Rise of White House oversight
Another of Reagan's lasting legacies on environmental policy -- though
perhaps less known to the public -- centered on his call for White House
review of all rules by the executive branch's Office of Management and
Budget. This practice, still in place today though amended by the Clinton
administration, requires extensive analysis of the costs and public benefits
that rules pose to industry and consumers.
As evidence of how much Reagan worried about regulatory gridlock, he
instituted the OMB reviews by executive order only weeks after taking office
in 1981. Part of that order called on OMB's Office of Information and
Regulatory Affairs to serve as a kind of clearinghouse for proposed rules.
Reagan's order expanded the role of the new executive level agency by
authorizing OIRA review of any agency action "designed to implement,
interpret or prescribe law or policy or describing the procedure, practice
or requirements of an agency." Just as significantly, the order stated
"regulatory action shall not be undertaken unless the potential benefits to
society from the regulation outweigh the potential costs to society."
While seemingly more bureaucratic than political, Reagan's directive had
great significance for environmental agencies like EPA, the Fish and
Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and BLM because it shifted rulemaking
authority away from career government employees -- many of whom had served
under Nixon, Ford and Carter -- and placed it more squarely under White
House political appointees.
John D. Graham, who serves as administrator for the Office of Information
and Regulatory Affairs under the current Bush administration, said the
directive reflected a major ramping up of White House influence over the
government's large and disparate regulatory agencies.
"There was some White House regulatory analysis under Presidents Nixon, Ford
and Carter, but it was President Reagan who mandated cost-benefit analysis,
established the formal OMB review process and expanded the scope of White
House review to include virtually all significant federal regulations,"
Graham said in an e-mail correspondence with Greenwire .
"Ronald Reagan realized that presidential leadership of economic policy
required centralized oversight of federal regulation," Graham added,
"thereby assuring that the impact of regulation on the overall welfare of
consumers, workers and investors was considered."
Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy, Natural Resources
and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, said Reagan "very accurately understood
where the rubber meets the road" on federal regulation. Consequently, Reagan
"put some focus on this and said, 'We're going to have some accountability
in this process.'"
Reagan also created a Cabinet-level regulatory relief task force overseen by
then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, and from that committee emerged a
number of figures who became influential on their own, including Jim Tozzi,
executive director of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, and former
Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.), who chaired the House Energy, Natural
Resources and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee.
While many inside government championed the tightened regulatory review
process initiated by Reagan, some interest groups maintain the policy
amounted to a shackling of experienced regulators who had more extensive
knowledge and understanding of the issues than the White House's budget
"We recognized that a great deal was at stake no matter what side [of the
debate] you were on," said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a
group that formed in 1983 in response to Reagan's efforts to tighten the
circle of those who had the final say on policy decisions.
Bass called Reagan's OMB directive "an incredible new intervention" because
it disposed of traditional interagency review of rules in favor of
centralized review by the White House. "His intent from day one was to undo
the regulatory system as we knew it," Bass said.
In one of the many parallels drawn between Reagan and President George W.
Bush, observers note that today's OMB has strictly adhered to the
cost-benefit analysis approach, though today's reviews of environmental
rules tend to focus as much on sound science as on economic issues. The
debate over reviews has grown more contentious as well as environmental
issues become more complex. Global climate change, for example, an issue
largely nonexistent during the Reagan years, now threatens to drive a wedge
between those in the government's scientific and regulatory communities and
those charged with protecting industry and consumers against costly
But some Republicans and industry officials maintain that OMB's influence
over federal rules has been scaled back in recent years, particularly after
the Clinton administration amended the policy to require reviews only for
rules that result in an economic burden of $100 million or more for a
particular industry sector.
Marlo Lewis, a senior policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise
Institute, noted that the number of "return letters" from OMB asking
agencies to make substantial changes to rules "dropped to almost zero during
the Clinton administration," and has increased moderately under the Bush
administration with 22 letters since 2001.
Reagan's legacy and George W. Bush
For many, Reagan's environmental legacy is easy to find in modern-day
governance. One only needs to look at the record and instincts of President
George W. Bush. Like Reagan, Bush is a former governor who embodies a folksy
style and management approach that emphasizes broad policy direction over
the minutia of government. Bush also parallels Reagan with his appeals to
Americans' sense of self-reliance and the desire to minimize regulation. In
matters of energy policy and commercial use of natural resources, the two
presidents share similar scripts.
"If you compare Reagan and Bush, they have similar philosophies about the
proper role of government, a pro-business bent and an inclination to have
less regulation than more," said DiPeso of Republicans for Environmental
Even in personal habits and hobbies, the two men share commonalities. Like
Reagan, Bush retreats from Washington to a sprawling ranch in a remote part
of his home state. Bush prefers a pickup truck to Reagan's horseback rides,
but both men cherish ranch work, building fences and clearing brush to get
their minds off the business of government.
Political fence-building is also a shared trait among the two Republican
presidents. Both have been accused of serving the interests of big energy
and industrial interests while effectively locking environmental activists
out of the Oval Office. Not surprisingly, Reagan and Bush are viewed with
similar measures of disdain, and outright dislike, by those who have been
"It's interesting to reflect [on how] the harshness of the environmental
groups' rhetoric ... against President George W. Bush is the same [as that]
heard against President Reagan during his administration," said Pendley of
the Mountain States Legal Foundation. "It hasn't changed in tone and
But DiPeso believes Reagan was more pragmatic in his approach than Bush. He
noted that after the controversies leading to the resignation of Watt,
"Reagan had a sense of when to back off, when to compromise, when to reach
for mainstream solutions for different public policy questions."
"In contrast, the current Bush administration doesn't seem to have that
sense of 'you've gone far enough' and look for common ground," he said.
DiPeso pointed to Reagan's endorsement of adding 10 million acres of
wilderness. "He signed the bills, said something nice about them and got on
with other things."