"They have eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country..." Reagan, '85, praising the government of P.W. Botha in South Africa, during the height of Apartheid.
"They are the moral equivalent of America's founding fathers." -- Reagan, '85, referring to the brutal Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who indiscriminately attacked civilians.
"...an example to the world of the ideals we hold most dear, the ideals of freedom and independence." -- Reagan, '85, praising the Afghan Mujahaddin. These "freedom fighters" included prominent leaders of Al Qaeda, such as Osama Bin Laden, as well as many of the leaders for the Taliban.
"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do." - Reagan '81
"A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" - Reagan '66, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park
"Many beach-goers prefer to be crowded together. Buying more beaches that people won't go to because they prefer to be crowded together on one beach is a ridiculous waste of our natural resources and our taxes." -- Reagan, on California's coastline.
"I have flown twice over Mt St Helens out on our west coast. I'm not a scientist and I don't know the figures, but I have a suspicion that that one little mountain has probably released more sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere of the world than has been released in the last ten years of automobile driving or things of that kind that people are so concerned about." -- Reagan, '80. At its peak, Mt. St. Helens released 1/40th as much sulfur dioxide as cars do every day.
"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." -- Reagan, '80. Saudi Arabia's oil reserves are approximately 17 times those of Alaska.
"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk." -- Reagan, '80. (In fact, a single nuclear power plant can produce up to 22,000 cubic feet of of radioactive waste per year.)
"There is today in the United States as much forest as there was when Washington was at Valley Forge." -- Reagan, '83. According to the US Forest Service, only 30% of the U.S. forest lands that existed in 1775 still existed in 1983.
"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -- Reagan, '80
"They turned out the lights. That tells me I can't talk anymore." -- Reagan, '85, dodging reporters questions.
"I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself." -- Reagan, during the latter years of his administration.
"The problem is the deficit is -- or should I say -- wait a minute, the spending, I should say, of gross national product, forgive me -- the spending is roughly 23 to 24 per cent. So that it is in -- it what is increasing while the revenues are staying proportionately the same and what would be the proper amount they should, that we should be taking from the private sector." -- Reagan, on the economy.
"The poverty rate has begun to decline, but it is still going up." -- Reagan, on the poor.
"He wrote in Braille to tell me that if cutting his pension would help get this country back on its feet, he'd like to have me cut his pension." -- Reagan, '81, in reference to a supposed blind person who wrote him a letter. After reporter inqueries, no such letter was ever shown to have existed.
"Now we are trying to get unemployment to go up and I think we're going to succeed" -- Reagan, '82.
"Even though there may be some misguided critics of what we're trying to do, I think we're on the wrong path." -- Reagan, '87
"Facts are stupid things.." -- Reagan, '88
"We think there is a parallel between federal involvement in education and the decline in profit over recent years." -- Reagan, '83
"...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts." -- Reagan, '65, describing Medicaid recipients.
"Because Vietnam was not a declared war, the veterans are not even eligible for the G. I. Bill of Rights with respect to education or anything." -- Reagan, '80
"Today a newcomer to the state is automatically eligible for our many aid programs the moment he crosses the border." -- Reagan, '66. In fact, immigrants to California had to wait five years before becoming eligible for benefits. Reagan later acknowledged his error, but repeated the same thing nine months later.
"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.." -- Reagan, '76
"It would be a user fee..." -- Reagan, '82, explaining how a five cent a gallon tax on gasoline isn't actually a tax.
"Taxes should hurt. I just mailed my own tax return last night and I am prepared to say `ouch!' as loud as anyone." -- Reagan, '70, after approving California's largest tax increase in history. Reporters soon pointed out that Reagan didn't pay a cent on state taxes that year. For all his talk about shrinking government, California's state budget more than doubled under his governorship, from $4.6 billion to $10.2 billion.
"I have a smiling fellow at the end of the table who tells me what we do." -- Reagan, '81, on how budget decisions are made.
"I never knew anything above Cs." -- Reagan, '81, describing his academic record.
"I know all the bad things that happened in that war. I was in uniform for four years myself." -- Reagan, '85, justifying laying a wreath at a nazi cemetary in Bitburg. Reagan spent WWII in Hollywood, making films.
"They haven't been there. I have." Reagan, '85, justifying his policies on Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan had never visited Nicaragua.
"They've done away with those committees. That shows the success of what the Soviets were able to do in this country." -- Reagan, '87, defending McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
"In England, if a criminal carried a gun, even though he didn't use it, he was not tried for burglary or theft or whatever he was doing. He was tried for first degree murder and hung if he was found guilty" -- Reagan, '82. Later admitted by White House Spokesman Larry Speakes to be untrue.
""I never wear (makeup). I didn't wear it when I was in pictures." -- Reagan, '84. This statement is promptly disputed the next day by G.E. Theater makeup man Howard Smith, "Death Valley Days" makeup man Del Acevedo, and debate panelist James Weighart, as well as Mayor Edward Bergin, recalling a recent presidential visit to Connecticut.
"80 percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees." -- Reagan, '79
"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." -- Reagan, '84
"I've been told that in the Russian language there isn't even a word for freedom." -- Reagan, '85. The word, btw, is svoboda.
"I cannot recall anything whatsoever.... My answer therefore and the simple truth is, 'I don't remember, period'" -- Reagan, Feb. '87, denying knowledge of the Iran-Contra "arms for hostages" deal.
"Mr. President, why don't we openly support those 7,000 guerillas that are in rebellion rather than giving aid through covert activity?"
"Well, because we want to keep on obeying the laws of our country, which we are now obeying."
"Doesn't the United States want that government replaced?"
"No, because that would be a violation of the law." - Reagan, ''87. At the time of the press conference, the U.S. was giving the indiscriminately murderous Contra guerillas covert aid, in direct violation of the law. Reagan's lie was so obvious that members of the press corps laughed loudly and openly at his statements.
"A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not." -- Reagan, Mar. '87
"If the question comes up at the Tower Board meeting, you might want to say that you were surprised." -- Reagan, '87, accidentally reading the notes for his stage directions aloud which told him to act surprised should the issue of arms-for-hostages come up.
"You sonofabitch, you broke my rib." - Reagan, '81 to the Secret Service agent who pushed him into his car. Reagan later realized that he was shot and that the agent had possibly saved his life.
"Hollywood has no blacklist." -- Reagan, '60. FBI records have since shown that this was a lie, and that Reagan personally informed on several actors, later shown to be innocent, destroying their careers in the process.
"I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964." -- Reagan, '66, on how he would have opposed the legislation that came out of the civil rights movement.
"Jefferson Davis is a hero of mine." -- Reagan, in a speech he gave to a crowd in Atlanta, GA.
"...humiliating to the South..." -- Reagan, '80, describing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, arguably the primary legislative victory for blacks during the Civil Rights movement.
"I believe in states' rights..." --Reagan, '80, in a speech in Philadelphia, MS, a town famous for the murder of three civil rights workers in '64. "States rights" is used in the South as a code word indicating support of Jim Crow laws.
"A small minority of beatniks, radicals, and filthy speech advocates ... brought such shame to a great university." -- Reagan, '66, complaining about student protests against Vietnam on the Berkeley campus.
"If there has to be a bloodbath, then let's get it over with." -- Reagan, '69, prior to having national guard soldiers break up a peaceful protest on the UC Berkeley campus. The protesters were teargassed and fired upon with buckshot, killing one protester and wounding at least 128 others.
"... a tragic illness." -- Reagan, '67, desribing homosexuality. When two of his aides were found to be gay that year, he asked for their resignations.
"Maybe the Lord brought down this plague [because] illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments." - Reagan, '89. Reagan didn't even mention AIDS until 1987, by which time it had spread into the heterosexual population and over 25,000 Americans had died.
"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" - Reagan, '84.
"For the first time ever, everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. It can't be too long now. Ezekiel says that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies of God's people. That must mean that they will be destroyed by nuclear weapons." -- Reagan, '71
"We're not building missiles to fight a war. We're building missiles to preserve the peace." -- Reagan, '84, justifying adding additional nuclear weapons to an arsenal already capable of destroying the world many times over.
"There have been times in the past when people thought the end of the world was coming, and so forth, but never anything like this." -- Reagan, '83
"We may be the generation that sees Armageddon." -- Reagan, '85
"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 strips on it, and be home by Christmas" -- Reagan, '65
I remember what it was like living during Reagan's era. The fear of free expression. The fear of a president who talked more of Armageddon than of peace. The greed. The "trickle down economics" that never helped those who needed it. The pushing of one generation's burdens onto another. The corruption, the threats, the willful ignorance. He may have sounded presidential to some, but what is the merit of being the world's best salesman if what you are selling is hatred, mistrust, suffering, and lies?!
It chafes me that his body is going to be laid out in Congress like some kind Soviet-era premier, and that a neoconservative lovefest will take over our media, in a sacharrine attempt to deify the disease-wracked body of a spiteful, bigoted, meanspirited old man. They deified Nixon too, who, for all his sleaze, hate, corrpution, and vindictiveness, was a greater leader, worthy of greater praise. Now it's the Gipper's turn.
As always, Reagan leaves me with an unpleasant after-taste. Bye, "friend"...