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- The Timeless Message of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" by Gregory Hilton
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Category Archives: Ronald Reagan
It was 30 years ago tonight that Ronald Reagan accepted the GOP presidential nomination. The nation was in a crisis. Interest rates would hit 21%, inflation was 13.5%, and unemployment was 7%. The so-called “Misery Index,” which Jimmy Carter used effectively in his 1976 campaign, was then an unprecedented 20.5%. Continue reading
1) A woman taking a tour of the White House was unexpectedly introduced to the President. He asked her to stay for tea and proposed marriage two months later. Who was her husband?
2) Why did Secret Service agents always want to avoid shopping trips with Mamie Eisenhower? For the same reason they did not want to accept gifts from Mrs. Eisenhower. They were not reluctant to watch her favorite soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” and to tell her about the plot when she was called away.
3) Why did Lynda and Luci Johnson carry flashlights in their bathrobes? Luci converted to the Roman Catholic faith while she was in the White House. Lynda had the first White House wedding in 53 years.
4) During her time as First Lady, how many states west of the Potomac River were visited by Jacqueline Kennedy?
5) Why did President Johnson’s 1965 party in honor of the U.S. Congress, which included several Hollywood stars, begin at 2 am?
6) Vice President Alben Barkley was elected in 1948 but he was not President Harry Truman’s first choice. Who was originally asked to be Truman’s running mate?
7) White House servants noted several significant differences between Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Can you name one of them? It had nothing to do with FDR’s disability.
8) Which President attended 6 Inaugural Balls, but despite pleas from the crowd never danced at any of them? He is the only President who always visited the basement level kitchen after formal events to thank the staff. The answer is not FDR who was unable to dance.
9) Which President never joined any church until after his election? He later said many important decisions were made “on his knees,” and in recent years he has been criticized for combining church and state.
10) President and Mrs. James Monroe enjoyed entertaining and there were frequent Wednesday evening parties at the White House. How did they avoid party crashers?
11) Dwight Eisenhower had never heard of Mrs. Thomas Preston when she was seated next to him at a dinner party. They discussed life in DC and he asked her where she had lived in the nation’s capitol. Mrs. Preston was a resident of the White House for 8 years when she was First Lady. Who was her husband?
12) Why was Ronald Reagan sworn in as Governor of California at midnight?
1) Woodrow Wilson. The first Mrs. Wilson died in 1914 and he was introduced to Edith Bolling Galt when she was taking a tour of the family quarters in 1915. She was waiting by the elevator when the President emerged after his tennis game. The second Mrs. Wilson died on the morning of December 28, 1961 at the age of 89. It was the day she was scheduled to officially open the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River.
2) Mrs. Eisenhower always asked her agents to buy presents for their wives when she was shopping. She could be rather insistent, and she wanted to see what they had purchased. Her gifts were often intended for their wives, and she frequently asked the agents to buy something that would go with it. For example, she would give the agent a bracelet and ask him to buy his wife a ring to accompany her gift. It was expensive for the agents to provide security for Mamie Eisenhower!
3) The Johnson girls carried flashlights because their father insisted on keeping all the overhead lights turned off. It was part of his economy drive, but household costs still increased significantly under LBJ. The big factor was that the White House was no longer able to use bootleg liquor. This was liquor which has been confiscated by the federal government.
4) Mrs. Kennedy frequently took a White House helicopter to her rented “Glen Ora” estate in northern Virginia for horseback riding in 1961. The family built their own estate, “Wexford,” in 1962, but President Kennedy only visited his home on three weekends. He preferred Camp David.
Ironically, Ronald Reagan spent more time at Wexford than John Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy also visited nearby Middleburg and other Virginia hunt country destinations. Until she left for Dallas in 1963, those were the only times she crossed the Potomac River. She never ventured west of northern Virginia prior to that fateful day.
5) The party started late because Congress was in session and LBJ did not want to begin until the House had passed the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act which banned billboards on interstate highways.
6) Truman’s first choice for Vice President was Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who turned him down because he thought the President would lose the 1948 election. Douglas had also been FDR’s first choice in 1944.
7) The Truman’s not only remembered names of all the servants but they insisted on introducing the staff to all of their guests. When the waiter brought tea to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, he was introduced to the royal couple. The Truman’s dined together and were often in the same room in the evening hours. That does not appear unusual, but no one could remember Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt being in the same room.
8) Richard Nixon. He did dance at his daughter’s wedding.
9) Dwight Eisenhower, who was responsible for adding “In God We Trust” to the currency.
10) A party crasher would not have had a problem in meeting President Monroe. The butler’s were told to admit anyone who was suitably dressed.
11) The first husband of Mrs. Thomas Preston was President Grover Cleveland. The dinner is described in “At Ease: Stories I Tell to My Friends” by Dwight Eisenhower.
12) Mrs. Reagan’s astrologer, Joan of San Francisco, said midnight would be the best time for an Inauguration.
13) This 1927 photo was taken during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge.
This was another great day for the Republican Party, and it was filled with surprises. Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO) unexpectedly ended his re-election campaign, and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) shocked everyone by announcing he would not seek re-election. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is expected to make a similar announcement on Wednesday. The front runner in the Michigan gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D), also withdrew when confronted with disappointing polls. Continue reading
Almost 30 years have passed but the left continues to blame Reaganomics, which is what they called the legislation to lower top personal income tax rates from 70 to 28%. The result was a seven year period (1982 to 1989) which saw the greatest, consistent burst of economic activity ever seen in the U.S. In fact, it was the greatest economic expansion the world has ever seen – in any country, at any time.
From November 1982, when Reagan’s new economic program was beginning to take effect, to November 1989, 18.7 million new jobs were created. It was a world record: Never before had so many jobs been created during a comparable time period.
The poverty rate also fell steadily. The Federal budget deficits were too high but House Democrats consistently fought the President on domestic spending reductions. Reagan did significantly increase the Pentagon budget but this spending increase made an enormous contribution to the end of the Cold War. The American people delivered a verdict on Reaganomics when the President carried 49 states in his 1984 re-election bid.
Reagan was also the best President our cities ever had. He reformed public housing and helped to destroy the welfare stereotype. He was able to concentrate funding on people in need. He said “We found the overwhelming majority would like nothing better than to be off welfare, with jobs for the future, and out here in the society with the rest of us. The trouble is that bureaucracy has them so economically trapped that there’s no way they can get away. And they’re trapped because that bureaucracy needs them as a clientele to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats themselves.”
As Bill Clinton has acknowledged, his welfare reform bill had its origins in the Reagan Administration. The “Fort Apache” section of the South Bronx is now a hot real estate market with brownstones approaching $500,000. Jimmy Carter did visit the South Bronx in 1977 but he had little to do with the area’s revitalization. A major reason for the decline was NYC’s rent-control laws which prevented landlords from raising rents in any substantial way to maintain buildings.
As the vacancy rates rose and buildings deteriorated, landlords saw a new way to compensate for their monetary loses in the early 1970s: arson. The South Bronx lost over 40 percent of its housing stock while the Bronx lost more than 300,000 residents, about half of the total. The recovery began in the Reagan Administration and it involved a private/public partnership. Reaganomics made the private investment possible.
President Ronald Reagan visited Germany in 1985 for the 40th anniversary of V-E Day and an economic summit. At the invitation of Chancellor Helmut Kohl he visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and the closest military cemetery at Bitburg. All German military cemeteries contain at least a few SS graves.
When the press revealed the existence of the SS graves there was considerable pressure to cancel the visit. Chancellor Kohl said, “I will not give up this idea. If we don’t go to Bitburg, if we don’t do what we jointly planned, we will deeply offend the feelings of my people.” A poll demonstrated that 72% of West Germans thought the visit should go forward as planned.
Kohl said rarely had German-American relations been so strained. Reagan’s National Security Adviser, Robert McFarlane, wrote: “Once Reagan learned that Kohl would really be badly damaged by a withdrawal, he said ‘We can’t do that; I owe him for the deployment of the Pershing II missile.'” Reagan told his deputy chief of staff, Michael Deaver: “I know you and Nancy don’t want me to go through with this, but we have to reconcile.”
I do not believe Reagan was insensitive toward Jews. In “The Reagan Diaries” edited by Douglas Brinkley, the late President demonstrates impressive compassion for Jewish causes.
In his first personal communication with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, for example, Reagan requests that Jewish dissident Natan Sharansky be released from the gulag and permitted to join his wife in Israel. In another episode, after addressing an audience of Holocaust survivors and their children, Reagan remarks: “It was an emotional experience for them & for us. I know I choked up a couple of times.” And even when confronting Jewish groups opposing the sale of the AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, Reagan strongly affirms his support for Israel: “… it must be plain to them, they’ve never had a better friend of Israel in the W.H. than they have now.”
Elie Wiesel was among the many people who urged Reagan to skip the Bitburg visit. It was Reagan who presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Wiesel that year and they both made long speeches in the East Room of the White House. Wiesel did not want Reagan to go to Bitburg, but he would never accuse the former President of anti-Semitism.
Reagan was not insensitive to Jews and said: “We pledge that he will never forget that in many places of the world, the cancer of anti-Semitism still exists. We must not forget our duty to those who perished, our duty to bring justice to those who perpetrated unspeakable deeds. And we must take action to root out the vestiges of anti-Semitism in America, to quash the violence-prone or hate groups even before they can spread their venom and destruction. And let all of us, Jew and non-Jew alike, pledge ourselves today to the life of the Jewish dream: to a time when war is no more, when all nations live in peace, when each man, woman, and child lives in the dignity that God intended.”