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From the New York Times:

Joan Quigley, Astrologer to a First Lady, Is Dead at 87
By DOUGLAS MARTIN OCT. 24, 2014

In his 1988 memoir, Donald T. Regan, a former chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan, revealed what he called the administration’s “most closely guarded secret.”

He said an astrologer had set the time for summit meetings, presidential debates, Reagan’s 1985 cancer surgery, State of the Union addresses and much more. Without an O.K. from the astrologer, he said, Air Force One did not take off.

The astrologer, whose name Mr. Regan did not know when he wrote the book, was Joan Quigley. She died on Tuesday at 87 at her home in San Francisco, her sister and only immediate survivor, Ruth Quigley, said.

Mr. Regan said that Miss Quigley — a Vassar-educated socialite who preferred the honorific Miss to Ms. (she never married) — had made her celestial recommendations through phone calls to the first lady, Nancy Reagan, often two or three a day. Mrs. Reagan, he said, set up private lines for her at the White House and at the presidential retreat at Camp David.

Further, Mrs. Reagan paid the astrologer a retainer of $3,000 a month, wrote Mr. Regan, who had also been a Treasury secretary under Reagan and the chief executive of Merrill Lynch.

I’ve long been struck by how closely this was anticipated by Robert Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land way back in 1961, in which astrologer Alexandra Vesant, formerly a magician’s assistant named Becky Vesey, is the most trusted advisor of the First Lady. If you want the Secretary General of the World to do something, you start with his wife’s astrologer.

To be frank, Madame Vesant is not as good at the astrological calculations as her late husband, the magician, but she has horse sense and reliable intuitions about what her clients want to hear. Once she gets rolling at writing a horoscope:

… she found, as always, that words on paper proved themselves — they were so beautifully true!

(By the way, that reminds me that I advise most people who feel daunted by the challenge of working a complex argument out in their heads before writing: just put your hands on the keyboard and start typing.)

In Stranger, Madame Vesant gives the First Lady broad but welcome advice that is always interpreted as confirming whatever the First Lady wants to do, which she passes on to the Secretary General, who was kind of feeling like doing it anyway.

A sample of Madame Vesant’s advice to the First Lady:

“The aspect of Venus is most favorable and potentially dominant over Mars. Venus symbolizes yourself, of course, but Mars is both your husband and young Smith — as a result of the unique circumstances of his birth [on Mars]. This throws a double burden on you and you must rise to the challenge; you must demonstrate those qualities of calm wisdom and restraint which are peculiarly those of woman. You must sustain your husband, guide him through this crisis, and soothe him. You must supply the earth-mother’s calm wells of wisdom. This is your special genius … you must use it.”

While this may sound vague, to the First Lady it’s very clear:

Mrs. Douglas got busy at once, happy that Allie had confirmed all her judgments. She gave orders about the campaign to destroy the reputation of the missing Berquist … she summoned Commandant Twitchell of the Special Services Squadrons — he left looking unhappy and made life unbearable for his executive officer. Then she thought about hot to nail down Pakistan’s votes.

Presently she called her husband and urged him to support Pakistan’s claim to a lion’s share of the Kashmir thorium. Since he had been wanting to, he was not hard to persuade, although nettled by her assumption that he had been opposing it.

I wonder which historical figures this minor aspect of Stranger was based upon. Becky sounds a little like Madame Blavatsky, the 19th Century Russian theosophist who was one of the founders of the New Age movement. Like Madame Vesant, Madame Blavatsky had been in show biz (supposedly a daring bareback rider in the circus) but, like Miss Quigley, was also from the upper class (her younger cousin Count Witte, Czar Nicholas II’s finance minister, wrote about her in his memoirs).

But which politician was Heinlein thinking of? Rasputin’s relationship with the Czarina probably was in Heinlein’s mind (interestingly, in August 1914, Witte and Rasputin separately advised the Czar to stay out of the Great War). But I suspect Heinlein had some American politician in mind as well. But who?

By the way, the NYT obituary says that Mrs. Reagan first reached out to Miss Quigley, who was a regular guest on Merv Griffin’s talk show, after Mr. Reagan’s near assassination in early 1981.

This reminds me that that shooting was one of the hinges of recent history. I was skiing at Mammoth when I heard the President had been shot while getting off a chair lift (or perhaps it was me who was getting off the chairlift: who can remember that far back?). Mammoth Mountain skiers are probably not demographically representative, but I’d say my view was shared by most people on the mountain that depressing afternoon: the President would die and this assassination would be as disastrous for the country as JFK’s 18 years before.

But then we started to hear the jokes the President made on the way to the operating room, which buoyed everybody’s spirit. In reality, of course, we know now that Reagan’s wound was extremely serious. But of course that just made his survival, the sense that history wasn’t going to repeat this time, all that more galvanizing. I don’t think I’m exaggerating all that much in saying that the political basis for Reagan’s subsequent historic triumphs hinged upon that one day.

One odd coincidence is that the years 1963 and 1981 seemed to serve as bookends for an era of astrology and New Age silliness. When JFK died, American culture was especially technocratic. (The proto-hippy wooziness of Stranger in a Strange Land was discordant in the early 1960s: the book didn’t become a giant bestseller until late in the decade.) Within a few years, the culture was obsessed with talking to plants.

While Mrs. Reagan may have hired an astrologer in the wake of her husband’s assassination, that was the year that the bull market for books on astrology and the like came to an end.

 
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  1. The influence the Astrologer had with the First Lady and hence to President Reagan reminds me of the influence Rasputin had with the Tsarina and hence to the Tsar.

    Wouldn’t it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
    @franktremb

    What evidence is there that Ronald Reagan took astrology seriously. It's amusing because I am sure you were one of the people saying Reagan was going to start a nuclear war because he went to hasten the rapture. We get it it makes you mad that you belong to a minority that is not trusted by the rest of America. And no an athiest will likely never be elected president but have some courage of your convictions. No one said it would be easy.

    And again Steve is putting a lot of credence in a book written by a disgruntled official who notoriously hated Nancy Reagan. Yes Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers the parts about Air Force one and dedicated phone lines are based solely on bitter Regan' allegations.

    Replies: @Chris Mallory

    , @The Anti-Gnostic
    @franktremb

    Short answer, hell the eff no.

    , @pyrrhus
    @franktremb

    Since the astrologers and mystics seem to give better advice on major matters, maybe we should require them....

    , @reiner Tor
    @franktremb

    Rasputin actually wasn't all bad. His most important advice was not heeded by the Czar - he opposed entry into the Great War and the Czar pressed on with the war nevertheless. I think a case could be made that it would have been better for Russia (and Europe) if he had had even greater influence.

    It seems to me that astrology (at least, good astrology) is sound common sense advice wrapped in a kind of psychobabble, much like Rasputin's advice. It also often takes the responsibility off the shoulders of the clients: "It's not me making this decision, the astrologer told me / the stars told me." Of course, a deal beneficial to the astrologer (like the client paying money to him/her) or Rasputin (like having orgies with the ladies) is part of the package, so if you have good common sense yourself (or if your astrologer is not a very good one) then it might make sense to dispense with their advice.

    And as others have pointed out, most politicians rely on the advice of snake oil salesmen (like economists) anyway.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Well, in the 1950s the Netherlands’ Greet Hofmans affair got a great deal of coverage in the English-language (as well as the German-language and Dutch-language) press. I, born in 1961, am just old enough to remember the backwash of such coverage.

    Greet Hofmans acquired vast influence over Queen Juliana because she sincerely believed she could ameliorate, or persuaded lots of other people that she sincerely believed she could ameliorate, the blindness of the queen’s daughter Marijke Christina (Juliana had contracted rubella while pregnant). The princess’s vision eventually did improve a lot, but no thanks, it would appear, to La Hofmans.

    This is in marked contrast to Rasputin, who could, after all, do what he claimed he could do: stop the Tsarevich’s bleeding, at least for a while. Another difference between GH and Rasputin was that GH never succeeded in winning over the monarch’s spouse. The numerous national leaders convinced from the start that GH’s faith-healing was entirely bogus included none other than Juliana’s husband, Prince Bernhard. From 1956 GH lost all her influence over the sovereign, and never regained it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greet_Hofmans

    I find myself wondering: did Heinlein know about all this? He could easily have done so.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    That sounds like the right time line.

  3. astrology gave way to voodoo economics

    • Replies: @Nathan Wartooth
    @matt

    In the episode "300" of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund.

    I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    Replies: @matt

    , @Art Deco
    @matt

    How so? Public sector borrowing was excessive. It would have been useful to phase in a mix of tax increases and spending reductions. The thing is, the Congress and the President actually agreed to a tax increase in 1990. Now look at the statistics for the federal debt load during the years running from 1990 to 1995. The ratio of federal debt to domestic product did not decline. Congress took the extra revenues and spent them; Reagan may have been gaga (as Mr. Stockman testified) when contemplating federal budget documents, but his horse sense about the behavior of the majority in Congress turned out to be sound. It was only when the Democratic congressional caucus had to get past Messrs. Gingrich and Dole (and Bill Clinton's svengali, Dick Morris) that the propensity toward public sector borrowing declined.

    While we're at it, the business cycle extending from 1982 to 1990 actually had fairly robust growth, exceeding that of any post-war cycle other than that from 1949 to 1954, so there was not much cause for complaint on those grounds. There was a large shake-out in heavy industry, but it's dubious bit of business to suggest we'd have been better off with what the main body of the Democratic Party was promoting at the time: "industrial policy" and "comparable worth", i.e. national economic planning ringmastered by someone like Felix Rohatyn and a centrally-mandated wage determination. (What you'd have gotten was a rent-seeking free-for-all). The labor market was fairly sclerotic, but escalating trouble of that nature had been manifest for two decades prior to Mr. Reagan taking office. The network of savings banks was also in ruined condition, but pretty much the entire political class was implicated in that.

    Replies: @matt

    , @Reg Cæsar
    @matt


    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

     

    A hundred years on, and they're still taking swipes at the wise New Englanders-- and, yes, Virginia planters and Florida hucksters-- who opposed the Sixteenth Amendment.

    Replies: @matt

  4. @Anonymous
    Well, in the 1950s the Netherlands' Greet Hofmans affair got a great deal of coverage in the English-language (as well as the German-language and Dutch-language) press. I, born in 1961, am just old enough to remember the backwash of such coverage.

    Greet Hofmans acquired vast influence over Queen Juliana because she sincerely believed she could ameliorate, or persuaded lots of other people that she sincerely believed she could ameliorate, the blindness of the queen's daughter Marijke Christina (Juliana had contracted rubella while pregnant). The princess's vision eventually did improve a lot, but no thanks, it would appear, to La Hofmans.

    This is in marked contrast to Rasputin, who could, after all, do what he claimed he could do: stop the Tsarevich's bleeding, at least for a while. Another difference between GH and Rasputin was that GH never succeeded in winning over the monarch's spouse. The numerous national leaders convinced from the start that GH's faith-healing was entirely bogus included none other than Juliana's husband, Prince Bernhard. From 1956 GH lost all her influence over the sovereign, and never regained it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greet_Hofmans

    I find myself wondering: did Heinlein know about all this? He could easily have done so.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    That sounds like the right time line.

  5. @matt
    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

    Replies: @Nathan Wartooth, @Art Deco, @Reg Cæsar

    In the episode “300” of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund.

    I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    • Replies: @matt
    @Nathan Wartooth

    In the episode “300″ of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund. I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    That's true, except for the part about "the people."

    (By the way, Futurama hasn't been funny in a long time.)

    Replies: @Paco Wové

  6. Steve,

    How much of astrology’s popularity was that it was a way for the flood of single baby boomers to have a ready angle for prospective pick ups? It was the lingua franca of seventies singles bar culture.

    “What’s your sign good looking…..”

    Think of the scenes from Boogie Nights or any episode of “Three’s Company”.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Actually, it seems likely that Reagan was guided by astrology way before 1981.
    I seem to remember that at least one of Reagan’s formal inauguration ceremonies as governor of California back in the 60s or 70s was held at some utterly ridiculous time of night such as 12 midnight – the the hell would choose to hold an inauguration ceremony at that time unless acting under an astrologer’s advice.
    On another note, to this very day, astrologers guide political decisions in many south Asian nations. It is more or less certain that astrologers guide the decisions of the Indian government amongst many others.

    • Replies: @Sgt. Joe Friday
    @Anonymous

    It was said that Reagan's "choosing" to be sworn in at midnight was due to advice from an astrologer friend of the Reagan's. I also remember hearing that the official end of Pat Brown's term was 11:59 PM on January 1, 1967 which in theory would have left the state without a governor for several hours, until Reagan's swearing in. Either way, Reagan made light of it by quipping to newly elected senator George Murphy, another former actor, "well George, here we are again on the late show."

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Our elite are all practitioners of the occult and dark arts. Astrology to them is like breathing to us, it’s simply that normal and everyday.

    Nothing new under the Sun and this has been going on forever, just read your history books and know that absolutely nothing has changed involving our power elite. Believe it or not.

  9. Way off-topic but amusing. Over at The Mary Sue* (A Leftist, lumpen-intelligentsia site that specializes in the nerdier aspects of pop culture) they are discussing possible female directors for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Coming in at number 11:

    No. 11 | Lana Wachowski

    She made The Matrix. I mean, you know? And V for Vendetta, so she can comic book.

    http://www.themarysue.com/wonder-woman-female-director/2/

    *To give a sample of the site’s politics, they went into high dudgeon over the paucity of Black actors in Ridley Scott’s Exodus.

  10. I always thought Reagan was never the same after his near assassination. He lost much of his vitality. The vitality that he needed to dismantle the welfare state/gigantic federal government. I think our best chance to restore America and avoid a gigantic civil war at some point was lost with a compromised Reagan.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @sutton

    Interesting point, especially considering the collateral damage general anesthesia does to seniors.

  11. Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families*:

    She was born on 31 July (12 August new style), 1831, at Yekaterinoslav[11] (from 1926 Dnipropetrovsk). Her parents were Colonel Peter von Hahn (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Ган, 1798–1873) of the ancient von Hahn family of German nobility (German: Uradel) from Basedow (Mecklenburg)[12] and her mother Helena Andreevna von Hahn (Fadeyeva).

    *

    In the 12th and 13th centuries, Germans, both colonists (see Ostsiedlung) and crusaders, settled in the Baltic.[4] After the Livonian Crusades they quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture of these areas for over 700 years until 1918, despite remaining a minority ethnic group. Whilst the vast majority of urban lands were colonised by traders, rural estates[5] were soon formed by crusaders and their descendants. With the decline of Latin, German quickly became the language of all official documents, commerce and government business for hundreds of years until 1919.

    The region was politically subordinated to the rule of the monarchs of Sweden until 1710, and the tsars of the Russian Empire until 1917. Both these successive ruling kingdoms guaranteed the continuation of Baltic Germans’ special class privileges and administration rights when they incorporated the provinces into their respective empires.[citation needed]

    In contrast to the Baltic Germans, the ethnic majority of Estonians and Latvians had restricted rights and privileges and resided mostly in rural areas as serfs, tradesmen, or as servants in urban homes. This was in keeping with the social scheme of things in Imperial Russia, and lasted well into the 19th century, when emancipation from serfdom brought those inhabitants increased political rights and freedoms.

    The Baltic Germans’ effective rule and class privileges came to the end with the demise of the Russian Empire (due to the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917) and the independence of Estonia and Latvia in 1918–1919. After 1919, many Baltic Germans felt obliged to depart for Germany, but some stayed as ordinary citizens in the newly formed independent countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[6]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Germans

    • Replies: @Hunsdon
    @syonredux

    I'm reading "Collision of Empires" about the Eastern front in WW1, and the Baltic German influence is strong among the Russian generals. For some of the battles, I have to go back and check again to be sure which side is which, since XX Corps under command of (say) Rennenkampf could be German or Russian.

    , @Abe
    @syonredux


    Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families.
     
    Well, even a cursory reading of Russian history since the 18th Century quickly reveals that most of the Czar's more capable subjects were ethnic Germans- no big surprise. Like Razib's recent column about the invention of Islam- in the sense of the more or less intellectually coherent system that's come down to us today- in 8th Century Persia. More civilized, higher IQ, whiter Persians as the intellectual heavy lifters of Islam- whoudda thunk it?
    , @Reg Cæsar
    @syonredux


    one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families
     
    An art professor at one of my many colleges was of Baltic German descent, decidedly non-élite. He claimed his ancestor came to America after the authorities burst into the man's smithy to impress him into the army. He said, fine, but you'll have to take me like this-- and dropped the anvil on his foot. Ouch.

    That might explain why the professor preferred working with acrylic paint rather than metal sculpture.
  12. We only find out about these sorts of things much later. Yup, people who consult astrologers are the ones who have their fingers on the nuclear button. Wonder what’s going on at the White House nowadays that’s being kept from us?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @anonymous

    people who consult astrologers are the ones who have their fingers on the nuclear button.

    Mrs. Reagan was the astrology aficionado, not her husband. The authority she had in the White House concerned scheduling matters.

  13. “I wonder which historical figures this minor aspect of Stranger was based upon. Becky sounds a little like Madame Blavatsky, the 19th Century Russian theosophist who was one of the founders of the New Age movement.”

    Vesant’s name seems to derive from Madame Blavatsky’s disciple Annie Besant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Besant

  14. Didn’t Reagan quote Manly P. Hall in a speech or something? And Hil-dog had some kind of psychic come and channel did famous communist Eleanor Roosevelt. Strange things afoot.

  15. “this assassination would be as disastrous for the country as JFK’s 18 years before”: really, you had a VP as bad as LBJ?

  16. @matt
    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

    Replies: @Nathan Wartooth, @Art Deco, @Reg Cæsar

    How so? Public sector borrowing was excessive. It would have been useful to phase in a mix of tax increases and spending reductions. The thing is, the Congress and the President actually agreed to a tax increase in 1990. Now look at the statistics for the federal debt load during the years running from 1990 to 1995. The ratio of federal debt to domestic product did not decline. Congress took the extra revenues and spent them; Reagan may have been gaga (as Mr. Stockman testified) when contemplating federal budget documents, but his horse sense about the behavior of the majority in Congress turned out to be sound. It was only when the Democratic congressional caucus had to get past Messrs. Gingrich and Dole (and Bill Clinton’s svengali, Dick Morris) that the propensity toward public sector borrowing declined.

    While we’re at it, the business cycle extending from 1982 to 1990 actually had fairly robust growth, exceeding that of any post-war cycle other than that from 1949 to 1954, so there was not much cause for complaint on those grounds. There was a large shake-out in heavy industry, but it’s dubious bit of business to suggest we’d have been better off with what the main body of the Democratic Party was promoting at the time: “industrial policy” and “comparable worth”, i.e. national economic planning ringmastered by someone like Felix Rohatyn and a centrally-mandated wage determination. (What you’d have gotten was a rent-seeking free-for-all). The labor market was fairly sclerotic, but escalating trouble of that nature had been manifest for two decades prior to Mr. Reagan taking office. The network of savings banks was also in ruined condition, but pretty much the entire political class was implicated in that.

    • Replies: @matt
    @Art Deco

    I seem to remember that massive Pentagon budgets explicitly pushed by Reagan (or his neocon handlers, or campaign donors, or whoever) had something to do with the increase in the federal deficit, if you care about that sort of thing (I don't, really).

    Replies: @Art Deco

  17. Mr. Regan said that Miss Quigley — a Vassar-educated socialite who preferred the honorific Miss to Ms. (she never married)

    Notice the immediate double disclaimer.

    I know I just used one of the Sexist words from the Bad Old Days, but really it’s justified this time! She wanted it and it was accurate!

    It must suck to be so scared of words.

  18. I don’t think I’m exaggerating all that much in saying that the political basis for Reagan’s subsequent historic triumphs hinged upon that one day.

    I agree. The left-wing hatred of Reagan was intense–it might have been called “Reagan Derangement Syndrome” had that term been around at the time. His shooting made it necessary for them to dial it down for a while, lest their behavior appear unseemly. By the time they ramped it up again he was too popular with the public for it to matter much.

    It reminded me of the way the left was viciously hostile to Rudolph Giuliani, depicting him as Hitler in art shows, etc., but had to back off after 9/11.

    • Replies: @matt
    @Harry Baldwin

    His shooting made it necessary for them to dial it down for a while, lest their behavior appear unseemly.

    Not everyone was so polite, fortunately.

  19. @franktremb
    The influence the Astrologer had with the First Lady and hence to President Reagan reminds me of the influence Rasputin had with the Tsarina and hence to the Tsar.

    Wouldn't it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?

    Replies: @Sam Haysom, @The Anti-Gnostic, @pyrrhus, @reiner Tor

    What evidence is there that Ronald Reagan took astrology seriously. It’s amusing because I am sure you were one of the people saying Reagan was going to start a nuclear war because he went to hasten the rapture. We get it it makes you mad that you belong to a minority that is not trusted by the rest of America. And no an athiest will likely never be elected president but have some courage of your convictions. No one said it would be easy.

    And again Steve is putting a lot of credence in a book written by a disgruntled official who notoriously hated Nancy Reagan. Yes Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers the parts about Air Force one and dedicated phone lines are based solely on bitter Regan’ allegations.

    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
    @Sam Haysom

    Carter was and probably will be the last Christian to hold the office of President. Since then we have had atheists who only worship self and power. Sure they may mouth a few Christian platitudes to fool the masses but they have been nothing but power hungry amoral nut jobs following in the footsteps of the great tyrant Lincoln.

    Replies: @Sam Haysom

  20. @franktremb
    The influence the Astrologer had with the First Lady and hence to President Reagan reminds me of the influence Rasputin had with the Tsarina and hence to the Tsar.

    Wouldn't it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?

    Replies: @Sam Haysom, @The Anti-Gnostic, @pyrrhus, @reiner Tor

    Short answer, hell the eff no.

  21. @syonredux
    Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families*:

    She was born on 31 July (12 August new style), 1831, at Yekaterinoslav[11] (from 1926 Dnipropetrovsk). Her parents were Colonel Peter von Hahn (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Ган, 1798–1873) of the ancient von Hahn family of German nobility (German: Uradel) from Basedow (Mecklenburg)[12] and her mother Helena Andreevna von Hahn (Fadeyeva).
     
    *

    In the 12th and 13th centuries, Germans, both colonists (see Ostsiedlung) and crusaders, settled in the Baltic.[4] After the Livonian Crusades they quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture of these areas for over 700 years until 1918, despite remaining a minority ethnic group. Whilst the vast majority of urban lands were colonised by traders, rural estates[5] were soon formed by crusaders and their descendants. With the decline of Latin, German quickly became the language of all official documents, commerce and government business for hundreds of years until 1919.

    The region was politically subordinated to the rule of the monarchs of Sweden until 1710, and the tsars of the Russian Empire until 1917. Both these successive ruling kingdoms guaranteed the continuation of Baltic Germans' special class privileges and administration rights when they incorporated the provinces into their respective empires.[citation needed]

    In contrast to the Baltic Germans, the ethnic majority of Estonians and Latvians had restricted rights and privileges and resided mostly in rural areas as serfs, tradesmen, or as servants in urban homes. This was in keeping with the social scheme of things in Imperial Russia, and lasted well into the 19th century, when emancipation from serfdom brought those inhabitants increased political rights and freedoms.

    The Baltic Germans' effective rule and class privileges came to the end with the demise of the Russian Empire (due to the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917) and the independence of Estonia and Latvia in 1918–1919. After 1919, many Baltic Germans felt obliged to depart for Germany, but some stayed as ordinary citizens in the newly formed independent countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[6]
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Germans

    Replies: @Hunsdon, @Abe, @Reg Cæsar

    I’m reading “Collision of Empires” about the Eastern front in WW1, and the Baltic German influence is strong among the Russian generals. For some of the battles, I have to go back and check again to be sure which side is which, since XX Corps under command of (say) Rennenkampf could be German or Russian.

  22. Based on name similarity, Alexandra Vesant’s name is likely a nod to a well-known British quack named Annie Besant:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Besant

    She was a socialist MP until she met Blatavasky and went to India, where she “found herself” as so many upper-class white women do.

  23. “Wouldn’t it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?”

    Well, it all depends on the person. Would you like to have Enver Hoxha as President? LOL

  24. Reagan was the president who decided to end the Cold War. It turned out that he did so by winning it. Well played, Ronnie. Anyway, is taking advice from an astrologer any sillier than taking advice from most economists?

    • Replies: @WhatEvvs
    @dearieme

    No.

    The late Linda Goodman was a top selling astrologer of the 60s. Perhaps she could predict the future, but her descriptions of human types were more perceptive than most current novelists.

    , @athEIst
    @dearieme

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    Replies: @matt, @Art Deco, @Anonymous, @Bliss

  25. One odd coincidence is that the years 1963 and 1981 seemed to serve as bookends for an era of astrology and New Age silliness.

    Yes, at a Led Zeppelin bootlegs site I once came across radio news announcements of John Bonham’s untimely death (1980) in its miscellany section. Though it was a straightforward case of asphyxiation by vomit, ALL the broadcasts mention the possible involvement of black magic, and these are serious news establishments like ABC News, the BBC, etc.

  26. Miss Quigley — a Vassar-educated socialite who preferred the honorific Miss to Ms. (she never married)

    Every now and then a fossil of that old era called “civilization” protrudes through the rubble. I miss “Miss”.

    By the way, are these Quigleys related to Carroll?

    While Mrs. Reagan may have hired an astrologer in the wake of her husband’s assassination

    I know it’s at the end of a long post, but still, it wouldn’t have hurt to have included the word “attempted” here.

    But of course that just made his survival, the sense that history wasn’t going to repeat this time, all that more galvanizing.

    Hmmm, comparing Reagan to Hitler, who read inevitability into the forty or so failed attempts (almost all from his right) on his life?

  27. @syonredux
    Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families*:

    She was born on 31 July (12 August new style), 1831, at Yekaterinoslav[11] (from 1926 Dnipropetrovsk). Her parents were Colonel Peter von Hahn (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Ган, 1798–1873) of the ancient von Hahn family of German nobility (German: Uradel) from Basedow (Mecklenburg)[12] and her mother Helena Andreevna von Hahn (Fadeyeva).
     
    *

    In the 12th and 13th centuries, Germans, both colonists (see Ostsiedlung) and crusaders, settled in the Baltic.[4] After the Livonian Crusades they quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture of these areas for over 700 years until 1918, despite remaining a minority ethnic group. Whilst the vast majority of urban lands were colonised by traders, rural estates[5] were soon formed by crusaders and their descendants. With the decline of Latin, German quickly became the language of all official documents, commerce and government business for hundreds of years until 1919.

    The region was politically subordinated to the rule of the monarchs of Sweden until 1710, and the tsars of the Russian Empire until 1917. Both these successive ruling kingdoms guaranteed the continuation of Baltic Germans' special class privileges and administration rights when they incorporated the provinces into their respective empires.[citation needed]

    In contrast to the Baltic Germans, the ethnic majority of Estonians and Latvians had restricted rights and privileges and resided mostly in rural areas as serfs, tradesmen, or as servants in urban homes. This was in keeping with the social scheme of things in Imperial Russia, and lasted well into the 19th century, when emancipation from serfdom brought those inhabitants increased political rights and freedoms.

    The Baltic Germans' effective rule and class privileges came to the end with the demise of the Russian Empire (due to the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917) and the independence of Estonia and Latvia in 1918–1919. After 1919, many Baltic Germans felt obliged to depart for Germany, but some stayed as ordinary citizens in the newly formed independent countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[6]
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Germans

    Replies: @Hunsdon, @Abe, @Reg Cæsar

    Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families.

    Well, even a cursory reading of Russian history since the 18th Century quickly reveals that most of the Czar’s more capable subjects were ethnic Germans- no big surprise. Like Razib’s recent column about the invention of Islam- in the sense of the more or less intellectually coherent system that’s come down to us today- in 8th Century Persia. More civilized, higher IQ, whiter Persians as the intellectual heavy lifters of Islam- whoudda thunk it?

  28. @matt
    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

    Replies: @Nathan Wartooth, @Art Deco, @Reg Cæsar

    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

    A hundred years on, and they’re still taking swipes at the wise New Englanders– and, yes, Virginia planters and Florida hucksters– who opposed the Sixteenth Amendment.

    • Replies: @matt
    @Reg Cæsar

    Swiping is what I do best.

  29. Vesant sounds more like Annie Besant to me. She met Blavatsky & got turned onto Theosophy by her. It’s really weird how that generation of suffragettes were into that “magic & religion & bullshit.” I think the proto-feminists of the Abolition era were notably non-mystical.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Besant

  30. “I was skiing at Mammoth when I heard the President had been shot while getting off a chair lift.”

    Sorry for the nitpick, but this sentence should be fixed, to something like “I was getting off a chair lift at Mammoth when I heard the President had been shot”.

  31. Mammoth’s demographics make it one of the most laid-back and fun places to ski. It’s challenging to get there, so you don’t have a strong Chicago/EastCoast corporate element that defines the Colorado resorts, or the nouveau riche Asians that inundate Whistler (the worst). They recently added a San Fran-Mammoth flight, which makes it a little easier, but before you’d have to fly to Reno and take US Hwy 395 along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range to Mammoth. A treacherous but beautiful trip if there’s a big snow.

    Also, it’s so high up and the weather tends to be extremely harsh. So the crowds aren’t as bad, and you don’t have a million little kids in ski school. We had our wedding ceremony on top of Mammoth Mountain at the end of 2012. It was supposed to be a great place for a ceremony because of the spectacular views, etc., but a white-out blizzard began dumping on the mountain about the time I was getting my hair and makeup done. We had very short ceremony up there nonetheless, and my brother-in-law joked that everyone would remember the wedding even when we all have Alzheimer’s. The wedding photography turned out great, though.

    And it’s as white as the snowy terrain.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Uptown Resident

    I haven't been to Mammoth since the early 2000s, but then it was like the last outpost of 1970s Southern California. (It's a much easier drive from Los Angeles than San Francisco.) They were trying to make it a more upscale Aspen-type destination, but, at least then, it was very mass market, like most things were in the post-War decades.

    , @Dutch Boy
    @Uptown Resident

    Gorgeous in the summer too.

  32. the President had been shot while getting off a chair lift.
    this participle dangles

  33. @franktremb
    The influence the Astrologer had with the First Lady and hence to President Reagan reminds me of the influence Rasputin had with the Tsarina and hence to the Tsar.

    Wouldn't it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?

    Replies: @Sam Haysom, @The Anti-Gnostic, @pyrrhus, @reiner Tor

    Since the astrologers and mystics seem to give better advice on major matters, maybe we should require them….

  34. @anonymous
    We only find out about these sorts of things much later. Yup, people who consult astrologers are the ones who have their fingers on the nuclear button. Wonder what's going on at the White House nowadays that's being kept from us?

    Replies: @Art Deco

    people who consult astrologers are the ones who have their fingers on the nuclear button.

    Mrs. Reagan was the astrology aficionado, not her husband. The authority she had in the White House concerned scheduling matters.

  35. matt says:
    @Nathan Wartooth
    @matt

    In the episode "300" of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund.

    I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    Replies: @matt

    In the episode “300″ of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund. I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    That’s true, except for the part about “the people.

    (By the way, Futurama hasn’t been funny in a long time.)

    • Replies: @Paco Wové
    @matt

    "(By the way, Futurama hasn’t been funny in a long time.)"

    The fate of all Matt Groening vehicles.

  36. @Art Deco
    @matt

    How so? Public sector borrowing was excessive. It would have been useful to phase in a mix of tax increases and spending reductions. The thing is, the Congress and the President actually agreed to a tax increase in 1990. Now look at the statistics for the federal debt load during the years running from 1990 to 1995. The ratio of federal debt to domestic product did not decline. Congress took the extra revenues and spent them; Reagan may have been gaga (as Mr. Stockman testified) when contemplating federal budget documents, but his horse sense about the behavior of the majority in Congress turned out to be sound. It was only when the Democratic congressional caucus had to get past Messrs. Gingrich and Dole (and Bill Clinton's svengali, Dick Morris) that the propensity toward public sector borrowing declined.

    While we're at it, the business cycle extending from 1982 to 1990 actually had fairly robust growth, exceeding that of any post-war cycle other than that from 1949 to 1954, so there was not much cause for complaint on those grounds. There was a large shake-out in heavy industry, but it's dubious bit of business to suggest we'd have been better off with what the main body of the Democratic Party was promoting at the time: "industrial policy" and "comparable worth", i.e. national economic planning ringmastered by someone like Felix Rohatyn and a centrally-mandated wage determination. (What you'd have gotten was a rent-seeking free-for-all). The labor market was fairly sclerotic, but escalating trouble of that nature had been manifest for two decades prior to Mr. Reagan taking office. The network of savings banks was also in ruined condition, but pretty much the entire political class was implicated in that.

    Replies: @matt

    I seem to remember that massive Pentagon budgets explicitly pushed by Reagan (or his neocon handlers, or campaign donors, or whoever) had something to do with the increase in the federal deficit, if you care about that sort of thing (I don’t, really).

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @matt

    The ratio of military expenditure to domestic product went from 6.0% in the fiscal year 1978/79 to 7.6% in 1985/86 and 1986/87, before falling to 6.3% in 1991/92. I tend to doubt that broke the bank. While we're at it, public sector borrowing is public sector borrowing. Your principal and interest do not vary according to the distribution of federal spending between functions.

  37. @Reg Cæsar
    @matt


    astrology gave way to voodoo economics

     

    A hundred years on, and they're still taking swipes at the wise New Englanders-- and, yes, Virginia planters and Florida hucksters-- who opposed the Sixteenth Amendment.

    Replies: @matt

    Swiping is what I do best.

  38. @syonredux
    Interesting to note that Blavatsky was descended from one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families*:

    She was born on 31 July (12 August new style), 1831, at Yekaterinoslav[11] (from 1926 Dnipropetrovsk). Her parents were Colonel Peter von Hahn (Russian: Пётр Алексеевич Ган, 1798–1873) of the ancient von Hahn family of German nobility (German: Uradel) from Basedow (Mecklenburg)[12] and her mother Helena Andreevna von Hahn (Fadeyeva).
     
    *

    In the 12th and 13th centuries, Germans, both colonists (see Ostsiedlung) and crusaders, settled in the Baltic.[4] After the Livonian Crusades they quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture of these areas for over 700 years until 1918, despite remaining a minority ethnic group. Whilst the vast majority of urban lands were colonised by traders, rural estates[5] were soon formed by crusaders and their descendants. With the decline of Latin, German quickly became the language of all official documents, commerce and government business for hundreds of years until 1919.

    The region was politically subordinated to the rule of the monarchs of Sweden until 1710, and the tsars of the Russian Empire until 1917. Both these successive ruling kingdoms guaranteed the continuation of Baltic Germans' special class privileges and administration rights when they incorporated the provinces into their respective empires.[citation needed]

    In contrast to the Baltic Germans, the ethnic majority of Estonians and Latvians had restricted rights and privileges and resided mostly in rural areas as serfs, tradesmen, or as servants in urban homes. This was in keeping with the social scheme of things in Imperial Russia, and lasted well into the 19th century, when emancipation from serfdom brought those inhabitants increased political rights and freedoms.

    The Baltic Germans' effective rule and class privileges came to the end with the demise of the Russian Empire (due to the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917) and the independence of Estonia and Latvia in 1918–1919. After 1919, many Baltic Germans felt obliged to depart for Germany, but some stayed as ordinary citizens in the newly formed independent countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[6]
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Germans

    Replies: @Hunsdon, @Abe, @Reg Cæsar

    one of those elite Baltic-Eastern European German families

    An art professor at one of my many colleges was of Baltic German descent, decidedly non-élite. He claimed his ancestor came to America after the authorities burst into the man’s smithy to impress him into the army. He said, fine, but you’ll have to take me like this– and dropped the anvil on his foot. Ouch.

    That might explain why the professor preferred working with acrylic paint rather than metal sculpture.

  39. Seeing that Besant’s son bore the surname “Digby” persuades me that Heinlein had her in mind a bit when writing Stranger, since that is the name of another character in the book.

  40. @Harry Baldwin
    I don’t think I’m exaggerating all that much in saying that the political basis for Reagan’s subsequent historic triumphs hinged upon that one day.

    I agree. The left-wing hatred of Reagan was intense--it might have been called "Reagan Derangement Syndrome" had that term been around at the time. His shooting made it necessary for them to dial it down for a while, lest their behavior appear unseemly. By the time they ramped it up again he was too popular with the public for it to matter much.

    It reminded me of the way the left was viciously hostile to Rudolph Giuliani, depicting him as Hitler in art shows, etc., but had to back off after 9/11.

    Replies: @matt

    His shooting made it necessary for them to dial it down for a while, lest their behavior appear unseemly.

    Not everyone was so polite, fortunately.

  41. I wonder how often people in positions of great power make decisions on the basis of silly things like astrology or superstitions. The truth is, our rationality isn’t nailed to us all that soundly.

    I’ve never been in a position to watch people at the level of a president or governor making decisions, but I’ve seen plenty of people making decisions at a middle-management sort of level, where millions of dollars are at stake. Those are routinely made on the basis of personal likes and dislikes, office politics and power struggles, the sunk cost fallacy (which is entirely damned rational when you’re thinking in terms of office politics and what you’ll be blamed for), and similar stuff that’s no more rational than calling your astrologer for advice.

  42. Isn’t Valerie Jarrett the astrologer to the Obamas? She’s basically an oracle, handing out more or less random advice to the clueless first couple.

  43. I am acquainted with several Reagan White House staffers.

    As with any administration, there was a struggle for influence and conflict among the various parties for the ear of the President. One such party is invariably the First Lady, and the Reagan White House was no exception in this regard.

    The First Lady’s influence greatly increased after the assassination attempt, which was on the whole not a positive outcome in my estimation.

    Another thing to remember is that not all of Reagan’s staffers were Reaganites. Quite a few were Establishment types. I’ve known both the Reaganites and the Establishment types in that White House, and there was almost constant strife between the two.

  44. @franktremb
    The influence the Astrologer had with the First Lady and hence to President Reagan reminds me of the influence Rasputin had with the Tsarina and hence to the Tsar.

    Wouldn't it be better to have for president a professed atheist than a believer in astrology pretending to be a true christian?

    Replies: @Sam Haysom, @The Anti-Gnostic, @pyrrhus, @reiner Tor

    Rasputin actually wasn’t all bad. His most important advice was not heeded by the Czar – he opposed entry into the Great War and the Czar pressed on with the war nevertheless. I think a case could be made that it would have been better for Russia (and Europe) if he had had even greater influence.

    It seems to me that astrology (at least, good astrology) is sound common sense advice wrapped in a kind of psychobabble, much like Rasputin’s advice. It also often takes the responsibility off the shoulders of the clients: “It’s not me making this decision, the astrologer told me / the stars told me.” Of course, a deal beneficial to the astrologer (like the client paying money to him/her) or Rasputin (like having orgies with the ladies) is part of the package, so if you have good common sense yourself (or if your astrologer is not a very good one) then it might make sense to dispense with their advice.

    And as others have pointed out, most politicians rely on the advice of snake oil salesmen (like economists) anyway.

  45. @dearieme
    Reagan was the president who decided to end the Cold War. It turned out that he did so by winning it. Well played, Ronnie. Anyway, is taking advice from an astrologer any sillier than taking advice from most economists?

    Replies: @WhatEvvs, @athEIst

    No.

    The late Linda Goodman was a top selling astrologer of the 60s. Perhaps she could predict the future, but her descriptions of human types were more perceptive than most current novelists.

  46. When I was an undergraduate student I met a guy who was getting his Master in Psychology at George Washington University. He was writing his thesis based on astrology. He had been following a group of mental patients for years whom he had analyzed astrologically. This was before computers. He had a steamer trunk full of index cards.

    He gathered the basic information from me about my date and place of birth. He consulted several weighty volumes and did some computations. Then he announced his findings.

    He told me:

    1.) I had trouble with women. (True – I was 18)
    2.) I had trouble with money. (True – see #1)
    3.) I was large. (True – I stood before him at 6’4″ and about 240 lbs.)

    Really quite remarkable astrology.

  47. The Republican Party is the party of Superstition. The irony here is that it’s most iconic leader, Reagan, subscribed to the pagan superstitions that were specifically condemned by the Biblical superstition to which Republicans are overwhelmingly brainwashed into.

    Ronald and Nancy Reagan would have been burned as witches if the Enlightenment Movement had not resulted in the American Revolution…

  48. @sutton
    I always thought Reagan was never the same after his near assassination. He lost much of his vitality. The vitality that he needed to dismantle the welfare state/gigantic federal government. I think our best chance to restore America and avoid a gigantic civil war at some point was lost with a compromised Reagan.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Interesting point, especially considering the collateral damage general anesthesia does to seniors.

  49. Reagan indulged his terrified wife by allowing the astrologer to influence scheduling, not policy. Perfectly understandable.

  50. @Uptown Resident
    Mammoth's demographics make it one of the most laid-back and fun places to ski. It's challenging to get there, so you don't have a strong Chicago/EastCoast corporate element that defines the Colorado resorts, or the nouveau riche Asians that inundate Whistler (the worst). They recently added a San Fran-Mammoth flight, which makes it a little easier, but before you'd have to fly to Reno and take US Hwy 395 along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range to Mammoth. A treacherous but beautiful trip if there's a big snow.

    Also, it's so high up and the weather tends to be extremely harsh. So the crowds aren't as bad, and you don't have a million little kids in ski school. We had our wedding ceremony on top of Mammoth Mountain at the end of 2012. It was supposed to be a great place for a ceremony because of the spectacular views, etc., but a white-out blizzard began dumping on the mountain about the time I was getting my hair and makeup done. We had very short ceremony up there nonetheless, and my brother-in-law joked that everyone would remember the wedding even when we all have Alzheimer's. The wedding photography turned out great, though.

    And it's as white as the snowy terrain.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Dutch Boy

    I haven’t been to Mammoth since the early 2000s, but then it was like the last outpost of 1970s Southern California. (It’s a much easier drive from Los Angeles than San Francisco.) They were trying to make it a more upscale Aspen-type destination, but, at least then, it was very mass market, like most things were in the post-War decades.

  51. @Sam Haysom
    @franktremb

    What evidence is there that Ronald Reagan took astrology seriously. It's amusing because I am sure you were one of the people saying Reagan was going to start a nuclear war because he went to hasten the rapture. We get it it makes you mad that you belong to a minority that is not trusted by the rest of America. And no an athiest will likely never be elected president but have some courage of your convictions. No one said it would be easy.

    And again Steve is putting a lot of credence in a book written by a disgruntled official who notoriously hated Nancy Reagan. Yes Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers the parts about Air Force one and dedicated phone lines are based solely on bitter Regan' allegations.

    Replies: @Chris Mallory

    Carter was and probably will be the last Christian to hold the office of President. Since then we have had atheists who only worship self and power. Sure they may mouth a few Christian platitudes to fool the masses but they have been nothing but power hungry amoral nut jobs following in the footsteps of the great tyrant Lincoln.

    • Replies: @Sam Haysom
    @Chris Mallory

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis. I honestly don't know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith. I agree that Obama is almost certainly an atheist and Clinton's religion is very hard to determine. Normally someone so cynical about using religion as a prop would not be likely to be sincerely religious, but Clinton basically uses and abuses everyone and thing so who really knows about him. I would find it hard to believe that GHWB doesn't believe in at least a watchmaker God, but who knows?

    Replies: @Chris Mallory, @Art Deco, @Art Deco

  52. @Chris Mallory
    @Sam Haysom

    Carter was and probably will be the last Christian to hold the office of President. Since then we have had atheists who only worship self and power. Sure they may mouth a few Christian platitudes to fool the masses but they have been nothing but power hungry amoral nut jobs following in the footsteps of the great tyrant Lincoln.

    Replies: @Sam Haysom

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis. I honestly don’t know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith. I agree that Obama is almost certainly an atheist and Clinton’s religion is very hard to determine. Normally someone so cynical about using religion as a prop would not be likely to be sincerely religious, but Clinton basically uses and abuses everyone and thing so who really knows about him. I would find it hard to believe that GHWB doesn’t believe in at least a watchmaker God, but who knows?

    • Replies: @Chris Mallory
    @Sam Haysom

    By their fruits you shall know them. "W" brought war, death and destruction. He shows no evidence of faith, hope and love. His spirit is the spirit of the world, not the Spirit of God.

    , @Art Deco
    @Sam Haysom

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis.

    It's not a thesis, it's an assertion.

    , @Art Deco
    @Sam Haysom

    I honestly don’t know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith.

    I think Mallory is in the habit of making things up out of whole cloth, so it isn't difficult.

  53. @Sam Haysom
    @Chris Mallory

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis. I honestly don't know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith. I agree that Obama is almost certainly an atheist and Clinton's religion is very hard to determine. Normally someone so cynical about using religion as a prop would not be likely to be sincerely religious, but Clinton basically uses and abuses everyone and thing so who really knows about him. I would find it hard to believe that GHWB doesn't believe in at least a watchmaker God, but who knows?

    Replies: @Chris Mallory, @Art Deco, @Art Deco

    By their fruits you shall know them. “W” brought war, death and destruction. He shows no evidence of faith, hope and love. His spirit is the spirit of the world, not the Spirit of God.

  54. @dearieme
    Reagan was the president who decided to end the Cold War. It turned out that he did so by winning it. Well played, Ronnie. Anyway, is taking advice from an astrologer any sillier than taking advice from most economists?

    Replies: @WhatEvvs, @athEIst

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    • Replies: @matt
    @athEIst

    Reagan and his Saudi buddies' anti-Communist Jihad also created many of the problems in the Middle East today. But hey, we sure did beat those godless Russkies, right?

    , @Art Deco
    @athEIst

    And yet for some reason no other oil exporter in the world broke apart into 15 pieces and completely reconstituted its political economy.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    , @Anonymous
    @athEIst

    Right. The Saudis were acting as US proxies though.

    The US is trying to do the same thing now against Putin:

    http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/oil-price-drop-creates-problems-for-putin-and-rouhani

    , @Bliss
    @athEIst


    A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,
     
    That was the intended effect. The saudis also played a major role in the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. When saudi citizens bin Laden and his buddies were fighting the jihad against the commies in Afghanistan they were praised as freedom fighters by Reagan.

    American presidents from Reagan to Obama have been so deferential to the Saudi royal family for more than just their oil...

    Replies: @reiner Tor

  55. Rather than an obscure Dutch figure, I think Heinlein was conflating two real-life North American politicians:

    1) William Lyon Mackenzie King, three-time Prime Minister of Canada (1921-1926, 1926-1930 and most crucially 1935-1948) was obsessed with spiritualism and the occult. All of his major decisions were taken with the aid of seances, and he believed his dogs could talk to him about state policy.

    2) Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice President from 1941 to 1945 (the third term), was an ex-progressive Republican (like Heinlein), and like Heinlein had a largely technocratic mindset. Except where astrology was concerned.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @The Man From K Street

    Thanks!

    Henry Wallace had some kind of guru or swami, right? There was some kind of Democratic-Republican back rooms deal in the 1940 election about how the Republicans wouldn't mention the Democratic Veep candidate's cult leader and the Democrats wouldn't mention that while Wendell Wilkie had a Mrs. Wilkie back home in Indiana, he was sleeping with the lady who reviewed books for the New York Herald-Tribune most of the time. (She was a Van Doren, I believe.)

  56. @Sam Haysom
    @Chris Mallory

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis. I honestly don't know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith. I agree that Obama is almost certainly an atheist and Clinton's religion is very hard to determine. Normally someone so cynical about using religion as a prop would not be likely to be sincerely religious, but Clinton basically uses and abuses everyone and thing so who really knows about him. I would find it hard to believe that GHWB doesn't believe in at least a watchmaker God, but who knows?

    Replies: @Chris Mallory, @Art Deco, @Art Deco

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis.

    It’s not a thesis, it’s an assertion.

  57. @athEIst
    @dearieme

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    Replies: @matt, @Art Deco, @Anonymous, @Bliss

    Reagan and his Saudi buddies’ anti-Communist Jihad also created many of the problems in the Middle East today. But hey, we sure did beat those godless Russkies, right?

  58. @matt
    @Art Deco

    I seem to remember that massive Pentagon budgets explicitly pushed by Reagan (or his neocon handlers, or campaign donors, or whoever) had something to do with the increase in the federal deficit, if you care about that sort of thing (I don't, really).

    Replies: @Art Deco

    The ratio of military expenditure to domestic product went from 6.0% in the fiscal year 1978/79 to 7.6% in 1985/86 and 1986/87, before falling to 6.3% in 1991/92. I tend to doubt that broke the bank. While we’re at it, public sector borrowing is public sector borrowing. Your principal and interest do not vary according to the distribution of federal spending between functions.

  59. @athEIst
    @dearieme

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    Replies: @matt, @Art Deco, @Anonymous, @Bliss

    And yet for some reason no other oil exporter in the world broke apart into 15 pieces and completely reconstituted its political economy.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @Art Deco

    The equation also needed Gorbachev. Since not even North Korea and Cuba reconstituted their respective political economies, I'm not sure in what esoteric ways Reagan could have forced it on the Russkies, if they hadn't wanted it themselves in the first place.

    One interesting factor (from which the Russkies have surely learned, as attested to by multiple Putin remarks) was that they wanted to symmetrically match American abilities. This definitely worsened their problems (trying to create an SDI for themselves surely cost them a lot of money), but it wouldn't nearly have been enough if they were willing to use force (as they did until then) to keep the system together.

  60. @Sam Haysom
    @Chris Mallory

    Talk about an n0n-falsifiable thesis. I honestly don't know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith. I agree that Obama is almost certainly an atheist and Clinton's religion is very hard to determine. Normally someone so cynical about using religion as a prop would not be likely to be sincerely religious, but Clinton basically uses and abuses everyone and thing so who really knows about him. I would find it hard to believe that GHWB doesn't believe in at least a watchmaker God, but who knows?

    Replies: @Chris Mallory, @Art Deco, @Art Deco

    I honestly don’t know how anyone can take issue with GWB obviously sincere religious faith.

    I think Mallory is in the habit of making things up out of whole cloth, so it isn’t difficult.

  61. @athEIst
    @dearieme

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    Replies: @matt, @Art Deco, @Anonymous, @Bliss

    Right. The Saudis were acting as US proxies though.

    The US is trying to do the same thing now against Putin:

    http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/oil-price-drop-creates-problems-for-putin-and-rouhani

  62. Are you serious? The New Age movement was just getting started in the ’70s and ’80s. Those two decades witnessed an explosion of channeled materials like the 1300-page A Course in Miracles that has now been translated into many languages, is studied by millions of people around the world, and has been described as The Third Testament (after the Old and the New). In the last thirty years came the multi-volume Conversations with God (channeled through automatic writing), A Course of Love (a sequel to A Course in Miracles), many volumes of Abraham materials, and finally The Secret (Law of Attraction). If anything, the basic claim of the New Age Movement that our thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, create our reality is becoming more and more popular as more people describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious, and both the placebo and nocebo effects are objects of intense study in medicine.

    Another factor to consider is that milions and millions of immigrants who are pouring into this country from Asia and Africa, or even Latin America, bring ways of thinking in which reality is populated by all sorts of occult entities like ghosts, demons, witches, gods, and goddesses that more than anything else need to be appeased, and hence superstition becomes more important than rationality

  63. @The Man From K Street
    Rather than an obscure Dutch figure, I think Heinlein was conflating two real-life North American politicians:

    1) William Lyon Mackenzie King, three-time Prime Minister of Canada (1921-1926, 1926-1930 and most crucially 1935-1948) was obsessed with spiritualism and the occult. All of his major decisions were taken with the aid of seances, and he believed his dogs could talk to him about state policy.

    2) Henry Wallace, FDR's Vice President from 1941 to 1945 (the third term), was an ex-progressive Republican (like Heinlein), and like Heinlein had a largely technocratic mindset. Except where astrology was concerned.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Thanks!

    Henry Wallace had some kind of guru or swami, right? There was some kind of Democratic-Republican back rooms deal in the 1940 election about how the Republicans wouldn’t mention the Democratic Veep candidate’s cult leader and the Democrats wouldn’t mention that while Wendell Wilkie had a Mrs. Wilkie back home in Indiana, he was sleeping with the lady who reviewed books for the New York Herald-Tribune most of the time. (She was a Van Doren, I believe.)

  64. The president of France, who took office about three months after Reagan followed the same trend.

  65. Wendell Wilkie later had a one-night stand with Madame Chiang (who reflected to confidants, “Wendell will rule the West, while I rule the East”).

  66. anon • Disclaimer says:

    OT, but not really, and iSteve-y as hell to boot: Ben Bradlee, the uber-WASP WaPo executive editor, died recently, and ignored in hagiographies of him was the murder of his sister-in-law, Mary Pinchot Meyer. Ms. Meyer, an uber-WASP, was the ex-wife of Cord Meyer, another uber-WASP, who was a wounded war veteran turned CIA guy and an activist for World Government, an idea that was fashionable in that day. When Bradlee and his wife went to look for her diary for clues to her murder, they found James Jesus Angleton also looking for her diary. When they found it, they discovered she had an affair with their old friend from Georgetown, the late President Kennedy (Bradlee denied knowing about it prior.) This was October 1964 and an election had to be won, so this wasn’t published for another 12 years.

    The police investigation claimed a black man named Raymond Crump committed a sexually-motivated random assault and murder. He was acquitted, for what it’s worth.

    Anyway–incestuous, globalist elites, CIA family connections, JFK assassination angle, media bias, a murder mystery, possible black-on-white crime–not sure how this all fits together, but perhaps you can apply your prodigious Noticing abilities and write about this a little.

  67. @Art Deco
    @athEIst

    And yet for some reason no other oil exporter in the world broke apart into 15 pieces and completely reconstituted its political economy.

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    The equation also needed Gorbachev. Since not even North Korea and Cuba reconstituted their respective political economies, I’m not sure in what esoteric ways Reagan could have forced it on the Russkies, if they hadn’t wanted it themselves in the first place.

    One interesting factor (from which the Russkies have surely learned, as attested to by multiple Putin remarks) was that they wanted to symmetrically match American abilities. This definitely worsened their problems (trying to create an SDI for themselves surely cost them a lot of money), but it wouldn’t nearly have been enough if they were willing to use force (as they did until then) to keep the system together.

  68. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    More to the point, veteran English rocker Alvin Stardust died the other day.
    Perhaps unknown in the States, Stardust was just another Elvis impersonator, but with a British 1970s twist, who made it big for just one year, 1974, when Elvis was distinctly old-hat. Well remember him on Top of the Pops, wearing his trademark black leather, black leather gloves, and huge ring, he seemed like an old man even then.
    A rather childish and exploitative act, in fact, but in the interests of nostalgia I you tubed a couple of his videos, is ‘My coo ca choo’ and ‘Just my jealous mind’.
    Although it’s easy to dismiss Stardust as typical mid 70s corporate rock n roll wank, I found the whole production, orchestration and singing on those records to be strangely fascinating and satisfying – two damned good catchy sing along tunes, in fact.

  69. @matt
    @Nathan Wartooth

    In the episode “300″ of Futurama, Nixon says that his crack team of voodoo economists told him to give the people a tax refund. I imagine that it works about the same way in real life.

    That's true, except for the part about "the people."

    (By the way, Futurama hasn't been funny in a long time.)

    Replies: @Paco Wové

    “(By the way, Futurama hasn’t been funny in a long time.)”

    The fate of all Matt Groening vehicles.

  70. “Reagan and his Saudi buddies’ anti-Communist Jihad also created many of the problems in the Middle East today. But hey, we sure did beat those godless Russkies, right?”

    Nah. I think that Bush is more to blame for the present problems in the middle east. Obama has made it worse.

    • Replies: @matt
    @Hetman

    There's plenty of blame to go around.

    By the way, how many of the authors of the Iraq disaster had a previous job in the Reagan administration. It would be easier to make a list of the ones who didn't. If you want to see Reagan's true legacy, take a look at Iraq.

  71. How much of astrology’s popularity was that it was a way for the flood of single baby boomers to have a ready angle for prospective pick ups? It was the lingua franca of seventies singles bar culture.

    Chicks still love horoscopes. They fold them right into their gossip/matchmaking/drama schtick.

    Well, even a cursory reading of Russian history since the 18th Century quickly reveals that most of the Czar’s more capable subjects were ethnic Germans- no big surprise. Like Razib’s recent column about the invention of Islam- in the sense of the more or less intellectually coherent system that’s come down to us today- in 8th Century Persia. More civilized, higher IQ, whiter Persians as the intellectual heavy lifters of Islam- whoudda thunk it?

    Helping Baltic German officer career aspirations was the fact that the paranoid psychopath Stalin killed all the good Russian army officers before Barbarossa. Stalin hated and feared the army, in true commie fashion, until Hitler invaded and he found himself needing them. Then the patriotism spigot got turned on. Just thinking out loud, but I wonder if the Soviet brass found that spigot hard to turn off after the war, and if that helped lead the USSR out of the psychotic phase of communism.

    In other news, Bliss is still a fruitcake.

  72. @athEIst
    @dearieme

    Reagan did not win the Cold War. Sheik Yamani of Saudi Arabia retook control of OPEC (at a cost of 2 to 3 trillion dollars). A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    Replies: @matt, @Art Deco, @Anonymous, @Bliss

    A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,

    That was the intended effect. The saudis also played a major role in the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. When saudi citizens bin Laden and his buddies were fighting the jihad against the commies in Afghanistan they were praised as freedom fighters by Reagan.

    American presidents from Reagan to Obama have been so deferential to the Saudi royal family for more than just their oil…

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    @Bliss

    At least, in retrospect, many people were saying that it had all been intentional. Not totally impossible, but far from proven at this point.

  73. matt says:
    @Hetman
    "Reagan and his Saudi buddies’ anti-Communist Jihad also created many of the problems in the Middle East today. But hey, we sure did beat those godless Russkies, right?"

    Nah. I think that Bush is more to blame for the present problems in the middle east. Obama has made it worse.

    Replies: @matt

    There’s plenty of blame to go around.

    By the way, how many of the authors of the Iraq disaster had a previous job in the Reagan administration. It would be easier to make a list of the ones who didn’t. If you want to see Reagan’s true legacy, take a look at Iraq.

  74. @Bliss
    @athEIst


    A side effect of the low oil prices that resulted was the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union,
     
    That was the intended effect. The saudis also played a major role in the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. When saudi citizens bin Laden and his buddies were fighting the jihad against the commies in Afghanistan they were praised as freedom fighters by Reagan.

    American presidents from Reagan to Obama have been so deferential to the Saudi royal family for more than just their oil...

    Replies: @reiner Tor

    At least, in retrospect, many people were saying that it had all been intentional. Not totally impossible, but far from proven at this point.

  75. @Anonymous
    Actually, it seems likely that Reagan was guided by astrology way before 1981.
    I seem to remember that at least one of Reagan's formal inauguration ceremonies as governor of California back in the 60s or 70s was held at some utterly ridiculous time of night such as 12 midnight - the the hell would choose to hold an inauguration ceremony at that time unless acting under an astrologer's advice.
    On another note, to this very day, astrologers guide political decisions in many south Asian nations. It is more or less certain that astrologers guide the decisions of the Indian government amongst many others.

    Replies: @Sgt. Joe Friday

    It was said that Reagan’s “choosing” to be sworn in at midnight was due to advice from an astrologer friend of the Reagan’s. I also remember hearing that the official end of Pat Brown’s term was 11:59 PM on January 1, 1967 which in theory would have left the state without a governor for several hours, until Reagan’s swearing in. Either way, Reagan made light of it by quipping to newly elected senator George Murphy, another former actor, “well George, here we are again on the late show.”

  76. @Uptown Resident
    Mammoth's demographics make it one of the most laid-back and fun places to ski. It's challenging to get there, so you don't have a strong Chicago/EastCoast corporate element that defines the Colorado resorts, or the nouveau riche Asians that inundate Whistler (the worst). They recently added a San Fran-Mammoth flight, which makes it a little easier, but before you'd have to fly to Reno and take US Hwy 395 along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada range to Mammoth. A treacherous but beautiful trip if there's a big snow.

    Also, it's so high up and the weather tends to be extremely harsh. So the crowds aren't as bad, and you don't have a million little kids in ski school. We had our wedding ceremony on top of Mammoth Mountain at the end of 2012. It was supposed to be a great place for a ceremony because of the spectacular views, etc., but a white-out blizzard began dumping on the mountain about the time I was getting my hair and makeup done. We had very short ceremony up there nonetheless, and my brother-in-law joked that everyone would remember the wedding even when we all have Alzheimer's. The wedding photography turned out great, though.

    And it's as white as the snowy terrain.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Dutch Boy

    Gorgeous in the summer too.

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