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They’re back in the news again. All three. At the same time. Oliver North soon “to be the NRA’s new president”, Iran, Donald Trump Says U.S. Will No Longer Abide by Nuclear Agreement, and Daniel Ortega, a A Nicaraguan Spring or imperial spring cleaning.
Not all the napkin art produced at the Sea Gull Cellar Bar back in the 70s and 80s consisted of “ephemeral doodles”, humorous cartoons, daydreamy pastels, or “exquisite framed vignettes.” The history of the times was captured and sometimes comes back to haunt as life moves forward. This is one of those times.
To set the frame for this blog, I binge watched two movies and read dozens of articles about the Iran Contra affair. It’s amazing really how the same things keep coming around, fake news, alternative facts, no collusion, conspiracies, and so on.
Kill the Messenger is a 2014 movie based on a true story about how journalist Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News uncovered the infamous Iran Contra trade that nearly brought down the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Gary Webb went on to write a book about his reporting, Dark Alliance, before he committed suicide in 2004. The facts surrounding Iran Contra are cloudy. Gary Webb’s reporting may not have been perfect. I purposely chose a skeptical review of his book to point out the “other side.” But, I’ll admit I found the movie both exhilarating and depressing to watch, exhilarating because of a good story woven together and depressing because it confirms my worst suspicions about the inept and shameful history of the United States in Latin America. But, that is too big a subject for this blog.
The other movie related to the same subject matter, Freeway: Crack in the System, is about an L. A. drug dealer, Rick Ross, still alive, who narrates much of the history of his rise and fall and redemption. Here you can find the Iran Contra story told from another point of view (including the infamous Frogman Case in San Francisco).
I recommend both movies, haven’t read the book.
It’s up to you how far you want to go in tracing out the strange similarities between these times (opiate crisis versus crack cocaine crisis for example) but what I found was fascinating for me.
Some of the interesting lines and conclusions drawn in the movies are listed below. Whether or not true, they are certainly eye opening. This seems like a good time to revisit these interesting and troubling times that were to some small extent documented in some of the napkin art attached to this blog. With Ollie North soon to be at the NRA, with Iran possibly back in the bomb building business, and with Daniel Ortega stirring up things in Nicaragua, these are interesting times.
“They [Iran Contras] were counter-revolutionary and God bless them for being that way and I guess that makes them contras so I guess I’m a contra too.” President Reagan
In November 1986 the Iran Contra scandal threatened to undermine the Reagan presidency. [Freeway]
It was revealed that administration officials sold arms to Iran and diverted some of the funds to the Contras. Both were prohibited by Congress. [Freeway]
George H. R. Bush, “this scourge [drugs] will stop.”
“While the allegations might be entirely false, there are sufficient factual details which would cause certain damage to our image and program in Central America”
C.I.A. Cable – August 24th, 1984
A 1986 law created a 100 to 1 disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine. As a result, tens of thousands of blacks are in jail for decades too long. Reagan signed the bill.
Oliver North was the major spokesperson for the Iran Contra operation.
Since Reagan’s election in 1980, the number of people behind bars for drug-related offenses has gone from 41,000 to over half a million.
No Reagan administration officials went to prison for their roles in the Iran-Contra scandal.
President George H.W. Bush pardoned 6 key players, and Oliver North’s conviction was overturned.