history, Politics

5 Best and 5 Worst U.S. Presidents

Franklin Pierce

On this night of the White House Correspondents Dinner here is my list of the top 5 best and worst US Presidents.

I would say Franklin Pierce, G.W. Bush and then Buchanan are the three worst in that order. The first was a horrible racist; Pierce implemented and supported the Fugitive Slave Act, the most odious and evil law in American history and he had sympathies with the racist Southern states and their preservation of slavery. G.W. Bush is an obvious pick for one of the worst because he destroyed the economy, allowed almost 10,000 Americans to die under his watch in wars and terror attacks, instituted torture and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. Buchanan was totally ineffectual in dealing with the South and secession and was corrupt to boot. The top five is rounded out by Woodrow Wilson for his lies about entering WWI and his support for prohibition along with his part in starting the Red Scare persecutions and the imprisonment of political protesters, socialists and anarchists. The fifth is a tie: Richard Nixon for nearly destroying the office of the Presidency and somehow managing to make the Vietnam War even worse than it already was by sending more troops and invading and bombing Laos and Cambodia. The other is Ronald Reagan for his attempt at dismantling the middle class and the public sector labor unions, his dangerous and foolish brinkmanship with a Democratizing and reform minded USSR, and for his illegal and treasonous part in the Iran-Contra affair.


The five BEST presidents on the other hand are Franklin D. Roosevelt for the creation of Social Security, his handling of the Great Depression, his friendliness to labor and to working people, his handling of World War II (with a few exceptions including internment and fire-bombing campaigns in Japan and Germany) and his pragmatism in dealing with the USSR and the defeated Axis Powers after the war. Lincoln is a very close second with his brave and unyielding prosecution of the Civil War against the Confederacy, his (albeit realpolitik driven) signing of the the Emancipation Proclamation, the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and his general genius with language and communication. I don’t count him as number one because of his attacks on civil rights during the war and his less than stolid support for full equality for African-Americans early on in his presidency. Number three is difficult…I am going to cheat a little and make number three a tie between Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic Presidencies; Roosevelt for his trust busting and attack against the robber barons and the laws that allowed them to run rampant over workers rights and for his creation of the National Park System. LBJ gets his place for his War on Poverty which finally brought the idea of social justice into the mainstream of American politics and policy, and for his creation of the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, and for the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. If their foreign policy adventures are counted both Teddy and LBJ suffer a bit but that is why I said I am cheating a bit! Number four would have to be George Washington for his level headed handling of the early days of the Republic and its political institutions. Number five is a controversial one but I will stand by it: James E. Carter. Carter was a truly moral and ethical man who attempted to make the idea of social justice and social responsibility essential to the American political psyche, for his remarkable Malaise Speech, his facilitation of peace talks between Egypt and Israel (which I believed may have prevented a third world war in the middle east) and finally for the fact that his presidency was the most peaceful since the early 19th century.

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Conservatism, Democracy, Justice, Liberty

Excerpt From My New Book “Libertarianism and Democracy”

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Libertarianism and Democracy

Humanity may endure the loss of everything; all its possessions may be turned away without infringing its true dignity – all but the possibility of improvement.
–Johann Gottlieb Fichte

I.

There are many who praise Liberty as the last best hope of humanity against tyranny, and I believe the come to this conclusion for the most part from a good faith point of view. They want to see justice done, and many genuinely believe that liberty is the way to achieve it for the greater human family. But the philosophy that sprang up around the concept of Liberty has lost touch with the original intent and meaning of the concept, and has joined the fetid ranks of self-justifying and essentially moronic political ideologies. To embrace absolute liberty is to embrace the animal fear that motivates the most disgusting and reprehensible pain we often inflict upon our fellow human beings. To believe in the truth, let alone the viability or possibility, of complete subjective liberty is a sign that one has lost their trust in and respect for the Social Contract. This fear leads to a sort of reaction in personal politics that amounts to an assault on the idea that there is anyone who can be trusted to keep the fear and the fearsome things in the world at bay. That is except for oneself. The abomination of fear based personal politics, as expressed through current libertarian thought, can be understood as a misunderstanding of the meaning of liberty as it relates to the Social Contract governing society and the betterment and general welfare of the same and the mechanisms and laws that allow for this…

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Basketball, Sports

NBA Playoff Picks 2013

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As I write I am also watching the first game of Lakers/Spurs playoff series. I have been a life long viewer of NBA basketball, and a die-hard Chicago Bulls fanatic. I have watched their games since I was a toddler back in the earlier 90’s and I even got to attend a Bulls home game at the Mad House during the 98′ championship season. I got to see Jordan take apart the Detroit Pistons back when that team was one to be reckoned with.

So I suppose you could say I like basketball.

Today I still watch the Bulls regularly, especially home games when the great and hilarious Stacey King announces on CSN in Chicago, but now I also watch other teams that appeal to my interest in the sport. Principally the Oklahoma City Thunder and their one day hall of famer Kevin Durant, the Boston Celtics, and the newly moved and newly dynamic Brooklyn Nets. All the teams having amazing rosters and play the game with verve and skill. It really is a new golden age of basketball!

And now for my choices for the NBA Playoffs…this will be a little painful for me as my Bulls are in it this year and are, well, sucking air.

First the West:

Oklahoma City will take apart the “Lucky just to be Nominated” Houston Rockets and they will then move on to face the victorious Clippers in the next round. Chris Paul will make this a close series but in the end OKC will prevail and move on to play the victorious Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Memphis is overrated and lucky in their opponents during the regular season and the Lakers just will not be able to get any further with a lackluster “Superman” Howard and an injured Kobe. Golden State will be a non-entity. The WCF will end in game 7 with an OKC victory and the young team will make its second appearance in the finals in as many years.

Now the East:

The all but unstoppable Miami Heat super-squad will annihilate the Bucks (who I think may be a force to be reckoned with if they make a few more good acquisitions during the off season) and then the surprisingly competent Brooklyn Nets to make it the Eastern Conference Finals. As much as it pains me to say this my Bulls have to many injuries and with Derrick Rose doing his best impression of a bench warmer they just do not stand a chance against the Nets. Game one of their series showed me how far the Bulls need to go. First step, new super-star…

Indiana will defeat Atlanta in a close series and move on to face Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knickerbockers in the next round. The Knicks will pull through and move on to face the Heat in the ECF. It will be a hard fought series but in the 6th or 7th game the Heat will pull through and go on to the finals to face the opponent they defeated last year, Oklahoma City.

And the final verdict:

The Heat will fall in 6 games to the Thunder and the all time finals series will become a 1-1 tie. This will set up what I think will be a tie breaker final next year…which I also believe the Thunder will win. But there is always the Bulls…a Chicago guy can hope.

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terrorism, Violence

Boston Massacre

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Yesterday 3 people were killed and over 100 maimed by two massive explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon. First, how the hell did the attacker[s?] get 2 massive bombs at the finish line of one of the most watched and attended sporting events in the entire United States? I mean…where was security? Where were the police? You’d think this would be the ONE spot on the race that would be watched and searched endlessly.

A Huffington Post report said that at least 25 people lost at least one leg in the explosion and that blood and limbs were strewn everywhere across the street and sidewalks. I saw the video taken and the photos afterward and I believe it…it looked like Aleppo or Homs. I have never seen a bombing like this in the US. I believe that we are now starting to get a real taste of the extremist violence that has plagued much of the world for decades now…

No one knows who did this yet but of course the right wingers and racists are already claiming that this was done by someone who does not look like a white person. Professional bigot Michelle Malkin even tweeted something that claimed the suspect was a “dark skinned” man…Is she TRYING to get people mobbed and killed?

I hope they find who did this and they put them on trial and put him in prison for the rest of his or her life. These people were just trying to run a marathon, a real display of human skill and devotion. To deliberately bomb an event like this really shows that some people have no love in their hearts and minds at all.

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Communism, essay, Middle East, Socialism

The False Victim Complex: Imperial Self-Delusion

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As I write I am watching the joint press conference, more a joint organized propaganda effort, held by newly, narrowly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and newly re-elected United States President Barack Obama. The media would have us believe that the men are separated by an ideological divide that puts the President on the left and the Prime Minister on the right. This is something of a spurious assessment and more of a self-serving obfuscation of the realpolitik facts on the ground. I say obfuscation because I believe that both  the media and the agents of political power in the US and Israel fully understand that, to paraphrase a favorite metaphor of the American foreign policy class, there is no daylight between how Obama and Netanyahu view the issue of national security and Israeli imperialism. We like to believe, we are led to believe, that the American President brings a relatively pacific point of view to the events unfolding in Palestine and the greater Middle East and North Africa in contrast to Israeli belligerence. This is a foolish belief of course given the almost unyielding American support for every Israeli policy of expansion and military action in the past 50 years.

We see the Israeli/Palestinian situation as an essentially foreign i.e. un-American problem: one inherently weak party protecting itself from the predatory hatred of the other. Israel is beset by enemies on all sides and has taken many controversial (but ever justified) actions in order to secure their position and territorial integrity. Of course that position is self imposed and the territorial integrity is relative given the reality that the state of Israel is a completely artificial state founded by colonists. It is ironic that we see this is a “foreign” problem, of course, because the United States has the exact same origin story, at least in its own collective cultural consciousness. A persecuted religious minority transplanting itself into foreign soil enriched with theological and nationalistic significance by an important religious text. The side effects are of course the same as well; entrenchment followed by territorial expansion justified by self-inflicted isolation in alien lands. The natives become savages and the savages become enemies who must be first contained and then obliterated. The Americans did this to the indigenous populations and nations of the American continent and the Israelis are in the process of doing the same to the native Palestinian Arab population and non-european immigrants.

There is no daylight between the process of systematic extermination and containment perpetrated by the Americans against the “Indians” and the Israeli apartheid that has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the mass imprisonment and abuse of the same within controlled military camps and regions. Of course the Palestinians, like the “Indians”, have fought back offensively and in reaction to imperial incursion and both committed their own share of violent acts. The difference of course lies in the power structures that governs/governed the relationship between the invading and invaded parties. Both the Indians and the Palestinians started out in the majority in their realm but through attrition and patience on the part of the invading parties became exploited and abused minorities. This of course sets up the situation wherein the “natives” fight back and are then labeled violent aggressors thereby justifying ever more violent and draconian action against them and their interests. This macabre feedback loop is inherent to the imperialist mission and explains why those who are invaded and exploited are often the ones blamed for the violence inherent to imperial warfare and colonization.

History is of course written by the winners but this is only half of the truth. The “facts on the ground” are also authored by those in command and it is difficult if not impossible to get any information that would lead to a less biased assessment of any given imperialist/colonial situation. As it is with the exaggerated zeal of the converted the nationalistic fervor of the invader is magnified by the self-imposed nature of the situation at hand. This land was chosen by the invader and in time the invader comes to believe that indeed it was the land that chose him. This delusion is reinforced by the cultural zeitgeist fed by media, origin myths, and shared artistic interpretations of events.

This is the psychology of the conqueror and the creed of the victorious nation; a vital state of affairs for the perpetuation of the Pax Mercatus form of universal economic imperialism. Chaos on a nationalistic level preserves the capitalistic order of society by disrupting the ability of the proletariat to pull together and communicate. The more there is conflict between peoples over land and race and tradition the less effort will be spent investigating the real nature of capitalistic exploitation and creating a revolutionary democratic order. Read Conrad, Kipling, Achebe, Tolstoy; these great writers understood that capitalist preservation and expansion are at the center of the Imperialist mission. Exploitation and conflict go hand in hand. The less political power a people have the more they are in thrall to the market forces manipulated by those who control government and business systems. The Indians in America became pawns of the dictates of the American government in favor of Imperialist market expansion.

This same process is unfolding in Palestine. The West Bank and Gaza are now nothing more than prison camps for a population that is unwanted and indeed threatens the lie that Israel is the only bastion of participatory democracy in the Middle East. They are an inconvenient roadblock on the road to a true liberal democracy based upon market capitalism. The Middle East and North Africa are one of the last frontiers for the full expansion and implementation of the Pax Mercatus. The United States, or at least the capitalistic and governmental forces that control the policy of the nation, have a real interest in keeping the Palestinians, poor and a potential activist worker class, an unrepresented and unheard class of violent savages. There will never be peace in the Middle East within a capitalist paradigm. It is futile to even try; capitalism sees no profit in a free and empowered Palestinian population so there is no impetus for the capitalist governments of the West, especially the United States, to do anything in favor of Palestinian human rights. The conquest will continue until the basis of the Pax Mercatus, free market capitalism and the liberal representative democracy that preserves and expands the system. There is no profit in peace so we must forge ahead and create a system where profit is not to be considered in the context of human dignity.

 

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