Presidential History

Hot or Not: Presidents' Day Edition

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This year's Presidents' Day game: Ignoring Obama, who hasn't accumulated enough of a record to compete, rate the post-World War II presidents from least bad to worst. If you'd like, you can segregate them by party.

To start the arguments, here's my Democratic ballot:

Carter
Clinton
Kennedy
Truman
Johnson

Carter gets the top spot for his relative social tolerance—if it weren't for Peter Bourne's poor judgment, we might have emerged from the '70s with decriminalized pot—and for deregulating planes, trains, and trucks. Of course he also botched the deregulation of the S&Ls, and he bequeathed us the very un-deregulatory Department of Energy, but that's why we say "least bad" instead of "best."

My Republican preferences:

Eisenhower
Ford
Reagan
G.H.W. Bush
Nixon
G.W. Bush

Perhaps it's perverse to put Ford so high, but as we enter our second consecutive messianic presidency I'm increasingly nostalgic for the do-nothing executives. Ford is the closest we've had in my lifetime.

Make your picks—and make fun of mine—in the comments.

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  1. I’d probably go:

    Truman
    Kennedy
    Johnson
    Clinton
    Carter

    with some reservations about ranking Johnson in the middle. He gets some credit for the Civil Rights Act, though.

    I think its a little early to rank Bush II. Much of his legacy rides on Iraq/Afghanistan at this point, even though it is now up to Obama to bring those home successfully. I’m already tempted to put him above Nixon, though, as Nixon presided over both the betrayal of the South Vietnamese, wage/price controls, and a substantial expansion of the regulatory state.

  2. Ya know the Reagan love is going to be slopping all over the place on this thread. You’ll need more than a mop to clean up that spunk.

    Jesse,
    What did Eisenhower do (or keep from doing) to get ranked least worst Republican?

  3. I largely agree with Jesse, although RC makes a good point about Civil Rights and Johnson.

  4. Truman (bonus credits for willingness to drop the bombs)
    Kennedy (not in long enough to screw anything royally up)
    Clinton
    Carter
    Johnson

    Ford (see Kennedy, plus doing nothing was the right thing at the time)
    Reagan
    Eisenhower (downgraded for the Interstates – both in general and specific)
    Bush I
    Bush II
    Nixon (price controls? Even B2 didnt go that far)

  5. So can we get some data on these presidents because I have no way to objectively rank that many presidents. I have only lived through 4 complete presidencies out of 11.

    If anyone gives their list, I’d suggest they let us know how many presidencies they have personally lived through.

  6. What did Eisenhower do (or keep from doing) to get ranked least worst Republican?

    I would have preferred Taft, of course. But in retrospect Eisenhower seems relatively fiscally prudent; he kept us out of the stupid Suez war and warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex (but gets marked down for the coups in Guatemala and Iran); and he wasn’t bad on civil rights. Above all, he was level-headed, which isn’t a bad quality in a chief executive.

  7. “I have only lived through 4 complete presidencies out of 11.”
    mark, I just hope they were the last four.

  8. The “specific” for the interstates was the decision to build them thru major cities instead of just tangent to.
    IMO, each major city should have had a loop road that the interstates joined up with along one of the sides of the city.

  9. “Truman (bonus credits for willingness to drop the bombs)”

    That’s the worst thing Truman did.

  10. I was born shortly after Nixon took office, close enough to claim to have lived thru his entire presidency. Ford is the first president I remember and all I remember was him running against Carter in 76. Carter is the first presidency in which I was aware of any actual politics.

  11. That’s the worst thing Truman did.

    I strongly disagree. It was clearly a minimum US life lost strategy, it also may have minimized Japanese lives lost.

    Plus, the results probably prevented anyone else from ever using them. Better the first time was with small ones rather than big ones.

  12. I agree with the democratic list, but on the republican list I would rank the elder Bush above Reagan

  13. Jimmy Carter should be at the bottom of any list. How can you talk about Carter and not mention Iran? Carter is probably the most immoral loathsome President since Andrew Jackson. He hates Jews. He hated the two most reliable Western allies in the middle east, the Shah and the Turks. Yes, he deregulated the airlines. Big deal. That would have happened under Reagan anyway. Even his signature accomplishment, the Camp David Accords, were a fraud. Egypt and Israel had already worked out a deal. They just needed someone to cough up some cash and agree to be a peace keeping force in the Sinai. So they went to Jimmy and let him claim to be peacemaker. Further, he is the worst ex President in history. When Saddam invaded Kuwait he said “”Saddam learned from the Israelis that might makes right – they took most of Palestine by force and 20 years later occupied the West Bank and Gaza.” All crime in the middle east can be traced back to Israel in Carter’s warped mind.

    And Carter doesn’t just love middle-eastern despots. On China Carter wrote “American criticism of China’s human rights abuses are justified, but their basis is not well understood. Westerners emphasize personal freedoms, while a stable government and a unified nation are paramount to the Chinese. This means that policies are shaped by fear of chaos from unrestrained dissidents or fear of China’s fragmentation by an independent Taiwan or Tibet. The result is excessive punishment of outspoken dissidents and unwarranted domination of Tibetans.” The Chinese are just nice people who get a little out of control.

    While in office, Carter hailed Yugoslavia’s Tito as “a man who believes in human rights.” He said of Romania’s barbaric Ceausescu and himself, “Our goals are the same: to have a just system of economics and politics . . . We believe in enhancing human rights.” While out of office, Carter has praised Syria’s late Assad (killer of at least 20,000 in Hama) and the Ethiopian tyrant Mengistu (killer of many more than that). In Haiti, he told the dictator C?dras that he was “ashamed of what my country has done to your country.”

    Oh and lets not forget North Korea. Said Carter of the “Great Leader,” “I find him to be vigorous, intelligent, surprisingly well informed about the technical issues, and in charge of the decisions about this country” (well, he was absolute ruler). He said, “I don’t see that they [the North Koreans] are an outlaw nation.” Pyongyang, he observed, was a “bustling city,” where shoppers “pack the department stores,” reminding him of the “Wal-Mart in Americus, Georgia.”

    Carter also used his politcal capital and wholly undeserved reputation to validate Chavez’s crooked election. The list is endless.

    Carter is just an immoral scumbag. That anyone could put him at the top of a “least bad” list of American Presidents is just a joke.

  14. “I think its a little early to rank Bush II. Much of his legacy rides on Iraq/Afghanistan at this point”

    I give Bush low marks for even getting into the war in Iraq of which we had no business getting involved in in the first place, regardless of how it turns out.

  15. “Jimmy Carter should be at the bottom of any list. How can you talk about Carter and not mention Iran? Carter is probably the most immoral loathsome President since Andrew Jackson. He hates Jews.”

    Carter doesn’t hate Jews. He, like I, am opposed to the apartheid Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.

  16. My earliest memories of “public events” on TV were Gemini space shots and the daily casualty totals from Vietnam on Huntley and Brinkley. I remember they’d have the numbers superimposed over the U.S. and Vietnamese flags. (Maybe it was Cronkite. I was young. But it made an impression.)

  17. “He hated the two most reliable Western allies in the middle east,”

    Israel isn’t a reliable ally. They’re only using us for what they can get from us. It’s a one sided alliance. Ask the survivors of the USS Liberty about how reliable an Ally is to us.

  18. My list matches Jesse’s

    put together they look like this

    Eisenhower
    Carter
    Clinton
    Ford
    Reagan
    Kennedy
    G.H.W. Bush
    Nixon
    Truman
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Johnson
    G.W. Bush

  19. My party lists look exactly like Jesse’s, except with Clinton and Kennedy flipped on the Dem side. Clinton’s human rights and privacy record really was shit, we’ve just forgotten it because of the monstrosity who happened next.

    Put together?

    Eisenhower
    Ford
    Carter
    Reagan
    Kennedy
    Truman
    Bush the Elder
    Nixon
    Bush the Younger
    Johnson (even if you disregard policy and war, he ruined politics with the Daisy Ad)

  20. It is good to be ahead of the power curve.

    J sub D | November 12, 2008, 4:47pm | #

    Presidents in my lifetime performances in office.

    1) Eisenhower
    6) Kennedy
    8) LBJ
    9) Nixon
    4) Ford
    7) Carter
    2) (tie) Reagan
    5) Bush I
    2) (tie) Clinton
    10) Bush II

    Maybe I should swap Kennedy and Bush I. Either way, Ford stacks up fairly well among the competition.

    I’d lump Truman in with Bush I and Kennedy. The list is in chronological order. The #s indicate ranking.

    This conversation would go well with intelligent friends, interstate commerce and a couple of brews.

  21. “Bill” Mitchell
    Josiah Bartlett
    Nixon’s Head
    Tom Beck
    Mackenzie Allen
    Charles Logan

    Wait, did I misunderstand the assignment?

  22. John, nearly everything you mentioned against Carter was after he left office.

    Ya know the Reagan love is going to be slopping all over the place on this thread. You’ll need more than a mop to clean up that spunk.

    But highnumber, he won the cold war! Can you imagine living like Soviets, being afraid that the cops could kick down your doors in the middle of the night or wiretap your phones for no reason!

  23. “That’s the worst thing Truman did.”

    “I strongly disagree. It was clearly a minimum US life lost strategy, it also may have minimized Japanese lives lost.”

    Japan was willing to surrender before we dropped the bomb. Their only stipulation was that we not do anything to their emperor. After the bombing, Japan offerered the same terms of surrender which we accepted that time around. The bombing was totally uneccessary.

    Even if that were not the case, it is still always wrong to deliberately bomb civilians. It is nothing but an act of terrorism. How can we criticize Osama bin Laden when we’re willing to do the same?

  24. And I forgot President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

  25. Matt: You left Clinton out of your combined list. (As for your comments on his civil liberties record, all I can say is…”least bad! least bad!”)

    FrBunny: What about Bob Newhart?

  26. I don’t care if every other person in America calls it “Presidents’ Day”; I refuse to, because it isn’t.

  27. Not segregating:

    Eisenhower
    Kennedy
    Reagan
    Nixon
    Johnson

  28. Jeez, something awful to criticize about each of them. Maybe a better question: “Who’d you like to kick back and have a beer with?” Clinton, Reagan, and JFK don’t strike me as the kinds of stuffed shirts that the others would be. LBJ is just too crude – having a Lone Star might be cool but who wants to see his scars?

  29. Best named US President: Merkin Muffley

  30. Donald Pleasance. Snake Plissken should have killed him!

  31. Japan was willing to surrender before we dropped the bomb. Their only stipulation was that we not do anything to their emperor.

    It is not at all clear that those terms would have been approved by the Japanese government, as they were offered without the support of the armed forces, which had the ability on the Supreme War Council to block any peace settlement.

    After the bombing, Japan offered the same terms of surrender which we accepted that time around.

    Not true, AFAIK. The allies made no formal guarantees whatsoever about the status of the Emperor.

  32. Japan was willing to surrender before we dropped the bomb. Their only stipulation was that we not do anything to their emperor. After the bombing, Japan offerered the same terms of surrender which we accepted that time around. The bombing was totally uneccessary.

    Wrong. Japan was unwilling to unconditionally surrender. After they did unconditionally surrender, we happened to grant them the same terms they wanted before, but that was BESIDE THE POINT. We needed the Japanese to accept total defeat.

  33. Episiarch – I thought he did, along with everyone else…

  34. “Japan was willing to surrender before we dropped the bomb. Their only stipulation was that we not do anything to their emperor.”

    That is a complete lie. They were never willing to surrender. What they were willing to do was end the war with the same people in charge. It was not about the Emporer. It was about the Japanese militarists who were running the country. Had we not dropped the bomb and agreed to their peace, they would have stayed in power, never been brought to justice, and Japan would have remained a billigerent militarist state.

    It is interesting how the lies people tell about the US are so inconsistent. On the one hand, we hear how the US dropped the bomb because all we cared about was stopping Stalin. On the other hand, we hear how the US could have avoided dropping the bomb if only we had made peace let Japan remain a right wing military dictatorship. Of course, had the US only been interested in stopping Stalin, that is exactly what they would have done. Peace with the existing Japanese government would have been the easy route to creating a bullwark against Stalin. The hard route was wiping out the Japanese government and trying to create a peaceful Democracy. But for some people, it is all about hating the US, not about the truth or consistency.

  35. Even if that were not the case, it is still always wrong to deliberately bomb civilians.

    Is it?

    We were doing that before the nukes. We would have continued without nukes. Dresden and Tokyo didnt get nuked, but might have wished that they had been.

    What about civilians living near military installations or working at military installations? Or civilians who support their government?

  36. Henry Kissinger
    Brent Scowcroft
    Zbigniew Brzezinski
    Dick Cheney
    Madeline Albright

  37. No matter how many American G.I. lives were saved, I still can’t cotton to the idea of destroying entire cities.

  38. Kennedy didn’t have too many exceptionally awful policies, but he did start the whole “Camelot” and President-as-celebrity thing.

  39. “Who’d you like to kick back and have a beer with?” Clinton

    Ive never understood this. Never been a big fan of drinking with white trash.

    I cant see splitting a bottle of Chimay Blue with Clinton. Or discussing politics over a Two Hearted with him.

  40. What about president Adam Scott?

  41. “for some people, it is all about hating the US”

    US Goevernment doesn’t equal US. We are the US. You can love the US, but hate US Government policy.

  42. No matter how many American G.I. lives were saved, I still can’t cotton to the idea of destroying entire cities.

    Huh?

  43. Hiroshima Chamber, I salute you on your find rebuilding.

  44. Never been a big fan of drinking with white trash.

    Truth. As far as having a drink goes, Reagan and Kennedy would be top of the list.

  45. “No matter how many American G.I. lives were saved, I still can’t cotton to the idea of destroying entire cities.”

    Give that man a Ron Paul t-shirt.

  46. Really, Hiroshima is a nice city, today. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is one of the most moving sites I’ve ever visited.

  47. Hmmm, the last President to cut the domestic Federal budget doesn’t get #1 on your Republican list. Why is that? Reagan had more libertarian principals than any two post-war Presidents combined.

    Oh, I know. If you declare your adoration for Reagan, you won’t get invited to the next Adams Morgan party with that hot but slutty girl that is interning with the State Department.

    Typical Reason.

  48. Carthage was destroyed, we just took a hell of a lot of damage.

  49. Jessee loves the 70s. I understand why. It was in some ways a more free time and the music was better. But, the reality to the 70s sucked. It was a really dark time in a lot of ways. Certainly, the economic policies of the 70s were, wage and price controls and such, were insanity. Further, the first three years of the decade had a no shit 1000s of Americans dying war. On top of that, the US spent the last half of the 70s losing ground to the Soviet Union. The debate over free markets versus communism was hardly settled.

    Beyond that, even the good times were not as good as they are remembered. I wasn’t old enough to know, but I am told that even the dope back then wasn’t that great. The hydroponic stuff they have today blows away the old ditchweed people were smoking back then. The beer sucked bad. They made a whole movie based on the premise of how great it would be to be able to get Coors east of the Mississipi. The coffee was even worse. The food wasn’t great either outside of a few places. The whole miracle that is globalization that gave us access to good book stores, decent coffee, beer, liquer, and food no matter where we were hadn’t happened yet. Unless it was as a multi-millionaire, I wouldn’t go back to the 70s for love nor money.

  50. Can’t hold a candle to old Kyoto, though. Thank God Kyoto dodged the bullet. (Or nuke, as the case may be.)

  51. Hiroshima Chamber, that’s only because the follow-up bomber full of salt was grounded by weather.

  52. “Truman (bonus credits for willingness to drop the bombs)”

    Good or bad decision, it’s not like he a) made the development decision, or b) had to boldly face down broad popular, military, Allied, or personal conscience resistance to their use.

    He was there, they were ready and plop, plop, fizz, fizz.

  53. “Kennedy didn’t have too many exceptionally awful policies, but he did start the whole “Camelot” and President-as-celebrity thing.”

    He also abused the FBI and CIA against his political enemies to just as great an extent that Johnson and Nixon did and also damn near got us into World War III over Cuba.

  54. “Can’t hold a candle to old Kyoto, though. Thank God Kyoto dodged the bullet. (Or nuke, as the case may be.)”

    From what I understand, Kyoto sadly didn’t totally dodge the Japanese addiction to “stimulus” in the 1990s and a lot of old Kyoto has been raised and paved over in the name of government spending.

  55. I must have missed the memo about Carter hating Jews. Or is John in the camp that believes any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic.

  56. “We were doing that before the nukes. We would have continued without nukes. Dresden and Tokyo didnt get nuked, but might have wished that they had been.”

    Which was also wrong. We now call those actions war crimes.

    “What about civilians living near military installations”

    That doesn’t entail the deliberate killing of civilians.

    “or working at military installations?”

    Again, they aren’t the targets, it’s the military installations that are the targets.

    “Or civilians who support their government?”

    That doesn’t matter. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.

  57. Is it?. . . Or civilians who support their government?

    Yours, with Greetings from Gaza to Sderot!

  58. Oh, I know, after having this pointless debate about Hiroshima, we’ll transition to the Civil War (Fairness Doctrine Interruption: The War of Northern Aggression, for the Paultards) and rehash that shit for the umpteenth time.

  59. “I must have missed the memo about Carter hating Jews. Or is John in the camp that believes any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic.”

    No that is not the case. There are lots of legitimate criticisms of Israel. It becomes anti-semetic when you excuse the same behavior in Arabs that you condem in Israel. Carter will excuse people like the Saudis and Arrafat and Saddam Husain. No standard seems to be too low for them. No standard for Carter anyway seems to high for Israel. If he criticized both equally and applied the same standards to both sides, there wouldn’t be a problem. But he doesn’t. What is so special about Israel that demands such scrutiny? The fact that it is Jewish. Carter’s book on Israel was so one sided and unfair, several academic members of the Carter foundation resigned over it. There is only one group of people Carter feels the need to be one sided with, Jews. He is an anti-semetic piece of shit.

  60. If you declare your adoration for Reagan, you won’t get invited to the next Adams Morgan party with that hot but slutty girl that is interning with the State Department.

    I’m married, I live in Michigan, and the reason I don’t declare my adoration for Reagan is because I don’t adore him.

    Thanks for the insight into your psyche, though. I hate to break it to you, but it probably isn’t your vocal love for Reagan that’s preventing all those women from collapsing into your arms.

  61. No matter how many American G.I. lives were saved, I still can’t cotton to the idea of destroying entire cities.

    Consider it payback for Nanking and the Bataan death march. In spades.

    Yeah, it’s flippant, but sometimes what goes around, comes aropund.

  62. That doesn’t matter. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.

    Even if they work in munitions factories?

  63. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.

    I cant be that absolutist on the issue. Those citizens who actively support an evil government and are standing in the way of those who oppose it from overthrowing it, seem like a legit target to me.

  64. Jessee,

    I never hid my like for Reagan. When I was single I bedded lots of liberal chicks. It never was that hard. I never found that any of them refused to sleep with me because I was conservative. Maybe it was different times or maybe if you are noxious it doens’t matter whether you are left or right.

  65. I just realized I was born during the Eisenhooover administration.

    After Truman, we have endured two periods of Presidential Timber Declension. So

    Eisenhower was OK.
    Kennedy was not-so-OK.
    Johnson was mostly terrible.
    Nixon, more terrible yet.

    Then we had a major reprieve, an unelected president. And the cycle of degradation began again:

    Ford was acceptable, starting the deregulation trend;

    Carter was worse, in many ways, breaking his biggest promise (to decrease the number of cabinet positions);

    Reagan was far worse, voiding most of his good promises just to build up the military (he also turned Republicans into enthusiastic Big Time deficit spenders);

    George Herbert Walker Bush pissed away any glory that might have accrued to him for the fall of the USSR by embroiling us in Iraq (but hey: he get rid of the peace dividend; he served his masters well);

    Clinton was a disaster on many fronts, domestic civil liberties and foreign wars, and (alas) including the trivial matter of the front of his pants;

    George Walker Bush topped ’em all, including Nixon (it simply doesn’t pay to send an ignorant man to the White House).

    Going into the last election, I was thinking that there was a 50/50 chance that Barack Obama was going to continue the decline, or start the process anew by being decent. Now, a few weeks in, I’d say it’s about 90 percent for continuing the decline.

  66. There are lots of legitimate criticisms of Israel.

    List, please, John.

    I hope it’s more than “they aren’t tough enough on the Palestinians.”

  67. Clinton
    Kennedy
    Truman
    Carter
    Johnson

    Reagan
    Ford
    Bush I
    Eisenhower
    Nixon
    Bush II

  68. H. Spokesman – I cant be that absolutist on the issue. Those citizens who actively support an evil government and are standing in the way of those who oppose it from overthrowing it, seem like a legit target to me.

  69. From the Hamas POV, I agree with them. It may be their POV that is broken, however.

  70. Oh, great. Hiroshima AND Palestine/Israel.

    I have only one thing to say to this thread:

    “Have a crappy weekend! Hope your house burns down.”

  71. And I am an absolutist on things like good and evil, so I dont accept relative arguments (well, other than levels of good and evil).

    So, either Hamas is fighting against an evil or they arent. If they are their tactics are acceptable. If they arent, they are war crimes.

    See its easy.

  72. “Reagan was far worse, voiding most of his good promises just to build up the military (he also turned Republicans into enthusiastic Big Time deficit spenders);”

    That statement is of profound ignorance. He indexed income taxes and completely changed the debate about taxes and the free market. He also, supported Volker in restablishing the dollar and ending inflation. Further, he fired the air traffic controlers and greatly helped scale back unionism.

    As far as deficits go, go back and look at the non-defense domestic spending. He kept that largely in check. He also passed the 1986 tax reforms which put us a long ways toward a flat tax. As far as the defense spending goes, he outspent the Soviet Union, got them to sign START and hastened the freedom of Eastern Europe. The are three types of people who have a problem with Reagan; liberals who understand how much he actually changed policy to the right, people like Jessee Walker who dislike him for cultural reasons, and paleocon nitwits who think that we should have never fought the cold war.

  73. List, please, John.

    They should have never built the wall. They do not kick out the settlers. They drawn the settlement lines in such a way as to make it economically impossible to have a Palistinian State. They drew the lines and the wall in such a way as to take the water and to divide up the west bank into little enclaves that can’t really sustain themselves. It was immoral and stupid. Long term, they have to give the Palistinians enough land to have a state. In return the Palistinians have to build a state and stop terrorizing Israelis. In return for that, Israel has got to allow free passage and free trade with Palistine. Most Palistinians just want a job and most of the jobs are in Israel.

    Fuck you btw. I didn’t say there are for nothing. Some people actually think about these issue. Dickhead.

  74. “I cant be that absolutist on the issue. Those citizens who actively support an evil government and are standing in the way of those who oppose it from overthrowing it, seem like a legit target to me.”

    So murdering people who have no means of fighting back is legitimate?

  75. I quote myself:

    “Eventually, the feds caught up with (draft-registration resister Paul) Jacob, who served five months in jail in 1984. Whenever I start to feel soft-hearted toward Reagan, I think about Jacob’s prison term.”

  76. maybe if you are noxious it doens’t matter whether you are left or right.

    Bingo.

    By the way, I’ve never shied from praising the policies of Reagan that I like, such as abolishing the Fairness Doctrine, decontrolling the prices of oil and natural gas, and negotiating arms reductions with Gorbachev. And I’ve defended him against spurious charges, such as the oft-cited canard that he never mentioned the word AIDS until 1987. Nonetheless, I found a nice Democrat to marry.

  77. “They should have never built the wall. They do not kick out the settlers. They drawn the settlement lines in such a way as to make it economically impossible to have a Palistinian State. They drew the lines and the wall in such a way as to take the water and to divide up the west bank into little enclaves that can’t really sustain themselves. It was immoral and stupid. Long term, they have to give the Palistinians enough land to have a state. In return the Palistinians have to build a state and stop terrorizing Israelis. In return for that, Israel has got to allow free passage and free trade with Palistine. Most Palistinians just want a job and most of the jobs are in Israel.”

    Aren’t these the same gripes that Carter has about Israel?

  78. Jesse,

    I said I liked Reagan. I never love any politician. He wasn’t perfect. He fucked up in Lebenon. He certainly fucked up in Iran Contra. But as the song says “we could use a man like … again”. I trade BO for Reagan in a heartbeat.

  79. They had to destroy Hiroshima in order to save it.

  80. “Aren’t these the same gripes that Carter has about Israel?”

    In some measure yes. But the anti-semetic mother fucker won’t then also talk honestly about the faults of the Palistinians or any other Arab for that matter. Everything is Israel’s fault.

  81. Regarding deregulation, Carter was just in the right place at the right time, like the way G.H.W. Bush was with the Cold War. The deregulation process started with some commissions organized in the Nixon admin., and some more during Ford’s. They came in with their reports, and their recommend’ns were adopted, during Carter’s admin., some of which took Congressional action. Meanwhile there was resistance to abandoning the Fairness Doctrine, which some in the FCC wanted to do during Carter’s time, but Carter’s people wouldn’t let them.

    And what I didn’t realize then, but that his more recent statements have made clear, is that he is, and probably was then, anti-Jew.

    Meanwhile if you look at the amount of time Ford was in office as prez and prorate it, he looks worse than he’s usually rated. So I agree that the 1970s were pretty awful. Of course that was coming after some really dangerous presidents in the 1960s who may not have done that much damage, but threatened to!

    Speaking of danger, it’s downright scary to learn how Truman got into power. Basically a string of flukes taken advantage of by someone with an inferiority complex. And forevermore I’ll associate Truman with the self-deluded Kovacs character from Watchmen.

  82. One other thing about the list. How is Carter over Clinton? I think NAFTA and wefare reform and the 1995 tax cuts are a hell of a lot bigger accomplishment than anything Carter did. Clinton was lucky in that he served in a decade when the US got to take a holiday from history. But, thanks to the change of Congress in 1994, he didn’t fuck it up that badly. His worst excess, Waco, travel office, healthcare, all came in his first two years. Once he had an opposition Congress to keep him in check, he did okay, blowjobs aside.

  83. Eisenhower
    Reagan
    Ford
    Bush I
    Bush II

    Clinton
    Truman
    Kennedy
    Carter
    LBJ

    That’s your list, fuckheads. That’s the ONLY list. It’s objectively right.
    Now STFU.
    Oh, and it’s good we nuked the slopes.

  84. How can you talk about Carter and not mention Iran?

    I will never be confused for a Carter apologist, but the Iran Embassy debacle was far too complicated to be pinned on Jimmy Carter. I am not sure what he could have done to prevent it other than close the Embassy and refuse to admit the Shah into the United States; and once it happened I am not sure what he could have done that would have brought about a better outcome. Iran had no government and the CIA had been fucking around there before the idea of running for office had ever darkened Carter’s mind.

    Having said that, I put Clinton ahead of Carter. That could change in 20 years after we have time to absorb his era in context.

  85. So murdering people who have no means of fighting back is legitimate?

    Who doesnt have a means of fighting back?

    The easiest method of fighting back is to overthrow your government before the invaders get there. If the Japanese (or the Germans) had done that we wouldnt have had to fight them at all.

  86. John,
    I can’t directly blame Clinton for Waco or Ruby Ridge.
    But I do think Janet Reno should have her lesbian ass on trial for murder.

  87. “That doesn’t matter. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.”

    “Even if they work in munitions factories?”

    In that case, it’s justified because they aren’t the target, it’s the munitions factory.

  88. Jamie,

    Didnt Ruby Ridge occur under Bush I? I have trouble blaming Clinton for that too.

  89. “Having said that, I put Clinton ahead of Carter. That could change in 20 years after we have time to absorb his era in context.”

    You never know. Apparently welfare reform is going to die with the porkulus bill. I think the legacy Carter gave over the hostage issue is that it set the trend, continued by Reagan in Lebenon and Clinton in Somalia, that you could fuck with the US and get away with it. Starting with the embassy in Tehran, Islamists kept fucking with us in worse and worse ways right up to 9-11 and got away with it. Had Carter done something about it, I am not sure that the whole track would have gotten started.

  90. In that case, it’s justified because they aren’t the target, it’s the munitions factory.

    Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki had legit military targets. Hence, by your statement they were okay. Which is what I have been saying. Glad you finally agree.

  91. robc,
    yes.

  92. “I can’t directly blame Clinton for Waco or Ruby Ridge.”
    “But I do think Janet Reno should have her lesbian ass on trial for murder.”

    You can’t blame Clinton for Ruby Ridge because it happened in 1992 when Bush I was president.

  93. “I can’t directly blame Clinton for Waco or Ruby Ridge.”

    Actually Ruby Ridge happened in the summer of 92 under Bush I. The out of control FBI and DOJ is sadly a bi-partisian issue.

  94. But the Clinton administration defended the action of the FBI and refused to pursue charges against those who changed the “rules of engagement,” as well as that fuckhead sniper Lon (me shootee!) Horiuchi.

  95. In that case, it’s justified because they aren’t the target, it’s the munitions factory.

    Are you going to lead yourself to your own reductio, or does everyone else have to do it for you?

    You know where it’s going; just address it already.

  96. They had to destroy Hiroshima in order to save it.

    Hurrr. You’re so clever. Try this: they had to nuke Hiroshima to save a few hundred thousand Japanese civilians.*

    *: Civilian casualties of an invasion of mainland Japan were projected to exceed 1 million.

  97. “Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki had legit military targets. Hence, by your statement they were okay. Which is what I have been saying. Glad you finally agree.”

    You don’t need A bombs to bomb munitions factories. In that case, the munitions factories were not the targets, it was the civilians.

  98. I was a volunteer in Nixon’s 1968 campaign, primarily because he promised to end the draft.

    You’re welcome.

  99. so, if the intent is to hit a munitions factory, but you accidentally hit a “civilian center”, then that is an unfortunate but justifiable error.

    You don’t need A bombs to bomb munitions factories.

    Sooo…wait…should you only use weaponry that has a minimal splash? What’s your justification for the use of aerial bombardment at all?

  100. “Civilian casualties of an invasion of mainland Japan were projected to exceed 1 million.”

    By some estimates, but how accurate are those estimates?

  101. brec,
    I’m glad you’re honest upfront with us.
    Now get gangrene on your balls.

  102. From least bad to worst:

    1) Eisenhower — Kind of a do-nothing president. This is a feature, not a bug.
    2) Reagan — Had some glimmerings of libertarianism, even if didn’t always translate into policy.
    3) Clinton — Welfare reform, balanced budgets. A lot of this was due to a Republican congress opposing him, but still …
    4) Ford — Hapless and ineffective. Feature, not a bug.
    5) Kennedy — cut the top marginal tax rate from 90% to something less unconscionable. But, started dragging us into Vietnam.
    6) Bush I — The anti-Kennedy. Had the common sense to not send troops into Baghdad. Raised taxes.
    7) Carter — bad, but see the choices below.
    8) Bush II — really bad. See choices below.
    9) Nixon — Wage and price controls. Watergate. But at least had the sense to end the Vietnam War.
    10) Johnson — escalated the Vietnam War. ‘Nuff said.

  103. Oh fuck!

    If you look at my list, break it down by party, it completely agrees with Jamie Kelly’s.

    My ranking was done using intelligent reasoning and Jamie’s was probably done by drawing straws out of his ass, but still …

  104. You don’t need A bombs to bomb munitions factories.

    You dont need them, but it makes targeting a hell of a lot easier.

    We didnt have laser guided, computer controlled missiles in the 40s. You destroyed the factory by carpet bombing the city. From the Japanese perspective, it vs nukes is really no difference. From the US perspective, we only risked 2 planes, much less chance of loss of life.

  105. But I do think Janet Reno should have her lesbian ass on trial for murder.

    Nice of you to mention the only sexy thing about Reno — I mean, assuming.

  106. “Sooo…wait…should you only use weaponry that has a minimal splash? What’s your justification for the use of aerial bombardment at all?”

    Are you opposed to all aerial bombardment, AO?

  107. balanced budgets

    Myth.

  108. By some estimates, but how accurate are those estimates?

    Because there is some number (>X) that makes the bombings justifiable, and some number (

  109. “I was a volunteer in Nixon’s 1968 campaign, primarily because he promised to end the draft.”

    Which he did. He also ended the Vietnam war on very good terms in 1973. It wasn’t until 1975 when Ford said we would never return that a re-armed North invaded the South. Ford and the Watergate Congress abandoned South Vietnam and Cambodia to the living hell of communism after we had won the damn war and all we had to do was send them some cash and bluff the communists into thinking we woudl come back if needed. It was a real crime.

  110. “We didnt have laser guided, computer controlled missiles in the 40s. You destroyed the factory by carpet bombing the city. From the Japanese perspective, it vs nukes is really no difference.”

    The point is that the A bombs were deliberately used for killing civilians, not for bombing munitions factories.

  111. Democrats:

    1)Clinton
    2)Kennedy
    3)Carter
    4)Johnson

    Republicans:
    1)Eisenhower
    2)Reagan
    3)Bush I
    4)Ford
    5)Nixon
    6)Bush II

  112. Are you opposed to all aerial bombardment, AO?

    I’m asking you. Your problem seems to be dual: the deliberate targeting of civilians (intent) and the size of the weapon. Now, are both of these necessary for the bombing to be unjustifiable, or are either one of them sufficient for unjustifiability? Or is it something else?

  113. By some estimates, but how accurate are those estimates?

    Well, you can use the siege of Berlin as a good indicator for Tokyo alone. Also, civilians on outlying islands were so thoroughly brainwashed that they threw themselves off of cliffs, rather than allow themselves to be taken by American forces. Furthermore, the Japanese government was prepared to press the civilian population into service in defense of the homeland, ala the Soviet Union. You know how they fared.

  114. Starting with the embassy in Tehran, Islamists kept fucking with us in worse and worse ways right up to 9-11 and got away with it.

    As I recall, the standoff at the Iranian embassy ended right around when Reagan took office, because they knew the new administration wouldn’t suffer fools gladly.

  115. Only three of those Presidents, btw, left the country better off than they found it–Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton.

  116. Welfare reform has already done the good it was going to do — wringing dependents out of the system — and hangs on as a treatment that now causes more expense and damage to human development than its absence would. People who need money and are really willing and able to work have their time and efforts diverted into silly make-work and “training and rehab” that are just detention.

    If the red tape were abolished, eventually we’d build up a pile of welfare dependents again, but that would take at least a generation. In the meantime, better to hand out cash with no strings, because the strings are too costly.

  117. Argh, let me try that again:

    Let’s say that the # of GIs and/or civilians spared (due to atomic bombings) is X.

    Does the atomic bombing become justifiable when X > a certain amount, and unconscionable when X < a certain amount?

  118. Everybody is ignoring the best aspect of Clinton: By sticking a cigar in a fat chick’s junk tunnel, he got the entire political class distracted enough to allow the Internet boom.

    Imagine the technological advances and financial growth if Obama got “caught” with an intern slobbering on his knob.

  119. “As I recall, the standoff at the Iranian embassy ended right around when Reagan took office, because they knew the new administration wouldn’t suffer fools gladly.”

    True, but Reagan then let them kill 300 marines in Lebenon.

  120. Kennedy
    Truman
    Carter/Clinton/Johnson (Tied for all being uniquely awful for their own special reasons)

    Eisenhower
    Reagan
    Ford
    G.H.W. Bush
    Nixon
    .
    .
    .
    .
    G.W. Bush – Can we have a category for worst president ever? (And I say that as someone who doesn’t suffer from BDS. I simply am stumped to find a single net-positive thing about his administration.)

  121. “Because there is some number (>X) that makes the bombings justifiable, and some number (”

    But what if that number of civilian deaths caused by a manned invasion is actually smaller than the number killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

  122. Had Carter done something about it, I am not sure that the whole track would have gotten started.

    He did do something about it; unfortunately it failed. In an environment with only bad outcomes, I am not sure anything else would have been less bad. It doesn’t take much to embolden martyrs, and killing a bunch of them is manna from heaven. The Iranians had a specific grievance with the United States. I would suggest that the responses to Munich in 1972, Beirut in 1983, and the World Trade Center in 1993 all represent bigger strategic failures in confronting Islamic terrorism; the Iran Hostage Crisis was symbolic at best.

  123. junk tunnel

    I’m changing the name of my band.

  124. My list … combined.

    Eisenhower
    Reagan
    Truman
    Kennedy
    Ford
    Clinton
    Bush I
    Carter
    Nixon
    LBJ
    Bush II

    and now … for a real list and a change of direction … from best to worst, rock n’ roll bands.
    Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Nirvana and U2. Have at it!

  125. “G.W. Bush – Can we have a category for worst president ever? (And I say that as someone who doesn’t suffer from BDS. I simply am stumped to find a single net-positive thing about his administration.)”

    Hey, he’s still better than Buchanan, Wilson, or Andrew Johnson. He has a lot of similarities with Wilson, actually.

  126. But what if that number of civilian deaths caused by a manned invasion is actually smaller than the number killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

    Dude, you tell me. You are the one stating that you give weight to intent (whether the weapons were used to target civilians) and then state that the estimates were wrong, meaning that you are making a necessity argument.

    So which is it?

  127. Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Nirvana and U2.

    Argle bargle. U2 and Nirvana are overrated. Also, you forgot Asia 😉

  128. I don’t see what the big deal is about sparing “civilians” in war. It’s fine if you can hit the gun, but the civilians are the ones pulling the trigger on the military and even making the guns. If I were running a war, I’d hit the civilians by preference. They’re easier targets and you get more of a rxn by hitting them. Besides, if the military is there as a shield for the civilians, if you can bypass the shield and hit the civilians directly, you’re accomplishing exactly what your enemy does not want.

  129. Everybody is ignoring the best aspect of Clinton: By sticking a cigar in a fat chick’s junk tunnel, he got the entire political class distracted enough to allow the Internet boom.

    Imagine the technological advances and financial growth if Obama got “caught” with an intern slobbering on his knob.

    This post is pure, concentrated brilliance. Where can I subscribe to your newletter, sir?

  130. for a real list and a change of direction … from best to worst, rock n’ roll bands.

    1. Beatles.
    2. Jane’s Addiction.
    3. The cacophonous sound of chunky diarrhea being projectile-shat in a bucket of fruit bats.
    4. Dave Matthews Band.

  131. The more I think about it, the more I think Bush’s biggest mistake was not using tactical nukes in Afghanistan in December of 2001. He could have used bunker busters. It wouldn’t have affected anywhere beyond the moutains of Afghanistan. It would have killed Bin Ladin and the entire Al Quada Leadership. It would have showed the Arab world the US was pissed and wasn’t to be fucked with. Saddam would have peed his pants and begged for UN inspectors. There would have never been an Iraq, and every Islamist in the world would have known the US was willing to use nukes. It would have taken all the fun out of it.

  132. Also, you forgot Asia 😉

    And Air Supply.

  133. “Dude, you tell me. You are the one stating that you give weight to intent (whether the weapons were used to target civilians) and then state that the estimates were wrong, meaning that you are making a necessity argument.”

    “So which is it?”

    The point is, that even if a manned invasion resulted in more civilian deaths than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, morally speaking, it would not have been as bad if the vast majority of those deaths were from “collateral damage”. It’s the deliberate killing of civilians that I have a problem with.

  134. Argle bargle. U2 and Nirvana are overrated. Also, you forgot Asia 😉

    Dude, you know how I know you’re gay?

    You framed a poster of Asia…

  135. “John | February 16, 2009, 12:23pm | #
    The more I think about it, the more I think Bush’s biggest mistake was not using tactical nukes in Afghanistan in December of 2001.”

    By making use of nuclear weapons more acceptable, India and Pakistan would be way more trigger happy now (“the Americans used them recently, so can we!”) That would NOT be a good thing.

  136. “You framed a poster of Asia…”

    If he were gay he would have a framed poster of Clay Aiken

  137. It’s the deliberate killing of civilians that I have a problem with.

    Why? You think war is a game you play for fun?

  138. I simply am stumped to find a single net-positive thing about his administration.

    Domestically, its really hard. He didn’t even entrench the tax cut when he could have, so even that is going away.

    Foreign policy legacy-wise, a good-case outcome is still quite possible in the Mideast. Lets not forget that he did break AQ’s back in Afghanistan and Iraq, after all. Sure, it cost, but that cost was also spent trying to create a fundamental change in the Mideast. If it works, then it may have all been worth it. Still too early to say.

    Can Obama oversee a successful end-game? Who knows. Lets hope so.

  139. “By making use of nuclear weapons more acceptable, India and Pakistan would be way more trigger happy now (“the Americans used them recently, so can we!”) That would NOT be a good thing.”

    Why would they be more likly to use them? They each know the other will retaliate. That is a bigger deterence than any “oh the world would hate us” deterence. This whole idea that the US can somehow behave noblely and get the rest of the world to follow is bunk.

  140. Which do you think a country would find more threatening: targeting a narrow class of persons who are put up specifically to fight, or targeting everybody but those persons? Why not threaten in the most effective way, the way most likely to get results and to prevent war in the 1st place?

  141. The more I think about it, the more I think Bush’s biggest mistake was not using tactical nukes in Afghanistan in December of 2001.

    That’s why we don’t pay you to think.

  142. “The more I think about it, the more I think Bush’s biggest mistake was not using tactical nukes in Afghanistan in December of 2001. He could have used bunker busters. It wouldn’t have affected anywhere beyond the moutains of Afghanistan. It would have killed Bin Ladin and the entire Al Quada Leadership. It would have showed the Arab world the US was pissed and wasn’t to be fucked with. Saddam would have peed his pants and begged for UN inspectors. There would have never been an Iraq, and every Islamist in the world would have known the US was willing to use nukes. It would have taken all the fun out of it.”

    There would have still been a war in Iraq. Bush, Cheney, and the neocons would have found some other reason to invade. That war was in the planning for a long time. The neocons wanted to knock out one of Israel’s enemies to secure Israel. We had to pay with over 4500 young lives for Israel’s sake.

  143. Or you know, using nukes so close to Pakistan would destabilize the entire country, allowing Islamists to take over the country (and their nuke supply) and nuke Israel in retaliation.

  144. From bad to worse…

    The Beatles
    The Rolling Stones
    Pink Floyd
    Radiohead
    Led Zeppelin
    Eisenhower
    Carter
    Ford
    Clinton
    Reagan
    The Who
    G.H.W. Bush
    Kennedy
    Nixon
    Johnson
    G.W. Bush
    Truman
    Nirvana
    U2

  145. By sticking a cigar in a fat chick’s junk tunnel

    Monica isn’t fat, she’s big boned! And you forgot Jewish!

  146. The point is, that even if a manned invasion resulted in more civilian deaths than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, morally speaking, it would not have been as bad

    Meaning that you kvetching about estimates being wrong was a lot of bluster. It doesn’t matter to you how many people die, just as long as there is no intent to deliberately target those people.

  147. BTW, John, I would have hated to see how you would have reacted in October 1962 had you been in Kennedy’s situation!

  148. “Or you know, using nukes so close to Pakistan would destabilize the entire country, allowing Islamists to take over the country (and their nuke supply) and nuke Israel in retaliation.”

    There is no danger of that happening anyway? Further, if we had used nukes, they would have been terrified of us. If there is one lesson of 9-11, it is that when these people percieve the US as weak, they attack. If anything, the crazies in Pakistan would have been more likly to back down.

  149. “There is no danger of that happening anyway? Further, if we had used nukes, they would have been terrified of us.”

    Dude, these people ran airplanes into buildings. They don’t care about dying. They’d probably love for us to use nukes cause in their warped mind it will bring the messiah down faster.

  150. The whole point to 9/11 was to get the US to go crazy and overreact by starting a land war in the Muslim world that we would be bogged down in for years, eventually bankrupting ourselves. Bin Laden has said several times that is his goal. So far it’s working out really well, better than he could have ever imagined.

  151. “BTW, John, I would have hated to see how you would have reacted in October 1962 had you been in Kennedy’s situation!”

    Destroying the world in World War III is different than nuking a mountain in Afghanistan. We are getting to the point that it appears likly that there will be a nuclear war in the middle east in the next few years. Given that reality, we would have been better off, using the nukes in Afganistan and then using that threat to disarm, iraq and more importantly Iran.

  152. We had to pay with over 4500 young lives for Israel’s sake.

    “but I am le tired…” Like, really tired of the black helicopter crowd.

  153. “Destroying the world in World War III is different than nuking a mountain in Afghanistan.”

    Oh no, John. See, Curtis LeMay swore up and down that if we massively bombed Cuba and then invaded, it would show the Soviets we mean business and they would back down! Anything else would be appeasement!

  154. “The whole point to 9/11 was to get the US to go crazy and overreact by starting a land war in the Muslim world that we would be bogged down in for years, eventually bankrupting ourselves”

    No. Bin Ladins plan was that if he killed enough Americans, we would disengage from the Middle East, stop supporting Israel and more important, stop supporting the Saudi Royal Family. Bin Ladin wanted to take over Saudi Arabia and re-establish one Muslim Califate. His beef was with the Saudi Royals and with the US by extenstion. What Bin Ladin was saying in the 1990s was that the US was a weak horse and that, followig the example of Somalia, if you killed enough Americans, we would go home and stop supporting his enemies. It is just the opposite of what you say. Where do you get your views of the Middle East? Daily Kos?

  155. *sigh* – the Caliphate? Really? If any of our foreign policy was based around the notion of taking that idea seriously, I weep.

  156. “Oh no, John. See, Curtis LeMay swore up and down that if we massively bombed Cuba and then invaded, it would show the Soviets we mean business and they would back down! Anything else would be appeasement!”

    no Curtis LeMay wanted to bomb China and the Soviet Union pre-emptively if they stopped us from invading Cuba. He did not want to just bomb Cuba. He actually argued that we should invade and then if the Soviets got involved we should bomb every country in the world virtually.

  157. Monica isn’t fat, she’s big boned!

    No one puts on 40 pounds of bone.

  158. “*sigh* – the Caliphate? Really? If any of our foreign policy was based around the notion of taking that idea seriously, I weep.”

    Take it up with Bin Ladin. I am not saying that is what is going to happen. I am saying that is what he was saying and that is what Al Quada was trying to do. They did 9-11 because they thought it would cause us to go home. This bullshit idea that Bin Ladin wanted us to come over and bomb the shit out him and kill or capture most of his leadership is crap. If he thought that was going to happen, he would have never authorized 9-11. What he thought was going to happen was the US would pull up and go home like they did in Somalia and he would then be free to go after the Sauds.

  159. Bin Laden has said again and again his goal is to bankrupt us through long wars of attrition.

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/01/binladen.tape/

    “Where do you get your views of the Middle East? Daily Kos?”

    Keep burning that straw, John.

  160. No one puts on 40 pounds of bone.

    Speak for yourself, SugarFree…

  161. There was another scaled back plan, though that would have involved bombing the Russian positions in Cuba and then invading and overthrowing Castro.

    It was made on the silly assumption that if we “stood tall” the Soviets would just take up their ass, rather than retaliate by taking over West Berlin.

  162. BDB,

    that tape was made in 2004. We are talking about why they did 9-11 in 2001. In 2004, Bin Ladin was making tapes to appeal to people like you. Go find me a tape or a message from the 1990s that says that. You won’t. What you will find is a lot of “strong horse” “weak horse” stuff.

  163. “Go find me a tape or a message from the 1990s that says that. You won’t. What you will find is a lot of “strong horse” “weak horse” stuff.”

    Who is to say those tapes weren’t made for people like you and other ultra-hawks to bait us into a war?

  164. I was wrong about the Reagan love. It tastes more like war jizz.

  165. yes BDB, After we invaded AFghanistan and Iraq and Al Quada was dying by the 1000s, Bin Ladin started saying that was his plan all along. To bankrupt us through long wars. That was not what he was saying in 2001, when he actually did 9-11.

  166. Taktix?,

    You’re one of those bone steroid freaks, aren’t you. OK, OK. I’ll amend to “No one not abusing HGH to the point of acromegaly puts on 40 pounds of bone.”

  167. “Who is to say those tapes weren’t made for people like you and other ultra-hawks to bait us into a war?”

    Or maybe, they were made to recruit people to join Al Quada on the theory that if we just hit the US once, they will stop supporting the Sauds and Israel? That seems a little more likly. By your thinking we should just should have sent Monica over to give the guy a blow job after 9-11 and it would have solved the whole thing. When someone bombs you, clearly the worst thing to do is fight back. Better to tell them how much you lvoe them. That will show them.

  168. Christ, you don’t think there is a middle ground between a massive long-term occupation/nation building and doing nothing?

  169. Foreign policy legacy-wise, a good-case outcome is still quite possible in the Mideast. Lets not forget that he did break AQ’s back in Afghanistan and Iraq, after all. Sure, it cost, but that cost was also spent trying to create a fundamental change in the Mideast. If it works, then it may have all been worth it. Still too early to say.

    I’ll stick with you with Afghanastan, but beyond that his actions were just naked imperialism. God knows Saddam needed a bullet in the crankcase, but that was the job of the Iraqis, not us. National sovereignty trumps political utility in my book.

    Oh, and I’ll jump into the fray on targetting civllians in that purely civilian targets (not civis working in a munition factory, but , homes, businesses etc) is *never* acceptable. I accept the fact that there will always be colateral civilian damage in war, but deliberately targeting civilains should be a war crime.

  170. Jordan,

    Where can I subscribe to your newletter, sir?

    Sadly, The SugarFree Times/Picayune is no longer being published. And in this economy, who can afford a “blog.” Have you seen what pixel futures at trading at?

  171. Franklin Harris | February 16, 2009, 12:30pm | #

    Yer outa yer friggin mind if you think Carter was better than The Who.

  172. “I’ll stick with you with Afghanastan, but beyond that his actions were just naked imperialism. God knows Saddam needed a bullet in the crankcase, but that was the job of the Iraqis, not us. National sovereignty trumps political utility in my book.”

    Plus all it did in the end was strengthen Iran. Now they have a friendly Shia-dominated government on their borders rather than a hostile Sunni dictatorship.

  173. I am still trying to understand why anyone, above the IQ of Forrest Gump or Pat Robertson, still thinks these audio tapes coming out of Afghanistan are made by Bid Laden.

    I could probably fake an accent and release a tape of equal quality, but I wouldn’t base my policy decisions on it…

  174. Folks, please. It’s Bush the Elder and Bush the Lesser. This is important.

    Perhaps the Least.

    Having had no political awareness before Carter, I am not well equipped to rate the dems. But I’ll go:

    Bush the Elder (lack of much accomplishment)

    Reagan / Clinton / Carter (mixed reports for them all)

    Nixon (a criminal thug in office)

    Bush the Lesser (willing to rape the constitution)

  175. Bush the Elder (lack of much accomplishment)

    Well, he did raise taxes through the fucking roof and pass the Retards, Cripples and Other Subhumans Getting Their Very Own Wheelchair Ramps Act.

  176. Christ, you don’t think there is a middle ground between a massive long-term occupation/nation building and doing nothing?

    Of course there is. Once you start breaking down the alternatives, though, you see that most of them involve the creating of power vacuums in the Mideast likely to be filled by the worst actors.

    Say we invade Afghanistan, kill off the Taliban too slow to make to Pakistan, and leave. Who do you suppose would be running Afghanistan now?

    Say we invade Iraq, get rid of Saddam, and leave. Who do you suppose would be running Iraq now?

    Punitive expeditions are famously ineffective in making long-term change, or even installing new rulers who both (a) survive and (b) keep on friendly terms with the now departed invader.

  177. “Say we invade Iraq, get rid of Saddam, and leave. Who do you suppose would be running Iraq now?”

    A Shia-dominated government with a autonomous Kurdistan in the north and a bitter Sunni minority. Which is exactly what they have now!

  178. Having had no political awareness before Carter, I am not well equipped to rate the dems. But I’ll go:
    ….
    Nixon (a criminal thug in office)

    So how can you rate Nixon if you have “no political awareness before Carter”?

  179. “Say we invade Afghanistan, kill off the Taliban too slow to make to Pakistan, and leave. Who do you suppose would be running Afghanistan now?”

    The central government would be running Kabul and the other cities while the Taliban is running the rural areas. Which, again, is what is going on now.

  180. R.C. Dean,

    Given that roughly 95% of our nation building exercises have turned out to be disastrous, or at the very least have significantly underperformed, I am rather skeptical about the ability of the U.S. to project power in that sort of way. Or more bluntly, we are incredibly ignorant of what we need to do when we get into these things and we remain ignorant throughout the process.

    Which is why I maintain that whatever drop in violence has occurred in Iraq has to do with what the primary actors wanted – the Iraqis – and not what the U.S. wanted.

    The Hayekian knowledge problem will continue to bite the U.S in the ass as long as we continue to not realize the significant limits to U.S. power.

  181. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.

    Even if they work in munitions factories?

    Bombing the factory, even in the full knowledge that there are non-combatants working there, seems to fall within reason (or what passes for reason when deciding how to kill people for political reasons).

    I’m a lot less sure about bombing the neighborhood up the hill, because you figure those folk probably work in the factory.

    A lot of the strategic decisions made by the allies in WWII bother me. To be sure, they were no worse than those taken by the other side, but…

    I do however rank the use of nuclear weapons in precisely the same bucket as the other city-leveling bombings undertaken in the same war. It simply doesn’t matter if you use torches and pitchfork, or deathrays: you count by the effect, not the tools.

  182. Carter is just an immoral scumbag

    Can build a fuckin’ house, tho.

  183. BDB,

    How much does the war in Iraq genetically lead to our current ramping up of government activity in the economy? It seems to me that foreign interventionism is often a precursor for such things (partly because all that government spending on war leads to an inflationary expansion of the economy, which comes back to Earth at some point).

  184. Of Democrats:
    Clinton
    Kennedy
    Truman
    Carter
    Johnson

    Republicans:
    Reagan
    Eisenhower
    Ford
    Nixon
    G.W. Bush
    G.H.W. Bush

  185. To be fair, Kennedy didn’t get much of a shot.
    Except the one that blew his fucking brains all over his wife’s tits.

  186. So how can you rate Nixon if you have “no political awareness before Carter”?

    Reading.

    But I don’t care for 20th century history much, and haven’t read much between WWII and the onset of my personal political awareness. I read a bit about Nixon, because I figured he represented a low-water mark in modern US politics.

    Go figure.

  187. BDB, I suspect the Taliban would be back running the whole show in Afghanistan by now.

    And, in Iraq, the “embittered” Sunni minority seems to have decided to participate in the most recent elections, so they might not be quite as bitter as you think.

    I will admit that the attitude of the Shia government toward Iran is a bit of a mystery to me, but I think that if we had left in, say, 2003, the Iranians would be pretty much running Iraq right now the way the Syrians run Lebanon.

    I really can’t bring myself to believe the military defeat of the Baathist deadenders and the Iranian-sponsored militia/terror groups has made no difference.

  188. “I really can’t bring myself to believe the military defeat of the Baathist deadenders and the Iranian-sponsored militia/terror groups has made no difference.”

    Aren’t the Baathist dead-enders our allies now? Or at least against Al Qaeda?

  189. Given that roughly 95% of our nation building exercises have turned out to be disastrous, or at the very least have significantly underperformed, I am rather skeptical about the ability of the U.S. to project power in that sort of way.

    Believe it or not, I am too.

    Which is why I maintain that whatever drop in violence has occurred in Iraq has to do with what the primary actors wanted – the Iraqis – and not what the U.S. wanted.

    I tend to believe that the vast majority of the Iraqis always wanted the Baathists thrown out, the deadenders killed, and the Iranian-sponsored militias to knock it off. What they lacked wasn’t the desire, but the military capability to accomplish these ends. Iraqi desire for peace and stability in Iraq is a necessary but not sufficient condition. The same goes for us, of course.

  190. Eisenhower
    Ford
    Carter
    Reagan
    Kennedy
    Truman
    Bush the Elder
    Clinton (Waco, UHC, Abuse of power orgy)
    Nixon
    Bush the Lesser (I’m going to use that, he deserves it)
    Johnson

  191. Aren’t the Baathist dead-enders our allies now?

    Many, of course, are dead. Some of the survivors may have signed on with the winner, sure, after they were beaten in the field. So?

  192. Carter is just an immoral scumbag

    Golly, I wonder who wrote that.

    Carter gets a lot of undeserved hate. He inherited a monumental shitpile from you-know-who and his pulling guard; then he got steamrollered by his own party in Congress.

    *One man’s JooHater is another man’s pragmatist.

  193. …, but as we enter our second consecutive messianic presidency

    Give me a break!

    In country of 300,000,000+, maybe you could find a couple dozen deluded fools that looked at G.W. Bush as the messiah, but otherwise even the Republican in 2000 were lukewarm to GW. Bush is not president anymore, let the BDS go.

    G.W.Bush was never elected on who he was, but who he was not. i.e. in 2000 he was not Al Gore and 2004 he was not John Kerry.

    Maybe G.W. Bush will go down in history as the worst president ever, but that will be for one reason only – John Kerry was never elected president. We don’t get to choose between Bush and some ideal candidate, we got to choose between Bush and what the Democrats decided to run?and in 2004 the Democrats decided to run a bag a shit. Really, Kerry couldn’t even beat Bush in 2004! What were Bush’s numbers then? 40% approval, if that high?

    The difference between Gore and Bush was less, but still Bush was/is a less bad choice.

    QA challenge for all you BDS suffers out there; explain in 150 words or less why Al Gore would have been a better choice in 2000.

  194. bookworm, why don’t you actually go read a book or two and learn about the preparations the Japanese made for invasion? Even the women and children were being trained to fight.

    The million figure is on the low side of what I have seen. It was about 1 million US losses vs about 6-10 million for Japan.

    Dropping the nukes was compassionate in comparison. It was an even better decision in hindsight to have 2 dropped as opposed to a future scenario where 100 were dropped at once.

    If you are going to talk about some hypothetical small number of civilian losses from ground invasion (utter fallacy), you should stack that up against the very real possibly of a larger amount of more destructive bombs used in the future without the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  195. “explain in 150 words or less why Al Gore would have been a better choice in 2000.”

    No Iraq War.

    “Really, Kerry couldn’t even beat Bush in 2004! What were Bush’s numbers then? 40% approval, if that high?”

    They were 50%. Bush won with 50% of the vote–just enough. Very close election for an incumbent.

    I agree with you that Kerry was a piece of shit, though. Gore is probably better than either Kerry or Bush. But that’s like picking the best apartment in a ghetto housing project.

  196. I think Gore would have been somewhat like a third Clinton term–especially with a Republican Congress–and that wouldn’t have been all THAT bad.

  197. Truman – 2 bombs
    Johnson – Left office when he needed to
    Clinton – didn’t do shit
    Kennedy – did even less
    Carter – wish he’d done nothing

    Reagan – Absolute best ever
    G.W. Bush – Will eventually take Reagan’s best ever crown
    Eisenhower – Placeholder Putz
    G.H.W. Bush – Left Saddam in power
    Nixon – Started this whole Chinese manufacturing problem
    Ford – Pardoned Nixon

    I’m currently enjoying my 11th president

  198. “IMO, each major city should have had a loop road that the interstates joined up with along one of the sides of the city.”

    They do.

  199. Professional historians tend to like presidents who launch wars and expand government power.

    Therefore, I predict that George W. Bush will eventually be considered a great president.

  200. In country of 300,000,000+, maybe you could find a couple dozen deluded fools that looked at G.W. Bush as the messiah, but otherwise even the Republican in 2000 were lukewarm to GW.

    I wasn’t referring to the election of 2000. His first year in office, it was reasonable to hope that Bush would turn out to be a Ford-style caretaker. I was referring to the personality cult built around Bush during the war.

  201. Gore is probably better than either Kerry or Bush. But that’s like picking the best apartment in a ghetto housing project.

    No probable about Gore being less bad than Kerry. I’ll agree with, “…ghetto housing project.” That was my point. The statement that G.W. Bush was ever thought of a messianic was what I was calling bullshit on. I voted for McCain in the 2000 primaries.

  202. http://www.fff.org/freedom/1195f.asp

    Was the use of the A-bomb on Japan really neccessary?

  203. Reagan – Absolute best ever ushered in the religious right
    G.W. Bush – Will eventually take Reagan’s best ever crown outspent LBJ, lied about nationbuilding, gave geezers pills on my fucking dime, tried to pander to religious right, set back English grammar 128 years
    Eisenhower – Placeholder Putz who the fuck is Eisenhower?
    G.H.W. Bush – Left Saddam in power raised taxes, puked on Japan, pushed Affirmative Racism
    Nixon – Started this whole Chinese manufacturing problem lied, cheated, took us off gold standard for good, visited commies, outed Jews, upped drug war
    Ford – Pardoned Nixon big forehead

  204. Let’s see, Reagan:

    1) Pushed through a cut to the top marginal income tax rate from 70%+ to 30%+, our modern day range.

    2) Actually cut the budget of several domestic agencies

    3) Pushed for the abolition of several cabinet departments

    4) Boldly opposed communism.

    Here’s MadMikeFisk’s list:

    Of Democrats:
    Clinton
    Kennedy
    Truman
    Carter
    Johnson

    Republicans:
    Reagan
    Eisenhower
    Ford
    Nixon
    G.W. Bush
    G.H.W. Bush

    The only libertarian list on this whole thread. Truman belongs in hell, but other than that I agree with it.

  205. Cosmotarians would agree with me on Reagan, but it would hinder their DC social prospects. Jesse may be married, but my point stands.

    Jamie Kelly: Should we throw out the only President in modern times who actually stood for limited government because he had social conservative instincts? Sure, you might not be able to smoke pot all day then go abort your baby in the evening. But some of us libertarians would make that trade off in exchange for a government that was half the size.

  206. “Ignoring Obama, who hasn’t accumulated enough of a record to compete…”

    What are you talking about? Obama is already the greatest president in US history. According to Nancy Pelosi, historians are already writing the story of his greatness.

  207. “Was the use of the A-bomb on Japan really neccessary?”

    Yes.

  208. They do.

    Nope, they generally go thru the city, not just hitting the loop on the tangent.

    I will try to ascii-art Atlanta if done my way vs current:
    x x
    x x
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    x x
    x downtown x
    x x
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    x x
    x x

    x x
    x x
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    x x x
    xxxxxxxdowntownxxxxxxx
    x x x
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    x x
    x x

  209. bookworm – that’s the extent of your argument?

    Surprise, surprise, you link to a paleo-lovin’ site that just happens to claim to counter the “estimates”. Of course, given that you would rather have higher civilian casualties, as long as the intent was noble, I still don’t understand your drive to disprove the estimates.

    Anyway, you do know that Dr. Skates, despite his flight into counterfacutuals, does not support the standard paleo line that Japan was “desperate to surrender” and that a “bullying United States” dropped A-bombs on them anyway, right?

    Right?

  210. Okay, that didnt work at all. My bad.

  211. “That doesn’t matter. Deliberately killing civilians is never justified.”

    It is if Allah wills it so.

  212. Right Wing Realist,
    Don’t get me wrong. I admire Reagan greatly. I was just pointing out some of the more unsavory aspects of the administrations you listed.

  213. Okay, look at a map of Atlanta, keep I285 where it is, have I20 come across the north side of it instead of thru the middle of town, have I75 come down the west side and I85 down the east side, so the 3 interstates form 3 sides of I-285.

  214. Sure, you might not be able to smoke pot all day then go abort your baby in the evening.

    You obviously weren’t with me last Saturday.

  215. “explain in 150 words or less why Al Gore would have been a better choice in 2000.”

    “No Iraq War.”

    Are you sure about that? Look at who would have been his vice-president.

  216. Cosmotarians would agree with me on Reagan, but it would hinder their DC social prospects.

    welcome to dumbsville, population: you. Do you have any kind of evidence to back up the aspersions you’re casting, or are you just being a d-bag?

  217. TAO,

    That’s Lonewacko, so I’m going with the latter.

  218. “Are you sure about that? Look at who would have been his vice-president.”

    Unless you’re as much of a spineless moron as Bush the Lesser, Vice Presidents are generally brought closer to the view of the President, not the other way around.

  219. Sure, you might not be able to smoke pot all day then go abort your baby in the evening.

    Just try finding a physician to do elective procedures in the evening. Go on. I dare you.

  220. RWR = Chris Kelly? That explains a lot.

  221. I thought ChrisKelly types LiekThis?

  222. He’s fixed it lately, probably just because it’s that easy of a tell. I am not the first one to make this connection. We really need to get a newsletter organized. Any of you have access to a mimeograph?

  223. “Surprise, surprise, you link to a paleo-lovin’ site that just happens to claim to counter the “estimates”.”

    Read the review again and see who it was that questioned the estimates. Those estimates didn’t come from Richard Ebeling.

  224. “He’s fixed it lately, probably just because it’s that easy of a tell.”

    And babbling on about “Cosmotarians” and the “beltway” isn’t?

  225. “The point is that the A bombs were deliberately used for killing civilians, not for bombing munitions factories.”

    This whole it’s immoral to bomb civilians business is just commie, liberal bullshit. If your government declares war, you become a legitimate target. Period.

  226. BDB,

    He’ll correct that as well, I imagine.

    But a lot more commenters and trolls than just him bought into the “Cosmotarian” construction when it bubbled up like a hot-tub fart in the throes of the Ron Paul newsletter meltdown. And “beltway” has been an insult for decades. It’s only his monomania that keeps him using them and being easy to spot.

  227. I was referring to the personality cult built around Bush during the war.

    Christ Jesse, if I was younger I’d like some of the shit you’ve been smoking!

    In between the shouts of dumb, chimp and Hitler, who the hell were you listening too? Even by his supporters, Bush was just given the mild respect that goes with the office of president.

    Certainly in my 53 years, until Obama, I would never use the term personality cult in the same sentence with a sitting president. One exception maybe, Washington. After his death, a personality cult developed around Lincoln, but the cult was never there when he was alive. A personality and equally strong anti-personality cult is developing around Reagan.

    Words matter. That has always been my problem with the Bush = Hitler meme. Not that I was such a big Bush supporter, but if Bush equals Hitler what words are left to describe the next Hitler?

    For the term messianic to mean anything, it needs to be reserved for Obama.

  228. “If he were gay he would have a framed poster of Clay Aiken”

    I have one!

  229. “Certainly in my 53 years, until Obama, I would never use the term personality cult in the same sentence with a sitting president. One exception maybe, Washington.”

    Andrew Jackson. FDR. Kennedy.

  230. Read the review again and see who it was that questioned the estimates.

    I addressed parts of Dr. Skates approach above. Also, did you note (*footstomp*) that Dr. Skates does not buy into this false narrative of “the big bad United States bombed poor, ready-to-surrender Japan”?

    Are you reading the entirety of what I post, or what?

    Aaaanyway, like I said, you can quote historians favorable to an interpretation you favor, just don’t be surprised when it gets called revisionism with an agenda.

  231. Wait. I’m confused now. Is RWR/LoneWacko/Chris Kelly now stating he is a libertarian? How long has this been going on?

  232. Naga,

    Since lying was invented.

  233. This whole it’s immoral to bomb civilians business is just commie, liberal bullshit. If your government declares war, you become a legitimate target. Period.

    Those may be the two most anti-libertarian sentences I’ve seen written here, ever.
    Hey Grandpa, where would you like me to shove your award?

  234. Here’s another review of “The Invasion of Japan”.

    From Booklist
    The two-stage invasion of Japan planned for the fall of 1945 and the spring of 1946 has frequently been discussed only cursorily, usually as an adjunct to considering the debate over the dropping of the atomic bombs. Skates persuasively argues that Japanese military power was so nearly exhausted that the invasion would have been much less costly than has usually been supposed by those seeking to justify the bombs and that Japan might have surrendered without either bombs or invasion if the terms made available had been less than unconditional.

  235. “don’t be surprised when it gets called revisionism with an agenda.”

    You don’t think those who do everything they can to justify our inhumane actions of nuking civilians have an agenda?

  236. SugarFree,

    Huh. I guess I should have actually clicked on some of his links instead of simply jumping to my own posting of:

    LONEWACKO!!!

    *shakes fist in air*

  237. “did you note (*footstomp*) that Dr. Skates does not buy into this false narrative of “the big bad United States bombed poor, ready-to-surrender Japan”?”

    Sounds like it to me judging from Booklist’s review of his book.

    “Skates persuasively argues that Japanese military power was so nearly exhausted that the invasion would have been much less costly than has usually been supposed by those seeking to justify the bombs and that Japan might have surrendered without either bombs or invasion if the terms made available had been less than unconditional.”

  238. Pish Posh, althought I DO LOVE hearing the phrase “commie, liberal bullshit” on H&R and believe it should be used more often.

    the best presidents are the best because when they are doing their job right it appears that they are doing nothing at all

  239. “You don’t need A bombs to bomb munitions factories. In that case, the munitions factories were not the targets, it was the civilians.”

    Technically, both these statements are wrong. 1) The technology of the day did not allow anything but carpet bombing by hundreds of bombers with conventional weapons.
    2) The immediate targets of both nuclear weapons were Japanese military installations in the cities.

    Meanwhile, each month the war went on tens of thousands of people were dying throughout the Pacific Theater, Japanese servicemen, Allied servicemen, civilians, POWS, etc. The war wasn’t on hold. Tens of thousands more were dying each month of starvation in the Japanese home islands due to the blockade.

    The idea the Japanese just wanted to retain the Emperor is a Cold War con. The Japanese military held the reins and up to the end of the war they wanted peace terms that allowed them to retain the military dictatorship and much of the empire in places such as Korea and Manchuria.

    Even after the second bombing the leadership voted 4-4 to continue the war, and it was only the Emperor’s vote that broke the tie. Members of the military then attempted to launch a coup in Tokyo, but were fought off.

    But why even bother? Nothing’s going to stop this nonsense from coming up again, to be discredited, again, and again. It’s not about the truth, it’s about slandering the U.S.

  240. Why are so many people here ranking Kennedy so highly? I can understand that the A-bombing opponents would rank Truman lower, but Kennedy helped push the world to the brink of nuclear war. He was an aggressive, interventionist Cold Warrior who sowed before Johnson could reap.

    Does that tax cut of his really outweigh all of that?

  241. Don’t know if Carter was a good President or not, but he seems like he is a decent person. Maybe Truman, Eisenhower, and Ford were decent folk, too; I don’t know enough about them. The rest are definitely scumbugs at least, mass murderer in a couple of cases, that would never be invited into my house.

  242. “Reagan – Absolute best ever ushered in the religious right”

    No, William Jennings Bryan did.

  243. Truman was not a decent guy, he did what was necessary I’ll agree, but total jackass with a graphite rod firmly affixed in his colon.

    Haven’t you seen the Futurama episode where Fry becomes his own grandfather? That is an accurate portrayal of Truman if I’ve ever seen one.

  244. Okay, that didnt work at all. My bad.

    My point is that irrespective of the Interstate naming process, most major cities have a big circle around them made out of Interstate.

  245. Even by his supporters, Bush was just given the mild respect that goes with the office of president.

    You’ve repressed a lot of memories, Anti-O’Malley. Not that I blame you for it. Some of the Bush-worship was…creepy. (Anyone remember that weird video I blogged here 4 or 5 years ago, where the filmmaker set a bunch of Bush footage to the tune of “You Lift Me Up”?)

  246. “The million figure is on the low side of what I have seen. It was about 1 million US losses vs about 6-10 million for Japan.”

    Yet some estimates put expected American losses at 14,000.

  247. “Hey Grandpa, where would you like me to shove your award?”

    Up your ass.

  248. “Truman was not a decent guy”

    He once called Asians “yellow puke”.

  249. Yesh Jesse,

    but I didn’t notice it, really I didn’t. In 2000 I was 15, and nobody cared about politics. I didn’t see any Bush-worship first hand at all, ever.

    In 2008 I see plenty of Obama worship, though its not as public or egregious as it is made out to be. I wouldn’t describe either Obama or GWB to be messianic. There sure is always going to be some fringe nuts who can turn anything or anyone into a Messiah.

    I’mma go worship this can of Peter Pan peanutbutter. I hear it gave some evil-doers salmonella.

  250. There was Bush worship from 9/12/01 until Katrina when it petered out, its climax was probably the USS Lincoln speech.

  251. “Don’t know if Carter was a good President or not, but he seems like he is a decent person. Maybe Truman, Eisenhower, and Ford were decent folk, too; I don’t know enough about them. The rest are definitely scumbugs at least, mass murderer in a couple of cases, that would never be invited into my house.”

    Truman was also a mass murderer.

  252. its climax was probably the USS Lincoln speech

    Right. Go read the posts on The Corner from that day, especially K-Lo’s. You’ll see what I mean.

  253. From first to worst:

    Zeppelin
    Stones
    Pink Floyd
    U2
    The Who
    Nirvana
    Radiohead
    The Beatles are the most overrated pile of shit I’ve ever heard. Seriously, their music is crap. I know I’ll probably get crucified for this, but here’s a big pre-emptive fuck off for you.

    Fuck off.

  254. Obama worship is a bit different because its been present from the beginning, whereas with Bush there wasn’t any until 9/11.

  255. Nick, your list is a steaming pile of shit. Without The Beatles those other bands would have sucked or not existed at all. Why doncha attach years to those bands? The influence The Beatles have on popular music CANNOT be overstated.

  256. Japan might have surrendered without either bombs or invasion if the terms made available had been less than unconditional.

    The last bit is the key. Conditional surrender was not an option on the table. And rightly so. Japan could have avoided lots of bad stuff by unconditionally surrendering. Early in 1941 might have been a good time for it.

  257. “It’s not about the truth, it’s about slandering the U.S.”

    It’s not about slandering the US, it’s about legitimate criticism of US Government policy past and present that we disagree with, or do we no longer have freedom of speech? Are we not allowed to criticize our government’s policies without being accused of slandering the US?

  258. Maybe Truman, Eisenhower, and Ford were decent folk

    I dont know about decent folk, but Ford was delicious.

  259. My point is that irrespective of the Interstate naming process, most major cities have a big circle around them made out of Interstate.

    Sigh. That wasnt my point at all. I agree with that. Im talking about NOT running the damn interstate thru the city.

    No interstates slicing thru the middle of downtown.

    Atlanta has 3 going thru downtown. Louisville (my hometown) has 2.5 (I-71 starts in Louisville). They shouldnt have ever gone inside the loop.

  260. What robc is saying is he wants the interstate system in every city to be like Washington DC–one big beltway outside, no interstates running through it.

  261. “Conditional surrender was not an option on the table. And rightly so.”

    FDR’s insistence on unconditional surrender for the Axis powers caused the war to drag on a lot longer than it needed to.

  262. Skates persuasively argues that Japanese military power was so nearly exhausted that the invasion would have been much less costly than has usually been supposed by those seeking to justify the bombs

    Operation Downfall would have involved, among other things, widespread US poison gas attacks; planned Japanese responses to the invasion included the mass killing of Western POWs. Considering what could easily have spiraled out of that, even with a weakened Japanese military, I don’t buy that a “conventional” invasion would have certainly been less horrible.

    and that Japan might have surrendered without either bombs or invasion if the terms made available had been less than unconditional.

    And Japan might have avoided either bombs or invasion by surrendering unconditionally.

    The most convincing case the a-bombing opponents have made is that the US was unwilling to look at or trust nearly-but-not-quite-unconditional terms of surrender that Japan would have been willing to offer. However, Japan was also unwilling to trust that the US would react harshly to Japan’s insistence upon terms.

    Two mutually alien military and leadership cultures got into conflict, and that alienation lead to a far bloodier end to the fight than would have otherwise happened.

  263. It’s not about slandering the US, it’s about legitimate criticism of US Government policy past and present that we disagree with, or do we no longer have freedom of speech? Are we not allowed to criticize our government’s policies without being accused of slandering the US?

    Since when does that accusation remove our freedom of speech?

  264. “The influence The Beatles have on popular music CANNOT be overstated.”

    And the Beatles would not have been as good as they were if it had not been for their competition with Brian Wilson.

  265. FDR’s insistence onThe Axis powers refusal to unconditionally surrender caused the war to drag on a lot longer than it needed to.

    FTFY.

  266. Might as well put my list, quickly typed out.

    Worst to best:

    LBJ: No comment needed, I don’t think.

    Truman: “Fair Deal” anyone? Police actions without a declaration of war?

    GWB: Destroyed the last bit of small-government instinct in the Republican Party. Like Hoover badly damaged capitalism by instituting socialism under the guise of free-market principlies. Woodrow Wilsonesque foreign policy. Would be even higher on the list except he had to deal with an opposition that was even more insane and opportunistic.

    Carter: A completely over his head fool

    Nixon: Abuses of power. Price controls. Affirmative action. EPA. Set a horrible precedence in being the first instance of a Republican who adopted the Democratic domestic program in order to save his foreign policy. Biggest saving grace was he was a legitimate foreign policy genius, and had an even more insane opposition than GWB, up to and including bombs and riots exploding in the streets.

    Kennedy: Probably would have been higher up the list if he survived. Strengthed the FCC. Entire “New Frontier.” Total interventionist who wanted to conduct counterinsurgencies throughout the Third World, directy leading to Vietnam. Proto-Obama personality cult. Like LBJ and FDR, abused the FBI and CIA just as badly as Nixon, though you won’t get it from your NEA approved history books.

    G.H.W. Bush: ‘Moderate Republican’ who was perfectly happy to help along the Republican transition into the other big-government party. Leftover from the Rockefeller Era. A moderately competent foreign policy functionary, but set the tone for the U.S. as global policeman (see New World Order).

    Ford: An adult with no desire to save the world.

    Eisenhower: Another adult. Most experienced U.S. president ever, aside from perhaps Washington, on military and foreign policy issues. Suffered from moderatitis on occasion, but truly believed in balanced budgets and protecting the American economy. No huge foreign policy disasters, but must factor in his later support for broader intervention in Vietnam.

    Reagan: Heavily overrated from a small-government point of view. Only so high on the list because of the awfulness of his competition. Helped corrupt the Republican Party by adopting the moral majority. Actually a semi-decent foreign policy, if a bit too obsessed with the Soviets in the Third World. Caused the Soviets to overreach themselves financially (though this was probably coming in the long-run anyway) with both the military buildup and support for opposition movements in the Soviet bloc. Suprisingly, in retrospect, committed U.S. troops sparingly, and was smart enough to back out of the loser that was Lebanon – admittedly after a big black eye.

  267. FDR’s insistence on unconditional surrender for the Axis powers caused the war to drag on a lot longer than it needed to.

    Probably, but it has certainly insured that the instigators of WWII have given up their instigatin’ ways. I tend to believe that you should never fight a war unless you intend to force an unconditional surrender on the other guy. Anything else is just killing people to better your negotiating position.

  268. On the whole bombing civilians in war time deal I would note that a lot of Koreans who were forced laborers died as a result of the firebombing of Japan as well as the nuclear attacks. So where exactly do they lie any moral calculus? The issue of who is and who is not a legitimate target is always complicated by matters like these.

    IMHO, one should avoid war if possible; and if one must engage in it, then it should be the sort of war ends and means are just and proportionate to that justness. That in general would include expending significant effort avoiding the loss of civilian life.

  269. FDR’s insistence on unconditional surrender for the Axis powers caused the war to drag on a lot longer than it needed to.

    Demanding unconditional surrender and thoroughly occupying the Axis countries demonstrably lead to those countries never being threatening again – at least up to this point in time, 64 years later.

    Remember their historical hindsight, where a broken, but independent Germany went back on a war footing and became a serious threat again a mere twenty years later. It could have been a fluke of history and might not have happened again if we’d fought Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany to an armistice, but it certainly looked like a strong possibility to the people of the time.

  270. I’m a longtime reader and observer of these threads, but this is my first post.
    After reading through these rankings, an interesting question came up for me. How much were the records of these presidencies a product of the times and conditions, versus how much were they the product of leaders carrying out policies they ideologically favored? In other words, were some of the perennial bottom-of-the-list presidents merely victims of circumstance, or were they really evil men that John McCain could have called bad names in any decade?
    I’ve often wondered (as I’m sure many others have) if Bush the Lesser (love that term, btw) would have been a fairly decent president absent the “gamechanging” event of 9/11, or would he have found a way to trample the Constitution, regardless of exogenous circumstances? Similarly, would Reagan be so fondly remembered if he hadn’t been prescient enough to lose nomination bids in ’68 and ’76, thereby pushing his presidency into a future where the Vietnam war is over and the Soviet Union is much closer to collapse? Nixon so hated if he’d defeated JFK in 1960 and been presented with a whole different set of world circumstances? I really can’t say for sure, but I do think divided government is a pretty surefire way to get at least a tolerable presidency from a libertarian POV, a la Clinton’s relative Pax Americana of the late 90s being preferable to LBJ’s big gov’t Great Society of the 60s.
    Thoughts?

  271. R.C. Dean,

    I tend to believe that you should never fight a war unless you intend to force an unconditional surrender on the other guy.

    What one intends to do and what one can actually do once the war is under way are often quite different things.

    ___________________________________

    As for whether it was just to use atomic weaponry against Japan, there was a lot of division at the time on the matter and that remains so; and I think that is quite appropriate.

  272. After reading through these rankings, an interesting question came up for me. How much were the records of these presidencies a product of the times and conditions, versus how much were they the product of leaders carrying out policies they ideologically favored?

    An excellent point which people often negelect in judging individuals’ decisions. It is incredibly to operate against the zeitgeist. It even affects the policies that individuals favor ideologically. Many politicians’ policies are simply a reflection of what’s bubbling up from Middle America, seeping down from the academia/media/pop culture who set the tone, carried out by the bureacrats who draft and carry out much of the immediate politics.

    It also demonstrates just how royally fucked small-government advocates are today. The culture war was already fought – we lost.

  273. “Thoughts?”

    Go away. You don’t belong here.

  274. Zappa
    The Who
    Pink Floyd
    U2
    Nirvana
    Radiohead (Who?)
    Stones
    The Beatles

  275. “What one intends to do and what one can actually do once the war is under way are often quite different things.”

    Not if one has 10,000 nukes.

  276. B-Rad,

    Some good questions. Nixon’s downfall was his persona, that would have been the same 8 years earlier. Whether he happened to get caught in a Watergate style thing or not, who knows? He probably wouldnt have gotten us into Vietnam but who knows what he would have done with the economy? Not sure if he could have passed the Kennedy tax cut either.

  277. B-rad! Yes! Agree!

    EVERYTHING is coloured by the times. The influence of the president (eckspecially this time round) is SUPER DOOPER small compared to how it is/was/will be perceived. The PROBLEM is when the exec expands their powers making yours and mine theses in error. So umm yeah, back to the point….The Great Society was so totally like FU??CK YEAH!

  278. Eric,

    Remember their historical hindsight, where a broken, but independent Germany went back on a war footing and became a serious threat again a mere twenty years later.

    I’m just sniping here, but hear me out. Germany wasn’t broken in 1918; Germany was still the largest player on all fronts at that time. That may have been more of a problem than its independence. Now if France had its way Germany would have been broken; but the U.S. and the U.K. wanted Germany to help re-create something like the Concert of Europe; a bit like the role that France played following the collapse of the Napoleonic regime after the Hundred Days.

    Anyway, we quickly realized at the close of the war that we needed a relatively independent Germany and if not an independent German military at least a strong one to defend Western Europe against any Soviet incursion. We tend to forget that the Germans were going to take it up the ass at the Fulda Gap if war was to commence and NATO’s security umbrella rested largely in German hands. Imagine what Germany would have looked like after the first tactical nukes had been sent on their way.

  279. Some of the Bush-worship was…creepy.

    All politician worship is creepy. I voted for G.H.Bush and Reagan and I hate they name ships after them when they are/were alive. And naming a ship after Jimmy Carter, dead or alive, just plain pisses me off.

    MayorOmalleySuxs, MT1(SS) [once-upon-a-time]

    PS: I did, however, enjoy the fight over renaming Washington National after Reagan, if only to watch the Dems’ blood presure rise.

  280. Eric,

    Of course whether the Soviets could have actually gotten what appear in hindsight to be reluctant allies to invade Western Europe is a matter we can now happily debate without fear.

  281. I should have mentioned the U.S. forces defending the Fulda Gap; still, to the best of my knowledge the majority of ground forces in Germany at the time were German.

  282. Man, it is weird to think about the Cold War.

  283. And naming a ship after Jimmy Carter, dead or alive, just plain pisses me off.

    The closest vessel is the USS Walter Mondale. It’s a laundry ship

  284. Best to worst since WW2 based on least amount of damage to live, liberty and property so far.
    Ike
    Reagan
    Ford,
    Carter
    Bush SR.
    Clinton
    GW,
    Nixon
    LBJ

    Truman

  285. Imagine what Germany would have looked like after the first tactical nukes had been sent on their way.

    Imagine what it would have looked like if a couple of those nukes had been delivered and Germany surrendered unconditionally before it was invaded by the Soviets.

    we quickly realized at the close of the war that we needed a relatively independent Germany

    Well, we certainly didn’t get that, did we?

  286. The closest vessel is the USS Walter Mondale. It’s a laundry ship

    They have whole ships for laundry?

  287. What one intends to do and what one can actually do once the war is under way are often quite different things.

    Well, sure. Everyone goes to war intending to win, but it doesn’t work that way.

    I would think that one lesson of history is that “fighting to a truce” all too often only leads to more bloodshed in the near future, and therefor should be avoided whenever possible. The only recent exception that I can think of is Korea, where fighting to a truce has nonetheless doomed generations of North Koreans to a living hell.

  288. 298 comments in a list thread? A lot of citizens have the day off, evidently.

  289. Sounds like it to me judging from Booklist’s review of his book.

    “In fact, I differ fundamentally with most of
    the conclusions of the revisionists-especially the belief that America utilized two atomic bombs on ‘an already defeated Japan that was desperately trying to surrender.’…let me say simply that the massive buildup of Japanese forces in southern Kyushu in Summer 1945 did not appear to U.S. planners as if Japan was ‘desperate to surrender’.

    – John Ray Skates, Joint Forces Quarterly, Spring of 1996-

    Feel free to google it.

    you know what else kills me? You’re willing to throw up reviews about Skates’ book and make assertions about it…having not even read it. How “bookwormish” of you.

  290. A lot of citizens have the day off, evidently.

    I’d think it ought to be the other way around. What better way to get through a day at the office than posting blog comments. The best thing is you even look busy and productive typing away on that “big presentation” you are preparing. On the other hand, lots of people with a day off ought to have better things to do than waste it on the internet.

  291. Clinton (for balanced budgets and getting a BJ in the Oval Office)

    JFK (for cutting insane tax rates and standing up to communist Russia)

    Reagan (for cutting them even more and destroying communist Russia)

    Carter (for apparently almost decriminalizing pot)

    Truman (for his foresight on the communist threat)

    Ford (dumb and harmless)

    Johnson (misguided on viet nam)

    George HW (uninspiring regulator)

    George W (complete and total idiot)

  292. keynesian stimulus from Kennedy is gettin’ the mad props today!

  293. Truman not only committed one of the most horrific wartime acts of the 20th century, he also antagonized Russia and started the cold war.

    All around foreign policy clusterfuck.

  294. And how the hell is Bush worse than Johnson? Bush was far less actively bad.

    Vietnam, Medicare, and Medicaid, and rigging elections are far worse than Iraq, Medicare part D, and rigging elections.

  295. How about government getting bigger and more intrusive? How about the Patriot Act? How about the exponential growth of the surveillance state? How about the escalation of the drug war? How about the escaltion of employment of loser parasitic armed thugs? How about the failure to eliminate the FBI, DEA, IRS and ATF? How about the failure to demonize the income tax?

    GWB barely beats Lincoln and the 2 Roosevelts.

  296. I went through a few of these, but…..WTF is wrong with JOHN?

    Still waiting for those riots……PIG

  297. B-Rad-

    9/11 did not have to be a gamechanging event if one champions individual liberty. A leader with some stones would have handled things much differently. He could have seized the day to denounce all of those who sought to use the tragedy to make government bigger and more intrusive. A real leader would have resisted calls to further empower the national security state by arguing that freedom is always best served by rejecting nonsense that safety is best secured by sacrificing liberty and throwing zillions down the rate hole of military spending.

  298. Best Republican presidents: Eisenhower and Grant. Neither of them did much in office, and that’s as it should be.

    -jcr

  299. Best Democrats: Carter and Clinton, although not intentionally on their parts. The fact that they were hamstrung by Republican opposition in congress sharply limited the amount of damage they were able to do.

    -jcr

  300. On second thought, the best Democratic president was Thomas Jefferson. Don’t know why I wasn’t considering people all the way back to the start of the country.

    -jcr

  301. what is up with all these people ranking the beatles above the who?

    not only were the who metric assloads better than the beatles, but the who did not spawn such drek as “wings”. or yoko ono. the who wimmins has the good sense to shut the fuck up.

    quadrophenia >>>>> sgt pepper or any of their concept albums.

    who’s next is better than any frigging beatles album.

    pete townsend is also at least as smart as john lennon (was), yet doesn’;t come off like a pseudointellectual horses ass in interviews.

    also note that the who absorbed beatles progeny (ringo starr’s son plays drums).

  302. libertymike-

    I totally agree that Bush took exactly the wrong course of action post-9/11. A true leader with some stones would’ve done more to champion liberty than tell the nation to go shopping and try not to think about all that warrantless wiretapping going on, and more for security than launching a costly war of aggression.
    Here’s the sad realty of national politics, though: I can’t think of any president in the last fifty years, or even any person who came close to the presidency (with the possible exception of Goldwater) who wouldn’t have done pretty much the same things Bush did, and with the same results.

    Looks like I’m going to be chronically disappointed in the executive branch until the cabinet is made up of staffers from reason and Cato…

  303. Truman was a fascist mass murderer. He was not only the worst post-WWII president, but the worst ever.

  304. Reagan was the best President of either party since at least Calvin Coolidge.Truman the best of his Party since James K. Polk.

    Carter was a worthless POS and he was poisoning our marijuana supply!

  305. “Best Democrats: Carter and Clinton, although not intentionally on their parts. The fact that they were hamstrung by Republican opposition in congress”

    Didn’t the Dems control congress during the Carter years?

  306. OK, here’s my list based on objective reductions or gains in the national deficit. This list does not include the first year’s deficit in the rankings. This also has little bearing on my “favorite presidents” but just one measure.

    http://home.adelphi.edu/sbloch/deficits.html

    1.) Truman (gets an unfair advantage because of post-WWII reductions.)
    2.) Clinton
    3.) Eisenhower
    4.) Carter
    5.) Johnson
    6.) Kennedy
    7.) Nixon
    8.) George H.W. Bush
    9.) Ford
    10.) Reagan
    11.) George W. Bush

    This may not necessarily be the best measure, as Republicans have this idiotic idea that we can cut taxes without cutting spending, but that does not change the fact that we still have to pay for the deficit obligations plus the interest accrued. Honestly, I’d rather just pay taxes and get it done with upfront.

  307. I mostly agree with Jesse Walker’s lists, but I would put Clinton above Carter, and Truman above Kennedy and in a dead heat with Carter.

    And Bush 1 gets a little bit of a short shrift both in Jesse’s list and most of the ones above.

    To reitterate the common objections to Truman:
    Dropping the atomic bombs was the right decision given the information available at the time, and knowing everything we know now, still the right decision. (this ‘everything’ includes keeping the Russians out of the home islands)

    Getting involved in Korea was the right decision given the information available at the time, and knowing everything we know now, still the right decision.

    A couple other misc bullet points for Truman
    Integrating the military
    Telling McArthur to sod off.
    Being the last ‘ordinary man’ to hold the presidency (and perhaps the last one ever)

    As for Bush 1, *he* is the one that led the successful (or at least not totally disastrous) end of the cold war. Berlin wall came down 1st year of his watch, USSR dissolved in the 3rd year.

    Everything that Reagan did to reduce the size of government was started under Carter (e.g. continue to deregulate trucking, telephony, airlines, etc.). Even putting aside the 80’s defense buildup (which did help bring an end to the Cold War), Reagan expanded the federal government as much as he reduced it – e.g. W.O.D. Furthermore, he enabled and empowered the cultural conservatives so that instead of just trying to provide a good example by the way they live their lives, they (then and now) insist on inserting their specific (social) policy preferences into the political sphere – e.g. Meese porn commission.

    Reagan did eliminate the 55 mph speed limit, but he also gave us the national 21 year old drinking age, so even his best work is a wash

  308. This topic is beginning to resemble a tenderized deceased equine, but I’d like to put my two cents in.
    In general, the people of Germany and Japan either directly or indirectly supported governments who committed gross violations of the rights of life an liberty. Germany inparticular abandoned nearly every previous restraint of civilization. The epithet “barbarian” is inappropriate, because it defames the Huns and the Goths by association. I can only say, ifthe goverment of the US started acting as the government of Nazi Germany did, I would consider it my duty to put everything I could into the overthrow of that government, by violence if necessary. If I did not, I would consider myself a legitimate target for deliberate extermination.

  309. They all seem so full of flaws to me that after thinking about it all night it’s still hard to say who is even least worst. Really.

    Man, SIV hates him so Jimmy Carter! Hey SIV, remember when I posted the Time article from the early 70’s talking about how that marijuana spraying was a program that pre-dated Carter? Yeah, you do. So if continuing that program is the reason for so much JC hate, Why no hate for Ford then, brother?

    “Because I’m of course not a libertarian but a conservative and to us Carter made us look weak on foriegn policy” would be what you’re looking for there sport 😉

  310. I have some mixed feelings about Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs. On the one hand, this was a move that most certainly was not anything that could be even pretended to be something that in any stretch imaginable would not kill massive amounts of women, children, the elderly, etc., and so it seems horribly wrong. I mean, you can’t even get the doctrine of the double effect to save your ass with this one. This is why so much of the military brass was against this move.

    On the other hand, from a utilitarian position one could see how Truman may have thought that if this brought about an immediate end to the war it would be worth it in saved lives. But it’s interesting to see so many argue this way on this site, because it’s gonna be terrific fun in later threads to remind them that that which brings about the maximization of welfare in general trumps wacky things like individual rights in other contexts!

  311. GWB was the best president we ever had. I won’t even rate the rest – they are a bunch of posers.

    The previous “best president we ever had” was Clinton.

  312. I wouldn’t call Beatle music crap, but they were enormously overrated. Their early stuff was run of the mill, then some interesting stuff in the middle, then finished off with more undistinguished music.

  313. This is why so much of the military brass was against this move.

    There was Leahy, who also said prior to Trinity (per wikipedia but with a cite) “This is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives.”

    And among the other sources that are frequently used for this assertion, a good many cases must be considered potentially post-hoc rationalizations. Still others are either taken out of context (like how MacArthur(!) was dismayed by its use), or are advocating even worse stuff – to wit Ernest King

    “the dilemma [posed by the atomic bomb] was an unnecessary one, for had we been willing to wait, the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials.”

  314. it’s gonna be terrific fun in later threads to remind them that that which brings about the maximization of welfare in general trumps wacky things like individual rights in other contexts!

    Bring it. Supporters of the Japanese government gave up their right to life. Thus, their individual rights couldnt be trumped. (Any of the handful of opponents of the Japanese government caught in the blast were unfortunate casualties – they shouldnt have been their anyway, they should have already been dead from attempting to overthrow the emperor)

  315. Bring it. Supporters of the Japanese government gave up their right to life. Thus, their individual rights couldnt be trumped.

    There is a difference between “supporting” that government by saying “I support you guys” and “supporting” the government by voluntarily providing material aid. The former kind, while repugnant if directed at the Japanese military government, is protected under free speech and should not be considered a forfeiture of one’s rights.

    (Any of the handful of opponents of the Japanese government caught in the blast were unfortunate casualties – they shouldnt have been their anyway, they should have already been dead from attempting to overthrow the emperor) (bold added)

    That is a hell of a set of moral options you are giving these people. They can have either death (because they fought against their government) or death (because they failed to fight against their government). I can’t imagine why anyone would object to that….

  316. Carter will always stay on my shitlist for two contradictory acts that directly affected my life: kudos for pardoning Vietnam draft evaders that fled to Canada … but then turns around and reinstates draft registration after the Soviet Afghan invasion … RIGHT when I turn 18! And then I had to sweat bullets while Reagan took over and kept threatening to escalate into a war during every crisis. Big relief when I became too old for the draft! Fuckers!

  317. Reagan should be on the bottom, for continuing to fool some of the people all the time.

  318. BG,

    They had the 3rd option of succeeding and living. But, since the Japanese government was still going….

  319. They had the 3rd option of succeeding and living. But, since the Japanese government was still going….

    Easier said than done.

    So what about those who were too young or infirm to participate in a revolt?

    Or those who disliked the government, but had know idea how they would find like-minded people to organize a rebellion?

    Or those who just wanted to stay out of it and not risk their lives, but had no place to go outside of the cities which were being bombed?

    Don’t you think the US military should have at least tried to minimize the amount of harm done to such people?

  320. As for Bush 1, *he* is the one that led the successful (or at least not totally disastrous) end of the cold war. Berlin wall came down 1st year of his watch, USSR dissolved in the 3rd year.

    Bush was a lucky stiff for happening to come in just when that happened. No credit.

    Everything that Reagan did to reduce the size of government was started under Carter (e.g. continue to deregulate trucking, telephony, airlines, etc.).

    No, no, no, no, NO! That was a process that started with commissions under Nixon & Ford. The commissions delivered their reports and their recommend’ns were adopted on Carter’s & Reagan’s watch.

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