>> Saturday, January 17, 2009

A fluff piece in Slate this week claimed that President George Bush is (assuming nothing shocking happens in the next three days) all set to truly defeat the Curse of Tippecanoe, his one great and likely indisputable achievement. The curse, according to Wikipedia:

The term Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's curse, the presidential curse, zero-year curse, the twenty-year curse or the twenty-year presidential jinx) is sometimes used to describe the pattern where from 1840 to 1960 each American President who had won election in a year ending in zero (such as 1880 or 1900) died in office. It was supposedly broken by Ronald Reagan, who had survived being wounded in a March 1981 shooting.

Except, of course, that some cursologists (or whatever you'd like to call them) have redefined the curse to even encompass Reagan: evidently they say that the curse isn't mere death, that an assassination attempt suffices to meet the terms and conditions of evil karma or cursology or whatever.1

But President Bush--he's gone eight years without dying or having a serious attempt made on his life, they say. To which I have to ask, "You call that living?"

I mean, the guy is only a leading candidate for worst president ever. Irrespective of the President's health, his presidency sure smells like something crawled underneath it and died.

And then what about the Reagan Clause? Reagan, some cursologists say, met the terms of the Tippecanoe Curse by having an attempt made on his life. Well, do we know who sold Mr. Bush the bag (or box) of pretzels? And what about Muntazer al-Zaidi--that shoe could have, you know, really hurt somebody.

And then there's a highly-reliable news source that has reported a number of recent fatal incidents involving Mr. Bush. How do we know that Mr. Bush is resting comfortably at Bethesda Naval Hospital? Maybe he's fallen prey to... the curse.

Although Mr. Bush's presidency is coming to an end, I think the public is entitled to some answers, and soon. Mr. Bush, the American people you represent want to know: did you, or did you not, die in office because of the Curse of Tippecanoe? And if you did not die in office, how do you explain the way you've led the country for the past eight years? Answer the question!

1Hey, look, I didn't make this shit up, okay. It came out of somebody else's ass.


Leanright,  Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 11:07:00 AM EST  

Thank goodness for Jimmy Carter...In HIM we will ALWAYS have "The Worst President Ever".

Eric Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 1:35:00 PM EST  

You wanna back that up somehow, Leanright? And I don't just mean a list of all the ways in which Carter was a pretty awful President: "worse" and "worst" are comparatives, which means you need to list the ways in which Carter was worse than, for instance, Richard Nixon (authorized illegal bombings, knew of or authorized illegal wiretaps, caught using racist and anti-semitic language on his own office wiretaps), Lyndon Johnson (failed to achieve a permanent Great Society by getting the United States deeply entrenched in the Vietnam War), George W. Bush (lost a necessary war in Afghanistan by entering into a unnecessary losing war in Iraq, shredded the Constitution, demolished America's international credibility, had his administration authorize violations of international and Federal law by torturing prisoners, politicized and damaged national scientific research), Ronald Reagan (administration still holds the record for most indicted cabinet members), William Clinton (impeached and censured), Herbert Hoover (failed to adequately handle the Great Depression), Warren Harding ("Teapot Dome" scandal), Ulysses S. Grant (administration widely regarded as the most corrupt in American history) or Woodrow Wilson (horrible racist, invaded Mexico under shaky pretenses).

I mean, I probably shouldn't be feeding you when I think you're trolling, but rather than just call you out on it, I would love to see an explanation of why the ineffectual Carter was a worse President than G.W. Bush, Nixon, Hoover, or Harding; and, hell, if you want to pick on other candidates for worse (even LBJ, who I sort of admire despite the fact his administration was basically a catastrophe when the balance sheet gets tallied), go for it. I can see saying Carter was bad or inept or awful, but "worst ever."

You got any arguments to bolster that or you just talkin' out yer ass? :-)

Eric Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 7:47:00 PM EST  

I like him, too, Michelle. He's a good, decent, compassionate man. But his Presidency was pretty unimpressive, if not terrible. Indeed, the conventional wisdom about Carter is pretty on target: bad President, great ex-President. Habitat For Humanity, the election monitoring, the work in various hotspots to try to facilitate peace processes.

But "Worst President Ever"? Carter's kind of like Gerald Ford with better hand-eye coordination, he doesn't even make the "Worst President" semifinals. Somebody's going to say he's worse than Hoover, Harding or Grant? I mean, you don't even have to get into whether or not Nixon's trip to China or the '72 ABM Treaty compensates for Watergate (short answer: no) to see that Carter doesn't even make it into the top three "Worst Presidents" (or bottom three, however you want to stack it).

I mean, you'd have to be on Oxycodone to even hallucinate that you were living in a world where Carter was "The Worst President Ever."

Of course, if Leanright wants to back it up with an argument--Carter's well-intentioned incompetence in office was worse than the widespread corruption and outright theft that occurred during U.S. Grant's shift on deck, say--I'd love to see it if only to be shocked and awed at how such an argument is structured and which facts can actually be marshaled to support it.

Comments are open if anybody would like to try. My socks eagerly await being knocked from my feet.

Leanright,  Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 10:49:00 PM EST  

Okay, okay....Eric, you are always rather verbose, so, IN MY OPINION...Carter was worse. I guess at the end of the day, to say "worse" or "better" is merely the subjective opinion of whom is speaking.

Carter MAY be a decent man today. I do not feel he was a good president in the least.

Leanleft,  Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 12:43:00 AM EST  

Nope, Leanright, your "opinion" counts for nothing. Y'know, contrary to the old saw, no one has a "right to their own opinion." You only have a right to your informed opinion. And you haven't backed up yours.

To say "worse" or "better" is NOT merely the subjective opinion of whom is speaking. There are objective markers -- facts and figures -- that you can use to contrast and compare. Eric gave you several. Here's another: Buchanan, who presided over the dissolution of the damn country. That's objectively worse.

Carter was a mediocre president, at worst, too honest a man for the job, and a victim of the times. I lived through it -- the first wave of the de-industrialization of the northeast when the steel, textile and rubber factories headed to Texas and Mexico before moving completely off-continent in the '80s and '90s. Carter's biggest failing: wearing his religion on his sleeve like he did. It's a mistake that not only blew up in his face, the acrid smoke from it is choking the country to this day and may yet suffocate us.

Random Michelle K Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 12:44:00 AM EST  

I'm actually curious whether Leanright is even old enough to remember the Carter administration.

I think for me, Eric, there is a difference between an someone who couldn't achieve anything, and someone who believed that the very nature of being president means never having to say your sorry.

Pay to play? Might makes right? I'm the president so what I do is legal? Those are the true hallmarks of a bad president IMO.

In other words, the ends do not justify the means, and the justification for an action is just as important as the action itself.

Bush is a Utilitarian and has used some horrific means to justify his ends, and for that reason, just like Nixon, he qualifies as one of the worst presidents.

(Can you tell I strongly dislike Bentham and the Utilitarians? [Which would be a terrible name for a band.])

Eric Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 1:51:00 AM EST  

1) Leanright, you didn't start by saying, "In my opinion, Carter was a worse President than x." You wrote "Thank goodness for Jimmy Carter...In HIM we will ALWAYS have 'The Worst President Ever'." And that was, quite simply, a stupid thing to say unless you have something to back it up, which evidently you don't.

I mean, sheesh, Leanright, if you'd said, "Bush, for all his failings, was a better President than Harding, and therefore won't go down in history as the worst President to date," you wouldn't be getting laughed out of court here. I think I'd ultimately disagree with you, but at least you'd have a leg to stand on and I'd have to think about it. I couldn't just wave you off and laugh. But Jimmy Carter? What the hell?

2) As "Leanleft" points out, your second version isn't any better: an uninformed opinion really isn't worth a helluva lot. Not to mention, your second version is pretty vague: "IN MY OPINION...Carter was worse." Worse than whom? Grant? Buchanan? Nixon?

Since the top post was about the current President Bush, and given your other posts, I have to assume you meant to write "IN MY OPINION...Carter was worse than George Walker Bush." Okay--I'll bite: based on what, exactly? If you read today's entry here (Sunday, January 18), you'll find a link to an interview in which a conservative appointee of the Bush Administration, Judge Susan Crawford, holds Mr. Bush responsible for acts that could subject him to prosecution if he leaves the country. The handling of Gitmo has created a situation in which we have a small horde of men who can neither be prosecuted (if they even did anything wrong) nor can they safely be released, presenting future administrations with a terrible choice of which evil is lesser (not to mention the horror of human rights violations that have occurred). The circumstances in which private corporations like Blackwater have been given contracts is suggestive of some of the worst graft since the Grant Administration. America's prestige abroad is terrible. We are in embroiled in two wars that we might be losing. Bush's singular achievement, liberating Iraq, has gone over so well with the locals that last month one of them threw a shoe at the man. Funding for science research has been gutted under Bush's watch. Deregulation, one of Bush's pet projects, is likely the primary cause of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The circumvention of the FISA courts by the Administration represents the greatest Federal encroachment on the Fourth Amendment since the Second World War.

Sorry to be verbose, Leanright, but in your opinion what exactly did Jimmy Carter do that eclipses any of the things listed above--much less all of them? Please.

Cut the "subjective" crap, and pick an objective metric or admit you were talking out your ass. I'm conceding Carter was a mediocre-at-best President, so don't just give me a catalogue of Carterian embarrassments and screwups, tell me how any of them or all of them together justify either of the statements you've made comparing Carter and anyone else. Like "Leanleft" and Michelle, I remember the '70s, and (unlike you, I suspect) I majored in history in college. We're all aware Carter wasn't exactly a great or even an especially adequate President, and if you want to say he was fairly bad on his own terms I'd probably be obligated to agree with you. And then I'd ask you what your point was.

If you can't support your opinions, they're not worth having, much less expressing in public.

Leanright,  Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 2:23:00 PM EST  

Rampant inflation, out of control interest rates, his handling of the Iran/Hostage crisis, astronomical tax rates, amnesty for draft dodgers, increasing income tax on Social Security, running a deficit every year in office (Yes, GWB did that too), The energy crisis was unlike any we've experienced. (I remember odd/even days and long lines at the pump), his inability to bring the nation back after a very dark time in our history. That is the hope that Obama has, and for all of our sake, I pray he is able to do it. Am I old enough to remember? I remember shaking Gerald Ford's hand as he gave a campaign speech in Mission Viejo, California back in 1976, I was only 8, (I think that may be when I started to "leanright") but I do remember my family struggling during that time period. My father was in the defense industry working for Hughes Aircraft, and times for US were not good. Am I old enough? I think I've even got a few years on Eric, so yeah, I can remember the mid and late 70's.

I'm quite sure in the arena of Eric's blog, everything I say taken with a grain of salt, and even laughed at, but I do believe that another opinion is respected from time to time.

My life and the life of my wife and kids has GREATLY improved in the past 8 years. My income has increased tenfold, and we have enjoyed the "fruits of our labor" and share it whenever possible. So, for my family today, as opposed to my family in the 70's, I rank Mr. Bush far better than Mr. Carter.

In my humble opinion.

Leanright,  Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 2:25:00 PM EST  

And by the way, Random Michelle, It appears that I've got a couple of years on you as well....Just sayin'

Eric Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 4:42:00 PM EST  

Now, see, Leanright, was that so hard? You actually backed up your opinion with some facts.

Now, personally, I agree that most of the things you listed were pretty bad things about the Carter Administration. I disagree that they make Carter worse than Grant or Harding, to name two: Carter failed to pull the country out of a tailspin, but at least nobody was selling off the government, which is essentially what happened on Grant and Harding's watches.

I also happen to disagree that any of the things you list are worse than authorizing the torture of prisoners in American custody or attempting to implement an unconstitutional Unitary Executive or bypassing the FISA courts, and several of the other things you list--an energy crisis and recession, to be specific, are common with the Bush Administration. And I think that you accidentally mitigate Carter's failures in your own words: "his inability to bring the nation back after a very dark time in our history" was arguably Carter's greatest failure, but one has to note Carter effectively started "in the hole"; what's Bush's excuse? He entered office in a time of peace and prosperity, and even after the (sort of) unforeseen events of 9/11 (I'm giving the Administration the benefit of the doubt as far as their pre-9/11 assessments of al-Qaida are concerned) Bush had the solid support of Americans from all political walks of life (he was my President on September 12, 2001, Leanright) and the international community--now that goodwill has been completely and totally squandered. And Carter certainly didn't lose a justified war in one part of the world because of a second war that the American public had to be misled into.

I think it's irrational to say "failing to stop a recession is worse than failing to stop a recession plus authorizing conduct that officials chosen by the Administration say was a violation of international conventions and federal laws prohibiting torture." But we may have to agree to disagree. I guess. If that's really what you think.

I'd note in passing, Leanright, that amnesty for the draft dodgers may be controversial but there are some of us who think it was justified, appropriate and necessary. The Vietnam War was the most divisive era in American history since the American Civil War; acknowledging that and taking the first steps towards trying to heal the fissures was something that somebody would have had to do, and Carter was brave to do it at a time when doing so was to take a political hit.

As for your family: I'm pleased that you're enjoying prosperity at a time when thousands of people are suddenly losing their jobs and/or their homes and even those who are still employed and hanging on to the roofs over their heads are paying out the nose for food and fuel. Good for you. No doubt you're in one of the few positions with certain job security and your income has kept pace with rising costs, and you probably weren't planning on using that Fourth Amendment anyway, or care who listens to your phone calls, and what does it matter what foreign countries think of us, since they're all far away. And I suppose since you don't have friends or family in the armed services, it doesn't bother you if Americans are killed in Afghanistan because the war there was mismanaged, or are killed in Iraq where they arguably should never have been sent at all; and if they're captured and tortured and there's nothing we can do because we've lost credibility on the issue and we started it, well, I imagine that's okay too--you have yours, after all. And hey, you're not selfish, of course--you tithe or share where you can, after all, right, so if we're betraying our principles at home and abroad, how is it on your conscience in any way? You're just a nice guy whose wife and kids are happy and secure, and nothing bad can happen here.

Good for you!

Leanright,  Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 5:33:00 PM EST  

Mind you, of late, things are tougher. After all, I am a Registered Investment Advisor, and although things got better for me than they were ten years ago, don't think I don't feel it now.

I appreciate your ill-informed assumptions about me. Living a stones-throw from Camp Pendleton has given me the opportunity to have quite a few friends and colleagues who are or were in the Marines, and quite a few in the Navy as well. I remember our softball team in 2002 having to forfeit our season after a couple of games because half of the guys on our team left for duty, and I cherish and praise them every day.

I don't try to assume what occurs in the lives of people I meet in the virtual world of the internet. I try not to condescend people who may think differently than I, and I came into this conversation poorly, and all you and our left-leaning cohorts have done nothing but insult me. I feel like a guest on MSNBC. As far as having my conversations listened to, the government can go right ahead. I worry about people who are TOO concerned about the government listening at a time of war. If it keeps me safe, my family safe, and my community safe, I'm all for it. I believe much of what has been said or assumed about the Bush administration has been embellished to fit the cause of the media bias against him. But, that is how I feel.

Please Eric, to assume I am selfish, and uncaring about our men and women in uniform is SO out of character for you. I often see you as someone who at least tries to back up his blog and responses with facts. You've really dropped the ball on who I AM. Not that it really matters to you. I have completely worked my way from a guy at a shoe store to where I am today, which is not extravagant, but comfortable; don't think I don't care because THAT is incorrect. Perhaps the fellows on the left, like Dodd, Barney Frank, etc...should take responsibility for their failings in this crisis. Finger pointing at Bush, although partially justified, does not make HIS admin totally responsible for what is going on.

I truly hope Obama succeeds. Even the pastor at my church is giving the invocation at the inauguration. We can all pray for his success in office, because we all win if he does.

Why I continue to try to do battle with an attorney, I will NEVER know. You are build for this. Argumentative is your way, by design I assume.

At least you've got EXCELLENT taste in music.

Leanright,  Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 5:37:00 PM EST  

By the way, YOUR argument states people are paying through the nose for fuel and food. Although fixed costs have not changed very much, we are in a deflationary position right now, and costs are NOT rising, simply coming down. Buying power on variable cost items is relatively the same, if not better. Unfortunately, unemployment and fear are keeping people from spending out of the recession.

Lower interest rates and variable costs will improve buying power over time, and THAT will be a major catalyst for getting out of our economic doldrums.

Eric Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 10:52:00 PM EST  

And what else, exactly, am I supposed to assume, Leanright, when your praise for Bush seems to entirely revolve around your family's fiscal stability and your family's safety?

You don't mind people listening into your calls? Funny, other people do, and it's generally been considered illegal and out-of-bounds by liberals and conservatives alike until the present administration decided they were too good for FISA.

Other people aren't spending the money they don't have to pull us out of this recession because they're scared? Swell, I'll pass that along to the people I know who have had a spouse laid off, been laid off themselves, or are working for a company that's downsizing or shutting doors altogether because of the economy. "Hey, the place your husband worked for is shutting its doors and he's been laid off? I know a guy on the internet who says you oughta be spending more money! What are you scared of!"

We started, of course, with a blog entry that was about Bush outliving an imaginary curse some people had claimed afflicted Presidents elected in years ending in "0," to which I added some snarky comments about Bush's Presidency hardly seeming alive, to which you responded with a random and unsupported attack on Jimmy Carter, which you only eventually backed up after being cajoled into doing so, and your supporting claims only show Carter was a bad or mediocre President, not that he was objectively worse than President Bush. Now you want to talk about "Dodd, Barney Frank, etc...should take responsibility for their failings in this crisis." What this has to do with anything seems a little beyond me--if you can find a blog posting or comment by me in which I praise the gang of layabouts who allowed Bush to steal the Constitution and grandstanded while the economy crumbled and burned, I will have to acknowledge that I am having blackouts triggered by alcohol or a tumor during which I am apparently blogging. I'm not happy with Congress' performance during the past eight years, Leanright, but I don't know how much solace you should draw from that concession, since one of my problems is that Bush should have been impeached at least two years ago. (If you disagree, I might point out that my Dad thinks Congress was wise not to impeach Bush, either; before you derive any comfort from that, Leanright, I also have to point out my Dad is quite possibly to my Left.)

Finally, Leanright: I have no problem with you coming here, and I have no problem with you commenting here, and I really hope I don't drive guests away. But nobody is (as far as I know) forcing you to read my blog much less comment here (if I am wrong in this assumption, please leave me some kind of coded message that I may call the cops to free you from the dungeon in which sadistic captors force you to read and leave comments on left-wing blogs). I'm not telling you to leave, Leanright--you're welcome to stay. But nobody is forcing you to be here, and if you feel attacked you're welcome to leave or to lurk for the occasional articles on music and Wednesday music clips (or whatever else you enjoy). I don't go to right-leaning blogs and leave comments, and if I did I wouldn't be surprised or upset if I was jumped. What else would I expect, especially if I said something really dumb? (Which, I hate to keep pointing out, is how this whole exchange started--with you making this dumb, random, unsupported comment about Carter that doesn't even pass a laugh test.)

I also feel obligated to point out that signing up with Blogger and starting a blog is completely free and easy. You go to ("It's easy, and it only takes a minute.") and click on the big orange button that's labeled "CREATE A BLOG". You could call your blog just about anything (e.g. "JIMMY CARTER WILL ALWAYS BE THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER!") and if I ever came by and left some poorly-thought-out kneejerk liberal comment you could totally call me out on it. And then I could say I felt just like a guest on Fox News.

I mean, that's totally your call.

And thank you for your compliment about my musical tastes. I think I put off some regulars with my passion for Courtney Love's work, so it's nice to feel appreciated.

Jeff Hentosz Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 11:09:00 PM EST  

I appreciate you, Eric. Celebrity Skin is a totally boss and unfairly maligned album.

And Leanright, the oil crisis with the rationing, etc., was in 1973-74, so, no.

Eric Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 11:31:00 PM EST  

It really is, Jeff. That one ends up on my iPod pretty consistently. "Malibu," "Awful" and the title track are pretty great ones to crank up with the top down. And the last part of "Northern Star," where Love just sort of loses control and sings/screams the next-to-last verse from the bottom of her heart almost always breaks mine.

Leanright,  Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:05:00 AM EST  

Well, since I move to California from Connecticut in 1976, and I remember gas lines at our local Mission Viejo, CA. Arco station at the corner of Jeronimo and Alicia Parkways, I will have to tell you Jeff, that YOU are wrong.

Leanright,  Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:13:00 AM EST

Jeff, click and read a little on the above link, so..YES.

Jeff Hentosz Monday, January 19, 2009 at 7:29:00 AM EST  

Fine, fine, LR. But where I was, oil was positively flowing in the streets by '79. We were all but bathing in the stuff.

Here, trade you links. You pinned "rampant inflation" on Carter too, so read about how Ford was moved to embarrass himself over it two years before. I even made my linky clickable for ya.

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