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Monthly Archive: December 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005
Wrong Man for the Job

A recent editorial by Richard Reeves caught my eye. He writes op/ed for Yahoo! News. I had to grin when I saw the seemingly rhetorical question, "Is George Bush the worst President – Ever?" Duh?

On inauguration day, about half the country on was convinced that this was fact BEFORE he took office, so asking the question is only rhetorical if you like to jab the other side; but the qualifier at the end is a poke in the eye. Well. Then I had to read the durn thing and that’s when I started to wonder what the heck was going on.

Reeves opens with a quasi-historical examination of poor James Buchanan, the 15th president. True, Buchanan oversaw the leading evens of the American Civil War and true his administration was fairly corrupt – but corruption isn’t his point.

Poor James Buchanan, the 15th president, is generally considered the worst president in history. Ironically, the Pennsylvania Democrat, elected in 1856, was one of the most qualified of the 43 men who have served in the highest office… But he was a confused, indecisive president, who may have made the Civil War inevitable by trying to appease or negotiate with the South. His most recent biographer, Jean Clark, writing for the prestigious American Presidents Series, concluded this year that his actions probably constituted treason. It also did not help that his administration was as corrupt as any in history, and he was widely believed to be homosexual.

So the poke in the eye wasn’t enough, he had to kick us in the pants with speculation about Old James’ sexual preferences. Whatever. But the bit about the American Civil War caught my attention – I did quite a lot of research on the Civil War a few years back, actually got to dig around the Mathew Brady photo archives, talk to re-enactment guys, various historians, and so on. Did you know that there is a magazine dedicated to the study of the American Civil War? It’s called Civil War Times – it always made me chuckle a little. I actually asked the editor if it wasn’t a bit of an oxymoron – I mean, how long was the Civil War? Five years? The magazine has been around 10 years (and counting)? I digress.

[Buchanan’s] real failures were in refusing to move after South Carolina announced secession from the Union and attacked Fort Sumter, and in supporting both the legality of the pro-slavery constitution of Kansas and the Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott class declaring that escaped slaves were not people but property.

Any college history student could rip these two claims clean in half. By the time South Carolina had enacted its secession the damage to the Union had already been done. It can be argued that Buchanan was trying to let diplomacy run its course; bring South Carolina back to the table. Any provocation would have only served to accelerate a rapidly deteriorating situation. It was bad enough for Buchanan that he inherited the situation he most certainly did not want to start a civil war. And that bit about the Supreme Court smacks of such ignorance of American governance. What was Buchanan going to do? Declare the Court’s decision invalid and overrule it?

Buchanan set the standard, a tough record to beat. But there are serious people who believe that George W. Bush will prove to do that, be worse than Buchanan. I have talked with three significant historians in the past few months who would not say it in public, but who are saying privately that Bush will be remembered as the worst of the presidents.

The rest is mere babbling; almost amusing. But that’s the point. I'm on record for saying that Bush would be bad for the country - well before he even stepped up to the podium and claimed his candidacy. But slapping ol'Dubya around this way is not productive. It only serves to foment more irritation on an already touchy topic – and heck, do we really need to INVENT a reason to dislike this guy? I mean, really?

I sent an email to Reeves – asked him to get his history straight. He didn’t reply. I guess ignorance is bliss.

Read the rest of his blissful article here. -HP

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
I'm A Vrey Impotant Persun Now!

Yep. I have arrived... and I've got the proof right here in this can o spam:


From: Micheal Anderson - Online Educatoin Enrollment"
Micheal Anderson [Mail] [MichealAnderson@wagnersd.com]

You have been referred to us: (Referral ID: R5673)

Based on your present knowledge and past life experiences our University administration office has been trying to contact you. We feel you may qualify for one of our Univsersity degrees in your area of expertise. We have been qualifying people based on thier experiences in past and present jobs and are offering qualified degrees with transcripts for those that qualify. If you call our offices now we can confirm our information and send you either a Bachelors', Masters', or Doctorate within 2 weeks.

Administration Office Number:
1-206-202-1674

Administration Hours:
24 hours, 7 Days a week, including Sundays and Holidays

University Registration
Micheal Anderson
Client Identification: CL1123

Yep. It's a bonafide Universistey degre complet with a transcript no less! Hmm. I guess Mr. Anderson has a different spelling for his first name... might just be a regional thing. -HP

Monday, December 5, 2005

Monday, December 5, 2005
Trial of Tyrants

The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has resumed in Baghdad after his lawyers briefly walked out in protest at the court's legitimacy. Two defense lawyers have been murdered in recent weeks and the team has argued it cannot present its case properly. Nevertheless, the trial goes on - Saddam Hussein and seven of his aides charged with the deaths of 148 men in Dujail, north of Baghdad, in 1982 following an assassination attempt on Saddam’s life.

The big question has been whether Saddam Hussein and his men receive a fair trial in Iraq. It seems to me either naive or disingenuous to be concerned with the fairness of these proceedings. The defendants have already been tried in the court of pubic opinion with an inordinate amount of anecdotal evidence piled up against them by anxious politicos (who need to justify their actions) and news media (feeding the frenzy).

And what an absurd situation: the King and court have been captured by the invader yet the pawns rage on. The contest isn’t over, yet the gallows are gleaming.

I am increasingly concerned about what happens after this whole mess settles down. The keystone of our governments is the rule of law by consent – we must have confidence that governance is done fairly otherwise the whole thing falls apart and becomes a mere tyranny.

Whether we like it or not, our governments (i.e., the “grand collation”) are in possession of this country and WE are responsible for the welfare of its entire people – including the former dictator and his men. So, if these trials go badly (which there is a high degree of certainty that they will) then what will history say about a tyranny against tyranny?

I would rather see this trial delayed or moved to a neutral location under the auspices of the International Court – but unfortunately, the Europeans probably wouldn’t like that on account that MOST of our European allies disagreed with the invasion in the first place.

What crisps me is that the men who planned and perpetrated this tragically absurd situation will be long gone before the mistake is clearly evident to all. - HP

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