December 22, 2014

Saturday Ramblings, July 5, 2014, The Tim Howard Edition

Welcome to the Tim Howard edition of the Ramblings, fellow imonkers. Yes, team USA lost to Belgium on Tuesday, but goal-keeper Tim Howard made 16 saves, the most since they began keeping track (in 1966).   20 years ago he would have had a few nice newspaper clippings to but on his bulletin board.  This being the internet age, Howard’s feat immediately became a meme: Things that Tim Howard could have saved.  For your viewing enjoyment, I will sprinkle some of them throughout the post, starting here:  BrkdBLdCAAEFTH1

And some other countries had teams playing soccer.  Apparently.  Argentina faced Switzerland in an elimination round on Tuesday.  “It will be war” Pope Francis joked with his Swiss guards.  He declined their invitation to watch the match with them,  but did make a bet on the game with them. The Swiss lost due to some (probable) divine interference, and the guards now have to wear Team Argentina colors till the next World Cup.  If the Swiss had won the Vatican would have been relocated to Zurich.

"Remember, Francis, I know where you sleep"

“Remember, Francis, I know where you sleep”

In other sports news, the Chicago White Sox gave out rain ponchos to their fans Wednesday night.  They might want to re-think the color…sox

Religious liberty loomed large on the legal landscape this week, but I don’t want to talk about the Hobby Lobby case, and if you start up in the comments I will call PETA, cuz you are beating a dead horse.   A more interesting case, and one much less commented upon, was across the pond, where the  European Court on Human Rights upheld France’s ban on veils which cover the face.  A 24 year old French Muslim woman brought the suit, alleging that the ban violated her freedom of expression and religion.  The court gave two reasons for upholding the ban.  The first was security, since a person with a full veil cannot be identified.  The second reason was more oblique: “The Court was also able to understand the view that individuals might not wish to see, in places open to all, practices or attitudes which would fundamentally call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question.”  In other words, other people have a right to see your face in public.  I’m with the Muslim woman on this one. What do you think, imonkers?

By the way, Europe’s highest Rabbi (who knew this was a thing?) is strongly opposed to the ban, and says that religious liberty in Europe is “unraveling before our eyes”.

 

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“Its not about how many people I tackle each day. It’s not about how many hundreds of millions [communion] cups we sell at the end of the day.”  Not a quote you run into often.  It was made by Israel Idonije, a football player recently cut from the Chicago Bears.  His new line of work: selling pre-filled communion cups.  These are machine packaged, and are available with a wafer sealed in.   Idonije says beyond the issue of convenience, sales are increasing because of concerns over germs.  You don’t have to worry about someone sneezing or coughing near the elements, and the only hands that touch the elements are yours.RNS-BLESSED-COMMUNION

Pope Francis this week called landmines “weapons of cowards”.  And this week the U.S. this week  indicated that it will likely join the 161 other nations who have signed the Ottawa Convention outlawing the possession and use of mines.

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This is all kinds of awesome. Hessy Taff was a six months old infant in Germany in 1935 when she had her pictures taken. Unbeknownst the her family, the photographer entered her photo in a contest designed to find the “perfect Aryan baby”;  Hessy’s picture won, and was re-printed in all sorts of Nazi propaganda.  Hessy is still alive, and this month presented the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel with a Nazi magazine featuring her baby photograph on the front cover.  Why the presentation to the Jewish Museum?  Because Hessy Taff, the “perfect Aryan baby”, …is a Jew. hessy02_2960553b

My son is living in Israel right now, so the recent troubles there have gotten my attention most profoundly.  I am speaking, of course, about the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered, and the Palestinian teen who met the same fate (probably as revenge).  A leading Rabbi is being urged to resign his post as secretary general of the World B’nei Akiva movement after he put up a Facebook post calling for Palestinian blood, and suggesting that “300 Philistine foreskins” would be a good place to start.

 

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Alabama Pastor Ricky Martin volunteers as a chaplain in a state prison, and in that context has met many sex-offenders who had no place to live when they got out. Martin came up with the idea of a sex offender refuge in rural Chilton County, far away from any schools or daycare centers, and began screening parolees to live there.  Over the years over 50 men have found temporary shelter there (usually about a half-dozen at a time) and none of them have been picked up for another crime.  This week the state legislature passed a bill  that prohibits “more than two convicted sex offenders from living within 300 feet of each other on the same property unless they are married.”  Coincidentally, the bill only takes effect in the county where Martin and his camp reside.  

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Oh my.  A new poll finds that Americans think Barack Obama is the worst president since the Second World War.  Somewhere even Richard Nixon is a little amazed at this one.  They say that fools march in where angels fear to tread, so let me prove that proverb true by asking you, fellow imonkers, to give your opinion on this.  How would you rate (by your own subjective criteria) the presidents since WW2?  Give us a list, then a short explanation of your criteria (or criterion if you only have one and are linguistically picky).   Non-U.S. readers, we need your perspective, too.Now, play nice, and no-name calling (leave that to the youtube comment section).  Just to show my fearlessness (or foolishness), I will start:

1. Eisenhower
2. Truman
3. Reagan
4. Carter
5. Clinton
6. Obama
7. Bush I
8. Ford
9. Bush 2
10. Johnson
11. Nixon
12. Kennedy

My criteria is not based on how much I agree with each president’s viewpoints, but how effective I think they were as presidents, especially in the area of foreign policy.  Foreign policy trumps domestic for me for this simple reason: With foreign policy the president, since world war 2, has had almost unlimited control and his decisions have affected the whole world.   I also downgraded presidents I thought were corrupt or just jerks (looking at you, Lyndon) because the president is in some ways a symbol of the country.  And because I don’t like jerks.

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Kudos to the best satire I’ve read in a while: How to Breastfeed Appropriately.  Here is Tip #5: “Get some morals. Do you have sex in public? No. Then why would you pull out your SEX BREASTS for your baby in public? Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean we all want to see it. Yes, we will tolerate a celebrity nip slip or areola display. Yes, there are breasts splashed all over magazine racks and on television bouncing up and down to pop music, but that’s different. We’re OK with boobs if money has been exchanged. Has your cheap baby paid you? No? Then wrap it up.”

Tyler Perry has won a trademark battle this week.  The prize? The right to copyright the phrase, “What would Jesus Do”.  Presumably this would only apply to potential movies and reality shows.  Chaplain Mike, your WWJD belt buckle and early 90’s t-shirts are still safe (I think).

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A columnist for Ministry Today, after hearing preachers brag about how “practical” their messages are, asks this question: Where do pastors get the idea that the Bible is practical? “The drama of a God who allowed His Son to become a sacrifice to redeem the entire human race is the least practical thing I’ve ever heard. The story of redemption isn’t practical at all. If you want practical, then you’re looking in the wrong place. The incarnation, the mystery of salvation, the power of miracles, how the gospel message transforms lives—all those things aren’t the least bit practical. And how about the Sermon on the Mount? And turning the other cheek?”  what do you think, fellow imonkers: should sermons seek to be “practical”, and if so, then in what ways?

Disturbing headline of the week: What you Need to Know about the Coming Jellyfish Apocalypse.

Well, that’s it for the Tim Howard edition of the Ramblings.  I will just leave one final image.

Not that I want Cub fans to re-live painful memories...

Not that I want Cub fans to re-live painful memories…

 

Comments

  1. Oh my. A new poll finds that Americans think Barack Obama is the worst president since the Second World War. Somewhere even Richard Nixon is a little amazed at this one.

    I’ve often heard that Jimmy Carter was the worst president ever.

    Thank you for not using today’s Independence Day holiday to bash America or American patriotism (or was this already done on a previous post ahead of the holiday?)

    I often find liberal, post- evangelical, and ex-Christian blogs to be just as bad as conservative, or current evangelicals, on some topics they criticize the right for, only they take the opposite…

    If right wing Christians are pro-America and very patriotic, then the left, the post-evangelicals, or ex Christians comically complain about the right’s patriotism, and they go on about how rotten America as a nation is. This sort of criticism just as bad as the “pro” side (*), only it’s in the other direction.

    (Not that I take issue with mediocre, healthy levels of patriotism.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I’ve often heard that Jimmy Carter was the worst president ever.

      I’ve always been puzzled by this one. I mean – what did he do that was so awfully terrible?

      Most historians I have heard speak on presidents put Taylor, Hoover, and Nixon on the worst president’s list. Carter was, at worst, mediocre.

      But much of this is about gifting or blaming people for inheriting circumstances put in motion decades before they arrived on the scenen.

      > I often find liberal, post- evangelical, and ex-Christian blogs to be just as bad…

      Confrontation sells, and it is very inexpensive to manufacture.

      > they go on about how rotten America as a nation

      I’m am Left. I have a very very very low opinion of “patriotism”. I also believe the United States’ legal system, and many of its political leaders, are exceptional. Our institutions are the envy of most of the world. That is certainly worth celebrating.

      The United States has a history containing an enormous amount to be admired [but not be proud of, pride in history is an intellectual disease – it is your history perhaps, but you didn’t do it]. Maybe this issue of “pride” is the stem of the conflict over “patriotism”.

  2. Nice challenge, Dan. I encourage us all to upgrade our civics education too. Go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents to see excellent summaries of all the U.S. presidents.

    1. Clinton: “During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.” (whitehouse.gov)
    2. Eisenhower: Epitome of moderate Republicanism. Ended Korean conflict, sought to ease Cold War, emphasized balanced budget, began desegregation, warned against “Military-industrial complex”
    3. Reagan: Peace through strength brought down Soviet Union. “At the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.” (whitehouse.gov)
    4. Truman: Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe, he established UN, continued New Deal with Fair Deal. Atomic bomb decision one of most difficult and critical in human history.
    5. Ford: A steady hand, given one of the toughest jobs any president has faced. Carter said on his own inauguration day: “For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”
    6. Obama: First person of color to be president, slowly bringing US back from economic crisis with little help from intransigent Congress, achieved first steps toward true health care reform
    7.Johnson: Civil Rights Act major achievement and Great Society brought benefits like Medicare, but Viet Nam disaster and social upheaval at home sunk him.
    8. Bush I: Urged and exemplified a kinder, gentler nation through public service, bested Sadaam Hussein in first Iraq war, couldn’t overcome economic problems at home.
    9. Kennedy: Never had time to fulfill potential and overcome early mistakes such as Cuban Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs. But boy, could he inspire.
    10. Carter: Inflation and foreign policy disasters. The best ex-president the country has ever known, he has lived his faith in true devotion to good works.
    11. Bush 2: Misbegotten Iraq War II, skyrocketing deficits, and the worst economic collapse since the Depression.
    12. Nixon: Yes, he was a crook. That’s not the whole story, but it’s enough to put him here.

    • Christiane says:

      I think Bush 2 did far more damage to the whole country than Nixon did . . . as for the Republican congress, I have no words

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      This is a pretty good list. I disagree with a few details, but overall it is well balanced.

      Probably my most controversial disagreement is that I would put Reagan lower. The scandals under his watch tend to get forgotten (even at the time: hence the “teflon president” moniker) but some of them were truly appalling. Iran-Contra was about selling weapons to the terrorists who had attacked us in order to raise funds to overturn a democratically elected regime. Then there was the Beirut Marine barracks disaster, where US Marines were sent into Beirut for reasons that were not entirely clear at the time, and less so today. Their barracks had inadequate security, and two suicide truck bombs got through, killing 241 US servicemen. Reagan then pulled the Marines out of Beirut and everyone quietly forgot the whole thing. It is amazing how the incident has gone down the memory hole. I get blank stares when I mention it, even from people who are old enough to remember it. Just imagine if either of these had occurred under a Democratic president, or even a Republican president other than Reagan.

      Reagan’s great accomplishment was recognizing that the Cold War was over and that we had won. He doesn’t deserve credit for the fall of the Soviet Union. That was going to happen. It was only a question of when, and how hard the landing would be. The hero of that story is Mikhael Gorbachev, who brought Russia to as soft a landing as it could have. To Reagan’s credit, he was willing to take “yes” for an answer. The elements of the Right more prone to hysteria were shouting that it was a trick–a trap to make us let our guard down–and calling for ever more bellicose measures in response.

      As for Carter, he never gets credit for beginning the rebuilding of the post-Vietnam military. The notion doesn’t fit the narrative, so Regan gets credit for processes begun under Carter. But in general, yup: not an effective president. He is the most fundamentally decent man to fill the office in many years: certainly since Eisenhower, but possibly longer. He is the only president within my lifetime whom I fully believe attends church even when no one is looking, and the only former president within my lifetime who has used his status to work to make the world better, rather than work the lecture circuit or on his golf score. But not an effective president.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Then there was the Beirut Marine barracks disaster, where US
        > Marines were sent into Beirut for reasons that were not entirely clear
        > at the time, and less so today. Their barracks had inadequate security,

        It bugs me that Presidents get blame/credit for these kinds of implementation details. Let’s be real – security at an embassy somewhere, especially in a system the scale of the United States, is a detail within a detail. The president does not oversee embassy security. And the adjustment of resources for this kind of thing is always going to be a lagging variable – anyone with a basic understanding of organizational behavior understands this.

        >The hero of that story is Mikhael Gorbachev

        +1 But Reagan deserves credit for sitting down with him and not trying to over exploit the situation. Reagan’s house contained now shortage of hawks who would have been eager tear at the staggering corpse of a failed nation – he restrained them. Making the most of a situation is a laudable quality, but often equally laudable is having the restrain to not do so.

        > As for Carter, he never gets credit for beginning the rebuilding of the post-Vietnam military.

        Funny, I put that as a failing of Carter. As a nation we would be *much* better off, IMNSHO, with a neutered military. We had that after Vietnam, which broke the beast built by the great wars. Carter reassembled the beast.

        > But not an effective president.

        I’m not convinced of that. It looks to me like he got a basket of lemons in terms of historical inheritance. All the groundwork for a terrible term had already been laid when he arrived. And he wasn’t the kind of guy to exploit a sense of victim-hood or to start throwing blame around. That is a winner in my book.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “It bugs me that Presidents get blame/credit for these kinds of implementation details”

          That is a fair point, but they do. Except for Reagan. (As a thought experiment, how would Carter be remembered if the Iran hostage rescue attempt had been successful?) Apart from the implementation details, there certainly is presidential blame to be assigned for having the Marines there in the first place without a clear mission.Reagan didn’t create the barracks security vulnerability, but he set up a situation where imperfect implementation led to disaster.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > presidential blame to be assigned for having the Marines there in the
            > first place without a clear mission

            I don’t think so. The vast majority of our military infrastructure lacks a clear mission.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “As a nation we would be *much* better off, IMNSHO, with a neutered military. ”

          Much of the problem today is that the US military is comically over-funded if the goal is to defend the United States and genuine strategic interests. Hence the temptation to military adventurism. I suspect that history will record one of Obama’s achievements being that we *didn’t* go into Syria.

          The 1970s were a different time. The US military was in really bad shape, and the Soviet Union was a legitimate threat to us. Or at least reasonable and informed persons thought it was. A decade later it became apparent that the Red Army was a paper tiger, but it still is not clear to me when the transition occurred from the army that conquered Hitler. I imagine it was a gradual thing. But we certainly didn’t know it in the 1970s.

          We have a tendency to, depending on our politics, regard military spending as either an unqualified good thing or an unqualified bad thing. What is actually a bad thing is spending too much or too little. Too little and you find yourself unable to defend yourself. Too much and you drag down your economy by misdirecting resources needed elsewhere. Right now we err on the side of too much military spending, but this has not been a constant throughout American history.

      • I’ve never understood the adulation for Reagan. I lived in D.C. for most of his first term and all of the second, and a couple of things stood out to me:

        – his (and his advisors’) ability to use – and manipulate – his image and presentation via TV and radio. He had tons of Hollywood experience and was arguably the first pres who truly understood how to work the camera

        – the *unbelievable* amount of super-conspicuous consumer!option – stretch limos *everywhere,* “borrowing” designer clothes for state dinners and public appearances (that would be Nancy), the “greed is good” ethos that seemed to permeate everything. Not to mention the boatload of Hollywood hangers-on. (Yes, I know every president has them, but the Reagan era has justly been referred to as Hollywood on the Potomac.)

        – the obvious spin doctoring, as with his “Mr. Gorbachev…” speech. The Berlin Wall would have been torn down regardless; the USSR and Soviet Bloc countries would have abandoned their respective political systems regardless of whether Reagan ever made a few well-timed speeches or not. In other words, ascribing credit to him and his Congress for world events which weren’t US achievements is, imo, just plain wrongheaded and does no justice to those who worked so hard to actually achieve political and social change in Eastern Europe – like the Solidarity movement in Poland, theCzech “Velvet Revolution,” etc. etc. etc.

        – the funding of the Contrast; the terrorist training given to the Contrast by the US military and CIA

        – the refuge given to the Shah’s family, Bebe Doc Duvalier and Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. The US became the country of choice for overthrown dictators and their families. It was painful then, and it’s amazing how quickly this has been forgotten.

        I could go on but others have covered it in other comments.

        Finally, I think public perception of Carter was that he was a failure; Reagan got elected largely because he wasn’t Carter, and came in on a floodtide of popular approval. I think he would never have been elected if the Carter administration had been able to resolve the Iran hostage crisis.

        • Oh, autocorrect!

          Should be consumption and Contras, respectively.

        • I forgot the US invasion of Grenada.

          That would have been farcical if it hadnt been a real thing.

          • And not only funding the Contras, but funding them by selling arms to Iran after we had declared it a terrorist state. This has got “treason” written all over it.

            They got Ollie North to do this and take the fall, but he was as charismatic a figure as Reagan. Hearing him say, “I did it; I’m glad I did it; it was my patriotic duty and I’d do it again” (or words to that effect) was enough for a lot of people.

            I voted twice for Reagan. Iran-Contra soured me from voting for a Republican president ever since.

          • Ted – Not only Iran-Contra, but the indiscriminate funding and weapons and terrorist training given to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. We supported the *wrong* people there; in a very real way, we bear a lot of responsibility for the rise of certain extremist groups (like Al Qaeda).

            I was cynical before I was in D.C. (being a child of the Vietnam era); seeing the machine at work clinched it. Fwiw, I did *not* like Clinton and even though some good things came from his presidency (like the restoration of diplomatic relations and trade with Vietnam), I think he was no better than his immediate predecessor. The displays of conspicuous consumption continued, although they were different – the stretch limos vanished, as did the diamonds, furs and all the rest. (Only to be resurrected under Bush 2, although not as flagrantly as during the Reagan years.)

            I was and am appalled at the incredibly lavish funeral that Nancy Reagan insisted on, complete with riderless horse. In the past, that was used *only* for those who had been assassinated (like JFK) and that was an especially egregious thing. I can remember getting up early to watch the coverage of Winston Churchill’s funeral and although there was a lot of pomp, it was normal and merited. In the case of Reagan, *not* so. (Plus they did the whole procession on a weekday, which meant that they shut down all kinds of businesses, doctors’ offices etc. in the District by doing so, thereby having a big negative impact on the local economy as well as access to necessary services.)

          • On a lighter side, Numo, I ended up getting that Roku that you recommended. Works great with HuluPlus, but I’ll wait til next winter to get a subscription to Acorn for more British shows.

            Oh. And speaking of dirty politics and of things British: I’ve been junking out on the earlier (1990s) version of “House of Cards.” Better than I remembered it from back when. Ian Richardson a genius of an actor.

          • Ted – good to hear about the Roku, and I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

            Acorn used to allow a 2-week trial – they have all of Foyle’s War, all of Rumpole of the Bailey and a bunch of other cool stuff currently. Wish they weren’t quite so heavy on cop shows, but overall, I can’t complain.

            they’ll be streaming the ucoming series of Doc Martin in the fall (they have an exclusive on that), so you might not want to wait so long to join. I’d throw money at it for that alone, and I’m on a fixed income, so…

          • David L says:

            but the indiscriminate funding and weapons and terrorist training given to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. We supported the *wrong* people there; in a very real way, we bear a lot of responsibility for the rise of certain extremist groups (like Al Qaeda).

            And who were the “proper” people to support?

          • Ted – Not only Iran-Contra, but the indiscriminate funding and weapons and terrorist training given to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan. We supported the *wrong* people there; in a very real way, we bear a lot of responsibility for the rise of certain extremist groups (like Al Qaeda).

            It’s easy to say this with hindsight. At the time, helping the only group directly fighting against the Soviet Union seemed like a good strategic move. And the Red army truly was brutal and appalling.

            As for the fall of communism in general, Republicans certainly do exaggerrate Reagan’s part in it at times, and it’s debatable how much the military buildup actually did. Yes, there were plenty of things outside his control. But I don’t think it’s fair to say he just got lucky that it happened with him in the Oval Office either.

            In his second term, for example, he was willing to sit down and negotiate with Gorbachev and sign treaties. One might say that this was the obvious thing to do, but he was actually going against a lot of his own party by making dovish overtures (George Will thought he was effectively forfeiting the Cold War by going for nuclear arms reduction). It’s easy for us to say now that the Soviet Union’s collapse was inevitable, but in the 80s it certainly didn’t seem that way. I remember one of my history professors in college saying he was surprised at quickly it ended up happening.

        • David L says:

          The Berlin Wall would have been torn down regardless; the USSR and Soviet Bloc countries would have abandoned their respective political systems regardless of whether Reagan ever made a few well-timed speeches or not.

          The speeches were window dressing. We got them into an arms race they couldn’t afford. (And maybe we couldn’t either.) So if we had not bankrupted them would the iron curtain have fallen 10 years later or maybe just eased a bit and things gradually gone from iron fisted control to just brutish control that lasted another 50 years? Or longer.

      • I should have read Richard more carefully – he already addressed Reagan’s negotiations with Gorbachev. While I would give Reagan slightly more credit, we can both agree that he was able to read what was happening and widely go with it in his actions (and yes, sometimes he did rather unwise things too). I would also add that much of Reagan’s foreign policy, both good and bad, was not as much of a radical break with past presidents as is sometimes portrayed.

        And yes, the screaming over Benghazi is silly when you think of Beirut.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Seems like a reasonable list to me. But I have no idea how one really calculates such a thing; in many circumstances the poor sod who ends up president inherits circumstances decades in the making. He gets the gift or the blame.

      I’m Left, but I don’t really give Clinton the credit for the period of prosperity [Clinton was barely Left anyway]. And lots of documentation exists that the Soviet Union was already an airplane aimed at the ground when Reagan arrived – so, nah, he didn’t “bring down the Soviet Union”. On the other hand both he and Gorbachev deserve credit for making that a soft-crash rather than other outcomes that could be easily imagined.

      And Carter gets screwed by history, I just don’t think we was a bad president. He leveled with the American people about the energy crisis; it is sad the reaction he got, proof the American people can be pretty darn juvenile. That moment did prove illustrative to almost all following presidents – it is better to lie, oh, I mean “spin” unhappy truths. :(

  3. Daniel, speaking of PETA:
    I heard that when the Affordable Food Act passes, employers will be required to provide meals for all their employees, and the administration will compel employers such as PETA to include meat in their coverage of the 4 basic food groups.

  4. Obama makes Carter look good.

    Obama is the first anti-American (“I will fundamentally transform this country”) President.

    Scandal after scandal. An IRS that is being used (by someone high up) to attack the enemies of the Democrats – emails lost, hard drives destroyed, etc.

    Bringing about a government controlled healthcare system to reduce choices and dramatically raise costs while radically increasing waste and fraud and corruption…a larger system akin to the much smaller and more easily managed V.A..

    That’s just a few for starters.

    BO stinks.

    • Every president that has served a second term has battled scandals in that second term. This does not justify any of the current scandals, but I think President Obama’s placement on the list can easily be justified in comparison with others. Middle of the pack. As your comment reveals, however, it seems people’s opinions won’t tolerate any middle ground.

      As for Carter, the judgment of history seems to be that he had integrity, but was in over his head.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        In fairness to Obama, most (not all) of those scandals are made up: Benghazi!! was a screw-up of the sort that inevitably occurs once in a while, and is very modest in comparison to those of his predecessors. All the talk since then is simply scandal mongering by people who wish they have some real scandal to talk about, but who will make do with this in a pinch.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1 I consider Obama to be a mediocre president, but notably scandal free. The current scandals are of the tempest-in-a-teapot variety.

          One amusing correlations I find that Obama’s failings are very reminiscent of GWII’s failings. He brought with him a lot of compatriots, as GWII did, regardless of if they were really suited to such upscale roles. For Obama it was Rob Emmanuel that was the albatross around his neck. Old friends dogged both these administrations giving them internal institutions fractured by territorialism and divergent management styles. Rather than surround themselves with the very best and sharpest minds they surrounded themselves with the familiar.

          • On the Obama scandals: If his administration would have been forthright and come right out and said “We messed up” it probably would all have gone away. But as we see in the Benghazi case, obfuscation, misdirection and the closeting of witnesses made the whole thing suspicious. The same goes for the IRS scandal, a REAL scandal! The fact that such a powerful government entity, THE most powerful, as a matter of fact, can just skate past the issue without anyone losing their job is just horrible! And thee gun running issue can be laid at the feet of Eric Holder himself. I’m fairly sure that Mr. Obama was clueless on this one.

            And as for Mr. Obama’s place in history: It will be shown that, like Carter, he was in over his head, one of the most ill prepared people to be president, a suit, a party functionary. His greatest problem was that he never came close to the honorifics and claims by his supporters to be a “uniter” and bringer of “hope and change”. Well, “change”, yes, but the rest was just baloney. It will also be shown that under his administration charges of racism rebounded horribly, but not because HE said anything, but because his supporters used the charge to discount any criticism of the president, a cheap and nasty tactic, but not the president’s fault.

            As for the WORST, I nominate Johnson, a venal and nasty man who implemented the very programs that are sapping our economy with unsustainable obligations, financially speaking. I became politically aware during his term and have clear memories of him, and all of his successors, but I would leave our current president off the list altogether because his tenure will require time to marinate properly.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            The purported coverup in Benghazi!!! was that very soon after the event, Susan Rice went on television and said that they didn’t have all the facts, but went on to describe the best information they had at the time, characterizing it as such. This information was not to the satisfaction of some parties interested in fomenting scandal, and they have been barking at the moon ever since. Rice’s statement was not a coverup. It was the opposite of a coverup. The information she presented turned out to be substantially correct, though incomplete. If the administration declines to keep discussing the matter, that is because there is nothing to discuss. The people who wish to bark at the moon will continue barking.

            These are the same people who claim to believe that Obama was born in Kenya, but had the foresight as a newborn to arrange for a birth announcement in Honolulu. Some of them claimed that the “controversy” was his fault because he had only released his birth certificate once. So he released it again. Yet you can still find people who claim to believe that he was born in Kenya. Barkers are going to bark. These are not reality-based people, and playing their games won’t change this.

          • David L says:

            Rather than surround themselves with the very best and sharpest minds they surrounded themselves with the familiar.

            Just remember. Kennedy surrounded himself with the “best and brightest”. It didn’t exactly make his decisions perfect.

      • While we are at it. Benghazi.

        They MADE UP a cock n bull story about a video. Arrested the guy, living here in the States who made the video. Put his life in danger sand the lives of his family. For what? To cover their tracks about the lies they used to try and make themselves look better.

        People died in Benghazi. And they lied about it from the git-go. And they are still lying about it.

        But their friends in media just yawn…and print store about the Redskins.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          And that is so much worse than a cock and bull story about weapons of mass destruction – one that has cost how many lives by last count? Oh, those are brown people, and judging by your last line, not important to you.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Not that there weren’t many young Americans, Brits and others of all colours that also sacrificed their lives for this folly. But at least it was a Republican cause, right?

          • Very unclassy of you Klasie. First you use misdirection rather than deal with the comment, and then you resort to adhominim attack on Steve, the poster.

      • I would say Mr. Obama has been in over his head. He promised change, he just deepened the divide and upped the national debt digging the financial hole deeper and deeper. He was/is a Chicago pol. He has increased the power of the bureaucracy and taken more of our freedoms. I am not thinking he is well respected in world politics though he had everything going for him.
        *
        He did win the Nobel Peace prize after an amazing 9 days in office.
        *
        Dubya? Foreign politicians allegedly didn’t respect him but they did fear him.
        *
        My favorite George W. Bush video ( it’s brief – 28 seconds) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX3aaWlUmpc

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

      Frankly, your characterization of PPACA is shear fiction – not to mention that it has absolutely nothing to do with the president. The only part he played was his signature. (Sort of tangental, but Bush II actually had much more of a role in PPACA than Obama did, even creating a “czar” by executive fiat to research and implement healthcare reform).

  5. Rick Ro. says:

    The Tim Howard pics are very clever and funny. Bravo!

  6. Losing to Belgium. Wow, that’s embarrassing! And just before your national day too. My condolences, America.

    (Mind you, my country lost to the Netherlands. But they have windmills, and the score was 2-3, so…)

  7. Vega Magnus says:

    The Cubs have traded their two best pitchers to Oakland. They did acquire one of the absolute best prospects in baseball in Addison Russell, but I am concerned that they did not add a top pitching prospect in the deal, which is something they sorely lack. They have plenty of good position player prospects, so they should be a very high powered offense in a year or two, but if you don’t have pitching, you end up being like the mid to late-2000s Brewers, who could not get into the playoffs consistently, despite their elite offense, because they had no pitching.

  8. Khazidhea says:

    As a non-American without any actual knowledge of American politics, from the little bits of news I hear now and again I’m vaguely positive about Obama’s presidency. Without knowing the other presidents, probably rank him about a third of the way down the list.

    • Khazidhea, that seems to be the general feeling world wide. But, then, they don’t have a context to judge by.

    • Here’s some very good reasons why most Americans believe he is doing a very poor job:

      http://jewishworldreview.com/1013/prage102913.php3#.U7gcfhY-Yeo

      If it were not for the lap-dog leftist media, he would have been out a long time ago.

      • Steve, with all due respect, your abusive comments toward the president are lame, overblown, and just as much influenced by “lap-dog right wing media” as anything you criticize on the extreme left. And no, he wouldn’t have been “out.” That’s just ridiculous.

        This why I hate, and usually refrain from discussing politics. Any attempt at reasonable interaction gets hijacked by thoroughly crazy ranting.

        • headless unicorn guy says:

          know what that sort of rants always reminds me of?

          Pravda during the soviet era, with overtones of Mao’s prpoaganda machine, inventor of the terms “paper tiger and “capialist imperialist running dogs”. even the rhythm of the rant is similar to Marxspeak.

          but, hey, at least this time it doesn’t read like a sermon! (or maybe it does, just a different kind — ees POLITICAL matter.)

  9. Robert F says:

    So the European Court on Human Rights (Wrongs?) insists that the sensibilities of the majority of more-or-less secular Europeans have a right not to be offended by a visual public challenge to the underlying tacit assumptions that support them? Doesn’t the exchange of different ideas in the open and public marketplace of ideas involve exactly just such challenges? Why would such a ruling not ultimately be extended to free speech? But then, I’m not sure free speech is really protected in France or much of Europe even now.

    • ernesto says:

      “I’m not sure free speech is really protected in France or much of Europe even now”

      This is because of the simple reason that you apparently don’t know much about France in particular or Europe in general. Or maybe you think they are a bunch of Communists, hell-bent on subverting America and her ideals through their infectious (pun intended) ideas like universal health care. My advice: go and live in Germany or Switzerland for 6 months and see for yourself.

      • Robert F says:

        So hostile, ernesto, so hostile. You attribute motives to me without any foundation. That doesn’t matter much, though.

        I’m curious, though, how you defend this ruling; it appears to me to plainly be an assault not only on religious liberty, but free expression.

        • headless unicorn guy says:

          ah, the perfectly-modulated blame-shift; the butter-wouldn’t -melt-in-my-mouth calm rationality and reason of the passive-aggessive “what’s your problem? you’re the one with the problem, NOT ME!”

          i grew up with a master manipulator and probable sociopath. i know all the tricks.

          • Robert F says:

            OMG! HUG, you just compared me to a sociopath! Now I’m really playing in the big leagues! Thank you, thank you… I’ll remember this day forever! What an honor.

      • Robert F says:

        I acknowledge this, Ernesto: I don’t know very much about Europe. I know that I don’t like the recent movement away from religious freedom, which to me seems intricately linked to free expression, that I’ve heard reported from Europe in recent years. And I believe that it is not uncommon in Europe to suppress the expression of certain political beliefs, as well.

        To my understanding, this only pushes those sometimes unhealthy beliefs underground, where they grow in the darkness, and eventually erupt into daylight again strengthened much by their sojourn through the underground. The way to address speech with which we disagree is with speech, not legal prohibition.

        And as little as I may know about Europe, Ernesto, you necessarily know even less about me; if you knew more about me, you would know that I don’t fit into the cookie-cutter stereotype of the jingoistic, paranoiac American that you’d like me occupy.

      • ernesto says:

        Robert, I apologize if my comment was perceived as hostile. I responded that way because your generalized conclusion about Europe supposedly not protecting free speech matches perfectly with wrong ideas and prejudices people in this country have about the Old World p.ex. -they supposedly are not as free as us,as we are supposed to be the ‘freest’ country (whatever that means), when this is not supported by ANY of the various rankings and indexes devised precisely for the purpose of measuring the degree of freedom in various domains of human endeavor in each country; -that the countries over there are all the same, when in fact they have very distinct national traditions, cultures and political systems (I’m talking about the Western democracies, not Russia or Belarus); -that any effort this country makes to imitate any of the European models is billed on the spot as a step towards totalitarian Socialism & Communism (hope you remember the accusations thrown at Obamacare); etc etc.
        As for the ruling in question I have not read it, as I’m not a specialist in the field, but I would refrain getting to any conclusions without carefully weighing both sides of the argument.
        Peace.

    • “In other words, other people have a right to see your face in public. I’m with the Muslim woman on this one. What do you think, imonkers?”

      Without thinking much about this it appears on the surface that Muslim women should have a right to wear a veil. But what about in a bank or other place where money is exchanged? Seems to me like a bad idea to allow folks to walk into a bank with a covered face.

      Just sayin’…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        This is indeed a thorny issue. Practical arguments vs. Liberty arguments; this always makes a landscape where nobody is completely happy [which might be success].

        Based on history this decision seems remarkably French to me; it is in keeping with their traditions. They have different notions about Liberty than America. But they are a sovereign nation, and one with a decent Human Rights record compared to most other nations.

        • Yes, a sovereign nation can pass whatever particular laws they wish, and a law forbidding facial veils is not the demise of civil liberties. But I seriously doubt such a law would pass through the courts here in the US.

          • France places a very high premium on secularism, largely due to the pre-Revolution meld of church/state. It has a different understanding of separation of religiin and state than most of us do, hence the ban.

            I’m not saying this to argue the decision one way or the other; only to mention that there’s more to this than meets the eye, and I don’t think it has much to do w/freedom of religion. Tyranny casts a long shadow, after all.

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            So the law forbids wearing a veil, but what about makeup? What about those masks that look like somebody else’s face? Surely these pose a security threat (like a few years ago when they caught Chinese people trying to get into the USA on other people’s passports while wearing them), but we can’t just go around pinching people’s cheeks to see if it’s their real face.

            And what about people with severe facial disfiguration? Aren’t they allowed to wear bandages / masks / whatever?

          • Robert F says:

            What about a clown costume? Or dressing in drag, with wig and heavy makeup? Will these also be forbidden on French streets? And if not, why not?

          • headless unicorn guy says:

            or fursuits?

            (posting this with one finger from the internet room of a furry con.)

          • Robert F says:

            Lol, HUG! You’d be a fugitive in Paris, chased by gendarmes. Doesn’t that make a pretty picture?

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            It would be like that scene in “The Pink Panther”!

    • Christiane says:

      Great Britain seems to protect its people from proselytizing that is abusive of the sensitivities of those in the public square. This is very different from the USA, where any Bible-thumping preacher with a megaphone can hawk his brand of intolerance loud and clear and the people who are in the area have no choice but to tolerate the intolerance. In a practical way, I admire the civility of Great Britain, but in my strange American heart, I would rather see a Bible-thumper screaming curses on those he hates than see him carted off to jail for ‘disturbing the peace’.

      Problems in our land, though. Big money is buying up politicians and the day may come when poorer people (women especially) lose out to the interests of corporate power. We live in 1984-plus-thirty and change is coming but not the kind that protects the vulnerable . . . so a man’s ‘freedom’ may well be supported even though it means a woman’s well-being must be set aside to accommodate ‘his’ religious beliefs . . . it’s sooner than we think, folks.

      • Newsflash Christiane: Unions have been buying politicians for just as long as monied individuals. It is just that now that corporations have been affirmed to have the right of free speech, i.e. financial donations, that those who have beensupported by the unions have begun crying “foul”.

        Money has ALWAYS been an issue in politics and always will. And please, dispense with the Koch brothers stuff! Money speculator George Soros has been supporting leftist and Democratic party stuff for years now. It runs BOTH ways.

  10. So, the state prosecutor doesn’t think having paroled sex offenders living in a supervised environment far from any designated school areas is “the right way to go about it”. What, pray tell, *would* (s)he think IS the right way? Leave them locked up for the rest of their lives?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Sadly, she is not obligated to provide a workable solution.

      • Brianthedad says:

        I live 50 miles or so from where this is taking place. This is NIMBY politics plain and simple. This preacher is trying to address a problem made by the legislature that just put him out of business. Various sex offender laws have, by creating ‘sex offender free zones’ around schools, churches, day cares, etc, limited the places these guys can live. They are concentrated in certain areas that fall outside these zones. Check any sex offender registry with a map and you can see it yourself. I admit I would be uncomfortable with them next door, but he honestly thinks he’s doing the right thing by reaching out to the outcast in society, providing them housing and ministering to them. I believe he is considering a suit under Alabama’s own freedom of religion act that is modeled after the very same federal act that hobby lobby used. We’ll see how it turns out.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Check any sex offender registry with a map and you can see it yourself

          I’ve done that. There are several registered offenders in my neighborhood. But it doesn’t bother me. There are lots of kinds of people in my neighborhood. It is clean, well lit, policed, etc… so it is as safe as anywhere else. Nothing is to stop a predator from just driving across town anyway.

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            You have to assume that they are everywhere, and that a lot more of them are unregistered.

          • Brianthedad says:

            Just saying this preacher is trying to help these guys with a place to live, and our family values, Christian legislature is stopping him, and they created the problem to begin with. Typical result when legislation is hasty and reactive.

      • headless unicorn guy says:

        “THINK OF THE CHILDREN, THE CHILDREN, THE CHILDREN…”

  11. Oh, and BTW… TH saving the White House, the dinosaurs and Luke’s hand is great… but it stretches belief to imply that even he could save the Cubs. ;-)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I laughed at the quote: “Not that I want Cub fans to re-live painful memories…” … do Cubs fans have any happy memories?

  12. Robert F says:

    I understand the objections many have to the idea of pre-filled, sealed Communion cups, and the antiseptic consumerism they seem to appeal to. But when you or someone you love has a compromised immune system, but still would like to participate in Holy Communion, such an idea may not seem like such a bad one.

    My wife has just such an immune system issue. At the church she works as organist/musician/choir director, the senior pastor allows her to bring her own bread; the wine is poured directly from a vessel into plastic cups, a stack of which she keeps on the organ console, touched only by her.

    At the church where we are members, attending Saturday evening services, she forgoes the common chalice, as do I to prevent myself from becoming ill and passing it on to her, and we both receive in Communion only by bread, as the bulletin invites any to do if they so choose.

    If the option of pre-filled, sealed Communion cups was available, we would surely take it. Germs are real, and can kill.

    • Daryl Wheeler says:

      I’m Southern Baptist and our church does not use the pre-filled communion cups, for one reason they are quite expensive, however our pastor does use them when he visits the sick and shut-ins as they are a convenient way to carry the elements.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Portable communion kits are the traditional solution for this situation. Google on that phrase and you will see any number of them. My father had a somewhat larger version when he was a Chaplain, particularly for when he was assigned to the Marines. Civilian pastors typically have a smaller version for home and hospital visits.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      If they were marketed for persons with compromised immune systems, then I doubt that anyone would have a reflexive reaction of derision. Similarly, there are gluten-free communion wafers: an excellent idea for people with Celiac disease, an trendy self-indulgence for people leaping on the gluten-free bandwagon as this week’s Big Thing.

    • Michael Z says:

      At my church, whenever the pastoral care team is planning on a hospital visit that week there will be a juice box up on the altar to be blessed along with the other communion elements. That’s a somewhat quirky solution to the compromised immune system problem, but somehow it feels more friendly and less institutional that manufactured communion kits. (Although perhaps not _quite_ as certain to be germ-free.)

      But for people without immune issues, I really like having a common cup and serving each other instead of just serving ourselves. It makes communion feel sort of like a family meal where everyone’s comfortable eating food off each other’s plates…

      • On the Common Cup: I won’t even share my eating utensils with my wife, much less place my lips on the same cup as a few dozen others, looking at the “floaties” swimming around the edges. Out first big argument after marrying was when she used my toothbrush and I freaked out and threw it out.

        • And yet, one of my most meaningful communion experiences was at memorial service at an Anglican church. Communion consisted of everyone drinking wine from the same cup. The person holding the cup would wipe it after each “serving,” but I doubt it was in any way effective at removing pathogens.

          BTW/FWIW, I did not get sick. Not claiming a miracle here, mind you.

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            Well, it is alcohol.

          • Yes it was–and good stuff, too! Beats Welch’s grape juice any day!

          • Robert F says:

            You’d need to immerse those chalices in a tub of rubbing alcohol to neutralize all the germs in the saliva on the outside and inside of the rims.

          • Not all pathogens are killed by alcohol; chlorine bleach, however, will get the job done in seconds.

            But then taking communion would taste like swimming pool water.

            Back to the little plastic cups…

        • David L says:

          Out first big argument after marrying was when she used my toothbrush and I freaked out and threw it out.

          Before or after you gave her a kiss?

          My wife has the same issues. A kiss on the lips is fine. Using the wrong tooth brush 1 minute later is ground for a huge fight.

  13. Robert F says:

    I would think that sex offenders should be prohibited from living in close proximity to children, and other possible victims, not each other. Do sex offenders commit their crimes in pairs, or teams? I haven’t heard that. The new law seems myopic.

    • Daryl Wheeler says:

      There you go trying to make things logical. I live in Alabama and work in the criminal justice system. Alabama has one of the strictest sex offender registration laws in the country. That is the reason this facility was even necessary in the first place due to all the restrictions on where sex offenders could live. This was a case of “not in our neighborhood”. The Alabama legislature is rather infamous for being myopic. This is not the only county where this issue has come up.

      And by the way it wasn’t passed this week, it went into effect this week.

    • Daryl is right. I too live in Alabama, and there is never logic in the state legislature. It is always political theater. And, for the entire country, the sex offender list has stopped having any logic. I could go on for pages, but we throw pedophiles in the same list as the drunk guy who urinates in public. We throw a serial rapist on the same list as the 18 year old who has sex with his girlfriend. Then, we make the rules so strict they can’t even go to church and end up living in tent cities under the bridge. It is crazy.

    • Faulty O-Ring says:

      Only in the case of Satanic cults.

  14. Robert F says:

    The linked tongue-in-cheek article about public breast-feeding sarcastically jabs at the idea that modesty is always possible for mothers nursing an infant. I’m inclined to agree with the sentiment. Truth be told, I’ve rarely noticed mothers breast-feeding their children in public, so my experience is that most of these mothers must try to be discreet and modest already. And on the rare occasion when I have noticed, it was incumbent on me, as a responsible member of the community of humanity, to look away, thereby providing mother and child the privacy they need without imposing undue burdens on them. It’s not so hard, really.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Agreed. They typically have a cloth that they drape over their shoulder. There might be a brief flash visible to the world at large, but really: get over it. I think the topic is only an issue because it is at the intersection of multiple cultural hangups: the obvious one of Sex!, but also the La Leche League crowd and the cultural movement that respectable middle class white Americans use(d) formula and bottles–it was those Other People who breast fed.

  15. dumb ox says:

    Josiah Bartlet was the greatest president is country has ever had! :-P

  16. Daniel, who is Tim Howard? Is he like, Spiderman?

    In other words, are YOU Tim Howard?

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Well, we’ve never been seen together. I’ll just leave it at that.

  17. I just gotta ask why Kennedy places dead last on your list. Based on the Clinton and Obama rankings you certainly don’t have a slant against Democrats or social progressives. If foreign policy weighed heavily in your criteria, what about Kennedy’s standoff with Nikita Khrushchev which got nuclear rockets removed from Cuba? The Kennedy family made Americans feel good about the office of president and it was an answer to Kennedy’s challenge that put us on the moon in 1969. No other president has been as interested in the space program short of Ronald Reagan.

    You ranked Kennedy worse than Nixon. What’s your reasoning for the 12 out of 12 spot?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I thought the same thing. Kennedy below Nixon….

      I am also happy the Apollo space program gave us the Integrated Circuit computer. That investment has paid off really well.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Fair question, and thanks for asking instead of just blasting me for it.

      1. (Probable) rigged election
      2. Extreme dishonesty about his health
      3. Bay of Pigs
      4. Got us into Nam
      5. Extreme womanizer, even in the White House
      6. Tried to assassinate Castro
      6. One of his mistresses, as President, was the girlfriend of a mob boss. The relationship lasted two years and is supported by phone records and other documentation. Who knows what she communicated to the mob, or how much blackmail material they held over him. Incredible lack of judgment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Exner

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        All fair points, IMO. “Got us into Nam” is worth many -1 cards.

      • In the Cuban-American community, Kennedy is held responsible for botching up the Bay of Pigs invasion and for being too soft on the spread of communism. The reason that–unlike most Hispanic groups–Cuban-Americans tend to vote Republican goes back this fiasco.

        The hare-brained attempts by the CIA to assassinate Castro during his administration, which included involving the Mafia (who were very much upset over the nationalization of their casinos and other interests), were unsuccessful. I wonder, however, if the Cuban-American community would have had a better opinion of him had he succeeded in assassinating Castro.

  18. “… should sermons seek to be ‘practical’, and if so, then in what ways?”

    Yes. But there is no need to set the value of “practical” against the value of meditating on divine mysteries and miracles. Faith is the conviction of things not seen (abstract), but faith without works (practical) is dead.

    Practical “in what ways?” I suggest letting Scripture be our guide.

    What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me— practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:9

    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

    And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Heb 10:24

    • dumb ox says:

      Rather, to what end? Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Not a happy marriage. Not a successful business. Righteousness is foundational in how we raise children, love ones spouse, or perform ones vocation. When scripture becomes a means to a secular end, righteousness becomes expendable. I think this apparent on the number of Christians committing adultery, abusing their children, and defrauding their employers. Secular pragmatism is the tail wagging the dog.

  19. Richard Hershberger says:

    I certainly don’t have a hangup against Democrats. I also think that Kennedy gets vastly overrated. There was a lot of spinning of the Cuba Missile Crisis to make the White House look heroic: the steely-eyed Jack Kennedy staring down Kruschev and making him blink. This spin has not held up well to the opening of archives. Then there is Vietnam, where his policies arguably set up the disaster that would follow. He gets credit for civil rights, which he set up Johnson’s later policy, and as you say he gets credit for space policy. There is both good and bad there, but the bad was put down the memory hole when he was assassinated.

  20. (Sorry if this ends up being a duplicate. My first attempt to send did not seem to post.)

    I wrote this after my first experience of the prepackaged communion thing: http://theoblogoumena.blogspot.com/2008/08/this-is-my-cracker-this-is-my-grape.html

  21. I think my knee jerk reaction to truly individualized communion elements is that by merits of the title of the act we are all together in the process of experiencing/memorializing/partaking (the death of Jesus) is a communal process. It is a we – collectively – event.

    This packaging makes it a group individualized event, and that goes against my concept of communion.

  22. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    The presidential ranking will change drastically depending on what aspect you are looking at. Also, I thonk people overestimate the influence that a president has in some areas (the economy is a great example). Plus, after a while, tye political memes influence even the astutest observers, and one or 2 events tend to dominate a legacy.

    I hesitate to do a full ranking, but as a non-American, I obvioulsy weigh international relations much heavier as a factor, and therefore Nixon will make it into my top 5. After all, Nixon went to China :). And he pushed for better relations with the USSR, which created opportunities of dialogue which prevented, imho, much greater ill that could have happened. I like Ike too.

    Bush II, well meaning as he was (and on a personal level he seems like a likeable fellow) makes the bottom of the list, for accelerating the general collapse in the Middle East. It was truly idealism gone bad. Or is that something else?

    Other than that, I’m not sure. Clinton was good, but he also had the good fortune to be president when the whole world’s economy experienced a decade of growth. That was not all his doing…. but at least he had the wisdom not to upset the apple cart there. It is too early to tell for Obama – he is not a particularly good one, though I applaud some of his efforts, though they come out convoluted, and he is opposed by the worst rabble rousing, obstructionist Congress north of Caracas.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      I agree with you Klasie. Our presidents get too much credit or blame the economy, which is one reason I don’t blame Carter or praise Clinton too much.

      BTW, what country are you in?

    • I generally agree with the rankings of Presidents; I would switch a few places, but that wouldn’t affect placement too much.

      I have two thoughts about the Presidency in the U.S. One is that we Americans are pretty ambivalent about the Presidency, in that we have very high expectations of Presidents, but sour on them rather quickly. We have had a split government at the Federal level for a very long time, with only a few exceptions. So we elect a President, expect him to do all sorts of great things, elect a Congress disposed towards opposing the Presidential agenda, and declare the whole thing a sad mess. The other is that we elect Presidents with a fairly thin political resume, but a compelling life story. I suspect that this is because a long political career serves to give opposing candidates a lot of ammo.

  23. dumb ox says:

    Sorry, the shark picture makes me snicker.

  24. I think you photoshopped those Tim Howard pics. NO way he made all those saves. Nice try though.

  25. Rick Ro. says:

    A lot of my opinion regarding a person’s presidency is shaped by the quality of the staff with which they surround themselves. Did they surround themselves with people who know how to get things done or didn’t they? Did they surround themselves with people whose agendas were focused on what was right for the country, or on other things? For example, I think Jimmy Carter’s staff – the people he picked – was one of the worst ever. Hence, his presidency suffered (and that’s on him), and I would put him near the bottom of that list. Nixon, obviously, too, since he was corrupt and had a bunch of corrupt people around him.

    Curiously, of the group mentioned, only Nixon tends to pop up consistently on lists of 10 Worst Presidents of All-Time. There were some really atrocious guys in the 1800s and early 1900s. And yet, somehow America survived them.

  26. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says:

    I would probably agree with France and the European court for two reasons. Modern security hinges on facial recognition software, and it is reasonable to expect citizens to comply with these security measures. The second argument is a bit more tricky. In some ways, it makes sense – and I would add that female face coverings are inherently misogynist. On the other hand, at what point does the majority get to decide the public ethic of minority groups? So I’m not sure I can accept the second argument, but the first is certainly reasonable.