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April 30, 2006
Worst. President. Ever.

Rolling Stone's cover story this month is an analysis by Princeton historian Sean Wilentz on just how horrible the Bush administration is, really. (Answer: Oh, so horrible.)

worst president ever

While not revealing anything new, the article puts Bush's presidency in historical context, laying out each of his major failures (it's a long article) in the arenas of foreign policy, domestic policy, and personal credibility and competence and how they compare to the deeds of some of the other jerks who have held that office.

Bush is a particular tragedy as his presidency comes at such a critical time. The worst possible man to govern at the most important possible time.

How does any president's reputation sink so low? The reasons are best understood as the reverse of those that produce presidential greatness. In almost every survey of historians dating back to the 1940s, three presidents have emerged as supreme successes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These were the men who guided the nation through what historians consider its greatest crises: the founding era after the ratification of the Constitution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression and Second World War. Presented with arduous, at times seemingly impossible circumstances, they rallied the nation, governed brilliantly and left the republic more secure than when they entered office.

Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.

And then there's this...

No other president -- Lincoln in the Civil War, FDR in World War II, John F. Kennedy at critical moments of the Cold War -- faced with such a monumental set of military and political circumstances failed to embrace the opposing political party to help wage a truly national struggle. But Bush shut out and even demonized the Democrats. Top military advisers and even members of the president's own Cabinet who expressed any reservations or criticisms of his policies -- including retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- suffered either dismissal, smear attacks from the president's supporters or investigations into their alleged breaches of national security. The wise men who counseled Bush's father, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, found their entreaties brusquely ignored by his son. When asked if he ever sought advice from the elder Bush, the president responded, "There is a higher Father that I appeal to."

And that's really the problem right there. Not just the higher Father thing, which frankly is too scary for me to even deal with right now, but the arrogance of dismissing opposing viewpoints when faced with such complex and critical issues. Lincoln filled his cabinet with people who HATED him, Bush fires anyone who even slightly disagrees. And his supporters are the same way, arrogant to the point of lunacy. Pride, I might remind all of them, the president especially, is not something to be proud of.

Full article.

996 days to go...

April 14, 2006
Local News Highlights

In other "people I love on the radio" news, check out Liz's first feature piece for KUOW (!!) on "green" MBA programs.

Everybody's somebody these days.

April 13, 2006
Half/Life Hits the (Half) Big Time

Laurel Snyder—who I must reiterate, totally fucking ROCKS—has been all over the place lately, promoting Half/Life (buy it! self-promotion is the only kind of promotion!).

Check out her commentary on NPR yesterday...

And a full half-hour devoted to the book on WABE Atlanta's Between the Lines, during which she reads an excerpt from my very own essay in said book.


April 10, 2006
Kill 'Em All

Conservative talk-show host Brian James on the illegal immigration issue:

What we'll do is randomly pick one night - every week - where we will kill whoever crosses the border. Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun...[I'd be] happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope.

James claims this is "satire" and has not apologized. The Arizona Attorney General has filed a complaint with the FCC.

This is not free speech, this is incitement to murder on the public airwaves. James never disavowed violence or claimed that he was kidding. In fact, when a caller said that he must not really mean it, James responded that he in fact did mean it.

Listen to the audio here.

Family values in action.

Email KFYI, James' employer, and tell them what you think.

Via Think Progress.

It's Called "Delegation"

Look.. I mean... jesus.. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I've said it before, but it certainly bears repeating: If you voted for this man, you have done a very terrible thing. If you think this even approaches acceptable behavior from our president, you're nuts. Dangerous and nuts.

April 9, 2006
Great Men of Genius

great men of genius

For the past four nights, I've been attending the world premier of Mike Daisey's Great Me of Genius at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, and filing post-show debriefings on The Slog, The Stranger's blog. Daisey is writing his impressions of the performance, and I'm writing mine.

The show is a series of four monologues, each about a different "great man of genius"—Bertolt Brecht, P.T Barnum, Nikola Tesla, and tonight L. Ron Hubbard. I have varying degrees of fascination with all of these men, particularly the last two, and particularly the last one, as many of you probably know. It's been a lot of fun and kind of crazy to see all four in a row, and I can only imagine what it must have been like to perform them. Congratulations to Mr. Daisey for a brave and remarkable run.

Anyway, the first three posts are on the Slog now with the fourth to come tomorrow morning. The pieces are also being moved into the theater section here after they're posted.

I guess I should have posted this before this whole thing started...

April 6, 2006
Holy Half/Life!

Please excuse the shameless plug, I know we have other exciting news to discuss, but I have to do it...

half life

Half/Life is birthed!

That being the book that dear, dear Laurel Snyder edited and to which she so kindly allowed ME to contribute. So here it is, in my hand, a for-real book with my name in it and junk. It's pretty neat, I gotta say.

Here's a picture of me holding the book..

me and book

Anyway, that's all. Just wanted to share. You can (please?) buy the book from the following online book-places, or go to your local bookmart and be all, "Dude, you don't have any copies of Half/Life?!? What the crap! Please reserve 12 for me and get with the times, man!" or something.

Barnes & Noble (Same day delivery in Manhattan! Don't delay!)
Soft Skull Press (Cut out the middle man.)

Don't buy it just to be nice (seriously, do), buy it because it's great and interesting and has lots of way better essays than mine in it, and because Laurel deserves every bit of success in the world, as she rocks.


April 3, 2006
Dropping the Hammer


TIME.com: Exclusive: Tom DeLay Says He Will Give Up His Seat

Rep. Tom DeLay, whose iron hold on the House Republicans melted as a lobbying corruption scandal engulfed the Capitol, told TIME that he will not seek reelection and will leave Congress within months. Taking defiant swipes at "the left" and the press, he said he feels "liberated" and vowed to pursue an aggressive speaking and organizing campaign aimed at promoting foster care, Republican candidates and a closer connection between religion and government.

"I'm going to announce tomorrow that I'm not running for reelection and that I'm going to leave Congress," DeLay, who turns 59 on Saturday, said during a 90-minute interview on Monday. "I'm very much at peace with it." He notified President Bush in the afternoon. DeLay and his wife, Christine, said they had been prepared to fight, but that he decided last Wednesday, after months of prayer and contemplation, to spare his suburban Houston district the mudfest to come. "This had become a referendum on me," he said. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."

DeLay's fall has been stunningly swift, one of the most brutal and decisive in American history. He had to give up his title of Majority Leader, the No. 2 spot in the House Republican leadership, in September when a Texas grand jury indicted him on charges of trying to evade the state's election law.

Ha ha. What an asshole. After "months of prayer" he wanted to spare the poor people the "mudfest." What a jerk.

The mudfest, Mr. DeLay, started when you broke the law. The only mud that's being slung is from you, towards anyone who cares about this country. Good riddance. And your wife can kiss my ass, too. MMMmmmwah!

Of course, the Republicans had to get DeLay out of the way well before the elections this fall. Hopefully the Democrats can somehow—SOMEHOW—manage to not completely blow this opportunity.