The Challenges in Reforming the Left

from Sargon of Akkad

The nine points needed to be understood to make the American Left a competitive party again: The Challenges in Reforming the Left



Rick Santorum is the Devil

In the past, I have used a lot of hyperbole to describe things I find objectionable: Coldplay, Peter King, and the Electric Slide are a few examples that come to mind. Perhaps I spoke too harshly of these things, and for that I am sorry. Truth be told, Coldplay is not actually my least favorite thing in the universe. They’re just a band I don’t like. All the other times I claimed to harbor a passionate hatred for something, I was probably just joking around.

But the time for trivial things is over. The subject of Rick Santorum is a very serious one, and as such, I would like to offer my honest opinion: he is the fucking Devil.

Do not be fooled by all of his Bible-thumping—this is a common ruse used by Satan to disguise himself. Much of this was prophesized in the New Testament:

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth–Gog and Magog–to gather them for battle. In number they are like sand on the seashore.

— Revelation 21:7

For a while, I wondering how all these Rick Santorum supporters suddenly appeared out of nowhere, but this explains everything. Even Santorum’s cancerous impact on the Republican Party was foretold long ago:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republician] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

— Barry Goldwater

Though I‘ve hated Rick Santorum for quite some time, previously I did not find it necessary to express these views in blog form. As a general rule, I only write about things I dislike when a significant number of people actually like them. For example, I would not write a blog about how much I hate malaria. Although it is certainly true, so far I have not encountered any opposition to this viewpoint. Naturally, if malaria suddenly became all the rage, I would be compelled to speak out against it.

Likewise, Rick Santorum had been rightfully marginalized for most of his career. This was particularly true after he lost his senate seat in 2006 by the largest margin ever for a GOP incumbent, and had his last name successfully redefined to mean lubeshit. But as of today, Rick Santorum is the #1 Republican answer to the question: “Who should be the next President of the United States?” Suddenly, all of that 2012 apocalypse crap is starting to sound ominous.

Back in 2008, if you told me that a 2012 GOP candidate would make me long for Mitt Romney, I would’ve called you crazy. I probably would’ve said, “Wait, how do you know that? Do you have a time machine or something? Tell me next week’s winning lotto numbers. Never mind, that can’t be true because I hate Mitt Romney. You’re crazy.” As it stands, Santorum is so wretched and horrifying that I often forget about my dislike for Romney, whom I avidly rooted for McCain to defeat in 2008.

It’s not as if party politics are clouding my judgement. While I do hate most Republicans, I don’t exactly go around singing the praises of Chris Dodd or John Kerry either. For all I care, Santorum could be running against Richard Nixon’s rotting corpse and I would still vote against him. I would even buy a “Nixon’s Rotting Corpse 2012” bumper sticker for my car, if that’s what it took to prevent a Rick Santorum presidency. Perhaps the lone exception is Michelle Bachmann. If Santorum and Bachmann were the only two presidential candidates–sorry but I threw up all over my keyboard before I could finish that sentence. Let’s move on.

At this point, a reasonable person might ask, “What specific policy issues make you loathe Rick Santorum so much?” I suppose I could explain them all in detail, but it seems like a fruitless exercise to me. I doubt any Santorum supporters are reading this thinking: Let’s see here, I have analyzed all of the candidates and their various platforms, and determined that Rick Santorum is the most optimal. However, I am open-minded to any contrary analyses or opinions. If you’re looking for well-informed, rational people who support Rick Santorum, you might as well be looking for diamonds up a horse’s ass, because you’re not going to find any. The defining traits of Santorum and his evil minions are ignorance and contempt for factual arguments.

Here are a few testimonials from Santorum fans, which give some insight into their typical thought process:

“I decided to support him three weeks ago. Before that, I was for Gingrich,” said Steve Izev, 34, of Westerville, Ohio. “The more popular he got, the more I liked him.”

“I don’t know a lot about him,” said Gary Henson, 32, the owner of a medical supply company in Columbus. “I like his demeanor. I like his personality.”

While it seems irresponsible to me to vote for someone you, “don’t know a lot about,” I would hesitate to try and explain this to Gary Henson from Columbus. I imagine I’d be immediately dismissed as some smug Harvard elitist.

What makes Santorum’s followers particularly dangerous is their continuing refusal to acknowledge reality. Undaunted by the truth, they constantly repeat idiotic claims that have long been refuted. A recent story about Occupy Wall Street protesters at a Santorum rally provides a telling example.

I have never been to an OWS rally, and find myself at odds with some of their views–particularly their extremely favorable stance on hacky sacks. How anyone can be entertained by a hacky sack I will never understand.

For some reason, this is a popular form of outdoor recreation.

But never mind that, we need all the allies we can get to defeat this monster. Observe his hellish disregard for the truth:

The protesters, Santorum suggested, “instead of standing here unemployed, yelling at somebody” should instead “go out and get a job.”

Santorum’s supporters roared their approval, chanting “get a job” back at the Occupiers.

Take that, you bums. I don’t care if 87% of you have jobs–get a job!

As for Santorum’s army of idiots, why should I assume that any of them have jobs? It’s not like someone is paying these dickheads to stand around and listen to Rick Santorum all day.

I guess if I didn’t have to work, I would follow Rick Santorum around the country, just so I could give him the middle finger everywhere he went. Then I could brag about being the only person to flip off Rick Santorum in all 50 states. I’ll have to put that on my bucket list.

I have decided that I hate Rick Santorum so much, I am now gay just to spite him. Here is a picture of me and few dudes gaying it up:

That’s me on the left. You’re under arrest, Rick!

One might ask how can someone change their sexual preference just like that. It is entirely possible, according to Santorum himself, who insists that sexual orientation is a choice. It doesn’t seem to be a terribly important choice either, because Santorum is also opposed to premarital sex and strongly opposed to gay marriage. So for practical purposes, not being married is essentially the same as being gay in Rick Santorum’s world.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, I like premarital sex.” Well, you’re not going to like it anymore, not after Rick Santorum outlaws all forms of birth control. To be honest, if I hadn’t just become gay, I would be even more worried about post-marital sex. I can’t afford all those kids!

I suppose it could be worse. At least the government will provide food stamps for my 14 children. Surely Rick Santorum supports food stamps, right? No, Rick Santorum thinks food stamps make people fat.

One other thing–if you agree with Rick Santorum on all these issues, but practice Islam instead of Christianity, Rick Santorum will probably kill you. But then he will announce that you have been liberated.

That’s because both of them are Satan.

In general, the notion of Republicans being socially conservative seems fundamentally flawed to me. If there’s one thing Republicans love to do, it’s demonize the government. They constantly bemoan Big Government, Obamacare, government spending, government revenues (taxes), and government meddling in business. What can the government do well? Nothing.

Compare that to the social conservatism, “a form of authoritarianism often associated with the position that the national government, or the state, should have a greater role in the social and moral affairs of its citizens,” according to wikipedia.

So is the government good or bad? It’s time for Republicans to shit or get off the pot here. If the government is so bad, stop using it to pry into and legislate our private affairs. And unless your goal is widespread public mockery, stop parading around assholes like Rick Santorum.

GOP Feedback

Dear GOP,

I pretty much dislike all major political parties. Your party is sort of an exception, in the sense that I not only dislike your political platform, but I also hate most of you as human beings. Despite all of that, I was relatively bored today, so I figured I would give you Republicans some helpful advice for campaign season.

The worst thing about politicians is that they are all descendants of the ancient demon king Belphegor. The second-worst thing about politicians is that they seem totally obsessed with political buzz-phrases. Buzz-phrases, catch-phrases, slogans and the like work similarly to ads or billboards. Basically, the main goal is convince you of something without really providing any supporting evidence.

You’ll note that consumer advertisements rely heavily on tactic, which I find annoying but understandable. When I am driving down the freeway and you are trying to sell me microwave popcorn, I’m not going to devote a whole lot of time to what you have to say. You probably have about a second to get my attention, if that.

The government, on the other hand, is a company I am already doing business with. Despite my cynical attitude, I have to care about the government. If I said, “Fuck it, let’s vote for any old schmo,” I run the risk of being overtaxed, wrongfully imprisoned, etc. as a result of this decision.

Long story longer, when I hear a candidate using a catchy buzz-phrase to gloss over a complicated political issue, this is what it sounds like to me:

Hi, do you know what a congressman is? Never mind, it’s not important. Basically, you are trying to choose between me and some other guy, which is like deciding whether to buy Pepsi or Coke. Sure, you could do all your “research” and “fact-finding”. But what I’ve noticed is that people invariably just pick one, because who gives a shit about competing brands of cola. When the worst possible outcome of a decision is, “Yuck, this tastes like it has a slightly different concentration of high-fructose corn syrup,” most people will not lose too much sleep one way or the other.

This probably goes without saying, but I am counting on you to take the same hands-off approach when it comes to voting for Congress. In fact, your actual vote is probably less important than your preferred brand of soda. You only get one vote, which is far less than the margin of error involved in…sorry that was way too confusing. Look at me droning on like a nerd. Sorry guys, I may have a Ph.D. in Scientology, but I am totally down to earth like all you regular Joes. Seriously, don’t over-think this one too much. Both you and I will be happier if you do zero research about me or my historical track record.

You know what really grids my gears? Partisan bickering. Washington gridlock. I’ve had enough of politics as usual, especially from people who disagree with me. The solution to all of these problems is to vote for my party 100% of the time. I think. I am a Washington outsider so I don’t really know how this stuff works. That’s right, I’m a real trail-blazing maverick, not some professional politician who has experience working in legislative bodies with other politicians. I don’t even know where Washington D.C. is, and if elected, will need someone to give me directions from I-95 North.

Just look at my opponent. He is a cranky old curmudgeon, who constantly scowls at things, according to the one shitty photo of him I keep showing. Plus he is always accompanied by grim-sounding music in my campaign ads. In 2002, my opponent voted to create a new cabinet position called Secretary of Beating Up Old Ladies. What kind of jerk would vote for such a clearly terrible bill? I’ll tell you who, the same kind of jerk who thought he was voting for a normal House appropriations bill, only to have a series of unrelated, last-minute riders tacked on. What this example really shows is how I treat congressional voting like a political game, as opposed to an important responsibility bestowed upon me by the citizens of this great nation. U-S-A!

Now marvel at the juxtaposition of this obvious train-wreck with his polar opposite: me. Oh, how important and magnanimous this pressed suit makes me look. I have 2.3 kids and a Golden fucking Retriever. Check and mate, my friend.

Hold up a second. I just saw some really important thing off in the distance over there. It’s really fucking cool so I am just going to stare at that for a while. What, are we still rolling? I dunno just fade out or something. Listen, there’s a pile a blow with my name on it back at the hotel, so I’d be fine if we went ahead and wrapped things up here.

This rhetoric may seem “outlandish” or “not real” but it is hidden inside 99% of the political buzz-phrases that are thrown around today (the remaining 1% is stuff like, buzz-phrases used in the blog I am writing right now about buzz-phrases because I hate them).

All of that being said, they seem to be fairly popular on both sides of the isle. And even I have to admit that they seem to work sometimes. Like the phrase: Drill, baby, drill caught on for some reason. I’m not entirely sure why, though I have to say it is much better than: “I love offshore oil drilling so much, I speak about it like someone for whom I have sexual feelings,” the other tagline the GOP was kicking around for a while.

I should mention something about the Democrats here, and not to maintain any superficial sense of being fair and balanced. I think they love meaningless catch-phrases almost as much as the GOP. Their problem is more that buzz-phrases are not really their most effective style of propaganda.* The two most popular Democrat buzz-phrases I can remember are It’s the Economy, Stupid! and Change You Can Believe In. Note the proper punctuation, grammar and syntax in these slogans–classic rookie mistake. Commas, apostrophes, and complete sentences merely distract and confuse the idiots you are reaching out to.

* The trick that Democrats are really good at is the use of anecdotal evidence. Whenever a Democrat begins a speech like, “Let me tell you about a guy named…” and then the guy ends up losing his farm or some shit, then gets injured and can’t afford health care, then his favorite cow dies yadda yadda etc that is what I mean.

Obama probably realized this when he modified his slogan to the shorter, pithier Change We Need. Because before he was asking me to believe in stuff. After following politics for long enough, that just seems like a generally bad idea. But now with Change We Need he’s just saying: “Your current president sucks, and needs to be replaced.” This idea is much easier for the voting public to grasp. If there’s one thing voters hate, it’s the last president they voted for. Fuck that guy, remember all the bad shit that happened when he was President? Totally his fault.

I have just two more examples to discuss, starting with my least favorite buzz-phrase of all time: family values. It seems to imply that a “family” is really a group of strict assholes who oppose individual liberties and much of the US Constitution. I would politely ask you not to talk about the Connelly’s that way.

Excluding myself, probably any person with a family would by offended by this suggestion, that their family members share the same core values as Mitt Romney and his 8 wives or whatever. That was kind of a low blow. Sorry Mitt. The only reason I brought it up was because I truly dislike Mitt Romney and want to hurt his feelings. Hey, wait a second, I didn’t bring it up. Republicans did, when they made family values a part of their political agenda.

On a more positive note, I’ve decided my favorite political buzz-phrase is job-killing. Now the implication is more like Obama is a nefarious criminal mastermind, surrounded by a tank of man-eating piranhas, brutally murdering innocent jobs to fulfill some evil, job-killing fetish of his. This one sounds like a winner to me.

"The whole 'feeding people to piranhas' thing is more of a decoy than anything else. Soon my diabolical estate tax will pass through both houses unopposed!"

Oh yea, I forgot that I put “Dear GOP,” at the beginning of this post. To be honest, what you read was less of an actual letter to the GOP, and more of a blog post insulting them. I guess that’s all for now.

Quality Prose

Springtime for the Tea Party

I went to a Tea Party rally once. Two of my friends from work were going, and somehow convinced me to join them. This was a few years ago, so at the time I had not heard of the Tea Party as a political movement. I was disappointed when I got there and found out they did not actually serve any tea. I had taken the PATH to the WTC station and walked from there, so I was a little cold and could of used a nice hot beverage. I remember wearing a blue hoodie with a Phish logo and a flannel shirt and some other stuff, purposely so that I did not look like I was actively participating in the event. Most of the tea baggers, a phrase I’m not sure I knew at the time, probably assumed I was a pedestrian on my way to or from the nearby Starbucks.

The Tea Party actually began as a movement during the George W. Bush lame duck period. Some of their first protests were in response to the Wall Street bailouts, which I was never a big fan of either. My main issue with these angry protest movements is that they rarely attract people with nuanced beliefs. What struck me immediately about the people who spoke at the rally was the lack of a coherent ideology they had. It seemed like a forum for average Joe Republicians to rant, but under the guise of some underground movement.

I miss the days when Republicians were greedy board-room honchos, sitting around wearing their power ties and sipping scotch.

Republicans back in their glory days of power.

These days, your average Republician is likely to live in a log cabin in the mountains of Idaho, usually calling into the Rush Limbaugh show to talk about how they’re covering themselves in tin foil to hide from Obama’s Communist spy-satellites.

A new generation of GOP supporters.

Try reading some of the online comments for any Yahoo! News political article; they all sound like they are written by the two mountain men from Deleverance. The recent wave of crazy is perhaps a consequence of the Tea Party’s success as a popular movement.

I will take a look at some current representatives of the Tea Party, and how many of the things they say are stupid.

Glenn Beck

Here Glenn Beck starts off okay, calling Chris Matthews a balloon head. Then he continues, but without making any kind of point. Here you can really see Beck’s vast lexicon and strong command of english vocabulary:

“You sir, are a balloon head that was taught by a balloon head and all you did because you’re a balloon head was sit in your stupid balloon head Ivy League classroom and be indoctrinated by a balloon head and never ever used your balloon head to ask an intelligent question of the balloon head in the tweed jacket! You self-sanctimonious, self-important balloon head, America has had enough.”

As an Ivy League graduate, I can tell you that this was exactly what my college experience was like:

A typical lecture for MATH 294 - Linear Algebra at Cornell.

Thanks to Glenn Beck for calling out the Communist Ivy-League Indoctrination centers that brainwashed Chris Matthews. Shame on you, Holy Cross and University of North Carolina!

Apparently nobody listens to Glenn Beck anymore, so that is a relief. I think he had some conspiracy theory a while back that Egypt was being taken over by aliens. I don’t remember the details of that one. I think stuff like that eventually reduced his credibility among people who are not total wing-nuts, so his show got cancelled. Ha, sucks for him. But rules for pretty much everyone else.

Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R – KY) is a Tea Party candidate recently elected in 2010 to replace the infamous Jim Bunning. His platform isn’t the complete train-wreck that defines some of the other folks I mention here. He has a few positions I agree on, like he opposes oil subsidies, the war in Iraq, and the USA Patriot Act.

As it happens, Rand Paul smoked a fair amount of pot down at Baylor, at one point he worshipped a god named ‘Aqua Buddha’ which was presumably a talking bong.

My problem with all of these Tea Party candidates is they tend to treat “Federal Government is Bad” as an axiom, without really evaluating it on a case-by-case basis. Rand Paul is particularly fond of “leaving it to the states” in favor of Federal legislation. In many instances, I may agree with him. But other times, this stance can be very confusing to me. Here is his recent comment from a Senate vote that passed 96-1:

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the sole “no” vote Thursday night on a measure that would make it a federal crime to aim a handheld laser pointer at an aircraft. The measure, offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) as an amendment to a measure on funding the Federal Aviation Administration, passed on a 96-to-1 vote, with three senators not present. It would call for anyone who knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft to face fines or a prison term of up to five years.

Paul told reporters after Thursday’s vote that he believed the laser-pointer issue was one best handled by the states, not the federal government.
“There are a lot of states that already have laws, and I think states ought to take care of it,” Paul said.

I am not surprised this measure passed 96-1. FYI, when you shine a laser-pointer at an aircraft, it does not just project a tiny red dot in the interior of the airplane. The light can refract with the windshield of the plane and fill the cockpit with intense, blinding light. It is fairly obvious that this should be an illegal.

Paul’s assertion that the “states ought to take care of it” is a particularly bizarre one for this law. It would be irresponsible to assume that every state would pass the law, and use that to justify inaction at the federal level. What about the alternate scenario? Let’s say that every state in America voted on such a bill, and every state passed said bill except for Kentucky.

Kentucky now more dangerous for commercial aircrafts.

The problem is that this doesn’t just affect residents of Kentucky, it affects anyone who happens to be flying over Kentucky. If I wanted to fly from Indianapolis to Nashville, without being attacked by some jerk with a laser-pointer, I would now have to go well out of my way to accomplish that.

This would be extremely inconvenient.

Have you ever been on a flight that took off and landed in the same state? Probably not very many. Commercial airline flights are by nature a matter of interstate transportation. They are precisely the type of business that should be regulated by the Federal government, as opposed to the states. Rand Paul is wrong.

Michele Bachmann

Despite being a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Michele Bachmann is dumber than a pile of bricks. Not one for diplomatic tact, she stated in regard to Iran, “We can’t remove any options off the table [sic] and we should not remove the nuclear response.”

Just a heads up Iran, we’re playing around with the idea of blowing the shit out of you, but it’s only one of our many options on the table. The table is also full of various benign ideas like, “playing a charity wiffleball game” because Michele Bachmann has not removed any of them off yet.

This is how much of a fucking idiot I am.

We all know about the global warming hoax: invented by the USSR in a desperate, final attempt to derail the US economy and win the Cold War. Here is Mrs. Bachmann with an air-tight proof of the non-existence of climate change:

“Carbon dioxide … is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural …. We’re being told we have to reduce this natural [sic hey learn any new words lately] substance to create an arbitrary reduction [sic] in something that is naturally [sic] occurring in the earth.”

There you have it, anything that is naturally occurring in the earth is good for you. We’ll take tornados as an example. Suppose I built a giant Tornado Machine, and began deploying it in the center of Manhattan. Residents of New York City would not be happy about this at all. I imagine I’d be a very hated man there. On the other hand, I’d have the full support of Michele Bachmann, based on her reasoning above: Tornados are just some naturally occurring thing that can’t possibly be bad for us–who cares about a few more?

The other pillar of Bachmann’s climate change argument is that carbon dioxide is a “harmless gas”. Really, carbon dioxide is a very useful gas for humans. It allows us to exhale after breathing, which prevents us from exploding with oxygen atoms. It also facilitates the serving of beer in kegs. To my knowledge, no one is arguing that carbon dioxide is like that gas from The Rock where you drop a container and it starts melting your face.

Not carbon dioxide.

The environmental issue with carbon dioxide is that an abundance of it makes the Earth hotter. It is sort of like a coat. A coat itself is not hot; it keeps you warm using your own body heat.

In fact, it’s almost like one of those things–what do you call those houses made of all windows, where you put plants to keep them warm? I don’t remember.

At this point, I would go on to explain how an increase in global temperature melts the polar ice caps, if I were explaining basic Earth Science to a group of Second Grade children. I suppose if I were stuck in a conversation with Michelle Bachmann about it, I would just give her a bouncy ball to play with or something.

Sarah Palin

I almost forgot to do this last bit. Fortunately, I made a to-do list earlier today, and I just remembered to look at it.

I don’t have too much to say about Palin. She should tell her kids to stop mouthing off on Facebook or something. I have no opinion of Dancing with the Stars because I don’t watch that show.

There was one issue with Palin that was overlooked with all the other controversy surrounding her, some of which was false. She made that map that got over-criticized when the Arizona shooter came out, because she had sniper’s crosshairs on the political districts of 20 Democrats. This overshadowed the more relevant criticism of the map, that it was crazy and in poor taste:

Clearly the real map, it has Sarah Palin's signature.

Though Palin’s map would make a great spec for an Al-Qaeda video game, it’s not a map that anyone would pick up and say, “Yes Sarah, I agree to kill these people.” It is pretty clear she is just trying to get Republican votes and stuff. I simply find it weird that marksmen’s targets are being pointed at things on U.S. soil in a political ad. It’s a very bellicose campaign spot, is all I guess I am saying.

That’s all I have for now, I can’t remember any other Tea Party people I hate. Scott Brown is okay. I’ll have some other blog-type stuff soon. I’m guessing the topic will be me insulting various people.

Presidential Report Card, Parts I-V

I got this idea completely out of the blue, just bored on a Saturday morning. I’m up in CT housesitting my little brother. If I had my awesome new guitar with me I’d practice some arpeggios and stuff (the ‘rents have a guitar here but it is vastly inferior and currently out of tune).

Anywho, for a while I’ve wanted to do some objective, non-partisan political analysis. In my mind, the first step for me is to divulge my poltical leanings, which I’ll attempt to do in four sentences:

– I recently registered as a Democrat and voted for Obama.
– I tend to sympathize with libertarians on economic issues, but I don’t necessarily oppose government spending for potentially lucrative investments (e.g. I did not support the bank bailouts, but I liked aspects of the obama stimulus package).
– On social/international issues, the democrats are actually too far “right” for me at times, whereas limited government advocates tend to have more profound views on issues like legalization of drugs and non-intervention in foreign affairs.
– I am currently frustrated with third-party candidates who claim that the two major parties are “the same” yet fail to have a realistic gameplan for getting elected and enacting change.

Now that I’ve told you all that, why should you care? Well, no reason really. Just the fact that the remainder of this posting could be biased, as I will have written it.

If there are four things in the world that pisses me off, they are: Dane Cook, Coldplay, the Electric Slide, and political commentators who claim to be neutral and unbiased when they are clearly not. I’m looking in your general direction, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly.

"The spin stops here."
''The spin stops here.''

No it doesn’t. But if you replace “spin” with “coherent thought” you could be on to something.
"I'm not a liberal, I'm an American."
''I'm not a liberal, I'm an American.''

Unfortunately for us, you’re both. But just as before, we can correct the erroneous statement by substituting “liberal” with “reputable journalist” and “American” with “jackass”.

Long story short, I expect people to disagree with my presidential performance evaluations. But don’t get on your high horse and contend that my analysis is biased, yet there is some alternative analysis that should be universally accepted. Everyone is a biased, partisan ideologue in my book, including me.

Remember to file this one under work-in-progress. Frankly I don’t have as much historical political (or even current political) knowledge as I should, although really no one does. What I do have is a good bullshit detector to see past conventional wisdom, which tends to over weigh things like “Abe Lincoln freed the slaves” or “Gerry Ford fell down a lot” when evaluating presidents. So please provide any insight or constructive criticism, and I’ll definitely take it into account (especially for the ones I left blank).

1. George Washington (No party)
They didn’t put him on the dollar for nothing. For whatever reason, G-dubs is remembered more for beating down the redcoats than any of his Presidential achievements. Poppycock. For one thing, the decisive victory of the Revolutionary War was won by Benedict Arnold, while Washington’s troops were simultaneously losing the Battle of Brandywine to notorious British blunderer William Howe.

In contrast, Washington’s presidency was a rousing success, highlighted by numerous influential decisions and a legacy of fair-minded leadership. The list of federal entities created by Geroge Washington’s initiatives includes: the dollar, the US Mint, the National Bank, the District of Columbia, the US Navy, the Supreme Court, and the four major cabinet positions (Secretary of State/Treasury/Defense and Attorney General).

Historians such as Leonard D. White and Guy Who Edits Wikipedia describe Washington as, “an excellent delegator and judge of talent and character,” and “systematic, orderly, energetic, solicitous of the opinion of others but decisive, intent upon general goals and the consistency of particular actions with them.” Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796 warned future generations about the dangers of political parties and foreign alliances. Of course, future generations responded, “sure, whatever George” and here we are today.

The only area of criticism is that the federal entities established by Washington created a legacy of solving problems with more government. I believe it was a prudent strategy at the time, but one that has led to an unnecessary amount of bureaucracy today. Grade: A

2. John Adams (Federalist)
Like Sam Bowie, Darko Milicic, and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, John Adams was sort of a letdown at #2. Adams had a reputation as being somewhat tactless, and this manifested itself when his criticism of the French Revolution eventually led to the XYZ Affair and Quasi-War in 1798. More troubling to me were the absurdly unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts which sought to place limits on immigration and free speech for political reasons. In contrast with Washington, Adams seemed to be almost an advocate of partisan politics. Grade: C

3. Thomas Jefferson (Democrat-Republican)
With the landmark Marbury v Madison case of 1803, instigated by Jefferson’s refusal to honor Adams’s Supreme Court appointments, the Supreme Court was given the power to declare laws and decisions unconstitutional. Surely, this has had some positive results over the years.

The problem here is that the Supreme Court is filled with people who consider themselves Democrats and Republicans–this makes no sense to me. The Supreme Court should uphold the law while making every effort to separate their political leanings from their decision. Jefferson realized this as well:

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…. Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves

Well, judicial review is here to stay. If Jefferson had reservations, he ought to have done something about it. As you can see, these decisions made during our country’s infancy have had a profound impact today.

Overall, Jefferson was a very staunch defender of the constitution. He voided the Alien and Sedition Acts of Adams, and he spoke a great deal about the importance of individual liberties, rebellion, and states’ rights. To me, that makes him possibly the most quotable president ever, but not necessarily the most effective. He also founded the Democratic party, for better or worse. Grade: A-

4. James Madison (Democrat-Republican)
Madison opposed the creation of a National Bank, but he renewed its charter in order to finance the War of 1812. This was one of the earlier instances in American history of politicians veering from their principles for dubious reasons. In this case, the War of 1812 was a silly conflict between the United States and Britain that resulted in no territorial gains, (although it did provide a backdrop for Francis Scott Key to compose the Star-Spangled Banner).

Otherwise, Madison maintained a conservative approach to government spending. One of his final acts as president was vetoing a bill for “internal improvements”, such as roads, bridges, and canals. His reasoning was based on states’ rights: that federal legislation should be limited to infrastructure that would, “bind more closely together the various parts of our extended confederacy,” according to him.

The Federal Government’s defense of States’ rights, advocated in particular by Jefferson and Madison, seems to have faded away over the years. Today’s Democratic party would do well to remember their roots. Grade: B+

5. James Monroe (Democrat-Republican)
Monroe essentially continued the economic legacy of Jefferson/Madison, but where he is most remembered is foreign policy. The Monroe Doctrine has been criticized by many as a justification for United States’ hegomony. Professor Noam Chomsky argues, “The Monroe Doctrine, which the US was not powerful enough to implement at the time, stated that the US would become the dominant force in this hemisphere.”

Although I believe this interpretation is valid, the doctrine was written in the context of the colonial era. It certainly dismisses the sovereignty of native tribal civilizations, but one could argue that the same is true of the United States Constitution. To me this is a very deep argument–how do we recognize the sovereignty of civilizations without political borders? It is somewhat less relevant today, although not completely moot.

But Monroe certainly erred on the side of aggression here. His policy towards Native Americans was also somewhat bellicose, although not to the extent of many of his successors. Grade: B-

Uh, I’m kinda lazy, so I’m gonna leave the rest for later… In the mean time, here’s a song about some of them: