Saturday, July 26, 2008

back to under rated presidents

having recently finished Oxford History of the United States (1815-1848), I cannot understand how Reason could rate Martin Van Buren as under rated. Trail of tears was enacted under him. Clueless on the economy. Can't think of any positive accomplishments - he came across as your classic, great backroom operator who wasn't ready to be top dog.

Will be curious to read more about Warren G. Harding (could be a long time before that volume comes out). Commuting Deb's sentence is clearly a positive, but is that enough to make up for Teapot Dome?

42 down - 6 to go

It's getting hard to motivate myself to continue this series - guess like most of us, i'd just like to hit the FF button at least until election night & then to the end of the Bush presidency. Looking at his overall record instead of the specifics:

Domestic - deficit spending & energy dependency. Obviously Bush's borrow-and-spend mentality has caused long term harm to our nation including the debasement of our currency. His Medicare Plan D will be a huge drain on our treasury for decades. Energy - can only think of opportunity lost and the blindness of this administration. Their view was clearly summarized in Cheney's notable "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue" speech.

Foreign - the violence has impressively decreased in Iraq (choose your combination of factors: ethnic cleansing, Anbar awakening, but clearly the change in counterinsurgency techniques has helped), but once again Iraq is an opportunity lost. A friend of a friend calculated how much $1T would have benefited our country if devoted to solar energy instead of war. For remaking the middle east that's obviously a failure. Dictators of various flavours still rule the countries in the area and will continue to do so for years to come. US death toll in Afghanistan has turned surprisingly high & will exceed the US death toll in Iraq again this month.

Rule-of-law - fortunately signing statements are transitory, but a clear violation of law. In essence he's asserting the right to disobey any law he doesn't like. How bad of a role model for future presidents remains to be seen, but congress was foolish to cow tow to him & here the Dems should have more aggressively challenged him.

Evaluating the 2 candidates. Both will be better for rule of law - a law bar i realize but still somewhat hopeful. Economics? Both of them have their hands pretty much tied by a confluence of events, but Bush's abysmal performance on fiscal responsibility has certainly hurt. Obama wants to add more programs and allow the sunset clauses to expire on Bush's tax cut (politically stupid that he didn't make more of them permanent). McCain wants to extend the tax cuts and continue our occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Obama is anti-free trade, while McCain appears to have no opinion. Guess I still have to decide whether to vote for Bob Barr - a sign of support for the libertarian ideals & not for either the party or the man.

Friday Night Wine blogging - cleaning out the aggregator edition

not wine, but july 4th on sunset blvd. rest of wine photos are varying vintage over the past 1½ months.

Obvious hat tip to Kip Esquire, but i've been letting my wine blogging (& food) photos pile up, so tie to clean out the aggregator.

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