Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Great Line of the Day

From TBogg:

As I have said before, some people choose abstinence, others have it thrust upon them.

Get the context here. And while you’re there, scroll up to this post for a brief sojourn into the surreal.


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Six Through Ten

6. Benedict Arnold. This, from his actual letter to the British, is truly low, and readily explains his inclusion in my twenty worst list:

“On the 13th Instant I addressed a letter / to you expressing my Sentiments and expectations, viz, that / the following Preliminaries be settled previous to cooperating. – / First, that S[ir]. Henry secure to me my property, valued at ten thou- / sand pounds Sterling, to be paid to me or my Heirs in case of / Loss; and, as soon as that happens [strike out] shall happen, —- hundred / pounds per annum to be secured to me for life, in lieu of the / pay and emoluments I give up, for my Services as they shall / deserve – If I point out a plan of cooperation by which S[ir}. H[enry]. / shall possess himself of West Point, the Garrison, etc. etc. etc. twenty / thousand pounds Sterling I think will be a cheap purchase for / an object of so much importance.”

7. John Edgar Hoover. Hey, I’ve got no problem with the women’s clothes or the gayness… But his creating a dossier of left-wingers, about ½ a million of them, ranks J. Edgar Hoover pretty low in the annals of American history. Heck, even Harry Truman wrote this about him:

We want to Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandals and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals. They also have a habit of sneering at local law enforcement officers. This must stop. Cooperation is what we must have.

8. John C. Calhoun-Theorist of the States’ Rights point of view, which in turn was a causal factor in the road to the Civil War. Advocate of Slavery, and should the institution be threatened, War. From his 1949 Address:

To convince them that you are, you must prove by your acts that you hold all other questions subordinate to it. If you become united, and prove yourselves in earnest, the North will be brought to a pause, and to a calculation of consequences; and that may lead to a change of measures, and the adoption of a course of policy that may quietly and peaceably terminate this long conflict between the two sections. If it should not, nothing would remain for you but to stand up immovably in defence of rights, involving your all–your property, prosperity, equality, liberty, and safety.

9. Aldrich Ames: Besides revealing the names of every U.S. spy in the Soviet Union, Ames derailed CIA covert operations and put dozens of CIA officers at risk. In return for his treason, the KGB paid him more than $2 million and kept another $2 million earmarked for him in a Moscow bank, making him the highest paid spy in the world. There is no doubt that his greed and perfidy lead to the deaths of many Americans.

10. Julius Rosenberg (not Ethel–most research indicates that while she was a Communist Party member, she had no idea that her husband, Julius, was giving what nuclear secrets he had to the Soviet Union).


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Rice Watch Day Twenty-Two

From a must-read piece in today’s Washington Post (Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence):

Answering questions Thursday before the National Association of Black Journalists, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said she is “certain to this day that this regime was a threat, that it was pursuing a nuclear weapon, that it had biological and chemical weapons, that it had used them.” White House officials referred all questions of detail to Tenet.


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Guest Blog for Angry Bear

Angry Bear traffic is growing at a healthy clip; nothing kills traffic like taking off for a week and not posting. I need unique IPs to flourish. (When I went to Europe in the spring, it took months for my traffic to recover). Nervertheless, intrepidly placing my personal life before my blog, I am going on vacation to an undisclosed location next week, and will probably not be able to post very often. Therefore, I am officially starting the Be Angry Bear For a Week contest. First priority goes to frequent commenters without a blog, which basically means A Different Chris, Kash, Rickenharp, and my nemesis, Tom (yes, the contest is open to slightly right of center commenters), but the contest is wide-open and there need not be only one Angry Bear For a Week winner. Or, if you have a new blog and are looking for a way to drive a little traffic, guest-blogging just might do the trick.

To enter, send a sample post to In the unlikely event that I get too many entries to let everyone who enters guest blog, I’ll still post your sample post. Impress your friends with your nerdy nature! Enter now!


Oops, I also should have added Moebius to the list of frequent commenters.

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Numbers One Through Five

Notwithstanding the title, these are not really ordered, except that I made some effort to put the “least worst” at the end of the list (don’t worry, George W. slipped in near the end). I did not parse it more finely than that–I leave it to you to decide, e.g., if John C. Calhoun was worse than George Wallace, or whether Benedict Arnold or Aldrich Ames was the greater traitor.

One more note: I intentionally excluded murderers and even assassins, choosing instead to focus mostly on political figures, since this is a political blog. Certainly, Manson, Jim Jones, Gacy, Dahmer, Bundy, as well as the political killers Oswald and Booth, were on my mind for this list, but killers would have taken up too many spots that I had saved for political figures. This does not mean that I think, for example, that Herbert Hoover (my #12) is more evil than these cold-blooded killers (he wasn’t; he was just really, really, bad at policy).

1. Jefferson Davis: For his major role in the Southern secession that lead to the Civil War (a war that, as a percentage of the current U.S. population, killed six million people. Actual number dead: 620,000 Americans-more than double the number who died in World War III). Secondarily, Davis makes the list for authoring The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, a rather sad attempt to blame the Civil War on the North (the Southern States seceded after Lincoln was duly elected).

2. George Wallace: This infamous statement saves me the time it would take to explain his inclusion in this list:

“Let us rise to the call of freedom-loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever.”

3. Richard M. Nixon: Primarily for subverting Democracy by using intelligence agencies for political purposes; secondarily for his contribution to heightening the politics of scandal. Bombing Laos and Cambodia contribute to his position on the list.

4. James Kimble Vardaman: Eventual Governor of Mississippi and Jim Crow pioneer. In the dismantling of Reconstruction, Vardeman and Mississippi lead the way; the rest of the defeated Confederate states quickly followed suit. Here’s Vardaman at his best:

There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter. Mississippi’s constitutional convention was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the ni–er from politics; not the ignorant — but the ni–er.

5. Sen. Joseph McCarthy: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”-Army Council Joseph Welch, 1954.


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The Votes Are In

A while back, John Hawkins of (which is actually a fairly readable Righty site–the Dean posts are hilarious, what Joe Lieberman might write if he had a sense of humor) took a poll of who fellow conservative bloggers thought were the worst figures in American history, leading to the conservative’s list. Then he wondered how that list compares to ones that liberal bloggers would construct, so he emailed about 100 of us “left wingers” (and “slightly left of center”-ers) and then compiled the liberal’s list.

It was fun coming up with my list, and this week I’ll be posting who I chose along with a short description of why. In the meantime, I do think the lists are somewhat telling about the differences between liberal and conservative bloggers.

First, some conservatives are nuts. Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, and Robert Byrd? There really aren’t 20 people in American history who’ve done something worse than the Tawana Brawley incident? Hillary really annoys conservatives, but what has she actually accomplished that is so bad? Had her health care plan actually involved nationalizing health care, and had it come close to passing or actually passed, I could see including her on the list, but seriously? Chomsky? Sure he says stuff that’s nuts, but what the heck has he ever influenced? Would history be remotely different if he never existed? Jackson–at least conservatives left MLK off the list.

As near as I can tell, Robert Byrd only made the list because he was the most outspoken in his opposition to the war in Iraq, opposition that looks more justified by the day (and also had no impact). Seriously conservatives, can’t you admit that McCarthy was a bad guy, an opportunist of the lowest sort, who actually did have a negative impact on American history?

The Liberals’ List, by contrast, really does seem to demonstrate more historical perspective. I would view including Coulter, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, etc… as loosely analogous to the Conservatives including Sharpton and Chomsky on the list; Gingrich would be Hillary Clinton’s counterpart. None of them made the Liberal list. In Conservatives’ favor, McCarthy almost made the list and they did leave Gen. William T. Sherman of their list.

On the other hand, by virtue of making both lists, the following are truly reprehensible figures in American History: Lee Harvey Oswald, Aldrich Ames, Richard Nixon (I give credit to conservatives for this one–though perhaps he made their list for the damage he did to the Republican party?), Aaron Burr, Timothy McVeigh, John Wilkes Booth, Benedict Arnold, and the Rosenbergs (or at least Julius–he got votes for just him; there were none for just Ethel).

Since Hawkins didn’t put them side-by-side, here they are:

Conservatives’ List Liberals’ List
17) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (6) 20) The Rosenbergs (3) + Julius Rosenberg (3) (6 total votes)
17) John Walker (6) 20) Pat Robertson (6)
17) Lee Harvey Oswald (6) 20) Oliver North (6)
17) Robert Byrd (6) 20) William Randolph Hearst (6)
16) Aldrich Ames (7) 20) Aaron Burr (6)
14) Richard Nixon (8) 20) Aldrich Ames (6)
14) Aaron Burr (8) 18) George Lincoln Rockwell (7)
12) Al Sharpton (9) 18) Robert McNamara (7)
12) Charles Manson (9) 14) Richard Mellon Scaife (8)
8) Timothy McVeigh (10) 14) Lee Harvey Oswald (8)
8) Lyndon Johnson (10) 14) Charles Coughlin (8)
8) Hillary Clinton (10) 14) Strom Thurmond (8)
8) John Wilkes Booth (10) 13) Ronald Reagan (9)
7) Alger Hiss (12) 12) George Wallace (10)
6) Noam Chomsky (13) 11) Andrew Jackson (12)
4) Jesse Jackson (14) 9) Jefferson Davis (13)
4) Jimmy Carter (14) 9) George W. Bush (13)
3) Bill Clinton (15) 6) Benedict Arnold (14)
2) Benedict Arnold (19) 6) Henry Kissinger (14)
1) The Rosenbergs (15) & Julius Rosenberg (5) (20 total votes) 6) John Wilkes Booth (14)
.. 3) Timothy McVeigh (16)
.. 3) Nathan Bedford Forrest (16)
.. 3) J. Edgar Hoover (16)
.. 2) Richard Nixon (25)
.. 1) Joseph McCarthy (26)

Thanks to John Hawkins for putting this together.


UPDATE: Rex Stetson does some additional analysis, of the two lists.

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That Didn’t Take Long

Not three hours have passed since I wrote about some fool in Wahington (state) getting taken to the cleaners, and taking his church’s and friends’ money with him, and now I get this:




I want you to patiently read this my offer and make up your mind whether you will accept it or not. I will not be able to disclose my name for security reasons. Iwork with the World Health Organisation. We were sent to Iraq for medical research. During the research we came across the sum of $10.5 million us dollars believed to have been looted by the late sons of SADDAM HUSSEIN, Qusay and Uday Hussein. I and my colleagues decided to keep this money to ourselves…I want you to assist me to claim this money…I will give you 20% of the fund for this assistance….

Best regards,


Fax number and email address deleted to protect the stupid.


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Matt Needs Money

Matt Yglesias is now soliciting contributions (DC is very expensive and being a young writer for The American Prospect does not pay much). I couldn’t decide if I should just quietly give him a few bucks or use the awsome power of my blog to send a deluge of cash his way.* Then I read this on Matt’s blog:

Representative Issa’s motives in funding the recall are beyond my understanding, but I think what’s really going on is that people understand that even a syphilitic goat could have beaten Gray Davis in 2002. Nevertheless, the GOP chose to run not a goat, but Bill Simon, and they lost.

That’s gotta be worth a few bucks.


(*) Actual results may differ markedly from those implied by this sentence.

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