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Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Blog, Politics | 14 comments

Ranking the Presidents (1900 to Present)




Today is Presidents Day.

Put another way, it’s an excuse to take the work day off.

Before we head off to the beach, or clean out the garage, or down that six pack, let’s use this day as it was intended, which is to remember the people who have resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

What follows is a ranking of the presidents since 1900.  The start of the 20th Century up to the present era is the perfect time frame for comparison since that span includes the sum total of 20 presidents — all in the post-industrial age and when America took an active role in world affairs.

What measure did I use for my rankings?  Well, there’s certainly a Liberal bias to the grading.  But Liberal versus Conservative isn’t the primary criteria.  Some Conservative presidents fare quite well in my rankings, while Liberals are graded poorly.  Instead, I tried to look at the overall status of the nation, the role of the federal government during the term (and aftermath), and the state of the executive branch in particular when the President departed office, contrasted with the date of inauguration.  In other words, did the President make the nation and the office better or worse?  How did the country fare from start to finish?  Most important — how did the President handle the events of the day, including wars, economic problems, scandals, and so forth?

Let’s find out.  I expect some raised eyebrows.  I’m convinced history has graded a few presidents wrongly, and I’ll explain why.  Each President is also graded based on what I believe history will ultimately decide.  Judgement certainly takes time, decades perhaps, in order to reflect back on the term and assess the full impact of a presidency.  That makes the more recent Presidents particularly difficult to judge.

Here now are the presidents ranked 1 through 20 during the period 1900 to 2014:

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Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 7 comments

“The light has gone out of my life”




One hundred and thirty years ago on this day, an ambitious young man stepped down from the front stoop of his home in Oyster Bay as a proud new father.  A joyous occasion, indeed.

This February 14, 1884 was expected to be a Valentines Day to remember.  And it was.  But not for reasons anyone, least of all the bright young attorney, could possibly have envisioned.

The young man, then 25, lived and worked in New York City.  He had a promising political career.  He was well off, even prosperous by standards of the day.  Married happily for four years and now father to a newborn daughter, future possibilities seemed to know no bounds.

But this day wouldn’t be remembered as a joyous occasion.  Early that morning, the man was shaken to learn his mother died from typhoid fever.  This crushing news was almost too much to bear, instantly transforming emotions of joyous fulfillment to utter despair.

The nightmare was only beginnning.  Only hours after hearing of his mother’s passing, the man’s wife who had just given birth lost all conciousness.  She slipped into a coma.  Then unexpectedly to everyone’s horror, she took her last breath.  Turned out, the pregnancy had concealed a serious disease within her body, and she died from kidney failure.

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Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal | 1 comment

Yesterday and Today: The Beatles at Washington Coliseum


There are places I remember,

all my life though some have changed.

Some forever not for better,

some have gone and some remain.


This is the story not so much of a band, as a building.  A building with memories.

Take a ride on Amtrak’s Metroliner from New York City to Washington, D.C.  After about a three-and-a-half hour journey you’ll pull into Union Station, a ten-minute walk from the U.S. Capitol Building.

Just as the train begins to slow down and coasts into the depot, an ugly rust-colored structure barely comes into view.  It seems hardly worth noticing, except for the arches.  Now blanketed in graffiti, it’s what we call an eyesore.

That shell of an old building along the eastern wall of the Washington rail yard deserves a better fate than it’s been given.  Instead, it’s a victim of urban blight and gross neglect, forgotten a long time ago by just about everyone.  Now it’s an empty tomb, barren except for the ghostly memories of what happened inside fifty years ago on the night of February 11, 1964.

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Posted by on Jan 24, 2014 in Blog | 7 comments

What History Teaches Us About Edward Snowden




We must ask ourselves, which is the right side of history?  ….That’s something worth remembering as this controversial case continues to be debated and his fate awaits the judgement of others.


I’ve been following the Edward Snowden controversy with considerable interest the past several months.  Until very recently however, I hadn’t come to any conclusions as to what this all means, nor even formed much of an opinion on the matter — particularly on how Snowden should be judged.

He’s a complex figure and this is a complicated matter, to be sure.

This confession might surprise readers, because I normally have an opinion about everything, especially when it comes to politics, national security, and foreign policy — all of which are strongly tied to the Snowden case.  I’d like to deem this neutrality as evidence of an open mind.  That’s to say, I don’t rush to every Pavlovian whistle when the Left commands us to march in unison.

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Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in Blog, Personal | 4 comments

Growing Up In the Shadows of the Kennedy Assassination


kennedy assassination


Writer’s Note:  Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Some 19 months before that tragic day, I was born in Dallas.  My family lived in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, which is where Lee Harvey Oswald also resided, and was ultimately captured.  In today’s column, I’d like to tell you a bit more about what life was like growing up in the shadows of the Kennedy Assassination, as I remember it.


I’m probably one of the few people alive who was near the two most shocking tragedies in modern American history.

On September 11, 2001, I lived on the ninth-floor of a high-rise apartment building in Arlington, VA across Interstate 395, directly overlooking the Pentagon, which became engulfed in flames that morning after being hit by a jet airliner in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Ironically, Arlington is where John F. Kennedy’s body now rests.

On November 22, 1963, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas was my home, which was only a few miles from where President Kennedy was assassinated and an even shorter distance from where Lee Harvey Oswald was later caught by Dallas police at the Texas Theater.

Of course, I don’t remember anything about that tragic day in Dallas.  I was far too young to have any memories.

But everyone who from Dallas around that time came away with a deeper awareness of what the assassination meant.  Sometime later, we all developed our impressions of what had happened.  We carried around the scars long afterward.  That terrible moment in our nation’s history gave Dallas an inferiority complex.  It forced some to try and go out and prove to the world that we weren’t like the assassin at all (who was actually from New Orleans, and even lived in New York City for a time).  We weren’t “the city of hate,” as many suggested.

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