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The Worst President Ever

Surely to the list of worst Presidents--with another big "wait and see” asterisk --one must add Ronald Reagan. Yes, beloved as he is, "end the Cold War" though many claim he did, the list of offenses he and his administration committed is long, worrisome, and generally goes unacknowledged.

Iran-Contra? Impeachable. His drug policy? Hopeless and shortsighted. Bad choices? The list of criminals and incompetents appointed by him and his administration is long and impressive. AIDS? Never heard of it. Creating, in essence, the ever- growing divide between rich and poor (and, coincidently, white and black) in the US? Would it have become so huge a problem without his Trickle Down Voodoo? The Cold War? Reagan simply bent the US economy as far as possible, and the Soviets decided they could not bend theirs so far.

The "Wait and See" is in how Russia resolves its issues in the decades to come, and whether the US can ever hope to avoid complete economic collapse. And let's not forget what he helped to do to Latin America and the Middle East. If there was a dictator to support, Ronnie was there. If there was a justly-elected Left- leaning leader to be found, Ronnie was there to arm fascists in opposition.

This man may have done more damage to the entire globe than anyone since Hitler -- who had help from Tojo and Il Duce. Poor Ron only had Maggie firmly on his side. Will his adoring public ever realize how bad he was? Will all his crimes and atrocities ever fully come to light? Will the damage he did ever heal? Wait and See. Meanwhile, there are still millions of Americans who truly believe Bush II is a great man. Wait and see.

Adam Arnold

Berlin, Germany

Feb 9 2007 - 12:09pm

The Worst President Ever

Pierce and Buchanan led to the Civil War. Nearly a million casualties on both side. Shrub isn't in that league.

What about his treatment of the Constitution and freedom? Wilson was far worse in his attempts to prevent decent against US involvement in WWI.

So the Shrub hasn't reach the level of the elite but he still has time.

Thomas Paul

Plainview, NY

Feb 9 2007 - 12:05pm

The Worst President Ever

As your Feb. 5 cover indicates, there are few earthly beings whom W pays attention to.

Unless God's reputation for omniscience is wildly exaggerated, even more than fraudulent claims of WMD, while W may talk with his heavenly father, God must sure be getting ignored as well.

Edward J. Allan

Silver Spring, MD

Feb 9 2007 - 12:03pm

The Worst President Ever

Nick Hoffman's article about whether Bush is our worst president treated only half of that subject, the comparative predecessors. While he touched on the war, he did not explore the outrageous arrogance that created dozens of major lies, rejected competence as unnecessary, and failed to accept responsibility or deal in any way with the mess he created.

But that is only the Iraq war. There is also:

* The throwing away of advantage in Afghanistan, a place we had a right to be and from which we could have had a long-term presence no one could have argued with, if that presence were really necessary.

* Undermining the nation's economy by refusing to tax sufficiently to pay for his wars, leading to gigantic deficits.

* Generally alienating the rest of the world by arrogantly pursuing Pax Americana rather than a Good Neighbor Policy.

* Making a direct, significant contribution to the possibility of the end of life on the planet by rejection of the Kyoto treaty and a general refusal to cooperate on environmental protection.

* Disguising business giveaways as progressive social policy, such as the Medicare drug program and the proposal to privatize Social Security (which would produce hundreds of millions of stockbrocker commissions paid by old folks).

* Taking significant steps toward an authoritarian presidency by exaggerating and extending his Constitutional powers and rewriting acts of Congress.

These are just the biggies. Hoffman is right that our perspective of Bush is too short for us to be entirely confident in our judgment of him, but surely the list of this man's crimes and failures is substantially longer than any of his predecessors'rap sheets.

I mean, what's it going to take? Nuking Iran? Forget I said that.

Douglas Wilson

Naples, FL

Feb 9 2007 - 12:01pm

The Worst President Ever

I don't know about "all-time," but he makes Nixon look like a piker. I still can't believe that anyone believed the initial State of the Union address "justifying" going to war. I know his body language and tone a mile away, and when he lies it's painfully obvious. I was stunned. Saddam was a clown at that time. Who didn't know that?! What I really want an answer to is why did they suddenly stop chasing Bin Laden and his sidekick, and not send the back-up that was requested by the men on the chase. Tough conditions in the mountains?! Sure. That was when Rumsfeld said he wasn't important anymore. That means that George W. Bush lied to all New Yorkers, and the world, through the bullhorn from downtown, when he said, in no uncertain terms, that he would get whoever was responsible. I see. So going into Iraq was easier than going after two guys in the mountains?! They all have a lot of blood on their hands and cannot escape the destiny of action-and-reaction. I think all of them should be exiled to Iraq. The Hague still exists, doesn't it. Why wasn't Saddam sent there? Well, send them there anyway! They are probably clinically compulsive liers, at the very least. Maybe downright insane. How could everyone let this peabrain roll over them like he did? Pathetic. Webb is the man. I had a feeling about him twenty-five years ago when he worked for the Navy under Reagan. I was feeling a little hopeless until I saw that he was running against Warner, and then...."Macaca!" All Hail Macaca!

William Boltwin

New York City, NY

Feb 8 2007 - 8:09pm

Remembering Molly Ivins

I sure will miss my dear friend, Molly, beloved friend I never met.

Whenever my faith in my sense of justice was shaken, whenever I doubted myself, her writing would restore my soul, steady my course.

Molly was an archer with well-aimed, barbed arrows that seldom missed their mark, like a stake driven into the heart of the greed, sleeze, hypocrisy and inhumanity all too common among our high and mighty politicos.

Her body quietly flickered to an end but her soul never gave an inch and she left us with a voice strong and sure. So as we say our sad good byes, I feel a smile creeping across my face picturing the welcoming party: Ann Richards, Art Buchwald, Will Rogers and Mark Twain beaming with delight at her welcome arrival.

Susan Kovach

Irvine, CA

Feb 8 2007 - 8:06pm

American Dream, Downsized

Regarding Andrew Lam's sadness at the loss of the American Dream ( a big house), I am an American living in Europe, and we are used to small spaces at high cost and living on top of each other. I feel sad for you, because you appear to only see the size of a residence as having an effect on your "lifestyle". I am happy with my small, expensive apartment for reasons you don't mention. My tax money pays for clean, well-lit streets around my building, complete with green spaces for dogs. I can walk to groceries, dentists, movies, organic stores, hardware stores, the hairdresser, library, concert hall. I can bus to doctor, train station, museums, restaurants, within fifteen minutes. What you are sad about it seems to me is what is not available to your neighbors (cost too much) and outside your door; not the size of your dwelling. When we live close together, we can get the benefits of high-density living if our governments are responsive to our city's needs. (If not, fire them and get a different government.) And forget the commute in order to afford a larger house--that road is a dead end with what we know about climate change. Cheer up: Small can be cozy!

Carrie Ballard

Utrecht, Netherlands

Feb 8 2007 - 8:00pm

The Bacon in Bush's Budget

Is there a way to create a transparent list of the main Iraq and Afghanistan war profiteers and publish it in your magazine? I mean, dedicate one whole section just to the war profiteers, so that they can be fully exposed, include in it all of whom have benefitted--the CEOs, Congressmembers, senators, lobbyists, et al.

If you repeat this enough, people will know and will remember come voting time.

Maybe create a simple list and how much in dollar figures they have gained and put it on your cover page.

Mecitli Fern

Los Angeles, CA

Feb 8 2007 - 7:43pm

Will China Choke on US Dollars?

I can't believe that you would publish such a naïve and misleading article.

The reason the US dollar remains strong relative to China's Yuan is because China does not float its currency. It pegs it against the US dollar.

A large amount of the US dollars flowing into China are used to buy US debt, as shown in the table on the US Treasury link. This money is not locked away, and does not make the US dollar scarce.

The demand for $US debt keeps interest rates low, and effectively leads to increases in the money supply as consumers borrow more and more. The increase in money supply leads to asset price inflation such as the US housing bubble, and very high equity valuations (as more dollars chase the same amount of assets). It also results in a relatively weak $US. Have a look at a long-term $US index chart and you will see the obvious decline of the dolar over many years.

Take the time to check out growth in the $US money supply and you will see that it has grown at very high rates for many years now. US dollars are far from scarce.

In light of the above, the statement below is ludicrous: "and put it in their piggy banks instead of spending it. Once those dollars disappear into the piggy banks, there are fewer of them floating around. That makes them scarce, which makes the dollar more expensive."

Nicholas Von Hoffman should stick to writing about things he understands. This article reflects poorly on the credibility of your publication.

Andrew Kemp

Smoko, Vic., Australia

Feb 8 2007 - 7:16pm

Impeachment: The Case Against

I couldn't disagree more with Professor Levinson about the impeachment power. I would go so far as to say he doesn't know what he's talking about when he said the Founders deliberately limited impeachment to criminal activity. They regarded impeachment as the way to remove a president, or other high officials such as Supreme Court justices, for misconduct. James Madison, for instance, said in the Virginia debates on ratification that a president who had come under "suspicion" could even be "suspended" pending impeachment. I think he was making it up as he went along in that debate, since there is nothing in the Constitution saying that, but Andrew Johnson was indeed worried that Congress not only could but would do that to him with a veto-proof majority and he was even talking about calling up the armed forces to prevent that.

In any case, Madison, who surely knew what the framers meant better than Levinson, said in a House speech on June 16, 1789, that a President could be removed from office just for firing good men. Unfortunately, the House, in debating Andrew Johnson's impeachment in late 1867, took the position that criminal activity was needed. But that's not what the framers thought. Abuse of power is what they had in mind. The bottom line is that an impeachable offense is, as Rep. Gerald Ford once argued, whatever Congress says it is.

In the 1789 debate, Madison was speaking of the dangers on the one hand of seeing bad men kept in office under a president whose duty it was to see the laws faithfully executed and on the other hand of seeing meritorious officers fired by that president. The greater danger, he argued, was in the ouster of good men. "[F]or if an unworthy man be continued in office by an unworthy president the house of representatives can at any time impeach him, and the Senate can remove him, whether the president chuses (sic) or not." On the other hand, Madison asked, what restraint was there on a president who might indulge in "such an abuse of his power" as to remove from office a man whose merits require that he should be continued in it? The answer, Madison said, was this: "the wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject him to impeachment and removal from his own high trust."

To elaborate on my point about the Andrew Johnson impeachment, I am talking about the first impeachment effort when the House Judiciary Committee, on Nov. 25, 1867, accused Johnson of "corrupt abuse of the appointing, pardoning and veto powers," especially in granting pardons to qualify rebel officers for election to state offices when their popularity rested almost exclusively on their service in Confederate armies and "their known hostility to the government of the Union." The debate in the House then boiled down to the question of whether the impeachment power was broad enough to cover such actions or whether it required a showing of indictable crimes. The House voted 108 to 57 for a showing of indictable crimes. Months later, the Senate, confronted with a law with criminal provisions, but a law that many thought unconstitutional, refused to convict him by a single vote. A vote in the House months earlier to impeach the president for abuse of power would have been completely in accord with what the Framers had in mind.

It may be worth noting that there were no Federal crimes when the Framers adopted the "high crimes and misdemeanors" language. There were only 16 such crimes after adoption in 1790 of the federal Crimes Act, prohibiting treason, murder on the high seas, etc. It did not, of course, forbid bank robbery since there were no Federal banks. Is Professor Levinson saying, for instance, that bank robbery is an impeachable offense because it was a state crime long before it was a federal crime? Is he saying that state legislatures can define what is an "impeachable offense"? Or is he saying that that lying to an FBI agent in an unsworn interview, which is now a Federal crime, is an impeachable offense while leading the nation into war on a stack of lies is not? Professor Levinson has the tail wagging the dog. An impeachable offense is what Congress, at any point in time, says it is.

A last thought: The reason the framers didn't insist on Congress having a say in pardons is the impeachment clause. If the pardon power was misused, impeachment was the answer, as the framers meant it to be for any blatant abuse or misuse of presidential power. Levinson's argument that no president would survive if the clause weren't limited to criminal behavior is nonsense. Presidents survive their own mal-administration and deceptions because Congress usually doesn't have the votes, or the courage, to do something about them.

George Lardner

Washington, DC

Feb 8 2007 - 6:35pm