December 08, 2006

A handy spreadsheet of the first-ever census taken specifically of my hometown, the San Fernando Valley (well, it's not a town, yet, but that's the way the tide is shifting), here. By itself, the Valley would be the fifth largest city in the U.S., with over 1.7 million people, while L.A. would slip to fourth, just behind Houston, were it to lose its better half. Far from being the epitome of white suburbia it may have been back in the Yorty Era, the Valley is now over 40% foreign-born, and almost 60% speaks a language other than English. (link via L.A. Observed)

December 07, 2006

Pro sports teams are usually owned by a narrow cross-section of our society, typically those who've made (or inherited) fortunes in oil, entertainment, investment banking, real estate, etc. Only in the WNBA, though, can a new owner of a team be a public school teacher from Van Nuys, California.

December 06, 2006

It's hard for me to argue with Prof. Foner's assertion that George Bush is the worst President of all time; his competition can be mainly separated into qualified-disasters-with-important-accomplishments-on-the-side, like LBJ and Nixon, or Civil War Era boobs who presided in the White House at a time when the power of their office was weaker, and the U.S. was nothing more than a regional power (Pierce, Andrew Johnson, Buchanan). Bush lacks the very real accomplishments of Johnson in the domestic arena (Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, Medicare, etc.) or Nixon in foreign policy (reproachement with China, detente with the Soviet Union), so he has much more in common with the latter group of men, with the important difference being the scale of American global power when he assumed office. Buchanan and Pierce may have been slow to react to Confederate treason, but at least they didn't jeapordize America's role as a superpower by their actions.

In short, Bush managed to hit the trifecta: our economy stagnated, our relations with the rest of the world worsened, and our nation is weaker than it was before he became President. Those points are important, since they go to why we elect people to lead us in the first place. We elect our Presidents in the hope that they will make the country a better place, not to follow some ideology or to act as a national role model. While the rankings generally reflect the political leanings of historians, which currently tend to skew left-of-center, there is little doubt about the men at the very top; it's Washington, Lincoln and FDR, and whatever shortcomings they may have had concerning African-Americans or women, or whether their views would be considered palatable today, is irrelevant to the totality of their ranking. A liberal historian might judge Jimmy Carter more kindly than William Howard Taft, or might rank Ronald Reagan worse than he deserves, but the true greats are not debated.

And the same thing is true at the bottom. It isn't just that James Buchanan was a pro-South sympathizer who hated blacks. The same thing could be said about almost all of the Presidents before Lincoln, and most of the Presidents that followed him up until the end of WWII. Bush, like Buchanan and Pierce, is a disaster because he followed policies that proved cancerous to the nation.
Greatest Blog Post Title Ever: Ken Layne's influence is being felt at Wonkette.

December 05, 2006

Looks like we know who Jerome Armstrong is supporting in '08....

UPDATE: Welcome Kausfilets, although I have to say I disagree with his premise (ie., that Senator Obama is somehow doomed if he loses a couple of the early primaries in 2008). Bill Clinton didn't win either Iowa or New Hampshire in 1992, either, and George McGovern didn't get moving in '72 until mid-Spring (he also lost New Hampshire). As with Clinton, I suspect Obama will need to win the southern primaries to become the frontrunner, but those won't be right out of the gate.
Humorless Feminazis: Actually, I think this might be Mr. Samgrass' nadir. I'm beginning to think that our society really needs more political correctness.

December 04, 2006

Famous Last Words:
UCLA's only hope is they can distract them next week with something shiny on the end of a stick.
--Tony Pierce, LAist (11/26/2006), on the Bruins' chances against USC.