Breitbart InBuSh

This online Breitbart article by Joel B. Pollak

… is pure, unadulterated, right-wing InBuSh.*


The introductory paragraph of the Breitbart article is an outright lie, intentionally misrepresenting what the president said in his Hiroshima speech.

Compare that opening paragraph …

“President Barack Obama told the world on Friday in Hiroshima that the American decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945 arose from humanity’s worst instincts including ‘nationalist fervor or religious zeal’.”

… with what the president actually said:

“On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.”

It is clear that the president was commenting on the motivation of the people who have historically started wars, including World War II, NOT the American decision to end it by using atomic weapons.

Breitbart’s writer also misrepresented Obama’s speech when he said that the president “said nothing about the fact that Japan started the war”, despite the second paragraph of his own story, which correctly quotes part of the speech asserting that the war:

“… grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.”

Everyone except the most oblivious of people knows that the war was started by Germany and Japan, not the United States (which actually stayed out of it for more than two years before finally entering after Pearl Harbor).  The president’s reference to the cause of the war impliedly lays blame where it belongs … on Germany and Japan … and there was no need for him to overtly confront the Japanese with that moral culpability (for which Japan has, repeatedly over the years, apologized … and which has since motivated Japan to become one of our most steadfast allies).

Pollak also misrepresented the president’s speech when he said that, “Obama cast a moral equivalence between different civilizations, implying that Americans were just as bad as the Imperial Japanese, or anyone else.”

There is nothing in the president’s comments which can be fairly interpreted as implying a moral equivalency between Japanese aggression to start the war and America’s use of nuclear weapons to end the war.

Finally, Pollak committed yet another blatant misrepresentation of the president’s speech when he said that Obama “went further, casting doubt on the American effort in World War II itself”, quoting this passage from the speech:

“Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.”

That comment, in context, was obviously a reference to humanity’s violent history, including the rise of xenophobic, militaristic regimes in Japan and Germany … and was NOT a reference to the American participation in World War II.

The full text of the president’s speech is here:

I am not a big fan of Barack Obama … I disagree with many of his policies, particularly those related to health care, climate change and the Second Amendment … and I think he has been a rather mediocre president (ranking right about the middle of all presidents of my lifetime), though the blame for some of his failings rightfully falls on the recalcitrant Republican congress with which he has been saddled.

Nevertheless, I think criticism of the man should be based on actual facts, not the kinds of blatant lies and/or intentional misrepresentations used by Mr. Pollak.


FLA 81

“Isis Would be WasWas” … NotNot

Saw this conservative republican Ronald Reagan meme tonight …

Ronald Reagan Isis Would be WasWas Meme Graphic

… and because it is SO wrong, I just had to post this response. Just how wrong is it? Let us count the ways:

1 — April 18, 1983 — Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Beirut

A suicide truck bomber rammed into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. The American dead included eight employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, including chief Middle East analyst Robert C. Ames and station chief Kenneth Haas.

The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, an anti-American militant Lebanese Islamic group. President Reagan ordered no American military response to the embassy bombing.


US Marine Barracks Beirut 1983 Bombing

2 — October 23, 1983 — Bombing of U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut

Another suicide truck bomber attacked the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut International Airport … 241 U.S. Marines were killed and more than 100 wounded. U.S. intelligence sources suspected Hezbollah of committing this attack, as well, though Hezbollah denied any involvement.

President Reagan’s security team devised a plan of military action, but Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger aborted the plan. President Reagan ordered no American military response to this bombing and four months later, our Marines pulled out of Lebanon. The 9-11 attacks are the only terrorist attacks ever to have killed more Americans than this bombing.


US Embassy Kuwait 1983 Bombing

3 — December 12, 1983 — Bombing of U.S. Embassy in Kuwait

The bombing of the American embassy in Kuwait was one of several attacks, which also targeted the French embassy, the airport control tower, Kuwait’s main oil refinery, and a residential area for employees of the American corporation Raytheon. In the bombing of the American embassy, five people were killed and more than 80 injured.

This attack is believed to have been carried out by an Iranian-backed, anti-Saddam Hussein Shiite group.  President Reagan ordered no American military response to this embassy bombing.


US CIA Station Chief William Buckley 1984

4 — March 16, 1984 — CIA Station Chief William Buckley kidnapped in Lebanon

Buckley was kidnapped by militant Islamic extremists in Lebanon and was one of 30 Westerners kidnapped between 1982 and 1992. In October 1985, Islamic Jihad claimed to have executed Buckley, though American officials later claimed that he died of a heart attack.

Because American officials believed that Hezbollah was behind most of these kidnappings, the Reagan administration devised a covert plan to secretly trade weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages. Congress had banned the sale of American weapons to Iran, but the U.S. secretly sent 508 anti-tank weapons to Iran and three American hostages were released. The proceeds of these sales were secretly … and also illegally … funneled to American-backed Contra rebels fighting the Sandanista regime in Nicaragua. This program has come to be known as the “Iran-Contra Affair”.

However, President Reagan ordered no military response to the kidnapping and death of Mr. Buckley.


US Embassy Annex Aukar Lebanon 1984 Bombing

5 — September 20, 1984 — Bombing of U.S. Embassy Annex Northeast of Beirut

Another suicide truck bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in Aukar, northeast of Beirut, killing 24 people including 2 U.S. military personnel. Hezbollah is suspected to have been involved in the bombing.

Although some CIA covert operations were carried out in response to this incident, President Reagan ordered no American military response to this embassy bombing, and the covert operations were ultimately suspended.


Hijacking of Kuwait Airlways Flight 221 1984

6 — December 3, 1984 — Hijacking of Kuwait Airways Flight 221

Kuwait Airways Flight 221 was hijacked by Hezbollah and diverted to Tehran. The hijackers demanded the release of the perpetrators of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait (known at the “Kuwait 17”). When Kuwait rejected this demand, the hijackers killed two American officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

President Reagan ordered no American military response to the murders of these Americans.


Hijacking of TWA Flight 847 1985

7 — June 14, 1985 — Hijacking of TWA Flight 847

Athens to Rome TWA Flight 847 was hijacked and forced to land in Beirut. The hijackers held the plane for 17 days, also demanding the release of the “Kuwait 17”, as well as 700 other Shiite Muslim prisoners held in Israeli and southern Lebanon prisons. These demands weren’t met and hostage Robert Dean Stethem, a U.S. Navy diver, was shot and his body dumped on the airport tarmac. U.S. sources once again implicated Hezbollah.

Eventually, the hijackers released the hostages and Israel released some of the Shiite prisoners. However, President Reagan ordered no military response to the kidnapping and murder of Robert Dean Stethem.


Hijacking of the Achille Lauro & Murder of Leon Klinghoffer

8 — October 7, 1985 — Hijacking of the Cruise Ship Achille Lauro

Four gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro off the coast of Lebanon and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Egypt, Italy, and elsewhere. These demands weren’t met and the kidnappers killed Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old disabled American tourist. U.S. officials linked Libya to the Palestine Liberation Front and the hijacking.

The hijackers escaped the Achille Lauro and left Egypt by air. U.S. Navy fighters intercepted their plane and forced it down in Italy. The four hijackers were found guilty by an Italian court. The mastermind of the hijacking, Abu Abbas, was released by Italy despite an American request that he be held for trial.

President Reagan ordered no military response to the kidnapping and murder of Leon Klinghoffer.


9 — December 27, 1985 — Bombing of Rome and Vienna Airports

U.S. officials linked Libya to the bombings of airports in Rome and Vienna, in which 20 people, including five Americans, were killed. In January 1986, the U.S. Navy and its warplanes were ordered to patrol the Gulf of Sidra — in territorial waters claimed by Libya. President Reagan warned Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi that Libyan forces which moved more than 12 miles from shore were subject to attack.

Ultimately, however, President Reagan ordered no military response to the killings of these five Americans.


Bombing of La Belle Discotheque Attack 1986

10 — April 5, 1986 — Bombing of La Belle Discotheque in West Berlin, Germany

In another bombing linked to Libya, a West Berlin discotheque popular with off-duty American servicemen, one American and a Turkish woman were killed and nearly 200 others wounded.

After U.S. intelligence intercepted Libyan government communications implicating Libya in this attack, President Reagan ordered retaliatory air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi. Operation El Dorado Canyon, executed on April 15, 1986, involved 200 aircraft and over 60 tons of bombs. One of the residences of Qaddafi was hit in the attack, 37 people were killed and 93 injured. This was the only time during Ronald Reagan’s presidency that he ordered a military response to the terrorist murders of American citizens.

Two days after the U.S. attack, three American University of Beirut employees were found near Beirut, shot to death. The Arab Revolutionary Cells, a pro-Libyan group of Palestinians affiliated with terrorist Abu Nidal, claimed to have executed the three men in retaliation for Operation El Dorado Canyon.

President Reagan ordered no further military response to the killings of these three Americans.


Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie Scottland 1988

11 — December 21, 1988 — Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which was traveling from London to New York and exploded over the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland, resulted in the deaths of 259 people on board the plane and 11 others on the ground.

The U.S. government accused Libya of being behind the attack.  There were also reports that Syria and Iran also played significant roles, though U.S. officials were never able to tie the two countries to the bombing.

In 1999, Qaddafi turned over to UN officials two men suspected of involvement in the bombing and they were tried in the Netherlands. One was convicted and sentenced to life in prison and the other was acquitted and set free. In 2003, Qaddafi accepted responsibility for the attack and paid reparations to the victims, though he continued to deny that he ordered the attack.

Of the 270 people killed in this bombing, 189 were American citizens. It is the third deadliest terrorist attack (in terms of American deaths) ever … only 9-11 and the Beirut Marine barracks bombing resulted in more American deaths.

President Reagan ordered no American military response to this bombing.


Hezbollah, of course, continues to operate to this day … President Reagan did little or nothing to “WasWas” Hezbollah.

Islamic Jihad also continues to operate to this day … and President Reagan did little or nothing to “WasWas” Islamic Jihad.

The Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) continues to operate to this day … and President Reagan did little or nothing to “WasWas” the PLF.

Muammar Qaddafi was killed in 2011, after being deposed as dictator of Libya. A convoy in which he was traveling was attacked by U.S. and NATO forces and he was forced to flee the attack and hide in a culvert. He was found there by Libyan National Transitional Council forces and killed shortly thereafter (there are varying reports of exactly how this occurred). In any event, of course, this came on President Barrack Obama’s watch and President Reagan did little or nothing to “WasWas” Qaddafi.

The Arab Revolutionary Cells, following the terrorist activities in the 1980’s, faded into obscurity and it is currently unknown if any part of that organization continues to operate. Abu Nidal was killed (or committed suicide, depending on who you believe) during a 2002 interrogation in Baghdad.  President Reagan did little or nothing to “WasWas” either the Arab Revolutionary Cells or Abu Nidal.


The 468 Americans killed by terrorists during the Reagan administration is the highest total of such deaths during the term of any president other than George W. Bush:

President Ronald Reagan – 468
President George H.W. Bush – 0
President William Clinton – 37
President George W. Bush – 2982
President Barrack Obama – 28


President Ronald Reagan certainly had ample motivation to utilize American military forces in response to terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of Americans. Only once did he do so (the 1986 attack on Libya). There is nothing about his presidency which suggests that he would have dealt with Isis in such a way as to render it WasWas.


FLA 73

A Tale of Two Flags

Civil War FlagsThe 4th of July always motivates an outpouring of patriotism … and an annual display of American flags unmatched at any other time of the year.

There is, however, no need for me to unfurl a special flag for Independence Day … because mine flies every day on a flag-pole at the corner of my home.

DSCN0442 reducedAnd on the hood of my truck … with a smaller version of the same flag decal on the tail gate.

And elsewhere inside my home, where I have displayed more than 100 American flag-themed items, ranging from wooden flag replicas in the family room …

Family Room Flags cropped & adjusted medium… to a stained-glass flag atop my hallway “ego” wall …

Joan Baker American Flag… to flag stamps and first day cover items, refrigerator magnets, a golf towel …

Home Flag Items… and a “Proud to be American” flag-themed banner in the window of my office.

Proud to be AmericanI bow no one in my love of our country and my reverence for our flag. I stand at attention and, as a military veteran, salute during the playing of the National Anthem at Cal football games.

Besides those on display, I have many other American flag stamps and first day covers, challenge coins and casino chips in my collections of those items.

All of that said, I write today primarily not to discuss the American flag, but to follow up on my earlier posts on the flags of the Confederate States of America.

Some defenders of the display of the so-called “Confederate Flag” …

The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia

The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia

… really the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, as I previously discussed here …

… have tried to mythologize the Civil War, claiming that the war was not about slavery. It was, at least as far as the government leaders of the seceding states were concerned.

However, many, if not most, of the soldiers in the Confederate Army fought for the South not to preserve slavery, but for the same reason that many colonists fought in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. That is, they acted out of loyalty to their local communities and states at a time when our national identity was not as well-developed and pervasive as it is today. Despite being poorly fed and equipped … and often poorly led … Confederate soldiers fought as gallantly as had the soldiers of any army to that point in history.  Very few of these soldiers considered themselves “traitors”; nor do I.

Eight ancestors on my wife’s side of the family fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War and one of them was KIA at Gettysburg. Once my daughter Larisa, through her genealogical research, identified these Confederate veterans, I added them to the extended family Veterans list that I publish each year on Veterans Day:

Slide4Both of the Confederacy’s highest ranking generals, Robert E. Lee …

Robert E. Lee… and Joseph E. Johnston, disliked slavery and supported some form of emancipation. Lee, who owned slaves through inheritance, freed them before the war ended. The majority of Confederate generals had never owned slaves; few common soldiers ever had.  Even Confederate President Jefferson Davis had come to believe that slavery should be ended, even if the South won the war.

In my collection of challenge coins, I have seven that feature Confederate flags …

Confederate Flag Challenge Coins Obverse… top to bottom, they are the three national flags of the confederacy, the “Bonnie Blue” flag (more on this one below), the Rebel battle flag and the battle flags of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

The reverse of each features the Rebel battle flag.

I like these coins; they are colorful and interesting symbols of one of the most important events in American history — in fact, second only to the American Revolution.

The Bonnie Blue flag was originally the flag of the Republic of West Florida for about 90 days in 1810 (until the U.S. annexed the territory). A close variation of the Bonnie Blue flag was adopted by the state of Mississippi when it seceded from the Union in January 1861. This flag was used as an unofficial Confederate flag during the early months of 1861 and, in fact, was flying above the Confederate batteries that fired Fort Sumter to start the Civil War.

Union General Ulysses S. Grant, known by the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, nevertheless, in accepting the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, declined to relieve Lee of his sword (a traditional gesture of surrender).

Grant and LeeThen, as Lee rode away to inform his men of the surrender, Grant saluted him by raising his hat, in which gesture of respect the other Union officers present joined.

The United States fought two wars against the British — one to gain independence, the other to preserve it. The British are now our most staunch allies in the entire world. We twice fought the Germans in world wars; they are now friends, economic trading partners and hosts of a number of permanent American military installations. We fought the Japanese during World War II; they are now one of our greatest allies in Eastern Asia. We also fought the Italians during WWII; they are now friends and their country is one of the favorite places for Americans to visit. We fought other wars with Mexico, Spain & the Philippines; they are all now friends and economic partners.

It strikes me as strange that we have been able to reconcile with each of these foreign nations after engaging in what were often vicious & brutal wars, but we somehow have never been able to fully reconcile the two halves of our own country.

July 4th Postcard Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln concluded his second inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1865, with the following words:

Lincoln -- With Malice Toward NoneThe Civil War Confederate flags are an integral part of American history. And while I agree that the Rebel battle flag ought not to be displayed on government property, I see neither logical nor emotional reason to attempt to banish it entirely from our national consciousness. Nor do I think it appropriate at this late date to be removing from public display monuments, statues or other remembrances of those who served on behalf of the Confederacy.

I certainly have no intention of removing from my family veterans display the names of the Douglas family members who fought for the Confederacy. Nor will I remove from my collection of challenge coins those depicting the various Confederate flags. These, of course, are personal decisions … and rather insignificant in the big scheme of things, but it seems to me that there is no way I — or anyone else — can improve on the sentiment expressed by Lincoln and we would all be better off if everyone in the United States today lived up to those words, “with malice toward none, with charity for all”.


FLA 71

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Today is the 150th Anniversary of one of the saddest days in American history.

The previous evening, April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth had shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head, mortally wounding him.

The President, however, lingered for several hours, during which he occasionally stopped breathing, only to fitfully restart.

It was, however, not until 7:22 am on April 15, 1865, that Lincoln died. At that moment, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who had attended Lincoln throughout the night, said, “Now he belongs to the ages”, and lamented, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

Abraham Lincoln 16th PresidentLincoln was the first of four American presidents to be assassinated.

On July 2, 1881, just 16 years after the death of Lincoln, our 20th President, James A. Garfield, was shot by Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield lingered for two-and-a-half months before dying on September 19th, 1881.

President James A. GarfieldThe third presidential assassination in just 36 years occurred on September 6, 1901, when 25th President William McKinley was shot Leon Czolgosz while attending the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley died on September 14, 1901.

President William McKinleyThe fourth president to be assassinated, of course, was John F. Kennedy, who was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

President John F. KennedyI have previously blogged about the Kennedy assassination here:

The murder of Abraham Lincoln had far-reaching consequences, the full extent of which it is impossible to know. Suffice it to say that the reunification of the country, the reconstruction era in the South and, in fact, race relations and civil rights for the next century or more were all adversely effected by Lincoln’s death.

It is the general consensus of presidential scholars and other observers that Abraham Lincoln was the best of all American presidents, a judgment with which I agree:

Lincoln MemorialFLA 66



JFK Inauguration

JFK Inauguration

Like most people who are old enough to remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I recall exactly how & where I first heard the news and what I was doing at the time.

On July 1, 1963, I had reported to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, as a new plebe.  By November, I had survived Beast Barracks and the first few months of the academic year.  I was assigned to Company I-2, which was housed in barracks we referred to as “The Lost Fifties” because they were numbered in the 50’s, were the northernmost of all cadet barracks and, unlike most, faced away from the cadet area, across a road and toward the gymnasium.

Because I was the company clerk, I was assigned to Room 5114 on the first floor of the 51st division, directly across from the company orderly room and at the top of the stairs coming up to the barracks stoops from ground level.

JFK Dallas Motorcade

JFK Dallas Motorcade

During the afternoon of November 22, 1963, I had returned to my room from class and was working on company clerk duties when I heard two upperclassmen talking as they came up the stairs and walked past the windows of my room.  I was stunned to hear one of them say that President Kennedy had been shot.

By dinner that evening, we knew that the president had died and a mood of shock and sadness had settled over the Corps of Cadets.

I was then and remain to this day a great admirer of JFK and was particularly distraught over his assassination.  It is my opinion that his death marked the start of a long downhill slide in American politics which continues to this day.

In a previous blog, I ranked the 12 presidents of my lifetime:

I ranked JFK 2nd of the 12, behind Harry S Truman, though I suspect that, had he lived, Kennedy would ultimately have proved the best president of my lifetime, in fact, of the entire 20th century, and one of the best in our country’s history.

How might history have been different if JFK had lived to serve out two full terms as president?

First and perhaps most important, I doubt that he would have escalated American involvement in Vietnam as his successor, Lyndon Johnson, did.  This would have had far-reaching effects, saving the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, and altering the course of American politics for decades to follow.

Much of the domestic turmoil of the 1960’s and 1970’s might well have been avoided.  Certainly the anti-war protests which divided the country over Vietnam would not have occurred.  LBJ, even if retained as Kennedy’s running mate for a second term, would not likely have ever become president.  Ditto the man who was arguably the worst and unarguably the most-disgraced president of the 20th century, Richard Nixon.

JFK probably would not have enjoyed the same success with respect to civil rights as did Lyndon Johnson.  Kennedy would have faced tougher challenges in this regard than LBJ, himself a Southerner.  Nevertheless, Kennedy’s ability to bridge political differences might well have ameliorated the most extreme animosities of the civil rights era.


In this potentially different political atmosphere, it is possible that neither JFK’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy, nor Martin Luther King Jr., would have been killed.  Following two successful JFK terms, Bobby Kennedy might well have been elected president in 1968 and held the office until 1976.  Nixon would have remained in obscure retirement and the affable but ineffectual Gerald Ford would have remained where he was most useful, in the House of Representatives.

JFK had earned the respect of Russian leaders and might well have brought about cold war detente much earlier than ultimately proved to be the case.

JRK & Nikita Khrushchev

JFK & Nikita Khrushchev

Certainly, American successes in the space race would have continued apace, and his visionary approach to the space program might well have motivated even greater achievements in that program.

And, in my view, the spiritual darkness which descended on the United States in the years following Kennedy’s death would not have occurred;  national spirit and pride would have remained high;  and social advances for minorities and women would likely have come more quickly.

It is, of course, difficult to project the effects of a two-term Kennedy presidency into the distant future.  Would the ripple-effect of a completed JFK legacy have lasted until now?  Perhaps not, but I am convinced that the United States would have been a better country throughout at least the 1960’s and 1970’s. 

Having lived through the past 50 years without benefit of a complete JFK legacy, I cannot help being wistful about what might have been.

JFK's Eternal Flame

JFK’s Eternal Flame



Some of my favorite JFK quotes:

Particularly apt today:  “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

More JFK quotes are available here:

Obamas: Left Hands to Heart … Fake Photo

Complete nonsense continues to pervade the internet, including this photo, which has generated accusations of “treason” and demands for the impeachment of the President:

Obamas Left Hands to Heart

Obamas Left Hands to Heart

A friend of mine posted this picture on Facebook, with the question:

“Is this for real?”

The answer to which is, NO, it’s not.  It is a patently doctored photo, as can be seen by comparison to an original photo taken close in time at the same event.  I have not been able to find the original of the exact photo which was used to create this fake, but this one is close enough to demonstrate conclusively the fakery involved:

Obamas Hands to Heart (Original)

Obamas Hands to Heart (Original)

How was it done?

There were several tricks applied to the original photo to create the fake image:

ObamasHand to Heart 1-4Obamas Hand to Heart fake 1-4

First, the original photo was flipped vertically, so as to create what is, essentially, a mirror image.  This gives the immediate impression that the President and First Lady have their left hands over their hearts, rather than their right hands.

There are a couple of dead giveaways to the “flip”:

1)  The part in the First Lady’s hair (real photo parted on left and swept across the right eyebrow;  fake parted on right and swept across the left eyebrow). 

Obamas Hand to Heart original & fake 1

2)  And, lest you’re inclined to say that she changed her hairstyle, check out the ribbon bars on the chest of the Marine at the President’s elbow.  In the original, the ribbon bars are correctly displayed on the left side of the Marine’s chest.  In the fake, they appear on the right side.  Whatever the First Lady may have done with her hair, it’s an absolute certainty that the Marine Corps has not changed its uniform regulations regarding the display of service ribbons.

Obamas Hand to Heart original & fake 2

Second, the photo was tightly cropped to eliminate the other people present at the time (probably to avoid having to reverse “fake” the arms of the other people in the photo).  Notice that the saluting arm of the Marine behind the president is eliminated entirely from the picture.

Third, there are some obvious modifications to the photo which can be seen if it is sufficiently enlarged:

3)  Rings were added to the hands of both the President and the First Lady.  The one on the President’s hand in the fake photo is a particularly obvious (and poorly done) addition.

Obamas Hand to Heart original & fake 3

4)  The jacket alignment and buttons on the President’s suit coat were (once again rather amateurishly) modified to make it look as if the buttons are on the right side of the jacket.

Obamas Hand to Heart original & fake 4

I am no particular fan of President Obama — I rank him #8 of the 12 Presidents of my lifetime, as explained in one of my earlier blog posts:

On the other hand, I believe that criticism of the man should be based on actual facts from the real world, not made up BS, much of which appears to be motivated by considerations other than presidential policies (or politics). 

The Worst President of My Lifetime


I was born in 1945, not long after Harry Truman succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt as President of the United States.  Thus, in my lifetime, 12 different men have held that office.  I recently had occasion to post a Facebook comment and engage in a conversation about the one I consider the worst of the 12.

Sadly, as presidents go, it has been pretty much downhill slide since 1945.  Only 2 of the 12 presidents since then make it into the Top 10 all time in the collective opinions of presidential scholars and surveys … and they are the first 2 of my lifetime, Harry S. Truman (7th) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (tie for 8th).  See Note 1 below.

The first 4 of the 12 are also the top 4 on my personal list of Best Presidents of my lifetime (I disagree with the collection of scholarly surveys only in the reversed rankings of Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy):

1st — Harry S Truman

2nd — John F. Kennedy

3rd — Dwight D. Eisenhower

4th — Lyndon B. Johnson

Which is why it’s been pretty much downhill ever since.  However, it is not the top of my list that concerns me here — rather it is the bottom, the Worst President of my lifetime.

My Facebook comment was motivated by this graphic from …Iraq 10 Years Later 2003-2013

… which prompted me to observe that George W. Bush is the worst president of my lifetime.  Of course, I also lived through the presidency of Richard Nixon and once thought I would never see a worse excuse for president than Tricky Dick.  Unfortunately, my expectation in that regard was not very prescient.

I fault Nixon largely for his duplicitous and condescending attitude toward the American people and the disgrace he brought to his office.  Ultimately, I rank him ahead of Bush II largely because of his foreign policy accomplishment of visiting China and opening up an economic dialogue between the U.S. and China.  Bush had no such saving grace and not a single presidential accomplishment of historical note.  See Note 2 below.

On the other hand, his duplicity matches or exceeds that of Nixon in audacity and scope.  By far the most significant (and ultimately horrific) of his deceptions were the falsities upon which he justified the invasion of Iraq.

Bush and his cronies advanced two major themes in support of this war — first, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which posed a threat to the security of the United States;  and second, that Saddam Hussein was somehow in league with al-Qa’ida and played a role in the 9-11 attacks on the U.S.

Neither claim was true and there is good reason to believe that Bush knew that the supposed intelligence on which these claims were based was exaggerated, misleading or downright false.

In the recently aired documentary “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War”, MSNBC provided the best look to date at just how the people of this country were mis-led by the Bush administration:

In the documentary, declassified documents — and insiders talking on camera for the first time — reveal details on how President Bush and his team justified and marketed a war they had already decided to wage.

As more and more classified materials are declassified, and as insiders speak out, the truth will show Bush for what he was … and the picture will not be pretty. “Hubris: Selling the War in Iraq” is just the beginning of that process.

And for those who dislike or don’t trust MSNBC as a source of accurate information, how about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which in 2006 issued its “Report on Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments”?  This bi-partisan committee was initially chaired by republican Pat Roberts of Kansas and later by democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

This press release by the committee discusses the report …

… and the entire 153 page pdf version of it is available here for review:

In the press release, the Senate committee, among other things, says:

“Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” Rockefeller said. “In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”

“It is my belief that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq, and used the 9/11 attacks by al Qa’ida as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. To accomplish this, top Administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al Qa’ida as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses.”

The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:
Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

It is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that there were no WMD’s in Iraq and that Iraq was not allied with al Qa’ida in its terroristic attacks on the US. Furthermore, no one in the Bush administration had any viable plan for what should be done in Iraq once military operations ended.

The graphic reproduced above also actually underestimates the total costs of the war in Iraq.

The Office of Management and Budget now estimates that the cost of combat operations will total approximately $822 billion; another $733 billion has been spent on care for wounded veterans and homeland security expenses related to the wars; future medical care of veterans is estimated to total $490 billion; and the interest on the money borrowed to fund the wars will total approximately $4 trillion by the time the debt is repaid sometime after 2050.

It has also proved not to be the case, as some in the administration claimed, that Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of the war.

And none of that includes the costs of foreign aid for rebuilding Iraq or the foreign aid paid to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in the region to secure their cooperation (such as it is) in the war effort.

The death toll cited in the Democratic Underground article is very conservative; some estimates of the civilian death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan are as high as 330,000 or more.

There are other reasons to consider the Bush administration the worst of my lifetime: his tax policies have led to an economic crisis in the country; the response of his administration to Hurricane Katrina was a disgrace; and he vetoed a stem cell research bill that might have provided medical and health benefits to Americans for generations to come.  See Note 3 below.

A long time friend of mine criticized my Facebook comments about Bush and asked me what I would have done in response to the 9-11 attacks.

What I would have done is of no real consequence. But, I would rather have seen our president respond with an all-out effort to find Osama bin Laden and others who were responsible for that attack, rather than going off on a wild tangent in Iraq, a country which had no connection whatsoever with 9-11.

There is no doubt that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein and his sons. That, however, can be said about hundreds, perhaps thousands or even millions of people — does that mean the US government should summarily go around killing people that we think are “bad” for the world? I think not. And there is flip side to that question — is the world better off without the 330,000 or more other Iraqis who were killed in the war? Was it worth all of those lives (and those of the Americans and our allies) who were killed? I think the answer to that question is a clear and unequivocal “no”.

With respect to radical Islam, protecting ourselves against radicals of any stripe is a proper governmental function and I support all reasonable efforts to do so.  The war in Iraq was just not such a reasonable effort. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim, but was not a radical Islamist. Rather, he was a secular ruler who ruthlessly suppressed Shi’a Muslims and elevated minority Sunnis to power only if they were also members of the Ba-athist party (a secular, rather than religious, organization). Ergo, invading Iraq and removing Hussein from power had absolutely nothing to do with any perceived need to protect the US against radical Islam.

Thus, taking everything into consideration, it is an inescapable conclusion that George W. Bush was the worst president of my lifetime.


Ranking all of the presidents of my lifetime:

1st — Harry S Truman — See Note 4 below.

2nd — John F. Kennedy

3rd — Dwight D. Eisenhower

4th — Lyndon B. Johnson

5th — William J. Clinton

6th — Ronald Reagan

7th — George H. W. Bush

8th — Barack H. Obama

9th — Gerald R. Ford

10th — Jimmy Carter

11th — Richard M. Nixon

12th — George W. Bush


Note 1 — For a comprehensive listing of presidential rankings, see this Wikipedia article:

Scroll down to the rankings chart and see the final column of the aggregate ranking of each president based on these various scholarly surveys.

Note 2 — Bush ranks 34th of 43 presidents on the aggregate scholars list.  I suspect that as we gain historical perspective, his position will solidify in the bottom quarter of presidents and that his stature will, if anything, decline.

Note 3 — For another view on the deficiencies of the Bush presidency, see this website, which cites 31 reasons why Bush was a bad president:

I don’t personally agree with all of the reasons stated in this litany of deficiencies.  For example, I don’t fault any president for taking vacation time, as the presidency is a stressful job that always goes with the president and everyone needs to be able to relax and get away from that kind of pressure.

Obviously, however, I do agree with his ultimate conclusion.

Note 4 — Truman had only a middle initial — “S” — and no middle name.  He also used no period after that initial;  hence, Harry S Truman, not Harry S. Truman.