“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

Trashing the Constitution on HBO: Bill Maher “Wrong Again, Wrong Again.”


Just as Michael Bloomberg did recently …


… Bill Maher has gone from Just Plain Incorrect …


… to falling off the edge of the political table.

Friday night, April 12, 2013, on his HBO television show “Real Time”, Maher was discussing gun control with his guest panel.  After castigating “liberals” for what he perceived as their “weakness” in the gun control debate, Maher, not exactly making an insightful or clever  addition to the conversation, said:

“Everyone on the left is so afraid to say what should be said.  Which is, the Second Amendment is bullshit.”


Bill Maher 041213

Maybe so, though I disagree.  But if it is, anyone who thinks it is BS should have the courage to try to change the 2nd Amendment, rather than simply ignoring it and trying to enact legislation which violates its terms.

One of Maher’s guests on this show was David Stockman, former budget director for President Ronald Reagan.  Stockman, an ostensible conservative, commented that the idea of armed citizens rising in the face of the government is a modern day fantasy, saying:

“People who believe in liberty, like I do, we’re up against a 21st-century state equipped with drones, hundreds of satellites in the sky, watching everything we do.  Why would you believe that an 18th-century civilian militia equipped with the equivalent of muskets has anything to do with liberty? It doesn’t.”

Which, to be blunt, is just dumb.  For starters, no one involved in today’s gun control discussion is advancing the idea that an “18th century civilian militia” has anything to do with fighting “a 21st century state … watching everything we do.”  And if you think that a “well-armed civilian militia” equipped with modern weapons cannot resist a “21st century state”, please explain to me how a ragtag militia in Afghanistan has managed to resist the two most powerful military organizations in the world for a combined total of 21 years (the Russians for 9 years, the US for 12).

Never mind the possibility that a time will come when there are no drones, satellites or 21st century weapons and we will have to protect ourselves against or without the aid of any government.  I have discussed this before:


Scroll down to the second half of that discussion, “Self-Defense in Case of a National Emergency”, for a more complete discussion of this issue.  To briefly repeat the primary point, the book One Second After by William Forstchen, fictionalizes what might happen in the US in the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event.  An EMP event (which could occur as part of a foreign attack or as a result of natural occurrences) could conceivably shut down all electricity in large portions of the US.  That would mean no electrically operated devices would work — some obvious examples, computers, televisions, radios and telephones.  Less obvious examples, refrigerators & freezers, microwave ovens, washers & dryers, both interior and exterior lighting, and even most modern motor vehicles (the engines of which are operated by electrical commands).

Should this happen, of course, most “21st century” weaponry, as well as drones and satellites, would be rendered useless.  And, as Forstchen says:

You are on your own … for weeks, maybe months.   Those of you living in Louisiana, Mississippi and coastal Texas know what I mean.  Don’t count on the government to come to your rescue in a post EMP America.  Consider yourself on your own from “one second after,” the event.  Those who realize that now have the greatest chance of survival.”

And, if you think his book is science fiction and farfetched, see the Wikipedia article on EMP:


And this Heritage Foundation article about Congressional hearings on the subject:


The possibility of an EMP event and the potential consequences thereof are science fact, not science fiction.

And keep in mind that an EMP event can also result from natural occurrences, such as a major solar flare, and not just as a result of a nuclear attack.  The website “Disaster Survival Resources” …


… provides a relatively minor example of what can happen as a result of a solar flare:

“On March 13th, 1989 a huge solar induced magnetic storm that played havoc with the ionosphere, and the earth’s magnetic field. This storm, the second largest storm experienced in the past 50 years, totally shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing Canada’s Quebec province.”

As we grow increasingly dependent on electronically controlled devices, we also become increasingly vulnerable to the adverse effects of an EMP event.  And, having the ability to protect ourselves in case of such an event becomes increasingly important.

So, I call bullshit on Maher, who is wrong again, wrong again.  And on Stockman, who is not just wrong, but dangerously so.

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 DemocraticUnderground.com …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 DemocraticUnderground.com 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.