Just Above Sunset
September 25, 2005 - The 'Worst of All Time' Idea

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Reacting to the list of this-just-couldn't-be-so items in A Meme Snowballs, chronicling the events that seem to show the Bush administration falling apart at the seams (or at the "seems"), Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, suggests it's time for Just Above Sunset exclusive.


He suggests this press release:


Hollywood - Former everything, pipe-smoking, cozy-cat guardian, publisher of internationally renowned political sarcasm, Alan Pavlik announces poll survey to discover the 'Worst American of All Time.'

"I don't know who it is, but the time seems right to find out," Pavlik said in the world headquarters of Just Above Sunset - or JAS for short - just as he was leaving to cover the political implications of the annual Malibu longboard surfing championships.

"All JAS bureaus are working on 'Worst of All Time' and there will be international feedback to reinforce American perceptions," he said, adding, "It will be tough race. Many want to be the historic worst."


Well, perhaps we won't go that far, as JAS does not have the resources of AOL and the Discovery Channel for such a contest. But it's an idea. (As for international renown, that is curious as there were an awful lot of unique logons in the last eight days from servers at idi.ntnu.no - the Norwegian University of Science and Technology - the Gløshaugen campus in Trondheim, Norway. Why?)

Anyway, one could start to work out list of folks who could be nominees. Over at Daily Kos, the proprietor, Kos himself, suggests top Republicans, as he points out The trifecta is complete - the Republican leadership in the Senate, House and White House are ALL officially under investigation.

He cites this on senate leader Frist:


The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating stock sales made by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in HCA Inc. shortly before the Nashville, Tenn.-based company warned it wouldn't meet its previous second-quarter earnings forecast.

Mr. Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in HCA about two weeks before the company's share price plunged. News of the stock sales surfaced in news reports earlier this week. The company was founded as Hospital Corp. of America in 1968 by Mr. Frist's father, Thomas Frist, his older brother Thomas Frist Jr., and Jack Massey, who had made millions as the owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The SEC is looking into whether Mr. Frist had any inside knowledge of problems at the company that prompted his sales, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.


What this about Kentucky Fried Chicken?


Well, Kos posted that before the Associated Press on Saturday, September 24, reminded folks of a few more things:


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.

... Frist, asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded: "Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock"

Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, "I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea."


But he called the trustee tell him to dump the stock he didn't know he had, just before the earnings report came out and the stock price sank like a rock? Well, it's just securities fraud, insider trading stuff. Only Martha Stewart goes to jail for such things.


He doesn't make the "worst" list, although one might give him honorable mention for what he said on the floor of the senate a few months ago - reminding everyone that he was a doctor he said he watched an hour of heavily edited videotape of Terri Schiavo and he was certain that all the other doctors and the courts were wrong and she wasn't in a persistent vegetative state at all, and the federal government should rescue her in some way. Big federal crisis - Bush dropped everything and flew back from Texas on a Saturday night to deal with it (the woman's name was Terri, not Katrina). Everyone knows the story and what the autopsy showed. Frist is not the worst, just a little confused with the rules and the truth.

And Karl Rove, over at the White House?  The Washington Post notes this:


Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.

Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

Abramoff later said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove" about the issue, according to the statement by Flanigan, who oversaw Tyco's dealings with Abramoff and his firm and received reports from Abramoff about progress in the lobbying campaign. Flanigan's statement is the latest indication that Abramoff promoted himself as having ready access to senior officials in the Bush administration.


Okay, the man may have, or may not have, revealed the name of a covert CIA agent to six press people, and Robert Novak may have published it, and it may have published it and out her and her contact in danger and ruining years of intelligence work, just to get back at the woman's husband for embarrassing Bush - but none of the has been officially established.  And as mentioned in the other item, the whole thing could be the work of John Bolton, our current UN ambassador.  No one knows.


This stuff in the Post just shows a man who helps big donors to the Republican party how to get out of paying any taxes if they incorporate offshore and steers big federal contracts their way.  Standard stuff.  Goes on in all governments.  You expect such things.


But Rove might be a nominee for other matters, long in the past - political dirty tricks.  Ask John McCain, or ask his illegitimate back child by the cocaine addict that cost him the South Carolina primary six years ago, or ask Max Cleland, who somehow for a time was a supporter of the Islamic fundamentalists who want to kills us all.  Rove might do.

Tom DeLay - the house Republican leader?  Just the latest:


A grand jury in Texas indicted yesterday a state political action committee organized by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for accepting $120,000 in allegedly illegal corporate campaign contributions shortly before and after the 2002 elections that helped Republicans cement their control of the House of Representatives.


The man is ethically challenged.  Does he go on "the worst" list?  Maybe, but he wouldn't win.

Do we pick on Michael Brown, who resigned as head of FEMA?  Old news.  Do we pick on the new acting head of, the man who told us to be safe we should buy lots of duct tape and plastic sheeting?  (Good comment here.)  Nope.  Too easy.

And why did the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just resign?  The Associated Press item here:


Embattled Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford abruptly resigned Friday, telling his staff that at age 67 it was time to step aside.

President Bush designated the National Cancer Institute's director, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, to be the FDA's new acting commissioner.

Crawford's resignation came just two months after the Senate, in a long-delayed move, elevated the longtime agency deputy and acting commissioner to the top job.

His three-year tenure at FDA was marked by increasing criticism and a particularly rocky final 12 months. The painkiller Vioxx was pulled off the market for safety problems, FDA was embarrassed last fall when its British counterparts shut down a supplier of U.S. flu vaccine for tainted shots, and over the summer recalls of malfunctioning heart devices mounted.

Finally, last month, morale at the agency plummeted when Crawford indefinitely postponed nonprescription sales of emergency contraception over the objections of staff scientists who had declared the pill safe. The FDA's women's health chief resigned in protest.


Yeah, and the administration appointed a veterinarian to take her place.  But folks who leave don't make the list.

Maybe contest will have to wait to see how this works out - Time Magazine, Friday evening, September 23 opens a new, long article with this


The U.S. Army has launched a criminal investigation into new allegations of serious prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan made by a decorated former Captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, an Army spokesman has confirmed to TIME. The claims of the Captain, who has not been named, are in part corroborated by statements of two sergeants who served with him in the 82nd Airborne; the allegations form the basis of a report from Human Rights Watch obtained by TIME and due to be released in the next few days (Since this story first went online, the organization has decided to put out its report; it can be found here). Senate sources tell TIME that the Captain has also reported his charges to three senior Republican senators: Majority Leader Bill Frist, Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner and John McCain, a former torture victim in Vietnam. A Senate Republican staffer familiar with both the Captain and his allegations told TIME he appeared "extremely credible." ...


Well, the chickens are coming home to roost.  This seems systematic, and approved.  Someone approved it, or at the least, allowed it.  It might be time to see who did, and at what level.  We may get a candidate for "worst" after all.  The president's abandonment of the legal ban on inhumane treatment of military detainees is the problem?


Maybe so.

On the other hand, of this "Worst of All Time" contest is a matter of popular vote, there's this discussion of this story - about the vastly popular website where folks trade amateur, homemade hard pornography for photos sent by our guys in Iraq of the maimed and tortured and dead bodies of the locals over there.  If these people vote too then all bets are off.  To them, the Time scoop might elicit only one response.  "So?"  The casual torture of prisoners held by their unit was routine, well known at "varying levels of command," and directed by military intelligence personnel.  "And your point is?"

To agree on what's "worst" one must agree on what the right thing to do is.  This could be a problem.  Well, the Army has started up a high-level criminal investigation.  They'll let us know if they find themselves at fault for anything.

Meanwhile, not back at the ranch, the Washington Post on its front page on Saturday, September 24, says the president senses that things aren't going well and everyone is trying to help him regain his swagger.

Really.  Honest.

That's why he's at Northern Command at Cheyenne Mountain (used to be NORAD), under miles of protective rock, at that old cold-war nerve center where we would have tracked incoming nukes from the USSR, should that have happened.  But the Post says this:


[A] growing number of Republicans inside and out of the White House have noticed an administration less sure-footed and slower to react to the political environment surrounding them.

A top Republican close to the White House since the earliest days said the absence of a "reelection target" and pressure from first lady Laura Bush and others to soften his second-term tone conspired to temper Bush's swagger well before Katrina hit. "A reelection campaign was always the driving principle to force them to get things together," said the GOP operative, who would speak candidly about Bush only if his name was not used. He said the "brilliance of this team" was always overstated. "Part of the reason they looked so good is Democrats were so discombobulated." Since the election, this official said, White House aides reported that Laura Bush was among those counseling Bush to change his cowboy image during the final four years.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said the psychological turnabout started with the failed Social Security campaign, billed as the number one domestic priority six months ago. "The negative effect of the Social Security [campaign] is underestimated," Kristol said. "Once you make that kind of mistake, people tend to be less deferential to your decisions." This coincided with a growing number of Republicans losing faith in Bush's war plan, as Republicans such as Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) openly questioned the president's strategy.

In a series of private conversations over the past few months, aides began second-guessing how they handled the Social Security debate, managed the public perception of the Iraq war and, most recently, the response to Katrina. The federal CIA leak investigation, which has forced Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and others to testify before a grand jury, seemed to distract officials and left a general feeling of unease, two aides said. Aides were calling reporters to find out what was happening with Rove and the investigation. "Nobody knows what's going to happen with the probe," one senior aide said.


His wife is on his case.  William Kristol, of all people, is on his case.  His people are saying, not for attribution, that he never was that smart.


Note this comment:


Hell, the press is making Bush out to be a cartoon character who needs to go to a military base to regain his image, while top Republicans are openly blaming Laura Bush for neutering her husband. To top it off, and as we have been saying for awhile now, this same top Republican says that team around Bush was never really that good to begin with; they only appeared good because the Democrats were so worthless.

Bigfooter Kristol now says what we knew months ago: if you could stop Bush on Social Security, and were able to mix that with growing unease over Iraq, then his first term signature event and his second term priority would both drag him down. Add to that the uncertainty over Plame, and what you get is the typical second term banana peel.

And now it's happened. It must be fun around the house now, with a top Republican saying openly that Laura's got Bush's balls in her pocket. If Skippy wasn't drinking before, he is now.


And even that has been in the press, although if you click on the link you might consider the source –


Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.

His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."



I did send this along to my friends, a bit of history.  Take yourself back to late eighteenth century England.  King George the Third, the man who "lost" the colonies in America:


"It was a sad day for the British Empire when King George became its political master. He was a man of narrow intellect, and lacked every element of the greatness of statesmanship. 'He had a smaller mind,' says the British historian, [Peter] Green, 'than any English king before him save James II.' He showered favors on his obsequious followers, while men of independent character whom he could not bend to his will became the objects of his hatred."


Sounds familiar.  That George, our George - either be a nominee for this hypothetical list.

Send suggestions.




From Dick up in Rochester, New York –


I primarily agree that, with possible exception of Rove, the rest of this gang that can't shoot straight are mostly b-flat slime with stupidity on steroids - not exactly in the Idi Amin category.  So is this little affair open to all countries of all time or just yanks in our lifetime?


I hadn't thought about it.


From Ric in Paris:


Dick's right.  These guys are petty hooligans - good only for 'not the worst of all time.'  As you yourself have almost written, 'Enter and Win?'


Don't bother with a prize, rules, and all the rest.  Let's just start with a call for candidate lists of names for the 'Worst American of All Time.'  Everybody is eligible, including animals, rock stars and cartoon characters.  Canadians who have become famous in the US, too.


Michael Jackson

George Custer

W R Hearst

Mickey Mouse

Joesph McCarthy



Oh, maybe not Lassie.  Snoopy?  Pogo?


Ah, I may actually have to move on this one.




Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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