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NixonThumbIn our second foray into rating past presidents, we’re going to tackle a political giant, an enigma whose presidency was both enamored with political sagacity and clouded with sordid scandal. Yes, after previously paying homage to one of our greatest leaders, this time we’ll be assigning D&D ability scores to one of our greatest disappointments, Richard M. Nixon.

Don’t worry, there’s much more to President Nixon than his shameful end and the arrogance that precipitated it, so I won’t just be harping on Watergate (in fact, it actually provided a boost to several scores).

This list of ability scores is generated according to the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – 1st Edition (again, ‘cuz I’m old). If you aren’t familiar with D&D, that’s okay, you don’t need to be. Here’s the gist: an individual is scored on six innate abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Human scores typically range from 3 to 18 (3 being pathetic, 10-11 being average, and 18 being exceptional).

So here we go, for big Dick’s scores: Read the rest of this entry »

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In light of the approaching inauguration, rather than spurting the same old policy drivel that I usually throw out, today I’m going to toy with a new theme. Glancing back through our history, I thought it might be fun to examine past presidents of these United States and generate a list of their ability scores according to the rules of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons – 1st Edition (‘cuz I’m old and that’s what I learned on).

If you aren’t familiar with D&D, that’s okay, you don’t need to be. Here’s the gist: an individual is scored on six innate abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Human scores typically range from 3 to 18 (3 being pathetic, 10-11 being average, and 18 being exceptional).

All I’m going to do is rate past presidents on these abilities, based on what we knew about them. I think Dexterity will be the hardest, since we typically don’t hear about how nimble or agile our presidential figures have been. But I’ll do my best.

Why am I doing this? I suppose because it’s fun. And once we have a few, maybe I’ll match up a couple in a competition and role-play out a victor. I’d love nothing more than to orchestrate a scenario where John Quincy Adams completely embarrasses W. in a battle of wits or Taft squashes Martin Van Buren under his thunderous derrière.

So I think I’ll start with my most-favoritest President, the great and loveable Theodore Roosevelt:

TeddyLaughSTRENGTH: 17 – Known for his physical exploits, Teddy may be the brawniest of our past leaders. Though far from herculean, he is surely deserving of a near-the-top ranking. Read the rest of this entry »

Election Day approaches. I stay outside of the fray of political ads and commentary. I care not what the talking heads or SuperPACs want me to think or believe. Besides, I’m not really one for marketing ploys. Nonetheless, a decision looms, and I’ve still not made up my mind.

No, I’m not on the fence between President Obama or Governor Romney; there is almost nothing on the Romney platform that entreats my consideration, much less my vote. The problem is, there’s not much of the President’s record of the last four years that attracts me either. Sure, in toto it’s far more than the Republicans have offered (or even thought about), but compared to the high hopes and soaring rhetoric of 2008 it appears we’ve fallen woefully short.

There are a handful of things I like from this administration, namely its views on women’s rights, progressive taxation, fairness in immigration, and finally, though bungled terribly, gay rights. With some significant exceptions, I’ve also been proud of their shrewd foreign policy, knowing full well that Secretary Clinton deserves most of the credit. And while I’m glad there’s been a step in the right direction on health coverage, the political missteps and far-too-concessive approach that enveloped it left a bitter taste in my mouth and conclude it a hollow victory at best.

That’s about where my congruence with the President ends. Read the rest of this entry »

Note: Though I typically focus on public policy, this post is about politics, which is not the same thing and I try to avoid. However, in light of the election year, there is a valid point that I feel I must make on the principles of rational argument. I hope you will indulge me. 

Back in January 2001, I didn’t have any real problem with the Bush administration.

I mean, I didn’t like him, of course. After all, it was painful to hear him speak, so obtuse and inarticulate. I found it embarrassing to be represented on the world stage by such a tactless and ignorant buffoon. And I couldn’t believe that Americans could be so base as to (almost) elect the far-less-intelligent son of a one-term president whom we had booted out of office not 8 years prior. But all of that is actually just personal and cosmetic. When it came to policy, upon entering office, I was prepared to give President Bush a chance. After all, he had promised to be, in everyone’s understanding, a compassionate conservative, vowing on the campaign trail to focus on a strong military, education, cutting taxes, and aiding minorities. Didn’t sound so bad.

For 10 months, I just sat back and let it happen, and nothing really terrible came up. In fact, aside from a $200 advance on my next tax return (which I had to pay for later), I barely even noticed a change in “leadership.”

But in September, as you know, the proverbial feces impacted the oscillator and the bent of the administration shifted drastically. In the face of a national tragedy, an executive power grab ensued. As a nation and a culture, we’d been cold-cocked. And while we were still reeling from the cheap shot, the administration was Read the rest of this entry »

Congratulations, President Obama, you finally found your Presidential voice! Such a shame that it came so late.

It was a great speech-probably your best SOTU-employing powerful, statesmanlike language and stroking progressive ideals to the brink of political orgasm. Yes, it was a terrific speech; and it should be because the way things are looking, it’s likely to be your last.

This year, it’s easy to throw out a bunch of great ideas and bold initiatives, backed with powerful rhetoric; you’re talking to a congress that has already vowed to do nothing. But beyond the applause and standing O’s, past the bright Source4 spotlights and television cameras, there are legions of lamenting liberals, a plethora of pissed-off progressives, and an assload of angry Americans who are having trouble pairing the leadership in your language with the awkwardness of your administration.

For three years you’ve portrayed yourself as stumbling buffoons, unsure of your agenda. Your message has been fragmented and murky. Your communications have been guarded and timid. Your domestic policy wandering and perfunctory. We have come to expect very little from you in terms of actual leadership, and it shows in how easily Republicans have been able to effectively frame every – single – issue, successfully derailing your game plan before you’ve even left the huddle. Read the rest of this entry »

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