November 11th, 2006


America's worst presidents

The Republican performance in this week's midterm elections has led many commentators to describe Bush as the most disastrous leader in US history. But what about the competition? We asked the experts to cast their votes

Published: 11 November 2006

George W Bush: chosen by Owen Dudley Edwards

The question "who is the worst US president" is something I have thought long and hard about and the answer is very simple: it is the incumbent president. I had previously thought that Nixon was the worst and there were other candidates such as Warren Harding - but they all pale in comparison to Bush. He has displaced all his predecessors. Nobody has been quite as appalling.

Immediately after 9/11, he went running like a rat. Every other president would have behaved differently. Theodore Roosevelt had several bullets shot into him in 1912 but he insisted on speaking. Ronald Reagan made jokes after he was shot in an assassination attempt. The whole point of a president is that it is his duty to rally the country in times of adversity. But Bush went into hiding. Then there was Osama bin Laden, who had actually been on the payroll of the CIA. What the situation needed was the clearest statement in relation to why this was the case and when they stopped payments and how this would never happen again.

In terms of the war, this demonstrated the very worst morality. There was an ongoing investigation under the United Nations at the time he went into Iraq. This didn't stop the US - he went in while Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, was still investigating.

That war was illegal and anyone attempting to defend him must recognise this. He has not redeemed himself in any way since. His statements are intellectually contemptible and morally banal. And as a Christian, I find it intolerable that he constantly prostitutes Christianity. Even most recently, in order to prove he was not a fool, he proclaimed himself a liar. What kind of a president is that? The office has never been lowered to such levels of disrepute.

Bush has shown himself to be a hypocrite and a coward. He has undone a great deal of good work for US inhabitants. He has shown himself to be a man who is more anxious with the profit of his power than the long-term benefits to his people. After an excellent record from US presidents comes this wretched man. These are the lowest depths to which the presidency has plunged.

Owen Dudley Edwards is a historian and author and former Reader in American History at the University of Edinburgh



This is way beyond sad - wake the fuck up, people.

Neo-Nazis rampage at Kristallnacht memorial

"Sieg Heil!" on Anniversary of Pogrom Against Jews
German neo-Nazis shouting "Sieg Heil" tore wreaths and candles off a Jewish memorial on Thursday, the 68th anniversary of the "Night of Broken Glass" in 1938 when Jews across the country were beaten up or murdered and had their homes and stores wrecked. Anti-Semitism remains alive in Germany, President Horst Köhler warned.
Stories: |

Police place flowers back
on the synagogue memorial stone
after arresting right-wing
extremists who attacked it.

Wal-Mart is selling Nazi SS skull t-shirts
1 | 2

Hat tip to gee_bee for the links

Not that I needed another reason to adore Christian Bale, but...

We saw the film The Prestige earlier today.




It was easily one of the best drama/suspense/thriller films I've ever seen. I haven't seen the betrayal/revenge dichotomy played out this well since Dangerous Liasons, which is my favorite story ever on these subjects. Absolutely stunning cast including Christian Bale (UNGH!), Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, & Michael Caine. Synopsis via Rotten Tomatoes:
British director Christopher Nolan's (BATMAN BEGINS) eclectic resume gains another interesting entry with THE PRESTIGE. The basic plot, which concerns the rivalry between two magicians in early 20th-century London, closely resembles a fellow 2006 movie--Edward Norton's THE ILLUSIONIST--and the two films are sure to be closely compared. In Nolan's film, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale bring the characters of Rupert Angier and Alfred Bordon to life. Rupert and Alfred were young magician apprentices together, but became bitter rivals as their careers began to shape their adult lives and a terrible accident claimed the life of Rupert's wife. In the subsequent years Rupert has become wildly jealous of Alfred's superior talents, so in a last ditch attempt to steal some artistic ground he sends his assistant, Olivia (Scarlett Johansson), to infiltrate his rival's lair and steal the secret to a spectacular trick called "The Transported Man."

Nolan's film twists and turns down a number of unexpected avenues as it flits back and forth between numerous time periods, creating a movie that needs to be watched as closely as the tricks his leading characters perform. Bale and Jackman perfectly execute their roles, winding up the tension to an unbearable degree as they willfully enter into some dangerously competitive patterns of behavior. Michael Caine makes his second appearance in a Nolan film, almost reprising his role of Alfred in BATMAN BEGINS by playing Cutter, Jackman's mentor; and Johansson pouts and flounces across the elaborate sets like a classic Hollywood screen siren. Stylistically, THE PRESTIGE is full of dark, gloomy colors and a palpable feeling of menace, which is an impeccable visual match for the viewer's growing unease as the protagonists push each other to increasingly ridiculous lengths. It's not an easy film to digest, but Nolan's movie offers intelligent and challenging viewing that will likely reveal further cinematic magic on repeated viewings.
This movie is fucking brilliant - do yourself a favor and see it.

The Prestige Trailer