The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Politicians in Action #37


Jimmy Carter waves.

13 comments :

Ryan Kelly said...

I saw the text before the picture loaded, and was very disappointed that it wasn't an ocean wave shaped that resembled Jimmy Carter.

*sigh* Maybe some day.

Greg said...

Jimmy Carter ocean waves, called Rogue Jimmy Waves, are rare indeed.

Fred said...

Jimmy Carter waves bye-bye to his political career, the hostages in Iran, the good people of Iran whom he consigned to 30 years of tyranny, and his credibility. Now, let's all wave bye-bye to the worst US president ever.

John said...

Well, Fred, since you opened the door . . . . It would be very, very hard to outdo the record, so to speak, of the clueless George W. Bush. Two unwinnable, unspeakably expensive wars half a world away; a dramatic decline in fundamental respect for America around the world; an unprecedented, shameful adoption of torture as an official instrument of American foreign policy; a withering recession, the likes of which none of us have seen since before the Second World War; a government surplus turned into a breathtakingly large deficit in just 8 short years; the devolution of the once-proud and principled Republican Party into some sort of weird, socio-religious cult; the almost complete disempowerment of the middle class. Shall I continue? Jimmy Carter was no great shakes, but George W. Bush will forever be the poster boy for the notion of "in over his head", an absolutely dreadful President.

Ookla the Mok said...

I think anyone who casually refers to any president as "worst ever," needs to write at least 500 words comparing and contrasting him to the likes of Franklin Pierce, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, and the like. While I am NO fan of Carter and am willing to say he is near worst, I expect informed decisions about whoever is called "worst." We'd all be better off.

Fred said...

Are you sure you want to give me 500 words? Of the people named, Pierce may have been in over his head, but the only bad item he allowed to continue was the inexorable march to the US Civil War. However, as most informed folks know, the Civil War was inevitable. The Founding Fathers dodged the issue in the US Constitution, the Compromise of 1850 likewise punted on the issue of slavery, the Supreme Court decided to defer to the politicians in the singularly awful Dred Scott Decision, and the comparative socio-economic disparaties of the North and South all vitiated toward a deadly confrontation between the two disparate halves of the US. That Pierce stunk is not a question, but so did Fillmore and their ilk.

As for LBJ, he inherited the Vietnam debacle from Ike and JFK. His Great Society was an attempt to deal with social ills plaguing the nation, even if it proved to be a failure, its intentions were generally good. And his passage of Civil Rights legislation were something than any President should be proud of. Although flawed, LBJ should be remembered as the President who did more for African Americans than any President not named Abraham Lincoln.

Finally, Tricky Dick. Admittedly, Watergate was an awful crime, its coverup a true abuse of the trust of the American public. But on foreign affairs, Nixon was actually quite astute. Along with Kissinger, the two averted World War III by preventing a border conflict between China and Russia to escalate in 1969. His detente eased the tensions of the Cold War. He did a masterful job during the Yom Kippur War by aiding our Israeli ally while also allowing Sadat and Egypt to get a cease fire on good terms, which led the way to US-Egyptian relations (ruptured since the '56 Suez Crisis) and peace between Egypt and Israel. He also appointed the Supreme Court justice who gave women the right to choose in Roe v. Wade.

Bush Jr? It has been 8 years since 9/11 and the US has not suffered a terrorist attack on its shores since that awful date. The issue of "torture" is unresolved (the items mentioned in the released memos sound like a lot less abusive than what the average detainee suffers in most police precincts in the USA today). In addition, if it saved lived, then it is up to the public to decide if it was worth it. The economy? Things were fine until the house of cards (erected by Greenspan and the folks at Goldman Sachs, Lehman, etc. during the Clinton administration) collapsed.

OK, as for Jimmy, as bad as the economy is now, it was nothing compared to 1979. And his loss of Iran has harmed the US and its allies in Europe and the Middle East for 3 decades. Hezbollah and Hamas are a direct result of the Islamist takeover of Iran. If Carter had shown guts as President and either backed the Shah or killed Khomeini (or bombed Iran when the took over our embassy), history would have been very different. Instead, he left office a disgrace, with Russians in Afghanistan, Ayatollah in Iran, gas lines at the pumps and staglation. And NONE of his failures can be blamed on his predecessors. It was all his own fault. His only success, Camp David, was done by Kissinger. All Carter did was serve Sadat and Begin coffee and leave the room. And today, he busies himself by meddling in world affairs, propping up failing dictators (Clinton considered prosecuting him for undermining efforts to isolate North Korea and prevent its nuclear program). Considering he graduated first in his class at Annapolis, it is truly amazing how such an intelligent man can be such a fool.

Anyone else want a piece of me? :-)

Ookla the Mok said...

Hahaha. Ookla like! Just want hear real, informed commentary. Not knee-jerk "Worst ever, best ever, fattest ever, skinnest ever" type mooshoo. LBJ escalate Vietnam. Have no plan. Good intentions lead to trillions taken from people and given to others with no good result. Pierce good man, but no leader. Heart broken by decapitation of son on way to inaugural before very eyes. Watergate taping start with LBJ, too, come Oookla to think of it. Taped Goldwater but use more skilled plumbers -- like FDR use to tape Hoover. And not even get Ookla started on civil liberties abuses under Wilson.

(This is much better than generic back-forth.)

Ookla the Mok said...

I don't think "informed" is very fair to the people who had not the benefit of hindsight. Today many people want peace at any cost, and a weaker leader than Abe might've joined the peace convention and let the South go -- thus avoiding a war. Fillmore postponed the war, and while war may have been inevitable as you say or not, the result is never inevitable in war.

In 1850, the North did not have the overwhelming industrial might that lead to victory -- nor would we have had a skilled Adams in London keeping Europe from coming in on the side of the confederacy.

As for LBJ, 65,000 dead in Vietnam is what he should be remembered for, in my opinion, even if because there were just so many on his leadership. It's not really fair to say he inherited it from Ike.

Ike inherited Korea from Truman, but ended it. Besides, Ike tried to advise LBJ, but he was too stubborn to listen. Ike was for advisers only, fearing the jungle would "swallow up our divisions." He also had a good civil rights record, often forgotten, whereas you can read Malcolm X to find some contemporary views of LBJ's record.

This is REALLY far away from Carter stinking -- and, arguably, leading to many of the terrorism problems we have today by his caving to the Ayatollah who feared "Fire from the sky" but then realized it would never come from the Peanut Farmer and then decided to take over the hostages.

Ookla the Mok said...

And I think it's letting Pierce off awfully easy to say he mearly "allowed" the Civil War to march on and it was "inexorable" and "inevitable." His repeal of the Missouri compromise had a lot to do with it.

Fillmore had poured some oil on those waters -- and it's not really fair either, to expect Fillmore to do much as an accidental president with only 2-1/2 years. He did a lot with what he had. Keep in mind that Taylor's entire cabinet resigned when he took office on the President's death.

I like Pierce as a tragic figure (passing out TWICE in the Mexican War is pretty embarassing), but as a president he tried to run it as a committee. As for punting slavery, you punt for a reason in football, right? It's not so terribly bad when you don't think you're in a position to make a 4th down and continue to victory.

(And I think John got off easy. Iraq was won, thanks to the President's bold willingness to change strategies in 2006. Even if you hate a president, you have to acknowledge when a broken clock gets something right.)

Fred said...

Ookla, thanks for allowing me 500 words. I didn't count, but I think you may have gone over. Still, enjoyed your commentary.

Brooks said...

" If Carter had shown guts as President and either backed the Shah or killed Khomeini (or bombed Iran when the took over our embassy), history would have been very different."

Carter's principles did not allow for bombing of Iran for throwing out a western supported tyrant. Nor did they allow for supporting that same tyrant to use an iron fist to support his hold on power.

I'm not at all convinced that things would have turned out better had he taken either of these actions. Look what Reagan's support of Iraq as a pawn against Iran gained us. Or Bush Sr.'s support of Saudi Arabia.

Instead the Soviets wielded the iron fist and grabbed Afghanistan. That led them to their end.

His biggest foreign policy success, Camp David, you dismiss as being Kissinger's. Also ignoring stagflation having anything to do with oil embargos. I suppose we could have bombed them, too.

Milan said...

I like Jimmy Carter.

Brooks said...

Me too. And I despised Reagan.

So it was with great discomfort as I watched history vindicate his tough stance on foreign policy. Nicaragua, Libya, Afghanistan, the Wall, the Soviets.

Reagan was right and I was wrong. Luckily no one listens to me.