The Votes Are In!

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Schlesinger, Schlesinger Junior, the Chicago Tribune, all have surveyed Presidential Greatness.

Now Norman Markowitz joins the line of hero searchers.

Blogging at “Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist*,” Brother Markowitz asks and answers, “George W. Bush: The Worst President In US History?”

He places Bush just above James Buchanan in the Presidential Badness Sweepstakes, and sinking fast:

“It is purely from an “American Centric” position that Buchanan maintains a slight lead over Bush. And of course (the second caveat), the Bush administration still has around 20 months left to overtake Buchanan. Let’s do Bush a favor. The broad left, the labor movement, the anti-Iraq war movement, all progressive movements and the Democratic Party should act now to prevent a discredited administration from extending its disastrous policies. By using constitutional means to get rid of the Bush administration and the “Reagan legacy” in terms of policy, we can keep Bush below James Buchanan on the list of “worst presidents” in American history. To conclude this article on an explicitly Marxist note, which asked a conventional question and used a presidential comparison model to answer it, we should remember that a revolutionary civil war followed the Buchanan administration.”



*”dedicated to ideologies of great communist leaders Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and Kim Il Sung”


reagan-library-map.jpg Mitch McConnell holds out hope for Reagan statue, Reagan Centennial Commissions and more, all to recall the little known former president.

Senator McConnell made his remarks at a museum dedicated to the two term president in Simi Valley California.reagan-evacuation-plan.jpg

Mitch seemed to be having a bad day:

“Reagan’s biographer, Lou Cannon, liked to say that a lot of Ronald Reagan’s success lay in the fact that he spoke about the future in the accents of the past. And if I were to offer an assessment of the new Majority in Congress, I would say something similar. I would say their ultimate undoing will be the fact that they speak about the past in the accents of the future. New problems, failed solutions.”

How do you speak of the new problems of the past with future accents?

The Forgotten Men


San Francisco Bay area labor union members were crucial to the restoration and preservation of Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht, raising funds, working as volunteer labor and mobilizing political clout for government funding.

They may now enjoy watching their salute to “labor’s best friend” used as a platform for nouveau-riche wine cruises.

“Allow yourself to be transported back into an era where taste, elegance, and fabulous meals were a way of life.”

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roosevelt-potomac-dress-code.jpgWine cruise visitors are advised of a jackets “suggested” dress code which appears to have been violated by FDR while on board.roosevelt-potomac-jacketless.jpg


Office Space of the Gods


Presidential site preservation comes up against the banal reality of a proposed site in Austin Texas.

The“Austin American Statesman” reports that a former Lyndon Johnson office suite in the Austin federal building has survived relatively intact since the heroic LBJ era.

Local GSA Administrator Steve Rutledge was honest with the Statesman about the office’s charms:

“You kind of have to be a certain age to care, to be honest. If you’re over 40, like I am, you’re kind of interested. If you’re under 40, it’s like, ‘Who’s LBJ?’ “

Book your tour today:






LBJ’s old pad in federal building is looking a little dated

Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What may be the corniest shrine to Lyndon Johnson sits on East Eighth Street in Austin south of the Capitol. It’s so unquestionably fixed-in-time drab, it might be wonderful — assuming no one messes with it.

The LBJ Suite on the ninth floor of the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Federal Building, built in 1965, gave LBJ a place for occasional meetings with aides as president and in the years before completion of his presidential library and museum. It’s lately been the site of retirement receptions for federal workers. President Bush and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, used it before being sworn in to their offices.


Jay Janner

The condition of the carpet and furniture in the LBJ Suite bears witness to the scores of meetings and parties that have been hosted there by Lyndon Johnson, Jake Pickle, President Bush and others.








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What’s this?

The 11-story building has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of the 2,100-square-foot suite. I decided to take a look after U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, mentioned her work to preserve the office in a July statement lauding Lady Bird Johnson. In his time, Pickle (who held an annual party in the suite) likewise insisted on keeping the space as is.

The suite has a locked entrance next to the elevators below the roof where President Johnson once arrived by helicopter. I tiptoed in through another door, fully expecting everything to be pretty and perfect, in keeping with the typically buffed presentation of venerated leaders in their home states.

That view neatly crumbled: It was obvious that the space has been preserved but not restored.

In the dining room just past the entrance, I blinked at an undramatic small oval wooden table, around which Johnson conversed with aides. I was quickly distracted by the carpet, originally gold-green but now running toward rusty brown with ample stains — signs of wear and tear and, it’s been reported, a fire sprinkler incident.

The carpet extends into the living room, which has a copper-covered fireplace and an array of chairs and two small couches, one of them colored as though someone had pressed Key limes and avocados through a sieve. A sitting chair has the same look.

Graying drapes, hemmed by what look like heavy-duty staples, cover the windows. Peeling them back, I saw the view looking south through bulletproof glass: spectacular.

Huge, aged TV consoles still work, warming up slowly. On the dining room wall, I punched thumb-sized buttons marked with the call letters of area TV and radio stations — plus one marked “MUZAK” and another (forever available) stating “SPARE.”

A small kitchen holds a monstrous iron stove, a scary-looking broiler and a refrigerator that was still clunking, though it had nothing inside and the front-door temperature gauge looked broken.

A separate small sitting room opened into a bathroom with a shower sporting four shower heads; Johnson liked a powerful spray. Water no longer flows through them.

The suite appeared to be on the verge of falling apart, with a missing ceiling tile leaving overhead wires and an air conditioning duct visible.

Still, I was grateful to see a space frozen in time, like Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, if mustier. In an era when politicians liken themselves to giants of history — sometimes before they win an election — it’s a comfort to be reminded of how hard, and unrealistic, it is to proclaim connections.

Steve Rutledge, senior property manager for the General Services Administration in Austin, offered perspective on the space:

“It’s not like a bunch of the public is clamoring to see it. You kind of have to be a certain age to care, to be honest. If you’re over 40, like I am, you’re kind of interested. If you’re under 40, it’s like, ‘Who’s LBJ?’ ”; 445-3644

To visit the LBJ Suite, write

Lost In America


Road Trip!

What happens when some college kids with dim memories of history and poli sci class try to use the miricle of the Web to get strangers to pay for a meandering journey across this broad land?

Let’s go along and find out!

“What: A journey into the heart of America, to see American places and meet American people.
Where: Wherever the heart of America can be found, we’ll be there. wild-boys-of-the-road.jpg
When: August 25th, 2007 to December 25th, 2007
Why: (*Blues Brothers voice*) “We’re on a mission from God”
[Click the link and be dumbstruck!],

or to find ourselves, to find America and to find Americans.

How: With a Ford Expedition, some money in our pockets, and your help!”

The youngsters have web pages, blogs, product placement opportunities, contributers, a twitter presence:

…..and nothing to say:

“American presidential libraries are always a great repository of American history because the President of America is always the symbolic leader of the nation during both times of peace and war as well as the symbolic leader during times of prosperity or a down economy. When we take our Journey Into the Heart of America road trip next fall it will not be possible to stop by every presidential library in the country but maybe we can hit up a few on the list below. For me (mike) as a recent graduate of political science I hope to really reconnect with my American history to remember where our country has come from so I can understand where we are headed.”Or something.

They provide links to US Presidents’ sites [only the nice ones – no losers!] and an appeal to the participatory interactive communityness that is web 2.0: “In addition to the rankings I have included links to information about how to visit each of the presidential landmarks while on a road trip. No matter what president’s party is, I’m sure each of these libraries would be very interesting. Let me know what you think!”

No visible point of view, just a vague invocation of “history.” Their place in history is to pay admission to museums.