McNaughton’s Group

Special thanks to the eagle eyes at Wonkette, who’ve spotted a big one.

Extraordinarily cheezeball artist Jon McNaughton has brought forth a gathering of greats, as the ghosts of presidents past hover around sullen, stand-offish looking Barack Obama, variously annoyed or aghast at his literal TRAMPLING ON THE CONSTITUTION!

McNaughton is the kind of crank who rambles along in incoherent Founderspeak for numbered paragraphs, passive aggressively concluding:

“The information is historical. If it is not familiar to you – Google it.

Cramming all these figures into the frame seems to have skewed McNaughton’s perspective.  Small but perfectly formed James Madison is so upset at Obama’s boot-heel to our liberties that he’s bent over pleading, but appears to be almost Obama’s height.   The Forgotten Man is a giant seated on a toy town bench. Such is the occasion that Franklin Roosevelt walks.

McNaughton’s painting doesn’t leave much to chance, featuring ominous clouds, flags at half staff, and an accompanying video lush with  piano chords of doom.

Obama Honors Racists: It Doesn’t End Well

Turning The Page, Civil War Edition

                   “The day after, the President’s wreath lies in a heap to the side of the Confederate monument.”      

The organizer of an historians’ petition asking President Obama to stop coddling racist traitors and their defenders offers an after-action report: it’s sort of a step forward, two steps back.

James W. Loewen’s petition challenged Obama to kill off a beloved tradition dating back to Woodrow Wilson’s crypto-confederate administration: the annual dispatch of a wreath to Arlington Cemetery’s Confederate War Memorial.




Obama fudged, continuing to honor a straightforward defense of the Southern Cause which denies it had anything to do with slavery, but now yoking it with Washington’s African American Civil War Memorial. The President seems to have lifted the idea from a Washington Post op/ed by University of Pittsburgh art historian Kirk Savage.

The classic role of the Washington Post op/ed pages is identified by Loewen: thoughtfully dismissing and refuting arguments that have never appeared in the paper.

The Post never did a story about our petition but did print Savage’s op-ed opposing it.

Loewen explains why two wreathes are not better than none:

Why.. should the President privilege this monument over every single monument to United States troops in the Civil War?…Unlike his predecessors from Wilson to W, Obama eventually followed Savage’s idea and sent two wreaths, one to the Confederate monument, one to the African American monument.  Doing so was certainly a significant advance over former practice.  However, dual wreaths implicitly equate service for the Union and service against it.  They also implicitly equate war fought to maintain and extend slavery with war eventually fought (admittedly, not at first) to end slavery.  Surely both sides are not of equal moral value.


Obama: Wish He Won’t In Dixie

Cause For Alarm 

A group of academics have petitioned President Obama to end a beloved presidential tradition dating back to Liberal Idol Woodrow Wilson: sending a wreath each year to a Confederate war memorial in Arlington.


The legacy of the man who segregated Washington DC lives on in this sacred annual remembrance, only shifted from Jefferson Davis’s birthday to Memorial Day by the first President Bush.

And not just any cracker monument.

The speeches at its ground-breaking and dedication defended and held up as glorious the Confederacy and the ideas behind it and stated that the monument was to these ideals as well as the dead. It was also intended as a symbol of white nationalism, portrayed in opposition to the multiracial democracy of Reconstruction, and a celebration of the re-establishment of white supremacy in the former slave states by former Confederate soldiers.

The monument is a relic of lost cause-ism, reading in part:

The power of numbers and the longest guns cannot destroy principle nor obliterate truth.”

Straw for Last Gaspers to grab hold of:  the distinguished professors whose names are enrolled on the petition to the President include old pal Bill Ayers!

This President’s Day, Stay Home!

As You Were  presidential_address.gif

A hardy perennial as President’s Day approaches is the nation’s great editorial voices lamenting the sad spectacle of Americans swarming the malls rather than making pilgrimage to stately presidential homes and memorials.

The economy should knock out retail worries this year, and pilgrimages have their own troubles.


President’s Day’s origin, such as it is, lies in Seventies legislation to standardize Federal holidays and shove as many as possible into three day weekends.

In days of yore February was the setting for George Washington’s Birthday Day sales, as well as Congress’s annual reading of his Farewell Address.  That part of the country which won the Civil War [you know who you are] observed Lincoln’s Birthday. Congress sort of fudged on what they were doing, apostrophes have wandered, and for elementary school civics and retail purposes the thing has become a catchall day for all presidents.

Let’s go to the shrines!  presidential-libraries-us-map.jpg

The pan-presidential holiday has opened the field to our unique American marketing genius.  Every crossing of the road once graced by a former Great spruces up for the expected masses.

Many of them are house museums, where  generations of captured audience school children learn the furniture preferences of former Americans, insofar as we can reconstruct them.

Woodrow Wilson’s Augusta Georgia childhood home is typical of the genre’s limitations.  This President’s Day it will feature free admission and actors playing Wilson and spouses.  Americans may never know how Wilson led us in war, launched massive repression of war opponents, or cemented segregation in Washington DC, but thanks to re-enactors we will know he married twice!


What ever is the point of these places?

Their guardians seem to miss it. The William McKinley complex in Canton Ohio is typical.

mckinley-administration-promises.jpg   The McKinley era had real consequence, launching us into an exciting new century of imperial adventure, defeating populism at home, and not least boosting the career of McKinley’s successor Teddy Roosevelt, role model for generations of reactionaries who wished to be seen as both forceful and thoughtful.

You’d never know it in Canton, but for the size of his tomb.


The McKinley museum has run out or never had anything to say about our martyred president, now featuring a science museum,  model trains, and fire-poles for the kids.

Franklin Roosevelt launched our glorious tradition of pharaoh-fication, famously parking the first presidential library in his yard and having himself buried there for the full experience.

The special local-ness of these little bits o’ greatness scattered over the landscape are celebrated by America’s leading purveyor of thoughtful presidential historian mush, mccullough-with-presicc960.jpg David  McCullough:

” it is valuable for anyone trying to understand the life of a particular president should come to the place that produced that human being, where his memory is part of the story of that place.“


Stirring words, except Reagan’s location is an accident of real estate after Stanford, where he had no ties, turned him down. Nixon crawled back to Yorba Linda after numerous rejections elsewhere, and Bush Sr is in College Station for ideological congruity, not any local ties.

The great tradition is coming to its logical end at the FDR Library, where the seventy-five year old structure’s roof leaks, the wiring is shot, and damp threatens the Roosevelt papers. A $17 million fix is requested.

Just why this national collection of randomly sited mini-archives must be maintained and expanded into perpetuity even as they are pilfered from within is unclear.

What Roosevelt Wrought

Memories Are Made Of This    roosevelt-library-dedication.JPG

First in peace, first in war, and first to build a gigundous museum for himself.  Franklyn Roosevelt’s great initiative to make history the way he liked it spawned our  glorious  presidential library industry, but what about the poor slobs before him?

Herbert Hoover built the first post-FDR prequel library, and we’ve recently had the Lincoln. But other Great Guys have been left to the mercies of families, local historical societies, and rich eccentrics.

But now, new hope for history’s remainders!

Congress is moving to correct the nation’s sad neglect of past presidents, offering the Pre-Hoovers matching funds if their mom and pop museums can claim to have raised new money.  The bill began as a straight subsidy of Staunton, Virginia’s exciting new Woodrow Wilson Library and Museum, which commemorates Wilson’s vital first [and only] year spent in the tiny burg.  Sponsors  then somehow morphed the bill into a past president catch-all,  introduced on September 11th to ensure that the terrorists don’t retrospectively win the War To End All Wars, or something.

Results may very in your area, but Staunton’s vital Wilson documents being “preserved” at  are largely copies of documents elsewhere, proudly boasting that:

“The archives microfilm collection includes the Wilson holdings at the Library of Congress and the National Archives.”

Making the entire enterprise somewhat beside the point except as “economic development.”