Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Cool Link for the Classroom: The Periodic Table of the Presidents

Periodic Table of the Presidents, courtesy of Periodicpresidents.com

Periodic Table of the Presidents, courtesy of Periodicpresidents.com

A huge thanks to P.J. Creek for sharing his amazing work here at the Neighborhood.

P.J. is an eighth grade social studies teacher and came up with a fun new tool to look at the American Presidency.  Noticing that the traditional flashcards and reference pages didn’t give a complete picture, he decided to borrow from the science department and create a tool that isn’t simply to look at inert gases and carcinogenic radioactive compounds that last a split second.

The Periodic Table of the Presidents is just that: an ordered, logical snapshot of the last two centuries of the executive branch.  It’s numbered 1 to 44, and I don’t have to tell you who’s 1 and who’s 44 (do I really?).  Like the other periodic table, the PTOTP gives each president a two-letter designation, color based on political party, years in office, number of times elected, and other info such as assassinations, resignations, etc.

(Again, do we need to go over who got shot and who quit before they did?)

If it were simply a table, the PTOTP would be a nifty little poster for the classroom.  Thankfully, P.J.’s website includes information on each president, links to further information, electoral maps, a portrait gallery and even his own articles on interesting tales such as “Tecumseh’s curse“, or the death in office of any President elected in a year with a zero at the end (probably since debunked by Reagan and George W. Bush).

You can order the poster for your classroom for 10 dollars–but buy before July 11 and get 2 posters for one.  The PTOTP is a really neat way to explore the American presidency.  It shows the flow of parties, terms in office, important facts and especially how the transfer of power has endured pretty smoothly for two centuries.

At the very least, you can fool all those folks in the STEM departments into thinking you’re teaching science…hey, anything to save a good social studies teacher their job!

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Royal Flush: Our Fascination with Royalty

obamas_queenFor a democracy, the United States still goes loopy over royalty.

No matter how successful or hard-working a “commoner” like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett may be, they still take second place to a paper sovereign with inherited riches and a genetic code taken from a Cracker-Jack box.  I’m convinced that in three generations, the monarch of Great Britain will be an incongruous blob with one eye and a deformed limb.  It’ll still probably qualify as either Henry IX, George VII or Blobby I.  The crown of St. Edward will be covered in protoplasmic ooze on its coronation.   I wouldn’t want to be its dresser at Balmoral–you try putting a kilt on a blob. 

We still have these people, in various capacities in scattered countries across Europe (the Asian and African ones tend to be a little more autocratic).   Their centuries of inbreeding have produced a virtual subspecies of human that is impervious to natural selection.  All of them could drop a semi-literate bubble boy at any time, and he’ll still be Duke of WhatdaF**k or whatever.  One thing is certain though; no matter how dim-witted or deformed, all royals are sticklers for etiquette and protocol.  They are the only things monarchs still control with an iron fist–and we Yanks can never get it right.

The most notable recent gaffe occurred in 2007, when George W. Bush mistook Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain for her demented porphyria-stricken uncle George III.  In a famous faux-pas, Bush suggested that the Queen helped celebrate America’s bicentennial in 1776, not 1976.  It resulted in a look from Her Shortness that would have cost Dubya a half-hanging and a set of boiling instestines a few centuries earlier.  He was not alone: who can forget the elderly elf speaking below the podium upon meeting Bill Clinton…oh, wait, that was the Queen.  Evidently, the advance folks forgot the tricky business of height differential–and knowing Bubba’s nature, Her Majesty should have had Handi-Wipes down there.

This week, Barack Obama becomes the 11th Commander in Chief to greet the octagenarian monarch, and this had to go right.  Gordon Brown’s still trying to find a region 1 DVD player that takes 220 Volts of two-pronged goodness.  But as always, we figure out how to screw it up somehow, at least according to the British press.  First Lady Michelle Obama did away with the “optional” curtsy (who knew a curtsy was “optional”?), instead going straight for the good ol’ American handshake…oh, the horror.  Poor Barack was so confused about the rules that he twitched his head up and down like a punch-drunk bobblehead doll.  At least the Queen took it in stride–it also helped that Prince Philip, Shorty’s main squeeze, did his own foot-in-mouth routine.

The American faux pas in front of a crowned head of Europe is a tired cliche.  Okay, we get it: the Yank in the ten-gallon hat slaps King ThunderJowls on the back, the nobility stands aghast, and monocles fly everywhere.  Thank God that the Queen never met Lyndon Johnson…he’d probably mention how his Haggar slacks ride his crotch like a wire fence.

The British press obsess about this perceived affronty, and they have a point.  Without a monarchy to kick around, Great Britain would just be some run-of-the-mill European socialist welfare state with lukewarm food and ridiculous fashion sense.  To be British is, for many, to be the Queen’s subject, and it behooves a subject to protect his/her sovereign from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  To save us some embarrassment, it helps that we Americans should learn at least the basics about meeting these people–the forms of address, whether to bow or curtsy, etc. 

Yet on the same note, Great Britain, and all constitutional monarchies for that matter, should cut us mere commoners a little slack if we fumble at the dinner table or offer the wrong hand.  We’re just not accustomed to treating people differently if they don’t deserve it.  Why couldn’t the Queen make money honestly like Bill Gates, crushing competitors like insects?  Or be a professional basketball/football/baseball player?  Even if you can’t make an honest living, at least have the common decency to make a fool of yourself in public–just ask Paris Hilton.  It takes hard work to flush a reputation down the toilet and not care. 

So give us a break, your Highnesses.  Rigid social order is a little foreign to us, and we need all the help we can get.

NOTE: This does not apply to absolute monarchies, especially those where the monarchs wear bedsheets and sit on huge stores of petroleum.  They always get the curtsy.

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This Day in History 3/19: The birth of the Iraq War


Collage of images taken by U.S. military in Ir...

Image via Wikipedia

Today we celebrate two things that really do not go together.  First, a happy birthday to a regular to the Neighborhood–and my little sister–PhDini, who’s blog Diagnosis Cuckoo can be clicked to your right.   Please read it; it’s just as informative and witty as my Neighborhood, only in a nicer setting.  Hopefully, all that sunny LA weather isn’t going to your head, sis.


Second, a less than happy birthday to the Iraq War, which began on March 19, at 9:34 PM Eastern (technically 5:34 AM March 20, in Baghdad).  At last count, 4,259 American soldiers have died and at least 31,000 wounded in the 6 years of occupation in Iraq.  With President Obama’s withdrawal program and re-focus on Afghanistan, it looks like we may see at least a partial ending to this mess.

I come to this anniversary almost on my knees in confession.  In the beginning, I was as gung-ho as any neo-con for the war, without thinking through (a) whether our intelligence was correct, or (b) what the subsequent occupation would look like.  Iraq had bought uranium cakes prior to our 1990 tussle, that we know.  But we now also know that the Departments of State and Defense had both informed then-President Bush either falsely or in an incomplete fashion.  Like the Keystone Kops breaking into the wrong house, Bush and the Bush-ites stormed in with half the info.  Next time, we should be electing Yalies that actually went to class.

Even though I am angry that I was lied to by my President, especially a President from my political party, I am even angrier about the slipshod conduct of this war.  How could the post-war occupation be so thoroughly mismanaged?  How were our supply lines so slow and badly run that our men and women lacked basic supplies in the field?  Why are our soldiers begging for things they should have as standard-issue?  Why were we so ill-prepared for urban warfare and local insurgencies?

I felt for the guy that called out Dick Cheney about the lack of armor on patrol vehicles–if that is the state of military affairs, we are a piss-poor excuse for a global hegemonic power.  Communities should not have to raise money to provide Kevlar vests to their local boys at the front.  There is no need to farm out military tasks to Blackwater or other civilian companies that operate not only outside of military discipline, but outside the code of military ethics.  Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines operate under a sense of duty and honor which I respect.  These companies have no parameters and no honor–they’re no better than the Mafia.

There is some good to come out of this.  Iraq is no longer under the thumb of Saddam Hussein, even though he was our guy until he got greedy and started messing with his neighbors not named Iran.  It looks like at least a skeleton of a functioning democracy is in place.  Iraqi forces are slowing replacing our GIs, even in the tough areas–though we currently are having a dickens of a time in Mosul (Hey Kurds!  Little help?)  My worry is whether or not Iraq can stand up on its own against a resurgent Iran and an Israel itching to fight someone.

I know it’s a morbid post today, but it is timely.  Hopefully, I only have to celebrate my sister’s birthday next year.

Thanks, and to all our men and women at the front: be safe, and get home soon.


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