Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Drop My Name Into the Presidential Biographies

Have you seen this?
"Obama Drops His Name Into the Other Presidential Biographies"

I consider this a personal challenge. 

The question before us is this: Can I "out-stupid" our chief executive without resorting to fiction or creating composite characters?  This is going to be tough... He's set the bar awfully low – I'm no expert Limbo dancer after all – but given the number of stupid things I've done (and I'm including attitudes I've held, or misinformation I've allowed myself to believe), I think I might be up to the task.  But remember; I'm only going to use true facts (or as honest as possible "best recollections") to tell my side of the story, so please try not to judge too harshly.

The main bullet points are from the official Presidential biographies available via  My additions should be obvious.
  • On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Coolidge later helped create the Federal Radio Commission, which has now evolved to become the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).   President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
    • I posted my very first Tweet on Twitter last night, May 15, 2012, despite having had an account there for months.  It also took me a couple of posts to get the hang of how hash tags are used, and lots of rewording to fit the character limit.  All this after gently mocking my father's utter lack of technical ability in the eulogy I gave at his funeral a year ago. @DepartmentOfNo
  • President Herbert Hoover signed the bill founding the Department of Veterans Affairs July 21, 1930. President Obama is committed to making sure that the VA, the second-largest cabinet department, serves the needs of all veterans and provides a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life, and has directed his Administration to modernize the way health care is delivered and benefits are administered for our nation's veterans.  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.
    • I had an aunt who passed away not long ago (a couple of years at the most), who was a World War I veteran. I'm pretty sure she was 103 when she died – although she might have been 107 – and I'm sad to say I never got around to visiting her in the last decade or so of her life. I'm proud of her. I wish I'd taken the time to know her better, and to learn from her. Stupid of me not to. (Sigh...) Hindsight!!!
  • On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama Administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.
    • About four or five years ago (I've honestly scabbed over the memory of how long it has been), we moved my mother-in-law down from New Jersey to live with us in Texas. I'll leave it to the readers, if I have any, to decide if that was stupid or not. (I'm hearing Grampa Simpson say "A little from Column A, a little from Column B...") Regardless, she's great to have around, fun to argue with, wonderful with our daughters, and I'd say more except she'd see through my obvious attempt to suck up to her on this, her 80th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Grandma!
  • In a 1946 letter to the National Urban League, President Truman wrote that the government has "an obligation to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected.” He ended racial segregation in civil service and the armed forces in 1948. Today the Obama Administration continues to strive toward upholding the civil rights of its citizens, repealing  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing people of all sexual orientations to serve openly in our armed forces. Source: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
    • OK this one is going to be difficult... not only because I've never been racist – I'm not stupid THAT way – but also because I think it idiotic to equate the civil rights struggles that ended racial segregation with the various struggles the gay community has today.  I need to tread somewhat lightly here, lest I end up adding this very post to my personal "stupid list", but it seems to me that no matter where you stand on gay issues, discrimination that is based on behavior is a different matter entirely than discrimination based on genetic makeup (and I'll include gender in this). You may be opposed to both types of discrimination, or like a huge section of the population you may be opposed to one and ok (or somewhat ok) with the other, or you may be a miserable throw-back creep who is "pro-chains-and-closets" all the way around. I'm not going to turn this bullet point into its own long (longer) diatribe on the subject. Suffice to say that in my youth I was very, very anti-gay. However, God apparently saw fit to humanize me, so now I have friends, coworkers, and relatives who are gay, whom I just love and adore. That doesn't make me "pro-a-behavior-that-I-think-is-wrong/not-healthy/not-the-best", but it does make it fairly inconsequential. If someone were to get in my face about it – which never happens – my canned but heartfelt reply would be "Hey! You're gay, I'm fat, I'm not really wild about either situation, and I can't be 'not-fat' without drastic lifestyle changes, or for that matter in the near future at all. A sudden change is off the table. Can we move on? Next question?"
  • President Dwight Eisenhower established the President's Council on Youth Fitness on July 16, 1956 (now known as The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports) after learning from a study that American youth were less fit than European youth. Today the Council is still going strong—with Olympians and professional athletes on board—working in conjunction with the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to help promote healthier lifestyles.
    • I hated compulsory PE my entire scholastic career – especially in college (how the BLEEP can that be a college requirement???), and even when I was co-captain of my high school wrestling team my senior year (I was our school's first four-year wrestler), my unsportsmanlike conduct during our first-ever "Home" meet resulted in me having to apologize to the entire opposing team, in their locker room, after a match I won handily.  In hindsight, a little more physical discipline and a lot less attitude would have been very beneficial because, as I've mentioned above, I'm now overweight.
    • It was a heck of a match though! You should have seen it!  Even though I ended up being the "bad guy", I still love to tell that story. I don't think it would make a good blog post however – the physical semantics are half the story.  If I could get a young stand-in to reenact the match... hey, wait a minute... I'm thinking that would make a pretty good climactic scene in a movie, provided no one minds the protagonist acting like a total jerk...
  • President John F. Kennedy famously suggested the American people: “Ask what you can do for your country.” In 1961, the Peace Corps was created, facilitating service among citizens working toward peace in developing countries. In 2011, President Obama celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with a Presidential Proclamation.
    • I celebrate things all the time, except I've never actually celebrated the Peace Corps specifically (although I can pronounce their name correctly). Like President Kennedy, I'm always asking myself what I – or anyone – can do for our country (other than the obvious answer involving the election), but unlike Kennedy, I keep coming up blank.
  • President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare signed (sic!) into law in 1965—providing millions of elderly healthcare stability. President Obama’s historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, strengthens Medicare, offers eligible seniors a range of preventive services with no cost-sharing, and provides discounts on drugs when in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.”
    • OK, I don't know if I can out-stupid the President on this one. I don't go around over-reaching the Constitution, or trying to implement socialist policies, and in fact when Obamacare was passed I was out of state, busy adopting my younger daughter, which was a GREAT decision by the way.  I'm yielding on this one, and I'm not too fond of LBJ's activities either.
  • In 1973, Richard Nixon created The President’s Export Council, which was expanded and reconstituted under President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Today the PEC continues to work towards reaching President Obama’s goal of doubling the nation’s exports by 2014’s end.
    • In 1991 a buddy of mine and I entered into negotiations with the Japanese Exchange Trade Organization (JETRO), regarding our desire and intent to import custom parts of an invention we'd jointly developed.  Sadly, neither of us could negotiate (or afford) our way through the Patent maze at the time, and within a few years someone else had patented the idea. Oh well, live and learn. Or at least live.
  • If I do say so myself, I'm something of a whiz at Photoshop. However, my free-hand artistic skills are pretty much non-existent.  That said, sometime during Gerald R Ford's administration, 1974 to 1977, I one day – just out of the blue – suddenly drew the best free-hand drawing of my entire life, on a chalkboard I had mounted in my bedroom. First let me answer the obvious question of "Why was there a chalkboard in my bedroom?" Because my handwriting was that bad, and I needed the practice.  The practice didn't help – my handwriting is still that bad. Anyways, my best free-hand artistic effort just cut loose one day and low and behold there appeared almost as if by magic not only a drawing, but an actual portrait.  Of Gerald R Ford. I still have no idea why.  Don't get me wrong, I liked Ford. But I didn't idolize him, so "Why him?" is probably a question that will remain unanswered this side of Glory.  But, unlike our President, at least I have a "Gerald R Ford" story to tell, and as far as stories go, it is kind of stupid.
  • In 1977, President Jimmy Carter  created the Department of Energy; today the DOE works with the Obama Administration to drive towards innovation in energy and reducing reliance on foreign oil with an “all of the above” approach.
    • Once again I'm going to have to yield on being able to out-stupid the President.  There's nothing I've done having anything at all to do with energy, or oil and gas, that can compare to the stupidity of the DOE or the current administration, and I say that as someone who as a young man burned up four engines in two vehicles by being too stupid to understand the basic concept of "oil change", PLUS having been electrocuted (or at least badly shocked) on many occasions, including one which sent me flying across a warehouse to land dazed and staring at the ceiling. Everything tasted like copper for days, and NO, I hadn't bitten into a power line.
  • President Reagan designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday; today the Obama Administration honors this tradition, with the First and Second Families participating in service projects on this day.
  • In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule
    • I call for a Regressive income tax code, wherein the government awards and promotes success by instituting the "more you earn, the higher percentage you get to keep" rule.  If we're going to have an income tax, and it isn't a flat tax, I think this system would be the best option.  However, even I recognize that as a political position it would be stupid. Sad but true.
  • President Barack Obama awarded George H.W. Bush the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his commitment to service and ability to inspire volunteerism throughout the country, encouraging citizens to be “a thousand points of light.” The administration continues to promote service and civic engagement, honoring heroes of local communities as “Champions of Change” and fostering civic participation.
    • Ages and ages ago I used to volunteer and teach remedial English and Math at an organization that had been designated as one of the "thousand points of light". Granted, there's nothing stupid about that on my part, but it is getting very hard to "one down" this President so at the moment I'm just aiming for "tangentially related".
  • Continuing his work as a lifelong public service, Clinton created the Clinton Foundation in 2001 to improve global health, education, economies and environments. Affectionately calling him “Do-Gooder-in-Chief”, President Obama has worked with Clinton to make buildings in our country more efficient—announcing a $4 billion investment in energy efficiency upgrades for commercial buildings.
  • In 2009, former President Clinton partnered with 43rd President Bush to help rebuild Haiti, after the country was devastated by an earthquake.
    • Sometime in the mid-90's I drove 120mph through Hope, Arkansas, in fact pretty much through ALL of Arkansas, on I-30 because I was just that impatient to get to Nashville. Had I been caught, they'd have thrown me into jail. Now THAT'S stupid!
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush’s State of the Union was the first to be live broadcast on the Internet. In 2011 and 2012, President Obama’s State of the Union speeches were available in an enhanced live stream version that featured infographics, charts and data side-by-side in real time with the President’s speech.
  • In 2009, former President Bush partnered with 42nd President Clinton to help rebuild Haiti, after the country was devastated by an earthquake.
    • I just recently started my own blog (psssst! look around - I'm referring to this one!), thanks to the kind arm-twisting of Harvey at, and as you can see there are not only just a very few posts at present, but also their quality varies wildly!
OK, so who won?


  1. Sorry, Obama won. I can read your stories without a lot of eye-rolling. The Obama bullet points...not so much.

  2. Brilliant!! And, I'd drive that fast through Arkansas if I had a crazed cat on board too, lol!

  3. "provides discounts on drugs when in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.”"

    Having nothing on this one myself, I'd have just gone all Homer Simpson & drooled "mmmm.... donut holes..."

  4. Good call, Harvey! I'm embarrassed to admit I missed the opportunity for a second Simpsons reference.

    Additionally, I now realize I also missed the opportunity to include any of my several "I have nasty reactions to quite a few prescription drugs, often resulting in temporarily insane behavior and/or extended hospital stays" stories. So consider yourself lucky. I did say "as honest as possible 'best recollections'" after all, and those just didn't occur to me!