Now I know it’s not “cool”, to like U2 anymore. Bono is literally made of shit (thanks South Park), and then there was the whole iTunes fiasco in 2014. No matter. U2 are still a legendary, all time great band with some of the greatest melodies and sound produced in the last 40 years. In fact, I believe they’re still going strong today despite the ocassional failed experiment and dodgy single. They have maintained one of the most admirable qualities any artist can have, and that’s trying something new every album, and attempting to evolve with the times. Here’s my rankings of U2’s etraordinary list of albums. It was tough.
14. POP (1997) (2 Stars)
U2 fans I know LOVE to defend this album and get mad at anyone who doesn’t see through it’s overwhelming electronics and grating experimental sounds to see it’s hidden greatness, similar to their defenses of the putrid Elvis Presley Vs America track on TUF. I’m sorry but this album does absolutely nothing for me. U2 produced some gold with their experimental grunge-y phase in the 90’s, but by the time they got to Pop pretty much all that was left was the sound, and with a lot of pretentious as hell lyrics that you can barely even hear half the time. As with any U2 record, there’s some good stuff here (Staring At The Sun is a certified banger) but the rest of the album is just sad. It’s failure was a sign U2 needed a reboot come the new Millenium.
13. RATTLE AND HUM (1988) (3 Stars)
The album for their 1988 Rock-umentary which was critically panned for its muddled production, vain feel and lack of new content. Whatever new content there was WAS very good (Heartland, Desire, Angel Of Harlem) but obscursed by a lot of live performances and lame attempts at blues music. A mixed bag, but again as with the failure of Pop, this failure inspired a whole new U2 with their next album.
12. OCTOBER (1981) (3 STARS)
The band’s second album after Boy was a massive disappointment compared to that mind blower, but October hasn’t really aged all that bad. It’s still one of their most forgettable albums, filled with cliche lyrics and not really a single standout song, but there are some nice ones hear and there, like the title track, Gloria and I Fall Down
11. SONGS OF EXPERIENCE (2017) (3 STARS)
I defended U2 to the death when everyone was shitting on NLOTH and SOI, and I still stand by those albums being great overall. I can only defend their most recent work so much though. While I like some songs on here a great deal (Lights Of Home especially) this album was pretty forgettable as a whole. As ususal, props to them for trying to experiment with different sounds, but the lyrics too often devolve into cliche and I don’t find myself revisiting the whole thing much. Hopefully they’ll repeat the pattern of an underwhelming album at the end of the decade followed by a reinvention at the begininng of the new one, as with R&H and Pop. Can only hope.
10. SONGS OF INNOCENCE (2014) (4 STARS)
Now this is where it starts to get really difficult. I can fully admit that this is not exactly on the level of their 80’s work and such, but look past the catastrohic iTunes campaign and you really have a pure hard rocking album here that I think will get viewed much better through the passage of time. We kick things off with the thrilling Miracle Of Joey Ramone and then straight into the band’s most recent masterwork, Every Breaking Wave which is a devastating and vulnerable song whether you listen to the hard rocking album version or their sombre piano-driven performances live. The rest of the album never quite reaches the level of those opening two tracks, it maintains a satisfying, vulnerable and expressive sound all the way through, and Bono’s voice is as beautiful and passionate as it’s ever been
9. HOW TO DISMANTLE AN ATOMIC BOMB (2004) (4 STARS)
This is about the time U2 ran out of the ability to do anything especially original, but in the same vein as other timeless artists like Dylan and Springsteen does that mean they’re bad? Not by a long shot! Life is too short to pretend you people don’t love catchy and ethereal tracks like Vertigo, City Of Blinding Lights and A Man And A Woman. Just saying.
8. ZOOROPA (1993) (4 STARS)
So, sure, it’s no Achtung Baby. But this album is still similarly experimental and gives off a magical yet dark feel. U2 have never tried another track like Numb again, and it’s one of Edge’s best pieces of work and remains really haunting. Tracks like the title track, Lemon and Stay are similarly inspired enough to lift this album above ocassional misses like Babyface (UGH) and Dirty Day. Johnny Cash even appears on this
7. NO LINE ON THE HORIZON (2009) (4 STARS)
No Line On The Horizon gets a lot of stick. For some unbelievably short sighted reason, and an almost endearing mistake that would most commonly become associated with Taylor Swift, U2 chose to release by far the two worst and shlockiest songs from the album (Get On Your Boots and I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight) as singles! Yet I still stand by that if you cut out those two monstrosities, along with the equally dreadful Stand Up Comedy, you have a pretty much perfect and beautifully poignant album. Moment Of Surrender is one of the band’s best works and the best of their many powerful ballads on drug addiction, with Bono’s voice raging the passion of a thousand suns. Near equally powerful are Magnificent, Unknown Caller, Cedars Of Lebanon and the opening title track. There’s far more to this one than meets the eye if you were put off by the utter stench of the Sexy Boots song. Promise.
6. THE UNFORGETTABLE FIRE (1984) (4 STARS)
This is a cult favourite album among many U2 fans and I’ve even seen it top many lists. Now, I definitely admire the album’s ambition, with its new ambient sound, poetic lyrics and it being recorded inside Slane Castle. It doesn’t *always* hit the mark for me though compared to the top 5. For every beautiful piece of work like the MLK tribute Pride (In The Name Of Love), A Sort Of Homecoming, Bad and the title track, there’s stuff that doesn’t do much for me at all like Indian Summer Sky and the utterly unlistenable and bloated Elvis Presely And America. Definitely a great and ambitious package on the whole though.
5. BOY (1980)(4.5 STARS)
The band’s debut album, and one of the very best debut albums of all time. With this kickass album, U2 instantly blew into the mainsteam rock and roll scene, making a bold mission statement with beautifully composed and hard rocking hits like I Will Follow, Out Of Control and Twilight, and stunningly ethereal pieces like An Cat Dubh. While not as ambitious as the ones that followed it, this album is very nearly perfect from beginning to end.
4. ALL THAT YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND (2000) (4.5 STARS)
A glorious return to form after Pop, and a nice mix between their 80’s and 90’s styles to create a truly powerful album full of beautiful ballads, lyrically and musically. Beautiful Day is a piece of art, and Kite and Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of act as the mosr emotional pieces on the album. ATYCLB is The Joshua Tree for the 21st Century.
3. WAR (1983) (4.5 STARS)
The early 1980’s were a rough time. It was the time of higher than ever fears of nuclear armageddon, global economic depressions and increased poverty and unemployment. U2 channeled their anger into War, an unashamedly political album that plead to both sides of the Ireland troubles in the raging Sunday Bloody Sunday, the Polish Solidarity movement in the beautiful New Year’s Day and personal troubles like drug addiction in the devastating Drowning Man. If it weren’t for a couple of minor forgettable tracks War would rank right up with the top two as a perfect masterpiece.
2. ACHTUNG BABY (1991) (5 STARS)
Feeling in need of a new sound amid accusations that they were stale and overexposed at the height of their fame, U2 took a big risk with this alternative type album but my God did they pull it off. Achtung Baby is visceral experience, every song hard hitting and vulnerable, exploring the pain of toxic relationships. One in particular is U2’s ultimate masterpiece, and one of the most devastatingly painful ballads ever produced. Until The End Of The World is a genius Biblical allegory. Ultraviolet a tribute to all the work that goes into Love. If not the number 1 best, it’s certainly U2’s boldest and most mture work, their feircest exploration of the human condition.
1. THE JOSHUA TREE (1987) (5 STARS)
Even with the dark miracle of Achtung, U2 or indeed most artists will never top The Joshua Tree. It’s an absolute treasure trove full of beautiful songs, and remains to this day one of the greatest albums of all time. We kick things off with the best three songs to open an album ever. The operatic and heavenly Where The Streets Have No Name, an absolute riot on live shows. Then the achingly existential I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Then the almost as beautiful With Or Without You. The album continues on into history with the achingly devastating and nostalgic ballads Red Hill Mining Town (touching on Thatcher’s neglect of British mining towns) and One Tree Hill (a tribute to Bono’s deceased friend), the slow paced anti-drug song Runnng To Stand Still and the Blues number Trip Through Your Wires. This album has something for everyone, and is just pure magic.
Thanks for reading. Look out for another album ranking very soon, where I will be covering Taylor Swift
Now it should be clairified that this is a from a foreign (British) perspective, however I have always loved US history and it’s a topic I’ve had a lot of interest in. I should also be aiming to do a ranking of UK Prime Ministers once I’ve done enough research. Many US presidents have, quite frankly, been deplorable, some have been well meaning disasters, some have been nearing great. As with everyone put in any sort of position of leadership, everyone on this list has commited mistakes, or commited bad actions. This is not completely taking personal qualities into account, though often they have mattered in how each President has carried out the job. Hope you can agree to disagree on some of my choices! Calmly!
Side note: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor and James A Garfield are not included here, as they did not have enough time to do much of anything. And obviously Joe Biden isn’t included since he’s just started.
41. DONALD TRUMP (2017-2021)(Republican)
Like…I don’t have to explain this do I? Rotten personality, authoritarian tendencies and divisiveness aside, he’s maybe the one and only President in the history of the country that sought to actively wreck the US and indeed the welfare of the globe (his borderline suicidal attitude to the environment), rather than come up with ideas on how to improve it.
40. WOODROW WILSON(1913-1921)(Democrat)
If Trump was an ultimately ineffective reactionary tyrant, then Woodrow Wilson was a successful reactionary tyrant. Wilson portrayed himself as a compassionate liberal, and did indeed push through some policies which helped the poor, but in all other ways he ranks incredibly badly, due to his even for the time extreme racism (re-segregating the federal work force), allowing the rise of the 2nd KKK, birthing Wilsonian ideology which continues to shape US foreign policy today (and used to jusify the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq) and horrendously violating civil liberties with the Espionage and Sedition Acts during WWI (preventing citizens from criticising the government!). Wilson was quite frankly a monster, and it’s bizarre how much US historians salivate over him.
39. ANDREW JOHNSON(1865-1869)(Democrat)
38. ANDREW JACKSON(1829-1837)(Democrat)
One of the most tyrannical monsters ever to weild the office of the US presidency, Jackson was a self serving meglomaniac who made decisions solely based on spite towards his enemies. Sometimes, this resulted in good things. He was the first President to oppose elitism and make attempts to expand political participation, and (I think correctly) eliminated the corrupt and unaccountable Central Bank. On other things, he was a tyrannical expansionist of Presidential powers and one of the most vehemently racist Presidents in the history of the country, actively supporting slavery and illegally commiting the act of ethnic cleansing in forcing the Indians to move from their homes (thousands died on the road). He also started a period of 5 decades of corruption in government with his creation of the “spoils system”, in which Presidents appointed cronies and partisan hacks to positions of government
37. GEORGE W BUSH(2001-2009)(Republican)
The Iraq War alone, one of the most reprehensible crimes commited in the past 70 years, justifies him being this low on the list. You can add to that the aimless Afghanistan War, the Patriot Act (essentially turning the US into a surveillance state), the bank bailouts following the 2008 stock market crash and his extremely elitist economic policies aimed towards the extremely wealthy that outdid even Reagan (and Trump outdid W on this too)
36. JAMES BUCHANAN(1857-1861) (Democrat)
Most Americans would without hesitation answer “Buchanan” when naming the worst President. I don’t consider him to have caused as much damage as the 5 below overall, but in the short term he was certainly a shower of shit as a President, helping to further divide the US to the point of secession and civil war due to his staunch support for the South, and sitting on his ass and doing nothing when the secession did happen. Truly a shameful legacy.
35. FRANKLIN PIERCE(1853-1857) (Democrat)
Pierce was not quite as bad as his successor Buchanan, but comes close. He began the radical and shockingly undemocratic attempts to forcibly turn Kansas into a slave state, creating a mini-civil war between abolitionists and slavers known as “Bleeding Kansas”. The Democrats would abandon him by the next election.
34. ULYSSES S GRANT (1869-1877) (Republican)
I have a lot of respect for Grant, between his staunch support for civil rights, heroism in the Civil War where he served as General, and generally solid stories about the guy as a human being. Tragically, Grant’s actual Presidency was a fiasco, to put it mildly. While he did a lot to crush the KKK, which should be commended, he was clueless when it came to politics, and his appointments to his cabinet reeked of cronyism. Since his time in office coincided with the rise of capitalism and corporations, this also left his government vulnerable to heaps of corruption, with his crony appointees generally being bribed into supporting the interests of corporate plutocrats. He also handled reconstruction with the south with stunning ineptitude, to the point where it led to chaos in the south and ultimately the US pulling out in 1877, after he left offfice.
33. JOHN ADAMS (1797-1801) (Federalist)
No doubt putting a US founding father down here in the bottom 10 will be controversial, but it’s a simple fact that Adams was a terrible President, regardless of his other accomplishments in life. He was incredibly hard to work with, and his stubbornness and lack of tolerance for democracy led to him signing the Alien and Sedition Acts, which reprehensibly prevented American citizens from criticising the government. He was a one term President for a reason.
32. WILLIAM MCKINLEY (1897-1901) (Republican)
McKinley mostly ranks this low because of his foreign policy, which set a bad precedent for the US becoming the “World Police” in later years. He largely gave into the hawks in persuing the Spanish American War over Cuba, seizing Spain’s Latin American colonies for the US, and nefariously annexing Hawaii against the wishes of its people. He also presided over the dreadful Phillipine-American war in which US soldiers commited unspekable atrocities to the Phillipine people, outdoing even the actions of the British during the more infamous Boer War at the same time.
31. RONALD REAGAN (1981-1989) (Republican)
Reagan deserves some credit for (in his second term at least) winding down the Cold War and reaching the INF agreement with the USSR (unfortunately and recklessly killed by Trump) plus his sympathetic policies towards immigrants, and willingness to compromise with the other side on issues. The Republican party of today would not recognise him. However, Reagan overall sent the US down the path of a second gilded age, shifting the focus in state policy towards the rich with an illiterate idea of “trickle down economics” and sending the country down the path of widening economic inequality, stagnating wages, weakned unions and growing corporate power. He also largely helped shift the focus of the Republican Party towards radical evangelicals, and employed extremists who carried out hawkish actions in foreign policy, culminating in the borderline treasonous Iran-Contra affair to attempt to get around congress’s restrictions.
30. RICHARD NIXON (1969-1974) (Republican)
Nixon is incredibly hard to assess. He is undoubtedly an incredibly morally lacking figure, between his illegal bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos, the Soutnern Strategy (turning the GOP into what it is today), beginning the War on Drugs to target protesters and his blatant acts of corruption (Watergate, which ultimately forced him into resignation), his positive accomplishments can’t be overlooked either, between softening tensions with the USSR and China, ending the draft, creating the EPA and enforcing the de-segregation of schools nationwide. It’s amazing to say, but Nixon was perhaps the final President to make significant progress on many key issues.
29. LYNDON B JOHNSON (1963-1969) (Democrat)
LBJ is again a hard one to judge. Many major accomplishments like Nixon, from the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the creation of Medicare, Medicaid and many other “Great Society” programs that helped the poor and working class, All of that is offset by the reprehensible crime of Vietnam, a double whammy in senselessly wasting thousands of lives abroad (both American and Vietnamese) and torpedoing the US economy for a whole decade
28. JIMMY CARTER (1977-1981) (Democrat)
Carter has, understandably, gone under a rehabilitation by many, as in later years he’s consistently proven to be one of the best human beings to have ever held the office, with his outspoken and active human rights activisim. However, that shouldn’t taken away from some of his stunning failures during his unfortunate term in office. To deal with the deep Stagflation problem of the 70’s, Carter threw many terrible solutions at the wall, from mass de-regulation of industries to union busting, paving the way for the Reagan years. His handling of the Iran Hostage Crisis was a stunning saga of bumbling ineptitude. He broke off the SALT treaty with the USSR, and backed Jihadists in Afghanistan. The Camp David Agreements were a diaster that saw the easily manipulated President coneding far too much to Israel and Egypt. He had some positive accomplishments too, between his general military restraint, creation of the Departments of Education and Energy, and environmental legislation, but that’s about it.
27. MARTIN VAN BUREN (1837-1841)(Democrat)
One of the most unmemorable Presidents, Van Buren was a notorious flip flopper without much of a stance on anything (until he left office and took a hard stance against slavery). Also, Jackson’s horrendous Trails Of Tears and the Seminole Wars against the Indians largely continued under him.
26. BENJAMIN HARRISON (1889-1893) (Republican)
The one who served between Cleveland’s two terms, Harrison deserves credit for crusading for Civil Rights and supporting benefits for Civil War veterans (and in those respects at least was an improvement over the Democrat he succeeded) but needs serious downgrading for helping to torpedo the US economy with his absurd Tarrifs and Sherman Silver Purchase Act, presiding over the Battle of Wounded knee and showing imperialist sympathies with his attempt to annex Hawaii (The GOP would get much worse in this area under McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft)
35. BILL CLINTON (1993-2001) (Democrat)
One of the most overrated Presidents, Clinton did nothing special during his 8 years in office and should be held up as the poster child for mediocrity. He sould out the Democratic Party fully to corporate donors, then spent 8 years mostly pushing legislation to please them (and a hostile, partisan GOP congress led by Newt Gingrich) such as hurtful welfare “reforms” (cuts), continuing foreign interventions post-Cold War, NAFTA (a scam which has done nothing but give globalised corporations greater powers over their workers) and dismantling FDR’s regulations on the banking system. He should be commended for practicing military restraint in comparison to many previous Presidents, allowing homosexuals to serve in the military, helping pass gun control laws and overseeing massive growth in the economy (which he was certainly better at managing overall than Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Bush Jr)
24. RUTHERFORD B HAYES (1877-1881) (Republican)
Seemingly a warm human being who cared for all different types of people, Hayes was nontheless an incredibly uninspiring executive. He carelessly abandoned African-Americans to Southern supression and Jim Crow laws after pulling out of the mess of Reconstruction, responded to strikes with military force and just had no major accomplishments at all in his term in office. Definition of mediocre.
23. WARREN G HARDING (1921-1923) (Republican)
Rather harshly slated by historians as one of the bottom 3 Presidents of all time, Harding was nowhere near that bad, and it’s quite frankly absurd that many so called historians consider him worse than actual active racists and tyrants like Jackson and Wilson and idiotic war mongers like Bush 2. Harding for his time was in fact socially progressive towards African Americans, pulled the US out of foreign entanglements and even provided benefits for farmers in an act which preceded the New Deal! Also released and pardoned Wilson’s political prisoners who spoke out against WWI. Does all this make Harding a good President? Well…no. He was generally lazy, pretty clueless as to the complexities of his job, and as with Grant he was a purveyer of cronyism, putting his corrupt bezzie mates in cabinet positions, leading to a boat load of scandals about on par with the Grant and Trump years. His economic policies were also pretty uninspiring.
22. GERALD FORD (1974-1977) (Republican)
Ford was only in for a couple of years, so it’s hard to properly judge him. But overall I’d say he was…fine? His pardon of Nixon was a disgrace, as was his retaining of the terminally evil Henry Kissinger as Secretary Of State (ahem, East Timor) but otherwise he dealt well enough with the Stagflation crisis, wa sympathetic to Vietnam draft dodgers and generally showed compassion and overall restraint as an executive. Good guy.
21. MILLARD FILLMORE (1850-1853) (Whig)
The only Whig to actually serve a proper term as President (Harrison and Taylor both died very quickly), Fillmore is often blsted for signing the rather harsh Fugitive Slave Act (as a compromise to the South) but otherise he was actually rather OK as President. Henry Clay’s Compromise Of 1850 was overall a great victory for the North in greatly reducing slavery, and he was correct to champion it. He was in general one of the most skilled diplomats to ever hold the office, resolving multiple disputes with foreign nations in a peaceful manner. Everything would sadly go to shit shortly after he left office and the Democrats got back in.
20.. GEORGE HW BUSH (1989-1993) (Republican)
Often (mostly unfairly) lumped in with his boss Reagan, this is certainly true in regards to escalating the War On Drugs and pushing the same old-timey “traditional family values” nonsense, but in terms of policy Bush Sr was certainly 10 times more sensible than Reagan and his son Bush Jr, both of whom were clueless elitists who were generally out of touch as to how politics worked and just relied on their underlings to tell them what to do. In fact, Clinton was a lot more like Reagan than Bush was. Bush was (generally) more restrained and strategic in foreign policy than Reagan and his son’s hawkish global warfare, though he still deserves heaps of criticism for the 1989 Invasion Of Panama. In domestic policy, Bush was a smart compromiser who simply came up with non-partisan solutions to the country’s problems. He was even very active on helping the envrionment. This would ultimately cost him the next election due losing the harder right of the GOP.
19. HERBERT HOOVER (1929-1933) (Republican)
Despised and villified during his own time, history has been a lot kinder to Herbert Hoover over the years. He continued much of Coolide’s incredible peaceful and smart foreign policy. He supported African Americans. He even set a precedent for the New Deal as a response to the depression, helping people get back into work with large projects such as the Hoover Dam. But overall his response to the 1929 crash and subsequent Great Depression was lacking. His solutions either didn’t go far enough or even exacerbated the problem, such as his signing of the Smoot-Hawley Tarrif which ended up badly hurting OTHER countries. He also ignored the please of homeless WW1 veterans for benefits, definitely his worst act in office. Like Carter a great man who very clearly would have been a terrific President in any other time period, it’s a shame Hoover ultimately rounds out as mediocre.
18. JOHN F KENNEDY (1961-1963) (Democrat)
JFK is *definitely* pretty overrated, and it’s hard to tell whether he would be better or worse received today had he served out a second term. On foreign policy, Kennedy definitely deserves heaps of criticism, between invading Vietnam as an escalation of Eisenhower’s more moderate intervention, the Bay Of Pigs fiasco and the appalling Operation Mongoose (look it up) which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in the first place. On the other hand, he did want to de-escalate the situation in Vietnam shortly before his assassination (debates continue today as to whether he actually would have), attempted to soften relations with the USSR following the crisis and did actually handle the Crisis well when it happened. On domestic policy, Kennedy fares much better. He pushed for the Equal Pay act for women, and championed both Civil Rights and Medicre (actually signed by LBJ), and fought hard for workers rights. Aso created the Peace Corps, which is nice, and helped push for the first mission to the moon. He’s very hard to judge overall, epesically given his full legacy never got to play out.
17. HARRY S TRUMAN (1945-1953) (Democrat)
Like Kennedy, Truman would rank much higher were it not for the Cold War. Truman sharply escalated it with his fearmongering anti-communist rhetoric, establishment of the CIA and covert interventions in Greece, all under the “Truman Doctrine” which basically was an invitation for the US to intervene wherever it wants because of “communism”, essentially a revival of Wilsoniasm. He does not get criticism however for the Atomic Bomb, and I feel people who blindly attack him for that today are removing all and any context (and yes, the accusation that Japan was going to surrender through the USSR and the use of the bomb was simply a power move is one of the silliest and most egregious conspiracy theories ever created). What Truman does deserve credit for is his integrity in leadership. He pushed hard for civil rights, the first Democrat to do so, knowing it would lose him support in the South. He fired the dangerous General MacArthur during the Korean War, which made him deeply unpopular back home. He fought against the dangerous propaganda of Joe McCarthy. And his Fair Deal reforms were beneficial to both the economy and the working class and poor.
16. JOHN TYLER (1841-1845)
Tyler is one of these Presidents you’re not allowed to say anything positive about, because at the very end of his life he chose to vote for secession from the Union as a southerner. Personally I think that’s about the same as rating Jefferson badly because of his “relationship” with Sally Hemmings. Has nothing to do with what he did as president. And overall, Tyler was a mixed bag, but certainly not awful. His non-partisan decision to not re-establish a central bank was admirable, and resulted in him being kicked out by his own party the Whigs. He ended the Seminole War, reduced a bloated military, resolved the Maine Boundary dispute with Britain and respected citizens civil liberties. What he does deserve strong criticism for is his absurd recklesness in pursuing the annexation of Texas, which led to the awful and senseless Mexican-American War under Polk.
15. CHESTER A ARTHUR (1881-1885) (Republican)
I could rank Arthur higher because he does seem like a pretty sweet human being with a lot of integrity. However, I just simply find him to have been far less effective and inspiring than his predeccesor Garfield, who would have made a great President (possibly could have been the very best) but was assassinated before he could do much of anything. Arthur was just overall less bold and progressive than Garfield, the main exception being the Pendleton Act of 1883 which did a good job of reducing corruption in government and ending Jackson’s partisan Spoils System. Overall he was fine. Probably deserves much greater apprecation from historians for being willing to go against the more corrupt setion of thr Republican Party at the time.
14. BARACK OBAMA (2009-2017 (Democrat)
Out of all the middling to shit tier Presidents the US has been subjected to post-Eisenhower, I guess I’ll take Obama as the lesser of 11 evils. On foreign policy, Obama had many faults, from ramping up the absurd and reckless drone program (that Trump continued to ramp up) to continuing to intervene around the world in countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. On the other hand he had many positives on foreign policy, from the groundbreaking Iran Nuclear Deal (killed by Trump and his wrecking ball), ending the war in Iraq and finally ending decades of hostility towards Cuba. Domestically, he had his faults too, continuing Bush’s bank bailouts, harsh border policies and surveillance programs (contrary to his hope and change rhetoric) but he also had some incredible positives. Obamacare (while not ideal) was at least a significant step forward in saving uninsured Americans, he began to regulate Wall Street, he made sigificant moves on combatting climate change and made moves on LGBT rights. He also overall handled the great recession significantly better than the European Union and their damaging Austerity program.
Cleveland, the only President to serve in the position twice, is another one I want to rate higher. He was a crusader against government corruption in the era of the first gilded age, believing that “public office is a public trust”, and was consistent in this through his whole political career. He was a classical liberal who believed in reducing the power of the state. He pushed for free trade in a period when it was unpopular. And he was staunchly against imperialism, fighting against pressures to annex Hawaii and Cuba. Against these great positives, however, are a number of negatives. His anti-state ideals were often applied far too fanatically, in similar fashion to many right wing “libertarians” in today’s US, vetoing absurd numbers of bills, including even mild ones that ould have helped people who were starving. He showed very little imagination too in dealing with the depression that ollowed the Panic Of 1893. And, predictable as a 19th century Democrat, he showed little sympathy for Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage movements.
12. FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT (1933-1945) (Democrat)
Adored and lionised as a demi-god by many of the modern liberal Democrats, in the same way the conservatives of the party probably love Clinton, FDR is still yet another tricky one for me. By all rights he should be all the way up at number 1. No leader in US history had as much impact in changing the direction of the country for the better (for the next 40 years at least). His New Deal programs as a response to both the Great Depression and revived workers movements resulted in a welfare state, large reductions in unemployment, restrictions on the too-powerful banks, jacked up taxes on the uber rich and social security. He even fought for a second Bill Of Rights shortly before his death, and it could do with some reviving today. If FDR had stepped down after two terms, he’d be close to number 1 for sure. Well, unfortunately, many of his rather terrible actions during World War II prevent that. He locked up Japanese American citizens in CAMPS following Pearl Harbor, sent away Jews who were fleeing the terror of the Holocaust and treated any anti-war protesters terribly, spying on them and smearing them. It’s also worth pointing out that while the New Deal had many benefits, many aspects of them also had negative effects which correctly (I think) angered many conservatives in congress, and helped to actually exacerbate the depression through much of the 1930’s. He also tryanically attempted to pack the Supreme Court with friendlies when he didn’t get his way. All of these issues leave him with quite a mixed legacy for me.
11. JAMES MADISON (1809-1817 (Democratic-Republican)
10. JAMES MONROE (1817-1825) (Democratic-Republican)
The President of the “Era of Good Feelings”, with no partisan politics and general peace and prosperity across his 8 years. Many fault Monroe for the Monroe Doctrine, which over the years has been abused to justify intervention in Latin America BY the US, but in fact the original doctrine was actually a great move to protect Latin America from colonialism (shame these days the main causing harm to the region is the US itself). Monroe was generally a decent and noble leader who, like Washington, surrounded himself with smart individuals. He didn’t exactly accomplish much, and his 8 years arguably helped pave the way for the rise of Jackson due to the poor rallying around him, but overall I’d say he was fine.
9. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1825-1829)
I have a lot of love for John Quincy as a human being. He was incredibly ahead of his time on so much. Strongly opposed to slavery, sympathetic to Indian rights, and recognised the need for basic government involvement in society if it benefited citizens in a positive way, while still recognising the need for a limited state. Sadly, he wasn’t able to get a lot of his ambitious agenda passed through congress. Also, the shady way he was elected to the office in the first place (through anti-democratic manipulation by Henry Clay) doomed him to being a one term President, as Jackson wrecked him at the next election. (Hey, sounds quite similar to 2016 doesn’t it)
8. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (1909-1913) (Republican)
Good old Taft! The poor guy never really wanted to be President, and was pretty much hand picked for the position by Teddy Roosevelt to continue his progressive agenda. Taft hoever did not have the political skill or boldness, and indeed ruthlessness, of Teddy. He attempted to compromise a lot with the conservative section of the party, which doomed him to a single term as Teddy and the progressive wing split off to form their own party, and mounted a strong third party run in the 1912 election, which resulted in the election of Wilson. But Taft did in fact do a lot in his term in office, actually ramping up Teddy’s break ups of monopolies and environmental conservation efforts. He went on to be Supreme Court Cheif Justice in the 1920’s, and was far more successful in that role.
7. THOMAS JEFFERSON (1801-1809) (Democratic-Republican)
There is quite a lot to criticise Jefferson for, which is why he doesn’t make the top 5. Aside from hypocritically owning slaves in spite of his own private writings condemning it (I guess considering the time, quiet similar to a meat eater condemining slaughter houses), he also went back on his own beliefs in civil liberties by suppressing opposition to his 1807 Embargo Act on Britain and France, a collosal failure that hurt America more than the latter two. Aside from that disaster, Jefferson was a good President. He mostly championed civil liberties and a limited state, championed rights for individual states, arranged the Lewis & Clarke expedition, and expanded American land with the Louisiana Purchase without resorting to war, and while consulting congress. He also commendably crushed the Jihadist Barbary Pirates who were menacing and attacking US ships. And he ended the slave trade, which despite his own slave ownership was a crucial move for the time.
6. JAMES K POLK (1845-1849) (Democrat)
Polk is not very well known amongst all the US presidents, which is strange considering how consequential he was, having obtained a huge amount of land for the US that was beneficial to the US in the long term, completing the annexation of Texas (which the Texans wanted, so a different situation from Hawaii) and acquiring Oregon territory and California. If this isn’t enough reason for him to rank among the very best Presidents, he also reduced tarrifs and properly established the independent reserve federal bank which would remain in place until Wilson’s creation of the (much more ineffective) Federal Reserve. Amazingly, he did all this in 4 years, fulfilling every single one of his (popular) campaign promises before stepping down. Now that’s a man of the people! I do Polk could have done more to avoid the Mexican war that dominated his term, nor am I a fan of his fanatical belief in manifest destiny, but he did show good leadership during the war, and much like Madison showed remarkable respect to the liberties of soldiers who deserted it.
5. TEDDY ROOSEVELT (1901-1909) (Republican)
If it wasn’t for his unfortunate sharing of McKinley’s imperalist beliefs and abuse of the Monroe Doctrine (though even here he thankfully avoided wars and annexations), Teddy would probably be number 1. Unlike almost any other politician of his era, Teddy understood that a truly free society required restrictions on elites and their corrupt collusion/power over the government. No shock that he became President by a fluke. The Washington elites hated him, in the same way they today show toxicity toards Bernie Sanders, for wanting totorpedo a corrupt system and work truly for the interests of the people. Teddy negotiated with strikers, championed freedom of the press, reduced the power of monoploies, fought corrupt corporations with anti-trust suits and was a staunch environmental conservationist! Bernie Sanders likes to compare himself to FDR, but he’s actually more similar to the other Roosevelt
4. CALVIN COOLIDGE (1923-1929) (Republican)
“Silent Cal” is a true example of a compassionate, humble and intelligent executive. He is one of the very few more modern US Presidents to do his best to live up to classical liberal foundations which the country was founded on. He limited the power of the government, but was not a fanatic about it like Cleveland. He made sure that his (low) taxes largely targeted the wealthy more than ordinary people, allowing more people to make money and reduce poverty during a period of rapid economic growth, and his sensible economic restraint and humble, restrained foreign policy (living up very well to Washington’s vow to avoid foreign entanglements, as a response to two decades of hawkishness under McKinley, Roosevelt and Wilson), he managed to provide a large amount of government aid to deal with the Mississippi Flood of 1927. In addition to all this, he was a staunch social progressive who spoke out for the rights of women, Afirican Americans and (radical for the time) Native Americans. His one great mistake was failing to see the writing on the wall in regards to his lack of regulation of capitalist excess, which partly contributed to the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent depression. However blaming that entirely on Coolidge is lazy hindsight revisionism.
3. DWIGHT D EISENHOWER (1953-1961) (Republican)
Everybody likes Ike! I, well, like Ike for pretty similar reasons to Coolidge. He was a post-1912 Republican, and therefore, like Coolidge, a conservative, but in the old American tradition of embracing the values America was founded on, which is what “conservatism” in the US originally was (the word now has been polluted so much in the US that the ACLU, literally an organisation founded by old US conservatives, is branded “far left” by today’s corrupt GOP fanatics). He believed in limiting state power, but also believed even stronger in union rights, believed that the New Deal should be retained rather than rolled back as the farright of his party wanted, and unlike any other post-WWII President he stayed out of warring in other countries (though, unfortunately, damaging CIA covert action continued through his two terms). Also praise worthy is his enforcing of de-segregation following Brown v Board Of Education, and his creation of NASA and the Interstate Highway System. And he warned against the dangers of the growing Military-Industrial Complex, though sadly it has swallowed America whole since he left office.
2. ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1861-1865) (Republican)
I’m not sure I have to do much explanation here. Lincoln was to put it mildly an exceptional leader who managed to save and re-unite a fractured country at war, while simultaneously abolishing slavery. Tthe only reason he isn’t number 1 is because he was, “necessary” or not, quite a reactionary on civil liberties during the war, suspending Habeus Corpus, locking up anyone who opposed the war and establishing a military draft, and he treated the Native Americans horribly. But his sheer acheivements and idealism cannot be understed
1: GEORGE WASHINGTON (1789-1797)
It does seem perhaps lazy and predictable to put America’s first President at number 1, but in truth he’s still the only one who ever consistently lived up to the democratic and liberal values America was founded on. If it wasn’t for Washington’s humble and limiting leadership, America could have easily become a monarchy or another form of tyranny. The people even wanted Washington to become King. Yet, he wisely did not. He limited his executive power, surrounding himself with brilliant minds to advise him and considered all sides of debates. He recognised that America needed to stay out of intervening in the interests of other countries, for better or worse, rsisting pressure from Jeffersonians to get involved in France during the revolution, and signing the Jay Treaty with Britain. The one big strike against him is that he listened far too much to Alexander Hamilton over Thomas Jefferson, buying into Hamilton’s vision of a federalist government that worked to aid big business. Boy, did that set a bad precedent.
So four years ago I started this blog, originally entirely to focus on wrestling, wrote three posts and then fucked off. Well after four years I felt it was finally time to actually post again. I’m now going to also be focusing on other interests of mine, mainly politics, movies, TV shows and anything else that takes my fancy
I promise I will NOT become the blog version of Auzzie Gamer! Although I do love that guy
Take out that one big segment that everyone is talking about, and Monday’s Raw from Green Bay, Wisconsin was the worst edition of the show since before Wrestlemania.
The show started off with Shane and Stephanie McMahon in the ring to promote the recently announced brand split, which I recently talked about here. They did their usual spiel, not really saying much of interest besides Smackdown going live on Tuesdays from July 19th, which we already knew. New Day came out and talked about the brand split, as well as the possibility of them being split up (I dread the day when that happens!) They certainly made the segment a lot more entertaining but it went on too long and ended up with them putting Shane and Stephanie in a dance off, but before a reluctant Stephanie could participate (“before” is regrettable, as she looked stunning!), the Vaudevillains came out for their match with New Day. So there wasn’t much point to this overall besides a mention of the brand split, especially as New Day had a match up next. Mixed bag.
New Day had their usual Raw match, which I’m starting to get tired of by this point, against the Vaudevillains, who I’m pleased to see haven’t yet been demoted to Main Event and Superstars after their crushing defeat at the hands of New Day in their short match at Extreme Rules. The match ended in a DQ when Gallows and Anderson assaulted New Day.
Gallows and Anderson had a decent interview backstage after the attack, claiming they will go their way and AJ will go the way he chooses, and they are sending a message to the tag champions.
“The Golden Truth” came out. With this drawn out nonsense and the Hornswoggle/Chavo Guerrero style feud with King Barrett last year, Truth is slowly becoming the new Kane in that he seems to be attracted to horrendous storylines. They were on commentary for Tyler Breeze and Fandango’s match against the Usos. Yep, the Usos have officially hit rock bottom, falling from a main event storyline to this. If only they had some character than they wouldn’t be in this position.
“Breezango” were crushed by the Usos in around 2-3 minutes and then beat up by Goldust and Truth right after when they attacked Goldust and Truth at ringside. Let’s see how long before Tyler gets released.
One positive to this was R Truth being, as usual, damn funny on commentary, calling the generic Byron Saxton “Coach”.
Roman Reigns came out, and started talking about how Rollins betrayed the Shield two years ago. “Good”, I thought, “they’re finally acknowledging this vital element to this storyline that should build interest to the PPV mat….aaaaaand it’s gone!” Yes, Roman never went any further on the subject and basically just waffled on for the millionth time about how he’s not a bad guy, not a good guy, but the guy. Bookers! Change the fucking record! He calls out Rollins. Rollins comes out. Picks up microphone. Doesn’t say shit. Runs towards the ring. Chickens out. Goes back. Picks up microphone. Doesn’t say shit. Runs towards the ring. Chickens out. Repeats this about two more times before finally leaving after saying nothing.
I have no words on this HORRIBLE excuse of a segment. Made Reigns come across as an absolute doofus, just standing there saying nothing, and made Rollins come across as a spinless imbecile, just like he was portrayed throughout the majority of his disappointing WWE title reign last year. I initially gave WWE the benefit of the doubt on keeping Rollins heel considering Seth’s kayfabe justification for it in his promo last week, but now I can see it was a huge mistake. What a waste of a return just to revert to the same old inept booking for Rollins’ character that we were used to before his injury.
What’s more, did anyone else think Rollins’ behavior here was similar to Chris Jericho around January 2012? First thing I thought of.
US Champion Rusev crushed Zack Ryder (that IC title win at Wrestlemania is a distant memory now, isn’t it?) before being chased out by…….fucking TITUS O’NEIL?! He can’t really be the next challenger for the title right? Please tell me this is a joke? Everything Cena did to make the US title valuable again last year has been wasted.
Negatives to this segment: All of the above.
Positives: Lana looked hot as hell (and you can’t teach that) and Rusev is still hilarious on the microphone
Enzo and Cass cut another great promo, which is pretty much just par for the course for them by this point. This was great.
Their match however was not. I am BEYOND sick and tired of seeing Enzo and Cass face off against the Dudley Boyz.
And finally, with 2 hours of this show gone (felt like 20 to be honest) we had the return of John Cena. I’m not American, so I tire of WWE’s OTT patriotism at times, but Cena’s speech here felt appropriate as it was Memorial Day so fair play to them. He talked about the new era and pondered about where his place is now. The fans where actually completely behind him, and most chanted “yes” when he asked if he still has a place here. Good to see and a big example of how he’s managed to win over many of his detractors. AJ Styles came out. Crowd went crazy seeing AJ and Cena in the same ring together and chanted for both like crazy for a solid 3 minutes. AJ ultimately gave a respectful babyface promo towards Cena and they shook hands, before Gallows and Anderson interrupted, complaining about AJ “kissing ass” while they are there to “kick it”. Claimed AJ would be included in their rampage now considering what he’s “lowered himself to”, and so it seemed AJ would ally with Cena against them. However, AJ turned heel on Cena in a shocking turn of events and ruthlessly and relentlessly beat him down, joining with Gallows and Anderson officially.
This segment was fantastic and exactly what should of happened. WWE’s version of The Club can finally look dominant and AJ as a heel should be brilliant to watch, as I’ve always felt he’s a much better heel than face, and a feud with the company’s top guy should continue to put AJ on the map. Everything about this segment was amazing.
But one great segment didn’t save this show unfortunately. The show died a death in hour 3.
Charlotte accompanied Dana Brooke to the ring in a match against Natalya that I gave so little of a shit about I completely forgot who won and what happened post match 5 minutes after it had happened. I had to look it up online to remind myself. Dana won after a distraction from Charlotte and they beat her down before Becky Lynch made the save. I like Dana and I think she has potential, but I worry for her on the main roster due to how overexposed and green she is. Instead of bafflingly partnering her with Charlotte, they should have kept the Emma partnership going with the injured Emma as a manager.
Speaking of Charlotte, the uncomfortable but thrilling segment last week where she publicly, cruelly and vicously disowned her father Ric Flair was followed up on badly with an atrocious segment earlier on the show where Stephanie of all people brutally berated and outright buried her backstage, calling her a “waste of talent”. With this, I was reminded why so many people complain about the booking for Stephanie’s character undermining talent.
The second worst thing on the show (Reigns/Rollins was first) was the absolutely putrid Dolph Ziggler/Baron Corbin stuff. Ziggler claimed he would show Corbin how to perform a “real techincal wrestling match”, after Corbin beat him with a low blow in a No DQ Match (remember this!) on the Extreme Rules pre-show. Ziggler went as far as to come out dressed in amateur wrestling gear as the commentary team mentioned his past as an amateur all-american wrestler in college. Instead, seconds in, Ziggler low-blowed Corbin for the DQ and heelishly mocking him as a walked off.
I’m seriously getting tired of seeing Dolph Ziggler on TV. He was once one of my favourite performers on the roster but that’s long since past. His booking and character are utterly atrocious, and he does nothing to get around it as he’s accepting of his position on the roster now. Once again, he is in a position where he is SUPPOSED to be the babyface, but instead comes across as a complete cock. Corbin beat him with a low blow, but it was in a NO…..DISQUALIFICATION……MATCH! And yet Ziggler suckering Corbin in for a low blow here before calling him a “loser” is supposed to be “redemption” according to the announcers and Ziggler is supposed to be the fucking good guy. Guess what. No one is buying it.
Finally to end this deathly dull final hour, we had a six man tag team match, playa. Holla holla. Personally fast forwarded through this as I’m sick of tag matches with no purpose or reasoning main eventing Raw. Couldn’t remember who won so had to check online, again. Dean Ambrose, Cesaro and Sami Zayn beat Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio.
I will say though that I enjoyed the segments backstage with Ambrose, Zayn and Cesaro, and later with Jericho, Owens and Del Rio. Both teams showed great chemistry with each other and I think Jericho and Owens would make a great duo.
This show gets a generous D and that’s only because of a few entertaining promo segments and everything about the Cena/AJ stuff.
Since I’ve started this blog around the time some recent explosive news within the wrestling world has come out, it’s only fitting that I start with this.
Only a number of days ago, WWE announced the news that everyone has been discussing and making rumours about for months.
Yes, the brand split is returning, with a draft to be held on the July 18th edition of Raw from Detroit, according to Bryan Alvarez, and with Smackdown going LIVE on Tuesday nights from now on. At least that should finally get rid of the irritating edited crowds.
For anyone who has either only recently started watching wrestling, or dropped off in 2001 and have only started watching again now or whatever, the brand split was originally in effect between 2002 and 2011.
To create a sense of competition with WCW gone, WWE split Raw and Smackdown into different rosters, with their own stage design, wrestlers, commentators, ring announcers, etc.
There were many POSITIVES to this brand split. Several guys got some more TV time that they would never usually have on Raw and if one show was doing badly you could watch another. For example, Raw sucked in 2002-03 during HHH’s reign of terror, while Smackdown was on fire under booking from Paul Heyman. Also, Raw was rotten in 2009 during the era of celebrity guest hosts and shit like Chavo Guerrero/Hornswoggle and Mark Henry in what must be the worst wrestling outfit of all time, while Smackdown was on fire with great angles like Jeff Hardy/CM Punk and Rey Mysterio/Chris Jericho, preventing 2009 from being potentially the worst year in company history.
However, with the positives to the brand split came a few NEGATIVES. Mainly involving Smackdown. Not saying Smackdown was a bad show (apart from the dark 04-05 period where it just became worthless and mostly irrelevant) but the issue was that it was treated like a B SHOW from 2004 onwards. The main example would be the world championship, of which there were two to support each brand. Smackdown had the WWE championship itself between 2002-05, and so Eric Bischoff (on screen) created a new world championship exclusive to Raw, the World Heavyweight Championship, which was nonsensically simply awarded to master politician HHH to crown him as the first champion, and even more nonsensically was treated as the MAIN…..TITLE! It didn’t matter if the WWE Championship, the biggest title in the company, was on Smackdown, while the one on Raw was a prop with no credibility whatsoever simply handed to HHH. To Vince, Smackdown was simply the B Show, so the World Heavyweight Title on Raw was consistently treated as the most important title, and the WWE championship was treated as the most important when it was transferred to Raw in 2005 via the draft, remaining that way until the tiles were unified in December 2013 (by which point the brand split had long since ended and the World Heavyweight title was basically a prop held by phoning-it-in bore Alberto Del Rio all year). Overall, the casual WWE audience had few reasons to watch Smackdown half the time, and this might have been the biggest overall problem with the brand split as it split the roster into two shows when the fact is the average casual viewer can only watch so much wrestling a week.
The big question, with the brand split about to be repeated in 2016, is that if that if these negatives will be repeated.
And beyond that, there is a far bigger problem when it comes to the brand split nowadays that relates in no form to any of the past negatives about the brand split I’ve stated above.
It is possible that the roster is too thin currently to support a brand split.
Think about it. WWE struggles to fill 3 hours of Raw each week and the product has become very over-saturated as a result. If they don’t have enough wrestlers that are over, then who do they have to headline Smackdown? How will they get people to care about two rosters?
A way to get around this would be to use Smackdown to build new stars, as Paul Heyman did in 2002, and manage to get newer or underutilised members of the roster over. This would slowly encourage people to tune in to Smackdown over time. It seems they’ve gotten around this though by having Cena headline Smackdown and Reigns headlining Raw, as Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has reported.
But that still leaves the problem of having 3 hours of Raw, PLUS two hours of Smackdown for the full roster. Will WWE be able to handle it? Time will tell.
And overall, despite my massive reservations about doing a brand split with the ridiculous lack of stars on the WWE roster, I’m fairly positive towards it. It worked for a number of years in many ways in the past, despite some of the negatives that came with it, and allowed for many guys to be built up better with separate rosters.
It’s just a big question over whether it will work in the long run.