(Warning, this is kind of a political rant. I didn’t know it was going to be when I started. You might want to go look for new LOLCATZ if you’re not interested in politics and my completely biased opinion.)
Couple of days ago, because I’m interested in books, I posted a blog on MySpace about the inquiry by Sarah Palin about banning books in the library in her home town in Alaska. Well, that happens, and it’s only the First Amendment, which I don’t think Ms. Palin is fond of because that’s also the one about congress not sponsoring a State religion, and she’s on record as saying that the war in Iraq is a mission from God, as well as how building a gas pipe in Alaska is doing God’s will. Anyway, that’s not what I’m writing about.
In the comments yesterday, I got this:
“I think she is hot. I mean the hair up in a bun and those glasses…… Oh wait, we don’t make our political decisions based on superficial circumstances. I mean would you really vote for someone because they are a great speaker but have very little experience?”
Here’s my response.
I’ll vote for the person I think is the smartest.
George Bush is a nit-wit, whose blunders have cost the lives of tens, maybe hundreds of thousands,
as well as the reputation of our country around the world. He’s added four trillion dollars to the debt and virtually all measures of economic and social progress have slowed or regressed during his presidency — and McCain said that he completely supports the policies of George Bush. (Although that was a couple of weeks ago, before he became the change candidate.) John McCain voted with George Bush 90% of the time.
McCain votes the nitwit ticket. If that’s the sort of experience you think is required, then McCain is your man. By all means. I wouldn’t dream of trying to change your mind. If John McCain represents the kind of change you’re looking for, which he is evidently getting around to mentioning now that he’s been in Washington for 26 years, then by all means, have at it. The reason these guys are pounding experience so hard when they’re talking about Barack, and ignoring it when they’re talking about Palin, is that the only thing they get right the first time is being disingenuous. (Lipstick? Really?)
Examples of Bush Administration Executive Experience: No meetings about Osama Bin Ladin, no mention of him, and ignoring completely the White House Memo entitled, Obsama Bin Ladin Determined to Strike Within the U.S.. August 1, 2001. Richard Clark told them again and again that this guy was dangerous, but because they wanted to go after Iraq, they ignored Clark (and Bin Ladin). Well, after we were attacked, they decided that Islamic Extremist Terrorism was a priority. Well, that is learning from experience, but maybe if they’d been smart, they would have been able to stop the attack. “Nobody could have seen it coming?” Condiliza Rice said. “No one could have seen terrorists using aircraft as weapons.” Well, yeah, except for the two movies where that happened, and the episode of the Lone Gunmen. (Great title, sort of like The Two Mavericks — the irony is built in.) “A failure of imagination” the bipartisan 911 commission called it. (Make a mental note, a FAILURE OF IMAGINATION)
They invaded Iraq because after the first Gulf war, Saddam Hussein was still in power and the Neocons from the first Bush Administration (Rumsfeld/Cheney) wanted him gone. It’s on record, they were looking for ways to invade Iraq and made them up. Then they invaded, declared mission accomplished, and fucked up for six years until they finally did what Colin Powell and other generals, who were dismissed, by the way, told them what they needed to do in the first place, which was send in the overwhelming force to secure one area at a time — a page right out of the military manual on fighting insurgency. So yes, the surge worked, but they got it wrong for six years before the surge, and they got it wrong when they attacked Iraq in the first place, NONE of the justifications for war were true. But they did learn from the experience. (1 Trillion Dollars, hundreds of thousands dead.)
They let Cheney formulate energy policy in secret, with oil company executives, and seven years later they decide that maybe they ought to get an energy policy. They deregulate S&Ls, and S&Ls crash, and they say, “You know, maybe we ought to regulate them a little.” (That was in the 80s, when McCain was one of the Keating five, and Bush’s brother was implicated in the failure of Lincoln Federal. McCain was not indicted, but the judge in the case admonished him saying, and I quote, “the senator showed incredibly poor judgment” in regard to the scandal.) Then they deregulate the mortgage industry, and shazamm! “Well, maybe we do need some Federal oversight.” And taxpayers are footing the bill for hundreds of billions in bad mortgages.
They refuse to regulate because “government has no business in business, the free-market will fix everything”, then they bail out the failures when they realize that the economy can’t absorb a five trillion dollar hit (that’s the value of outstanding debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). At every step, these guys have to screw up at least once, before they get it even remotely right.
They govern by ideology, instead of intelligence and logic. They believe that greed is good and government cannot be effective, then they go on to prove it every time they get in power. They have to value experience above anything, because they are constantly making the wrong decisions out of an ideological outlook instead of a logical one. Experience instead of intelligence. Experience instead of imagination.
Every single analyst on Wall Street, every think tank, and every energy analyst I’ve heard says that drilling for oil on the coasts and in protected areas will not bring significant amounts of oil to market for seven to ten years, and will make no significant difference in the price of oil. Yet a whole arena of Republicans chant drill, baby, drill for five minutes and seem to want that as part of their political agenda. Slowly now, the important point is, “will make no significant difference” in the price of oil. How can the be the smart way to go? Well, experience may prove, and I’m just guessing here, that drilling off shore and in protected wildlife areas will not significantly impact the price of oil. But by golly we’ll have experience.
Working-class voters continue to vote republican for various reasons, and continually fail to get what they voted for. They do worse, economically, under Republican administrations, and the “wedge” religious issues are dropped from the Republican agenda as soon as they are in office. What good is experience if you don’t learn from it? Most conservatives I know are scratching their head right now going, “Wait a minute, we had both houses of congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court, and spending did what? Government grew how much? My wages declined by how much? Gas costs how much? The employment rate is what? The deficit is what?”
But you certainly can’t question the experience of the administration. Cheney had many, many years in government, in appointed cabinet positions, and his way into congress was garnering the votes of nearly 100,000 people from a state of 530,000. Why, that’s almost a fifth of the number of people who bought my books — last year. And he did have all that executive experience running an oil exploration company. (Hey, wait a minute…) And George Bush had two terms as governor of Texas, and he too had business experience as an oil man. Of course he failed as an oil man. In Texas. But he used that experience to later on fail miserably as a president.
John McCain’s executive experience is commanding a fighter squadron in Viet Nam. That is certainly valuable experience, and I’m sure that if elected president, he will not be shot down again, because he has learned from his experience. I’m completely confident in that. I’m not that confident that he won’t lead us into a completely misguided war like Iraq again, because he thinks the surge working, is the same as the war being the right thing to do in the first place. Just to be clear, we were not attacked by Iraq and we were not defending ourselves. We picked a small (albeit obnoxious) kid on the playground and beat him up. It’s below the dignity and honor of the United States. Honorable servicemen were given a dishonorable mission, and they carried it out. It’s their job and they are compelled to do it — by love of country, duty, loyalty to comrades in arms — but the people who set them to their mission should be ashamed of themselves. Anyone who supported the war, and the compromise of America’s honor by playing bully, should be ashamed of themselves, including, John McCain. I hope he learns from the experience.
I wouldn’t dream of trying to change anyone’s mind regarding experience. Absolutely go for the guy with the most experience. What do I know about experience?
I do, however, know something about inspiration and imagination. I’m sort of in the inspiration and imagination business. I’ve been in it for twenty years (and did it as a volunteer for twenty years before that). From my perspective, inspiration is very valuable thing.From Henry the Fifth’s St. Crispin’s Day speech (we Band of Brothers), to Elizabeth I’s speech at the attack of the Spanish Armada, to Roosevelt’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” to Churchill’s “We will never surrender” to John Kennedy’s “Ask not, what your country can do for you,’ to Dr. King’s “I have a dream” — inspiration and motivation have been the very catalysts of history. I’ve been in a room where Barack Obama was speaking, I’ve talked to people who were inspired to get involved by him. I had dinner with a guy tonight, who is Canadian, he said, “I can’t even vote,” and for the first time in my life I sent money to a politician, to Barack Obama, because he inspires me to make things better. Inspiration IS LEADERSHIP. Rallying people to help their fellow citizens so they might improve their lives and the lives of the less fortunate, IS LEADERSHIP. Having the intelligence and imagination to foresee trouble and avoid, or defuse it, those are qualities above those of experience that doesn’t inform good judgment.
What I find baffling, is that the very same people who decry inspiration and oratory and not being of value, who scoff at someone who was a “community organizer”, are people of the Christian faith. Faith IS an act of imagination! If you can’t imagine a world where God cares and sent his son to die for your sins, you really can’t, as a Christian, be faithful, can you? There is, I think, I hope, in every single person of faith, the potential for imagination beyond that of fear. An ability to imagine that which is better. If you can’t imagine it, you’ll never get there, and if you’re not inspired, you can’t imagine it.
I know the value of imagination, judgement, and intelligence.
I’m voting for the smartest guy running.