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Experience and Imagination

September 9th, 2008 · 50 Comments

(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.

Tags: Politics

50 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Thom // Sep 9, 2008 at 7:29 am

    It is simply amazing to me how many people don’t seem to get it. The choice is between a man with poor decisions in his past who wants to stay in power versus a smart man who has spent his life trying to do good.

    How the organized Christian vote can get fired up about the old guard and a crocked politician for veep is beyond me.

    Then again, I still haven’t been given a really good reason why we invaded Iraq after Bin Ladin attacked us on 9/11. That’s like invading Hong Kong in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.

  • 2 Cullin Herwig // Sep 9, 2008 at 9:15 am

    What are the 8 lies that Gov. Palin has told and is repeating? This is an honest question, I haven’t had a chance to follow her very closely. I have enjoyed all of your work. Thanks!

  • 3 Vic // Sep 9, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Interesting article, Chris. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

  • 4 Shana Jean // Sep 9, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I totally agree with your points here. We’ve had an idiot in office and it’s sucked. I’m thrilled that the first election I get to take part in is this one.

    However…the book banning rumor is not true. I almost wish it were because who doesn’t love reasons to hate Palin, but it isn’t. Have a Snopes article about it.

  • 5 Wiliam Hamilton // Sep 9, 2008 at 10:25 am

    This is a good bit of writing. The dumbing down of America enables the conservative agenda. People don’t like to think and when you stop respecting it and say its OK to govern by gut predjudice, neither facts nor reason can help. Experience is the accumulation of facts and their organization into theory. They have experience. They don’t use it or examine it.

    I have only one son. He’s 16. I feel badly about the nation he’s growing up in. He’s a fierce Obama supporter.

    When we were in Philadelphia, at Independence hall he was talking with a Park representative about the American Revolution and the Constitution. Jackson said things were only getting worse, less free. I assured him it wasn’t always so, but at 16, that is all he can remember.

    We’ve worked longer, donated more money and organized more events for this election than we ever have. When it’s over, if we end up with a clueless hocky mom as president two years from now, I’ll know I tried for something better and my son will respect me for it.

  • 6 chris // Sep 9, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I actually cited an article from Time magazine and another from the N.Y. Times. I don’t think we’re at odds here. The quote I used in the orginal post was this:

    Stein is the former mayor of the town Palin was mayor of:

    “Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the Times show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving “full support” to the mayor.”

    In my opinion, asking “how one might go about removing certain books from the library” is similar to asking “how do you take off and fly an airliner? No, I don’t need to know how to land.”

    It’s sort of a harbinger of some heinous fuckery in the works.

  • 7 Rob L. // Sep 9, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Best damn post in my feedreader this whole year. Thanks, Chris. The Obama administration ought to create a Cabinet position for you.

  • 8 Poofiemus // Sep 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Right on! “Vote for the smartest”–that’s always been my own personal #1 criteria, and I’m glad to see someone plugging it so eloquently.

    Also, whether Palin actually succeeded in banning any books is beyond the point. The fact is that she definitely wanted to, and that is scary enough for me to avoid her.

  • 9 dan // Sep 9, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Sadly the republicans (the party of Lincoln! As they love to remind me) have discovered a winning strategy…
    Lie, lie, and just for good measure- blatently lie. In a world where the populace thinks every thing on TV is true, because…well, it is on TV, than whatever McCain/Palin’s ad is repeatedly spouting MUST be true. I mean, she’s a MOM…she wouldn’t lie. She has 5 kids for pete’s sake, she’s just like me/my wife/that person down the road who has not yet learned of “birth control.”
    Here’s to no more years!

  • 10 Jo Jakobsen // Sep 10, 2008 at 5:53 am

    Hey Chris, do you remember the crazy times onboard Crystal Cruises, cava cava (muddy water) on the backdecks leaving Fiji??
    You and Charlie stole the show for a couple of weeks….. Send me a few words – and congrats with the great success:)
    Jo barman in the Cove

  • 11 bamboozlde // Sep 10, 2008 at 9:11 am

    i am not disagreeing with anything written above. personally i find it interesting that mccain is saying what we need is change from the last 8 years that his party has been in charge.

    between mccain and obama, obama is the one who voted for the fisa legislation this year – the fisa legislation which nearly completely overrides parts of the fourth amendment.

    be careful to keep the side you are on honest.

  • 12 JennyO // Sep 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

    As usual, Chris, I think you’re dead on with your post. I just would like to reassure you that there are two or three Christians out there who believe that Jesus was maybe the best liberal activist of all time and would like to model our behavior (and our politics) on his example of wisdom and concern for our fellow man.

    I’m voting for Obama too.

  • 13 Lauren // Sep 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Shana Jean — like Chris said – Palin did ask if the librarian would be amenable to “removing” books – it’s stated right there in the Snopes article you linked, actually.

    What the article is refuting is the list itself, not the fact that she was sniffing around the idea of banning books. (And looking at that list, I’m going to guess it’s one of the ALA’s Frequently Challenged Books lists that they release every year.)

    Sarah Palin did want to ban books. We just don’t know which ones she had in mind.

    Excellent post, Chris.

  • 14 Bea & Yoni // Sep 10, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    We’ll be charitable of heart and assume you did not your statement below to be offensive to the faithful Jews, Muslims, other non-Christians of this world.

    “If you can’t imagine a world where God cares and sent his son to die for your sins, you really can’t be faithful, can you?”

  • 15 Webcrumbs » Honor and Integrity // Sep 10, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    […] Author Christopher Moore blogs on “Experience and Imagination“ […]

  • 16 A voice of reason « Talk nineteen to the dozen // Sep 10, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    […] “Inspiration IS  LEADERSHIP. Rallying people to help their fellow citizens so they might improve…“   […]

  • 17 Albert // Sep 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Well I’m voting for Obama because I think there’s some substance behind that imagination, but great imagination and oratory skills can be dangerous…very dangerous. Hitler comes to mind. He’s often regarded as the greatest orator of all time. So, I can understand why someone would be afraid of a leader who is low on experience and high on imagination too.

  • 18 Melissa // Sep 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    A very well written article, Mr. Christopher Moore. You make some excellent points, many of which I had been unaware.

    But I’m not going to lie; I kind of think Obama sucks too. And by “kind of” I really mean “do.” Then again, I am Pennsylvanian, and I cling to my guns and religion because I’m afraid of change.

    Really, I think we’re fucked either way.

  • 19 chris // Sep 11, 2008 at 2:05 am

    To Bea and Yoni

    We’ll be charitable of heart and assume you did not your statement below to be offensive to the faithful Jews, Muslims, other non-Christians of this world.

    “If you can’t imagine a world where God cares and sent his son to die for your sins, you really can’t be faithful, can you?”

    You guys, I’m Buddhist. In the previous sentence I was talking about those people who denounce Obama for having been a community organizer out of college, when, in fact, Jesus was a community organizer. I was finishing up this post at like four in the morning, which isn’t the best excuse, but you’re right, I should have been clear. I was talking TO those people who don’t seem to value imagination or inspiration, yet base their faith on a charismatic speaker . Trying to give them a touchstone.

    Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. I also had to take out the line about Palin’s eight lies because I couldn’t remember if I meant she lied eight times, or told eight different lies. The lipstick debacle seemed a better example for being disingenuous anyway.

  • 20 Susan // Sep 11, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    What scares me the most is the people who are so excited about McCain/Palin are the idiots who voted George Bush into office-TWICE! That’s why I’ve given money to a candidate for the first time in my life.
    I just think it’s interesting that the same people who were harping about Obama’s lack of experience a few weeks ago, think that their new candidate doesn’t need experience. And McCain’s so old that her becoming president is real possibility. Then where will our country be.

  • 21 jason // Sep 12, 2008 at 3:37 am

    hey chris. always like your blogs. the political stuff is really makin my nuts ascend back into my body. not you…just in general. my family is very republican, very conservative, and i love them. i don’t think they’re stupid, and i don’t think they’re evil……but i do, kinda, too. i think that’s kinda what’s goin on with the country, too. the only difference is that i keep my mouth shut, while they proclaim with loud voices how great mcain/palin are, how we need their ‘values’ in the white house, how ‘liberalism is a mental defect’. that may be the big difference, and my self affirmation that me and people like me need to speak up. i think i may forward your blog to my dad. i blame you if we go to hell. seriously, though…anyone? what is the best way to….not SWAY someone, not cram your personal beliefs down their throat…just…i just want them to know that im a good person, im just not like them. why is it i can accept it in other people, but when it’s the other way around…im some kind of naive, uninformed, wishy-washy, stand-for-nothing, pinko, commie, chump? anyone?

  • 22 La Demoiselle Française // Sep 12, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Oh ! I always voted for the smartest. But I never tried to explain the “why” of my choice. Maybe because there isn’t any “Why”. But I think your opinion is really interesting !

    Apologizing for my very bad english, I’m french and young…. <3

  • 23 JasonB // Sep 12, 2008 at 11:56 am

    So…. Democrats have never lied? How many dirty secrets does Biden have? How much attention are they getting from the major news networks?

    Palin doesn’t have enough experience? I thought she was running for VICE President.
    That’s a little different than the top job.

    I keep hearing how smart Obama is; but, when I hear him making statements without the aid of a teleprompter, I’m not impressed. He stutters and stumbles as much as Bush.

    Just exactly what great things have the Democrats accomplished while in control of both the House and Senate during the last two years?

    I remember when this blog was funny!!

  • 24 Ornery // Sep 12, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Tremendous post, thanks for that. I particularly like that you brought up the POW thing. I have immense admiration for McCain and how he handled that crisis. Being a POW, in any circumstance, is not something I’d wish on even the staunchest neo-con. But I confess that I’m sick-n-tired of this story being used to somehow establish McCain’s viability as president. How does this experience correlate to the qualifications of the presidency? Isn’t that a little like me saying that I was in a car accident and am therefore qualified to be a paramedic? “Experience” can mean many things, but it doesn’t mean intelligence or wisdom. And until we start asking ourselves where any candidate’s experience is going to lead us, it really doesn’t mean much of anything.

  • 25 Patrick // Sep 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    YAY! this editorial is so well worded and thought out! I guess those authorguy skills pay off when you need them too. I agree with everything you said, and wish that i could have said it.

    It really is amazing how people don’t want to think. Every day i see people writing in to my local newspaper, spewing out carbon copied statements from right-wing pundits and other McCain/Palin supporters. They whole-heartedly believe that Palin has more experience than Obama, and that doing good deeds isn’t enough if you haven’t been in the senate, or happen to be doing it as a liberal.
    The truth is that Obama has accomplished so much, including the time he has spent as a senator. But the masses who support McCain don’t want to think, or make informed decisions. If they did, they would realize over half of what these pundits say about Obama is untrue. Even if that knowledge doesn’t change their vote, i just wish they would care to have it in their memory banks.

  • 26 Patrick // Sep 12, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I mean, I’m 19, and even i researched Obama before i chose him in the primaries, and i researched McCain before i chose to stick with Obama in this election.

    Also, why the heck are people so happy about Palin? In the news, they talk about Obama and Palin side by side, like THEY are the equals in this race. is that demeaning to Obama, or McCain, or both? and why do people focus so much on the VPs anyways? in the elections, it secures maybe one state each for their respective tickets.

  • 27 MarinKat // Sep 13, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Great post, Chris, with many good and salient points. Though if you are writing about the merits of intelligence, it would be best to spell Condoleezza Rice’s name correctly, lest your readers confuse you with the likes of such brainiacs as Sarah Palin, George Bush and Dan Quayle.

  • 28 Vince // Sep 13, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks, Chris! This was so well said, so funny, and so true. I have forwarded this blog to many others and will continue to do so. I just hope all those “undecided” voters have some sense in them.

  • 29 Tonyj // Sep 13, 2008 at 3:03 pm


    Let me say first that I am a big fan of your work. Thank you for this particular blog. By posting this blog I’m sure you had to consider the ramifications of alienating potentially a subset of your fan base. (However I don’t think it may be that large since my own experience has shown me that conservatives tend to have no sense of humor whatsoever.)

    I personally am an independent voter with a political philosophy similar to Andrew Sullivan ( which is to say i am fiscally conservative but socially libertarian). I am also a person of dark skin who grew up in an area that is 99% white. I have many white friends who are from blue collar/union and traditional democratic leaning families. It is with unfortunate realization that they have often mentioned to me that they simply can’t vote for Obama simply because of his skin color. I am often flabbergasted by their honesty and they will only do it because I grew up with them and at this point they don’t think of me by my skin color. How ironic. And unfortunately for the country I often wonder how many people are there like this in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan (the swing states that can determine this election) that won’t admit to this fact.

  • 30 Elvish // Sep 13, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Look, I was 22 the first time I heard Obama speak in the ped mall of Iowa City Iowa. It was cold, snow lay on the ground in tufts and my breath hung in the air like smoke. A group of 5000 waited to hear the senator speak (he was nowhere near ready to announce his candidacy yet) and we weren’t disappointed. I’ve often thought about that night while I interned for the campaign. Parents brought their children to hear him speak, college students braved chill temps near bars (but didn’t go in!); there is a feeling of historic importance about him in no way tied to his color.

    You mention inspiration Chris and I think you’re right. He inspires people to push forward from their cynical jaded worldview and grab their idealism again. “Yes We Can” acts as a rally cry for all those people that lost their faith in themselves, their culture and above all their country.

    Lets hope we make the right decision. (Not least b/c Sarah Palin terrifies me).

  • 31 jim // Sep 14, 2008 at 10:06 am

    A liberal friend of mine pointed me to this article of yours as best representing his current political views. He and I have been friends for a number of years and have had a number of good political discussions. Even though he’s liberal and I’m conservative we’ve managed to maintain a cherished friendship through it all.

    But I have a few comments.

    You wrote that you value “imagination, judgment, and intelligence”. I think most people do. I also value character, honesty, and fairness.

    You believe Governor Palin wanted to ban books, but you only have conjecture and imagination to go on. Most everyone agrees, even most rabid liberals, that she did not attempt to ban books. Her response was that it was an inquiry in response to other people asking about it. Google it. Perhaps she considered banning questionable books because she found them morally, or racially, objectionable, perhaps she didn’t. Black Americans have sought to ban Huck Finn because Twain uses the word nigger repeatedly. Many other groups sought to ban sexual oriented books that they did not want their children to read. Either way, Palin would not be the first, or last, person who wanted to ban objectionable books. Even if it is true of her, its understandable, and I can think of far worse faults in a politician, say like, lying under oath.

    In that light, I wonder if you abandon your standards when it comes to Senator Obama. Obama sat under his Pastor, Rev. Wright, for 20 years. Obama said Wright was his spiritual mentor. Wright counseled Obama, married him to his wife, and baptized his children. And when it was revealed that Wright was a raving black racist, Obama said he could never disown him.

    But when the political stakes were raised, Obama threw his spiritual mentor under the bus and disowned the man he said he could never disown. That’s politics. In his defense, Obama said he never heard his Pastor rant against white people and America and never had any idea his Pastor felt that way. You believe him Chris? I say it takes far more willful blindness (would that be un-intelligent imagination?) to Obama’s statement than it does to Palin’s.

    I’ve been involved with churches and Pastors long enough to know that throughout a year, a Pastor will stress and repeat certain themes that are important to him, and those themes will be repeated year after year. Wright’s track record is well known. Obama could not have missed his Pastor’s hatred and racial comments. I’m not saying Obama agreed with everything, I’m saying Obama knows his Pastor better than he admits.

    So I’d say it takes far less imagination to see that Obama goose-stepped with Wright, arm in arm, until the political stakes were raised, than it does to say that Palin wanted to ban books.

    And I’d be in no hurry to swallow everything Clarke says, after all, he has books to sell. Guys will write anything to sell books. Michael Scheuer, who’s team had the opportunity to kill bin Laden, was told by President Clinton not to. Scheuer blames Clarke for the failure:

    “The former president seems to be able to deny facts with impugnity. Bin Laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton, Mr. Sandy Berger, and Mr. Richard Clarke refused to kill him,” he said.

    Clinton was busy chasing skirts while the Muslims were planning their attack. After the embassy attacks, one would have thought that Clinton would have taken the threats seriously. Clinton got too distracted and weakened by dealing with the Lewinsky affair. If Clinton would have done the right thing and resigned as President, perhaps Vice President Gore could have focused on intelligence priorities and stopped bin Laden? (And what were those documents that Berger stole)?

    See, any hack can play armchair QB. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. All you need is imagination.

    In your ranting about Bush and Iraq, you’re not suggesting that the Americans killed hundreds of thousands are you? Molly Ivins made the same mistake, admitted it, and published a correction. Why do liberals have a hard time seeing that the Muslim on Muslim violence in Iraq is the cause of the hundreds of thousands of dead? The Shia and Sunni have been gutting each other since not long after Muhammad’s death. They’re still doing it today.

    Glad to see that you admit the surge worked. How long did it take Obama to admit the surge worked? Let’s see… he started out by saying it failed, then it only partially succeeded, then last week or so Obama said it worked marvelously. Gee, for being such a intelligent guy, reality has a hard time getting through to him.

    If it takes him months to wise up to the surge, and 20 years to wise up to his wacked-out Pastor, how can you imagine that he’d be able to respond in an intelligent fashion when he gets that 3am phone call?

    Why are you against drilling for oil? Even Obama and Pelosi are now open to it. Liberals have been blocking the drilling for well over 10 years. If we’d drilled in Alaska back then, we’d have more oil, perhaps the price would be cheaper today? The law of supply and demand says something about that. When you don’t have much of it, and other people do, they tend to raise prices. So explain why you insist that America allows the OPEC nations, (some of which fund the values of Islamic fundamentalism worldwide) to keep a knife at our throats in controlling the oil supply? Its kinda stupid of us, we’re sitting on oil, but we don’t develop it, and the prices rise.

    So in that vein, why do liberals insist on keeping gas prices so high? Everybody pays the same price for gas, and the poor are hit hardest victimized by your policies. Personally I like to be able to buy cheap gas, how bout you?

    I’d rather have more of a developed oil supply, than less, at our disposal. And, we should develop our other sources of energy like gas, wind, nuclear, shale oil, etc.

    Would you be in favor of drilling if the price of gas hits 8 bucks a gallon? If so, why?

    You admit the surge is working, but you criticize Senator McCain for thinking the surge is working! So, who is right, you or McCain and Obama? And, does that mean that Obama could also lead us into a misguided war? Don’t you think that Democrats can lead us into misguided wars? President Kennedy was a great President, but he led us into the most misguided and most disastrous war, Viet Nam. President Johnson after him brought the war into full bloom. A Republican President, Nixon, ended it.

    And why are you soft-selling Saddam Hussein? The best you can do is call him “obnoxious”? Isn’t that like calling Stalin “offensive”? Your insincere tears about the “hundreds of thousands” killed during the war seem to have dried up when you’re talking about a proven mass murderer. You’re far more charitable to Hussein than to Bush. Why is that?

    “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.”

    I agree with that statement. But where was Obama’s intelligence and imagination when he nursed from Wright’s breast for 20 years? Where was Obama’s intelligence and imagination when he bedded Bill Ayres? Where was Obama’s wisdom, honesty and fairness, when he denied the surge was working? If Obama failed in these simple judgments, how do you expect him to do the right thing as President? Sorry, but by your own criteria, Obama lacks leadership.

    Certainly Obama is inspiring. He has less experience than Palin in governing, but he is inspiring. And if he can inspire us to do the right thing more power to him. But I see Obama as slick and deceptive as Clinton and as weak as Jimmy Carter.

    We value imagination, judgment, and intelligence. But I value character, honesty, and fairness above imagination, and inspiration. I am a Christian, and McCain was not my first choice. But when I compare McCain’s character to Obama’s, Obama comes up way short. McCain is a proven fighter who can be relied upon in the trenches. McCain stood for this country, and has the wounds to prove it. Obama stood by his Pastor who chanted, “God damn America”. I see a big difference, one that does not require much imagination, intelligence to see. In sum, Obama’s shallow track record shows a man who cannot be trusted.

    For closures, you need to make a correction about your Palin quote w/r to “and she’s on record as saying that the war in Iraq is a mission from God,”

    I can’t blame you for being duped by the AP, Gibson, or Washington Post, but since you wrote it, and you got it wrong, you need to correct it. Palin was essentially quoting President Lincoln.
    Posted by Tom Maguire on September 12, 2008

    By the way, it looks like ABC edited out key parts of the Palin interview that make her look bad.

  • 32 chris // Sep 14, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I don’t have time to argue with you. If you think that the Republican party has acted with integrity and efficiency for the last eight years. If they, have, indeed, been conservative. Then by all means, you should campaign for them, send them your money, and send them your children to send to war. By all means. I wouldn’t dream of trying to convince you otherwise.

    As for integrity:
    McCain’s main platform, as I understand it, is that he will reform the influence of lobbyists in Washington. His campaign manager is a lobbyist. Five of the top ten people running his campaign are lobbyists. The AP didn’t make that up. That’s not the main stream media twisting the facts. That’s just the facts. Again, not trying to convince you. I know the Republican strategy in campaigns is “what works, not what’s right”. That stuff does work. They may well win with that disingenuous strategy. That still won’t make it right.

    As for you, personally, your citing that “Blacks wanted to ban Huck Finn,” tells me everything I need to know about you.

    Sarah Palin is irrelevant except for what her selection says about John McCain’s judgment. Period. This blog was not about her.

  • 33 jim // Sep 14, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t want to argue with you either, but don’t you think you went a bit over the top?

    Did you bother to actually understand before you posted your knee-jerk reaction? I said that I was against the war from day one, so why would you tell me to send my children off to the war?


    Regarding the book banning…

    “As for you, personally, your citing that “Blacks wanted to ban Huck Finn,” tells me everything I need to know about you.”

    It happened. Just the facts. And perhaps its understandable.

    Thank you.

  • 34 Cheri // Sep 14, 2008 at 4:41 pm


    My daughters send me your blogs and are big fans. I don’t have time for pleasure reading until I graduate , so I have to be content with occasional blogs. Thanks for a great write! I couldn’t improve on it so I sent to the neo-cons who harass me with BS.

    I was among the first group of eighteen year olds to vote and I take voting seriously. The VP is important as the VP is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

    Palin is scary as far as I am concerned and when people say as VP she is not a concern, they scare me too. Coming from a poor family, I never had the opportunity to stay home with my children. I was an electrician in the steel millls for 20 years. I had no choice whether or not to work. Here is a woman who has a husband making good money and chooses to leave small children at home for political ambition.

    Personally, she has for all practical purposes abandoned her children including a small down’s sydrome baby. Obviously she hasn’t been able to pay too much attention as her 17 year old is with child as I write and some poor senior in HS will be a daddy soon.

    This incredible social experiment that we call the United States of America has yet to live up to it’s potential. The prevailing majority is going to be really hurt when they lose control. Yet the growing pains will be worth our while.

    As far as people worrying about banning books. of course some blacks find Huck offensive but there are ignorant people everywhere and of every color so get over it.

    The whole idea, “of the People, by the People, for the People” is what makes us so great. The candidate I vote for is not going to look anything like me (unless some old white fat lady intends to run sometime soon). My candidate is going to respect all colors and all religions. I don’t see anyone better qualified to bring world respect back to the US than Barack.

    The US is not the end all of the world. The Chinese and Indians will surpass us very soon in the real power which is economic so we better learn how to respect those around us and realize that we are part of the world. We have 5% of the worlds population and according to government statistics we have 25% of the world’s prisoners.

    We have the most repressive laws of any industrialised nation in the world. Where can you find capital punishment? In the US, China, and Muslim countries. China incidently executes CEOs that kill consumers. I figure we have plenty to get in order before we try running the world.

    Thanks for the opportunity to rave.

  • 35 JasonB // Sep 15, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Check this out for a story comparing Obama and McCain’s female employees’ compensation.

  • 36 Amy // Sep 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I’m forwarding this to everyone I know and asking them to share it. Creative and imaginative thinking are essential in the evolution of mankind and yet we are raising in this country a generation who are only taught how to fill in a circle on a standardized test. I have to believe for my own sanity that America is “better than this.”

  • 37 milangello mysteriouso // Sep 16, 2008 at 1:41 pm


    I agree with all that you say about McCain-iac; actually I believe you treated him too softly for the man is darn-right scary! We should stay in IRAQ for 100 years ??? WTF???
    wanting to start a new cold or hot war with Russia??? on and on,

    But I believe in your support of the “smartest man running” you have been tricked. Ive seen the term RepubliCrats used and it is true. There is no real difference between the parties at all. Neither party has your average hardworking Americans interest at heart, neither.

    As far as Obama is concerned yes he wants to pull our troops out of Iraq, but he wants to relocate them to Afghanistan to continue the killing.

    Obama has verbally backed Israel stating that he will do anything/everything in his power to protect them, this was a not too veiled threat it was his blessing a pre-ventive attack on Iran.

    He too makes threatening warlike addresses to Russia in the Georgina territory conflicts..

    He too voted for FISA. etc, blessed the govt takeover of Fannie and Freddie, on the backs of the taxpayer….

    There was one person who ran in the republican primary who had a different idea. who offered peace and freedom and liberty. He suggested we return to our constitution whilest all others continue to shred the precious document.

    His name is RON PAUL and he has since his failed bid for the Republican nomination he has continued to spread the message of freedom and liberty. he has a website called

    and i challenge everyone to spend some time reading this website and see if you dont come to the same conclusions that I have, namely that the 2 party system is a sham we have all been duped! We need something new and RON PAUL has started the momentum going in the right direction!!!!

    im very much looking forward to your next book 🙂

  • 38 Deirdre S // Sep 17, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Faith is a funny thing when it comes to politics. I had the privilege to vote for Obama a few years back when I lived in Chicago. He inspired me then as he does now…now that I live in Colorado Springs — a town known for its right-wing politics, its homophobia, its Christian conservatives and Ted Haggard. It’s the most non-swingin’ city in this swing state.

    Living here has given me an interesting perspective on how people who don’t vote like me vote. I’m learing that many so-called Christian conservatives are basically apolitical, but they do vote in an effort to enforce their moral code. And hey…when Jesus is going to sweep you up in his arms when it all goes to hell in a handbasket, you probably don’t care too much about what you do to the planet and those whose belief systems don’t meld with yours. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for th political climate in my new home.

    Yet I take hope from the number of Obama bumper stickers on cars like mine, as we bravely drive past the Focus on the Family exit off I-25. This country is in desperate need of some imagination and inspiration from our next Commander and Chief. I hope enough people grasp that need.

    As for Jesus, while I am not a Christian, I think he had some pretty cool ideas about how we should treat each other. And I doubt he’d vote for McCain.

  • 39 Bruceifer // Sep 17, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head, too bad you can’t do the same with the republicants of this country. To say these jagoffs are the people of Lincoln’s party is to insult one of America’s great fearless leaders. As to fucktards like “Jim” you are so right, why bother arguing with sheeple, it’s a waste of breath, the ultimate tilting at windmills I have found. There is no convincing someone that their ideals, and those they attach those ideals to, are wrong,stupid, misguided, retarded, or just plain old crazy. That old saying “you’re preaching to the choir”, appplies here: if you and I agree then we have little to argue about, but if we disagree then we should be allowed an equal discourse between us and listen with the passion with which we talk. But when it comes to politics and religion, well please don’t fucking bother, there is no changing of someone else’s core beliefs, or at least none that can be achieved with conversation. Love your writing you sick fuck, and I hope to see Bush/ Cheney in prison soon.

  • 40 Ornery // Sep 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    I know Chris and Tom don’t have time to argue with one another, but I find the discourse enlightening. It certainly seems true that separating the facts from the hyperbole is a full-time job and a semi-futile exercise. But to Tom’s criticism of Obama’s relationship with Rev Wright: I am reminded of Nancy Reagan’s propensity to “advise” Ron on foreign policy based on the insights of one Jean Houston. It would seem that willing exposure to decidedly questionable influences isn’t unique to the democrats.

    And while McCain might be a “proven fighter,” at this point I’d much prefer someone capable of avoiding fights (like the multi-trillion dollar fiasco destroying lives for the sake of yanking a 3rd rate dictator out of a spider hole) in the first place. If we were voting in the most qualified POW, McCain would have my vote. And to risk a very tired comparative cliche, many of the supposed character traits of McCain (a fighter, a maverick, sticks to his ideals) were shared by the likes of Hitler and Saddam as well. Were they not? It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you like the results of King George Bush’s policies, you’re gonna love McCain/Palin.

  • 41 JasonB // Sep 19, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Here’s the truth about Palin’s “mission of God” quote. I got it from “The Weekly Standard” website:

    The day of Kurtz’s article, September 11, ABC’s Charlie Gibson conducted his first interview of Sarah Palin. Gibson asked: “You said recently, in your old church, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a holy war?”

    Palin responded, “You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.”

    “Exact words,” Gibson triumphantly retorted.

    Not so fast. As Palin explained, quite eloquently, what she was saying was in the spirit of Lincoln: “Let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side.” The tape of Palin’s church appearance bore out her interpretation and revealed Gibson’s mischaracterization. “Pray for our military men and women,” she had said, “who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God.” Gibson had made it sound as if Palin were claiming to know God’s will, rather than praying that U.S. actions might be in accord with God’s will and in a cause worthy of God’s blessing.

    No doubt the mere fact of Palin’s asking for any kind of blessing on our troops and our national leaders at some backwoods Alaska church was sufficiently distracting to the scripters of Gibson’s questions that they didn’t look closely at the wording.

  • 42 Rita // Sep 21, 2008 at 12:44 am

    While wholeheartedly agreeing with Chris and being a deeply passionate Obama supporter myself, seems to me that many here are being unfair to Jim. He wasn’t mean or ignorant; he stated the facts that were important to him. That’s what we all do. I believe we desperately need Obama as our next President, and I argue the case with my “undecided” colleagues nearly every day. But I hate to see somebody trashed for sincerely held, well thought out convictions, even when they’re totally wrong-headed in my mind. My Republican friends, of course, think I’m the wrong-headed one, and we argue, but we don’t bash each other. I think that’s part of Obama’s spirit too, and it’s one of the main reasons I’m so deeply committed to him.

  • 43 Matt // Sep 23, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Wow! I just read everything shown above, including all of the comments from those who had read what Chris wrote. I guess that it’s true that you really are “asking for it” if you choose to discuss politics—it does bring out the worst in people(and a little of the best, sometime). Chris surprised me, initially, with the viciousness of his statements, especially the name-calling, until I remembered he had mentioned that they were part of his “completely biased opinion”. He’s obviously for Obama, which is his prerogative as an American voter.
    There are so many things to consider regarding these two candidates: experience, truthfulness, morality, patriotism, intelligence, etc… Neither one of them is perfect, and both have obviously made mistakes in the past(which the opposing side never fails to make repeated mention of, oftentimes loudly or with many exclamation points). Obama is more charismatic than McCain! McCain has more government experience than Obama! Obama is younger and more idealistic than McCain! McCain spent five years in a POW camp in Hanoi as a result of representing this country in war! McCain chose a MILF as his running mate! Obama chose a retreaded Washington douche as his running mate! (As an aside: Does it bother anyone but me that Palin is getting more attention than McCain? She’s on the ticket as Vice President, NOT President! I hear almost nothing about poor Joe Biden anymore… I know, some of you will say, “but she may become President, if something happens to McCain!” Would Biden be better? It’s funny that in the comments listed above, a lot of the Obama supporters mentioned Palin, but almost no one, on either side, mentioned Biden.).
    It’s going to be a memorable and apparently very heated election in November. At this point, I am still trying to make sense of it all, in order to vote for who I think will do the best job for America. I hope that as we get closer to election day, the clearer our choice will be—although with all of the negative rhetoric flying around, who knows?
    Good luck to you all. and may you all get what you deserve!

  • 44 DJ // Sep 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Ha ha Chris, great satire, as always.
    The scary part is that this is exactly how many voters in this country thinks.

    I especially liked the bit about the drilling for oil. I guess we should be glad that not everyone applies this thinking, or our society would come to screeching halt. Imaging someone in the logging industry saying ‘if we plant a tree now it will be 50 years before we get any wood from it, so let’s not do it’.

    Oh, and thank you for everyone in the comments who played along, I had a fun time reading it all.

  • 45 Jim's dead soul // Oct 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    well looks like Jim has it all figured out, our country is already broke, too many to even honestly count are dead, the rich are richer and there are 4 More Wars on the horizon under his bossy team. way to go Jim. it is people like you driving around with McCain stickers on their SUVs that keep the gas in demand. i ride a bike. walk. think about swimming. you just keep on wishing for wonderland. McCain and Palin are further down the godly chain than Bush Baby Jr., I only hope you can enjoy their 1950’s approach to economics. You truly look like an ass on this blog with your big long entry about nothing. i hope the yound adults of this country prove you and your constantly failing team wrong. time will tell. until then, enjoy the recession ride with the rest of us…

  • 46 Rob Zazueta // Oct 10, 2008 at 10:11 am


    Yeah, I logged on about a month late, but this is one of the clearest, most compelling summaries of the problem with the Republican Party at the moment that I have yet read. The only point you missed, in my opinion, is how the desire to win has sapped John McCain – a man who, before four years ago, stood up for what he believed instead of following the party lines – of his integrity and conviction. That, to me, is the ultimate shameful end of this whole “Republican Revolution” that started 12 years ago – that, in order to still have some favor in his party, McCain had to shed his old-school conservative values and take on the mantle of the neocon. At long last, they have left no shred of integrity, and, though I’ve always been a centrist Democrat, it genuinely saddens me to no end.

    But, now I have the inspiration of Barack Obama, a man who may lack in years in office and executive experience, but one who appeals to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” Given the current financial fiasco, Obama’s ability to inspire and incite action is reminiscent in some ways of FDR. We need an FDR right now, especially after Bush Hoovered us for eight years.

    The best part about the Democratic ticket, though, is Joe Biden. Yeah, the guy gaffes, whatever. If you look at his record, though, he has consistently been a champion of his beliefs in the betterment of this nation. His knowledge and even-handed view of foreign affairs will guide us out of the morass we’ve been placed in since we started stirring the pot in Iraq. And his strong support for the military – ensuring our soldiers are cared for both on the field and at home – is a refreshing change from a president who has consistently denied our veterans benefits and cut our soldiers’ pay while asking them to sacrifice themselves in a needless, poorly planned war.

    I do have a lot of hope right now. I used to care a little about politics, but I have never been so enthralled as I am right now. The fact that this is such a historic election in terms of race and gender is something like quaternary to the import of electing an administration who will guide this nation back to greatness. It’s a thrilling time to be alive and VERY exciting to be a part of it.

    By the way, love the blog, LOVE all the books (read most of them at least twice), dying to read “Fool”. Also, if you haven;t already, I suggest you read some Sarah Vowell – Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot are intensely funny while also educational.

    Thanks for everything!

    Rob Z.

  • 47 Leprrkan // Nov 2, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Beautiful, Chris… simply beautiful! It’s nice to see you’ve toned down a little… is the impending (hopefully) departure of clusterfucks known as the GOP softening you up a bit perhaps?

    Cheers 🙂

  • 48 Billy C // Nov 10, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I am a 63 years old white male. I grew up in Dallas Texas still live here, I remember separate water fountains, blacks to the back of the bus and the most illogical thing of all a separate box office at the Majestic theatre in downtown Dallas (we will take your money we just don’t want to touch it). I served in Viet Nam and have seen a lot but the election of Mr. Obama may be the high point of my life. I have always been a proud American but I am a prouder American now.
    It’s about time the young folks take the reigns of Government away from us old white men before we toatlly FUBAR it.
    Billy C

  • 49 chris // Nov 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    To Billy C

    I thought I was all hoped out, then I read your comment. Thanks so much. It’s people like you that keep me from completely writing off the red states as The Great Ignorant Territories.

    Thanks again, and thanks for your service.

  • 50 Brenda // Feb 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks Christopher…YES…we CAN and YES we DID…and the pressitutes are already claiming that he has failed…Turn off the tv and pick up a good book…FOOL…can’t wait.

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