After the Garden is Gone

  • I have been listening more and more lately to Neil Young’s “Living with War.” It is an unbelievable collection of music, not just the best protest music in 20 years, but some of the best music in 20 years. These are not just recordings, they are performances, and they are touching, outraged, and beautiful. If you don’t have it now, you should git it.
  • From this day forward, “to poorly plan and execute in pursuit of a monumental challenge so severely that your fantastic decline and monumental failure make Joey Buttafuoco seem functional and successful” is the new definition of the verb “giuliani.” Mmmmmmm, schadenfreude. Actually, Rudy’s spectacular failure makes me sad. I think watching Rudy actually run for national office with the New York firefighters poised to eat him up like Alien would have been so much more satisfying.
  • John Edwards is awesome. He got in at the right time. He said the right things. His candidacy forced all of them to address issues they might have found it easier to just skirt otherwise. And now, he’s gotten out just in time not to be a spoiler on Fat Super Tuesday. Even better, he’s chosen to withhold an endorsement, probably until after Feb. 5. Smart smart smart smart smart smart smart. Salon has good coverage on this. »
  • “What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label ‘Liberal?’ If by ‘Liberal’ they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of ‘Liberal.’ But if by a ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties—someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’” ( John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Acceptance Speech of the New York
    Liberal Party Nomination »
  • One thing seems for sure. If you’re a Democrat, you’re either an Obama person or a Clinton person. Here’s to hoping this condition doesn’t survive through the summer into fall.
  • Tonight: Keith WITH a Special Comment, followed by a Democratic debate? Who needs Grey’s Anatomy?

The Experience Thing

I hear sometimes from folks who support Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. They rely soundly on the experience thing. Why do they always reach for the shortest, bluntest arrow? The experience thing is the least reasonable thinking to cast for one or another of these candidates.

Consider this. There is only one job title in the whole world called “President of the Untied States.” It has been held by 42* people in 219 years. That’s fewer people than there are governors or senators. The Commonwealth of Virginia alone has had 70 governors. The Presidency is a unique employment opportunity. As such, there is no other job in the world that could actually “prepare” a person to fulfill its duties. Certainly, we want a candidate who will bring vast experience to the position. But it is impossible to quantify what experience or how much experience is a specific prerequisite. Like it or not, the President, any President, benefits largely from “on-the-job training,” whether previously a governor, a senator, a First Lady, or a dog catcher. So out of the gate, the experience thing limps and dies on the track.

One could also make the argument that two other presidents, Bill Clinton and the current president, had similar experience under their belts when they came to Washington. Bill Clinton was a several-term governor, and Bush was also a reelected governor. Neither came to the office with a particular mastery of foreign policy or national monetary policy. But it is fair to say as the current president quacks and limps that history will evaluate these two-terms presidencies much differently.

Regardless, when you put these two candidates side by side, the assumption that Mrs. Clinton is much more experienced than Mr. Obama dries up and blows away. Obama went to Harvard; Clinton to Yale. Obama has been a Senator since 2004; Clinton has been a Senator since 2000. She has served on the Budget and Armed Services committees, among others. He has served on the Foreign Relations Committee. She was First Lady from 1993 to 2001. He was a state legislator from 1996 through 2004. Both of these candidates have dedicated their lives and their careers tirelessly to improving America through public policy, and both of their records reflect successes and failures. But the suggestion that Clinton’s experience trumps Obama’s by outrageous leaps and bounds is downright wrong.

No President comes to Washington on January 20 and hits the ground running on that day. There is a transition team that goes to work the day after the Decision. Cabinet members and other aides are vetted and picked. The new President will likely be briefed on many issues and events he or she knew nothing about as a candidate. There will be thousands of grip-and-grin photographs. There will be inaugural balls. There will be ceremonies. The new President will discover how little time there actually seems to be for policy making with all the other ceremonial crap.

This is not to say that experience is not useful. It is not to say that what we really need in the White House is a guy who’s been a janitorial engineer for 20 years. It is to say, though, that a decision this primary season based on the argument of “experience” is flabby at best.

So let’s stop fussing about “experience.” It’s as useful as the media boiling down this primary to “race” and “gender.” Look at their records. Vivisect their stances on the issues. Work hard at voting. Don’t just swallow what you’re spoon-fed. Clinton and Obama are a lot alike, but the place to differentiate isn’t on the experience thing. It’s on the fine-frog hairs of policy. Get to work and decide what you like. But don’t let some idiot convince you that “experience” is even an issue. It’s bullshit.

* I had previously said “43,” but this is not correct. Only 42 people have held the position. Grover Cleveland held the office from 1885-89 and from 1893-97. Thank you for the correction from my cross-post at the Smirking Chimp.

So Upon That Stricken Multitude Grim Melancholy Sat

Democrat Dennis Kucinich, whose second White House bid yielded only tepid support, now faces a fight to keep his job in Congress.

Kucinich scheduled a news conference for noon Friday to announce plans for “transitioning out” of the Democratic presidential primary race, according to a brief news release.

I Know It When I See It

There were reports this morning that Rev. Phelps and his crew intend to picket the funeral of actor Heath Ledger. It may be just a rumor, but it would not surprise me a bit. These people are definitely stupid enough to picket the funeral of an actor who played a homosexual in a movie.

Such a practice should not in this country count as protected speech. It is obscenity. Or fighting words. Or something. That we’re more scared in this country of boobies than we are of this idiocy counfonds me consistently.


Hillary Clinton is not my favorite Democratic candidate. In fact, I recently wrote in a somewhat shrill e-mail to Father of KIAV that, if she wins the nomination, I might have to consider what to do with my vote.

Of course, that is bullshit. I will not pledge to do so, but I will most likely support the nominee whoever she is. And I’ll probably even be glad to do it for the mere reason that putting the Clintons back in the White House is likely to sound The Brown Note for many “conservatives.” But I will still wish she hadn’t voted wrong in 2002.

One thing to consider between Clinton and Obama is skill sets. And, after last evening’s “debate,” I have to say, I think Clinton holds perhaps the more useful skill set. Obama destroys behind a podium. But Clinton decimates on the debate stage. There is no question, she absolutely womped Obama and Edwards last night. See her turn a basic “job interview” question about weaknesses and strenghts into an unfavorable comparison of Obama and the current president. See her offer to cosponsor legislation with Obama to stop the current president from negotiating our way into a hundred more years of occupying Iraq. She was good. And it occurs to me that, during the primary, debates are where these things can be won or lost.

My basic position is that our slate of candidates has been so awesome that whoever gets the nomination will be an excellent warrior for the general. Last night’s debate made me think better of Hillary Clinton.

Re: 'He May Be Unwelcome, but We'll Survive'

Mr. Hoyt,

Thank you for responding publicly to the opinions expressed to you regarding the hiring of Bill Kristol, including an e-mail I sent you. I certainly do appreiciate your comments and am glad to know that you are a conscientious ombudsman for your organization.

I will say, though, that comparing Kristol to Saffire is like comparing O’Reilly to Walter Cronkite. You referred to a time at which Saffire had bent to the truth about Watergate. The difference is that Mr. Kristol would never have the dignity to exhibit such character. Kristol is a lobotomized idealogue who cares not for the facts or for practical policy. While I often disagreed with Mr. Saffire, I at least respected him, but I have no similar respect for Mr. Kristol. He is no William Saffire.

The problem with Kristol isn’t that he supports the idiotic occupation of Iraq, nor is it that he fancies himself a “conservative.” The problem is that he is either wrong all the time, or he lies all the time, and his long, well-documented career of being wrong and/or lying should in a world that hasn’t lost its mind make him one of the least qualified candidates in the universe to write for the New York Times. I’m more qualified than he is. My dog is more qualified than he is. That’s what’s wrong with this. That’s why you might find that not many are going to “take a deep breath and calm down” about Kristol.

I must also say that I find it a bit troubling that you have no problem with Kristol writing the Times while continuing to be a mouthpiece for the Fox Noise Channel. Are you too deep in the industry to understand what that organization actually is, and that his work there while he pollutes your pages certainly at least approaches a conflict of interest?

I will stop bugging you about this now; I think I’ve added enough to your headache. And, again, thank you for addressing this issue publicly. I just wonder if you’re perhaps not seeing the forest for the trees.

Brady Bonk
Arlington, Va.

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say 'Michelle Malkin?'

From Editor and Publisher via The Huffington Post, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful, delicious news stories I’ve ever seen.

Here. Enjoy.

“Eight paragraphs into his new stint as a New York Times op-ed columnist, William Kristol, it turns out, has already made an embarrassing error.

“His column, which suggests that the Democrats not underestimate Mike Huckabee’s chances to win it all, includes a graf just past the midway point, in which he quotes the ‘conservative writer Michelle Malkin’ as saying, ‘For the work-hard-to-get-ahead strivers who represent the heart and soul of the G.O.P., there are obvious, powerful points of identification.’

“There’s just one problem: She never said, as she was quick to point out herself on her site: ‘Since I never usually appear on the New York Times op-ed page unless someone’s calling me a fascist, I was pleasantly surprised to see the quote. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I didn’t write what Kristol attributed to me. A different MM–Michael Medved–was the author.'”

Mr. Kristallnacht. Did you not learn in J-School that misattribution is a fatal error?

Let me repeat: Bill Kristallnacht should not be asked his opinion about Coke versus Pepsi, much less about domestic and international politics. He is a very stupid person. It should always, always be remembered that, in the month after the Untied States invaded Iraq, Bill Kristallnacht looked Terry “Fresh Air” Gross squarely in the eyes and said this with a completely straight face: “I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America, that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni, or the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq has always been very secular.”

Please remember the next time you hear someone, anyone, extol the many virtures of this idiot, to remind them that Bill Kristallnacht has trouble distinguishing the difference between this person

and this person.

I’m just saying.

Step Off, Mr. Dean!

I have received in e-mail a solicitation from Howard Dean. Mr. Dean asks me for this:

“Stand up and show our candidates, our opponents, and the country just how strong the Democratic Party is by joining me in a pledge to support the Democratic candidate for President in 2008 – no matter who wins. When we have a nominee, they’ll know that thousands of Democrats from across the country are united – even if they may not have supported them in the primary.”

I have heard of some of the Democratic campaigns asking for or even requiring pledges. First I heard about some of the Republigoatic campaigns asking for them. But steam came out of my ears when I heard about my Democrats doing the same thing.

Soliciting pledges is a bad idea for our side. Republigoats are probably very comfortable with the idea because they are goose-stepping fascists. As a card-carrying Democrat in primary season, it makes my skin crawl a little. It would be nice if the Democrats could see the value in setting itself apart from its evil counterpart from time to time instead of cribbing from their playbook.

No pledge. No how.

I'm Rooting For Seattle

“I kind of had gone through these four years and I found myself sayin’, ‘Hey, Lord, you know, I really want to win football games and wind up coming out of this with a platform that I can honor you,’ ” Gibbs said. “That’s what I was trying to say to the Lord. And it really caused some soul-searching for me because I realized probably in there that I was probably kidding myself and kidding the Lord.

“What I was doing was probably wanting it a lot for myself and not really being honest with the Lord,” he continued. “And I think I needed to ask him for forgiveness on that. What I should be sayin’ is what he wants. I should be sayin,’ this is what God wants, not what I want.”