Limbaugh does Hitler/Mussolini impersonation…

March 1, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

While I am having some qualms about the Barack Obama administration’s policies and tremendous debt laid upon tremendous debt it is proposing and even now creating, I hate to imagine a nation led by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

I usually don’t use his real name. But we need to recognize him and despite his buffoonism not write him off. It would be like, perhaps, those who wrote off Adolf Hitler in his early stages (Limbaugh has been at it 20 years by his own admission).

Limbaugh delivered a one and a half hour diatribe Saturday in front of a group of hard line Republican conservatives filled with mock and ridicule against the educated, the liberals (he says he did not go to college), employing the devices of demagoguery along the way.

He did some fist bumps to mock the Obamas (I got it) and he thumped his own chest and while I think he just saw that latter gesture as part of his normal buffoonish shtick, I could not help think that he looked like the famous fascist Benito Mussolini ( II Duce), complete with silly grin, on the balcony exhorting the crowds in Rome. He sweated profusely, as did Adolph Hitler, who mesmerized millions in Germany, appealing to their fears, nationalism, and the base instincts of the human psyche.

I would not feel comfortable if President Obama thumped his chest and mocked his opponents (well, except in the lightest manner), no matter what his message was. Guess I like a little more decorum in a leader.

And anyone who likes Limbaugh has already quit reading, I suppose, and it is too bad. I actually think the conservatives of the Republican Party have a fairly articulate spokesman in Limbaugh when he doesn’t get sidetracked in his demagogic showmanship that has made him millions as a radio talk show host who takes calls from frustrated sycophants who lovingly refer to themselves as “ditto heads”. They are proud to admit they do not analyze issues and do not have independent thought – they just say “ditto” (he would say liberals do the same, but I prefer liberals or moderates or even conservatives who are capable of doing critical analyses – that usually comes with formal education).

Limbaugh could sum up his attitude on government in a couple of sentences (but that would not make a radio show).

He wants every man, woman, and child to be on his or her own with no help from government and supposedly no hindrance from government (although right wingers usually like laws proscribing certain social behaviors – even though Limbaugh has had his own run ins with the law over his own prescription drug abuse). At the same time, he supports government helping businesses and anyone who can amass capital. I think that pretty well sums up his attitude.

Of course all people must pay taxes (even lower – lower than what? Republican taxes). But it would not be right for anyone but the true capitalists to get advantage from government.

It galls me when the likes of Limbaugh claim to support our military policies, but when their own lives were on the line saw fit to avoid military service. Limbaugh did that, then mocked John Kerry during his speech for his Vietnam vet status. Of course Kerry was vulnerable on that one, having played it both ways – throwing his medals out and proclaiming: “I’m a Vietnam Vet Against the War”/ then when running for president: “I am a proud war veteran”. But I think Limbaugh out to be more circumspect when dealing with someone who actually went to war (Al Gore, one he loves to lampoon), as opposed to folks like himself who only exhort others to.

I will say this: there is as never before in my lifetime the most clear distinction between Republicans (to the extent they support Limbaugh conservatism, Bush anomaly excepted) and Democrats (who have in desperation gone to something that resembles, may not be, state socialism – remember, even George W. Bush was panicked into government intervention into the economy).

Is there a civilized voice of moderation out there?


If it seems unfair or uncalled for that I would equate Rush Limbaugh with Mussolini and Hitler, I now recall that in his remarks he joked that his body guard was Joseph Stalin, adding that the Obama fans would see Stalin and would not dare criticize him, implying that Obama supporters support Stalin and communism (no one but some baby boomers and older even know what that is all about). And to those who have ever tried to understand political science, I always am fascinated that while you have communism at the extreme left and fascism at the far right, there is no difference historically how those two types of governments act. They both use extreme authoritarianism with state control of the economy and the lives of individuals. Both types of government proclaim the interests of the “state” over the individual.

Rejecting ideology works for Barack Obama…

January 18, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

I think there is a reason for Barack Obama’s success. He’s non-partisan. Okay, yes he is a Democrat but he does not seem to be an ideologue.

And that is what we need right now.

We need and hopefully have someone who is not out to push the right wing or left wing or any wing agenda.

Now those of the hard right wing conservative group will say that certainly Mr. Obama is left wing with all his talk of the government helping people via an infusion of bailout money. But didn’t Mr. Right wing George W. start that? Of course that turned out to be help the rich banker gamblers but it was sold on the premise that money would be going out to everyone. (The earlier stimulus checks were a short-lived and short-on- impact gimic.)

I don’t think Mr. Obama could have been elected had he chose to push a strictly left-wing agenda.

And I don’t think the vast number of voters consider themselves either left wing or right wing. Most people think they are in the middle.

The public does get caught up in the rhetoric of the right and left, especially the right, but now with the weight of the world coming down on us all, people want something that works, with at least one caveat, they don’t want a dictatorship. They don’t want a right-wing dictatorship, as in Adolf Hitler, and they don’t want a left-wing dictatorship as in Mao Zedong. I don’t think that came up in the campaign too much – it’s kind of a given.

What I’m trying to get to is that the United States electorate may have thrown out ideology (not democracy) in favor of pragmatism.

Mr. Obama is unique in many ways: he will soon be our first black American president. He will also be our first post Baby Boom president. He is of a new generation. And while he certainly is black in heritage and appearance, he is half white too. Although American born (some weirdos argue he was not), he grew up partly overseas, which gives him a different (more international) perspective. But he’s American as apple pie with grandparents on his mother’s side out of the Heartland (Kansas, as in “there’s no place like home” and “Toto too?”) and having himself come up through the ranks of rough and tumble Chicago and Illinois politics. And yet he is not tied to the old black civil rights establishment (and I don’t mean to dis those folks outright, but since pushing through the civil rights legislation of the 60s they have not done much for their culture except make excuses, and I don’t know why that is.)

And I don’t mean to disparage a race of people by the last sentence in the preceding paragraph. But I would hope now that we have elected a black president and that his poll numbers are so high, that the notion that the color of someone’s skin is something a person cannot overcome in making a success in life has been proven wrong. I know racism still exists, but it does indeed seem to be fading. It’s kind of like drunk driving – it’s just not nearly as popular as it used to be.

And here’s something that comes to my mind. Don’t you get the idea that Mr. Obama is for doing what is morally right, more so than all those past purveyors of right wing ideology whose only morals seemed to be: if it makes money, it must be right? And to be fair, he seems to be more moral than the purveyors of far left ideology who threw out all of society’s morals back in the 60s (and that reminds me – Mr. Obama is forthright enough to admit he did partake in dope smoking at one time and even inhaled).

I’ll know if Mr. Obama is a success about six months from now. At that time if everyone on the far left and everyone on the far right is mad as heck at him, it will likely mean he is being successful.

Unexpected drama part and parcel to presidency

November 25, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Most or all of my knowledge of President John F. Kennedy’s administration is like a video tape rolling in my head. I watched so much of it on TV as an adolescent. But that doesn’t mean that everything in there is accurate. I just got through madly searching Wikipedia and anything else I could find on the web concerning Kennedy’s immediate public reaction to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and didn’t have much luck.

Even though several sources indicated that he took “full responsibility” for the failure, I did not find what in my head I always assumed to be fact. I always have pictured him making one of those solitary oval office television addresses, such as the one on the Cuban Missile Crisis, acknowledging his mistake concerning the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. But nowhere could I immediately find that.

So, maybe I’ll get back to that point later after more research.

History tells us, though, that the fiasco was not only covertly supported by the U.S., but that it was what you might call an open secret at the time. It had been set in motion by the Eisenhower administration, who informed the incoming president Kennedy of the plan. Kennedy went along with it, but apparently decided that he would not get our armed forces involved in it should things go wrong. Unfortunately, that was not what the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency-backed Cuban expatriates who invaded were told and the end result is that they were left stranded on the beach with not so much as air cover (that they expected), eventually being killed or captured by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s forces. The U.S. was at odds with Castro, who had become a follower of the Soviets.

It was an embarrassment for the new administration, but it moved on. Later the Cuban Missile Crisis came along and Kennedy redeemed himself by standing up to the Soviets.

Some conspiracy theorists think that the CIA was so mad at Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs and for the purported notion that Kennedy was ready to pull out of Vietnam (the U.S. still being in an advisory role in that fight against the communist insurgency) that they were behind his assassination. Kennedy of course was assassinated on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, 45 years ago.

Faulty memory or not, I can tell you this, the assassination was one of the most bizarre things I have ever witnessed (via TV and newspapers). The president was shot while riding in an open limousine on the streets of Dallas, and then the apparent shooter was assassinated by a gunman as he was being taken on what we might call today a “perp walk”, one of those contrived occurrences where a criminal suspect is marched in front of the cameras, usually in shackles. In this case they were moving Lee Harvey Oswald from one jail to another though a crowd of newsmen and others (how much sense did that make?).

Over the weekend I saw a clip from an interview with the cop that was escorting Oswald. He said that just before they started on the walk he remarked to Oswald: “If anyone shoots, I hope they’re accurate,” meaning he hoped they hit Oswald, not him (and how weird is that? that he would think to say such a thing). Shooting point blank, Jack Ruby couldn’t hardly miss. And he had no trouble getting into position, both because of the mob scene and the fact he was a well-known fixture around the police headquarters, being kind of a groupie. The hand gun Ruby used had been purchased for him by a policeman friend, although reportedly not for killing Oswald but for Ruby’s protection as a nightclub owner who carried large amounts of cash to the bank.

(And come to think of it, I think the live-on-TV shooting of assassination suspect Oswald by Ruby was the first time I ever remember of a news clip being played constantly over and over again for a day or more. In fact, I understand the now archaic technology used to replay that video (or film?) led to the modern instant replay used so much in sports. The next news clip that got possibly even more play was the space ship Challenger blowup on Jan. 28, 1986. Nowadays all kinds of clips are on YouTube and elsewhere for constant replay.)

I think a lot of people wondered if we really had gotten out of control as a nation when after just enduring the assassination of our president we witnessed live on TV the murder of the suspected assassin.

And while the evidence is clear that Oswald shot from the upper story window of the Texas School Book Depository, just who were those mysterious characters on the grassy knoll? I am sure I recall hearing something about them in the original news reports. I have a book written by a woman who claims to have been Castro’s girlfriend at one time and also a CIA agent. She claims she went on a mission to Dallas just before the assassination (of which she apparently did not know what the real reason was for), but went back home to the east coast after she got sick. But she claims or implies that her CIA cohorts were in on the Kennedy assassination. Now obviously I think it is just as likely she has a good imagination and had a need for a story to put into book form to hopefully make some money.

But the point of this is that the whole episode was bizarre – oh and my memory still seems to be hazy about Kennedy’s mea culpa on the Bay of Pigs. I’ll have to do more research. Can anyone offer suggestions on that?

P.s. If Kennedy had supported the Bay of Pigs invaders we might have been able to wipe out Castro. I’m not sure why that would have been a good thing, though. I think Kennedy was afraid the Soviets might use our action as a pretext to cause troubles elsewhere. But my observation is that every time we stood up to the Soviets they backed down (is my memory faulty again?).

P.s.  P.s. Kennedy came into office and was almost immediately faced with the Bay of Pigs. George W. Bush was faced with 9/11. I have a feeling Barack Obama’s first big crisis, besides the already-known one, the economy, will come early and will be something off everyone’s radar screen.

A New Deal, an Economic Recovery Program…

November 23, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

My 98-year old mom just told me on the telephone that when Franklin Roosevelt began his presidency at the height of the Great Depression he was a “breath of fresh air”. But not everyone shared her delight, she noted. My late aunt, who spent nearly all her adult life on a 60-acre farm out west of Modesto, Ca., and who worked for many years at the Farm Bureau office (not a government agency as the name might imply) never did have any use for Roosevelt, according to mom.

You can’t please everyone.

But to me, Barack Obama with the announcement in a radio address Saturday that he plans to hit the ground running when he takes office in January with a major stimulus program that promises to create 2.5 million jobs (after seeing 1.2 million lost this past year) sounds good. Via what he calls the Economic Recovery Program, he is proposing in general to stimulate the economy with public works projects to fix our ailing infrastructure – roads and bridges and schools – and develop “green” technologies to deal with our environmental crisis and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Incentives would be offered to the business sector for green technology development.

And according to an article I read in the New York Times online, he plans to keep his promise to cut taxes for lower and middle class workers, but may delay tax hikes on the wealthy by letting the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011.

While I always believe private enterprise is the best system, I feel government can and should help lead the way, and it appears that is what Mr. Obama has in mind.

Just to keep things straight, the remainder of this blog is composed of my personal view and not directly descriptive of Obama’s proposals:

There’s really no reason every able-bodied person could not have a job in this nation. We have the natural resources in abundance for the raw materials for heavy industry. We have huge agricultural resources. We have the brains for high tech. And we have a tremendous labor force (we are not dependent upon immigrants, but certainly legal ones should be welcomed to the promise of liberty in America at the rate of which we can absorb them).

We have a crumbling infrastructure that needs immediate attention – that means jobs galore.

For the most part, these jobs can be supplied by private enterprise, but where they can’t, we do have a government, and the unions and private interests need to stand aside and let the government provide employment. I think the private interests probably would not mind at this point. The unions might be a different story. I would rather see millions or billions of public dollars poured into public projects than into bankers’ vaults for safe keeping.

I think private enterprise would welcome public works projects to get people employed and spending dollars.

Now when I write about public projects to repair the infrastructure I mean both projects that would utilize private contractors and skilled laborers (often union), as well as the good old government make work projects, ala FDR of the 1930s. Make work has received a bad name in the past. There’s nothing wrong with make work if the made up work provides something useful. And it’s alright that the government provides work for the unemployed because it is our government. We are employing ourselves.

If the economy were moving along better private enterprise would be taking care of the job problem, but we are in a kink (okay, more than a kink).

In general I would think that it is not a good idea to have government compete directly with private industry. But even if times were good, government could still supply jobs, having folks do things that might not otherwise get done – building and maintaining parks, as an example – but nonetheless would help support our quality of life. And those things should be done in these bad times as well.

Supplying the populace with what it needs and wants through the incentive of the profit motive is usually the most efficient economic model. But poor management can bring any industry down – witness the big three auto makers (I know, the management blames the unions and the unions blame the management and meanwhile the non-union foreign-owned plants in Ohio and Tennessee and elsewhere keep rolling them out – and I’m not necessarily anti-union, but there is such a thing as killing the goose that laid the golden egg).

The old Soviet Union tried a totally state-run bureaucratic production model and it failed miserably in improving the quality of life for its citizens. Communist China never made much progress until it adopted more of a free enterprise approach. Communist Vietnam is having much better luck with its use of the capitalist model as well.

I took a college class called “Economic Geography”. I recall the professor telling of how the Soviet Union at one point had a disastrous wheat harvest not because of bad weather, but because their harvesters kept breaking down. It seems that the parts factories were not producing the right parts needed for the harvesters. In the Soviet model, all that is decided by a commissar somewhere who may have no idea of what is needed. In our model, private companies do their best to meet market demand in order to both stay in business and to reward themselves with the highest profits.

On the other hand, a concentrated effort by the government comes in handy in times of emergency.

During our Katrina there was not enough government concentration and coordination on the human disaster in New Orleans.

But, during the recent Chinese earthquake a much larger disaster, the swiftness with which the communist Chinese government moved in to aid its citizens was impressive, a certain level of propaganda aside.

Government is not always the enemy — unless you live in Myanmar.

Victory for Democrats, new freedom for GOP…

November 5, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

It’s the day after and this white boy is feeling happy as a clam with the victory of Barack Obama, who is the first black man to be elected president of the United States of America.

Do I think that our savior has arrived and all of our problems are solved? Not quite. But for the first time in my adult life (at age 59) I feel jubilant about a presidential election victory.

Not only have I not approved of George W. Bush’s policies, I think that he has tarnished the name of the United States of America for eight years and done great damage to our world reputation. Now usually I am not one to wring my hands about what everyone thinks about us around the world – after all we are a superpower with a lot of responsibilities and we have a long history of fighting against tyranny, World War II being as Winston Churchill said of his own nation’s efforts, “our finest hour”. But Bush took the belligerent course of declaring that our nation could just at will decide to do pre-emptive war. Now sure, who would argue if there were a situation in which we could strike somewhere to prevent a real imminent attack on us? But we all know that is not what we did. And in my opinion, Bush also seemed to push efforts to essentially turn our nation into a Christian theocracy, while decrying the efforts of Islamic terrorists (a real threat) who are working to enforce their form of Islamic theocracy around the world. Both sides are wrong in that one. Admittedly, Bush’s efforts in that regard were much more subtle and non-violent (in terms of what he has done here).

And who could believe that a Republican who claims to be conservative and a fan of the free-wheeling capitalist market and an enemy of big government could have expanded the government, ran our nation into debt – after a Democrat at least balanced the budget – and then ended up having to hand over billions of dollars of taxpayer money to private banks and even have the government step in and take part ownership of the banks? If that is not some form of socialism, I don’t know what is.

I am a certified Bush basher. How he got elected, and two times at that, I am sure I will never fully understand. Part of it was that things did not appear so bad at the time, the electorate was complacent, and the first Democratic challenger worked hard, but not hard enough, and the second one was a little too much of a blow dried wind surfing empty suit.

But in what I believe is the biggest election turnout ever, Americans had their backs to the wall (facing a possible second Great Depression and continuing war in the Middle East) and knew that the only hope was to vote for real change. Even a lot of white bigots were at least smart enough to vote their own self-interest, or at least take a chance.

As I understand it at this time, the Democrats did not get the complete 60 votes needed in the Senate to be filibuster-proof. But I think that is a good thing. There needs to be checks and balances.

And I truly believe that those who sincerely worried that Obama would bring about complete or near complete socialism can rest assured that he will do nothing of the kind. I think that they may be pleased to find that he will be more of a centrist – strangely more like his vanquished challenger John McCain than not. Obama is careful and pragmatic. But yes, die-hard capitalists, he will lean to the left to help the majority of us to the extent that he sees fit.

And to you Republicans who are still worried, remember this: the nation survived the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected to four terms, and even won a world war in the process. Surely we will survive a little real change. And I truly believe that the Republican Party is going to rise back from this stronger than ever and hopefully with a slightly more open-minded and more inclusive persona. No I don’t want the GOP to become Democrats. I want them to be the loyal opposition, but one that does not take such a narrow path. There are going to be problems, big problems, for Obama and plenty of openings for that loyal opposition to make their case that there is a different way to approach things. And I guess that I am going on with too many words, but I think that the GOP may have finally been freed from the shackles of dangerously hard-right conservatism and worse yet neocon conservatism.

Neocon conservatism is a hard one to understand, but in short, from what I have read, it was instituted primarily by progressives or liberals who were more interested in power than ideology, so they renamed themselves conservatives and have wrought major damage to our political system, with their winner-take-all no-compromise and often hate-inspired (have you ever listened to Rush Limberger?) approach.


The great Republican culture war rages…

October 27, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

There is a culture war going on inside the Republican Party between those who are not only educated, but took their education seriously, and those who are not educated or who did not take their education seriously.

A growing list of educated Republicans have abandoned John McCain, primarily over his choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. Palin, although educated, likes to play the part of a simple down-home rustic and she does it quite well – a little too well.

Palin gives off the impression that if you talk in complete sentences and actually say something that makes sense about issues, especially foreign policy, besides “support the troops”, you are just being an elitist and don’t understand Main Street America values.

I think Sarah’s famous doppelganger Tina Fey put it best when she said: “I think she is at least as smart as I am, but that is not going to cut it…”

Palin does read a script with polish, though, and when everything is written out for her she shows great poise in front of the camera (so did Ronald Reagan). But she is not particularly good at quick thinking and the ad lib and spews out sentences that wander all over the place, seemingly missing a subject or predicate, when caught off guard – you know, with one of those silly “gotcha” questions, such as: What are the duties of the vice president?  How does the fact that one can see Russia from some part of Alaska somehow give you insight into foreign policy?

At any rate, this culture war I think may be one of the major reasons John McCain seems headed for defeat (if he wins, certainly it will be one of the biggest upsets in history – a real Truman proudly holding up the erroneous headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment).

While I have had about as much of Sarah Palin as I can take and while I don’t agree with her politics, I do have some possibly misplaced sympathy for her now that she is accused by the McCain campaign of going off the reservation and making statements on her own. I say “good for Sarah”, it’s about time! And that’s even if I still don’t agree with her.

On one televised occasion she – gasp – actually talked to reporters and wouldn’t stop even though one of her handlers kept trying to end the impromptu interview. And over the weekend she fought back over the flap about her expensive wardrobe, $150,000 paid by the Republican National Committee ( not to mention the thousands of dollars of makeup). She said that her expensive Nieman Markus or whatever duds were mere props or equipment such as the lighting, which she would give back to the party after the campaign is over. I imagine if that is true it is more likely the result of the bad publicity for the self-proclaimed small-town “hockey mom” than an original plan.

On the other hand, do we ask how much Barack Obama’s suits cost or how much Michelle Obama’s wardrobe costs? Of course those two, even though championing the middle class, of which by net worth ( in the millions thanks to good jobs and more importantly book sales) they are not part, they do not go around playing the part of Joe the Plumber themselves. In fact, Obama takes the tack that he has done quite well, thank you, and that like Bill Clinton, and even Billionaire Warren Buffet, he could afford to pay higher taxes and should. Republicans seldom if ever say such things.

Really, the only reason Sarah’s clothes are an issue is the fact that so many people are having to cut back and are losing their jobs and that the whole economy is falling apart and that she portrays herself as just a simple down-home girl who would be more comfortable shopping at Walmart than Saks Fifth Avenue. But again, even a Palin basher such as I cannot see much there except a laugh or two. I get more worked up watching the snippy Cindy McCain in her ultra expensive wardrobe so transparently looking down at all of us who are not fortunate enough to have a daddy who made it big in the beer distributing business. Four years of John McCain in the White House, well, who knows? It could be alright, or not. Four years of super snotty Cindy McCain, unbearable. I’d almost rather listen to George W – almost.

And just one more thing. Why do candidates have to have handlers? If the handlers have all the answers, why don’t we elect them? Why do we have to watch puppets on a string perform before us?

P.s.  John McCain as far as I can see is neither an elitist nor an anti-elitist. I know he was near the bottom in his West Point class, but he does not wear ignorance as a badge of honor (and I know he is not ignorant), and he does not play the part of a rube ought on the stump. Because he is a more or less middle-of-the-road Republican he gets hit from both sides and his biggest enemies may not be among the Democrats but in his own Republican fold. I don’t think a McCain victory is going to happen, but I wonder what a free McCain, not having to appease the ignorant and intolerant, would be like. We probably won’t find out.

P.s. P.s. Just thought of this: remember what happened in the Great Cultural Revolution in China when formal education was attacked and elitists were persecuted? It took decades for that nation to recover.

W. movie sums it up; McCain charges “socialism”

October 19, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

If you went into the theater with no knowledge of what has gone on for the past eight years, you might come out feeling sympathetic to George W. Bush after watching Oliver Stone’s movie “W.”, which opened Friday. I didn’t, but I could have, as I say, if I had not seen the real story played out before my eyes.

It is ironic, since Stone has little sympathy (a little, but not much) for Bush and set out to show what a disaster he has been and a little of the why and how. I watched the Charlie Rose show on PBS and saw an interview with Stone and the lead actor Josh Brolin. They both basically admitted to being Bush bashers, but Brolin also said he had a little sympathy for him, and I think Stone did too. Stone said Bush was a man who may have been able to look back and reassess his life at one point, seeing that he was an alcoholic and drug abuser and then supposedly becoming “born again” (and really, what is worse than a sinner? A reformed sinner). But Bush could not seem to do that same reassessment once he got mired in Mesopotamia. And it’s too bad he didn’t reassess what he was getting into before he did it.

I read at least one liberal blog before I saw the movie that lamented that it was too sympathetic to Bush. I think the sympathetic aspect gave it a human touch. But in reality, I don’t think there is anything to be sympathetic about (even though I caught myself being a little sympathetic during the movie, but that quickly faded). I warned someone I know before W.’s first election not to vote for him because he was “evil.” and I believe my warning turned out to be right. I’m not sure, but I think that person did not listen to or believe me.

Bush is evil because, in my opinion, he was, is, a spoiled rich kid who has always been cynical about the American people and this nation.

(This is not meant to be a normal movie revue. But if you want to know if the movie is worth seeing, I would say yes. Even though the writer of the movie — Stanley Weiser — had to depend upon the accounts of others and not Bush himself, I have little doubt that the story is eerily near accurate. I think it gives you a general sense of what he is all about and how he came to mess things up, particularly the Mid East wars. The movie does not deal with the financial crisis.)

Bush cleverly dodged the Vietnam draft by enlisting in the Air National Guard and then by all accounts did not fully complete his obligation. If he had just simply done what he was supposed to do, complete all the training and attend all the meetings, I would not fault him for that. It would have made him more honorable than Bill Clinton, who pretended to want to go into ROTC and then didn’t, keeping him ineligible for the Vietnam draft for awhile, and then skipped the country for awhile in the Rhodes Scholar program, once more keeping him out of reach, and then didn’t complete that program and then made a trip to the Soviet Union. But Bush does not have a clear record of completing his obligation. And then he has the audacity to pretend to land an airplane on the carrier deck and parade around in a flight suit and declare “Mission Accomplished,” and then go on to preside over a fiasco in which the death toll is 4,000 and counting and no end in sight, many long years later.

Actually, if things ever do settle down in the Middle East and we were to get some friendly-to-us governments there, history might record that it was all thanks to the determination of George W. Bush. Somehow I don’t think things are going to work out so cleanly. In fact, the mess there — Iraq and Afghanistan — may be the undoing of what looks to be an Obama presidency, strangely just as it undid the Bush presidency. Bush brought it all upon himself by his proud ignorance (he doesn’t  read much history or current news) and his stubbornness and cynicism. Obama is a thinker. We don’t know, though, if he is a “decider”.

If by chance John McCain ekes out a win, surly we will be headed for some type action against Iran (Russia?), because despite the fact that he accuses Obama of unwisely telegraphing moves, McCain has made it plain that Iran is his public enemy number one.

I personally wished this nation would refrain from military adventures, except in true direct self defense, but if we do, I wished we had decisive leaders. You either fight to win or you should not fight at all. And I believe the public feels this way too instinctively, but we have timid and inept leadership when it comes to war.

I actually think we as a nation may soon find that due to our own poor economic condition we can no longer afford to fight wars of choice. And what if we exhaust our strength and can’t even defend ourselves?

But on the subject on self defense, we need to look at the situation on our border with Mexico. It does not get much play in the press, but that nation’s internal order has by all accounts broken down under an all-out assault by the drug cartels. And now it looks as though members of a Mexican drug cartel have abducted a young apparently Caucasian boy, an American citizen as far as a I know, from his home in Nevada, possibly because his grandfather welched on a debt. This type of lawlessness from across the border we should not tolerate.




…McCain’s new line of attack is to call Obama a socialist, what with Obama’s call for “spreading the wealth”. McCain may have found an argument that resonates with many, but it’s kind of late for one thing, and we have been doing this for decades, for another. The progressive income tax, bracketing so that the more money you make the higher percentage of your income you pay (supposedly), is in essence income redistribution. I’m not sure but what I even feel that such is not fair or just. But I know that folks in the higher brackets either through their own adeptness or that of their tax preparers find a myriad of deductions to offset their tax burden, and don’t we constantly get those news stories at tax time where some major corporations pay no income taxes at all?

So it seems that income redistribution (which may work both ways – from the rich to the poor or from the poor to the rich in some cases) is something the right and left have accepted for the most part.

I notice that calls for a flat tax (Ronald Reagan made the pitch) or national sales tax or consumption tax, to replace the income tax never seem to get anywhere. As much as many hate the income tax, they may feel they or their tax people know how to work the system, so leave it alone.

It would seem that if those who worked in government, from our elected representatives to bureaucrats, knew that their source of sustenance directly depended upon a vibrant economy they would have no choice but to do everything they could to not hinder business activity.

Then again, I do not know the full ramifications of a national sales tax or such as opposed to the traditional income tax.


Clarification: In my reaction blog to the last presidential debate I inadvertently left out part of a sentence. What I meant to say is that McCain accused the Obama campaign of wrongly accusing his, McCain’s campaign, of using George Wallace type race baiting tactics.

P.s. The McCain campaign is directly accusing Obama of consorting with terrorist (s) of the past (American born anti-government radical(s), and by implication or innuendo aimed at the ignorant, Islamic terrorists of the present – and how absurd is that?) and by innuendo are mentioning Obama’s race by saying he is “not like us”. Of course the Obama campaign is using some negative and probably not totally accurate stuff against McCain, and so it goes in political campaigns.

Unfortunately in this nation we do not have an intelligence test or current events test for voting so at least in the past negative and inaccurate political ads seemed to have worked. This time around, perhaps, the majority may just want something different and the only way you can do that is elect someone who who is different.

I have still not marked my absentee ballot.

Republicans speak two ways on government…

October 16, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Something that has always irritated me is that Republicans are against government intervention or support until they need it for themselves. I’ve witnessed this fact ever since I was old enough to understand current events (and that was pretty early thanks to mom and dad).

Of course the biggest example of that is the recently enacted business bailouts (at least $1 trillion, I believe). To be sure, there was some resistance to them on both the GOP and Democratic side, but as the stock market crashed even constituents who had just e-mailed their congressmen to stop the bailouts e-mailed back, bring them on to save us!

And you couldn’t be more blatantly hypocritical than Republican presidential candidate John McCain Wednesday night calling for the cutting of taxes and even an across the board spending freeze (and why doesn’t the media play that spending freeze up?) and then on the other side of his mouth implying that his administration would go to bat for “special needs” children and that his running mate Sarah Palin is an expert on that because she has a “special needs” child (she recently gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome). Palin herself was the first to suggest that under a McCain/Palin ticket special needs children would get help. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems counter to the calls for self-reliance (government is not the answer, they say) and no tax hikes or even tax reductions. But it is as I say a common trait among so-called conservative pull yourself up by your own bootstraps types to be the first in line when they need help.

And that “my friends”, as McCain would phrase it, is why I could never buy the Republican line (and I’m talking about Republicans of the last three or four decades, post-Eisenhower).

And then there is Joe the Plumber. I have worked with his type and worked for one of his type. I respect their initiative if they actually do what they say. For almost a decade I worked for a trucking company, the owner of which started out by driving his own truck.  I met an old truck driver one time at a coffee shop out on the road. He said he worked with him when they were younger. “He always bragged that he was going to run his own company one day – we just laughed at him,” the old boy told me. Well, he admitted, “he did it.” I don’t know the whole story and can’t guarantee the accuracy of it, but it went something like this: instead of buying a truck from his employer, he rented one from his father-in-law and expanded from there (if true, he knew better than to get caught up in that lease to own trap, although he subsequently used it on others). I admire his initiative and savvy.

Then there are the types who remain employees but spout off about how they don’t believe in big government and anything that gets in the way of business, but meanwhile they take advantage of every social program they are “entitled to,” unemployment benefits, disability, Social Security, OSHA safety standards, etc.

And while I have never been a union person (save for a few months and didn’t go to meetings), I find it a little hypocritical to rail against unions when I know that in my final trucking job, in which I was well paid (not the one run by the entrepreneur), while I was working for a non-union terminal, I knew that the reason we were so well paid was that there was pressure from other union terminals. The company did what it had to do to keep us happy, hoping that we would not vote the union in. And they did keep us happy, and I appreciate them for that. But I also appreciate the fact that the union was there in the background.

(But I am not pro-union because unions are often corrupt and I have witnessed the difference between union and non-union operations. In non-union operations people keep busy. In union operations people often watch the clock and refuse to do work they claim is not part of their job. The pace is often slower. However, that said, unions can protect their members and if they run their own internal quality control, and realize that the health of their employer is necessary to maintain their jobs, it would seem unions could work. And I did not mean to get off on a tangent on unions. But I have to say one more thing. The word is – don’t know if it is accurate – that an Obama administration would support the move by unions to institute the so-called card check method nationwide. This means unions can force themselves on an employer if they can persuade or intimidate enough workers to sign union cards. I believe a secret ballot is better. No one should be intimidated to sign up for a union or not sign up for a union).

The ugly hot button subject of abortion came up in the final debate. McCain unintentionally I think wound up cruelly insulting women by using that silly popular gesture nowadays of air quotes when he referred to “the health of the mother”. He claimed the phrase has been stretched to justify any abortion. I understood his point (although I don’t know if it is accurate), but his mocking and disgust ridden tone did not serve him well. Obama danced around the super delicate subject.

Both men say they are against abortion personally (of course being men they would never have to have one), but Obama supports a woman’s right to have one. McCain said he feels the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which ensures that right, was wrong. I think McCain claims he would not interfere with the right, nonetheless, although I think he has been equivocal on that position – kind of depends upon the audience to whom he is speaking.

My personal position on this most uncomfortable subject is this: abortion is something that is the business of the patient (always a woman, of course) and her doctor. The concept that the state (the government) cannot or should not intrude on one’s right to deal with or control their own body seems to me intrinsic. And now after all of these years, after writing that last sentence, I think I finally understand the Roe vs. Wade language where the opinion stated that while there is no actual wording in the Constitution (and its Bill of Rights) that gives a woman a right to privacy (thus a right to abortion), the right is contained in a “penumbra” of the Constitution. Put in my own English, if one does not have a right to control her or his own body, what right could one have?

I should stop while I am ahead, but I have to go on. It is true that we do have laws against taking life. So there is a conflict here. Then there is the question of: when does life begin? The easy answer is: at conception (I don’t know, but I would guess that an historical check would show that in times past, life in a legal context was always assumed to be the state of being once out of the womb and into the outside world). So we come full circle. A woman choosing to do something with her own body, but something that will result in the ending of a life. Ah, if things were simple we would not need written laws and judges. But I maintain we have to have a right to our own bodies and if we believe in a higher power, then we may reach out to the power for guidance and if we don’t follow a higher power, then we have to reach within ourselves. But again, if an individual, and in this case we really are talking about a woman, does not have a right to control her own body, that is so basic, how can you say a person has a right to anything?

And now, if you have read many of my other blogs, you will note that I am repetitious in the next thing I have to say:

If you go by their words (fact checks aside), the stark difference between Barack Obama and John McCain is that Obama is for an activist government that backs up and supports its citizens and McCain claims to be for one that calls on more sacrifice and self-reliance from the citizenry, albeit he has exceptions, such as for Palin’s family needs and others so situated, and talks about helping folks out there who are hurting (how?).

If the economic situation was not so dire, McCain would win, I have no doubt. But the U.S. and the world is facing what appears to be the biggest economic challenge ever. The only way most folks can see out of this (and they know it’s no guarantee) is to change horses, or should I say, replace the Republican elephant with the Democratic mule.

Obama wins, McCain scores in debate…

October 16, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

John McCain got his best line off when he told Barack Obama that he was not George Bush and that if Obama wanted to run against Bush he should have run four years ago.

While I have to give the nod to Obama as the winner in this final debate, I have to think McCain may have picked up a few undecideds.

However, I think with all the wild gyrations of the stock market and the predictions that we might be going into a severe recession that could last for years or even another Great Depression and all the financial uncertainty in the world, Obama as the Democrat has to have the advantage.

McCain himself brought up the fact that the electorate faces two distinct philosophies. I don’t recall exactly how he phrased it, but I think I am correct in saying that basically McCain’s philosophy is for more public self-reliance and lower taxes with minimal support from government, although McCain seems to promote some social issues, and Obama’s philosophy is that government has to step in and help people, especially in light of the fact it seems to be able to step in and help Wall Street to the tune of billions of dollars (trillions?). Both support the bailouts.

But just commenting on the performance of the two, they seemed evenly matched for the most part, but Obama scores almost every time with his calm, cool, and collected responses and delivery.

McCain is more tightly wound.

I think Obama was almost on the ropes at one point under McCain’s aggressive approach, but he quickly recovered by collecting his thoughts and then calmly explaining his positions.

And like I always note, it is hard to know who is right when one says his program would do this and cost this or not cost this or that he voted this way, not that way and the other disputes it (you have to read the analysis the next day).

But something specific McCain repeated from his last debate is that he would implement an across the board freeze on government spending (exactly how that would work I don’t know and surly something would have to be spent).

Before Obama could respond, McCain said he knew Obama would accuse him of taking a hatchet approach instead of using a scalpel, but then added that he, McCain, could do both.

Sure enough, Obama countered that McCain was taking a hatchet approach, adding that while some things need to be cut, some things require more funding.

But I will give points to McCain here because he unlike Obama at least gave an answer to the question of how he would cut spending, even if not a complete answer, although McCain did again mention there is waste in the defense budget.

McCain was the most animated when he pressed Obama on his connections to 60s/70s radical terrorist William Ayers and also when he accused the Obama Campaign of wrongly and unfairly accusing the McCain campaign of engaging in George Wallace-like racist rhetoric. He also accused the Obama campaign with complicity in alleged voter registration fraud, which Obama denied.

Obama coolly explained away his Ayers connection, noting that he, Obama, was only eight years old when Ayers was doing his terrorist thing and that since then Ayers has become accepted by both Democrats and Republicans and that he only served with him on non-profit agencies. Ayers has given some political support to Obama.

While I think many would buy McCain’s governmental philosophy and accept his qualities as a long-time lawmaker and war hero, in these tough times a lot of people know they may have to look to their own government for some support and that they need someone at the top whose main interest is with them and not just the business sector.

McCain claims he would not raise anyone’s – not anyone’s! – taxes. Obama says if you make under $250,000 per year you will not see a tax increase.

How McCain thinks he can fund the government, pay for the corporate bailouts, pay down the national debt, and do some of the social programs that even he supports without increased taxes, I don’t know. I didn’t hear.

McCain also led off with something about Joe the Plumber, a guy who wants to go into business for himself, but who he claims Obama blew off by saying we have to spread the wealth.

Obama did not answer that directly, but he indicated he had nothing against Joe the Plumber and that most small businesses in the nation or a large percentage of them do not make $250,000 per year.

So, I guess if we want to support Joe the Plumber we are obligated to vote for McCain, or so he wants you to think.

I’m neutral of Joe the Plumber, but somehow I think Obama may represent my interests more than McCain.

And remember, if something should happen to the elderly McCain we get Sarah Palin.

If that alone doesn’t give you pause, I give up.

In summary, McCain did well, fought hard, made some points. Obama seemed more in line with what the vast majority of Americans need.

P.s. I’ll probably blog more tomorrow on all of this.

Candidates’ last chance; cold $ reality…

October 15, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

For all intents and purposes it’s the last chance for Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama to make their respective cases to the electorate as a whole, and it’s less than three hours from now as I write this.

I sure hope tonight’s debate will be more exciting than the last two presidential ones and even the vice presidential one. I’m watching primarily for the entertainment. Wild horses could not make me vote for John McCain and especially not the extremely shrill and extremely under qualified Sarah Palin. Will I vote for Barack Obama? Probably. I already have my absentee ballot, but have not marked it yet. Voting third party is useless, but then again, voting in California is somewhat useless too, since it is a foregone conclusion who will get the winner-take-all electoral votes (but if everyone thought that way…).

But I’ll tune in at 6 p.m. Pacific time and plan to blog as soon as it is over. Don’t think I’ll take notes this time. It gets in the way of really seeing the thing. I even missed Sarah’s wink, on the live shot, a few weeks ago.

Seriously, no matter what I think of the two candidates, I would hope they put some oomph into this thing, layout their agenda and make someone want to vote for them and feel good about it. I think the format always gets in the way, but too late to do anything about that.

If McCain is itching to say something about Obama’s William Ayers connection, for goodness sakes do it. Look right at Obama and say it to his face. In fact, I think McCain owes it to everyone to do so since he and his campaign have made so much of it through ads and political stump speeches.

And Obama should answer the charge straight on, truthfully without nuance or equivocation, and be done with it and move on to what people really want to hear.

As for the “tax and spend charge” Republicans always level at the Democrats , I wished Obama would just say in essence, all administrations, Republican or Democrat, in fact, all governments, tax and spend, it’s just how they tax and how much they spend and on what and whom.

And Mr. McCain, if you can actually cut government spending, please tell us how. Your hero Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, although in the popular neo-conservative lore he is depicted as doing so.

Even though I won’t vote for McCain I could see him winning the debate if he concentrated on his own programs (if he has any) and stressed his experience in government and his handle on military matters (although being a pilot and getting shot down over enemy territory and being a POW and surviving torture may show bravery, it does not make him Napoleon Bonaparte).

Also, “winning” a presidential debate is subjective and does not historically always equate with winning the election. However, McCain has spent too much time preaching to his choir. He needs to convince undecideds. If he could grab enough of them, that combined with the possible Bradley effect (Whites who won’t vote for a Black, but will not divulge such to pollsters) and a no-show by newly registered, but not dedicated, voters, might give McCain a shot (election hankly panky could be a factor too, but that could go either way).

…….The other day I thought that maybe since Wall Street had successfully extorted some $1 trillion or so out of the American taxpayers it was satisfied, hence the big jump in the stock market on Monday, after the big loss on the previous Friday. Maybe in the cold light of reality traders saw that there are government strings attached to the “rescue” package – the Wall Street Journal reports today that bankers were basically given a take it or leave it option, no negotiation – and that new earnings reports show we are in or are going into a deep recession, turning optimism into doom (also these wide swings, I suppose, just mean the speculators are at their game). One cold reality is that the stock market is a gamblers game. Unfortunately some years ago it was decided that we all should play that game with our retirement funds.

Please read my post-debate blog coming out soon on a computer screen near you.