Republican rule: wake me when it’s over…

October 4, 2008

(Copyright 2008) 

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

Maybe it has taken the economic nightmare we are in now for the American electorate to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that eight years of Republican administration is not working.

John McCain has not lost yet, but his campaign is said to be on the defensive, despite the energy of Sarah Palin. A first class actress she is. Is she or more importantly at this time McCain a reformer? I have not seen the proof of that.

In a hard to explain and hard to sell, I would think, twist McCain and Palin claim to be not only running against the Democrats, but the Republican establishment as well (gee why aren’t they running as third party candidates then?).

McCain is more tied to the traditional Republicans, maverick moves on isolated issues aside. And he is the presidential candidate, not Palin, although it is hard to remember. There is so much interest in Palin, as a novelty if nothing else, that the vice presidential debate Thursday evening drew many more viewers than what I consider the presidential candidate borefest last week.

Unlike the veteran, and I still say more traditional, McCain, Palin comes across as some kind of populist folk hero out of the right side of the political spectrum. But one gets the impression her noise is more of a side show to distract from the usual Republican plans to provide for those who don’t need providing for.

Of course she would have you believe she is concerned for “Joe Six Pack.” Well first of all, I doubt it. And second of all, would you want to be identified as “Joe Six Pack?” He sounds like the kind of working class fool who will spend too much out of his pay check for a six pack of beer each night, while smarter and more enterprising folks such as Sarah and Todd Palin put their efforts elsewhere (and I have no idea how much or what kind of refreshment the Palins go in for).

But just as fat cat Republicans sucker not so fat cat wannabes to go along with them, so do the enterprising Palins, both on the grounds that the other side is just a bunch of lazy loafers who want to depend upon government and in turn your hard-earned money.

Then there are the “soccer” or “hockey” moms Palin refers to. I guess those are moms who run their kids to games and have the usual concerns of parents everywhere. Well let’s see, for the last 40 years for some reason the Republicans have been the party of war – they are always itching to show American’s military muscle. Are those moms concerned that their own children might one day soon be sacrificed in war? Palin sees it as a sacred duty, because if America goes to war it has to be fighting for freedom (she perhaps has not kept up all that well on current events and did not take many history classes).

And now that I come to think of it, let’s get this straight – Palin has no ability when it comes to original or independent thinking. If she did she would not stick to that nauseatingly simple and repetitious line of trash she spews out daily. I know politicians tend to do this, but with her there seems to be no illusion that she is doing anything other than performing an act, albeit with great gusto.

That said, if these were normal times, her act might work. These are not normal times. I’m starting to see that the public is more discerning than I would have given it credit for.

Whatever, the noise does not seem to be resonating as much as it did.

I started to go over a debate transcript of the Biden-Pail thing, but I got tired. It’s really all silliness. Fact check articles on the web show that both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden were guilty of inaccuracies in their assertions and counter assertions.

And even though I blogged in my initial reaction that Palin basically won by sheer energy, I think it was a hollow victory (and most news reports called it a tie at best) because she won only because she bowled over Biden, who had been cautioned to take it easy on her as not to upset her sensibilities or those of her admirers, in an onslaught of Republican talking point nonsense that made her appear as an automaton. It was as if someone had reached up just before the debate and pulled a chord out from the back of her neck. She delivered more of a monologue than answers to questions in what passes for a debate these days.

I also noticed that Palin has the same annoying and probably nervous habit of John McCain in that when the opponent is making a point or leveling a criticism, she gives off a smirky smile.

And that loving hockey mom Palin claims to be can be as cold as ice. At one point when Biden was making some personal point concerning his family and teared up and even choked up a little, Palin was busy scribbling notes (getting more of those coached talking points ready). She didn’t look up, but she did give off that smirky smile.

I called my mom to get her reaction to the debate. She did not read my blog (failing eyesight and no computer) and I did not tell her, but she immediately noted what I had already in a previous blog. Palin in Reaganesque. She is an actress. I would not for a minute under estimate her. It worked for Ronald Reagan.

One commentator on my previous debate reaction blog noted that Palin uses “red neck” speech. The commentator said that if Obama used Ebonics (the official name for black ghetto speech, I guess), he would be called the N word by his detractors. I do hear him talk about “shout outs” occasionally, although, strangely enough, Palin used that term too. But I associate the term with modern jive talk.

I suppose Palin feels she sounds more populist, a person of the common folk, by using slang, like ending words with an n instead of ing. I’m not extremely fussy in the finer points of speech, but I think someone at that level or someone wanting to be at that level (vice presidency or presidency) needs a little more decorum. At any rate, a little slang goes a long ways. She pours it on a little too thick.

I was going to go over the debate point by point, but it is not worth it. Republicans are for top down and Democrats for bottom up. It’s really is as simple as that (yes there are variations on both sides, but the basics still remain true).

But here is something that scares me: if Palin is as incapable of forming her own words as she seems to be, then perhaps she lacks critical thinking skills. If she were to become president she would be led around by folks behind the scenes. George W. Bush, even with his Yale education, has proven to be something near an imbecile. He has been led by the nose by the forces of evil, represented by the dark and devious Dick Cheney.

Now with that last part, I have probably discredited myself in the eyes of many as being nothing more than a Bush basher. Well I am a Bush basher. It’s hard for a thinking person not to be (his handling of the war, Katrina, economic policy, his speaking abilities or lack thereof, his admission that he does not read news accounts – he just decides).

We have a choice in this election: go with the reactionaries, disguised as architects of reform, represented by the Republicans, or go with the more progressive and thoughtful element represented by the Democrats.

P.s. Even if the Republicans lose, I would not be surprised to see Sarah Palin re-emerge on the national stage. Like her or not, she is the modern version of Ronald Reagan, albeit a little rougher around the edges, and female, of course.


And I thought Palin won (?)…

October 3, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

Blogger’s note: This is my initial reaction to the vice presidential debate after watching it. And I consider myself at least independent-minded, but definitely not a McCain-Palin backer. But this was my immediate reaction:

————

I went into watching the Joe Biden-Sarah Palin vice presidential debate thinking that Biden might be the mouthy one, but Sarah Palin went into a speech and never stopped and in the process, as if she was on some kind of speed-induced trip, she ran over Biden like a freight train driven by a text-messaging engineer.

At one point Biden was so rattled he stumbled over a word (I think it was characterize), a minor flub, but the only one in the debate, I thought, and he made it.

Also even though Palin seemed to spout off talking points, instead of using them inappropriately for answers, she for the most part magically weaved them into her delivery in a way they seemed to make sense (well kind of). Yes, there were several times she made claims on such things as being an “energy expert” and injected them into an answer where it was not relevant, let alone accurate, but more often than not she used what had to be a whole lot of scripted info crammed into her head in a few short days and made it sound as if she was a woman with a coherent plan and a mission.

The way these so-called modern televised debates are set up, they are not actually debates. They are question and answer sessions. But that aside, if we were to call it a debate, certainly Palin won hands down, if for no other reason than pure energy. I have to think she caught Biden and just about everyone else by surprise, even taking into consideration her low expectations and the fact that unless one has instant fact check capability, you don’t know the accuracy of either contestant’s statements.

But even assuming they were both truthful or made the same number of misstatements, Palin won, in my opinion, on delivery and again sheer energy.

And if one wonders how she could have improved so much since her flop-sweat session with Katie Couric a few days previous, Palin may have given the answer toward the end of the debate:

She said she was glad to have had the opportunity to speak directly to the American people “without the filter of the media.”

And it occurs to me that I can remember a lot more of what Palin said than Biden; I can still remember her general enthusiastic tone more than I can that of Biden. And I think that has to be a plus for the John McCain camp.

But all that said. I am not judging the presidential election on one debate or question and answer session with two vice presidential candidates. And in general I am not convinced that the McCain-Palin ticket would deliver the kind of policies I would like. But she sure made them sound good (for the most part). I think her daddy McCain has to be mighty pleased tonight.

Biden for his part was steady for most of the time. Tripped over one word as anyone might. He did start to tear up once over some point I missed. It didn’t phase Palin. She just kept taking notes.

Palin may be the new Ronald Reagan. She delivered her lines in the best Reaganesque fashion, but with a down-home feminine touch. She is the consummate politician. We still don’t know the real depth of her knowledge, but we do know she is a quick study.

P.s. I plan to blog more, either later tonight or by tomorrow morning sometime after I review more of the interview and my own notes. I just wanted to get my instant reaction out there. Last time I blogged that McCain somewhat outperformed Obama. But I may have been wrong, or winning or performance is not important, but public opinion seemed to give the edge to Obama. Maybe I got it different than most everyone else this time too. But I have to say, Palin hit the ball out of the park (and that does not mean I buy her program).

Ps. P.s. Seems like I’m getting some reports that initial polling gives it to Biden. Could it be that after eight long years culminating in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression the public is fed up with Republicanism under any guise?


Biden debates as VP, Palin as president…

October 2, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

Joe Biden is a known commodity. Sarah Palin with her sorry Katie Couric interview is almost one, but tonight should be the final verdict on her side show.

Interestingly, Palin supporters put her up to be a kind of homespun common sense kind of gal. So far all I have heard from her are stock Republican talking points and nonsense and lies, such as her claiming time and again that she opposed the infamous boondoggle known as the Bridge to Nowhere when she supported it until she found it wouldn’t sell once the scheme was exposed. She successfully sought tons of the notorious congressional earmarks she and John McCain so stridently oppose. On the question of earmarks she is a prevaricator in that she makes statements that she will do away with them and implies how evil they are, but does not admit to her listeners that she was a top earmark obtainer herself. When pressed by the media (which of course her supporters characterize as the enemy) she justifies her actions by noting that they are the only practical way the system allows for localities to obtain federal funds. Nonetheless, she leaves all that out in her speeches in order that she can accuse the other side of using earmarks, as if they were doing something underhanded, but that she has been clean as the newly-driven Alaska snow. A little honesty would go a long ways Sarah.

And on world affairs, I would have been okay with her if she had just said, “I know where Russia is and I have a college education and can figure out the rest” and maybe even gave the impression she ever had any interest in the rest until now. But no, she makes the absurd claim that because from some point in Alaska (a place we now find out she has never been) you can see Russia she has insight into geo-politcal relations. Then she claims in an interview to be well read, but can’t or declines to even give an example of what she might have read. At least George W. Bush admitted he doesn’t read anything. He just decides.

Having said all that, I can’t help but have just a little empathy with Palin. She has a college degree, but she has not traveled in the same circles as some in the media and someone like Biden. She took journalism and political science and graduated from the University of Idaho with a journalism degree. She attended more than one college before getting her degree. I attended one year of junior college, then became a small town newspaper reporter and attended many night classes and then in my 40s went back and completed what I needed for the standard four-year degree. My BA degree was in political science, with many what you might call pre-law classes. I had wild ambitions of maybe going to law school. Reality set in – I had a family to support – and I went back to newspapering. I lost out finally in a corporate downsizing and went into truck driving. So there I was, a college educated person who never really, as I call it, “joined the club.” It took my life story there to explain why I have some, not much, empathy for Palin. The only problem is that if you’re just as good as they are (members of the club) you have to prove it. Tonight, Palin has to prove it, as far as I am concerned. Stock answers that don’t even match up to the questions will not do.

In reality, Palin has more to prove than Biden. In all likelihood, if Barack Obama becomes president, Biden will be nothing more than a stand-in and perhaps a foreign policy advisor, both things he can obviously handle. If McCain wins, due to his age and his cancer-related health history, Palin would be much more likely to assume the presidency. And she has no record anywhere near that level.

So, tonight Biden debates as a vice presidential candidate. Palin debates as a presidential candidate.


Presidential race seen as black and white…

September 14, 2008

(copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

I pretty much see the presidential race as black and white.

Kind of a play on words. Kind of not.

With the polls I’m reading being at best dead even and with the hand wringing apparent in some of the Democratic leaning blogs, and with some folks admitting on TV that either they themselves or their neighbors will not vote for a black man to be president, and with the obsession over Sarah Palin, the handwriting is almost visible on the wall.

The worriers could only wish it really was just a “bad Disney movie,” as one Hollywood star put it. But it’s real folks and for some Democrats it’s even worse than lipstick on a pig.

And the lies and/or distortions continue: That state Jet Palin rejected on becoming the Alaska governor and that she claimed she sold on eBay, wouldn’t sell online, so it was sold elsewhere at a loss. Her campaign trying to tout her knowledge of foreign affairs claimed she traveled to Iraq, no, only to the border – she was on the Kuwait side. It was also claimed she visited Ireland – her airliner stopped for refueling (heck I did that). She’s for cutting spending, but it has increased under her governorship. All that was courtesy from a memo put out by the Obama campaign and carried on Time CNN online (but I’m sure it can be verified elsewhere).

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, whatever are we going to do with you? Your nose is going to grow so long.

All these lies Palin and McCain (it seems like that’s the order of the ticket now, Palin-McCain) are putting out is terribly cynical. She spewed out several lies and distortions in her acceptance speech. One wonders if she and the campaign did not think the mendacity (been waiting to use that word) would not be quickly uncovered? No, they knew it would, but the public would just figure the “media” (excluding beacons of truth such as Fox and Limberger (not his real name) is in the pocket of Obama and wouldn’t believe the truth and what is more probably would not care. Besides if you repeat a lie over and over people begin to believe it.

Yes, I fear that prejudice and the big lie, and I have to say, not a bad publicity stunt by McCain (he was needing one), may push the Republicans over the top once more (even without the Supreme Court or hanky panky in Ohio – although watch for that too).

The reason Palin and McCain may be resorting to easily uncovered lies is the principle set forth by Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He actually accused Churchill and the English of using the following method: “…one should lie and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” (My source was Wikipedia under Joseph Goebbels.)

The polls are close and there is still time for Democrat Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden. Hopefully the upcoming debates will enlighten the public, and I think with the race as close as it is, they will tune in. But, meantime out on the trail, Obama has his work cut out for him and the time for eloquent speechifying is over. He has to get out there and hit the issues, issues, issues, and never mind McCain, except to remind of the natural link with Bush policies, and don’t even mention Palin. The public needs to know what precisely Obama proposes. No I don’t mean reciting line by line how much would be spent on what programs or a long recitation covering the minutia of programs, but he needs to be more specific than “change” (cynically co-opted by the Republican ticket, and forget about Yes We Can and definitely I don’t want to hear Si Se Puede). Remind folks of what the Republican administration these past eight years has wrought and tell them what you plan to do and hit hard at those working class areas and just remind folks that Republicans are almost never the friend of wage earners and not even small businessmen.

And don’t be afraid to mention that the Republicans, Bush, and now McBush and his female version of Bush (God tells me what to do, that’s all I need to know; like the Blues Brothers, “we’re on a mission from God”) want us to be in endless war (the word is that Palin has connections with a religious organization that sees a holocaust between Russia and the U.S. and Iran and Israel, or something of that nature, just a part of the end times as forecast in the Book of Revelations – Bush W. is said to follow that line of thinking too and he’s sure been trying. If you’re Palin, you think, what me worry? I’m going to be lifted up to Heaven in the Rapture).

You have to be mighty careful on this one, though. A Democrat has to show he is for keeping up the best military in the world, but that he just wants to choose missions more wisely.

Obama will have to defend himself in strong terms where necessary against the Republican lies (and I am disappointed that someone who has had such a long record of public service and an impeccable record as a patriot as McCain has stooped to a campaign of lies and distortions), but Obama can’t let himself be sidetracked by Palin, who talks around in circles, and again, attacking McCain head on is useless.

If things are as bad as they seem to be for so many people, it’s hard to think that they would vote for essentially the same machine that has been in power for the better (or worse) part of a decade. Yes, residual or even outright racism could play a factor. But why oh why I must ask would one vote against his or her self-interests and the interests of the nation as a whole because a candidate is black?

I’m not trying to blow something out of proportion. One might argue that there is no real race question. But I hear it a little, and it sure pops up, even among Obama supporters.

My problem with McCain (and Palin) is that he relishes war (even if he says he does not), sees any fight, right or wrong, as the home team against them (so you have to support it), has a view of fiscal policy as one where you give the tax advantages to the ones who need it the least, and a social agenda that ignores most of those in trouble under the philosophy that something will trickle down to them. My objections to Palin are primarily that she does not have enough experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. And moreover, all of her amendments to past statements and restatements about her positions do not remove the fact that all evidence shows that she is a Christian fundamentalist who sees herself as having the ear God and her mission as being to run things for the country as per her interpretation of God’s will.

Our founding fathers and Americans today do not want a theocracy. Yes, many Christians wish more people would follow their path and wish that traditional moralities would be restored, but that is work they must carry out by their own actions and mentoring to those younger than themselves. In order to protect freedom of religion we have a system of government that separates religion from government in order that no one interpretation of God’s plan can be made law, so each and every citizen can worship according to his or her own beliefs or even not worship.

The liberal pendulum at times in this nation has swayed so far to the left that our own Supreme Court and the lower appellate courts have made rulings that seem to bar the practice of religion in public places (schools, governmental agencies). I’m not going cite cases here, but some have interpreted rulings as, for an example, preventing a child from praying at school. Now certainly if that is so, that would give much concern and fodder to far-right religious groups. But I would hope that the real intention is to prevent, say, school authorities from forcing a child to pray, and moreover forcing a child to pray in a certain manner. That would be state-sanctioned religion, a clear violation of the First Amendment. I do not know what the legal scholars think, but I have never seen the Constitution as prohibiting religion, only prohibiting the forced practice of a certain type of religion. At any rate, I am suspicious of anyone running for the highest offices of the land who constantly invokes the almighty (it has become obligatory for candidates to do so at the end of speeches, I notice).

My God Bless!

P.S. For anyone who had been following the progress of my Tuleville Sundown novel, or any other interested reader, I have posted a new page at http://tonybooks.wordpress.com and you can get more of the book by Googling or Yahooing — Tony Walther, Yahoo –. All very confusing, I know. At some point I’ll get it into coherent order — maybe publish it in book form, or maybe just drop it.


Obama picks mouthy white guy….

August 23, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

My first reaction when I read on the web that Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s VP pick was something akin to, well I guess the Democrats are going to lose another one.

But after listening to some of the talking heads on CNN for awhile, I came around to thinking that the Democrats will remain competitive.

Even though history, according to political watchers, says that VP picks have had little to do with who wins elections, I’m not sure that’s true –  think the old hand Lyndon Johnson delivering the South for the young John Kennedy and think how powerful Dick Cheney has been. Maybe the VP slot is important after all, not just a “warm bucket of spit” like one presidential second banana called it.

I think John McCain is certainly going to have to get someone young or younger and vibrant and someone who could indeed take over (McCain would be 73 at the beginning of his term).

The only thing I could recall about Biden was that he was accused of plagiarizing a speech in a previous presidential campaign. Then I was reminded that he not too long ago made a remark that sounded like he was saying that Obama was a good guy for a black American, he was actually “clean” and “articulate,” kind of like someone saying, “you know some of my best friends are….” or “yeah he’s black, but he’s a real nice guy.”

But as one black correspondent on CNN remarked, Biden’s seemingly un PC remark actually could work to Obama’s advantage. That’s because it shows that he was not bothered by such a minor thing, which would give comfort to white folks who are always complaining that they can’t say anything without being called prejudiced.

And Biden is quite a talker, known to run off at the mouth and for making gaffes now and then in the process. But he’s a heck of a campaigner, they say. One of the talking heads said the mix is Obama’s cool and Biden’s hot.

Now that’s them talking. I really know little about Biden, except he’s a senator from Delaware and he’s chair of the senate’s foreign relations committee. Given this country’s disastrous foreign policy, I’m not sure that’s something to brag about.

I must say, I am somewhat surprised at how close the polls, running neck and neck by most accounts, are. It would have seemed at one time that given George W’s record just about any Democrat could win.

I’ve pretty much thought that in most cases the economy decides elections. Bill Clinton had the luck of presiding over good economic times (even though the crash was coming) and Gore did get the most votes, but he should have trounced Bush. Some say Gore didn’t want the job bad enough, and I also think the Clinton sleaze factor tainted Gore. And maybe even that strange thing about Gore and the Asian campaign fund raising involving temple monks, or that story that went around that the Clinton administration was going to give the Chinese military a base in California.

John Kerry lost because he was even more of an empty suit than George W, proving that one can be fairly articulate, yet still empty.

So anyway, my prediction is that Obama will win, even in a tight race, if the economy remains poor.

If there is some new world crisis or something new in an existing world crisis, the edge could go to McCain, especially if Obama is seen to falter ever so slightly (he can’t nuance). Or in a close election, if some of the newly inspired don’t show up in November, then the hard right religious zealots could turn the tide against Obama. McCain last weekend should have successfully brought them into his fold after his pandering performance at the Saddleback mega church.

Bill Clinton’s campaign mantra was “it’s the economy stupid” and I think that holds true today, unless we feel as if we are in danger of being attacked (just as the South used to threaten that it would rise again, Russia is threatening anew).

And here’s a question I would have to ask anyone, no matter what their political philosophy is:

If you consider yourself to be less than rich and even less than upper middle class, do you think McCain identifies with you or feels your pain, so to speak? He can’t recall how many houses he owns.

And, yes, Mr. And Mrs. Obama are quite wealthy, and some might say, elitist, but they have chosen to align themselves with progressive (or liberal) politics that takes all persons into consideration, rather than the trickle down attitude. Trickle down? Would you want something trickling down on you?

Up till now, I have tried to be balanced in my comments on the opposing political factions.

I listened to McCain last weekend. That all ended.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t intend to start the pro-Obama blog, but I think a lot less of McCain as a candidate for president of the United States.