Surely they’re not standing in line for McCain…

November 2, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

I find it hard to believe that all those young people, all those new never voted before voters, and all those people starting to wait in line at 3 a.m. at one place for early voting are all excited to get out the vote for John McCain. That seems unlikely.

I’m not sure how much good McCain’s appearance on Saturday Night Live did him two days before election Tuesday. With an assist from wife Cindy along with Tina Fey doing her Sarah Palin routine, complete with a “going rogue” aside about her running in 2012, McCain did a pretty good skit. But really, is that the image he wants just before election day running for the most powerful office in the world? Well, who knows? maybe he could do like that other Republican oldster war hero and presidential campaign loser Bob Dole and wind up taking a job doing Viagra commercials.

No, I’m envisioning an Obama landslide, not just a win, but a Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater (the latter of course being an Arizonan like McCain) kind of an affair. Of course I was sure Mitt Romney was going to be the Republican candidate too (even though I don’t care for him).

With so many top Republicans repudiating McCain and with so many more conceding either tacitly or directly he won’t win, it seems those who actually decide, the voters, are not likely to pull this one out of the hat for him, even if McCain acts as if he is the happy underdog confident that he will come back from behind one last time. Heck a large percentage of the voters have already cast their ballots and more of them are registered Democratic than not, I believe.

If this were still an extremely tight race, I might be concerned about voting irregularities and dirty tricks with the ballots, but with the overwhelming outpouring I am witnessing on television of voters across the nation I find it hard to believe that the election can or will be stolen, even though there is sure to be some mischief (from either side).

—  So I can’t sleep and in the middle of the night I get up and watch C-Span and I see convicted bribe taker Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens debating his Democratic opponent and declaring that they (the Senate) won’t kick him out. They wouldn’t dare, he proclaims indignantly. He has a lot of friends, he boasts (hmm I wouldn’t count on it Ted). He is well respected, he says. Okay already, keep believing it. Call me sappy, but I almost don’t want to see the old coot go to jail, I just want him out of government.

But even more startling: Stevens in answer to a question by the moderator as to whether he thinks Iraq had any hand in 9/11 (here we go again) confidently said yes it did and he knows things others don’t. I know, and so did Bush. But they are keeping it secret from the rest of the American people.

Why is this?

Apparently there is some super secret information that explains why our nation has done what it has done in Iraq and if we only knew what it was we would not complain, but we cannot be told, because, well, I don’t know why. But at any rate, only Republicans can be privy to this super secret information. Maybe it should not even be shared with other Republicans. Maybe George W. and Dick Cheney should be able to continue in office.

And let me state here and now: I do not know for sure whether there was ever any connection between Saddam Hussein and his Iraq and 9/11 but I have never come across it and I read the news regularly. Of course I know old Saddam was not sorry for it – well at least not until he got blamed for it and later got hanged. I also know that no matter how much is written there will always be people, and quite a few of them at that, who did not get the message that Iraq apparently had no direct connection with 9/11. Who knows? Maybe some day we will find evidence that there was some direct or indirect connection between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the 9/11 terrorists (I doubt it) and we might even stumble upon a secret cache of weapons of mass destruction or a bakery where yellow cake was being made, now covered under a sand dune. (I was kidding; I know it’s a different kind of yellow cake.)

We went into Afghanistan with an army to basically find one man, Osama bin Laden, and still have not located him (psst, he’s in Pakistan, but keep that under your hat – oh I forgot, McCain told us he knows where Osama is and he knows how to get him, and Nixon had a secret plan to get us out of the Vietnam War, it was called drag out the war and try to sue for peace in the background and then quit the presidency and let the other guy take the blame for quitting the war.

We went into Iraq because George W. for various reasons, including a reported attempt by Saddam Hussein to assassinate his father and to make up for what he considered the weakness of his father for not going all the way to Baghdad at the conclusion of the otherwise successful Gulf War. “Regime change” was called for by the fashionably dressed Condoleezza Rice and others, and Bush had been convinced by those who put together a think tank paper called “Project for a New Century” that we needed to control the Middle East for strategic interests. To put it bluntly, we needed to have control over an area that produces most of the world’s easily refinable crude oil.

—  What is up with this thing when the talking heads discuss whether some politician should have had a better speech written for him or her? Why, I ask, can’t they say their own words? Even taking into consideration that some folks have an ability to speak more eloquently than others, say Obama over McCain, why would we want to elect someone who can’t even come up with his or her own words?

Don’t know if it is true, but weren’t we taught that Abe Lincoln wrote his own speeches. Supposedly he scrawled out the Gettysburg Address on the train en-route to his speaking engagement and stuck the draft in his stove pipe hat (and wouldn’t you have thought he would have had an advance man to get the address for him – I digress). I thought of this inability in drafting one’s own words when I watched a clip of former speech writer and economic guru Ben Stein telling Larry King that Sarah Palin benefitted from a good speech writer when she was introduced at the convention, but suffered from not having the same support later. He also claimed that she is incredibly able, in many ways more so than Barack Obama (huh?), but lamentably she just doesn’t appear to have, his words: “presidential timbre”. I would just add that she is “clueless”. That having been said, that would not preclude her from running for president as the Republican candidate in the future.

—  And here’s something that I have been hearing a lot lately, so much so, I wonder if it will not become accepted as correct. It’s about elementary grammar. I confess, I didn’t know what to call it, but I consulted a grammar text and it called what I am encountering a “double comparison”. Anyway, it’s when you hear someone say something like “more better”, when better alone would suffice and be correct English. I keep hearing these double comparisons on the radio and television from those who should know better, so much so, that it does not appear to be just careless speech.

I think Dave Letterman usually uses correct speech, even though he is a jokester. But I just watched a clip from his show where he asked guest Alec Baldwin if had ever seen a “more hotter political figure” than Sarah Palin. And I know that when people talk fast that sometimes their grammar slips, but I hear this all the time (and I know technically one is not supposed to begin a sentence with and, as I just did and often do – it’s a holdover from my journalism experience where many rules are broken. We who call ourselves writers feel that it is okay to break the rules if we know that we are breaking them, and sometimes I do, know that I am breaking the rules, that is).

—  And I just saw and heard Sarah Palin, whiny voice and all, stating to the crowd “doggone it, government is the problem not the solution.” So I must ask: then why do you want so much to be part of it Mrs. Palin?

 



 

Correction: I incorrectly stated in a recent blog that the Catholic-run hospital in my city was a for-profit business. It is a non-profit run by Catholic Healthcare West.


What’s in a name??????

August 11, 2008

(copyright)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

There was a footnote I left out of my blog on my memories of oil, left out because it had nothing to do really with oil and I didn’t want to stray too far off course.

But in that little farming town of Tulare, Ca. (not as little now) where I spent many of my formative years, lived a college student with the odd name of Turnupseed, Don Turnupseed (not to make fun of someone’s name, but it is a peculiar moniker and makes one think of small towns, farming country, falling off the turnip truck – different spelling for the actual tuber).

Unfortunately for him, he was coming home from Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 30, 1955 when he arrived at a highway junction at Cholame, Ca. and came into the path of a fast-moving car. The driver of that fast-moving car was killed. He was movie actor James Dean.

Except for making some statements to the local newspaper in Tulare, the Advance-Register, he reportedly never spoke for the public record of that incident for the rest of his life. He was never charged in that accident.

He went on to be associated with his family’s business, Turnupseed Electric. They do a lot of commercial work in that area of the country and you can see their trucks and equipment and signs all over the place.

As I pointed out in my blog, James Dean had been involved with shooting the movie “Giant” at the time. It has a famous scene where Dean’s character hits an oil gusher. Dean died just a few miles away from a large oil field.

Don Turnupseed died of lung cancer in 1995.

I got to thinking about peculiar names. I recall in that town of Tulare there was a dentist named Dr. Drilling.

There was also an acquaintance of the family, Mrs. Lovelady. She said that when she would mention the name or write a check, she would get wisecracker responses like the one from the guy who said: “yeah, I love the ladies.”

Once, a man who was an assistant superintendent of schools gave us a presentation, showing us photos or slides that he had made on a trip to Washington, D.C.

His name was Arnie Nixon. At the time, Richard Nixon was President Eisenhower’s vice president. Mr. Nixon said that early one morning he had a tripod and camera set up near the capitol and was making photos. A policeman came along and was curious about why he was out so early and asked him his name. When he identified himself with the name Nixon, the policeman suddenly became very gracious and offered to help him in any way he could.

In my memory, Mr. Arnie Nixon did not look as much like Richard Nixon as he did Wally Cox, and for those of you too young to know who Wally Cox is, like I always write, look it up on Wikipedia (it’s not worth going into).

When I was in Army basic training, I not only had a drill sergeant, the mild-mannered (really) Sgt. Stacy, but a not-so-mild-mannered drill sergeant-in-training, Drill Corporal Redhead. Our platoon was also under the supervision of Lt. Red.

And all the forest fires we have had this summer in my home area (north end of California’s Sacramento Valley) reminds me of a guy who worked for the state Department of Forestry. His name was Dusty Rhodes.

I should mention that the forest fires around here began with the first day of summer. About a week ago they seemed to have been almost done, but another round of dry lightning strikes like the one that started the original ones, caused new fires. Several firefighters have lost their lives recently in this area, making our suffering from smoke seem small.

For a month, we had nearly solid days of intense smoke and ashes, and since then it has been off and on.

But I want to express my gratitude and admiration for all of the firefighters and support personnel on the job and to the ones who lost their lives and want to express my condolences to their loved ones.


A shot at survival…

June 23, 2008

(Copyright)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

Seems as if we need a moon shot approach to solve our energy problem. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik back in the 1950s, we, the U.S., panicked, thinking that the Russians had far surpassed us in technology.

I think that panic helped get John Kennedy elected president in 1960. He was young, he was a Democrat and the current administration at the time was Republican, and he talked about vigor, which he pronounced as something like “viga,” in that Irish-tinged Boston area accent. I saw him when he campaigned and he came through Marysville, Ca. He gave a speech from the back of a train as they used to do (the whistle stop tour). With his red hair and freckles, he looked like the all-American boy. Richard Nixon, his opponent, was young too (both men were in their 40s and both were World War II veterans), but Nixon was the vice president, and he was not so handsome, and represented the administration of the aging Dwight Eisenhower (Ike), a kindly grandfatherly man, who led us to victory in World War II as Supreme Allied Commander (five star Gen. Eisenhower). The political cartoons of the day always showed Ike playing golf while the world problems festered around him. Actually, though, as I recall, there was not a lot of difference in the platforms of Nixon or Kennedy and in the end it was a close election. Some have even suggested that Nixon would have won if it were not for dead folks in Chicago showing up on the election rolls.

As fate would have it, it all turned into disaster for both men. Kennedy was assassinated in office and Nixon would go on to win the presidency later in the decade, get re-elected and then find himself forced to resign in disgrace, the only president ever to do so.

But I began this piece by writing about the need for a moon shot. Kennedy promised that we would go to the moon. And we did, within the decade of the 60s. Although the Russians gave us a run for the money, we clearly surpassed them in the space race and developed all types of new technologies along the way. But we got kind of jaded with the whole thing, and although I presume we still are the leaders in space technologies, it would not be hard for me to imagine being surpassed by the Chinese or someone else, should we remain relatively complacent.

Now I know you’ve heard this one before from others, but I believe that we need an increased emphasis on science in our schools. For too long we have emphasized marketing over engineering and production of real things and technologies. We’d rather be salesmen than inventors and producers and innovators.

The problem, I suppose, is there is not a lot of quick riches in science. That may change as the energy crisis worsens and we are forced to innovate or perish.

And do we have to give up our way of life? Maybe yes, maybe no. If we work fast enough and hard enough, our technology might catch up with our way of life.

I think we are going to see some major changes over the next few years, but I don’t see that they will all be negative. We should be able to adapt to new realities. Oil can’t last forever. Something is happening with our weather (not sure we can control that, but ignoring the phenomenon seems foolish), and the rest of the world will not settle for being under our thumb (we don’t want to be under anyone else’s, I must quickly add).

All the energy and resources we’ve put into “fighting them over there” could have been and could be put into fighting for something over here: Survival.

Note to readers:

After a hiatus, I’ve got my Tuleville Sundown novel going again (a step back in time to the 1950s). You can access that at http://360.yahoo.com/anthonywalther@att.net

If you click the little red list view near the top of the page to the right of my Anthony Walther name you can get the list of the posts, go to the bottom, Tuleville Sundown, my first page, and at the bottom of that click next post and then read it in sequence and catch up. Meanwhile, I’ll try to stay ahead of you.