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.

Republican rule: wake me when it’s over…

October 4, 2008

(Copyright 2008) 


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.

Let’s hope debates clear the air…

September 16, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Really the only hope we have as a nation at this point is that the voters watch the upcoming debates and make an intelligent decision. Now I’ve made my feelings known about who should win the election, but my concern is that whomever wins, the decision will have been made objectively and with critical thinking (well, because then the better man should win).

It’s hard to believe that Sarah Palin can still stick to a tigtly-scripted speech with proven falsehoods, some of which she has even previously acknowledged. How’s that for cynical?.

Monday was the worst day on Wall Street since 9/11.

John McCain’s attitude amid all this is that the “economy is fundamentally sound” with just some oversight and reforms needed. I don’t think so.

Investment firms and banks are failing right and left. Right now the fallout from the immediate crisis is primarily affecting professional investors, but that already is changing. At least according to what I am hearing and reading, this thing has implications that will affect virtually each and every one of us directly, via such things as higher unemployment, an overall lack of capital, losses in retirement funds and personal investment portfolios, and lower tax revenues to fund the services our society depends upon.

Echoing commentator Jack Cafferty, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said: “a lot of people have their life’s savings at stake” (do you know where your 401K is invested?).

It seems incredible now that the Democrats (even if they didn’t have an economic plan, and I’m not saying they don’t) could fail to win back the White House.

It would have to take a severe amount of cynicism among voters toward the Democratic Party or a leap of faith that the Republicans who have presided over the bankrupting of a nation can be trusted to reform themselves. (Then again, one candidate has a different appearance than the majority of the voters and an unfortunate middle name for the times).

A lack of regulation, the result of the Republican administration, and probably the previous Democratic administration, and the abandonment of sound investment principles in the market, combined with the humongous expenditures for George W. Bush’s war of choice in Iraq, have worked together to put us in the most dire financial crisis this nation has faced since the Great Depression.

I didn’t get his name, but a commentator on CNBC said that the U.S. went to war and financed the effort by borrowing money and said “a flood of liquidity and lax regulation” in the market is how the government and the Fed kept the economy afloat. Unfortunately the war has driven oil prices up, $25 per barrel pre-war to a high of nearly $150 per barrel over this past summer. Oil traded at $95.71 per barrel on Monday.

And our modern economy is highly oil dependent. That dependence on expensive foreign oil added to dangerous and fraudulent investment practices has led us to where we are today.

The current projected cost of the Iraq War is $3 trillion, rivaling the cost, in inflation adjusted dollars, of World War II.

I have to wonder why with so many financial pundits and gurus in the popular media, more did not see this coming. It’s probably because the mix of commercialism and news and information is an incestuous relationship in which there are certain things one does not say.

At this point I think Barack Obama should keep reminding voters he is not of the party that has held the White House for the past eight years and that he would effect change and put oversight and regulation back into the market place and reduce military expenditures by avoiding armed conflict where possible and using military force more prudently. If we totally bankrupt ourselves, we will not be able to defend ourselves.

Now personally I don’t believe in the concept of “taxing the rich” or sticking it to the middle class, for that sake. A fair and equitable tax code is what we need. From the charts I’ve seen, McCain’s tax plan primarily favors high earners (with some relief for some others) and Obama’s favors middle to lower income voters. But those are only proposals that would still have to wend their way through congress, and by that time, who knows where things would be? We do know that McCain favors preserving the Bush tax cuts for the more wealthy taxpayers (even though he once opposed it, I understand, on the grounds that it was detrimental to war funding — the need to appease the right wing, who seem to prefer obligating the public to pay interest on a mounting national debt to taxing, forced him to change his mind, apparently).

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a national sales tax (excluding only food) to replace the income tax. But I think the vested interests, including supposedly anti-tax conservatives, would have too much to lose in the convoluted system we have now that has so many loopholes.

While I think Obama should win this one on principle, along with just plain common sense by the voters, I’m afraid that racism and a no-nothing attitude by some voters may conspire to defeat him, if only ever so narrowly.

As one self-described black woman e-mailed in to CNN: “If a white man were running against John McCain it would be all over.”

Some burning comments on election and fires

August 3, 2008



By Tony Walther

(Blogger’s note: on top I write mostly about the presidential race and on the bottom I write about fires and forest management.)

Sometimes you just have to blog, even if you don’t have all your thoughts in order.

So, some random thoughts:

A few nights ago we saw our first smoke-free sunset over the western hills from our house at the north end of California’s Sacramento Valley. The hundreds of mostly lightning-caused fires that began more than a month ago at the start of summer are almost, not completely, out. That means we can breathe again, without taking in lungs full of smoke (we may get more smoke, but for now it seems mostly clear). I want to say something about the fires and what can or cannot be done to avoid them, but first I want to make note of some election news.

I’m not all that good with statistics, so sometimes the poll numbers are a puzzle (I mean, I know a higher number is generally better, but there are all different kinds of ways of tracking things). But what I glean from a quick check of the web, the presidential race is pretty much a dead heat between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, when you just look at total numbers.

And, actually, even though Obama is slightly ahead in electoral vote polling, it’s still a statistical dead heat. And that’s about all I want to say about the numbers (and I didn’t even use numbers).

I have mentioned the Bradley effect two times previously in blog postings. You know, the one about the black man whom the polls predicted to win the governorship back in the 80s in California, but come election day he lost. Many white voters were just being politically correct or polite by saying they would vote for a black man, when in their hearts they couldn’t make their hands go there in the voting booths or on the kitchen table (whatever). I think that if it is a statistical dead heat come election day in November, the odds give it to McCain. But it also seems to me that by then something or somethings will have happened to expand one or the other’s lead.

And this little tidbit really caught my ear. The other night I heard David Gergen (and why do I always think of that Groucho Marx-looking stork and pickles when I hear that name?) say flat out that Obama needs to make Hillary Clinton his VP pick.

I don’t know what to think of that, because I don’t know what to think of Hillary. Her biggest asset (whoops, I think there’s a joke there, something to do with her pantsuits) is her experience, political following, and demonstrated ability to work across party lines (strange as that last one may sound, I think it’s true). Her biggest liabilities are what pollsters call her strong negatives (basically there is a residual store of folks out there who just don’t like her no matter what – true? I don’t know), and Bill Clinton. Bill got her where she is today, but he also may have prevented her from being her party’s apparent nominee. If only he had kept his mouth shut. But how can you blame a guy who makes millions talking about I don’t know what ’cause I can’t afford to go to his speeches?

And just who is David Gergen? He’s worked for both Republicans and Democrats. He is the quintessential political pundit. I should be jealous of him. I have a political science degree and have spent virtually all my life working in things other than politics. I did work for small newspapers, but what politics you cover in the small time hardly qualifies (although working in the Sacramento suburbs for a time was interesting, because smalltime politicians there can quickly jump to the big time – I’ll write about it one day).

I don’t know what McCain really thinks, but I am sure his cynical advisors are working the race thing for all it is worth, precisely for the Bradley effect. I hate to admit it, but they may be right, if cynically so, in that. But I think that this thing about pairing Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is not doing McCain much good (same for the Moses, the Chosen One thing too). It seems way too trivial. However, I just read a blog that suggested that is just part of the race thing too – the black man, white woman, Mandingo thing.

But seriously, I notice that McCain has a hard time when he’s reading a speech. He can’t seem to get the applause lines right. I’ve seen Obama almost stumble, but he knows to just cooly hesitate and finesse his way through (makes him seem more like a deep, rational thinker, than a deer caught in the headlights, ala Bush, McCain).

McCain is not asking for my advice, but I would suggest that he stick to the real issues and say what he really thinks, not what the die-hard neocons or right wing evangelicals, or racists, want to hear. Yes, he and Obama probably do themselves a favor by trying to be middle of the road too.

If ever a candidate needed a strong VP selection, it is McCain (he’s so old, he might not last through a term). He should pick a woman (a black woman, maybe, Condoleezza Rice).

And maybe Obama should choose Hillary.

Now that would be something for nearly everyone (except the bigots who would just have to sit the whole thing out – gee we’ll miss you).


The fires:

I was going to write a whole bunch about the fires, but I think I’ll just write a little:

The continuing debate in my neck of the woods and all over the West these past decades has been basically to log the forests and thus at the same time rid them of dangerous fuel for fires or to preserve the forests, with the idea of letting them burn naturally mixed in there somewhere.

In my hometown newspaper today an editorial said that this summer’s massive fires where really not at all unprecedented. Scientists know that such fires took place centuries back. We may be just back to a normal cycle or perhaps global warming is having an added effect too.

But, really, here it is. Way back when, there were no people here, so it didn’t make a difference. Somewhere along the way, American Indians populated the area. It still didn’t make a lot of difference, because they were nomadic and couldn’t have hardly done anything about the fires anyway. I’ve also heard that some of the Indians set fires to clear the forests – I don’t know.

Then the white men moved in. For a long time, they simply chopped everything in sight and to heck with replanting, why bother, the forests stretched out forever. Back in the day, they did it all with axes and hand-powered crosscut saws and oxen and horses and mules. Then came the chainsaw and the bulldozers and more population settling in the forests.

Somewhere along the way, the practice of replanting started. I do remember a family trip back in the early 60s through Oregon in which I saw big swaths of ugly clear cut forests. Probably a lot of others my age saw it too and became environmentalists and some environmental extremists.

So now the argument is between cut and no cut when any sensible person (non-extremist) knows the answer is a compromise. The forests are a natural and necessary resource and should be maintained as such. We can’t go back to the all natural approach unless we want to live like the Indians did (not a bad idea, maybe, but hardly practical today). But we don’t need to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by clear cutting our natural resource to oblivion either.

More and more people building houses out in the woods is part of this issue too. Seems to me, folks who choose to live among the tall trees have to realize the danger and should realize the bulk of the fire protection costs. Local governments need to really think out the practicalities of expanding populations in the forests.

No, I’m no forester and I know little of the actual science of it all, but I’ve lived on this planet, most of the time near the forests, for nearly 59 years now and that is how I see it.

Traps for presidential has beens and hopefuls…

July 29, 2008



By Tony Walther

There’s a scandal brewing! It’s rumored in the blogosphere that John Edwards has a child by a mistress.

So, who cares? That’s my question. I mean, unless maybe he would be considered for a VP slot for Barack Obama. But John Edwards? What was he about anyway? I think I have been following the campaign for president lo these past many, many months, and you know, I never could figure out what Edwards was all about, except expensive haircuts. I liked his wife. She seems like a nice person and a good speaker. I’m sorry for her poor health.

When I think of Edwards, I think of Gary Hart. I mean I watched that campaign too and never did hear him say anything, except “read my book” (I didn’t), and “I have new ideas.”

I’m almost tempted to say as much about John Kerry, or even Al Gore, although certainly both of them had much to say – but somehow it never stuck. Kerry was too back and forth, proud to be a Vietnam veteran, ashamed of the medals he got there, against the Iraq war, for it, I couldn’t keep up. And then he got swift-boated and wouldn’t defend himself.

Al Gore had a lot more substantive things to say after his failed presidential run (and yes, I remember, he really did win the most votes, but lost by a technicality, constitutional quirk, a Bush-friendly Supreme Court majority, and a botched recount strategy).

But this Edwards thing. Lee Stranahan, blogging in the online Huffington Post, promises this thing is going to go sky high. I don’t see why. Edwards isn’t even a candidate anymore.

George W. doesn’t have to worry about scandal, really, since he’s a lame duck.

Certainly Obama and John McCain have to be ever vigilant against scandal (there were rumors awhile back about some extra coziness between McCain and a female lobbyist).

And no doubt Obama’s staffers are warning him to steer clear of strange arugula.

And poor McCain, he just can’t catch a break – “I was right on the surge I tell you, won’t anyone listen!?”

I just saw a video of McCain trying to say something in a supermarket and being drowned out by the PA system. Saw another one where he was being interviewed at home and the dogs came running in and interrupted things and it seemed to bother McCain, especially when the interviewer wanted to pay attention to the dogs. McCain also has that pained sucking-on-a-lemon look when anyone asks him a question. If he gets to be the president, he’ll be another press hater (he already is, actually). He really is not getting his money’s worth in campaign advisers as far as I can see.

Supposedly, the media is now falling out of love with Obama, although I haven’t noticed yet.

For the most part, I think, Obama and McCain are trying to go for the center, and I have to think that is where most of the public is and always has been. Economics and other events of the times push the electorate one way or the other.

The more desperate things look for the economy and things in general, the better chance Obama has, for he represents something new (no one is sure what).

As far as McCain goes, his toughest opponent may be himself.

War, computer glitches, election…

July 7, 2008



The Walther Report

By Tony Walther

Someone prove to me that there is any reason to fight a war unless you mean to win it? Someone tell me why we didn’t throw everything we had into our present war (wars) from the git go. And someone tell me why the nation is not on a war footing if this conflict (these conflicts) are so important.

And please tell me how Barack Obama can simply decide at what speed to remove troops, unless he decides to simply give up and bring em home. You either fight to win or you quit and lose by default.

Oh, and please tell me why we don’t control the oil fields in Iraq and why they were not the first thing we secured when we went in there. And please tell me why we would have gone in there if not to get the oil.

Well, there’s a lead into today’s blog. Now for what was going on earlier in my blog life, much earlier, this morning:

Computer glitches abound. I’ll be lucky to get this blog posted. I have been writing a novel and posting it a page at a time on another site. But today I had a hard time posting it on that site and got the bright idea of posting it on my companion wordpress site tonybooks. It worked, but the type size was too small and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust that. But I remembered that one of my brothers was just noting Sunday that readers can adjust the size themselves on their own computers, so I put in a note about that. But I think I also got the type size upped (no, maybe not). Now, wouldn’t you know it? this chair I’m sitting in is either lower than it used to be or my computer is higher. I’ve never adjusted this chair before, although the spring underneath did come flying out recently (no one was hurt).

So I’ve been so hard at work with the technicalities of all of this that I haven’t found time to post my Walther Report blog, much less do any good research for it – maybe I’ll just scan the news and see what I can find. I did put a note on my Tuleville blog site about where to find that next page (Page 23).

Off the cuff, what I have noticed is that there does not seem to be a lot of press coverage for John McCain or when he does get it, it’s usually negative. I’ve seen stories about him having a hard time reading Teleprompters. I mean, how could we live with a president who could not read a Teleprompter? And more than once I’ve read of his reported bad temper, although I must quickly add I have never actually seen it.

Yes I did see that clip where someone asked him how getting shot down over North Vietnam qualified him to be president and he looked a little perturbed and said:” p-l-e-a-s-e.” Not exactly a temper tantrum. And awhile back they kept saying he blew up at a reporter who asked him about the Keating Five scandal, but I saw that clip too. Sorry I did not see it as a blow up. He simply said something to the effect, look we’ve gone over that before. So, I’m not saying that he doesn’t have a temper, but you know, most of us do when we’re pushed.

And just who is Barack Obama? Do we really know? Guess I should read his book. But how many people ever do that and do these politicians really write their own books? And wouldn’t they tend to be self-serving if they did? He really hasn’t been at it long enough to compile a track record. He is said to have the most liberal voting record in the Senate. But out on the hustings lately he seems to be running to the center. Actually, I guess I consider myself a centrist for the most part. But in the end, I am for what works, what works for me, and what works best for my favorite country, the USA.

And would the Clintons, especially Bill, just please go away?

I don’t know why I say this, but it seems to me at this time that this election has a chance of being close, with Obama having the edge, or being a landslide, with Obama being the victor.

It would seem that Mr. Obama has the edge. It should be his election to lose. He’s calling for change. He certainly seems as if he would be that. And more and more, it looks as if the idea of John McCain the maverick is a myth.

So if Obama wins will he be able to get the Washington establishment to go along with him? Will he be able to use his power of the bully pulpit to get the electorate to force the establishment into change?

Partisan sloganeering aside, we need a change. And isn’t it hard for someone to campaign as a conservative but call for change? Conservatives by their own name are against change.

McCain has tried at times to distance himself from Bush and show that he is his own man, but then again he doesn’t always have the courage of his convictions. He has pandered much to the far right and the religious nuts (I’m not talking about those who are religious, just religious nuts).

Could a surprise candidate or candidates emerge from the convention (s)? I almost wished it were so.