Thursday, October 30, 2008


I met recently with local leaders of the Democratic party in my part of the state to develop strategy for the coming election. There is only a few days left to put the final pieces in place. We have some good local candidates as well as a strong national ticket. Of major concern is a massive Republican effort to steal this election. I almost hesitate to use such a strong word but when all the rhetoric is put aside, that is what the ultimate outcome turns out to be.

We are aware of some tactics they have used in the past to suppress the Democratic vote. First is dirty tricks such as passing out fliers in heavy Democratic precincts telling voters that the election day has been changed to Wednesday. They also try to misdirect people to the wrong polling place or give out false information about voting such as the threat that anyone with an unpaid parking ticket will be arrested if they try to vote. There are all kinds of such dirty tricks the Republicans have used in the past and we expect to see them all again along with some new ones.

There are even more direct attempts to block people from voting or just plain steal the election. Since the election machinery in this part of the state is firmly under the control of the Republican party, they tend to challenge the eligibility of a large number of potential voters in heavily Democratic precincts. Also the vote counting machines can easily be manipulated at the beginning of the election day to record a number of votes before any voters even arrive at the polls. It is very difficult to catch them at this thievery.

Democrats have only a limited number of poll watchers and it is impossible to constantly watch all the precincts for unusual occurrences. In the last election, one precinct recorded an unusually high number of votes right after the Democratic poll watchers left the voting site. And guess who won in that precinct by a healthy margin!

Lets hope we get a reasonably accurate count in this election. So Democrats, be ever vigilant!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not Like Us

Obama is not like us. Or so says Sarah Palin all across the country. He sees things different than us real Americans, she claims. He is one of those other people. Indeed fear of the "other" people has had a powerful influence on national behavior throughout history. Usually the "other" is marked by language, racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious differences. The other is a source of fear among the majority. This fear then becomes the source of irrational action among otherwise well meaning people. Jews have been targets for twenty centuries or more. It was Hitler’s search for a "final solution" to the Jewish problem that formed the foundation for the Holocaust.

In our own United States, fear of the other brought restrictive laws, as well as private action, discriminating against Jews, Blacks ,and Catholics. Members of these groups were much feared, especially in the South. At one time laws were enacted forbidding anyone to teach a person of color to read. Once they get educated they will be a real threat to the rest of us, it was feared. Current "others" such as Gypsies in Italy, Muslims in France and Polish in Great Britain are a source of much fear in those countries.

From my perspective, Governor Palin has tapped into a long standing source of fear when she labels Barack Obama as not like us. He is one of those others who are ever a point of anxiety to the rest of us. How effective will instilling fear of the "other" be as a campaign strategy? It has worked well throughout history and has already had an influence on the thinking of many people. It remains to be seen if fear will be a determining factor in the final outcome of the election.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


On C-span’s Washington Journal this morning, one caller expressed concern that if Barack Obama became president he would impose socialism on the country. "He would make us into a socialist nation," she said. This concern has been expressed for some time now. Even John McCain has charged Obama with espousing socialist doctrine. What McCain and the public seem to have missed is the fact that we already have many socialist programs in place right now here in the United States. Things such as social security, medicare, government run medical plan for congress people, and government subsidies for farmers and energy companies are all part of the socialist agenda. The recent partial nationalization of several major banks is a giant step into socialism. So, I would not worry about Obama leading us into socialism. We are already there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The War Within

I just finished reading the recent book by Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006 - 2008. The book provides deep insight into how the Bush administration dealt with a failing policy regarding the Iraq war. While there was a good bit of dissension within the administration, Bush himself never got connected to the reality of the situation. The President’s approach was to go with his instinct rather than an analysis of the facts. He is the Decider and he is certain of the correctness of his decisions. The book is easy to read and helped me understand how America got sucked into the quagmire we are in. Whoever becomes the next president will inherit a real mess. Hopefully he will have a more rational approach to decision making than George Bush.

Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain's Good Idea

Every once in a while a politician comes up with a really good idea. John McCain did so this last week. He suggested that senior citizens not be required to cash in their retirement accounts as mandated by law.

For those who have not reached an advanced age, the law requires those who have set up tax deferred retirement accounts invested in the stock market to take a certain amount out in the year they turn 70 and ½ years of age. Doing so now, when the market is down, would result in a big loss for those who are retired. So, McCain’s idea would be a real benefit to those of us who have saved over the years for our retirement. Maybe hard work and frugal living has some benefits after all!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Difference

I found the presidential debate the other night very interesting, although not too informative. Both McCain and Obama mostly reiterated their previously stated positions on the various topics of the debate. They both spoke quite well but with very little passion. What struck me most was how little difference there is in their positions on the issues. Of course they used different words to answer the questions but when all the rhetoric is put aside they both said about the same thing. It comes down to a matter of personal style. Does one prefer a president who is a self-described maverick or one who seems to be calm, cool, and collected in a crisis? So, take your choice on election day. They both will respond to the problems of the presidency with quite similar actions.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


The McCain/Palin presidential campaign seems to have a touch of desperation these days. Palin, on the campaign trail, has claimed that Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists." She is referring to the fact that Obama has a passing acquaintance with a guy who forty years ago was involved in violent anti-war activities. At that time he could indeed have been described as a domestic terrorist. Today he is a respected member of the community. Whatever he is or was, Obama’s fleeting contact with him can hardly be described as making them pals.

When a candidate for elective office makes such a reckless charge against their opponent it is usually because they have lost hope of winning the election by honorable means. From my perspective, both John McCain and Sarah Palin are too good of people to stoop to this kind of dirty politics. Certainly they have something better to say to the American people than to utter such a ludicrous statement.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

McCain Ignores Palin

John McCain made a strategic decision to discontinue his campaign in Michigan. Strangely, he did not confer with his running mate, Sarah Palin, before making this important decision. Even worse, he did not even tell her about it after the fact. She read about it in the newspaper. Why does he not trust his would-be Vice-President? If McCain is elected, it does not look like Palin will have much of a role in his administration.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin Wins Debate

I just finished watching the vice-presidential debate. If this was a contest to see who was most adept at sidestepping the question, I would have to say that Sarah Palin was the clear winner. By golly, she did a heck of a job! Biden managed to avoid the question on occasion but not with the outright audacity displayed by the Governor. Her biggest task with this debate was to keep from showing her ignorance about topics where her knowledge really is limited. She did that very well by giving what appeared to be memorized statements on topics that were not related to the question at hand. Biden’s broad knowledge on both foreign and domestic issues is well known. We still do not know how much Palin knows about anything other than her strong support for John McCain.

Who is to Blame?

Who is to blame for the failure of the House to pass the bailout bill? McCain blamed Obama. However, it is hard to blame him for the two thirds of the Republicans who voted against the bill. McCain did not seem to have much more influence on his own party than Bush did. From my perspective, this does not augur well for his effectiveness as a leader if he becomes president. The Senator suspended his political campaign to go to Washington to save the nation. I hope he is more effective in the future than he was this time.