Tarheeltalker

A Gaggle of Republicans

As of today, there are officially 10 republicans in the running for the party’s presidential nomination. There are at least 4 other  potential candidates. This is definitely a case for that old baseball axiom that you can’t know the players without a scorecard.

At this stage of the process, anything is possible and hope springs eternal  as in baseball’s  spring training. While it is early, of course it is not as early as it might seem. President Obama will obviously run for  a second term and among other advantages that he has are an excellent fund-raising apparatus and a significant advantage in name recognition over most of  his potential  opponents ( other than Palin and maybe Bachmann, who will still only the second most well-known Michele-hint, hint).

It is fascinating to me to see the interaction among those already declared and the coyness of those on the sidelines. And, let us not forget the curse of the front-runner. Mitt Romney is probably still in the ” head lead” as a childhood friend of mine said. But, Michele  Bachmann is closing fast and may actually lead in Iowa polls.

Right now, Iowa native Bachmann has 22% and Romney 23% in a Des Moines Register poll. If one has any math skills that would leave 55% to be divided 8 ways and that doesn’t  sound so good. Can you win Iowa and lose the nomination oh yeah- and the opposite is also true. It is also true that one can be ruined in the Iowa caucus which will take place on February 6, 2012.

This will be an interesting journey to chronicle so just for the record, I will at least name the 10 who are in and the four who are not.

Hovering  on the sidelines are Sarah Palin, Rick Perry ( Rush’s choice and mine) , John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani.

Those in it to win it, I guess, are the aforementioned Romney and Bachmann along with the following, in no particular order: Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Mitch Daniels and Rick Santorum. ( ” Fringe  candidates not included.)

Perhaps the best candidate would be  a guy who has already recused himself, Jeb Bush. Should be quite lively with Paul, Palin and Bachmann in the fray, should it not?

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Political Strategery

The Obama Administration announced that it is releasing 30 million gallons of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. ” Experts” are calling this  an excellent change in policy that will certainly help to calm the volatile oil markets. But, other experts are saying why now? So, who can we believe? I am taking my cue from Treasury Secretary Geithner who when speaking at a Dartmouth College panel discussion said the release was not political. It was using the reserve for that which it was  designed, to mitigate disruptions such as those brought about by the conflict in Libya. So, naturally if Mr Geithner says it is not political I must feel otherwise. Why might one feel that way? Let us see. For starters the reserve has 727 million barrels of oil and the President’s instructions released around 4% of that total. Next, Libya typically exports about 1.5 million barrels per day, a figure which is down to about  1/3 of that total. So, the amount of oil released was really not designed to  replace lost production, etc but rather to what? Perhaps it was designed  to occur in the midst of the ongoing decline in oil prices ( which leads to lower gasoline prices) thus causing a bit of an acceleration the decline. Then we have an end result of the Obama Administration claiming credit for the price of gasoline declining. A bit convoluted, perhaps, but just wait and see. But we must not drill for any additional oil, just pay Brazil to do so.

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Reading, Religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hurting your own cause

Often times, a speaker trying valiantly  to make a point or to rouse his  supporters  will allow his reach to far  exceed his grasp. Yesterday that happened  to a gentleman named  Christopher Shelton. It was that or Mr Shelton is woefully ignorant of 20th century American history or he just doesn’t care what he says  is it makes his point.

Mr Shelton is  the District 1  vice-president for the Communications Workers of America and spoke at a rally in Trenton, New Jersey yesterday. The purpose of said rally was to protest New Jersey Gov Chris Christie’s pension deal that would  cut pensions and benefits  for public workers. Mr Shelton apparently was so focused  on firing up the crowd that he employed the most hateful imagery he could imagine and then made it worse.

He compared the governor to one Adolph Hitler, yep that guy, as my grandson might  say. Warming to his  task as any speaker will do when faced with a cheering crowd, he went on to compare the New Jersey pension fight to WWII  and to  say that there was  a need  for WWIII to get rid of Adolph Christie.  Rally attendees responded in what way do you think? Believe it or not they wildly cheered Mr Shelton’s remarks.

Now, of course since this information became public Mr Shelton issued an obligatory apology  to the governor and anyone else he offended but also stressed the affected workers had every right to be angry. Not really much of an apology from my perspective.

I am unsure what bothers me the most about this. It could be the analogies  Mr Shelton made, the cheering response or the half-hearted apology. I think it probably r is all three. Besides, how many members of his audience even heard the apology or paid any attention to it. Perhaps  he still  accomplished  what he set out to do . But it just seems  he  really damaged his own cause and gave more  credence to those who think union leaders always “demagogue”  issues or people to make their case. I certainly that the leadership of  my union never resorts to such tactics. The whole incident gives me a very negative feeling and sounds like it could have come from the playbook of a Saul Alinsky. Unions need friends to make their point, they  certainly need not create  any more foes.

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Culture, economy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Depends on why you are Famous

Conventional wisdom has often said that it doesn’t matter why one is famous, only that one is famous. Sad to say, I believe that Rep Anthony Weiner(D, NY) would hasten to disagree. Until his lewd and salacious actions were made public, the majority of Americans would have been unable to identify him by name or picture. Now, he probably holds the title of our most well-known congressman.

But my interest is not so much with what he did but rather the reactions, both pro and con, that have ensued. Part of my reasoning is that I am not  very surprised with what he did. The internet has greatly facilitated these types  of behavior in and secondly, he is  not the first politician to be caught.in some type of compromising position.

On to  the reactions. Some are almost funny, some surprising (considering the sources) and some  are inconsistent. However, I have tried to avoid comments that are lewd or suggestive in. This mess has even  divided prominent Democrats with Reps Rangel and Clyburn offering support; Rangel even saying that after all he did not go out with little boys. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has urged him to resign, probably the first commonsense statement she has made since taking the job. And former speaker Pelosi  gravely concurred.

New York’s top elected Democrat Chuck Schumer is appalled and disappointed. Besides Weiner is taking over his spotlight. The Clintons are furious and probably for the best reasons of anyone other Weiner’s wife, the former Huma Abedin. You will remember that Bill officiated at their July 11, 2010 wedding. Besides Huma has worked for Hilary for  quite sometime and that the entire fiasco conjures up memories of Bill’s escapade(s). So far there has been no  public comment by the Clintons but one can only imagine what they are thinking.

And then we have the celebrity comments which for me fall under the class of what were they thinking and don’t they have people to forestall these  public comments. Television journalist Rachel Maddow said that Weiner exhibited “bad manners.” Barbara Walters said that the pictures she had seen were “flattering.” Joy Behar opined that the pictures were not the congressman, implying a frame, even after he confessed that they were. And that paragon of virtue Alec Baldwin said that works in a very highly stressful environment and was just letting off steam.

Finally, some comments that alone. They originate with MSNBC host, Chris( Tingles) Matthews. He has made frequent comments about Weiner that express his disgust, wonder at what he was thinking,etc. And then he proceeds to hold Mrs Weiner partly responsible. And finally ne bemoans the political consequences. If Weiner does not go away the Democrats will “never” again control of the House. And see if you recognize yourself in the last  statement.

” Because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian, conservative, culturally-you can say” backward” if you want-they don’t like this stuff.”

Thank goodness I didn’t hear  Bill Maher and Jane Lynch give a dramatic? comedic? reading of Weiner’s text messages. Wonder what Paul Harvey would have thought?

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Real Scam

We have all heard of scams via email and have maybe even sent some of those emails. Some of the ” scams” are not really scams, just a misguided albeit well-meaning attempt to tell us they are. Others are somewhat legitimate but based on many of those that have heard about are several years old.

I now can say with confidence that the information I will share is relative to  a current  scam and is legitimate. Over a period of two days we received three unsolicited text messages purportedly from Gateway Bank.( One really annoyed me since it woke me up!) These messages informed us that our Gateway Bank debit card had been deactivated and even provided the first 4 digits of the card and a number for us to call. The problem with all that is that we do not have such a card nor have we ever.

After the third I began to get a bit miffed but still had no clue-duh- what was happening. I went online  to the Gateway website and lo, and behold  learned there were nefarious things occurring. The warning admonished those receiving the texts to not return the calls nor to give out the account number. Hopefully there were few if any victims. I am still rather curious about why we got the texts unless kind of mass text message. I trust that the Gateway fraud folks will find out what happened.

All of this is yet another wonderful example of  the seamy side of technology and how it can be used for  good or bad. Good lesson for all. Never give one’s  card number or pin to an unsolicited caller. Ever!!!

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Business | , , | Leave a comment

Culinary Overkill

Living in a small community will be  definition limit one’s choices  for dining out. No brainer concept there. Generally speaking, I am okay with that since if I get really desperate I can drive to Virginia Beach or Chesapeake or to the Outer Banks. It shows how ” not desperate” I am that I rarely do this except on special occasions. But last week, while in Atlanta to see the new granbaby, I got a chance to see how the other half lives.

It would have been almost enough just to able to walk to Dunkin Donuts any morning I chose to indulge my munchkin cravin’. But no,  there was much more. We were able to enjoy food at four quite distinctive restaurants. Two were franchises, albeit small ones, while the other two are indigenous to Atlanta. By the way, I heartily endorse all four.

My favorite  would have to be Ted’s Montana Grill, home of the bison burger and founded by  the one and only Ted Turner. Probably the most amazing burger ever. But there was also a very good pizza place  known as Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, local only at this time. Reminded me of a Subway the way one could pick ingredients of one’s choosing. Then there was Firehouse Subs, actually founded by firemen; also quite good. Finally there was another local place named The Flying Biscuit, my favorite name by far. As the name implies the biscuits are out of sight good, although not sure if they can actually fly. The other menu item that stood out for me especially ( being Southern by birth) were their tasty and creamy grits. I  would have been very happy dining on biscuits and grits.

The  service was excellent as was the food and they were all kinda fun places in which to dine. Wouldn’t make much of  a food critic, would I? Compliments to the chiefs, et al.

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Woman President?

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...

Image via Wikipedia

I have recently completed  a biography of Woodrow Wilson written by August Heckscher. There are many things that I could say about our 28th president from reading this somewhat lengthy tome, but I choose to confine my musings to just one topic.

Prior to reading this book I would have thought of probably three things when thinking of Wilson. They would be his efforts at establishing the League of Nations, his wartime presidency and his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, whom he married on December 8, 1916.

The events surrounding Wilson’s stroke in 1919 and the subsequent effect on his life and his presidency have always been a fascination to me. For the first time I was able to read a detailed account of those events, by, I might add, a sympathetic biographer.

As most observers of presidential history know, Mr Wilson’s stroke occurred on October 1, 1919. This event took place shortly after his return from  a grueling trip to the western US  in a vain attempt to sell the League of Nations. The stroke probably was not a great surprise since warning signs had been clear both in the recent and more distant past.

Mrs Wilson was actually the person to find  Wilson  and  from now  to the end of his term, she and his physician Dr Cary Grayson were those most in the know. Grayson was generally   responsible for issuing the concerned but generally unspecific health bulletins, as well as having the medical responsibility.

Although the cabinet, a few trusted advisers and the vice-president knew of his  condition, no one was willing to certify as unable to perform his presidential duties, although he was. Thus began the most elaborate cover up in presidential history, at least to that point.

So, what of Mrs Wilson’s role?  Throughout she had one overriding goal. Her husband’s life was above the effective functioning of the government. Mrs Wilson said of her activities, “the only decision that was mine, was what was important and what was not.” Now if that were true, she would be in effect acting as a modern chief of staff and serving as the gatekeeper for the president. For that alone she was not qualified, much less some of her other duties. She was intelligent but with very, very little formal education. She was of course affected by her own prejudices, preferences, likes and dislikes.

The author asks and answers this question, Was she running the country? He said no, that the country was not running at all. I realize that I am disagreeing with one far more informed and knowledgable than I about the events, but will proceed to do so.

Here is his reasoning. She only had power in  determining who saw Wilson and what he would hear, as well as exercising control over what information went out. Even in that day, that was  significant indeed. Among other things she pushed aside long serving advisers such as Col  Edward House and  Joseph Tumulty. On the signature issue of that time, the League, evaluate this. When she received a letter from Senator Hitchcock about  a possible compromise, her response was no. Other questions submitted to him came back with a reply in Mrs Wilson’s handwriting. She often prevented letters he attempted to write from reaching the light of  and thus embarrassing Wilson. She was even influential in forcing Sec of State Lansing to resign.And Joshua Alexander who was  a sort of random pick as the new Sec of Commerce was actually interviewed by Mrs Wilson. Her influence was often felt in deciding where Wilson coud appear and for how long.

So on the two major issues that affected the entire course of the government, she had no effective opposition. The first, keeping hidden the true nature of  Wilson’s illness ( already  mentioned) and keeping Wilson  from resigning. And what strikes me as perhaps the most intriguing of all is this. Prior to their marriage, Wilson was sending the widowed Mrs Galt state papers of which he expected her to read and comment. The future even then foreshadowed ? Seems so, does it not?

June 4, 2011 Posted by | History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment