Tarheeltalker

A Revolution by any other name is?

Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of  our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.

Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not  a dictator and should not resign?  Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific  outcome  but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have  a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have  a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but  we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.

But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and “pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t  know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be  a  democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in  egyptian history ans see what you discover.

So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.

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February 6, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s not a Mosque, But……..

…… rather  a prayer space, they say. Why? According to the  leaders of the ” Park 51″  project, changed from an original name of  ” Cordoba House,” it cannot be  a mosque because  it space for musical performances and  a restaurant. But an AP article datelined Albany and written by Michael  Gormley said that the center will contain  a mosque. Confusion runneth rampant it seems. Glad we got that cleared up. But, call me  a skeptic if you will, but at this stage of the project one can say there is space for any number of things that may or may not come to fruition.

Doubtful that anyone opposed or in favor the 13 story facility will  change their opinion based on that information.  So what are some of the things being said about the facility scheduled to be built at 45 Park Place. Some say that it shows great tolerance, some bring up our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion ( insert the name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg here) some say that a Muslim facility should not so near to the site of the former World Trade Centers.

So , on a site fist occupied in 1858 by a structure built for  a New York shipping tycoon, at its last fateful  incarnation it was occupied by  a simple  Burlington Coat Factory store. The site was purchased  for $4.5 million in cash just over  a year ago, at which time the current process  began. Certainly what is now being proposed was planned long before that date.

No doubt there are very well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue. Personally, I would prefer that the Muslim group  that says it wants to rebuild the community would begin that process somewhere a bit distant. Governor David Paterson tried that approach and was unsuccessful. Of course, there is no way that one can have the feelings that many New Yorkers have about the  structure because we have not experienced what they have. But, having said that, I wonder if all of those affected by 9/11 are opposed. I would guess that  they are not . So, once again we have  quite a convoluted situation.

Two final observations. Newt  Gingrich has been quoted as saying that ” there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York as long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” That certainly appeals to  many although I  really don’t see its relevance. One thing with which I do agree is that freedom of religion is not the issue. Another quote, this from Mayor Bloomberg. ” I always believed that government  should not be involved in deciding who you pray to, what you say or where you say it.” But Mr Mayor, government is already quite involved in one of those areas, the  where. ASk the religious groups  who have  trouble getting permission to build in certain locales due to zoning laws, etc. Conclusion, freedom of religion provides no guarantee of  being able to build a house of worship anywhere one chooses, Confuses things even more, huh? The discussion about this center will doubtless proceed. A suggestion, follow the money.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Showdown in Baltimore

The President traveled all the way to Baltimore today to meet with a number of Republican lawmakers. What ostensibly was  an attempt for the two sides to listen to one another quickly became something else entirely. I heard some audio from the  meeting that seemed rather pointed and blunt, both in tone and word. For example, “I’m not  a pundit, I’m just the president.” The Associated Press used the phrase ” a sometimes barbed exchange.” So, one thinks that there was very little meeting of the minds at this session.

So, why have the get together at all? I will applaud  the president  for attending while at the same time wondering why he did so. I think that even though  the President was actually invited to what is an annual Republican event.  Given the nature of some of his public comments since the State of the Union address, perhaps it was an attempt to sway public opinion. See, he could tell Americans, I tried to work with the Republicans but  how can I work with the ” politics of no?”

Some of those attending liked it, some not so much. Representatives Tom Price  of Georgia and Jason Chaffetz of Utah being two of the most vocal. The President seemed to relish the give and take, sort of like a British House  of Commons. Reading some accounts of the meeting it struck as me  a lecture given by  a professor. At least one Republican, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin agreed. He likened it at times to being lectured by his high school principal, although not for the entire session.

Obama asserted that 95% of Americans had received tax cuts (not sure about that figure) and that his agenda was not at all radical but mainstream. Republicans , particularly Mike Pence of Indiana ,defended Republican health care proposals against claims that  they had offered no options. Obama shot back that theie proposals  were not practical anyway.

So, both Pence and Virginia’s Eric Cantor said that the event was a good idea and should happen again. But it sounds like to me that the president defined  bi-partisan more as you work with me than me work with you. Did that make sense? Probably as  much as the Baltimore bull session.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Release of the Rogue

You may have heard that there is  a new book coming out tomorrow. Shouldn’t be an event that is very newsworthy. After all, there are around 250,000 books published annually in the United States( including re-releases) and the vast majority are like  95% of the Screen Actors Guild membership. They get very little notice. It is estimated that the average paper back sells about 15,ooo copies while such numbers are hard, if not impossible to find for hardcovers. Interesting as to why, but not really important. Suffice to say that most books are published with little acclaim.

However, a book is coming out that has already been widely cussed, discussed, analyzed, fact-checked and perhaps even read. It is Going Rogue by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. If the adage holds that any publicity is good as long as one’s name is spelled correctly, this book will be a whopper. By the way, Rush will interview Ms Palin tomorrow. She has spoke with Oprah already and I believe Barbara Walters is due.  There have been several folks talking about the book as well.

First, the Associated Press, who used a total of 11 people to fact check the book. They found a total  of 6 errors which figures out to about 2 people per error. Wonder if they fact checked either of the President’s books. Nah, already know that answer.

Anyway, here we go. So called conservative David Brooks says you can’t taker her seriously  and she is a joke. CBS elder statesman Bob Schieffer called her an amusement with no political future.  Good old MSNBC  guy, Joe Scarborough said comparing her to Howard Dean is an insult to Dean’s intelligence. Former Vermont gov, DNC chair, Howard the screamer, one and the same. Sure are talking a lot about someone who doesn’t matter, huh?

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Literature, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The New York

It is the sixth ship to bear the name of our 11th state and could well  become the most historic of the lot. The LPD-21 as it is officially designated was built in Avondale,La and is skippered by a native New Yorker, Cmdr Curtis Jones. It has a succinct but poignant motto, “Never Forget” which needs no elaboration.

The 684 foot, amphibious transport dock weighs many tons but its the 7 1/2 tons of steel in the bow- stern and keel that are most significant. For, this steel comes from ground zero.The New York

Yesterday, it sailed past the Statue of Liberty on its way to being commissioned on Saturday in New York. It will remain in New York through Veterans ‘ Day before traveling to Norfolk where it will be one of many. On this day, it sailed  alone.

Cmdr Jones may have said it best. “We deal with tragedy by rising from it and pushing on. It’s very powerful-awesome in the truest sense of the word-and very, very humbling.”

The ships  complete story can be found at  uss.newyork.com.

We wish it fair winds and following seas!

November 3, 2009 Posted by | military | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jimmy Carter in Training

Since our greatest former president is beginning to age  just a bit, it is about time to train his successor at roaming the world and taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of . Yes, drum roll please, it is the one and only Sen John Kerry, D, Ma. The Senator has just returned from his latest trip to Afghanistan where he persuaded President Karzai to accept a run-off vote.

It seems that Kerry has turned  the traditional role of head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee upside down. Our Clintonite friend, David Gergen says that it is”extremely rare that any president calls on an individual outside the executive branch to do as much representative work and diplomacy as Sen.Kerry.” Should Sec.Clinton be  worried that her time is short as her influence seems to be waning  a bit? Bear in mind that both Obama and Kerry were mentored by the late Sen Ted Kennedy. Obama burst on to the national stage in 2004 with a speech at Kerry’s nominating convention and seems to hold the senior senator from Massachusetts in high regard.

Now, both Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and the Associated Press go th great lengths to tout Kerry’ s expertise. Says Gibbs, he… is  somebody who has a broad range of experience and an in-depth knowldge of issues, ranging from energy and climate change to health care to foreign policy.” Wow, is that a ringing endorsement or what? Plus, he will never dare to challenge me for the White House. Oh, I just tossed that phrase in there as a  bonus.

And now, the Associated Press takes  a turn. “Obama cherishes, greatly values the experience and insight of JohnKerry. And,last but not least. There is a framed note on the  wall of Kerry’s senate office, given to him by Obama on the day of his inauguration. “‘I’m here because of you.” Just about brings a tear  to your eye, does it not? Of course, there is a lot of truth there. Had Kerry won the 2004 election, Obama could never have run in 2008.

So, we do we call this great expert? He’s not a Cabinet member, nor a czar, but  he needs a title greater than just senator. Uber  senator, maybe?

October 22, 2009 Posted by | International politics, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Very Healthy Health Care

I suppose the hottest of hot button issues these days is the subject of health care. How can and how should it be reformed or fixed, who has it, who needs it, who should get it,etc. It is by no means a simple topic or a  small one(1/6 of the US economy) and it has an impact on all of us, in one way or another. Such issues tend to provoke lots of responses, not all informed, and are extraordinarily difficult things on which to reach a consensus.

We all have our own perspectives and track records from which to view the issue so in the interest of disclosure, a brief description of mine. I have what I consider to be  aquite good health plan through my employer. By paying a bit more, I could have a very good health plan. Just a few short years ago, I was without health care of any kind due to a job loss on my part and my resulting re-employment being part-time. Prior to that, I had a good health care plan from my employer of 20+ years.

Today, I read an interesting article in the Raleigh News&Observer  as part of their series on health care. The series is talking about some of the issues I alluded to at the onset:what works, what does not and what should be  done to fix it. Today’s article was by Matt Ehlers and focused on the health care plan provided by Cary,NC based SAS company,a relatively young(founded in 1976) but successful software company.

The company is headquartered in Cary, where some 4200 employees are based. They built an on-site health clinic to serve employees and their dependents. It serves both the company andits employees well, providing accessible low cost care as well as helpling to recruit and retain valued employees.The company has a unique program that would not work everyehrere, of course, but works for them. A company spokesman says it is good business and there is not  a thing wrong with that. It represents  part of the cafeteria of health care choices that exist. The traditional plan of having private insurance through an employer continues to decline to about 2/3 of those under 65.

SO, what does the SAS approach contribute to the great debate? Just one of many options to provide coverage to those who need it. I sort of wanted to avoid this next question since I am not sure of my answer. Do all  people need health care? Yes,of course, at some point, we all do. Is it a right to have universal coverage and/or a government responsibility to fulfill that right?

I just don’t know. Are the Democrats correct in saying people are dying because of the lack of said coverage? Perhaps but who knows how many. Lifestyle choices; what we eat/drink, whether we exercise or not, family histories;all these and more are bigger causes of death.

Back to our elephant in the room question (bad analogy  there I guess), universal health care coverage . An employees of the afore mentioned SAS may have captured the conundrum  best. He thinks people need health care options but that any new plan does not act to the detriment of existing plans that work.

He hopes there is  a balance but does not think there is a simple answer. This on a day when the President made comments in favor of his plan surrounded by physicians from across the country, some 150 of them, from all 50 states, garbed in the traditional white coats of their profession.According to the Associated Press he broke no new ground. But he said something that  intrigued me . I will just tos it out with a brief comment. He said his plan would provide more time for health care professionals to provide healing as well as preventative care. That I surely applaud, but would that not require many more physicians than  we know have? From whence will they come?

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Health | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down”

…. in a most delightful way.” Or, so said Julie Andrews in the classic Mary Poppins from way  back in 1964, her movie debut and the winner of 5 Oscars. Today, we have substitutes for the sugar and the med. They are courtesy of my Tar Heels. The sugar is the spine tingling win by the Lady Tar Heels in soccer over Duke(even better) and the medicine is alas, courtesy of the football Heels. Having reached giddy poll heights, they trekked to Atlanta and were wrecked by the Yellow Jackets.

Thankfully, I had to work  and was spared the sad but necessary duty of watching the Heels football miseries. I knew it was bad when Mrs THT, nominal football fan, could only say, I saw their touchdown,singular. At least they were not shut out and as the saying goes, there is always next week. Ironically, I attended their game against Georgia Tech last year in Chapel Hill, which had aa positive outcome. Shoulda seen this one coming. Bright side, the Associated Press voters saw fit to eject Carolina from the top 25. Glad that overconfidence is gone.

Ok, got that medicine ready, sugar is on the way via  a  2-1  overtime soccer win at Fetzer Field. The Heels were missing some key players due to injuries and national team commitments ( go USA, I guess) so other players had to step and  that  they did. Freshman Alyssa Rich of Cincinnati,Oh scored with 3:01 left in the first overtime to seal the win. Quite a way to celebrate her first career start.

High point soph Maria Lubrano scored the match’s first goal with less than 7 minutes to go but Duke to credit tied the match with about a minute to go. Great conference opening win. Oh, forgot to mention that the Heels are numero uno in the nation. Also freshman goalie Hannah Daly acquitted herself well in her first career start.

Playing like a girl indeed and  quite well thank you very much. Remember Carolina is  a   women’s soccer school anyway as Coach Smith observed many years ago, slightly tongue-in-cheek.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pause and Remember

As we all know, today is the eighth anniversary of  the  worst one day attack ever on the United States. I was sorely tempted to write about Charlie Sheen and his call to his man Obama  to investigate the 9/11 coverup. But after some reflection, I thought that would not be  a suitable way to remember today. So, maybe some other time for him.

At my workplace we had a moment of silence today, which is rather significant considering the normal amount of noise from people and equipment. It was more moving than I was expecting. Thankfully, the flag was at half mast also. But, alas, I am reading a good deal about how this day of remembrance  has begun to morph into  a day of service. Plant a tree, volunteer at Habitat( which I have done in years past), etc. Now these things are quite good and have their place. But in a letter released  today, te President referred to  a ” National Day of  Service and Remembrance.” The service seems to trump  the  remembrance.

Listen to these comments from a lady named Debra  Burlingame  as related to the Associated Press. Her brother was  the pilot of  the American Airlines  plane  that crashed into the Pentagon. They are in reference to the day of service and remembrance. “When I first heard about it, I was concerned. I fear, I greatly fear,we’ll transition to turning it into Earth Day where we go and plant trees and the remembrance part will become smaller and smaller and smaller.” If she is right, that would be very, very sad.  I remember where I was when I first heard the news and really could not comprehend what was happening. The more I heard, the worse it got. I have watched videos from time  to time of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. It   isAssociated Press Photo On 9/19/2001 at ground zero still a chilling and dramatic thing to view. I have never been to the actual site, so I can only imagine what emotions that can stir.

There is an online article under the byline of  Ralph Peters on the New York Post web site. It is entitled  Betraying our Dead. There is a chilling statement near the beginning of his article nd I quote. ” We resolved that we, the People, would never forget. Then we forgot.” The article is a great, great read, but not a comfortable one. The photo shown is an Asociated Press picture from 9/19/2001 , taken at ground zero. It is a  picture I do not recall   having seen before, but like so many others, it has a story to tell.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | History, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“I tawt I saw a puddy tat”

Tweety and his arch nemesis Sylvester(flickr.com)

Tweety and his arch nemesis Sylvester(flickr.com)

“I did, I did saw a puddy tat”. For the geezer generation, this was Tweet(y) as in bird, the happy  yellow canary of animated fame. The bird  was crated by one Robert Clampett and first appeared in November, 1942. Of course he was voiced by the late, legendary Mel Blanc. But today, of  course, tweet means something entirely different.

A tweet is what one  does on Twitter, one  of the new social media. And a rapidly growing member it is. According to comScore, its number of unique visitors went from 593,000 in June,08 to 20.1 million in June, o9. Now, that is exponential growth. It is by no means as large as Facebook but is heading onward and upward it appears.

This quote came from an article by Barbara  Ortutay, AP  technology writer.

                       “Tens of millions of people have come to rely on social media to express their innermost thoughts and  to keep up with world news and celebrity gossip”. Doubtless, many were chagrined when a cyber attack shut the site down for a period of hours . The outage was traced to an attack on a lone blogger in the republic of Georgia. Doubtless, the site’s return provided fodder for a lot of tweets.

I am certain it is clear by now that I personally do not tweet. I have friends and relatives who do and like it . I read regularly about celebrities who  are on Twitter and have competitions among themselves as to who can get the most followers. I was quite surprised  however   to learn that the median age for Twitter users is 31. I  would have thought it would skew much younger. Anyway, I struggle with the concept of sharing my inner most thoughts or what I had for lunch or  whatever rabbit runs  through  the mind.

But perhaps, my confusion or uncertainty was best described by Mrs THT when she bemoned the lack of immediate response for an email vs a phone call. She is quite fond of the phrase, I just wanted to hear your voice. Unless one  has ready access to a computer during the day, tweeting seems to have its limits in that regard. But then again, based on its numbers, not so  many. So, I guess Jack Dorsey and company have a winning formula, even without the geezer market.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments