Tarheeltalker

Gulf Coast Shenanigans

” Otherwise, how are things, was an oft used phrase by the  late, legendary Paul Harvey. Incidentally, he seems to be one of those folks that cannot  be adequately replaced. I often wonder  what his take would be on this or that major news event.

But today I am using the phrase as an intro to a BP update. No, quite unfortunately the oil spill  has not been contained, although a few small good things have occurred and more could have occurred with a bit more co-operation/communication?

BP CEO Tony Heyward, their point man in dealing with the crisis on site, appeared before  members  of Congress and  the  questioning was anything but friendly. He did not help himself either by some  of his comments which appeared at times to be a bit insensitive. Given the nature of the Congressional beast, hearings and questioning were inevitable. I’m just not certain what worthwhile purpose the hearings have at this point. Maybe a little extra face time on C-Span or the major networks. Or a few good headlines like senators grill BP  executive or something like that. Obama even weighed in again saying he wishes he could fire Heyward. Real productive move.

I would rather the president work more closely with Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal who really seems to be working hard on this thing as he should. But, yet one of his major efforts was actually stopped for a time the other  day by whom? Why, none other than the U S Coast Guard, from whence  came Admiral Thad Allen. Certainly the Admiral or his boss ( hint Barack H …..) had nothing to do with  stopping the oil removing barges from their task. As recently as Tuesday, they were hard at work. On Wednesday, they sat idle and remained so for over a day. Why? Jindal isn’t sure. He said that every time  he talked to  a Coast Guard representative, he got a different answer. And  Coast Guard spokesman, Lt Cmdr Dan  Lauer said they were all in this together since the real enemy was the oil. Chew on this, the Coast Guard had to confirm there were fire extinguishes and life vests on board  and then were having trouble reaching the people who built the barges. ( Not sure the relevance there, but what ever.) Jindal cannot overrule the Coast Guard although  he attempted to reach the White House with his concerns. Finally after what have seemed like an eternity to the Governor the barges were back at work.

Does this seem at all similar with  the feds refusal of international help for weeks before finally accepting the proffered Dutch assistance this week? Sure does to me. Do you see the spectre of politics at work anywhere? Just wondering. Han g in there Governor Jindal and keep the pressure on!

Just another week in the Gulf.

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June 18, 2010 Posted by | Energy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who’s Fighting Whose Wars?

Seems that a former senior CIA agent, Michael Scheuer, thinks we have some misplaced allegiances in the Middle East. Mr Scheuer was on  a C-Span call-in show  last Monday which degenerated into  an anti-Semitic gab fest.

Scheuer, with a number of callers agreed, thinks Israel is of no strategic importance to the United States. He also said that  American soldiers are dying in Iraq for the sake of Israel. He had this telling quote, ” Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that’s a fact. What you want about that fact is entirely different.” One more tidbit from Mr Scheuer. We should somehow “persuade”  Islamic terrorists who threaten us to” focus their anger” on Israel (as if they already do not)  and oppressive Middle Eastern regimes.

Wonder who he thinks is our most staunch ally in the Middle East, as well as the only thing country even close to having a freely elected government. Uh, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. None seem to ring a bell. As for the part about our troops dying for Israel, may we return briefly to Desert  Storm in 1991. If memory serves, we fought that war to liberate Kuwait and by extension keep Hussein away from Saudi Arabia. Israel suffered the indignity of repeated scud missile attacks without provocation. I also seem to remember our asking them to hold off on retaliation ( defend  themselves) which they did. Not sure of Mr Scheuer’s thoughts on that matter.

Add the above to this next Obama administration maneuver. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is heading over to do some tough talking to the Israelis( must have been reading from the playbook of the Palestinian from Plains) about restarting peace negotiations. He threatened a freeze in U S aid to Israel if  satisfactory progress is not made. No wonder that polls indicate  a large majority of Israelis are nervous about the state of relations with us.

Wonder if the letters Mitchell is bringing with him bring instructions about the division of Jerusalem as well as the two-state solution. Methinks Israel is right to be ill at ease. For greater discussion of  the issues and insight as to why we should have a strong relationship with Israel, visit   Joel Rosenberg’s blog .It  gives one  a good perspective on Israel in particular as well as the Middle East as a whole.

Shalom!

January 9, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good History Or Bad History?

Today, House Democrats unveiled their massive health care bill (1,990 pages worth) and Speaker Pelosi called it a historic moment. I suppose that is  a true statement. But, upon reflection, that doesn’t in and of itself make it good. After all, there is good history and there is  bad history. It is somewhat early to know which one this will be.

The President was excited about it. He called the event  another milestone in the health care reform effort. There was  a big ceremony on the steps of the Capitol which was apparently an RSVP event. You or I or just any random person could not have joined in the celebration. I watched  a couple of videos, one including  a Capitol police officer where  people  were politely but firmly told they could not enter if they weren’t on the list. One gatekeeper smilingly said that it could be viewed on C-SPAN. Another example of openness and transparency in government.

Listen to these words from Speaker Pelosi:…”covers 96 per cent of all Americans (by 2013 that is) and it puts affordable coverage in reach of uninsured and underinsured Americans, lowering health care costs for all of us.” Now, I don’t know , but that seems like quite an ambitious thing. I ould just be thrilled to get  a straight, no frills answer to this question? If I have good health care and  like  it, will it change? Being unable to ask that question of anyone in power, I shall make a guess. No! That would not be the answer but betcha you  could get good Las Vegas odds on it. While I am being completely frivolous, here  is question #2. Will the plan be deficit neutral? Alas, see above answer.

Just one more thing, you had to like Pelosi’s use of the word us, referring I guess to Congress which already has the best health care money can buy. So I hope that the Speaker and Reps Dingell and Conyers and Hoyer et. al enjoy themselves.I just worry that there are roosting chickens in this legislation that will come home to us.

Or, to put it another way. This  is  a Democrat bill, for good or bad. If it doesn’t do all that they promise it will, where will the blame fall?

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wisdom(?) of Jimmy Carter

President of these United States, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Governor of Georgia and Plains,Ga’s favorite son. Who is it? Why, of course, it is James Earl Carter, Jr. I was living in Georgia at the time Mr Carter came  from   nowhere and  became   president. For a long time I thought that he was not a very good president but probably our best former president.

The C-SPAN historians rankings see him a better president than I did; ranking him 22nd in the year 2000 and 25th in 2009. At least his rankings are headed in the right direction. Anyway, back to his post presidency  period.  He left office in 1981 at the relatively young age of 57. Since than he has been quite involved in Habitat,which was founded in Georgia, in election watching, and in the Carter Center. Founded in 1982 by he and his wife, the organization has worked to ease suffering and  advance human rights worldwide. His work there earned Carter the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

So, no problems right? Just a moment. Personally, I have been nagged for some time with the feeling that Mr Carter was more sanctimonious than necessary and tended to speak with an air of superior moral authority.He has been outspoken in recent years about the cause of the Palestinians versus Israel and has not earned friends in Israel for that. His 2006 book, entitled,Palestine:Peace not Apartheid, was not only pro-Arab but “blessed” with a number of factual errors.( For example, Arafat never called for the destruction of Israel. )He published  a new book this year about peace in the Middle East and in at least one interview about that book called his previous one balanced-Ok.

Among other things that Mr Carter has done is to monitor elections around the world. His Carter Center has monitored more than 70 elections in various countries in the last 20 years. Lots of moral high ground here.

I think he honestly believes that he holds the moral high ground, so what must be the reasoning for his latest comments. Yep, calling Joe Wilson’s comment  indicative of racist attitudes that still exist, rooted in racism is the terminology he employed. Wilson’s son, predictably, disagreed. Not so predictably so did the Obama Administration through spokesman Robert Gibbs. Nor did GOP chairman Michael Steele think much of the comment.

So, why did Carter make the comments? To stir up controversy, don’t  think so. I think he genuinely believed what he said,whether or not he was familiar with Joe Wilson. That is the kind of ting that has me wishing he would drive more nails and stay more out of politics.

Gotta get this in. His latest Mideast book has been “endorsed” by none other than Osama Bin Laden. Wonder what his opinion on that might be?

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments