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

Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?

January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Generals and the President

Now that the White House has traded Gen Stanley McChrystal for Gen David Petraeus ( formerly known by liberal Democrats as Betray us, compliments of Moveon.org ) what does it all mean?  Oh and other assorted and sundry Democrats  named Reid and Clinton chimed in with their unflattering comments  as well.

First of all, Obama had to fire McChrystal. I believed that even before I heard it from Glenn Beck or my informal survey of several retired military friends. It brings to mind, just a little, mind you, of Truman  firing McArthur. But no Obama has not risen to Truman’s level with the firing even though Wolf Blitzer says that now he is the commander-in-chief. No, Wolf, he held that title from day one of his inauguration. now if you mean he finally acted like the commander-in-chief, you would be much more accurate.

There are many interesting things about this action, some of which will not materialize until some  time  has passed. Just a few. Petraeus actually is replacing a guy who reported to him in his role as CentCom Commander. So, does that not leave us  a general short?  Petraeus cannot do justice to the job in Afghanistan and run CentCom  at the same time. ( Imagine moving from Tampa to Kandahar?) So, one would think that someone needs to be promoted, right?

Ok, next up, why in the world did a four star general even agree to an interview with Rolling Stone magazine? You have to figure that nothing good will come from it and possibly something very, very bad. And so it did. That would be like, oh I don’t know, say  a Rush Limbaugh interviewing with them only worse. So, an obviously smart and capable military man does this for what reason? At some point, when things have settled down, I hope that he is forthcoming with his reasons.

Finally, was it just 2-3 years ago when Senators Obama and Biden at different times and in different public settings blasted Gen Petraeus for his lack of competency in Iraq?  Indeed it was, Obama at a Senate hearing in which he gave the general no time to respond and Biden in an interview with Tim Russert.

If you are Obama, would it not be a nightmarish scenario to have McChrystal make the  rounds of the talk shows or maybe even write a book? Can you say, bete noir? After all, McArthur had his triumphant parade in New York City.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Want My Obamacare

Years ago, before it became so ubiquitous, MTV  had a commercial campaign that war either annoying  to the nth degree or an inspired bit of genius, depending on  your age group, I guess. In an effort to get their “product” on cable systems, we were treated to repeated commercials screaming from the telly, “I want my MTV.” Apparently, enough of the younger generation took it to heart because MTV became must see and must listen to for lots of people.

Now, some  27 years after the fabled ad campaign, people see to be asking for something entirely different. They are wondering where is their Obamacare? Not 2014, but now! There was such an intense campaign to get the bill passed and the Democrats euphoria  and celebration over the passage ( cue Joe Biden here) that one can hardly blame folks for wondering where all these great benefits are and when will they see  them? Supposedly, on the HHS website, information is forthcoming. You would think  it would have long ago been there. Perhaps  the reality of being the “health czar” has not quite sunk in for Secretary Sebelius  or maybe it has and she is just enjoying the afterglow.

The President doesn’t seem to  helping matters with some of his thinly veiled barbs at those  lawmakers who opposed the plan or the one comparing the criticism to people  expecting seeds  to sprout overnight. I  just keep remembering a comment he made to John McCain. I won, you lost, so get over it.

But with insurers  being flooded with calls about the plan’s  provisions and being surprised with the answers, perhaps Pelosi and company over sold the deal. Wait, it had to pass so we all would know what was in  it. Maybe that even applied to those who rammed the bill through?

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Question- Lonnnggg Answer

The President was in Charlotte last week to tout the benefits of his economic recovery program at  a high-tech battery component plant named Celgard. Supposedly, the company plans  to add 300 jobs thanks in part to a $49 federal stimulus grant. As to when they plan to do this, the jury is still out.

But enough digression. While there took a question from a Celgard employee. This was her question. ” Is it  a wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care? Because…we are overtaxed as it is.” Fairly straightforward question, is it not?  Ah, but the answer was a different story entirely. The President started out well. ” Let’s talk about that.” And then he went on and on and on, almost as nauseum. Drudge said that the answer and I use that term advisedly, went on for 17 minutes and twelve seconds and encompassed 2,500 words. A bit much, perhaps. But the kicker is  he really did not answer her question. He said, rather vaguely, that the new law would be paid for with a combination of new taxes on wealthy( an undefined group) Americans as well as cuts in Medicare subsidies.

I feel certain that  the questioner was probably even more confused after the answer than before. As far as that wealthy American thing, what do you bet that many of us who by no means consider ourselves wealthy, will get the opportunity to help pay the freight. Yep, it’s  a big deal, Mr Biden, a really big deal. How big is unfortunately, yet to be determined.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | economy, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Give ’em Hell, Barack?

If you’re President Barack Obama, things are looking rather good these days. That is, other than the really low approval ratings ( which would have been great media fodder if it were George Bush, wait a minute, it was media fodder), high unemployment numbers, a growing budget deficit, etc.

Your  health care bill is now the law of the land. Although I would not express it the way blue-collar Joe said, it is  a big f…ing deal in  ways that we as yet do not know.You  have just negotiated an arms reduction deal with  the Russians and you are showing Netanyahu and  Israel who’s the boss.

As a result we seem to be seeing the return of Obama the perpetual campaigner. And, the Democrat base  has got to loving it. He ‘s in the face of the Republicans verbally and otherwise. Try the recess appointments  of 15 individuals featuring Craig Becker  as an example. And today, Obama will sign   the health care fixes bill. One tiny little jewel in that bill will decimate the private student lending business by in essence, federalizing the student lending program.

Oh and the Democrats, via Henry Waxman, are sending a message to those companies warning of higher health care costs. Hearings begin April 21. The elections, in case you have forgotten, are in November.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Summit of Perceptions

This week saw  an event  at the Blair House in Washington that I would really like to call a dog and pony show, except I really like dogs . It was, of course, the President’s health care summit. Purportedly, Democrats and Republicans and Obama would sit down and have a give and  take on the pending health care legislation. Did they? Well, they met, they all talked a lot. There were even some rather ominous looks passed back and forth. But was anything really accomplished and did either side move closer to the other?  Gonna have to vote no on both counts, I think.

However, in any situation like this, we as Americans seem determined to pick a winner or loser or both. So, how did the President fare, since it was his show? Seems  to depend on who you ask. Two perspectives for your consideration and draw your own conclusions, sort of.

The first comes from the blog of Joe Klein. Mr Klein is of the opinion that Obama was the winner and he got this from Drudge. From Drudge? Yep, surprised me too. A quote from Klein’s post. “That the President was  his usual, unflappable, well-informed self.” Republicans were recalcitrant and Congressional Democrats were missing in  action, assuming they were there. His bottom line was shame on the Republicans because they want no health care bill to pass because it would give Obama a victory. You know, sort of  any or the highway, so he says.

Now, another perspective. This one is from Limbaugh. He quotes a number of Republicans as well as several quotes from the President. His report on February 25th was entitled Health Care Summit backfires Big Time on Obama and the Democrats.Guess he didn’t see it the way Klein did. He spoke of  how Biden and Obama and Reid and Pelosi looked bored and disinterested and even unhappy at times. This was just when Sen Lamar Alexander was speaking. This quote from the President to John McCain, ” John, if you don’t know it,the campaign is over. We’re not here to campaign, John. The campaign’s over.” The campaign may be over for McCain but I don’t think it has  ever ended for Obama. Other good stuff from Senator Jon Kyl and  Rep Dave Camp and in particular Eric Cantor.

So, take your pick, Rush or Klein. By the way what was Biden doing there, serving coffee?

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biden on Iraq

Some quite interesting comments today from vice-president Joe Biden. First, a bit of history using Biden’s own words. This from September 9, 2007 in response to  a positive assessment of the Iraq situation by Gen David Petraeous. Any security or tactical gains that have been made have no bearing  on a stable  government existing in Iraq. Prior to that date, Biden had even opposed the troop surge that Bush announced. Biden said that the surge would actually make things worse and not better. Besides, he said, no one thought the surge would work except Petraeus. In fact, Biden went on to say  that even 100,00 more troops would not help. This mirrors what his fellow senator Barack Obama said.

We cannot impose a military solution in Iraq and no military expert that I have spoken to thinks it is possible. That was in January, 2007. By February, 2009 Obama had changed his tune and was applauding the military gains and the reduction in violence.

Ok, now to Biden on Larry King. Last night he strongly suggested that some 90,000 troops would be coming home by the end of the summer and that Iraq would be one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration. .

Today, an intrepid reporter questioned Press Secretary Gibbs about that statement. What made the question even cooler is that he  included the qualifiers that Obama opposed the surge and that Biden wanted to divide the country into 3 sectarian units. Unbelievable response from Gibbs. I don’t know how  he said this with a straight face. Gibbs first said that the achievement would  be  getting the troops home. The reporter countered with the comment that said agreement to carry out this was  signed before Obama took  office. Gibbs responds with this quote that is freaking unbelievable. ” The vice-president been deeply involved  in fixing the political process there so that elections can be held and our troops can, uhhh, come home as scheduled, uh, this  summer.” So, now we learn that Biden fixed Iraq. What an amazing guy. That is what has been doing when he travels to Iraq.

What may be the scariest thing  of all is if Obama and Biden,et al actually believe this stuff. And maybe Iraq will be” their” greatest achievement, except it won’t even be their achievement. Truly amazing. As a fellow blogger likes to say, ” good freakin grief!”

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Foreign Policy | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Has the 2012 Campaign Already Begun?

The President was in Elyria, Oh yesterday and doubtless they were thrilled and I guess that’s ok. But, as Rush hinted, are we seeing  the beginning of his re-election campaign? Seems like his first campaign just ended. Truth of the matter, I am not so sure that he has ever stopped  functioning  in campaign mode.Anyway, take a look at some of the things he said.

” I will not stop fighting for you. I will take my lumps…. I’m not going to stop fighting until we have jobs for everybody.” Now, that last sentence is  a mouthful. Based on the net job gain in his 1st year(hint, there wasn’t one)he  will be  fighting for a long, long time.

In his  speech he made a number of statements that it’s not about him. Sorry, Mr President, I will have to disagree with you there, unless you plan to change your approach.His Ohio speech was laden with first person singular pronouns with a few plural pronouns tossed in for effect.

Now, that the keep on  fighting phrase and mix with a little faux populism as in the same thing swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry and frustrated over events of the last eight years, not the last two years. Little backhanded Bush-bashing there. Correct me if I am mistaken, but the party that won the Massachusetts election was not the party that had held that senate seat for the last 50 years. Not quite sure how that translates into an  eight year anger cycle. Just for the record, we have just begun year 3 of the Democrats hold over Congress. Or, you could call it the Pelosi-Reid cabal.

So, the campaign begins. Where is Joe, safely tucked away in Iraq.

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Do We Still Have a Vice-president ?

I was beginning to worry just  a bit since I had not heard anything from  the 47th occupant of that lofty office in a while. But as if on cue, up pops two examples of  the Biden factor. One can be characterized as political while the other is a bit harder to define. It isn’t really thuggish behavior but overly boorish and sort of amusing.

First, the political. As is possibly the case with many leading Democrats, the 2010 elections are on Biden’s mind. At this point, he is not as confident a she would like to be. His comments are from a fundraiser held on  September  21 in Greenville, De for Arizona Rep Gabrielle Giffords. A fundraiser held in Delaware for a member of Congress from Arizona. Gotta love politics. Anyway, Biden made reference to House seats currently held by Democrats but in traditional Republican districts. He said that  a loss of 35 of such seats wold doom the president’s agenda. Or in his words, “be the end of the road for what Barack and I  are trying to do.” He went on to say that the retention of those seats would bring in a real era of bipartisanship. It would  then embolden  Republicans to move away from party dictates and vote their convictions, i.e., the Administration’s way. Sorry, Mr Vice-president, you lost me there. (Biden’s comments were reported by ABC  White House reporter Karen Travers.) Depending on who is counting and what time period is used, average mid-term House losses  are around 25 seats.

Biden plays golf. Newsworthy, not unless he plays with Tiger Woods, you  might say. Well, he didn’t, but it still is and amusing as well. it happened in Las Vegas, how appropriate is that. The members only club in question is The Golf Club at South Shore and it took place a week ago today.

It seems the Mr Biden was in town for  a fund-raiser for Rep Dana Titus, D, Nv and wanted to get in a round on the links. The call  came in early Sunday morning from a Biden staffer and the PGA pro running the pro shop declined, citing the  club’s membership policy. Gotta wonder if he still has a job? Not to be deterred, another call came in and  theses words ensued,”you know the vice president would really like to play.” (Know what I mean?) Apparently the connection worked and the club reversed its decision, said membership director Mark Barrett. Biden and his people arrived about 11:00 am, played 17 holes and left. He does know that around consists of 18 holes, right?

Afterwards, Barrett could laugh about it saying it gave the club a boost of needed publicity during  a time when it could really use it. Suppose that Biden left one those economic stimulus at work signs? His score, who knows. Doesn’t what happen in Vegas stay in Vegas?

November 22, 2009 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment