Tarheeltalker

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.

Advertisements

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

Confused about Libya? Me too!

And just think what the people in the Ivory Coast must be wondering when they see us involved  in Libya, but not in their country. After several days of air strikes,cruise missile launchings, actual reports of French jets hitting  their  targets, do we have  a clue about the final outcome and even why we are involved? Why are we involved actually is what I have wondered all along + why the President did  not consult with the Congress before beginning whatever this is.

Of course this “adventure”  of ours  stems from what to all intents and purposes is  a Libyan civil war, between forces loyal to Hugo Chavez’ best friend, Col Gaddafi, and those intent on recreating the Egyptian experience of just a few weeks ago. Unlike the events in Egypt, there is a much stronger force intent on maintaining the status quo. So, of all sources to ask us, among others, to intervene, the Arab League called for the imposition of  a no fly zone to prevent the Libyan air force from massacring those opposing the Colonel.

So, American, French and British set out to do just that, ground the Libyan air force. What would be almost amusing, were it so deadly serious, is how quickly the Arab League got more than it expected. Libyan planes were shot down, antiaircraft guns were silenced and some people were killed. I  have no intention of poking fun at all, but how exactly did the Arab League expect a no fly zone to be established?  Just ask the Libyan pilots nicely to stay on the ground?

Anyway, the no fly zone was established and then what ensued? Gaddafi’s forces have continued to fight, NATO nad its allies are bickering and whatever we and our NATO  allies are doing goes on, with no specific end or goal.

And, if you missed it while watching events in Libya, not all that far away in Syria, there are anti government protests, accompanied by a government crackdown. Just ask yourself, at what point do we intervene there? Who will have to ask and how much turmoil will have to ensue and how will the decision be made? Will Congress  have  a voice next time;when there is  a next time? Mr President, the people of the Ivory Coast  are on line one.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where do I send the thank you note?

For many years it was proper etiquette  for the recipient of a gift or service to send  a  written thank you to the giver. This was particularly true on special occasions. I can remember the importance of thank you notes at significant times in our lives. Those times that readily come  to mind would include our wedding, the births of our children and the deaths of  parents. By the same token it was meaningful for us to receive a thank you note when we have somehow reached out to another whether by a gift or some other means. I am still quite partial to the written (mailed) thank you since it is good business for the Postal Service. ( Always remember the Arthur Godfrey admonition.) Alas, along with many other”proper” forms of behavior, the thank note in almost any form is becoming somewhat rare.

But, something has occurred over the 3-4 weeks that has  created a strong desire to send a thank you note. My problem lies in knowing to whom and where it should be sent.

I have noticed that over this  period there has been a significant increase in gasoline  and heating oil prices. One local statin that I frequent has shown an increase from $3.09/gallon to $3.55/gallon, unless it went  higher today. That included one impressive pice hike of 10 cents per gallon in the space of one hour. The price of home heating oil, which we use, has gone from $3.47/gallon to $4.06 /gallon in even less time.

My problem is in determining where to send the note or notes. Do I send one to local gas station and my local heating oil provider, another to Exxon and BP( the respective brands) another to Gadhafi in Libya for all the turmoil he continues to cause  ( at great harm to his own people, I must say) and isn’t BP a British owned company? Where  would their note go? And least we will not need heating oil to next season, so I have time to work on that note.

Suggestions from anyone versed in the proper etiquette  will be welcomed. Wonder if Emily Post’s website has an answer?

March 13, 2011 Posted by | economy, Energy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas at NCIS

Last night was I think, the first NCIS  Christmas episode. The show provided its typical quality hour of entertainment, with an interesting mix of storylines There was the return of Gibbs’ father, McGee performing Christmas magic ( Admiral Nicholas Whitebeard was a great line ) and Tony and Ziva winning a great bar fight. But my main interest lay in another area entirely.

The central plot line was solving the murder of  a marine who had converted to Islam.  As it turned out, he was killed by his brother who felt he had shamed the family by converting to the Islamic faith. A sorta sidebar to this  was that the deceased’s father had left the military to become  a minister and was not so thrilled with his son’s conversion. The  other member of our mixture was a Nay Muslim chaplain.

To me , the show presented the two Muslim characters and thus the religion in quite  a favorable light. The father, from a more traditional faith, not so much. It just got me to thinking how in this country we seem to work very hard to accomodate other faiths, particularly the Islamic faith. In  contrast, those countries with  a Muslim majority don’t seem to be so accommodating to those of the Christian faith. Think of Libya, Sudan, Iran etc.

It just made me think how sometimes television can be used to frame  a point of view or encourage one in subtle ways. I’m not saying we should not be accommodating but it seems at times that we overdo things. And,  as much as I hate to disagree with Gibbs, I don’t think that Christians and Muslims  are on the  same page when it comes to God.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Media, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Big Day for the Marines

Today is birthday #234 for the U S Marine Corps, one of the more unique branches of our military. And, furthermore, NCIS viewers will recognize it as the birthday of our favorite marine gunnery sergeant, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The jarheads as they are known by some, began their storied history on November 10,1775 before there was an official United States.

Captain Samuel Nicholas formed the first 2 battalions of this elite fighting force that is today known for many things. One is the motto, never leave a man behind. Another is the unique emblem of the globe , trident and anchor. This signifies land, air and sea; any way necessary, the Marines are there.

I remember as a kid hearing the Marine Corps hymn and being fascinated by the Halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli without even knowing what they meant. The more I learned the better it got. Just one thing about that. The shores of Tripoli refer to the  first Barbary War of the very early 19th century and our young nation’s first battle with pirates. Marines under the leadership of  Lt Presley O’Bannon stormed ashore at Derne,Tripoli( now Libya) in the first battle fought by American troops on foreign soil. Interestingly, the sword used by Marines today is modeled on one given to  Lt O’Bannon by the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli.

They aren’t  the largest branch of our Armed Forces although they may be the most colorful, opinion of course. So, on the day before Veterans Day, we respectfully say Semper Fi to marines everywhere.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | History, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where is Mahmoud?

The recently concluded UN session provided a lot time for old friends to meet.probably time for old enemies as well. But maybe it also helped change  some who were sorta good friends into even better friends. Our favorite Venezuelan, Hugo Chavez and the Libyan thug, loon, take your pick, Moammar Khadafy seem to be cozying  up more since the UN meetings.

They have spending time in Chavez neck of the woods lately, in Porlamar, VZ. It was Khadafy’s first trip to Hugoland and all seemed d to go well. They even talked of a NATO  of the South. The two combined to lead a summit between South american countries. Economic agreements were signed, potshots taken at the United States, etc.

Both have things in common, being former military men as well as  current radicals. But wasn’t one member of their group missing?  Where in the world was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Oh, that’s right. Working on that nuclear reactor thing, peaceful purposes only. Got it.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Another Day at the United Nations

Today at the UN  has been quite an eventful occasion. Had you been privilged  or forced to be in attendance, just think who  you could have heard. Of course, there was Obama( great picture of him sitting in the big chair, nicknamed a throne by TOTUS and it does look the part just a bit. There was our old  friend Fidel Castro and there was even the head of the African Union, the esteemed Moammar Khadafy. And there were others. But this trio will do.

Beginning in reverse order, what did the Libyan head honcho have to say? Well, here goes. “It’s just a shame that we can’t have Obama as president of the United States forever. We’ve only got a rare moment in time while Obama, an African, is president of the United States to actually fix the problems of the world because once Obama’s gone the American people, the United States, is going to go back to being its ugly self again.” Or as Dr Chu put it, like teenagers who don’t have a clue. Wow, the President’s own speechwriters couldn’t have done any better. Hope that Obama spoke afterwards  because that was a whale of an introduction.

What did Fidel have to add ?  One correction, Fidel was not actually at the UN but did quote liberally from Obama’s speech He also said this. ” It would only be fair to recognize that no other United  States president would have had the courage to say what he said. To what was he referring? Well, the President’ s admission of America;s past errors of course, particularly on climate change.

Now, on to the President’s remarks. By the way, he received a good bit of applause. No wonder, he told theses folks what they wanted to hear. ” I have ordered Gitmo closed.” ( still there for the moment), we are leaving Iraq,we have reengaged the UN, have paid our bills(?) and have joined the human rights council.

Oh, there is much, much more. These next are quite interesting. Read them closely. No balance of power will hold, one nation or group of people cannot be  elevated over another, power is a zero-sum game. Oh, those naughty Israelis. Now, if I am Russia, I am loving this stuff. And, perhaps for this reason. I will quote Rush. “He’s serving up the United States on a silver platter to the rest of the world.”

Now, it would be great if all nations and people got along. No alpha dog, no superpowers, etc. An old adage keeps ringing in my ears, something about nature abhorring a vacuum. In terms of power, I believe it to hold true   as well. Is he  preaching appeasement? Not so much, I don’t think, but I fear he is sending the wrong message, one  labeled by Mark Helprin in the WSJ as the politics of concession. What  comes from this and when is still to be decided.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m a Bit Surprised at the Outrage

The furor continues to mount over the  situation  of the terrorist released in Scotland by Justice Secretary Kenny McCaskill. FBI Director Robert Mueller fired off a strongly worded letter expressing his dismay at the action. Seems that  in 1991, Mueller was involved in the prosecution of one  Abdelbaset  Ali  Mohmet  al-Megrahi, aka the Lockerbie bomber. For those who don’t care for terrorist images or think we bring all terrorist acts on ourselves, perhaps it is no big deal. You will remember however  the horrific images of  Pan Am Flight 103 being blown up in  1988.

The above referenced individual was convicted and sentenced  in 2001 to serve 27 years for his role in the attack. Fast forward, he is now 57 and in failing health, with an estimated 3 months to live. The Scottish justice system has deemed it the compassionate thing to do to send him home to? Yes Libya, where he received a hero’s welcome. Sure he would, even though Obama called the welcome ” highly objectionable. ” Wonder what he expected from fearless leader  Qaddaffi beside  a welcome home hug.

Hang on, it gets much better.The Scots fired back at Mueller, saying that the Scottish system of justice had a   sense of compassion which was lacking in the US  system. Contrast that with Mr McCaskill’s statement that he was ” conscious that there are deeply held feelings and that many will disagree    with whatever my decision. ” There is more. There were many individuals who expressed disagreement and supposedly so did our government. But Mr McCaskill through a spokesman said he consulted with victims families, Secretary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder, Mueller’s boss. It appears that Mr Holder did not consult with Mr Mueller.

Now, did  his conviction and temporary  imprisonment bring back any victims, of course not. Did it help them at all, maybe. Rest assured that his release did them no good whatsoever.  Finally, does it send any sort of message to those who might be inclined to do this sort of thing  at some point in the future? Just wondering. Oh yes, the British goverment took great offense that there ws some type of economic quid pro quo.

August 22, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment