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

About that Iranian Thing…

…..wasn’t it supposed to be over and done by now? Something about December and deadlines and agreements  and how Russia has smoothed it all over  and wasn’t all the Arab world going to fall in love  with us? You remember the speech in Egypt that  was so great, do you not?

And just the other day, Defense Secretary Gates held out hope for the sanctions to work. And now Hilary has given an interview that kinda says Iran is not the real problem since they don’t have a bomb,yet.

Don’t I remember somebody using the phrase “axis of evil” and being roundly  condemned for it. Why that cowboy diplomacy that makes the world hate us,how dare he!

And yet, today I read that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has told his atomic agency to significantly enrich the country’s  stockpile of uranium. And German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg  referred to the farce being played out  just like in the past. “The outstretched hand of the international community has not only been taken but pushed back.”

What did Herr Guttenberg mean do you think? We will agree with the UN plan maybe says Iran. If more sanctions were imposed it would a  4th round, if you’re counting, and neither Russia nor China seems  all that excited about it.

I just feel that I have written all of this before and yet here we are again. Wonder what Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel think about it all? Are they watching closely?” Bet your sweet bippy” they are. In fact he is in Russia as  we write on a “long-planned trip.” Wonder what they will discuss?

February 8, 2010 Posted by | Foreign Policy, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Say it ain’t so, Katie

Maybe they said it and maybe they did not. Drudge reported yesterday that CBS executives would in all likelihood ask Katie Couric to take a  pay cut. She makes $15 million a year in case you forgot and is in the  4th year of her contract paying that princely sum.

When she took over the evening news , it was running 3rd behind Brian Williams and NBC and Charles Gibson and ABC. After a brief spurt, those ratings have settled in to where they were. The only difference is that Diane Sawyer has taken the helm at ABC.

The talk  of a pay cut came amidst news that CBS would be  laying off still  more people from the news division, including some at the venerable “60 Minutes.” Ironically that comes not all that long after the death of Don Hewitt.

But the next day, CBS News President Sean McManus denied any talk of a pay cut, no matter what Drudge or the New York Post  might have reported.  To make things even more interesting, there is a bit of a glam article about Ms Couric in the current issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Not the best timing. Oh, McManus also  went on to praise Couric’s job performance profusely.

I really could care less whether she gets a pay cut or not even though  she has got to be overpaid if #1 Brian William,s makes only 7  million dollars a year. But it is all so much fun to see, is it not?  There is also no truth to the rumor that Couric is miffed that the title of her show was not changed to the C( ouric) BS Evening news.

As your predecessor( who is now whining to Obama about the  need for a government commission to save the press) would say, “courage.”  Oh, you remember Dan Rather do you not?

Food for thought. The viewing audience for the week of January 25 was  10 million for Williams, 8.5 million for Sawyer and 6.8 million for Couric. Figures are from Chris  Ariens at TV Newser.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama’s Mentor

Meet professor Chris Edley, the president’s Harvard law school professor. Dr Edley is now Dean of  the law school at the University of California. That’s the school located in Berkeley which should trigger all sorts of liberal connotations. That shall wait for another day. The professor was also a member of  the Clinton and Carter Administrations, so his Democrat bona fides are in order.

He has some interesting things to say about Obama, according to an article in The Times, reported by Giles Whittell. The professor is quite critical of senior White House staff, in particular Rahm Emanuel. Edley thinks that a sense of complacency has set in and staff  is not pushing nearly hard enough to get the President’s programs established. In fact, Edley has already intervened in a similar situation on Obama’s behalf. In the latter days of 2007, the professor was  called in by then Senator Obama  and promptly dismissed poicy positions drawn up as mediocre. He also pushed for Obama to be given more time to tink.One gets the impression that he would quite willing to repeat that intervention.

He even says or seems to say that there has been too much reliance on  Obama’s personality as  a method to persuade and even longs for good ole fashioned LBJ arm twisting. One thing I missed in the article. There seemed to be no  criticism of the President. It is his  staff  that is not serving him as they should. Two quick comments about that. It is Obama’s staff, he picked them- duh!  And is nothing ever the President’s fault? No, of course not. How silly of me, the fault is always with Bush. In fact , that  was re-iterated when the budget was announced. Anything bad about it is due to the last decade of  errors. Wait, was Bush president for a decade? Guess I missed that.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Question for Representative Watt

Mel Watt is a Democrat member of  Congress, representing North Carolina’s 12th District , to which he was first elected in 1992. He was in Charlotte yesterday ( his native city) speaking at a luncheon attended by party loyalists.

In the course of his remarks, Rep Watt found it necessary to defend the Obama administration’s economic strategy from recent criticism. Some of his comments struck me as very interesting. He used the word catastrophe in describing what would have happened to the economy without the President’s economic strategy.

Of course, he blamed the recession on George Bush. That is nothing new. But he used  an interesting word in amplifying his comments. See if you pick it  up in these two quotes. “We are taking the rap for something we didn’t create.” Here is the second quote.  “How can anybody make the case we haven”t  done anything for a problem we inherited?”

In the even you were having difficulty, I underlined the pronoun in question. I could not  but wonder who is the “we” to whom Rep Watt is referring? Gonna make a wild guess and say Democrats. I have just  a bit of a problem with that phraseology. By stating tat we didn’t cause the problem and that we are fixing it, he seems to remove the Democrat controlled Congress from those at fault. He also seems to imply that only Democrats have done anything to fix the recessionary problem.

One more statement that confused me. He said that job losses have slowed. If I understand that, it means the economy is still shedding jobs but at a lower rate. And remember, Rep Watt made his comments while in  Charlotte, located in Mecklenburg County. Said county had an unemployment rate of 11.00% in November, 2009 with neighboring counties having even higher rates. Not to worry, job losses have slowed.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | economy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Did He Win or Did She Lose?

Of course, the he is Senator-elect Scott Brown, R, Ma and the she is Martha Coakley. The obvious answer is yes to both questions since Brown won the election. But in politics, the obvious answer is not always the correct answer. So, what might we discover when we look a bit further.

On the Democrat side of the equation, the game could well be  the Blame Game. But who does  one blame . The Coakley campaign blames the Obama administration’s health care bill and its perceived failures  regarding the attempted terrorist bombing on Christmas Day. The administration on the other hand says Coakley ran a poor campaign. So, wherein lies the truth?

Hard to say that voter unhappiness over health care reform was not a factor. But, Coakley was ( rightly so, I think) perceived as being in favor of that effort and a guaranteed 60th vote. So which side was more accurate with their blame? Believe i shall go with the Obama folks on this one. With Massachusetts such a reliably Democratic state, her nomination was tantamount to election, right?( The last Republican senator in the Bay State was elected some 43 years ago and he was Edward Brooke. )My wife heard an interesting comment attributed to Coakley. You mean I have to stand outside shaking hands in this weather? Slight paraphrase. I think that she was in trouble before she realized it and then called the Axelrod cavalry  too late. ( He did actually pay Brown a compliment for running a smart campaign.)

As for Brown, he says the election was not a referendumon Obama. But don’t you know that both parties will study this campaign til the cows come home, from wherever it is that they go.

Brief summary- voter angst- and it spells trouble for incumbents or for  any candidate who is  perceived-rightly or wrongly- as not in tune with the voters. Should make for an interesting political season.

Welcome to the Senate, Mr Brown. The fun has just begun!

Footnote: This particular seat has been held by a Democrat for 57 years, was occupied by Henry Cabot Lodge before that.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Basketball Report Card

North Carolina has not had  a typical season to this point. Their current record is  only 12-6 which  sounds ok but is made worse by an early 1-2 conference record and  a couple of recent ugly losses. My take was that they would take some early season lumps due to their youth and then hit their stride.That has  not occurred  and unfortunately for Heels fans, the improvement  has yet to materialize.

I wold expect their national ranking to take  a big hit when this week’s polls are released and so it did, all the way to #24. Their ranking is dropping faster than Obama in the polls, sorry, kinda. Some “experts” are speculating that  their NCAA tournament chances may even be in jeopardy. That is probably a premature opinion but could prove correct if things continue as they are going.

So, from  a strictly layman’s point of view, and  a biased  one at that. what has gone awry? Injuries have certainly played a part and even that has gotten worse lately.

Reading the conference statistics, their overall number don’t look so bad but there are some indicators that are particularly telling. The  team’s 3 point shooting is dismal as is their assist to turnover ratio. Both indicate a pronounced weakness in guard play, where the youth is concentrated. That is not the only thing that bothers me . I had thought there was enough senior leadership in place to tide the young guys over. Alas, Marcus Ginyard is himself struggling, perhaps as a result of injury, who knows.

No doubt Coach Williams is extremely frustrated. He has  a talented team and by now, the youthfulness is not a real valid defense. It seems that Coach Smith’s mantra has not registered. ” Play hard, play smart, and play together.” That works no matter the talent or experience level.

If that lesson fails to take hold, those of us who see sports through  a Carolina blue filter have  a looong season ahead of us.

Oh, midseason grade, “C” at best, subject to change.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Their Tactics Be Successful?

The Senate race in Massachusetts is coming down the homestretch with the election just a couple of days away. Republican Scott Brown has an excellent chance to win over Democrat Martha ( Curt Schilling is a Yankees fan) Coakley. It seems that the Democrats are pulling out all the stops now.

Chuck Schumer has blasted Brown, the Dems have run an unauthorized commercial “borrowing” the UPS advertising slogan and have been told to stop. Bill Clinton is even  linking Coakley’s election and  aid to Haiti. He called them ” two sides of the same coin.” And these are just the politicians talking.

Members of the mainstream media are chiming in as well. Two of the most intriguing/outrageous  examples both work for MSNBC. Our old friend Chris Matthews longs for the day when one could just by enough votes. Shucks, that might still happen. An even better line comes from Ed Schultz who says he would vote 10 times if he lived in Massachusetts. “I’d cheat to keep these bastards out.” Finally, an honest cheater.

All this in a state, uh, commonwealth, where registered Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans. Almost forgot, the President has visited as well. Who knows if that helped or hurt. If Coakley loses, the Democrats can always blame her for running  a bad campaign or being a weak candidate. But they would not do that, would they?

Guess Tuesday will tell the tale.

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Google Gets Religion

If one spends just a modicum of time online, one is well acquainted with Google. Search engine giant, owner of  YouTube,etc. It has to be  called ubiquitous and would probably like to be known as somewhat altruistic. After all, its motto is “don’t be evil.”

So, one has to wonder why, way back in 2006, it struck a deal with China censor search results there. To obtain its Chinese license , Google agreed to omit content that the Chinese government found to be objectionable.  Google execs struggled with their decision since it seemed (actually did) go against their motto. Dollars and cents anyone?

But now, some 4 years later there may be  a change of heart. Google says it will stop censoring its search results in China and may leave the country entirely. Why, it has discovered human rights activists are being tricked by hackers into opening the email accounts . Currently Google has about 30% of the search market in China versus about 60% for local rival Baidu.

One Clothilde Le Coz, who is the Washington director for Reporters Without Borders, has long  criticized Google for its behavior in China, but is not quite patting them on the back. The Chinese government, of course has no plans to change its demands on internet companies. Nor did it accept responsibility for the hacker attacks.

What is also interesting is that Google briefed the White  House on its actions. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs would provide no details. I seem to remember that the head honchos at Google were, and probably still are, big Obama supporters.

Might this action impair Chinese-American relations? Does our government have its fingerprints on this action? Or, is Google being used by the Administration in some way? Who knows. Sure is fun to contemplate though.

If none of the preceding is the case, why in the world is Google threatening to pull out now, of all times. Just cannot believe the Chinese government has been playing nice and, all of a sudden, precipitated the hacking.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Technology | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments