Tarheeltalker

Self-appointed Kitchen Cabinet

It is no secret  what “objective” journalist Chris Matthews thinks of President Obama. I almost hate to mention the “tingles” episode that occurred during the 2008 campaign, although I have seen the word used quite well as  a nickname for Matthews. Not so long after Obama took office, Matthews proudly admitted that it was his job to make sure that Obama succeeded.( Remember for a moment that Rush was roundly criticized for hoping that Obama failed.) I cannot  recall any approbation at what  Matthews said.

But  at least  Matthews is consistent. He remains firmly on the Obama/Democrat bandwagon. In a  recent interview with Democrat senatorial candidate Joe Sestak ( from  Matthews’ native state of  Pennsylvania) who is running against Republican Pat Toomey, Matthews openly longed for Sestak and the Democrats to do well in November by saying this.” I hope your party gets organized and wins this thing.”

But, there is even more. Matthews seems to be moving beyond the cheerleading/publicizing phase into the advising stage. I actually watched the video clip with Matthews providing this advice, so I am not making this up. His first piece of advice was to replace Def Secretary Robert Gates with, guess who? You will never get this one, so I’ll just tell you.  It is  Hilary Clinton. Wait, there is more. He has two options for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; either Treasury Secretary of Chief-of-Staff. No mention of who would succeed Mrs Clinton ( Bill maybe) or what would happen to the current hatchet man,Rahm Emanuel.

This advice brought to mind something used by a number of former presidents, the “kitchen cabinet.”  I believe Truman actually coined the phrase for his group of informal advisers, although it was quite popular with Jefferson and Jackson among others. Guess the only difference is that Matthews is self-appointed. But just think of the benefits. The Democratic National Committee could pay Matthews annual salary  of  $5 million and he could continue his tv show just like it is and work for the White House on the side. Better than Obama accepting Michael Moore’s offer to replace Emanuel, huh?

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September 4, 2010 Posted by | History, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes of the Week

Once again, I got the urge to share a few quotes from a couple of famous individuals. One of the individuals is an actress, the other a politician.

#1 This quote comes from actress Jennifer Aniston and for  our purposes we shall call it  the profound quote. This was in  response to a Russian journalist who had the audacity or temerity to ask  her a question about  love/marriage/men. Her response: ” Love is love and family is what is around you.” Wow, is that deep.

For our next 2 quotes we hear from Sen Harry Reid, D, NV.

His first quote we call characterize as an intellectual quote. This one was actually about 3 weeks ago and  came at a press conference  announcing that this year’s ambitious climate legislation would shelved. We don’t have the votes he said. ” It’s easy to count to 60. I could do it by the time I was in eighth grade.”  Shucks, Senator , I believe I learned it way before then.

Finally, this one could have a couple of names. Maybe  politically  unwise or maybe I just don’t care what they think.  This was  at a campaign stop in Nevada , speaking to a Hispanic audience. ” I don’t  know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican. Do I need to say more? ” Apparently, he did. Just a day or so later comes this from his campaign. ” Sen Reid’s contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise  would vote for Republican candidates.” Because after  all  they oppose all the good things that Democrats are trying to do. Perhaps the senator could ask  some folks in November. Or , do you think he just believes in a one party system? Nah!

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Celebrate, Celebrate,We Passed a Budget

And celebrate they did, complete with lobbyists and fundraising and  many  prominent state Democrats in attendance. Headlining the event were Gov Bev Perdue and the head honchos of the State Senate, Marc  Basnight and State House, Joe Hackney.

What it was, was the 2010 Legislative Reception at the headquarters of the N C  Democrats, a mere block from  the Capitol. For only $50 per person one could hobnob with he most powerful pols in the state. But, according to party executive director Andrew Whalen it was all above-board. The event  is nothing more than a thank you from the party to the legislators for  a job well done. Of course there were no Republican legislators present. Anyway, Whalen went on to say that the money raised would go pay basic party expenses which for some  reason included the elevator repairman. Seems interesting to me for that to be included along with  the water bill and the electric bill. perhaps it’s Democrat code for something, who knows.

Anyway, a number of  Democrats seemed to be in the dark about who was actually there. Sen Linda Garrou, as she hurried inside, denied knowing that lobbyists were present. Oh, forgot to mention that, lobbyists were present but were enjoined to remember that no money raised  could go to a candidate or  the committee of a candidate. Another attendee was Rep Deborah Ross who also declined to answer questions before rushing inside. Secretary of State and U S Senate candidate Elaine Marshall admitted to knowing the event was  a fundraiser but did not know who was on the invitation list. By the way, her office regulates lobbyists.

Speaker Hackney seemed offended by questions about the event and emphasized that it was the state party raising money and not him personally and that it was all legal and proper. The question asked of him was whether he thought voters would consider it wrong to raise money from lobbyists while the legislature was still officially in session.

Of course, everything was just as open and honest as the day is long. Besides it must take a lot of money to pay those elevator repairmen.

July 1, 2010 Posted by | State Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hard Choices and Big Cuts

So said Gov. Bev Perdue  in describing the budget for the state of North Carolina. The $19 billion spending plan  is likely to be finalized today after one final vote. The Governor also called the budget  ” a clear win” for the people of the state. Democrats, who control  the state legislature, and have for what seems like forever, defended their work as keeping priorities intact and maintaining services for those who truly need them.

Listen to some partisan comments, while bearing in mind that the Democrats could pass the budget with no Republican support at all if they chose to do so. Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger from my home county of Rockingham wanted to know about next year when there may very well be  a $3 billion potential deficit with which to cope? Asheville Democrat Martin Nesbitt is Berger’s Democrat counterpart, serving as Senate  Majority leader. He had an interesting response to Berger’s concerns. Basically, it sounded like we’ll deal with that next year. The exact quote was, ” Whatever happens next year, we’ll face that too.” Ok, let’s not look to far ahead there folks.

There are doubtless many specific items one could examine that would prove interesting, depending on point of view, etc. I chose just one. It involves the operation of the state Ferry System which will have  a budget next year of  $43.5 million. Granted that is  a pittance in a $19 billion  package. But the figure represents an increase of more than 33%. I’m guessing there are very few programs that received as high or higher increase. Note that the increase came while road maintenance spending will show a small decrease. Don’t know how our roads can handle less maintenance, but  they will still get less.

Here is my decidedly unscientific solution for this. Charge a fee for using the ferry. Not just some of the ferries, but all of them, since right now, 94% of the cost is taxpayer subsidized. Seems there was  a House proposal to encourage the State Department of Transportation to increase fees, but even that modest idea was defeated.

There is hope since Rep Grier Martin of Raleigh  says he supports the idea of charging more. What I don’t understand is why not just mandate that 1/2 the ferry cost must be paid by fees. There would all of a sudden by $15-20 million to devote to some deserving program that is being whacked. Can’t believe ferry travelers would immediately seek alternative passage, since there isn’t any.

And just think if this small example exists in a massive $19 billion budget, there must be more near painless ways to deal with the budget crisis. Right?

June 30, 2010 Posted by | State Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What was he thinking or was he thinking at all ?

Came across the following quote in a recent issue of World magazine. It comes from the enlightened mind of Woody Allen. Oh, he is referring to President Obama and voicing his frustration that there are those (read Republicans ) who are trying to block the president’s agenda.

” It would be good…. if he could be a dictator for  a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.”

Bet Obama agrees with him.

June 12, 2010 Posted by | Media | , , , | 2 Comments

More Than We Expected?

The President has announced his nominee for the Supreme Court seat of the retiring John Paul Stevens. What a shock, he has picked another woman and thus according to him this will  make the court look more like the  country than ever before. But would Solictor General Elena Kagan actually do that? Perhaps we should take a closer look.

Now, upfront we should note that these descriptions are not meant as criticisms of the nominee, but as observations in light of what the President said. Ms Kagan is Jewish which will mean  the Court would have 6 Catholics and 3 Jews. She is single and in fact has never been married. Unlike Justice Sotomayor whose humble upbringing was repaetedly stressed, Ms Kagan  is the polar opposite. She is, as the New York Times puts it, “a creature of Manhattan’s liberal, intellectual Upper West Side; hardly a typical upbringing. She served on the faculty of the Chicago University Law School with guess who? Yep, Barack H Obama.  How about that for irony or wonder if this is fulflling  a long range goal since Kagan was on the nominee short list last time around.

So, maybe the Court will not really look more like America but just seem to . What is interesting is somethinmg that Rush brings up. Not sure if I agree wholeheatedly but it sounds very plausible. He maintains that Obama is in fact nominating himself. It has been noted that they  served on the law school faculty together and it seems that her record or lack of same mirrors that of the President before he was elected. She has as her judicial hero  the late Thurgood Marshall and adheres very strongly to his  philosophy that the Court should exist almost solely for the benefit of  the “despised and disadvantaged,” whomever the Court perceives those to be. She is reputed to be post partisan, a consensus builder, as was the president. Perhaps more telling is how she views the Constitution. And how is that? Kinda hard to say, given the paucity of the written record. But, hazarding a guess, I would use the words  living and changing in there somewhere along with oh, maybe the framers didn’t really do all that great a job but we have surely improved it.

But, in all lilklihood, she will be confirmed even if all Republicans  vote no, which they will not. But what will be interesting is if the topic of same-sex marriage comes up. Ms Kagan is actually on the record here. And her view is not that of the typical liberal. That just might liven up the proceedings a bit.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bull Moose

Quite a character was the man from New York. He served as Governor of New York, leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, was both an ardent conservationist as well as an avid big game hunter,  ( in this country and abroad) an advocate of the “strenuous life” who preached exercise, activity and more. But he was also a sickly asthmatic child and one  who suffered great physical harm from his frequent reckless behaviors. Incidentally these behaviors  lasted virtually his entire life and undoubtedly contributed to his  early demise at age  61. But, if  anyone’s years were ever packed full, it had to be TR. OR, as he put it, ” good to the last drop.” And you thought Maxwell House made that  up.

By the way, he was also our 26th president and  ran the most successful 3rd part candidacy in our history. But why is he among all the choices enshrined on Mt Rushmore? Author Kathleen Dalton calls him our most fascinating  president and after reading her bio of  him, I would have to agree. He was imperfect, contradictory, often full of himself , judgmental, at times intolerant and never happier than when the full focus was on him.

Dalton posits that he best captures the American spirit self-improvement ( one of his mantras), growth and change. He himself continued to move to the left politically after leaving the White House’ vigorously championing causes such as women’s suffrage, improved working conditions for factory workers( many of whom were children) , and “social justice” in various and sundry forms. He ironically was still all out for our entrance into WWI, even volunteering to go himself. Although that did not happen, his sons fought admirably and one son, Quentin, was killed in Europe. Some speculated that Roosevelt never recovered from that loss. And even prior to that, while he was President he pushed hard for a stronger Navy.

As I write this post and it seems to jump all over the place , I readily see Dalton’s point about TR being such as fascinating Chief Executive. For I have yet to refer to his Nobel Peace Prize of 1905, his mentoring of a young Woodrow Wilson ( with whom he fell out and the two basically accused each other of treason) his nephew  Franklin, whom he greatly encouraged  and so it goes.

And we had the precocious daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from his first wife, Alice, who died when the child ws quite young. His daughter was a firebrand from an early age, maybe one for whom the term precocious is much too mild. And did I mention that he wrote hundreds of magazine articles and numerous books, one of which , African Game Trails, sold a  million copies and this in  the early 20th century.

Although born into wealth and privilege, he never seemed d motivated by money. Perhaps, one of the main driving factors was living up to the standards of Theodore Sr, or Thee as he was known. Better yet, I love the line from his children Kermit and Alice. He always liked to be “the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” Well said, indeed.

April 29, 2010 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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 Health Care Perspective

It is appearing increasingly likely that a health care bill will be passed by the Democrat controlled Congress. The wrangling over abortion restrictions that is only the latest issue will alas probably be overcome. ( Kudos on the efforts of Bart Stupak.) I say this with no enthusiasm since I fear that we will rue the day this bill was passed and rue even more when its provisions take effect. As Speaker Pelosi said, it must be passed so everyone will know what is in it. That one statement should cause every American of whatever political persuasion to wonder just what is happening.

Plus, two new terms have entered the political lexicon that I venture to say will also return to haunt us. One is the “deem it passed”  concept and the  other the “Slaughter Rule.” The deem it passed idea is one of the more convoluted things that one can imagine. The more I read about it, the more confusing it gets. In this process, that seems to be the norm. Can you  imagine James Madison, who developed the copncept  of “checks and balances” being faced with such a concept. And, don’t look just yet, but tis approach may be already under consideration for dealing with the thorny problem of immigration reform. If  I were a Democrat, I would tread very lightly here since their majority status is not  a perpetual things(as it is in the North Carolina legislature) and the old goes around comes around – process is always lurking behind the next election.

Then there is the Slaughter Solution. Named for powerful Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Chair of the House Rules Committee, and one of Congress’ most powerful women. In fact, the deem it passed approach came from her. The irony of this concept is the fact that the Republicans( shame on you) used a similar approach in 2006 when they ruled the roost, albeit on  a bill of far, far less import than one that  will takeover 1/6 of the U S economy. Anyway, there was a suit filed against the Republican action. It was led by Waxman, Slaughter and Pelosi. How ’bout that? The name Slaughter Solution itself carries all sorts of inferences and connotations which are far more  intriguing than had it been the Smith or Jones Solution.

So, as we stand on the brink or precipice, one has to wonder what the verdict of  history will be. One final thought. I daresay that few bills have had more claimed for them than this one. One has to know that like exaggerated claims for anything, it will never accomplish all that its supporters claim for it. Let us hope that the fears of damage are also overstated.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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