Tarheeltalker

The Apologetic Administration

Guess I could have said apologetic regime  but maybe  I’ll save that one for another day. The latest  apology should really not be a surprise. Obama himself has done a ” masterful” job at apologizing  all over the world to all sorts of folks for all sorts of things.

For the most recent administration example we can thank  Assistant  Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and  Labor ( what a mouthful of a job title that is)  Michael Posner. For what did he apologize and to whom?  The what is of course, the evil Arizona law which no one  in the Obama Administration has apparently read, even Homeland Secretary Napolitano. But she still would not have signed the law. Try and figure that one out. For the who of the apology, why that noted paragon of human rights, China.

Bill O’Reilly had a couple of great comment about Posner’s apology on his show last night. I really enjoyed his comment that China would probably like to have Posner replace Hilary as Secretary of State. The other comment was  much more troubling and more reality based. He posed the  question as to how China handles  its illegal immigrants. Hint, it isn’t  with a law like Arizona’s nor is it necessarily via deportation.

Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl  took issue with posner’s mea culpa for the United States and  demanded an apology. Isn’t that great, demanding an apology for an apology. Shucks, they may get one. That is one thing the Obama Admnistration is quite good at doing.

While we are on the  subject, wonder what other countries are due an apology? Let us see. Maybe  to Great Britain for winning the Revolutionary War, Germany for WWI & WWII, Russia for buying Alaska ( Obama might like that one) France for the Louisiana Purchase- not paying enough the list goes on and on and on and on.

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May 18, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Other Nuclear Summit

The President hosted a nuclear summit last week in Washington last week. Not to be outdone, another country on the other side of the world, hosted one just a couple of days ago. This event was spearheaded by that noted peace- loving country of Iran. Can you imagine  having something called  a nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran? It would almost be  amusing if it were not true.

And to make things even more interesting, 3 Arab leaders expressed their support for Iranian  nuclear rights. Now that’s a new one  on me, the concept of nuclear rights. The Syrian  Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, is quoted as saying that ” We support Iran’s pursuit of peaceful  nuclear technology.”

Now, just for  a minute think why Iran wants or needs nuclear technoogy. Do they intend to use it to generate electricity? When you are sitting on as much oil as they are, why on earth would you do that?  Wonder what other purpose they might have in mind for  their nuclear knowledge? Weaponry, surely  not, must be missing something here, I guess.

Well   let us hear from 2 other Arab leaders who were at the summit and no Israel wasn’t at this  meeting other. First we hear from Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Ali al-Shami who said that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and they are certainly not violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our thirdArab spokesman’s comment should  really get our attention. This is true partly to what he said and partly due  to where he is from. He is Iraqi, yes Iraqi, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Our Iraqi friend said that “we reject any threat against Iran and insist on Iran’s right( there   is that word, right, again) to use peaceful nuclear energy.” Reckon he cleared those comments with  Obama?

The other thing on which these three agreed may very well the biggest news from the conference. They  all agreed that Israel must dismantle its nuclear  weapons and allow its nuclear facilities to undergo  IAEA inspection. You might say that Israel  has no intention of dismantling anything based on an Arab nuclear summit. And you would be correct. What if these  guys are just stalking horses, so to speak, for someone else and the comment are just the ground work for  stronger demands  by more prominent nations?

Joel Rosenberg described just such an event in his 2005 work of fiction, The Ezekiel Option. In that book, it was, guess who, Russia, who made a dramatic call for Israel’s nuclear disarmament at a U  N session. In the book it was quite well received by virtually everyone. Just wondering.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | International 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

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

Backwards, Forwards or Both?

We have at last left the oughts and entered the decade  of the  what, not teens yet. Let’s just call it pre-teens for now. So, we get not only year-end reviews, but end of  decade  reviews. Some actually  have been rather good.  I enjoyed Sports Illustrated’s  issue of the decade and montage that ESPN did this am. How quickly we forget things that make the news. Some of the all decade stuff seemed eons ago.Right now, Tiger Woods still makes headlines for sports and gossip mags.What will his wife do, when will he  play golf, what sponsor will drop him, next(AT&T being the latest) and with whom will they replace him?

What strikes me most is two things. One I have alluded to about the transitory  or near disposable nature of an event. Tiger will like that. Example,Charlie Sheen is arrested for alleged domestic abuse. another in a checkered career. Who cares, not his tv audience or his fans. The second and more compelling is how unpredictable the ” news” really is.

Look back at the decade at images that drew us. Of course, the 9/11 attacks come to the fore. What about the  death of Michael Jackson, or the election of an unknown , minority senator as President. Global warming now  dominates the news in many ways. Alas, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come and stayed.

What about the rise of Google, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook and the fall of General Motors and the worst recession in many a day.  No longer can one live without  a cell phone and  what you have no Ipod? What a heathen you must  be, me too.But what about those things that began the decade with us and are  still here. The intractable Middle East with its Arab-Israeli issue, how we relate to Russia and China and vice-versa. Those are still around but whatever happened to the doomsday of y2k?

So, another decade launches and those who purport to tell us with any certainty what will  happen should revisit a quote from  a former head of the  U S Patent Office who offered to resign since everything that could be invented had already been invented. His name was Charles Duell and the quote dates to 1899.

January 1, 2010 Posted by | Culture, economy, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meanwhile, Back in Moscow

While, we wonder about airline security and potential terrorist attacks and whether the system worked or not, there are some interesting noises coming from Moscow. And, making those noises is none other than Vladimir Putin, the real head of Russia. You knew that last part already, right? Check out some of these comments  in an article from the UK Times. By the way, he was at Vladivostok while speaking. Big Russian naval base, might have heard of it. His comments come just weeks after those made on Russian television in which he praised Stalin for building  a superpower and winning a war.

He said today that Russia must forge ahead in developing new weapons to prevent  the United States from doing”whatever they want.” He is traveling around the Far East of Russia in a rather high-profile trip for this time of year. During this trip he keeps  stepping into those areas supposedly the purview oof Mr Medvedev, his hand picked  seat warmer, I mean successor. Wonder if Putin can wait till 2012 to reassume the visible reins of power?

Never forget the bear.

December 30, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

They Are Not Going Away Quietly

No matter how  much we might desire it to be so, Iran and its nuclear ambitions are not going anywhere. The United Nations speaks of sanctions, The IAEA wants to inspect, Israel gets worried, Gibbs expresses White House concern. All of these things have occurred over the past few days. But they have also  taken place previously. Seems  to be  the same song, with a higher verse number, maybe#25. I read a comment by David Wilbank  that seems to be the best summation of the entire Iranian nuclear stand-off. Wilbank, the British Foreign Secretary, said that “instead of engaging with us Iran choose to provoke and dissemble.” At least, someone recognizes what is happening.

Meanwhile, the outgoing head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei say the their investigation of Iran’s nuclear facilities is at  a dead-end.  Interesting that as his term ends, he becomes  somewhat more blunt than had previously been the case.

What sparked this latest. Today, Iran announced that it plans to build 10 industrial strength uranium enrichment facilities. This latest was apparently ordered by Hugo Chavez’ buddy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now pay lose attention to the following two statements. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs  says that time is running out for Iran to address the concerns of the international community, that apparently includes their Russian friends. The newly announced uranium enrichment facilities are going to built inside mountains to enable them to withstand attack(read that from Israel as Netanyahu has hinted at) from  abroad.

So, the stalemate lurches along. So far, there has been an unwillingness to impose any type of sanctions.Just have to believe that at some point, the proverbial bullet must be bitten and a negotiated agreement will have to give  way to some type of imposed one. How  that would work would certainly be a sticky wicket indeed. But given Iran’s recent track record, methinks there will come a time that it must be done.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Didn’t We Fix That Iran Thing?

iranian_nuclear_1030

Iranian Atomic energy Agency Rep, Ali Asghar (courtesy Reuters)

Or, why is this man smiling? The man is Ali Asghar, Iran’s International Atomic Energy agency Ambassador. He just  had a meting in Vienna on the Iranian nuclear issue. Short review, the administration was brokering a deal that would get much of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium out of Iran. Presumably, that would make it much less dangerous and the Iranians would  not find it so easy to build  a bomb. Russia and France were on board. All looked rosy, except that it wasn’t.

Iran, in the person of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to tweak the agreement a bit, compromise from both sides, if you will. He had previously said that the West had gone from insisting that Iran have no nuclear capabilities to discussing what kind of nuclear capabilities it would have. So Iran had moved up a notch or two or more from the Bush-era.

Quite  interesting to note that there was  almost universal opposition to the Vienna agreement in Iran. Both the hardliners and reformers were united in their negative response .( Bet Congressional Democrats would love to see that on a certain domestic issue.)   Nobody can tell us what to do with our enriched uranium. So, now we have foot-dragging, delaying etc.

Who does this tactic both worry and strengthen? How about Israel who don’t Iran should have any nuclear anything. They can say, we told you this was a bad deal all along. Will it make them more likely to take military action on their own? That is hard to answer even as  one of the largest joint US Israel military exercises , Operation Juniper Cobra goes forward.

Perhaps this telling comment from an Israeli military adviser is worth remembering. This, of course, unnamed source called Iran’s maneuvering, “bazaar bargaining at its best.” Wonder who will have the winning hand?

October 31, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NAMESTAN

The World's Toughest NeighborhoodThe above acronym is often used by Joel Rosenberg in his political/religious thrillers which have been quite successful and eerily prophetic. The  letters described a division of the CIA known as North Africa, the Middle East and the stan countries; Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. Fictional or not, the phrase almost epitomizes tough neighborhood in a geopolitical sense.

Look at a map of the area some time and then look at major news headlines from any source of your choosing. While not always the top story, the are seems to carry a weight far beyond its size. This weekend was a real case in point. There  were some major suicide bombings in what was considered a relatively secure part of Iraq. Baghdad was the site of two bombings whose death toll approaches 200 with many more injured. And it may have damaged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki even more.

Travel a relatively short distance to the west to Jerusalem and what do you discover? Israeli police with stun grenades. Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and who knows what else outside the holiest site in all of Israel, the Temple Mount in the center of Jerusalem. What sparked the clash? Probably no one  knows. David Cohen, Israel’s national police chief laid blame on Muslim extremists. Muslim leaders claimed there were plots  to damage the sites. Israel has controlled the site since 1967 but in a situation that only makes sense in the Middle East allows a Muslim clerical body, the Waqf, to handle day-to-day administration. Tourists and Israelis can only visit at certain times.

And  we have Iran, who virtually lives on the front page. Nukes or not, selling enriched uranium to Russia or not ? Will there be talks? What part will Russia play? That is another Big factor when one looks at Russia’s position geographically versus the Middle East.

One more  factor is of course Afghanistan. It was the site for deadly helicopter crashes  just a few days ago, killing a number of American troops. Will Obama send troops, how many and when? Whose advice is better, Sen Kerry or Gen. McChrystal? Remember that during the campaign,the Afghan war was the one we should be fighting.

It seems that the are is a dominant feature of every president’s foreign policy, from probably Truman through Obama and rightfully so. One thing that is quite easy for us to overlook, given our Western tendency to take a short term view, is that the problems  that are there far predate our involvement; by a long time. No, make that a very long time.

My woeful lack of knowledge and historical perspective point up once again my need for te historical study of  a region whose importance can hardly be overstated. Try these phrases from your long ago study of history: Mesopotamia, Tigris-Euphrates, pyramids; there are many more and there is much history from which to learn.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | History, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There A Correct Way to Criticize?

So, now that Rush has been dropped from the potential  ownership group maybe attempting to buy the St Louis Rams, one of only how many members we don’t know, since only he and Dave Checketts names were released. Doubtless there is joy in liberal land this night. As an aside, rock singer Fergie is joining the Dolphins as a partial owner. Pretty soon, the Dolphins will be able to put on some rollicking concerts, using only their ownership. You might want to check out some  of  her song lyrics and remember NFL Commish Roger Goddell saying that we don’t need divisive comments  and we here are all held to a higher standard. Contrary to Mr  Sharpton’s comments, it is not a moral victory for all Americans.

Anyway, score one for the libs. And today we have this. Award winning journalist, Seymour Hersh spoke at Duke (guess I can use that word in my blog) University last night with an interesting theme. He says that the U  S military is at war- with President Obama. Yep, that’s what he said. Gotta be true, he said . There is racism in the Pentagon and we all know it, as he was quoted in the Durham Herald-Sun.

Mr Hersh was critical of the president, particularly on Afghanistan. He said that the President must  stand up to the military. He must run the Pentagon or the Pentagon will run him. Other statements say that the military think he  is weak and the wrong color. He criticized Gen McChrystal for publicly requesting 40,000 additional troops, adding that it puts Obama in a no-win position. Give him the troops and lose politically or not provide the  troops and  lose- politically. That is somewhat telling to me. Not sending the requested troops is  a    loss  politically, not militarily. Hmm.

Mr Hersh has suggestions. Negotiate with the Taliban, it is  the only way. Continue the  process with Iran, which Bush of course mucked up. And, realize that we have a lot in common with Russia.

I close with this thought. What is the acceptable way in which one  disagrees with  the President? Can it be done without being racist? Hint only if you are a liberal, since a liberal cannot be racist, right?

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Media, Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments