Tarheeltalker

Name Calling or Am I Really a Freak?

Based on a couple of things I have recently read, I am a freak, hate intellectuals and am just  downright ignorant. I may be even worse than that since those characterizations come from  just two sources. A brief elaboration on the intellectual  comment. Not only do I hate intellectuals  but I probably don’t  even want to associate   with them since there is no room for them in the Republican Party, or so says Chris Matthews. Oops,  I wasn’t supposed to mention his name. Should I  not quote him as saying that Rick Perry is  a clown?

I realize that politicians have to accept a certain level of name calling as part of the territory but I so wish that those in the media who make their living with their words, could describe a candidate or office holder without the use of epithets.  This applies to both ends of the spectrum  since both are guilty of using this tactic and I just cannot stand it. It reminds me of  one of my  #1 pet peeves, tearing down another to make oneself look good.

I could probably be  called lots of things but I am relatively  certain that freak is not one of them. That was the name applied to Rep Louie Gohmert just a few weeks ago. and it has been amplified with the word crazy among others. And, since I  like the  congressman, while not always agreeing with him, guess I am a freak by association.

So, is there a cure  for this political name calling?  I really doubt it since the practice is time-honored in American politics as far back as he days of George Washington. In fact, the names used to describe some of our  earlier presidents were generally far more creative than those used today.

In fact, if I hear another conservative  called  Nazi, I think I might have a fit. What makes  this epithet so abhorrent to me is the person using the name has got to know better, He or she has to know what Nazis did and i daresay that none of those so described have done things to equal those.

So, the next time  you see fit to “attack”  a politician, try to use an appropriate word.

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September 26, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Bananas for Bananas

One of my favorite, if not the favorite, tv programs  of my childhood was Captain Kangaroo. One of his recurring characters was the Banana  Man. He always fascinated me with the endless  variety of items he pulled from his bottomless coat pockets , featuring of course the lowly banana.

Both the Captain and Banana  Man  are long gone but the banana  has now become a bigger star than  ever  before. Thanks to Japanese ingenuity ( who else)  it now has its own vending machine. A Japanese subsidiary of  David Murdock’s Dole Corporation  installed its  first banana vending machine almost a month ago in Shibuya station on one of the country’s busiest subway lines. Kept cool by a refrigerator inside, bananas sell for $1.50 each  or $4.50  a bunch. Thus far the machine  has been  a big success.

This is the perfect solution for those locales who are busily banning soft drinks, etc from city owned facilities. I wrote about that exact thing taking place in San Antonio under the direction of city manager Sheryl Sculley. She now has a healthy alternative to the evils of soft drinks. First bananas and then the sky or banana tree is the limit. Then the city can just  wait and peel in, uh reel in the profits. Probably should not locate a machine anywhere near the zoo’s primate habitat though. It would be  a shame to turn lawful chimps into criminals.

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voting and voting and voting some more

Back during those nearly forgotten pre- Obama days of the 2008 presidential campaign, I did  a post entitled Vote Early and Often. At the time I included  a qualifier that I was just  kidding. Perhaps I was just ahead of schedule and I did  not live in Port Chester, NY.

Port Chester is a small village about 30 minutes from New York City.  Over the years no Latino  had ever been elected  as a trustee ( assume that would equivalent to  a city council member)  even though the village is about  half Hispanic.  Pay close attention to this next line. Most voters were white  and white candidates always won.

Enter the feds, as represented by the  U S Dept of Justice ( think Eric Holder)  and federal judge Stephen Robinson. Judge Robinson said that the Voting Rights Act  was being violated and something had to change. He  rejected a  proposal to  break the village into 6 voting districts, one being heavily Hispanic. This next just amazes me. Vill;age officials suggested a method known as cumulative voting. This  system gave each resident 6 votes to apportion as they chose. Even more amazing this system is already used  for the Peoria, Il city council, the Amarillo, Tx school board and the Chilton County , Al county commission.

This whole approach just astounds me. It seems very easy to manipulate  plus the fact that it seems designed to achieve  certain pre-ordained  results. Can’t believe it isn’t being used in Cook County. Their system is probably more sophisticated.

An outfit called FairVote was hired as a consultant. The organization is a nonprofit election research and reform group. I looked up this organization and lo, and behold one of their advisory members is non other than Jesse Jackson,Jr. and one of their staunchest supporters is Harvard law professor and civil rights activist Lani Guinier. But, the organization takes great pains to state that it does not support, endorse or oppose any political party or candidate. Not sure if I buy that or not.

Anyway, back to Port Chester. When their wacky election took place, there were three Hispanic candidates  in the race. One of those folks managed to come in fourth, so I suppose the effort was  a success. What further in=terested me was that with all the efforts to get people to vote and vote the turnout, based on the numbers did not seem so good. Of course, how do measure voter turnout , multiply eligible voters by six?  Almost getting into Land of Oz stuff here.

I learned one more tidbit. FairVote has a chapter in North Carolina , so I may get an  opportunity to vote multiple times myself.

July 24, 2010 Posted by | Local Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Part Deux of President #10

For those who are historically inclined, I  have a bit more to share about John Tyler. Just trying to alleviate that veil of obscurity to some degree. we left President Tyler as the first to succeed a president who died in office. But that was not his only “first” nor was all that occurred during his 47 months in office. Although often considered just a states rights guy he learned that presidential power could be quite the tool to accomplish his goals. And he did have a couple of big goals he wanted to accomplish.

He was quite the expansionist, always  driven by  a desire for America to grow, primarily as defined by its size. He was Texas minded from the very beginning and stayed focused on that acquisition which happened just at the end of his term. He doesn’t receive that much credit for that achievement, that usually going to Polk who initiated the Mexican War. Tyler probably even set that in motion by stationing military forces close by to provide for defense against Mexican attack. In his day, Tyler was acknowledged by some as the Texas architect, even having a city in east Texas named in his honor.

There was a significant amount of foreign policy activity other than the Texas question. He and his emissaries achieved a large commercial expansion with China and by recognizing Hawaii’s  independence and fostering commerce therewith began the process that culminated some 114 years later with statehood.

However, most of the foreign policy activity involved the greatest world power of that era, the mother country, England. Hard to realized now but there was a large amount of Anglophobia in Tyler’s day and he often used that to his political advantage, being a confirmed Anglophobe himself. There were significant boundary disputes regarding Oregon and Maine, the latter being settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of  1842.

What makes the treaty interesting is that Tyler, through his agents, actually spent money from what was known as the secret service fund, to influence public opinion in Maine to be favorably inclined towards the treaty. Not quite the dirty tricks of future presidents, but a bit nefarious to say the least.

In  a number of his goals, both foreign and domestic, he used the spectre of the English bogeyman to his  advantage. That was the case even in the  area of slavery, the ” peculiar institution” that dominated American politics and society both before and after Tyler. He himself was  a slave owner, although he seemed to have an ambivalent one. He knew that slavery was wrong, on some level, knew it was tearing at the country’s fabric, and sort of forecasted its end, although  he wasn’t quite sure how that would occur.

That ambivalence perhaps ensured a less than favorable legacy. For some 25+ years after leaving office, at the Civil War’s onset, he cast his lot with state over country and became a member of the Confederate legislature. When he died suddenly in 1862, he was mourned by is native state, but ignored or even vilified by the North me by an official silence. And so he remains as the only occupant of the White House and basically commit treason.

Sadly his reputation will doubtless not recover from  his tragic decision of betrayal to what he himself defined as “the first great American interest, ” the preservation of the union.

June 5, 2010 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Accidental President”

Before you jump to conclusions, the title does not refer to George W Bush and  the 200o election. It refers to the first person to occupy the Presidency due to the death of  an elected President and it occurred in 1841. The name is John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States , who actually was somewhat well qualified for the office due to having served as U S Senator, congressman and governor of Virginia, the latter position following in his father’s footsteps.

The bio I read, authored by Edward P Crapol, significantly shorter than most presidential bios, but due to Tyler’s relative obscurity, was full of  information of which I was unaware. Historical rankings of presidents which began in 1948 with historian Arthur Schlesinger tend to rank  him in the bottom quartile except for a 2008  Time magazine list that ranked him 31st which was above  Barack Obama the 1st, aka Jimmy Carter.

His ranking perhaps suffers from the lack of a major crisis during his term  plus the fact that was never elected in his own right, not even receiving the nomination. His term still fascinated me, as seems to be the case with all presidents of whom I read. Guess I am just  a wanna be historian at heart.

So, what about Mr Tyler ? He was,as noted ,the first to succeed an elected president due to death and in that regard perhaps achieved his #1 accomplishment. The Constitution did not provide for automatic succession by the vice-president ( a curious thing in itself that was not officially rectified until amendment#25 was ratified in 1967) so Tyler was in uncharted waters. He, however acted decisively and took charge at once, being helped by already  having  a plan, just in case. Harrison, being elderly and not in the greatest of health, was perhaps not the greatest choice as  a candidate anyway. But Tyler, being forewarned and forearmed was prepared when tragedy struck. He acted decisively and by doing so set a number of precedents that were followed seven times in the next 122 years.  His actions  elevated the office of vice-president to  a much higher level and even more importantly showed that our form of government worked. After all, the country was still in its infancy and for a peaceful transition to occur was no small feat indeed. In fact, his actions were validated very quickly  Zachary Taylor died some  nine years later and was succeeded by Millard Fillmore.

I do not wish to belabor Tyler’s place in history nor bore those not so interested in him, so I shall break here and come back to our 10th president for  an additional post.

June 5, 2010 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step away from the sandwich and no one will get hurt

One of my favorite topics on which to comment are the antics of those who claim to know what’s better for you than you do yourself. This  is quite prevalent in the area  of food choices. I wrote most recently  about this on May 2oth regarding efforts by the city manger of San Antonio, Tx to have all sugary foods and beverages removed from city vending machines.

Thanks to World Magazine , I have read of an instance that may just leap to the top of my list. By the way, many of these types of things seem to occur in Europe, where  nanny state   is much more advanced than here in the United States, at least for now. Seems that  there  is  a government-run day care near the city of Manchester and they have certain standards that purport to say what foods are healthy for their charges.

It appears that a cheese sandwich, one of my favorite foods, especially if cheddar is employed, does not meet those standards. Why? What a silly question that is. Because at the Westfield  Children’s Centre, one must have lettuce or tomato on one’s sandwich for it to qualify as healthy. So, the 2-year-old in our story was given  fruit and vegetables as a substitute. Parents were given a  lecture about appropriate food choices. Now, little Jack’s mom has thankfully  removed him from the  daycare lest his ” food rights” be violated again or she commit  yet another gastronomical faux pas.

Stories like this really do offend  me  and I try to make light of them to a degree lest I  get too frustrated. Couldn’t happen on this side of the pond ? Don’t bet against it. Things like this are happening already  and will continue to happen in the name of good health and get ready, saving money on insurance costs. People who eat healthy are less of a drain on the health care system. As health care in some way, shape or form gets more rationed, the pressure will grow on people to eat right, however eating right is defined. could it be said that “unhealthy” foods are the new cigarettes? Wonder where that secondhand smoke will come from though?

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Health | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My List is Growing too Long

There are a number of rather newsworthy items out there that are really irritating me  or as I sometimes tell Mrs THT. ” They are getting on my last nerve.” I hardly know which one to choose. My blogging associate at goodtimepolitics  made me aware of a Colorado school district that has a plan in the works to charge children for riding the school bus. If that isn’t a good freakin’ grief  idiotic idea, I would hate to see one.

A community group in Fresno,Ca ( we all know who got his start as a community organizer, do we not?) is demanding  that radio station KMJ remove all conservative programming from the station because  their programs ” incite violence.” Let’s see, Times Square bombing attempt, the so-called underwear bomber and the Army major at Ft Hood. They were all conservatives, right? No,wait a minute, there is something else they had in common. Let  me think, oh yes, their Muslim faith. Can’t say that though.

But the 3rd item on my list takes the cake or the soft drink, as it were. This  comes from San Antonio, Tx where the health conscious city manager, Sheryl Sculley, a self-proclaimed “fitness person,” whatever that means, has directed that all sugary soft drinks in  the city’s beverage machines be removed with unhealthy snack foods next. It does not prohibit employees from bringing the evil items from home and consuming them at work. Wanna bet that there will be pressure applied at some future time in some way to ban the offending items from the premises, just like cigarettes.

And it is all being done under the guise of  improving the health of city employees. A  Texas A & M professor, Lisako McKyer, even draws  analogies to seat belt laws. This one quote by the city manager was oddly disturbing and I am not really sure why. ” We know that statistically that people  who are overweight or obese have greater health problems than those who do not.” The actual quote  doesn’t  really make sense but the thought I see lurking in the background is, you better lose weight or there may be consequences. An alarmist attitude, don’t  think so. There are a growing number of locales that will not hire smokers. What would be the next logical prohibition?

And I haven’t even dealt with Gwinnett County, Georgia which wants to collect  some $39,000 it overpaid  employees in 1994. The report uses the word ask, but don’t kid yourself. If any of the offenders are still county employees the government will get their money, even though the error was theirs.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Health, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trashing Arizona

And so it continues. The pros and the cons, the demonstrations ( including uncomprehending children) the boycotts, the threats, the cancelled contracts ( an illegal act in itself) and on it goes.

There has been so much written and said about Arizona’s new law that it is nearly impossible to get a decent perspective on all of it. For now, just a few observations and comments will have to do. But, for  a  change, I’ll offer what I hope will be  the outcome of all the sound and fury. And that is meaningful immigration reform, which is  a purview of the federal government, not Arizona or the growing number of states that are considering similar legislation. The President promised immigration reform his first year in office. It did not happen. I hope for the country as a whole and for border states such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California in particular that it occurs. Reform does not mean amnesty or wholesale deportation of 10-12 million people. It means a path to citizenship; tax-paying  American citizenship or some in between legal status. The poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty ” give me your tired, your poor,” etc was not aimed at people who come illegally with no intentions of changing that status.

Just a few observations about things I have read. Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, no matter what one  thinks of her or the law, is not a Nazi. Accusation and signs proclaiming such are stupid, uninformed, or incendiary. Take your pick. The cities of  Los Angeles and Austin, Tx have voted to cancel legal contracts  with the state of  Arizona. Are these actions  not illegal in and of themselves? Lawsuit anyone?  The city of Los Angeles obtains much of its electricity from Arizona. What if Arizona wanted to cancel those contracts? Why, of course not. That  would be petulant  and childish and worse. Just like the Los Angeles city councilman, Ed Reyes, who said a few days ago, “As an American, I cannot go to Arizona without a passport.” The only thing I can is I sincerely hope he doesn’t believe that or he would never make on Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

Finally, for a piece de resistance. we have Attorney General Eric Holder being questioned by Texas Congressman Ted Poe. The AG was asked if he had read the Arizona law which he has publicly criticized. After attempting to evade the question and being reminded by Poe that it’s only 10 pages long, Mr Holder had to attempt that he had not read the law. Not to worry though. He will get around to it soon.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ike”

Our 34th president, native of Texas, grew up in Kansas and spent his  latter years on his Gettysburg farm,appropriate for a general, huh? Just finished  an excellent bio  on Ike by author Stephen E Ambrose. In actuality, it was not a true bio since it focused on Eisenhower’s  two terms  as president and the  eight years following. But there were plenty of allusions to the WWII years and the interim between 1945 and his election.

It was a unique read for me since Eisenhower was the first president I remember, although not hardly at all as a child. We were a quite non political household other than my mom being quite anti Republican. It was an odd feeling reading about events that took place during my childhood but of which I was totally oblivious.

Anyway, the book was a fascinating read in several areas. Deficit spending seemed to be Eisenhower’s bete noire, quite ironic for  a career military man. He seemed in a constant struggle to keep military spending under control, often  maintaining  he knew better the needs of the military than did the Joint Chiefs.

I have read much that indicates he was  a do-nothing president, charges that were even voiced during his time in office. I came across with a much different impression. There were  a significant number of foreign policy crises, none of which lead to war, although a number could have had they  not been handled well.

To name a few. There was the Suez crisis of 1956  involving Britain, France and Israel, an ongoing struggle with the Soviet Union ( sometimes below the surface but always there ; ‘U-2 flights, atomic weapons etc ), Quemoy and  Matsu( islands off China coast) , Korea, Berlin, and so on. I came with an excellent impression of Eisenhower’s calmness during these crises since oftentimes all his advisers were pushing for war to one degree or another.

All the while he continued our nuclear buildup; an exercise that was slowed  a bit  from time to time by efforts at  disarmament. The failure to achieve meaningful results here was quite  disappointing to Eisenhower.

Things were also intriguing on the political/domestic fronts. Eisenhower was rather apolitical and both parties, Truman in particular, tried to get  him on their ticket. He worked reasonably well with the Democrats, not always so well with his own party. It was amusing to read his thoughts on occasion about forming a third-party. He was always quite popular, but never could bring the Republican party along for the ride.

Ironically, one of the strongest parts of the book for me does not show Eisenhower at his best. This made the book much more balanced and not  just  a tome on Eisenhower’s greatness. The civil rights movement was  picking up steam in the  1950’s, particularly in the area of education. The Supreme Court decision of 1954 on Brown vs Topeka being a case in point. Ike seemed to drag his feet in this area, not showing the leadership that he showed in other areas. His southern sympathies seemed to carry more weight than they should have . Consequently, progress was glacial, although he did send troops into Little Rock, albeit with great reluctance.

A couple of observations. Eisenhower is quite well known for his warning about the “military-industrial complex.” There are at least a couple of other areas in which he turned out to be ahead of his time. He was quite concerned about the growing dependence on imported oil and even imposed some quotas. The other area actually concerns an individual. Nixon was his vice-president for both terms although he often damned him with faint praise nd seemed always on the hunt for someone better, even in the 1960 election. There must have been  something worrisome there  that later blossomed into a mess.

A great president? I don’t know but his stock rose  as a result of  Ambrose’s work; fair and balanced to  coin a phrase.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

San Antonio and Rabat

At first glance, how could there be any connection between a city in Texas and the capital of Morocco? The connection is  the Muslim faith. First, the Texas side. There is  a small liberal arts  institution located in San Antonio known as Trinity University ( keep that name in the back of your mind) which has become somewhat newsworthy over the past year. In March, 2009 a group of students, the Trinity Diversity Connection, led by a Muslim student began a push to have the words” in the year of our Lord,” removed from the school’s diplomas. Their president’s objections centered on the  fact that this was  a direct Christian reference and not everyone believes that way. The group  has supported by the student government and a campus commencement committee. Input is still being received and trustees  will consider the request at a May meeting.

Now for part two which admittedly is somewhat more significant. The North African country of Morocco ( Casablanca anyone?) is  known as a moderate Islamic country with generally good  relations with the United States. It is like a  number of its neighbors 99% Muslim. So, why the sudden push to  clamp down on Christians?

The country’ s  position as  stated by  Ambassador Aziz Mekouar , which  it refuses to call a crackdown on Christians is that  the sudden, inexplicable deportations of  British citizen and 20 year resident of Morocco, businessman and 15 year resident of Morocco Michael Ramsey  among others. There were interrogations , raids on  homes ,etc followed by swift ignominious passage out of the country.

The charge, proselytizing,the ambassador says it involves pushing someone to change their faith. The unanswered question is why now and why target individuals that have been in the country for years?  Perhaps  the answer is as Jack Wald suspects. Wald is pastor of Rabat International Church. He is hearing reports of Moroccan Christians  being followed, questions and intimidated. He describes it as the heat being on Moroccan Christians.

Two events, neither of which are really connected, but yet are in a sense. One in a pluralistic country, the other in a country 99% of whose people adhere to basically the same belief system. The ongoing event in Texas could not occur in Morocco. Some would say that the events in Morocco have occurred here. In the aftermath of 9/11, there probably was some of that here. But institutionally and  to those actively engaged in ongoing humanitarian activities, I doubt.

Wonder if CAIR operates in Rabat?

April 13, 2010 Posted by | education, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment