TarHeelPirate

  • August 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Jan    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  

Brown Wins in Mass.

Posted by AB on January 20, 2010

After last night’s special election, in Massachusetts, for the Senate seat held by the late Edward Kennedy, there are quite a few words that come to my mind, as a proud Democrat:  embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated, frustrated, sad, confused, angry, humbled, and a few more, I’m sure.  Senator-elect Scott Brown gives Republicans 41 seats in the United States Senate, ensuring their ability to obstruct and block just about anything the 59-seat majority Democrats want to do, most prominently the current health care reform efforts.  It’s a shame that in America, 41 is more than 59.  And with Republicans refusing to put forth the effort to help the American people, in any way, because of their ongoing efforts to damage our President, don’t expect much to get done in this mid-term election year.

Democrats will be pointing fingers at one another for the next few weeks, but there is plenty of blame to go around.  Martha Coakley ran a terrible campaign.  Congressional Democrats can get nothing done.  President Obama is not being forceful enough with his policy agenda.  I only hope that the correct lessons are  learned from this debacle.  The lesson is to not back off, to not be weak, but to work hard to get things done for the American people.  Now is not the time to pout or complain.  Now is the time to press even harder for the policies that Democrats hold dear.

If there is a silver lining from last night’s disappoinment, it is that a sleepy Democratic party just got a fire lit under their asses.  We are angry, and we want blood, too.  So let’s fight, Democrats.  The future of our nation is at stake.  There is no progress without struggle.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Americans Step Up

Posted by AB on January 18, 2010

It has been nearly a week since the nation of Haiti was hit by one of the most destructive natural disasters of recent times.  The earthquake that killed thousands, injured thousands more, and left even more homeless is still fresh in the minds of people around the globe.  To anyone with a heart, there is pain to see so many human beings suffer, and the world has stepped up to help, led again by the United States.  Millions of dollars have been donated by the private citizens of the U.S., and our government has pledged $100 dollars for rescue and recovery.  Beyond that, thousands of U.S. Military members have been deployed, along with ships and planes carrying water and medical supplies.  The United States is proving, once again, why the rest of the world looks up to us.

One of the most encouraging signs is the bipartisanship.  Unless you are Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, or Rep. Steve King (R-IA) you have recognized the desperate need of the Haitian people and our unique position, as Americans, to help.  Now is not a time for petty political partisanship, and that is exemplified by the coalition of former Presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have teamed-up to head the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund.  In recent times, we have been a country divided but, in hards times, we come together.  That makes me proud.

Posted in Economics, Misc., Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Please Help Haiti!

Posted by AB on January 13, 2010

It is time, again, for the United States to prove why it is the greatest country the world has ever known.  On January 12, a 7.0 earthquake, with several large aftershocks, devastated the Caribbean nation of Haiti.  One of the world’s poorest nations, Haiti, and its people will need help from everywhere possible, in all forms possible.  Thousands are presumed dead, and the rebuilding will take many, many years. 

And what nation and its citizens will respond fastest and most significantly?  The United States.  President Obama has pledged “a swift, coordinated and aggressive” response that, so far, has included ships helicopters, transport planes, and upwards of 2, 000 Marines to soon be deployed to Haiti.  There will be even more assistance from the U.S. and many other nations throughout the world, but ordinary citizens in the U.S. fulfill the most significant difference from other countries.  Already, United States citizens are taking the opportunity to do all that they can to help people that they will never meet.  That’s what we do, and that’s what makes great, so help all you can.  It’s the right thing to do.

Here is a link to a list of charitable organizations (via MSNBC.com):  HAITI

Posted in Economics, Misc., Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ban Mark McGwire

Posted by AB on January 12, 2010

So, Mark McGwire has admitted to using steroids during his Major League Baseball career.  I’m glad that he has finally admitted the obvious, but let’s not pretend that he is coming clean for unselfish reasons.  In the offseason, he was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals as the hitting coach.  He must have calculated that a season full of unanswered questions might be distracting for the Cardinals organization, so he decided to come clean well before the beginning of spring training.  But he should not be allowed to work in MLB.  He should be banned, and now is the time for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to make a clear, strong statement to the world about the embarrassment brought upon the great sport of baseball.

Some believe that since there was no testing for steroids until 2005, he shouldn’t be punished by the league.  That’s nonsense.  I’m hearing people debate whether he should be in the MLB Hall of Fame.  What?  He cheated!  He took substances that are illegal in this country.  He’s lucky that the statute of limitations ran out in 2006, preventing his prosecution for a crime and jail time.  The Hall of Fame is a privilege, not a right.  Not only should he be prevented from being a part of the Hall of Fame, he should be banned from baseball.  Pete Rose has been banned for two decades, now, but he didn’t cheat the game like this–he gambled.  Pete Rose has the most hits in the history of baseball, yet he is not only banned from the Hall of Fame, but he is banned from having a job in Major league Baseball.  Mark McGwire deserves no less.  Reinstate Pete Rose and I will accept Mark McGwire’s right to work in MLB.

Posted in Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Don’t Call it a Comeback

Posted by AB on January 12, 2010

It has been several weeks since I posted on TarHeelPirate, but I’m making a comeback.  It’s a new year and a new decade, which brings new possibilities to all of us.  I will begin writing more and, hopefully, better.  And I will write about anything that comes to mind, but it will be mostly politics and sports.  Maybe I can expand my writing interests, but we’ll just have to see.

Posted in Economics, Entertainment, Misc., Politics, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hellfire & Brimstone

Posted by AB on December 21, 2009

The battle over health care reform has brought some pretty fiery rhetoric to the good people of the United States.  In my opinion, save for the outbursts of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Congressional Republicans have been spreading the most abhorrent language to his or her constituents.  When we look back to this debate 20 years from now, we will all remember the big lie that was “death panels,” used by Republicans to scare senior citizens.  Unfortunately, the closer we get to a health care reform bill, the more incendiary the rhetoric has become.  Over the weekend it became biblical.

This weekend in Nebraska, former Republican Presidential nominee Mike Huckabee visited to criticize Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE).  Why would the former Arkansas Governor travel to Nebraska on short notice?  Because he saw an opportunity to once again act as demagogue when Nelson finally agreed to join the rest of the Democrats to vote for a health care reform bill.  Huckabee, forever the political opportunist, dropped this little line to drive home his point (via CNN):

 “I don’t want [senators] to go up there…and then somehow go back and boast ‘Here’s some money I got from you.’  The last time we saw that kind of historic moment it was 30 pieces of silver, and that didn’t work out to well for us either.”

He, of course, was referring to Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  Of course it is the same as expanding health care coverage to 30 million Americans, right?  What a stupid think to say, Mr. Huckabee, even for you.

And last night, stung by the realization that Senate Democrats had assembled the needed 60 votes to stop a filibuster, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) went to the floor of the “greatest deliberative body in the world” to release one of the most heinous comments that one could ever imagine.

That’s right; Sen. Coburn is calling for the American people to pray that a Democratic member  is unable to show up.  To the great disappointment of Sen. Coburn, God did not intervene, and even the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) made the 1 a.m. vote.  Democrats reached cloture by a vote of 60-40, along party lines.

I don’t know what is going on with our politicians these days–they seem to have all lost their minds.  The Senate bill should pass on Christmas Eve, and then there will be a whole new series of vitriol, as the Senate bill will go to conference to merge with the bill that was previously passed by the House of Representatives.  After the eventual passage of the health care reform bill, maybe we can all begin thinking more clearly.  Until then, get accustomed to “crazy talk.”

Posted in Economics, Misc., Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Media Glee and Tiger Woods

Posted by AB on December 11, 2009

When the news came out that Tiger Woods had been in a car accident, I was watching a college football game on CBS.  During a commercial break, the CBS Sports anchor reported that Tiger Woods had been in a car accident, just outside his home, and was in serious condition.  The news seemed dire.  But a short time later, the same anchor backed off of the report that his condition was so serious.  I later went to my computer to see if there were any additional, more accurate reports.  I had no difficulty finding additional reports, but accuracy was at a premium.  Within about an hour, I must have read or heard a dozen different accounts of the story.  Unfortunately, weeks later, no one seems to know what really happened during that early morning incident, but that has not stopped the media from reporting each and every whisper that it hears.

In recent years, we have been inundated with the flaws of man.  The 24-hour cable news programs, along with the internet has magnified the sensational over the newsworthy.  They cannot be blamed, however, for the sensationalism.  It’s part competition, but it’s mostly because of the demand over an increasingly dumbed-down culture in our country.  What does it say about us that we are more interested in the “Octo-mom” or the “Balloon Boy?”  What does it say about us that we are more interested in the stories told by Tiger Woods’ mistresses than we are of health care reform?

All stories like that of Tiger’s have some journalistic merit, but I have rarely seen anything like the media backlash in this case.  Not since the Bill Clinton impeachment has infidelity received so much media attention–that’s saying a lot.  The thing has surprised and disappointed me is not so much the saturation of coverage, but the apparent glee on part of the media.  It has seemed as if many were just itching to unload on Tiger Woods.  No news or talk show host can refrain from shaking his or her head in response to the latest attention-grabbing rumor about Tiger Woods.  On the other hand, it is great to see that everyone in the media has been perfect throughout their entire lives.

No one can condone the actions of Tiger Woods, and I certainly won’t, but adultery is not a crime.  The relationship difficulties are between Tiger and his family, and no matter the disapproval by the media, he does not have to talk about that relationship with anyone.  So, media, it is okay to report on this story, but let’s just try to be a little less giddy about the fall of one of the world’s great popular entities. 

In hopes that Tiger Woods will have the courage to stand up after being knocked down, I’ll leave on a paragraph from Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet:

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.    This is but half the truth.  You are also as strong as your strongest link.                              To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.                                                                                                                                                  To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconsistency.                       

Posted in Entertainment, Misc., Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

President Obama Receives the Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by AB on December 10, 2009

Earlier today, in Oslo, Norway, President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize.  Despite being the leader of a nation involved in two wars, he was awarded the honor less than a year into his presidency.  And to make things even more uncomfortable, the President recently ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. 

It seemed to be an untenable position for a man to receive an award for peace while he, at the same time, commands a military at war on two fronts.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure that there was anything that could be said to reconcile that paradox, but it seems that he has pulled it off, brilliantly.  He spoke about the unfortunate reality that is the necessity of war.  He expressed that there are evils in this world, and that the purveyors of these evils cannot be persuaded without military intervention. 

Amazingly, the assessments of the speech–from the right and left–have been positive.  It is a rare occasion for President Obama to receive praise from the right side of the political spectrum, and recently from the left, but some are saying that this could have been his best speech ever.  I don’t know if I agree with that opinion, but today’s speech might have been the most real, honest and grown-up speech given by an American president in years.

And with that speech, along with other bits of evidence in his first year in office, I have come to realize what Barack Obama really is–a grown-up.  He is a father-figure in a land of juvenile delinquents, and it is comforting to me.  But then again, maybe I’m just a kid, searching for the good in this world.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

They’ll wait us out? Good

Posted by AB on December 7, 2009

As soon as President Obama announced his plan for Afghanistan, last week, his opponents from the right began to attack.  Proving, once again, that the President’s opponents and critics cannot be satisfied or accepting of any of his policies, they found a predictably sour note in the plan.  Senator John McCain went on NBC just minutes after the speech to declare his concern with a timetable to begin withdrawal in Afghanistan and, in the subsequent days, many others have followed suit.

Opponents of a withdrawal timetable will say that we shouldn’t tell the enemy when we will leave.  Nevermind that this July 2011 date is tentative and dependent on the realities on the ground, they believe that the enemy, which is Al Qaeda and some of the Taliban, will just sit back and wait until we withdraw.  Well, I hope that they are right.  The absolute best thing that can happen for us and the world in Afghanistan is for the entities that are destabilizing that country to retreat for the next 18 months.  That gives the United States and its allies 18 months to train the Afghan military and police.  Eighteen months to stabilize one of the most corrupt governments in the world.  Eighteen months to help stabilize Pakistan, a country that does have nuclear weapons.  Eighteen months, unchallenged.  That would be sweet.

When I hear that argument, I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.  On the one hand, it is a ridiculous argument, but on the other hand, some of those who are making that argument are our elected leaders.  The notion that we should never plan for an exit because our opponents will wait for hundreds or thousands of years is one of the most insane arguments that I could imagine.  Are they saying that we could be there for hundreds of years?  Are they saying that the President should have some super-secret withdrawal plan, so that the enemy and the American people will be surprised when we leave?  This criticism of a withdrawal plan shows a fundamental lapse of thought from a large segment of people.  It doesn’t make me laugh or cry, but it is a sad.

Republicans, conservatives, and other opponents of a withdrawal date can use all of nonsensical arguments that they can think-up, but each time that they say that our enemies will wait until we leave, someone must point out that it would be a good thing.  It would be a dream scenario for our military to operate, unfettered, for the next 18 months.  We need that time to strengthen Afghanistan’s military, police and government, so that when we do leave, Afghanistan can support and protect Afghanistan.  

We cannot stay there forever.  In July of 2011, we will have been there for nearly 10 years.  For most Americans, that is long enough.  So, they’ll wait us out?  Good.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Afghan Decision

Posted by AB on December 2, 2009

Last night, addressing the nation before the US Military Academy at West Point, President Obama announced his plan for moving forward in Afghanistan.  He announced that he would send 30, 000 more troops into Afghanistan through the next six months, part of a plan to begin removing American military from that country within 18 months.  The new strategy will focus on defeating Al Qaeda, training Afghan police and military, correcting government corruption, and support for the stability of Pakistan.

To the dismay of much of the media, the speech was not filled with “bumper-sticker” quotes, but with reason and responsibility.  His goal was to explain the strategy and reasons for that strategy to, not only American civilians and military members, but also to the people of Afghanistan and the world.  Something that I feel was especially significant and powerful was when the President looked straight into the camera, addressing Afghans, explaining the purpose of the US military presence in their country.  He told them, explicitly, that the United States had no desire to occupy Afghanistan.  That part of the speech might be overlooked and, although it may seem like an insignificant part of the speech, this subtle overture is important to gain the trust of the Afghan people.

This decision by President Obama has been, and will continue to be panned by the media, bloggers, and politicians.  This is one of those decisions that will please very few, right or left, but that could be a good sign, actually.  When no one in this divisive political atmosphere is championing the President’s decision, then he must be doing something right.  He, his administration, and the military seem to be on the same page on this decision, however, which is most important.  Popular support for all wars continue to wane in this country, and for good reason, but the populous reacts emotionally, while our nations leaders must rule with reason. 

Conservatives and Republicans, who are against every decision the President makes, are complaining that there are too few troops, and that the 18-month timeline for withdrawal is somehow equivalent to surrender.  Of course, all of this is nonsense.  I know that they must find something to disagree with, maybe they should remember the advice that they have repeated, again and again, for the past couple of months–listen to the generals.  Okay, let’s see what Gen. Stanley McChrystal has to say:  (from UPI)

“The clarity, capability, and committment outlined in President Obama’s address are critical steps toward eliminating an insurgency in Afghanistan and terrorist safe havens that threatened regional and global security….I believe our renewed coalition campaign is fortified by the path President Obama has put forward.”   

Democrats, liberals, and progressives–my side of political thinking–are not happy about the decision, either.  Many of them feel that it is time for us to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan.  Although President Obama, during last years election campaign, clearly stated he would place more focus of the war in Afghanistan, people on the left are disappointed or angry about this “surge” of troops.  They try to insult Obama by saying that he is acting just like George W. Bush.  That, too, is nonsense.  I only wish that President Bush would have placed the proper focus on Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, he forgot about Afghanistan.  He invaded Iraq.  He didn’t take care of business, so President Obama must.

There are no silver bullets for success in Afghanistan.  There seem to be no good options, but President Obama has properly deliberated over the facts and advice, and he has now announced the strategy that he believes is most likely to lead to success.  I don’t know if he is right or wrong but, as Americans, we should all hope that he is right.  It is time for Americans to unite.  “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »