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Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

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 »

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 »

Why I’m Thankful

Posted by AB on November 25, 2009

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving–a time when we gather with family and friends to feast, as we give thanks for all of the things that we hold dear.  In some ways, it is unfortunate that we might wait until Thanksgiving to give thanks for those things that we should appreciate throughout the year.  And that is something that I would hope will change for me, personally.  I want to give thanks every day for all of the blessings that I have been given.

When I was younger, I never really understood the true meaning of this holiday.  I always focused on the part of Thanksgiving that involved turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, pie, and the rest of the fixings.  I always focused on the pick-up football games and the chance to see uncles, aunts, and cousins.  At school, we learned about the origins of Thanksgiving, including Pilgrims and Native Americans.  We celebrated by making turkeys from painted handprints.  As I have grown older and have seen some of the more difficult parts of life, the true meaning of Thanksgiving has become clear.

These are just some of the things for which I am thankful:

-I am thankful for my mother.  She has done so much for me throughout my life, and I would not be here without her.

-I am thankful for my little sister.  She has served our nation in Iraq for the past year, and she continues to grow into a person that would make any brother proud.  I used to think that it was my responsibility to protect her.  It is ironic, now, that she is a part of the force that protects all of us.  Also, her husband, my brother-in-law, who also serves in the military.

-I am thankful for the rest of my family and all of my friends.  Explaining why I am thankful for each of these people would turn this blog post into a novel.

-I am thankful for the US Military.  These men and women have volunteered to serve their nation, to place themselves into harms way, all in the name of America.

-I am thankful for all of the veterans who have served to protect this nation throughout its history.

-I am thankful for the families of those in the military.  Many times forgotten, they make sacrifices that cannot be measured by any scale. 

-I am thankful for our police officers, firefighters, and teachers.  They do some of the most important work that I can imagine.

-I am thankful for every breath that I am given.  There were times that I thought that my next breath could be my last.

-I am thankful for everyone who volunteers for or donates money to our charities.  You make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and, at this time, nothing could be more important.

-I am thankful for this great nation in which we live.  I couldn’t imagine a greater force of good in the world than the collection of people and institutions of the United States of America.

-I am thankful for the state of North Carolina.  This is the greatest states in the union (in my opinion, anyway).

-I am thankful for Thanksgiving Day football.  Although I think that the games should rotate from year to year, rather than having Dallas and Detroit hosting, I still love it.  I am not thankful, however, that the third game is on the NFL network, which is not available for subscribers to Time Warner Cable.

-I am thankful for the food that I have to nourish me.  When I think of all of the people throughout the world and, unbelievably, in this country, I am heartbroken.  Whatever it is that makes me so fortunate, I am thankful.  

-I am thankful for our dogs, Max and Rocky.  They give all who know them such a great deal of joy and love.  Pets are not just pets, they are family.

-I am thankful for all of the opportunities that I have received, educationally and otherwise.

These are just some of the things for which I am thankful.  I surely left someone or some things out, but they are no less important for a complete, well-rounded life.  Let us give thanks each and every day, and do not wait for a holiday to be reminded.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble-Gobble!

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CIPA and How We Win Against Terrorism

Posted by AB on November 24, 2009

There is much concern about the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused terrorists in a federal court in New York City.  Personally, I think that those concerns are unfounded, and I think that those concerns are raised in order to scare the public, for partisan political purposes.  Most of this noise comes, not from the populous at large, but from partisan politicians and media critics of the Obama Administration.

The fact of the matter is that our justice system has tried terrorists and have been quite successful in doing so.  I did, however, accept one concern in particular.  That is the concern that classified information could be provided to the defense, and subsequently, admitted at trial.  I was concerned about that until I did a little research, and I didn’t have to look far.  An important procedural tool for the prosecution (US Government) in trials for which classified information could be requested.  The Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) is used to protect classified information from being revealed in court, or to the defense. 

There are other pieces of legislation that is used to protect sensitive information, but CIPA has been used in recent terror trials, including that of Zacharias Moussaui, who was convicted in a federal court.  The trial of the so-called 20th hijacker was praised by some of the same people who are currently fear-mongering about the KSM trial.  And to my knowledge, no classified or, otherwise sensitive information, was released to the public or to the defense. 

Again, our courts have tried many terrorism suspects, and our prisons currently hold hundreds of terrorists, none of which have escaped.  That’s another point of contention being raised by the right–holding terrorists in our supermax prisons will increase the terror risk.  Unfortunately, these same detractors said nothing about these concerns during the Bush Administration.  And that is the difference, I think.  In their eagerness to damage President Obama, these critics have forgotten that our system of justice is far superior to the messages and tactics of terrorists.

Remember when it was understood that if our nation was forced to change our ways of life, then the same terrorists who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks will have won.  Seems to me that right-wing America has surrendered to cowards like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  I will never surrender my way of life, to no one, ever.  Luckily, our nation now has the leadership that understands that the strength of the United States of America is, in a large part, due to our system of justice.  It is time for these terrorists to receive the justice that they deserve, rather that sitting in a military prison without charge.  When justice is served, the world will know that we have not surrendered, and we will have won a small, but significant battle against terrorism.

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First President of EU Selected

Posted by AB on November 19, 2009

Today, the European Union (EU) announced the selection of its first President and High Commissioner.  Belgium Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy has been selected as the union’s president, and Great Britain’s trade commissioner Catherine Ashton has been selected High Commissioner.

I’m not really sure of the job descriptions for these jobs, and many others are unsure what part these two jobs will play in the scope of global issues.  These jobs were created, reportedly, so that the European Nations will have a larger, more unified voice within the global community, especially for issues like terrorism, economics, and climate-change.  The smaller European nations and economies are dwarfed by powers like the United States, China, and India.

The nations of the European Union are:  Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom   

 Maps and facts at EU Country List http://www.eucountrylist.com

 

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Not This Again

Posted by AB on November 16, 2009

It’s been a while since I have posted, but I really need to write about the most recent, predictable outrage displayed by right-wing pundits in response to President Obama’s trip to Asia.

The first thing that I must say is, “Not this shit again.”  Earlier this year, the President visited Saudi Arabia, and while meeting King Abdullah, there is a photo of a bow.  The right-wing crazies were incensed.  They believed that it showed weakness, even though it is not customary in that culture to bow before the King.  Saudis do not even bow to their King, so it hardly makes sense that there was a conscious bow by an American President.  It doesn’t matter, though.  There was a photo at some angle that made it look as though the President was subordinating himself to the Saudi King.  That’s all the right-wing television and radio pundits need in the overt attempt to weaken and harm President Obama.  They talked about it for weeks and weeks and weeks.

This weekend has created a reawakening for outrage toward the President for bowing.  While in Japan, the President bowed to the Japanese Emperor Akihito during a meeting.  This time he clearly bowed, and rightly so.  The custom in Japan is to bow, and that is for everyone, not just civilians to Emperors or Kings.  The custom here, in the United States, is to shake hands.  But customs and protocol mean little to the President’s most vociferous critics.  They are having a panty-wetting contest about what they perceive as weakness.  Most sane individuals would call it being a respectful guest in an allied country, but sanity is not the strength of the right-wing or the Republican Party.

This is just further evidence of the Obama Derangement Syndrome.  Our President can do nothing satisfactory for these people, not because he’s a screw-up like our previous President, but because they are so bitter and petty.  Everyday, these blowhards find something insignificant to attack, but all they are doing is showing themselves for what they truly are–HATERS.  They stay up late at night, ignoring their spouses and children, thinking of the outrage du jour (yes, “du jour” is French for “of the day,” which means that I must hate America).

I really try to ignore this nonsense, but it’s becoming far too frequent.  All of this hate toward our President is becoming tiresome.  If anyone dared, during the Bush Administration, to criticize the President while he was overseas, they would be labeled by these same right-wing clowns as a traitor, or un-American.  It’s funny how those things change after a single election, but there it is, and it’s not going to end anytime soon.  That’s unfortunate.  Who will stand up, and call this b.s. for what it is–nonsense.

For those Obama-haters out there; remember this?  Where was the outrage back then?

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Leave George W. Bush Alone!

Posted by AB on October 22, 2009

I know, I know.  Many of our nations obstacles are the direct result of his and his administration’s policies.  He was an utter disaster as a President.  We, as a nation, are dumber from listening to him explain his backward policies during the past eight years.  All of that is true–and more.  But I beg of the media, the pundits, and the comedians–LEAVE GEORGE W. BUSH ALONE.

It was announced, this week, that former President George W. Bush would be speaking at two motivational speaking events in Texas.  I know what you’re saying to yourself:  “Who in hell is going to be motivated by George W. Bush?”  Well, I cannot answer that question, but it doesn’t really matter.  He’s going to have some opportunities to make money, and we shouldn’t be mad about that.  Recent presidents and other public servants have made fortunes by speaking to large groups and corporations, so Mr. Bush should have that opportunity without being mocked.  We should pray to God, every moment of every day, in thanks that he is no longer in office.  If someone wants to pay him six figures to speak for 30-40 minutes, more power to them–and him.

Look, I disliked the leadership of George W. Bush and his administration as much as anyone, but it’s time to move on.  We have many challenges ahead, so just leave this man to his retirement.  He seems like a good man, in the sense that he’s not deliberately evil.  He seems like a good father and husband.  He is a former President of the United States and, for me, that still earns him a modicum of respect.  Just keep him as far away from critical decision-making as possible.  

All I am saying is that, at this point, making fun of George W. Bush is like beating a dead horse.  I don’t feel sorry for him, but I am tired of hearing about him.  I wish to put the former president as far from my mind as possible.  Just leave him alone; leave George W. Bush alone!

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