Viewing Category

General

16
Back when Navy Seals evened the score with Osama bin Laden, the Secretary of Defense proclaimed “defeating al-Qaeda” was within our grasp. Victory was at hand.
 
Then the wheel came off the cart.
 
And now up in Washington the Director of National Intelligence is telling Congress the threat of ‘terrorism is worse than at any point in history.’
 
How did we wind up in this train wreck?
 
The answer is harsh: We deceived ourselves.

We were never on the verge of victory.
 
And – no matter what we were promised when we invaded Iraq – there was never going to be a limited war with a quick and painless victory.
 
And after the fighting was done in Iraq we were never going to be able to quickly pack up and come home – because if we failed to lay a foundation for peace (with a successful occupation) we’d end up with… ISIS.
 
We’re also learning there’s no substitute for a leader (in the White House) who can explain the wickedness of ISIS. Politically-correct talk rationalizing beheadings (by saying they are the result of poverty or political alienation) doesn’t cut it – and neither do euphemisms (like calling ISIS simply a new kind of ‘Violent Extremism’) that infer ISIS selling infidel women as slaves has nothing to do with its peculiar version of Islam.  
 
We’ve spent over a decade learning the hard way: One mistake at a time.
 
The American people arenow (according to a new poll) ready to fight ISIS. And send troops into combat.
 
And what about the President? He says we can defeat ISIS with one more quick, painless, limited war.
 


 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

16
A TAPster alerts us to another potential April surprise for taxpayers:
 
Republicans in the legislature left a little bag of stink on the doorsteps of millions of self-employed North Carolinians who’ll step in it when they calculate their state taxes in the next month.
 
The Repubs proudly boast of reducing state tax rates. They are unlikely to boast about their elimination of the exemption for the first $50,000 earned by a self-employed person.
 
Surprise! In the eyes of our friends at the Department of Revenue, it’s like you got a $50,000 raise that you have to pay taxes on.
 
Except you didn’t get a raise. And your state tax bill is going up dramatically.
 
It stinks to fool people like this.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

13
The Internet, social media and cable TV may make us more informed, but they also make us more inflamed. And more apt to go down in flames.
 
Frat boys sing a racist song, it goes viral and they are expelled, their parents humiliated and their reputations irreparably ruined. A corporate executive posts a racist joke before she boards a plane, and by the time she lands she is out of a job and the target of online and cable outrage.
 
The angry virus infects politics, too. It inflames our divisions and disagreements. No, there is nothing new about hateful, divisive and racist statements in politics. Joe McCarthy called people communists. JFK, LBJ and Nixon had their share of haters. The nation was bitterly divided over Vietnam and civil rights.
 
The difference today is how much of all that is constantly in our faces and at our fingertips.
 
Your Facebook friends and those you follow on Twitter make sure you see the latest outrageous statement or action by a deranged right-winger or bitter left-winger or degenerate racist or professional big-mouth or fool politician. Your blood pressure soars, your bile rises and you fire off your own angry rant. You feed the fire.
 
Unfortunately, what we say when we have no filter doesn’t always reflect our better selves.
 
Here is some advice from a wise gentleman we call Yoda, given to a friend who had just watched something online that disturbed his Force:
 
“I want you to take 10 deep breaths. Breathe in, breathe out, 10 times. Then I want you to go out to a meadow somewhere. And I want you to say ‘dammit,’ or something even stronger, 10 times. ‘Dammit, dammit, dammit,’ 10 times. Then I want you to drink a Fat Tire beer. Or maybe two. Then I want you to get seven and a half or eight hours sleep, a good night’s sleep. You will feel better in the morning.”
 
Works like a charm.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

12
Claude Sitton was, indeed, forceful and fearless. But not without flaws, flaws that show what is great and what can be dangerous about journalism.
 
Sitton’s forcefulness shaped a controversy that rages more than two decades later: Did the N&O unfairly railroad Jim Valvano? Many State fans neither forgive nor forget. One said this week, “Roy Williams is lucky Sitton isn’t around today.”
 
It’s not just rabid Wolfpackers. Several old N&O hands now say Claude’s crusade against Valvano was a mistake.
 
Jay Price’s obituary of Sitton didn’t ignore the issue: “There was nothing unusual about Sitton’s two hats, running opinion and news pages….But Sitton was the last editor at the N&O to have both roles, and that sacred separation between the two worlds was sometimes too flimsy to stand up to his vigorously held views.”
 
That wasn’t the only time. I was at the N&O from the time Sitton arrived in 1969 until I left in December 1975. I saw his strong opposition to a medical school at East Carolina University drive not only editorials but also news coverage.
 
You like that forcefulness when you agree. But what about when you don’t? Watch Fox News.
 
All that said, Sitton was an extraordinary newsman. When he won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1983, many regarded it as a makeup call. He should have won it for his coverage of the civil rights movement for The New York Times in the ‘60s.
 
He inspired fear and loyalty from people who worked for him and, often, fear and loathing from those he covered. He set high standards, and he was demanding. He wasn’t the kind of guy you sat around and shot the breeze with.
 
He once said, “Popularity is not a legitimate goal of a newspaper.” He didn’t chase popularity. He chased the story. He usually got it, and got it right.
 
Pat Stith, one of few reporters who could match Sitton’s chops, said it best: “He was a great man to have on your side, a man of tremendous personal courage, and I was honored to work for him. And lucky to work for him.”

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General, Raleigh
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

11
Over a decade ago some genius up in Washington – I think it may have been Donald Rumsfeld – figured we could conquer Iraq with 150,000 soldiers; that we could fight a little war with a little pain and have the troops home by Christmas – so we rolled straight into Baghdad then found out occupying a nation of 30 million people with 150,000 soldiers wasn’t such a good idea.
 
The occupation turned into a quagmire. The roof fell in. We ended up with ISIS.
 
It was the repeat of an old story: If you go to war use overwhelming force. It hurts more in the short run but pays off in the long run. You don’t get sunk by the inevitable surprises and miscalculations.
 
Now we’re facing another war and President Obama’s sent a bill to Congress – called an “Authorization to Use Military Force” – and it’s like déjà vu all over again.
 
We fought one limited war to whip Saddam and got ISIS.
 
And now we’re about to fight another to whip ISIS and Lord knows what we’ll get next.
 
There’s not much doubt we need a leader with conviction (and, maybe, meanness) to whip ISIS but even more, to avoid another quagmire, this time we need a leader with the courage to tell the hard truth – rather than promising he can get the job done with a little war with a little pain.


 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

10
There’re two sides to every coin.
 
Last year, when the State Senate took away Governor McCrory’s appointments to the Board of Review, the Governor vetoed the bill. Then the Senate overrode his veto. Then the Governor  sued the Senate. Then, this year, as soon as the Senate got back to town it passed another bill to do the same thing.
 
So now, I guess, if the court throws out the Senate’s first bill the Governor’s still stuck with the second one – which sounds a lot like an old fashioned political power play. A battle over appointments.  But there’re two sides to this coin.  
 
The ole Bull Mooses in the Senate believe in their bones less government is right. They look out across Raleigh and want to shrink every program from Medicaid to the ‘corporate incentives’ the Department of Commerce gives away and, since they don’t have much faith in the Governor to get the job done, they figure if it takes a bit of bare-knuckle politics to shove him aside, well, so be it.
 
And that’s the one side of the coin.
 
The other side – the side the Governor’s staring at – is a bit different.
 
He’s more practical. He wants to fix problems. But to do that he needs more corporate incentives not less. And the ole Bull Mooses keep getting in his way. He’s accommodating. They’re power hungry. He’s open-minded. They’re pig-headed. He’s even-handed. They’re heavy-handed. And, even if his own popularity is sagging, the State Senate’s is worse so the Bull Mooses look like a useful foil.
 
So the fight over the Rules Review Commission isn’t just another petty political spat. It’s two sides of a coin: With less government on one side. And fixing government on the other.    


 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

09
Before any 2016 death match, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush face a death march through the media and their own parties’ chattering crowds.
 
Last week’s crisis was Clinton’s email while Secretary of State. The DC media pounced and some Democrats went into a frenzy of fretting: The Clintons are their own worst enemies! They think they’re above the rules! They can’t handle the media! Hillary can’t get her own campaign organized!
 
While the rest of us wondered: Who cares?
 
(The most interesting development was Lindsay Graham saying he has never sent an email. Really? Never? Isn’t that a Constitutional requirement to be President?)
 
Bush faces his own media/party critique: He’s too moderate! Conservatives in Iowa don’t like him! Even Republicans have Bush fatigue! His charter school in Florida failed!
 
This is all gripping chatter to those who like to chatter. But now is a good time to remind yourself that no real votes will be cast for nearly 10 months.
 
You can breathlessly follow all this all year if you want. After all, either Clinton or Bush, or other candidates, could chase a rabbit off a cliff any time.
 
Or you could save your breath. There’s a long way to go.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

09
President Obama held a summit up in Washington about terrorism but decided not to say the words ‘Muslim terrorist.’
 
Instead, he announced, he was leading a crusade to stop ‘Violent Extremism’ and, then he put his finger on the root cause of the villainy: Violent Extremism, he said, is caused by political disenfranchisement and poverty.
 
Then he spelled out the cure: Human Rights. Religious tolerance. And peaceful dialogue.
 
Which sounded sensible and ecumenical and logical except for one obvious contradiction: Our own nation was founded in war by revolutionaries disenfranchised by a corrupt King but they didn’t go around chopping off innocent people’s heads.


 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

06
There will be more pain, more tears, more heartbreak as the trial goes on. But Jamie Kirk Hahn’s voice in the courtroom reminded us what was lost that awful April evening two years ago.
 
A witness who had talked to her by phone about a campaign billing problem described her as “genuine and honest.” You heard her characteristic cheerfulness and capableness.
 
A memory surfaced. Just months earlier, Jamie had been recruited to organize a nonprofit group’s bus tour across the state. The first morning, the bus had a flat tire in Winston-Salem. Jamie arranged alternate transportation for everyone, drove by herself to Boone, checked the setup for the next event, greeted everyone with a smile, then left to set up the next event in Hickory. She did everything but change the tire.
 
The media cliché is that she was a “rising star.” No. She was a star. Many a company, campaign or charity would love to have her skills and her smile today.
 
Because we are civilized people, we do not wreak revenge. We seek justice through a system in which 12 selfless citizens sit patiently, hear arguments, consider evidence, deliberate and decide. To the courtroom novice, there is a genius, dignity and even majesty to the system.
 
But this day there was just pain, tears and heartbreak.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General, Raleigh
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

06
The Ayatollahs over in Iran say they want to enrich uranium so they can build a nuclear power plant and, if that were so, they could buy plutonium rods from Russia tomorrow and be in business.
 
But, instead, the Ayatollahs say they want to enrich uranium themselves with centrifuges which doesn’t sound unreasonable until you consider the Ayatollahs can’t make a nuclear bomb from a plutonium rod but they can with a centrifuge.
 
So it seems odd to learn that the President’s amenable to Iran keeping thousands of centrifuges on the theory that, at the end of the day, even if it’s not a nuclear power plant they’re after, they’ll still be a year away from building a nuclear bomb.
 

 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Posted in: General, Issues
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |

Page 4 of 383First   Previous   1  2  3  [4]  5  6  7  8  9  10  Next   Last   
Copyright (c) Talking About Politics   :  DNN Hosting  :  Terms Of Use  :  Privacy Statement