Showing posts with label Roger Carlton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roger Carlton. Show all posts

Thursday, September 24, 2020

CAN WE HANDLE THE TRUTH?

Roger Carlton is our guest on this blog. He has another thought provoking post about our political situation today. CAN WE HANDLE THE TRUTH is a good question we must all ask ourselves.
Roger is columnist with the The Graham Starr newspaper.


Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" famously said "You can't handle the truth." This line has stuck with me since the 1992 legal drama directed by Rob Reiner was released. Two hard to handle truth moments arose last week in an article in The Atlantic magazine and with the release of Bob Woodward's new book Rage about President Trump. The first question is whether or not we were told the truth? The second question is what are we going to do about it when we vote in the upcoming election?
 
The Atlantic magazine has been published for 163 years. Early writers included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The publication's editor in chief is Jeffrey Goldberg who has won many journalism awards and is viewed by his peers as having impeccable credentials. This publication is no National Enquirer that reports weekly about miracle diets, impregnation by Martians and the imminent death of some famous person.

The September 3, 2020 edition carried an article about the President's disrespect for the military. The President was quoted describing military personnel as "losers" and "suckers." Earlier statements disparaging Gold Star parents and describing Senator John McCain in the context of "I like people who weren't captured" were used to show a pattern of disrespect.

Response to the article was strong. The Biden campaign jumped on it to their advantage. The Trump campaign said comments were taken out of context and it was fake news. If there was a weakness in the article, it was that the people who spoke to Mr. Goldberg were not named. This was not about distorting the truth; it was fear of retaliation from the White House.

Rage is the summation of 18 face to face interviews with the President. Woodward is a modern-day reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow. Woodward has covered presidents since Nixon. Along with his Washington Post colleague Carl Bernstein, their book All the President's Men exposed the Watergate scandal and eventually led to Nixon's resignation. One thing is certain, Woodward is an impeccable researcher and may be my generation's most famous journalist.

Edward R. Murrow was a TV newscaster and commentator who sank Senator Joseph McCarthy in a journalistic evisceration that would probably not pass an editor's scalpel today. McCarthy was a serial liar who ruined the lives of many people by labelling them Communists. The times were scary at the beginning of the Cold War with Russia just as they are today with economic malaise and COVID 19 deaths.

If there is a weakness in Woodward's Rage, it is regarding a journalist/author's responsibility to release news that has a critical impact rather than wait until the book is released. Since the President admitted he knew in January 2020 about the dangers of the Covid 19 virus from sources in China and told Woodward in one of the interviews, why didn't he report on that revelation immediately?  Would not releasing the President's own admission about not wanting to alarm the public have shamed the White House into doing something much earlier and saved many lives? Woodward's response that he is an author and not a reporter seems weak. His stronger response is that many other reporters were covering the White House's denial of the severity of the crisis.

So, what are the ethics that both The Atlantic article author and Woodward should be guided by? The Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics. This guidance says "Journalists should take responsibility for their work. Verify information before releasing it." The Code also says "Consider sources' motives before promising anonymity." One final piece of advice is "Journalists should balance the public's need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness."

It seems to this columnist that both bombshell revelations last week met the test of journalistic ethics. The air is escaping from the Washington balloon at a faster pace due to these extraordinary journalistic works. The real question is whether or not anyone has changed their mind enough to change their vote? That is something to think about. 
 





Saturday, August 29, 2020

Voter suppression is alive and well





Roger Carlton



  Roger Carlton writes about a subject on the minds of all of us at this time. He is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
The right to vote is so important that it appears in Article 1 of the Constitution. Responsibility for keeping the voting process fair was granted to the legislatures in 1787. The goal of suppressing votes began in earnest nearly immediately.


African American men were not granted the right to vote until 1870. The southern Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and literacy requirements, took that right away. 

Women were not granted the right to vote until 1920. Young people 18-20 could not vote until 1971. Prior to the amendments to the Constitution that removed these impediments to voting, millions of folks were kept from the polls due to race, gender or youth.

The effort by the Postmaster General to make the Post Office more "efficient" is putting lipstick on the pig of voter suppression especially given the inevitable disruptions impacting timely delivery of millions of additional mail-in/absentee ballots caused by COVID 19 fears. In the 2016 election, 20,000 military ballots were rejected mostly due to late delivery. There were more than 550,000 ballots rejected in the 2016 primaries for a variety of reasons.

Mass purges of "inactive" voters are a form of voter suppression. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 16 million voters were purged from 2014-16. That's a lot of purging given that 137 million voted in the 2016 election. In the recent close Governor election in Georgia, 70 percent of the purged voters were Black. Suppose you show up at the polls and are told you have been purged. States have removed the "same day" ability to register to suppress the purged voters from regaining their right to vote.

Requiring voters to vote at their home poll is a form of voter suppression. It is tough for hourly workers to leave their jobs early to vote so they should be able to vote at a poll near their work site. Reducing the number of days of early voting, eliminating polling places and not removing physical barriers to access are methods to suppress voters.

The White House has been casting unfounded aspersions for months on the security of the upcoming election. The remedy proposed a few days ago was to place police and sheriff deputies at the polling places to ensure security. What a smart way to keep people of color away from the polls. Even worse, police presence at the polls is a first sign of a totalitarian state.

The Tennessee legislature just passed a bill signed by the Governor that makes protesters camping on State land felons subject to six months in jail if convicted. Being a convicted felon eliminates your right to vote in Tennessee. The British Magna Carta granted the right to seek redress from government in 1215. The First Amendment of the Constitution grants the right to petition without fear of reprisals or punishment. It won't be long till the new Tennessee form of voter suppression is tossed by the courts.

To ensure that the feared problem of millions of absentee ballots clogging the Post Office is minimized, our local Elections Board should make a loud and clear statement that their staff will do everything legally possible to mail ballots early and go to the Post Office frequently as deadlines approach to pick up ballots. The Elections Board should hold its canvassing (validating and rejecting ballots process) open to the media and public in a large, open and socially distanced room. Shedding some light on the criteria adopted by the State Elections Board for rejecting ballots would be informative to any doubters of their fairness.

To close, blaming foreign intervention, creating fear of vaporous threats, failed efforts to limit the capabilities of the Post Office and a plethora of voter suppression techniques will not keep Americans from protecting their right to vote by the simple act of voting. The real threat is lethargy and procrastination. 

Request your absentee ballot early and submit it with plenty of time to be delivered. Saving our right to vote in a fair and honestly managed election is our own responsibility and there is no excuse for failure. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Don't Politicize Our TVA

Roger Carlton
Guest writer - Roger Carlton, columnist for The Graham Star newspaper

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established by Congress in 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing and economic development in seven states that were heavily impacted by the Great Depression. 

TVA is a business owned by the government. Fiscal 2018 revenues exceeded $11 billion and profits were $1.1 billion. The Board of Directors are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. The Directors appoint the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). All in all, this construct provides a nice balance and has worked extraordinarily well for the southern Appalachian region and its people.

So why would the White House fire the Chair of the Board and a board member? The ostensible reason was a decision by TVA to lay-off more than 100 contract workers and outsource the function to three big companies including Accenture, Capgemini and CGI who make their billions using many foreign workers. This political misstep followed TVA's decision last year to shut down two coal fired power plants despite undelivered 2016 campaign promises to rebuild the coal industry. 

Terrible timing right before an election in which the plight of 30 million potential voters who are unemployed and suffering greatly will certainly impact the outcome of the election. Perhaps this public flogging of an agency that provides service in some deeply red states over losing jobs might have something to do with the re-election campaign.

The White House also threatened to pack the Board with members who would in turn fire TVA CEO Jeff Lyash while making great hay over his $8 million salary. A government employee making $8 million even though he runs a multi-billion profitable enterprise doesn't play well in an election year.

To save the day, Lyash and his new Board Chair jumped on one of TVA's corporate jets and supplicated their way into the Oval Office. On second thought they said, the outsourcing deal might not be the best approach and the 100 jobs were saved. Everyone declared victory and there is peace in the valley - at least the Tennessee Valley.

So, what does all this mean to the people of Graham County? TVA owns Fontana Dam and leases out the operation of Fontana Resort. The recent closure of Fontana Resort by our local operators due to the impacts of COVID 19 required the rapid location of a new operator. TVA's business-like approach has allowed the retention of a new operator to happen quickly and the 2020 tourist season will be saved along with a lot of jobs. If TVA ran like a bureaucracy, we would be lucky to have a new operator by the summer of 2021.

While TVA does not own Cheoah and Santeetlah dams, it controls the spillways in order to regulate the flow of water during potential flood situations. This is important because all three dams in Graham County are part of a system that must be operated by expert hydrologists and weather forecasters in a cohesive, regional data-based manner. This is very important to Graham Countians. Politicizing an organization that has the awesome responsibilities assigned to TVA is a great mistake.

In some small way, TVA's CEO deserves an apology for the bashing he took over salary.  A division of a multi-billion-dollar Canadian company, Brookfield Renewable Corporation, owns our two dams and Lake Santeetlah. They do a good job by and large. By way of comparison, the CEO of the Brookfield division that owns our dams, Sachin Shah, made $3.8 million in 2018 and roughly $12.6 million in 2019. That is serious money even by TVA standards.



Friday, July 24, 2020

Three Branches of Government

Roger Carlton

We welcome Roger Carlton back for another of his interesting posts. Roger is columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is one of three branches of the Federal Government. Congress and the Executive Branch are the other two.

One thing is certain. The Founding Fathers had great experience with an all-powerful monarch in the form of King George III. They wanted nothing to do with repeating the tyranny of that leadership so they created a form of government with balance of powers. The Congress made the laws, the President carried them out and the Supreme Court settled disputes. Pretty close to a perfect construct at the time. Not so good today because many of our leaders have forgotten that deliberation of issues based on scientific facts and compassionate implementation is the necessary foundation of democracy.

My conservative friends rejoiced over the Senate's confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito. They rent garments and gnashed teeth over the appointments of liberal Associate Justices Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Yet, until recently, the past six presidents, of which three were D's and three were R's, did a pretty good job of bi-partisan appointments of fair and balanced people. The labels conservative and liberal don't seem to apply to all votes of the current SCOTUS.

Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have my conservative friends in a dither. They have concluded that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has sold them out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Supreme Court has acted responsibly and defied their pundit-imposed labels in these controversial cases. Most importantly, one of the three branches needed to put on its adult britches and avoid the chaos being created by the other two.
Here are a few of the controversial cases. The first is letting our President know that he does not enjoy blanket immunity to avoid responding to subpoenas for his tax records. The Court acted responsibly by sending the debate back to lower courts so that the tax filings would not be released until after the election in November. To quote Chesterfield Smith who was President of the American Bar Association during the Watergate investigation, when the Supreme Court ordered President Nixon to release certain damaging Watergate information for which he claimed executive privilege, "No man is above the law."

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recent decision stopped the White House from ending the program which has kept 650,000 young immigrants in limbo for years. Ending the program would have sent them back to the countries from which they were taken by their parents. The Supreme Court made it clear that the Administration had not made a rational case to justify the harsh decision. The same reasoning caused the 2019 decision to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.

The Louisiana abortion legislation that doctors had to have privileges in nearby hospitals "to protect the women" was overturned because the exact same law had already been overturned in Texas. The majority opinion regarding expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include employment for the LGBTQ community was written by President Trump's appointment Neil Gorsuch. The ability of employers to deny providing insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious or moral beliefs was upheld. One other case allows states to use public funds for scholarships to attend religious schools where only private schools were allowed before. There have been decisions by the SCOTUS that make both liberals and conservatives happy and unhappy.

So, save your garments and don't wear out your teeth. Let's respect the Supreme Court as our last line of defense against the chaos we see in the other two branches.

Send us your comments about this article. Let us hear your opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States. Send email or leave a comment in the Comments section below.  

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Political Correctness Gone Wild


This post is by Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC
This column launches headlong into an important and controversial subject. One that is red hot now as it should be. The subject is the removal of symbols, statuary, memorials, flags, street names and many other "honoraries" to people whose principles and deeds in their time have grown to become offensive in our time. A key example is the current debate over the Confederate flag being a portion of the Mississippi state flag. That will soon come to an end just like it did in South Carolina after the mass murder which took place in an African American church five years ago last week. Good riddance to that symbol which has lost It’s meaning as a symbol of the Confederacy and has come to represent a hateful defiance of the rights of African Americans to be treated equally under the law.

Taking symbols yet another step, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations both peaceful and riotous, have brought to the fore the destruction or voluntary removal of hundreds of statues and monuments to Confederate heroes. Recognizing that the fervor on both sides of the removal issue is at a fever pitch, it is best that our elected leaders decide to remove the statues before they are destroyed. We are making a mistake to simply take these memorials out of harm's way.

There needs to be a plan to place the statues in a museum that explains to future generations how our democracy nearly broke up over the issues that these statues commemorate so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. To obliterate history is to enhance the probability of repeating our mistakes.

The National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C. displays slave shackles and other artifacts of slavery. The museum tells the story of the horrors of slavery. It also tells the story of the many accomplishments of the descendants of the slaves. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum uses the Nazi Swastika to symbolize the horrors of the Holocaust. The displays of belongings of people who died in the gas chambers are powerful. So powerful that a warning is given to parents to prepare their children regarding what they are about to see. 

Now we move from sensitive preservation of history in a proper context to political correctness gone wild. The Board of Trustees of prestigious Ivy League Princeton University just decided to remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from its School of Public and International Affairs and a residence hall. Woodrow Wilson had been the President of Princeton, the Governor of New Jersey where it is located and the two-term 28th President of the United States. He was accused of 'racist thinking and policies" which made him an "inappropriate name sake." 

Let's acknowledge that his administration should have done a better job of controlling a racist U.S. Civil Service Commission. The agency's director should have been fired and better treatment of African Americans in government should have been a priority. Of this, there is no question. The real question is why do we go to college? To learn the good, the bad and the ugly. To be able to discern good from evil. Princeton's Board, comprised of entirely Princeton graduates, seems to have forgotten that its students should be allowed to decide what kind of leader Woodrow Wilson was.

But here is the "but." Woodrow Wilson was the President who led us through World War I. He pushed hard to establish the League of Nations which might have helped to avoid World War II if it had not been killed by the Senate. He negotiated the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war. For this he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He appointed Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court and he oversaw the creation of the Federal Reserve Act which established the U.S. Central Bank which has been the bulwark of protecting monetary policy from political interference.

In balance, his accomplishments greatly exceed his weaknesses. You can say the same for John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Andrew Carnegie, Joseph Kennedy and many others. They all had character flaws and none were perfect. We need to understand their mistakes and applaud their philanthropic generosity. President Wilson suffered a stroke which made it very difficult for him to function for the last two years of his term. It was a different time and he remained the titular head of government. He passed away three years after the end of his second term. To erase his name from a university he served with distinction and an institution that trains future government leaders for the entire world just goes too far. It is political correctness gone wild.

Appeasement is not progress. It is a momentary victory for the aggrieved. It allows the history police to say "we hear you," but, it does not solve problems and set new paradigms for future respectful relations between the races. My ten-year old grand-daughter Claire, wanted to read this column. She had great wisdom when she said, "I don't understand why they want to erase Wilson's name and no-one wants to take those other names away." Maybe she should be on the board of Princeton.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Morality, Murder and A Miracle

TODAY'S POST IS BY:
Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Starr newspaper, Robbinsville, NC

May 31, 2020
What a week this has been. Let's start with the morality of the South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California deciding to defy reasonable limitations on their assembly. The church argued that limitations placed by California Governor Newsom were unfair because other secular places such as factories and supermarkets were not subject to the limitations imposed on the church. The US Supreme Court decided the issue in favor of the Governor on a 5/4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts breaking the tie.

Chief Justice Roberts' opinion was based on his belief that matters of limiting the right to assemble in a COVID emergency were best left to politicians and administrators in each locality.

Roberts wrote, "The precise question of when restrictions on particular activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement."

So, what appears to be a liberal decision by a conservative Supreme Court Justice is really a conservative decision that clearly favors limiting the powers of the court to intervene. This is an important nuance especially in Graham County. There are more than 40 churches in Graham County. That is a large number for a small population. Our folks need their ability to attend church in the normal manner. There is a renewal process that goes on in a religious service. To many, it is sorely needed in these difficult times. The morality of social distancing, mask wearing and caution is so clear while the loss of individual rights is so minute in relation. Thanks to Justice Roberts for breaking the tie and doing the right thing. Let's all respect the temporary rules as affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Murder is wrong.

We all know that. When the alleged murder happens at the hands of a police officer, the right and wrong of the situation becomes much more complex. First, a few facts. There are 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. Since the first recorded police death in 1786, there have been more than 22,000 officers killed in the line of duty. There were 135 law enforcement officers killed in 2019 and 1627 in the past ten years. That is an average of one officer killed every 54 hours. This a tough and risky job without even considering the many injuries that occur while on duty. We should not forget that police officers and fire/rescue personnel are our first line of defense against the anarchy we all fear and are currently experiencing,

This does not mean that law enforcement officials can do no wrong. In fact, the pressures of the job, the need to make split second life and death decisions and the growing distrust and disrespect for the uniform cry out for more training in how to de-escalate situations and more transparency in how excessive use of force situations are investigated and resolved. The US Department of Justice provides a Community Relations Service to mediate local issues and deal with hate crimes. Its budget has been drastically cut.

There is searing pain and anger over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
There are honest people who want to peacefully protest and there are people who take advantage of this anger to loot in the guise of protest. Washington, state capitols and local leaders need to develop programs to reduce tension and provide positive channels of communication. It is appalling that the White House pours gasoline on these conflicts with comments like "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." This phrase has a racially charged history dating back to the civil rights protests. The excuse of not knowing the history of the phrase only speaks to not using it.

On a positive note, the successful launch of Elon Musk's Space X rocket in partnership with NASA returning launch capability to Cape Kennedy is nothing short of a miracle. During my career with Lockheed Martin, I was blessed with a tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where a shuttle was undergoing the 60-day turn-around process and an elevator ride up the tower where a shuttle would soon be launched. It was a defining moment to see what could be done when a message of hope and challenge comes from Washington and we all pull together. Frankly, it broke my heart when President Obama killed the shuttle program and we started paying the Russians nearly $90 million each time to launch our astronauts into space.

Right now, we seem to be sinking into a Sarlaccian abyss that threatens everything we hold dear. What comes to mind is Dante's Inferno and a group of politicians and bureaucrats casting about trying to emerge from a never-ending hellish fire pit. Come on folks. We expect our leaders to lead. We expect our leaders to put out fires. We expect our police to be guardians. We will survive until November when it will be possible to change course.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Viral and veracity are very different words.

This post by Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC. 



Don't get your dander up. This column is about the Roe in Roe v. Wade who recently passed away. 

The column does not take a position on the issue. That is for each of us to decide and for the courts to resolve in a civilized society that believes in the Rule of Law. What this column is about is the manner in which advocacy groups use and abuse the power of traditional and social media to make their case. 

Jane Roe's real name was Norma McCorvey. She was an abused child who spent years in a Texas reform school.  Her first child was born out of wedlock and raised upon court order by her mother. She wanted to terminate her second pregnancy. Rather than go to an abortion mill, she told her doctor that she had been raped in an attempt to have an abortion in Texas where the procedure was illegal. She was denied.

Two young lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, took up her cause. They chose her to make the test case because she could not afford to travel to a state where the procedure was legal and because of her very difficult and sympathetic personal history. The Wade in Roe v. Wade was Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade. 

Norma signed the affidavit to file the case in March 1970 more than 50 years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court found in her favor in 1973 which was long after the baby was born and given up for adoption. So the plaintiff in this case never had the abortion she sought.

Many years later, Norma McCorvey went public in a giant media splash and said that she no longer believed that a woman should have the right to choose. She became the poster child for the Reverend Randall Terry and his Operation Rescue. She was their Oscar winning spokesperson. Norma knew she was being used and was a willing player because she was paid $456,911 as documented in IRS required annual reports for non-profits. These payments are called benevolence gifts.

The pro-choice movement was devastated. They had largely deserted Norma after the case was resolved because she wasn't pretty enough, said what she thought sometimes profanely and had a sordid reputation. Actresses and other spokespeople just played better in the court of public opinion and in the eyes of the media. Norma really resented this.

No story is over till its over. Nearing death, Norma recanted. She said that her change of mind was not what she truly believed. She said "Sometimes women just make mistakes." The media splash this time was not nearly as great, most likely due to the focus on Covid 19 and embarrassment over being duped.  She really believed that reversing Roe v. Wade would cause unthinkable chaos. That conclusion will become clearer as the many state Supreme Court cases are joined and wend their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Friday, May 22, 2020

Live Long and Prosper...The New U.S. Space Force

Welcome our guest today, Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star
Newspaper in Robbinsville, NC.


This columnist has great respect for the military. Our son-in-law is a graduate of West Point and served with honor in Iraq. I considered both Roy Bahr and Mel Greene to be friends. They served in the military and supported veterans till they both recently passed on. In balance, there have been many military mistakes and successes over the years. Our country remains free due to the military's heroic actions. In fact, our right to dissent has been protected by the military and that is very important.

This past week, the White House took great pride in announcing that a new branch of the military had been established. The U.S. Space Force now joins the Air force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Just what we need in a time of multi-trillion dollar deficits, the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and a country torn apart in the debate between scientific management of the coronavirus pandemic and the politics of pre-election economic ruin. 

To go back in history, when President Kennedy gave his inaugural speech, he boldly went were no president had gone before by committing that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. This was a response to the threat of the Russians who had gained an early lead in the space race. Sadly, President Kennedy did not live to see the delivery of his promise by the civilian National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) when we landed on the moon in 1969. 

The great debate that was settled by President Johnson and Congress was that the military would provide the astronauts and the civilian NASA would provide the technology and governance of the program. This was a partnership and not a competition. Space would be shared by all humanity as would the next 50 years of technological wonders. This has worked even to the point that Russia launches missions to the International Space Station from their Bakonur facility because we gave up the Shuttle program. The astronauts come from different countries and live together in outer space.

The Space Force tosses that successful history into a Star Trek warp speed black hole. The insignia is remindful of a combination Nike swoosh and Star Trek uniform patch. There are many questions to be raised about scientific research for all humanity versus military dominance. Budgets come to mind as does the need for efficiency and enhancing cooperation among the military branches. If there is a need for this new branch, certainly no case has been made to the American public by our political or military leaders. More specifically, are we sending a signal to the world that we are weaponizing the space program?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Photo by Roger Carlton


Located on Lake Santeetlah facing south across the the lake using my Apple I-Phone 7. The time was around  6:30 am and the shot lasted for less than 10 minutes. The early bird catches the best image.


 

Roger Carlton is columnist for Graham Star newspaper. He was once a writing student of mine. He has developed a great eye for photography. I believe this view is from his lovely home on Lake Santeetlah in western North Carolina.

Roger says the Graham Star is using some of his photos on the front page of the newspaper. Who says life can't get better after retirement? Roger has found a new calling with writing and photography. He spent his working years in city management. We are happy to have him as part of Writers' Circle around the Table.



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

We have all had our fill of COVID-19 news.

Enlightening words from Roger Carlton, columnist for the Graham Star newspaper.

The death tolls, monumental human suffering, acts of human kindness, heroic efforts to tame the beast and economic impacts on millions of unemployed workers will be in our memories forever. There is one more aspect that needs some thought. It is the "Effectiveness Trap" as expressed by Brett McGurk.

First, who in the world is Bret McGurk?
He is an American diplomat who has served in senior national security positions under Presidents Bush II, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Most recently, he served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. He is a Distinguished Professor at Stanford University.

It is pretty easy to conclude that he is a smart guy who has served presidents of both parties in a distinguished manner. Most importantly, he quit his role when the decision was made to pull out of Syria. That was a great loss to policy-making, but an ethical stand because he thought it was a terrible mistake.

The Effectiveness Trap keeps men and women from speaking out – as clearly or often as they might – within the government. And it is the trap that keeps people from resigning in protest and airing their dissent outside the government. It is one of the great moral questions for a senior government executive or advisor.

 It is the predicament in which Drs. Fauci and Birx find themselves daily in COVID-19 press conferences regarding the Administration's efforts to contain the medical, economic and political crisis with which their leadership is confronted.

 This columnist did not think much about the moral dilemma for these two heroic doctors, until they were confronted with how to react to the question raised regarding ingesting bleach as a potential preventative for the impacts of the virus. A simple "not a good idea" would have been the best answer in a normal world.

 But Washington is not a normal world and probably never has been. So the good doctors made the right moral decision and maintained their effectiveness for the greater good of our society. They did not quit in protest. These heroes just told the truth and maintained their leadership role. That is why we trust them. Their decision-making and recommendations come from scientific knowledge and unbiased concern ... not the politics of the moment.

We should all think about the effectiveness trap. When do you say, as immortalized by Johnny Paycheck in his 1977 hit,Take This Job and Shove It?
Here's the question. What did Johnny Paycheck know when he performed these lines 43 years ago?

 "I been working in this factory for nigh on 15 years.
All this time I watched my woman drownin' in a pool of tears,
 And I've seen a lot of good folks die that had a lot of bills to pay.
I'd give the shirt right offa' my back if I had the guts to say …"

Think about how you would end the verse as you go to the polls in November.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

From 26 to 2....the Democratic Presidential Candidates Have Dwindled

Thanks to Roger Carlton for this post where he gives his thoughts on the political situation of today. 
Roger is columnist for Graham Star newspaper in Robbinsville, NC.

Roger Carlton
Remember the ant and the rubber tree plant. 
That ant had high hopes and so did a whole bunch of Presidential candidates. In that popular song by Doris Day the ant moved the rubber tree plant because he had high hopes. So what happened to those political high hopes held by so many candidates of promise?

Let's start with the debate debacles: The format was horrible. Point counterpoint is no way to inform the voting public of the character of the candidates or the merit of their proposals. Raising your hand for recognition demeans the office. It is what elementary school students do. It would have been so much better to give each candidate five minutes to express their five top problems and solutions. Brief and to the point. Frankly it means nothing to this writer to hear what one candidate thinks about another. Would you expect a candidate to say that their opponent's position is better than their own?

The pundit debate monitors did a terrible job of focusing the issues and controlling the screechers. Half the debate time spent on Medicare for all and no questions about climate change and the explosive growth of mass murder borders on malfeasance by someone who calls themselves a journalist. In this environment, the candidate with the best one liners seemed to be heroic to the debate monitors and the candidate with manners and who followed the rules was labelled weak. Did anyone make their decision on who to vote for based on debate performance? Doubtful.

The billionaire factor. One candidate spent $250 million starting nearly a year ago with a single message. He was the best person to beat President Trump. Could you figure out what he would do once elected? Another candidate spent $500 million in a few weeks telling us his role as Mayor of New York gave him the credentials to be a good President. Probably true but his total of 20 minutes of debate performance negated a lifetime of business, philanthropic and political success.

Please keep one thing in mind. The total primary expenses through Super Tuesday were nearly $900 million. The money went mostly to media so this kumatai slugfest was a source of untold profits for the media moguls and their stockholders. No wonder the Wall Street Journal vilifies one of the candidates as being a Socialist without explaining what that means. To put the dollars into perspective more money has been spent so far than the taxable value of 80 percent of the property in Graham County.

With all due caution to avoid political incorrectness the gender, gay, racial and religious factors remain top of mind with many voters. Let's be honest. It took 143 years from the end of the Civil War to elect an African American President and it has been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote. While the two remaining candidates don't fit into the definition of diversity, let us hope that they will select a capable Vice President running mate who comes from one of the groups that made capable candidates available but could not put them across the line for the top job.

The fire in your gut concern. 
Many of the candidates had great resumes but bland personas. Bernie consistently railed against the oligarchs on Wall Street and the outrageous profits made by the medical companies. He wanted you to believe that the money changers needed to be thrown out of the Washington temple and he was the candidate to do that. Joe Biden said wait a minute. We can't afford all this. He was calm and did not point his finger at you. All the rest of the candidates fought for a place in the continuum of recognition by the media and failed to find a sweet spot. 

Finally, voters saw through the opposition dirt researching and did not hold a candidate responsible for some stupid behavior or slip of the tongue 30 or more years ago. Who among us hasn't said or done something that they regret. Joe Biden helped his son with getting a lucrative job for which he was unqualified. Bernie praised some political strongmen with whom he was enamored many years ago. Has not the current incumbent in the White House done the same for his children and their spouses? Does he not cotton up to the current strongmen of the world? 

All these factors taken together whittled down a broad and diverse group of candidates to two old white guys. 
Perhaps Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest best describes the primary process to date. There are a few more big primaries. It seems that all the debate smoke and mirrors will now pare down to who has the best chance to beat President Trump. Is that any different than four years ago when the question was who had the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton?  
     

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