Interview with Sean Haugh, Libertarian Candidate for US Senate (Part One)

As the 2014 midterm elections are quickly approaching, a large amount of the nation’s attention has turned to North Carolina, a state that many consider a swing state after it flipped from blue to red between the 2008 and 2012 elections. The battle has mainly focused on Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. There is, however, a third player in this traditionally two-party game: Libertarian Sean Haugh. The Durham, pizza delivery, man has gained a fair amount of attention thanks to his multiple YouTube videos, and currently has five percent of polled North Carolinians supporting him. Haugh previously ran for the US Senate in 2002 and had served as the national political director for the Libertarian National Committee.

I went to Durham to sit down with Haugh and discussed why he thinks he can win this race. In Part One of my two-part interview with him, Haugh and I talked about his motivation for running for Senate, how he would respond to multiple issues facing the United States currently and what makes this election so unique from his previous attempt to become Senator in 2002.

File:Sean Haugh 3.JPG

United States Senate candidate Sean Haugh (Photo courtesy of Rachel Mills)

Alex Thomas: Why are you running for United States Senate?

Sean Haugh: Because I can’t count on the Democrats or Republicans to talk about stopping this state of perpetual war or spending more money than we have.

I had retired from politics in 2010, and I was very happily retired. But, as I saw this race shaping up, I thought there was a need for a really strong libertarian voice, especially now that we know my opponents are really not going to talk about much of anything besides their own kind of disassociating talking points.

I just wanted to walk into the voting booth myself in November and be able to vote for something besides more war and more debt.

AT: You did run for this Senate seat in 2002, a race which was won by Elizabeth Dole. Do you feel this election is different from that attempt? What’s your attitude towards this election compared to 2002?

SH: From their perspective, I don’t think things have changed at all.

Back in 2002, I thought it was very odd that, at the time, I had lived here less than 20 years and was a lot more connected to life in North Carolina than either of my opponents. I mean, Elizabeth Dole had to claim she was living in her mother’s house to run for this seat. This time, even though my opponents have better North Carolina credibility, they’re both still completely disconnected from how the average person lives.

For me, it’s just a completely different world compared to 2002 for two main reasons. One is that everybody knows what a libertarian is now. I don’t have to spend much time explaining to people what a libertarian is. We have a very favorable view to the point where we have a lot of people who aren’t really libertarian try to claim to be libertarian because it is cachet, so it’s nice in that aspect.

Also, one major thing that’s changed is social media. Back in 2002, we didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, that sort of thing. So, in order for me to get my message out, I would have to drive all over the state. On some occasions, I would drive three hours to talk to a dozen people, then drive home afterwards. Now, I can do most of my campaigning from home with the YouTube videos and also on Facebook and Twitter. I’m very easily accessible. People can engage me.

Before, I would go do a talk radio interview, the show would end and I would be done. Now, listeners can continue to engage me after the fact. If people have any kind of follow-up questions or didn’t get a question into the show, they can ask me on Twitter or Facebook. That’s allowed me to be able to get my message out very inexpensively.

AT: Your career experiences range from serving as an administrative assistant for the Duke University Hospital to now working as a pizza delivery man. Have you learned anything from your diverse employment history that can help you win this race?

SH: Oh, yes. One thing I love about my job delivering pizza now is that it keeps me connected with people. I deliver to about 20 families a night, and we have a very diverse city here in Durham. As a result, I’m meeting people from all walks of life every night. It really keeps me connected to what life is like for most of us who are trying to make ends meet.

My job at Duke University Hospital was also very informative to me. I worked with people on their insurance, especially with Medicaid and Medicare patients. It just gave me a real firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to try to be on government benefits. All the bureaucratic Hell they had to go through just so they could keep up with the most substandard benefits that we offer here in the United States, and I’m sure in the intervening time it has gotten worse not just for patients, but for providers, too.

One odd job I had in the past was doing telephone surveys for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) where some naïve researchers thought, “Oh, it would be a really great idea to poll doctors and see how they feel about Medicaid and Medicare and understand what they are facing. Maybe we can incorporate that into policy.” Of course, by the time that reaches the floors of Congress, it’s completely distorted from reality.

But, that experience also gave me a lot of perspective from providers on why a lot of them are getting out of taking care of Medicaid and Medicare patients, as well as why government makes it so difficult for people who need healthcare to be able to get it.

With most of the other jobs I’ve had in my life, that’s the common theme. Being out in public, being in the customer service role and really having to listen to people and get to know what their perspective is.

AT: Your campaign slogan is “Stop All War”. What exactly do you mean by “all war”?

SH: War has infected so much of our public policy. It’s not just the direct war and drone warfare that we are conducting all around the world, but it’s also how we arm everybody in the world. We really need to stop arm sales.

You look at the Middle East where everybody, friend or foe, is armed with our weapons and training. There is the possible exception of Hamas, but they can easily get our stuff second hand. The first thing we have to do in the Middle East is stop the flow of arms to the region.

But, “Stop All War” also involves the militarization of police at home as well as culture war, even though the latter isn’t really a federal issue. I don’t want the United States Senate to start ruling on matters on culture war.

The chance to be able to run for US Senate has given me the opportunity to talk about how this war mentality has infected all of our thinking. We have been so used to being at war for so long, that now we are really turning on each other. There is just no political solution that begins with the half of the country that disagrees with you dropping dead. I’ve been able to use the campaign as an opportunity to talk about how we have to talk and listen to each other, and sometimes agree to disagree. We’re all in this America thing together, and we’ve got to develop a mutual respect for each other again if we’re going to be able to solve any of our problems and move forward as a country.

AT: Since we are talking about the Middle East, let’s start talking about your position on multiple issues by discussing the threat of ISIS. Over the past few weeks, every political leader has been talking about what the United States and its allies should do to diminish ISIS’ power in the Middle East. If you were currently Senator, what plan would you advocate for?

SH: Well, not doing the same thing over and over again that created this Islamic state in the first place.

You listen to that debate between my opponents from a couple of weeks ago [September 3rd], and, to me, the theme of it was “Well, if you loved Iraq War I and Iraq War II, then you’re going to really love Iraq War III.”

They [My opponents] don’t have any solution besides more bombing, and that’s what really created the problems to being with. We have been interfering in the affairs with the Middle East for so long, we created this blowback with these groups who, again, are armed with our weapons and our training. We’ve just become more and more virulent when we think we’ve gotten rid of one threat and then much greater threat arises in their place.

So, the first thing we have to do is just stop interfering in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries and stop that flow of arms to them.

One thing that really upsets me is seeing John McCain on TV. I can’t believe anybody takes him seriously anymore. Last year he was saying we have to arm ISIS to defeat Assad, and now he’s saying we have to help Assad defeat ISIS. People will listen to him say this stuff with a straight face.

Then you look at my Democratic opponent. Senator Hagan is now trying to say, “Oh, I’ve been trying to warn President Obama we need more bombing months ago.” All they think of is that throwing more bombs fixes the problem.

There’s no magic wand we can wave to make this problem go away, but we can undermine it by going back to what Washington and Jefferson counseled, which was free trade with all and entangling alliances with none.

AT: One of the biggest issues that faces my generation is college tuition and, more specifically, student loans. Student loan debt has accumulated to around $1 trillion, which is second in consumer debt only to mortgages. What do you think needs to be done to make that number and the amount of students in debt decreases?

SH: Well, the first thing we have to do is stop flooding the higher education system with federal dollars because it’s just basic economics. If the federal government is going to put all of this money out there for it [an education], then the universities are going to raise their prices to suck up all of that money.

I went to Tufts University in the early 1980s, and at the time tuition was about $8,000 a year. The whole college experience for four years would probably be around $50,000. Now, it’s a quarter of a million dollars. It just doesn’t make economic sense anymore to go to college and take out loans for that.

One aspect of that that really bothers me is when people get out of college and they’re in this mountain of debt. That really restricts people’s freedom. You really don’t have the freedom to be creative with what you want to do with your life. Keeping people in all this debt is a way to control people. I’m in favor for forgiving a lot of student debt.

I don’t know if you remember a few months ago, but President Obama had this happy press conference about forgiving a bunch of student loan debt, and really that plan was just more corporate welfare. It was giving a lot of banks the full value of a lot of these outstanding loans which they will probably never collect. There are so many ways we use issues to transfer wealth to big business and large corporations, and that was one of them.

So, I think it would take a little bit of time, but just cutting off that flow of money from the federal government would not only make college more affordable again, but it would make more economic sense to go to college.

Stay tuned for Part Two of my interview with Haugh, in which we discuss the problems surrounding his two opponents, the episode in Ferguson, Mo. and his main method of campaigning: YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under Elections, North Carolina Politics, Politics

On Economic Patriotism



To have been paying attention to the news recently is, most likely, to have heard reiteration of one of the Obama Administration’s most fundamental attacks on the state of the free-market system – his notion of “economic patriotism.” In speech upon speech, fundraiser upon fundraiser, the President has consistently called for companies who either invest or relocate assets overseas to arbitrarily surcease such activities, noting these decisions negatively affect the health of the United States’ domestic economy. Although conservatives have been quick to reply with the obvious economic truism – that a harsh corporate tax rate serves as an almost automatic impetus for companies to move operations abroad, to areas with more receptive codes – President Obama deliriously maintains it is unpatriotic for an American corporation to deprive its homeland of its business, no matter how poorly that corporation perceives its government’s policies.

Now, aside from the fact that it is the President’s own refusal to entertain a lowering of the corporate tax rate that has brought about the very activities he decries, what exactly causes his argument to reek of insincerity and of an outright infatuation with control? Is it his and his administration’s greed, their lust for tax collection? Is it the fact that his ultimate goal behind excessive taxation is to grow government and, indeed, to subsidize dependency? Perhaps, but on a fundamental level, what seems to me most egregious about President Obama’s “economic patriotism” is its cheap championing of the collective over the individual – its vague expectation that groups of people violate their own self-interests in order to fund his own destructive utopian ideals.

In the most basic sense, the “economic patriotism” argument fails because it is based upon an unreasonable assumption of civic duty, an assumption that has never truly been considered part of the American framework. According to the President, a corporation actually owes its successful existence not only to American citizens but also to the U.S. government, for being so kind as to not outright seize the benefits of economic exchange. It’s the same idea behind his “You didn’t build that” speech – less focus on innovation and on personal striving in order to accentuate the need for dependency. In reality, the only failure of duty that has occurred when a company decides to invest overseas is that of lawmakers who persistently refuse to create an economic environment in America amenable to business activity. That’s the true travesty; the one that President Obama ignores when he levies his all-knowing attacks on supposedly immoral businessmen.

The immediate solution, then, is clear, at least to someone who actually believes in the free-market system: provide a positive economic environment by slashing tax rates and enjoying the fruits as corporations from all over the world invest and create jobs – here. After all, don’t companies – especially large ones – have the immediate obligation of producing growth for their shareholders and investors? What happens to that retired woman’s 401K when the company in which she’s invested loses profitability as it returns to the States, cowering under the President’s scolding finger? The bottom line is that it is both fruitless and indiscriminate for the leader of the free world to employ such an earnest, emotional accusation in this situation: fruitless because of economic reality and the shareholders’ perspective and jointly indiscriminate because companies are simply playing the cards that have been dealt them by the current administration.

However, as has been previously suggested, there is a more fundamental issue with President Obama’s stance on “economic patriotism” – that is, his belief that a company should be expected to subvert its personal advancement or even its profit motive so that the government can collect more tax money. A business exists to generate revenue, not to charitably or unnecessarily shed profits into the deep mire of big government. As members of a distinctly American society, we ought to desire and expect this type of prioritization from profit-seeking companies.  Furthermore, we should understand the extent to which we benefit once corporations have been granted the leniency to breathe – to create, to expand, and to energize. Under this realization, the notion that, in the world of business, fairness equals a thorough subversion of individualism in order to uplift the collective welfare, grows more and more senseless and foreign. Yet, it seems to be the very core of the Obama Administration’s exhaustive war on “evil” corporations, its proponents always loath to express tolerance for essential aspects of business operations. The modern liberal not only demands that corporations resist their profit motive in favor of a more idealistic sense of community, but he or she also associates the very notion of profit-making with a type of draconian manipulation. A dangerous idea, indeed – to demand self-sacrifice in a marketplace subservient to all things collective. This seems to be the President’s true assertion, revealed by his continued commentary on “economic patriotism”: from all appearances, he believes in the destructiveness of individualism and in the illuminating power of the collective. Frighteningly, he prefers the public toll to the private marketplace.

And so, this issue serves as one of the main delineations between modern-day conservatism and liberalism: while liberals envision thousands of people ravished by exploitative companies, conservatives understand the need to use free-market principles to attract the advantageous presence of those same companies; while liberals characterize corporations that chase the profit motive in a demeaning and hysteric light, conservatives understand that profit leads to economic growth, the increased accessibility of wealth, and job creation – the very foundations of the American economy.

Thus, the President’s ridiculous galvanization of corporations which, frivolously associates patriotism with an illogical willingness to contribute excessive funds to a bloated central government, is wanting of sense. He should understand the necessity or reforming the tax code so that businesses can rationally operate within the United States; he should realize that companies have obligations to themselves and their shareholders and that following one’s profit motive ultimately encourages growth and innovation; and, he should know that it is antithetical to our country’s original vision to systematically prefer the collective to the individualistic. It is my guess, however, that these realization will never dawn, for all things – self-interest, economic development, common sense, to name but several – eventually fall at the wayside of wealth redistribution.


1 Comment

Filed under CRDaily, Politics

Nothing But Fireworks: A Reflection on the Fourth of July

As things continue to fall apart, Americans should learn to pay less attention to nationalism and focus on the origins of Independence Day

Fifty-six. That’s the number of men who risked everything they had to make a statement to a tyrannical leader. That’s the number of men who knew if their side was defeated, it was they who would be put to death first. That’s the number of men who, despite their personal and political differences, understood the importance of liberty and equality under the law.

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence”.

238 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was signed and adopted by the Second Continental Congress. It announced that after years of abuse and unjust representation by the British Empire, the thirteen American colonies were to be regarded as independent sovereign states under a new nation: the United States of America.

It was not an easy document for the delegates to sign. By signing this, these men had placed a target on their back as they were committing treason against the British Empire. Many of the signers’ property was destroyed as a result of their support. Three delegates from South Carolina were even imprisoned when British forces came marching through the South.

But to these individuals, the rights of men were worth standing up for. The rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” were to be secured by a government whose power was based in the consent of the people, and, if that government abused and persecuted their citizens, Americans had a duty to overthrow the government and start anew.

Thomas Jefferson remarked, “All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. … For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

So, in 2014, I have one question to ask: what happened to that importance of standing up against tyrants? Somewhere over those 238 years, we have forgotten that mentality and have become a people divided, a people more worried about barbecues and parades than freedom when July 4th shows up on our calendars. The vast majority of Americans have failed to remember what our Founders had to go through to become a sovereign nation, and instead have turned Independence Day, which should be a reminder of the bravery of those 56 men, into a once a year circus of American flags and nationalism, sentiments that quickly fade after the festivities are over.

Now, this would not be a big problem if the government we have was respectful and understanding to the rights of Americans that were stated later in the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, this is not the case. At the federal level, we have the NSA mining user data without your permission, the TSA invading your privacy without a warrant and agencies specifically targeting conservatives through their mandated authority. On a smaller scale, local law enforcement officers are forcing people to succumb to Breathalyzer tests or blood sampling with the threat of having their driver license revoked, again without a warrant.

A symbol of the times? (Photo and caption credit to Reddit user Quttlefish)

There is no level of government unable to ignore the appeals of tyranny. They have disregarded our basic rights in the name of safety and legality.

In addition, there is also the problem of lobbying. While I do respect lobbying as some form of free speech, it has allowed corporations to use their influence and power to pass legislation that serves their interests rather than ours because of the way Congress is able to engage in crony capitalism. This, in turn, has created a revolving door between Congress and lobbyists to ensure that money rather than people are represented.

As a result of the combination of these actions, the popularity of the United States government as whole has tanked dramatically. The Real Clear Politics average approval rating for Congress is 13 percent. For President Obama, it is under 42 percent. This, in turn, has resulted in an average of 63 percent of Americans feeling the nation is on the wrong track when considering its future.

So, everyone is on board that our government has become unfit to properly represent the American public, right? Yes and no.

You see, even though we are extremely dissatisfied with our elected officials, we have failed to do anything about it. In the last 50 years, the lowest reelection rate in the House of Representatives was in 1970 and 2010 with 85 percent of incumbents being reelected. The Senate has had better results, with the lowest reelection rate being 55 percent in 1980. Ultimately, there has been a lack of serious change in Washington concerning the opinions and people running our lives. We have failed to address our problems because we keep on electing the same people who trampled on our rights in the first place back into office.

While some may say the solution is to elect the other party, it really does not matter which party we elect if we keep having big government statists nominated. Both sides have had their moments of supporting government growth, and neither option sounds that appetizing. On one side, we can point fingers at George W. Bush for supporting the PATRIOT Act which allowed our phones to be wiretapped in the name of eliminating terrorism. On the other, we can point fingers at President Obama for tolerating the NSA’s excessive use of surveillance technology.

Points like these can tell you one of two things. One, Americans are completely naive and do not know what is going on with their elected officials. This I find hard to believe, as many polls like the ones I have mentioned previously show we are not satisfied with what is going on in DC. (Plus, calling all Americans stupid does not win you a lot of fans.)

The second possibility is that the vast majority of Americans just do not care about the seriousness of the issues we are in. While liberals and conservatives are busy arguing semantics and social policy and an overarching attitude of apathy among Americans, our rights have been deteriorated by a government we do not favor or care about.

Regardless of what the reason is, we are in serious danger of succumbing to tyranny, and it is time we all did something about it.

Protecting our rights and assuring our representation is just not a right or left issue; it’s an American issue. It does not matter who is to blame at this point in time. It is our fault for electing the same people every single election cycle and expecting different results.

As previously mentioned, the Declaration of Independence states the American public has a duty to overthrow an unjust government. While I do not suggest we should invoke violence and start a second American Revolution, I do believe it is time for all of us to be aware and active in changing our nation.

Much like Howard Beale in the 1976 film “Network”, I do not have to tell you how bad things were. You probably knew all of this information already through social media, but nothing is going to change if we do not change first. We, as a nation, must start to show some level of anger towards what our elected officials are doing. To quote Beale, “Things have got to change. But first, you’ve got to get mad! You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’”

Peter Finch as Howard Beale in the 1976 film, “Network”. (Courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment)

Speak to your Congressmen, bang on their doors, write them letters, call them so much that their interns begin to recognize your number every time the Caller ID pops up. Tell them to respect you not only as a human being, but as the person who controls whether or not they continue to have a job. Make them realize that they are not your boss, they are your equal.  Then do the same with your Senator, your local Representative, your Mayor, and anyone who is doing a disservice to you and your fellow constituents. If they don’t change, vote them out of office and pick someone who can accomplish the main goal of protecting our rights.

Which brings me back to celebrating the Fourth of July. We have to drop the once a year ‘Murica nationalism. Forget the fading fireworks, forget the fleeting barbecues, and forget the expensive parades. And for a few moments, drop the minuscule political opinions that are tearing us apart. Remember the origins of Independence Day, stand up with your countrymen and get mad.

Fifty-six men were able to stop a tyrannical government from controlling their lives. It would be a shame if 310 million people allowed one to control theirs.

Leave a comment

Filed under CRDaily, Politics

Happy Independence Day!

4th of July pic

Happy Independence Day! Today, we remember that 238 years ago, a few good men banded together to throw off the yoke of tyranny and proclaim for all time that all men are created equal. That day, they turned the chapter in the history book of humanity into the age of free men and women living in free societies. From that moment, the promissory note that was the Declaration of Independence and Constitution has been the guiding force of the conscience of this great nation. We expanded our territory to encompass most of North America, extending the same promises of freedom, life, and liberty to all people’s within those areas. Next, we fought a great war against our own brothers so that we might make good on the promise of freedom to people of color, who for so long had not been allowed to enjoy the protections of our Constitution. In the 20th century, we twice sacrificed hundreds of thousands of our children in world wars so that the liberty we enjoy might not be extinguished from this earth and so that we might also destroy evil upon it. Today, we must recommit ourselves to the thought that allowed our forefathers to accomplish such great tasks in the name of free men and women. We must understand that America is not just a nation. America is an idea. The idea that the natural rights of man- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness- must be respected by the governments of man. The idea that the government of man must be of, for, and by the people. The idea the people, each and every man and woman, are set loose by the promise of freedom to build themselves into the great individuals that Almighty God intended them to be. The idea that freedom and justice are the entitlements of every single one of us. Yet, even now, when we have defeated so many foreign tyrannies that would seek to destroy these ideas, we are again in danger of losing them forever. The men we have elected to champion the idea of America are not doing so. They are destroying us on the world stage and corrupting the entrepreneurial spirit of the average American at home. As President Reagan so eloquently said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” This July 4th, our nation is headed full speed ahead into that path of oblivion. We can, we must, stop it. So, my fellow Americans, remember the idea of America today. Stand up and fight for this “shining city upon a hill” so that the beacon of freedom may not be extinguished in our time, so that we will not tell our children what it was like to be free, so that we may restore America! Happy Independence Day and God Bless America!


–Carolina Review Editor-in-Chief, Frank Pray

Leave a comment

Filed under CRDaily

Between the Dean Dome and a Hard Place

Rashad McCants’ Comments and Why You Should Not Pick Sides Just Yet

As many members of the UNC-Chapel Hill family have recently learned, you can try to put your past behind you, but that doesn’t mean you will it successfully.

Former UNC-CH men’s basketball player Rashad McCants, a prominent member of the 2004-2005 national championship winning team, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote his term papers and he rarely went to class, filling up his schedule with bogus and easy classes to keep him academically eligible, such as those in the Department of African-American Studies that many UNC-CH football players took. To make matters worse, McCants added that head basketball coach Roy Williams was completely aware of this system. For a UNC-CH athlete to say these things is not only shocking, but harmful to the University’s reputation, especially coming off the heels of the Mary Willingham debacle. And for that athlete to be a basketball player, a member of UNC-CH’s leading contribution to both college and professional athletics, may prove that Carolina does not care about having a strong public image as long as their teams are winning games. If these claims prove true, Coach Williams commitment to this University’s academic integrity and his position as head coach of the basketball team should be questioned. If they prove to be false, Williams should sue McCants for extreme defamation of character and libel.

Raymond Felton (2) and Rashad McCants (32) in 2005. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

That brings into question just how true McCants’ claims are. Shortly after McCants’ comments hit the internet Friday morning, Williams, along with Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, implied the claims were nonsense. “With respect to the comments made today, I strongly disagree with what Rashad (McCants) has said,” Williams mentioned. “In no way did I know about or do anything close to what he says and I think the players whom I have coached over the years will agree with me. I have spent 63 years on this earth trying to do things the right way and the picture he portrays is not fair to the University or me.”

Cunningham added, “The University hired former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein in January to conduct an independent investigation into past academic and athletic irregularities. While these are the first allegations we have heard from Mr. McCants, I encourage him to speak with Mr. Wainstein. We are confident Mr. Wainstein’s inquiry will provide us with a full understanding of these issues.”

UNC-CH players, both former and current, have also come out against McCants’ claims. Current UNC-CH wide receiver Ryan Switzer tweeted this remark:

Sixteen of McCants’ teammates on the 2004-2005 team released a statement to the Associated Press saying, “We want to state that our personal academic experiences are not consistent with Rashad’s claims. We know that Coach Williams did not have any knowledge of any academic impropriety, and further that Coach Williams would not have tried to manipulate a player’s schedule.”

With all of the opposition mounting to McCants’ claims, it seems that the obvious course of action would be to conclude that McCants is lying. However, I’m honestly not buying either side on this.

In regards to the integrity of McCants, his past portrays him as someone in want of revenge. McCants was an extraordinary player for Carolina, leading the ACC in scoring in the 2003-2004 season. That does not, however, make him an extraordinary man. He has a poor relationship with Williams, and is on the record blaming Williams for his lack of performance in the NBA as early as 2011.

On top of that, McCants’ evidence does not add up. In a 2004 story by the Associated Press, the author notes that McCants had little to no free time due to the amount of time he spent practicing and studying.

“It’s to get up and go to school, get here and lift weights and play basketball,” McCants said in an 2004 interview with WRAL-TV in Raleigh which was mentioned in the story . “That’s my 9-to-5. As my uncle said, I’m in jail right now. You’re not allowed to do certain things, you’re not allowed to say certain things.”

Then there are comments from other individuals like former NC State star Julius Hodge calling McCants a “nut job”, and encouraging people not to believe anything McCants claims is fact. With these facts in mind, McCants claims should obviously be held to a very high level of scrutiny. Even if they are partially true, it is likely that they are greatly exaggerated.

Despite reaction against him, McCants has found a strong ally in U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who in April questioned whether the NCAA failed to hold UNC-CH accountable during their school 2012 academic fraud. On Friday, Cárdenas, a Democrat, met with McCants to learn more about the NCAA’s possible issues concerning the relationship between education and athletics.

The integrity of Mr. McCants is something that will have to be explored in further independent investigations into the University’s athletics programs.

However, Mr. McCants’ questionable integrity does not imply that Carolina is innocent in all of this. After years of still trying to overcome the Butch Davis/Holden Thorp episode and trying to avoid Mary Willingham like the plague, it would be naive to start trusting the University’s version of the story just yet. Yes, replacing those who did harm to the University’s reputation was a step in the right direction, but trust is not something you can just replace with ease. It has to be built overtime, and frankly UNC does not deserve anyone’s trust on this issue anytime soon.

In addition, University records note that in the year the men’s basketball team won the national championship, basketball players accounted for 15 enrollments in classes offered by the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

Some might say, that independent studies UNC-CH pushed have already noted all of the school’s wrong doings. The problem with those studies is that they only went back to 2007, so they may have failed to properly analyze all of the University’s problems. Carolina needs to take McCants’ comments into serious consideration and find out to what degree these claims are true.

(Courtesy of Yes, Mr. Thomas is a bit embarrassed that he had to use that website as a source.)

On a somewhat weak closing note, in my October 2013 piece about the lost UNC-NC State rivalry, I mentioned that the rivalry fell apart after NC State’s men’s basketball team was dealt a heavy blow after the NCAA found the program in violation of numerous rules. 1983 championship winning coach Jimmy Valvano resigned, and NC State fell from prominence as Mike Kryzewski and Duke became the new kid on the block to challenge UNC-CH’s standing as a basketball powerhouse.

So, if UNC-CH is dealt a major blow and loses prominence as a program, at the least there will be a chance to rekindle our relationship with NC State by watching two mediocre teams try to see who would play second fiddle to Coach K. That would be fun, right?



Filed under Campus Life

“The World Wars” Review

Though not great, History’s miniseries is a step in the right direction for the network

If you have watched the History Channel as of late, chances are you have noticed a significant lack of programing relating to actual history. With shows like Pawn Stars, Swamp People and Top Gear dominating the channel’s line-up, many have criticized History’s executives as being more focused on gaining viewership rather than creating insightful and informative programming. Granted, History’s sister networks, Military History and H2, have filled in some of the gaps, but these channels are not widely available, leaving some history buffs wanting more.

So, when History announced they were launching a six hour three-part miniseries titled The World Wars, many people, myself included, were actually looking forward to it. They advertised the program as a chance to understand how the leaders of World War II were shaped by their actions during World War I and how those actions led to one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. I felt, if done right, it would be a program that could efficiently tie both events together and explain how these leaders rose to global prominence. What we got, however, was a rushed lesson in world history.

The series mainly focuses on the lives of Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Douglas MacArthur, George S. Patton, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Josef Stalin. Each part consists of dramatic re-enactments and interviews with historians, professors, politicians and even key military figures. I actually thought this was a brilliant approach, as it allowed the viewer to not only feel as they are in the room with these historical figures, but also get some understanding as to why these decisions were made. At times, the actors may seem a bit cheesy, but they all do a pretty good job in portraying their unique historical figure. My personal favorite is Ian Beyts, the actor who plays Winston Churchill. He gets Churchill’s look and persona down perfectly, and he is just giving his all while portraying the British Bulldog. At times, I did feel like I was watching Churchill himself rather than an actor portraying him.

The three part series covers events between 1914 and 1945, and it has the right idea how to tell a story… during the first part. The first section focuses solely on a nine year period between the start of WWI and 1923, and does a decent job detailing the rise of certain leaders in their respected countries. While I do wish each leader was given brief background to their upbringing and childhood, I am pleased that there is not a lot of filler material. It goes into a fair amount of overlooked moments, as such Churchill’s role and downfall in British politics, as well as how Hitler even got involved with the National Socialist Party in the first place.

But after that, the next two parts are completely disappointing. Everything feels rushed and nothing is given a lot of time to be discussed by historians or acted out by the actors in these sections. For example the second part rushed through a fair amount of Hitler’s rise to power, while also not going into much detail about Stalin’s role as leader of the Soviet Union. The last part focuses solely on WWII after Pearl Harbor, and even then a lot of the moments with the actors were dubbed over by analysis, making the viewer seem disconnected with what is being portrayed. To me, this series could have easily been made into an eight-hour four part series in order to make sure each individual was properly analyzed and detailed instead of rushed through to fit an important time frame.

In addition, the analysis, which I did enjoy, definitely could be improved upon. While I did appreciate insight from modern military personnel and political figures like Senator John McCain, I feel that time could have been better used with insight from other scholarly sources.

There is also a major problem regarding the accuracy of the information presented. While there were none that made me wish to immediately turn the channel, there were some that did not help the series out. Although these inaccuracies were not too copious, they were prevalent enough that I would not use The World Wars as a study tool for any final exams.

Regardless of these minor issues that could be easily fixed with better editing, this should be the kind of program that History should run on a normal basis. While I have nothing against shows like Pawn Stars, there is a desire for programs like The World Wars as well. When the series opened, it attracted with an average audience of 3.4 million people. Mark Burnett’s The Bible – another series about stories from, well, The Bible, attracted an audience of 13.1 million when it premiered in April 2013. People do want shows like this, and I’m sure History is capable of producing more programs like this. Seriously, how many other nonsense shows are there on television or online that can fill our time if History got rid of some of their shows and replaced it with historical programing?

In conclusion,  The World Wars  is, at the least, worth watching once. The analysis is good, and the acting is decent. However, don’t feel too disappointed when you watch Part Two and it isn’t as detailed or as informative as Part One was. If you’re interested in watching something that will jog your memory on all the stuff from high school you forgot about, it’s definitely worth that one viewing. Even though I am a bit disappointed with the overall product, I’m glad I saw it and look forward to History’s attempt to actually portray history, which will probably be shown between two mini-marathons of Swamp People.

Leave a comment

Filed under CRDaily

In Defense of Phil Robertson

How one interview enforced a lack of tolerance in modern society

By now, you have all heard about the events surrounding TV star Phil Robertson. Whether you are a fan of Duck Dynasty or not, everyone seems to be talking about the indefinite hiatus placed on Robertson, one of the show’s stars. The suspension, led by the channel that host Duck Dynasty, A&E, came as a result of an interview Robertson had with GQ magazine. When asked on what he considered sinful behaviors against core Christian values, Robertson said, “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” Robertson then added, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

However, nothing that can be deemed truly hateful or cruel was said by “the Duck Commander” about gays. He didn’t say that he hated those who were different than him, and never wished any harm on those who participate in the gay lifestyle. He just believes that homosexuality, among other sinful acts, are wrong and will punished in the afterlife. I can understand Robertson’s viewpoint as his own personal religious position. Once again, it is a harmless viewpoint based on his own religious views.

But alas, the world does not work in a way of easily understanding differences. After that quote was released, the reaction by certain individuals can simply be summarized as absolute hysteria. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, released a statement saying that, “Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” Even Piers Morgan, whose show has surprisingly not been cut from CNN’s lineup due to its poor ratings, called Robertson “a victim of his own repulsively racist, homophobic bigotry.” After all of the outcry, A&E cut Robertson, and covered themselves by saying, “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.” Robertson, however, stood his ground, saying he “would never treat anyone with disrespect” because of their differences, and that he would continue to teach his principles. Now, there is a threat of the family ending the show and cutting ties with A&E if the patriarch is completely abandoned from the show, and even a Facebook page (completely unaffiliated with  the Robertson family’s personal efforts) that calls for the boycott of A&E until Robertson’s reinstatement.

First of all, was anyone really that surprised about Robertson’s comments? If you know even the tiniest amount of information about the Robertson family or the show, you know that the family has centered themselves around Christian and traditional family values. All of their episodes are based on the family interacting with each other, and at the end of every episode they end with a prayer. In fact, some episodes even take place at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, where the eldest of the four Robertson sons, Alan, preached for over twenty years. Anyone who is shocked by what was said by Phil Robertson obviously does not understand the background of the family well enough or at all.

But, onto the discussion. The comments Robertson made were not as evil as they are being portrayed by people like Morgan. They reflect a belief that a lot of Christians have. They disagree and frown upon certain things, but they do not wish harm to these individuals. This attitude of disagreeing yet peacefully living with other differences is something that is also not limited for those who practice Christianity, and is rather a character trait most individuals have. We all have certain attitudes that we do not morally agree with. However, we treat each other like human beings and respect those who have a different moral understanding than us. If people like Morgan had any bit of humanity in them, then they would learn to just disagree with Robertson and accept the spectrum of religious beliefs this nation fosters.

On a side note, if most journalists actually knew how to do their jobs, there would have been a large outcry against Russian Actor Ivan Okhlobystin. Last week, Okhlobystin, a former Orthodox priest, said to a crowd in the town of Novosibirsk, “I would put all the gays alive into an oven.” That is true bigotry and hate. However, it is Robertson who is getting dragged through the mud, while very few people have even heard of Okhlobystin’s comments.

With this action, A&E has changed the game on what can and cannot be said in public. If a comment does not fit into a certain criteria, then, based on the precedent that is now set, they should not be allowed in the first place. This can have a dangerous effect on future cases, as entertainment stars (and people in general) will be less willing to share their honest views with the public, as it may result in getting axed.

Because of this possible precedent, A&E should be embarrassed with the choices they made. Yet, as a private company, A&E has the right to shut Robertson down. Whether we agree with it or not, if an employee does not properly represent the values of his business partner, the partner has a right to cut ties. A&E made a move that best suits their interest and values as a corporation.

This does bring up the question of if A&E knew the Robertson family had traditional Christian values (and possibly currently pressuring them to hide their beliefs while on television), why on Earth did they partner with the family in the first place? This may show A&E’s lack of standing strong on what they believe in, a lack of knowledge of their clients in the first place, or the fear A&E has about losing viewers and sponsorship. Whatever the case may be, A&E would’ve felt backlash with either decision, failing to please everyone.

While I and many others disagree with the choice, A&E’s choice is indeed private and business related, and it must be respected as such. That does not mean fans should not fight against it, but it does mean if we do not like the choice that was made, we support a separate network or the Robertsons directly. That’s the beauty of the capitalistic world we live in. Either A&E will change their decision, or a new product will rise to replace them. Who knows? Maybe the Robertsons will move their talents to a totally different network that better represents their views.

A&E was placed into a tough situation that they have an undeniable right to make a decision upon. However, their response to the situation was poor and possibly damaging to the future of entertainment. People like Robertson, who share their morality with the public but do not wish harm on those who have conflicting morals, should not be forced out of the public eye. As a society, we need to learn that we live in a time where a spectrum of ideas can flourish. If two people have opposing ideas, that is absolutely acceptable. Let us have a discussion with those we oppose rather than cast them away. If the least we can do is respect others’ differences, then the world will truly be a “happy happy happy”-er place.

Also, if only people acted with as much anger towards important issues (like the overarching spying by the government) as they do about Robertson, then maybe most of the world’s  problems would have been solved by now.

1 Comment

Filed under CRDaily