Category Archives: national news

Yes, Mme. Leader, it was a 'wave'

Nancy Pelosi needs a reality check.

The House of Representatives Democratic leader says the Republican sweep in the midterm election didn’t constitute a “wave.” She said voters weren’t endorsing GOP policies and its agenda.

“There was no wave of approval for the Republicans. I wish them congratulations, they won the election, but there was no wave of approval for anybody. There was an ebbing, an ebb tide, for us,” she said.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/nancy-pelosi-112799.html?hp=b3_r2

As much as I hate to disagree with the minority leader, she’s wrong, mistaken, misguided, or just plain ignorant. OK, I doubt the “ignorant” part.

What happened Nov. 4 was a wave.

The GOP needed to flip six seats to gain control of the Senate; it got eight and is poised to win a ninth seat if the Louisiana runoff in December ends up in Republicans’ favor. Republicans also won 12 additional House seats, cementing their control of the lower chamber. The GOP also gained governorships across the nation.

That’s a wave, Mme. Leader.

All is not lost for Democrats. They have a decent chance in 2016 of getting the Senate back — but only if a couple of things happen.

First, the turnout has to improve dramatically from the dismal midterm turnout, which figured to work in Republicans’ favor. We’ll be electing a new president in two years and the turnout for these elections always dwarfs the previous election. That means more of the Democratic base — namely minorities and lower-income Americans — will be motivated to vote.

What’s more, a large number of Republican Senate seats will be on the line, giving Democrats a legitimate chance of picking off a few incumbents, or capturing seats that Republican incumbents will surrender through retirement.

Second, the Republican majority in both congressional chambers stands a fair chance of bungling this opportunity to actually govern. If they shut down the government later this month, or if they actually launch impeachment proceedings against the president over his use of executive authority, well, the blowback could be fearsome.

However, that does not diminish the importance of what happened just a few days ago.

Democrats got swept out of power in a political wave.

 

Keep 'em out in the open

Larry Pratt runs an organization called Gun Owners of America.

His policy on guns makes the National Rifle Association seem almost mainstream and reasonable.

Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog organization, now wonders why the media keep giving this guy air time and space in mainstream newspapers to spew what it calls “extremist views.”

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/11/14/heres-how-gun-extremist-larry-pratt-gets-on-tv/201556

I think I can answer that one. It’s called freedom of speech.

Let me stipulate that I oppose Pratt’s views with every fiber of my being. Media Matters takes its opposition a step further, accusing him of making anti-Semitic statements and espousing “insurrection” against the government.

Well, we have laws against “insurrection” talk. They call such rhetoric “sedition,” and it’s dangerous, indeed, to hear such language coming from supposedly responsible American citizens.

I generally tune this guy out. He’s one of those Second Amendment purists who believes any effort to regulate firearms is tantamount to tearing up the U.S. Constitution and throwing it in the trash. It is utter hogwash to believe such a thing.

I met Pratt once, in Beaumont, where he came to talk to my editor and me about gun-owner rights. My editor, who’s since retired, happens to be a gun enthusiast himself and is — or at least was — an NRA member. We differed from time to time on gun policy issues, but since I worked for him, I relented in my view about these matters.

My strong belief in freedom of speech in the First Amendment, though, requires that we give this individual the opportunity to speak his mind.

Besides, a friend once offered this piece of wisdom regarding those with ideas that some may consider to be those of crackpots: It’s better to keep them out in the open — in plain sight — than to let them scurry around in the darkness.

Let the bozos speak.

 

Columnist gets it right on immigration battle

Ruben Navarrette is far from being a flaming leftist Barack Obama sympathizer.

He’s a mainstream conservative journalist and commentator who in an essay posted on CNN.com has posited the notion that any talk of impeaching the president over an expected executive order would be a foolish overreach.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/16/opinion/navarrette-immigration-not-impeachable-offense/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

He is so correct. I wish I could shake his hand right now.

At issue is an expected order the president will issue that could do a number of things to improve the immigration system. He’s sought to do it legislatively, but his congressional foes won’t let it happen. They’ve bottled immigration reform up. Obama has warned them repeatedly that he’d take action and now he appears ready to do it.

I’ve noted already that I don’t want him to act just yet.

When he does, though, it’s likely to ignite a fiery response from the tea party wing of the Republicans who control the House and are about to take control in January of the Senate.

An executive order reportedly is going to do a number of things. It would boost border security. It would delay deportation of about 5 million illegal immigrants. It’s the deportation delay that has Republicans’ underwear all knotted up.

Navarrette’s main point is that none of this constitutes an “impeachable offense.”

The president would be acting solely within his authority granted by the U.S. Constitution, according to Navarrette.

The essayist notes: “Republicans have no trouble deflecting criticism by reminding Latino voters that Obama is in charge of deportations. So, instead of threatening the suicidal tantrums of a government shutdown or impeachment, conservatives should pipe down and let him be in charge of deportations. That doesn’t just mean deciding who goes but also who stays.”

Let’s can the impeachment rhetoric and get down to the business of governing, shall we?

 

Don't shut down the government

Mitt Romney is quite capable of making sense.

Take his view on a threat to shut down the federal government to get back at President Obama for enacting an executive order to help fix a broken U.S. immigration system.

The crux of Romney’s view on that idea? Don’t do it, Republicans.

Will someone on Capitol Hill listen to the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/224320-romney-more-productive-ways-to-fight-obama-than-shutdown

The tea party crackpots are threatening to shut ‘er down by withholding money to fund the government past its Dec. 11 deadline. They’re going to get angry if — and likely when — the president signs an executive order that delays deportation of about 5 million illegal immigrants.

I agree with them that the president need not pick this fight. But he’s likely to do it.

The Republicans’ response really shouldn’t include shutting down the government. In case they have forgotten, a lot of Americans rely on the federal government. Many thousands of them draw their paychecks from the government, for example.

Romney was asked on “Face the Nation” this morning about a possible shutdown. “Well, I think there’s got to be more productive ways for us to be able to impress on the president the need to work for a permanent solution, as opposed to a temporary stop-gap solution,” Romney replied.

Shutting down the government punishes people who have been turned into political pawns.

Is that what Republicans really and truly want to do?

Listen to Mitt, OK?

Take heed, Mr. Majority Leader

Mitch McConnell has wanted to become majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

I feel the need to remind the Kentucky Republican to be “careful what you wish for.”

He’s about to have his hands full. Not so much from Democrats, who are licking their wounds and trying to regroup from the pounding they took at the polls Nov. 4. No, McConnell’s worries well might come from within his own Republican caucus.

I’ll sum it up in two words: Ted Cruz.

Cruz is the freshman Republican from Texas who has delusions of grandeur, specifically the White House. He wants to be president someday. Maybe he’ll make a run for it in 2016. He might wait until 2020 and then go full force if a Democrat wins the ’16 contest.

But here’s ol’ Mitch, vowing to take President Obama up on a request to sip some Kentucky bourbon with the new majority leader. I believe deep down that McConnell really wants to “work with” the president. But he’s got that goofy caucus within his GOP caucus that won’t hear of it.

This is the tea party wing, led by Cruz.

It still amazes me that this freshman loudmouth has gotten so much attention in so little time.

Cruz wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with … um, well we don’t know. He said something the other day about “net neutrality” is like “Obamacare for the Internet,” whatever the bleep that means. He seems to oppose immigration reform, which is odd given that he’s an immigrant from Canada.

Here’s the thing with Cruz. He isn’t alone in thinking this way. He’s just managed to become the mouthpiece for many of the hard-righties within the Senate who think as he does.

McConnell is more of an “establishment” guy. He’s actually got friends within the Obama administration, one of them being, for example, Vice President Biden, with whom he served in the Senate until Biden was elected VP in 2008.

So, the question can be asked of Majority Leader-to-be McConnell: Is the job you coveted really worth having if you’re going to have to fend off the challenges from your own extremist wing?

Good luck, Mr. Majority Leader.

 

 

 

Reagan and Bush did it; why not Obama?

Republicans in Congress are getting loaded for bear if that Democratic rascal in the White House follows through with a threat to execute an order that delays deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants.

What they’ll do precisely in response to a now-expected executive order remains unclear.

Maybe they should follow the congressional led set when two earlier presidents did precisely the same thing, using exactly the same constitutional device.

That would be: nothing.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/15/reagan-bush-immigration-deportation_n_6164068.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

At issue is whether President Obama will use his executive authority to delay those deportations and, by the way, strengthen security along our southern border. Congress wants him to wait. So do I, for that matter. Congressional Republicans are threatening to hamstring confirmation hearings on the president’s pick to be attorney general, Loretta Lynch. Heck, they might even sue the president.

The most troublesome — and ridiculous — notion being field tested in the court of public opinion is impeachment.

Let’s look briefly at history.

Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did the same thing. One heard nary a peep out of Congress, let alone the Democrats who controlled the place at the time.

Congress enacted an immigration law in 1986, but in the following year, President Reagan gave immigration officials the power to cover the children of illegal immigrants who were granted amnesty under the law. As the Huffington Post reported: “Spouses and children of couples in which one parent qualified for amnesty but the other did not remained subject to deportation, leading to efforts to amend the 1986 law.”

Along came President Bush in 1989. The Huffington Post reports: “In a parallel to today, the Senate acted in 1989 to broaden legal status to families but the House never took up the bill. Through the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), Bush advanced a new ‘family fairness’ policy that put in place the Senate measure. Congress passed the policy into law by the end of the year as part of broader immigration legislation. ‘It’s a striking parallel,’ said Mark Noferi of the pro-immigration American Immigration Council. ‘Bush Sr. went big at the time. He protected about 40 percent of the unauthorized population. Back then that was up to 1.5 million. Today that would be about 5 million.'”

What gives with the current crop of yahoos calling the shots on Capitol Hill?

Oh, I forgot. The tea party/nimrod wing of the GOP vows to shake things up and no longer do things the way they’ve been done in the past.

That must include allowing the president of the United States to actually lead.

 

Impeachment for show only?

A thought occurs to me now that impeachment of the president has returned to the arena.

Just suppose the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is actually is so blindly stupid that it actually impeaches President Obama for exercising his constitutional right of executive authority and tinkers with immigration reform.

Now, let us now suppose that the Republican-run U.S. Senate gets articles of impeachment and puts the president on bleeping trial for it.

The next Senate is going to have a maximum of 54 GOP members, depending on the outcome of the runoff race in Louisiana set for December. It takes 67 votes to convict a president of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and remove him from office.

Does anyone in their right mind think Republicans are going to persuade 13 Democratic senators to engage in this ridiculous charade?

The thought then boils down to this: The impeachment talk, should it ever come to pass, is meant to put an asterisk next to Barack Obama’s name. The members of Congress who detest him and the policies that got him elected twice to the presidency simply want the word “impeached” next to his name. They want his obituary, when it is finally written, to contain the “I-word.” They want his presidency scarred for life with the notion that the House of Representatives trumped up a phony “crime” upon which to impeach the 44th president of the United States.

Well, the last time the GOP tried that — in 1998 against Bill Clinton — it fell flat on its face. President Clinton walked out of the White House in January 2001 with his standing intact and he has emerged as arguably the nation’s premier political leader.

That won’t matter to the current crop of congressional “leaders” who are insisting that Barack Obama keep his mitts off any executive orders regarding immigration.

House Speaker John Boehner declared not long ago that impeachment won’t happen while he’s the Man of the House. Yet his GOP caucus has been strengthened and made even more strident in the wake of the 2014 mid-term election.

We’ll get to see how much clout he can wield if the nimrod wing of his party starts getting a bit too feisty.

 

 

Keystone Pipeline causes heartburn

The pipeline that most members of Congress seem to support is causing me some grief.

It’s the Keystone project. It will carry petroleum from Alberta, through the middle of the United States, to Texas Gulf Coast ports. Then it will be shipped abroad, where refineries will process it into all sorts of products.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/house-passes-keystone-xl-bill-112903.html?hp=b1_c3

The House of Representatives has approved legislation supporting it. The Senate is going to vote next week.

Should they agree with their House colleagues?

Sure. Why not?

President Obama isn’t sold on the project. He’s signaling he might veto the Keystone Pipeline bill if and when it lands on his desk. How come? Well, he doubts it will be a big job producer and notes that Canada is going to export the oil “everywhere else.” Thus, he believes it won’t have an impact on gasoline prices.

I’ll disagree with that last statement.

The fuel is going to pour into the worldwide supply that continues to outstrip worldwide demand. Therefore, the price of oil — and gasoline — continues to decline.

The federal government already has issued reports that suggest the pipeline would have minimal environmental impact.

I guess I just can’t get too worked up over this project one way or the other.

However, if I had a vote on it, I’d probably vote to build it, help our northern friends, pump more oil into the world market and hope it continues to keep downward pressure on the price of gasoline at the pump.

 

'W' stays on the post-presidency high road

It well might have just tortured Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity to hear his talk-show guest refuse to criticize President Obama.

Then again, perhaps Hannity knew the response he would get from former President George W. Bush.

Whatever the case, President Bush has chosen to remain on the high road nearly six years after leaving the White House.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/george-w-bush-why-refuse-135613369.html

Bush said he doesn’t “think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter.”

Then he added: “Secondly, I really have had all the fame I want. I really don’t long for publicity. And the truth the matter is in order for me to generate publicity … I’d have to either attack the Republican Party, which I don’t want to do, or attack the president, which I don’t want to do. And so I’m perfectly content to be out of the limelight.”

What a concept. A former president following the lead set by his father, another former leader of the Free World, in refusing to mix it up with those who come along after them.

Take heed, former Vice President Cheney. He’s been popping off repeatedly ever since he moved out of the VP’s mansion.

Indeed, this unofficial vow of silence that former presidents take has more or less been followed since the founding of the Republic. I say “more or less,” because President Bush’s immediate predecessor, President Clinton, has been pretty vocal in criticizing Republican critics of Barack Obama, although I cannot recall Clinton torpedoing George W. Bush’s foreign-policy decisions during W’s presidency.

Let’s not ignore President Carter, who on occasion has shot darts at all the men who assumed office after he left the White House in 1981. He does pick his shots, though.

But in my memory of former presidents, which dates back to Dwight Eisenhower, it’s been the custom for former presidents — and vice presidents, for that matter — to stay quiet and let their successors suffer the barbs that others toss at them.

It’s an appropriate thing for these former leaders to do. They belong to an exclusive club. Only they know all the ins and outs of the world’s toughest job.

As we all understand, we can have only one president at a time. For a former president to take a seat in the peanut gallery and “undermine a current president” is very bad form, indeed.

Well said, President Bush.

 

$1 billion settlement just isn't fair

There’s just no pleasing some people, I reckon.

Consider the case of Sue Ann Hamm, former wife of Harold Hamm.

Ms. Hamm got a billion-dollar settlement from an Oklahoma court in her divorce action against her ex-husband. A billion bucks!

Was it enough? Nope. She’s going to appeal the settlement.

http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/14/luxury/harold-hamm-divorce/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

“Sue Ann is disappointed in the outcome of this case,” said her lawyer Ron Barber. “She dedicated 25 years as Harold’s faithful partner in family and business.”

Harold Hamm reportedly is worth around 20 bil, so I reckon his ex-wife wants a bigger piece of that action.

OK, I’m not a party to this divorce action. I’m just sitting out here in the peanut gallery, albeit not too terribly far from the Oklahoma state line. Still, I get that there’s a lot I don’t understand about this case.

I’ll acknowledge one thing that escapes my understanding: Why isn’t $1 billion enough?

Sue Ann can take the dough, stash some of it away for the kids, invest most of it in some secure stocks and other things, keep a healthy sum of it — say, $50 million or so — for herself and still live very nicely.

According to CNN.com, Harold Hamm is a big hitter: “Harold Hamm is somewhat of a legend in the oil businesses. He built the company from the ground up, pioneered the use of fracking and led the development of North Dakota’s Bakken oil field.”

Well, absent a pre-nuptial agreement, the former couple is left to settle this matter as amicably as they can.

From my perch far, far away, a billion dollars looks pretty darn amicable.