Category Archives: political news

Benghazi hearings could end quickly

The chairman of a congressional committee looking into the Benghazi tragedy of Sept. 11. 2012 says the probe will conclude sometime in 2015.

Good deal.

For my money, though, the deal could be done by the end of 2014. Heck, it could be finished in the next two weeks..

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is chairing a select committee’s examination — yep, we’re getting another one — into the Benghazi fire fight and terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city. The attack killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The target of this probe clearly is then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s been accused of trying to cover up what happened that terrible day. Of course, there’s been no independent corroboration of any deliberate cover-up of the event. That hasn’t dissuaded House Republicans from continuing to look high and low for answers to questions arising from the fire fight.

This ground has been plowed and re-plowed time and again. However, by golly, the House select panel is going to keep looking for something to hang on Clinton, a probable candidate for president in 2016.

Americans need to hold Chairman Gowdy to his prediction that his panel will finish its work sometime in the coming year.

I’ll say this for Trey Gowdy: He’s laid down a serious marker that won’t get lost amid all the political chaos that’s about to swarm all across Capitol Hill.


Abbott's not afraid of Davis … is he?

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has just tossed some seriously cold water on the effort to educate voters on the two major-party candidates running for governor.

He’d had agreed to take part Sept. 30 in the only statewide televised debate with Wendy Davis. Then he got a new debate coordinator, Bob Black, who promptly said “no can do.” Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, has backed out of his debate with the Democratic nominee, Davis, citing some “format” concerns.

This, folks, is a serious bummer.

Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said this:

“It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott is pulling out of a long planned debate the day after he was defeated in court for protecting billions in public education cuts that have led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and shuttered schools. Greg Abbott is clearly too afraid to defend his record of siding with insiders at the expense of Texans — whether it’s defending funding cuts for classrooms, siding with a corporation against a victim of rape or letting his donors take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for cancer research. This is nothing short of an insult to the voters of Texas.”

I’ll leave that kind of mind-reading to the partisans, as I have no personal knowledge of why Abbott dropped out of the debate.

It is, however, a major disappointment if his refusal to debate Davis sticks. I believe there’s still plenty of time to work out through the format problems that seems to have bugged Black, who joined the Abbott campaign earlier this month.

The format calls for a roundtable discussion between Abbott and Davis. It usually doesn’t require time limits. As the Texas Tribune reported: “The looser format is designed to create a conversation and give voters a more candid look at candidates and their positions.”

I’ve known Abbott for a number of years and I’ve found him to personable and engaging. Do I agree with him politically? Umm, no. But that’s not the point. He would seem comfortable in a roundtable format.

WFAA-TV of Dallas, which had planned to broadcast the debate statewide, should start working on a way to (a) persuade Abbott to take part or (b) find a Plan B that suits both candidates.

Texans would do well to hear from these two candidates. If we’re only going to get one statewide debate, then something has to be worked out — immediately.


Tan suit chatter turns puzzling

This is a head-scratcher.

Social media kinda/sorta went off the rails today when President Barack Obama showed up in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room wearing — get ready for it — a tan suit.

I only can conclude that some folks out there in Cyberland have too much time on their hands.

Heck, I suppose you can the same thing about me, as I’m commenting briefly on this matter.

This is just a matter of personal taste, I suppose, but I thought he looked pretty good today in tan. Should he have worn a dark blue suit, or perhaps a black one, given that he was talking about serious matters of state? I don’t know. Nor do I really care.

I was struck a little by the Twitter chatter over the tan suit by my recollection of how President Gerald Ford dressed as he was toiling in the White House back in the 1970s. If you’re old enough, you might remember seeing President Ford attired in a plaid suit.

Then again, that was long before age of social media. Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. I don’t recall fashionistas commenting then about the president’s wardrobe. I guess the president had other things on his mind — and we had other things on our minds to be concerned about such trivial stuff.

Oh, but I forgot. Some folks actually poked at Barack Obama because he didn’t wear a tie while commenting on the hideous murder of an American at the hands of terrorists in Syria.

Let’s all give it a rest. Tan is a perfectly proper suit to wear. Stick to issues that matter.

Thus, this will be the only time I will comment on Barack Obama’s choice of suit color.


Time for a strategy, Mr. President

President Obama made a startling acknowledgment today while talking about a range of issues.

He said the United States does not yet have a strategy to deal with ISIL.

Well, there you have it. It’s time to craft a strategy, Mr. President, to combat an organization that does present a serious threat that extends far beyond the region it is seeking to control.

ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is a seriously evil organization capable of doing anything — and I mean anything — to make whatever point it seeks to make.

They’ve beheaded an American journalist, threatened to strike the United States, and vowed to wage all-out war on non-Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians.

I’m of the view that the president needs to develop a comprehensive strategy immediately and to implement whatever it takes to take ISIL out.

Are we going back into Iraq with ground troops? Obama says no. I hope he means what he says. Count me as one American who’s become war-weary in the extreme. Are we going to send troops into Syria? By all means no. What we have in Syria is a battle between forces that are anathema to our national and international interests. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is hardly better than the ISIL forces seeking to topple him.

ISIL needs to be the target, Mr. President.

I appreciated today hearing you acknowledge the lack of a strategy. Now, though, is time to assemble that national security team to develop one. Now.


McConnell campaign goes national

It’s interesting to me how some ostensibly local races gain national attention.

One of them involves Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who’s in a tough for fight for re-election against Democratic nominee Allison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell’s future is the subject if a large New York Times Magazine article by Jonathon Miller.

Grimes isn’t going to accept any political advice from yours truly, but I’ll offer it anyway.

If she wants to hang something around McConnell’s neck, she ought to dig up the video of McConnell saying that his No. 1 goal, his top priority back in 2009 was to make Barack Obama a “one-term president.” He’d block everything the president proposes. He would fight him every step of the way. He would obstruct and derail every initiative coming from the White House.

That’s what McConnell said. He said it with emphasis. By golly, I believe he meant it. It was a promise he made to the nation, not to mention to the people of Kentucky.

How did the Senate’s minority leader deliver on his promise to the nation? Not very well. President Obama was re-elected in 2012 with 65 million votes, 51.7 percent of the total, 332 electoral votes.

So, Sen. McConnell’s top priority will have gone unmet.

Grimes ought to make that a signature issue of her campaign, along with whatever positive alternatives she proposes if she wins the Senate seat.

I think it’s a winner.


Hillary vs. Mitt in 2016 … seriously?

This just in: A new Iowa poll says Mitt Romney is miles ahead in a poll of 2016 Republican caucus participants.

Run, Mitt, run.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee has dropped a hint or two that might be thinking about a third run for the presidency in 2016. He lost the GOP nomination to John McCain in 2008, then got thumped — surprisingly, in the eyes of many — two years ago when President Obama thumped with a decisive Electoral College victory.

“Circumstances could change,” Mitt said recently when asked about a possible run once again for the White House.

What might those circumstances be? Only he and, I presume, his wife Ann, know the answer. OK, throw in his five sons; they’ll know when something is up.

Frankly, I’d like to see Mitt go again. I am curious to see if the Olympic organizer/business mogul/former Massachusetts governor has learned from the mistakes that might have cost him the White House in 2012. Will he steer clear of “47 percent” comments? Will he refrain from saying that “corporations are people, too, my friend”? Will he forgo making $10,000 wager offers on a debate stage with other Republican rivals?

He might also be a bit more specific than he’s been about how he’d handle these international crises differently than the man who beat him in 2012.

For my money, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the candidate to beat in 2016, even though she’s looking less inevitable than she was looking about six months ago.

Mitt, though, could give her a tussle.

You go, Mitt.

An emphatic 'no!' on paying ransom

Why in the world are we even debating this issue of paying ransom for hostages held by terror groups?

Yet we are at some level.

The policy long has been that the U.S. government doesn’t pay ransom. It instead by seeking to egotiate with the terrorists to persuade them it is in their best interest to let their captives go. If that tactic fails, then the government responds with military force or it seeks to rescue the captives.

The issue has come to light with the tragic murder by ISIS terrorists of journalist James Foley and the release by another terror group of Peter Theo Curtis. We learned shortly after Foley’s gruesome death that U.S. forces failed in a rescue attempt.

I don’t have a particular problem with allowing the families and friends of these captives seeking to pony up money to secure their release, even though such action usually does interfere with official negotiations under way to accomplish the same thing.

The very idea, though, of the government paying ransom is repugnant on its face. It sets a monetary value on someone’s life that in effect cheapens it.

Terror organizations must not be legitimized by, in effect, rewarding them for the terrible acts they commit. They need to be hunted down and arrested — or killed.


Yes, guns do kill people

A 9-year-old Arizona girl has become the poster child for gun-safety reform.

This isn’t a pretty story and it speaks to adult stupidity and carelessness as much as it does to anything else.

The girl was firing an Uzi automatic assault rifle on a firing range when it the instructor told her to pull the trigger  to fire a several-round burst. The recoil of the Uzi pulled the weapon upward and the instructor was shot in the head. He later died.

And so here we are debating whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is so damn sacred that it prevents government from enacting laws that keep these weapons out of the hands of little children.

What on God’s planet Earth have we come to?

The debate is going rage on. Should we make such laws? Absolutely, we should.

Mel Robbins, a firearms expert, writes for about the tragedy. She notes that the incident isn’t really the little girl’s fault. The instructor was standing in the wrong place. What’s more, the instructor told the girl to put the weapon in fully automatic mode.

What happened to the man is tragic beyond measure.

But what in the world are we doing allowing little children to handle these kinds of deadly weapons in the first place, even in what’s supposed to be a “controlled environment”?

As Robbins notes in her essay: “Kids can’t drive until they’re 16, vote, chew tobacco or smoke until they’re 18, or drink until they’re 21. No child should have access to firing a fully automatic weapon until the age of 18. And gun ranges should know better than to hand one to a novice shooter passing through on vacation, let alone one as young as 9.”

The National Rifle Association so far has been quiet on this incident. Don’t expect the nation’s premier gun-owner rights group to remain silent. The NRA brass can be expected to come up with some kind of rationale for preventing the enactment of laws that keep guns out of little children’s hands.

In the process, the NRA very well could demonstrate — yet again — how out of touch with American public opinion it has become.



They're moving the Texas political 'center' line


I concur totally with Paul Burka’s assessment of the Texas political landscape.

There ain’t any Texas Republican politicians who can be described as “left of center” by any stretch of the imagination.

Burka’s comment comes on the heels of a Forbes magazine piece that describes Texas House Speaker Joe Straus as a lefty.

As Burka writes: “This commentary has all the earmarks of a Michael Quinn Sullivan put-up job.”

And who is Michael Quinn Sullivan? He’s an ultra-right wing political strategist who’s earned the scorn of many mainstream politicians, namely Republicans. One of them is state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who barely defeated a Sullivan-backed stalking horse — ex-Midland Mayor Mike Canon — in this spring’s GOP primary for Seliger’s Senate seat.

Suffice to say that Seliger cannot stand Sullivan.

Back to the article in question and the description of Straus as a “left-of-center speaker.”

It ain’t so.

I’m inclined to go along with one of the comments attached at the bottom of Burka’s blog post for Texas Monthly. “I guess it all depends on how you define ‘center,'” the comment starts out.

Indeed, the Texas GOP has been moving the center line farther to the right with each election cycle. I’m not at all sure where the center really is these days. It’s not the center that I used to define it, which is that a Republican could be a strict conservative on social issues but more moderate on fiscal matters … or vice versa.

These days, the “perfect Texas Republican” appears to be a fiery conservative on every single issue under the sun.

As Burka notes: “Straus actually wants to move the state forward economically by building roads and badly needed water projects.”

If that makes Straus a flaming lefty, well, you go for it, Mr. Speaker.




Ready, set, bombs away!

Back and forth we go.

Congressional Republicans are so angry at President Obama that they want to sue him for taking on too much executive authority to get things done. Now comes a report that the White House is considering air strikes against targets in Syria.

The response from Congress, from Democrats and Republicans? Ask us for authorization, Mr. President, before you unleash our air power.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the president should seek congressional approval. So has Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Others on both sides of the aisle say the same thing.

They’re likely correct to request congressional approval. Recall that Obama earlier decided to seek congressional authorization after he threatened to hit the Syrian government over its use of chemical weapons on its people. Then the Russians intervened and brokered a deal to get the Syrians to surrender the WMD; they did and the weapons have been destroyed.

Congressional approval is likely the prudent course, given that the president has so few allies on Capitol Hill upon whom he can depend.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether senators like Corker and Kaine are going to stand with the commander in chief when the vote comes. If they’re going to demand congressional approval, then I hope they don’t double-cross Barack Obama with a “no” vote.

Obama reportedly wants to hit ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. He’s already authorized the use of surveillance aircraft to look for targets. I continue to hold out concern about where all this might lead.

I’ll say this next part slowly: I do not want my country to go to war … again. I’ve had enough. I do not want ground troops sent back to Iraq, where we’ve bled too heavily already.

But if we can lend our considerable and deadly air power to the struggle to rid the world of ISIS, then let’s get the job done.