Category Archives: political news

Palin gets a pass for this goof

Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did it again: She got a fact wrong while speaking at the Values Summit.

I’d make a bigger deal out of it, but I won’t for a reason I’ll explain in a moment.

She referred to the “truth” being missing “at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave.” She was referring, of course, to the White House, which actually is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Sarah Barracuda does this on occasion. I’ve spent too much emotional energy getting worked up over these gaffes and goober-like goofs.

I won’t go there this time. Why?

Well, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, once referred to the “57 states” of the Union.

Nobody’s perfect.

Pick an AG successor quickly, Mr. President

Here’s a tidbit that will surprise no one.

Senate Republicans are insisting that President Obama delay nominating a successor to Attorney General Eric Holder until after the new Congress takes office in January.

Imagine that.

You see, Republicans smell victory in the mid-term elections. They believe they’ll comprise a Senate majority when the new Congress convenes. That makes it theoretically more problematic for the president to get a nominee confirmed. That’s how it goes these days: Democrats and Republicans look to stick it to each other, no matter what.

It also forces the president to select someone who is, um, less controversial. With Republicans holding the Senate majority, Obama will have to find a safer choice for AG than he otherwise might select.

We’ll see probably in fairly short order what the president is thinking about when to make a nomination announcement. Does he follow the advice of Republicans or does he move quickly while Democrats still run the Senate, which has to confirm whoever is nominated to be attorney general?

If this mid-term election is going to be decided in a Battle of the Political Bases — Progressives vs. Conservatives — then my guess is that the president will move sooner rather than later.

So … why not go for someone who will be as courageous and out-front on issues — such as voting rights — as Eric Holder has been?

Tax cuts pushed off GOP table

Tax cuts used to be the mantra of the Republican Party.

No more, or so it seems. Cutting taxes now appears to be the bane of the Grand Old Party. Why? Some states that have cut taxes too much now face the dreaded “d” word, budget deficits that are blowing apart any effort to do something constructive for constituents.

Meanwhile, at the federal level we’re seeing the deficit shrinking as the federal government has reduced spending while holding the line — for now — on tax revenue.

“We have to stop being one-trick ponies,” said California Rep. John Campbell, a member of the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee and the No. 4 Republican on the House Budget Committee.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who once served in the U.S. Senate, might be in serious trouble this election year because he’s pushed too hard for tax cuts that have cost the state too much revenue to pay for certain things — such as, oh, road maintenance and public education.

As Politico reports, the tax cuts that once were the mainstay of a party dominated by Ronald Reagan are MIA in the current political discussion. GOP candidates are talking about the Affordable Care Act and terrorism. Tax cuts? Forget about it.

Well, rest assured that Democrats will remind voters of the danger of cutting too much. They’ll be talking enough for both political parties right up until Election Day.

We are not engaging in a religious war

The Values Summit is underway in Washington, D.C., and the usual cavalcade of kooks is drumming up something akin to a religious war.

The international war on terror, they imply strongly, is a war between Christians and Jews against Muslims.

Let’s hold on here.

It is a war pitting civilized human beings against cult followers.

Michelle Bachmann, the lame-duck Minnesota congresswoman, kept harping on what she called “Islamic terrorists.” So did lame-duck Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and a roundtable of “experts” who contend that Muslims pose an existential threat to our way of life.

Give me a break.

Another conservative American president, George W. Bush, was quite astute back when this war began immediately after 9/11 to declare that America is not waging war against Islam. He singled out the terrorists who have perverted a great religion to suit their insane political cause. Does anyone remember when President Bush visited a mosque in New York immediately after touring the wreckage of where the World Trade Center stood?

The Islamic State is not a religious organization. It is a cult. It is a cabal of sociopathic murderers who seek to use religion as a pretext to commit heinous acts of terrorism on innocent people.

They are the enemy. The do not represent Islam any more than, say, the crackpots at Westboro Baptist “Church” in Topeka, Kan., represent Christianity.

The task now is to persuade the goofballs on the right to quit trying to make this a religious war.

It is no such thing.

ISIS's 'worst nightmare' answers the call

This story absolutely, positively knocks me out.

Major Mariam Al Mansouri has flown a combat mission striking Islamic State targets in Syria.

Al Mansouri is a major in the United Arab Emirates air force.

The major is a woman!

Al Mansouri might be, in the words of, the Islamic State’s “worst nightmare.”

The Islamic State — aka ISIS or ISIL — is at this moment the world’s No. 1 terrorist organization. It is a Sunni extremist cult that beheads prisoners and brutalizes women, denying them any semblance of respect.

These terrorists are animals. President Obama has declared his intention to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist organization.

Accordingly, he and Secretary of State John Kerry have enlisted several nations to join in a coalition to fight ISIL/ISIS. The United Arab Emirates is one of them. Among the service personnel ordered to fly combat sorties against the Islamic State is the aforementioned Major Al Mansouri.

“She is (a) fully qualified, highly trained, combat ready pilot, and she led the mission,” Yousef Al Otaiba told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” according to

This is fantastic. A female UAE air force officer has led a combat mission to destroy military targets manned and operated by sworn enemies of women all around the world.

The delicious irony is way beyond measure.

Holder builds solid legacy at Justice

Eric Holder might have been the poster child for partisanship.

He’ll stay on the job as U.S. attorney general until the Senate confirms his successor, but the time has come to say something about his time at the Justice Department and to wonder what lies ahead for what is certain to be a stormy confirmation process.

I’ll just say it up front: Holder has been a great attorney general.

That doesn’t mean his time at Justice has been free of mistakes. He’s made some.

Chief among the blunders is likely the Fast and Furious gun-tracking program that strangely put firearms in the hands of dangerous drug-runners, who then used the weapons to bring considerable misery to federal law enforcement authorities.

Congressional Republicans, of course, jumped all over the Fast and Furious program as a monumental failure. It was meant to allow gun merchants to sell firearms to drug dealers with the hope of tracking their movement. It didn’t work.

Congress sought to get him to testify about Fast and Furious and he just enraged the GOP more by refusing to cooperate fully.

So, that project has failed.

Another mistake was Holder’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act when it stood as federal law. Whether one agrees with the law that essentially prohibited same-sex marriage or not, the AG took an oath to defend the laws of the land, no matter what. He failed in that regard. DOMA, though, later was thrown out by the Supreme Court, which made the refusal to defend it more or less a moot point.

However, Holder has served as a civil rights champion. He has elevated the discussion of equal protection for all Americans to a level not heard since the days of the late Robert F. Kennedy, when he was AG from 1961 to 1964.

As the nation’s first African-American attorney general, Holder has standing on this issue that none of his predecessors enjoyed. Holder recommitted the federal government to civil rights when he went to Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the shooting death of a young black man by a white police officer.

Politico reports: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont praised Holder for ‘restor[ing] the Civil Rights Division to its historical mission’ and declared that ‘his dedication to defending Americans’ voting rights, at a time when these constitutional rights are under attack, has been supremely important.’”

Holder is seen by his foes as a polarizing figure. Perhaps he is, but that’s more a function of the divisions in American society he revealed by his commitment to creating a more just society for all Americans.

So, what lies ahead? As with virtually everything involving the Obama administration, I’m guessing we’re going to see a brisk challenge to whomever the president nominates to succeed Holder.

I’m hoping the next attorney general will get the thorough vetting he or she deserves, but that the Senate will act quickly to get that individual on the job.

We're worried about presidential salutes?

On a day when the president of the United States delivered an important speech to the United Nations, the mainstream conservative media got all worked up over — what? — a salute the president delivered to a Marine.

He snapped a salute while holding a cup of coffee.

Stop the bleeping presses, will ya?

This is huge!

The presidential salute is a relatively new custom. It began with Ronald Reagan. George H.W. Bush didn’t return salutes from military ceremonial troops. Bill Clinton did; so did George W. Bush. Barack Obama does it, too. Retired General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower didn’t return salutes when he served as president, either.

There’s nothing written in the social protocol for presidents that requires them to return salutes. They’re civilians who happen to serve as commander in chief.

Yes, it’s good that they return the salute smartly. Presidents with no military experience — e.g., Clinton and Obama — need to be taught how to do it. They’ve learned how to return the salute.

But let’s not get all worked up over a Latte Salute. Let’s recall the strange moment when President Bush tried to return a salute while trying to control a restless dog. (See the picture included in the attached link.)

Let’s also focus on things that really matter.

McCain might run again … for the Senate

John McCain confounds me .

The Arizona Republican is at once an admirable man, a genuine war hero, an annoying gadfly, a petulant loser and a real-life expert on foreign policy.

The senator, who’s 78, says he might run for a sixth term in 2016 but observers say he’s going to get a serious tea party challenge if he suits up for another senatorial campaign. He got a stout challenge in 2010, but thrashed former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth by 25 percentage points.

I think he ought to run at least once more if he’s up to it.

McCain’s biography is well-known. He was a Navy aviator, shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War and held captive for more than five years. He suffered terrible torture at the hands of his captors.

His career in public office has been marked by amazing ups and downs.

McCain has run twice for president, nominated by the GOP in 2008, when he lost to Barack Obama.

He’s been a friend of the “liberal” media, which has ticked off conservatives to no end. He’s no liberal, however. He’s voted consistently with the right wing of his party throughout his lengthy career.

Yet … when he carps about President Obama’s decisions he sounds like a sore loser.

Still, he maintains friendships with colleagues on the other side, particularly those with whom he shares combat experience. He has defended the character of his friends John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, both of whom now serve in the president’s Cabinet.

Indeed, my favorite McCain moment might be the time he scolded Senate newcomer Ted Cruz, R-Texas, when Cruz questioned Hagel’s patriotism when Hagel was being examined by the Senate to be defense secretary.

McCain is one of those senators I’d like to meet one day. It won’t happen. If I had the chance I’d likely ask him: Senator, do you confound and confuse some of us intentionally, or is that just a byproduct of a complex personality?

Obama deserves unified nation

The late great Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan had it right.

Partisanship, he said, should “stop at the water’s edge.”

Put another way: When a president takes a nation to war then it becomes imperative for a nation to rally behind the effort.

President Barack Obama went before the United Nations today to tell the world body that it’s time for the world to step up in the fight against the Islamic State. He didn’t sugar-coat it. He said the fight well could take years. He said ISIL is a tough and resilient foe. He also said that dozens of nations have lined up as part of a growing coalition to fight the terrorists.

But can the commander in chief perform his duty to protect Americans without much of the partisan carping that has plagued him to date? If his Republican foes choose to heed the words of one of their predecessors — the late Sen. Vandenberg — then there might be a unified nation rallying to fight a determined enemy.

Unity, of course, isn’t always the norm.

President Bush was able to rally the nation initially when he took us to war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Much of the support evaporated when he expanded that fight into Iraq in March 2003.

President Clinton had his critics when he started bombing fighters in Bosnia and Kosovo.

President Truman heard the critics when the Korean War dragged on.

And Vietnam? Well, we know what happened there.

Barack Obama received congressional authorization to arm and train Syrian rebels. He’s consulted with political friends and foes in advance of launching the air strikes. Some critics will continue to say the strikes are too little too late.

Let us not undermine this necessary effort to destroy the Islamic State, however, with partisan carping.

Texas: reddest of the Red States

Texas is Ground Zero — pardon the reference — of the conservative movement.

That’s the assessment of Dan Balz, a veteran Washington Post political reporter, who uses land commissioner candidate George P. Bush as his example of the state’s rightward shift.

Bush is the grandson and nephew of two former presidents and the son of a former Florida governor. All three of his ancestors, Balz said, used to personify the “kinder, gentler” wing of the Republican Party. Bush thinks GOP firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz is the future of his party and he said so at a gathering of pols and pundits at a Texas Tribune talk-fest held in Austin.

Indeed, the view that Texas is leading the conservative charge probably isn’t that much of a surprise. Even when it leaned heavily Democratic, its officeholders weren’t usually considered — at that time, at least — to be squishy liberals. The most successful Democrats in the state were folks like John Connally, Lloyd Bentsen, Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson. Yes, you had your occasional lefty in there, such as Ralph Yarborough and then Ann Richards.

The last Democrat elected to statewide office in 1994 was John Sharp, hardly a lefty, who’s now chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.

So, Texas has leaned right for longer than the GOP has been in control of everything.

As for the model of today’s modern conservatism in Texas, look at Dan Patrick, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. He’s just recently declared his intention to rid the state of the DREAM Act, which allows Texans brought here illegally by their parents to enroll in state public colleges and universities as “in-state” students, paying in-state tuition rates.

Gov. Rick Perry, a fiery conservative if there ever was one, endorses the DREAM Act. Not Patrick. If he’s elected, he’ll get rid of it.

Yep, the state is No. 1 all right.