Tag Archives: 2016 campaign

Thank you, Mr. President, for keeping this promise

This red-blooded American veteran wants to thank Donald J. Trump for keeping a campaign promise.

He is going to sign a bill into law that seeks to crack down on those who fail to provide adequate service to military veterans and extends whistleblower protections for those who rat out the violators. The law will give VA officials greater authority to fire failed employees and will, according to CNN, “protect those who uncover wrong doing at the agency.”

Read the CNN.com story here.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was rocked in 2013 and 2014 by reports of veterans dying in Phoenix, Ariz., after they endured interminable delays in getting medical care; the VA worsened it by covering it up. The scandal cost Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — a retired Army general and former Army chief of staff — his job.

I was among the millions of Americans  horrified by the news and the fallout. Indeed, I happen to have a dog in that fight — as I, too, am a veteran who happens to get excellent care at the Thomas Creek Veterans Medical Center in Amarillo. Then again, I’m fortunate, in that I haven’t gotten seriously ill since signing enrolling in the VA system in 2015.

The bill the president is going to sign into law won bipartisan support in both congressional chambers; the Senate approved it by a unanimous voice vote.

Trump said during the 2016 campaign that the VA was the “most corrupt” agency in the federal government. I think he might have overstated that by a good bit. Still, it doesn’t matter now.

The president vowed to take care of veterans and I appreciate that he’s going to make good on that pledge.

VP used his private e-mail server? Why, I never …

Do you mean to say that Vice President Mike Pence, when he was governor of Indiana, used his private e-mail account to conduct public business?

Moreover, do you assert that then-Gov. Pence’s private server was hacked and that some sensitive material might have gotten out, possibly into the wrong hands?

OK. Where are the calls to “Lock him up!” Do you hear them? Neither do I. Nor do I expect to hear them.

Still, this is pretty serious stuff. If it was serious enough for those on the right to chant “Lock her up!” when it involved Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state, then does the former governor of one of our 50 states deserve to be roughed up in such a manner?

The Indianapolis Star first reported it.

Pence’s office said other Indiana governors had used their private servers as well. I guess that means it was OK for Pence to do it. Indiana law doesn’t prohibit such an occurrence. For that matter, there’s no federal law that prohibits secretaries of state from doing so, either. Indeed, Clinton said previous secretaries had used personal e-mail accounts.

I do not yet know to what extent the Indiana governor’s office produces material that would jeopardize national security. As for Clinton, her use of a private account was scrutinized thoroughly by the FBI, which determined — not once, but twice — that she didn’t do anything illegal.

This matter involving the vice president, though, does interest a lot of us because he was so very vocal during the 2016 presidential campaign about Clinton’s e-mail habits.

Karma can bite one right in the rear end.

Tax returns, Donald; release them

Do I really have to bring up those damn tax returns again?

I guess I do. So … therefore, I shall.

Russian operatives are disputing Donald J. Trump’s denials that he had any contact with them during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president keeps saying he has “nothing to do with Russia. I have no deals there. I have no businesses there.”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera …

We don’t know if the president is telling the truth. He does have a way of, you know, lying to us about this and that.

The tax return issue keeps popping up. The president won’t release them. We keep getting conflicting reports from senior aides who say (a) he’ll never release them, (b) he’ll do so when the Internal Revenue Service’s “routine audit” is complete or (c) he’ll do so in due course (whatever that means).

About the only way we’re going get anything approaching the full truth about whether Trump has anything to do with Russia is to see those tax returns.

It’s a reasonable request, Mr. President. You’ve said on occasion you’ll release them. Then you’ve backed away.

He would be the first president in decades to refuse to come clean with the people he represents.

The truth, sir. And yes, we can handle the truth.

‘Oops’ Perry now ‘regrets’ earlier call to end DOE

I want to give a half-hearted shout-out to Rick “Oops” Perry for something he said today at his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of energy.

The former Texas governor said he regrets insisting that the Department of Energy be one of three such agencies he would eliminate if he were elected president.

He tried to say so during a 2012 Republican presidential debate, but suffered a brain freeze at a critical moment. Hey, it’s happened to all of us, right?

He said he’d toss out the departments of Education, Commerce and … then he forgot the third one. He fumbled around before muttering his infamous “oops.”

Why the change of heart? He said he’s learned about the Energy Department and what it does to promote energy policy. I want to presume he also knows about the myriad forms of energy involved in that policy that go far beyond fossil fuel production that, of course, is a big deal here in Texas.

My shout-out would be full-throated if I actually believed he meant the “I regret” statement. I’m not sure I believe much of what Gov. Perry says about anything these days — not that I fully believed him back when he was governor.

I mean, after all, he did call Donald J. Trump a “cancer on conservatism.” He did accuse the president-elect of lacking any ideology. He did say that his party needed to excise that “cancer.” This all came during his second failed effort, in 2016, to become the GOP presidential nominee.

Now, after all that heated rhetoric, he wants to become energy secretary. He wants to run a department he once said he intended to throw into the Dumpster.

I don’t know which Rick Perry to believe.

Or whether to believe a single thing this guy has ever said.

Trump using tenuous ‘defense’

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What am I missing here?

Donald J. Trump — at the time newly married — went off on a hot-mic rant 11 years ago in which he talked about having sex with a married woman, groping another woman, about how his “star” status enabled him to have his way with women, disparaged another woman’s appearance … all while dropping f-bombs and using crude references to the female anatomy.

Then he defends himself by saying essentially two things:

* The audio recording is more than a decade old and does not reflect the person he is or was — or will be as president of the United States.

* Bill Clinton abused women and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, fought savagely to defend her husband over what he did more than two decades ago.

So, which is it? Does the 11-year-old audio recording count more or less than a 20-plus-year-old series of alleged sexual dalliances — plus an actual relationship that occurred while Bill Clinton was president of the United States?

Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is running against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

I’ll ask one more question: Does the behavior of a nominee’s spouse even rise the level of actual relevance that’s equal to the behavior of a current candidate for the presidency?

So wrong, so often on this election campaign

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Please pardon this bad rip-off of a famous poem, but … How many time have I been wrong about this election cycle? Let me count the ways.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wouldn’t approve, but what the heck. I feel the need to atone for some terrible misfires on this presidential election campaign.

I take small solace — and it is small, indeed — in the knowledge that I am not alone in failing to shoot straight.

Donald J. Trump has confounded damn near everyone, first by grabbing the Republican presidential nomination this summer and then by making a race of it against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I once vowed to never again make a political prediction. I should have kept to my pledge. I should have buttoned up my pie hole/typing fingers and called it good. Let others stick their necks out.

But no-o-o-o! I had to weigh in. I had to make an ass of myself.

I never thought Trump would be nominated. I never thought this novice politician with the very big mouth and even larger ego could wrestle the nomination away from the Republican pros.

Then again, I never thought Hillary would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and I thought that Colin Powell would run for the presidency in 1996. Neither of those things happened.

With that track record, I still managed to stick my neck out on this campaign.

Once Trump got the nomination, I was dead certain Clinton would win in a landslide. She was destined to be president, kind of like the way Ike was destined in 1952 for the top job … after leading Allied troops to victory in World War II.

I didn’t anticipate Clinton’s flaws being such a drag on her candidacy. Nor did I envision Trump ever being able to get away with some of the hideous things he has said over the past year: John McCain is a war hero only because he “was captured?; the U.S.-born federal judge being a “Mexican”; his mocking of a reporter’s physical ailments; his suggestion that Mexico is sending “rapists, drug dealers, murderers” and other assorted criminals to the United States.

I never anticipated that his GOP base of support would hold as strong as it has done.

Moreover, I was so certain that Trump’s flaws were so egregious that I actually blogged that Hillary could win a 50-state sweep this fall.

Time to handicap the fall election

OK, with all of that out of the way, I am going to make another stab at fulfilling an earlier pledge.

I am — once again — declaring myself to be out of the political predicting game.

I lack the intuitive powers, perhaps even the intellect to try to guess what voters are going to do.

If you catch me falling off the wagon again, you are welcome to call the guys in the white coats. I won’t be silent. There will be more commentary to come. Just no predicting.

I’m just going to wait this spectacle out … and hope for the best.

Let the horse-race … coverage … continue

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If you thought the media have done a terrible job of reporting on politics and policy — relying too heavily on polls — get ready for what’s to come.

The coverage is going to get worse.

The upcoming presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump is going to fill us to the brim with news about the “horse race.”

We’re going to be listening to evening news reports that will begin with coverage of the latest polls.

Trump has fed that narrative repeatedly during his amazing — and stunningly surprising — march to the GOP nomination. He takes the podium and blusters about his standing in the polls. The media cover it. Why? Because the public wants it.

Trump dismisses polls that show him trailing. He trumpets polls that show him standing tall over his fallen competitors.

And, yep, the media continue to cover it.

Look at me! I’m devoting an entire blog post to the coverage of polling in this upcoming campaign.

I’ve taken the bait. Swallowed it. Damn near choked on it, for crying out loud.

I am hoping we start paying more careful attention to what these candidates are going to say about things that matter. Policy stuff matters.

Foreign policy counts. Domestic policy affects our lives. Taxes. The environment. Economic policy. Those are the things that should have us riveted on this campaign.

They won’t. The media will continue to report on polls. Who’s up? Who’s down? Election probability will be the No. 1 topic of every news cycle — which, of course, has become a 24/7 phenomenon.

Let’s all get ready for a wild ride.

 

Media should challenge pols? Sure, except for one thing …

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President Obama has thrown down on the national media, which he said aren’t doing their job properly.

The current political climate, the president said, is due partly because the media haven’t challenged presidential candidates’ falsehoods, outrageousness and manipulation.

Obama spoke to a media gathering and said the rest of the world is dumbfounded at what’s happening to the “crazy politics” that has infected the United States.

Hold ’em accountable

Here’s part of what the president said: “A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone. It’s to probe and to question and to dig deeper and to demand more. The electorate would be better served if that happened. It would be better served if billions of dollars in free media came with serious accountability, especially when politicians issue unworkable plans or make promises they cannot keep.”

Got it, Mr. President.

But here’s the catch. The media are considered part of what’s ticking off much of the electorate.

The media have sought to hold the candidates “accountable,” as you suggest. They have challenge absurd assertions by a number of the candidates, only to be outshouted by the angry legions of voters who continue to stand by their candidates’ original absurd assertion.

As someone who’s still associated with the media, I happen to believe the president is correct to assert that the media need to do better. We always can do more to provide context and to check all the facts before running with them.

It’s the suggestion, though, that greater media scrutiny — in this particular climate — is going to flip the switch on in voters’ minds and make them see the light, the truth and the way.

Instead, they’re increasingly likely these days to “double down” on what the candidate says and then blast the media for “lying” about their guy’s message.

I believe we are in a classic “Catch-22” situation.

Thanks anyway for the advice, Mr. President.

Gov. Christie goes out with a bang

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As I ponder the latest round of exits from the Republican Party presidential primary field, I am struck by the nature of one departure in particular.

So long, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but your bowing out is one for the books.

It’s not the statement you made. It was fairly typical.

It was your final act on the stage.

Christie managed to inflict potentially mortal political wounds on Sen. Marco Rubio during a ferocious exchange in advance of the New Hampshire primary. He exposed Rubio’s lack of experience and his robot-like demeanor. Christie questioned whether Rubio had the chops earned during his single term in the Senate to ascend to the highest office in the land.

He did a masterful job of skinning a competitor alive.

What happened then? Rubio finished far back in the field in the primary that was won by Donald J. Trump. As for Christie, he got zero bounce for his effort. He, too, finished in single digits.

I am sorry to see Gov. Christie leave the race. He’s one of the grownups in the GOP field that’s still being dominated by Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz.

At least, though, another man is now making some noise: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has emerged as my favorite Republican running for president. Heck, he might even be my favorite candidate … period!

But today, however, I want to doff my cap to the fiery, feisty New Jersey governor who went down swinging.

 

Taking aim at … political correctness

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Political correctness has become Public Enemy No. 1 . . . if you’re a Republican Party presidential candidate.

Those GOP debates have featured full frontal attacks from the candidates on that nefarious character called political correctness.

It gives them license, I suppose, to say whatever they want regardless of its offensiveness, ignorance or stupidity.

I want to take up for political correctness as it’s been defined by those who blame it for every national ailment under the sun.

I know. You’re surprised beyond belief.

Political correctness is not the bogeyman that candidates have identified as the enemy. Yes, there are times when PC language can go too far, when people who use it do so because they are afraid of committing the slightest offense.

But the anti-PC rhetoric we’re hearing on the campaign trail is aimed at candidates who insist that there should be nuance when talking about international diplomacy. They level their verbal fire at candidates — and current officeholders — who decline to use certain language to describe the enemies with whom we are at war. They seek to attach the PC label simply to those who choose to disagree with them, with their gratuitously harsh language.

So, the enemy now becomes political correctness.

The audiences who hear the candidates lambaste those who prefer to speak more precisely cheer them on. They like what they consider to be “bold” rhetoric; others of us watching and listening from the political peanut gallery would describe it more as “reckless.”

From where I sit, reckless rhetoric can — and quite often does — lead to consequences that produce lots of collateral damage in places where it’s hard to repair.

So, when I hear presidential candidates lampoon political correctness from their opponents, I am going to presume for the rest of this election cycle that those who support them accept the bluster that pours out of the candidates’ mouths.

However, will they accept the potential consequences that it produces?