Tag Archives: Barack Obama

ACA ruling puts GOP in a bit of a pickle

Donald Trump, obviously, is happy that a Texas-based federal judge has declared the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

However, are his fellow Republicans thrilled with Judge Reed O’Connor’s wide-ranging ruling? Not . . . exactly.

Many GOP congressional candidates campaigned for election and re-election in this year’s midterm election promising to protect one of the ACA’s key provisions: to cover “pre-existing” medical conditions for those who have purchased insurance under the landmark legislation.

But the judge said the ACA violates the Constitution because of legislation that stripped out the individual mandate provision, which requires Americans to have insurance or else face civil penalties. You can’t do that, Judge O’Connor said.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, two Texas Republicans, have remained quiet about the ruling. So has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. You’d think they would join the president in extolling the decision.

Here’s the deal, though: The ACA remains popular among Americans. National Public Radio reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation poll declares that 53 percent of Americans like the ACA. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the legislation enacted in 2010 during President Obama’s first term and stands as the former president’s landmark domestic legislative triumph.

So, what are GOP politicians going to do? Will they buy into the judge’s ruling and then try to explain to voters why they campaigned in favor of key ACA provisions?

This matter surely is headed for an appeal that well could end up in front of the nation’s highest court eventually. A single judge’s ruling isn’t likely to pull the plug on the ACA; it will remain in effect until a higher court makes the definitive decision.

The nation’s Republican politicians, though, now find themselves squirming and wiggling for ways to justify what they said on the campaign trail while praising a judge’s decision to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

 

Trump inaugural actually dwarfed Obama inaugural . . . yes, it did!

Donald Trump has bragged about the stupendous size of the crowd that witnessed his inauguration. He, um, misspoke, er, lied about it.

What he’s never bragged about is the amount of money he raised for an event that in truth was a good bit smaller, with less bling than either of the inaugurations of Barack Obama or George W. Bush.

And that has become yet another focus of federal prosecutors who are looking at this man’s presidency.

Trump reportedly raised $107 million for his 2017 inaugural. Compare that with the $53 million raised for Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural, the one that heralded the start of a truly historic presidency.

The Obama inaugural featured headline artists galore, not to mention a crowd that totaled more than 1 million spectators. The Trump inaugural had, um, a lot fewer acts, a lot less pizzazz and drew a lot fewer spectators to watch the 45th president take the oath of office.

However, the Trump inaugural team banked a lot of cash.

That has presented prosecutors with a series of questions. Why did they raise so much money? For what purpose did the donors give that kind of dough? Is it all above board, legal, transparent? Did the new president’s team turn back any of it, the way Obama’s inaugural team did with some of the donations it received prior to the president taking office?

It looks to me as if we have a mushrooming investigation. It started with a look into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign with Russian operatives who interfered with our 2016 election. It appears to be spreading to include the president’s business dealings in Russia, along with the conduct of members of Trump’s transition team.

Hey, this kind of thing happens with these probes. Special prosecutor Ken Starr started looking at an allegedly shady real estate deal in Arkansas involving President and Mrs. Clinton; it veered into another area altogether, an inappropriate relationship between the president and a White House intern. Starr summoned the president to testify to a grand jury, the president lied to the grand jury about the relationship and, thus, handed congressional Republicans a pretext to impeach him.

Now we’re looking at inaugural fundraising?

Oh, brother. This is getting more confusing by the hour.

Pence’s stony silence most disturbing image

Look at the picture. The person to Donald Trump’s right is none other than the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence.

Of all the chatter we’ve heard about that meeting, the one image that continues to stick in my craw is of Pence sitting there, silent, not saying a single word. Meanwhile, the president argues with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer about the federal budget and financing construction of The Wall on our southern border.

The image of Pence sitting there mute reminds me of what President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden said of their relationship during their eight years in power.

Obama has made it abundantly clear, and Biden has affirmed it, that Biden was the last person to leave any room where the two men were present. Biden would argue with Obama, telling him — sometimes with great emphasis — where he believed the president was wrong. The president would fire back. The two men would go at it tooth and nail.

But through it all, as the former president has recounted their service together, they forged a lasting friendship and partnership.

Do you think the current vice president and the current president have anything approaching that kind of relationship, let alone any semblance of a friendship? Of course not!

Trump comes from a world where he was The Boss. He made decisions. Those who worked for him did what they were told to do. If they didn’t, they were out. Indeed, we’ve seen evidence of that background even as he has morphed into what passes for the chief executive of the federal government.

Thus, when Trump, Pelosi and Schumer were haranguing each other in the Oval Office, one couldn’t possibly expect VP Pence to chime in with his own view. I mean, after all, he’s only the No. 2 man in the executive branch of government. He was elected right along with Donald Trump to lead the nation. Isn’t that right?

Doesn’t that by itself give him any “cred” to say what he believes, to tell the president anything at all that might contradict whatever passes for the president’s world view?

One would think. Except that we are talking about Donald Trump, who is unfit for the office he holds. He wanted an obsequious lap dog to serve as VP and, by golly, he got one.

Don’t stop tweeting, Mr. POTUS

I’ve turned the corner. I used to wish Donald Trump wouldn’t tweet so much; now I want him to keep it up.

Why? Because his Twitter tirades provide such a trove of grist that highlights his utter hypocrisy, duplicity . . . not to mention his idiocy.

This has just surfaced. In 2012, he fired off a tweet criticizing then-President Barack Obama for “burning through” three White House chiefs of staff in three years. Oh, but hold on! Trump just announced the departure of his second chief of staff in less than two years, and he’s about to bring aboard his third chief of staff in, oh, the same amount of time — a year less than Obama did!

See how it goes? Trump says these things, either via his big mouth or via his Twitter account. Then he demonstrates a propensity for doing the same thing, only more of it.

Obama’s golf outings? Trump said he wouldn’t “have time” to break away from his plans to “make America great again” to play golf. Well now. He’s lapped the presidential field several times in the number of golf outings.

Sounding more “presidential”? Hasn’t happened. His tweets show us a continuing pattern of juvenile petulance.

Now we find the chief of staff matter.

Ain’t it just grand? Keep it up, Mr. President. You keep digging yourself deeper into that proverbial hole.

The Twitter universe has gone bonkers. Take a look.

Foes can, and do, become friends

I have been listening intently to the testimony of a former foe of the late President George H.W. Bush about how they became friends.

Former President Bill Clinton defeated President Bush in 1992. Bush was seeking re-election, but a faltering economy and a broken campaign pledge to never raise taxes did him in.

Clinton and Bush went nose-to-nose — along with the banty rooster Dallas billionaire Ross Perot. Clinton won with 43 percent of the popular vote, but also with a substantial Electoral College majority.

Bush and Clinton were drawn together in 2004 when President George W. Bush assigned them to raise money for tsunami relief for Southeast Asia. That was when their friendship formed. It grew over time and cemented itself indelibly.

Theirs is not the only friendship formed out of political adversity.

I think also of how two earlier adversaries became BFFs over time. President Gerald Ford lost his bid for election to Jimmy Carter in 1976. That campaign was equally harsh and ferocious. Moments after taking the oath of office on Jan. 20, 1977, President Carter turned to his predecessor and thanked for “all he did to heal the country” after the Watergate scandal of 1972-74.

The two men forged a close friendship that lasted until President Ford’s death in 2006.

These friendships, I am saddened to say, seem to be too rare of an occurrence.

President George W. Bush isn’t exactly best of pals with Al Gore and John Kerry, the men he defeated in 2000 and 2004. One didn’t see President Carter and President Reagan chumming around after Reagan defeated Carter’s bid for re-election in 1980. President Obama did deliver some touching and heartfelt remarks at Sen. John McCain’s funeral earlier this year, but those 2008 foes didn’t spend a lot of time off the clock with each other; nor do President Obama and Mitt Romney, his defeated 2012 opponent.

I’ll add that George W. Bush and Clinton have become friendly over the years, given Clinton’s professed “love” of Bush 41 and the notion that the elder Bushes “adopted” Clinton as another of their sons; that means “W” and Clinton see themselves as brothers with different mothers.

That brings me to the current president. What kind of relationship can Donald J. Trump ever have with the foe he vanquished in 2016, the woman he calls “Crooked Hillary” Clinton? Indeed, how many political friends has the president cultivated during his time in office and will those relationships last after he leaves the presidency?

Still, I take pleasure in listening to the tales of how political foes can become friends. It’s one of the shining virtues of our nation’s extraordinary political makeup.

GM owes its existence to government?

Donald John “Smart Gut” Trump has blasted General Motors for closing plants and for announcing plans to lay off as many as 15,000 employees as part of a company restructuring.

I laughed when I heard the president declare that the government “saved” GM “and this is the thanks we get.”

Oh, wait! That rescue mission was launched during the first term of President Obama. Do you remember that one? The auto industry was in trouble. The new president got Congress to approve a massive bailout for automakers. The money propped them up, helped preserve them; it saved them from collapse.

Then the automakers paid the government back for the money they received!

I guess what rankles Trump the most is that GM’s decision to lay off those workers turns one of the president’s signature campaign promises into, well, an empty campaign promise.

Waiting for unqualified praise of POTUS

I have to make a confession.

It is that whenever I feel the need to offer an encouraging word about Donald J. Trump I am drawn to the need to somehow hedge on it, to offer a qualifier of sorts. Maybe one day, and I have no idea when, I’ll be able to offer praise to the president without having to call attention to all the negative things I’ve said about him.

He recently announced a criminal justice reform notion that would give federal judges more flexibility in handing out sentences; they currently are bound by mandatory sentencing policies. I think the overhaul is a good thing. I said so, too, with praise for the president. But, damn! I had to mention a pledge I made that I would say something good when he merited it; that’s the qualifier, man.

I truly want to get past that. Sadly, I have little hope that this president is going to allow me to do that.

President Bush, shortly after the 2008 election, brought all the former presidents to the White House to greet the president-elect, Barack H. Obama. President Bush wished the new man “success.” Sure, he opposed his election, but he told the president-elect that if he succeeds, the country succeeds.

I know I should be a bigger man that I’ve been at times with regard to the current president. I just cannot help myself. My distaste for his ascending to the first public office he ever sought is palpable and visceral. I’m not proud of it.

I merely acknowledge it.

This blog will continue to offer criticism of the president. I am afraid the critical comments will vastly outnumber the positive comments for well past the foreseeable future.

Just maybe, though, that day might arrive and I’ll be able to offer an encouraging word without referencing the discouraging words.

Trump doubles down on bin Laden raid criticism . . . but, why?

Donald John Trump had the hubris and the gall to criticize the head of U.S. Special Operations Command for not taking down Osama bin Laden sooner than he did.

Retired Admiral William McRaven coordinated the raid that on May 1, 2011 killed bin Laden in a daring operation. Trump’s response to criticism from McRaven, who said Trump’s assault on the media poses the “greatest threat to democracy” he has seen was to disparage the bin Laden mission.

Here’s my question: What difference would it have made had U.S. intelligence been able to confirm bin Laden’s location earlier and then we killed him earlier.

Everyone with any semblance of common sense knows this truth about bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization he led: Another religious pervert would step in immediately after bin Laden would be taken out. That is what has happened since the SEALs and the CIA operatives killed the monster in Pakistan. It makes no difference when bin Laden met his death.

As for Trump’s assertion that McRaven somehow was responsible for the timing of the raid, I need to remind Trump of one more thing.

McRaven was in the military; his obligation was to follow lawful orders. The order came from President Obama after U.S. intelligence, through painstaking work over the course of two presidential administrations, had concluded without a doubt that bin Laden could be found and eliminated.

All that aside, for the current president — who many refer to as Private Bone Spurs, owing to his avoidance of service during the Vietnam War — to criticize a heroic Navy SEAL who has served with honor and heroism during his decades in uniform is laughable and disgraceful on its face.

Sen. Grassley weighs in on Trump-Roberts ‘feud’

Donald J. Trump is continuing to beat the drum against U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is likely to show needed restraint. I trust he’ll let the president continue his infantile tirade on matters on which he knows next to nothing.

Trump called some U.S. troops stationed overseas and continued his tirade over criticism the chief justice made about the president’s reference to an “Obama judge.” He sought to inform the president that that federal judges are “independent” and not partisan. That, of course, fell on Trump’s deaf ears.

So, then this happened: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Trump, saying that Roberts didn’t criticize President Obama when the president in 2010 “attacked” Justice Samuel Alito during a State of the Union speech.

Good job, Mr. Chairman, except you got quite wrong.

President Obama didn’t “attack” Alito; he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizens United case that opened up campaign finance to corporations, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts of money on political races. He stated his view that the torrent of money would further corrupt the U.S. political system.

Justice Alito famously shook his head while sitting in front of the president and muttered “not true.” Obama, I repeat, did not single any justice out . . . which is quite different from what Trump has done with the chief justice.

To be fair, Obama was wrong to criticize the court in that setting. Most of the justices were sitting in a group in the audience on Capitol Hill. Democrats in the chamber cheered the president; the justices had to take it. I said at the time — and I’ll repeat it here — that President Obama’s criticism was done in the wrong place and in the wrong setting.

There is no equivalence to be found in what Donald Trump is doing now and what Barack Obama did then. As Chief Justice Roberts, I hope he’s done commenting on this ridiculous spat that the president initiated with his ill-informed and ill-tempered remark about an “Obama judge.”

Hypocrisy is flourishing in the White House!

Let’s just call him the Hypocrite in Chief.

Donald J. Trump has been caught in yet another example of bald-faced, categorical and unqualified hypocrisy.

His daughter Ivanka has been caught using her personal e-mail account to transmit messages pertaining to government business. Was any of it classified? Was she able to send messages that compromised our national security? Oh, probably not.

But the point is this: Daddy Trump spent two whole years telling the world that in his view Hillary Clinton committed “several felonies” while using her personal e-mail while she was secretary of state. He led chants of “Lock her up!” at campaign rallies.

Now his older daughter is caught doing essentially the same thing. His response? Pfftt! Not parallel, he says.

Moreover, he called Clinton “stupid” for not knowing the rules. Was all of that lost on Ivanka, who now says she didn’t know the rules about e-mail use when she took her post as a senior adviser to her father?

Remember, too, how he criticized President Obama for playing too much golf? How he — Trump — wouldn’t have time to play golf, that he’ll be too busy “making America great again”?

He’s turned Obama into a weekend duffer. This president, the guy who ridiculed his predecessor unjustly, has lapped the field — and then some! — with his golf outings.

I do not begrudge the golf per se. I’ve said all along that presidents are never off the clock; they remain in constant contact with their key aides, advisers and national security team.

I do begrudge the golf only because of Trump’s hypocrisy on that matter — and on so many others.

Simply astonishing.