Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Who in the world can trust POTUS?

Donald J. Trump’s obsession with Twitter is diminishing his standing around the world, or so it would appear.

I keep circling back to a question: How do world leaders trust anything the president of the United States tells them when he continues to tweet ridiculous messages?

Take these instances involving Trump and his tweets:

* He said former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of his campaign office. That was false.

* The president said Hillary Rodham Clinton’s popular vote margin “victory” in the 2016 election was because of “millions” of illegal immigrants voting for her. Another falsehood.

* He says Germany is making “too many cars” and selling them to Americans.

* Trump ripped into London’s mayor after the Manchester shooting by misquoting what the mayor said about the threat of international terrorists.

I am missing many more examples just since Trump became president, but you get the idea.

The man cannot control his impulses. He fires off these tweets and then changes the subject. He meets in private with world leaders and then blabs his brains out about them.

The president’s Republican allies in Congress, though, give him a pass. House Speaker Paul Ryan blithely states that Trump is “new at this,” meaning he’s “new” at governing, new at understanding the limits of presidential power.

The world is a volatile place, which I am sure the president understands. What I do not get is why he cannot control himself. I’m pretty sure we’ve got leaders all around the planet who are wondering the same thing.

Can’t get past the ACA repeal process

As I look over the outlines of the congressional Republicans’ effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I see precisely one element that’s worth supporting.

That would be the end of the “individual mandate” that requires all Americans to have health insurance or else face a federal penalty. That particular part of the ACA has bothered me from the get-go.

The rest of it? I cannot accept what the GOP has tried to do — in secret, with no Democratic input, no public testimony (other than the angry rhetoric members of Congress have heard at town hall meetings across the country).

This is star chamber legislation, despite what Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today said to the contrary.

***

Which brings me to my major point.

The process stinks to high heaven. Yes, it stinks even more than the way the ACA came into being, which wasn’t ideal, either. Still, the Democrats who ran Congress in 2009 at least were able to solicit public commentary while seeking in vain for contributions from their Republican colleagues in crafting the legislation.

Now we hear from former President Obama, who today weighed in with his scathing critique via Facebook. “Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm,” Obama wrote. “And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

The Hill story on Obama post is here.

Why is it mean? It gives tax breaks to the wealthy; it rolls back Medicaid insurance for poor Americans; it wipes out federal money for Planned Parenthood, a major contributor of health services to women.

The Senate version of this new measure resembles the House version. The House managed to approve it with a 217-213 vote. Today, four conservative GOP senators said they can’t support the Senate version, which — if they hold their ground — dooms the measure.

McConnell is going to tempt them with goodies and other amendments. We’ll have to wait for whatever rabbit McConnell pulls out of his hat.

If the end justifies the means by which congressional Republicans have cobbled this legislation together, then we’re witnessing an exercise in political cynicism at its worst. The GOP aim — to my way of thinking — has been solely to strip Barack Obama’s legacy of this landmark law.

Let’s all wait now for the Congressional Budget Office — the famously non-partisan auditing agency — to “score” this latest GOP monstrosity. If the numbers show what previous CBO analyses have revealed — that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance — then we’ll get to listen to GOP lawmakers criticize the CBO for being too, oh, dire or negative.

The dance, then, will continue.

Americans are numb to congressional hypocrisy

It’s no surprise to anyone that hypocrisy exists in the halls of federal government power.

What I think is a surprise is how we are now so numb to it, that it doesn’t bother us.

U.S. Senate Republicans are in the process of doing precisely what they criticized their Democratic colleagues of doing just eight years ago. They are meeting in secret to cobble together a health care overhaul they say will replace the Affordable Care Act. In 2009, Republicans were frothing at the mouth because of what they said was occurring when Democrats crafted the ACA.

Video recordings of Republican Senate and House leaders bear out their anger then. Eight years later, well, here we go again.

The weirdness of it, though, shows itself in the apparent tolerance among average Americans at what’s going on.

A newly elected president, Barack H. Obama, sought Republican help in crafting the ACA. He didn’t get it. They stiffed him. The ACA process did include public hearings and testimony from those who favored and opposed it.

Another president new to his office, Donald Trump, hasn’t extended his hand to Democrats. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are plowing ahead with an ACA replacement with no input from Democrats, no public hearings, no testimony.

Same song, different verse? Yes. The major difference appears to rest in the tacit acceptance that hypocrisy is now the norm in Washington, D.C.

I’ll go on record here to say that not all Americans accept this as business as usual. I believe it stinks to high heaven!

GOP changes tune on health care bill accountability

I must have dreamt it in 2009.

We had a new president of the United States, Barack Obama. He wanted to enact a health care reform bill that would help provide “affordable health insurance” for millions of Americans. Obama and congressional Democrats couldn’t get any help from Republicans.

So they went alone. Republicans howled like horny hounds. They condemned Democrats for the way they pushed the Affordable Care Act to a vote. It passed. The president signed it into law.

Republicans haven’t stopped yowling ever since.

So, what’s their answer? Senate Republicans now are locking Senate Democrats out of negotiations for their so-called replacement of the ACA. They aren’t going to release any details of what they hope will replace the ACA until it comes to a vote in the Senate.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer challenged Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to produce the details of the bill to give every senator ample time to debate it. Ten hours is what they’re getting to talk about legislation affecting one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Ten hours!

McConnell insists that’s enough time. Umm, no, Mr. Leader, it’s nearly enough time.

What do these GOP senators hope to do here? I believe they are seeking to foist a bill onto Americans in an even more egregious manner that Democrats sought to do at the beginning of Barack Obama’s term as president.

The Affordable Care Act is not the “failure” Republicans have described it as being. The Congressional Budget Office has “scored” the GOP alternative to the ACA and said 23 million Americans will lose health insurance if it becomes law.

The House of Representatives approved an ACA replacement with zero Democratic votes; it now rests in the Senate.

Transparency? Accountability? We can have neither of those things when the lawmakers in charge cobble a massive bill together in private, talking only to those of like minds.

That is not how you legislate.

McCain showing his fickle side

John McCain once called Barack Obama a “feckless” foreign policy president.

He nagged the president continually over this and that foreign policy matter. Obama wasn’t tough enough; he wasn’t stern enough; he failed to deliver on his myriad threats against bad guys around the world.

Now, though, the Arizona Republican U.S. senator — and President Obama’s 2008 rival for the presidency — says the 44th president exhibited more international leadership than his successor, Donald John Trump.

Hey, what gives? President Obama’s “fecklessness” looks good now to the fickle senator.

Trump mistakes prove maddening

American “leadership” around the world has suffered under the Trump administration’s missteps, misstatements and mistakes, according to McCain.

I’ll concede a couple of points about McCain. One is that I didn’t support his presidential candidacy in 2008. Two is that he has served his country with rare honor and distinction, owing to his years as a Vietnam prisoner of war and the brutal treatment he suffered at the hands of his captors. Those years as a prisoner give him credibility that most other politicians cannot claim for themselves.

I believe he takes a stark view of American leadership and assesses it in bold strokes.

It might be now that McCain has come to appreciate — as many millions of other Americans — that the presidency requires a level of understanding and knowledge of the complex relationships this country has built with nations around the world.

Trump doesn’t get it. Sen. McCain has acknowledged as much, albeit begrudgingly. Is he being fickle? Maybe. I also believe he is correct.

Ready for the White House portrait unveiling?

At some point near the end of Donald J. Trump’s current term as president, his protocol staff will likely schedule an appearance by his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, and the former president’s wife, Michelle.

It’s been a custom for many years. The former first couple returns to the White House to unveil their official portraits. The president’s portrait hangs next to other presidents; the first lady’s portrait hangs in a gallery that includes her predecessors.

I remember watching when President Obama and Mrs. Obama welcomed George W. and Laura Bush back to the White House in 2012. It was a heart-warming ceremony, with all four — the current and former first couples — exchanging quips and remembrances of their time in the White House.

Is it possible for the Obamas to return to the White House at the invitation of Donald and Melania Trump? Can the former president set aside the astonishing rhetoric that the current president hurled at him? We have the on-going lie that Trump kept alive about Obama’s place of birth; then we have the defamatory accusation from Trump that Obama “ordered the wiretap” of the president-elect’s campaign office.

Oh, and how about the comments that Michelle Obama delivered in the wake of that ghastly “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump admitted to groping women and grabbing them by their private area?

I can just imagine how, um, tense the next portrait-unveiling is going to be when — or if — it occurs.

Bipartisan era gone forever? Looks like it

I am thinking at this moment of an earlier era when presidents and members of Congress reached across the great partisan divide to ponder their joint legislative agendas.

The thought came to me when I heard that Donald J. Trump is going to meet this week with Republican congressional leaders to talk about upcoming projects.

No Democrats need not attend. Nope! Stay away, you folks. We don’t need you.

I’ll go back a few decades for a moment.

* Lyndon Johnson needed Republicans to help him enact landmark civil-rights legislation.

* Richard Nixon needed Democrats to run interference for his environmental agenda.

* Ronald Reagan developed a great personal and professional relationship with congressional Democrats, such as House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

* Bill Clinton relied on congressional Republicans to assist in producing a balanced federal budget.

* George W. Bush sought Democratic help in crafting education-overhaul legislation. I should add that President Bush had plenty of practice working with Democrats, as he did quite well in that regard while he governed Texas and became partners with Democrats who controlled the Legislature.

That’s when it seemed to end. Barack Obama didn’t develop many relationships with key Republicans, who — lest we forget — made clear their intention to block damn near everything the president intended to accomplish. And now we have Donald Trump seeking to push through a legislative agenda with zero Democrats in his corner.

I also recall those photo ops when presidents would sign bills in front of large bipartisan gatherings of lawmakers. He’d hand out ceremonial pens left and right. They’d all clap and slap each other on the back while extolling the virtues of working together for the common good.

Do you expect to see anything like that with the current president occupying that office in the White House?

Me neither.

Griffin gets canned; ‘Madman’ gets a pass

David Axelrod, one of Barack Obama’s political gurus, poses an interesting thought on social media.

It concerns “comedian” Kathy Griffin’s disgraceful video showing her holding a “decapitated head” purporting to be that of Donald J. Trump.

CNN fired Griffin for her utterly crass stunt, which she initially thought of as an “artsy fartsy statement.” So long, kid. Don’t let the door hit in your backside.

But then, Axelrod wonders, how does Ted “Motor City Madman” Nugent get a pass for the endless string of grotesque statements he has made about, oh, Barack H. Obama. You know, things like calling him a “subhuman mongrel” and a litany of other vile epithets.

The president even invited Nugent to the White House for an intimate dinner, along with Sarah Palin and Kid Rock.

Well, Mr. President? Is there just a touch of a double standard here?
I’ll weigh in. I believe there is.

Mitt Romney: ahead of his time in 2012?

Mitt Romney issued a warning in 2012 that many Americans — yours truly included — derided as hopelessly out of touch.

Perhaps you’ll remember when he declared Russia to be the world’s “No. 1 geopolitical threat.” President Obama all but laughed him out of the proverbial room.

The president spoke instead of the threat presented by international terrorism. Many of us agreed with the president and not the then-Republican Party nominee who was running against him.

It well might be that Mitt was ahead of his time five years ago. Republicans in Congress are starting to echo their party’s one-time presidential standard bearer.

Sen. John McCain is one of them. Speaking to an Australian radio station, McCain said: “I think ISIS can do terrible things. But it’s the Russians who tried to destroy the fundamental of democracy and that is to change the outcome of an American election.”

It’s still to be determined just how much impact the Russians had on the 2016 electoral outcome, but they surely have succeeded in throwing the U.S. political debate into a tizzy.

Indeed, the Russians still possess a lot of nuclear weapons. They have a formidable conventional military force, which they have used in places like Ukraine and Syria.

Are the Russians the most fearsome political foe we face?

Yes, it looks that way to a lot of us — and, yes, that includes yours truly.

I regret that I doubted you, Mitt.

CBO verdict: Not good for GOP repeal of ACA

A jury — if not the jury — has weighed in on the Republicans’ version of health care reform.

It doesn’t look good for legislation designed to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The verdict comes from the notably non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which says that under the GOP plan 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance by 2026. That’s a 1 million-person “improvement” over the bill that didn’t even get a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The latest version of Trumpcare got a vote, but it came before the CBO weighed in with its analysis of it. Hey, why wait when you’ve got a political agenda to fulfill?

Deficit reduction? It’s not as good as the initial bill. Again, House members didn’t bother to wait for the nitty-gritty before sending it to the Senate.

Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans all promised — pledged, crossed their hearts and swore on a stack of Bibles — that Americans wouldn’t lose their health insurance if the GOP replaced the Affordable Care Act with something of their own making. The ACA, of course, was President Barack Obama’s signature piece of domestic legislation, which of course is why congressional Republicans want to get rid of it.

They contend it is failing. The president calls it a “disaster.” After the failed vote on the initial repeal/replacement bill, the president said he was willing to wait for the ACA to collapse, leaving Americans in the health-care lurch. I guess he wanted to say “I told you so.”

The Hill reports: “Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly,” the report said.

The ACA repeal effort was shoved down Democratic House members’ throats, much in the manner the GOP said of the ACA’s enactment in 2010. Hey, turnabout is fair play … isn’t that the name of the game?

It still stinks.