Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Thumbs down on these portraits

I want to stipulate right off the top that I am the least-qualified American to offer a critique on pieces of art. I can barely draw stick figures, if you know what I mean.

There. That said, I want to offer a brief comment on the new official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

I do not like them. Not at all.

I am a bit of a stodgy stick in the mud when it comes to these pieces of work. The portraits of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush are much more to my liking. The paintings actually look like the subjects the artist was hired to depict.

The Obamas, I regret saying, barely resemble the images unveiled at the Smithsonian Institution earlier this week. Mrs. Obama’s image is particularly un-Michelle-like in its representation.

The 44th president and his wife present a striking image. They both are physically attractive. Thus, it boggles my mind that the Obamas would want to be portrayed in the manner that’s been revealed.

But … that’s their call.

Do not take any of this critique to the bank. I just had to vent.

I’m out.

Hoping for a ‘Sen. Romney’

I cannot believe I am about to write this blog post.

No kidding, I am excited about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate from Utah.

The 2012 Republican Party’s presidential nominee didn’t get my vote when he ran against President Barack H. Obama. That was then. Six years later, he now stands as a possible deterrent to another Republican, the current president of the United States, Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump.

Romney wants to succeed Orrin Hatch in the U.S. Senate. He has some Utah connection, although he will face the “carpetbagger” charge from those who might oppose his candidacy. Romney ran for the Senate in Massachusetts, losing in 1994 to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He then was elected governor of the Bay State. Mitt has lived most recently in southern California.

But in 2002, he did step in to rescue the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Plus, he has strong ties to the Mormon Church — which is headquartered in Utah — and is arguably the nation’s most well-known Mormon.

A Sen. Romney would take office as a leading lawmaker. There will be no “getting acquainted” with this guy. He’s a known quantity, a national political figure of considerable renown.

He also has had his run-ins with Donald Trump. Romney famously called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during theĀ  2016 presidential campaign. Thus, Romney potentially could serve as a check on the president’s sometimes-weird instincts.

Yes, I realize he auditioned for a secretary of state appointment in the Trump administration. I also know he likely groveled a bit to get the nod. I don’t hold it against him.

To be honest, I think I would like Mitt Romney if I ever got the chance to meet him. For starters, a Republican who would challenge Trump’s legitimacy as a serious politician is OK in my book.

Mitt Romney becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Sen. Hatch. I now will hope he can win this seat — and turn up the heat under the president.

Only platitudes from POTUS?

I am going to offer a comment that might create some blowback from those who’ll think I am picking too many nits.

So … with that, I’ll offer this: When is the president going to demonstrate an instinct to say something other than “thoughts and prayers” when horrific tragedy strikes?

Seventeen people were shot to death today in a high school in Parkland, Fla. The shooter was arrested and will be charged with multiple counts of murder. School-related gun violence has gotten worse in the past year. Yet the president of the United States, Donald Trump, promised during his inaugural address that “this American carnage will stop right here and right now.”

It hasn’t stopped. Indeed, some have suggested it has worsened in the year since Trump became president. Don’t misunderstand me on this point: I am not blaming the president for the spasm of violence!

The man, though, stands behind the bulliest of pulpits. When events such as this occur, it normally becomes imperative for the nation’s head of state to speak candidly, emotionally and with conviction to his constituents.

When the gunman opened fire in 2012 in Newtown, Conn., killing 27 people — including 20 first- and second-graders — President Obama stormed into the White House press room and wept as he told us of his outrage at the horror that unfolded.

Donald Trump has a young son who still lives at home with his parents; he has grandchildren. Certainly at some level he must feel a sense of horror at what occurred today in Florida. Surely he must be able to articulate a sense of dread and terror and offer some words of comfort to the loved ones of those who perished today in Parkland, Fla.

We hear, though, via Twitter that the president extends his “thoughts and prayers.” Well, many of us appreciate that expression from the president — as far as it goes.

Thus, I am compelled to ask: Is that it?

POTUS has much for which he must answer

The farther along we stagger forward into the presidency of Donald Trump, the deeper the hole he digs for himself.

I refer to the many statements he has made — as candidate and then as president — that have yet to be substantiated.

A few of them come to mind.

  • He has asserted that climate change is a “hoax,” a fantasy created by China to discredit our fossil fuel industry.
  • Trump has accused “millions of illegal immigrants” of voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, giving her the nearly 3 million popular vote margin she rolled up over the president.
  • The president has fanned the flames of the phony and slanderous birther movement once again by challenging whether Barack Obama was actually born in the United States of America; he once said that the president is a U.S. citizen, but has all but walked that one back.
  • Candidate Donald Trump said he would release his tax returns once the Internal Revenue Service completed its audit. That was more than two years ago. The tax returns remain a secret. The IRS cannot possibly be conducting that audit to this day.
  • Trump said he wouldn’t have time for golf, that he’d be too busy making America “great again.” He, um, has broken that pledge, too.

I know I’ve missed a few. Maybe many. But I hope you get the point.

The president has made bold pledges. He hasn’t been held to account for them. His base continues to rally behind him. They give him a pass on all of it. They ignore his hideous personal behavior in a way they never would do if the president was a member of the opposing political party.

Others of us out here are seeking to hold this guy accountable for his lengthening list of untrue statements and promises he made.

I don’t expect the president to listen to his critics. He doesn’t care what we think. He cares only about the slobbering support he gets from those who relish the idiotic notion that Donald Trump simply is “telling it like it is.”

No, Mr. POTUS, Islam doesn’t ‘hate’ us

I watched a two-year-old video of Donald John Trump in which he told an interviewer that Islam “hates Americans.”

That comment has bothered me from the moment I heard it the first time.

I’ve long wondered, given what the president said at the time, why this country is full of so many Muslims. Why do people who follow the Islamic faith choose to live in a country full of those they supposedly “hate”? And, oh yes, what about Islamic Americans? How do we categorize those fellow citizens?

To me the answer is obvious. Muslims don’t “hate” Americans just because we are, um, Americans.

Muslim perverts — those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam — certainly do hate Americans. They also hate other Muslims.

I remember the night President Barack Obama told the world that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. The president made it clear — just as President George W. Bush had made clear — that bin Laden wasn’t a Muslim leader. “He was a mass murderer of Muslims,” President Obama said.

I keep circling back to that notion every time I hear Donald Trump harp on this falsehood, that the Islamic faith teaches its followers to hate others who adhere to other faiths.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria posed the question the other day to Jordanian King Abdullah about whether the president was right to say that Muslims “hate Americans.” The king said, quite simply and with eloquence, that the president needs to learn more about Islam before making any statements about what the faith teaches.

Indeed, the president needs to learn more about, oh, just about everything before he opens his mouth.

State of the Union: a most political event

I am inclined to tell my friends who are fans of Donald J. Trump to settle down. Chill out. Take a breather. Don’t get so upset that congressional Democrats didn’t stand and cheer along with their Republican “friends.”

Trust me on this: Given that I live in the heart of Trump Country, my list of friends and acquaintances is full of Trumpkins. I don’t begrudge them for their political loyalty. I also hope they don’t begrudge me for mine.

One friend — and he’s an actual “friend” — has been ranting on social media about how the Democrats sat on their hands during Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night. He is just insulted that they would disrespect the president in such a disgraceful manner. How dare they do such a thing!

My friend has been around long enough to know how this game is played. Republican presidents usually get the proverbial stiff-arm from Democrats in the House of Representatives hall. Here’s the deal, though: Democratic presidents get the same treatment from Republicans when it’s their opportunity to deliver State of the Union speeches.

It goes with the territory, folks.

I don’t like it, either. I would rather the “loyal opposition” would show respect for the presidency, even if they dislike the individual who is occupying the office in the moment.

I need not remind my friend, moreover, about how Republicans treated President Barack H. Obama when he delivered his speeches to Congress. However, if he is reading this blog post, I’ll remind him of how GOP U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” during one of Obama’s speeches before a joint congressional session.

By my reckoning, that outburst was far more disrespectful than anything we saw this week.

I’m not worried in the least about how Democrats behaved while the Republican president stood before them. They did what members of the “opposing” party always do.

Do I wish they would behave better? Sure. I also wish the same of Republicans the next time we elect a Democratic president.

Deficit hawks have taken a powder

You have heard it said — I am quite certain — that “we ought to run the government like we run a business.”

I ask: How many businesses do you know operate on deficits approaching the scale of what we’ve had in the federal government?

None. Right? Of course!

But now we have the Business Mogul in Chief as president of the United States and those federal budget deficits are approaching $1 trillion annually, a figure not seen since early in the Obama administration.

I should remind you that Barack Obama took office in January 2009 with the economy in free fall. He pushed through some ambitious rescue plans that included tax increases to help pay for the significant boost in public spending to help failing businesses.

The result over President Obama’s two terms was a serious reduction in the annual budget deficit; it shrank annually by about two-thirds.

It’s now heading back up. Congress keeps spending while approving big tax cuts. I believe that’s a recipe for increasing budget deficits, which in turn pile on more money onto the national debt that now stands at a cool $20 trillion.

Deficit mounts

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin now wants Congress to boost the nation’s borrowing capacity to pay for all this spending.

Just wondering: Isn’t the Republican Party the party of fiscal responsibility? What’s more: How many businesses would survive such exorbitant spending?

Who will hug the aisle at the SOTU?

State of the Union speeches always are accompanied by back stories, vignettes that give commentators something on which to, um, comment.

How many ovations will bring both parties to their feet? How long will the president speak? How many programs will he lay at the feet of Congress?

Here’s what I’ll look for tonight: Who will be hugging the aisle when the sergeant at arms announces: Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States?

When the president walks down the aisle toward the podium, he usually shakes hands, gets high-fives, slaps a few members of Congress on the back, gets good wishes and does that silly “finger-point” to someone he recognizes.

During the two most recent presidencies — of George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama — one could always depend on seeing certain lawmakers getting TV face time hugging or shaking hands with the incoming president. I think, for instance, of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat.

Members of Congress usually wait for hours prior to the speech to get their preferred place along the aisle. You could depend on seeing Rep. Lee greeting Presidents Bush or Obama as they walked toward the speaker’s podium.

There’s a new man in the Oval Office these days. Donald J. Trump’s the guy who’ll deliver the State of the Union speech.

So … the question: Who will we see leaning over the aisle looking to greet the president, and will one of them be Sheila Jackson Lee, the fierce Democratic partisan?

Let’s get real for just a moment. Democratic members of Congress — along with a few Republicans — have been pretty damn vocal in their criticism of the president; they’ve blasted him for his behavior, his rhetoric and, indeed, his policies.

What’s more, this president has been pretty fierce in his response to his congressional critics.

I believe I’ll look tonight to see evidence of grudges.

Keep it civil at SOTU

I have been preaching and screeching seemingly since The Flood about the need for greater civility and collegiality in the halls of political power.

Here comes my pitch for more of the same this week. The president of the United States is going to deliver his first State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress.

Donald J. Trump will stand at the podium and will seek to tell the nation about how he sees the condition of things in the country and lay out his agenda for the future.

Yes, I’ll be watching along with the rest of the nation’s political junkies to see how his message will be received by Democrats. You know Republicans will cheer, whoop and holler at everything that comes from the president’s mouth. The Democrats? Let’s just say they’ll be more, um, circumspect.

There’s talk of congressional Democrats boycotting the event.

President Barack Obama wasn’t always treated with utmost respect by members of the opposing party when he delivered State of the Union speeches. There was the infamous “You lie!” epithet that came from U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson. I’ve commented, too, about how congressmen and women would operate their “devices” while sitting on the floor while ostensibly “listening” to the president.

The most recent time a president received universal applause from a joint congressional session clearly was when President Bush spoke to the nation immediately after 9/11. We were united in our sorrow and rage and Congress reflected that sense of national resolve.

My hope for Donald Trump is that he is treated with courtesy.

Many of us don’t like the idea of this man sitting in this office. However, he is the duly elected president of the United States. The office deserves loads of respect. It’s my belief that members of Congress assembled in front of the president should treat the office with reverence — and should act accordingly.

As for the president’s pledge that he will seek to unify the nation when he delivers his State of the Union speech, I’ll only add that he had that chance at his inaugural. It didn’t work out that way.

I am hoping for — if not necessarily expecting — a better outcome.

Trump victimized by his own big mouth

Donald John “Deal Maker in Chief” Trump Sr. reportedly has acknowledged the obvious.

The president is blaming congressional Democrats for the federal government shutdown that occurred at midnight, but has told White House aides that he is going to take the heat for it.

Imagine my absolute non-surprise!

Trump said in 2013 that the president should take the fall for a government shutdown. One occurred that year. A Democrat, Barack Obama, was in office at the time. Trump said the buck stopped at the president’s desk. The president is the nation’s head of state and government. Thus, he deserves all the blame.

That was then.

While campaigning for president in 2016, Trump then declared time and again from the campaign stump that he is the “greatest deal maker” in history. He made a “yuuuge” fortune cutting “the best deals.” No longer would there be “bad deals” struck inside the Oval Office “if I’m elected president,” Trump told us.

Well, Mr. President, what in the name of deal making has happened? Why didn’t you negotiate “the best deal ever” to avert a government shutdown?

Yes, the president likely will take most of the heat for this shutdown. Trump doesn’t deserve all of it, but he has managed — through his big mouth and thoughtless commentary — to deliver it directly to himself.

Our memories are long, Mr. President.

Now that Donald Trump is in charge, it’s time for him to step up — and lead!