Tag Archives: Barack Obama

No conspiracy theories, please

Call me a non-conspiracy theorist.

I believe, for example, that:

* Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in murdering President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

* Men actually landed on the moon, beginning with Neil Armstrong’s “one small step … one giant leap” on July 20, 1969.

* Barack H. Obama was born in Hawaii — the 50th state to enter the Union — in August 1961 and, thus, is fully qualified to serve as president of the United States.

* Islamic madmen flew airplanes into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and sought to fly a jetliner into the Capitol Building before they were thwarted by passengers on 9/11.

* Adolf Hitler killed himself in the Berlin bunker in April 1945 as the Red Army was closing in on his location.

* Elvis Presley actually died on Aug. 16, 1977 of a drug overdose in his Memphis, Tenn., bathroom.

I mention all these things because of the nutty theories being bandied about — to this day — about the fate of Malaysian Air Flight MH 370. I won’t repeat the goofy notions here.

My strong belief all along has been that something happened aboard that airplane to cause it to turn sharply off course on March 8. Its remains now are lying at the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean, along with the remains of the 239 people on board.

Our hearts break for those who are awaiting official word of their fate.

I just wish society, fed by social media and goofball Internet “sources,” would cease with the crazy talk. Let the searchers do their job, let them find the flight recorder, retrieve it and let its contents reveal the truth without all the mindless second-guessing.

Enough already.

Ted Cruz works for me, too

“I don’t work for the Party bosses in Washington, I work for 26 million Texans.” – Cruz

The above quote was tweeted this morning by the Heritage Foundation, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent conservative think tank.

The “Cruz” at the end of the tweet is none other than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who spoke to Heritage today. I caught a little bit of his remarks in which he criticized President Obama for saying at the State of the Union that if Congress doesn’t act on some legislation, “I will.” Cruz noted that Democrats stood and cheered the president. Cruz compared the moment to something out of Alice in Wonderland.

OK, back to the tweet.

He works for Texans, not party bosses. I admire that statement. He does work for us. A majority of Texans who voted in November 2012 elected Cruz to the Senate seat held formerly by another Republican, Kay Bailey Hutchison who, I feel compelled to add, served in a manner that bore no resemblance to the way Cruz has served his bosses back home. Hutchison managed to work quite well with Democrats. As a Republican moderate, Hutchison didn’t feel the need to appeal to the base of her party. She knew that legislating requires compromise.

Yep, Cruz works for all Texans, not just those who voted for him. I was part of the minority of voters who in November 2012 cast a ballot for Democrat Paul Sadler. That doesn’t mean I disavow Cruz’s election. I honor it. However, I expect my elected representatives in Congress to honor my wishes too.

I support the Affordable Care Act. I do not want Congress to threaten to throw this nation into default by reneging on our debt obligations. I support the president’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. I believe the president has been measured, nuanced and careful in conducting foreign policy. I favor comprehensive immigration reform. I believe long-term unemployed Americans deserve some help from the government as they look for jobs.

There’s more, but you get the idea. I take positions opposite of where Cruz stands. I am not alone, either.

He works for millions of Texans who oppose his world view. Those of us on the other side of the fence deserve to have our voices heard by our congressional delegation. That includes Sen. Cruz.

I understand the concept of majority rule. That doesn’t mean, though, that the minority is shut out completely. Sen. Cruz acts very much as though he’s listening only to those who agree with him.

He works for 26 millions Texans, not just some of us.

Secret Service agents need to go

You’re a highly trained security officer, trained to protect the president of the United States, the head of state and government of the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

Your government has spent a lot of public money to train you to perform your duties. Therefore, your business is our business and you are accountable not just to the Leader of the Free World, but to the people who’ve bankrolled your training.

Then you go on a bender in Europe as the president is preparing to visit with heads of state of our nation’s European allies. You end up passed out in a hotel hallway. You’re drunk as a skunk, acting in a decidedly unprofessional way while representing — supposedly — the best and the brightest of this nation’s law enforcement community.

And you’re put on administrative leave?


Three Secret Service officers are in serious trouble for conduct so reprehensible it defies description. It’s not the first time. Other officers assigned to the president’s security detail were fired after they were caught cavorting with hookers in Colombia.

This latest incident is just as bad. Maybe worse, given that at least one of the agents rendered himself useless, as he was floundering in a drunken stupor in The Netherlands.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said this about the incident: “The president believes as he has said in the past that everybody representing the United States of America overseas needs to hold himself or herself to the highest standards and he supports Director (Julia) Pierson’s approach, zero-tolerance approach, on these matters.”

Zero tolerance. That sounds good enough for me.

Yes, Russia is a global power

President Obama likely needs to rethink his assessment of Russia’s place in the world of great powers.

He said this week that Russia is a “regional power” that doesn’t pose the greatest threat to the United States. The president said his greater concern is a nuclear bomb going off in Manhattan.


Why does the president need to reconsider this assessment of Russia? Two words come to mind: nuclear arsenal.

Russia inherited the bulk of the Soviet Union’s stockpile of nukes when the U.S.S.R. folded its tent in 1991. That fact alone makes the Russians a world power, no matter the strength of the Soviets’ main foe, the United States of America.

President Obama has been asked in recent days whether 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was right to call Russia our No. 1 geopolitical foe. Obama said “no,” which comes as no surprise. Indeed, he is right to gauge the threat posed by international terror networks as the nation’s top threat. The Russian incursion into Ukraine, its influence on Ukrainian internal affairs and its threat of more military intervention should be of grave concern throughout Europe.

The president, though, seems intent on sticking it in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eye when he downplays the worldwide threat that Russia poses. Yes, the Russians are a significant regional power. They also do possess all those nukes that, as near as anyone can tell, are capable of destroying life as we know it on Planet Earth.

That fact alone makes them a global threat.

Whatever the president says in public probably doesn’t mirror what he and his brain trust are saying about Russia in the Situation Room.

Carter surprises on 'Meet the Press'

Former President Jimmy Carter amazes me.

He’s 89 years young. His voice is still strong. His mind is still sharp. He apparently can still pound a nail with a hammer while building houses for Habitat for Humanity. He also surprises folks with candid answers to difficult questions.

He did so twice today on a “Meet the Press” interview with NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell.


First, he said he fears the National Security Agency is monitoring his e-mails. So, when he corresponds with foreign leaders, he does so the old-fashioned way: He writes notes with pen and paper and mails them via the Postal Service. He is concerned about people’s privacy being harmed by NSA snooping.

Frankly, I believe the former president — being who he is and the job he once held — might have reason to be concerned far more than, say, yours truly or almost any other of the 300 million American citizens.

The second thing he told Mitchell was surprising, and disappointing. Does President Obama consult with the 39th president on foreign policy matters? Mitchell asked. Carter said no.

He noted that other men who succeeded him as president — Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — all have sought his counsel over the years during difficult crises. Barack Obama hasn’t done so.

It’s disappointing to learn that about Obama. It’s not entirely surprising, given what some of his critics have said about his go-it-alone strategy in thinking through some stressful problems. Others in Washington have noted that President Obama doesn’t prefer to dicker and negotiate with legislators and that, too, is in keeping with what President Carter said in the interview broadcast Sunday.

The ex-presidents’ club is one of the most exclusive “organizations” in the world. So few of them are alive at any given time. In Barack Obama’s case, he’s got four of them with whom he can consult. Few men have made decisions as monumental as these men have made and their counsel should be welcome.

I have no knowledge, of course, about who the president calls when the going gets tough. It does sadden me to learn he hasn’t bothered to call one of them with a good bit of knowledge and life experience upon which to lean.

What would Mitt have done?

Mitt Romney’s hindsight is as good as it gets.

It’s picture perfect. The former Republican presidential nominee can see the past. Can he see the future? Well, no better than the man who beat him in the 2012 presidential election.

Still, the former Massachusetts governor blames President Obama’s “naivete” for the escalating tensions in Ukraine precipitated by the surprising virtual annexation of Crimea by Russia.


Romney did tell the world during the most recent presidential campaign that he considered Russia to be this nation’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. I recall thinking at the time that Romney seemed to be selling short the international terror network with which this country has been at all-out war since 9/11.

Did he know in advance that Russia was going to interfere with Ukraine’s internal political squabble? Did he foresee Russian troops moving into Crimea, or did he envision Crimean residents of Russian descent voting to ally the region with Russia and pull out of Ukraine?

I think not.

But more than a year after making that seemingly absurd claim, Romney’s assertion now seems oddly prescient.

Still, it’s fair to ask: How would President Romney have handled the Russian incursion?

He says leaders are able to foresee the future better than Barack Obama foresaw it. I guess he would have been more proactive in working our European allies to head off any Russian threat. That would have worked … how? What would have the Euros been able to do?

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bully’s bully. My own sense is that he wouldn’t be dissuaded from acting no matter what NATO or the European Union threatened to do. The Russians faced another U.S. president in 2008, George W. Bush, when they invaded Georgia. W’s reputation was that of a no-nonsense guy who was unafraid to use force, right? Well, President Bush’s rep didn’t forestall military action by the Russians, either.

The sanctions that the United States and others have imposed on Russia’s key leaders are beginning to bite. They’re going to hurt. Will they force the Russians to back out? Probably not. Short of going to war with the Russians, I’m thinking the president of the United States is handling it about it right.

City pays Nugent to stay away

The Ted Nugent journey into Texas politics has taken another bizarre turn.

Longview, Texas officials had invited the Motor City Madman to appear at its second annual Fourth of July event. Then they disinvited Nugent and paid him 16 grand to stay away.

Good call, Longview City Hall.


Nugent wasn’t “the right feel” for the city’s patriotic celebration, event planners decided. Do you think?

Nugent’s reputation of late has been that of a runaway freight train. He’s out of control. Hand the guy a microphone and he’s likely to spew forth anything that pops into his skull — such as when he referred to the president of the United States as a “subhuman mongrel.” Nugent has signed on as an ally of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and has spoken on Abbott’s behalf at campaign appearances already around the state.

I’m guessing Longview officials didn’t want to risk Nugent saying something similar again, on their watch, as the city sought to honor the nation’s birthday in East Texas.

Why pay the guy $16,000 to stay away? I guess the city figured to make good on half the fee it promised him by inviting him in the first place.

I see it as a pretty good investment in protecting the city’s reputation from someone who gets far more attention from the national media than he deserves.

Booker, Cruz talk; who listens?

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ted Cruz of Texas recently had what was described as a three-hour private lunch.

It struck me when I heard this about two of the Senate’s more garrulous members: Who listens when the two of them get together?

Booker, a Democrat, and Cruz, a Republican, both are known to be two of the least camera-shy members of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. They both seem to love the sound of their own voices, particularly when they’re positioned in front of a microphone. So when Booker said he and his fellow junior member of that august body met, I was intrigued by the idea of the two of them sitting down to hear each other out.

In a larger sense, though, the meeting was good for an important reason. It apparently was Booker’s idea. He said he intends to share private meals with every one of the Senate’s Republican members. Why? He wants to search for common ground with them. He wants to restore some level of collegiality to a body that’s been missing it since, oh, about the time Barack Hussein Obama became president of the United States of America.

I won’t get into who’s to blame for this lack of collegiality. It disappeared between Republicans and Democrats within the Senate. It surely vanished between the Senate and the White House, particularly among the GOP senators and the White House.

I hope Booker goes through with his pledge to meet with all of his Republican colleagues. If he can restore some decency among them, so much the better for Senate and for the cause of good government.

As for meeting with Cruz, I have to salute both men presumably for keeping their big mouths shut long enough to hear what the other guy had to say.

Don't discount pain of economic punishment

Before we let the chicken hawks and armchair generals get too far ahead of themselves in this U.S.-Russia confrontation debate, it’s good to perhaps understand what kind of pain can be delivered via economic sanctions leveled against Russia.

A number of President Obama’s critics want him to do more than just level some specific economic sanctions against Russia. They want some form of military option, such as arming Ukrainian military units and sending troops to NATO nations as a standby warning to Russia.


However, the sanctions that Obama has imposed on a number of key Russian leaders with lots of money spread around in banks throughout the world well could put a serious damper on an already-weak Russian economy.

Russia’s economic growth is near zero. The Crimean region that Russia has effectively annexed is an economic basket case. Corruption still runs rampant throughout Russia, with gangsters and thugs controlling an underground economy that dwarfs many aspects of the above-ground economy.

The measures enacted by the White House through executive orders signed by the president are meant to deny access to financial assets by key Russian leaders. It’s going to cause them considerable personal pain. There well might be more severe measures taken against rank-and-file Russians if Russia ratchets up its military involvement in Ukraine.

Let’s be crystal clear about one non-starter of an idea: War with Russia is out of the question, which Obama has declared. There will be no battlefield confrontation between the nations.

Having said that, there’s no way to guarantee what Russia might do to re-annex three Baltic states — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, all of which are members of NATO. Let us not forget that NATO constitution says that an attack against one member nation is an attack against the entire alliance — which includes the United States of America.

The White House is banking that given the sad state of the Russian economy, the economic punishment just might be enough to give Russia pause if it aims to continue its aggression in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the chicken hawks ought to pipe down.

Realism rules in taking military strike off table

World leaders usually say they are leaving “all options on the table” when dealing with crises.

President Obama, though, has taken another — quite reasonable — approach in trying to find a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

He has ruled out a “military excursion” pitting U.S. armed forces against Russians.

Good call, Mr. President.


The United States does not need another war. It certainly does not need a shooting war with Russia, which — in case anyone needs reminding — is the second-greatest nuclear power on the planet; the United States is No. 1, but the Russians still have the ability to inflict cataclysmic damage.

Thus, the United States will not entertain the idea of engaging Russia on the battlefield.

Critics no doubt will say something about a “timid” U.S. response that “emboldens” Russian President Vladimir Putin. Let them grumble.

The very idea of a U.S.-Russia battlefield confrontation is too chilling to even ponder, let alone discuss out loud.