Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Obama snubs Putin, gets cheers from both sides

President Obama’s decision to forgo a bilateral summit meeting with Russian President/strongman Vladimir Putin has drawn high praise from, get this, Republicans as well as Democrats.

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/global-economy/316061-obamas-canceling-of-putin-meeting-draws-bipartisan-praise

Obama is going to Moscow to attend a meeting of the G-20 nations. He’d been scheduled to meet privately with Putin prior to the economic summit. Then something happened. Putin decided to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who’s been on the lam as U.S. authorities have implored to answer for leaking national security secrets to the rest of the world.

Obama’s decision was the right one as it sticks it in the eye of Putin, who has shown little interest in cooperating with his so-called American “partners” in trying to resolve the Snowden matter.

In truth, Obama has few options to persuade the Russians to hand Snowden over to U.S. authorities. The United States has no extradition treaty with Russia, so the Russians are free to act as they see fit. That doesn’t mean the American president has to take it lying down.

Barack Obama’s canceling of the bilateral summit has embarrassed Putin on the world stage.

To which many of us would say: Putin had it coming.

As the link attached to this blog notes, U.S.-Russia relations are heading for the deep freeze, which of course is nothing new.

Explain those fears, Mitt

Mitt Romney talked some sense in trying to curb some congressional Republicans’ enthusiasm for shutting down the government while defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Bravo, Mitt! The right-wing rogues within his party — the folks who never quite trusted the centrist-leaning former Massachusetts governor — are out of control. They’re the tea party new guys who don’t quite understand the consequence that will cascade down on them if they succeed in shuttering the federal government.

http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/07/19914511-romney-re-enters-gop-fray?lite

But then Romney veered off into a strange little tangent about what has happened since President Obama’s re-election — in which he defeated Romney by nearly 5 million votes.

“I must admit. It has been hard to watch or read the news,” he said. “What we feared would happen, is happening.”

What?

I kind of wish Romney would go into detail about what is happening that upsets him so much, or what is happening that would have been different if President Romney were at the helm.

Let’s see: We’ve added about a million jobs since Obama’s re-election; unemployment is down to 7.4 percent, which isn’t great but it surely is a lot better than the 9 percent jobless rate the president inherited when he took office in January 2009; the budget deficit has been slashed significantly; we’re continuing to kill terrorists around the world.

Have we reached a state of geopolitical nirvana? Of course not. The Obama administration has committed some serious mistakes. Those errors, though, do not rise to the level of “scandal” that’s being portrayed in the right-wing mainstream media.

My threshold question to Mitt, though, is this: How would any of this been different had you been in charge?

Watch out, Stockman enters fray

Republican Steve Stockman, who in my mind is vying for the title of Texas’s looniest member of Congress, says he has a plan to defund Obamacare without shutting down the government.

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/texas-on-the-potomac/2013/08/have-no-fear-rep-steve-stockman-is-here-to-save-the-government-from-shutting-down/

Stockman hails from the Houston suburb of Friendswood. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 after a 16-year hiatus from Congress; he had served a single term from 1995 to 1997 before being drummed out because he was, um, a bit on the flaky side.

His flakiness hasn’t really subsided in the interim. He’s back with a vengeance, threatening for instance to seek to impeach President Obama for enacting executive orders to get some things done in Washington — given that the GOP-led House isn’t doing anything constructive.

Stockman now says has a plan to stop the Affordable Care Act.

Stockman’s resolution would suspend any federal funds that would support any provision of Obamacare. The bill attacks the health care program, stating that a majority of lawmakers believe it violates the Constitution, according to the Houston Chronicle. I believe the gentleman from the Gulf Coast misstates the level of belief in the law’s constitutionality. It might be that most Republicans — who comprise a majority of the House — believe the law to be illegal. It’s a stretch, though, to suggest that most of the entire House — which still has a significant number of Democrats — has lined up in that camp.

And if memory serves, the Supreme Court ruled that the law is constitutional. Aren’t the justices — most of whom were appointed by conservative Republican presidents — supposed to settle these things?

Yep, the planet is warming

My late mother had a saying that took to task those who failed to see the big picture.

“That guy is so narrow minded,” Mom would say, “that he can look through a keyhole with both eyes.”

It always made for a good chuckle when she said it, but her wry wit seems a bit more topical these days when I hear people debate whether Planet Earth is getting warmer. More evidence has arrived that suggests it is doing exactly that.

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/texas-on-the-potomac/2013/08/planet-continues-to-warm-to-new-normal/

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has issued a report that talks about melting ice caps, rising sea levels, loss of marine habitat and threats to coastal communities on every continent. The average annual temperature worldwide is getting warmer, NOAA reports.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the State of the Climate report also notes, “Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reached 400 parts per million last May, and averaged 392.6 for 2012, the highest in 800,000 years.”

The CO2 level is troublesome in this regard: The deforestation of tropical regions in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia is well-known; those trees didn’t just die of “natural causes.” They were cut down by human beings and as we all learned in junior high school science class, vegetation — such as trees — consume CO2 while emitting oxygen.

The global-warming naysayers keep harping on anecdotal evidence that the world isn’t actually getting warmer. They chide environmentalists such as former Vice President Al Gore for crying “wolf!” over the global warming issue. Remember the brutal winter we had in the Amarillo in late 2012 and early 2013? The temps stayed cold for seemingly forever. Yes, the prolonged cold produced plenty of jokes debunking the global warming “alarmists” who supposedly are out to destroy the fossil-fuel industry because of all that gas it spews into the atmosphere.

Let’s not debate that global warming is in fact occurring. We can debate, perhaps, whether it’s manmade or part of the planet’s epochal cycle. Either way, a lot of human beings and wildlife are being put at risk.

Does humankind have a way to stem global warming? Sure it does. First, though, it has to find the will.

RNC concern for fairness: real or contrived?

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has issued a stern warning to NBC and CNN: Don’t air films about Hillary Rodham Clinton to avoid being shut out of Republican presidential debates during the 2016 election season.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/315513-rnc-warns-nbc-cnn-to-drop-clinton-projects-or-lose-2016-debates

I can’t pretend to know what’s in anyone’s heart, but Priebus says showing such a film would create an unfair advantage for the former first lady/senator/secretary of state were she to run against a Democratic Party primary field. Oh, he also mentions the advantage she’d have against the Republican nominee in the fall campaign, were she to be nominated by the Democrats.

“This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate,” Priebus wrote. “I find this disturbing and disappointing.”

You know what? I think he might have a point. I wonder, though, about the wisdom of cutting the networks out of the debate process by showing the film. CNN is planning a feature-length film about HRC’s public service career; NBC is planning to air a four-part miniseries.

A couple of questions need fleshing out, however. Will these films look at the bad along with the good? No one in the know is saying how HRC will be portrayed. The best option would be characterize her in a neutral light — which wouldn’t be nearly good enough for those on the right who despise her so deeply. It might not be good enough, either, for those on the left who support her so ardently.

Make no mistake that Hillary Clinton is a compelling public figure. Still, it’s not yet been determined whether she’s actually going to run for president in 2016. Everyone with an opinion on the matter seems to think she is a shoo-in to seek the White House one final time.

Stranger things than a surprise announcement to the contrary, though, can and have happened.

Stay tuned.

Al-Qaida threat prompts needed response

The standing down of U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East provides an example of a lesson learned from a tragic event.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/05/politics/us-embassies-close/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

I refer to Benghazi, which has become a sort of shorthand for the terrible Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in that Libyan city, which left four U.S. officials dead, including the nation’s ambassador to Libya. Benghazi also has become a prime target for right-wing conspiracy theorists who keep contending that the “scandal” is the result of gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration and the State Department.

I contend, however, that it was a tragedy brought on by the confusion of a fire fight that certainly was the result of some mistakes. Are senior administration officials to blame for purposely deceiving the public? I doubt that is the case.

But the standing down of embassy compounds shows that national security officials can learn from those mistakes and seek to prevent future tragedies.

Al-Qaida reportedly had been planning some kind of major attack on U.S. installations, which prompted the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Agency to order the closures of the embassies and the heightened alert of our military forces stationed near the trouble spots.

I, too, wish Benghazi never had happened and I wish we could bring those brave Americans back to life. What’s done is done and the nation mourns that tragedy. I am grateful, though, that our national security team can learn from — and act on — the mistakes it has made.

FEMA shifts gears on West relief

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, once the bogeyman in Texas, has changed its mind and will expedite federal aid to help West, Texas rebuild after the devastating fertilizer plant explosion this past fall.

It interests me that Gov. Rick Perry, who tore FEMA a new one when it first denied the federal disaster declaration, hasn’t yet actually thanked the feds publicly for it.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/us/texas-fema-plant-blast/index.html

Perry instead praised the state effort in appealing that decision, as reported by CNN. I get that the governor is proud of the state’s effort to persuade the feds to change their mind. It is to the state’s credit that it was able to move the federal bureaucracy.

How much harm would it do, though, for the Republican governor to say a good word about the Democratic administration that enabled FEMA to do the right thing?

I guess it would do a lot of harm, given that Perry well could be positioning himself for another run at the presidency. He can’t look too, um, friendly toward those dreaded Democrats.

Perry in deep hole for 2016

Rick Perry needs to get his act together in a big hurry if he’s entertaining the idea of running for president once more in 2016.

The Republican Texas governor is lagging far behind former first lady/Sen./Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a possible matchup for the next presidential election.

http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2013/07/hillary-clinton-trounces-rick-perry-in-presidential-match-up-perry-ted-cruz-lag-behind-in-gop-primary/

Clinton trounces Perry by significant double-digit margins, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll. The closest Republicans are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who trail Clinton by 6 and 8 points, respectively, in the poll.

Perry’s poll standing? He falls 16 points behind Clinton.

I am well aware that this is early in the cycle for the next presidential campaign. Clinton hasn’t even declared her intentions, although the smart money says she’s going to run once she catches her breath from all the globetrotting she did as secretary of state. HRC set some kind of travel record for number of countries visited and miles flown during her four years as the nation’s top diplomat.

Were she to run, my hunch is that she’ll be virtually unstoppable. That is the calculation anyone who challenges her will have to make — especially if they cannot improve on double-digit polling deficits.

Global war on terror far from over

The standing down today of 21 U.S. embassies around the world because of so-called terrorist “chatter” has opened up a bit of a debate over whether President Obama said the “global war on terror is over.”

It also illustrates how headlines can be, well, a bit misleading.

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/05/23/obama-global-war-on-terror-is-over

The headline on this link illustrates the point.

It tells of speech Obama made in May in which he declared a significant change in U.S. strategy in fighting international terrorists. He vowed to end drone strikes, restated his intention to close the U.S. terrorist prison in Guantanamo, Cuba and declared that the global war as we’ve known it since 9/11 has come to an end.

But as I read the story contained in the attached link, I read that the president declared his intention to keep looking for bad guys, to keep searching for their hiding places and to kill or capture them whenever possible.

Yet, the president’s many critics in the conservative mainstream media keep harping on half-truths and keep trying to put words in his mouth in the wake of the embassy stand-down.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to remain at war with international terrorist organizations throughout the remainder of Barack Obama’s time in office and we’re going to keep fighting that war well into the next administration’s tenure in the White House. Heck, we might still be fighting them for the rest of all of our lives.

Our strategies do change, though, as circumstances warrant. That’s what I’m hearing the president say about the global war on terror.

Jobs are up; jobless rate down … still no love

The U.S. Labor Department today reported 162,000 jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in July, while the jobless rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest in nearly five years.

But still, despite that, the news is being received with a shrug and a “so what?” even from those who detest President Obama and his economic policies.

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2013/08/02/jobs-report-july/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fortunefinance+%28Fortune+Finance%3A+Hedge+Funds%2C+Markets%2C+Mergers+%26+Acquisitions%2C+Private+Equity%2C+Venture+Capital%2C+Wall+Street%2C+Washington%29&utm_content=Google+UK

It honestly puzzles me. Then again, I don’t get paid to analyze this data. I’m watching all this unfold from the peanut gallery, like most Americans – and that includes the TV talk show chatterboxes who purport to be the know-it-alls of everything that’s supposed to matter.

This administration took office with the nation in free fall. We were losing – depending on who’s counting – 700,000 to 800,000 jobs each month. Banks were crashing. Housing markets all across the country were cratering. A member of my family – a well-educated architect – personified the agony of what happened when he lost his job as the housing market disintegrated all along the West Coast.

What’s happened since then? The government added rules that added accountability to lenders who were loaning money to people who couldn’t repay their loans. Rules for banks were tightened. The government pumped money into state and local economies – such as Texas and Amarillo, where officials were more than happy to take it. Jobs have been added at a slow, but reasonably steady rate.

Is the economy growing fast enough? No. Considering where we were at the start of 2009 and where we’ve gone since then, though, I’d rate the policies a success.

Yes, some individuals disagree with that. Let ‘em disagree. I’ll stand by what I’ve witnessed from the cheap seats.

Oh, and my family member who lost job in 2009? He’s back to work … as an architect.