Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Boehner angry because Obama won’t negotiate?

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s office has released a video that criticizes President Obama for negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria while refusing to negotiate with Republicans over federal budget issues.

Hold on a minute, Mr. Speaker.

Here’s the video:


I recall clearly during a previous budget battle that Boehner declared quite openly and vocally that he was finished negotiating with the president. He wouldn’t talk to Obama about budget matters, apparently out of anger over the way the budget talks had broken down. The speaker said there would be no more face-to-face contact with the president. Nothing. None.

Now he’s upset because Obama is talking to Putin about the Russians’ proposal to have Syria turn over its chemical weapons arsenal to international inspectors, even after Putin wrote an essay for the New York Times that criticized the United States for considering itself an “exceptional” nation.

I figure that President Obama thinks he has more to gain with Putin — a former head of the KGB spy agency — than with Boehner, whose own political party has been commandeered by a faction within it.

I believe the speaker ought to be angry with those within his own House Republican caucus.

Help me understand this budget fight

A lot of things go over my head. I’ll admit to being a bit slow on the uptake at times.

Take the budget battle that’s building into a donnybrook — yet again — on Capitol Hill. I’m puzzled over why the Republican congressional leadership has allowed the tea party wing take it over and threaten to hijack the government because it dislikes a duly enacted law that’s been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act has become a bargaining chip in the budget battle. The right-wing crazies in Congress say they’ll approve a continuing resolution on the budget only if it defunds the ACA, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. If they don’t get the resolution approved in about 10 days, the government shuts down.

Think about this for a moment. We’re still at war in Afghanistan; Social Security checks will need to go out to those who need them; so will veterans disability payments; roads are crumbling; Colorado residents are digging out from horrific weather events in their state … and there might be more weather-related misery occurring in Texas as storm clouds migrate north from Mexico.

You get the picture, yes?

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, a so-called “establishment Republican” who’s been whipsawed by the tea party cabal within his caucus, says the GOP-led House has “no interest” in shutting down the government. Who’s he kidding?

Everyone who hates “Obamacare” has forgotten that Congress passed the law, the president signed it, it survived a Supreme Court challenge when the high court ruled that the law indeed is constitutional. It has been settled.

What’s more, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t even been implemented fully — and still congressional Republicans have declared it a “failed policy.” Aren’t there independent studies out there showing that premiums have increased at a slower rate than predicted and aren’t there 30 million or so Americans who are about to have health insurance?

The moronic push to defund the health care law would deny those folks insurance. That’s a good thing for the country?

While our so-called “leaders” wage budget war, a lot of other pressing needs are being ignored. Does anyone remember immigration reform?

I don’t understand a lot of things. This battle is really pushing me to the limit.

Obama is winning the Syria debate

With all due respect to the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, President Obama is emerging as a victor in the struggle to rid Syria of the chemical weapons it now says it possesses.

Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said on Fox News Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the big winner here and that President Obama has been reduced to a bit player in this ongoing drama.

Well, that’s about what we’ve come to expect from a leading House Republican.


Living as I do in the heart of Anti-Obama Country, I am acutely aware of the negative views of the president’s handling of the Syria crisis. I am not happy with the way he’s handled some developments in this crisis. I wished initially he hadn’t backed off his threat to strike Syria in retaliation for that government’s gassing of civilians.

But consider what’s happened.

* Barack Obama issued the threat to hit Syrian military targets to dissuade Syria from using chemical weapons in the future.

* Russia, one of Syria’s main allies, steps in with a plan to get Syria to turn its chemical weapons over to international inspectors.

* The Syrians, who at first denied having the weapons, agreed.

* Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart agree to the deal and have given Syria a timetable to comply.

I agree the deal is fraught with danger. Syria might not comply, forcing the United States to follow through with its strike threat.

What was the catalyst for all this? The president’s initial threat to hit Syria.

Does that make Barack Obama look stronger or weaker? I believe it strengthens the president. Of course, those in the opposing party say he is weakened by all this. I would suggest that a strategy that results in Syria giving up its chemical weapons without having to bomb them into doing it takes us closer to an end to a serious crisis.

That view, of course, will be a non-starter for those who think the worst of the 44th president of the United States.

Strike won’t start a new ‘war’

President Obama’s speech on Syria is worth reading over and over.

Of particular note should be the president’s assertion that a strike against Syrian military targets will not thrust the United States into another ground war.

He said it Tuesday night. He’s been saying it time and again since declaring his intent to hit the Syrians for gassing civilians on Aug. 21. The declaration has fallen on deaf ears. But read it here.


Obama said it once again in a nationally televised speech to the nation. Will it persuade the doubters? I’m not taking that one to the bank. I have not been a doubter on that fundamental point, which is that the United States will not commit to a war with no end.

The president made it as clear as he could. Any military strike — if it comes — will have a specific set of goals. It will be brief, it will be intense and it will be intended to deter Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from using the chemical weapons again.

The speech, of course, came during a period of intense diplomatic activity. Russia entered the picture with a plan to persuade Syria to surrender the chemical weapons and turn it over to international inspectors.

Again, the speech is worth reading. It’s attached to this blog post. Pay careful attention to the pledge that a strike — if the diplomatic initiative fails — will be a limited engagement.

I do not see a war on the horizon.

Assad to surrender weapons he doesn’t have?

Syrian dictator Bashar as-Assad virtually denied on Charlie Rose’s show last night that he possessed chemical weapons, which President Obama says he used in August on civilians in Syria.

Now he has agreed to get rid of the weapons. Reports say he’ll surrender the weapons to international inspectors, who then will dispose of them. He’s trying to avoid being hit by the United States, which President Obama has threatened to do as punishment for using the weapons.


Which is it, Mr. Dictator? Do you have the weapons or don’t you? Did you gas civilians, including women and children, or didn’t you?

Assad dodged Rose’s questions fairly deftly Monday night regarding whether he used the weapons. He was even less convincing about whether his military establishment possesses them.

Take a look here at the interview.

Seems we have a strongman talking out of both sides of his mouth. Big surprise, eh?

Waiting on Mac Thornberry to weigh in on Syria

Has anyone seen or heard from U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry lately?

I know that’s a rhetorical question. Some folks have seen and/or heard him as he travels through the vast 13th Congressional District of the Texas Panhandle, which he has represented since 1995.

But here’s the deal: The nation is roiling at this moment over whether President Obama should order missile strikes against Syrian military forces in retaliation for their use of chemical weapons, but Mac Thornberry, a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services and Permanent Select Intelligence committees, has been all but silent on the matter.


I spent some time this morning perusing Thornberry’s website. I looked for press releases, issues statements, “white papers” on national security. Nothing in there about Syria.

I’m waiting for Thornberry to offer some wisdom on this matter, given that so many members of Congress have weighed in already.

I am acutely aware that much of the public commentary on Syria has come from the usual cadre of Democratic and Republican legislative blowhards. Thornberry isn’t one of them. He’s been a quiet and fairly studious member of Congress since winning the House seat in that landmark 1994 election.

However, he’s also had a ringside seat on some difficult national security issues. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Thornberry has been required to study diligently issues relating to the use of our massive military might. What’s more, as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, he has had access to some of the most sensitive national security material imaginable. The late U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Lufkin — who also served on that panel — once told me that committee members saw virtually everything the president saw. I’m quite certain Thornberry has access to a lot of information about Syria and its possession of deadly nerve agents.

The nation has entered the most serious national security debate since President George W. Bush sought authorization to go to war with Iraq, citing dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed cache of chemical weapons — which we learned later did not exist.

President Obama’s national security team has presented what appears to be compelling proof that Syria has used the gas on civilians and it has more of it stashed away. He wants to hit those stockpiles in a series of air strikes. The military says it’s ready to go.

Mac Thornberry, our elected representative, has had time to digest the information.

I’m waiting to hear whether he supports striking at a seriously evil dictator.

Talk to us, Mac.

POTUS faces key moment if Congress says ‘no’

Secretary of State John Kerry says President Obama can bomb Syria even if Congress votes against authorizing him to do so.

Not so fast, Mr. President.


Kerry makes the point in an interview with the Huffington Post that the president, as commander in chief, retains the authority to authorize military strikes even if he doesn’t have the backing of the legislative branch of government. Yes he does, but …

There is a huge political calculation at home the president must consider, which the Huff Post notes. It is that the Republican-led House of Representatives seems almost certain to push ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Obama. That, in my mind, would be a grotesque overreaction. It is, however, part of today’s political reality in Washington. Those who oppose the president really detest him and his policies.

I happen to believe the United States must strike at Syria to punish the government there for using Sarin gas on civilians. Obama has threatened to strike at Syrian military targets; the military has drawn up plans; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the military machine is ready to strike when it gets the order.

The strikes must be surgical, effective and must get the job done in short order. There must be a commitment that U.S. troops won’t storm into Damascus once the bombing stops.

However, the president is having a tough time selling this strike to reluctant lawmakers.

Should he act on his own, without their authorization? No. As the president himself said, in addition to being commander in chief, he also is the leader of the world’s largest representative democracy.

Sessions ‘not being partisan’?

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is using an interesting tactic in criticizing President Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis.

He said that President George W. Bush would have frightened Syrian dictator Bashar as-Assad enough to prevent the Syrians from using chemical weapons on innocent civilians.


Sessions assured a town hall audience, mind you, that he isn’t being partisan. “We have only one president at a time,” he said. But by golly, if the 43rd president had said the same thing the 44th president said in warning Assad, the dictator would be scared.

I think the senator, who’s as partisan as they come in his view of policy and politics, has thrown out the Mother of All Hypotheticals.

Follow John Kerry’s lead, Mr. President

I’m beginning to think President Obama needs to change the way he views his administration.

Instead of referring to everything and everyone who works within the administration in the first person singular — as in “my national security team” or “my administration” — the president needs to start using the first person plural.

Bill McKenzie, a columnist and blogger for the Dallas Morning News, is on point with his view that Secretary of State John Kerry has been more “out front” on the Syria crisis than the president.


Obama needs to follow Kerry’s lead.

To do that, though, he’ll need to start adapting to the view that the administration and its policies don’t belong to the man at the top. It’s a shared responsibility. “Our administration,” or “our national security team” would be the more appropriate way to define the team that occupies the White House, the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom and all the other institutions that comprise the massive federal government.

It’s all been a part of one element of Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House that has bothered me. The president tends to treat the government he administers a tad too personally — as if it all belongs to him. He took ownership of the presidency the moment he took the oath of office. The reality, though, is that the office actually belongs to us, the people.

I’m sure y’all have heard him use the first person singular perhaps a bit too liberally during his more than four years in office. Well, he’s now facing arguably the worst crisis of his time in the White House since the very beginning, when he walked into a financial firestorm.

The Syria crisis is testing the president’s resolve. His secretary of state, however, seems to be speaking with tremendous moral authority, not to mention outrage over the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons.

The man in charge of things in D.C., Barack Obama, ought to adopt John Kerry’s outlook — while understanding that everyone on duty at this moment has a shared responsibility to find a solution to this crisis.

Iran awaits word on U.S. resolve

I’m beginning to think the fundamental question of whether the United States should attack Syria over its use of chemical weapons is this: If the United States pulls back on a direct challenge to make Syria pay for its actions, will it embolden Iran to commit even more mischief in the Middle East?

President Obama has pledged to strike Syria if it crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons on civilians. The Syrians did the deed and the United States is now poised to launch air strikes. Obama has formally asked Congress for authorization and it appears that while the Senate might approve the request, the House of Representatives will pull back.

Without full approval by both houses of Congress, the president is left with two terrible options: walking away from his threat to strike the Syrians or acting on his own as commander in chief by issuing the order to strike.

If he goes it alone, he faces the wrath of a Republican-led House of Reps that detests virtually every policy he proposes. If the president walks away and gives Syria a pass on the hideous act of gassing civilians, he risks looking feckless in the face of imminent threats to a critical region.

Waiting in the wings is the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s primary allies, an exporter of terrorism and a known hater of the United States, aks “The Great Satan.”

The Iranians can bring a lot of misery to the region in a huge hurry if we fail to act.

The world awaits to learn how Congress will respond.