Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Banish non-scientific ‘polls’

I detest those instant “polls” that seek — ostensibly, at least — to gauge public opinion on contemporary issues.

The Amarillo Globe-News today posted one such “poll” question on one of its opinion pages. It asks readers whether they agree with Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s view that the House of Representatives should impeach President Obama.

OK. Let’s see. The Texas Panhandle in two presidential elections has given the president about 20 percent of the vote. Eighty percent of the vote went for Republicans John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. The tea party wing of the GOP — the party’s most strident voice at the moment — is entrenched firmly in this part of an extremely Republican state.

I’ll take a wild guess that when the results of this “poll” are tabulated, we’ll get roughly a 90 percent approval rating for Dewhurst’s call for a presidential impeachment.

This is just one example. The media do this kind of thing all the time. They ask for immediate responses to pressing national issues. TV networks do it. The one that just slays me comes from a liberal TV talk show host, Ed Shultz, whose MSNBC program “The Ed Show” asks viewers to send in their answers to questions relating to the topic of the evening.

A question might go something like this: Do you agree that the Republican Party is looking after the best interest of rich people while ignoring the needs of poor folks? The answers usually come back about 95 to 5 percent “yes.”

OK, I embellished that question … but not by very much.

These “polls” merely feed into people’s anger, their frustration and they serve no useful purpose other than to gin up responses on websites.

They provide not a bit of useful information.

I just wish the media would stop playing these games.

Time for a new HHS secretary

Kathleen Sebelius has served the nation mostly with distinction during her time as Health and Human Services secretary.

Until now.

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1 as been beset with mountains of trouble, relating mostly to the glitches in the website set up to manage the implementation of the act.


The mess-up has been huge. Is it Sebelius’s fault that her team of computer technicians haven’t been able to handle the huge traffic flow onto the site? No. However, the foul-ups have occurred on her watch. They involve the unveiling of President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment. It has gone badly … to say the very least.

Now the HHS boss says she won’t take part in congressional hearings set for next month, citing scheduling conflicts.

I believe it’s time for her resign and hand the job over to someone else.

The criticism of the ACA rollout, of course, comes from congressional Republicans. What does anyone really expect? They’ve been critical of the law since its inception, its approval by Congress, its affirmation by the Supreme Court and its place at the center of the debate over whether to fund the government and increase the federal debt ceiling.

The very least one could have hoped would be for the unveiling of the law, which took effect while Congress was tying itself in knots over the budget, to occur smoothly. Yes, many millions of Americans have sought to enroll in some insurance plan. But didn’t HHS officials realize that going in? Didn’t Secretary Sebelius foresee the need to ensure that the system would work effectively?

The system has crashed repeatedly. The Obama administration admits it’s been a rocky start since the Oct. 1 rollout. Well, do you think?

Kathleen Sebelius has been on the job since the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency. And as her GOP critics have noted, she had time for an appearance on Jon Stewart’s comedy show, but doesn’t have the time to answer questions from Congress.

It’s time for Sebelius to go.

What has happened to David Dewhurst?

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been bitten by the critter that has infested a growing segment of the Republican Party.

He wants Congress to impeach President Obama. Imagine that: A Texas Republican running for re-election to a powerful statewide office has weighed in with the call for a presidential impeachment.


This is not the man whom Texans have elected several times to statewide office. Something has happened to him.

Oh, I forgot. He lost a U.S. Senate race last year after being considered the prohibitive favorite; he got outflanked on his right by Ted Cruz and more than likely vowed never to let that happen again.

Therefore, he’s now calling for the president’s impeachment.

On what grounds? He says Obama has exerted executive authority that go beyond the Constitution. He mentioned something about the Sept. 11, 2011 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that the White House knew from the moment the fire fight began that our officials needed help immediately, but failed to respond.

I used to think of David Dewhurst as a public official with an unparalleled work ethic. No one outworked this guy. He possesses an outstanding command of legislative detail. I thought that trait served him well as the Texas Senate’s presiding officer.

Now the climate has changed. Tea party activists have taken command of the stage. They’re hogging the spotlight. They are out for political blood. Dewhurst, once thought to be an “establishment Republican,” is now sounding as ferocious as his nemeses on the right.

Perhaps the most astounding aspect of his impeachment call is that, as he told The Texas Observer, he was speaking as a “private citizen.”

Listen up, Gov. Dewhurst: You are not a private citizen.

Something has happened to a once-serious public servant. I’m worried about him — and about the state he has been elected to lead.

Attention now turns to budget panels

Let us now focus our attention on some members of Congress — from both political parties — who have been given the task of working out a long-term federal budget agreement that prevents charades such as the one that just ended.


Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan — who chair the Senate and House budget committees, respectively — are going to begin talking between themselves. They’re both serious politicians (no irony intended, honest) but their task is monumental, given the institutional refusal of both legislative chambers to adopt any kind of strategic approach to these problems.

We came within a few hours this week of defaulting on our nation’s debt obligations. The two-week-long government shutdown sucked an estimated $24 billion from the nation’s economy. It turns out we’ll pay our bills and the government has reopened fully.

President Obama signed the bills into law late Wednesday and said the end of this budget battle removes the “cloud of unease” that had been hovering over the financial world.

I beg to differ, Mr. President.

The unease has just taken a brief respite. It’ll likely return in January and again in February. The money to run the government runs out in January; our borrowing limit expires in February. Many of us out here believe we’ll be right back at it again when those deadlines approach.

Of the two budget panel chairs, Ryan has the more difficult task, given the role the tea party wing of the GOP — of which he is a member — played in prolonging the ridiculous drama that unfolded. The House Republican caucus will continue to fight to eradicate the Affordable Care Act, which only just now has been implemented. They don’t like it and predict all kinds of catastrophe will befall the nation if it is allowed to live on.

Ryan is considered to be a serious and thoughtful young man. I’m withholding my final judgment on him. I’m not sure he’ll be able to resist the enormous pressure he’ll feel from the extreme right wing of his party, although I retain some faith he’ll be able to work constructively with Democrats on his committee and with the likes of Chairwoman Murray in the Senate.

Here’s a bit of advice from out here in the Heartland. Work until you get a deal. You have no need to take extended recesses between now and Christmas. You have much to do and the public — into whose faces you spit when you closed much of the federal government — pay you folks a pretty fair wage to solve these problems.

Finally, Democrats and Republicans can learn from the memories of two presidents — Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. Both men knew how to work the system. They perfected the art of principled compromise.

Now … let’s get busy.

Debt deal delays another crisis

As much as I hate the cliché “kick the can down the road,” I am beginning to hear the tinny sound of that can as it’s being given the boot.

President Obama and congressional Republicans may be on the verge of ending the current debt ceiling crisis with a six-week deal that buys them time to, what?, negotiate further on these fiscal matters.

I’m not yet sure what’s going to emerge from all this talking that’s occurring in D.C., but I fear that it’s going to merely delay the onset of the next fiscal crisis.

It’ll occur in about, oh, six weeks when the debt ceiling limit arrives yet again.

These yahoos know what’s at stake. They understand the consequences of failing to meet our nation’s financial obligations. Why are they even negotiating over this?

Congress’s approval rating is less than 10 percent; an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll puts it at 5 percent. Barack Obama’s poll numbers are much better, but they aren’t great; the Associated Press puts him at 37 percent.

There can be no doubt, none at all, about why our “leaders'” standing is in the tank.

It’s that damn can they keep kicking down the road.

Paychecks still roll in for lawmakers

I am holding out hope that the government shutdown is close to being ended and that the bickering parties will strike a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit.

Before all that happens, I want to vent one more time against those lawmakers — and even the president and vice president — who continue to draw their pay while taking measures that send other federal employees home without pay.

Some of our members of Congress have done the right thing. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., for example has donated his salary to food distribution organizations in his home state. He declared that Americans shouldn’t go hungry while a portion of their government has been shuttered.

There have been others of both parties and I salute them all for doing what I believe is the noble thing.

My own congressman, Republican Mac Thornberry of Clarendon? He’s still getting paid. Hmmm. I am guessing a man of his means isn’t exactly living off his $174,000 annual salary.

I am acutely aware that House members, senators and executive branch leaders surrendering their salaries for a brief period of time won’t balance the budget, it won’t bring us closer to good fiscal health and it won’t settle this dispute between the parties.

However, I’ve long respected those who lead by example. We elect these people to lead, to make tough decisions on our behalf and to demonstrate that they are men and women of their word.

One way to demonstrate their commitment is to share in the pain their decisions are having on others.

Giving up a few weeks’ pay is one of those ways.

Worse than ‘dog poop’? Really, Rep. Grayson?

So … just how frustrated are members of Congress getting these days?

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., took the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday and said congressional Republicans’ standing in the polls ranks them below “dog poop and toenail fungus.”

Oh, please.

An Arizona state legislator recently compared President Barack Obama directly to Adolf Hitler, which ought to qualify as the supreme insult to civilized human beings everywhere. She has refused to take back her nasty reference.

Grayson’s outburst on the House floor isn’t new for the Florida blowhard. He served a single term in the House before losing his seat in 2010. He was elected once more in 2012 and has picked up where he left off, blustering with hyperbolic references to his political foes.

Grayson fits into that category of national politician who is in love with the sound of his voice and just cannot get to a TV camera quickly enough.

The government shutdown is dragging on. Polling data suggest Congress’s public standing indeed has reached record-low levels. While Grayson and other gasbags are making headlines with idiotic references to their political foes, there appears to be some movement to ending this shutdown and lifting the federal budget debt ceiling — which is the really big deal in all of this bluster.

These times require serious men and women to speak seriously to us about how they intend to govern. Alan Grayson does not fit that category of public official.

Is it true? Can there finally be a budget breakthrough?

I try to remain optimistic on most matters, even those things relating to politics, policy and the federal government.

Therefore, the glimmer of hope we’re seeing late Wednesday about a possible budget breakthrough strengthens me enough to want to face another day.


President Obama is meeting Thursday with key congressional leaders of both parties to start hammering out a deal to reopen part of the government and avoid the cataclysm that would occur if the government fails to increase its debt limit.

Turns out the chairman of the House Budget Committee, former GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, may have a way out of this mess. It involves a short-term spending resolution that is supposed to buy the principals time to hammer out a deal on “entitlement reform.”

Will there ever be a long-term funding solution that avoids this kind of ridiculousness in the future? That remains to be seen.

At least everyone is talking to each other.

Let’s get this deal done.

Bring ‘CR’ to a vote … and reopen government if it passes

President Obama laid it out there for all to see and hear.

If the speaker of the House of Representatives is right, that a continuing resolution to fund the government lacks the votes in the House, then put the issue to a vote to decide this matter. Period.

Speaker John Boehner keeps insisting the continuing resolution doesn’t have enough support to pass. With that, we’re supposed to take his word for it. Never mind that some independent analysts have suggested at least 22 Republican House members would vote “yes” on a CR, putting the issue over the top assuming all Democratic lawmakers would vote for it.

The president held a news conference today and spelled out as plainly as possible: Put the issue to a vote and let’s find out who’s right.

It cannot be that hard for the speaker to bring the matter up for a vote of the full House. He is the speaker, the Man of the House, the guy with the gavel. Do it, Mr. Speaker.

Then he and the rest of his gang can get back to an even more serious matter: raising the debt ceiling to enable the U.S. government to keep paying its bills.

Obama used some strong language today in excoriating what he called a “radical” bunch of GOP lawmakers. He accused them of extorting the government to get their way.

We’ll raise the debt ceiling, but only if we get everything we want. That’s how Obama framed their argument. Is that wrong? Isn’t that what they’re demanding? Has he misrepresented their argument? I think not on all counts.

If they don’t get what they want, the nation defaults on its obligations, it refuses to spend money already appropriated by Congress, its credit rating gets downgraded — again — and the markets are going to react very badly, taking a lot of retirement account balances into the crapper.

First things first. Vote on the continuing resolution to determine who’s got the votes. If it passes — which I’m betting it would — the government can get back to functioning fully.

Put spending plan to a House vote

President Obama has introduced an idea in the on-going debate over the government shutdown that deserves immediate attention … and action.

Put the Senate-passed spending plan to a vote in the House of Representatives, the president said.

What a concept, letting the majority of a legislative chamber decide the future of legislation.


The holdup to date appears to be from a handful of the most fervent radicals within the Republican House caucus. They number about 30 — maybe 40, depending on who’s doing the counting — members who don’t want to fund the Affordable Care Act and are attaching a defunding mechanism to any spending bill that should be considered.

House Speaker John Boehner is caving in to that small minority within his caucus, let alone an even smaller minority within the entire body of the House.

The president demands this of the speaker: Put the issue to a vote and let the entire House of Representatives decide the fate of a spending bill the Senate has approved. The bill includes money for the ACA, and it also reopens the federal government agencies that have closed because Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on whether to allow an establish federal law proceed — as it was enacted by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Put it to a vote.