Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

Trump to NFL players: Stand for anthem, or else?

Donald J. Trump is sounding like he’s issuing some sort of veiled threat against pro football players who don’t stand for the National Anthem.

My question is this: What’s he going to do about it?

According to The Associated Press: Amid a series of tweets Saturday against criticism of the federal response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, the president returned to the world of sports and society: “Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!”

AP is reporting that the president won’t tolerate any further protests by these athletes.

What’s the next step? Is the president going to declare martial law and suspend the rights of the athletes to protest what they believe is racial inequality in the enforcement of the law? Lest we forget, that is the original object of the players’ protests that began this past season when quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled while the anthem was being played.

I just wish the president would stick to more important and relevant matters. I can think of quite a few: North Korea, tax reform and, oh yeah, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands devastation brought by Hurricane Maria.

Here is what House Speaker Paul Ryan said, according to the AP:

“I do really believe his heart’s in the right place,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I think what matters is that we have to show people that we are an inclusive society, that we want everyone to succeed,” he said. Ryan also acknowledged that the original point of the player demonstration — racial injustice and police mistreatment of African-Americans — has become obscured by the narrower issue of how to act during the anthem.

“I think we should just have separate and distinct conversations. Because when you merge it into the flag and the anthem, it’s lost,” Ryan said.

Put another way: This story has spiraled out of control.

So many ‘un’s to characterize this president

Donald J. Trump is a man characterized by many descriptions using the prefix “un.”

He’s unpredictable, unconventional, unpresidential, unaware, uncontrollable, unbridled, unhinged (at times). There’s probably a lot more that I can’t think of at the moment. But you get the idea.

It remains to be seen just how this fellow is going to govern.

The president recently stuck a shiv in the back of his “fellow Republican” colleagues in Congress by agreeing to a deal offered by the dreaded Democratic opposition. It came from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Nancy and Chuck,” as Trump referred to them.

They tossed out a 90-day extension to keep the government running. It included some money for Hurricane Harvey relief. Trump took the deal and then plunged the Republican majority in both congressional chambers into near panic.

The extension and the debt ceiling increase now becomes an issue leading into the 2018 mid-term election, which is something the GOP did not want to occur.

Is this the art of the deal?

This isn’t how you cut the “best deal possible,” as Trump kept telling the nation while he campaigned for the presidency. But it’s the deal he struck. Jaws dropped all over Washington, D.C. Some chatter has wondered whether Trump is adopting former President Clinton’s strategy of “triangulation,” that positioned the president between diehards within both parties.

I don’t believe Trump knows enough about politics to employ such a brainy strategy. After all, both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — two savvy Republicans — say the president is “new” to this political game.

Let’s add unseasoned to the list of descriptions, shall we?

It looks for all the world as though we’re headed into a brave new world blunderbuss politics as executed by the man who sits in the Oval Office.

Politicians ‘play politics’? Shocking, simply shocking!

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is incensed that congressional Democrats worked out a debt-limit deal with Donald J. Trump. He accused them of “playing politics” with the suffering of Americans living on the Texas Gulf Coast, who are trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey’s savage assault.

Why, I never …

The speaker needs to look inward just a bit to understand that Republicans have perfected the art of “playing politics.” They do it quite well, too. Indeed, the practice of kicking issues around like the proverbial political football is a bipartisan endeavor.

Allow me, though, to look briefly at two examples of GOP politics-playing.

In 2011, a tornado tore through Joplin, Mo. Republicans decided to hold money for relief in that community hostage to finding ways to pay for it. They wanted to cut money from other budget line items to finance the Joplin aid package. At the time, it was virtually unheard of for members of Congress to balk at rushing to the side of Americans in desperate trouble.

In this case, led by then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the GOP did that. Playing politics? You bet!

Example No. 2: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. President Obama nominated an eminently qualified jurist to replace him, U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared only hours after Scalia’s death that Obama wouldn’t be allowed to fill this seat. The Senate would wait for the election to occur and then give that opportunity to the next president.

It was a huge gamble at the time. It paid off, though, for Republicans when Donald Trump was elected president. McConnell and Senate Republicans, though, managed to thwart a sitting president’s constitutional authority to nominate a federal jurist purely for political gain.

Did the Senate GOP leader play pure partisan politics with that issue? Uhh, yeah. Just a tad.

So, spare me the righteous indignation, Mr. Speaker, about Democrats “playing politics” with the debt ceiling. Your guy in the Oval Office — the self-proclaimed “greatest dealmaker ” in the history of Planet Earth — caved to Democrats’ demands.

Is he playing politics, too? Hmmm?

So much for compassion: Trump dumps DACA

Donald J. Trump is likely to demonstrate yet again that his presidency is the product of a diehard Republican “base” and that he owes the base every favor he can bestow.

He has decided, according to Politico, to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But, get this: He’s going to wait six months before he pulls the plug. The president’s announcement is set for Tuesday.

What does this do? It allows the president to say he’s kept this campaign promise that the base loves; it also gives Congress a window to legislate a solution to allowing U.S. residents who as children were brought here illegally by their parents.

I had maintained a sliver of hope that Trump would agree to let Barack Obama’s executive order stand. DACA residents comprise those individuals who came here as children — some of whom were infants and/or toddlers. Their parents entered the country illegally, but those children have grown up living as Americans.

The United States is the only country they know. Yet they remain “criminals” in the minds of those who want ’em all tossed out.

Many of Trump’s Republican Party “allies” in Congress have broken ranks with the president on this issue. House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t want to rescind DACA; neither does U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s senior Republican; other key Republicans across the country have weighed in against efforts to repeal DACA. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a leading conservative GOP executive, wants DACA to remain.

Not the president. At least not six months from now.

As Politico reports: Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have said that Congress needs to pass a law to protect the so-called Dreamers.

“My hope is that as part of this process we can work on a way to deal with this issue and solve it through legislation, which is the right way to do it and the constitutional way to do it,” Rubio told CNN in June.

Here’s the Politico story.

How would that legislation work? What would it look like? Would the president sign it or veto it? I guess the answer to the last question would be whether Congress could approve a DACA law with a veto-proof majority.

Given the tensions that have roiled the nation in recent weeks and the growing belief that the Trump administration cares damn little about sticky issues such as comprehensive immigration reform, such a majority might be in the cards.

This decision isn’t as stark as it could have been. It’s still pretty damn heartless of the president to toss aside millions of residents who have known no other life than what they’ve established in the United States of America.

My advice to Congress? Get busy. Right now.

Teamwork, not warnings, is in order, Mr. President

Teamwork, Mr. President. Teamwork.

You need to reach out for help from Congress, not issue warnings of an “or else” consequence if lawmakers fail to enact a “once in a generation” tax overhaul.

Donald Trump ventured to Missouri today to hawk a plan to change the federal tax system. His public remarks were, typically, short on details. The rough outlines suggest that the president wants to cut tax rates for wealthier Americans and perhaps simplify the monstrous tax code — which I read the other day comprises 78,000 pages.

Yikes, eh?

But as his the president’s style, he is putting pressure on Congress to do his bidding. What we learned, though, from the failed Republican-only effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is that the president needs to weigh in with detailed analysis and must be willing and able to argue the fine points of what he prefers from the lawmakers he needs to make it become law.

Time to pull together.

Trump failed famously to do any of that as the ACA repeal effort floundered and failed in the U.S. Senate.

Now he’s implying a threat to congressional leaders. “I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I’ll tell you what, the United States is counting on it,” Trump said in Missouri.

I need to mention, too, that the president’s relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone from frosty to frigid. Trump needs McConnell at least as much as the other way around. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan — who presides over the body where all tax legislation originates — isn’t exactly singing the president’s praises of late, either.

Get in the game, Mr. President. If you want any sort of success, then it’s time for you to stop threatening and start cajoling.

Politics isn’t easy. Or simple. You can’t just make demands of legislators and expect them to march to your cadence. They have actual “bosses” back home, in their states and congressional districts, who they need to please.

They work for them, Mr. President. Not you.

It’s for real: Trump is a RINO

I’m a bit slow to pick up the beat on this, so I’ll acknowledge that right up front.

It’s been clear for a quite a while that Donald John Trump Sr. is a Republican In Name Only. Yep, he’s a RINO. He owns the pejorative term that true-blue Republicans hang on imposters, those who pose as members of the GOP.

The most glaring piece of recent evidence comes from the dozen or so Republican U.S. senators who are lining up behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s embroiled in a dispute with the president.

Trump blames McConnell for every legislative failure that’s come along. He has chastised at various times the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (another Republican), Sen. John McCain (he’s an R, too), and the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions (a former Republican U.S. senator).

Oh, sure, he’s gone after Democrats as well.

The president, though, is playing exclusively to the 35 percent or so of Americans — his political “base” — who continue to stand by their man. They adore the president not because he’s a Republican, but because he, um, “tells it like it is.” 

Hmm. It just occurs to me: They love Trump for the very same reasons millions of other Americans — including yours truly — detest him.

The man has no ideological grounding. He doesn’t have a core set of principles. He has no understanding of government, nor any interest in learning about it.

Trump ran for president as a “populist,” a friend of the Little Guy. Yet he jets off to his decadent resort properties in Florida and New Jersey where, I’m quite sure, he spends zero time talking up close with rank-and-file middle Americans who are the only political allies left on whom the president can count.

The president’s appeal has nothing to do with party, or ideology, or governing principle. The president is a RINO. Pure and simple.

Congressional shooting produces a glimmer of hope

It’s only a glimmer, a flicker, a slight flash of light.

It might not last past the first serious floor debate in either chamber of Congress. However, the two leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives are saying something about unity, about common good, about patriotism and love of country.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today pledged to get the House to work more closely together, to set partisanship aside whenever possible. Their pledge came in the wake of that frightening shooting in Alexandria, in which House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured critically by a gunman who wounded four others before being shot to death by Capital police officers.

A ‘kumbaya’ moment?

Dear reader, we have entered a dangerous time in American political history. The shooter reportedly was highly critical of Donald J. Trump; he also reportedly had some sort of hard feelings against Rep. Scalise, who appeared to be his primary target at that baseball practice field where Republican lawmakers were preparing for their annual charity game against Democratic colleagues.

As near as I can tell, this about the only good thing to come from this terrible event. I am praying, along with the rest of the nation, for the victims’ full recovery. Yes, the police responded with valor and gallantry; the lawmakers who rushed to Rep. Scalise’s aid also performed heroically.

I will await the outcome of Ryan and Pelosi’s pledge to work together, to put the bitterness aside, to argue civilly but maintain respect for each other’s side, their point of view … and appreciate the other’s love of country.

What a shame, though, that it took an even such as this to possibly make them reach this point.

Speaker rises to the need to calm an edgy nation

Paul Ryan has taken a lot of hits of late over some of his political missteps.

The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, though, today delivered comments containing precisely the correct political tone in the wake of the shooting in Alexandria, Va., involving Republican members of Congress.

House GOP whip Steve Scalise was injured in the shooting. He will recover fully and the nation should be grateful for that — and for the recovery of the other individuals who were wounded.

“An attack on one is an attack on all of us,” Ryan said in a House floor speech. “We feel so deeply about the things we fight for and believe in. At times, our emotions can get the best of us,” he added.

Ryan also said, “I ask each of you to join me in resolving to come together…to lift each other up…and to show the country—show the world—that we are one House.”

The shooter is dead. The authorities are investigating what might have motivated him to apparently take aim at Scalise, who was standing at second base during a baseball practice, for crying out loud.

The political rhetoric of late has gotten extremely overheated, overblown and overstated by pols of all stripes, persuasions and philosophies. It well might be that the shooter’s actions this morning was a terrible result of that rhetoric.

Speaker Ryan has sought to calm his House colleagues. The president offered his own words of support and encouragement to the families of those who were wounded by the shooter.

Let us all calm down, take a deep breath and try to reflect on what we all have in common: the love of our country.

Presidency no place to ‘learn how to do the job’

I damn near spit my coffee at the TV screen this morning when I heard U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan give Donald J. Trump a pass on the utter chaos that follows the president around.

Ryan said Trump “is new at this,” meaning he’s new at governing. No kidding, Mr. Speaker? He’s so damn new he continues to blunder and bluster his way through mistake after mistake.

And what do you suppose is the cost? It’s the loss of credibility among our allies; it’s the fear this man generates among Americans who cannot depend on the president to do or say anything sane.

I am trying to imagine how the speaker would react if Hillary Rodham Clinton would make the kind of mistakes that Trump has made. He’d be drafting articles of impeachment immediately. To be fair, Democrats likely would give a President Hillary Clinton a pass, too.

But here’s the thing: She’s not the president. Donald “Smart Person” Trump occupies that office. It should go without saying that being elected president creates a steep learning curve even for those who have years of experience in government. Trump came to the presidency with zero experience in any form of public service.

Trump hasn’t appeared to learn a damn thing about the office he inherited on Election Day 2016.

Hey, that’s OK, according to Speaker Ryan. The president of the United States is “new at this.”

Good … grief!

Get set for next fight over health care overhaul

Congressional Republicans kept their vow to vote — no matter what — on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

It was a squeaker, 217 “yes” votes to 213 “no” votes. Every congressional Democrat voted “no,” which gives the minority a faint claim of bipartisanship, as some moderate Republicans joined them in voting against the Trumpcare health bill.

I want to make only a couple of observations about this effort.

First, Republicans yapped and yammered that Democrats shoved the ACA down the GOP’s throats in 2010. The GOP response was to do precisely the same thing to Democrats. Payback is a bitch, right?

The GOP throat-shoving, though, took on a little different tone than what the Democrats did in 2010. President Obama tried to get Republicans to sign on, but was unsuccessful. Donald J. Trump didn’t make that effort; neither did House Speaker Paul Ryan. Oh, no. They relied on their healthy Republican majority to win the day — barely, it turns out — in a now-or-never vote on the House floor.

Second, the initial effort to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act, ran into a Congressional Budget Office “score” that told a grim story of 24 million Americans losing their health insurance under the new plan.

This time the GOP didn’t bother to wait for the CBO to “score” this latest rendition of the replacement bill. Republicans forged ahead anyway. Damn the scoring! Who needs to know how this is going to affect Americans?

Oh, and the polls around the country indicate a growing base of support for the ACA. Hmm. Imagine that. The House of Representatives isn’t exactly representing its constituents.

The AHCA now heads to the Senate, where it faces an even steeper climb than it had in the House. The GOP majority in the upper chamber is pretty skimpy and the Republicans cannot afford to lose any support among their ranks. The initial signs don’t look good for final approval in the Senate.

House Republicans sought to win over reluctant conservatives by sweetening the pie for them; then they assuaged some moderate GOP concerns by tossing in some money to pay for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

What say you, senators?

Now it falls on the Senate to decide what to do with this legislation that doesn’t yet have any analysis on how much it will cost and how many Americans might lose their insurance.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are back-slapping each other like crazy. They said they’d cast that vote to repeal President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

They got the job done. Now they can go home for their 11-day recess. I would bet real American money they’re going to run into a good bit anger among the home folks.