Obama poll numbers aren't 'sinking'

Listen to the talking heads on some cable news channels, or read reports in mainstream newspapers and you get a dire picture of President Obama’s political standing.

Why, those troublesome polls show his popularity “plummeting,” “sinking,” “spiraling downward.”

Media Matters — an acknowledged left-wing media watchdog group — disagrees.


The organization points out correctly that Barack Obama’s standing among Americans has remained unchanged for the past year.


His numbers are stable. They aren’t sinking or plummeting. They aren’t spiraling anywhere, let alone downward.

Why do the media keep harping on something that’s, well, untrue?

Media Matters examines some poll number averages: “According to the cumulative ratings¬†posted daily at Real Clear Politics, which averages together an array of national polls to come up with Obama’s composite job approval rating, the president’s approval on January 1, 2014 stood at 42.6 percent. The president’s approval rating on October 30, was 42 percent. So over the course of¬†10 months, and based on more than one hundred poll results in 2014, Obama’s approval rating declined less than one point.”

Holy smokes! Does that constitute a president whose standing is headed straight for the dumper? I think not.

It’s interesting, too, that Media Matters isn’t targeting just the right-wing media — a favorite target — in critiquing the bogus reports of Obama’s standing. It cites mainstream media across the spectrum, even those dreaded “liberal media” outlets that supposedly can say nothing critical of the president or his friends in Congress.

The link attached¬†is most interesting and it puts the president’s standing in a context that bears little resemblance to what the media are reporting.


Why is economy such a drag on election?

Some things I just don’t get, such as why polls keep showing that the economy remains such a worry for Americans.

Incumbents from both parties are sweating out the election that takes place Tuesday because the economy, for crying out, is on voters’ minds.


I keep seeing the numbers and I actually am heartened by them. Joblessness is down; job growth is up; retirement accounts (such as mine) are up; budget deficits are down; energy production is up; energy consumption is down; home construction is up; auto sales are up.

Who’s badmouthing the economy? Oh, I keep forgetting. It’s foes of the Obama administration in Congress, on talk radio, on cable news shows and a smattering of right-wing economists who keep saying that the economy is in mortal danger of collapse at any minute. They grabbed Americans’ attention when the government enacted aggressive stimulus incentives in early 2009 to try to rescue the failing economy and haven’t let go.

It appears from my vantage point that the economy has been in full recovery mode for about a year, but the doom-and-gloomsayers keep instilling this fear in us that it’s all about the collapse.

OK, it’s not rosy in every corner of the country. As the link attached to this blog notes, some governor are taking it on the chin because job growth isn’t what it should be. Other governors, such as the one in Texas, are crowing about superior growth and are taking all the credit they deserve — and even more than they deserve — for that growth. That’s all fine.

So help me, though, while I might be slow on the uptake a lot of the time, I fail to understand how the economy continues to strike such fear across the land.


Early voting still not as good as Election Day

Here’s what I did this week. I voted early.

I’ve said it to anyone who’ll listen that I hate to vote early. I did it this week because next week I’m going to be busy throughout the entire Election Day.

I’ll be working as an exit pollster representing news gathering organizations: all the major cable networks, the broadcast networks and The Associated Press.

A polling research outfit has hired me to interview voters leaving the Randall County Courthouse Annex in south Amarillo. Their answers will be confidential and my goal is to give questionnaires to every other voter who leaves the annex. Good luck with that.

So, I voted early at the annex.

It still isn’t nearly as much fun as standing in line on Election Day, chatting with fellow voters and awaiting my turn to cast a ballot on one of those fancy-shmancy electronic voting machines.

There remains a certain pageantry to voting. People in countries where voting isn’t the norm have stood for hours, even days, waiting to do their civic duty. Surely you remember the 1994 presidential election in South Africa, the one that elected Nelson Mandela. Black South Africans who never before had been given the opportunity to vote stood in line for days awaiting their turn at the polling place. Imagine something like that happening here.

I didn’t vote in all the races.¬†I left some of them blank. Rather than just cast a vote against someone because I don’t like their views or their party’s views, I didn’t vote for candidates about which I know too little.

Yes, I split my ballot. I cast votes for some Republicans as well as Democrats.

I feel good that my vote has been recorded. It’ll be spit out when the polls close Election Night at 7.

Having declared to you all that I’ve actually voted, I hereby reserve the right to gripe when the folks who actually win take office and fail to run things the way I want them run.



Now, about that statewide texting ban

Let’s call this election right now.

Four Price is going to win re-election Tuesday to a third term in the Texas House of Representatives from House District 87.

There. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to insist that the Amarillo Republican pick up where he and his colleagues left off in 2013 regarding a statewide ban on texting while¬†driving motor vehicles.

Price has said he supports a ban. He’s voted for it twice. The 2011 Legislature — where Price served as a freshman — approved a bill banning texting while driving and sent it to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. But the governor said it was too “intrusive,” or some such nonsense and vetoed it.

The 2013 Legislature, spooked by that veto two years earlier, didn’t get it approved.

Well, Gov. Perry is going to be gone in January. He’ll be polishing himself up and getting ready for another run for the presidency — unless he gets convicted of abuse of power back home in Texas.

The door is open once again for Price and his 149 House colleagues to do what they should have been able to do by now.

Ban the use of texting devices¬†while motorists are driving their vehicles on our state’s highways.

Price is gathering some seniority in the House. He’s no stranger to the legislative process. His pal John Smithee, another Amarillo Republican, is one of the House’s senior members. He’s returning, too. The two of them can team up to strong-arm their colleagues to get this issue done.

Send the bill to the new governor’s desk and insist that he or she sign it into law.

It’s good for Texas.



GOP lawsuit takes another hit

That much-hyped lawsuit that congressional Republicans planned to file against President Obama has taken another body blow.

Imagine that.

A second law firm has backed out, apparently succumbing to pressure from Democratic groups. The firm declared that Republicans have little or no chance of winning a lawsuit, which they say they’ll file to challenge the president’s use of executive authority to change the Affordable Care Act.


Turns out that the law is working. It also turns out that the appetite for suing the president is being abated.

The lawsuit that Speaker John Boehner announced would occur is being exposed little by little for what it has been all along: a political stunt intended to fire up the base of the GOP.

World events and the attention they have demanded of the president and Congress have eclipsed the silliness of such a lawsuit, given the gravity of issues abroad and the goofy intention of Republicans to stick it to the president over a law that’s looking more and more as if it’s here to stay — for keeps!

Yahoo.com reported:¬†“House leaders have now all but given up on finding a new lawyer who will take the case, and Boehner is instead considering assigning the work to the chamber’s in-house counsel, which is a position appointed by the speaker.”

The lawsuit, which lacked merit from the get-go, appears headed for oblivion, where it belongs.


Sexual orientation or preference?

Apple boss Tim Cook has just burst out of the closet by declaring he is homosexual.

OK. That’s a big deal? I think not. He is who he is and that’s all fine and dandy.

Then comes U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Loony Bin, to suggest something else is at work here.

“Those are his personal choices,” Cruz said of Cook’s sexual orientation, meaning, I reckon, that Cook chose to be gay.

Cruz then added, “I love my iPhone.”


Is there any doubt now as to why Cruz and other outspoken Republicans are having trouble connecting with gay Americans?

I keep coming back to this notion a person’s sexuality is pre-determined. One doesn’t come into this world, in my view, grow toward adolescence, and then, when puberty kicks in, decide¬†to become attracted to individuals of the same sex.

One’s sexuality is part of who they are. It’s in their genetic code, in their DNA.

For the freshman senator from Texas to ridicule someone’s sexual orientation by comparing it to his “love” for his iPhone cheapens the discussion.

As a friend once said to¬†after me he revealed to the world many years ago that he had become infected with HIV/AIDS while also disclosing his own homosexuality, “Why would I ever choose to become the object of scorn and revulsion?”

He answered his own question. He didn’t choose it at all.



Police commit serious error of omission

A sexual predator is on the prowl in your downtown business district. He commits a sexual assault, then commits a similar assault several months later.

The public needs to know immediately about the first attack to be alert to the possibility that a second attack might occur.

One problem, though. The police department — whose officers from the chief of the police on down to the patrol officer take an oath to protect the public — fails to let anyone know about either attack in anything approaching a timely manner.

With a apologies to the actor Strother Martin of “Cool Hand Luke” fame: Talk about a failure to communicate.

The Amarillo Police Department has been revealed to have committed an error that is beyond mere embarrassment. It is a shameful lapse in fulfilling its duties to the public it has sworn to serve.

The police department knew of an attack that occurred on June 5. It didn’t alert anyone to its occurrence. Then an attack occurred on Sept. 27. Again, the cops kept it quiet — until Oct. 22, for crying out loud.

All the while, the police have a suspect in custody, a man they arrested later in the day of the second attack, on Sept. 27. The cops charged him with the June 5 attack and then the Sept. 27 incident.

And all this occurred without the public knowing about it until eight days ago, when the Amarillo Globe-News received a confidential tip.

Amarillo Police Chief Robert Taylor has acknowledged the mistake. He vows to repair the damage.

Meanwhile, Terrell Anthony Allen is being held in connection with the incidents. His fate, of course, remains uncertain.

The issue here, though, has much more to do with whether the police department is fulfilling its duty to the public. Clearly — and this cannot be overstated — it has failed badly.

There appears to have been some sort of communications breakdown within the department, with the APD public information office being unaware of the incidents’ nature. Taylor said had his public affairs known that a sex crime had occurred, “he would have made a news release, more than likely.”

More than likely? Do you think.

If ever the public needs to know matters in real time, it ought to be when incidents involving a violence against victims are occurring.

Get to the bottom of this egregious error, chief — and fix it.




Reason prevails at Berkeley

Reason, common sense and an understanding of mission is rearing its head at the University of California-Berkeley.

University administrators are declaring that liberal comedian/pundit Bill Maher will be allowed to speak at a campus event despite protests from students who are angered by his recent comments about Islam.


Students have circulated petitions seeking to rescind Maher’s invitation to speak at Cal-Berkeley over comments he made that said, essentially, that Islam fosters terrorist acts.

The effort to pull back the invitation is silly on its face and is offensive at many levels.

Maher’s freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His comments, while controversial and (to some folks) offensive, do not rise to the level of something that should be censored. Finally, universities should be a place where all ideas are heard, discussed and debated.

Finally, Cal-Berkeley is known around the world as a sort of Ground Zero of progressive thought. By definition, progressives should be open to all points of view. Let’s not take some namby-pamby view that allows thoughts that don’t rile us up, get our hearts started, cause us to hyperventilate.

Cal-Berkeley issued this statement: “UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher‚Äôs opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech.‚ÄĚ

So, let the man speak. Those who don’t want to hear him are free to do something else … like study.


Teacher-student sex reports on the increase

This¬†could be¬†a bizarre turn for the term “new normal.”

The Texas Education Agency reports a 25 percent increase in reports of student-teacher sexual relations. To which I say, “Good grief. Is this¬†yet another new wave of the future?”

It’s happening all over the state. In Amarillo, we’ve seen teachers accused of cavorting with students at athletic events, sending lewd text messages that result in “inappropriate contact” and assorted allegations of behavior that defies all manner of decency and good sense.


According to the San Antonio Express-News: “Under the Texas Penal Code, a school district employee commits a second-degree felony if they engage in sexual contact with a student who is not their spouse, even if that student is 18 years of¬†age.”

I must have buried my head in the sand or had it inserted in places where I couldn’t see such things¬†when I was a kid in high school. I have no memory at all of anything remotely like this ever happening, although we had an assistant principal in my high school who acted awfully friendly toward the kids, particularly the girls in our school.

Did anyone ever accuse him of crossing The Line? I don’t remember it.

These days, stories such as this — while not exactly commonplace — have become reported more widely.

Media give these stories appropriate prominence on newspaper pages and on air, as they should.

Teachers who do such things violate a serious trust with parents who ask them to take care of children during the day, to educate them and help guide them along correct paths.

No parent ever expects their children’s “education” to include the kind of behavior that’s being alleged with dismaying frequency.



Israel's self-defense policy under attack once more

Whoever in the Obama administration who delivered the scathing critique of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to understand a fundamental truth about Israel.

The nation is under attack constantly from forces right next door and it is obligated to defend itself using whatever means are necessary.

So says the prime minister himself.

I happen to agree with him.


Netanyahu says the U.S.-Israel alliance remains strong despite the comments from an unknown U.S. official who has been quoted as calling Netanyahu a “chickens**t.” I’m betting the prime minister has been called worse things by his enemies and even by his political foes inside his country.

Of course, given the testiness that existed at times between Netanyahu and President Obama, this particular comment is drawing even greater scrutiny.

Still, Netanyahu isn’t shying away from his country’s efforts to protect itself against forces dedicated to its destruction.

Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda? We know who they are and what they stand for, correct?

So do the Israelis and they’ve been living in the same neighborhood¬†with these terrorist monsters.

Here’s Netanyahu’s take, according to Haaretz: “I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state. Understand, our national interests, topped by security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not what top the interests of those anonymous forces attacking us, and me personally. I am under attack simply because I am defending the State of Israel. If I didn’t stand firm on our national interests, I would not be under attack.”

The name-calling can stop now.