Tag Archives: John McCain

Texas’s Cruz missile misfires once again

You have to love that Ted Cruz.

He gets elected to the U.S. Senate and immediately makes a name for himself — while embarrassing many of the people he purports to represent.

The Texas Republican did it again today, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he denigrated the likes of Sens. Bob Dole and John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — all of whom ran for president but lost to Democratic opponents.


It was Cruz’s criticism of Dole that drew the most intense response from McCain.

“All of us remember President Dole, and President McCain and President Romney,” Cruz told the CPAC crowd. “Those are good men, they’re all decent men but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don’t stand for principle Democrats celebrate.”

McCain has demanded that Cruz apologize to Sen. Dole, the 1996 GOP presidential nominee.

“He can say what he wants to about me, he can say anything he wants to about Mitt. Mitt can take it,” McCain said. “But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on a hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country.”


Dole responded as well, noting that he was a strong supporter of President Ronald Reagan’s agenda and declared his voting record is as conservative as it gets. Dole also worked well with Democrats, including leading liberals such as the late Sen. George McGovern — another World War II hero with whom he had a lasting friendship.

This still-new senator has some work to do to understand that he needs to respect his elders. He just might need them in his corner if he intends to run for president himself in 2016.

I’m betting he is going to be marching to his own cadence.

Hey, didn’t Russia invade Georgia … in 2008?

The criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine crisis of 2014 ignores the Russia-Georgia crisis of 2008.

Six years ago, Russian dictator/president Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia, another one of those former Soviet satellite states. The U.S. president at the time, George W. Bush, let it happen. What could President Bush to stop Putin? Nothing. What should he have done? Go to war? That’s a tough call, given that the United States was already involved in two shooting wars at the time, Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m left to wonder: Where was the criticism from the right back then? It was silent.

Move forward to the present day. Russian troops are sitting in Crimea, a region of Ukraine. There might be more military involvement from Russia, which is nervous over the ouster of pro-Russia president by insurgents in Ukraine.

What’s President Obama supposed to do? What can he do? Does he go to war with Russia? Well, of course not.

Yet the criticism is pouring in from the right, from the likes of Sen. John McCain, former defense boss Donald Rumsfeld, former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, every right-wing talking head this side of Sean Hannity. They’re all bemoaning the “invasion” of Russian troops of a sovereign country, Ukraine.

Oh, but wait. Didn’t this country invade a sovereign country, Iraq, in March 2003 because — we were told — the late dictator Saddam Hussein had this big cache of chemical weapons?

President Bush told us once that he peered into Putin’s “soul” and saw a man of commitment and integrity. Well, that soul also belongs to a former head of the KGB, the former Soviet spy agency.

I’m thinking another key Republican, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has it right. He’s telling his fellow GOPers to tone down the criticism while the president tries — along with our allies — to manage a dangerous crisis.

Ready for court fight, Mr. President?

The overheated and inflated response of congressional Republicans to President Obama’s vow to use executive authority to move issues forward would make you think the president is imposing some brand of imperial law on the country.

It’s not happening.


The sound had barely been turned off in the House of Representatives chamber after Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night before we heard GOP lawmakers proclaiming the president was overstepping his constitutional authority, was trying to crown himself King Barack the First or seeking to render Congress totally irrelevant.

Give … me … a … bleeping … break.

Barack Obama’s use of executive orders is but a fraction of its use by many of his predecessors. He’s acted in such a manner less frequently than President George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, two heroes of the GOP right/far-right wing.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., believes Obama is abusing “the intent of the Constitution.” Really? What precisely is that intent, senator? He doesn’t offer specifics, other than to rattle his sword and bluster about taking the Obama administration to court.

Let’s quit hyperventilating here. President Obama’s legal team is fully aware of the constraints placed on him by the Constitution. He cannot write law. He cannot raises taxes. He cannot increase the minimum wage for every American — but he can, and did, raise the minimum wage for some Americans, such as federal government contract employees. This is small stuff, ladies and gentlemen of the GOP.

Let’s lose the righteous indignation and take Barack Obama up on another pledge he made at the State of the Union: let’s work together.

Could this memoir have waited?

John McCain isn’t exactly a friend of Barack Obama. I’ve had this nagging notion that McCain hasn’t gotten over getting drubbed by the then-young senator from Illinois in their 2008 campaign for the presidency.

The Arizona U.S. senator, though, posits an interesting thought about a memoir that is critical of his former campaign adversary. He said today the author of “Duty,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, should have waited until the end of the Afghanistan War to release this tell-all tale.


It is puzzling, some have argued, that a former defense chief — who was asked to stay on when the new commander in chief took charge in 2009 — would be so harshly critical of his former boss at this time in history.

These kinds of memoirs do reverberate around the world. The United States is seeking to wind down its longest-running war, seeking to hand combat operations over to the Afghans who have everything to gain and lose in this struggle.

Does this memoir undercut that effort? Does it place men and women in harm’s way in additional peril at some undefined level?

I’m not sure when it’s ever right to publish a memoir that criticizes the commander in chief while military operations are still on-going.

I do respect John McCain’s view on these matters, given his own extensive and distinguished military career.

Now that the book is out and the full-throated chatter on it has commenced, time will tell if it does any damage in the field.

‘Shaking hands with Hitler’? C’mon, Sen. McCain

John McCain needs to get a grip on reality.

The Republican U.S. senator from Arizona compared President Obama’s handshake today with Cuban President Raul Castro as akin to “shaking hands with Adolf Hitler.” Good grief.


The men met for an instant today as Obama was arriving in a section set aside for dignitaries who gathered to pay their respects to the late Nelson Mandela, who was memorialized today in a stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The meeting was unscripted. It was unplanned. It was totally spontaneous. It also was totally in keeping with the spirit of conciliation and forgiveness that speakers today honored as they spoke of Mandela’s greatness.

I also ought to point out that when President Obama spoke today in the pouring rain, he railed against government leaders who proclaim their undying support for what Mandela stood for while denying their own people the right to protest their government’s policies.

Do you think he might have had Raul Castro in mind when he said that?

John McCain has served his country with high honor. He’s paid a huge sacrifice. That shouldn’t give him license to make patently ridiculous statements on the day the president of the United States represented his country in honoring the life and times of Nelson Mandela.

Senate needs ‘anti-bullying ordinance’?

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is continuing to make the high-minded case that Senate Democrats have become “bullies” and that their changing the filibuster rules to take the teeth out of Senate Republicans’ ability to have their voices heard.


If that’s the case, then perhaps Sen. Paul can declare as well that if Republicans take over the Senate next year that they’ll give back to the newly minted Democratic minority the same weapons the GOP has been denied.

Democrats this week changed the rules to make it easier to end filibusters that have blocked several judicial and other appointments made by President Obama. The rule used to require a 60-vote majority to end a filibuster; now it only takes a simple majority of 51 votes. The new rule, by the way, will still require a 60-vote majority to end filibusters of Supreme Court appointments.

Why deploy the so-called Senate “nuclear option”? Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he’d grown tired of Republicans’ efforts to stymie the president’s ability to fill key executive and judicial spots.

Republicans have complained that Democrats simply have changed the rules to suit their own political agenda. They have cited the Founding Fathers’ intent to create a “cooling environment” in the Senate that would temper a more “populist” House of Representatives. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says the Senate now looks just like the House, that it will be driven more by partisan anger than by reasonable discourse.


If that is as Republicans say it is, and if the GOP wins control of the Senate next year, then surely they’ll restore civility, collegiality and fairness to the body, yes? They’ll no doubt want to level the playing field for Democrats to show that they, Senate Republicans, are more fair-minded than their “friends” on the other side of the aisle.

That’ll happen, right?

Do not bet a nickel on it. Revenge will be the order of the day.

Stay in the Senate, John McCain

The idea that John McCain might not run next year for another term as a U.S. senator leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings.

The Arizona Republican is one of the few GOP wise men left in that august body. My sense is that the Senate needs him to slap some sense into the upstarts who have taken over much of the agenda on Capitol Hill.


He says the government shutdown was a huge mistake, although he sounds as though he means it as a partisan strategy. No kidding, senator. He doesn’t think much of at least one of the tea party firebrands in the Senate, fellow Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, whom he’s dressed down already for questioning the ethics and integrity of another Republican, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

My concern isn’t about the future of the Republican Party. I am rather concerned about whether government can keep working the way it’s supposed to work. Whether the GOP is heading down some sort of path of self-destruction really doesn’t matter to me, although I would prefer to see a healthy — and reasonable — Republican Party perform its role in crafting meaningful legislation.

If John McCain is able to try to talk some sense into his party and continue working with colleagues who call themselves Democrats, then he ought to stay.

Yes, he ticks off many on the far right who consider him one of those dreaded RINOs — Republican In Name Only. He’s no such thing. His voting record is solidly conservative and has consistent with historic GOP values for many years.

He just happens to be willing and able to talk sense to those who need to hear it.

Pay attention.

FNGs making their mark on D.C.

The new breed of congressmen and women who have taken over the Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives intended to change Washington for the better.

Their obstructionism has done the reverse. It has created a poisonous atmosphere in the nation’s capital.

I want to introduce a time-honored term to describe these folks, comprising mostly the tea party wing of their party.

Let’s call them FNGs.

Vietnam War veterans known the term well. It was used — often disparagingly — to describe the “new guys” who cycled “in-country.” They would walk off their plane wearing dark green jungle fatigues and shiny new boots. You could spot an FNG a mile away. The “NG” stands for “new guy.” The “F”? Well, it stands for arguably the most functionally descriptive term in the English language. I’ll leave it at that.

The FNGs who now populate a segment of the GOP have accomplished one important goal of their overall mission. They have made their mark. They’ve changed the debate in Washington. They have made their presence felt, just as they promised they would when they campaigned for their congressional offices in 2010 and 2012.

Perhaps the most well-known FNG has been Texas’s own Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican pistol who blabbed for 21 hours in a faux filibuster to protest the Affordable Care Act and who has scolded his colleagues publicly for failing to demonstrate the proper commitment to bringing change. He’s been scolded in return by his party elders, such as Sen. John McCain, for impugning the character of current and former senators — such as Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

The FNGs now have taken us to the brink of default on our national fiscal obligations. It would be the first time in history that the nation has failed to pay its bills. The gray eminences of both parties know what’s at stake. The FNGs don’t have a clue. They’re about to find out if they stand in the way of a compromise reportedly being hammered out by two senior senators — Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell.

Here’s some good news. They won’t be FNGs forever. It’ll take some time for them to get some seasoning. They’ll have to learn how to compromise and understand that other public officials represent constituencies with different points of view. Not everyone shares the FNGs’ world view.

I just hope they don’t contribute to the destruction of our government before they wise up.

Cruz loves sound of his own voice

I applauded Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., some months back for actually filibustering the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan, not because I approved of his reasons, but because he actually took to the U.S. Senate floor and talked until he ran out of verbal gas.

Now another tea party golden boy, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is blabbering his brains out as I post this blog item. I have to hand it to Ted the Tattler: He, too, is yapping about this and that in an effort to derail the Affordable Care Act. Again, I disapprove of his reasons, but I have to hand it to the guy for actually filibustering.


The filibuster has become a misused instrument. Senators can “filibuster” something simply by lodging an objection. They object to a bill and then go about their business. Paul and Cruz have restored some form of “integrity” to the process.

Here, though, is where I get rankled at Ted Cruz. The new guy loves the sound of his own voice. Of that I am utterly convinced. I truly wonder whether he is motivated by something other than listening to himself talk in front of a national audience.

Do you remember when he denigrated the character of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel? He questioned whether Hagel, a Vietnam War combat veteran, had become an agent of foreign governments hostile to the United States? Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called Cruz down on the spot and said he never should question the character of someone such as Hagel, with whom McCain served in the Senate. McCain’s admonition went in one of Cruz’s ears and out the other. Cruz hasn’t shut his mouth … yet.

I’ve already wondered out loud why some members of Congress get so much air time on TV. Cruz, so new to the national spotlight, is basking in that limelight a little too comfortably to suit me. I’m wondering now if someone in the Senate is going to challenge this guy’s blustering and loudmouthed actions publicly.

He’s been in national office all of nine months and I’m sick of the sound of his voice already.

Then again, maybe that’s just me.

Now it’s Congress’s turn to weigh in on Syria

President Obama’s abrupt about-face on Syria has a lot of American scratching their heads.

He’s talked about punishing the Syrian government for gassing civilians and has sounded for all the world as if he was ready to pull the trigger on a missile strike against Syrian military targets. Then he said: Not so fast; I want to ask Congress for authorization.

Now the debate has begun.


U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is beginning to sound reasonable. He says Syria should be punished, but the Senate will need to know precisely the scope of the attack and what the overall strategy will be. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says an attack on Syria must be with “regime change” in mind, that it must lead toward a change of leadership in the Syrian government.

I believe the president is playing this issue smartly. Congress has asked for authority within the War Powers Act. Barack Obama now has given lawmakers the chance to exercise that authority.

Several ships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet are standing by in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The hammer is pulled back and the missiles will fly when they get the order. The president has gathered compelling evidence that the Syrians used the gas on civilians. They must be punished, as Cornyn has said.

This debate should be full and complete. As the president said, he is both convinced that the Syrians did something that requires a response and that he also is leader of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. The Constitution gives both houses of Congress co-equal authority to run the government, right along with the president.

It’s good that he’s asking for their authorization. I’m hopeful he can make the case, that we can act quickly and decisively — and then apply intense diplomatic pressure all sides in this bloody conflict to call a halt to the killing.