Category Archives: political news

Hillary vs. Mitt in 2016 … seriously?

This just in: A new Iowa poll says Mitt Romney is miles ahead in a poll of 2016 Republican caucus participants.

Run, Mitt, run.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee has dropped a hint or two that might be thinking about a third run for the presidency in 2016. He lost the GOP nomination to John McCain in 2008, then got thumped — surprisingly, in the eyes of many — two years ago when President Obama thumped with a decisive Electoral College victory.

“Circumstances could change,” Mitt said recently when asked about a possible run once again for the White House.

What might those circumstances be? Only he and, I presume, his wife Ann, know the answer. OK, throw in his five sons; they’ll know when something is up.

Frankly, I’d like to see Mitt go again. I am curious to see if the Olympic organizer/business mogul/former Massachusetts governor has learned from the mistakes that might have cost him the White House in 2012. Will he steer clear of “47 percent” comments? Will he refrain from saying that “corporations are people, too, my friend”? Will he forgo making $10,000 wager offers on a debate stage with other Republican rivals?

He might also be a bit more specific than he’s been about how he’d handle these international crises differently than the man who beat him in 2012.

For my money, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the candidate to beat in 2016, even though she’s looking less inevitable than she was looking about six months ago.

Mitt, though, could give her a tussle.

You go, Mitt.

An emphatic 'no!' on paying ransom

Why in the world are we even debating this issue of paying ransom for hostages held by terror groups?

Yet we are at some level.

The policy long has been that the U.S. government doesn’t pay ransom. It instead by seeking to egotiate with the terrorists to persuade them it is in their best interest to let their captives go. If that tactic fails, then the government responds with military force or it seeks to rescue the captives.

The issue has come to light with the tragic murder by ISIS terrorists of journalist James Foley and the release by another terror group of Peter Theo Curtis. We learned shortly after Foley’s gruesome death that U.S. forces failed in a rescue attempt.

I don’t have a particular problem with allowing the families and friends of these captives seeking to pony up money to secure their release, even though such action usually does interfere with official negotiations under way to accomplish the same thing.

The very idea, though, of the government paying ransom is repugnant on its face. It sets a monetary value on someone’s life that in effect cheapens it.

Terror organizations must not be legitimized by, in effect, rewarding them for the terrible acts they commit. They need to be hunted down and arrested — or killed.


Yes, guns do kill people

A 9-year-old Arizona girl has become the poster child for gun-safety reform.

This isn’t a pretty story and it speaks to adult stupidity and carelessness as much as it does to anything else.

The girl was firing an Uzi automatic assault rifle on a firing range when it the instructor told her to pull the trigger  to fire a several-round burst. The recoil of the Uzi pulled the weapon upward and the instructor was shot in the head. He later died.

And so here we are debating whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is so damn sacred that it prevents government from enacting laws that keep these weapons out of the hands of little children.

What on God’s planet Earth have we come to?

The debate is going rage on. Should we make such laws? Absolutely, we should.

Mel Robbins, a firearms expert, writes for about the tragedy. She notes that the incident isn’t really the little girl’s fault. The instructor was standing in the wrong place. What’s more, the instructor told the girl to put the weapon in fully automatic mode.

What happened to the man is tragic beyond measure.

But what in the world are we doing allowing little children to handle these kinds of deadly weapons in the first place, even in what’s supposed to be a “controlled environment”?

As Robbins notes in her essay: “Kids can’t drive until they’re 16, vote, chew tobacco or smoke until they’re 18, or drink until they’re 21. No child should have access to firing a fully automatic weapon until the age of 18. And gun ranges should know better than to hand one to a novice shooter passing through on vacation, let alone one as young as 9.”

The National Rifle Association so far has been quiet on this incident. Don’t expect the nation’s premier gun-owner rights group to remain silent. The NRA brass can be expected to come up with some kind of rationale for preventing the enactment of laws that keep guns out of little children’s hands.

In the process, the NRA very well could demonstrate — yet again — how out of touch with American public opinion it has become.



They're moving the Texas political 'center' line


I concur totally with Paul Burka’s assessment of the Texas political landscape.

There ain’t any Texas Republican politicians who can be described as “left of center” by any stretch of the imagination.

Burka’s comment comes on the heels of a Forbes magazine piece that describes Texas House Speaker Joe Straus as a lefty.

As Burka writes: “This commentary has all the earmarks of a Michael Quinn Sullivan put-up job.”

And who is Michael Quinn Sullivan? He’s an ultra-right wing political strategist who’s earned the scorn of many mainstream politicians, namely Republicans. One of them is state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who barely defeated a Sullivan-backed stalking horse — ex-Midland Mayor Mike Canon — in this spring’s GOP primary for Seliger’s Senate seat.

Suffice to say that Seliger cannot stand Sullivan.

Back to the article in question and the description of Straus as a “left-of-center speaker.”

It ain’t so.

I’m inclined to go along with one of the comments attached at the bottom of Burka’s blog post for Texas Monthly. “I guess it all depends on how you define ‘center,'” the comment starts out.

Indeed, the Texas GOP has been moving the center line farther to the right with each election cycle. I’m not at all sure where the center really is these days. It’s not the center that I used to define it, which is that a Republican could be a strict conservative on social issues but more moderate on fiscal matters … or vice versa.

These days, the “perfect Texas Republican” appears to be a fiery conservative on every single issue under the sun.

As Burka notes: “Straus actually wants to move the state forward economically by building roads and badly needed water projects.”

If that makes Straus a flaming lefty, well, you go for it, Mr. Speaker.




Ready, set, bombs away!

Back and forth we go.

Congressional Republicans are so angry at President Obama that they want to sue him for taking on too much executive authority to get things done. Now comes a report that the White House is considering air strikes against targets in Syria.

The response from Congress, from Democrats and Republicans? Ask us for authorization, Mr. President, before you unleash our air power.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the president should seek congressional approval. So has Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. Others on both sides of the aisle say the same thing.

They’re likely correct to request congressional approval. Recall that Obama earlier decided to seek congressional authorization after he threatened to hit the Syrian government over its use of chemical weapons on its people. Then the Russians intervened and brokered a deal to get the Syrians to surrender the WMD; they did and the weapons have been destroyed.

Congressional approval is likely the prudent course, given that the president has so few allies on Capitol Hill upon whom he can depend.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether senators like Corker and Kaine are going to stand with the commander in chief when the vote comes. If they’re going to demand congressional approval, then I hope they don’t double-cross Barack Obama with a “no” vote.

Obama reportedly wants to hit ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. He’s already authorized the use of surveillance aircraft to look for targets. I continue to hold out concern about where all this might lead.

I’ll say this next part slowly: I do not want my country to go to war … again. I’ve had enough. I do not want ground troops sent back to Iraq, where we’ve bled too heavily already.

But if we can lend our considerable and deadly air power to the struggle to rid the world of ISIS, then let’s get the job done.


Flash to POTUS: Show us your interest

First, I need to stipulate that I do not believe President Barack Obama is disengaged or disinterested in the issues of his time.

With that, it is fascinating to hear the White House rush to his defense … as if one would expect anything else from the staff that reports to the president.

I do believe, however, that Barack Obama needs to be a bit more dialed in to the value of photo ops, which he says he dislikes.

I get that, too.

A word to the president is in order: Mr. President, they matter — a lot — in a world that relies heavily on visual images.

Obama has returned from his vacation and is back at his post in the White House. He didn’t exactly disappear while he was “away” at Martha’s Vineyard. A lot of things were happening while he was relaxing with his family and friends at the posh resort.

The golf outings didn’t bother me. The juxtaposition of one particular outing, right after he delivered some moving remarks about the beheading of an American journalist in Syria, was bothersome only because of the events’ proximity to each other.

This is the kind of event the president needs to be careful to avoid. It doesn’t prove he’s disinterested, it only leaves odd feelings in people’s hearts and minds about the commander in chief, the head of state and government. It leaves them with the perception of disinterest — and isn’t perception real in the minds of those who perceive such things?



Strongest 'non-incumbent in history'? I don't think so

Question for David Plouffe, the former campaign guru for President Obama: What in the world did they teach you in political science classes at the University of Delaware?

Plouffe was a panelist this past Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” news-talk show.

He declared that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s is virtually assured to be the next president of the United States.

Plouffe said Clinton is the “strongest non-incumbent candidate in U.S. political history.”

When I heard him say it, two words came immediately to mind: Dwight Eisenhower.

Let’s flash back to 1952.

General of the Army Eisenhower was just seven years removed from his key role in defeating Nazi Germany and bringing an end to World War II’s fighting in Europe. He came home to huge parades.

Ike then went on to become president of Columbia University and later took over as supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.

President Truman did not run for re-election in 1952, leaving the field wide open.

Gen. Eisenhower stepped up.

The Republican from Denison, Texas was virtually pre-ordained to become president that year. He defeated Adlai Stevenson in a massive Electoral College landslide, winning 442 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 89. Ike would repeat the drubbing four years later when he ran for re-election.

It’s fair to ask whether Plouffe is fully aware of Dwight Eisenhower’s standing among Americans those 62 years ago.

Hillary Clinton figures to be a strong candidate for president if she decides to run.

Is she the strongest non-incumbent in American political history?

I do not believe that’s the case.


Governor had no business demanding resignation

Dave Kemp is a friend of mine who happens to be a lawyer who works in the public sector.

He knows Texas law better than most folks, including me. He put something on Facebook today about Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment that is worth sharing here.

Kemp writes: “There is a lot of spin going on involving the Governor’s felony indictments. Here are my observations: 1. Whether or not the Travis County DA should have resigned is not the question. The question is did the governor violate the Texas Penal Code by trying to force her to resign. Therefore, Perry should stop trashing Ms. Lehmberg, who has paid the price for her own criminal conduct – she pled guilty and served jail time. And a removal suit against her was unsuccessful. So focus on your own conduct, Governor. 2. What business it is of the governor if the DA doesn’t resign? That’s what elections and removal suits are for. The governor had no responsibility for the DA’s conduct. We must conclude that at best he was using bullying tactics that he would condemn if a Washington politician tried using. 3. What collateral damage did the governor do by cutting the funding for the Public Integrity Unit? It certainly didn’t harm the DA. But it could have harmed other criminal investigations. The veto was an irresponsible act.”

The most interesting element in this post is contained smack in the middle of it.

“What business is it of the governor if the DA doesn’t resign? That’s what elections and removal suits are for.”

A grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts of abuse of power and coercion. He demanded that Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg resign after her drunk-driving conviction. If she didn’t do as he demanded, he then threatened to veto money for the public integrity unit her office operates. She didn’t quit; he vetoed the money.

Kemp’s point is a valid one.

Gov. Perry became entangled in what essentially is a local political matter. I agree that Lehmberg behaved badly; she broke the law and should have resigned. I said so, too, at the time. She didn’t listen to me, either.

However, for the governor to then carry this fight further speaks to political bullying.

It’s been reported that other DAs have been accused of drunk driving, but we heard nary a peep out of the governor’s office. This one is different. Lehmberg is a Democrat, Perry is a Republican, and Lehmberg’s office was looking into some allegations against key GOP allies of the governor.

It’s been speculated that Perry’s interest in Lehmberg’s drunk-driving case had everything to do with how he could remove a partisan nemesis.

Yes, politics can be a nasty affair. I’m betting Gov. Perry is going to learn that lesson the hard way.




Rand Paul has become a peacenik

Wow! What in the world has Sen. Rand Paul been putting in his Wheaties?

The Kentucky Republican is now accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of being a “war hawk” and is staking out some interesting turf as he prepares to launch a possible 2016 presidential campaign.

The young man is sounding downright dovish in his approach to foreign policy.

Go figure.

Paul long has been considered a darling of the tea party movement within the Republican Party. As I have watched the tea party wing of the GOP, I’ve been struck by how hawkish many of its members have sounded regarding the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. What’s more, the tea party folks have pulled many of the so-called “establishment wing” GOP members over to their side.

Have you heard the griping from veteran U.S. Senate and House Republicans calling for more “robust” responses in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to the terrorists who are creating so much havoc?

Meanwhile, Rand Paul is saying quite the opposite, He said on Meet the Press this past weekend: “Were I to run, there’s going to be a lot of independents, and even some Democrats, who say you know what? We are tired of war. We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she’s so gung-ho.”

Yes, then-Sen. Clinton voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq ordered by President Bush. She’s since walked back from that vote, declaring she believes now that was a mistake.

Is she “gung-ho” these days? I don’t sense what Sen. Paul is sensing in a possible — if not probable — Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. Paul, after all, did declare his desire to see “all aid” to Israel suspended. He’s tried to take that statement back. However, as my late friend and colleague Claude Duncan once told me about politicians who try to retract regrettable statements: You can’t unhonk the horn.