Tag Archives: President Obama

Welcome to politics, Dr. Carson

Ben Carson is a famed neurosurgeon.

He gave up that profession and now he’s taking on another one: politician.

He’s going to learn that politicians have to be as careful with their words as surgeons have to be with their scalpels. You say the wrong thing, you’re potentially finished as a candidate.

Carson is running for the Republican presidential nomination. This morning he showed up on “Fox News Sunday” and got grilled by host Chris Wallace for some things he said about the Obama administration.


When a GOP candidate gets hammered by a Fox News host, well, the planet might be on the verge of spinning off its axis.

Wallace challenged Dr. Carson’s comparison of the Obama administration with the Nazi Third Reich.

Does he really mean that? Wallace asked.

Carson said during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror, people didn’t challenge him. Wallace asserted immediately that people are challenging President Obama all the time.

How about ending any Hitler references? It is ridiculous and insulting in the extreme to equate modern political activity with anything that was done during the Third Reich’s dozen years of existence.

I happen to admire Dr. Carson’s work and the brilliance he exudes when talking about medical procedures and his hopes for cures to deadly brain diseases and disorders. That work is a long, long way from the political rough-and-tumble he’s entering.

Careless and overblown statements do have a way of lingering and biting the speaker of those words where he doesn’t want to be bitten.

How about confirming new AG … now?

The delay over a confirmation vote on the new U.S. attorney general is beginning to confound me.

Loretta Lynch is an eminently qualified U.S. attorney from New York. She was nominated by President Obama to succeed Eric Holder at the Justice Department. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-8 to recommend her confirmation, with three Republicans joining all nine Democrats on the panel to approve her confirmation.


But the full Senate has yet to schedule a confirmation vote.

All 45 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking him to schedule a vote so that Lynch presumably can get started on her new job.

The confounding part is the consequence of the delay.

Eric Holder remains on the job. It’s not that I think he’s done a poor job as attorney general. Senate Republicans cannot stand the guy. He’s angered them time and again over policy disagreements. The GOP caucus doesn’t want him on the job any longer.

So, why not schedule a vote for Lynch — who still enjoys some Republican support — so she can replace the despised Eric Holder?

Is it because getting Holder out of office robs Republicans of a target at whom they can take potshots?

Hey, I’m just askin’.

Schedule a Senate vote, Mr. Majority Leader.


Jefferson, Madison … and Bill Press?

Who does Bill Press think he is?

The one-time CNN news commentator and Democratic Party “strategist” posted a Facebook message today in which he blasted the idea behind the National Prayer Breakfast. He called it a right-wing attempt to blur the line between church and state.

“The last thing I want to see is Republicans and Democrats saying how much they believe in the Bible,” Press said with an apparent scorn on his face.

He said President Obama has been “suckered” into attending the annual event.

Holy mackerel, Bill. You need to take a deep breath.

Presidents who attend these events always are careful to maintain a certain ecumenical air about their remarks. The National Prayer Breakfast is open to people of all faiths and the prayers recited are universal in nature, given that they aren’t Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Shinto or Buddhist in nature.

That’s the spirit of the Constitution that participants seek to preserve at this event.

The most hilarious part of Press’s screed against the Prayer Breakfast was this: “Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would never attend the National Prayer Breakfast. And neither will Bill Press.”

OK, not only did this clown place himself side by side — symbolically — with two of the greatest Americans who ever lived, he referred to himself in the third person. I can’t decide which of those things is more offensive.

Knock it off, Press.

Note: Here’s Press’s Facebook post.


OK, I know what you’re thinking: Bill, why are you on the air today? Why aren’t you at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama and the Dalai Lama?

Are you kidding? I’ve been in Washington 15 years now. I’ve been invited to the National Prayer Breakfast every year. And I’ve never gone – and never will.

In fact, I hate the National Prayer Breakfast. Because I think it’s nothing but a right-wing attempt to tear down the wall of separation between church and state, which too many Democrats – including President Obama – get suckered into.

The last thing I want to see are Republicans and Democrats standing up and telling everybody how much they believe in the Bible. I don’t care whether they believe in the Bible.

I want to see Republicans and Democrats standing up and telling us how much they believe in the Constitution. And I want to see Republicans hiding behind the Bible to try to undermine the Constitution – like they did on slavery yesterday, and like they do on gay rights today.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would never attend the National Prayer Breakfast. And neither will Bill Press.

That’s my parting shot for today. I’m Bill Press.

Did Obama have a hand in North Korea blackout?

North Korea’s Internet service went dark for nine hours on Monday.

President Obama had threatened to retaliate against the nutty nation after he reportedly hacked into Sony Pictures’ email service to get back at the company for a film depicting the attempted killing of North Korean loony dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Did the president order the Internet attack on the communists? He’s not saying. Nor should he.

It reminds me a bit of something that occurred in the early 1990s. It involved a veteran member of Congress and an overly zealous challenger.

The congressman was the late Democratic incumbent Charlie Wilson of Lufkin. The challenger was a Republican former Army officer named Donna Peterson of Orange.

Peterson began running some highly negative campaign ads criticizing Wilson for his lifestyle, which included Wilson’s enjoying the company of lovely women. Wilson acknowledged his lifestyle. Indeed, he once said his East Texas constituents were proud of him for it, saying they didn’t want to be represented “by a constipated hound dog.”

Wilson came to the Beaumont Enterprise, where I worked at the time, and told us that he “never initiated” a negative campaign, but said if Peterson persisted, he’d be prepared to “respond accordingly.” She kept up the attack.

Shortly after that visit, an audio cassette arrived at the newspaper. It contained a recording of Peterson — who was campaigning as a high-minded, morally righteous individual — arguing with her married campaign finance manager over his refusal to divorce his wife and marry her, the candidate. The only conclusion one could draw was that the two of them were having an affair.

We asked Wilson point-blank: Did you record this telephone conversation? He denied having any “direct knowledge” of it.

Did we believe the congressman — who at the time served on the House Select Committee on Intelligence? Well, what do you think?

Still, he ended up trouncing his opponent, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

The Internet blackout kind of has the same feel — to me, at least — as the mystery tape that materialized in the heat of a negative campaign for Congress.

ICE gets new director

Sarah Saldana has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, aka ICE.

Wow. That was a close a call that never should have been that close.

In that curious game of political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans who once sang Saldana’s praises turned on a dime against her nomination. Why is that? Well, it seems they didn’t like her support of President Obama’s executive order delaying deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.

OK, so let’s consider that for a moment.

Saldana was deemed supremely qualified to lead this critical national security agency prior to the executive action. NPR this morning had a report of how the GOP tide turned against her instantly as she backed Obama’s decision. One of her supporters-turned-foes happened to be Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

So, the Republicans wanted her to in effect turn against the policies of the president who appointed her.

What in the name of God’s green Earth did they expect from this presidential appointee? Is this person going to spit in the face of the man who selected her to lead the effort to protect our borders? Of course not!

Yet the GOP caucus in the Senate all but demanded it of her.

All the while, Senate and House Republicans keep harping — correctly, I should add — that the nation needs to do all it can to prevent illegal immigrants from streaming into our country.

Do they want the president to appoint an ICE director or don’t they?

Well, we now have one.

As someone noted this morning on National Public Radio, the job Saldana is about to assume is arguably the most difficult job in the federal government.

If she was a stellar choice prior to her backing the president on immigration, then she remains a stellar choice today.

Let’s get to work, ICE Director Saldana.



We're fighting a 'third world war'

Jordanian King Abdullah II is an educated man. He speaks English like an American and as the monarch of a nation friendly to the United States, his words carry some weight around, oh, the White House.

The king told President Obama that we’re engaging in a “third world war” against the Islamic State.


Is it the kind of world war fought in the 20th century twice? No. In King Abdullah’s mind, the world war is of a different — still to be defined — nature.

I agree with him to a point.

World wars may not be fought the way we’ve known them before. Nations won’t line up against other nations, as was the case from 1914 to 1918 and again from 1939 to 1945. Indeed, it well might be said that the latest world war commenced the day those jets flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — and when President Bush told the crowd at Ground Zero that “the people who knocked these building down will hear all of us soon.”

The world war cannot be defined as World War III. But it appears to be a world war, with civilized nation banding together to take on the ISIL monsters who’ve vowed to carry their fight against the West to our doorstep.

The king told CBS News:

“We really have to have a pan-regional approach to this issue. This is a Muslim problem. We need to take ownership of this. It’s clearly a fight between good and evil. I think this is a third world war by other means.”

Other means? Yes.

We’re hunting down terrorist leaders wherever they are hiding. It might be in the Middle East. It could be in South America. Or in Southeast Asia. On the Indian subcontinent.

It could be in the United States of America.

Wherever they hide and plot their next dastardly deed, they become targets.

Is that a world war, as stated by the Jordanian monarch? Looks like it to me.


Battle of the Bases looms in 2014

It’s looking like President Obama is going to toss aside any pretense of bipartisanship when he stands before the Congress on Tuesday night for his State of the Union speech.

Let’s call it the next shot in the Battle of the Political Bases.

Obama’s big speech: Banging base drum

The president is going to call for wage equality, which will please his liberal base and displease the conservative base.

The liberals comprise the bedrock of the Democratic Party — to which Obama belongs. The conservatives make up the foundation of the Republican Party — to which most House members belong.

I was rather hoping the president would seek more of a middle-road approach to governing. Silly me. I guess he’s grown weary of the continuing battles he keeps waging with intransigent GOP lawmakers who keep insisting he give more, more, and more still.

He’s ceded ground on tax policy. That hasn’t been enough. Spending policies have resulted in dramatic reductions in the budget deficit. That, too, is insufficient. Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay’s terrorist holding camp. It remains open, which should please the other guys — but apparently it hasn’t.

So now he’s going to the mat on wage inequality. The plan apparently is for him to reveal it all in his State of the Union address.

Do not look for a hint of bipartisan agreement on that one, folks.

The bipartisan political warfare will go on.

Glenn Beck sorry? Now he owns up to it

Glenn Beck told the Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly that he is sorry for all the division and partisan rancor he has caused since the start of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Now he says he’s sorry? Now?


It’s a bit late in the game for Beck, the talk-show radio host and one-time TV superstar on Fox to say he’s sorry for all the divisiveness he has contributed to the country.

Fox signed him on in 2009 and seemed to give him a single task: Trash the news president often and with extreme prejudice. Beck did all of that with apparent glee.

He made things up. He embellished his version of what he said was wrong with the country. He stoked the fire of anger from those on the right and the far right over the nation electing its first African-American president. You’ll recall that Beck once said famously — or infamously — on the Fox channel that the president of the United States hated white people.

Now he’s sorry for saying all those angry things about the president.

It reminds me of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara writing in his memoir, published in early 1996, that he believed the United States shouldn’t have fought the Vietnam War, that we were engaged in a futile endeavor. He was about 30 years late in offering that mea culpa, after more than 58,000 Americans were killed in that tragic war.

I recall the reaction then was that McNamara, too, was a bit late.

It pains me to say it, Glenn, but you can’t unhonk the horn.

Why are we dickering and bickering over debt ceiling?

I’m still scratching my head.

President Obama makes sense when he says that the White House and Congress shouldn’t be negotiating over whether to increase the nation’s debt limit.

Still, here we are. Three days until our borrowing limit hits its maximum. We’re on the verge of defaulting on our national debt obligations. The implications of defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history are cataclysmic, if you believe the hundreds of non-partisan economists around the world.


Do those cranky members of Congress fail to grasp how angry they’re going to make millions of Americans — including yours truly — if they allow our retirement accounts to get flushed down the toilet?

Do they not read the papers — and other “mainstream media” outlets, for that matter — that tell them their standing among the public is at an all-time low? An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll puts Congress’s standing at 5 percent.

Ladies and gentlemen of Congress, listen up: You work for us. We are your bosses. We can fire you whenever the opportunity presents itself. That opportunity is coming up in about, oh, a year from now when we the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate is up for election.

Why, indeed, are you negotiating over this matter?

GOP fails to heed the message

Two new polls should turn congressional Republicans downright apoplectic.

The Associated Press/GFK poll puts congressional approval at 5 percent. That’s bad enough. Now comes a new Gallup Poll that says 28 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the GOP, a record low for the Gallup organization.


To be sure, Democrats aren’t faring much better. Public opinion surveys are blaming Congress — not the White House or the president — for the government mess that now threatens to blow the economy to smithereens.

And by Congress, I mean members of both parties.

However, since Republicans control the budget-writing arm of the legislative branch — the House of Representatives — they are going to get bulk of the blame if the parties fail to agree on a way to reopen parts of the government and increase the nation’s debt ceiling.


Some of us keep harping on the obvious: The GOP strategy, which has been all but abandoned, of trying to link defunding of the Affordable Care Act to approving a new budget is a sure loser. Smart Republicans keep harping on that to the wild-eyed crazies comprising the tea party wing of their party.

Now they’re messing with the debt limit, even suggesting that defaulting on our nation’s financial obligations isn’t that big of a deal.

I do believe it is a very big deal.

Failure to resolve this matter is going to wipe out what’s left of the GOP’s paltry support.