This is the last column I’ll get to write about President Barack Hussein Obama. Next week he will be former President Barack Hussein Obama. It’s been a long eight years.
I in no way supported Obama when he was running for president, although I admit I rooted for him in the Democratic primary because I foolishly thought that Obama would be easier for a Republican to beat than Hillary Clinton.
Little did I know then that the Republican Party would nominate one of the poorest presidential candidates imaginable. Sen. John McCain ran a campaign – or perhaps the campaign ran him – that defeated itself.
I also completely miscalculated the effect of Obama being the first black presidential nominee. Since Democrats historically get somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the black vote anyway, I didn’t see how that was going to make a huge difference.
The difference was not in the percentage but in the turnout. Obama has that in common with President-elect Donald Trump. Obama was elected in part because people who had never voted went to the polls in droves and voted for him. Trump won the same way. People who had not been involved in the political process heard someone saying what they had been thinking for years and voted for him.
But when Obama did win, I wanted him to be a great president. I thought perhaps having a black president would bring about better race relations. But Obama has managed to make race relations worse, not better. His foreign policy has been a disaster and his economic policy has prevented the US from fully recovering from the Great Recession.
When Obama was running for reelection in 2012, I wrote that I didn’t know if the country could survive four more years with Obama in the White House, but we have. We are torn and battered but we are still the most powerful nation on Earth, largely because after two years of Obama in the White House the American people went to the polls and completely rejected his policies, leading to the biggest political turnaround in over half a century. The Democrats lost 63 seats in the House, and the majority, in the 2010 elections. In the Senate, the Republicans picked up six seats but the Democrats maintained a majority.
Such a stunning defeat might have given some men pause, but not Obama. He pressed on with his policies, refusing to compromise. Luckily for him, but unluckily for the country, the House Republicans as it turned out were not willing to stand up for their beliefs and, time after time, caved in to Obama.
Now we have survived, and just as Trump said he would, he is bringing jobs back to the US. He has done this so far without any power except the power of persuasion. Imagine what he will be able to do when he has the power of the presidency.
We have survived eight years of a president who really didn’t appear to have the best interests of the nation at heart. Obama said that he was going to fundamentally change America and he has done all the damage he could do in eight years.
But Friday is a new day in America.
A huge difference between Obama and Trump is that Trump enthusiastically believes that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. Obama thinks we are just another nation on Earth and has argued against the American idea of exceptionalism.
How did the country ever elect a president who doesn’t believe that the USA is an exceptional country?
The mainstream media keep harping on the fact that according to polls Trump has the lowest approval rating of any recent president-elect and that according to polls Obama has high approval ratings.
This is what we know about polling: For the last 10 years or so, it is has been incredibly inaccurate.
In 2014, on election night, the talking heads were still talking about the fact that the Democrats might take control of the Senate, and failing that there was a good chance the Senate would end up in a 50-50 tie, which meant that Democratic Vice President Joe Biden would be called on to break those ties, essentially giving the Democrats a majority. The polls were dead wrong and the Republicans ended up with a 54-seat majority.
In 2016, based on polls, the mainstream media believed that Hillary Clinton would win, perhaps by a landslide, and that her coattails would likely give the Democrats historic majorities in both the House and the Senate. The pundits were talking about the end of the Republican Party.
The historic majorities were right about the House, but wrong about the party. The Republicans ended up with a historic majority in the House. The Republicans maintained control of the Senate and Trump won a substantial victory, winning 306 electoral votes.
The polls are supposed to reflect how people will vote, but they did not. The same thing happened in Great Britain, where all the polls predicted that Brexit would lose when in fact it won by a considerable margin.
Polls are no longer even close to being accurate. All the polls showed that North Carolina was a battleground state and many pundits predicted that Hillary Clinton would win North Carolina; she didn’t even come close. Nor did Sen. Richard Burr have any trouble getting reelected in what was supposed to be a tight race.
The polls are not accurate, so why does the mainstream media keep harping on them? It’s because the polls reflect what the mainstream media believe. And the mainstream media hate Trump and love Obama.
A bunch of Democratic House members are boycotting the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Is this the way to foster bipartisan cooperation in the House? The House members essentially are saying that they don’t recognize the results of a free and fair election because they don’t like the results.
That’s not how elections work. In any hard fought political race about half the people are disappointed. If it is less than 40 percent who are disappointed then it wasn’t much of a political race.
But traditionally what is done in countries with free and fair elections is that the losers buck up and accept the will of the people and go on. In this case the Democrats are saying they aren’t going to accept the will of the people and refuse to publicly acknowledge that Trump won the election.
I assume most if not all of these elected officials who are going to boycott the election, like Rep. Alma Adams, were themselves elected from safe Democratic districts. But should there be any that are in districts where a Republican has a chance of winning, the Republican party should throw all the resources it has into getting them defeated in 2018.
If politics were a basketball game, it’s the middle of the first half, the Republicans are up by 20 points and it looks like they are cruising to an easy victory.
But what often happens in a basketball game is that one team gets a big lead early and then they slack off. It’s more difficult to play your hardest when you’re up by 20 than if the game is tied and time is running out. It’s easy to get complacent when you have a big lead. But for those who fall into that trap, often the next thing they know is that time is running out and the game actually is tied.
The Republicans had a great November and now are going to Washington to govern. They have control of both the White House and Congress. Once the new Supreme Court justice is appointed, Republicans should have a majority there also. That gives the Republicans all three branches of government. What they have to make certain they do is take full advantage of the control while they have it.
It has seemed like, in the past, the Republicans have been hesitant to use the power they did have. When the Democrats had control of the Senate, they invoked what is called the nuclear option to get judges and Cabinet officials appointed. It means the Democrats voted not to require cloture on those items, which in layman’s terms means the Republicans couldn’t block those appointments with a filibuster.
Cloture takes 60 votes. The Democrats started the process to allow Obama to appoint radical justices and Cabinet members who even the most liberal Republicans wouldn’t support.
The Republicans should go ahead and do the same for Supreme Court appointments. Trump should be able to appoint whomever he nominates, and the Republicans approve, to the Supreme Court. He shouldn’t have to worry about appointing someone that the Senate Democrats can accept.
It’s time for the Republicans to say: The people elected us to run this country and we are going to do it.
If the Democrats through parliamentary moves get in the way, the Republicans need to use their simple majority to push them out of the way; if it means revising the rules then revise the rules. The Democrats did it and turnabout is fair play.
What the Republicans don’t need to do is to try to be bipartisan and get along with everyone. There are a few Republicans, such as Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham, who seem to think they are Democrats. There are ways to deal with them. If they can’t play ball with their fellow Republicans, treat them like Democrats – take away their committees and put them both on the trash and landfill task force. Refuse to approve junkets for them. Move their offices to broom closets. If they want to act like Democrats then the Republicans should treat them like Democrats.
The mainstream media will be clamoring for bipartisanship. But where was the press support for bipartisanship when Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate?
The Republicans in the House and Senate need to follow the lead of their leader Trump and not only not give in to the media, but attack the media. The media constantly attack them, and in the past they have generally bent over and said, “Thank you, sir. Can I have another?”
There is no time for that kind of trying to get along with people who will stab you in the back the first time you turn around. It’s time for the Republicans to play hardball.
Trump doesn’t know how to play anything else, but the Republicans in Congress far too often have been too concerned about trying to please the ultra liberal mainstream media. The country needs leadership and the people of America overwhelming elected Republicans to lead. It’s time for them to do so.
The media seem obsessed with Russian President Vladimir Putin these days, which is interesting since when Putin decided to take Crimea by force and Obama played golf the media weren’t very interested.
The media weren’t even interested when Putin then invaded Ukraine, or when Russian troops shot down a passenger jet. When Putin decided to send military forces to support embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, that barely got the mainstream media’s attention, even though the US was supposed to be backing the rebels who were fighting against Assad.
Now for some strange reason, or not so strange because it’s politics, the mainstream media are all up in arms over what Putin is doing and are already accusing Trump of getting along too well with Putin.
When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and made her childish attempt to get along better with Russia by presenting the Russian foreign minister with a “reset” button in what looked like a skit from a middle school class, the mainstream media cheered because the US and Russia were going to be working together again.
The reset button ended up being simply more proof that Hillary Clinton has no business being on the international stage. She couldn’t even find a Russian translator on her staff to write reset in Russian on the reset button. But having a silly little skit was Hillary Clinton’s idea of diplomacy, and the media thought it was groundbreaking.
But now because Trump has made complimentary comments about Putin, according to the media the world is coming to an end.
Here is what seems most likely to happen in the Trump-Putin relationship, which is vitally important to US and Russian interests.
Trump and Putin are both alpha males who are accustomed to getting their way and having people jump when they say jump. They are going to circle each other like a couple of alpha males of any species you choose. Each will mark out his territory and the other will probe around the edges to see just where that border is. There will be some snarling and feints. Once the territories are established the two will back off and go on about their business.
Neither wants to actually fight the other because they both realize that although in their hearts they are the top dog, the battle that it would take to win would be too costly, and when they won they might be too weak to fight off lesser powers.
In other words, they are both too savvy to fight the other but they also are not going to be willing to back down. Once territories are established they can work together in areas where neither is challenged.
In his first press conference as president-elect, Trump proved that President-elect Trump has the same attitude about the mainstream media as candidate Trump. He doesn’t like them, doesn’t respect or trust them and doesn’t think they’re fair.
Here’s a suggestion for the mainstream media on covering Trump. Do what you have always claimed you do and leave your own personal political beliefs at home.
The mainstream media journalists are free to believe whatever they want when they are not working, but if they want to get along with Trump they are going to have to start treating him fairly instead of treating him like some frightening aberration who a bunch of Americans for some reason they can’t comprehend elected.
During the entire presidential campaign they treated Hillary Clinton with kid gloves and Trump with brass knuckles. Long-time Republican candidates are accustomed to this treatment. Trump is not, so Trump fought back and the American people loved it.
Trump is winning the war on the mainstream media and everyone but the media seems to realize it. Once he is president he will have far more power to make their lives miserable. Trump doesn’t have to give interviews to The New York Times or CNN. He can give interviews to The Washington Examiner, the New York Post and Breitbart, and there is nothing the mainstream media can do about it except whine and complain – and nobody likes a whiner.
Here is a frightening statistic and one of the reasons the Obama administration has been such a failure at improving the economy: Government jobs far outnumber manufacturing jobs in the US by a wide margin.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, federal, state and local governments employ over 22 million people while a little more than 12 million are employed in the manufacturing sector.
In 1989, both the government and manufacturing employed about 17 million, with the government for the first time taking a slight lead. Since then, manufacturing has dropped 5 million jobs while the government has gained 5 million. It’s one of the reasons the Obama recovery is fake. Government workers are being paid with borrowed money and that is not sustainable.
A bunch scurrilous material has been released by the intelligence agencies about Trump. The history is that the memo about Trump and prostitutes in Russia had been making the rounds of news agencies for months. The New York Times looked into it. The Washington Post looked into it as did a bunch of other news organizations. Nobody would print anything about it because the allegations were serious, outrageous and could not be corroborated.
Knowing how The New York Times and The Washington Post felt about Trump, it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t have published something about these alleged events before the election if they thought they even might be true. After the election they could have always run a correction and that would have been that.
But none of them did because it appeared to all of them that the allegations were completely unfounded. Then along comes the intelligence community, which decided to condense the 35-page document into two pages, include it in the presidential briefing and then give it to congressional leaders knowing that it would be leaked.
There are a myriad of possibilities. Two that jump out are, one, that the intelligence community is not as good at corroborating information as news organizations, or two, what is far more likely is that the intelligence community knew exactly what it was doing, knew that the allegations had no basis in fact, but they wanted to put Trump back on his heels before he became president so they arranged for it to be released. They can’t stop him from being president but they can weaken him as president.
Occam’s razor would go with the latter. The idea that the intelligence community is completely devoid of intelligence is a little hard to swallow, but to have the intelligence community be a bunch of conniving, honesty-challenged people looking out for their own best interests seems very likely.
Trump will be president in a day. With everything else he has to do in his first week in office, he should demand a report on his desk immediately that followed the original 35-page document through the agencies and get the names of everyone who participated in the decision to make it a part of the presidential briefing. Then he should take the list and fire with cause everyone who handed the document up the line of command.
There is no way that Trump can trust anyone in the intelligence community who had anything to do with making that document seem valid because either they are stupid or corrupt; in either case they should be fired.
I cannot count the number of letters, emails, memos, phone calls and conversations I have had over the years about scurrilous behavior of elected officials. As a journalist I check out any that seem like they might possibly be true because in some rare cases it turns out they are, but most of the time they are exactly what they appear to be – a story that is based on what somebody’s neighbor’s first cousin’s wife told somebody else at the grocery store.
Once you start following the thread back to its source, you usually find that each person along the line has added a little spice to the story. So when an elected official went to the ABC store to buy a bottle of scotch, which is perfectly legal, what comes out at the end of the tube is that the elected official was so drunk they couldn’t stand up and the liquor store refused to sell them any more alcohol and called the police but the elected official screeched out of the parking lot, hitting two cars and a telephone pole on the way out.
Is there some truth there? Absolutely. The elected official was at the liquor store. Is there a news story? No.
The intelligence community is claiming that it had a responsibility to inform the president and president-elect that this document was out there. The question is, why? There are all sorts of false documents circulating all the time. The intelligence community, like everyone else with any intelligence, ignores 90 percent of them.
This was a deliberate attack on Trump and he cannot stand for it.
Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, had an interesting take on the presidential election. Sean Hannity, in an interview with Assange, noted that Assange had said he thought Hillary Clinton would win.
Assange said that was true because he thought the big money behind Hillary Clinton would put in as much money as it took for her to win. He said that evidently her financial supporters believed the reports that she was going to win and thought that the $1.5 billion they had donated was enough. Assange said if they had known she was losing she would have gotten a lot more money, but it appeared to him that they thought additional money wasn’t needed.
It’s an interesting take. So Hillary Clinton and her supporters ignored the old adage that you should never believe your own press releases.
It’s generally accepted that being perceived to be the winner is worth a few percentage points in an election because people like to have voted for the winner. So Hillary Clinton was doing everything she could to make it appear that she was going to win, hoping that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But she started believing the spin that her own campaign was putting on the election.
If you depend on the mainstream media for your news, you might think that Trump attacked Rep. John Lewis out of the blue. And the implication is that Trump attacked Lewis because Lewis is black.
What Trump did was respond to Lewis’ attack on him. Lewis said that he was not a “legitimate president.” That is a strong attack and Trump is not likely to allow a high profile congressman attack him and have it go unanswered.
The reason that Trump was not supposed to respond is because Lewis is black and, according to the mainstream media, if you disagree with a black elected official the only possible reason for doing it is that you are a racist.
Knowing that is what the mainstream media will imply has prevented many elected officials from speaking out, but Trump plays by different rules.
It’s encouraging to know that starting Friday we will have a president who doesn’t worry about being politically correct.
It appears that CNN has chosen to do battle with Trump and the man who will be White House press secretary by the end of the week, Sean Spicer. I think it’s a bad miscalculation by CNN.
Does anyone doubt that Trump would have CNN banned from the White House? Trump doesn’t need CNN, aka the Clinton News Network, and he doesn’t have to let them in the White House once he is president. It’s not like everyone who applies for White House press credentials gets them.
The mainstream media are going to claim this is a freedom of the press issue, but it’s not even close. There is no way any thinking person can interpret the First Amendment to read that every news organization that applies for White House press credentials has to receive them, or that every news organization has to be treated the same.
When he was a mere presidential candidate, Trump denied press credentials to news organizations who in his opinion reported unfairly about his campaign. On Friday he will be president and have immensely more power than he had as a candidate.
If CNN doesn’t apologize for its reporter yelling at Trump and, in the words of Trump, being “rude,” Trump should ban them from the White House to establish the example that the Trump White House is not going to tolerate that kind of behavior. The president of the United States has, at least for the last 50 years, called on whomever he wanted at press conferences. Obama called on reporters who had agreed beforehand to ask certain questions.
CNN bet heavily that Hillary Clinton would win the election. It lost that bet and the man they reviled and ridiculed all during the election season will be sworn in as president. Trump may be in a forgiving mood after he takes the oath of office and let CNN start over, but then again he may not and the network will have to live with the consequences of his decision.
I love the fact that it is being widely reported that if the Republicans repeal Obamacare then millions of Americans will wake up without any health insurance. The Republicans are the ones talking about the repeal and they are not talking about taking away everybody’s health insurance. In fact, most of the 20 million people that Obama is claiming were added to the health insurance rolls because of Obamacare were actually added to the Medicaid rolls. Only a few million actually have health insurance.
But the Republicans aren’t heartless fiends. They want to replace Obamacare with a system that works. To do that Obamacare has to be repealed and replaced.