Did Golf Course Press Conference Reaction
Awaken Obama To Middle East Crisis?

Perhaps the angry reaction to his tepid “golf course press conference” remarks prompted President Obama to take a tougher stance six days later on the issue of how the U.S. should react to the rise of the brutal ISIS Islamic state in Northern Iraq.

In any case, the president’s reaction to the ISIS threat, expressed Tuesday in a speech to an American Legion assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina talked about tough military response to the ISIS threat—a threat dramatized by the brutal beheading of an American photographer.

Obama told the American Legion gathering that the U.S. is building a coalition to “take the fight to those barbarian terrorists.”

Whether that language will satisfy the public demand for prompt and effective action remains to be seen.

But one result seems clear:  The angry reaction to Obama’s brief tepid “golf course press conference” remarks served a useful purpose, indicating clearly to the president that world issues should top a family vacation in presidential priorities.

But should a president—even perhaps the most ineffective in the past 75 years—not have a wiser, quicker response when a deadly serious issue faces America and the Middle East where we have worked for over a decade in an effort—a vain effort—to promote stable governments?

“The golf course press conference” performance prompted this cartoon from The World-Herald’s Jeff Koterba:

2014-08-27 16_20_53

The “golf course press conference” remarks were in sharp contrast to Secretary of State John Kerry’s call for prompt and effective reaction to the brutal beheading and the growth of the ISIS terrorists’ power in northern Iraq.

The jury is out as to whether Obama is now fully awakened to the importance of the crisis which his Secretary of State—once a beatnik protestor of American involvement in Vietnam—so quickly and accurately pointed out.

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One Suggestion Is Simply Silly—
Ashford Fires Unfair, Untrue Charges;
Terry Replies By Simply Citing The Facts

The Omaha World-Herald seems determined to promote a down-to-the-wire, neck-to-neck contest in Nebraska’s Second Congressional District between the Democratic challenger, Brad Ashford, and the Republican incumbent, Lee Terry.

For example: One World-Herald story went so far as to say flatly in the lead paragraph that Terry faces the toughest test of his political life.

It may prove to be the toughest test, but at this date there is no way in the world of political reporting that any reporter can make such an evaluation of the Democratic Party’s challenge to Terry by Ashford (who at the moment is a Democrat after having tried being an independent and a Republican.)

For reasons known only to Democratic Party strategists headquartered in Washington, the party has decided Ashford is a good bet to unseat Terry if given sufficient support.  So a team of hired hands is going to work in Omaha to advise and support rookie Democrat Ashford.

The word from Washington is that Democratic Party strategists know that Democrats can’t take control of the House of Representatives in the November voting, but they would like to make inroads in the Republican majority with a victory here or there, including Nebraska’s Second Congressional District.

The early result has been to lead rookie Ashford to make some demonstrably unfair or untrue accusations in regard to Terry’s record on veteran’s affairs legislation.

In his reply to at least two of these accusations, Terry demonstrated that Ashford really didn’t know what he was talking about.

Terry has responded to Ashford’s charges by detailing some very specific pro-veteran proposals which he initiated and which were enacted by Congress.

Then there was the flap over whether Terry and other members of Congress should give up their paychecks during a time of federal government layoffs as the economy turned downward.  Terry at first declined to give up his paycheck, then apologized and said he would do so.

Ashford has tried to revive this issue.  His efforts included this very recent ridiculous assertion:

“When there are people fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is insulting to take pay.”

Ashford can say that he, of course, was talking about members of Congress not accepting pay.  Even that, of course, would be ridiculous considering that it would presumably apply to the more than 10 years that there have been American troops involved in Afghanistan 13 years and Iraq 11 years.

Ashford is going to have to do a great deal better than that silly no-salary-until-our-troops-come-home suggestion if Democrats hope to unseat a congressman who has risen to the chairmanship of a committee which is in position to have some influence on matters of some consequence, including time to time matters of consequence to Nebraska.

* * *

Pipeline Issue Finds Hassebrook In Odd Company:
Ultra-Liberal Jane Kleeb And Even Willie Nelson

In the Nebraska gubernatorial campaign, an intriguing and potentially important question:

What will be the effect of the contrary positions which Democrat candidate Chuck Hassebrook and Republican candidate Pete Ricketts are taking on the highly controversial Keystone XL Pipeline issue?

Liberal Democrat Hassebrook–predictably—is against the pipeline.  Conservative Republican Ricketts—again predictably—is for it.

Gubernatorial positions will not be the decisive factor in whether President Obama approves or disapproves the pipeline.  The decision rests with Obama because the pipeline would cross the Canadian-United States border as it delivers petroleum, extracted from tar-sands in Canada, all the way to oil processing refineries in states like Oklahoma and Texas.

But the approval or disapproval of governors along the pipeline’s path would very likely play a part in the political debate and very possibly influence the president’s decision.

An indication that Hassebrook’s opposition is welcome news for pipeline opponents was the enthusiastic favorable reaction of Jane Kleeb, director of far-left Bold Nebraska.  Kleeb’s opposition to the pipeline goes so far as taking part in at least one demonstration on the White House lawn when pipeline opponents, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, put pressure on Obama to disapprove of the pipeline.

(No, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu didn’t chain themselves to the fence around the White House grounds, but they lent their verbal support.)

Considerably less emotional and considerably more rational has been the support of people like Pete Ricketts.  They point out that the tar sand oil from Canada would help make the North American continent more petroleum-resource-independent, without any need to import oil from dictator-dominated Venezuela or the sheiks of  Saudi Arabia.

Give Hassebrook credit for standing by his liberal principles.  He could have said simply that the pipeline controversy should not be a gubernatorial campaign issue, period.

Now that the pipeline issue is getting more attention by Hassebrook’s and Ricketts’ taking note of it, let’s take a common-sense look at the whole issue of the alleged threats to public safety posed by underground pipelines.

The Keystone XL pipeline route would mainly involve travel on eastern Nebraska farmland, so threat to Nebraskans lives or way of life is not a legitimate issue.

The real issue is the desire of pipeline opponents (now publicly including Democratic candidate Hassebrook) like Jane Kleeb and her allies (now including country singers Neil Young and Willie Nelson who will give an anti-pipeline concert in Nebraska next month) to discourage the use of fossil fuels like petroleum in any way they can and cut energy consumption, diverting as much electricity generation as possible to solar and wind power.

Democratic candidate Hassebrook thus finds himself in the company of pipeline opponents like ultra-liberal Jane Kleeb and country singers Neil Young and Willie Nelson.  And, oh yes, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu.

Whether it has any effect, positive or negative, on Hassebrook’s gubernatorial aspirations remains to be seen.

Incidentally, I know and like Chuck Hassebrook, and I think he deserves better company on the pipeline issue than Jane Kleeb and Willie Nelson and the Dalai Lama.

But in politics, of course, you can’t always pick your company.  Look at the moderate Republicans who just wish the Tea Party extremists would go away.

* * *

Upbeat Or Downbeat?—
‘Only’ Two More Years Of Obama
Or: That’s A Long Time To Wait

As regular readers know, I like to finish each week on an upbeat note.

I would think that more Americans—including, I presume, more of my readers—are now considering it a definitely upbeat prospect that in a little more than two years, we are assured we will be rid of perhaps the most unpopular, ineffective president in modern United States history.

Another way to consider the matter, of course, is that it’s a downbeat prospect when you consider that Obama does have a little more than two years to serve.

How Do You Upbeat Or Downbeat?

So take your pick.  On the brighter side, you might remember that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives should continue to keep Obama from doing too much harm.  I don’t think there’s a realistic prospect that the Republicans can capture control of the Senate this year and turn the national government—or at least the Legislative branch—onto a more productive course.  A course which, as I see it, reflects the moderately conservative or broadening “middle ground,” which, I believe, is this prospect for America’s political future.

GOP Sweep In 2016?  A Big ‘IF’

Am I presuming a Republican victory in the White House and both houses of Congress in 2016?  Who can confidently predict election results that far ahead?

But two more years of an Obama presidency—and a Senate majority led by a politician the caliber of Harry Reid of Nevada—might very well enhance the chances of a Republican sweep if—a BIG if—the GOP finds a credible presidential candidate.

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