Time for a strategy, Mr. President

President Obama made a startling acknowledgment today while talking about a range of issues.

He said the United States does not yet have a strategy to deal with ISIL.


Well, there you have it. It’s time to craft a strategy, Mr. President, to combat an organization that does present a serious threat that extends far beyond the region it is seeking to control.

ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is a seriously evil organization capable of doing anything — and I mean anything — to make whatever point it seeks to make.

They’ve beheaded an American journalist, threatened to strike the United States, and vowed to wage all-out war on non-Sunni Muslims, Jews and Christians.

I’m of the view that the president needs to develop a comprehensive strategy immediately and to implement whatever it takes to take ISIL out.

Are we going back into Iraq with ground troops? Obama says no. I hope he means what he says. Count me as one American who’s become war-weary in the extreme. Are we going to send troops into Syria? By all means no. What we have in Syria is a battle between forces that are anathema to our national and international interests. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is hardly better than the ISIL forces seeking to topple him.

ISIL needs to be the target, Mr. President.

I appreciated today hearing you acknowledge the lack of a strategy. Now, though, is time to assemble that national security team to develop one. Now.


McConnell campaign goes national

It’s interesting to me how some ostensibly local races gain national attention.

One of them involves Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who’s in a tough for fight for re-election against Democratic nominee Allison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell’s future is the subject if a large New York Times Magazine article by Jonathon Miller.


Grimes isn’t going to accept any political advice from yours truly, but I’ll offer it anyway.

If she wants to hang something around McConnell’s neck, she ought to dig up the video of McConnell saying that his No. 1 goal, his top priority back in 2009 was to make Barack Obama a “one-term president.” He’d block everything the president proposes. He would fight him every step of the way. He would obstruct and derail every initiative coming from the White House.

That’s what McConnell said. He said it with emphasis. By golly, I believe he meant it. It was a promise he made to the nation, not to mention to the people of Kentucky.

How did the Senate’s minority leader deliver on his promise to the nation? Not very well. President Obama was re-elected in 2012 with 65 million votes, 51.7 percent of the total, 332 electoral votes.

So, Sen. McConnell’s top priority will have gone unmet.

Grimes ought to make that a signature issue of her campaign, along with whatever positive alternatives she proposes if she wins the Senate seat.

I think it’s a winner.


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.

Water level on the rise at Meredith

Steve Kersh, the chief meteorologist for ProNews 7 in Amarillo, sent out this interesting tweet this morning: “Despite resumed pumping of the lake, Meredith continues rising! Others, unfortunately dropping.”

Who knew?

Lake Meredith’s levels have been rising fairly steadily over the past several months.

It had dropped to around 26 feet, down almost 75 percent from its historic high of 103 feet back in the early 1970s. It’s now at nearly 44 feet.

The rise in the lake levels has prompted the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority to resume pumping water from the lake for the 11 communities served by the water-control agency. That includes Amarillo and Lubbock.

The other lakes mentioned by Kersh are lakes Ute, Greenbelt and Mackenzie. Their levels are falling.

OK, so what’s in store?

CRMWA says it wants to protect the Ogallala Aquifer groundwater levels. Pumping surface water from Lake Meredith helps conserve aquifer supplies, says CRMWA.

I get all that. Still, it’s a Catch-22 situation. Saving one water level and the expense of the other — and you can flip that strategy on its ear — still means we’re depleting water from one important source. It matters little which one gets drained first.

Since I’m not the water expert, I am reluctant to second-guess those who know more about this subject than I do.

It well might be that preserving the aquifer is in the better long-term interests of the region, given that when the Ogallala runs dry, then it’s dry for a very long time — as in forever.

OK, folks. In the meantime, let’s keep praying for more rain.


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 CNN.com 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 CNN.com 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.



Bibi declares victory over Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right to declare victory in his country’s fight with the terror group Hamas.

What’s more, Hamas would do well just to accept the prime minister’s claim of victory and then it should start thinking about how it’s going to stop provoking the kind of response it got from the pre-eminent military powerhouse in the Middle East.


A vague ceasefire has fallen over the region. Hamas started the mayhem by firing rockets into Israel. The Israelis responded the only way they could, with overwhelming force that sought to defend Israeli neighborhoods against the rocket fire reining down on them.

I continue to believe that Israel was the more righteous combatant here. Yes, the loss of civilian life was tragic. It also was avoidable, given that Hamas had positioned so many of its weapons among innocent bystanders. That’s the Hamas way. It’s also the modus operandi of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Is the ceasefire going to lead to a permanent peace agreement? Cynics say “no.” Don’t count me among the cynics. My inherently optimistic temperament makes me hold out hope that a third-party broker — say, Egypt — can bring the sides together to cobble some form of a peace agreement that begins to lay the foundation for something even more meaningful.

The Israelis have declared their intention repeatedly over many decades to seek permanent peace agreements with their neighbors. Hamas, however, has declared its own intention with equal fervor its desire to eradicate Israel.

Flash to Hamas: Israel isn’t going to vacate its land, so it would do everyone in the region well to seek peaceful means to live next door to each other.

This is where I hope the next step will lead the two sides.

Are the Israelis and Hamas finally — finally! – growing tired of war?

I pray that’s the case.