Would he dare challenge a landslide loss?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I cannot yet buy into the notion that Donald J. Trump is going to mount a challenge to the presidential election result if it turns out that Joe Biden is elected in a landslide.

By every means possible I want him to realize the futility of such a challenge were it come to pass. I am not yet ready, either, to accept that Trump is going to lose his re-election bid by landslide proportions. Heck, I am not yet willing to shout “Game over!” for Trump, given the slippery nature of this individual’s escape ability.

He snatched victory from defeat’s jaws in 2016 and I am not yet ready to suggest that he cannot do the same thing again this time.

All of this is why it is imperative that Joe Biden win this election in a manner that plows asunder any notion that Trump might have that a challenge has a chance in hell of succeeding. He already has sown fear into the electoral process, which in itself is an astonishing thing coming from the president of the United States … the politician who took an oath to defend and protect the system that elected him.

I am acutely aware of what others have said about Trump’s aversion to losing, and how he would do anything to stay in power. I also have heard others call him a certifiable fraud and phony, pointing to the lying he has done about his business and academic success.

My head should tell me to heed those who fear Trump’s intense lust for power. My heart — and a small part of my head — also reminds me that Donald Trump is a blowhard and a coward who is afraid of mounting a challenge he well could lose.

I mean, he doesn’t want us to call him a “loser” or a “sucker.” Right?

Who are the undecided?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Political pundits from coast to coast to coast are pondering the effect of the second and final presidential joint appearance with Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Namely, which of them persuaded the “undecided” voters spread across the land.

I am left to scratch my head and wonder: Who in the world is actually undecided at this stage of a campaign that has been raging for more than two years?

I’ve seen the polls that put Biden ahead by roughly eight to 12 percent across the board. The former vice president’s lead has been steady, if not overwhelming. I can find few undecided voters tabulated in any of the major surveys conducted.

Are there enough undecided voters to swing the balance from Biden to Trump as we head into the final week of this campaign? If there are, then they are lying to pollsters.

I want to remind everyone who actually cares that in 2016, the public opinion actually called it correctly between Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton. They said the polls would tighten down the stretch; they did. They also said Clinton would lead Trump by two to three percent by Election Day; they had that right, too.

Clinton defeated Trump in what I will call the “actual vote” by nearly two percentage points. Trump, of course, won the presidency because he captured enough Electoral College votes. There you have it. Game over.

Who, though, really is undecided about Trump this late in his term as president? You either endorse the way he has conducted himself or you don’t. Count me as a serious voter who opposes Trump’s reelection. Hell, I opposed his election four years ago with everything I could muster.

I am trying to discern whether there really is enough of an undecided voter cache to claim for Trump to turn a losing re-election effort into a winning one. I don’t see it.

Then again, I didn’t see Hillary Clinton losing to Trump; I don’t feel too badly about that, as virtually no one in America saw Trump scoring a political fluke for the ages.

Get busy, Joe Biden. Time is not your friend.

Sick of the anger

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald John Trump is an angry man.

He is too angry. He is too riven with insecurity. His narcissism is beyond belief and redemption.

I want to speak briefly today about the anger. I am sick of watching him rail against “fake news” that is nothing of the sort. I have had my fill of him contending that the media are against him because, well, they just are. I long ago lost tolerance for his anger-laced epithets against his presidential predecessors, chiefly his immediate predecessor, Barack H. Obama.

I didn’t watch the final debate Thursday night he had with Joe Biden. I didn’t need to watch it to help me decide who to support in this year’s election. I was without TV reception, so I’ll catch it later.

I keep reading that Trump was on his better behavior, that he didn’t interrupt Biden or the debate moderator as he did in that first sh** show.

Imagine getting four more years of Trump’s anger emanating from the White House. I cannot go there. I will not go there. I cannot stand the thought of him being re-elected to a second term.

Joe Biden is not pretending to be Mr. Happy Joy-Joy. He is a serious public official. He also is devoid of the anger that Donald Trump demonstrates every single day.

I want my president to speak to me seriously, but without rancor.

Prop A to receive a serious mandate

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My friends up yonder in Amarillo, Texas, are going to vote on something called Prop A.

It’s a measure that would spend $275 million on extensive renovation/expansion/remodeling of the city’s 52-year-old Civic Center.

Were I still living in Amarillo I would be inclined to vote “for” the measure. Even though it would mean a significant boost to property taxes for many residents; I would be exempt because I am an old guy, so my taxes are frozen.

A friend sent me a message today that tells me the municipal property tax rate would jump 38.9 percent, adding 15.1 cents per $100 to property valuation. The city already boasts one of the lowest municipal rates in Texas, about 38 cents per $100.

So now the question becomes: What kind of return on investment does that tax increase bring? Proponents say it would bring convention business by the millions of dollars to the city; it would bring top-tier entertainment that passes Amarillo by because the Civic Center entertainment venue is so, um, lacking.

Can that return be measured the way we measure our property tax bills every year? No, but it’s tangible nonetheless.

Here’s the more interesting takeaway from this election. Amarillo is staging this election in the middle of a highly contentious presidential campaign. When the residents of that city vote on Nov. 3 whether to approve Prop A, they also will be voting for president. Turnout will be huge, man! The city has more than 100,000 registered voters; if 60 percent of them turn out to vote, that would give Prop A’s fate — up or down — the kind of mandate that is lacking in most municipal bond issue elections.

I am going to speak out once more in favor of Prop A. The city needs to improve its entertainment/business infrastructure if it hopes to keep pace with the growth that is occurring. It doesn’t come free.

The Russians are still at it

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Wherever he is ensconced in the Kremlin, Russian goon in chief Vladimir Putin must be a happy man these days.

He set out in 2016 to sow fear, discord and confusion in the American electoral system. If there’s a Russian equivalent to “mission accomplished,” then Putin is saying it over and over.

Now he’s at it again. FBI Director Christopher Wray agrees with two of his predecessors — Robert Mueller and James Comey — both of whom have said the Russians would do the same thing, only more of it, this time around.

I heard today that Donald Trump, Putin’s pal in D.C., might fire Wray after the election, I guess Trump means “win or lose” the election. He doesn’t like the job Wray is doing. All he has done to incur Trump’s reported wrath is confirm what the rest of the civilized world knows already, that the Russians are up to no good once again.

They wanted to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump invited them to look for Clinton’s missing e-mails, which they commenced doing the same day Trump made the public request.

They’re messing around now with Joe Biden’s campaign. I pray that Americans have wised up to the chicanery Putin is capable of performing.

All in all, though, Putin’s gang of crooks has enlisted the aid of none other than Donald Trump, who himself is sowing more doubt in our electoral process, claiming the existence of “rampant voter fraud” where none exists. Trump threatens to take the election to the Supreme Court if Biden gets more votes than he does. And, what to do you know, he is likely to have a fully staffed SCOTUS on hand to render some decision on whether to accept the results; that will include, in case you’ve been comatose, Amy Coney Barrett, who is about to be confirmed by the Senate in a railroad-job of a confirmation process.

I will hand it begrudgingly to Vladimir Putin. He played his hand perfectly four years ago. I am going to hope for all I am worth that we have wised up to the trickery and will send Vlad’s boy, Donald Trump, packing once we get the ballots counted.

Simple decency, anyone?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to share something that arrived on my Facebook news feed. It comes from a friend of mine in Amarillo, Texas; he is a retired physician.

I will post it here … and then I will get the heck out of the way.

Oh, The Humanity!
I saw something on television yesterday that moved me greatly. Obama was standing outside the Philadelphia football stadium, waiting his turn to address a crowd in their cars in support of Joe Biden. No coat, shirtsleeves rolled up, mask on, clear space around him. On the periphery were a young black woman with a toddler, maybe four, both masked. The mother urged the girl to approach Obama, which she did very hesitantly, looking back to Mom. Obama recognized the problem: he is 6’1″ and a semi deity. So he squatted down to the child’s height, extended his arms and the child ran to him. What moved me was the simple decency of the act. I could easily picture George W., Clinton, George H.W., Reagan or Carter doing the same thing. Trump? No way.

The ‘most important line’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza listened to Barack Obama peel the bark off Donald Trump’s hypersensitive hide Wednesday and came away with what he believes is the former president’s most cogent line about his successor.

Cillizza writes: “And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”

As Cillizza noted in his own analysis, the discussion won’t turn on specific policy statements. Instead, he writes, “It’s about a country absolutely exhausted by Trump — his norm-busting, his misinformation, his junior high school bullying, and his tweeting, his tweeting, his tweeting.”

There you go.

I admit to being worn out by Donald Trump. Every single day of the presidency on this individual’s watch has been exercise in “Can he top the previous day?” Sadly, Trump has managed to do it.

I don’t want, as President Obama said, to awaken every morning wondering what in the world the president has done to cast a pall over this nation.

I want normal behavior in the president. I want Joe Biden to restore the dignity that used to personify the office.

Barr set to provide ‘last-minute dump’?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A newspaper editor for whom I worked for many years in the early part of my journalism career had a term I want to invoke here.

He called them “last-minute dumps,” which were letters to the editor submitted by those who wanted to inflict damage on politicians at the end of an election campaign. My boss would refuse to run them in the paper, saying they weren’t fair to the politician upon whom the writer was dumping.

The rules of fairness in journalism don’t usually apply in politics, so I am wondering at this moment whether Donald Trump is going to demand that Attorney General William Barr provide a last-minute dump on Joe Biden.

You see, he wants Barr to release information at the last minute of a losing campaign that will harm Biden’s chances of defeating him.

Were this early in Barr’s tenure as AG, I might be inclined to suggest that Barr wouldn’t stand still for this kind of overt political pressure. I had faith that Barr, who served as AG at the end of President George Bush 41’s term, would act honorably. That was then. Now … I am not so sure.

Barr has said he wouldn’t be pressured by anyone, and that includes the president. He has acted time and again more like Donald Trump’s “boy” than the chief law enforcement officer of the nation.

The race is staggering toward the finish line. Biden and Trump are set to meet again tonight in another televised joint appearance. Only the Almighty knows how Trump will behave.

As for the last-minute dump that might reveal itself between now and Election Day, an AG with honor and respect for the oath he took would resign on the spot rather than do the bidding of an individual who possesses neither “honor” or “respect” for the oath he took.

No speakership for Price

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The word found its way to me far, far away from the hustle and bustle of Texas politics.

It is that state Rep. Four Price, an Amarillo Republican, is not going to seek to become the next speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

I am disappointed to hear that news. But not surprised.

I’ve known Price for a long time. He won election to the Texas House after David Swinford of Dumas decided to retire in 2010. Price was being talked up as speaker material in his first legislative session, in 2011.

I haven’t spoken with Price about this latest decision, which was reported by Quorum Report and relayed to me by a former Morris Communications colleague who remains wound tightly in the goings-on in Austin. I am, shall we say, decidedly less involved in keeping up with the nitty gritty of Texas government.

I happen to believe Four Price would be a splendid House speaker. I mean, anyone who can fend off a goofball challenge by Empower Texans — the right wing PAC that takes delight in challenging Republican officeholders — is OK in my book. Price got a primary challenge in 2018 and dispatched the Empower Texans-financed pretender with ease.

More than that, though, Price has been an effective legislator. He is diligent and hardworking. I hear from spies in the Panhandle that Price doesn’t think he has the allied strength among his fellow House members to be elected speaker.

The current speaker, Republican Dennis Bonnen, will leave the House at the end of the year. He didn’t seek re-election after being outed by Empower Texans chieftain Michael Quinn Sullivan who recorded Bonnen offering up fellow GOP lawmakers as potential targets in this year’s election. Not a good move, dude. So, Bonnen is a goner, which is fine with me.

A big part of me believes Four Price never would have allowed himself to be suckered into speaking so stupidly to someone such as Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Which tells me why he would be a terrific speaker of the House.

Muzzle the Donald? Awesome!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The presidential debate commission has come up with a capital idea to restore some semblance of order and decorum at the next joint appearance featuring Joseph Biden and Donald Trump.

In a way, I am borderline glad it took a sh** show of the type that unfolded in that first encounter to get the commission to act.

You remember, yes? Trump hogged the air time by interrupting Biden a few dozen times during the 90-minute gabfest, prompting the former VP to say, “Will you shut up, man?” It was the quip of the night, I’m telling ya.

For this event, the commission has agreed to install mute devices on the candidates’ microphones. While the other one is speaking, the candidate who is supposed to listen quietly will be unable to blurt out an epithet. At least the TV audience won’t hear it.

To be honest, I am surprised the Trump campaign team agreed to this change in format. Why the surprise? Because the candidate calls the shots and TrumpĀ  doesn’t usually like to be dictated to by some rank debate professional who knows a thing or two about how these events are supposed to unfold.

It should be a show. For me, though, I’ll be unable to watch in real time. My wife and I are RVing it at a site with zero TV reception. I’ll just have to read all about it.

Still, I doff my cap to those who managed to cobble together a joint appearance format that has the potential of being conducted with a modicum of decorum and dignity.

Now, that of course will depend if Donald Trump decides to power through it. Or … he might he walk out as he did on Leslie Stahl, who was trying to interview him for a “60 Minutes” segment on CBS. I am looking forward to seeing how that debacle unraveled.

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