Need to do better at keeping emotions in check

Oh, I need to do a much better job of restraining myself in the Age of Trump.

There can be no doubt that something has triggered an emotional response in me that I didn’t think would do so prior to Donald Trump sashaying onto the political scene.

“There’s more to life than politics,” Mitt Romney once said while saluting the adversarial relationship he had at the time with President Barack Obama. The men were running for the presidency in 2012 and Romney took a moment to say that he and the president didn’t harbor “ill will” toward each other.

That ain’t the case these days. It’s rubbing off on me. Dang it! I’ve got to control myself.

A member of my vast network of Facebook “friends” and actual friends posted something the other day that sought to poke a bit of fun at the rash of sexual harassers/abusers who’ve been in the news lately. Two of the examples showed photoshopped images of Obama hanging Presidential Medals of Freedom around the necks of Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner and Harvey Weinstein. The other two images were legit, with Bill Cosby and former President Clinton getting the medals.

“Why do you post this sh**?” I asked an actual Facebook friend who shared it. He fired back a tart response, telling me it was a joke and that I should “lighten up.” Touche. 

I blame Donald Trump for dragging me into this pit of emotional instability and nervousness. I still can take a joke as well as the next guy. My problem these days is that I am getting numbed by the constant barrage of hideous reports pertaining to the president, not to mention to the amazing barrage of insult-inspired Twitter messages that the president is prone to unleash.

I am nowhere close to needing therapy. At least not at the moment. If this glaring lack of joke awareness persists, however, I might need some counseling.

In the meantime, I am going to pray that the pending impeachment of Donald Trump gets traction and that, should he (likely) survive the Senate trial that will result, he gets thumped at the November 2020 election.

Still missing this iconic musician after all these years

I am one of the few Americans who was not watching “Monday Night Football” the night we all got the shocking news.

Howard Cosell, a friend of John Lennon, told the world that a gunman shot John “twice in the back,” that he was “rushed to Roosevelt Hospital … dead on arrival.”

I was watching an NBC show that night 39 years ago. They, too, broke in and stunned the world.

Oh, how I still miss this man. He was just 40 years of age when his comeback from a five-year hiatus from public view came to its tragic end. I am left to wonder, as are all fans of John Lennon’s enormous talent, what kind of legacy would he have built had he been allowed to live.

The man who essentially founded The Beatles led this band of musicians into the cultural stratosphere. Sure, he had plenty talent playing alongside. The careers of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison all flourished after the band ended its professional existence in 1970. The three surviving members of the band collaborated in 1995 to finish a couple of songs that John had written; they released them that year with “Free As a Bird” being named the top single of the year. I remember the Grammy award presenter declaring, “I can’t believe this: 25 years after they broke up … the winner is The Beatles!

George, too, is now gone.

John Lennon’s legacy already is rich. We are left only now with the memory of what he was able to accomplish as a musician, a songwriter and an advocate for peace, and ponder what might have happened had fate not intervened that night in New York City.

As for the gunman who took him from us, well … may he continue to rot in prison.

Another ’boutique hotel’ sprouting in downtown Amarillo? Wow!

Now it’s the Rule Building, another long-vacant office structure, that’s getting new life as what they call a “boutique hotel.”

Who in the world knew?

According to “It was a natural progression for us to look at another opportunity. Especially with the growth and revitalization of Downtown Amarillo, we’re really hitting full stride right now, and it was an easy decision for us,” said Todd Harmon, vice president of development for DJ Investment Realty.

OK, before we pop the champagne corks and start a whole round of back-slapping, I want to offer a word of caution.

Even though I do not know Todd Harmon, I am aware of some hiccups that have occurred on projects he has sought to bring to fruition in downtown Amarillo. The Barfield Building is the most prominent of them. Harmon sought investors for the Barfield, but couldn’t make it happen. The building eventually was sold to another party and — voila! — it, too, is being turned into a boutique hotel slated to open in the spring.

I wish Harmon well. I hope he can turn the Rule Building into something beautiful. I want nothing but the very best for the downtown district in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived for more than 20 years before we relocated to the D/FW Metroplex.

As KFDA reports: As of right now, the structure plan consists of eight floors, 110 rooms, a 10,000 square foot banquet space, and a couple of restaurant and dining areas.

Don’t misunderstand me. I hope Harmon pulls this together. I want the project to succeed. I am hopeful that Amarillo’s future is still hurtling toward renewed prosperity. The city’s downtown district has made huge strides in the past half-dozen years.

I am going to offer cautious optimism that the Rule Building is part of that shiny new future.

Speaker Pelosi: Don’t mess with me

Well, we have witnessed what happens when the speaker of the House of Representatives’ dander get riled up.

She tells a reporter who had the bad form to ask her a question that cut her to the quick to “not mess with me” when framing a question about whether she hates anyone, let alone a president of the United States whose impeachment she is about to engineer.

James Rosen, formerly of Fox News and now of Sinclair News, asked Pelosi on Friday whether she “hates” Donald Trump. Pelosi had stepped away from the podium after giving her press briefing. She wheeled around to answer Rosen, then she went back to the podium to make abundantly clear what was about to come from her mouth.

She said she doesn’t “hate anyone.” She invoked her Catholic upbringing and her being taught to “pray” for those with whom she disagrees. Pelosi said she prays for Donald Trump “all the time.” She said the issues leading to his certain impeachment have to do with the law, the Constitution and his high office.

“Don’t mess me with” when you ask me a question that implies hatred, she scolded Rosen.

Then she walked away a second time.

I have read accounts of the mood in the room in that moment and those who were there reported that they’d never witnessed a room full of reporters stunned into total silence. That is what occurred when Pelosi fired her barrage at a reporter.

It well might have been the speaker’s finest moment in her long public service career. Moreover, it likely revealed the kind of foe that Donald Trump is facing.

The perfect antidote to all the craziness

I have discovered the perfect antidote — the remedy, if you will — to take one’s mind off the bizarre antics of those in power in Washington, D.C.

It is to take your granddaughter to a Christmas tree lighting in the community where you live — and then to watch your little pride and joy get asked to throw some fairy dust on the tree when Santa Claus arrives from the North Pole.

That’s what we did tonight. Emma had a blast. Grandma had more fun than she can stand, too. So … did I.

We drove the short distance to Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Princeton, Texas, a bit early. The activities began at 4 p.m.; we got there around 5. They wouldn’t light the three until 7:15. We had plenty of time to, um, waste.

We did. We walked around, visited with parents and grandparents of little ones enjoying the spirit of the season. Emma got to strap on some ice skates and “skate” her way around a rink that comprised a sort of plastic material that was interlocked like a puzzle. She only fell once, but got up and was just fine.

The sun set beautifully. Then a young woman who said she works for the city approached Emma and asked her if she wanted to throw some fairy dust on the tree when it the time arrived for the lighting. Emma, quite naturally, agreed. We called her Mommy and Daddy and she told them what she was about to do.

Then came the time. Santa arrived aboard a Princeton Fire Department truck, accompanied by an elf. Mayor John-Mark Caldwell wished us all a Merry Christmas and counted down. When he got to zero, Emma and four little acquaintances who also got recruited tossed the fairy dust on the tree. It lit up spectacularly. We all cheered.

Emma could not have been happier. Neither could her grandparents.

It was a moment of unfettered joy. It took my mind off the more serious matters about which I have been commenting on in this blog. I’ll get back to that in due course.

Tonight, though, I am filled with a child’s joy at welcoming Santa Claus to our community.

I will sleep well tonight.

We’re remembering ‘a date which will live … in infamy’

This is not a celebratory date. I hesitate even to call it an “anniversary.” It’s a date of solemn remembrance and honor.

We remember the event, the attack on our Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese fighter planes and bombers that roared in over the harbor that day 78 years ago brought this country into the world’s bloodiest and costliest war.

We also honor the heroes who fought back that Sunday morning. They were awakened by the sounds of ships and planes exploding under the force of the ordnance dropped by those aircraft.

We remember the USS Arizona, the World War I-era battleship that is memorialized to this day in the harbor, at the place where it blew apart and sank. There reportedly are just three survivors of the attack on the Arizona. One of them is a gentleman named Lou Conter.

Conter is now 98 years of age. His time on Earth is running out, just as it has already for all but fewer than 500,000 of the more than 16 million men and women who fought for this country and saved the world from the tyrants who wanted to conquer us all.

I want to insert a point of personal pride here. One of those brave Americans was my father, Pete Kanelis, who 78 years ago today — as he and his parents and siblings were listening to the news about the attack on the radio — ventured to downtown Portland, Ore., to enlist in the Navy.

Lou Conter will receive honors and high praise from those who have gathered at Pearl Harbor. He couldn’t participate a year ago and this year he is the only one of the three Arizona survivors who is able to take part.

Let us never forget the sacrifice of these heroic Americans. Indeed, we should honor them every single day and thank them — either privately or out loud — for all they did to save us from the evils of oppression.

Newt offers a stunning demonstration of duplicity

Newt Gingrich’s lack of self-awareness is utterly and totally astonishing.

The former Republican U.S. House speaker told Fox News this week that he is amazed and stunned that congressional Democrats would have the nerve to impeach Donald Trump this close to Christmas.

Why, that is just appalling, he said. How can Democrats possibly sully this holy event with such a display of blatant partisanship?

Well, let’s flash back 21 years, shall we?

The GOP-led House of Representatives, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, received articles of impeachment from the Judiciary Committee in its effort to impeach President Bill Clinton. When did the full House vote on those articles and formally impeach the president?

They did it on the week of Christmas, 1998! The date was Dec. 19.

So, my demand of the former speaker today is clear and concise.

Shut … up!

What else is there, but … ‘Go Ducks!’?

At this moment, your friendly blogger is not at all concerned about the state of politics and the still-brewing cauldron in Washington, D.C.

I am instead going to jump for joy over the score of a college football game. Oregon 37, Utah 15.

What does it mean? It means the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl, which I consider to be a wonderful consolation prize for a team that two weeks ago was considered a potential contender for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff.

Then the Ducks went to sleep against Arizona State. The Sun Devils beat Oregon and dashed their playoff hopes.

OK. So the Rose Bowl won’t be for the national championship. Utah was favored to win the Pac-12 title game tonight. The Ducks played with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. The Utes hoped a win tonight would vault them into the playoff quartet. Umm, am I sorry about that? Nope.

The Ducks delivered the goods.

Go Ducks!

266,000, 3.5 percent: Numbers are great, Mr. POTUS, however …

You bet that those numbers released this morning from the U.S. Labor Department are pretty darn stellar.

We added 266,000 jobs to our private payrolls in November; unemployment ticked down to 3.5 percent, retaining a full-employment ratio in the work force.

Those are impressive figures, as Donald Trump will tell us. “It’s the economy, stupid,” he tweeted this morning, using a phrase made famous by Bill Clinton campaign guru James Carville in 1992.

Let’s wait, though, for yet another suggestion from the president that will declare, “You cannot impeach me. Look at the job I’m doing to boost the economy! The economy is going too well for you to impeach me!” 

Mr. President, the pending impeachment by the House of Representatives has nothing — zero, zilch — to do with the economy. Indeed, presidents don’t get impeached based on how they are handling the nation’s economic health, unless they commit some sort of “high crime and misdemeanor.” Near as I can tell, Donald Trump’s trouble has nothing to do with the economy.

It has everything to do with other matters relating to how he has abused the power of his office to solicit a foreign government to help him win re-election. The articles of impeachment that will come from the House will speak to that abuse of power, perhaps to obstruction of justice or to obstruction of Congress.

The economy? It won’t be mentioned anywhere in those articles.

So, Mr. President, you may stop referencing the economy in the context of impeachment. It’s a non-starter.

Trump remains ignorant of the U.S. Constitution

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a first-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who happens to serve on the House Judiciary Committee.

She is a Democrat from Florida who is likely to vote “yes” on articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump. She is a native of Ecuador.

The congresswoman offered an obvious observation today, which is that “I don’t think the president has ever read the Constitution.”

Gee, do ya think?

I happen to virtually certain he’s never looked at it. If he has, then he looked past Article II, the segment dealing with executive authority, or the power of the presidency. He infamously referenced Article II not that long ago when he declared that it enables the president to do whatever he wants.

No. It does not! Not even close. Indeed, Article II spells out the limits of executive authority. Indeed, Article I — which deals with the legislative branch of government — implies heavily that the executive branch’s powers are kept on a tight leash.

Rep. Mucarsel-Powell’s instincts are correct. Trump took office without dedicating a single moment of his entire pre-political life to public service. He didn’t understand government when he ran for the presidency and doesn’t understand it now that he is president.

Donald Trump sounds and acts like someone who fancies himself as The Boss. He isn’t. You’re the boss. As am I … the boss. We call the shots. Not him.

Had he ever thought for a moment about the U.S. Constitution, the document he took an oath to “defend and protect,” he might understand the limitations it places on the presidency.

I do not believe he has done that. I also believe his ignorance of the Constitution is precisely the reason the House of Representatives is going to impeach him.