All posts by kanelis2012

Oregon governor makes me proud

The governor of the state of my birth has demonstrated a generous streak in a time of peril for another one of our 50 states.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is sending 140 ventilators to New York to help that state treat patients afflicted with COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus that has paralyzed the planet. China also is sending 1,000 ventilators to New York.

It doesn’t sound like much of a help, given the huge number of patients who need treatment. But the very idea that one of our state governors would reach out in such a fashion speaks well of the generous spirit among Americans.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo thanked Gov. Brown publicly today and pledged to return the gesture in the event Oregon suffers the kind of surge in coronavirus cases that has fallen on New York.

And get a load of this: Donald Trump and Mike Pence both congratulated Gov. Brown for the gesture she extended to Gov. Cuomo. How about that?

This is a case of crisis bringing out the best in this great country.

Well done, Gov. Brown.

When will POTUS shut … up?

I reached my saturation point a long time ago but the coronavirus pandemic and Donald Trump’s constant presence in front of the nation in recent times is sending me damn near to the breaking point.

I don’t usually watch the president’s “briefings” about the pandemic response team’s work. I prefer to listen to the experts he has recruited to work on the nuts and bolts of the response.

News reports and the snippets I do see tell me that he is continuing to spew out confusion, chaos and mixed messages at a time when we need clarity, coherence and calm.

Donald Trump is not advancing anything constructive with his rants against Democratic governors, against the media for asking him “nasty” questions. He calls himself a “wartime president,” but cannot, will not deliver the kind of message that wartime presidents by definition are supposed to deliver.

This guy can’t unify anyone. He prefers to talk only to his base when he should be speaking directly to all Americans, even his critics. Were he to speak like a normal president operating during these abnormal times, well, I would listen to him.

Instead, he takes aim at imaginary adversaries, blaming them for playing politics while at the same time doing the very thing he accuses others of doing.

Worst of all, he continues to lie. He denies saying things that the whole world heard him say. The initial downplaying of the coronavirus threat has been recorded for the rest of history … but Donald Trump says he took the threat seriously from the very beginning. No! He did not!

I can’t stand it!

This guy needs to be booted out of the White House!

Does this pandemic have a positive impact on anything? Well, yes

One can run a terrible risk of shortchanging the tragedy that comes from crises while looking for any positive outcomes.

With that said, I want to offer this item, understanding that some might think I am seeking to minimize the sadness being played out all over the world.

The coronavirus pandemic could possibly result in the most dramatic reduction in carbon emissions since World War II.

Reuters News Service reports: “I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 5 percent or more drop in carbon dioxide emissions this year, something not seen since the end of World War II,”  (Rob) Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University in California, told Reuters in an email.

The cause of such a decline isn’t hard to figure out. Motor vehicle traffic is way down. Everywhere on Earth. China, where the pandemic originated and where air pollution has become almost legendary, reports remarkably clean air over major urban centers. The same is being said in India and in major European cities.

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and I am quite certain that carbon emissions here are registering historic lows as millions of us around here are obeying stay at home directives issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

As Reuters points out: But the improvements are for all the wrong reasons, tied to a world-shaking global health emergency that has infected more than 950,000 people — while shuttering factories, grounding airlines and forcing hundreds of millions of people to stay at home to slow the contagion. 

Just a side note: The number of infected human beings has zoomed well past a million people since this article was published.

I am left now to wonder whether this result might persuade some notorious climate-change deniers to rethink their environmental idiocy. If we are seeing this singular positive result from this pandemic, it well might be a reduction in carbon emissions that — according to scientific research — contributes to the other existential threat to humanity: worldwide climate change.

Does this guy have a political future? Yeah, I think so

Crises occasionally give birth to political superstars and I am starting to see some signs of superstardom emerging among the ranks of local political figures in Texas and around the country.

The crisis of the moment is a big one: the coronavirus pandemic.

A Texas Tribune feature singles out a fellow who just might be among the superstars emerging from the wreckage that the pandemic is likely to create.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, according to the Tribune article, has been far from “timid” in his response to the pandemic. He jumped right away on calls for shelter in place, then for r. esidents of the nation’s eighth most populous county to stay at home. He has spearheaded the installation of temporary hospital rooms and issued calls to action among city officials and those who govern neighboring counties.

Jenkins even has chided other county judges — such as Chris Hill in Collin County — to step up their efforts to battle the onset of the coronavirus. The Tribune also notes that after ordering bars and restaurants closed, he egged Gov. Greg Abbott on to follow suit statewide.

So, is a star being born? Hmm. Maybe.

Jenkins is a Democrat, elected to the county judgeship in 2010. I don’t know much about Jenkins, other than what I’ve seen from my perch in Collin County, where we have lived for the past year or so.

Whether he’s able to capitalize appropriately on the leadership he is exhibiting depends on whether the judge sees a higher political office in his future. It well might be that he has advanced as far as he wants to go. Indeed, politicians often can overplay their hands if they want to take their public service venture to the next level.

Clay Jenkins has to play it carefully if he has any personal future ambition to fulfill. In the meantime, he can just keep doing what he’s doing and hope his leadership helps save lives … which by itself could write the script for this fellow’s political future.

Listening to the docs, tuning out the politicians

As a general rule I am not inclined to criticize politicians simply because of their profession.

I view politics more as a noble craft than one that is inherently corrupt. However, there clearly are exceptions to both ends of that measuring stick.

That said, too many politicians commenting on the coronavirus pandemic are wrapping themselves up in this madness in search of ways to further their own fortunes.

I want to hear from the doctors, the researchers, the scientists … those with practical knowledge and experience dealing head-on with mounting crises.

To be clear, the nation is full of noble men and women who consider their political path to be paved with commitment to serving the public. You know who they are: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, California Gov. Gavin Newsom come to my mind immediately. These men have stood up, stood tall and have spoken of their abiding concern for their constituents while offering sincere and heartfelt salutes to the men and women who are battling the virus on the front lines.

Too many of the rest of them have offered confusion and chaos when we need calm and comfort. And you know who I consider to be the prime culprit there.

The scientists are the truth-tellers. They are individuals who have no political axe to grind. The physicians among them take a solemn oath to “do no harm.” Indeed, it has been the politicians’ initial denial of the pandemic severity that has more than enough harm around the world.

My mission now is to glean the information I need from the experts, the pros. If a politician wants to fill my TV screen, he or she had better talk seriously about the crisis … and not at all about what a great job they think they’re doing.

And, yes, Mr. President, I’m talking about you!

No one expects perfection, but … c’mon!

A family member of mine — someone with whom I joust occasionally about the president of the United States — says that no one could have responded to the coronavirus pandemic perfectly.

I guess that is his way of suggesting that Donald Trump has done the best he could do and that we should appreciate all he’s done in the wake of the crisis that has killed thousands of Americans.

I need to respond briefly to my dear family member.

He is correct in suggesting that perfection is too high a hurdle to clear in times like this. Indeed, I haven’t heard a single Trump critic say that the president should have or could have responded perfectly. What I do hear are concerns about the utter incompetence of his response and that he failed to respond immediately to the very beginning of the crisis as it developed.

Trump’s downplaying of the crisis severity initially is what slowed the national response. Of that there can be little doubt, and yet he told us he responded “perfectly.” He used that word, as if to compare it to that infamous phone call he made in June 2019 to the Ukraine president. It was Trump, no one else, who ascribed perfection to a national response that was far from it.

I am never going to say that a fallible human being — even the president of the United States — is going to do anything with utter and absolute perfection. The very nature of our humanity accepts that all of us make mistakes.

I should add, too, that the framers of our nation’s government stated in the preamble to our U.S. Constitution that they intended to “form a more perfect Union.” You see, even those great men knew that absolute perfection was unattainable even in creating this marvelous governing document.

I have not expected perfection from our president in his handling of this monumental crisis … but I damn sure expected a lot better than what we’ve gotten so far.

Trump’s revenge machine kicks back in

Let’s add Michael K. Atkinson to the growing list of federal public servants who’ve been kicked out of the way because they were doing their job.

Atkinson happens to be the intelligence community’s inspector general who brought to light the complaint of a whistleblower who revealed to the world that Donald J. Trump committed an impeachable offense in an infamous phone call to the president of Ukraine. You remember that one, right? That was the call where Trump asked the Ukraine president for a “favor, though,” asking him to dig up some dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for sending him money for weapons he needs to use in his ongoing war with Russia-backed rebels in Ukraine.

Did the former IG commit a firing offense? Was he acting illegally or unethically? Did he violate government policy? Oh, no! He was doing what he was charged to do, which is reveal misconduct in the government.

And, oh brother, did he reveal it … bigly!

The Ukraine phone call of course led to Donald Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives and then to a trial in the Senate, where senators acquitted Trump.

So now the president is exacting revenge. He said in a letter that he had “lost confidence” in Atkinson. Yeah, no sh**, not because he was doing his job badly, but because he was doing it well.

So now the president has appointed a White House aide to act as the independent IG who will monitor the disbursement of coronavirus pandemic relief funds to millions of Americans. The IG’s job is to ensure that the funds are going to the proper individuals and businesses in accordance with legislation that Trump signed into law the other day.

As The New York Times reported: The slew of late-night announcements, coming as the world’s attention is gripped by the coronavirus epidemic, raised the specter of a White House power play over the community of inspectors general, independent officials whose mission is to root out waste, fraud and abuse within the government.

Hmm. Let’s see. It looks to me as though Michael Atkinson fulfilled his mission to the letter.

School’s out … for the summer? Let’s hope so

There’s a shiny new elementary school in our Princeton, Texas, neighborhood. It opened this year, welcoming more than 400 students.

It’s been quiet at Dorothy Lowe School since spring break. The marquee in front of the school tells the kids that their teachers miss them and that they will see them on May 4.

I don’t think that’s a good idea.

You see, the school’s been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott issued a recent order that keeps all Texas public schools closed until May 4. The closure affects about 5.4 million students, about 357,000 teachers and an untold number of administrative and support staff, vendors and contractors.

If I were King of the World, I’d say school should be out for the summer. The outbreak isn’t going to diminish in time for the doors to open in one month. Indeed, the greater Dallas/Fort Worth metro area is being identified as a possible new “hot spot” for the killer disease.

With that prospect possibly awaiting us, it is my considered opinion that Gov. Abbott ought to just order the schools closed for the duration of the 2019-20 academic year.

Independent school districts could just issue pass/fail grades to students and let the students who pass move on to the next grade.

The threat to students’ and teachers’ health and well-being is too great. They must not be exposed to the threat that continues to loom out there.

Leadership is MIA in the White House

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done it. It says Americans should wear cloth masks when they venture outside and are forced to mingle with others.

It’s not a directive. It’s a guideline, but CDC sounded as if it is recommending strongly that we follow its advice.

What, then, did Donald Trump do today during his daily clown show/briefing? He undercut CDC’s  recommendation. Way to go, Mr. President … you ignoramus.

I took a break from boycotting these presidential riffs. I watched a good bit of what Trump said. He was, typically, hideous.

He said the CDC guidelines are “voluntary.” Then he said, “I’m choosing not to do it. It’s voluntary.”

Why in the name of absent leadership does Donald Trump open his yapper on matters such as this? The CDC isn’t dictating that we must wear the masks; it is offering only what it considers to be a strong recommendation.

Then the president — in effect — says the CDC’s recommendation isn’t to be taken seriously.

Sigh …

Donald Trump’s daily monologues have become counterproductive in the extreme. This individual simply is ill-equipped to lead a nation that is distressed beyond measure. The coronavirus pandemic has frightened us. It is causing many of us to worry ourselves sick about the direction our economy is taking. We are worried about catching the virus, or our loved ones becoming ill from it.

The CDC is offering a recommendation that medical experts suggest could prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that anyone who can wear a cloth mask per the CDC recommendation should do so.

Then the president tells us he won’t bother?

This nitwit in chief is not leading us.

Trying to connect seemingly disconnected dots

Three issues are swirling about that seem on the surface as though they might be disconnected, but they are hooked up in curious and confusing ways.

They are the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election.

Let’s see where this brief trip takes us.

The health crisis has erupted across the globe, affecting economies on every inhabited continent on Earth. The United States is not immune from the pain.

Today’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed a shedding of 700,000 non-farm jobs in March. If you think that number hurts, wait’ll the April figures come out in early May.

Americans are hunkering down. States are issuing stay-at-home orders; all but 10 states have done so, I believe. The federal government hasn’t done so. Indeed, the feds at this moment still appear to be playing a supporting role in this national crisis, which leads me to the third issue: the election.

Donald Trump surely didn’t cause the coronavirus outbreak. He is not responsible for the crisis that began in China and then swallowed Planet Earth whole. The president’s responsibility begins with his cavalier initial response to the crisis as it was worsening before our eyes. Therein lies what might become the signature issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Is the president doing enough to lead the nation in this fight against the “invisible enemy” known as COVID-19? Has Donald Trump actually donned the mantle of “wartime president” and is he acting like the leader he professes to be? No and … no again!

I’ve wanted this fraud off the nation’s political stage since the moment he rode down that escalator with Melania to announce he was running for president. He has done not a single thing to persuade me he deserves a second term.

On top of that, this buffoon has bluffed, blundered and blathered his way all over the coronavirus crisis. He contradicts the health geniuses with whom he has surrounded himself. He said the virus was not a big deal, then he changed his tone. All the while, Trump keeps congratulating himself for doing a “fantastic job” of coordinating the federal effort. He hasn’t done jack-diddley-squat!

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign guru James Carville once made famous the quip that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It well might be the economy once again that drives this upcoming election.

To think it all began when the current president once told the nation that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. He’s got his hands full.