All posts by kanelis2012

Modern-day hero comes to Biden’s defense

A real-life, modern hero has come to the defense of a politician who in recent times has endured some amazingly cruel taunting over a condition that once plagued him as a child.

Joe Biden once suffered from a debilitating stutter. His political foes are taking aim at him over if, mocking a condition he fought hard to overcome. The latest is Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, the son of the current president of the United States.

Lara Trump thought it was clever to implore the former vice president to “get it out,” to finish whatever thought he sought to make. Her crass quip drew scattered laughter from the crowd.

Now comes Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed that jetliner full of passengers on the Hudson River, to Biden’s defense. Sully wrote in a New York Times op-ed essay that he, too, suffered from stuttering while growing up in Denison, Texas. What’s more, he endured bullying, taunting as a child. He wrote that those memories rushed back when he heard about Lara Trump’s taunt.

Sully wrote: This culture of cruelty is what drives decent people from public service, and what makes millions of Americans recoil from politics, and even from participating in our democracy.

Read his essay here.

I have written already about how I feel Joe Biden’s pain. I, too, stuttered as a child and had to endure taunts from junior high school and high school “friends” who found it funny that I couldn’t get certain words out of my mouth. I worked through it all by myself. I got no help.

But my point is that Joe Biden doesn’t deserve to be mocked. He deserves to be honored for the courage he showed in whipping the problem … and in talking openly about it as a prominent American politician. Those who mock him should salute him.

‘I don’t know the guy’

All righty. Let’s see how this goes.

Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born friend of Rudy Giuliani — one of Donald Trump’s personal lawyers — has become a key player in the impeachment trial of the president of the United States.

Parnas says Vice President Mike Pence was in the loop on the favor that Trump sought from Ukraine, when Trump asked Ukraine to produce some dirt on Joe Biden, a possible opponent of the president in the 2020 campaign.

Pence said “I don’t know the guy” when asked to comment on Parnas’ allegation.

OK, that’s Pence standing right next to Parnas — shoulder to shoulder — in the picture that accompanies this blog post. The fellow on the right is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican.

This is a serious pattern within the Trump administration. Trump says he doesn’t know someone, then pictures emerge of him schmoozing with the guy he said he doesn’t know.

Now it’s the VP’s turn to produce the question: Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?

‘Liberal hack’ attack is now the new normal?

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally is a supreme disappointment to me, as I once said something nice about the grace she exhibited in losing an earlier race for another vacant Senate seat in Arizona.

Now the Republican seeking election to a seat to which she was appointed is turning into, shall we say, a “conservative hack.” Why? Because she called a CNN reporter a “liberal hack” who had the temerity to ask her a straightforward question devoid of any political taint or bias.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Manu Raju asked McSally if she supported calling for additional evidence and witnesses in the upcoming impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States.

“You’re a liberal hack; I’m not talking to you,” McSally snapped at Raju. Huh? That’s how it goes? A working journalist asks a question that requires at minimum a “yes” or a “no.” She chose to bite back at someone who is merely doing his job as a correspondent for a major newsgathering organization.

This is the “media is the enemy of the people” strategy employed by Donald Trump against those in the media who continue to provide critical coverage of events and statements from the president and his allies — when it is deserved!

McSally, a backbench senator who was appointed to replace former Sen. Jon Kyl, who served briefly after the death of the great Sen. John McCain. She earlier had run against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for a seat vacated by the retirement of Jeff Flake. That race was a nail-biter, but McSally conceded with grace and class to her opponent.

Thus, I had hope she would comport herself with dignity when she got the appointment to succeed Kyl. Silly me.

McSally doubled down on her slap back at Raju, recalling that she was “a fighter pilot.” Indeed, she is U.S. Air Force Academy grad who saw combat duty in Iraq.

Her petulant display, though, bodes grimly for the state of political discourse at least where it involves this federal legislator. Perhaps she is feeling the heat of sagging poll numbers in Arizona, where she is trailing possible Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, a former shuttle astronaut.

Whatever the case, Manu Raju — seeking a simple answer to a direct question — didn’t need the high-profile slap in the face by Sen. McSally. Bad call, senator.

Memo to manager: Next chief should endorse community policing

Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller has a huge hiring decision to make soon. He needs to find someone to succeed Ed Drain as chief of the city’s police department.

Miller isn’t going to ask me for my advice, but I am going to give him just a bit of it here in brief form.

Mr. Manager, be sure the next top cop endorses community policing as a way to maintain the city’s relationship with the neighborhoods its officers swear to protect and defend.

Drain has been named the police chief of Plano, Texas, a burgeoning Dallas suburb. He went to Amarillo after serving for more than two decades with the Plano Police Department; he rose to the level of assistant chief.

Drain’s hiring in Amarillo was arguably the sole shining moment of former interim City Manager Terry Childers’ stormy tenure at City Hall. Childers took a hike and the city hired Miller from his city manager’s post in San Marcos.

Drain, meanwhile, reinstituted the community policing program that former Police Chief Robert Taylor let grow fallow during his years as the city’s top cop. I believe that was a regrettable policy decision on Taylor’s part, given the many miles the department had come under the leadership of his immediate predecessor, the late Police Chief Jerry Neal.

Community policing puts officers’ boots on the ground in the neighborhoods they patrol. They develop interpersonal relationships with residents. The policy is designed to build trust between law enforcement officers and the community … thus, the term “community policing.”

Drain has vowed to maintain the policy in Plano. As for Amarillo, I believe it is vital that it remain in force in that city.

I don’t know how Miller is going to conduct a search for a new police chief. He has some fine senior officers on staff already in the Amarillo PD. I actually have a favorite, if he’s willing to be considered for the post.

If Miller goes outside the department and looks far and wide, it would be my hope — no matter what he decides to do — that he insist that the next Amarillo police chief be as dedicated to community policing as Ed Drain was during his brief tenure there.

The policy works.

I believe the learned professor is wrong about abuse of power

At the risk of wading into an argument over an issue that ought to be way above my skill level, I want to take issue with a learned law professor’s assertion that “abuse of power” is not an impeachable offense.

With all due respect to the great Alan Dershowitz, it is my considered opinion that presidents of the United States can be impeached over abusing the awesome power of their exalted office.

Dershowitz is going to argue next week in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump that the Constitution shouldn’t be subjected to this action on the basis of what the House of Representatives has decided. The House impeached Trump on two counts: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

The abuse occurred, according to the articles of impeachment, when Trump asked Ukraine for a political favor; he wanted the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and, in effect, interfere in the 2020 election because Joe Biden is a possible opponent of Trump. He then withheld military aid to Ukraine, which the Government Accounting Office has said is in violation of the law.

My goodness. If that isn’t an abuse of power, then the term has no meaning.

My reading of the Constitution, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, tells me the founders were deliberately vague on what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Dershowitz seems to suggest that because abuse of power does not fall into a category of a criminal offense, that it doesn’t quality as an impeachable offense. Other scholars have argued that the founders hadn’t yet established any statutes when they wrote the impeachment clause into the Constitution. Therefore, those offenses could be interpreted broadly.

I’ll go with them and not with Dershowitz.

I am not going to say the Harvard law professor emeritus is a dummy. Far from it. I just believe he has concocted a standard that I don’t think exists in the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, this is an academic exercise anyhow, given the Senate’s likely disposition to avoid convicting Trump of what I believe is a “high crime and misdemeanor.” The GOP-led Senate is more prone to protect the president than the document they all took an oath to “protect and defend.”

This top cop seeks to downplay the history he is making

There seemed to be a certain inevitability to the course that Ed Drain’s professional journey would take him.

He served as assistant chief of police in Plano, Texas, working in the Dallas suburban community for 22 years. Then he got a call about three years ago from Amarillo’s interim city manager, who asked him to come to the Panhandle to serve as the city’s interim police chief; Drain accepted the post.

Then he got hired as the Amarillo’s permanent chief of police.

Only that the term “permanent” is a relative term. Drain is coming back to Plano, this time as the city’s top law enforcement officer. Plano hired him as its first African-American police chief, a designation that doesn’t seem to phase Ed Drain one little bit.

This man’s skin color means nothing to the way he will approach his job, yet Dallas-Fort Worth media have been making a bit of hay over Plano’s decision to bring Ed Drain back to where he spent a lot of time protecting and serving the community. Indeed, I don’t recall the Amarillo media making quite as much noise about Drain’s racial background when he took over as police chief there.

I don’t know Drain well. He and I have spoken over the years. He arrived in Amarillo after I had left my post with the newspaper there. We belonged to the same Rotary Club. We would chat on occasion and I would thank him for the job he was doing as Amarillo chief of police.

He brought back community policing, elevating officers’ profile in the neighborhoods they served. Drain said upon his hiring as Plano’s police chief that he intends to follow that policy at his new job as well. Good call, chief.

Ed Drain is a good man and I am confident he will serve his new constituents in Plano well.

I know this is cliché, but Amarillo’s loss clearly is Plano’s gain.

Trump’s belittling of brass simply stinks beyond belief

The history of Donald Trump’s pre-business history is well-known.

He sought to avoid service in the military during the height of the Vietnam War. He received dubious medical deferments citing bone spurs or some such ailment that kept him out of being eligible for military service.

He went into business. Made a lot of money. Lost a lot of money. Had mixed success as a business mogul. Then he went into politics. He ran for president of the United States. He won!

So for this current president to dress down men who have served their country honorably, in combat, thrust themselves into harm’s way is insulting, degrading and astonishingly unpatriotic.

Two reporters for the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, have written a book that tells just how disgraceful Trump’s conduct has gotten with regard to the military high command. An excerpt from that book tells of a meeting in a Pentagon room called The Tank. The brass sought to explain the nuts and bolts of military matters to the commander in chief. He was having none of it.

He called the generals “babies and dopes.” He has told them they are “losers” and said he wouldn’t “go into battle” with them.

I am trying imagine, were I one of those decorated combat veterans, hearing such denigration coming from the commander in chief. The entire world knows this man’s history. We all know that, when he had the opportunity to serve his country, he chose another path.

Don’t misunderstand me on this score. I do not begrudge a president who’s never worn the nation’s military uniform. Two recent presidents did not serve: Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Neither did Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, both of whom led this country through two world wars.

What is so objectionable is the snarky attitude this president demonstrates to individuals who have done what he sought to avoid doing. That he would speak to these patriots in such a manner is disgraceful on its face.

POTUS turns salute to football champs into a campaign event

Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, just cannot help himself.

The Louisiana State University Tigers showed up at the White House ostensibly to receive a salute from Trump for the Tigers winning the college football championship. Hey, LSU whipped Clemson by a score of 42-25.

So, Trump invited them to the White House, per the customary reception given to sports champs.

What does the president do? He turns the event into a campaign event. He yapped and yammered about the impeachment, saying that despite the great economy they want to “impeach the son of a bi***.”

Yep, that’s the language that flew out of the mouth — at the White House — of the evangelical Christian movement’s favorite politician. He makes me so (not) proud of the president.

He blathered some more about how he has supposedly rebuilt the military, brought justice to terrorist leaders.

This is what we get when we have an impeached president who also is running for re-election. Indeed, this also is what we get when we have a president who cannot separate his own political fortunes from events — such as a ceremony to salute a college football team — that have nothing to do with those political fortunes.

Donald Trump clearly is obsessed with this impeachment trial. He also is obsessed — to the nth degree — with his political standing. Trump takes every opportunity he can find to further buttress his status.

Even when such politicking has no place in an unrelated event.

Weird.

Trump ignorance begets more … ignorance

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

They sought to educate the president of the United States on matters they deemed essential to him being able to do his job, which is to protect the citizens of the country he was elected to lead.

They included then-Defense Secretary James Mattis, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

The Washington Post has reported a stunning story about how these men ran into a verbal firestorm generated by Donald Trump, who appeared alternately disinterested, bored and downright put off by what they were telling him.

The story is lengthy. It is worth your time to read. Take a look at it here.

The Post has performed a remarkable service to those who have an interest in the way this president conducts policy. He relies on no one with any gravitas. Indeed, James Mattis — a retired Marine Corps general who is revered by the men and women who served under his command — was arguably the lone superstar in Trump’s initial Cabinet. He then resigned over basic and fundamental differences with the president’s handling of military matters.

Trump was having none of what Mattis, Tillerson and Cohn sought to tell him. Remember, too, that Tillerson once referred to Trump as a “fu**ing moron,” and never once denied saying it when the media pressed him on reports of his outburst against the president.

This story spells out how Trump has dismissed our allies, cozied up to dictators, ignored the advice he has received from those with actual experience in important policy matters.

I guess little of what the Post is reporting should be a surprise. Trump did tell us during the 2016 campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals. Believe me.” Well, actually, he doesn’t. He knows nothing about anything regarding government.

If only the upcoming Senate trial could remove him. It likely won’t. We are left, therefore, to rely on the wisdom of the voters later this year who’ll get the chance to cast their ballots for a president who doesn’t call the military’s top brass “a bunch of dopes and babies.”

ERA is dead? ‘Not hardly’

I have been thinking about a recurring line in the western film “Big Jake,” starring the late John Wayne.

Whenever Jake would encounter someone from his past, the other guy would say, “I thought you were dead,” to which Jake would reply, “not hardly.”

So it is with the Equal Rights Amendment. I thought the ERA was dead. Well, as Big Jake would say, “not hardly.”

Virginia’s legislature this week became the 38th — and ostensibly final — state to ratify the ERA, which found its way out of Congress in 1971. It was thought to be a cinch for ratification. Except that opposition rose against it from conservative activists, led by the late Phyllis Schlafly. The ERA was written to provide “equal rights” to everyone regardless of their gender. I happen to endorse the ERA, which I did when I first heard of it way back when.

The Texas Legislature voted to ratify the ERA in 1972, which makes me happy. Five states have voted to rescind their ratification votes. The amendment needs 38 states to ratify it for it to become a part of the Constitution.

Now, does this mean the ERA becomes the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Well, no.

Some groups suggest that time ran out, even though the Constitution does not specify any time limits for amendments that go to the states for ratification. They suggest that the ERA has not survived a sort of statute of limitations.

My own hope is that the current political climate, punctuated by the #MeToo movement and the growing intolerance of the way powerful men treat women, will breathe new life into the ERA.

The Equal Rights Amendment should have become part of the Constitution long ago. It’s not too late to do the right thing for more than half of our nation’s population.