All posts by kanelis2012

Trump tries to re-define political ‘disloyalty’

Donald Trump’s blathering about Jewish voters endorsing Democratic candidates brought to mind a nearly six-decade-old commitment stated by a previous president of the United States.

Trump’s statement has been taken by some to be an anti-Semitic utterance from someone who presumes political candidates must be “loyal” to Israel and to Israeli government policies. So the rationale — if you want to call it such — is that Jewish voters would be “disloyal” to Israel if they back candidates who might be not quite as friendly to Israeli policies as candidates from the other major political party.

This is utter hogwash, claptrap, bull corn — whatever you want to call it — from the president.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy was running for president as a practicing Catholic. There were whispers that turned into shouts about whether a Catholic president would take his marching orders from the Vatican. Sen. Kennedy sought to assuage those concerns and he did so in a most brazen manner.

He attended a Texas convention of Protestant clergy, stood before them and said categorically that he would take the oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. It would be to that document that the president would adhere.

Presidents do take an oath to defend the Constitution. They do not defend the Bible, or the Torah. Their loyalty first and foremost is to the secular document crafted by the nation’s founders in the late 18th century.

Donald Trump’s abject ignorance of the very oath he took in 2017 reveals the danger we face if we return this guy to office in 2020.

Is something wrong with the ‘Stable Genius’?

The man we have heard call himself the “Stable Genius” is making me re-evaluate my aversion to armchair/peanut gallery psychoanalysis.

Donald J. Trump’s recent “press availabilities” with the media have me wondering about the man. I am not qualified to offer any form of diagnosis of him. I do want to offer some observations about what I have seen and heard from the president of the United States.

It is troubling … to say the very least.

He stood in front of the helicopter the other day and went off on a riff about a lot of things and about a lot of people — chiefly his immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama.

He keeps saying Obama got “outstmarted” by the Russians when he got Russia kicked out of the G-8 ranks of industrialized nations; actually, the G-7 voted to boot the Russians out over their ongoing conflict with Ukraine. He made some idiotic reference again to the former president, saying that the Danes outmaneuvered him on some such thing; I don’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Then he spoke to some veterans and joked about wanting to award himself the Medal of Honor; does he not get how offensive such a “joke” is, given his history of draft evasion during the Vietnam War? Trump said he was open to considering universal background checks for those wanting to purchase firearms; then he appeared to back away from it. Trump keeps blaming Fed chairman Jerome Powell for allegedly hasty decisions regarding interest rates; POTUS just won’t own any part of the concerns being expressed about the future of the economy.

What is with this guy? These are just the latest among a lengthy series of weird statements and behavior. I have seen some psychiatrists seek to offer diagnoses at a distance. I get that they are trained medical doctors who can spot certain signs of something that over the rest of our heads. I admire their knowledge and their intellectual wattage, both of which dwarf my own.

But as I watch the president writhe, wriggle and rant these days as the presidential election year approaches, I am beginning to wonder if this guy is actually starting to panic. I’ve read the views of those who believe Trump didn’t expect to win the 2016 election and that his victory caught him by complete surprise. I also have heard those who believe that Trump’s ego won’t allow him to accept the possibility that he has failed at the job and that voters just might be wising up to his abject failures as a politician.

I am not prepared to even offer a wild-ass guess as to what might be wrong with this guy. I do wonder, though, whether the pressure of seeking re-election to a job that is way over his head is getting to him.

If so, is he up to doing the job?

Let’s remember, the “Stable Genius” is just an arm’s length away from those nuclear launch codes.

Time for answers in young man’s death

Thomas Kelly Brown’s loved ones — his family and his friends throughout Hemphill County, Texas — need more than what they apparently got from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The AG says Brown, who disappeared on Thanksgiving 2018, was not the victim of “foul play.” Never mind that his body was found far removed from his laptop and his backpack. As others have noted already, this case has “foul play” screaming from it.

Yet the AG says there was no “evidence” that foul play occurred.
OK, so how did this young man die? Shouldn’t the attorney general, who along with the Texas Rangers and Hemphill County authorities searched for clues surrounding the young Canadian High School senior’s disappearance and death, provide some form of closure to the young man’s death?

Hey, these aren’t just a gaggle of nosy Noras wanting to satisfy their idle curiosity. They have a serious emotional stake in this matter.

They are entitled to a full explanation into how the authorities reached what many of us believe is a faulty conclusion.

Canadian teen’s loved ones get punched in the gut?

I will have to step aside for any detailed analysis of what the Texas Attorney General’s Office has concluded about the mysterious and heartbreaking death of a Canadian High School senior, Thomas Kelly Brown.

The expert on this tragedy is my friend and former colleague Jon Mark Beilue, who wonders aloud whether how in the world the AG’s office could find that “there is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

He disappeared on Thanksgiving Day 2018. His body was discovered near Lake Marvin. His laptop and other personal belongings were found miles away from where police found Brown’s body.

So … the AG’s office says that Brown did not die as a result of someone doing him harm. No evidence? Good … grief!

As Jon Mark Beilue said in his social media post: These findings go “beyond the pale.”

The powers that be — the AG’s office, the Texas Rangers, the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office — all need to come up with some plausible explanation for what happened to this young man.

Here is Beilue’s rant. It’s worth your time to read it:

“…There is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown…”

You mean except for the fact that his body was found near Lake Marvin and his vehicle was found miles away with video evidence of it being driven that night, or that his backpack and laptop computer were found several more miles away?

Who wrote this, the Attorney General’s office of Texas or Deputy Barney Fife? Unfortunately, it was the former in an announcement on Wednesday.

As someone while with the Globe-News who wrote multiple stories on Thomas Brown, the Canadian senior who suddenly went missing in the early hours of Thanksgiving 2016, this is beyond the pale.

It is absolutely unconscionable that a reasonable person would not conclude that foul play was involved. This whole case has all but screamed of foul play since the very murky outset. Investigators said time and again they knew it to be foul play, but could not bring sufficient evidence.

Suppose the powers that be go ahead and tell the public exactly why a reasonable person should not conclude foul play was involved? Or is this just a way of throwing up your hands and saying we can’t solve it.

I feel for those closest to Brown in all of this. I can’t imagine what this latest bit of news brings. I could go on and on, but just leave it at this. To paraphrase the AG report: “Any reasonable person can conclude that someone got away with murder in Hemphill County in the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

Thomas Brown’s family and all of those who loved him have been kicked squarely in the gut.

Candidate calls a halt; his issue lives on

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was one of those 0-percenters who sought to catch fire among the huge field of Democrats running for president of the United States.

He didn’t ignite. Today he ended his campaign.

That’s the bad news … for Inslee. The good news is that his signature issue, climate change and Donald Trump’s ignorance of its significance, lives on.

Gov. Inslee had vowed to make climate change/global warming the linchpin of his campaign. Sure, he said he felt strongly about other issues, but this one really floats his boat.

As for Trump, he calls climate change a “hoax.” He said it’s cooked up by China, which wants to undermine and destroy the U.S. fossil fuel industry. The president is blowing it out of his backside.

Inslee sees the issue as the nation’s premier national security concern. So do many other Americans. I am one of those millions of others who stands with Inslee and others who want the government to pay attention to the tangible evidence that climate change is having around the world … and to acknowledge that humankind is at least partially responsible for the damage it is inflicting on Planet Earth.

Gov. Inslee vowed today to remain active in the dual-edged pursuit of (a) talking up the dire peril that climate change is posing and (b) the peril the nation faces if it re-elects Donald J. Trump to another four years as president.

Keep up the fight, governor. I stand with you.

Danes won’t give up Greenland? Why, I never …

Donald J. Trump wants to purchase Greenland, the monstrous Arctic territorial island that belongs to Denmark.

My question is this: With what? How much money? Surely the president doesn’t think he can plunk down, oh, $7 million … the amount of money President Andrew Johnson paid in 1867 for Alaska in that purchase from the Russians. They called it “Seward’s Folly,” in “honor” of then Secretary of State William Seward, who negotiated the deal with the czar; it turned out to be a damn good investment.

Trump decided he would postpone a planned visit to Denmark after that country’s prime minister balked at the notion of selling Greenland to the United States.

Trump is trying to wheel-deal a real estate transaction the way he did when he just a commercial real estate mogul.

Good grief, dude. Get real.

The idiocy that comes from Donald Trump continues to astound many of us. Not those who hang on to his every ridiculous utterance, though. They’ll just need to explain to the rest of us how it is that their man, Trump, is not embarrassing the nation he was elected to govern.

Must I remind them that Donald Trump’s business credentials aren’t nearly as shiny and spiffy as he portrayed them while running for president? There. I just did.

‘Disloyal,’ Mr. President? To whom?

Donald John Trump’s mouth has taken him off the road and into the ditch yet again.

This time the president has declared that Jewish voters who support Democrats are lacking in “knowledge” or — and this is the best part by far — are “disloyal.”

Yes, he says Democratic-leaning Jewish voters are “disloyal.”

Now, it is totally fair to ask the president what he means precisely when he accuses American citizens who cast their votes for Democratic Party candidates of being disloyal. To whom are they “disloyal,” Mr. President? To you? To the nation? To your party? To themselves? All of the above?

This is just another disgraceful example of the president popping off to reporters without knowing what the hell he’s saying, what he’s talking about or having a clue as to the offensiveness of his remarks.

Trump went off in remarks to reporters on another riff about two Muslim members of Congress, Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. He’s been on their case lately, stemming from his pleading with Israel to deny them entry into that country. The Israelis actually acceded to the president’s request, then backed and granted Tlaib entry; Tlaib then canceled her visit to the West Bank.

So what in blazes is Donald Trump trying to say about Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats?

That “disloyalty” canard is just more dangerous rhetoric from a totally dangerous politician.

Mr. Ryan is moving to Washington

I don’t know exactly why this is such a big deal, why the media are making hay about it, but it kinda/sorta is a big deal.

Former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is moving from his beloved hometown of Janesville, Wis., to Washington, D.C. Yep, he’s moving his family — all of ’em — to the nation’s capital city.

Why is it a big deal?

Here’s my take. Ryan made quite a big splash about how he loved getting out of Washington, how he cherished his time away from The Beltway, how he wanted to commune with the home folks to get a feel of what the rest of Middle America was thinking.

He’s now out of office. He left the speakership and the House of Representatives at the end of 2018. Maybe he’s had all the Middle America perspective he can stand.

Let’s remember, too, that Ryan ran for vice president in 2012 on the Republican ticket led by now U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Indeed, I recall vividly during that campaign how Ryan espoused the virtues of going home, of how he wanted to spend as much time as possible away from the halls of power.

To be fair, Ryan is not selling his Janesville home. He and his wife will rent a house in the D.C. ‘burbs in Maryland. He plans to return home to Janesville. His foundation will be based back “home.”

It’s just that when a national politician makes a lot of noise about spending time away from the Center of the Political Universe, only to return to it, well … it does make me scratch my noggin.

White House not believable … at any level!

MSN.com posted a question today as part of its ongoing rolling random online “polls” relating to issues of the day. This one dealt with the economy.

Do you tend to believe economic forecasts from the White House or outside experts?

Hmm. Let me ponder that one. Actually, this was one of the easier questions to answer.

I’ll start by saying that I do not trust the White House to tell me the truth about anything at all. Not a damn thing! Not as long as Donald Trump is the Man of the White House, the guy in charge of the executive branch of government.

Who do I believe? The outsiders.

The question, though, cuts to the heart of what I perceive to be the No. 1 issue facing this White House: its trustworthiness.

To state it briefly, I don’t trust the White House. I don’t trust the spokespeople, the senior aides, the Cabinet, the (acting) chief of staff, the vice president or the president himself.

They all take their cue from the man who won the election in 2016. Donald Trump is fundamentally a liar. He cannot tell the truth even when it suits his interests to do so. He lies when he has no reason to lie. Remember when he said his father was “born in Germany”? He wasn’t. Fred Trump was born in New York City. Why does the president lie? He cannot help himself! He cannot stop lying.

Some of Trump’s closer political allies once called him out on his lying. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who ran against Trump for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, once called him an “amoral” individual who couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it. He also threw in “sniveling coward” for good measure. Well, he’s changed his tune, as has U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another former Trump foe in 2016. I am not in public life, so I am free to stay the course.

Trump is a lying, conniving, self-serving con man who has set the tone for the White House he runs.

How in the world can anyone believe anything from this administration, given its record of lying.

Someone once said “The fish rots from the head down.” So do presidential administrations.

Mr. Sam knew his place

BONHAM, Texas — The plaque pictured here offers an important civics lesson. It tells of the late Sam Rayburn’s role as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and also as a rank-and-file member of the legislative branch of the federal government.

The great Mr. Sam said he didn’t work “under” eight presidents, but that he worked “with” them. Listen up! Pay attention!

Too many presidents over many decades have fancied themselves as bigger than their office, occupying an office bigger and more powerful and meaningful than the other two co-equal branches of government.

Yes, Donald Trump, I refer to you as well.

Rayburn served in the House with eight presidents, the first of whom was Woodrow Wilson; the last of them was John F. Kennedy. Rayburn died in November 1961.

He was the Man of the House, even when he wasn’t pounding the gavel as its speaker.

I came back to the Rayburn Library and Museum today to show my visiting brother-in-law — who is quite a student of history — this place my wife (his sister) and I visited for the first time just a few weeks ago.

I didn’t see the plaque on our first visit. I feel compelled to offer these few words as a tribute to the understanding that Speaker Rayburn had about Congress and its role as a partner in the making of laws that govern all Americans. He was a student of government and knew he was duty bound to work within the system, reaching across the partisan divide, to find common ground in search of the common good.

There is a huge lesson that needs to be learned in the present day. Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for president, declared in the summer of 2016 that “I, alone” can repair the things that he said were ailing the country. Uh, Mr. President, good government is most definitely a team sport, requiring all branches of government — even the judiciary — to play a role in the crafting and interpretation of law.

Sam Rayburn knew what has been lost on occasion in the present day. Legislators dig in against the president, who digs in against the men and women who serve in Congress. Nothing gets done. They all seek to declare political victory, when in reality they all fail.

Given that we have only one president at a time, the onus for failure — at least in my mind — falls on the doofus in the White House at the moment.

I cannot stop thinking at this moment how the great Sam Rayburn would react to the bullying and showboating he would witness from down the street at the White House.

My guess? He wouldn’t stand for it.