All posts by kanelis2012

Another shooting, another gunman taken out

My day proceeded quietly in Collin County. I was unaware of the mayhem that erupted this morning south of us along U.S. 75 in downtown Dallas.

A gunman was killed by federal officers after he opened fire at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. He was 22 years of age. He had dropped out of the Dallas Independent School District in 2012.

This loon was reportedly dressed in “tactical gear” and he opened fire with some sort of assault weapon on the building from outdoors. He engaged federal officers in a fire fight.

They killed him.

One person was injured in the brief shooting. I understand the victim’s injuries are superficial.

What do we make of this? Well, I’ll start simply by saluting the federal officers who responded as the trained professionals they are. They are dedicated to protecting the public and, boy howdy, they did it today!

I’m sure there will be much more to report on the lunatic shooter.

The FBI special agent in charge, Matthew DeSarno, said the shooter had five 40-round magazines on him when he opened fire. I’ll wait for the confusion to give way to some rational discussion.

For now, though, I just want to salute the dedication of the feds who answered the call to duty. Thank you.

War with Iran? Are you really serious about that?

The chicken hawks who are advising Donald Trump to launch military strikes against Iran need to have their heads examined.

Yep, they’re aboard the “war with Iran” hay wagon. They are led by national security adviser John Bolton, who long has favored “regime change” in Tehran. This is frightening and dangerous stuff, ladies and gentlemen.

The Iranians reportedly have been launching attacks on commercial vessels sailing in international waters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says U.S. intelligence has confirmed Iranian involvement. In an ironic twist, I should add, Pompeo has endorsed the intelligence analysis on the Iranian involvement from the same people he and Donald Trump have dismissed when they said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; go figure, eh?

We must not go to war with Iran because of attacks on commercial vessels.

Some members of the Senate are calling for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, is one of them. To be fair, I don’t include Sen. Cotton in the “chicken hawk” cadre; he served as an Army infantry officer who saw combat in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His prior military experience does not make his argument correct. A retaliatory strike is bound to produce a vigorous military response from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And by vigorous, I mean deadly, as in ferocious.

Do we really want to engage in yet another war with a Middle East nation? Good grief! Please, let us not go there!

The Iranians already have announced their plans to exceed their nuclear enrichment limits as payback for Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement that sought to ban Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The president pulled out even though other signatory nations said the Iranians were complying with the restrictions.

This is not how you “make America great again,” Mr. President.

This saber-rattling is making me very nervous.

POTUS interview proved to be a ratings bust? Who knew?

I guess I was one of the few and the proud who decided to watch Donald Trump make an utter a** of himself on national TV. I’m glad I tuned in to the special ABC News “20/20” special with George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos obtained a 30-hour visit with Trump. He interviewed him at length over a wide range of topics. And, to no one’s surprise, the president managed to make a good bit of news.

  • He revealed he would “look at” intelligence that would come to him from a foreign source that might have “information” about a political opponent.
  •  Trump said he’s leading “everywhere” and disputed the polling data that indicates he is in serious trouble against about six of the Democrats running for president.
  •  The president revealed design plans he has drawn up for a newly reconstituted Air Force One jet.
  •  Trump said something about releasing his “financial records,” but said that decision rests solely with “the lawyers.” He said he wants the country to see the documents, calling them “fantastic.”

Trump keeps demonstrating that he doesn’t have a clue as to what he is doing in the nation’s highest office. I’m certain he lied dozens of times during the hour-long program.

He chastised Stephanopoulos, suggesting he is a purveyor of “fake news,” to which the ABC News anchor didn’t flinch, didn’t blink, didn’t take the bait.

I think my favorite part was when Trump talked down to Stephanopoulos, seeming to lecture him about “oppo research,” which is the material he would “look at” were it to come from a foreign source.

As if Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton campaign and White House aide wouldn’t know what he’s talking about. Good grief!

I was a bit disheartened to hear that the ratings tanked on the “20/20” special. I found it edifying, although I doubt it changed any minds.

The Trumpsters no doubt cheered the president. The rest of us simply jeered him.

Puppy Tales, Part 71: He’s playing us like a fiddle

Toby the Puppy doesn’t have what I would call a “cunning” face.

But I am believing now with every fiber of my being that he is playing his mother and me like a country fiddle.

You know by now that I consider Toby to be the smartest canine God ever created. For example, he is learning how spell certain words that we used to spell out because the sound of the word would fill him with expectations. He knows the sound of names, such as Emma our granddaughter; we mention her name and he gets amazingly excited. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking to each other about when Emma would arrive. Toby heard her name and ran to the front door, tail wagging … waiting for her arrival, which occurred a few moments later.

I also am believing that he can read lips and for all I know he can lock and unlock doors to our house and our vehicles.

We installed a puppy door in the rear of the house. Toby hasn’t yet walked through it on his own. I do believe, though, that he knows how to do it, but that he is refusing to do so because he enjoys watching us get up and nudge him through the doggie door.

Therein lies the playing factor.

We’ve sent him outside and kept him there. We have sat in the house and waited for him to finally push his way back through the door. He doesn’t budge. He sits at the door. Nose fogging up the plastic doggie entrance. He waits us out. The puppy has patience.

I am not angry with him. Perhaps I’m a bit frustrated at this moment because I wish he would just suck it up and walk through the doggie door like I know he can do it.

But he’s having a bit too much fun making us jump up at his every implied command.

I won’t give up on him, although I likely will have to prepare myself for a lengthy battle of wills.

Watergate Day has arrived, heralding ‘most stupid scandal’ ever

Happy Watergate Break-in Day, ladies and gentlemen.

It was 47 years ago today that some burglars got caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. It turned out eventually that the burglars were acting on behalf of the Committee to Re-Elect the President — aka the hilarious acronym “CREEP.”

The scandalous nature of the burglary took time to unfold before the nation. When it did, all hell broke loose. We learned about how President Nixon sought to, um, “obstruct justice” by seeking to stop the FBI investigation. There were those infamous tape recordings. The Senate seated a select committee to get to the bottom of it.

Once it did, then the House Judiciary Committee launched impeachment proceedings. Then it voted to impeach the president, with several Republican members joining their Democratic colleagues.

Nixon then quit the presidency.

Why is this remarkably pertinent today? Because another scandal is growing in Washington that well could result in another presidential impeachment. As stupid as the current troubles surrounding Donald Trump might seem, they fail the Stupid Test standard established by CREEP.

When the burglars broke into the DNC office on June 17, 1972, the Republican president already was headed toward a smashing re-election victory. The Democrats later that summer nominated Sen. George McGovern, who then went on to lose to Nixon in a landslide. Nixon carried 49 states, rolled up 521 electoral votes, trounced McGovern by 23 percent in the balloting.

Yet the CREEP moguls thought it was worth their time to rifle through the DNC files to look for additional dirt on the Democratic Party and on McGovern.

I cannot fathom a more stupidly conceived crime than the one concocted by CREEP and the Republican Party establishment.

There can be no way yet to determine how the Donald Trump drama is going to end up. I want him out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. Whether it’s through impeachment and conviction in a Senate trial or by the next presidential election that is still about 500-some days away, it makes no difference to me.

In the annals of stupid scandals, though, the stupidity standard was set 47 years ago when those bozos broke into the DNC, only to allow Richard Nixon’s penchant for paranoia to doom his presidency.

Can’t this guy run for high office?

The more I hear from Jon Stewart the more I like, respect and admire him.

He’s a comedian, a writer, a producer. He’s also become an advocate for 9/11 first responders who have been caught in a legislative sausage grinder. Congress has until just recently failed to renew a 9/11 first responders emergency fund. A House committee recently voted unanimously to provide an extension for the fund, but only after Stewart tossed aside his prepared remarks and reamed the members for their inaction, their cowardice and their insensitivity toward those who rushed into the fire on that terrible day.

Those police officers, firefighters, medical personnel and civilians are paying the price. They are dying of 9/11-related ailments. Stewart has taken up their cause.

This past Sunday, Stewart appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” and was asked by host Chris Wallace to respond to those who say the federal government should cede that assistance to the states, that the cost was greater than the feds could afford.

Wallace teed the question up perfectly for Stewart, who then proceeded to hit it out of sight.

He responded, “What about Pearl Harbor?” He said such a notion is as ridiculous as suggesting that the military attack against the United States in December 1941 should be a “Hawaii problem.” He said that the terrorists committed an act of war against this nation on 9/11 and, therefore, that makes it an urgent national priority.

I cannot stop believing that Wallace knew that his friend Jon Stewart would have a ready answer to that question and I also believe that Wallace appreciated — and likely agreed — with what his guest said in response.

I am left to wonder: Why isn’t this guy, Jon Stewart, running for high public office?

Sanders’s WH legacy? The destruction of the press office

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving the White House with a remarkably dubious legacy. She has played a major role in destroying the office she is about to vacate: the office of White House press secretary.

Sanders has quit conducting press briefings. She no longer stands before the press corps and answers questions. No doubt some of those questions are aggressive, even hostile. The media have been declared “the enemy of the people” by Sanders’s boss, Donald Trump.

Sanders’s then had to face that group and attempt to convey presidential policy. She did a lousy job of lying on behalf of the president. For that matter, Sanders can be “credited” with being “transparent,” if you want to call it that. She lied quite openly, even in the face of evidence that contradicted her directly.

Sure, she got beat up. Then again, so did a lot of press secretaries over many previous administrations. I wrote a blog post earlier today about one of her predecessors, George E. Christian, who served as press secretary during President Johnson’s second term. The press savaged Christian, too, over the conduct of the Vietnam War. Did that man shirk his duty? Did he ever stop delivering regular press briefings? No. He answered the call.

Sanders chickened out.

Now she’s about to be gone. Who will the president appoint to succeed this individual? My hope would be someone who would have the fortitude and the character to do his or her job, which is report the truth to the media, which then would report it all the public.

I have little faith that Donald Trump will do the right thing.

Yes, indeed … the questions for Dad keep mounting

Once in a while it hits me: I’ve now been alive longer without my dad than with. Because he died in 2001. The more time that passes … the more questions I wish I could ask him.

The quote I posted at the top of this item belongs to Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic and host of the network’s “Reliable Sources” program. He put this message out via Twitter.

I happen to relate quite directly to what Stelter has noted. I have been alive longer without my own father than I was with him among us. Dad died in 1980. His death came as a stunner to me and the rest of my family.

Dad was just 59 years of age. I was 30 when he died. I will turn 70 near the end of this year. The idea that I have lived 10-plus years longer than Dad did is enough of a mind-blower all by itself.

Dad has crossed my mind every single day since he left us. So has Mom, who died just a little more than four years after Dad.

But as Stelter noted, the more time goes by the more questions have entered my mind. They deal largely with the way Dad lived his life. They pertain to some of the mistakes I saw him make. They tug at my emotions occasionally, eliciting feelings associated with opportunities lost. Hey, I could have asked him so many of those questions, forced him to answer. Perhaps they could have assuaged some of the mystery that surrounded him.

It’s not that Dad was a mysterious man. He was in many ways an open book. He was a bit of a showman. Dad enjoyed making people laugh. He could tell a joke with as much flair and panache as anyone I’ve ever known. However, perhaps he intended for that showmanship to overshadow some unknowable emotional discomfort. So I guess the book wasn’t open as widely as it could have been. Thus, the questions I have harbored for many years are coming forward on this Father’s Day.

I miss my father. This day doesn’t sadden me. It does, just as it does for Brian Stelter, fill me with a strange desire for answers to questions that have lingered for most of my life.

Mueller did not ‘clear’ POTUS of obstruction … honest, he didn’t!

Donald J. Trump’s delusion continues to take my breath away.

He said yet again in that remarkable interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that special counsel Robert Mueller cleared him of colluding with Russians during the 2016 campaign and of obstructing justice.

Hold on! Mr. President, I heard Mueller’s comments. I have read his report. I’ve followed the news.

How can I say this more clearly: Mueller did not “clear” the president of any charges that he obstructed justice. Mueller said with crystal clarity that had he found no evidence of obstruction that he would have “said so.”

He didn’t. He did not absolve Trump of obstructing justice. He said he could not issue an indictment because of Department of Justice rules that say a “sitting president” cannot be indicted.

Is that an “exoneration”? No. It isn’t. It leaves the door wide open for Congress to do whatever it deems necessary to repair the damage done by Trump’s repeated efforts to obstruct the investigation into the Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

And yet …

Trump said repeatedly to Stephanopoulos that Mueller cleared him of collusion and obstruction.

This guy is making me want to scream at the top of my lungs!

But the news actually gets worse. Trump has a path toward winning the public relations battle with those of us who dispute his “exoneration” assertion. He has this enormous platform he can use to keep telling falsehoods that somehow become part of the narrative.

I continue believe the man is delusional in the extreme.

And he’s dangerous.

Time of My Life, Part 36: Recalling a long-distance relationship

A Father’s Day Facebook post reminded me today of someone with whom I was acquainted while I worked as a journalist, but he was someone whose hand I never shook. Indeed, our paths never crossed.

Still, I considered him a valuable source.

He was the late George E. Christian Jr., who in the late 1960s became noted as White House press secretary during the tenure of President Lyndon Johnson.

Christian’s son, Brian, posted a Father’s Day greeting to his late dad today and it brought back a memory I had about my own long-distance relationship with George Christian.

I’ll be candid about one matter: I do not recall how Christian’s name and phone number ended up in my Rolodex. My file did have that information. There were occasions during my years in Beaumont and later in Amarillo — when I was editing opinion pages at newspapers in both communities — when I needed some “deep background” information political matters in Austin.

George Christian retired from the White House grind in 1969 after serving as press secretary since 1966. The end of LBJ’s presidency was plagued with lots of bad news emanating from the Vietnam War. Christian suffered plenty of wounds himself battling a skeptical White House press corps.

However, after leaving public life, he did not lose his affinity for reporters and editors. He ran a public relations firm in Austin that often put him in contact with some of his old nemeses. I wasn’t one of them. I was just an opinion journalist who at times needed some “expert” advice on what was happening in Austin.

There were times — I lost count of the number of them — when I would call George Christian. We would chat about this or that. I would ask him about the flow of laws being written in the Legislature. I would inquire about how he envisioned the progress of legislative initiatives.

George Christian always was willing to tell me his thoughts, or to refer me to someone who had more detailed answers to the questions I would ask. Most amazingly, he never seemed to tire of talking on the phone with someone he had never met face to face.

He was courteous, kind, professional and as near as I can tell, always truthful.

I don’t have many regrets about the career that ended in August 2012. One of them stands out. I regret never shaking George Christian’s hand and telling him how much I appreciated the knowledge he was willing to share with me.