All posts by kanelis2012

My favorite veteran would enjoy the recognition he deserves

The picture you see here reveals my favorite veteran. He’s the fellow on the right, the sailor who is standing guard next to a British marine in front of a door where some highly sensitive negotiations were underway.

The sailor is Pete Kanelis, my father. The marine’s name, as Dad told me, was Tony. That’s all I know. The year was 1943. The place was off the coast of Sicily aboard a command ship in the Mediterranean Sea.

The negotiation involved the Allied naval commander in the Med and the British prime minister, Winston Churchill.

So, Dad had a brush with arguably the 20th century’s greatest statesman. As Dad told me the story, Churchill looked at him, asked Dad a question, then patted him on the head and said something like, “There you go, Yank.”

Dad will be among the veterans we will honor Monday. It’s called Veterans Day, a holiday that came into being known as Armistice Day; it was established to commemorate the end of World War I, which was supposed to be The War to End All Wars. It wasn’t.

World War II followed. The United States joined the fight on Dec. 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

I learned something profound about my favorite veteran on a trip to the Pacific Northwest with my wife in September. Dad’s youngest brother, Tino, told my wife and me about the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “I was 9 nine years old at the time,” Uncle Tino told us, “and I remember it vividly.” The family was listening to the radio news broadcast of the attack and its immediate aftermath.

Tino looked around for his big brother. “Where’s Pete?” Tino said he asked about Dad. He was gone. He had left the house in northeast Portland; he went downtown to enlist in the Navy.

Yes, Dad was so incensed at what had happened in Hawaii, he enlisted on that very day to get into the fight. He would suit up a month or so later. He would complete his basic training in San Diego, Calif. and then would ship out for Europe.

He got his wish. Dad took part in the fight to save the world from the despots in Berlin, Rome and Tokyo who wanted to subject the rest of us to their tyranny.

All told, about 16 million Americans took part in that great struggle. Seventy-five years later, their numbers have dwindled to just slightly less than 500,000 men and women. They are almost all gone.

Indeed, just this weekend, the last known survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack reportedly passed on. I fear the day when all those Americans who answered their nation’s call will be gone.

We honor them today. We honor all our veterans who have donned a military uniform — in war and in peace.

It is their day. As for Dad, I am immensely proud to be the son of an American who performed heroically and who, along with his comrades in arms, saved the world.

Sen. Graham … let the House do its job and then do your own

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham keeps yammering out of both sides of his mouth.

The South Carolina Republican once declared that Donald Trump was unfit for the presidency, then he said if allegations about a quid pro quo with Ukraine were trouble that it would be “very troubling.” Now he says without knowing the identity of the whistleblower whose memo triggered the impeachment inquiry into Trump isn’t known, then an impeachment of Trump is “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

Sen. Graham needs to be made to understand that the whistleblower’s ID is protected under the whistleblower statute, even though some media outlets have reported the name of someone purported to be the individual who’s ratted out misbehavior in the White House.

House committees hearing the inquiry aren’t going to call the whistleblower to testify. The Democratic chair of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says it would be redundant and unnecessary. He also worries that it would create a distraction and divert attention away from the subject of the inquiry, which happens to be Graham’s newest BFF, Donald Trump.

The issue is clear cut: Did the president demand a quid pro quo from Ukraine … political dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for weapons to use against Russia-backed rebels? The House has heard from plenty of witnesses who say that Trump did that very thing. The nation will get to hear them say it out loud and in public this week.

The House is doing its job legally.

Let the House proceed, Sen. Graham.

Fix the DACA mess; restore humaneness to our immigration policy

 ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A Facebook friend, a man I actually know and respect, brought up a point on an earlier blog post that I want to acknowledge here.

He agrees with my belief that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to be repaired, not eliminated, but he cautions about the need to deal with the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals matter as well.

He is correct.

DACA recipients are being punished unjustly only because they were children when their parents sneaked them into the country illegally. The Donald Trump administration wants them deported. The president rescinded an executive order that President Obama signed that gave DACA residents a form of temporary amnesty from deportation.

ICE is under orders to find these folks and detain them.

This isn’t right. It’s cruel and it is inhumane to deport DACA recipients, many of whom have excelled scholastically in the only country they’ve ever known.

I should point out as well two previous Texas governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Republicans — have all but embraced the idea contained in the DACA executive order that Obama signed. They have supported initiatives, for instances, to grant DACA students in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Texas. Why? Because they recognize the contributions these young students can make if they are allowed to succeed while continuing to reside in Texas.

ICE can do much good for the country as we seek to reform our immigration policy. I also agree with former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s campaigning for president, that the best way to ensure a thorough and lasting repair of ICE is to change presidents. Donald Trump won’t do it.

Indeed, DACA reform must be part of any effort to re-humanize our nation’s immigration policy.

‘Boomer’ becomes a negative term?

Social media have this way of injecting curious judgments into everyday terms and phrases.

Those who use social media, for example, have suddenly decided that the term “Boomer” — as in “Baby Boomer” — is a negative term.

I guess some of the younger among us think that “Boomers” are too old to be relevant in contemporary issues debates and discussions. I saw a video of a New Zealand member of parliament put down an elderly heckler with an “OK Boomer” response. The video went viral and has become something of a talking point throughout social media.

Well … pardon me!

I am proud to be a Boomer. I have been referring to myself as a Boomer since I first heard the term. I cannot remember when that occurred, but that doesn’t matter to anything.

I was born in 1949, which puts me near the front end of the Baby Boom Generation. Dad returned home from World War II in late 1945. He was one of about 16 million Americans who suited up to save the world from tyranny. He and Mom got married in August 1946. They got busy right away producing a family. They delivered a baby boy in 1947, but he died shortly after being born.

Then in December 1949, I came along. I’m about to hit 70 years of age. I am proud to be a Boomer. I also am proud to declare that I have most of my marbles, I enjoy relatively good physical health (a few annoying aches notwithstanding), I am fully engaged in issues of the day and — my sons might not believe this entirely — I do seek to embrace 21st-century technology. That last item does get me a bit confused at times, given that I am not entirely fluent in what I call “techno-speak.”

Still, “Boomer” ain’t a pejorative term in our house.

Sessions seeks to become Sen. Suck Up

Jeff Sessions’ announcement the other day that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama was one of the most pathetic examples of senatorial slobbering I think I’ve ever seen.

Let’s review some history for a moment:

Sessions served for 20 years before joining the Trump administration as attorney general. He then recused himself from the Russia investigation because, he said, he couldn’t investigate his own role in alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign; he was a key player in the campaign.

Trump fired Sessions as AG. He then called nominating Sessions “the worst mistake” of his presidency. He skewered Sessions’ intelligence. He mocked his Southern accent. He humiliated the former AG simply for taking a principled stand against potential conflict of interest.

Now the former AG and former senator wants his old seat back. Did he extol his record as a lawmaker from Alabama? Did he tout his conservative principles? Did the Republican offer a clue as to what kind of senator he would be if voters returned him?

No. He called himself one of Trump’s biggest fans. He asked rhetorically whether he wrote a tell-all book, or did he show up “on CNN” to speak ill of Trump, or whether he has ever said a “cross” word about the president.

My goodness. What a craven example of slavish fealty to someone who, if the tables were turned, wouldn’t do anything of the sort.

Disgusting.

May Day celebration … in Russia, Mr. POTUS? Really?

Vladimir Putin has extended an invitation to Donald Trump. The Russian president wants the U.S. president to attend a May 9, 2020 event commemorating the 75th year since the end of World War II fighting in Europe.

Trump is considering whether to attend. He calls the anniversary of the Allied victory a “very big deal.” He also noted the event occurs in the middle of a presidential campaign, in which he will be a principal participant.

Oh, the quandary.

Normally I would suggest the president go to Russia to help our World War II allies celebrate the end of European combat during that terrible conflict.

Except, consider this:

  • The president is likely to be impeached because he sought a political favor from Ukraine in exchange for weapons that are slated to go to Ukraine, which is battling rebels backed by Russia. He held up the weapons that would be used against an aggressor sponsored by Russians.
  •  Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016 and is doing so in advance of the 2020 election. That’s the view of our nation’s intelligence network, which Trump has dismissed and disparaged.
  •  Russians are involved in the fighting in Syria. Trump has pulled out our forces from that region, putting our Kurdish allies in jeopardy, exposing them to potential harm by Russian-backed Syrian forces.

So, with all of that as a backdrop, Donald Trump might travel to Moscow to help the Russians cheer their role in defeating the Nazis. He’ll watch the Russians display their military hardware, which is one of the usual features of their May Day ceremony.

Yes, the Russians will show off equipment similar to what they are deploying in their fight with Ukraine, which has become entangled in a U.S. political fight that is likely to result in a presidential impeachment.

Oh, and the Russians are in the midst of launching yet another attack on our electoral system.

Let me think: Should the president go to Russia to applaud the Russians’ May Day celebration? Umm. No. He shouldn’t.

Students honor our nation’s veterans … well done, y’all!

The woman in the dark suit at the front of this picture is Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, who today posted a Facebook note that thanked Palo Duro High School students and their choir director for honoring our nation’s veterans.

They did so by singing patriotic songs at an Amarillo business on the eve of this year’s Veterans Day commemoration.

It’s the kind of salute this nation has been giving its veterans since, oh, about the time of the Gulf War in 1990-91.

Mayor Nelson thanked the choir director for stressing the importance of honoring our veterans, suggesting in her message that it’s a relatively new event.

Actually, the nation has performed a remarkable collective turnabout since an earlier time. I have mentioned this awakening in previous blog posts, so I won’t belabor the point here. The Vietnam War was a dark time on several levels. We were involved in a bitterly fought war in Southeast Asia; the tide never turned in our favor; emotions at home ran white-hot; much of Americans’ anger was turned on the veterans who did their duty.

The Gulf War changed that attitude. And it only has gotten more heartfelt in the nearly three decades since that conflict. We’ve gone to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, in Somalia; we have engaged enemy fighters throughout the world as they seek to harm Americans abroad or plot to bring more terror to our shores.

I join Mayor Nelson in thanking the students and their educators for recognizing what the nation should have recognized all along.

Jobless rate is great … but it doesn’t negate misbehavior by POTUS

One of the dodges employed by Donald Trump’s apologists who are fighting against the impeachment tide that is splashing against the president is the strength of the national economy.

Indeed, so does the president speak to that issue.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low, Trump and The Gang tell us. They ask: “Why impeach a president who is doing such a great job on the economy?”

Here’s my answer: Because the issues relating to the president’s probable impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives have nothing to do with his performance as president, or the strength of the national economy.

The issues of grave concern center on whether the president has violated his oath of office or, as has been alleged, broken federal law.

It is the very same separation of these matters that drove Republicans to march toward impeaching President Clinton in 1998. They didn’t give a rat’s rear end about the nation’s economic health two decades ago. Did it matter to them that the federal budget was balanced on President Clinton’s watch? No. They said, with some justification, that the president perjured himself before a grand jury; he broke the law, they said and, therefore, had committed an impeachable offense.

I thought then that the impeachment was a waste of time, given that Clinton’s lie had to do with a relationship he was having with a woman who was not his wife. That relationship didn’t have a thing to do with the duties of his office.

The issues driving the pending impeachment of Donald Trump have everything to do with his conduct as president of the United States. They also have nothing to do with the jobless rate, or the growth rate of private-sector employment, or trade policy, or immigration policy or anything else on the president’s list of issues with which he must grapple.

Let’s just try to keep these matters in some perspective, shall we? The economy is doing well under Donald Trump’s watch. It’s a big deal, to be sure. It’s a tiny, infinitesimal deal, however, when we ponder this matter of impeachment.

Circus is coming to Capitol Hill … maybe

It looks as though they’re going to roll out the big top under the Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., if Republican members of Congress get their way.

The House Intelligence Committee is taking its hearings into the public arena next week with the first televised hearings into the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s term as president.

Congressional Republicans want to hear also from Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and the individual known only as The Whistleblower.

Why do you suppose they want those two individuals to appear? I can make a guess: They are running out of legitimate defenses for the president’s conduct in office and are trying to divert attention from Trump to the son of a potential 2020 campaign opponent and an individual whose report to Congress spawned the impeachment inquiry in the first place.

At issue, of course, is that July phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump asked for a “favor, though,” in exchange for releasing the weaponry that Ukraine asked for to fight Russia-backed rebels. Quid pro quo, anyone? It’s against the law!

Now the GOP caucus wants to question Hunter Biden over his business relationships in Ukraine, which Ukrainian prosecutors have said broke no law. They also want to quiz The Whistleblower and likely want to question his or her motives in squealing on the president.

The hearings get started with a bang this week when the House Intel panel summons career diplomat William Taylor to testify in public what he has said in private, that Trump did seek a favor from Ukraine, which is — shall we say — against the law!

Get ready for the circus to start. The GOP will seek to provide plenty of distractions from the serious and sober business at hand in the House of Representatives.

‘I mean no disrespect … ‘

I learned a long time ago that when someone says they “mean no disrespect,” they usually do mean disrespect.

So it was this week when U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., stood before a Donald Trump rally crowd and bellowed that “I mean no disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb.”

The object of his “mean no disrespect” setup? It wasn’t the guy standing next to him, which was the president of the United States.

Oh, no. It was U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who launched the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct as president. The inquiry, of course, is intended to determine if the House will impeach Trump.

You and I know it will do precisely that.

Sen. Kennedy, though, wants to declare his fealty to the president. He does so by disparaging the intelligence of arguably the nation’s most adroit politician, who in my mind happens to be Speaker Pelosi.

Kennedy’s “mean no disrespect” comment, shall we say, was quite disrespectful. I am looking forward to seeing who among the nation’s leading politicians comes out of this mess with the more serious battle scars.

My hunch is that it won’t be Speaker Nancy Pelosi.