All posts by kanelis2012

‘Girther’ movement, anyone?

I have followed a longstanding policy to avoid making fun of people’s names or their appearance.

Then along came Donald John Trump, who ran for president of the United States and, yes, along the way made an annoying habit of needling his political foes over their appearance.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky? Some of the women who accused him of sexual impropriety? Carly Fiorina?

Trump said some hideous things about them.

So, the president is now fair game to those of us who, um, feel compelled to comment on some aspects of his physical appearance.

I’m howling at the idea of a new movement that’s springing up around the country. It’s called the “Girther Movement,” which is meant to call attention to the president’s ample waistline. Oh, yeah, it also reminds us all of the “birther movement” that Trump used to call attention to the lies about President Obama’s place of birth.

The White House physician, Ronny Jackson, says the president weighs in at 239 pounds; he stands 6 foot 3 inches tall and he is close to being declared “obese,” according to Dr. Jackson.

Some folks are questioning whether Trump really and truly weighs a mere 239 pounds, suggesting that he is, um, a good bit heftier.

Trump may be the smartest, richest, least racist person any of us have ever seen.

But … he is far from the fittest. He loves his cheeseburgers, Diet Cokes and doesn’t exercise a lick — or so we’re led to believe.

Girther movement? Sure. Sign me up.

Follow Canadian model on immigration? C’mon, Mr. AG!

I cannot believe the attorney general of the United States said it.

Actually, I can.

AG Jeff Sessions told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that the United States should follow the Canadian model on immigration and restrict entry of those seeking to come here to those with demonstrable skills.

Why should the United States accept people who are “illiterate” in their own countries? Sessions asked.

Sessions has hit me where I live, so to speak.

I happen to be the product of immigrants who came here in the early 20th century from where Donald J. Trump might consider to be “sh**hole countries,” Greece and Turkey. My grandparents produced families comprising individuals who contributed a great deal to this country. My grandparents didn’t possess professional skills; they weren’t well-educated; they were humble folks whose only aim was to come to the United States of America and build a better future for themselves and the families they wanted to produce.

They were just like millions of other immigrants who built this country into the powerhouse it has become.

Thus, I resent terribly any assertion that the United States should somehow limit those who come here through some sort of “merit-based system” that allows only those with certain educational levels or can demonstrate professional skills.

Furthermore, what’s with this idea of patterning our immigration policy after another nation?

Didn’t the president campaign for office on a pledge to “put America first”? Didn’t he in effect tell the rest of the world he cared little — if anything — about how they conduct their internal policies?

The basic principle behind our immigration policy has established the greatest nation on Earth as the beacon for the rest of the world. People want to come here because of the opportunity the United States offers to those who choose to become Americans.

Get a grip, Mr. Attorney General.

Settled: POTUS isn’t losing his mind


I am willing to accept the words of a medical professional who has examined presidents dating back to 2013.

Donald John Trump Sr.’s mental acuity is intact. He’s not losing his mind. His butter hasn’t slipped off his noodle.

The president went through a routine physical examination. Then, at his request, he went through a cognitive examination by Navy Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson, the doctor who’s been the White House’s lead MD for the past five years.

He ran Trump through his paces and determined that the president is (a) overweight and needs some regular exercise and (b) doesn’t suffer from any loss of cognition.

That’s how we’re supposed to determine these matters, not with long-distance analyses offered by individuals who have either zero qualifications to make them or haven’t examined the president up close.

“I find no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process,” Jackson said.

I am not about to give Trump a pass on the weird statements he continues to make via Twitter or verbally. I will continue to call his statements into question and will continue to criticize him when I feel it is appropriate. I also will offer a good word when it is appropriate as well.

The examination comes at an appropriate time. The president has been, um, somewhat wild in his responses to issues of the day. He blurted out that infamous “sh**hole” comment regarding immigration, then felt he had to declare that “I am the least racist person you’ve ever interviewed.”

Dr. Jackson’s assessment, though, that Trump is in complete control of his faculties is good enough for me.

The doctor cannot explain why his patient keeps yapping uncontrollably and nonsensically. It must be the Trumpian way.

Believe this. The doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t make me feel one damn bit better about the president of the United States.

Downtown recovering much of its past glory

I watched as my friend Beth Duke was beaming the other day while she discussed the progress being made along Polk Street in downtown Amarillo, Texas.

Duke, executive director of Center City of Amarillo, has been at the forefront of Amarillo’s downtown resurgence. She was telling a TV news reporter about the planned opening of a number of new eateries coming into the central business district.

It is occurring to me that what used to be known as the “business district” is about to become the city’s “entertainment district.”

And yet …

I keep hearing the muted rumblings of discontent from some Amarillo residents about he progress that’s occurring in the heart of a city that is on the cusp of achieving the 200,000-resident mark.

Some businesses are moving around, relocating along Polk Street. The city also is welcoming a number of new establishments.

Polk Street, where teenagers used to “cruise” back in the day, is being given new life. It’s no longer the retail corridor it used to be during the day. Instead, it will become a magnet for nightlife.

It’s all part of of a municipal long-range strategic plan, according to Duke, who has brought a unique blend of enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the players who can breathe life into a community where she was born and has spent the vast bulk of her adult life.

And while Polk Street is undergoing its extreme makeover, so is the block on which City Hall sits.

If you look south from City Hall’s front door you see a lot of dirt being moved around. Crews are leveling the property that once contained the Coca-Cola Distribution Center, which was demolished and relocated to a business park at the northeast corner of the city.

Construction will begin very soon on the multipurpose event venue, aka “The Ballpark.” The MPEV doesn’t yet have a name. It will have a significant new tenant by the spring of 2019. It will be a AA baseball franchise that’s moving here from San Antonio. They’re going to play hardball at the MPEV/Ballpark.

What’s more, that storefronts being developed along Polk Street will be bustling with activity.

My wife and I likely won’t around when they throw out the first pitch at the MPEV. We will have relocated to an unknown destination in North Texas. However, we are going to remember how downtown looked when we arrived here in early 1995 and we will compare that desolate memory with what we’re witnessing these days.

What I see happening today are the signs of progress that, to be candid, I didn’t foresee when we first laid eyes on Amarillo more than two decades ago.

I am delighted to the max at what we’re seeing.

I also am proud of my friend Beth Duke, who has witnessed — and played a key role — in the rebirth of her hometown’s central business/entertainment district.

Again I ask: How in the world can we gripe about that?

Sh**hole story just keeps roiling

The sh**hole story is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sat before a Senate committee today and couldn’t recall hearing Donald J. Trump use the term “sh**hole” to describe African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador.

Intelligence Committee members grilled her on what she heard. They queried about what Sen. Dick Durbin said he heard, as he attended the White House meeting on immigration.

Then came a curious response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The president had said during the White House meeting that the United States needed to encourage more immigration from Norway, which Nielsen acknowledged during her testimony today.

“Norway is predominantly white, yes?” Leahy asked. Nielsen actually said — and I am not making this up — that she didn’t know about Norway’s predominant ethnic composition.

I am left to wonder … huh, are you kidding me?

The Homeland Security boss doesn’t know that a significant Scandinavian country comprises citizens who are, um, quite white? Many of them are blonde; they have blue eyes; they’re, um, nothing like the folks who come here from those “sh**hole countries.”

This story won’t go away.

Especially when the Trump administration keeps trotting Cabinet officers out who cannot respond to direct questions with equally direct answers.

Insurgents vs. Establishment … in Senate District 31?

West Texas might turn out to be something of a battleground during this spring’s Republican Party primary season.

The party is engaging in a battle among its members: Establishment Wing vs. the Insurgent Wing.

The Insurgents are being led in a fashion by the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The Establishment is being called into battle by members of the congressional leadership.

The implications for West Texas’s sprawling Texas Senate District 31 contest? They might lie in the challenge awaiting incumbent state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican and a stalwart of the Texas Establishment Wing. He chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and serves as well on the Education Committee.

He is facing two challengers in the GOP primary. He knows them both well. One is former Midland Mayor Mike Canon, a TEA Party favorite who challenged Seliger four years ago; Canon lost the GOP primary by about 5 percentage points. The other is Victor Leal, an Amarillo restaurant owner who touts his Muleshoe mayorship as giving him the requisite government administrative experience.

It gets a bit complicated, however.

Seliger isn’t exactly a fan of the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Seliger declined to join the rest of the Senate Republican caucus in signing a letter of endorsement for Patrick’s own re-election bid. I don’t know this as fact, but my strong hunch is that Lt. Gov. Patrick is unhappy with Seliger over this snub.

Who, then, is he backing for the Senate District 31 seat? It’s likely not going to be Sen. Seliger. It might be Canon or Leal … or maybe both!

There’s some political chatter in the Panhandle that suggests that Leal, who ran unsuccessfully for the Texas House District 87 seat in 2010 that former GOP Rep. David Swinford vacated, is running as a spoiler. He intends to peel off enough Panhandle votes that normally would go to Seliger with the hope of forcing a runoff. Leal would say he’s in it to win it and would deny playing the spoiler role. I also can presume that Leal hopes to be one of the two men squaring off in a possible GOP runoff.

Seliger is intent on avoiding a runoff. He plans to pull out all the stops to ensure that his Panhandle base turns out in March to carry him to victory. Meanwhile, he vows to ratchet up his visibility in the southern reaches of the geographically huge Senate district. He maintains a district office in Midland and over the 13 years representing District 31 has become as fluent in Permian Basin-speak as he is in Panhandle-speak. The regions are part of the same district, but their issues are unique.

Canon, meanwhile, likely intends to seek to outflank Seliger on the right, which he sought to do in 2014. Seliger’s campaign material speaks openly, though, about how he is able to deliver “conservative values” to his Senate district constituents.

Will it be enough to stave off this two-headed challenge on his right, one from the Permian Basin and the other from within his own Panhandle base?

Readers of this blog know my own preference. It is that I want Seliger to win outright.

However, I am not going to predict any such outcome. I’ll just wait right along with the rest of the state to see how this internal partisan conflict plays out.

How do you punish these religious perverts?

I have been using the term — or some variation of it — “religious perverts” to describe the Islamic State and other terrorists who commit dastardly acts in the name of a great world religion.

That term now applies to a California husband and wife who’ve been arrested and charged with crimes that simply overwhelm our sense of decency.

David and Louise Turpin are locked up in the Riverside County jail on multiple counts of child endangerment/abuse and related crimes.

Police raided their home and found 13 children chained to their beds. They had been starved to within inches of their lives. The youngest of the Turpins’ children is 2 years of age. The oldest of them has reached adulthood.

Bail has been set at $9 million for each of them. If I were King of the World, I’d make the bail a hundred times greater.

Why did they do this? Family members allege the couple follows some sort of religious tenet. What in the name of the Holy Father can motivate anyone to do such a thing?

If it is a form of religious fervor that drove the Turpins to do this, then all I am left to say is … please, God, shower your mercy on those poor children.

The so-called mother and father of these children need never to be free ever again.

One neighbor told the media he had “no idea this was going on.” It’s easy, I suppose, to condemn neighbors for failing to act. The house reportedly smelled to high heaven.

However, maybe we can ask ourselves: Does anyone with a semblance of decency ever envision adults shackling their children to their beds and damn near starving them to death?

Take a good look at the faces of the Turpins attached to this blog post. You are staring straight into the faces of evil.

POTUS is at it again with Twitter ‘bullying’

Welcome to the president’s world of Twitter targets, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

The Illinois Democrat has now been tagged “Dicky” by Donald John Trump Sr.

You see, Durbin stands by his assertion that Trump used the term “sh**hole” to describe Haiti, El Salvador and nations of Africa; he coined the label during a White House meeting on immigration. Durbin was present in the meeting. He said he heard it. He said Trump made that remark “repeatedly.”

Why do we get all these immigrants from “sh**hole countries,” the president reportedly said, adding that he preferred more immigration from “countries like Norway.”

The remark has drawn international scorn. Trump denies he said it. Sure thing, Mr. President. I believe you, just like I believed your claim that Barack Obama was born in Africa and couldn’t serve as president of the United States.

So, the guy who pledged to be the “most presidential” occupant of the White House in history after he took office has dredged up yet another Twitter nickname.

I think one might call this a form of Internet “bullying.”

Oh, that brings up a couple of questions: How about the first lady’s stated desire to make Internet bullying a hallmark during her time in the White House?

Have you had The Talk with your husband, Melania Trump?

What would MLK Jr. think?

The hour is late on this day of national remembrance.

The nation has recognized the 89th birthday of one of the 20th century’s greatest men. Martin Luther King Jr. left a gigantic legacy that reverberates to this very day, this very moment.

I am left to ponder: What would the great Dr. King think of the national mood today?

Others have spoken to this question already. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, one of Dr. King’s key lieutenants back in the day, said he believes MLK would be appalled at the national mood. He wouldn’t approve in any sense of the rhetoric coming from the White House these days. Rep. Lewis believes Dr. King would follow the lead of other contemporary African-American leaders and wouldn’t speak openly to the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

I believe differently. Dr. King made a point of speaking of peace with his foes. His non-violent approach to disobedience became a universal mantra for protesting what many Americans believed were injustices being brought on vast segments of our society.

I just cannot believe that King would snub those with whom he had significant differences.

Of course, we cannot know how history would be different if great leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. had lived. We play the hand we’re dealt. The hand we got in April 1968 — I cannot quite fathom that it was 50 years ago! — came from a rifle shot in Memphis, Tenn. that felled Dr. King.

He died, but his struggle lived on. It lives on to this very day.

I want to believe we have made great strides toward achieving the kind of world that Dr. King envisioned. Sadly, I hear rhetoric that comes from certain national leaders and I worry we have regressed.

My hope springs eternal. Dr. King’s soaring message still resonates. May it continue to remind us of the hope this American titan sought to imbue on us all.

John Lewis reminded us today that Dr. King knew that “we are one family.” To that end, family members shouldn’t turn their back on each other. That is what I hope — and at some level believe — Martin Luther King Jr. would say.

President is never ‘off the clock’

The nuclear missile strike that wasn’t this past weekend brought to mind something I’ve yapped about for the past several years.

It is that presidents of the United States are never “off the clock.” They’re never more than a phone call — or a text message — away from being summoned immediately back to work.

Case in point: When the president was informed that Hawaii residents were panicking over what they thought was an incoming ballistic missile, he was on the golf course. He was playing golf at his resort in south Florida.

The “missile strike” turned out to be a false alarm caused by human error.

Donald J. Trump, though, was summoned by national security aides to tend to the issue immediately. He was called off the golf course and hustled to wherever he went to stand by and to monitor the situation.

Back when Barack Obama was president, Trump and other critics yammered constantly about all the time Obama was spending on the golf course. I countered through this blog that the criticism was unfounded, unjustified and undeserved. I made the point that presidents are on call 24/7. They’re always on the job. They cannot hand it off to someone else.

I’ll say the same thing with Trump in charge. Never mind that he plays more golf than Obama; that’s not the point here.

My point is that any criticism of Trump playing golf while Americans were scrambling for cover in response to a false alarm ignores a fundamental point: Presidents of the United States are not entitled to a single minute as private citizens. They aren’t.

They have to respond to any real or potential emergency — even when they’re playing golf.