All posts by kanelis2012

Keep it in church, not in City Hall

The mayor of Wylie, Texas, a town not far from where my wife and I live, clearly is a 15th-century man.

Eric Hogue is getting some serious criticism for declaring that women cannot lead prayer in public places because the Bible forbids it. What? Eh? Seriously?

Hogue cites passes from 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy — two books in the New Testament — that says women should remain silent in church. They can’t lead prayer while worshiping, the mayor interprets from Scripture.

Some folks have called on him to resign.

Hogue happens to pastor a church in Wylie, a town of about 51,000 residents in Collin County. He said his congregation interprets the New Testament passages literally.

Fine, Mr. Mayor/Preacher. Here’s a thought for you to ponder.

You are entitled to lead the church any way you see fit, presuming you continue to have the support of your congregants. However …

You took an oath to lead a secular government, led by a secular document — the U.S. Constitution — that expressly forbids the mixing of religion in public policy. If the mayor chooses to disallow women from leading, say, invocations to start city council meetings, I suppose that’s his call to make. He says he can’t go against his “conscience.”

The mayor just shouldn’t allow his religious beliefs to dictate public policy as he is empowered to enact according to the oath of office he took when he became the leader of a secular local government.

Former AG faces intriguing political fight

Take away the upcoming presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joseph Biden and you are left with a boatload of intriguing down-ballot contests all across the nation.

The most interesting, intriguing, maddening and bizarre? It’s likely occurring in Alabama.

Two Republicans are running in a July 14 primary runoff to see who faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in the fall. One of the GOP candidates is former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville; the other is a former U.S. senator and attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Donald Trump has endorsed Tuberville. He detests Sessions, the guy he picked for AG, who he then fired because — as Sessions has noted — the AG “followed the law.”

Sessions finally has begun firing back at Trump’s idiocy, declaring that Alabamans will determine who should represent them, not a president’s “personal feelings” about one of the candidates.

This is weird, man.

Sessions wants his former Senate seat back. He is running as a supporter of Trump’s agenda. Trump’s campaign has declared it doesn’t want Sessions to stand with Trump. POTUS stands with Tuberville, declaring that Sessions “let our country down.” Oh, how did he do that?

By recusing himself from the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign collude with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016. How could Sessions have led a Justice Department probe into a campaign in which he was an active participant? He couldn’t! Which is why he recused himself and allowed the appointment of Robert Mueller III as the special counsel.

That recusal and Mueller’s appointment enraged Trump. As did the investigation that Mueller conducted. He ended it by saying he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Trump, but stated pointedly that his findings did not “exonerate” Trump from wrongdoing.

All of this seems to put Sessions in a tough spot as he campaigns in a state full of voters who still seems to adore the carnival barker/con man/liar/philanderer in chief.

Go figure.

Donald Trump: panderer in chief

Donald John Trump’s penchant for political pandering is boundless, without limit, without a single sense of irony.

For this president to stand before the nation and take up the cudgel for houses of worship as “essential” business not only is laughable on its face, it is repugnant in the extreme.

The pandemic has killed more than 96,000 Americans and is marching inexorably past 100,000 and way beyond. Imagine a president of the United States weaponizing people’s faith to use against fellow Americans, which is what Trump did today.

He said governors have declared abortion clinics, tattoo parlors and liquor stores to be “essential,” but not churches. He seeks to suggest that churchgoers are insulted by governors’ declaration.

Then he said he would “override” governors who decline to follow his directive, that he would order them to mandate that houses of worship must open their doors to worshipers.

Good grief. He has no authority to issue such an order. Had he read the Constitution, he would know that the First Amendment prohibits government intrusion in religious matters.

The bitterest pill for me to swallow is that this president would step into this argument at all. He has no religious background. He has admitted to grabbing women by their genitals. Trump has declared he’s never sought forgiveness, which according the Bible I have read is a fundamental tenet of Christianity.

He speaks of religious faith in hollow platitudes. Don’t take my word for it. Listen carefully to the next time tells us that religion is “so important” to Americans.

So this clown seeks to interfere in governors’ attempts to govern their states. What’s worse is that he seeks to interfere in pastors’ attempts to protect their congregations from a killer disease.

Amarillo’s new police chief: a winner!

AMARILLO, Texas — I love arriving somewhere and then getting a dose of good news.

It happened today when my wife and I pulled our recreational vehicle into its parking space on the western edge of Amarillo. My cellphone email server dinged at me; I looked at the message.

Amarillo’s new chief of police is a cop who’s been on the city’s force for decades: Martin Birkenfeld is the new chief. I could not be happier to share this news.

He had served as assistant chief under the tenure of former Chief Ed Drain. Birkenfeld has performed practically every duty a police officer can perform during his 30 years with the Amarillo PD. The Amarillo native now gets to command a police force that has been through some significant change, dating back to the time the late Jerry Neal took over a department in disarray and disorganization in the early 1980s.

Neal retired after lifting the department up by its boots and instituting a series of progressive reforms.

The city hired Robert Taylor to succeed him. Then Taylor retired  after a less-stellar time at the helm. Then came Ed Drain, who was hired initially as interim chief while he was on the payroll at the Plano Police Department. Then he became the permanent chief. Drain did a good job while he was on the job, but “permanent” chief took on a different meaning when the Plano chief’s job opened up and Drain got hired to become his former PD’s new chief.

Now it’s Martin Birkenfeld’s turn to lead the department. Perhaps it could be understood that Drain would be a short-timer, given his apparent loyalty to another department. I don’t begrudge him for leaving Amarillo.

My hope for the city is that Birkenfeld, who I got to know well while serving in the Rotary Club of Amarillo with him, will stay on for the duration of his stellar law enforcement career.

I refer to Birkenfeld as “Officer Friendly.” He smiles when he hears it. He is much more than that now. He’s the top cop and I am supremely confident he will be up to the big job he is about to assume.

Patrick swills the voter fraud Kool-Aid

Texas Gov. Lt. Dan Patrick must’ve been mighty thirsty.

So what does he do? He grabs a helping of the Kool-Aid being served by Donald Trump and his Republican pals to put down efforts to expand all-mail voting in time for the 2020 presidential election.

Patrick, a Republican, says all-mail voting is a ploy by Democrats to “steal an election.” Do you get where he’s coming from?

He allegedly thinks that mail-in voting is inherently corrupt, that it promotes rampant fraudulent voting. Well, it doesn’t. State election officials where mail-in voting occurs swear by its integrity.

However, at the risk of being accused of engaging in “what-aboutism,” I want to offer this brief note.

If Patrick thinks Democrats are trying to “steal” an election by encouraging more voters to cast ballots, it’s fair to wonder if Republicans are trying their own game of theft by limiting voter participation.

In some quarters, they call it “voter suppression,” which is what many GOP officials have tried to do in several states.

So, for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to toss out the voter theft accusation against Democrats, he ought to come clean on whether his own objection to mail-in voting is based on his own version of trying to “steal” an election.

What’s more, it isn’t “laughable,” as Patrick suggests, for anyone younger than 65 to fear voting “in person.” Really, Dan? He should talk to any of the family members of younger victims of the killer disease. Tell them how laughable it is.

Go to church? Sure … but only if it’s safe!

Kaylee McEnany is new in her job as White House press flack but she’s got the Donald John Trump media-baiting rap down pat.

During a press briefing today, she chided reporters who she said were looking for reasons to talk Americans out of going to church in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

McEnany got some immediate push back from a reporter who objected out loud to her crass retort. “I go to church,” the reporter shouted back at her, telling her he wants to know why Donald Trump is insisting Americans flock to houses of worship even though the COVID-19 infection rates in many states is still climbing.

McEnany earned her media-bashing spurs, I suppose, from her time on Fox News. But whatever. I’ll move on.

Donald Trump, who barely has a passing acquaintance with matters of faith, is now saying he will “override” governors who resist his demand that they lift church-going restrictions.

Nice try, Mr. POTUS … but you don’t have the authority to override governors. The president doesn’t have the authority even to order churches to open in the first place. That First Amendment matter protecting religion — along with the press — from government intrusion gets in the way.

This constant baiting of the media is getting tiresome and distressing in the extreme. The White House press secretary by all rights is supposed to build a healthy professional relationship with the men and women who cover the White House and report their findings to the public.

Insulting them, flinging childish rejoinders does no good.

McEnany, though, is appealing to Donald Trump’s “base,” which I am certain is a major part of the duty she assumed when she signed on as press flack.

Disgusting.

The mask ‘looks good,’ Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump went to a Ford Motor plant today to look at how the automobile factory has been repurposed to manufacture ventilators to help the nation fight the coronavirus pandemic.

FMC has a policy requiring everyone to wear a mask. Trump didn’t want to be seen wearing a mask. Then he said he donned a mask out of camera view. His idea was that he wanted to “look good” in front of the media.

Sheesh. Mr. President, the issue is much larger than looking good. It deals with being a positive example.

Then we saw the picture of Trump wearing that mask. To be honest, I didn’t give a single thought to how it looked on him. In fact, I found the image to be somewhat reassuring that Donald Trump saw fit to do what the Ford Motor higher-ups said he should do … not that it changes my view of his total unfitness to lead this country during the worst health crisis in a century.

Looking good ain’t the issue that should concern Donald Trump. Setting a positive example in this time of dire peril is of paramount importance.

These numbers don’t lie

Donald Trump keeps telling us about the “fantastic” success he has scored in “managing” the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liar in Chief, of course, is lying yet again as he seeks to dupe the nation into believing his pandemic prevarication.

The United States comprises about 5 percent of the world’s population. Right? Check!

The pandemic death toll, though, puts the national failure in stark relief, as American deaths from the coronavirus comprises 30 percent of the worldwide total. You got that one? Good!

It is incumbent, then, to ask whether that is the mark of a successful response to a worldwide health crisis. I submit that it is the mark instead of a monumental failure.

Donald Trump wants you to believe he has been the man with the plan. He denies the dithering and dawdling that took place when the pandemic first took root.

Trump said the virus would disappear like a “miracle.” It didn’t.

Trump has said the virus is “under control.” It isn’t.

Trump has declared that anyone who wants a test for the virus can get one. No, we cannot.

We are now paying the terrible price for Trump’s lying, his game-playing, his blaming of others. He wants to win re-election and is going to seek to fool us one more time that he “alone” can fix what’s wrong with the nation.

No, he’s a failure.

Voter fraud: reddest of herrings

I am likely to begin screaming at the top of my lungs.

What will cause me such apoplexy? It will occur the next time I hear Donald John “Smartest Man in History in Chief” Trump declare that mail-in voting is an inherently corrupt method of exercising our rights as citizenship.

The second-most probable cause for my scream would be to hear it from his Republican cultists who like to echo the idiocy that pours forth from the nation’s No. 1 liar.

Texas might allow voters to cast their ballots by mail for the July runoff elections that were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, it is that very health crisis that gives all-mail voting the legs it normally wouldn’t necessarily have.

I need to remind everyone who fears a non-existent threat of “rampant voter fraud” of this fundamental truth.

It is this: We already have voter fraud in this country. It’s been a small problem in certain pockets of the country for, oh, about as long as we have had a United States of America. Every now and then, we hear about cadavers casting ballots; does Duval County, Texas, ring a bell for anyone?

Do we have widespread, rampant voter fraud now? No. We do not!

Does mail-in voting necessarily produce voter fraud? No. It does not!

How does one define “widespread” voter fraud? Well, I suggest it involves a level of fraudulent voting that far exceeds the hit-miss instances we hear about on occasion.

In 2016, roughly 135 million Americans voted for president of the United States. The vast bulk of those votes went either to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Virtually every ballot cast in 2016 was done according to the rules set by every state in the nation.

However, you will recall that Trump came forth with an accusation that since has been debunked and dismissed, that about 5 million “illegal aliens” voted for Clinton, giving her the 3-million vote plurality she won; Trump was elected, though, because he won enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

My point is that Trump’s yammering about mail-in voting “corruption” is merely a continuation of his ongoing bitching about the voting process.

Voter fraud is a canard, a phony-baloney excuse to disguise Trump’s real intent, which is to deny Americans the ability to vote. Mail-in voting boosts turnout tremendously and empowers Americans who otherwise might be inclined to sit on their hands.

With the nation still reeling from a pandemic, we need to search for ways to keep our democratic process alive and well.

WHO gets the shaft

Let me see if I can follow this matter that so far more or less escapes me.

The world is locked in a deadly pandemic brought to us by the coronavirus. It has killed 93,000 Americans — and counting. The United States is trying to corral the viral infection, with little success.

Other nations are suffering grievously as well.

So what does Donald John Trump threaten to do? He said he might pull all U.S. funding resources from the World Health Organization, the United Nations-sponsored health agency that many nations rely on to provide medical expertise that it brings to bear … particularly in times such as this!

Trump is angry at WHO because he alleges the agency has been too friendly with China, where Trump keeps saying is the source of the coronavirus. WHO did nothing, he says, to help stem the tide of the infection.

So he wants to punish WHO by pulling all U.S. money from its coffers. It’s a huge hit that Trump wants to deliver to WHO.

I am one American who believes that the World Health Organization’s role is invaluable. The docs and other scientists who work for WHO provide plenty of expertise, guidance and counsel for the rest of the world to heed.

It also provides all manner of research for possible cures for diseases such as the one that’s killing Americans and other human beings every hour of every day.

So … with a pandemic still raging, the president of the United States wants to strip WHO clean? Idiotic.