All posts by kanelis2012

Westboro loons at it again

The haters who comprise the Westboro Baptist “Church” are planning some kind of demonstration in my old haunts along the Gulf Coast.

A young soldier from Southeast Texas, Anthony Maddox, will be buried Saturday, but the Westboro fruitcakes plan to stage some kind of a prayer vigil or worship service at the same time.

We all remember these clowns. They hail from Topeka, Kan. Their “church” members show up at funerals for warriors who’ve fallen in combat. Their protests are aimed, supposedly, at U.S. policy toward gays. Suffice to say that this “church” feels strongly that homosexuality is a sin that must be condemned at every turn. These folks protest against gay rights at funerals, causing disruptions, showing utter contempt for the pain of family members and generally making a profound spectacle of themselves. I should add that the sexual orientation of the warrior being interred is not a consideration.

These “church” members have shown their faces in the Panhandle on several occasions since the war against terror commenced after the 9/11 attacks.

What’s happened at Panhandle services, though, has been quite gratifying. Biker clubs show up to form a perimeter around the church service, keeping the Westboro “church” members at bay.

My hope is that similar steps will occur in the Beaumont area this weekend when the good folks there lay Anthony Maddox to rest.

God bless that young man’s soul.

Christie vs. Paul

Chris Christie scored a technical knockout in his brief putdown contest with Rand Paul.

For my money, the two Republicans offered a sneak peek into what may lie ahead for the 2016 Republican presidential primary battle.

Christie is the governor of New Jersey; Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky.

Paul cried “Uncle!” recently after Christie fired back at Paul, who had criticized Christie because he was insufficiently conservative on fiscal matters. Paul jabbed at Christie for insisting that Congress should have acted with more dispatch in sending money to New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy battered the Garden State.

Christie’s retort was classic, noting that Kentucky gets back more per capita than it sends the federal government, while New Jersey receives a fraction of every dollar it sends to the nation’s capital.

I’m guessing that Christie, a member of the “Establishment Wing” of the party, and Paul, a champion of the tea party wing, will make a fine mano a mano tandem if they both seek their party’s presidential nomination three years.

My money, though, is on Christie, the man with the keen intellect and sharper tongue.



Texas GOP goes off the rails

A Texas Republican lawmaker thinks state Sen. Wendy Davis should pay for one of three special sessions of the Texas Legislature?

Insanity has gripped this guy by the throat.

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, should reimburse the state for the cost of the special sessions because she led a Democratic filibuster of an anti-abortion bill that was approved during the second special legislative session.

“I am upset at the cost,” Capriglione said. “I think we need to remember why we are having this extra special session. One state senator, in an effort to capture national attention, forced this special session. I firmly believe that Sen. Wendy Davis should reimburse the taxpayers for the entire cost of the second special session. I am sure that she has raised enough money at her Washington, D.C., fundraiser to cover the cost.”

The special session cost the state about $2.4 million.

OK, then how about putting the Republican legislative caucus on the hook for the cost of the third special session after those folks killed a transportation funding bill that Gov. Rick Perry – another Republican – keeps insisting the state needs? Maybe the GOP caucus could pay for all the special sessions after insisting that the Legislature approve the restrictive anti-abortion bill that ignited the partisan firestorm in the first place?

Capriglione is proud that he isn’t accepting the $150 per diem payment for the special session. He purports to be a “fiscal conservative.” He also must not need the money.

Some legislators’ penchant for grandstanding knows no bounds.

Foes ignore Obama successes

The link attached to the blog attacks Fox News Channel for virtually ignoring some positive economic news.

I get that FNC – particularly the hosts of the “Fox and Friends” morning talk show – often ignore good economic news when it speaks to the success of President Obama’s economic policy.

However, such reaction is not really unique to this president and his foes. Other media outlets have done so over many decades of reporting. Left-leaning MSNBC wasn’t too keen on reporting successes during the George W. Bush administration – although looking back on it now it’s difficult to recall any specifics.

And Fox’s ignoring of this data mirrors Obama’s political foes on the right who’ve done the same thing. Any tick in the wrong direction and those critics are all over the president with loud and forceful critiques. Any movement in the right direction you get … well, silence. Yes, it cuts both ways.

What makes the Media Matters tattling on Fox so troublesome, though, is that the network calls itself “fair and balanced.” I keep scratching my head over that self-description. It’s neither fair or balanced. Is MSNBC fair and balanced? Well, no, but that network doesn’t trumpet itself so loudly as possessing either characteristic. To be sure, Media Matters is clearly a left-leaning watchdog organization.

CNN is another whipping child for political conservatives. CNN’s “sin,” according to the mainstream conservative media, is that the network doesn’t shill for the right wing the way Fox does. Instead, it reports the news with, shall we say, fairness and balance. It also offers a wide range of ideological punditry – with the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rich Lowry on the right and Paul Begala and Donna Brazile on the left.

My only advice to Fox and its supporters is this: The network should stop using the false “fair and balanced” public relations ploy. Using such language to describe itself only exposes FNC to critics who can see through the network’s thinly veiled ideology.

Queen prepared doomsday speech

Queen Elizabeth II once wrote a speech that, thank God in heaven, she never had to deliver.

It was a speech noting the outbreak of World War III, to have been delivered in 1983.

It was a dress rehearsal for disaster, as the link here notes.

Here is a portion of what Her Majesty the Queen wrote:

“Now this madness of war is once more  spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to  survive against great odds.

“I have never forgotten the sorrow and pride I  felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my  father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment  did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to  me.”

She was noting, of course, the outbreak of World War II, when Adolf Hitler’s forces invaded Poland and sent the world plunging into its bloodiest conflict. Elizabeth hadn’t yet ascended to the throne.

These are the kinds of documents that are worth preserving for all time, if only to remind us that foresight does exist in the highest places.

Still, when I read those remarks I couldn’t help but think of another great individual’s remarks about the consequence of a world war in the nuclear age.

They came from Albert Einstein, one of the fathers of the atomic bomb.

He said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Eagles receiver steps in it … big time

I don’t profess to know the names of every prominent professional football player in America. To be honest, I didn’t know the name “Riley Cooper” until last night, when I heard about his racist rant that has gotten him into some serious trouble with other football players.

Cooper was attending a Kenny Chesney concert and said something about being willing to fight every African-American in the place … only he used the “n-word” while issuing the challenge.

Cooper has apologized to every human being on the planet for his hideous rant. He has drawn some fascinating reactions as well from his Philadelphia Eagles teammates, as well as his coaches and the team owner. Cooper’s been fined substantially. Some his fellow Eagles have accepted his apology, while others need some time, I reckon.

The most interesting reaction, of course, came from Philly quarterback Michael Vick, who throws passes to Cooper.

Vick, who is black, spoke carefully about Cooper’s remarks. He mentioned something about how everyone “makes mistakes.” He should know. Vick got caught up in a dog-fighting scandal some years ago and spent time in jail for animal cruelty. His case drew tremendous notoriety and, by many accounts, Vick has come out of that crisis a changed man.

So it was with a great deal of care that he spoke of the mess Cooper has created for himself. Vick’s brother, Marcus, wasn’t so charitable. Marcus, who played a single game for the Miami Dolphins in 2006, has said he’d pay a bounty to any defense player who takes Cooper out. Someone should remind brother Marcus of the danger of that kind of behavior. Some players and coaches in New Orleans have gotten into trouble for that very thing.

Let’s all stay tuned. This tempest isn’t going to settle down any time soon.



Cruz taunts fellow GOP senators

The junior Republican senator from Texas is proving a point I made the other day about the intraparty battle brewing over whether the shut the government down by cutting off money for the Affordable Care Act.

Ted Cruz asks, “What’s the alternative”?” to shutting ‘er down.

The Lone Star State firebrand – who’s been on the job less than eight months – wasn’t around to witness what happened when the Republicans got their heads handed to them over this very thing. The alternative, Sen. Cruz, is to work with Democrats and “establishment Republicans” to keep the government functioning.

Cruz also wasn’t in the Senate when that body – along with the House of Representatives – approved Obamacare. The Supreme Court then handed the Obama administration a clear victory when it ruled – albeit narrowly – that the law is in fact constitutional.

Thus, we have a standing law.

Congressional Republicans, though, keep trying to overturn what’s been done legally.

And this fight between the two wings of the GOP – the tea party wing and the establishment wing – is proving to be worth the price of entertainment all by itself.

Keep “taunting” those older, more experienced hands, Sen. Cruz.

Talking heads becoming the story

This is a big part of what I find distasteful about cable TV news: The talking heads have a habit of becoming part of the narrative they’re supposed to be covering.

The latest example is a feud that’s apparently brewing between lefty Al Sharpton and righty Bill O’Reilly. Sharpton is one of the hosts of MSBNC’s talk-show lineup; O’Reilly hosts his show on Fox.

Allow me this brief commentary on both men.

Sharpton came to be known to many Americans when he ran interference for a young African-American woman, Tawana Brawley, who contended some white New York City police officers raped and beat her. Sharpton became Brawley’s voice in a heated exchange with the New York Police Department. He demanded justice for this poor girl and raised the volume to a fever pitch. One big problem emerged: Brawley’s story was fake. The cops ended up suing Brawley and Sharpton for slander and they won. Now, all these years later, Sharpton has lost a lot of weight, cleaned up his TV image and is known as a “leading civil rights activist.”

In my mind, he’s a charlatan.

O’Reilly has been a fixture at Fox for many years. He’s had other broadcast network gigs. He’s a simpleton, who makes simplistic arguments to cover complex issues. He fancies himself as an “independent,” but he’s nothing of the kind. He’s a card-carrying conservative who, when interviewing subjects on his show, delights in out-shouting them. He interrupts at will. O’Reilly even treated President Obama rudely while interviewing him during the 2012 presidential campaign; he’d ask a question and refuse to wait for an answer before butting in while the commander in chief of the most powerful military establishment in the history of the world was trying to answer.

O’Reilly is a gasbag.

Now these two clowns are fighting in public. They both see themselves as bigger than any story they cover for their respective networks. They disserve the craft they purport to practice when they engage in these televised tit-for-tats with each other.

I don’t care one damn bit what these guys think of each other. I care only what they say about the issues. Stick to your talking points, gents. If you want to insult each other, pick up the phone and do so in private.

Quit loading up session agenda

Gov. Rick Perry has done the expected thing and called a third special session of the Texas Legislature.

Lawmakers cannot seem to find a solution to funding the state’s crumbling road-bridge-and-highway infrastructure, so the governor kept them in session until they get the job done.

But wait. A conservative Republican lawmaker, state Sen. Brian Birdwell of Granbury, wants the Legislature to approve legislation to allow people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

This is another case of ideologues clogging up the legislative agenda with non-essential items. They fulfill some ideological need, but in the real world of real Texans, items such as this should fall far down on the pecking order of necessary legislation.

The infrastructure package got stalled in the first two special sessions. In the first one, everything came to a halt as the Legislature argued over whether to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. In the second session, the Republicans who run both legislative chambers couldn’t come up with a funding formula to pay for road, bridge and highway improvements. So here we are, back for a third time with Perry putting just the highway funding item on the agenda.

That should be enough to occupy our citizen-lawmakers’ time, yes? Apparently not, according to Birdwell, who wants to swallow up more time arguing the merits of concealed handgun carry at, say, West Texas A&M University and Amarillo College.

The men and women who serve in the Legislature are part-timers. They need to get back to their day jobs. I fear a fourth special session if they don’t take care of our highways.

Now comes the time for negotiation

President Barack Obama has just given his congressional Republican foes something with which to negotiate in the drive to boost the nation’s economy.

Will they take the deal or will they insist – as they seemingly always do – that the president isn’t dealing in good faith, or some such nonsense.

Obama has proposed a dramatic reduction in corporate tax rates in exchange for spending on infrastructure improvement, the kind of thing that at least one notable Republican president – Dwight Eisenhower – used to favor.

Now, where I come from, Obama has just given the Republicans who control the House of Representatives and who comprise a sizable minority in the Senate, something upon which to negotiate.

The spending program would produce more jobs for those willing to work on infrastructure improvements – roads and bridges, that sort of thing. Politicians of both parties say they want to put more people back to work. Republicans, meanwhile, insist that corporations pay too much in taxes. Thus, the president has gone the extra mile – maybe two or three – in meeting their demands.

Initial reaction to the plan, as reported by The Hill, is lukewarm at best. “The plan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted, was ‘an unmistakable signal that the president has backed away from his campaign-era promise to corporate America that tax reform would be revenue-neutral to them,’” the Hill reported.

Maybe McConnell is merely using that response as a negotiating ploy. Then again, maybe it’s just the Republicans digging in their heels yet again on another proposal from their Democratic adversary in the White House.

If it’s the latter, we’re heading for a rocky autumn season, courtesy of continuing GOP intransigence.