Category Archives: media news

Thank you, readers, for joining this adventure

Blog concept in word tag cloud

I entered the blogosphere on Feb. 13, 2009, with this post:

“My name is John Kanelis and I am joining the world of bloggers.

 “What will this blog feature? That will depend on my mood and what I see as I go through my day, and travel through Amarillo and the Panhandle.
“My discussion topics will be mostly local, I predict, but not exclusively so. They’ll focus mostly on politics and policy. They’ll have an edge. They will invite comment and community discussion.
“I’ve been in daily journalism for 32 years. I’ve watched the media change during that entire time, but never at the pace it is changing now. Thus, this entry into the Age of Blogging is an exciting venture for me.
“With that, well, let’s talk.”
I was working full time as a print journalist for the Amarillo Globe-News, and the blog was written exclusively for that publication. My association with the newspaper ended abruptly in August 2012, but the blog has continued.
I want to thank those of you who’ve stuck with me over the years and hope you’ll stick around for as long as I continue to vent, rant, cajole, coax, praise, pound and offer a word or two of my brand of wisdom on this and/or that subject.
We’re heading toward the end of an eventual year and the next one is shaping up to make this one look like a walk in the park.
I intend to be there to watch it unfold.
As always, I hope you’ll feel free to share these musings with your own social media friends, acquaintances and assorted contacts as you see fit.
Thanks so much.
Stay tuned. There’s much more to come.


Command decision: no-politics policy to be lifted …

trump and carson

… The day after Christmas.

I’ve made a call on the immediate future of High Plains Blogger. I can do that, because it’s my blog.

I had pondered whether to maintain the “no-politics zone” policy on the blog through the entire holiday season. I stated it publicly here. My hope initially was to keep presidential political commentary out of this blog through Christmas and through the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

I no longer can maintain my silence in this forum for that long.

We’ve only got 15 more days until Christmas. I believe I have the intestinal fortitude to keep presidential political commentary out of High Plains Blogger through Christmas.

After that? No can do.

There’s too much material out there. Too much low-hanging fruit. Too many fish in that barrel. Too many targets of opportunity. The environment is just too damn target-rich.

I won’t name names. You know who  I’m talking about.

For now, I’ll leave it at that.

I’ll keep offering brief commentary via Twitter, which feeds to my Facebook news feed.

High Plains Blogger, though, will remain a no-politics zone.

For now …


Good call on Person of Year, Time magazine


OK, so Time didn’t pick Donald Trump as its Person of the Year after all.

Instead, the venerable magazine went with someone who’s actually accomplished something, been a force for positive change and has earned her spurs leading a continent that’s going through some monumental change.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gets the nod as Person of the Year.

I am fascinated by Time’s description of her upbringing.

She grew up in East Germany, which used to call itself the “German Democratic Republic.” As Time notes, the communist-run dictatorship was neither “democratic” or a “republic.” It was run by tyrants. Thus, young Angela developed an early craving for freedom and liberty.

She and the rest of her country got it when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the communist dictatorship fell apart.

Merkel’s ascent to power was dramatic. Once there, she became Europe’s most powerful leader, which is saying something, given that the continent is populated by several powerful heads of government — such as the British prime minister and the president of France.

Check out this passage from Time’s article on the selection: “At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well. To be welcoming. To be unafraid. To believe that great civilizations build bridges, not walls, and that wars are won both on and off the battlefield. By viewing the refugees as victims to be rescued rather than invaders to be repelled, the woman raised behind the Iron Curtain gambled on freedom. The pastor’s daughter wielded mercy like a weapon.”

The reference here is to the refugee crisis exploding in the Middle East. Merkel has “wielded mercy like a weapon.”

Let’s pay attention on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.


Knock off the vulgarity, talking heads


I’ll give Fox News credit for exhibiting a low tolerance for what poured out of the mouths of two of its contributors.

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and Stacey Dash decided to get downright filthy when referring to President Obama. I won’t repeat what they said here, but let’s just say that Peters’s comment included a profane reference to a certain private body part, while Dash referred to fecal matter when describing what the president thinks about the war on terrorism.

Fox suspended both of them.

This is important to note for a simple reason. Other notable Americans have used hideous language when discussing public figures and politicians. Yet no sanctions were leveled against them.

The most notable example involves comedian Bill Maher, who fancies himself as a political commentator, who once used an equally disgusting term to describe former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. He’s still on the air, to the lasting shame of the network — HBO — that carries his show.

The political debate is overheated enough already. The tone has been set by at least one of the Republicans running for the presidency.

As for the comments of the likes of Dash and Peters, well, suffice to say that their employer — the Fox News Channel — is known as a magnet for conservative television news viewers. Perhaps their vile commentary comports with the views held — if not expressed — by many of those viewers.

The issues are serious and they deserve equally serious analysis. Dropping vulgar bombs on the air only distracts us from the importance of the matters under discussion.

I’m just glad to see that the network has established that such language isn’t appropriate when referencing candidates for the presidency, let alone the man who’s already holding the most important office in the land.

A once-respected comedian — Bill Cosby — once decried fellow comedians’ use of filthy language. He would say that those comics who resort to f-bombs and other profane terms do so because they don’t have anything clever or interesting to say.

The same can be said for political commentary.


Thanksgiving brings back a special memory

hotel majestic

Most of my Thanksgiving celebrations have been of a fairly standard variety.

Turkey and all the sides. Fellowship with family. Lots of laughs. Sometimes even some pro football watching on TV.

But I’ve got a special Thanksgiving memory I’d like to share here.

It occurred in 1989. Twenty-six years ago I had the honor of attending — along with about 20 other journalists from all over the country — a three-week journey through Southeast Asia. Our trip took us — in order — Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and back to Vietnam. Our delegation represented the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which has been renamed and reorganized into the Association of Opinion Journalists.

It was a marvelous experience at many levels. Just going so far from home in itself was a treat. For several of us on that trip, it gave us a chance to return to Vietnam, where we had served during that terrible war and to see a country no longer shrouded by that conflict.

But along the way, we ventured to Cambodia. In 1989, the country was just beginning to recover from decades of war. Phnom Penh, the capital city, was in shambles. Vietnamese forces had just evacuated the country after liberating Cambodia from the heinous rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. The city’s infrastructure was decimated.

We spent several days in Cambodia, laying eyes on a notorious killing field and seeing up close a former prison where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed their countrymen.

But then the Cambodia portion of the trip ended. It happened to be Thanksgiving Day when we boarded our vans and headed east, back to Ho Chi Minh City (which the locals still refer to as Saigon).

We traveled all day along a terrible road. We crossed the rapidly flowing Mekong River aboard a “ferry” that in reality was little more than a glorified raft.

After a grueling day of travel back to Saigon, we settled into our hotel, the Majestic. Then we were informed by the hotel staff that they had prepared a special meal for us.

They wanted to make us feel a bit more “at home” by serving us a Thanksgiving-style meal in the hotel’s main dining room.

We all sat down to dinner that evening and enjoyed a serving of what one of my dear friends refers to this day as “road kill duck”; we also enjoyed some fresh peas and mashed potatoes.

The meal was just OK.

What made it so very special, though, was the hospitality displayed by our Vietnamese hosts, who were delighted to treat us to a meal that enabled their American visitors commemorate a uniquely American holiday.

A day that began with some trepidation as we looked forward to a long, tiring and potentially harrowing trip back from a nation still bleeding from the wounds of war ended with warmth and good wishes — in a place so far from home.


Attacks work against Trump, Ms. Coulter

Conservative author Ann Coulter addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Saturday Feb. 20,2010. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Ann Coulter’s political expertise is, shall we say, quite suspect.

The latest exhibition of her ignorance surfaced this weekend when she tweeted that the Paris terror attacks have guaranteed Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States.

Someone, pass the smelling salts to the fiery conservative commentator and make her take a whiff.

In the hours since the attacks — in the midst of this political season — one of the key questions has become: How does this hideous event affect the presidential contest?

Well, the Pundit Class in Washington and around the country has been virtually unanimous in this regard: The attacks expose Trump’s utter lack of experience dealing with international terrorism.

His empire-building experience won’t help him. Trump’s self-proclaimed ability to “negotiate” deals will be of zero value; we don’t negotiate with monstrous killers such as the Islamic State.

Yet, there was Ann Coulter — the darling of the far-right talk radio listening audience, blathering on her Twitter account that Trump’s election is a sure thing.

We need someone with actual experience in government and/or diplomacy — and someone who gathers his or her military knowledge from sources other than Sunday morning new talk shows — to take the reins as commander in chief.

My own advice to Ann Coulter? Shut the bleep up!



Phony ‘war on Christmas’ about to re-commence

war on xmas

On Nov. 30, 2013, I posted a blog item about the bogus “war on Christmas” that the conservative media keep telling us is occurring.

I’ll share it again here:

Shoppers declare war

The right-wing media no doubt are going to remind us yet again that secular society has declared war on the spiritual significance of the Christmas season and that Christians shouldn’t fall for what secularists are trying to foist on us.

Starbucks is the latest bogeyman. I keep reading something about those simple red coffee cups where one can order their “venti” peppermint mochas with a double shot of espresso and extra whipped cream. No mention of Christmas on the cups. They’re just red. I guess some folks are upset by it.

I will continue to maintain until the moment I check out of this world that the real warriors in this phony war are those who do battle on the retail floor with others in search of the cherished toys for their children or grandchildren.

Who are the instigators of this ridiculousness? The retailers.

Blame them, will you?


‘Liberal media’ take no prisoners


Ben Carson has counterattacked the “liberal media” for what he calls a “witch hunt.”

Questions about his past have become all the rage. CNN keeps poking around in the hunt for corroboration that he once stabbed someone in a fit of anger. The network can’t find anyone to back it up. Now we hear that Dr. Carson, um, didn’t exactly get offered a West Point scholarship in the manner he said he did.

The media want to know the truth.

The counterattack points to what the doctor/Republican presidential candidate said is a double standard as it regards Democrats running for president. The media don’t look quite as intently at them as they do Republicans, according to Dr. Carson.

Hold on, doc.

Barack Obama faced intense scrutiny over:

  • His relationship with a fiery Church of Christ pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
  • His friendship with anti-Vietnam War activist William Ayers.
  • His place of birth and whether he was constitutionally qualified to run for president of the United States.
  • His academic records at Harvard, which Carson brought up again this week.

And, oh yes, Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic frontrunner has, throughout her public career, faced down matters involving:

  • Allegations that she covered up information about Benghazi.
  • Her involvement with her husband, the 42nd president, in the Whitewater real estate matter.
  • The death of her good friend, Vince Foster, who some in the media have suggested was murdered.

So … let’s take a breath, shall we?

I also should mention the names of other prominent Democratic pols who’ve wilted under the media glare.

Do the names Gary Hart and John Edwards ring a bell? How about Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank?

Let’s get back to the story at hand. Did a leading candidate for president of the United States misrepresent whether he was offered a West Point scholarship?

Well … ?


Trump vs. Kelly: Round Two


It fascinates me to no end to watch Donald Trump lash out at the media.

The leading Republican presidential candidate (depending on whose poll you believe) is going after Fox News’s Megyn Kelly yet again.

He’s chiding her for not citing a poll she once cited when his poll standing was slipping. Now that he’s back up again — for the life of me, I don’t understand this — he’s calling out Kelly for ignoring the survey data.

This begs the question about how Trump might react to media criticism in the event hell freezes actually over and he gets elected president of the United States a year from now.

What on God’s Earth is he going to do when the heat gets really, really hot and he makes a serious blunder and insults the wrong individual here at home or abroad?

And as every president since the beginning of poll-taking has observed, their approval ratings go up and down. President George H.W. Bush was at 90-plus percent approval — remember? — when he launched the Persian Gulf War and our troops kicked the invading Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

That was in early 1991; the president lost his bid for re-election the following year.

This is a strange political season. The kinds of insults and personal attacks that used to scar candidates for life now have  become the preferred method of campaigning … or so it appears.

What has become of us?


Hey Democrats, get ready for softballs


A reader — and an occasional critic — of this blog has just given me a valuable piece of intelligence that, frankly, got past me.

I chided Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for suggesting that future GOP presidential debates be “moderated” by folks more friendly to their cause.

This reader said I got my “tighty whiteys” into a knot over it. Then he informed me that the next Democratic event, which occurs this Friday night at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.,  will be “moderated” by Rachel Maddow. It’s being filled as a “forum,” and not a “debate” sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.

Whatever. It serves the same purpose.

You know who she is, right? Maddow is an MSNBC commentator and host of a nightly cable TV talk show. She’s a flaming liberal. I mean, man, that she’s on fire with her progressive views.

She’ll have three Democratic candidates standing in front of her Friday night: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

All three of those folks are tacking left — to their party’s base — just as the still-huge GOP field is tacking right, to its party’s base.

Should we expect Maddow to get tough with the candidates on the debate stage later this week? I’m not holding my breath. Put me down as one who doubts Democratic Party primary voters are going to learn a single new thing about any of the candidates.

Just as the Republican candidates were whining about the questions they got at their most recent joint appearance, if only the Democrats would be subjected to the same level of scrutiny and occasional harshness their GOP colleagues got.