Climate change: existential threat

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has blasted his way out of the chute determined to make good on proclamations he made along the campaign trail.

He has a pandemic with which to deal. He vows to restore our worldwide alliances. Biden vows to boost our economy with a titanic stimulus package. Oh, and he wants to tackle climate change head-on, full throttle.

I want to explore briefly the climate change matter.

In one of his first acts as president, Biden signed an executive order returning the United States to the worldwide Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump pulled this nation.

Then he named John Kerry the head of a newly created position, special envoy on climate change. Kerry comes to this task with an impressive personal and professional record: combat veteran of the Vietnam War, senator from Massachusetts, secretary of state during the second term of the Barack Obama administration.

He now takes on the role of climate change envoy to communicate with the world on policies enacted by the Biden administration  dealing with climate change.

President Biden is  taking precisely the opposite approach to climate change than the one articulated by Donald Trump. Biden calls climate change an “existential threat” to the nation; Trump calls it a “hoax.” It isn’t a hoax. It’s the real thing. It is harming us tangibly. It poses a threat to Earth and to our ability over the long term to continue to thrive, let alone survive, on the only planet we can call home.

Biden wants to suspend oil and natural gas leases. He intends to re-energize — no pun intended — efforts to develop renewable energy sources. The president plans to restore the tougher air quality rules and  regulations that Donald Trump rescinded.

John Kerry doesn’t take on this task peering through sparkly glasses. He is realistic about the threat. Kerry said recently that even if we reduce carbon emissions today to “zero,” we still might be unable to reverse the effects of climate change on Earth’s environment.

* * *

I must add an important caveat to what I hope is a concerted effort to stem to effect of climate change. Someone will have to explain to me how our military establishment will operate the equipment it uses in a climate-friendly manner. Our jets, naval vessels, and our vast array of land vehicles — tanks, trucks, fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers — require fossil fuels to operate. If we can find our way to balance those needs with strategies that attack the existential threat many of us believe is out there … then we might be able to save the world.

I want to give President Biden a push in the direction he needs to go to attack climate change.

Trump likely to escape … again!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Virtually all of me wants the Senate to convict Donald Trump of “incitement of insurrection.”

No matter how much I want to will the Senate to do the right thing, political reality is staring all of us in the puss. Conviction requires 17 Senate Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues in convicting Trump.

A conviction won’t remove him from the presidency. A clear majority of voters did that on Nov. 3 when we elected Joe Biden to be our next president. Oh, I am so happy to among the 81.2 million Americans who spoke loudly and clearly.

Let  us face reality, though.

Donald Trump still commands the attention of too many Senate Republicans, who fear the Trumpster Corps scattered across the land. The Trump cultists are rattling their proverbial sabers, threatening senators with dire political consequences if they vote to convict their guy, The Donald, the former Liar in Chief, the huckster, the con man, the phony, the fraud … stop me before I run out of breath.

Only five GOP senators voted this week that the trial is constitutional. They are right. The 45 Rs who stuck together are wrong. The Constitution doesn’t require a president to be in office for the House  to impeach him. Indeed,  the House did impeach Trump — for the second time! — just a week before he left office.

Now he is gone. The aim of the Senate is to secure a conviction and then to cast a simple-majority vote to deny Trump from ever seeking public office.

Here,  though, is another reality. Donald Trump will not be elected president ever again! His sounding the bugle for the terrorists who stormed Capitol Hill on the Sixth of January sealed his political fate.

If only the Senate could find enough Republicans with sufficient courage to convict him. I fear the worst outcome, that Donald Trump will skate through this latest Senate trial.

Make ’em wear helmets!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I know this won’t happen, but it won’t deter me from saying it anyway.

It is that I would hope the 2021 Texas Legislature would rethink a decision that an earlier Legislature made. It rescinded a law that required motorcycle riders – such as those who drive them – to wear helmets.

The 1995 Legislature approved the rescission, which then was signed by the state’s newly elected governor, George W. Bush.

It is a decision that I am certain that many Texans regret. Why? Because they have suffered grievous, traumatic head injury that would have been prevented had they been wearing protective headgear.

Now, of course the Legislature built in some safeguards against madness aboard motorcycles. It required children to wear helmets. It also requires licensed motorcyclists to carry insurance policies that cover a part of their hospitalization. Oh, but here’s the thing: The amount totals $10,000. Do you have any idea how quickly an injured motorcyclist can burn through 10 grand?

Just like – snap! – that. That makes me wonder how much value can be had in such a pittance of a policy.

The 1995 Legislature was feeling its Wheaties, as I recall, when it decided to pull back its mandatory helmet law. I argued vociferously at the time that the Legislature shouldn’t touch the law. I had that argument with many proud, independent Texans who actually disagreed with my view that helmets saved lives and saved Texans millions of dollars in insurance payment increases.

My favorite argument against helmet laws came from a guy in Orange County, Texas, who told me in the early 1990s that he had to feel the “wind in my hair” as he drove his motorcycle. I pray the fellow all these years later still has a head of hair and is still alive to feel it blowing in the breeze.

My wife and I spend time in our pickup driving around Texas; we haul our RV to state parks across our state. We do not exceed 60 mph while pulling our RV, so we get passed continually by motor vehicles along our highways. So help me, as God is my witness, I cringe when a helmet-less motorcyclist whizzes by at some untold speed. I pray he or she stays safe.

We both have a friend, a former colleague of mine, who some years ago got a phone call that every parent dreads. Her son had been involved in a motorcycle wreck in Amarillo. He suffered grievous wounds … to his head. He suffered irreparable brain damage. He lost cognitive skill, the ability to speak clearly and to the best of my knowledge is still living, albeit with state-funded assistance.

On the flip side, I once served with a guy in the Army who told me in 1970 about a terrible motorcycle wreck he suffered in his home state of Indiana. He was alive at that moment to recall what happened. Why? Because he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

“The helmet,” he told me, “saved my life.” I would presume as well that it saved his fellow Indiana taxpayers a ton of money.

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This blog was posted originally on KETR-FM’s website.

GOP continues to cower

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Listen up, America.

Have we just witnessed a precursor to the verdict we can expect from the U.S. Senate that is putting Donald Trump on trial after his second impeachment by the House of Representatives?

I am afraid so. The Senate voted today to narrowly defeat a GOP measure to dismiss the trial on grounds that it isn’t constitutional. Five Senate Republicans joined Democrats in moving ahead. The vote was 55-45. The GOP senators with guts are: Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Pat Toomey and Ben Sasse.

The rest of ’em? All cowards. They are cowering under threat of reprisal by the Trump cultists in their home state who will go after them at the next election.

They contend that the Constitution calls for impeachment to remove a president. Donald Trump already is gone, they say, so the trial is irrelevant and is unconstitutional.

Oh, my. Forty-five out of 50 Senate Republicans want to give a pass to a president who fomented a riotous mob into violence on the Sixth of January. What in the world is wrong with these idiots, er … individuals?

The terrorists captured the very floor of the Senate, where our lawmakers do their jobs. They threatened to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only God knows who else might have been killed or wounded in action had the rioters had gotten their hands on them.

None of that is sufficient to persuade most GOP senators to proceed with a trial that should occur, if only at this point to keep Donald Trump out of the political scene … for the rest of his miserable life.

Stay tuned, folks. It looks to me as though a Senate trial conviction is slipping away.

Biden moves quickly on pandemic fight

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden is wasting no time proving he means what he says about pulling out all the stops in fighting the killer pandemic.

The president today ordered 200 million more doses of the vaccine that is expected to help eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

This, dear friends, is music to my pointy ears.

Now, a bit of full disclosure.

A very close and dear member of my family has just been released from the hospital, where she spent four weeks, most of the time hooked up to a respirator. She now is resting at home with her husband and her golden Labrador retriever.

This is my way of telling you that this disease cuts me close to the quick and I am not going to relent one iota in following the recommended measures to maintain my own health, along with the health of our beloved family members.

President Biden said during his inaugural speech that we should wear masks and do all the things we need to do out of love for our country. I love my country, Mr. President! I hear you, sir!

I also want you to ensure the nation that you do not let up — not at all, not one bit! — in maintaining our national resolve to rid us all of this killer virus.

The death count passed the “horrific” status long ago. It is climbing as I write these words. It came too damn close to claiming someone who is very special to me.

Two hundred million more doses on the way? Yes! Bring more … many more!

Get rid of this nut job!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

By all means, a first-term congresswoman from Georgia needs to go. She needs either to resign or the House can kick her sorry backside out of the place.

Then, too, there’s always impeachment.

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene comes from the school of idiots who believe in the conspiracy theories that everyone with half a brain dismiss.

Pressure Mounts for Congresswoman to Resign for Endorsing False Claims School Shootings Were Staged (msn.com)

Calls are mounting for her to resign because she has put out the phony notion that the Sandy Hook grade school massacre in 2012 and the high school shooting in Florida were hoaxes. Yes, she’s a believer in that moronic QAnon conspiracy club.

She needs to get her a** out of the People’s House and she has no business signing her name onto laws that affect those of us who live far away from her Georgia congressional district.

Georgia voters, you had the good sense to elect two solid Democrats to the Senate this year. Show that the sensibility carries over to how you can dispose of the idiot Greene’s political career.

 

Follow the evidence, senators

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald Trump’s defense in his second impeachment trial is beginning to take shape.

It will not center on the high crime for which the House of Representatives impeached him. What he did was visible on TV screens around the world: He incited the terrorists to storm Capitol Hill on the Sixth of January and seek to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election that determine Joe Biden the winner.

Instead, the former president’s defense will hinge on some constitutional language that suggests that the House acted beyond the scope of its power by impeaching a man who no longer would be serving in the office of president.

Except for this little item: Trump was president when the House impeached him on Jan. 13. He left the office a week after that. The Senate is trying him now to prevent him from seeking public office ever again.

As I ponder this event, which begins on Feb. 9, I am left to wonder whether a second acquittal for Donald Trump will be on a technicality. You know, the kind of verdict that hardline prosecutors detest when they lose cases in which they present incontrovertible evidence, only to see it swept aside because of some technical matter.

You can bet your final dollar that the House managers who present their case will rely solely on the evidence that everyone saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. Think as well about the fact that senators will be hearing this evidence in the very scene of the crime that the rioters committed … at Donald Trump’s behest.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered the single count leveled against Trump to the Senate. The House managers have a steep hill to climb if they hope to persuade 17 GOP senators to do the right thing and vote to convict Trump.

However, as we have seen with all too much maddening regularity, congressional Republicans too often exhibit cowardice when faced with political repercussions. Donald Trump is now a cult leader in exile … but the cultists who follow him remain committed to him far more than to the country they profess to love.

Surviving these trying times

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

To suggest we have been living in trying times is to commit the Mother of Understatements.

We have just said good riddance to someone who in my humble view is without question the most incompetent, imbecilic, venal and vile man ever to occupy the office of president of the United States. You know to whom I refer, so I won’t bother mentioning his name.

We also have this pandemic that continues to kill an alarming number of Americans every day.

It is fair to ponder how we get through this time, through all these crises. I do so practically daily.

My hope is for strength and for patience. Our new president, Joe Biden, is a decent man, in many ways the antithesis of the individual he replaced in the White House. He is enacting policy changes at a blinding pace as he settles in behind the Resolute Desk.

The first order of business is to get rid of the pandemic. President Biden has declared that he is establishing a “war footing” as he fights the virus; he will enact the Defense Production Act to mobilize all available federal resources to the fight against what his predecessor called an “unseen enemy.”

I await the results to bear real and tangible benefit. It will take time. We must not fool ourselves into believing a quick solution is just around the corner.

The Senate trial will be over and behind us likely soon after it begins. Do not expect a conviction of the former president who incited the insurrection on the Sixth of January. If it happens, you will find no one more excited than me; if it doesn’t, well, we will know the names of the Senate cowards who couldn’t put loyalty to the Constitution above their loyalty to an individual.

As we fend off the temptation to assess blame, though, let us give ample thanks to the system ingrained in our government by the wise men who built it in the late 18th century. It is far from perfect, but we knew that to be the case. Our system remains the best hope for the world to emulate.

The difficult era through which we have just passed likely won’t fade soon into our distant memory. How do I know that? Because I continue to write about it on this blog and I am not alone in spending emotional energy on the bygone era.

It will fade eventually. I long for the day when we can look exclusively forward without pondering the hell through which we all traveled.

Trump wants to form new party? Perfect!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This bit of news almost made me laugh out loud, as in guffaw uproariously.

Donald Trump, having disgraced the respectable elements of the Republican Party, might decide to form his own political organization if he wants to run for president in 2024.

A good bit of that remains in the hands of the U.S. Senate, which could bar him from running for office ever again if it finds the backbone it needs to convict him of incitement of insurrection. The House of Reps impeached Trump for the second time after he egged on the terrorists, encouraging them to storm Capitol Hill on the Sixth of January.

It is my fondest hope that Trump has deep-fried his political goose within the GOP no matter what the Senate decides. From my vantage in Trump Country, a Senate conviction remains a tall order. The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict a president; that means the Senate needs to contain 17 GOP members with courage and a deep and abiding love of the government they took an oath to protect.

Is there a self-respecting non-Trump cultist Republican who believes the ex-president is suited to lead a once-great political party? Hell no, man!

So, sure thing, Mr. Trump. Form your political party. All he has to do is put a name on what exists already. Call it the Trump Party. It’s in keeping with Trump’s love affair with his own name. He plasters it on casinos, airplanes, hotels, a university, steak sauce. His party exists in reality as it is, breaking away from traditional Republicanism to create what he calls a “movement” aimed at “making America great again.”

Hey, there’s another name for it. The MAGA Party! It could be linked forever with Donald Trump, the guy who brought us death and misery by failing to act against a killer virus and whose astonishing ineptitude resulted in a collapsed economy.

If I were a Democratic Party activist, I would be exhorting Trump to go ahead and make my day.

This guy is now in Congress … wow!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It is difficult for me to process the election of a guy who represents the congressional district where I once lived, given this individual’s history and the idiotic nature of the campaign he ran to win the seat in the House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson is now representing the 13th Congressional District, succeeding longtime Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, who retired at the end of 2020.

Jackson came to the Texas Panhandle after serving in the Navy. He achieved the rank of rear admiral. He is a physician and served as the doc for three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He was born in Levelland, but moved away to follow his military career. He must have excelled, given the high rank he achieved, so I do not begrudge him his accomplishments.

Then he became enamored with the Trump effort to “make America great again.” He became a MAGA-ite. Trump nominated him to become secretary of veterans affairs, which on the surface seemed like a good call.

But … wait! Then came allegations of some hanky panky by the doctor. Trump nominated Jackson to be his secretary of veterans affairs. Jackson eventually withdrew his nomination after allegations surfaced about drinking on the job and overprescribing of medication to patients.

All of that was well-known as he settled in the Panhandle to launch his first-ever political campaign.

Still, despite all that the voters of the region — which cast their ballots overwhelmingly for Trump in his losing race against President Biden — went with this fellow, Dr. Jackson.

I do not get it!

Whether he learns anything about the issues vital to those he represents remains to be seen. I hope for his constituents’ sake he does, that he bones up on farm policy, on water policy, on wind and solar energy issues, on national security … and on what’s on folks’ minds at the grange hall, the feed store and in church.

I don’t feel good yet about the quality of representation my friends and former neighbors are about to receive.

I want to be wrong. Time will have to tell me whether I am.

Commentary on politics, current events and life experience

%d bloggers like this: