Let’s hold off on the victory dance

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel the need to douse the victory dances I am seeing around the country as we head toward the home stretch in this highly bizarre presidential election season.

Joe Biden is leading in every serious polling survey. His lead over Donald Trump varies from around 12 percent (from GOP-friendly Rasmussen) to 16 percent. The Bidenistas smell blood in the water. They watch Donald Trump continue to raise the coronavirus pandemic as a talking point, all as Trump continues to downplay the seriousness of the infection that has felled him, his wife and two dozen or so of his top White House aides.

Yes, Trump appears to be self-destructing before our eyes.

However … and it pains me to say this, Donald Trump should not be left for politically dead. This guy is quite capable of doing anything he needs to stay in power. Were it not for the relentless attacks he leveled against his 2016 opponent — with a big assist from FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen the “email scandal” — we would be talking today about President Hillary Clinton’s effort to win a second term.

I share the view that Donald Trump is crazy as a loon. He is infected with a virus that could kill him. I don’t want that to happen, I merely am acknowledging the obvious.

Trump is not without some weapons of his own. One of them sits in the Kremlin, where Russian goons are working as we sit here to ensure his re-election.

We “only” have 27 days to go, but that is a lifetime in politics, as the saying goes. Joe Biden needs to campaign as if he is behind by double digits. I will be able to breathe freely and easily once we get all the ballots counted and Joe Biden piles up significantly more votes than Donald Trump.

Shame on you, Gov. Abbott

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What you see on this blog is an editorial illustration that spells out the idiocy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to restrict the number of mail-in drop boxes for each of the state’s 254 counties.

Harris County is the state’s most populous county. Loving County is the least populated county. They both get a single drop box. I live in Collin County, with a population of more than 1 million residents; we get a single drop box, too. As does Dallas County, Bexar County, Travis County … all of em!

You want to see a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression? This map spells it out for you.

Abbott declared some phony concern over ballot security. Never mind the absence of any credible evidence that supports that concern. County election officials throughout Texas do their jobs with diligence and dedication. They take oaths to protect the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

Abbott’s answer to this bogus fear is to eliminate multiple drop box sites in all counties regardless of their population.

I am incredulous to think that Abbott actually believes we are going to fall for his fraudulent claim that ballot security is the driving force behind this maneuver. It is nothing of the sort.

What we see here is an attempt to persuade potentially millions of Texans from voting early, which purportedly bodes well for Democratic candidates and poorly for Republicans — such as Gov. Abbott.

It’s official: Trump is nuts

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I have concluded that Donald J. Trump is crazier than a loon, that his butter has slipped off his noodles, that he is certifiably nuttier than a fruitcake.

How else can one explain why in the name of civil discourse he has rejected a bipartisan presidential debate commission recommendation that he and Joe Biden “debate” each other online in a virtual town hall format next week?

I cannot.

The commission made the call because — yep, you got it — Donald Trump is infected with a potentially fatal disease, one that has killed more than 210,000 Americans during the COVID pandemic. Trump and first lady Melania Trump now are among the 7 million-plus Americans who have been diagnosed with the killer virus.

He isn’t out of the woods. Trump likely will not be out of the woods when debate time rolls around next week.

So what does the Macho Man in Chief want to do? He wants to meet with Biden in the same room in Miami. This is crazy. It’s nuts. It’s, um … insane!

There is now open speculation that the intense drugs Trump is taking has affected his judgment. He has been given, reportedly, a healthy dose of steroids to combat the infection. Some doctors have said the meds can alter a patient’s mental acuity. Trump, though, keeps bellowing and boasting that he hasn’t felt this good in “20 years.” C’mon, Mr. President.

Look, I want him and the first lady to recover fully from the illness. I do not want him, though, to put anyone else in jeopardy, which is precisely what he would do by insisting on an in-person face-off with the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Astonishing, man!

That’s more like it …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If that first Joe Biden-Donald Trump brawl turned out to be an unwatchable fiasco, we got something a whole lot more civil tonight.

That’s about it.

Vice-presidential nominees Kamala Harris and Mike Pence chided each other. They refused to answer direct questions. All told, though, it was much more of what we think of as a “debate,” given that they were able to answer each other’s accusatory rhetoric.

I suppose one takeaway was how Vice President Pence talked over Sen. Harris’s answers, to which she would scold him, “I am talking, Mr. Vice President.”

To her credit, Harris didn’t interrupt Pence … except perhaps for a time or two.

I remain committed to supporting the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket. Based on what I witnessed tonight, Pence did nothing to persuade me to even think about supporting his side.

He didn’t answer questions related to the pandemic and his role as leader of the White House response team; Pence sought to pivot at times from a direct question to speak about an unrelated issue.

As for Harris, I just wish she would have answered the question about whether she supports adding to the Supreme Court if the Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett as the next justice. She danced away from it.

Still, I declare Kamala Harris the winner by a split decision.

The Biden-Harris ticket remains in the lead. I just hope now that they can hold onto it through the end of this most unusual campaign.

‘Go’ or ‘no go’ next week?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Joseph R. Biden Jr. faces a potential “go” or “no go” conundrum next week and it has everything to do with the health of the individual he wants to defeat in the presidential election.

Donald Trump is infected with the COVID-19 virus, a potential fatal affliction. He checked into the hospital, then came out. Trump is not nearly “out of the woods,” as his doctors have said.

So here is the issue facing Biden: Does he participate in a joint appearance with Trump if the docs do not declare that Trump is virus-free? My own desire would be for the event to be postponed, or canceled if Trump is not cleared to go.

But this is a complicated matter that depends largely on the credibility of what we are being told by the administration.

Suppose the medical team tells Trump privately that he continues to be infected. Suppose, too, that Trump doesn’t reveal what the docs have said. Is the public supposed to presume that Trump is healthy enough to appear with Biden on a debate stage?

Are we supposed to believe a medical staff fully — which comprises military officers — if it does clear the president who by definition is the commander in chief and who has issued an order to tell us that the president is in the clear? Do these doctors adhere to the order given by the commander in chief?

The White House has zero credibility on these matters. I don’t believe anything that comes from Donald Trump’s mouth, or from any of the political hands who work directly for him.

If the president is still infectious, the session need not occur. Indeed, after witnessing the spectacle that unfolded in the first event, a repeat of that cluster fu** would do no good whatsoever.

Joe Biden says he wants no part of a joint appearance with an opponent who remains highly contagious. Who can blame him?

Biden for president

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to suspend reality for a few moments and pretend I am working for a newspaper and that I am going to write an endorsement for president of the United States.

Here is what it would say:

***

Americans took a gamble in 2016 when a businessman/TV celebrity became president of the United States.

The gamble did not pay off. Indeed, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has been an abject failure as the nation’s chief executive. Accordingly, Americans have a chance in just a few days to make a serious course correction.

They can do so by electing Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president of the United States.

Biden served two successful terms as vice president during the Barack Obama administration. Prior to that he served for 36 years in the U.S. Senate, being elected to the body at the age of 29; he would become old enough to serve by the time he took office.

Joe Biden’s love of country has been on full display for his entire time — nearly 48 years — on the national stage.

He vows to restore our nation’s soul. Biden wants to revive what the late Sen. John McCain — one of Biden’s best friends — used to call “regular order” in the governing process. Donald Trump knows nothing about regular order and the slipshod governance that has resulted has delivered all the proof we need of Trump’s ignorance about government and his inability to learn how it works.

Whereas Trump has spoken directly only to his base of supporters, Biden vows to be president for all Americans. He said at Gettysburg, Pa., just this week that he will be president even for those who vote against him. When has Donald Trump ever pledged such a thing?

Trump has botched the nation’s pandemic response. Biden plans to institute a national policy on Day One of his presidency. He vows to institute a mandatory mask policy on all federal property. Biden promises to fast-track testing nationally and to push Congress to invest in the equipment required to protect all Americans from getting infected.

Biden wants to re-engage our allies. He intends as well to challenge our adversaries, not coddle them the way Trump has done. Biden promises to return to the Paris Climate Accords and to return the United States to the World Health Organization.

Let’s also take note that Joe Biden has chosen a capable, dynamic running mate in U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who clearly is not the flaming lefty that the Democratic ticket’s foes have sought to portray her.

Biden has experience helping revive a fallen economy. He took on that task by managing the nation’s response to the Great Recession in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration. It succeeded famously. He vows to deploy that experience to revive an economy that has collapsed under the weight of the pandemic.

Joe Biden, lastly, will deliver a sense of empathy and compassion to a grieving nation. We have lost more than 200,000 of our citizens to a killer virus. Donald Trump has been MIA as comforter in chief. Joe Biden has suffered intense personal tragedy already, with the death of his first wife and his young daughter shortly before he took office in the Senate. He feels the pain of those who suffer during this pandemic.

The nation needs that compassion from the president.

Joe Biden isn’t the perfect candidate, but we shouldn’t demand presidential perfection. We should demand — in the context of this election — that we choose someone who knows how government works and who is capable of working across the aisle with those of the other party.

That candidate is Joseph R. Biden Jr. who, with Kamala Harris as his governing partner, can deliver the goods for a nation that has suffered from too much government incompetence.

 

Can we vote yet?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I guess  you could say I have come full circle on this early-voting matter.

There once was a day when I would resist casting my ballot early, fearing that my candidate(s) would do something stupid or possibly illegal between the time I cast my vote and Election Day.

Those days have been plowed asunder over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. I now am anxious to vote and to vote early.

Texans can begin voting next Tuesday. My wife and I will venture to First Baptist Church in Princeton to cast our ballots. My hope now is simply to cast my vote and to ensure that it is recorded properly in the Collin County election system, which is as high-tech an apparatus as you’ll see anywhere.

Am I concerned about voting in person? Yes, but only a little. We voted at the church in this year’s primary and we were impressed with the care the poll workers took to ensure we were masked up, that kept appropriate “social distance” and that we didn’t touch anything that didn’t relate directly to the act of voting. Through it all the poll workers were spraying every surface they could find with disinfectant.

We are going to have our voices heard no matter what. I guess my preference would have been to vote by mail. We have chosen instead to troop down the street for just a few minutes to vote in person.

We have heard the message from Joe Biden and others who back him: Vote early, either in person or by mail … just be sure to vote.

Who’s the man of faith?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am sharing two pictures that showed up on my Facebook page today. They depict two presidents of the United States.

You know who they are.

The guy in the first picture is revered by the evangelical Christian movement. They like Donald Trump’s court appointments. They like his so-called “conservative” values he mouths when he hears them touted by right-wing radio and TV talking heads. The evangelicals give him a pass for the flings about which he has boasted, such as with the young woman pictured with him. Hey, no problem, they say. He’s one of us! Good grief!

The other president served a single term from 1977 to 1981. He teaches a Sunday school class at his church in Plains, Ga. Jimmy Carter also builds houses for poor folks as part of Habitat for Humanity.

The evangelical Christian movement sought actively in the 1980 campaign to deny him a second term as president. They preferred another fellow, Ronald Reagan, whose own commitment to matters of faith had been questioned as well, as he rarely darkened the doors of churches.

Jimmy Carter is the real deal. He just turned 96 years of age. He has battled cancer and has been the target of pundits who claim unfairly that he was a “failed president.”

I do not consider myself an “evangelical,” although I do profess my faith openly and joyfully. Still, I am left to wonder about the priorities of those who stand with a lying, conniving philanderer and who scorn a man who practices the faith in which he is committed deeply.

Trump 24, Biden 0

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I cannot get past a sobering statistic.

Donald Trump’s senior team of policy advisers and campaign operatives is dropping like flies to the COVID-19 virus.

To date, 24 of them have tested positive for the killer bug. They include none other than Donald Trump his own self.

How come? Because Trump doesn’t listen to the advice he gets from the experts with whom he has surrounded himself. He doesn’t like masks; he won’t maintain social distance; his policy gurus follow the Old Man’s lead.

Over on Biden’s side, the infection count among senior Biden policy aides and campaign staffers is, um … zero!

No one has been publicly identified as testing positive for the virus. Hmm. Why is that? Oh, wait! It’s because Joe Biden does follow the advice of medical experts. He wears a mask. He practices social distancing. He forgoes big campaign rallies with thousands of cheering Bidenistas.

Trump 24, Biden 0.

Mr. VPOTUS? Answer this one

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Vice-presidential political debates always should be deemed critical to a campaign, given that the principals involved are vying to be next in line to the presidency of the United States.

Tonight’s encounter with Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence has taken on new urgency. I’ll state the obvious reason first: the age of the president and his Democratic Party challenger.

Donald Trump is 74; former VP Joe Biden is 77. I am not being ghoulish in determining that the age of the presidential candidates is a critical part of the VP debate. We need to assess whether either Sen. Harris or VP Pence is ready to become president at a moment’s notice.

We also have this COVID-19 matter. Perhaps you’ve heard, but Donald Trump is infected with a potentially fatal virus. He spent three days in the hospital. He returned to the White House and is continuing to pose an immediate threat to those around him by, um, refusing to wear a mask or observe “social distancing.”

This brings me to an essential question that Harris — or perhaps moderator Susan Page — needs to pose to Pence.

The VP heads the White House coronavirus response task force. Pence needs to answer this question: If you are seeking to stay in office, how is it that you not only have failed to protect Americans — more than 200,000 of whom have died from this disease — but you also failed to protect the president of the United States?¬†

A host of related questions can arise from that. Why haven’t you insisted at Donald Trump observe medical experts’ warnings? Are you leading by example? Is the task force performing a worthwhile function if POTUS is ignoring your advice? How can you defend the president’s conduct when he jeopardizes the health of those around him?

I believe Pence’s record as head of the response task force needs careful examination in tonight’s encounter.