All posts by kanelis2012

Cancel culture? Really?

As a general rule I don’t usually quote “Star Trek” actors to buttress a point I want to make, but this one attributed to Mr. Sulu seems to ring so very true to me.

GOP politicians in Texas and everywhere else keep raising hell about “cancel culture” politics they allege are espoused by progressives. You know how it goes: Someone finds a phrase or a term to be offensive, so they set out to blot that from our vernacular; “cancel culture” has resulted in the bringing down of Confederate memorials honoring traitors who sought to topple the U.S. government during the Civil War.

The right wingers among us just can’t stand that notion.

And yet … they seek to ban books that teach students about racism in our nation’s history, about slavery and about certain damning chapters in the building of our nation.

Isn’t that more than just a little hypocritical?

It sure looks like it to me.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Waiting for return of confirmation comity

There once was a time when U.S. Supreme Court nominees sailed blissfully through the confirmation process, with senators giving presidents all the latitude in the world to select the person of their choice. They asked some tough questions, occasionally, but were respectful and a bit deferential to presidential prerogative.

Not … any … longer.

President Biden is going to select a black woman to succeed Stephen Breyer on the court once Breyer retires at the end of the current court term. The president can expect a donnybrook. He might be able to find the most brilliant legal mind this side of the Magna Carta, but that person won’t be confirmed without shedding a good bit of blood as she takes incoming rounds from the Republican obstruction brigade in the Senate.

When did it come to this? I guess you could trace it to 1987, when President Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the SCOTUS. Bork was known to be a strict constitutional constructionist. He was a brilliant legal scholar, but he had some seriously offensive views about the role of women and racial minorities. His nomination went down in flames.

Then came the 1991 nomination of Clarence Thomas, whom President George H.W. Bush called the most brilliant legal mind in America. He sought to succeed the late Thurgood Marshall. Then came allegations of sexual harassment and the testimony of Anita Hill. The debate was ferocious. The Senate confirmed Thomas, but it was a narrow mostly partisan vote.

I am thinking at this moment of a nominee put forth by President Eisenhower in 1953. Earl Warren was governor of California when Ike asked him to join the court. He had never served as a judge. I wonder now how an Earl Warren nomination would fare in today’s climate. Would senators question his qualifications? Would they hold him to the same sort of careful examination that they appear ready to do to whomever Joe Biden presents? If the answer is yes, would Gov. Warren hold up?

For the record, I am glad Earl Warren served as chief justice, given that the court on his watch approved some amazing landmark rulings; e.g., Brown v. Board of Education.

I want President Biden’s first high court nominee to be judged carefully but fairly by senators. I am concerned they will respond with red herrings, specious arguments and phony concerns.

I remain committed, by the way, to presidential prerogative in these cases. Elections, as they say, do have consequences. I have been faithful to that truism with respect to whomever is in office.

So, let the process move forward. I hope for a semblance of judicial comity as the Senate ponders this most important selection.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Morning in America dawns again

Ronald W. Reagan campaigned for re-election in 1984 as president on the theme that it was “morning in America.” By golly, it worked as President Reagan steamrolled to a smashing landslide victory, winning 49 states and rolling up an Electoral College margin of 525 to 13.

Well, guess what, ladies and gentlemen. I believe it’s “morning in America” is dawning yet again in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Economic reports show that the Gross Domestic Product grew at a rate not seen since 1984. Unemployment is now down to 3.9%, which is about where it was prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. More jobs have been added to non-farm payrolls at any time in the first year of a presidency, which is something that Joe Biden has been proclaiming for a good while.

What does this mean for the president? It means he has some grist on which to build a campaign in advance of this year’s midterm election, which will be a setup for the 2024 presidential campaign.

I am aware of the hurdles that remain. We need to rein in inflation; the Federal Reserve Board is poised to do that by increasing interest rates this year. There are some foreign-policy issues with which to deal, such as Russia and Ukraine, China’s bellicosity and threats against Taiwan, the ongoing Middle East tensions. Of course, we also have climate change … and the pandemic.

Economically, it is morning once again across the land.

The president needs to be careful to avoid hogging more credit than he deserves. I have noted for longer than I can remember that POTUSes don’t deserve all the blame nor do they deserve all the credit for swings in the economy.

The good and the bad, though, occur on their watch. Thus, they become the hero or the zero, depending on which way the economy is tracking.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You tell ’em, Kel

Kel Seliger’s status as a lame-duck Texas state senator appears to have given the veteran Republican legislator some gumption as he has delivered a harsh reality to the state’s efforts at redrawing its legislative districts.

Seliger, who hails from Amarillo, said in a court deposition that the GOP-controlled Legislature broke the law in redrawing the boundaries in Senate District 10. “Having participated in the 2011 and 2013 Senate Select Redistricting Committee proceedings and having read the prior federal court decision regarding SD10, it was obvious to me that the renewed effort to dismantle SD 10 violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution,” Seliger said in his remarks to the court.

According to the Texas Tribune: Under the map passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, some Black and Hispanic populations previously in District 10 were split into two other districts with majority-white electorates. The Black and Hispanic voters who remain in the newly drawn District 10, in urban areas of south Fort Worth, were lumped in with several rural, mostly white counties to the south and west that drive up the district’s population of white eligible voters while diminishing the number of voters of color.

GOP Sen. Kel Seliger says Texas violated federal voting rights law | The Texas Tribune

Well … isn’t that what many critics of the Legislature have alleged against Republicans who control the body?

Now we have one of the Legislature’s top GOP senators saying that he agrees with the critics. Is that what I am reading? I believe that’s the case.

To which I say only that it would have been good to hear such candor coming when Sen. Seliger was still in the thick of the fight. As it stands now, he is on the sidelines and is heading for the exit at the end of the year.

I say this as a friend of the senator. I consider him to have been an effective representative for the Texas Panhandle, where I lived for more than two decades. Seliger and I go back a while and I have long admired him for his independent streak and his pluck while serving in the Senate.

I mean, any guy who can piss off fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as Seliger has done, is OK in my book.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Bring in the insurrectionists, too!

President Biden said Thursday he intends to consult with members of the U.S. Senate from both political parties on who he should nominate to join the U.S. Supreme Court.

It occurs to me: Wouldn’t it be cool if the president were to include in those sessions members of the GOP caucus who voted to obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election results because of those phony claims of “widespread voter fraud”? 

I believe he should invite the likes of Sens. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and perhaps even the nuttiest of ’em all, Ron Johnson to the White House. The media covering the meeting could put the clowns on the record on what they might have told the president on their feelings of who he should pick.

Stephen Breyer is retiring from the court soon. Joe Biden has pledged to nominate a black woman to succeed Justice Breyer. He already is getting resistance from some quarters of the far-right wing of the GOP caucus. I believe it is imperative for the president, therefore, to bring some of those fruitcakes into the White House, hear them out — along with members of the Democratic Party caucus — on what they think and why they think it.

Of course, it is likely be merely a symbolic gesture. The president is no rookie when it comes to vetting judicial nominees; he served for several years as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so he knows his way around the judicial pea patch.

However, if Biden is intent on seeking bipartisan consultation — and I believe he is — the president ought to go all the way.

Bring in the nut jobs, too, Mr. President!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hey, Gipper said so first!

President Biden pledged once again today to make an unprecedented appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. He will find an African American woman to nominate to the court to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer.

OK. That’s unprecedented. I get it. However, he ain’t the first president or candidate for POTUS to make a pledge to find someone of a particular gender to the court.

Ronald Reagan did so while running for the presidency in 1980. He said a few weeks before that election he would nominate the first woman to the court. He won big that year. And in 1981 President Reagan made good on the promise by nominating Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court.

We’re good so far, right?

Conservatives then hailed the choice.

Their reaction to President Biden’s pledge? Why, he’s slamming the door shut on qualified judges; they say he is launching an affirmative action program to the court selection process; we can’t allow the president to pick someone who might not pass judicial muster, as if the person’s racial background by itself is an impediment.

The duplicity is stunning.

I am going to hold onto every confidence on God’s good Earth that President Biden is going to find a top-drawer, first-rate, learned jurist … who just happens to be an African American woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Awaiting SCOTUS debate

I am waiting with bated breath — yes, already! — for Senate Republicans to voice their opposition to whomever President Biden chooses to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court.

You see, we now will get to hear the objections as to why they oppose what the president promises will be a legal scholar of impeccable credentials; she will be someone with outstanding character; she will have unassailable legal credentials.

That won’t be enough to swing GOP senators over the right side of history as Joe Biden proceeds to find the first African American woman nominated for a spot on the nation’s highest court. Oh, no!

They will concoct reasons to oppose her. They will take whatever she might have said about something out of context, twist it into something no one can recognize and then declare that there is “no way” they can support such a “radical, left-leaning” lawyer to the Supreme Court.

I actually welcome that debate. Why? Because I want to know who the individuals are who cannot set their political bias aside while considering such an important choice for a lifetime appointment.

Oh, and be sure to stay alert to the accusation that Democrats in Congress and the president are somehow playing “politics” with this choice. Wait for it. That ridiculous canard is bound to surface.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Breyer to retire … who will join SCOTUS?

Stephen Breyer today made official what the world has known for, oh, the past 24 hours, that he is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term.

Now comes yet another stern test for President Biden: finding a nominee who will be seated quickly on the nation’s highest court.

The president has limited his field of choices dramatically by pledging to name an African American woman to succeed Justice Breyer. Allow me this bit of wisdom per the next nominee to join the court.

Of the names I have heard mentioned I am struck by the term “public defender” in the backgrounds of at least two prominent judges. The idea that a legal genius who has served as a public defender could join the nation’s highest appellate court is appealing in the extreme to me. One name appears to be the prohibitive favorite, as an article By Elaine Godfrey in The Atlantic has noted:

We know that his nominee will almost certainly be a woman. In 2020, then-candidate Biden vowed that he would respond to a Supreme Court opening by nominating a Black woman. Dozens of candidates are being talked about, but nearly all of the Court watchers I interviewed for this story have their money on one in particular: Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Biden’s Likeliest Replacement for Justice Breyer: Ketanji Brown Jackson – The Atlantic

I believe someone with public defender experience in her legal background brings a totally new perspective to any judicial conference that would occur when the court is considering, for example, an appeal on a death penalty case; or perhaps an appeal on a conviction that someone believes was incorrectly achieved.

Could a Supreme Court associate justice soften the hard hearts of her colleagues? It’s possible. Then again, it might not. My point though is that a U.S. Supreme Court need not be populated only with jurists who come from, say, civil law or who have experience only as criminal prosecutors.

President Biden seemingly wants to broaden the scope of the Supreme Court’s world view. Go for it, Mr. President.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Apology accepted, RFK Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has just learned a lesson that I think should be spread throughout the world as it grapples with the issues of the day.

It is that no one ever should compare whatever discomfort one is enduring in the moment to what occurred during the dark, horrible era of The Holocaust. RFK Jr. uttered a most despicable comparison the other day at an anti-COVID 19 vaccine rally in which he bellowed that people who are forced to be vaccinated against a killer virus are enduring trauma similar to what Anne Frank suffered while she was hiding out in her apartment in Amsterdam during World War II.

Kennedy has apologized for his remarks. I accept his apology. I also hope he — nor any other public figure — makes the same hideous analogy ever again.

Anne Frank died at the age of 15 at the hands of her Nazi captors after she and her family were taken from that apartment and sent to a death camp. She was one of about 6 million European Jews who died during The Holocaust, which was the most unspeakable act committed during the 20th century … or perhaps in all of human history.

Kennedy sought to make some odious comparison between what governments are doing now in ordering vaccines to what the Nazis did to Europeans. Good God in Almighty heaven!

I want to add a personal point of privilege. My wife and I saw the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam in 2016 and were moved to tears at the tale of horror it told of the suffering she and her family endured while they hid from their Nazi captors.

The Holocaust stands alone and should never — not ever! — be held up as something to which one can compare other controversial acts.

Lesson learned, RFK Jr.? I damn sure hope so.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Speed is critical, Senate Democrats

I will be watching with keen interest to see whether U.S. Senate Democrats can move with the speed and precision that their Republican colleagues can when they are given the chance to push a Supreme Court nominee through the body and onto the court.

Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring at the end of the current SCOTUS term. President Biden has promised to name a nominee soon to replace Breyer. He said during the 2020 presidential campaign he would name an African American woman. Remember that he made the same pledge when looking for a vice-presidential nominee. So, he’s a man of his word.

Democrats still control the Senate. But not by much. The body is split 50 to 50. Vice President Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote if she needs to do so. Gawd, I hope it doesn’t come to that when the Senate votes on a Supreme Court nominee.

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020, Republicans moved heaven and Earth to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed just weeks before that year’s election. But … when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, nearly a year before a presidential election, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell dug in his heels and denied President Obama the opportunity to nominate a successor to the iconic conservative justice.

We have a midterm election coming up and Republicans could seize control of the Senate when they count the ballots.

So, the speed of this nomination process is critical.

No lollygagging allowed, Mr. President.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com