Category Archives: national news

What have the obstructionists done?

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Given the tendency among congressional obstructionists to block everything that the other side wants to do, I am driven to the tendency to ask: What have they done to justify this kind of game-playing?

I think of Republicans, naturally, when pondering this matter.

Two of them seem to stand out. One of them is a Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz. I also ponder the antics of Arkansas’s Tom Cotton.

Both of these nimrods are fond of blocking nominations of a Democratic president, such as Barack Obama and now Joe Biden. They block ’em because, well, they can under Senate rules.

So, let’s turn this around briefly. What constructive legislation has their names on it? Have either of these obstructionists authored legislation that makes them proud? That they can boast to their voters? Hardly!

They aren’t alone, of course. A whole caucus full of Republicans in both congressional chambers has grown fond of blocking bills. They vote “no” … all the time!

They as a group seem to be bereft of constructive notions. They spend no time putting pen to paper to draft legislation that would do the rest of us any good.

That is why I am so enraged at these obstructionists. They have no moral standing to block anything, given that they have no authorship of anything that is worth a damn.

Dole reminded us of a kinder past

Robert Dole’s death has thrown me into the realm of recalling what another great American politician once referred to as a “kinder, gentler” time, when politics and politicians weren’t stained by hatred.

Dole died this past weekend at age 98. His death wasn’t a shock. We all knew it was coming soon. I mean, the man was nearly a century old and as they say, none of us gets out of here alive. He also had been ill with cancer, and I knew that, too.

Still, his passing reminds me of how politicians formerly conducted their business. They fought hard for their policies and their philosophy. Yet they managed somehow to maintain personal relationships with those with whom they fought while they were on the clock.

That seems to sum up the late Sen. Dole’s professional life.

One of the remarkable pieces of video I have seen since Dole’s death was of his accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the man who just a few weeks earlier had defeated him in the 1996 presidential election. President Clinton draped the medal around Dole’s neck and the beaten Republican nominee stood for a moment, then said, “I, Robert J. Dole … do solemnly swear.” He brought the house down. Then he said, “Oops. Wrong speech.” He also told the still-laughing crowd that he expected President Clinton to “give me something” when he arrived at the White House, but that he had hoped it would be “the keys to the front door.”

Can you imagine (a) Joe Biden ever awarding the man he defeated for the presidency the nation’s highest civilian medal and (b) Donald Trump accepting it with the kind of class that Bob Dole did in receiving it from the man who defeated him for the office he coveted?

The Donald Trump Era in presidential politics ushered in a new age of extreme animus. Indeed, Sen. Dole exemplified the quality of men and women who once led this country. They did so with class and dignity, which drew praise from their foes, even as they continued to disagree over basic policy matters.

I am going to hold out hope — being the eternal optimist I am — that we can find our way back to the way it was. Meanwhile, I will offer a word of thanks to Sen. Dole for reminding us of the lessons he taught us about graciousness and class.

Meadows clams up to panel

You can just imagine how unsurprised I am to hear the news that former Donald Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is going to no longer cooperate with a congressional committee assigned to finding out the truth behind 1/6.

Tell me you’re surprised that Meadows has decided to clam up. If you do, I’ll call you a fool.

Meadows had revealed that he was cooperating “for now” with the House select committee appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to root out the cause of the 1/6 insurrection/riot/coup attempt and to recommend ways to prevent it from happening ever again.

Now he’s backing away. He’s not going to provide the information the committee wants.

Meadows is a Trump toadie. A slathering sycophant. A babbling buffoon.

He also might find himself in jail, where he could join former White House policy guru Steve Bannon, who’s been indicted by the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Bannon hasn’t yet been tried, but if he’s convicted, he faces a year in the slammer. Meadows might as well, too.

The entire world witnessed a hideous assault on our democracy on 1/6. The House panel, chaired by Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is on a mission to find out what happened when Trump incited the crowd to attack Capitol Hill while officials were certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Meadows knows more than he’s letting on. He needs to tell the truth. He vows to keep it from us. He needs to pay for his intransigence.

Pearl Harbor changed the world

Eighty years ago, the world changed forever. It changed because squadrons of Japanese fighter planes swooped in over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and sank several U.S. warships.

The act brought the United States into World War II.

It also changed the life of my favorite veteran. Forever.

My dad, Pete Kanelis, was a 20-year-old student at the University of Portland (Ore.). The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. My grandparents, Dad and his six siblings were listening to news reports that were broadcast over the radio in their Portland home. Dad left the house, went downtown and on that day enlisted in the Navy. He wanted to get immediately into the fight.

He got there eventually in early 1942.

Dad was one of 16 million Americans who suited up to defend the world against tyranny. Fewer than 500,000 of them are alive today. Dad has been gone for 41 years. I honor his service every day that think of them. And I do think about him every single day. I will do so for as long as I take breath.

The world changed that day. The United States would emerge from World War II as the planet’s pre-eminent military and economic power. The Greatest Generation built the nation after it came home from the battlefields around the world. Dad was one of them.

He went back to school. He married my mother in the summer of 1946. I came along three years later; my two sisters arrived after I did. Mom and Dad both worked to build good lives for us all.

They were among the generation who defeated the tyrants.

The world changed forever 80 years ago. Count me as one American who relishes my good fortune to be born in what I believe is the world’s greatest nation built by its greatest generation.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.

Dole draws tributes from both sides

I am gratified to read the tributes that are pouring in from both sides of the great divide in Washington to honor the life and service of a genuine American hero.

Indeed, “hero” is a word we are hearing in the wake of Robert Dole’s death today at age 98.

Dole was a longtime Republican Senate stalwart, a man who knew how to work across the aisle. He built friendships that transcended whatever political differences he had with his colleagues.

To hear Democratic politicians praise Dole’s service to the country, starting with his combat service during World War II, gives me hope that we might be able someday to bridge the chasm that has turned mere political opponents into enemies.

Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: ‘Bona fide American hero’ | TheHill

Our current lawmakers can take a page from the example that former Sen. Bob Dole set during his long, productive and profoundly distinguished life.

Another hero has departed

A former U.S. senator, presidential and vice-presidential candidate, and World War II hero has left us and the world he leaves behind should mourn its loss forever.

I refer to Robert Dole, the one-time senator from Kansas.

Oh, my. He was a Republican tough guy who emerged from the crucible of world conflict to become eventually a statesman and a man who built solid relationships and friendships across the vast span of the political spectrum.

To be candid about Dole, he leaves behind a complicated legacy.

He was wounded grievously near the end of World War II. He lost the use of his right arm. He rehabilitated himself after the war ended. Dole would run eventually for Congress, ending up in the Senate.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford selected him to run as vice president as Ford sought election to the presidency. During a vice-presidential debate with his friend Sen. Walter Mondale, Dole blurted out a remark about how the nation had suffered during “Democrat wars,” saying that Democratic presidents were on the watch when World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War all broke out. It was an unfortunate analogy to make.

He snarled at Vice President George H.W. Bush on national TV — against whom he was competing for the 1988 GOP nomination for president — telling Bush to “stop lying about my record.”

Over time, though, Dole’s image softened. He morphed into an elder statesman, an individual to whom other politicians — of both parties — turned for advice and counsel. His good humor replaced the occasionally tart tenor of his comments.

He ran for president in 1996 as the GOP nominee, challenging President Clinton’s re-election effort. I did not vote for Dole. However, I want to stipulate in the strongest terms possible that I never lost my abiding respect for the service and sacrifice he gave to the country we all love.

His brand of politician, I hate saying, is vanishing before our eyes.

May this good and heroic man rest in eternal peace.

Elect a Nazi? Really?

Ponder this image for just a moment and then ask yourself: Would you want this individual representing you at any level of government?

The picture you see is of Chester Doles, a former Ku Klux Klansman. He is running for a county commissioner’s seat in Georgia. That gesture he is making is a Nazi salute, you know, the “heil Hitler!” thing we see on occasion at Klan rallies or gatherings of assorted white supremacist hate groups.

Doles is running as a Republican. Big surprise, eh?

I am thinking at this very moment of my father, who 80 years ago on Dec. 7 went to the armed forces recruitment center in downtown Portland, Ore., to sign up to fight the tyrants who (a) were trying to take over the world and (b) earlier that day attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Dad would be enraged at the thought of a dipsh** who flung out a Nazi salute running for any public office in the United States of America.

So should any conscientious American who knows what that salute represents. I get that the idiot ex-KKK’er has every right to express himself that way. It is prescribed in the Constitution that Dad and other patriots fought to protect during World War II.

Still, the expression shown here is as revolting and repulsive as any I can ever imagine.

Dr. Oz for Senate? Ugh!

Mehmet Oz wants to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania in 2022, which by itself shouldn’t cause any great shakes for little ol’ me out here in North Texas.

Except that it kinda does. I now shall explain.

Oz is a medical doctor. He made a name for himself by becoming a TV personality. His face is everywhere. I cannot testify to the quality of his medical practice; for that matter, I don’t know if he even still has a practice where he examines patients and does doctor-related tasks.

He is running as a Republican. He also is a known skeptic of the COVID-19 virus’s seriousness. He also has been critical of the vaccines that have been released to vaccinate Americans against the virus. That qualifies Oz, in my view, as a certified member of the crackpot cabal of the GOP.

There’s one more thing I want to point out. I believe he borders on medical quackery. Why?

Well, some years ago I heard him shilling for a product that was supposed to cure people of some ailment. Then he dropped the word “miracle” in his description of the product. He said that the results were a “miracle,” meaning that there is no Earthly explanation for why it does what it does.

I am no doctor, but no doctor I ever have heard has used the word “miracle” to describe a scientific procedure. By its very nature, science is predicated on knowledge of cause and effect.

Thus, for a medical doctor to use a term such as “miracle” to describe a medicinal product to my mind smacks of someone who is peddling some version of snake oil.

This clown doesn’t belong in the U.S. Senate.

Hands off of DACA

If I could rule the world for just a little bit of time, I would declare that an executive order issued by a former president of the United States should be left on the books … never to be trifled with ever again.

I refer to President Obama’s order creating the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program. DACA was set up to shield undocumented immigrants from being deported if they were brought here as children by their parents.

President Obama fought to keep DACA in force. He left office in January 2017. His successor, Donald J. Trump, removed the DACA order. Trump then left office in January of this year and his successor, President Biden, restored the DACA order.

So there you have it. It is there, then it’s not, now it’s back again.

I want the order to remain. Why? Because these recipients of DACA privilege know no other nation than the one where they live today. That is the U.S. of A. They are de facto Americans. They are U.S. residents. Many of them have achieved great academic and professional success.

DACA is a humane policy that seeks to give these individuals an avenue to achieve citizenship or permanent resident status.

As Democrats and Republicans battle over immigration, they simply need to remove DACA from the table. These individuals have done nothing illegal other than accompany their parents into this nation.

Silence is destructive

When a member of Congress spewed hate speech about another member of Congress, there once was a time when the leadership of the offending members’ caucus would call him or her down hard, informing that lawmaker that such speech is unacceptable.

Not any longer. Oh, no. These days, political leadership — notably on the Republican side of the great divide — remains silent. You hear the proverbial crickets chirping in the House and Senate chambers. Politicians from the opposing party often rise up and rant loudly.

The latest pair of congressional members to square off are Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Boebert compared Omar’s occasionally harsh rhetoric to the kind of trash that comes out of the mouths of terrorists. Oh, of course Rep. Boebert had to inject “Muslim” into the tirade because, well, Rep. Omar happens to be a faithful Muslim; Omar is a native of Somalia who emigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Her parents came here looking for a better life. They found it and their daughter became a member of Congress after becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Boebert is part of the QAnon cabal of House members who have latched onto some of hideous notions put forth by that mystery movement.

She appears to hate Ilhan Omar’s faith and in expressing her extreme view that Muslims are inherently sympathetic to terrorist acts, she has engaged in a form of hate speech that in an earlier time never would have been given credence by the silence of her party’s political leadership.

We do have two living former Republican presidents: George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. Bush has been vocal over many years to demand decency from his caucus. Trump, though, has remained silent.

Indeed, Trump’s followers in the current Congress far outnumber those who are loyal to Bush. Thus, we have the silent treatment greeting the kinds of hate speech that comes from Boebert … and others within the GOP.

We just have to find a way to repair the quality of our discourse and to hold politicians accountable for the garbage that flows too easily from their mouths.