Category Archives: political news

Expanding vote base a ‘power grab’? C’mon, Ted!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ted Cruz says that efforts to allow more people to vote, to expand the voter base, is a “power grab.”

Hmm. Let’s parse that one for a moment, eh?

The Texas Republican U.S. senator was taken to task today by a letter writer whose missive was published in the Dallas Morning News. Richard Kidd of Dallas writes, “The only power grab is a party with minority support trying to hold on to power by disenfranchising as many people as possible … The right to vote is a pillar of a democracy and Cruz took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Congress has a duty to ensure as many citizens as possible have a right to vote and be represented.”

I get his drift. I trust you do, too.

A mantra I beat into the ground over many years as a full-time journalist was that a representative democracy works best when we spread the power out among more, not fewer, voters. That is one argument I sought to make in different ways for greater voter turnout at election time.

It also lies at the heart, I only can presume, at efforts to expand availability to as many voters as human possible.

At its base, increased voter participation shouldn’t ever become a partisan battle. It has become that, however. Republicans are seeking to restrict voter access to ethnic and racial minorities who tend to vote, um, for Democrats. The GOP just can’t have that happen, right? So in states such as Texas, Republican legislators are pushing for rules that make it more difficult for minorities to get registered and to actually vote.

The result will be to invest more power in fewer Americans. It will place more power in the hands of the few and the proud. It also, in my view, runs directly counter to the argument I have been yammering about since The Flood, which is that democracy works better when we spread the power among greater numbers of voters.

So, for Ted Cruz to lament a phony “power grab” while objecting to increasing voter access only reveals how cheaply he values our democratic process.

Rep./Dr. Jackson tweets his thoughts … who knew?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My friends and former neighbors in the Texas Panhandle are getting a totally expected treat from their new congressman: a Twitter storm of statements, proclamations and, dare I say it, demagogic grenades.

Check out a tweet that came from Rep. Ronny Jackson, the newly elected congressman from the 13th Congressional District:

We must say NO to any mandated “vaccine passport.” This isn’t about “stopping the spread,” it’s about CONTROL and restricting our RIGHTS. Vaccine passports = TYRANNY!

You know, I just love the all-caps approach to driving home a point to the faithful. Actually … I don’t. Why not? It’s so, um, Trumpian!

I am thinking at this moment of Mac Thornberry, the actual lifetime resident of the congressional district whom Jackson succeeded when he got elected in 2020. My thought is that Twitter tirades are so not like Thornberry. He was not inclined to fire off Twitter bombs. Thornberry would do that Washington thing, you know … dictate a policy statement and then issue it through his press office. The Thornberry method was more professional and for me more likely to be taken seriously than a wild-eyed, mouth-frothing tweet!

It’s not that Rep. Jackson is a stupid man. He is, after all, a medical doctor who once served as physician to three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump and along the way rose to the rank of rear admiral in the Navy.

Now he’s a politician and has taken so very readily to the medium of choice for many blowhards on the left and the right.

I hope my former Texas Panhandle neighbors have a stronger stomach for the upcoming barrage of Twitter messages than I believe I would have were I still living there.

Why the disinterest?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

An earlier post on this blog saluted the “courtesy” that Princeton City Hall gave to its residents with a significant credit in their monthly water bill.

I intended to call attention to local governments’ ability to respond to taxpayers’ needs in time of suffering. Princeton answered the call.

Now, for my point: It is that government at the local level often is the most responsive and its actions have the most direct impact on citizens’ lives. Thus, it baffles me that local government elections usually draw such little attention among voters.

Local government responds | High Plains Blogger

You know what I’m talking about. Voter turnout for municipal elections often languishes in the single digits. That is, fewer than 10 percent of those who are registered to vote bother to actually vote. I have witnessed this astonishing apathy play out over and over again during by 37 years as a daily print journalist. I watched it happen in Oregon City, Ore., in Beaumont, Texas, and in Amarillo, Texas, where I worked before retiring and moving to Princeton. It’s happened here, too.

Texas is going to the polls again on May 1. We will choose our city government and school district elected leaders. Will many of us even bother to vote? Hah! I am not holding my breath.

And that is the ongoing shame of our democratic process.

The 2020 presidential election produced an astonishing turnout among registered voters, something on the order of 65 percent. The raw numbers of voters, more than 158 million, also was staggering. Don’t misunderstand me. Presidential elections are important as well. However, presidents and those we send to Congress make decisions that occasionally have little to do with our daily lives.

City council members decide how much property taxes we pay; they make decisions on the quality of police and fire protection, on our parks, whether we have streets lights in our neighborhoods and, yes, whether we have potable running water. School board trustees decide how much to pay public school teachers, which has a direct impact on our property taxes, the books our children and grandchildren read, the curriculum they study.

I am not suggesting we should treat national elections with the apathy we demonstrate at the local level. I am suggesting that local races deserve at least as much of our attention as those elections farther up the electoral pecking order.

Rep. Slaton makes early impact

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, brother.

I commented earlier on this blog about my respect for Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican whom Texas Monthly has identified as one of seven legislators to watch during the current Texas Legislature.

Well, TM also has ID’d a bold, brash and bodacious freshman lawmaker, a young man I know only casually, but who is — shall we say — also worth watching for an entirely different set of reasons.

State Rep. Bryan Slaton is another Republican. He hails from Royse City, just a bit east-southeast of where I now live. TM calls him The Fearless Freshman. Why? He is unafraid to make a name for himself for reasons that run quite counter to my own political world view.

Slaton got elected this past year, defeating longtime fellow conservative state Rep. Dan Flynn. I was aghast that he would run “to the right” of Flynn, but he did.

What does the young man do when he arrives in Austin for the start of the Legislature? He pitches a bill that would criminalize the act of a woman obtaining an abortion; she would, in Flynn’s eyes, be guilty of “murder” and would be subject to the state’s death penalty if she is tried and convicted of murder.

Texas Monthly wrote this about Slaton: A principled hard-right conservative and Gen Xer, Slaton is stepping into the void left by former representative Jonathan Stickland, a Bedford Republican who made his reputation as a troublemaker and thorn in the side of his party’s establishment. Slaton says he is focused on advancing social-conservative priorities, including eliminating abortion (by passing a law declaring the Roe v. Wade unconstitutional) and protecting historical monuments (by requiring a two-thirds vote to remove one of, say, a Confederate general, from a state university). 

Seven Texas Lawmakers to Watch – Texas Monthly

He also seems to believe that Texas can secede — again! — from the United States of America. Hasn’t anyone told him (a) that secession is illegal and (b) that the first time Texas did it in 1861, it didn’t work out well for Texas — or for the rest of the Confederate States of America?

My only visit with Slaton was over the phone. We had a cordial conversation. I was working on a story I wrote for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. I hope to be able to talk to him in the future as needs arise.

However, I must be candid. If he flies off the rails and starts yapping about secession, or protecting monuments honoring Confederate traitors or sentencing women in trouble to the death chamber, well … it could get ugly. In a big hurry.

Trump is no one’s POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Take a gander at this picture.

I don’t know precisely where it was taken. It showed up on my Facebook news feed with a caption that it implies it’s in Dallas.

Eek!

Then someone else posted a note that said Donald Trump 2024 shirts are on sale somewhere in Amarillo. Now that doesn’t entirely surprise me, given the Texas Panhandle’s extreme right-wing tendencies. President Biden carried Dallas County by a handsome margin in 2020. Donald Trump rolled over Biden in Randall and Potter counties — which Amarillo straddles — also by handsome margins.

But … here’s the deal. Donald Trump lost the election. He would lose again were he to run a second time, in my view. I do not believe he is going to run for president again.

Trump has some legal and financial issues with which to contend. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., and Manhattan, N.Y., are breathing down his neck. He has $400 million in debt that is coming due. It’s possible that he will remain blocked from social media platforms on the basis of the Big Lie he keeps spreading about so-called vote fraud in the 2020 election.

He’s already been revealed as a lying fraud. Just maybe lightning will strike, hell will freeze over and the sun will rise in the west one day, and that the Trumpkin Corps of believers will see that their guy is a first-class phony.

‘Jim Crow in the 21st century’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has shucked the gloves and donned the brass knuckles to use against Republican Party efforts to suppress voter turnout.

Biden is taking particular umbrage at laws enacted in Georgia and signed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that seeks to restrict voter access to the ballot. Imagine that, if you dare.

One of the more odious aspects of the law is something that utterly boggles my noggin. It makes it a crime — a crime! — to give a voter food or refreshment while he or she is waiting in line to cast a ballot.

President Biden has described the law as “Jim Crow in the 21st century.” I happen to agree with him.

Gov. Kemp is pushing back, not surprisingly.

Kemp in a statement shared with The Hill said the legislation he signed into law Thursday “expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity.”

“There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person,” he continued.

Kemp fires back at Biden: Nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about Georgia law | TheHill

I don’t have a particular problem with requiring a photo ID to vote. I do have a serious problem with restrictions on early voting, or reducing the number of polling places.

Is it a revision of “Jim Crow,” which is how President Biden describes it? So help me, it looks that way!

It is striking that the Georgia legislature would enact such restrictions immediately after Democrats captured two U.S. Senate seats; one of those Democrats, I hasten to add, happens to be an African-American, Raphael Warnock. Coincidence? As they say: In politics, there is no such thing as coincidence.

Georgia, sadly, isn’t alone. Texas legislators are in the midst of enacting equally restrictive voting laws, not to mention getting ready to redraw congressional boundaries in ways that favor electing Republicans.

President Biden happens in my view to call it correctly with regard to what Georgia is trying to enact.

Let the battle rage on!

What is Texas AG hiding?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What in the name of full transparency is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hiding from the public he took an oath to serve?

This guy is beginning to redefine the term “slime bucket” by refusing to release the text of emails he sent and received while attending a rally that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection against the federal government.

The Texas Tribune reports:

Several news organizations in Texas have requested copies of the attorney general’s work-related communications. The Texas Public Information Act guarantees the public’s right to government records — even if those records are stored on personal devices or online accounts of public officials.

After Paxton’s office refused to release copies of his emails and text messages, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, The Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, and The San Antonio Express-News are working together in an effort to obtain the documents and review Paxton’s open-records practices.

Ken Paxton refuses to release messages about attendance at pro-Trump rally | The Texas Tribune

Paxton attended the rally on The Ellipse, the one in which Donald J. Trump exhorted the mob to march on the Capitol Building and “take back” the government. You know what happened next, right?

Paxton was among the attendees. News organizations want to know what in the world he was doing there, what he said, what was said to him, whether he was a principal in the effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States.

Paxton already has slimed his office. He is under indictment for securities fraud and is awaiting trial. The feds are examining a whistleblower complaint that he allegedly broke the law as attorney general of Texas. He filed that laughable lawsuit that sought other states to overturn their election results that helped elect Biden as president.

Now he is stonewalling media representatives seeking access to records to which they public is entitled.

What is he hiding? Hmm?

Irony is so very rich

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When I watch Christopher Krebs recount the immense security measures implemented to protect the 2020 presidential election against chicanery by foreign actors, I cannot let go of the incredible irony that Krebs presents.

Donald Trump hired Krebs specifically to protect the U.S. election system against foreign interference. Krebs did his job brilliantly. The 2020 election, he said, was the “most secure election” in U.S. history.

Then we heard Trump, who lost the election, make bogus claims that it was “stolen” from him and handed to Joseph Biden. What does he do then? He fires Krebs who did precisely what Trump had hired him to do!

Now we hear from the U.S. intelligence community that has just issued a final report declaring that Krebs was right, that the election was safe, it was secure and that there was no foreign tampering.

The intel report drives the nail into the proverbial coffin containing the Big Lie that Donald Trump continues to preach.

Amazing.

Ted Cruz: ‘sniveling coward’ of the year

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ted Cruz takes the grand prize as the “sniveling coward” of this still young year.

I kind of like the term “sniveling.” It’s so, um, descriptive. You can draw a mental picture of someone cowering in a corner, sobbing while crouched in some sort of fetal position.

It’s an epithet that the Texas U.S. senator threw at a fellow Republican presidential candidate in 2016. Yep, that would be Donald John Trump, the guy who eventually won the presidency that year. You recall the moment, yes? Trump tweeted an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz, Ted’s wife. Ted went after Trump with ferocity, calling him a “pathological liar,” a guy with “no morals,” and yes, he called him a “sniveling coward.”

Trump is all of that. So, too, is Ted Cruz … I mean the sniveling coward part.

You see, after Trump got elected Cruz began sucking up to The Donald. They became best friends. Cruz became afraid of the damage Trump might cause were he to remain committed to his earlier view of Trump’s morals, his lying and his lack of courage.

He cowered in the face of potential payback. Thus, he became a “sniveling coward.”

I suppose you could say he burnished his “sniveling coward” credentials by jetting off to Cancun while Texans shivered in the dark during that horrible winter storm. Oh, and get this: Cruz then decided this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference to mock Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York progressive member of Congress, who came to Texas and raised $5 million in storm relief … while Cruz was hightailing it to the beach in sunny, balmy Mexico.

All of these examples I have cited offer plenty of evidence to suggest that Ted Cruz is very much the “sniveling coward” he once said of an ex-president to whom he now professes blind fealty.

Cruz makes me want to puke.

GOP is in serious trouble

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What remains of a once-great political party is in serious danger.

It remains loyal to an individual who lost re-election in 2020 and on whose watch the party lost control of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

And yet, Donald John Trump is going to be the featured speaker this weekend at the annual Conservative Action Political Conference in Florida.

I am flabbergasted beyond belief at what has happened to a party that now embraces the alleged “philosophy” of the one-time reality TV show host, a  real estate developer and someone who cannot tell the truth if his life depended on it.

I have noted before but it bears repeating: Donald Trump is not even an actual Republican. He is the classic Republican In Name Only, but the RINOs who follow him toss that label at real Republicans simply because they have the temerity to oppose Trump.

The CPAC conference will not hear from real Republicans, folks such as Sen. Mitt Romney, or Rep. Liz Cheney, or former President George W. Bush or any actual GOP leader who has stood on matters of principle rather than slobbering on the shoes of the ex-president.

What is even more astounding is that CPAC’s activists seem to mirror the view of rank-and-file Republicans who continue to tell pollsters that Donald Trump should be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.

A twice-impeached president who well might be indicted for various campaign finance allegations, someone who barters on invective and insults is the standard bearer of a party that once stood under the shadow of Abraham Lincoln.

We truly have entered the political Twilight Zone.