Category Archives: local news

Brown vs. Jackson … no contest!

You might be able to read two messages into this proclamation: an election pitting Democrat Kathleen Brown vs. Republican Ronny Jackson is a “no-contest” affair.

One way is to presume that Jackson, a first-term congressman representing the 13th Congressional District of Texas will have little trouble winning re-election to a second term in about 41 days.

Another way is to suggest that there’s “no contest” between the quality of the candidates. To my way of thinking, that puts Brown far ahead of the blowhard Donald J. Trump toadie.

I got acquainted with Brown this morning. We had a nice chat over the phone. I told her of my continuing interest in the affairs of the 13th district, even though I no longer live there. I spent 23 years in Amarillo and became quite embedded in the politics and culture of the Texas Panhandle.

I also informed her that I am appalled by the conduct of Jackson, who moved to the Panhandle prior to the 2020 election in order to seek the seat that Mac Thornberry vacated after serving the district for 25 years.

I want to repeat a couple of things I told Brown about Jackson. One is that I consider him to be a “carpetbagging opportunist” who doesn’t “know Pantex from potting soil.” He’s also a blowhard who spends an inordinate amount of time tweeting diatribes against President Biden.

Those who know Brown understand that she is a lawyer who lives in Wichita Falls. She is married and the mother of three children. She claims — which they all do — that she isn’t a politician … but in reality she is, right?

Her top priority if elected to Congress? She said the 13th District needs water. Her hometown of Wichita Falls is running dry. The Ogallala Aquifer is receding rapidly. To be blunt, she didn’t offer any specifics on how to provide the Panhandle and her home region with water.

I reminded her that I now live in Collin County, which is one county too far from the eastern edge of the congressional district she wants to represent. I have been following Ronny Jackson’s rise to the front of the right-wing media chorus line and I dislike what I am hearing.

I don’t know if Kathleen Brown has what it takes to defeat Ronny Jackson, meaning I don’t know if she’ll be able to persuade enough voters to join her effort.

I do believe the 13th Congressional District deserves far better than it is getting from the interloper who claims to “represent” it. Kathleen Brown can do better. Then again, Ronny Jackson has set the bar shamefully low.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Time is merciless

As much as I enjoy becoming an old man — something neither of my parents were allowed to do — I must admit a certain trepidation over at least one element of old age.

My peers are leaving this good Earth, seemingly at an increasing pace.

Mom died at 61; Dad died at 59. I am about to turn 73. I would much rather be among the living than cavorting with them, wherever they are. But, dang! — it’s tough to hear about individuals I know personally, contemporaries of mine, who have gone on to their great reward.

Just this week, I learned of a former journalism colleague who died of a heart attack. We managed to stay in touch via social media and I enjoyed keeping up with his doings and goings-on. Now he’s gone … forever.

There have been many others. I won’t bore you with details on them. Just know, though, that as someone who continues to enjoy relatively good health, I am acutely aware that time has this way of sneaking up on everyone.

A longtime friend and former colleague — a fellow with whom I only recently renewed contact — has been fond of reminding us that “no one gets outta here alive.”

Well, there you go. The clock keeps ticking. It is relentless and it shows no mercy. None! Ever!

I will continue to live by own belief that getting old surely beats the daylights out of the alternative.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Paxton: profile in cowardice

This incident should make me laugh out loud. It should be just another example of a politician proving he’s a chickensh** coward.

But dang! This is serious stuff and it reveals the utter lack of integrity of the man holding the office of Texas attorney general.

AG Ken Paxton, a Republican, was supposed to receive a subpoena related to a lawsuit filed by those who want the state to pay for out-of-state abortions. It came from the federal government, which right there tells me it’s a serious matter.

What did our state’s chief law enforcement officer do? He hid in a room inside his McKinney home, then fled an hour or so later with his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, at the wheel of their motor vehicle.

Ken Paxton tried to avoid being served with subpoena, court record says | The Texas Tribune

What an absolute crock of horse manure!

Paxton sent out a Twitter message that said he was concerned for his family’s safety, which he said is why he didn’t respond to the process server. And that makes me go … huh?

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” he wrote in a tweet.

The sequence of events appears weird on its face. The process server shows up. He waits around. Paxton is inside the house. Then his wife drives him away.

How many more examples of Paxton’s unfitness for public office does this clown have to exhibit? He has been under felony indictment alleging securities fraud almost since the day he took office in 2015. The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an independent investigation. Several key legal aides quit the AG’s office after alleging misconduct by the attorney general himself. The FBI is examining a whistleblower complaint against the AG.

Now this.

I know this sounds silly, but if Paxton has done nothing wrong, why didn’t he just go to the front door of his home, receive the subpoena and then contest it the way he normally would … through due process?

The guy should have resigned his office long ago.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Impeach Biden? For what?

Nancy Mace has revenge on her mind. So, too, do a number of other congressional Republicans who, according to Mace, will be ready to impeach President Biden if the GOP gains control of the House of Representatives after the midterm election.

Mace is nuttier than a Snickers bar.

She hails from South Carolina, and she says Republicans in the House will sharpen their long knives and get ’em ready to skewer the president. They will be full of vengeance because Donald Trump managed to get impeached twice by the Democratic-controlled House.

Rep. Nancy Mace, who voted against impeaching Trump, says there’s ‘a lot of pressure’ on Republicans to impeach Biden: ‘I think that is something that some folks are considering’ (msn.com)

Let’s see. Trump got impeached the first time because he placed a “perfect phone call” that sought a political favor from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whom Trump wanted to dig up dirt on then-former VP Joe Biden. Most members of the House said that constituted a violation of his oath of office. The House impeached him.

Then came 1/6 and the insurrection that Trump incited. A few Republicans actually joined that House impeachment and most senators voted to convict Trump of inciting the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The only problem is that they needed 67 votes to convict; the Senate ended up with 57 votes.

Now the Republicans, if they gain control of the House, want to re-enter the impeachment battle, which they said the first two times involving Trump was all theater, that Democrats were “weaponizing” the impeachment process.

Well, what in the hell are we to believe if Republicans follow through on their stated threats to impeach President Biden?

How in the name of political vengeance can the GOP justify it?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

More Rs cross over?

It’s been a good while since the last time I can recall so many politicians making headlines by endorsing candidates from “the other party.”

It’s happening on the eve of the 2022 Texas midterm election.

Sarah Stogner, who lost the Texas Railroad Commission Republican Party primary runoff to incumbent Wayne Christian, has announced her intention to vote for Democrat Luke Warford. She’s not alone.

Former GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff is going to cast his ballot for Democratic challenger Mike Collier. The man who was known in the Texas Senate as Obie Won Kenobi ain’t gonna support incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Neither is Amarillo GOP state Sen. Kel Seliger or Tarrant County GOP Judge Glen Whitley, both of whom have thrown their support behind Collier.

It all seems to speak to the deep divisions within the Republican Party. I know Seliger quite well, and I know of Ratliff, given that I was paid to follow legislative activities during my time as a full-time journalist. They both are “mainstream Republicans,” and neither of them is wedded to the fiery MAGA rhetoric that folks like Patrick use to blister their opposition.

Sarah Stogner endorses Democrat Luke Warford for railroad commissioner | The Texas Tribune

I am acutely aware that a handful of examples does not constitute a groundswell. It might, though, be a harbinger of what could be boiling under the political surface as we get nearer to midterm Election Day.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Don’t let this death recede

Mahsa Amini’s identity, I believe, well might become a household name soon in a place where one wouldn’t expect.

That would be the Islamic Republic of Iran. Amini was a 26-year-old Iranian woman who was taken into custody and who later died. Why? Because she showed a few too many strands of her hair outside the hijab she was wearing.

Women must follow certain conservative tenets of Islamic faith, such as ensuring their hair is tucked away. The penalty is the fate that befell Mahsa Amini.

Amini’s death has prompted protests the likes of which have rarely been seen or heard since the Ayatollah Khomeini’s forces seized control of Iran in 1979.

Iranians have marched onto city streets seeking justice for Mahsi Amini, who by any measure of human decency should be alive today. Indeed, she should be walking free in her country. But, oh no. She’s now dead because that hideously named “morality police” squad took her into custody and quite likely killed her.

As Time Magazine reported on its website, Mahsa Amini has become a martyr to a cause unknown in the power circles of the governing Islamic Republic: human rights.

On social media, her name became an Iranian version of #MeToo — a prompt for ordinary people to post experiences of loss and oppression at the hands of the Islamic Republic, gathered under #MahsaAmini.

The Protests in Iran Have Shaken the Islamic Republic to Its Core (msn.com)

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been on the U.S. sh** list of nations that flout basic human rights for its citizens.

Too often people become victimized in nations such as Iran. The world wrings its hands and calls go out for justice. Then the emotion subsides, and the world’s attention turns to other crises.

Let us not allow Mahsa Amini’s name to recede into the background. She needs to remain at the top of our consciousness and must become a cudgel for the civilized world to use against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Will this strategic appeal to women work?

A political action committee has launched an intriguing midterm election campaign in Texas that appears plainly aimed at turning women out to vote in this year’s campaign.

They call themselves “Coulda Been Worse, LLC.” The PAC has paid for a series of TV ads that tell voters that “three men” are responsible for virtually banning abortion in Texas, despite polling that shows a significant majority of Texans favor allowing women the right to choose.

Coulda Been Worse singles out Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “Three men,” the ad repeats, have decided that Texas women must not be allowed to determine whether to end a pregnancy.

The ad concludes with Abbott uttering “it coulda been worse” while he was briefing the public about the Uvalde school massacre, which killed 19 fourth graders and two heroic teachers in Robb Elementary School.

Coulda Been Worse LLC also has broadcast an ad telling voters how Abbott made a choice in the wake of the Uvalde slaughter to attend a fundraiser rather than visit Uvalde to perform his duties as “the father of Texas.”

I am not going to predict that the campaign against Abbott, Patrick and Paxton will prove decisive. But, man, the PAC has plenty of material with which it is working. It has the backdrop of that Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a ruling that has outraged millions of women everywhere … including Texas!

Paxton is seeking a third term — despite being under felony indictment for the past seven years — against an ACLU lawyer, Rochelle Garza; polls show the contest a virtual dead heat. Patrick is facing Mike Collier in a lieutenant governor rematch from 2018.

Of course, Abbott is facing former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, currently the darling of the Texas Democratic Party; polls in that race are all over the place, with some of them showing a tightening contest while others suggest Abbott is pulling away.

If there is a hot button to push, my hope is that Coulda Been Worse can find it and push it incessantly until it produces what I deem to be the desired outcome: the defeat of Abbott, Patrick and Paxton.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Recalling an astonishing first meeting

(By Michael Schumacher)

Readers of High Plains Blogger might recall a statement made on it that I am writing a memoir for members of my family.

The memoir is about two-thirds finished. It contains personal reminiscences of people I met during my career as a print journalist and recalls the more fascinating sights I saw and experiences that came my way.

I want to reveal one of the people I cite in this memoir. I won’t spill all the beans, but I do want to share one element of this individual’s character that I found most appealing.

***

The late Teel Bivins served as a Republican state senator from the Texas Panhandle from 1989 until 2004. I arrived at the Amarillo Globe-News in January 1995 to stand post as editorial page editor of the daily newspapers we published in Amarillo.

I knew a little bit about Bivins when I arrived, given that I had spent nearly 11 years at the Beaumont Enterprise. I had been watching the Legislature during my decade on the Gulf Coast.

My phone rang a few days after I arrived in Amarillo. It was Bivins’ office in downtown Amarillo. He wanted to meet with me. Good deal, I said. I’ll be right over.

I walked into Bivins’ office. Then he welcomed me to his desk. We shook hands, I sat down, exchanged a bit of small talk about this and that politician we both knew. He asked me about my family. I told him of my marital bliss and the pride we share in our sons who at the time were just completing their college studies.

Then it came.

Bivins at that point proceeded to tell me a tale of woe and a bit of horror at the condition of his wife. She suffered from alcohol and drug abuse, he said. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know whether he could stay married to her. Bivins said he was at the end of his tolerance with her. “I don’t think I can keep this up,” he said.

I mention this because in that moment, a politician I had known for, oh, about 30 minutes took the time to expose a part of his life that obviously caused him great pain.

I shall admit that in that moment, I didn’t realize what became clear to me a few days later. A legislative aide to Bivins informed that the reason Bivins wanted to tell that story about his wife was that he wanted to get ahead of a story I likely would hear … from someone else.

Do you get it? The man wanted to tell me his version of events before I heard someone else’s version.

It truly was an astonishing thing to reveal to a total stranger, let alone to someone — such as me — who was in a position to offer commentary on politicians’ personal lives.

I have retained a vivid memory of that first meeting with a prominent Texas politician. I do so on purpose, as it reminds me that politicians — of all people — indeed, can achieve a form of nobility.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Pay attention to these contests

I am going to pay careful attention to the Princeton Independent School District Board of Trustees election coming up this fall.

It’s not because I have children in the school system. I don’t. My two sons are middle-aged men and one of them is Daddy to our 9-year-old granddaughter and they reside in nearby Allen.

I am interested in the PISD contests because I want to be mindful of the campaign material they put out. I want to look for evidence of any candidate who is going to sound off on that idiotic notion of banning what they call “critical race theory” from our school curriculum; or whether they intend to champion the banning of other textbooks that seek to cast any sort of negative eye on our history.

I keep hearing about how the MAGA crowd is seeking to penetrate our public schools. They are running candidates who adhere to some of the goofier — and frankly, dangerous — notions about how we should run our public-school systems.

I also intend to stay alert to candidates who talk openly about siphoning public money away to pay for school vouchers to allow parents to enroll their children in private schools. Moreover, I’ll be listening for rhetoric that suggests we should allow the re-entry of state-sanctioned religion into our public classrooms. I have said many times that religion should be taught in church, not in school.

Finally, I intend to listen for those candidates who want to put firearms into the hands of teachers and give them the go-ahead to use those weapons in the event of trouble inside our schools.

This will be a critical election. My intention simply is to learn as much as I can about these candidates and work — if I deem it necessary — to prevent certain candidates from being elected.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Clearing the air on GOP

I feel the need to clear the air and disabuse some readers of this blog who might be drawing an incorrect inference … which is that I hate all Republicans.

Not true. Not even close to being true. What I do hate is what has become of the Republican Party, which has morphed into a cult dedicated to the ambition of one man, a former president who has managed to persuade his followers that he has more talent, more know-how and more knowledge than he actually does.

My final stop in my 37-year print journalism career took me to the heart of conservative Republicanism. The Texas Panhandle is as rock-ribbed Republican as any region in America.

As a consequence of my working there, I managed to make many acquaintances and friendships with those who happen to be Republicans. It makes sense, right? Of course it does!

My career ended in the summer of 2012, but my friendships with Republicans lives on. One of my best friends in my post-journalism years turned out to be the late Ernie Houdashell, the Randall County judge. He and I jousted frequently over Asian food about politics. He didn’t change my mind and I didn’t change his. However, I loved that man.

I came to know and respect many GOP politicians. They served in county offices; they were legislators; I came to know those who worked on the grassroots level, active in Potter and Randall County Republican politics. They are fine men and women.

I aim my anger at those who have perverted the Republican Party. The No. 1 GOP pervert, of course, happens to be the 45th POTUS. The New York attorney general today filed a lawsuit against the ex-POTUS and three of his adult children, alleging widespread fiscal fraud. The craven cultists’ reaction? They’re going to accuse AG Letitia James of all manner of misdeeds, malfeasance and mischief.

The perversion has spread throughout Congress, into statehouses, even into county courthouses, city halls and school board conference rooms. Those who continue to foment The Big Lie about the alleged “theft” of the 2020 presidential election will continue to receive my unadulterated scorn and rage.

So will those who continue to throw their blind loyalty to a crook, a liar and a self-aggrandizing narcissist who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them … but only about himself.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com