‘America First’ gives way to alliance-building

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A president of the United States who declares an “America First” foreign policy always must be mindful of a simple fact.

The United States of America cannot shirk its global obligations military, economically and environmentally, which means that the U.S. of A. must honor the alliances it has built over many decades with other nations who depend on our leadership.

President Biden is seeking to reconstruct the trust that his immediate presidential predecessor dismantled repeatedly during his tenure in office.

The term “globalism” has become a four-letter word in some sectors of this country. Whether in offices, or in coffee houses, barber shops or grange halls, we hear Americans dismiss the notion that this nation is part of a much larger — but oddly shrinking — global community.

That is why President Biden returned the nation to the Paris Climate Accords, to the World Health Organization, the Iran nuclear talks and reasserted our role as NATO’s senior partner immediately upon taking office.

It also is why Biden will sit down soon with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and, as he said the other day, “tell him things I want him to hear.”

Joe Biden is operating at the summit level from a position of immense strength. Whereas Biden’s predecessor coddled the likes of Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current president vows a vastly different approach. I do not expect President Biden to shake hands with Kim Jong Un for as long as Kim continues to murder his people.

And someone has to explain to me why such dictator-coddling in any form or fashion produces foreign policies that “put America First.”

It’s a new era dawning on the international stage with President Biden’s first foreign journey. In a way, though, it resembles a return to the way it used to be … which is all right with me.

Rioters were not ‘patriots’

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This must be noted with extreme vigor.

Whenever I see video of the Jan. 6 terrorist insurrection on the U.S. Capitol Building and hear mobsters declare themselves to be “patriots,” I want to scream at the top of my lungs.

The rioters who sought to dismantle the governmental process of certifying a duly constituted, legal and fair election were not patriots in any incarnation of the word.

I am a patriot. I pay my taxes. I follow the law. I have served my country in wartime. I am proud of my flag. I salute it appropriately. I am among many millions of Americans who consider themselves to be patriots. No one with whom I have any relationship ever would have done what the terrorists did on Jan. 6.

They stormed into the Capitol Building. They beat police officers with flags. They crapped on the floor of the halls of government. They shouted “Hang Mike Pence!” They posed physical threats to the leaders of our government.

Those are the actions of patriots? Would a patriotic American ever behave in such a reprehensible manner?

They were acting at the behest of a man who lost the 2020 presidential election. They were doing his bidding. Indeed, the ex-POTUS, the man who proclaimed his desire to put “America first,” instead put himself first.

They were patriots? They love the country? No. They do not. They detest the country and they deserve all the scorn that should come their way.

AG Garland makes critical vow

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Attorney General Merrick Garland has given good-government adherents something to cheer.

He spoke at length today vowing to do all he can to protect the rights of all Americans to vote, to take part in the democratic process. Moreover, he pledged to dramatically increase the civil-rights division staff of lawyers to guard against efforts to disenfranchise American voters.

“There are plenty of things up for debate in America, but the right of all eligible Americans to vote is not one of them,” Garland said.

Do ya think?

Garland appeared today to draw a bead on Republican-led efforts in  legislatures across the land — and that certainly includes Texas — to make voting a good bit more arduous for many Americans than it ever should be. As NBC News reported: The staffing surge would occur over the next the next 30 days, he said, and the beefed-up unit will use all laws at its disposal “to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.”

Garland says Justice Department will scrutinize new GOP-led voting restrictions (nbcnews.com)

Merrick Garland came to the Justice Department after a stellar career as a federal judge. He knows the Constitution and has spent a good bit of his professional life interpreting what issues pass constitutional muster. Accordingly, he asserted today that the DOJ will investigate effort whether statewide efforts cross a constitutional line they shouldn’t cross.

The 2020 election had many important features. One of them was the remarkable spike in the number of ballots that were cast. All told, nearly 160 million Americans voted for president. The most important feature, of course, was that Americans elected Joe Biden as president, who in turn nominated a towering judicial figure — Merrick Garland — to lead the Justice Department.

Today, the nation got a glimpse of the wisdom of President Biden’s choice of the nation’s top legal eagle.

“So far this year, at least 14 states have passed new laws that make it harder to vote,” Garland said.

“We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act. We are also scrutinizing current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discriminate against Black voters and other voters of color,” Garland said.

Yes, Mr. Attorney General. You have the floor.

Legislators show spine … good for them!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oregon’s state legislators have demonstrated some rare political courage and they have made this native Oregonian quite proud of them.

Oregon House members voted 59-1 to expel state Rep. Mike Nearman of Independence, Ore., for disorderly behavior after he let rioters into the State Capitol to protest the state’s response to the COVID pandemic. The event occurred Dec. 21. Nearman, a Republican, was caught on video allowing rioters into the Statehouse.

Lawmakers remove state legislator over Oregon Capitol breach (nbcnews.com)

Many of the mob members were carrying banners supporting the previous POTUS. Some of them spouted QAnon conspiracy theories. They posed a direct threat to the Legislature, which was meeting at the time. The Capitol had been closed to the public because of safety concerns.

That didn’t matter to Nearman, who opened the door to the mob.

The expulsion is the first for Oregon in its 160-year history.

Meanwhile, other state legislators elsewhere — not to mention members of Congress — are demonstrating wimpiness in the extreme as they fail to take action against those who promote the kinds of violence we have witnessed in this pandemic and post-election age.

Well done, Oregon legislators.

State Bar examines AG’s conduct … wow!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Are you really surprised that this item has splashed its way onto the news cycle?

The State Bar of Texas is examining whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s frivolous lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election constitutes an offense worthy of his disbarment.

Well …

Who’da thunk that might happen? I sorta did.

Paxton sought to reverse the results of the election in four states that voted for President Biden over the Republican incumbent president. The U.S. Supreme Court tossed the lawsuit with nary a word, contending that Paxton had no standing to file such a lawsuit.

The Huffington Post reported:

Kevin Moran, the 71-year-old president of the Galveston Island Democrats, shared his complaint with The Associated Press along with letters from the State Bar of Texas and the Board of Disciplinary Appeals that confirm the investigation. He said Paxton’s efforts to dismiss other states’ election results was a wasteful embarrassment for which the attorney general should lose his law license.

“He wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states,” said Moran. “It’s just crazy.”

State Bar Investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | HuffPost

Yep. It’s crazy, all right. It also served to embarrass Texas in front of the entire world! It suggested to many of us that the AG’s fierce fealty to the former president blinded what passes for his better judgment.

So, here we are. The state’s top legal eagle is awaiting trial in state court on securities fraud allegations; the FBI is probing a whistleblower complaint of wrongdoing brought by several former top AG’s office lawyers; now the State Bar is looking into whether the attorney general should be stripped of his license to practice law.

Nice going, Mr. Attorney General.

POTUS with no name

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I have just made a command decision regarding this blog.

From this moment forward I no longer am going to refer to the 45th president of the United States by name. I no longer want to memorialize it.

Why? Because the sound of his name and its appearance as a printed word sicken me. I don’t want to hurl all over my computer keyboard.

That all said, future comments on matters dealing with No. 45 will be spare. I intend to move on to the goings on with the current president, Joe Biden. I also intend to discuss policy matters. When faced with referencing the immediate past POTUS I will simply seek to write around his name.

One problem arises, though. The ex-POTUS might get indicted for criminal activity. If that moment comes, well … just wish me luck as I seek to comment without mentioning him by name.

There. Now I feel better.

Ex-POTUS played dirtier than dirty

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now. The hits just keep coming months after the previous president of the United States has left office.

We hear the latest revelation about Donald J. Trump, which is that he allegedly ordered the Justice Department to seize the personal records of at least two congressional Democratic critics of his; moreover, the DOJ went after the records of several key House Intelligence Committee staffers; and, get this, DOJ also took the personal records of a juvenile.

Why? According to reporting from the New York Times, Trump was so very concerned about leaks stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation that he wanted to find their source. So he went after congressional Democrats.

This is the kind of thing that ought to send chills up the spines of any good-government advocate. It violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative government branches; it reveals that a president is willing to sic federal authorities on perceived political enemies; it suggests that the POTUS has zero regard for the rule of law.

Hmmm. Imagine that, if you dare. I believe Donald Trump was impeached twice because he has zero regard for the law.

He won’t be impeached a third time. However, this latest live grenade will not subside any time soon. Nor should it.

Justice Guzman to seek AG’s office? Hmm

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It might be time for a mea culpa from your friendly blogger.

I might have spoken a bit too soon in lamenting the lack of legal standing among politicians seeking to become Texas attorney general.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman is about to become a former justice … with an eye toward running for Texas AG in the 2022 Republican Party primary. Her last day on the state’s highest civil appellate court is Friday. Then what?

Eva Guzman – Wikipedia

Justice Guzman represents a tremendous boost in the legal credentials of a political candidate seeking to become the state’s top law enforcement officer.

The incumbent Ken Paxton wants a third term. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has declared he wants to defeat Paxton in the 2022 GOP primary. Both men have, shall we say, sparse legal cred. Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud and is awaiting trial; he also is the subject of a FBI probe into allegations of criminal wrongdoing in his office. Bush has a limited legal career under his belt, but has served as land commissioner for the past six years.

Now we have Guzman. She is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico. She grew up in Houston. She attended the University of Houston and got her law degree from Duke University. She has served on the state court of appeals and has been named appellate judge of the year.

Guzman has built a stellar legal career.

To be clear, she hasn’t declared her attorney general candidacy.

At least not yet. Stay tuned.

Freshmen or first-year?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I need to get out more.

Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, has decided it no longer will refer to new students at the school as “freshmen.” It will call ’em “first-year students.”

Oh, my goodness. This is another cog in the gender-neutral wheel that’s being turned at institutions around the nation. Some folks believe that the term “freshmen” is, um, too gender specific. To fix that issue, they want to rid the language of such terminology.

OK. How do I respond to this?

Let’s see. I’ll respond by disregarding it for the most part. I don’t attend school. Neither do my sons. My granddaughter is still in elementary school, so she isn’t even old enough to be troubled by terms and phrases that she might perceive to be offensive.


I long have considered myself to be a liberated American male. Many of the changes in popular culture have been all right with me. This one, though, simply annoys me. It’s not as though I’ll spend a moment worrying about it. I won’t lose a minute of sleep over whether TCU’s freshmen students will be called “first-year” Horned Frogs.

As I step back and take a longer view of it, I am left to wonder: When is this gender-neutrality effort going to end? 

The older I get the more I find myself disliking politically correct terminology. I get that we no longer use racially insensitive terms and I am fine with that nod to political correctness. I supported the decision to change the name of the Washington team that plays in the National Football League.

However, TCU’s decision to end the use of the term “freshmen” is an annoyance I cannot let pass.

Let us all stay tuned. I am certain there will be many more of these so-called language “reforms” on the horizon.

Pols tend to set low standard

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When a politician sets a bar that is lower than a snake’s belly, one could tend to accept any improvement as a big plus, no matter how minimal it might appear.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to my way of thinking, comes close to being the epitome of a politician who sets a low bar for the high office he occupies.

This guy is Texas’s chief law enforcement officer. He should come to the office with high credentials, stellar legal standing and a  reputation that is beyond reproach. Has he met any of those standards? Umm, no.

He was a mediocre lawyer when he ran for the Legislature. He won election as AG in 2014 and then quickly got indicted on a securities fraud allegation; Paxton is still awaiting trial in state court. Then several of his highly placed legal assistance filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Paxton is engaging in criminal activity; that investigation is ongoing, too.

Up steps a challenger in the 2022 GOP primary. He is George P. Bush, son of a former Florida governor and nephew and grandson of two former POTUSes. I already am on record as endorsing Bush’s decision to challenge Paxton, although I will not commit to voting for him in the 2022 GOP primary.

I do question whether Bush brings any stronger legal credentials to this campaign than Paxton. What has this fellow done legally? Does his name appear on any landmark statute? Is he in high demand as a lecturer at any of the state’s distinguished law schools? Not as far as I can tell.

George P. Bush currently serves as Texas land commissioner, where is runs an agency — the General Land Office — that is charged with caring for Texas veterans benefits along with administering the state’s paltry amount of public land.

Hey, I don’t mind electing these folks. I just wish that politicians could somehow find a way to lift the standard of the office they seek and then hold.

Politics and impeccable standards need not be mutually exclusive. Then again … maybe I am asking for too much.