Forecast of economic doom? Hah!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hey, wait a second!

I could swear I heard Donald John Trump make a bold prediction that if Joe Biden were elected president of the United States that the U.S. economy would collapse.

That the stock market would crater. That jobs would flee the nation. That unemployment rates would balloon beyond anything we could recognize. That the economic health of the nation required the re-election of Trump as president.

Didn’t he say that? Or words to that effect?

Well, let’s see. The March jobs report came in today. Private non-farm job growth registered a 916,000 surge. Joblessness fell to 6 percent. The U.S. Labor Department report suggested, according to economists, that our economy is showing signs of post-pandemic vitality.

Now, let me be clear. President Biden does not deserve all the credit for this performance. Vaccines are being injected into more Americans every day. I know about the increase in COVID cases and an uptick in deaths from the virus. Health officials are urging us to stay the course, to keep wearing masks, practice social distancing.

However, I want to highlight one more lie that Donald Trump just  had to throw out there before he exited the White House for the final time. This formerly legendary business mogul made a prediction that has turned out — like practically everything he has said — to be patently false.

Bipartisanship withering away

REUTERS/Mike Blake

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s becoming clearer by the day, if not the hour, that President Biden’s stated wish to conduct a bipartisan government policy is being tossed aside.

Congressional Republicans accuse Biden of talking a good game about working with the GOP, but acting in a highly partisan, far-left manner.

The $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill that Biden wants enacted by the Fourth of July is drawing plenty of hits from the GOP. Why? They don’t want to raise taxes on the rich folks who got that big tax cut during the Trump administration … or so they say.

Republicans don’t think Biden really wants to work with them | TheHill

Let’s flash back for a brief moment to 2009. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his No. 1 priority then was to make Barack Obama a “one-term president.” That meant he sought to make Joe Biden a one-term vice president. Do you think the current president of the United States has forgotten that solemn pledge? Hah! Hardly.

Still, President Biden’s inaugural speech included lots of talk about unity. He would seek it. He would work with Republicans. He wanted to bridge the political chasm.

It hasn’t happened. Nor, I am fearful, does it appear to be gaining traction as the debate ensues over the infrastructure plan. Biden didn’t get a lick of GOP support for his COVID-19 relief bill, despite overwhelming public support for it.

Indeed, he has the proverbial wind at his back on rebuilding roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, water systems and Internet access. The public backs his notion on that, too.

So, who among our political leaders is out of step with those of us out here who want to see government doing things for us? Is it President Biden and congressional Democrats? Or is it the Republican caucus that continues to obstruct because they still might be angry at losing their majority in Congress along with the White House?

Favorite season has arrived

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We all have our favorite seasons.

Most folks I know usually tell me theirs is autumn. The summer has worn them out. All that heat has gotten to them. They relish the cooler temperatures that come in the fall; they even enjoy “falling back to Standard Time.”

Me? My favorite season has arrived. I love spring. Especially this year.

Spring 2021 seems to carry a special significance for me, if not for millions of others. We are emerging from a killer pandemic.

Not only that, we are emerging from a winter for the ages in North Texas. The temps plummeted to zero and lower in February. Remember that? The lights went out. So did our heat. And then our water. It was a miserable winter.

So now comes the spring. Our lawns are snapping out of dormancy. Trees are budding. The land is coming back to life.

I am a happy fellow. Spring usually brings a smile to my mug. This one makes me smile ear to ear.

Happy spring, everyone. Let’s all enjoy it … until the summer heat gets us down again!

Is this clown going down?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am not proud to admit this, but here it comes.

Matt Gaetz is in serious trouble and I actually hope the federal authorities have the goods on this seriously bad political actor.

Gaetz is a Florida Republican member of Congress who is being investigated over an allegation that he has had a sexual relationship with an underage girl. He has been tied to alleged sex trafficking activities.

Why is he bad actor? He is a dedicated Trump suck-up, a guy who is more committed to the former president, the guy named Donald Trump, than to the rule of law, or to regular order, or to genuine GOP policy.

Gaetz ventured to Wyoming, for crying out loud, to protest Rep. Liz Cheney’s vote to impeach Donald Trump. Oh, there’s also this: Liz Cheney is a real Republican member of Congress, someone who stood up for the rule of law and the Constitution after Trump incited the Jan. 6 insurrection against the federal government.

Gaetz tried to cover Donald Trump’s ample backside.

So now this guy who seems to have damn few friends in Congress because of his fealty to Donald Trump is now being examined into charges that he has been taking tumbles with a girl.

I know he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. That is a legal presumption. I am under no obligation to provide such a presumption as an American who detests everything this guy symbolizes.

Anxious to look ahead

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I know I am not the only human being who feels this way, but I want to express this brief thought as a symbol for what likely is in a lot of people’s hearts.

This still new year fills me with a sense of renewal after the year we all have endured. 2020 was the pits, man! The pandemic forced us to stay away from our fellow human beings, many of whom were getting sick and were dying from the killer pandemic. We have changed our habits, our normal routine has been tossed into the crapper. We wear masks, hiding our smiles, winces, grimaces and looks of bemusement.

Yes, we’re still doing many of the things we were advised to do in order to stem the pandemic. However, we appear to be turning the corner, albeit ever so slowly.

Am I concerned about the spike in virus detection? Sure I am. I want the virus to vanish as much as anyone else.

However, as I go about my daily routine, I still am taking precautions but I do so with the sense — call it a hunch — that we may be nearing an end to the turmoil.

Communities in Texas, where we live, and elsewhere are being flooded with vaccines. States and local governments are opening up the eligibility for those who can become fully vaccinated. I saw today that 14 percent of Texans are now inoculated against the virus. That number will rise. We will inch our way toward “herd immunity.”

I say all this with the hope that the worst is behind us. For my money, the worst was as bad as anything I can remember in my 71 years of life on this good Earth.

And our Earth, as good as it is, just might be getting better as we look forward more and spend less time looking back at a time we all would rather forget.

‘Earmarks’ coming back?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Phil Gramm used to speak with pride about all the “pork barrel projects” he brought home to Texas, which he represented in the U.S. Senate from 1985 until 2002

“I’ve brought home so much pork,” the Republican Gramm would boast, “that I have contracted trichinosis.”

The euphemistic term is “earmarks.” Congress banned them in the early 2000s when earmarks became tied to scandal. They might be coming back and Texas might be set to benefit materially from their return, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Tribune reports: There’s no legal definition of earmarks. You know them when you see them. A lawmaker wants a bridge or post office or some other project built in their district. They write a small proposal committing federal funds for the job and try to to inject it into one of Congress’ massive spending bills each year. They shop the idea around to colleagues, and with the right cajoling and horse trading, their small request is granted and that new post office is on the way, perhaps even to be named after the lawmaker who wriggled it through.

I’ll be candid. I am filled with terribly mixed emotions when I consider earmarks. When do earmarks become pork barrel? When is the process necessarily a bad thing?

As the Tribune noted: Before their demise, earmarks shepherded by Texas legislators supported cybersecurity education at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the dredging of the Port of Houston, wind energy studies at Texas Tech University, desalination in El Paso and cancer research at MD Anderson Cancer Center, among other things.

If Congress restores earmarks, will Texas partake? | The Texas Tribune

Those are worthwhile projects, right? Yes. They are. However, earmarks can be scandalized and used for nefarious — even criminal — purposes. The Tribune reports: Back in 2006, the Republican-controlled Congress was mired in scandal. On the House side, prosecutors charged a war hero who claimed to have inspired the fictional movie “Top Gun” — U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham — with taking bribes in exchange for earmarks, including $2 million, prostitutes and even a French commode. Then we had the infamous “bridge to nowhere” pushed by GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, which received $223 million for a span to an island in Alaska that was home to fewer than 50 people.

We elect our senators and House members to benefit us at home. Earmarks are one way for lawmakers to demonstrate their ability to help the people they represent. They also can be abused.

I will remain on the fence as to whether earmarks should be allowed. They do plenty of good for states and congressional districts. They also provide opportunities for abuse. If they do return, then let’s be sure the congressional watchdogs are alert to any effort to corrupt the system.

Palin finds ‘religion’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sarah Palin has gone “rogue” yet again.

The 2008 Republican Party vice-presidential nominee and darling of the far right has come out strongly … in support of wearing masks to deter infection from the COVID-19 virus.

Palin has tested positive for the virus. She now has found the religion that many millions of other Americans have preached since the beginning of the pandemic, that mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and avoidance of crowds guard against contracting the virus.

“I strongly encourage everyone to use common sense to avoid spreading this and every other virus out there,” Palin said in a statement to People magazine. “There are more viruses than there are stars in the sky, meaning we’ll never avoid every source of illness or danger … But please be vigilant, don’t be frightened, and I advise reprioritizing some personal time and resources to ensure as healthy a lifestyle as you can create so when viruses do hit, you have at least some armor to fight it.”

I wish the former Alaska governor well. I pray she enjoys a rapid and full recovery. I also want her to become a spokeswoman for the kind of measures that her political allies on the right have scoffed at and ridiculed.

POTUS looks for patriots

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden is striving mightily to appeal to our love of country while pitching hard for a massive new program aimed at repairing, restoring and reviving our nation’s infrastructure.

He is running — so far, at least — into a partisan wall erected by Republicans who comprise the so-called “loyal opposition.”

Biden wants to spend at least $2 trillion on repairing our nation’s roads, highways, bridges, rail lines, airports, water delivery systems, all while improving Internet service.

It’s the patriotic thing to do, he said this week in a speech in Pittsburgh. The president is right, but … hold on! Republicans say it’s too costly. They don’t want to pay for it by increasing taxes on millionaires and others who got a huge tax cut from Donald J. Trump and the GOP-led majorities in both congressional chambers.

Joe Biden proposes to increase the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent. Here’s the deal, though: The 28-percent tax rate proposed by the president is still less than what it was before Trump and his Trumpkins slashed the rate to 21 percent.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell calls President Biden’s proposal a “Trojan horse” that is actually full of too many perks for the “far left wing” of the Democratic Party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the unofficial leader of the House progressive movement, doesn’t think the president goes far enough. She wants to spend at least — I hope you’re sitting down for this — $10 trillion. To which I say: Holy crap, AOC! Are you out of your mind?

So, the president’s search for patriots among us is running into resistance from the far left and the far right. Meanwhile, the vast moderate middle, which polls suggest supports what the president wants to do, is being kicked around while the extremists fight it out on the edges.

Go figure.

Puppy Tales, Part 90: Happy birthday, fella!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy is going to celebrate a birthday. He turns 7 years of age, which means — and this is my fervent hope — that we’ll enjoy his company for a whole lot longer.

We celebrate his birthday on April Fool’s Day.

He joined our family over the Labor Day Weekend of 2014. Our niece was visiting us from the Pacific Northwest. She found him curled up in an alley near our home in Amarillo. He was scared, she said, so he followed her back to our home.

We had intended to take him to an SPCA shelter, but they were closed that weekend. Well, the rest became history in a hurry. He grabbed our hearts, held them close his own in that way that puppies are able to do. We were hooked.

So, after deciding he would join our family, we took Toby to the doctor’s office for his vaccinations, to get an electronic chip installed in his shoulder, to get him — ummm — neutered. First question we asked of the veterinarian: How old is he?

I’ll never forget what she did and said. She looked into his mouth and without flinching she said, “He’s 5 months old.” Period. Full stop. Yada, yada …

That was in early September. We backed up our calendar for five months and discovered — lo and behold! — that five months earlier put his estimated date of birth in early April.

There you have it. The “joke” was on my bride and me. Toby the Puppy had a new home. We had a new member of our family. He has been an utter joy since that day when our niece found him in that alley.

He will have a wonderful birthday.

Go big or go home

REUTERS/Mike Blake

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden appears to have adopted the theory that it is best to just “go big … or go home.” 

Thus, we have just witnessed the latest rollout of a massive economic recovery effort launched by the nation’s newest president. It is, as Joe Biden once whispered to President Obama after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, a “big fu**ing deal.” 

It is going to cost a lot of money, around $2 trillion. Yep, that’s trillion with a “t.” It exceeds the cost of the COVID-19 relief package that Biden managed to push through Congress.

NBC News reports that Biden has pitched “a sweeping proposal that would rebuild 20,000 miles of roads, expand access to clean water and broadband and invest in care for the elderly.

Speaking at a carpenters training facility in Pittsburgh, Biden urged Congress to act on his proposal, called the American Jobs Plan, arguing that failing to make the investments would contribute to a weakening middle class and leave the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage abroad.

“I am proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth,” Biden said. “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago.”

The plan would create millions of jobs, Biden said, and jump-start the fight against climate change. The proposal, which would be spent out over eight years, would be paid for over 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, ending the Trump-era tax cuts.

Biden unveils sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure plan (nbcnews.com)

Is the Democratic president going to get any support from his Republican friends in both congressional chambers? Do not hold y our breath on that one. Already they are carping. So, too, are Democratic progressives, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said the Biden infrastructure bill doesn’t go far enough.

AOC needs to pipe down. It’s a huge deal. President Biden is planting his hope on the jobs that this major reconstruction effort will bring. In a way it reminds many longtime observers of the bold approach that a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had when he proposed building the nation’s massive interstate highway system. Ike sold the highway plan as a national security imperative. Joe Biden wants the nation to battle climate change with the same level of ferocity.

I am acutely aware of the up-front cost of this massive project. I also am willing to invest in that effort if it allows us to put millions of Americans to work, allowing them to achieve their dreams and allow the nation to deal head-to-head with our worldwide competitors.

You go, Joe! I’m all in!