Not a SOTU, but it sounded like one

By John Kanelis /

President Biden never once tonight uttered the words “The state of our Union is … “ whatever, but he might as well have said as much.

His speech that went more than an hour long before a sparse gathering of members of Congress had the sound and feel of a State of the Union speech.

It was his first such speech and it took place in an extraordinary environment. The COVID pandemic is still raging and it kept most of those who normally attend presidential speeches before a joint congressional session away.

Biden spoke to us in varying vocal tones. He whispered at times. Biden didn’t bellow exactly the way his immediate predecessor would do.

Yeah, I noticed that he got few hand claps from Republicans gathered before him, although he did get them to stand and applaud when he declared his intention to rid the world of cancer “once and for all.”

So here we go. President Biden is now 100 days into a new administration. The second 100 days well could be even more consequential than the first 100.

I will wait patiently for when we can see the president deliver a speech to us before a packed House chamber.

‘Old man in a hurry’?

By John Kanelis /

Leave it to the Brits to put American politics in some form of perspective that we might not always recognize on this side of The Pond.

A BBC broadcast on NPR this morning was talking about President Biden’s aggressive agenda. He sought, and received, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Now he is going after a $2.2 trillion infrastructure reform package that he wants enacted by the Fourth of July. Biden also is pressing hard for gun control legislation that doesn’t plow under the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

The British analyst — whose name escapes me at the moment — then offered a tart description of the president, calling him an “old man in a hurry.”

Well, there you go.

Joe Biden is by far the oldest man ever elected president. He is 78 years of age. He turns 79 in November. Were he to run for re-election in 2024, he would do so at the tender age of 82.

Why does this matter? Let’s see. It matters because President Biden knows — as someone who has buried two of his children — how fragile this Earthly existence can be. His infant daughter died in a horrific car crash in 1972 along with the first Mrs. Biden; his two sons were grievously injured in that tragic event.

The older of his sons then contracted glioblastoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer — and died in 2015 at the age of 46.

Joe Biden campaigned for the presidency partly by reminding us of his humanity and how he appreciates the fragility of our life on this good Earth.

In that context I presume you can say that time is no human being’s friend. Father Time becomes even more menacing to those of us who have logged the amount of time that Joe Biden has racked up already.

Just as Bill Clinton told us in the 1990s that the “era of big government is over,” Joe Biden has taken an entirely different approach. Big government must serve the people who pay for it, or so it appears to be when President Biden discusses the big things he wants done.

The backdrop, though, is indisputable. Joseph Biden Jr. is an old man who I hope with all my heart remains in good health. However, old men such as Joe Biden cannot depend fully on anything in life.

Yes, the president appears to be in a hurry. I cannot blame him for wanting to get things done … as in right now!

GOP needs to retool itself

By John Kanelis /

After every presidential election cycle, the party that loses the contest — particularly if they lose it in a landslide — announces plans to engage in self-examination.

The Republican Party made that declaration after Mitt Romney lost to President Barack Obama in 2012, seeking ways to expand its appeal to include more racial minorities. What happened then? Donald Trump became the party nominee in 2016 and he went on to win the White House.

Eek! Then he lost his re-election effort to President Joe Biden. Admittedly, it wasn’t by a landslide. Now, though, the party is having to face its own mortality, given the stranglehold that the Trump cult has placed around the GOP neck.

If ever a political party needed a retooling, it’s the Republican Party of 2021, which now contains two disparate elements: the establishment wing and the Trump wing.

I’ll be brutally honest on this point. I don’t really give a crap-ola which way the GOP tilts. I don’t find either wing of the party to be all that enticing. Of the two wings, I much prefer to deal directly with the establishmentarians among Republicans. The Trumpkins? No way in hell, man!

The GOP, though, faces a struggle the likes of which it hasn’t seen. It reminds me a bit of the internal struggle the Democratic Party went through after its 1972 crushing under President Nixon’s landslide victory. The party sought to remake its image. It produced a maverick nominee four years later, Jimmy Carter, who managed to win the White House. He served for a term then got his headed handed to him by another maverick, GOP nominee Ronald Reagan, who then remade the Republican Party into what it became before Trump hijacked it in 2016.

This much is clear to me: The Republican Party needs to cleanse itself of the toxic formula brewed by Trump and his acolytes if it is going to be taken seriously as a legitimate forced with which Democrats must reckon.

Libs have blowhards, too

By John Kanelis /

I recently called Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson a right-wing “blowhard,” which drew rebukes from my friends who believe he is right and others of us are mistaken about the state of affairs.

It all got me to ponder something. Do I aim my “blowhard” epithet only at right wingers and if so, am I being fair to them? I want to lay down a predicate, which is that we all are fueled by our own bias. So, when I toss out an epithet such as “blowhard,” or “gasbag” I usually am talking about righties with whom I disagree.

As I scan the political commentary landscape, I find far fewer such left-leaning targets. However, the field isn’t devoid of left wing blowhards.

In the interest of fairness, I want to offer you this example: The Rev. Al Sharpton. 

I am no fan of Sharpton. He runs the National Action Network. He has become a “civil rights leader” of some repute and renown. Sharpton shows up at protest marches to extol the virtues of Black Lives Matter. He delivers eulogies to victims of police brutality. He speaks on behalf of what I consider to be noble causes.

However, every time I see the Rev. Sharpton, I cannot erase one incident from my memory: Tawana Brawley. Do you remember her?

In the late 1980s Brawley accused white New York City police officers of brutalizing her, of raping her, of dehumanizing her. She is an African-American. At that time, up stepped Al Sharpton to raise holy hell on her behalf. He and others accused the cops of behaving in a disgraceful, despicable manner.

It turns out that Tawana Brawley made it all up. The cops sued Brawley and others, including Sharpton, for slander and defamation. They won their case!

Has the reverend ever apologized for taking part in that monumental charade? Nope. Not a word. Instead, he parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a role he has embraced as a “civil rights leader.”

This has not a thing to do with the causes for which he speaks. I happen to endorse most of Sharpton’s platform. If only, though, he hadn’t emerged from such a scandalous event — in which he was on the wrong side of a contentious dispute — to bask in the celebrity status he enjoys today.

So, there you have it. I have just declared that lefties have blowhards, too.

Fox blowhard loses his mind

By John Kanelis /

Tucker Carlson is no expert … on anything.

He hosts a show on the Fox News Channel, which I guess buys him some gravitas among millions of Americans. Therefore, it is incumbent on other commentators — such as me — to weigh in on one of the more bizarre rants many of us ever have heard.

Carlson went on a weird tangent Monday night in which he declared that parents who require their children to wear masks in this pandemic era need to be arrested for, uhh, child abuse.

What a fruitcake, man.

The criticism of Carlson’s baloney transcends the cosmic divide between liberals and conservatives. One right-wing commentator, Bill Kristol, wrote this via Twitter: The masks stuff is performative idiocy and demagoguery. But the key sentence in Carlson’s rant was this: “It’s our job to restore the society we were born in.” The destructive power of reactionary nostalgia jet-fueled by grievances real or imagined shouldn’t be underestimated.

The blowback from across the nation was immediate. Forbes wrote: It began after Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday suggested it was “unacceptable,” “dangerous” and even potentially “illegal” for children to be forced to wear face coverings outside. Carlson further said that viewers should report such sightings to the police or child protective services, even as it is still recommended that masks be worn at all times by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Debate Over Masks Trending On Social Media Following Rant By Tucker Carlson (

It all gives me pause to wonder how in the name of parental discretion can this guy be taken seriously? Here’s the tough answer, which is that millions of Americans do listen to the bluster, bloviating and bellowing from loudmouths such as Tucker Carlson.

I need to stipulate once again this point, which is that Carlson has no particular standing as a childhood behavior specialist. He is just a guy with a large audience of devoted followers who are going to high-five each other when they hear the crap flowing from this individual’s pie hole.

Tucker Carlson has, in the well-aimed words of one progressive critic, “lost his mind.”

No ‘designated survivor’?

By John Kanelis /

President Biden is going to stand before a sparse gathering of officials Wednesday night for his first speech to a joint congressional session.

Here, though, is a strange wrinkle: There will be no “designated survivor” among the Cabinet members who can step into the office in the event of a catastrophe.

The COVID pandemic is going to limit the audience to 200 people. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be present, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate President pro-tem Patrick Leahy. Harris, Pelosi, Leahy and Blinken all, in that order, would succeed to the presidency if something happened to those ahead of them in the line of succession.

So, were something to happen, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would be the next to step into the office.

No designated survivor for Biden’s first joint address to Congress (

Nothing is going to happen. Let’s stipulate that much.

It does kind of give me the creeps nonetheless to comprehend how much this pandemic has upset everything.

Liz Cheney is so correct

By John Kanelis /

Hell clearly has entered the deep freeze.

How do I know that? Because I happen to agree with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who I once considered to be one of the GOP’s premier fire-breathers.

No longer do I hold that view.

Rep. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump over his inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. Now she says that anyone in Congress who had a hand in voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election should be disqualified from running for president in 2024.

That means you, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Cheney ventured to a GOP retreat in Florida. As CNN reported: “I think we have a huge number of interesting candidates, but I think that we’re going to be in a good position to be able to take the White House,” she told the New York Post. “I do think that some of our candidates who led the charge, particularly the senators who led the unconstitutional charge, not to certify the election, you know, in my view, that’s disqualifying.”

You see why I agree with her? She makes sense. Cheney is a rock-ribbed, true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool Republican. She also understands the Constitution and values greatly the oath she took to protect and defend it. Unlike the nimrods in the House and Senate who voted to object to the results of a free and fair election that elected Joe Biden as president of the United States.

Liz Cheney thinks January 6 should be ‘disqualifying’ for some GOPers (

I intend to stand with the likes of Liz Cheney any day over the machinations and lies being pitched by those who support the one-time Liar in Chief.

COVID: still worrisome

By John Kanelis /

President Biden’s latest amendment to the COVID mandates he has sought has produced a cause for worry.

Biden now echoes a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that says it’s OK to go without masks when we’re outdoors. The CDC also cautions against mingling with large crowds of people.

The worry? It comes because I fear too many of us will ignore the caveat laid out there by CDC and the president.

Biden and his medical team are trumpeting the vaccines — all three of them — that are being injected into human bodies. About 30 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose. West Virginia is now offering cold cash money to residents who are resisting the inoculation. I get that we are turning the proverbial corner against the killer pandemic.

Dang it, though! We need to continue to exercise what’s been called “an abundance of caution.”

My wife and I are fully vaccinated. So are our son and daughter-in-law. Their two older sons are as well. Our granddaughter is not yet … but she’s a young’n. We feel comfortable going without masks when we’re in their presence, as we do with our older son who lives elsewhere but who is about to receive his second vaccine.

I just don’t want there to be some mad rush toward “normal living” by those who have grown tired of the masks, of the social distancing, of the incessant hand-washing.

We all can see that so-called light at the end of it all, but we still have some distance to go.

Oh, this blog gives me fits

By John Kanelis /

No matter how many times I tell myself how much I love my new role as a full-time blogger, I cannot get past some of the headaches associated with it.

All of them have one thing in common: technology.

I am a technological novice. I am not at all fluent in the language that Internet experts use when they converse with each other. They speak a jargon that is as self-contained as the language that doctors, lawyers and even journalists use when they speak to each other.

So, when technology throws me a curve ball, I am left to (a) my own devices or (b) call on one of my sons who happens to be quite fluent in the language known to those with more than a modicum of knowledge about this stuff.

Hell, I don’t even know a modicum of it.

I have been enduring some technical issues with this blog. I have had to rely on my son to walk me through it. We have had three-way conference calls that include him, me and the domain hosting service for which I pay a handsome annual fee.

I am in the middle of a technical issue right now. We will work our way through it. We’ll slog our way out of the mess.

Will this matter make me less in love with what I do these days? Not on your life. I will persist in seeking answers to these issues. I might even one day become semi-fluent in the language I ought to know when I get one of these geeks on the phone.

I could use some good thoughts and even a prayer or two.

GOP testing POTUS’s patience

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By John Kanelis /

Every human being who’s ever lived has limits to his or her patience.

My strong sense is that the today’s Republican Party leadership is testing the wellspring of patience that rests within President Biden.

If only the GOP honchos would wean themselves of the Big Lie being fed to them by Donald J. Trump and his minions about the 2020 election. If only the Republican hierarchy would divest its interest in seeking to overturn a free and fair election. If only they would act as American patriots instead of lunatic wackos.

Trump sits on the sidelines these days. He isn’t silent. He keeps yammering about the phony vote fraud that has prompted the “audit” of Arizona’s election returns. He continues to suggest the election was stolen. He never provides a scintilla of proof for any of the outrageous lies he keeps repeating.

Yet the GOP congressional leadership keeps gobbling it up. It presents itself as being responsible stewards of our federal government. They aren’t. They are responsible only to the former Imbecile in Chief. Damn few of them can say a single critical word about the Big Lie.

Meanwhile, we have a president who wants to enact some big programs. We are fighting a pandemic. We are trying to recover economically from the havoc it has brought. President Biden cannot get the GOP to sign on to what should be a bipartisan effort. Why is that? Because too many of the loyal opposition’s leadership is too wedded to the Big Lie.

The president’s patience surely has its limits.