Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Lift the Muslim ban, Mr. POTUS-elect

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

On the night he declared victory in the 2020 presidential election, Joseph Biden’s team announced plans for the new president to sign a series of executive orders on Day One of his administration.

One of them would be to life a ban on entry into the United States by travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations. Donald Trump issued that order early in his presidential term.

The new president wants to revoke that order. To which I say … yes!

FBI Director Christopher Wray has told us a stark truth about the nature of terrorist threats to this country. It is that the biggest threat comes from home-grown, corn-fed white supremacists and not from Muslim nations.

The new president realizes what the nation’s top cop, the FBI director, has asserted.

I don’t mean to suggest that this nation’s security team should just shrug and look the other way at any terrorist threat that comes from abroad. I do mean to suggest that Donald Trump issued an informal declaration of war against Islam, a point that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama sought assiduously to avoid when they were in office.

President Biden intends to revoke the Trump overstated declaration that Muslim countries pose a hideous threat. If we have learned anything since 9/11 I would presume we have learned how to detect and deal with international terrorist threats, especially from Muslim nations … which renders a ban on travelers from those nations to just an unnecessary show of presidential bravado.

Yes, on DACA order

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden has made clear his intention to walk directly into the Oval Office when he takes office and get right to work.

Biden’s transition team has announced the president-elect’s intention to sign several executive orders on Day One. One of them speaks directly to an issue that interests me greatly: restoration of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals order that Donald Trump revoked not long after he took office.

Former President Obama issued the DACA order initially, intending to shield from deportation those U.S. residents who had been brought here illegally by their parents; most of those DACA recipients have lived in this country since they were babies, infants, toddlers. They know no other country than the United States of America.

Obama sought to give them a fast track to seeking permanent legal resident status or citizenship. Trump wasn’t having any of it. He revoked his predecessor’s executive order. Now Trump’s immediate successor wants to restore the DACA program.

Good for you, Mr. President-elect!

I haven’t yet come to grips with precisely why Trump targeted DACA recipients in that manner. I wonder if he did it because he truly believed that they were lawbreakers as young children/toddlers because they came here illegally under the care of their parents. Or did he do it just to wipe away a vestige of President Obama’s time in office, which seems to have rankled Trump to no end.

I’m going to go with the latter rationale.

Indeed, many DACA recipients have carved out productive lives as U.S. residents. Many of them have achieved academic excellence and success in their chosen profession. They pay their taxes and they have become de facto citizens simply by virtue of their ability to live by the rules of the land to where they were brought.

DACA recipients don’t deserve a free ride. Nor do they deserve permanent amnesty. They should be allowed to seek legal resident status without fear of imminent deportation to the land of their birth, but a land with which they have zero familiarity.

That, I trust, is President-elect Biden’s goal by restoring DACA status to hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents.

Dr. Jackson becomes U.S. rep.-elect

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I skedaddled from the Texas Panhandle a couple of years ago, so my thoughts on a just-completed political campaign in the 13th Congressional District should be considered in that context.

I am not as close to the action in the Panhandle as I used to be, but my interest in the region remains high.

13th District voters elected Dr. Ronny Jackson as their next representative. Rep.-elect Jackson presents a strange new turn in Panhandle politics, in my humble view.

Jackson is a former White House physician. He served three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Trump wanted to nominate Jackson to be secretary of veterans affairs. Jackson didn’t make the cut; he bowed out after questions arose about his lack of administrative experience and then about his conduct as a physician.

So, he looked for a place to run for Congress and set his sights on a district where he never lived. He wanted to succeed longtime Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, who decided he didn’t want to seek re-election to a seat he held since 1995.

Jackson doesn’t know much about the district he now will  represent. He was born in Levelland, but moved away to join the Navy  — attaining the rank of rear admiral — and never looked back. Until now.

During the campaign, he became something of a shill for Donald Trump. He said some goofy things about the soon-to-be-former president.

What he knows specifically about Pantex, about the Bell/Textron aircraft assembly mission, about water conservation, or wind energy, or farm policy remains a mystery to me. Mac Thornberry is a son of the Panhandle, coming from a longtime Donley County ranching family. Jackson is a new resident of the region, so I guess I can call him a carpetbagger.

In these times, I guess it’s OK for carpetbaggers to represent the interest of folks who formerly used to demand that their political representatives be proficient in the issues important to them.

Jackson won handily.

As for his shilling for Donald Trump, I am wondering how long he’ll want to stay in office with his main man no longer in office.

Enjoying sight and sound of No. 44 on the stump

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I was proud to vote for Barack Hussein Obama when he ran for election and re-election as president of the United States.

And I will be candid: I miss him and wish there was some way he could still sit in the Oval Office. He cannot do that. The U.S. Constitution prohibited him from seeking a third term as president.

Now, though, he has back on the political stage, stumping for his “brother,” Joe Biden, who served as vice president during Obama’s two successful terms as president.

I admit as well to enjoying listening to the former president peel the hide off of his successor, Donald Trump, whose lies and misrepresentations seemingly have been more than President Obama can stomach.

I also wonder if Trump’s incessant attacks on Obama’s record, replete with their litany of lies, has gotten under the former president’s skin. If I had been the subject of those defamatory attacks, I know for damn certain I would be pi**ed off beyond measure.

Obama stood with former VP Biden today in Detroit, telling the horn-honking socially distanced audience what many of us already know: that Donald Trump is an abject failure as president. Obama wondered aloud about why Trump and his GOP cohorts, after 10 years of complaining about the Affordable Care Act, haven’t yet produced anything resembling a replacement. And yet, as President Obama noted, they want to toss aside health care insurance that many millions of Americans depend on during this pandemic crisis.

Amazing, yes? And stupid!

I know I am not the only American who has missed the sound of President Barack Obama’s voice, the tenor of his message or the sight of him laying waste to the unfit individual who succeeded him as president.

Welcome back to the battle, Mr. President.

Simple decency, anyone?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to share something that arrived on my Facebook news feed. It comes from a friend of mine in Amarillo, Texas; he is a retired physician.

I will post it here … and then I will get the heck out of the way.

Oh, The Humanity!
I saw something on television yesterday that moved me greatly. Obama was standing outside the Philadelphia football stadium, waiting his turn to address a crowd in their cars in support of Joe Biden. No coat, shirtsleeves rolled up, mask on, clear space around him. On the periphery were a young black woman with a toddler, maybe four, both masked. The mother urged the girl to approach Obama, which she did very hesitantly, looking back to Mom. Obama recognized the problem: he is 6’1″ and a semi deity. So he squatted down to the child’s height, extended his arms and the child ran to him. What moved me was the simple decency of the act. I could easily picture George W., Clinton, George H.W., Reagan or Carter doing the same thing. Trump? No way.

The ‘most important line’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza listened to Barack Obama peel the bark off Donald Trump’s hypersensitive hide Wednesday and came away with what he believes is the former president’s most cogent line about his successor.

Cillizza writes: “And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”

As Cillizza noted in his own analysis, the discussion won’t turn on specific policy statements. Instead, he writes, “It’s about a country absolutely exhausted by Trump — his norm-busting, his misinformation, his junior high school bullying, and his tweeting, his tweeting, his tweeting.”

There you go.

I admit to being worn out by Donald Trump. Every single day of the presidency on this individual’s watch has been exercise in “Can he top the previous day?” Sadly, Trump has managed to do it.

I don’t want, as President Obama said, to awaken every morning wondering what in the world the president has done to cast a pall over this nation.

I want normal behavior in the president. I want Joe Biden to restore the dignity that used to personify the office.

The end is near

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK, settle down. I don’t mean The End, as in … you know.

I mean the end of a presidential campaign is coming up. It’s right around the corner. They are calling this the “election season,” given that so many Americans are voting early.

My wife and I did. So did our sons. We are among the 30 million or so Americans who have decided to cast our ballots early to ensure they get counted, given the suspicion that Donald Trump is trying to lay over the entire electoral system. Think of that for just a moment: The doubt is coming from the individual who took an oath four years to protect the system. Now he wants to fear it, to believe it’s corrupt, that it’s fake, phony.

What a moron!

But the end of the season is coming along. We’re 13 days to go when they shut down the polls from coast to coast to coast and start counting those ballots.

I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. I want former two-term Vice President Joe Biden to win this election just about more than any single candidate I’ve ever wanted to win — with the possible exception of Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

My intense desire to see Sen. Obama win the 2008 contest had more to do with the historic nature of his election than his opponent, the late Sen. John McCain, for whom I had great respect given the suffering he endured during wartime in defense of this country. Eight years later the intensity ratcheted up again as Hillary Clinton sought to defeat Trump. I believed then and I do today that she is eminently qualified to serve as president.

Now it’s Joe Biden who has earned my undivided attention. I have been aware of him since he first won election to the U.S. Senate in 1972. I knew about the tragedy that befell him as he prepared to take office with the death of his wife and daughter in a motor vehicle crash.

He served in the Senate with distinction until Barack Obama tapped him to run as VP in 2008.

And yes, I am aware of his missteps, such as his failed 1988 presidential campaign when Biden got caught copying the rhetoric of a British politician.

Joe Biden is the man of the hour today. I want him to win bigly. I want Trump to be shown the door and I want Joseph Biden to be given the chance to deliver on his pledge to restore dignity to the presidency.

I want this season to end.

Merrick Garland haunts this hearing

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Merrick Garland is very much alive and well but his “ghost” floated throughout the hearing room today as a congressional hearing commenced on an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee welcomed another federal judge, Amy Coney Barrett, as she began her confirmation hearing to the U.S. Supreme Court. She would take the seat occupied by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Garland’s role in this drama? Well, he once got nominated to the high court by President Barack Obama. Another justice, Antonin Scalia, died in February 2016 while on vacation in Texas. President Obama wanted to nominate a successor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time in declaring his intention to block that effort. Why? Because the voters had a right to be heard before a SCOTUS nomination would be considered by the Senate.

We had a presidential election in 2016. Obama couldn’t run again. It turned out that Donald Trump would win the election. So, Trump got to select someone to succeed Scalia; he chose Neil Gorsuch.

The hypocrisy between then and now is stunning in its scope.

We were 10 months away from the previous election when a vacancy occurred. Now, we’re just 22 days before the next election. Don’t Americans have a right to have their voices heard before the Senate considers a nominee to succeed Ginsburg? Of course we do.

Except that Republicans who at the moment hold the majority of Senate seats are pushing full speed with the Barrett hearing.

Most astonishing of all is the comment that Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham made in 2018. He said then that if an opening occurs during Donald Trump’s term as president and the “primary season has begun,” the Senate should hold off until after the election before considering a possible replacement.

Graham said we could hold his words against him. Fine. Many of us are doing that, Mr. Chairman.

Amy Coney Barrett wouldn’t be my choice to join the court. I much prefer a jurist in the Merrick Garland mold: moderate, center-left in philosophical judicial outlook. Garland, though, never got the courtesy of a hearing, let alone a Senate vote, that appears to be in store for Judge Barrett.

It’s all because the Senate GOP majority played politics with the judicial nomination process in 2016 … and is doing so once again right now.

Shameful.

Hypocrisy rules!

 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The hypocrisy ringing throughout the halls of the nation’s Capitol Building is becoming the stuff of legend.

Four years ago, Republican U.S. senators said time and time again that no president should be allowed to fill a Supreme Court seat during an election year. They didn’t qualify the assertion. They didn’t stipulate presidents of any particular party.

They said no president, none, should move forward with selecting a justice when we have a presidential election on tap.

You will recall in early 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. President Barack Obama wanted to name a successor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “not so fast.” He slammed the brakes on a nomination.

GOP senators stepped up and said the same thing. No president should select someone for a lifetime during an election year.

Recall that Scalia died nearly 10 months before the 2016 presidential election. Now we have Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died just 48 days prior to the next election.

Republican senators are ignoring their own assertion. They now want to rush a nomination forward before the Nov. 3 election.

What happened to the 2016 mantra of “giving the people a voice” in who should sit on the Supreme Court? Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida even went so far as to say he would make that demand when we have a Republican president. Hey, Marco, we have one now … bub! What say you these days about seating someone to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg? I know. It’s full steam ahead!

The people still deserve a voice before the Senate acts on Donald Trump’s expected nomination of someone to succeed the great Justice Ginsburg. If the Senate GOP thought it was true in 2016 when Barack Obama sought to fill a post vacated by Justice Scalia’s death, then it should hold to that philosophy now.

Right? Oh wait! The Party of Trump doesn’t believe in ethics, fairness, truth-telling and honor.

Anyone can get elected to this office

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Barack Hussein Obama used to boast — and I imagine he still tells audiences this factoid — that he is proof that “anyone can get elected” president of the United States.

He is of mixed race: half black and half white. He came from a broken home. His mother and his maternal grandparents reared him into a university graduate, where he excelled at Harvard Law, becoming the first African-American to edit the Harvard Law Review.

Yes, Obama’s story is compelling.

However, he is a piker in the “anyone can get elected” category. The hands-down winner of that contest, such as it is, would be Donald John Trump, the immediate successor to Barack Obama.

Now, having said that, I forewarn you that what I am going to say next will be far from complimentary. While I continue to hold the former president in the highest regard partly because of his life story, I hold the current president in the lowest regard, also partly because of his life story.

Trump was born into wealth. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and then from Penn’s Wharton School of Business. He went into business, riding a multimillion-dollar stake from his father. He bought commercial real estate. Trump built office buildings and apartment complexes.

Trump managed to grow his inherited wealth into something even bigger. Along the way, he had business failures. He filed multiple bankruptcies. He schmoozed with fellow developers, some of whom had questionable dealings (see Jeffrey Epstein, as just one example).

Then he got involved with “reality TV.” He hosted a game show. He managed beauty pageants.

The real estate mogul got married, then divorced. He married and divorced again. He is now married to his third wife. Along the way, he accrued more wealth, lost some of it through more business failures. He produced five children with the three women he married.

What is missing from this brief background? Give up? OK, here it is: public service. Unlike Barack Obama, who became a “community organizer” right out of law school, and then a state senator in Illinois before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Donald Trump devoted not a single second of his time to serving the public.

Nothing. Zero. It was all about Trump.

So I am left to wonder how in the name of presidential politics was this guy able to parlay his life experience into assuming the most powerful and most exalted public office on Earth.

I am all in favor of “anyone” seeking public office. To that extent, I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge Donald Trump seeking the presidency after pursuing a career in business and … well, whatever else he decided to do.

Barack Obama, though, remains in my estimation the idealistic version of the cliche that “anyone can get elected” to the nation’s highest office. He rose quickly to be sure. His life, though, was a testament to public service.

Donald Trump’s life was a testament to self-service.

And it has shown itself demonstrably during his time in the only public office he ever has sought — or ever will seek.