Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Protect DACA recipients

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The young men and women who reside in the United States need not be kicked around in a political skirmish that involves a decision made by their elders.

I refer to those who live here under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals provision that was enacted through executive order by President Obama, but has been ruled unlawful by a federal judge in Texas.

DACA recipients comprise several hundred thousand U.S. residents who were brought here illegally by their parents. They grew up as Americans; they came of age as Americans; the U.S. is the only country they know; many of them have flourished.

President Obama sought to give them some sanctuary from deportation by enacting the DACA program. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen — nominated for the federal bench by President George W. Bush — declared the DACA program to be illegal.

President Biden vows to appeal the ruling. I will take the president at his word. He should appeal it.

DACA is a humane and effective policy that should be codified  under law. Congress has the power to do that. My hope would be that enough fair-minded Republicans could join their Democratic colleagues in ensuring that these men and women — who came here as children and who have grown into responsible U.S. residents — can receive a clearer path to citizenship or permanent residency status.

Oh, but wait! That might require comprehensive immigration reform, which Republicans in Congress are unable or unwilling to enact. Why? Well, beats the hell out of me!

DACA recipients have been kicked around for too long already. Two former Texas governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Republicans — have spoken in favor of allowing so-called “Dreamers” to attend Texas colleges and universities; moreover, they have supported allowing them to attend under in-state tuition rules, given that they have been Texas residents of long standing. I consider that to be a fair and decent public policy.

The federal judiciary has intervened, though, in the effort to help these folks assimilate more completely into the society they adopted as their own when they came of age.

For the life of me I cannot understand why some politicians prefer to punish these individuals because of something their parents did when they were too young to fend for themselves.

ACA survives again; time to let these challenges go

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The Affordable Care Act is alive and likely quite well.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a remarkably united decision — 7 to 2, to be precise — that keeps the landmark health care program intact.

According to The Hill: The case was decided on fairly technical grounds. The Court ruled that the challengers did not have standing to sue, given that the penalty for not having health insurance at the center of the case had been reduced to zero, so it was not causing any actual harm that could be the basis for a lawsuit. 

Five takeaways on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision | TheHill

What does this mean for the future of what has been known colloquially as Obamacare, named after President Obama’s signature domestic victory? It should signal the end of Republicans’ futile attempts to repeal the law. I say “should,” but it likely won’t.

Only two of the court’s conservatives ruled to repeal a portion of the law: Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Other right-wing jurists — Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts — sided with the liberals on the court, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in determining that the litigants didn’t have standing.

I am delighted to know that the ACA no longer has a president in office who keeps yapping about ending the law while producing not a single idea for how to replace it. For four years, President Biden’s immediate predecessor kept telling us how he would repeal the ACA. It didn’t happen. Indeed, two previous court challenges ended with conservatives coming up short.

I get that the ACA isn’t perfect. So does President Obama. He has said repeatedly that he took no exclusive ownership of the law, insisting that he was open to anything to improve it. Republicans so far have some up with, well … nothing! All they have sought was to remove the ACA from the books, cheered on by POTUS 45, who just could not stomach being shown up by the black guy who preceded him as president.

Here we are. A 7-2 Supreme Court decision should spell the end of these ridiculous challenges. I fear it won’t.

Still, to borrow a phrase muttered into a hot mic by then-VP Joe Biden when the Affordable Care Act became law more than a decade ago, this court ruling is a “big fu**ing deal.”

Watch and listen to this video

By John Kanelis / johnkanelils_92@hotmail.com

The link I am attaching to this very brief post is an interview with President Barack Obama and Navy Admiral William McRaven.

They are looking back 10 years since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It is heartfelt. It tells us how the two men felt as they were about to make decisions that could have gone badly but instead ended with the death of the 9/11 mastermind.

10 Years Later: President Obama and Admiral Bill McRaven reflect on the bin Laden Raid – YouTube

It’s about 14 minutes long. It is worth your time to watch.

McConnell: who needs to govern?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made a startling admission.

He has acknowledged, in effect, that he has no interest in governance. He said that “100 percent of my focus is to block” everything that President Biden wants to do.

There. You got that?

This is the same guy who in 2010 declared that his sole focus was to make Barack H. Obama “a one-term president.” Well, that mission went down in flames, as President Obama was re-elected two years later.

Now the Kentucky Republican has in effect doubled down on his earlier mission statement by saying that he is focused solely on blocking Joe Biden’s agenda.

What, I dare ponder, is Mitch McConnell’s agenda … if he has one.

Bin Laden mission needed time

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Americans are going to be marking a date over the weekend that should fill them with justifiable pride in the capabilities of our military special forces.

It was on May 1, 2011 that Navy SEALs and CIA commandos raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda and the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attack that had occurred a decade earlier.

Ten years have passed since that raid.

I want to talk briefly here about something that flew out of Donald Trump’s mouth not long after Army Special Forces killed the Islamic State leader on Trump’s watch.

The then-president suggested out loud that the bin Laden raid should have occurred far earlier than it did. Trump was crowing about the success his team had in finding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and dispatching him. Why couldn’t the Special Forces Command do the same with bin Laden, Trump said.

The military commander of that mission was Admiral William McRaven, himself a SEAL and head of the Special Ops Command. It took McRaven’s team time to assemble and analyze all the intelligence it had collected on bin Laden’s location. Indeed, as President Obama said at the time, he wasn’t absolutely sure that bin Laden would be in the compound once the SEALs and the CIA spooks arrived. It was a gamble … but it paid off!

Thus, for Trump to denigrate the great work that anti-terrorism experts from the Bush and Obama administrations did to locate and to ascertain with some degree of certainty that their findings were correct simply went beyond the pale.

I am going to celebrate the victory our forces scored when they eliminated Osama bin Laden. No amount of cheap second-guessing ever would denigrate the courage of the commander in chief to issue the order and the extraordinary skill of the men who executed it.

Bin Laden raid, plus 10

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My goodness, has it really been 10 years since our special operations guys killed the world’s most wanted man and most despicable terrorist?

Yep. Time does fly.

Oh, how I remember where I was when the world heard the news about the death of Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind and al-Qaeda leader.

We were in our Amarillo, Texas, living room that night watching a bit of prime-time TV. Then we got word of a pending announcement from the White House. Hmm. I thought, “Hey, this is Sunday. What in the world are they going to announce on a Sunday night?” Then it dawned on me. I turned to my wife and I said, “I think they got bin Laden!”

It had been nearly a decade since the 9/11 attack. Three jetliners flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth airplane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought with the terrorists. That day is seared in our national memory. I can barely watch to this day the footage of the WTC towers burning and then collapsing.

As for bin Laden’s death and the skill of the Navy SEALs, the CIA commandos and the Army Delta Force pilots that night remain equally seared in my memory.

I recall vividly the sight of President Obama striding to the podium that evening to deliver the news and to assure the world that the fight against those who followed bin Laden’s perversion will continue. The president told us later in a “60 Minutes” interview that the first person he called once he knew our forces had cleared Pakistani airspace was President Bush, on whose watch the 9/11 attack occurred. Obama gave appropriate credit to the diligence of our anti-terror network that had worked since the attack and eventually found bin Laden.

Although bin Laden is dead, the network he led is still alive, although it has been significantly downgraded in the years since our special forces killed bin Laden. The fight has gone on since that raid, beyond the Obama administration. Indeed, the Trump administration also had a hand in wiping out the terrorists’ high command when it sent forces in to kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.

The fight must go on, even as the Biden administration prepares to remove the last of our troops from Afghanistan, where they were dispatched immediately after the 9/11 attacks to take down the Taliban government that gave bin Laden’s goons the safe harbor from which they plotted their attack against us.

I want to mark this date, though, as one that demonstrates the enormous skill of our military and intelligence forces who — when given the order to do the seemingly impossible — answered the call.

GOP needs to retool itself

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

Glad he spoke out, however …

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As glad as I am to hear former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner speak out against what he calls “political terrorism” within the Republican Party, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize an obvious element of history.

While the ex-speaker decries the harsh partisanship that has infected the current political climate, he needs to own his particular contribution to that infection.

He called the Affordable Care Act the greatest sin ever perpetrated on Americans. Boehner filed lawsuits to stop the implementation of President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. He did plenty of blustering and bellowing from the House floor about the evils of his Democratic colleagues’ intent.

Has the former speaker had an epiphany? Has he realized what he did contributed to today’s toxicity? I hope that is the case.

Still, to hear him refer to Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh,” and to express his profound revulsion over the insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6 remains music to my admittedly partisan ears.

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!

Is this the moment for action?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Barack Obama wiped away tears while talking to the nation about the massacre of 20 first- and second-graders and six of their teachers in Newtown, Conn.; he implored Congress to toughen gun laws.

It didn’t act.

Donald Trump took office right after Obama and vowed to end “this American carnage.” It didn’t end during his term in office. He had opportunities to demand action from Congress, but he never took the bait.

Now it is Joe Biden who is facing the dilemma of what to do about the continuing senselessness of random gun violence. So it goes and so it will continue to go, more than likely.

In the span of a little more than a week, eight people died in Georgia at the hands of a gunman and then 10 more died from a shooter’s evil intent in Colorado. The first tragedy appears to be inspired by hate of Asians and of women. The motivation behind the second incident is still a bit murky.

What in  the name of righteous indignation happens now?

My hunch? Probably not a damn thing!

The National Rifle Association has sunk its claws deeply into the hides of many members of Congress, where laws could be created  that might be able to stem the “carnage” that Trump vowed to eradicate. The NRA stands firm on this preposterous notion that any law somehow would deprive “law-abiding citizens” of their constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.”

I will not let go of the notion that there is a legislative remedy out there that can be enacted. I want Congress to act. I am tired of the inattention to a solution that well might put an end — finally! — to the heartache that has spilled over yet again.