Tag Archives: Barack Obama

DACA gets new life

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden got right to work today.

He pulled out his pen and began signing executive orders that sought to reverse some of the policies enacted by his predecessor. So it begins.

I want to talk briefly about one of the issues that Biden deems critical to the nation: immigration.

He has breathed new life into the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program nixed by the 45th president. The axing of DACA didn’t quite take hold, as the courts have intervened to keep it alive, albeit on life support. President Biden signed it back into the real world today while sitting in the Oval Office.

DACA, of course, is the program initiated by President Obama that granted a form of temporary amnesty to those U.S. residents who came to this country illegally as children. Their parents brought them here to seek a better life; they did break the law by sneaking into the country illegally, but the children who came with them didn’t deserve to be deported because of something their parents did.

Obama sought to grant them a reprieve from deportation. His successor nixed that notion. Now comes President Biden to revive DACA once again. Moreover, he is planning to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform package that seeks to fast-track citizenship applications for millions of immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens.

We are a nation of immigrants, for criminy sakes! Our founders all came here from across The Pond. The rest is history. We have welcomed immigrants through the many decades since. Then came a president who immediately characterized those seeking to come here from Latin America as “murderers, rapists and drug dealers.”

Do I want to enforce immigration laws? Of course I do! Those who sneak into this country to do harm should be arrested, prosecuted and kicked out. However, those who come here because they happen to be children of those who came here illegally deserve some compassion and understanding.

The U.S. of A. is the only nation they know. DACA seeks to give them a chance to seek permanent legal resident status or citizenship.

President Biden seeks to give them that chance.

Scrap the personal possessive pronoun, Mr. POTUS-elect

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here is a request that in reality isn’t as modest as it might appear.

I direct it to President-elect Joe Biden. It goes like this:

Please refrain from the personal possessive pronoun when referring to our government, the team you assemble to work with you in the executive branch of government.

Donald Trump was fond of referring to “my generals,” and “my attorney general,” and “my Cabinet.” To be candid, President Barack Obama did it, too, and it annoyed me even then as I generally supported the policies that Obama espoused. President Obama would refer to Vice President Biden routinely as, um, “my vice president.”

The Cabinet does not belong to the president. Nor do the generals and admirals who wear our nation’s military uniform. The Justice Department is our DOJ, and does not belong to the president. Nor do any members of the Cabinet or senior staff members who comprise the presidential leadership team.

I get the perception we all had that, for example, the attorney general too often covered the president’s backside. For instance, AG William Barr infamously reported falsely the findings that special counsel Robert Mueller released regarding his lengthy and exhaustive probe into the Russian collusion matter.

Trump himself would talk to us about what “my generals” were preparing to do enemies of the nation.

My message to President-elect Biden is a simple one. Don’t take personal possession of the government. It ain’t his. It’s our government. In fact, the new president needs to understand something that the lame-duck president never got … that in a representative democracy such as ours, we are the bosses.

Presidents work for us.

I hope we’re clear.

POTUS-VPOTUS pairing more critical than ever

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The ghastly insurrection the world witnessed this past week has torn open many sores, revealed many flashpoints about our government.

One of them involves the relationship between the president and vice president. It is now on full display and that pairing becomes even more critical as we move in just eight days from one administration to the next one.

Donald Trump exhorted the mob to march on the Capitol Building, where at that very moment Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a congressional session to ratify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Spoiler alert: Trump lost that one; President-elect Joe Biden won bigly.

Trump tried for days to browbeat Pence into doing something he had no power to do, to ignore the Electoral College results and declare that Trump won. Pence told Trump he had to follow the Constitution. That didn’t set well with Trump. He reportedly was furious with the VP.

The mob stormed into the Capitol Building. It occupied the speaker’s office, ransacked several other offices, stole computers … and sent the congressional session scurrying for cover. That included Pence. Oh, and rioters also were yelling “Hang Mike Pence!” while they were bludgeoning overwhelmed police officers with flag poles flying Old Glory.

It took Trump six days to even talk to the vice president after the attack. Did I mention that the rioters were intent on harming or killing the vice president?

I believe I can say this with confidence, but Trump never valued the experience that Mike Pence brought to the administration. Trump chose Pence because Pence is a darling of the evangelical Christian movement, which Trump manipulated during his term in office. Pence was a Trump toadie to the core, standing up for Trump even as the president embarrassed and shamed the presidency and even as he told lie after lie to the public.

They will be gone soon. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will bring an entirely new and presumably more constructive relationship to the executive branch of government.

Try to imagine President Biden turning his back on Vice President Harris were she put into the spot Pence found himself during the insurrection. It would never happen.

For that matter, Biden’s role as VP during the Barack Obama administration wrote a new chapter in that relationship that should become the standard for future administrations to follow. President Obama routinely refers to himself and his family as “honorary Bidens” and describes the new president as his “brother.”

Yes, this relationship is critical to the max. We are witnessing in real time just how dysfunction can ruin such a pairing and the potential it has for ruining the conduct of our government.

None of the inaugural trappings on tap

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You likely can take this to the bank.

Americans will not get to witness President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at the White House prior to the inauguration. There will be no scenes of Donald and Melania Trump greeting them with smiles, handshakes and hugs.

There will be no informal briefing between the outgoing and incoming presidents. The current and future first ladies won’t tour the residence, with Melania Trump showing Jill Biden where to find the linens.

No. All of that is tossed into the crapper.

When Barack Obama was leaving the White House in 2017, he and Michelle Obama greeted the Trumps at the White House. They mugged for the cameras and went inside. Obama talked to Trump about what to expect. Their wives visited informally. It was all done according to long-established custom.

It’s not that the Bidens don’t know their way around the people’s house. They’ve been there many times already, visiting many presidents … not to mention the one with whom Joe Biden worked for eight years, the aforementioned Barack Obama.

I will miss seeing the photos. Still, it’s probably just as well, given the river of bad blood that has flown from Trump in the wake of his loss to Biden in the election.

The Trumps will be gone. The Bidens will walk in and make themselves at home. That’s OK with me.

Obama 2.0? OK, what’s wrong with that?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We’re hearing from right-wing media pundits and other critics of President-elect Biden that his Cabinet and top staffers comprise too many folks from the Obama administration.

Yes, I have expressed a concern about that, but I have to ask: Why is that necessarily a bad thing?

Biden served as vice president for President Obama’s two successful terms. He knows the players who comprised his team. Biden knows their strengths. He wants to parlay those strengths toward building a team of his own.

The Obama administration, let us remember, took office in the midst of the Great Recession. The nation’s economy was in free fall, it was collapsing and President Obama needed to act immediately to help rescue it from permanent ruin.

The team he assembled, along with Joe Biden, got the job done.

So, the new president wants to rely on their knowledge, their experience and their skill to help him restore a nation beset by new economic trouble and, oh  yes, that damn pandemic.

That’s OK with me.

Ready for return of presidential symbolism

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You can take this little item to the bank and remember that you saw it here for the first time.

President Biden will have a full plate of crises to confront when he settles in behind the Resolute Desk. He also must find time to engage in some of symbolism involved with the high office of president of the United States. Part of that involves conducting ceremonies; you know, the kind that honor Americans for the work they do on our behalf.

The nation’s highest civilian honor is called the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the waning days of his time as vice president, Biden received the medal in a surprise ceremony at the White House. President Barack Obama stunned him during an event aimed ostensibly to honor the work that Biden had done as VP during the Obama administration.

Can there be a more fitting recipient for the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Barack Hussein Obama? And can there be a more fitting person to drape the medal around the former president’s neck than the current president, who after Jan. 20 will be Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.?

Obama has been vilified and ridiculed unjustly for the past four years by his immediate successor. I am one American patriot who would find it most appropriate for him to receive the nation’s highest civilian award to honor the work he did as a successful two-term president of the United States.

Just remember … you saw it here first.

‘Third Obama term’ taking shape?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden keeps insisting he isn’t seeking to govern with an executive branch lineup that constitutes what amounts to a “third Barack Obama term” as president.

But wait a second.

His selection to be agriculture secretary served in that capacity in the Obama administration; his choice to serve as domestic policy adviser served as national security adviser to President Obama; his nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department served as chief of staff for President Obama; Biden’s selection to lead to the effort to deal with climate change served as secretary of state … for the Obama team.

Biden’s team includes other Obama retreads. Granted, they all are talented individuals who did well during their earlier stints in public office.

Let me be clear on this point: I consider President Obama’s two terms as president to be highly successful. Joe Biden served as vice president during that time. However, the president-elect has a vast reservoir of talent from which he can choose. I am curious as to the apparent leaning on former Obama aides to join him.

If he is going to insist that his term as president isn’t a “third term” for Barack Obama, then Joe Biden ought to populate the highest levels of his executive team with many more fresh faces and voices.

The president-elect’s selection of Obama hands makes it difficult for him to dispute the notion he wants to govern with a “third term” from Barack Obama’s time in office.

Trump may invoke his M.O. and actually ‘concede,’ sort of

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s flash back for a moment.

Donald Trump spent about five years fomenting the lie that Barack Obama was born overseas and was not a U.S. citizen, meaning he couldn’t run for president of the United States. It was a blatantly racist attack on someone who was born in Hawaii to an American woman; thus, he was a citizen by birth.

Then came a one-sentence admission in 2016 that Obama “is a U.S. citizen.” That was it. End of discussion, more or less. Trump demonstrated his shameless modus operandi.

Now he is continuing to challenge the results of an election he clearly lost to President-elect Joe Biden. He is ranting. He is riffing. He is bitching about all the grievances over alleged “corruption” in the electoral process which he continues to label as “rigged.”

Hmm. How might this play out? Here’s a thought.

The Electoral College is meeting in about nine days to certify Joe Biden’s victory. He has accrued 306 electoral votes; he needs just 270 of them.

When the Electoral College certifies Biden’s victory, I believe it is entirely possible that Trump could issue a terse statement that declares Biden is the duly elected president of the United States. He won’t concede in the traditional sense.

There likely won’t be a phone call to the winner, congratulating him and pledging his support for the remainder of the time he is president. He won’t say a word about the rigorous campaign that Biden waged.

He’ll just say that Biden won. Then he’ll be done.

Trump might not show up for President Biden’s inaugural. Indeed, I do not expect him to be there. Trump will get on Air Force One and jet off to Mar-a-Lago to play some golf and schmooze with his cronies.

Is that out of the question? I don’t think so. Nothing this guy Trump does should surprise anyone on Earth.

Just be gone … Donald.

Replace ‘defund’ with ‘reform’ the police

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I didn’t come up with this theory, but I am going to endorse it.

It goes like this: Democrats didn’t do as well on down-ballot races during the 2020 election because voters might have been alarmed at the slogan “defund the police” that many progressive candidates appeared to support.

Republicans chipped away at Democrats’ majority in the U.S. House and they well might maintain their slim majority in the U.S. Senate if Democrats fail to capture two seats in the Georgia runoff election set for next month.

What was the trigger? Protests erupted around the nation after the hideous death of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops. One of them is charged with murder in Floyd’s death. The protests declared it was time to “defund the police” in communities around the nation.

I am quite unsettled by that notion. I realize now that “defunding” police departments really didn’t mean disbanding municipal or county police agencies. Efforts took root in many cities to re-allocate police money to community services.

I am much more comfortable with the idea that we need to “reform” police practices in many communities, make the cops more sensitive to how others perceive them when they arrest minority residents and how they treat them once they are in custody.

Former President Barack Obama, who has re-entered the political arena with his full-throated support of President-elect Biden, spoke to this police issue the other day. He expressed concern about the “defund” slogan and whether too many Americans took it literally.

Communities need police protection the way they need fire protection, or water service, or having their garbage picked up. I am unaware of any serious American who favors lawlessness on our streets.

Am I frightened by the conduct of officers who react as those cops did in Minneapolis when George Floyd was killed seemingly because he was a black man who committed a misdemeanor offense? Absolutely, I am! I also am frightened by other reports in other communities of police officers shooting African-Americans who weren’t resisting arrest, or were running away from officers.

Defunding police departments, though, is not the answer … even in the form it is actually taking. We should change the discussion topic to “reform the police,” which is where I hope President Biden can take this discussion as we move it forward.

Welcome back, Barack Obama

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel obliged to say how glad I am to hear former President Obama’s voice once again as the nation continues its political discussion and debate.

He is critical of Donald J. Trump. No surprise there, right?

What is a surprise is that Trump’s immediate predecessor has weighed in now, at the end of Trump’s term as president. Then again, maybe it should not be such a surprise.

Trump spent a good bit of emotional capital during his term as president trashing the record compiled by President Obama. He took every chance he could find to denigrate Obama’s record, to declare his intention to undo the accomplishments Obama rang up.

The Affordable Care Act? Obama’s record on renewable energy development? Obama’s agreeing to join the Paris Climate Accords? Trump called them all a “disaster.”

So now it’s President Obama’s turn to strike back. Yes, the norm has been for former presidents to sit in a corner and let his immediate successor rise or fall on his own. Obama did that very thing during much of Trump’s term. No longer.

Welcome back, Mr. President. I enjoy hearing your voice.