Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Tributes pour in for Gen. Powell

Former President Barack Obama was one of many public figures — elected, appointed and otherwise — to speak highly today of the impact that retired Gen. Colin Powell had on their lives.

I read a statement from President Obama today after Powell’s death. One item in the statement stood out. It dealt with Gen. Powell’s endorsement of Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008. Powell, a lifelong Republican, decided to endorse Obama because, I suppose in Powell’s view, that Obama was the best man for the job at the time.

Obama said this about Gen. Powell’s endorsement, which included a discussion about rumors at the time dealing with the presidential candidate’s faith: “The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian,” General Powell said. “But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

What the former president didn’t include in that remembrance is that the U.S. Constitution specifically declares that there shall be “no religious test” for anyone who seeks public office in this country. That includes presidents.

Powell’s point, though, in endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for the presidency, is that there should be no constraint on any child, regardless of his or her faith, to seek the highest office in the land.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Waiting for bipartisan thaw

My patience has its limits, but I am going to give it some more time to bear fruit.

I had hoped that the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States would produce a spirit of bipartisanship we hadn’t seen since, oh, about the time of 9/11. It hasn’t happened.

President Bush handed the office over to President Obama in 2009 and the divisions persisted after the Iraq War dragged on and on. President Obama didn’t make much headway, either, particularly after Sen. Mitch McConnell — the Republican leader — said his No. 1 priority was to make Obama a “one-term president.” President Obama finished his second term in 2017 and handed it off to, umm, the 45th POTUS. It got even worse during the Liar/Numskull/Nitwit/Insurrectionist in Chief’s single term in office.

He vacated the White House earlier this year without so much as a goodbye wave at President Biden’s inaugural. He skulked off without attending his successor’s inauguration.

Biden brought 36 years of U.S. Senate experience and eight years as vice president to the White House. He knows how to play the bipartisan game. He did it with considerable flair during his Senate years.

Alas, all that experience hasn’t played well in the GOP, which has latched onto the Big Lie about phony election theft and vote fraud.

For crying out loud, we cannot even cross the partisan divide on the best way to rid us of a killer virus that has cost us more than 600,000 lives! Biden and his fellow Democrats sing the virtues of masks and vaccines while Republicans and assorted conspiracy lunatics denigrate mask-wearing and question the value of getting vaccinated. Sheesh!

I am going to wish that President Biden can find a way to cross the partisan divide. My hope and my expectation, though, are growing farther apart.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

9/11 reminds me why I am glad we left

The commemorations we have witnessed today as the nation marks the 20th year since the 9/11 attacks have taken us — in my mind at least — on a dual-track remembrance.

I am reminded of how unified we were immediately after the attacks. President Bush called us to arms to fight the terrorist network that launched the attack. We stood behind the wartime president … for a time.

Then he took us into Iraq. The Iraq War was launched on false pretenses. We invaded a sovereign nation, removed a hated dictator and then got bogged down in another conflict with no clear motive for engaging the Iraqis in the first place.

We took our eyes off the key enemy: the Afghan terrorists.

President Bush infamously said at one point during his time in office he didn’t think much about Osama bin Laden. His successor, President Obama, made it the nation’s mission to bring justice to the mass murderer. Our special forces did so in May 2011.

Yet the war in Afghanistan dragged on.

And on and on …

Which brings me to the second track. President Biden ended that war. I am more glad today than ever that he acted when he did. It is true the withdrawal could have been executed more cleanly. But our troops are off the battlefield.

We have removed the world of thousands of terrorists. No, they aren’t exterminated. Others have stepped up to replace them. Indeed, the Afghan War had turned into a never-ending struggle against an enemy that cannot possibly be wiped off the face of the planet.

However, we retain — throughout unsurpassed military and intelligence capability — the ability to search out and destroy anyone who intends to do us harm the way Osama bin Laden did on 9/11.

May always remember the attacks of that horrific day. May we also always remain alert to the danger that lurks.

However, let us also avoid the kind of quagmire — and that’s what it became in Afghanistan — that always exacts too heavy a price.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Some ex-POTUSes get it; others, well …

A note came from a social media friend, a fellow who happens to be a former judge in the Texas Panhandle.

He writes: Our former presidents have different agendas tomorrow. George W. Bush is giving keynote remarks at Flight 93 National Memorial. Barack Obama will be at the remembrance ceremony at Ground Zero. Donald Trump is giving commentary for a boxing match in Florida. I guess he couldn’t find a way to make money off of it.

I haven’t heard how former President Bill Clinton will commemorate the event. I don’t expect former President Jimmy Carter to venture far, given his increasingly frail health.

But my friend does offer a fascinating critique on how POTUS 45 is spending the day tomorrow to mark the 20th year since the terrorists changed our country forever.

Yep. No doubt about it. POTUS 45 is a miserable piece of sh**.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Confused and frightened

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The pending withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has me confused and frightened.

The frightening aspect comes with the advance of Taliban forces that are taking city after city in their march toward reasserting control over a country we thought we had “liberated” when we invaded it shortly after 9/11 … which was nearly 20 years ago.

The Taliban are set to take control of Kabul, the capital city of the embattled nation perhaps in the next few weeks.

The Taliban is about as evil and vile as any group on Earth. Thus, it frightens me in the extreme to see what might happen to Afghanistan if the Taliban retake control of the country.

My confusion stems from the fact that we went through three presidential administrations overseeing our combat role in Afghanistan. From George W. Bush, to Barack H. Obama and then to Donald J. Trump our forces were thought to be helping prepare the Afghan forces to defend their country against the Taliban. Joe Biden took office in January and declared our intention to pull out before the 20th year commemorating the 9/11 attacks that precipitated our involvement in our longest war.

Did we waste all that time, money, effort and blood by failing to train and equip the Afghan forces adequately?

To be brutally candid, I am wondering if the Biden administration truly understood the gravity of the Taliban’s military capability when it decided to end our involvement in this drawn-out fight.

I want our troops to come home. I also had hoped we could leave Afghanistan in a position to defend itself. My first wish is about to come true. The second wish makes me wonder about the wisdom of what we were doing there in the first place.

Tan suit, then and now

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I think I know the answer to this question, but I’ll post it anyhow in just a second.

The picture you see here is of President Biden. It was snapped on Friday as he prepared to make some remarks about the job growth posted for July and about the drop in the unemployment rate. He is proud of the progress we are making on the economy.

Do you notice the tan suit? Sure you do!

OK. Now, flash back to the time President Obama appeared in public wearing a tan suit. Do you recall the reaction then to Obama’s sartorial choice? The right wingers out there threw a hissy fit not seen or heard since the time President Lyndon Johnson picked his beagles up by their ears.

What’s been the right wing response to Biden’s tan suit? Nothing, man! The Question: Why do you think the right wing is silent on Biden’s tan suit while they bitched out loud about Obama’s tan suit?

My answer? I believe it’s because President Biden is a white guy and President Obama is not.

Disgraceful.

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.