Tag Archives: Congress

Silence is destructive

When a member of Congress spewed hate speech about another member of Congress, there once was a time when the leadership of the offending members’ caucus would call him or her down hard, informing that lawmaker that such speech is unacceptable.

Not any longer. Oh, no. These days, political leadership — notably on the Republican side of the great divide — remains silent. You hear the proverbial crickets chirping in the House and Senate chambers. Politicians from the opposing party often rise up and rant loudly.

The latest pair of congressional members to square off are Republican Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Boebert compared Omar’s occasionally harsh rhetoric to the kind of trash that comes out of the mouths of terrorists. Oh, of course Rep. Boebert had to inject “Muslim” into the tirade because, well, Rep. Omar happens to be a faithful Muslim; Omar is a native of Somalia who emigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Her parents came here looking for a better life. They found it and their daughter became a member of Congress after becoming a naturalized American citizen.

Boebert is part of the QAnon cabal of House members who have latched onto some of hideous notions put forth by that mystery movement.

She appears to hate Ilhan Omar’s faith and in expressing her extreme view that Muslims are inherently sympathetic to terrorist acts, she has engaged in a form of hate speech that in an earlier time never would have been given credence by the silence of her party’s political leadership.

We do have two living former Republican presidents: George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump. Bush has been vocal over many years to demand decency from his caucus. Trump, though, has remained silent.

Indeed, Trump’s followers in the current Congress far outnumber those who are loyal to Bush. Thus, we have the silent treatment greeting the kinds of hate speech that comes from Boebert … and others within the GOP.

We just have to find a way to repair the quality of our discourse and to hold politicians accountable for the garbage that flows too easily from their mouths.


Shut up, Matt Gaetz!

Leave it to a Florida flamethrower congressman to inject himself into a story that doesn’t deserve to be politicized any more than it already has become.

Matt Gaetz, a Republican (of course!), says his office is open to hiring Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old on trial in Kenosha, Wisc., for shooting two men to death during a protest over Black Lives Matter, as a congressional intern if he is acquitted of charges filed against him.

This clown Gaetz just continues to infuriate me. Never mind that he’s been associated with individuals connected with sex trafficking involving underage girls, but … well, that’s another story.

Now this?

Shut the hell up, Matt. You just pi** me off!


What happened to Congress’s better angels?

There once was a time when we expected our elected leaders to represent the very best in us, yes?

What, then, has become of that standard in the halls of our Congress?

A Republican member of the House, Paul Gosar of Arizona, could be censured by his Democratic colleagues for posting an animation depicting him killing Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden. Has there been any recrimination coming from the Republican side of the great divide? Has any of the GOP leadership scolded Gosar publicly for posting such a hideous depiction? No. Nothin’, man.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has said nothing. Nor has any of the leadership team surrounding him.

Gosar could be censured. That means he will have to stand in the well of the House and listen to  his colleagues excoriate him. The critics are likely to be Democrats only. But his conduct casts shame on the entire House of Representatives, which contains a significant number of Republicans as well.

The better angels of our elected House have gone silent.

What a horrible shame on them!


Unity? Far from it!

President Biden might have been able to declare some form of victory today had any Republicans had taken part in the negotiation that produced a $1.75 trillion spending bill that appears headed for final approval in Congress.

Sadly, he cannot. Why? Because the Grumpy Obstructionist Party won’t take part in anything pitched by a Democratic president.

This kind of obstructionism simply enrages me, a self-proclaimed “good government progressive” blogger/pundit/cheap-seat occupier.

I want the GOP to take part in this government, which does involve them as well as Democrats. Instead, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and his House counterpart, Kevin McCarthy, have opted to dig in against the Democrats and the POTUS.

Good government is a team sport. That means, in my view, the whole team comprising members of both parties. Instead, we’re getting a government run by roughly half of the House and the Senate along with the guy who sits in the big office in the White House.

President Biden vowed, in a manner of speaking, to bridge the gap between the parties that grew to enormous size during the administration of Biden’s immediate predecessor. Indeed, the 45th POTUS had no interest or skill in bridging that gap. Biden, at least, brought considerable legislative experience to the White House.

He has yet to bridge the great divide. I hope he can get there.


Debt or investment?

One man’s piling onto the national debt is another man’s “investment in the future.”

So it goes with the debate over Build Back Better, which is President Biden’s domestic spending initiative that is hung up in wrangling between congressional Democrats and Republicans and, yes, even between factions within the Democratic Party.

Whether it’s a $3.5 trillion spending package over 10 years or a $1.5 trillion package, it’s a lot of money.

What is so damn troubling, though, is that the GOP caucus is now worried about the national debt. It wasn’t worried one little bit about it when Donald Trump pitched an idea about cutting taxes for rich people, depriving the government of revenue it could “invest” in programs to help the rest of us. Now, though, it is all hung up on the debt and the cost of the infrastructure package that Biden and some within the Democratic caucus want.

Yeah, I know. It’s politics. That’s a family member of mine’s favorite rejoinder. It’s his fallback position when he can’t find any justification for the nonsense being bandied about.

It still stinks, man.


Clumsiness in full view

Winston Churchill’s opinion of democracy is playing out in full view of the world at this moment.

The great British statesman said — and I will paraphrase it broadly — that “democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried”

So we are now watching members of our Congress haggle, quarrel, cajole each other over how to avoid a debt-default crisis while at the same time haggling over how to improve our nation’s infrastructure.

My trick knee is telling me that somehow, some way and in some fashion the Democrats who run Congress are going to find their way out of the thicket. They have a key ally in the White House: President Joseph R. Biden, who spent 36 years as a senator. The president knows how to legislate.

Congressional Republicans, of course, are sitting on the sidelines. They aren’t part of this haggling, which is boiling down to a dispute between Democratic liberals and moderates.

It’s messy. It’s cumbersome. It’s the kind of governance that the 20th century’s greatest statesman — Winston Churchill — said would occur.

Excuse the cliche, but this really is a great country.


POTUS dons legislator’s hat

This thought occurs to me, so I’ll share it briefly.

President Biden is trying to negotiated a legislative deal with moderate and progressive congressional Democrats. Then the following dawned on me.

Biden spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate. He then spent eight years as vice president. That’s 44 years negotiating experience with lawmakers.

The way I figure it, President Biden is the most experienced legislator in the meetings he is having with congressional Democrats. He knows how to cajole, coddle and convince legislators to do what’s right.

If only he could work his legislative skill on congressional Republicans who — sad to say — just won’t wheel and deal with a master of wheeling and dealing.

This is the value of having a POTUS who knows how government works. Let’s see if it pays off.


Infrastructure needs to pass

The numbers aren’t the source of the disagreement, or at least they shouldn’t be the source.

What needs to happen with President Biden’s infrastructure package is that moderate and progressive Democrats need to find some common ground. They need to develop a compromise that enables the rebuilding of our infrastructure, with at least a nod toward some of the tangential issues associated with it, to proceed.

We need to fix our roads, bridges, airports, ship channels and the like. The cost is going to be huge no matter the number they settle on.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginia Democrat, has decided that $3.5 trillion is too much too soon. I disagree with him, but that’s just me. He is the man in position to affect legislation. He wants to pare it back … a lot! I only would implore him to avoid taking away the quality of life improvements contained in the legislation being discussed.

Whether it’s $3.5 trillion or $1.5 trillion or any number between those bookends, there needs to be some progress shown toward rebuilding our infrastructure.

They say it’s best to avoid “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.” We won’t find perfection in a deeply divided Congress — or between that body and the White House.

There is a lot of good to be harvested. Let’s find it and enact it.


Democrats’ hopes dashed

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Democrats have seen their hopes dashed once again as they seek a significant political victory.

A runoff for the Sixth Congressional District in the Fort Worth area will be decided between two Republicans: Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey.

Why the Democratic disappointment? They had hoped to breach the runoff barrier by getting one of their candidates from a crowded field to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright, a Republican who died of COVID complications after winning re-election in 2020.

One of the runoff participants is Wright’s widow, the aforementioned Susan Wright.

The district is supposed to be trending more Democratic, given the changing voter face throughout Tarrant County, which voted narrowly for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race and for Beto O’Rourke in the Senate contest in 2018.

Two Republicans, one backed by Trump, head to runoff in Texas special congressional election (yahoo.com)

Democrats had high hopes for the Sixth District race. They fell just a bit short. Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez, who was in third place with 13.4 percent of the vote, was her party’s leading candidate in the field.

I am thinking that more opportunities are going to present themselves going forward. The state’s political composition is changing by the year. It’s good to remember that Donald Trump carried the state in 2020 by fewer than 5 percentage points over Joe Biden, which makes the state a “battleground” going forward as the fight for the presidency ramps up.

Wait’ll next time, Democrats.

Who will cheer this POTUS?

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Presidential speeches to joint congressional sessions have devolved over many years into partisan events.

Presidents of one party stand before senators and House members and deliver lines designed to draw applause. The way it usually plays out is that lawmakers from the president’s party stand and cheer while those on the other side of the room sit silently while their “friends” offer the cheers.

So that will be the backdrop next week as President Biden strides to the podium to tell Congress about his big plans to help the nation continue to recover medically and economically from the pandemic that has ravaged us.

Joe Biden has trumpeted himself as being a politician with plenty of friends on the other side of the room. He is a Democrat who has worked well — in the past — with Republicans in the Senate, where he served for 36 years before becoming vice president in 2009. Why, he’s even drawn high praise from his GOP colleagues over those many years.

They aren’t about to praise him now. The mood is markedly different these days from the time in 1973 when Biden first joined the Senate. There’s a whole lot of snarling taking place these days.

He’ll have a Democratic House speaker sitting behind him at the joint session, along with the vice president, Kamala Harris. We’ll get to watch them cheer the president’s remarks.

My curiosity will be piqued, though, when President Biden enters the room as the sergeant at arms announces his arrival. Will congressional Republicans have enough good manners about them to stand and cheer when our head of state enters? Or will they continue to exhibit their petulance over losing the 2020 presidential election?

I am willing to acknowledge that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at times bristled openly at Donald Trump’s remarks and behavior during his speeches to Congress. Her anger manifested itself spectacularly when she stood and tore up the text of Trump’s speech to pieces in front of the whole world.

If only we could expect better behavior this time around.