Tag Archives: KETR

Extinction looms

It’s strange to see myself in this fashion, but I am going to face a harsh reality. I worked in a profession that is fading ever so steadily into what we often call the “dustbin of history.”

I was a print journalist for nearly 37 years. I wrote news stories and then opinion pieces for newspapers in Oregon and Texas. Then my days as a full-timer ended almost a decade ago. I am back at it these days as a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper, the Farmersville Times, in Collin County, Texas; I also write feature stories for the public radio station over yonder in Hunt County, at KETR-FM, which is affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. For the record … I am having the time of my life.

My wife and I were walking through our neighborhood today and as we walked past the school nearby, I recalled returning in 1983 to the grade school I attended in Portland. My fifth-grade shop teacher, John Eide, invited me to participate in a “career day” event at the school. I accepted the invitation gladly and spoke to youngsters at Harvey W. Scott Elementary School about the joy of pursuing a craft I loved.

I had been at it for about seven years at that point. I was still pretty new to journalism, but I loved my job and looked forward to the career I would enjoy. The next 30 years were filled with loads of fun, excitement and hard work. I am proud of the career I built.

I am wondering, though: Do they still have career days and if so, do they invite newspaper reporters to speak to aspiring youngsters about how to pursue a career in journalism?

If they do, what do today’s journalists tell these future reporters? My hunch would be they would tell them to keep their powder dry if they intend to work for newspapers (if the students even know what a newspaper is these days). 

Will my granddaughter, who’s now 9 years old, know about what Grandpa did for a living? I will look forward one day to explaining it to her. I fear there might not be anyone still doing precisely the work that gave me so much joy and fulfillment.


‘Blue wave’ fizzled out

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

BLOGGER’S NOTE: A version of this blog was published originally on KETR-FM public radio.

Did someone suggest that Texas would be inundated by a “blue wave” of Democratic politicians seek public office in the just completed 2020 presidential election?

Wasn’t there a huge surge of anticipation that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would win the state’s 38 electoral votes on his way to a landslide win over Donald J. Trump?

I believe that happened in the weeks running up to the election.

Hmm. It didn’t happen. Neither event occurred.

The president carried Texas by roughly 6 percentage points over Biden. To be sure, the Trump-Biden gap was narrower than the 8-point victory Trump scored over Hillary Clinton in 2016; what’s more, the most recent election was far tighter than the 16-point win that GOP nominee Mitt Romney scored over President Barack Obama in 2012.

But Texas Republicans no doubt can take heart in how solidly they held onto statewide and local offices when all the ballots were tallied.

I live in Collin County, long considered one of the state’s most reliable GOP bastions. The Trump-Biden gap was far narrower than the Trump-Clinton margin four years ago.

Congressional seats held by GOP members will remain in Republican hands. A key statewide race, for Railroad Commissioner, will stay in GOP hands. The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals? They remain all-GOP judicial benches. Republicans will continue to control the Legislature.

Political pundits and analysts keep talking about the “changing demographics” that suggest an eventual swing from solid red to a much more competitive “purple” status for Texas. Indeed, it does appear that Texas might be turning into a more competitive state, with Republicans and Democrats competing harder for votes than they have done since the GOP took control of the state political structure more than 30 years ago.

Just how entrenched is the GOP in Northeast Texas. Consider this: The percentages that Donald Trump rang up against Biden in Hunt, Kaufman, Hopkins and Rains counties virtually mirror the margins he rolled up against Hillary Clinton four years ago. Interestingly, though, is what happened in Tarrant County, which is described colloquially as the state’s “largest conservative county.” It voted narrowly for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Who knew?

So, whatever blue wave is set to wash over Texas – perhaps in the next election cycle of the one after that – seems to be a good bit away from soaking voters in Northeast Texas.

GOP looking for another Trump toadie

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This blog was published originally on KETR.org, the website for KETR-FM public radio based at Texas A&M/Commerce.

John Ratcliffe is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next director of national intelligence.

How and why that will happen is a mystery to me, given that he was nominated to the post in 2019 but then pulled out when questions arose about his resume, his background and intelligence-gathering credentials. I don’t believe Ratcliffe is any more qualified now to become DNI than he was a year ago … but that’s out of my control.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Congressional District of Northeast Texas that Ratcliffe represents needs to find a successor to Donald Trump’s fiery defender.

Republican activists have set an Aug. 8 election to select a successor. They have their favorites in mind.

The Fourth Congressional District is a reliably Republican stronghold. I am fascinated by that factoid, given that the district once was represented by the late, great House Speaker Sam Rayburn, the legendary Texas Democrat who mentored many members of Congress from this state, including one of them who later became president of the United States … a guy named Lyndon Baines Johnson.

That was then. The here and now suggests that the next member of Congress from this district will be a Donald Trump loyalist. The three favorites to succeed Ratcliffe, according to the Texas Tribune, are:

Jason Ross, Ratcliffe’s former district chief of staff who is campaigning on continuing in Ratcliffe’s footsteps, promising to “stay the course with a principled conservative and proven leader.”

Floyd McLendon, the runner-up in the March primary for the Dallas-based 32nd Congressional District. McLendon, a former Navy SEAL, finished behind Genevieve Collins, who narrowly won outright in the five-way primary, capturing the nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, a national GOP target.

A third candidate is TC Manning, a Navy veteran who unsuccessfully ran in the March primary for the Houston-based 18th Congressional District.

Here is my major takeaway, though, from the Tribune’s reporting on these candidates. Two of the three top individuals are, dare I say it, “carpetbaggers.” McLendon and Manning ran in districts a good distance from the Fourth Congressional District. So they have decided that with an opening about to occur in Northeast Texas, they must figure it’s time to jump into the fray in a district where they might – or might not – have any knowledge of its specific needs.

Unless, of course, the prevailing “qualification” for service in this GOP bastion is a candidate’s commitment to Donald John Trump.

This GOP contest is a mind-boggler

BLOGGER’S NOTE — This item was published originally on KETR-FM’s website, www.ketr.org

It’s fair to wonder about the upcoming runoff election for a Northeast Texas legislative district seat: How does someone as conservative as state Rep. Dan Flynn face a primary challenge from the right?

Flynn, a Van Republican, is running against Bryan Slaton, a businessman from Royse City. The two are running for the House District 2 seat that Flynn has occupied since 2003.

Let’s be clear about this point: Flynn is about as conservative a legislator as there is among the 150 men and women who serve in the Texas House of Representatives. He touts his conservative credentials with pride. That hasn’t dissuaded Slaton from challenging Flynn twice already. He lost narrowly to Flynn in the 2016 and 2018 Republican primaries. He’s back at it again, having forced a runoff with Flynn, by denying the incumbent – along with a third GOP contender – the outright majority he needed to win the GOP nomination outright on Super Tuesday.

The word is that Flynn, despite his conservative voting record in the Texas House, allegedly has compromised himself by being too close to the Austin political “establishment.” Well, to those of us who’ve been watching state politics for some time, the Austin “establishment” usually comprises those on the left and far-left end of the political spectrum. I mean, they don’t call it “The People’s Republic of Austin” for no reason, if you get my drift.

How conservative is Rep. Flynn? Consider that he once proposed legislation that would have required that all public documents be published in English only as a way to get all Texans to speak English. He aimed the legislation at non-English-speaking Texas residents, who comprise an ever-increasing percentage of the state’s total population.

Then came a bit of controversy surrounding a bill he proposed during the 2017 Legislature. Flynn wanted to allow members of the Texas State Guard – which is not a military organization – access to veteran benefits. Flynn, by the way, happens to belong to the State Guard. Legislators who are veterans rose up to defeat the bill by the largest margin of any bill defeated during the 2017 session.

After defeating Slaton in the 2018 GOP primary, Flynn promoted the idea of allowing public school teachers to display the Ten Commandments in their classrooms. Progressives argue that such displays violate the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment ban on mixing government institutions with religion. Flynn doesn’t see it that way, arguing that teachers should be allowed to espouse the “values” contained in the Ten Commandments.

This is a bit of a curious runoff contest, given that intraparty challenges usually pit challengers against incumbents who tilt in opposite directions. Flynn and Slaton look to me as if they’re far more alike than otherwise.

The runoff is set for May 28.

However … and this is another factor worth considering, but the coronavirus pandemic might forestall the runoff from occurring if the Texas secretary of state determines there is too heavy a risk to voters and election judges who will be mingling at polling places.

I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see how this medical emergency plays out. It might give us all more time to make sense of a curious Republican Party contest.