Tag Archives: Mac Thornberry

This House seat has been hijacked

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Admittedly, my view of my former haunts up yonder on the West Texas Caprock is a bit jaded.

I arrived in Amarillo in January 1995 to begin a stint as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. The congressman for the region was taking his oath of office that same week. Mac Thornberry rode the Republican wave in the Contract With America election in 1994. He settled in quickly and became a quiet back-bench member of the new congressional majority comprising Republicans.

Thornberry is out of office now. He called it quits at the end of 2020 after a quarter century in Congress. His successor, Ronny Jackson, has assumed quite a different posture than the man he succeeded; I won’t say “replaced” because Jackson’s behavior so far doesn’t warrant that kind of accolade.

What I think we are witnessing in the 13th Congressional District of Texas is a boiled-down version of what has happened to the Republican Party. It has become the Party of Donald Trump. Jackson’s behavior, which includes multiple Twitter sniper shots daily, is indicative of that change.

Whereas the former congressman, Thornberry, would exercise some discretion, would be circumspect, wouldn’t seek to bloody the water, Jackson is an entirely different swamp creature.

It’s kinda like the way Trump acted during the time he served as president. You know?

Jackson has been ranting and railing against the border crisis, which he blames on President Biden’s alleged “open border” policy. He also has been bloviating and blustering about the Second Amendment to the Constitution, blaming Democrats of trying to “take your guns away” while they seek a legislative remedy to the spasm of gun violence that Biden has called — correctly! — an “international embarrassment.”

I sought out one of Thornberry’s closest aides this week, asking this staffer what Thornberry thinks of Jackson’s behavior. This aide responded, “Honestly, he doesn’t betray how he feels,” adding in a personal aside to me that “you know him” Well, I was not surprised to get the answer to that question. Still, I thought it was worth asking.

I am troubled by the representation my former neighbors in the Panhandle are getting from their member of Congress. I wonder if Rep. Jackson is going to settle down long enough to actually craft legislation that deals specifically with issues important to the constituents he now represents.

Oh, let me add that Rep. Jackson only moved into the district in time to run for the seat that Thornberry vacated. The congressman needs to bone up on the issues that matter.

He ought to take a break from his bluster to give thought to how he intends to represent the sprawling Texas congressional district.

Rep./Dr. Jackson tweets his thoughts … who knew?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My friends and former neighbors in the Texas Panhandle are getting a totally expected treat from their new congressman: a Twitter storm of statements, proclamations and, dare I say it, demagogic grenades.

Check out a tweet that came from Rep. Ronny Jackson, the newly elected congressman from the 13th Congressional District:

We must say NO to any mandated “vaccine passport.” This isn’t about “stopping the spread,” it’s about CONTROL and restricting our RIGHTS. Vaccine passports = TYRANNY!

You know, I just love the all-caps approach to driving home a point to the faithful. Actually … I don’t. Why not? It’s so, um, Trumpian!

I am thinking at this moment of Mac Thornberry, the actual lifetime resident of the congressional district whom Jackson succeeded when he got elected in 2020. My thought is that Twitter tirades are so not like Thornberry. He was not inclined to fire off Twitter bombs. Thornberry would do that Washington thing, you know … dictate a policy statement and then issue it through his press office. The Thornberry method was more professional and for me more likely to be taken seriously than a wild-eyed, mouth-frothing tweet!

It’s not that Rep. Jackson is a stupid man. He is, after all, a medical doctor who once served as physician to three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump and along the way rose to the rank of rear admiral in the Navy.

Now he’s a politician and has taken so very readily to the medium of choice for many blowhards on the left and the right.

I hope my former Texas Panhandle neighbors have a stronger stomach for the upcoming barrage of Twitter messages than I believe I would have were I still living there.

Boorishness goes bipartisan

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now, what are we to make of this item?

Just as the political world is all agog over the troubles descending on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who stands accused of sexual harassment by three women, we hear about a Republican member of Congress who’s been accused of the same thing … plus of drinking and taking sleeping pills on the job.

I happen to believe Andrew Cuomo ought to resign and return to private life.

What about Rep. Ronny Jackson, the newly elected House member who represents the congressional district where I once lived?

It turns out that Jackson, a former Navy doctor who once served as White House physician for three presidents, has been accused of misbehaving badly while caring for commanders in chief George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Here is part of what CNN.com is reporting: The Department of Defense inspector general has issued a scathing review of Rep. Ronny Jackson during his time serving as the top White House physician, concluding that he made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted concerns from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper care.

Well …

Rep. Ronny Jackson drank alcohol and took sleeping pills on job as top White House physician, watchdog finds – CNNPolitics

Jackson moved into the district in 2020 to run for the House seat that became vacant when GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon chose to retire from the House after serving for 25 years. His candidacy was fascinating from the get-go, given that he never lived in the 13th Congressional District. He was born in Levelland, Texas, but moved away to pursue a career in the Navy; he achieved the rank of rear admiral while also serving as physician to the three presidents.

None of this should surprise anyone, if you think about it. Donald Trump nominated Jackson to become secretary of veterans affairs, but then the fecal matter hit the fan when allegations surfaced of alcohol abuse on the job as well as his alleged habit of writing prescriptions for drugs that, um, weren’t necessarily for medicinal purposes.

Now the DOD inspector general is examining fresh allegations against this guy.

Nice …

Lame-duck lawmaker blasts … Trump

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now he speaks out,

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, who rose to the ranks of one of his party’s top lawmaking leaders, had remained virtually silent about the conduct of Donald J. Trump.

Then he announced his retirement from Congress, where he served since 1995. What do you suppose happened to the Clarendon, Texas, Republican? He found his, um, voice.

He has needled his fellow GOP colleagues for following a “mindless sort of obedience” to the lame-duck president. He says their blind fealty “undermines our institutions.” Well, yeah!

Thornberry told the Dallas Morning News that “Congress was created to be and meant to be a separate branch of government — not one in which its members take their direction from a president of either party.”

Thornberry also had some choice words for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the 126 GOP members who joined him in a loony lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. The suit sought to nullify millions of votes that went to President-elect Biden. Paxton had no standing or right to intercede in other states’ electoral processes, the court ruled. Thornberry agreed, saying that had Paxton had succeeded there could be no end to the type of mischief that other states could do to Texas’s own electoral system.

Suffice to say that Thornberry did not his colleagues’ effort to climb aboard the Paxton clown car.

I appreciate Thornberry’s newfound candor. He was my congressman for more than two decades when I lived and worked in Amarillo. I had a fruitful professional relationship with him and I wish him well as he charts a new course in his life.

I just wish he had revealed his candor a whole lot earlier.

Congressmen stay away from Paxton lunacy

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to declare that the young man who represents me in the U.S. House of Representatives and the fellow who was my congressman until my wife and I moved to Collin County have reneged on joining the Ken Paxton loony bin parade.

U.S. Reps. Van Taylor of Plano and Mac Thornberry of Clarendon have declined to add their names to the seditious letter signed by 105 House Republicans in support of the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

I am heartened to report that sanity has taken hold in at least two House GOP members’ noggins.

Paxton has sued four states, seeking to overturn their voters’ results after they supported President-elect Joe Biden’s successful presidential campaign. Paxton’s lawsuit has zero chance of being approved by the SCOTUS. Indeed, some GOP senators — such as John Cornyn of Texas — have expressed serious doubt about the merits of the argument Paxton is presenting.

Taylor was just re-elected to the House from the Third Congressional District. Thornberry is stepping down after serving since 1995 in the 13th District. Indeed, Thornberry has accepted publicly and openly that Joe Biden is the next president, unlike too damn many of his GOP colleagues in Congress.

The Dallas Morning News has reported on Thornberry’s statements:

Asked what signal it sends to foreign governments that so many of his GOP colleagues refuse to accept Biden as the winner, he said that “other countries, as well as most Americans, understand and probably support President Trump making full use of all of the legal avenues … to contest mistakes or whatever he can find — flaws in the voting process. But I also am mindful that, whether it’s the attorney general or a host of others, nobody’s said they have seen any evidence of enough flaws to change the result.”

“Nearly everybody says that transition needs to move on. And we’re down to just a few days now before the Electoral College votes. We’re proceeding step by step through the normal constitutional process. And certainly, Dec. 14 when the electors vote — that’s how a president is chosen. So, things need to move ahead,” he said.

I take that to mean that Paxton’s moronic lawsuit will go nowhere. Count me as a Texas resident who is glad to know the two men who have most recently represented my interests in Congress have demonstrated that they have retained their sanity.

Dr. Jackson becomes U.S. rep.-elect

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I skedaddled from the Texas Panhandle a couple of years ago, so my thoughts on a just-completed political campaign in the 13th Congressional District should be considered in that context.

I am not as close to the action in the Panhandle as I used to be, but my interest in the region remains high.

13th District voters elected Dr. Ronny Jackson as their next representative. Rep.-elect Jackson presents a strange new turn in Panhandle politics, in my humble view.

Jackson is a former White House physician. He served three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Trump wanted to nominate Jackson to be secretary of veterans affairs. Jackson didn’t make the cut; he bowed out after questions arose about his lack of administrative experience and then about his conduct as a physician.

So, he looked for a place to run for Congress and set his sights on a district where he never lived. He wanted to succeed longtime Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, who decided he didn’t want to seek re-election to a seat he held since 1995.

Jackson doesn’t know much about the district he now will  represent. He was born in Levelland, but moved away to join the Navy  — attaining the rank of rear admiral — and never looked back. Until now.

During the campaign, he became something of a shill for Donald Trump. He said some goofy things about the soon-to-be-former president.

What he knows specifically about Pantex, about the Bell/Textron aircraft assembly mission, about water conservation, or wind energy, or farm policy remains a mystery to me. Mac Thornberry is a son of the Panhandle, coming from a longtime Donley County ranching family. Jackson is a new resident of the region, so I guess I can call him a carpetbagger.

In these times, I guess it’s OK for carpetbaggers to represent the interest of folks who formerly used to demand that their political representatives be proficient in the issues important to them.

Jackson won handily.

As for his shilling for Donald Trump, I am wondering how long he’ll want to stay in office with his main man no longer in office.

Speaking of eras’ ending …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I must be in the mood to commemorate the end of eras.

A profoundly unhappy era might end Nov. 3 with the defeat of Donald Trump in the presidential election. Up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, another sort of era is sure to end with the retirement of 25-year U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican.

Thornberry, I reckon, had all the fun he could stand in Washington, D.C. He called it quits early this year, declaring he won’t seek re-election to Congress.

Up stepped a peculiar Republican, Ronny Jackson, to succeed Thornberry. Jackson is a former Navy admiral and is former physician to three presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

I used to live in the 13th Congressional District. I now live in the 3rd District. My congressman, GOP member Van Taylor, already has earned my scorn because of his silence over the bounty paid to Taliban terrorists by Russian government goons; what enrages me so is that Taylor is a former Marine who saw combat in Afghanistan, fighting the very Taliban fighters who might have gotten paid by Russia if they managed to kill Taylor on the battlefield.

Now we have Admiral Jackson moving into a congressional district about which he knows not a damn thing. He is likely to defeat Democratic opponent Gus Trujillo. Why? Because Republicans are just too damn strong in the 13th Congressional District!

Ronny Jackson is a Trumpkin. He adheres to what passes as ideology coming from Donald Trump. I guess you could say the same thing about Thornberry. It’s just that Thornberry isn’t the loudmouth that Jackson has become.

I admit to have conflicted feelings about Thornberry. I like him personally. I dislike his policy positions. I’ve never told him so to his face, although I think he understands that I do have a degree of personal regard for him. Given that, I wish him well in his retirement from public policy and politics.

I don’t know Admiral Jackson from Cap’n Crunch. I only know what I’ve read about him and some of the utterances that have flown out of his yapper.

I hope the fellow studies up on the region he is going to represent in Congress. I also hope Jackson exercises some discretion when someone sticks a microphone in his face. I don’t have much hope he will do that.

Get ready for a blowhard

Based on what I have witnessed from afar and from my extensive knowledge of the man who has represented the 13th Congressional District of Texas since 1995, voters in that part of the world are about to get a whole new brand of congressman.

Dr. Ronny Jackson is the odds-on favorite to succeed Mac Thornberry as the Republican representative for the sprawling West Texas congressional district.

My knowledge of Jackson is limited. I acknowledge the obvious, given that I no longer live in the district. I know that he was born in Levelland, went into the Navy, achieved the rank of rear admiral, became a physician and has served as White House doctor for three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He moved into the13th District when Thornberry announced he wouldn’t seek another term.

What is the difference that will occur? It will arrive in the vocal, more media-hungry style of the new guy. He is going to become a right-wing blowhard, the type of individual who generally annoys the daylights out of me. 

He has popped off, for instance, about mask wearing in light of the global pandemic. He has been dismissive of masks as protection against the killer virus. It’s the kind of baloney we hear from right-wing talking heads and various politicians such as, oh, Rep. Louie Gohmert, the East Texas loon who tested positive for the virus after making a public show of his refusal to wear a mask; Louie is singing a different tune these days.

Thornberry has served the13th District for 25 years. He won election in 1994 as part of the GOP Contract With America Brigade led by fire-breathing Rep. New Gingrich. Thornberry, though, became a quiet back bencher for much of his time in the House. He voted according to the Gingrich world view. He didn’t say much about anything publicly.

Rep. Thornberry was able to parlay his loyal service into the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee, where he served for a couple of terms before Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 election; he now serves — again, quietly — as the panel’s ranking member.

And so, Thornberry will leave at the end of the year. Jackson figures to win election over the Democrats’ sacrificial lamb. I will lay down a bet that Jackson will preen and pose for as long as he can, although some of that might be dictated by whether Donald Trump is still president after Election Day.

Whatever. A new day in congressional representation awaits my friends and former neighbors up yonder in the Texas Panhandle.

Why let an interloper represent the Texas Panhandle in Congress?

I hate what I fear is going to happen to the Texas Panhandle’s 13th Congressional District.

The district’s strong Republican ties are likely to hand the district over to an interloping carpetbagger who doesn’t know the first, second or third thing about the district. But he’s an R and that’s good enough for them.

He is Ronny Jackson, a retired Navy admiral, a physician (and former doc to two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump). He doesn’t know Pantex from Spic ‘n Span, but he’s going to represent the district for at least the next two years after they count the votes in the November election.

I’ll get to the glimmer of good news in just a bit.

I maintain an interest in the 13th District, even though I no longer live there, because my wife and lived there longer than we have anywhere else during our 48 years of married life. The congressman who is leaving Congress, Mac Thornberry, took office the same week I reported for duty at the Amarillo Globe-News in January 1995. So I have told Thornberry that he and I “grew up together” in the Panhandle.

Thornberry, though, has deep roots there, growing up on a ranch in Donley County. So he knows the district he has represented for 25 years … unlike Dr. Jackson — a native of Levelland — who took up residence there only to run for the office he thinks is ripe for the picking. And he’s right.

But … here comes the glimmer of good news.

He won the endorsement of Donald Trump in his primary race. Indeed, Jackson — from all I’ve heard — has spoken only about his close he is to Trump, that he is wedded to the president’s agenda … whatever the hell that is.

The good news? Trump is on course at this moment of losing his bid for re-election. Bigly! He has bungled the presidency at every turn. He has clearly mismanaged the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has sought to divide the nation. Trump spews racist-sounding thoughts.

It is my fondest hope that Joe Biden defeats Trump. If that comes to pass, then what becomes of Dr. Jackson’s main selling point he is using to land a seat in Congress? He likely will be hard-pressed to get the time of day from a Biden administration.

Would that mean it’s one term and then out for the doc?

I just know that my friends in the Texas Panhandle deserve a whole lot better from their congressman than they’re about to receive. At the very least they deserve to be represented by someone who knows the issues relevant to the region.

Get ready for another Texas nut job in Congress

Oh, I hate to say this but it’s got to be said: The Texas Panhandle is likely to send a nut job to Congress to represent them and, ostensibly, their interests.

Thirteenth Congressional District Republicans this week nominated Dr. Ronny Jackson to run for the seat being vacated by longtime GOP U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry. What makes this upcoming contest so fascinating to me — a former 13th District resident — is that Jackson knows next to nothing about the district he likely will be elected to represent. I mean, he’s never lived there … until just in time to run for the House.

Jackson was born in Levelland. He joined the Navy, became a doctor, rose to thank of rear admiral, tended to two U.S. presidents — Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and then retired from the Navy after Trump sought to have him become the secretary of veterans affairs. The nomination didn’t go well. It turns out Jackson has no administrative experience and he also allegedly got caught prescribing drugs in a rather cavalier fashion.

He pulled out of the running for the VA job.  He sought a safe Republican seat and found one in the Texas Panhandle. Thornberry announced he wouldn’t seek a new term and in jumped Admiral/Dr.  Jackson.

He’ll run against the Democrats’ latest sacrificial lamb, Gus Trujillo, who beat a friend of mine, Greg Sagan, in this week’s Democratic runoff.

Now, though, it gets even more interesting. Dr. Jackson says face mask wearing should be an individual choice and has downplayed the importance of face masks in the wake of the COVID crisis that is killing Texans every single day.

I am quite certain that Ronny Jackson’s lunacy quotient doesn’t measure up to that of the guy who nominated him to be VA secretary … but statements like the one he issued about face masks make me wonder.

Texas has elected too many wackos to Congress over the years. The nuttiest of them all is Louie Gohmert, the East Texas birther conspiracist; a close second might be John Ratcliffe, the former Northeast Texas House member who happens to be the current director of national intelligence.

Step aside, gentlemen. You’re about to be joined by a medical doctor/carpetbagger who well could put your wackiness to shame.