Tag Archives: progressives

Now, for social media’s negatives

Not long ago I spoke glowingly about social media’s ability to keep friends connected. Today, I want to offer a dart at social media’s ability to lift the celebrity profiles of politicians beyond where they deserve.

I am stunned at how freshmen and women in Congress become overnight celebrities, how their every utterance becomes headline news.

Progressives mined that wellspring a few years ago when Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez took her seat in the U.S. House. She got airtime, inches in print and attention usually reserved for much senior members.

She didn’t deserve it! Same with other progressives such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Now, it’s the MAGA cultists getting this outsized attention. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Lauren Boebert all can be seen and heard everywhere. They have become leaders within their Republican Party, just as AOC emerged as a leader within the Democratic Party.

Who or what is responsible? Social media. These pols have mined social media with cunning. Their celebrity status is both cheap and costly. It cost them little to attain this status. It has cost our system of government, though, to give these loudmouths attention they clearly do not deserve.

Stay strong, Mr. President

Democrats are beginning to grumble about President Biden. They fret over his poll numbers, suggesting he isn’t showing enough decisive leadership in times of crisis.

Most of the griping comes from the progressive wing of the party, the fraction of Democrats who want to pack the Supreme Court with more liberal justices; they want to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate; they want the president to forgive all student debt.

They cannot understand why the president — who proclaims himself to be a progressive Democrat — isn’t joining them in their zealous quest for political perfection.

I’m going to give Joe Biden a bit more credit than progressives are giving him. The man has been a creature of government since before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. He knows politics and understands the value and the need for compromise.

Some progressive politicians say at this moment they cannot bring themselves to endorse President Biden for a second term should he decide to run in 2024. He has declared his intention to run for a second term, which — of course! — could change. I learned long ago that a pol’s “intent” doesn’t always translate into a forever condition.

Joe Biden has been dealt a tough hand. Vladimir Putin went to war illegally in Ukraine. That conflict has affected the price of fossil fuels. Inflation is raging. But, seriously, what can the president do unilaterally to bring it under control?

All that said, I am not going to acknowledge publicly that the economy is in the tank. We’re still adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. Unemployment is down to pre-pandemic lows.

And, yes, we have those midterm elections coming and the prospect — although it’s not certain — that Republicans are going to win control of Congress.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, though, can count this chump blogger as one who is going to stand with the president.


Vowing to hear all sides

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is time for your friendly blogger to make a solemn, sincere and honest vow.

I hereby pledge to read more political commentary with which I disagree. The Age of Trump has given way to the Age of Biden. The change in political tone and tenor in Washington thrills me greatly.

However, I need to make a confession. I didn’t listen to as many arguments that favored the tone that Donald Trump set during his term as president as I should have done.

Now that Trump has holed up in his glitzy south Florida resort, I intend to examine more carefully the conservative antidote to the surprisingly progressive tone that President Biden is striking as he seeks to take control of the crises that awaited him.

I look at a number of Internet sites each day. The one that provides the widest range of views is RealClearPolitics.com, which I scan daily. The RCP site is chock full of progressive, centrist and conservative thought. They’re all reputable and I now intend to examine those views that differ from my own bias.

RealClearPolitics – Live Opinion, News, Analysis, Video and Polls

Do I expect to “come out” as a born-again conservative? Hardly. I just believe I should practice what I occasionally preach to those who take time to read my rants on High Plains Blogger. One of my occasional rant topics deals with narrow-mindedness.

As my dear mother used to say, “That guy is so narrow-minded, he can look through a keyhole with both eyes.”

I don’t intend to be “that guy.”

Democratic establishment gets its act together

Both major political parties have “establishment” wings.

The Republican establishment, sadly, has been co-opted and corrupted by Donald J. Trump and his fanatic base, the bloc of voters who think it’s OK to lie incessantly, to hurl insults and innuendo and to mock those with whom they disagree.

The Democratic establishment is being challenged by the far-left “progressive” wing of its party seeking to launch a “movement” that wants to toss aside an economic structure that has made this country so immensely wealthy.

The far-left wing of the Democratic Party is seeking to capture the presidential nomination and send a nominee, Bernie Sanders, against the godfather of the GOP fanatical wing, Donald Trump.

But wait! The Democratic establishment is beginning to come to its senses. Two center-left candidates for POTUS, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have dropped out; they’re going to endorse their new main man, Joseph R. Biden Jr., tonight in Dallas.

I am hearing some chatter out there in social media land that the D establishment is trying to “steal” the nomination from Bernie. Poppycock! There is no theft involved when people are acting in good faith to back an individual they believe can actually win a political campaign against someone — namely the current president — who needs to lose the next election.

And, no, I do not include the zillionaire Michael Bloomberg among the party establishment; Bloomberg isn’t an actual Democrat. Elizabeth Warren is fading away after a stellar start.

Buttigieg’s withdrawal speech spoke to the need for unity. He spoke to the desire to return to a political structure that seeks compromise and cooperation. Does anyone believe the “movement” leader, Bernie Sanders, is able to reach across the yawning political divide to work with those on the other side? I am not one of them.

Thus, it is my considered opinion that Democratic establishment political figures know of the need that exists out there.

What’s more, both wings of the Democratic Party share a mutual desire to defeat the Republican in the White House.

My desire now is for the Democratic establishment to catch its breath and persuade the progressives to join them in the political battle they both want to win.

Ted Cruz joins forces with AOC? What the … ?

As my dear ol’ Dad would say: I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a hardline conservative, has joined forces with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an equally hardline progressive, on legislation aimed at banning former members of Congress from joining the lobbying ranks immediately after leaving office.

Who in the world knew?

Cruz put out a Twitter message that declared he actually agrees with an idea that AOC put out there, which is to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists; at least, she said, the new law should require a lengthy waiting period.

I don’t think hell has frozen over, but it might be getting a bit chilly down there nonetheless.

This unlikely partnership demonstrates to me that bipartisanship is not a lost cause on Capitol Hill.

I’ve written often about my dislike for Sen. Cruz. As for AOC, well, she has annoyed me as well, given the undeserved spotlight she is getting as a rookie member of the House of Representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this: “If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around &leverage your service for a lobbyist check. I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period.”

Cruz responded with this: “Here’s something I don’t say often: I agree with @AOC.” He said he has long favored a ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists. He added this via Twitter: “The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for bipartisan cooperation.”

There you have it. Two lawmakers from extreme ends of the political spectrum have reached out, locked arms and decided on something on which they both have found common ground.

Indeed, lobbyists who walk away from the halls of power and begin working directly for corporate employers have built-in advantages over their colleagues/competitors. It ain’t fair, man!

AOC responded that she’s “down” with what Cruz has proposed as long as it doesn’t contain any partisan trickery. Cruz responded, “You’re on.”

This is a small step. It’s still an important one.

Dems worry about intraparty conflict? Get over it!

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly is worried that factions within the Democratic Party are too busy fighting with each other while not fighting hard enough against, oh, Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Hey, get over it, Mme. Speaker and your fellow party honchos.

Your friends on the other side have had their share of intraparty squabbles, too. There have been spats between the so-called Establishment Republicans and the TEA Party wing of the GOP; the TEA Party has morphed more or less into something called the Freedom Caucus, which continues to raise Cain against the Establishment types.

The Republican Party is going through much of the same kind of tumult, tempest and turmoil that plagued the Democrats back in the 1960s. Perhaps some of today’s Democratic leaders recall when the Vietnam War split the party — and the nation — between the Hawks and the Doves.

Fights sometimes are worth having

I don’t believe there’s as much to “worry” about as some within today’s Democratic Party seem to suggest there is.

A little internal fighting is good for the organization. It keeps everyone sharp, on both sides. Republicans have sought to take that lesson away during their own ideological struggles.

These lessons know no partisan boundaries.

Shameful sign removed … for real?

Media are reporting something good coming out of something hideous.

Fox News says that ghastly sign that invited “liberals” to “please continue on I-40 until you have left our great state of Texas” has been taken down.

I don’t live in the Texas Panhandle these days, so I’m left to take the media outlet at its word, that the sign is gone. It had been erected in Vega, Texas, just a bit west of Amarillo.

I’m wondering now about the why and by whom. Why did the person who put the sign up decide to remove it? I’ll hold out some glimmer of hope that whoever is responsible for it got shamed into taking it down.

The billboard that contained the sign is owned by Randy Burkett, a former Amarillo City Council member. He served a single term from 2015 to 2017, then decided he wouldn’t seek a second term.

Good deal, yes? Given his ownership of this billboard, I’d say “yes, definitely.”

Such a closed-minded point of view on a well-traveled public interstate highway sends a chilling message to those passing through. Their unmistakeable takeaway is that people with a “liberal” or “progressive” world view are not welcome here.

What the hell kind of message is that to send in a nation that is supposed to welcome all kinds of thought and political expression?

I do hope the message is gone. I also hope it stays gone.

As for who put the sign up and then took it down, may this individual — whoever he or she is — decides to exercise at least a modicum of discretion when expressing a political point of view.

Conservatives are winning the labeling war

Let’s give a sort of shout-out to the conservative media and the politicians they are backing.

Those on the right wing of the spectrum are winning the war of epithets, labeling and name-calling. They have turned the term “liberal” into a four-letter word.

I see it daily as I watch the political debate swirl and churn across the land. To be called a “liberal” in Texas — which is run by Republicans at every level of government — is to be called the son of Satan himself. A candidate for the Texas Senate who is running against state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has called him “liberal” and “corrupt” — in that order. Do you get it? The implication is that to be liberal is to be corrupt. By the way, Seliger is campaigning for re-election as a dedicated conservative, which he is.

It’s gotten so bad among liberals that they no longer are even identifying themselves with that epithet. Oh, no. The operative word now among those on the left is “progressive.”

Admission time: As one who tilts to the left, I find myself using the this new P-word when describing myself. Have I gotten, um, self-conscious about what liberalism? Oh … maybe.

Liberals, er, progressives, haven’t yet been able to turn the right wing’s labeling against them. I suppose they could shorten the word “conservative” to, oh, “con,” which of course brings up another connotation altogether. I mean, liberals are called “libs” on occasion. But I digress.

The political debate often becomes a contest of sorts. One side seeks to demonize the other with words that sound a bit jarring. Republicans back in the early to mid-1990s began using the term “Democrat” as an adjective, referring to “Democrat politicians,” which doesn’t sound quite the same as “Democratic politicians.” That word usage was part of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s strategy to label “Democrats as the enemy of normal Americans.”

If I were wearing a cap at this moment, I would tip it toward Republicans, conservatives and those in the right-wing media for the success they have enjoyed in this rhetorical battle with those on the other side.

However, as a dedicated political liberal, I offer my salute as a form of damning them with faint praise.