Tag Archives: US House

Juneteenth receives deserved honor

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas has celebrated this glorious day for decades.

Now it’s time for the rest of the nation to join us.

Juneteenth will become the nation’s latest national holiday once President Biden puts his name on the legislation that sailed through the Senate unanimously and through the House in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion.

It becomes the first national holiday since Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was declared such in 1983.

I am delighted as a Texas resident to see this state take a front-and-center place in this discussion. June 19, 1865 was the day that African-Americans were informed in Galveston that they were, indeed, free from enslavement; the announcement came two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. News didn’t travel nearly as fast as it should have in those days … you know?

Cornyn calls GOP lawmaker’s position against Juneteenth ‘kooky’ (msn.com)

And so, with the exception of 14 GOP knuckleheads in the House, virtually the entire legislative branch of government is on board in that rare bipartisan event.

This day deserves the honor it is about to receive, as do the descendants of those who were declared finally free of humanity’s greatest sin.

Spare me the lightning strike for speaking well of a looney bird

Oh, I am fearing a bolt of lightning killing me dead for saying something semi-supportive of U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, the East Texas loon who is prone to say the most outrageous things and cast the most outrageous congressional votes.

Gohmert was one of just four House members to vote against a bill that makes lynching a federal crime. It’s named after Emmitt Till, a young African American, who was lynched in the 1950s because he whistled at a white woman.

Gohmert’s objection to the Emmitt Till Antilynching Act is sound. He said the maximum 10-year penalty for a conviction in a lynching is far too light. Gosh, do ya think?

The House passed the bill 401-4. It was hailed universally as a get-tough federal law that makes lynching a federal crime.

I believe, though, that anyone convicted of such a crime in, say, Texas would be put to death. 

I am now left to wonder why this particular legislation — if it’s meant to make a harsh statement against hate crimes — carries such a mealy-mouthed, milquetoast punishment.

Here’s some good news about the Emmitt Till Antilynching Act: It now must go to the Senate, which now must approve the House version of the legislation.

How about this idea? The Senate ought to reject this measure, and then send it back to the House to apply a penalty for a heinous hate crime that matches what many states apply for the commission of such a crime.

Trial muzzles loquacious group of lawmakers

Hear ye! Hear ye!. All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.

One hundred Americans who now serve in the U.S. Senate got that command at the start of a trial to determine whether the current president of the United States, Donald John Trump, gets to keep his job.

Four of those 100 senators are running in a primary campaign for the right to face that president in an election later this year.

I am trying to imagine the difficulty it was for those senators, a group of men and women with enormous egos — many of whom are deeply in love with the sound of their own voices — to hear that mandate come from the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

The late Sen. George McGovern once said that the first prerequisite for a successful politician is to have a large ego. So the Senate is now sitting on its hands, its collective lips zipped while House members — from that “other” legislative branch — argue on behalf of the case that produced an impeachment of the Donald Trump.

My goodness. It’s bad enough for these men and women to have to sit there and not say a word. What makes it worse is that they are being forced to listen to House members talk for hours on end about a case they have brought to the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.” Senators tend, as I understand it, to look down on their colleagues in the House. Except for those few sparsely populated states that have just a single House member in Congress, senators represent their entire states while House members represent a “mere” congressional district. Senators have greater power, or so they believe, than their House colleagues.

The impeachment accuses Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

You and I are all quite certain that senators have plenty to say about those articles of impeachment. Except they cannot say a word about it, other than to comment — when the media ask them for their comment — on the presentation they are being forced to hear without being able to respond in real time.

In a strange sort of happenstance, we are witnessing the members of one legislative chamber elevating their profile to the same level as the members of the other.

I find it entertaining.

Let the trial begin … with witnesses!

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It looks as though the U.S. Senate is going to convene a trial next week. The president of the United States is going to stand trial on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The trial of Donald Trump isn’t a purely legal proceeding. It’s damn close to one, though. It’s close enough to a courtroom trial that there needs to be witnesses called who have something important to add to the issue at hand.

That issue is: What happened precisely during that “perfect phone call” that Trump had with the president of Ukraine? Then-national security adviser John Bolton was present when Trump talked to his Ukrainian colleague; so was acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The Senate needs to hear from them. What they did hear? Did the president ask a foreign government to interfere in our 2020 election? Did he withhold military aid to Ukraine until it announced an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential Trump foe?

The nation does not know what they know. We have not heard it from them directly. I am one American who wants to know what they heard. I want to hear ’em say it out loud, in public, under oath.

Will that occur? Will the Senate summon them? We don’t know.

In return, of course, Trump wants the Senate to call Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who worked for the energy company for a handsome sum of money. There are allegations of “corruption” involving Hunter Biden. Except that prosecutors have said time and again that the younger Biden did nothing illegal.

The president also wants to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Why? Beats the livin’ malarkey out of me!

Let’s not turn this trial into a sideshow. It is serious. It is a sober event. It should be conducted with utmost decorum and dignity.

I am awaiting the start of this trial. I hope we get to hear from Bolton and others with direct knowledge of what happened … allegedly!

We need a serious trial. Not a circus.

Get on with Senate trial and then move on to the next fight

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

My impeachment fatigue is worsening. It’s wearing me out. I am tiring of hearing the same news reports time and again about the upcoming trial of Donald John Trump.

Let’s get the trial done, shall we.

I believe my worsening case of impeachment fatigue is brought on the realization — which I have known for some time, truth be told — that the U.S. Senate will not toss Donald Trump out of the White House. It will not muster up the constitutionally mandated courage to do the right thing and convict him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump is likely to keep enough Senate Republicans in tow to avoid being booted out with a two-thirds majority needed at the end of the trial.

I would say “that’s fine,” except that it isn’t. It’s just the way this hand will play out.

It appears, too, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who presided over Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives, caved in her demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guarantee a “fair” trial before she sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. I guess every politician has limits on his or her patience and I reckon Pelosi reached her limit.

So, what now? We get a trial. Trump stays in office. Then he runs for re-election as the first president ever to do so with the cloud of impeachment hanging over him. How that plays out depends on (a) how adroit Trump is in parlaying himself as a “victim” and (b) how well the Democratic Party nominee is able to articulate the case that an impeachment is a major scar on the president’s legacy.

I will devote much of this blog, therefore, to making the case as well as I can that Donald Trump needs to serve just a single term as president, that the next president will have some major cleanup work to do to restore the dignity of the office.

The impeachment fatigue, I am hoping, will dissipate once we get a Senate verdict. Then I’ll be ready to move on to the next battle.

Let’s all get ready.

Do any minds ever get changed?

Watching the “debate” on the House of Representatives floor today over the impeachment of Donald J. Trump brings to mind something I heard many years ago from a Texas state legislator.

In early 1995 I had the pleasure of meeting the late state Sen. Teel Bivins, an Amarillo Republican. I went to his downtown Amarillo office, exchanged greetings with him and sat down for some discussion.

Bivins knew I had moved to Amarillo from Beaumont. I worked for the Beaumont Enterprise and then went to work for the Amarillo Globe-News. Bivins then brought up the name of a fellow state senator with whom he had a sometimes-testy relationship. He talked admiringly about the debating skills of Democratic colleague Carl Parker of Port Arthur.

Parker is a trial lawyer who possesses tremendous rhetorical skill. Bivins called Parker a “friend,” and then told me that he actually once witnessed how Parker’s intense debating ability changed the minds of one or two of his Senate colleagues on an issue that Parker was debating.

I thought about the tale Bivins told about Carl Parker and wondered if there are any such debaters squaring off today under the Capitol Dome. I ain’t hearing anything of the sort. They’re all dug in. No one is going to budge.

I am left to wonder if any minds could be changed were they to hear the thundering rhetoric that a Texas state senator could deliver when the chips were down.

House members are not listening to each other

Congressional Democrats are yapping about their desire to impeach the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Congressional Republicans are yammering about their opposition to their colleagues on the other side of the House floor.

They all are talking past each other. No one is listening to a word those on the other side are saying. Their minds are made up. They are making brief speeches. I suppose they are looking for a moment to shine before Americans who might be watching on TV. I happen to one of them.

I am not being persuaded by congressional Republicans. Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are preaching to the proverbial choir.

The exercise we are witnessing on the floor of the House of Representatives is a waste of time. It’s time to vote. Impeach the president and send this matter down the hall to the Senate.

Legal victory = political draw

One of the more fascinating talking points to emerge from the public hearings into the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump’s presidency focuses on the legal vs. political aspects of the proceeding.

The argument goes something like this: If this were strictly a legal matter, House Democrats would have enough compelling evidence to convict Trump of the high crimes and misdemeanors that have been alleged against him. But it isn’t a legal proceeding. It’s a political battle and on that score, Trump is likely to survive impeachment and a trial that would occur in the U.S. Senate.

House and Senate Republicans seem to be aligned along a single thought: Yeah, the president did something wrong, but it’s not impeachable, let alone enough of a reason to convict him and toss him out of office.

Their Democratic colleagues, obviously, see it differently. They believe they have sufficient evidence in hand to impeach and convict Trump on crimes relating to his solicitation of political help from a foreign government and his efforts to cover it up and obstruct the pursuit of justice.

But … this isn’t a criminal matter. It’s a political one. Which is where Trump holds the winning hand.

He has bullied Senate and House Republicans into standing with him. To oppose Trump in this political fight would incur his wrath, which has proven to be quite formidable. They fear the president’s revenge and the support he continues to enjoy among that base of American voters in key states and congressional districts.

Were this a legal fight that operated under the rules of legal justice, in my view this wouldn’t even be a close call. Trump would be drummed out of office, sent packing to Mar-a-Lago … where he no doubt would launch a full frontal Twitter assault on a system that robbed him of the glory he believes he deserves.

Sadly, it is not. It’s a political fight that figures to last beyond the impeachment and trial and into the 2020 presidential election.

That is where this fight is likely to be decided.

Oh, I do hope Americans can snap out of their Trump-induced stupor to rid this nation of this poisonous politician.

‘Jury tampering’ mixes with political necessity

I have laid out already the notion that the president of the United States, while launching a charm offensive with potential U.S. Senate trial “jurors,” might have committed an act of jury tampering.

However, I also am enough of a realist to understand that presidents who seek to govern effectively need to talk to legislators about the enactment of bills that become the law of the land.

Thus, Donald Trump is facing a serious governance quandary as he awaits the near-certain impeachment of him by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House then would hand it off to the Senate, which will put the president on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Trump met with GOP senators this week to talk about the impeachment trial that is sure to occur. What did he discuss? Did he seek to persuade them to stand by him? That sounds like jury tampering to me.

However, what about their legislative initiative? Or the president’s legislative agenda? Or the agendas awaiting action by Republicans and, oh yes, Democrats in the Senate?

Were the president to invite senators to the White House to discuss those issues — and stay far away from the impeachment trial that will be looming soon in the Senate — well, that would be OK with me.

That, of course, requires that the president understand how government works and how he must be able to compartmentalize the issues that lay before him. President Clinton was able to do that when the House impeached him in 1998. This president is consumed by the impeachment battle and it is getting in the way of him doing the job to which he was elected.

Sigh …

Will he resign or stay … and get pummeled?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly wants to serve in the U.S. Senate. How does he do that if he is serving in the Donald Trump administration? Obviously, he cannot.

He also is being dragged feet first into the impeachment inquiry sausage grinder that has cranked up in the House of Representatives.

Pompeo hails from Kansas. He once served in the House from that state. Sen. Pat Roberts is retiring at the end of 2020. Pompeo wants to succeed him.

Does he stay on at State or does he enter the campaign from Kansas? He ought to run for the Senate. I don’t believe he needs to be elected from that state, given that I believe he has disserved his fellow diplomats at State. How? By not standing behind one of his more stellar ambassadors, Marie Yovanovitch, who has been smeared by Donald Trump, who fired her from her post as ambassador to Ukraine.

The impeachment inquiry is getting messy for Pompeo. He now has been revealed to have been in on that phone call Trump made to Ukraine’s president in which he asked for a favor in return for weapons sent to Ukraine to use against rebels backed by Russia.

Yahoo.com reported that Pompeo wants out, that he wants to run for the Senate. The State Department denies it … naturally!

Since the denial comes from the Trump administration, I cannot accept it at face value.

I tend to believe the reports that Donald Trump is going to look for the third secretary of state who is willing to endure the misery the president seems all too willing to inflict on those he selects to serve.