Tag Archives: US House

Pelosi bows out with class

Nancy Pelosi has made her share of foes — as well as friends — over her many years as a leader in Congress.

Today, though, the lame-duck speaker of the House demonstrated a rare form of grace and class as she declared her intention to stay in Congress while forgoing any future attempts to remain a leader within the Democratic Party caucus.

Pelosi can consider me a friend and a fan, for sure.

She spoke to a nearly full House of Representatives chamber today to announce her political future. Pelosi declared her intent to remain loyal to her San Francisco constituents … also while remaining loyal to the oath she took as a member of Congress to protect and defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

She soon will hand the gavel over to whomever becomes speaker.

As is always the case, one side of the chamber stood and cheered at the appropriate time. The other side, the one occupied by Republican members, didn’t always stand, but one could see some GOP members clapping politely.

They all stood and cheered as Pelosi paid tribute to her husband, Paul, who is still recovering from injuries he suffered in that brutal attack at the couple’s SF home in what clearly was a political assault.

Pelosi called herself a “proud Democrat,” a mother, grandmother and a patriot who loves our country to the fullest. I believe in her faith and devotion to our beloved nation.

Yes, the Pelosi era in the House is about to come to an end.

May this classy and devoted public servant continue to serve her constituents with the same honor and dignity she served the nation as the speaker of the House.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now … we wait for the votes

OK, here’s where we stand on the eve of the most consequential midterm election I can remember … and at the age of almost 73, I can remember a lot of ’em.

Depending on who you ask or who is doing the talking, Democrats are either (a) going to get a serious, back-alley thumping at the polls or (b) might pull off the surprise of the century and hold onto the Senate and cut their expected losses in the House of Representatives.

I will not venture a prediction on what will occur. I don’t have a clue. I live out here in the middle of the country. All the political action is either back east or in the Deep South or out west in places like Arizona and Nevada.

My bride and I just returned from the western region of the nation; we spent a few nights listening to the news out of Arizona and Nevada. We heard the extreme negativity coming from both sides of the great divide. I didn’t ask anyone what they thought of the tone and tenor of the campaign being waged.

We’re home now. We are going to vote on Tuesday. No early voting for me … for reasons I have explained already.

What will the result be at the end of it all? Beats me, man. You know what I want to happen: I would prefer the Senate and House remain in Democratic hands, given Republicans’ refusal to offer any solutions other than to obstruct what President Biden wants to accomplish.

If the House flips to GOP control, then I fear a vengeance-filled period for the next two years and likely beyond. The best hope, I suppose, lies in the Senate, where Democrats appear to have a puncher’s chance of holding on to the committee gavels.

Is our democracy at stake? You’re damn right it is!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Not even close …

This isn’t anything like the way I envisioned legislation would proceed upon the election in 2020 of Joe Biden as president of the United States.

I envisioned a return to the type of collegiality and compromise one could see with a president with decades of legislative experience working with members of Congress to enact laws that would do good things for Americans.

What have we seen? More gridlock. More obstruction from the loyal opposition. More partisan wrangling.

Democrats are cheering the enactment of what they call the Inflation Reduction Act. The Senate vote was 50-50, leaving the tie-breaking vote to come from Vice President Harris.

The bill isn’t perfect, but it includes the nation’s largest investment ever on ways to battle the planet’s changing climate. It seeks to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. It is paid for by taxes being leveled on corporations.

The Grand Obstructionist Party fought all of it. Tooth and nail. Hammer and tong.

President Biden’s predecessor took office without a lick of government experience … and it showed. He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a phone booth. Biden took office in January 2021 making what I thought at the time was a reasonable pledge to restore a sense of commonality between Democrats and Republicans.

Silly me. It hasn’t worked. GOP members of both congressional chambers continue to dig in, even to the point of denying that Joe Biden even is the “legitimate president of the United States.” Yes, they have swallowed The Big Lie and are obstructing the president at every turn.

But … Democrats won this latest battle. I am glad and grateful at least to see one side of the great divide working on my behalf.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What if a guy did this?

Eddie Bernice Johnson has endorsed the candidacy of a freshman member of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett today announced she is running for Rep. Johnson’s seat, which will become vacant upon Johnson’s retirement after a 30-year career in the House. Rep. Johnson, though, set down what I think is a peculiar marker for the person she wanted to succeed her.

Johnson said the other day it had to be a woman. Hmm. I am going to nitpick just a bit here.

What if a male member of the House of Reps had declared he wanted a dude to succeed him? What do you suppose would be the community reaction to that? My guess is that there would be hell to pay. That the media, feminists, civil rights groups would be clamoring loudly that the congressman is, um, discriminating against women.

The Texas Tribune reported: “A vibrant congressional district like TX-30 needs a representative in Washington with high energy, a passion to fight for us, shrewd intelligence, leadership, and an incessant drive,” Johnson said. “After proudly serving the City of Dallas and Southern sector for 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I firmly believe that Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett is just the person we need in Congress at this critical time.”

Look, I am not going to waste much more energy on this, other than to suggest that there seems to exist a remarkable double standard when a female member of Congress can insist that her successor be of the same gender without a hint of blowback.

But if a man were to do this? Oh, brother.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.