Tag Archives: US Senate

Filibuster? Yes, but make ’em talk!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Senate Democrats and progressives around the country want to eliminate the filibuster from Senate procedure.

They contend it is being abused by the Republican minority in the “world’s greatest deliberative body.” I am not going to join that chorus. I don’t have a particular problem with the filibuster, other than the way it is implemented now.

Senators can declare a filibuster is in effect when they object to legislation. Then they go about their business as if nothing is happening.

If they’re going to filibuster, they should be forced to stand on the Senate floor and talk their lungs out in an effort to kill legislation. Make ’em blab about this and/or that, which is what the filibuster was designed initially to require.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said recently he would talk until he “fell over.” I might pay real American money to see that happen.

The filibuster is aimed to protect the interests of the political minority. At the moment, the GOP is the minority party. One day they might regain control of the Senate, although I don’t particularly want that to happen. What happens then, if the Senate kills the filibuster now, disallowing future political minorities from exercising the long-standing Senate rule?

The filibuster wasn’t written into the Constitution; it was enacted under Senate rule-making authority. Getting rid of it only solves the issue of the moment. The balance of power has this way of swinging back and forth.

If we keep the filibuster, by all means then make senators stand in the well and bluster and bloviate until they do fall over.

Why does he anger me?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What in the world is it about Ted Cruz that makes my blood boil?

It cannot possibly be just that he is a conservative Republican. Or that he has this annoying  way of pretending to speak for millions of Texas residents he represents in the U.S. Senate. Or that he landed in the U.S. Senate and began pi**ing off his colleagues, even his fellow Republicans.

I cannot quite dial it in.

It might go back to when he first ran for the Senate in 2012. His GOP opponent that year was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was favored heavily to win the party nomination and then get elected to the Senate. He didn’t. He lost the primary to Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general. I actually like Dewhurst; I enjoyed my relationship with him while I worked as editorial page editor of the Globe-News in Amarillo. Dewhurst was the hardest-working politician in Austin. He was so detail oriented that if you asked him for the time, he might be inclined to tell you how to build a watch … you know?

Losing to Cruz, though, only magnified the emptiness of the state GOP, although I’ll acknowledge that Dewhurst proved to be a lousy campaigner.

Cruz then landed in the Senate and began pi**ing off his GOP colleagues, such as the late John McCain, who scolded Cruz for challenging the patriotism of Vietnam War vets John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, two of McCain’s friends and fellow Vietnam vets.

His Senate career has been a series of showmanship tactics. His ambition is so bodacious that he just doesn’t wear it well.

Now he is putting holds on nominations put forth by President Biden. He has pulled them, allowing the nominees to go forward toward confirmation.

Ted Cruz releases holds on Biden nominees as administration looks to get tough on Russia pipeline – POLITICO

I’ll admit to not knowing Cruz. I have never met the man. I might think differently of him were I to shake his hand and engage in some chatter, but I haven’t. Therefore, I am left to hold these views of him.

I’ll just continue to loathe his presence in the media and when he screams “Freedom!” at conservative political rallies. I won’t apologize for those feelings.

Experience matters

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This needs to be repeated — with emphasis.

Joseph R. Biden brings important experience to the presidency that was sorely lacking in the individual he succeeded, Donald J. Trump.

I’ve talked already on this blog about whether President Biden will be able to shepherd an infrastructure bill through Congress. My hunch is that he stands a much greater chance of doing so than Donald Trump ever had. Why? Because Biden is a creature of Congress and Trump is, well, someone with zero government experience.

That kind of thing matters when a president chooses to operate the complicated machinery called the federal government.

Trump trumpeted his business experience as a selling point while winning election in 2016. I’ll set aside that he lied about his success as a business mogul. I believe we have learned that Trump’s business record at best is considered, um, checkered. He spent his entire professional life propping his own image up. Trump never grasped the concept of teamwork, which is an essential element of governing with a co-equal branch of government, the men and women who work on Capitol Hill.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, knows the Senate well. He was a major part of that legislative body for 36 years. He chaired key Senate committees. Biden developed first-name relationships with foreign leaders. He worked well with Republicans. He is fluent in the legislative jargon that senators and House members use among themselves.

This is the kind of experience that should serve President Biden well as he seeks to push an agenda forward. Trump’s experience in business, in show biz, in self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment provided a prescription for failure.

I consider myself a good-government progressive. Therefore, I intend to look carefully over time at how well our government functions with a president who knows which levers to pull and which buttons to push.

Cruz still pi**ing me off

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ted Cruz might one day run out of ways to make me angry.

I don’t know when that will happen with the junior U.S. senator from Texas. For all I know, his reservoir of contemptible behavior is bottomless. The good news for me is that he likely will keep this blog loaded for bear. The bad news is that he might wear me out.

Almost from the day he took office, Cruz has become a major league a**hole. He defeated defeated then-Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican primary and then cruised to an easy general election victory that year.

It took him no time to begin prancing and preening on the Senate floor, setting up a run for the presidency in 2016. His bald and blind ambition managed to anger his fellow Republican colleagues, not to mention the Democrats who serve with him.

The late Sen. John McCain once scolded Cruz for questioning the integrity of two senators, both of whom were — like McCain — Vietnam War veterans; Cruz, of course, never has worn this country’s uniform. But there he was, wondering whether John Kerry and Chuck Hagel were sufficiently loyal to this country.

Cruz puts on shameful sideshow | High Plains Blogger

The nadir of Cruz’s behavior, though, has to be the manner in which he questioned the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, alleging vote fraud that doesn’t exist. Donald Trump then incited the rioters who stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and still questioned whether the election was fair and legal.

The man just sickens me. I get sicker every time I see his face and hear his voice. Given his penchant for bloviating in front of TV cameras, I need to steel myself for years of nausea.

Minds are made up?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It’s time for me to step out of my advocate shoes and take a brief — and dispassionate — look at what is playing out on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

I am hearing from a lot of my social media friends and acquaintances about how Republican senators have “made up their minds” to acquit Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection.

A cautionary word is in order. So have the Democratic senators … made up their minds.

A big part of me shares the disgust that Republican senators appear to be digging in on their insistence that Trump doesn’t deserve to be convicted of inciting the riot that damn near destroyed our democratic process.

I wish they would keep an open mind and wait until they hear all the evidence before throwing in with the ex-president.

Fairness, though, compels me to play the devil’s advocate. Democrats have done precisely the same thing they accuse their GOP colleagues of doing. They, too, have dug in. Only their instinct is to convict Trump, which is an instinct I happen to share.

Let us note as well that this isn’t a legal trial. It is a political trial. The Senate — aka the jury — isn’t bound by strict rules of law to be “fair and impartial.” They are politicians who are playing to their respective bases of support, be they progressive or conservative.

If only more of them shared my own view of how to decide this trial.

Lesson needs to be learned

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well, my fellow Americans … we have been treated to a serious lesson on the fragility, yet sturdiness, of our democracy.

The first half of the Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial has concluded in the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives prosecutors — members of the House, the managers — made, in my view, a compelling case for conviction. That Trump incited an insurrection against the government he took an oath to protect and defend.

He didn’t do either during his single term as president. He incited a riotous mob of terrorists on Jan. 6, exhorting them to march on Capitol Hill and intervene in Congress doing its job on that day, which was to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

We saw in graphic terms how close the terrorists came to bringing physical harm to Congress, and to the system of government we cherish.

They didn’t succeed. Our democracy stands to this day. It stands strong and it will survive this horrendous episode.

Donald Trump’s legal team takes the Senate floor on Friday. They say they can make their case in a single day. I am going to go out on a limb here: Trump’s team will talk past the House managers. They will divert the argument, send it down another path.

They cannot argue against the constitutionality of the trial. The Senate has voted already that the trial met constitutional standards. Nor can they possibly defend what transpired on Jan. 6. I double-dog dare them to suggest that Donald Trump’s remarks on The Ellipse didn’t incite the mob to attack the Capitol Building, egg the mobsters to smash windows, to ransack offices, to injure and kill people.

They won’t go there. Instead, I am going to presume Trump’s lawyers might hang their defense on the First Amendment, suggesting that Trump merely was exercising his constitutional free-speech guarantees by declaring his opinion that the election was stolen from him. You know, though, that it wasn’t.

Sigh …

I am left then to salute the founders of this great nation for establishing a governing framework that can withstand the assault that developed on Jan. 6. It was a full-on frontal attack incited by a lame-duck president.

He is likely to get away with what he did; the Senate won’t convict him of the deed I happen to believe he committed. However, his hideous conduct is now on the record for history to judge. Americans have seen it unfold in real time. I don’t know about you, but I never will forget what we learned on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

We must not commit such a horrendous error — electing someone of this individual’s ilk — ever again.

‘Normal’ makes news?

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This is strange in my humble view.

What passes for “normal” in the White House has become the stuff of feature articles in magazines and newspapers. The Hill, which covers Capitol Hill, published an article this week that talks about how “normal” life has become in the White House since President Biden took over from, oh … you know.

It’s kinda bizarre.

Normal now includes daily presidential briefings, which Donald Trump couldn’t stand. Trump called them a waste of his time, which if you think about it, he probably was right; he needed that time to send out Twitter pronouncements and hurl insults at his foes.

As The Hill reported: “It’s so funny – I hear from friends on both sides of the aisle how cleansing it is to wake up in the morning without feeling that the day will be inflamed by a crazy tweet,” said former Rep. Steve Israel, who served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the Obama era. “Even people who disagree with President Biden say that at least we’re back to normal.”

Biden doubles down on normal at White House | TheHill

President and Mrs. Biden attended church on their first Sunday living in the White House. That, too, is going to become part of the first couple’s routine. So, um, very normal.

What we are witnessing is the re-creation of an executive branch of government built on long-standing practices, procedures and principles that President Biden knows well, given his immense U.S. Senate and vice-presidential pedigree. Donald Trump entered the only public office he ever sought with no such experience or understanding and, oh brother, it showed.

I welcome the return of normal. I also look forward to the day when it no longer is newsworthy.

Let the trial begin …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has made it official.

The U.S. Senate will commence the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump on Feb. 8. That’s fine for a couple of key reasons.

The House will send the Senate the single impeachment article on Monday, triggering the eventual start of the trial. The House of Representatives impeached Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection. You saw what he did on the Sixth of January, inciting the riot that stormed Capitol Hill while Congress was meeting to certify President Biden’s victory on Nov. 3.

Why is the delay in the trial a good thing?

For one, Donald Trump is entitled to the best defense he can get. A delay allows the former president to assemble a legal team to defend him in the Senate. For the life of me I don’t know how you defend what I witnessed was the indefensible. Trump’s team will try to accomplish what I consider to be the impossible.

Secondly, delaying the trial enables the Senate commence on the important task of confirming President Biden’s Cabinet nominees and get to work on important legislation concerning pandemic relief, climate change, immigration reform and other issues the president has deemed critical.

I get that the Senate can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” as senators have noted. Delaying a trial won’t do any harm to determining the outcome. A delay allows Trump’s team to get its stuff together; it also allows House managers to do the same.

And so … let the trial begin eventually and let Congress get to work repairing the damage that the former president inflicted on our government.

Commence the trial quickly

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. senators say it so often it sounds practically cliche, but I get their point.

They say they “walk and chew gum at the same time,” that they can conduct an impeachment trial and debate, discuss and enact policy matters crucial to running the country simultaneously.

I’ll take them at their word. Which is my way of suggesting that senators need to commence Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial quickly while deliberating over the confirmation of President Biden’s national security team.

Trump will be out of office. It doesn’t matter one little bit whether he is president of an ex-president. What he did on Jan. 6 was punishable and he needs to be held accountable for inciting the riot that sought to subvert our democratic process.

The terrorists who stormed into the Capitol Building sought to end the congressional act of ratifying Biden’s victory in the election. They acted on a message delivered on The Ellipse from Donald Trump. Trump’s impeachment came with 10 GOP House members voting “yes.” It was a bipartisan impeachment!

And so the trial will begin. I do not want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay sending the single impeachment article to the Senate. I want her to do so quickly to enable the Senate to prepare to put Trump on trial for inciting the mob to run rampant over the very Senate floor on which our distinguished senators will convene the trial.

Think for just a moment about that. Senators will conduct a trial in the very crime scene that Trump created by inciting the rioters to act in the manner that they did.

Can this jury of 100 senators hear the evidence submitted in the trial in the morning, break for lunch, and return in the afternoon to consider who President Biden has nominated, say, for defense secretary, CIA director or the director of national intelligence?

Of course it can! And it should!

Senate steepens Biden’s hill to climb

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As if President Biden doesn’t already have a steep hill to climb when he takes office in 10 days …

The U.S. Senate will not have confirmed a single one of his Cabinet nominees by the time he assumes the presidency. Why? Well, senators have been consumed by matters involving the hideous antics of Biden’s immediate predecessor, Donald Trump.

The president-elect has been rolling out his nominees systematically since winning the election. He has completed that task, along with naming top staff-level appointees who do not require Senate confirmation.

It would be in the nation’s best interest for senators — who return to work no later than Jan. 19 — to focus immediately on confirming the president’s national security team. That would include the secretaries of defense, state and homeland security along with the director of national intelligence and the CIA director. We also might want to toss in the treasury secretary for good measure, given that our economic strength remains a key component of our national security.

Too many Republican senators, I am saddened to point out, have swallowed the “widespread voter fraud” lie that Donald Trump fed them as he fought to cling to power. hey have taken their eye off the task at hand, which is to help ensure a smooth transition of power. One of those senators happens to be the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who now surrenders that title to Democrat Chuck Schumer when the next Congress returns to work.

I don’t have any doubt that President Biden, with his vast government experience, will be able to navigate through the initial stages of the presidency without a full complement of Cabinet officials on hand.

The onus belongs to the Senate, though, to ensure that the new president is staffed fully as soon as is humanly possible.

Because, unlike Donald Trump, the new president will actually listen to and heed the advice he receives. The national security team is foremost among the advisers on whom he will rely.